RELEASE THE KARKANS!

Now that show 120 is out…we did mention that didn’t we? No?

 

Well then. Ahem.

 

No Prisoners, No Mercy Show 120 is out and you can listen to it on www.virginworlds.com, on Libsyn , and on Itunes .  It’s been quite busy here lately. In fact we have needed a periscope most days just to see above the paperwork. So we figured it was about time we had a “lost” weekend.  No, not the 1945 movie starring Ray Milland.  This time out it was ArenaNet’s Lost Shores weekend.   It started out with a couple of emails bidding us travel to the far shores of Lion’s Arch where we were asked to donate to a worthy cause.  The first thing that crossed our minds is, “what is an NPC going to do with the cash?”   Sure enough, one options while talking to the NPC was “what are you going to do with the donations?” We don’t remember exactly what the reply was but we think it had something to do with drugs and rock and roll.  It was about that time that a friendly guildie from The Olden Gamers told us that it was all about a scavenger hunt – the rewards for which were said to be “mediocre rewards and a jug of karma.”   We can always use good karma, even if it comes in the gallon size jug. Still, “figure it out” type quests are not Julie’s forte (she is more the slice ‘em and dice ‘em pvp sort of gal) so we moved on.

 

Later on in the weekend we were sent a message by way of mail that  beckoned us to the sunny shores of Southsun Cove.  A nice man with a sailing boat in Lion’s Arch promised us a nice day trip to sunny beaches and warm weather.  The problem is, it turns out that the Karka also like sunny beaches and warm weather and have made their home on this particular island.

 

Now when something the size of a house (and an attitude to match) that resembles a cross between a daddy long legs spider and a lobster says “Hey we were here first” most people would slowly back away and say “you bet buddy”. Then, of course, we normally would  have beat a hasty retreat.  The problem is the big guys didn’t meet us on the beach. Instead we were greeted by large lobster looking creatures the size of pony.  Instead it made us wonder how it would taste with butter sauce.  This was, in fact, an opinion we promptly re-evaluated when our melee weapons didn’t seem to have quite the effect it usually did; in other words it almost kicked our big butts around the block.  Fortunately they didn’t seem quite as resistant to a large caliber rifle right between what we assumed were eyes.

 

Fortune smiled upon us as we just happened to be in the right place and time for the first big “push” across the island to establish a forward outpost.  It did garner a big crowd but once we all made it to the other side of the island the air of expectation was met with disappointment .  In fact nothing much further seemed to happen the rest of the day. There were to repeatable quests at either side of the island, but it seemed quite a large area for so little to do in it – except, of course, to kill the myriad karka of various sizes.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be very little reason to kill the Karka other than simply doing them in.  They never dropped anything other than the makings of a good lobster dinner.  There were not contests, or rare drops.  The whole event between the opening and the ending seemed to fall flat.

Another area that seemed lacking, and uncharacteristically so for Guild Wars 2, is story.  There was a smattering of dialogue by NPCs and that’s about it. Even then you only heard the story line dialogue if you happened to be in the right place at the right time.

 

Where the entire even took a turn for the better is the last big world event.  It was announced on the web site ahead of time and broadcast via email in game.  It was the one and only chance to kill an Ancient Karka.  It was a battle that involved using hot geysers as make shift mortars, using volcanic gas as makeshift bombs and fighting off endless waves of minions that would have made the cast of Starship Troopers feel right at home. The large crowd that gathered brought back memories of the days in WoW when Molten Core was the biggest that Blizzard had to offer and it took 40 people to take down the boss. The fight stretched across half of the island.  What is more, everyone stayed for the full three hours that it took to heard the building sized beast to its death.

 

The last world event was not without its pitfalls however. Half way through the I switched to a computer that was well above the minimum specifications, but not what players would consider a “high end machine”.  At that point it  became obvious that Guild Wars 2 did not handle large crowds of players well.  At this point the long battle literally became a slide show as frame rates drop down to as little as three frames per second. This caused what appeared to invisible “adds” fighting players, when it was simply the result of computers struggling to keep up with the job of rendering, even with all of the settings turned down as low as possible. Unfortunately this was also the weekend of a free trial and more than once I heard prospective new players decry the effect of the game on their machine. This is little doubt that Guild Wars 2 is stunning, and we are blessed with access to a computer that will handle it well.  But as we have said time and again, playability and performance is a lot more important than looks.

 

We think of it this way.  Back in high school the good looking girls got all the dates. But after you mature, it becomes apparent that men DO makes passes at girls who wear glasses and are the sort who get taken home to mother. Likewise, when computer generated graphics came to the movies, special effects filled the seats. Those of you who have seen the latest Bond movie “Skyfall” will have noticed a return to basics – no special gadgets – just a gun and a radio. Games seemed to have taken the same trend as movies.  Beautiful graphics may sell the tickets,  but they won’t continue to pay the bills after the first few months without content. In the end it would have been much better if ArenaNet had held on to the content they developed for Lost Shores longer. put in more effort, and released it as paid downloadable content.  Take a tip from Turbine devs at ArenaNet – it works for them it will work for you.

 

See you online,

Julie Whitefeather

 

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