MMO Video Games and Guild Wars 2

I used to play a lot of video games, particularly mmorpgs. Unfortunately that fell to the wayside as I started working towards my master's degree in animation and vfx since it takes so much of my time and I'm at the labs at school all the time with three classes and seven projects on my plate. It also did not help that my computer was old and it had a hard time playing any of the more current games. For example, I only got past character creation in Skyrim before I gave up due to all the lag and I couldn't even get through that with Wildstar. Instead, to amuse myself, the only games that I had were phone games like CandyCrush or I would go onto Kongregate and play some flash games there. It was depressing. Especially since I started feeling that I was a bit out of touch with the current state of games and the industry as I gradually become distanced from it due to lack of exposure. Now that I have a new computer, through the suggestion of my friends, I've picked up GuildWars 2 and have been playing it for a week so far now.

I first became enamored with mmos, due to the community aspect and the ever evolving and growing gameplay, when I was in middle school in Taiwan. While the top popular games then were Ragnarok Online and Lineage Online, I was obsessed with a Korean mmo called Asgard Online. I played that for almost three years until the game was ultimately discontinued. Since then I have mostly been playing Asian mmos such as Fiesta Online and more recently games by x-Legend such as Grand Fantasia, Kitsu Saga, and Eden Eternal. What was particularly great about these recent games were that they were free to play with an optional cash shop system so I don't have to spend any money. While World of Warcraft is the big popular game, I just can't get past their business model. First you pay $20 for the game then you have to buy the expansions every time they are released, then on top of that is a monthly subscription fee. That just sounds ridiculous to me, particularly since I came from playing Asian mmos. Even Asgard Online which I paid a subscription fee for only had that; updates are free and players have a choice of buying a physical copy at the convenience store which often included perks of in-game item gifts. Wildstar looked like an interesting game and I wanted to play it but unfortunately the $60 price tag is a bit more than I want to pay for a game right now, especially since I should be focusing most of my time on my work and I don't know what the economy will be like and how viable it will be to pay the subscription fee through in-game gold.

What I am really enjoying about GuildWars 2 is the world. It is large, immersive, and the game makes exploring it fun. Most games I've played had smaller maps and the jumping was mainly aesthetic only, the only exception was Perfect World International. However, I had found PWI to be unfortunately extremely dull and boring as the maps were so large that it took forever for me to get to point A to point B. GuildWars 2 instead has built an achievement system, which I am always a sucker for as I always want to collect and complete everything, and made discovering parts of the maps give exp points so that it becomes part of the gameplay and not so much as a chore that one would have to take extra time out for.

I am loving the main story plot in the game, too! There are five different races and each of their stories start out differently and they each have differing goals. My main character right now is an Asura so I can't say too much about what the stories for the other races are like since my alternate characters are only at level 5 or so. While it is interesting that different choices come up which is able to change the story for each player, it however somewhat vexes me due to that I don't know what is happening in the life of those paths that I don't choose.

While GuildWars 2 does suffer from some low res textures, low poly models, and tessellation, generally the game looks great. I particularly appreciate how there is specularity and reflection on objects. The metal is nice and shiny but still weathered and rocks/stone on a cliff or mountain, while somewhat strange to be glossy, I appreciate how it interacts with the light. While I don't particularly like the snow maps, partly because there's so much deadspace and partly because the quests were dreadful, I enjoyed running around and leaving my footprints in the snow. The best effect is when the character is swimming out of water and to the surface and water droplets splash against the screen! I laughed about how much I liked how Eden Eternal paid attention to detail to bother having buttholes on various animals, but this effect with the water splash is really attention to detail and great.

The film industry seems to be in a bit of a turmoil right now and I hear of many people, amongst those that I know, wanting to move into games as the pay is better and the job is more stable. While my passion is in film I would also love to get in the game industry, too. It is unfortunately more difficult to get into games as a lighter though since games generally don't use a lot of lighting or it is coupled in with effects. I still have my other focus in texture/surfacing/look dev which I will continue building upon!