“Narrative Designers Angel McCoy and Scott McGough discuss the lore behind the Flame and Frost storyline and how the characters and events lead into future Living World storylines.”
Looks like the next area we’ll be moving into is Southsun Cove, let’s hope the karka are far less in abundance. Plus they mentioned that they will have a full years worth of content already planned out!
The latest patch for Guild Wars 2 went live earlier today and, wow, it was a good one. This patch features the final story arc for the Living Story and brings the players face to face with the Molten Alliance. I’ve had a chance to play through the new five player dungeon and it is excellent. Be sure to check it out.
For you PvP fans out there you will be especially pleased with this patch as you finally have spectator mode! This new mode allows players the chance to watch other teams duke it out. You’ll be able to see everything that happens, including the players build and skills, and should provide some much needed tools for the community.
There are also some new items available on the trading post which include Rox’s Quiver and Braham’s mace, which are great skins! All this plus profession changes, event updates, bug fixes, and more. Check out the full list of notes after the break. (more…)
The Living Story is about to reach its ultimate conclusion on April 30th with the release of Retribution! This patch will see some exciting new features being added to the game such as:
New Dungeon: Molten Weapon Facility! Face off against the combined might of the Dredge and the Flame Legion, and take part in a battle that will “go down in Guild Wars 2 history.”
Custome PvP Arenas and Spectator Mode. These features will still be in a beta type testing phase, but they are the most sought after features for the PvP crowd in the game and it’s good to see some progress being made to add these features.
New Guild Missions let you become a quaggan. Can’t you just hear the squees of glee now?
New WvW abilities. This feature will enable you to become a master of the arrow cart, making the enemy fear seeing you take control of this deadly weapon.
New Guild Back Banners. Not content with just a backpack that displays your guilds emblem? Charge into battle with a banner for all to see instead!
Of course there will be bug fixes and other improvements as well, and we should have the new patch notes soon. This looks to be an exciting patch and one that should mark a turning point in the Guild Wars 2 universe!
Those logging in to the game today and going to the Trading Post or gem store are going to find some new items worthy of attention: two new dye packs and an unlimited-use mining pick!
When you use the new mining pick, molten environmental effects come out of the node. These effects are visible to all players in the game world.
The mining pick, priced at 800 gems, has an unlimited number of uses and can mine any node in the game. It is account-bound on purchase but becomes soul-bound once you equip it on a character. There is currently no other gathering tools of this kind available on the store.
There are also two new dye kits — the Frost dye kit and Flame dye kit. Each kit includes one of 25 colors aligned with the kit name (frost colors, or flame colors), and each includes six dye colors not available anywhere else. The kits each go for 125 gems apiece or five for 500 gems.
For a breakdown of the new colors, check out this Reddit post from community member I_ate_paintchips.
The quasi-monolithic list of changes to the game as part of today’s Living Story content drop have been released, and there are some pretty big things here. Of note, the next chapter of Flame and Frost has been brought into the game, leaderboards for WvW, sPvP and achievement points have been added, a new WvW leveling system has been implemented, new items have appeared in the gem store and an update to the NCSoft user agreement has been made, requiring all players to re-agree to the agreement prior to getting in game.
The update also includes story instances for the Living World. Those are detailed below, and the rest of the biggest updates are included after the jump. If you’ve got about an hour to kill though, you can read the notes directly by going here.
OPEN WORLD: The Molten Alliance has begun spying on the people of Wayfarer Foothills, Diessa Plateau, the Snowden Drifts, the Plains of Ashford, and the Iron Marches. The Vigil have stationed collectors in these areas to reward adventurers who return logs of all data collected by the enemy.
INSTANCES: Living Story instances telling the stories of both Braham the norn and Rox the charr have been added to the world. In-game mails and achievements have been implemented in order to aid guidance to the relevant locations. These instance locations are marked on the world map with a golden portal marker.
Like portal-bombing in WvW? Get your fix in today, because tomorrow, once culling in WvW is gone, you won’t have the model loading lag to rely on for a couple seconds of cheaty-face stealth any longer.
The interview is loaded with some great info, but there’s a few key details worth celebrating. First, up to 300 models can be rendered on-screen at any given time with the update, but the option’s menu will allow you to take control of that number if need be:
We’ve then introduced two new client options to help you control the way characters are represented once they’ve reported to your client. If you turn everything all the way up to maximum, we can draw up to 300 players on the screen at a given time. After that, we start displaying them as name plates only.
Another interesting note:
The culling system being turned off is about improving the player experience, to make sure they can see everyone in the fight. Given that, our goal was to at least make performance no worse.
You may notice some frame rate changes but if you find that performance isn’t to your liking, the first thing I would suggest is that you change the World versus World character quality setting. Making this lower will increase the number of models that are using the lower resolution version, which will have a dramatic impact on your frame rates. In the event this doesn’t work for you, then you can always change the WvW character limit lower to shift more people to name plates only
There are other tidbits on new merchants offering “skins that are new to WvW that were previously unobtainable there,” Ferguson says in the interview. While they aren’t totally new skins (meaning they’re attainable elsewhere in the game), “what we’re doing is setting up a merchant that you can purchase your stat combinations from and an appearance option and kind of combine those. That’s how you get your piece of gear.”
There will not be any new ascended gear for WvW in tomorrow’s patch (so keep building up those fractal relics and laurels), but the developers have also not ruled that out as a possibility in future patches:
It is definitely on our list of things we want to add to it, it’s just that we encounter some issues getting it into this particular build.
So how has feedback for the changes fared so far? Says Leow:
The play test that we’ve seen so far, that have been internal, the reactions are incredibly gratifying to watch. The typical reaction is “Holy crap! this is going to be huge!” it usually comes not when they first start playing, but once they start to play with the settings. When they can turn the settings up and see 300 people, that’s usually when they get the “Holy crap! this is going to huge” moment. Ten minutes later, gamers are pretty good with what we give them so I expect they’ll get used to the new system very very quickly.
If you’ve hung around World vs World long enough, you’ve probably heard people talk about culling. It’s a huge issue where your game client is either unaware of or unable to render entire players (or NPC’s, as this sometimes happens in large PvE gathering as well.) Imagine a giant mob of 100+ Mists invaders coming by and killing you, and you didn’t even know they were there because you literally could not see them. This is culling. As mentioned, it’s super prevalent (and a major pain) in WvW when the battle lines can be moving and you’re caught unaware and die from invisible enemies. Habib Loew over at Arena.Net earlier today proudly proclaimed that they are “ending culling” in the March 26th patch.
If you’ve ever played World vs. World in a large group, you’ve probably noticed that there were some enemy players that you couldn’t see. That was an unfortunate side effect of a process called culling. I’m pleased to announce that in the upcoming patch on March 26, we’re going to turn culling off completely in WvW. This will make invisible enemies (except those using invisibility skills, of course) a thing of the past.
Great news! Visible players everywhere! Problem solved! Right? Maybe? If you’re like me, you’ve been thinking the following: Wait a minute, isn’t culling mostly a graphical issue with computers not being able to render models fast enough? In that case, you’d be partially correct. There are multiple types of culling, or rather, multiple things that can go wrong with getting a character model to show up that the community as a whole calls culling collectively. But, when ArenaNet refers to culling, they’re referring to one very specific version of culling, which is the data the server reports to the client being limited, and thus causing the culling effect. Here’s Loew again, emphasis is mine:
For the sake of clarity, I want to make a clear distinction between our usage of the term “culling” in this post (meaning to limit the amount of data the server reports to the client) and other uses of the word “culling” related to graphics (discarding backward facing triangles in models, triangles or whole models that are occluded, etc.). Our changes are to the client/server culling and have no bearing on basic graphics operations in the GW2 client.
Yep. Got an older computer? Culling will still exist for you. Guild Wars 2 is insanely CPU intensive, and large WvW battles push even high end Core i7′s and AMD FX’s to their limits. Chances are, if you’re running on older hardware, culling is in fact not dead for you. If anybody remembers back to the early days of the game, the client/server culling wasn’t an issue then either, as the server more or less just sent everything. What was an issue though was there being so many models to render that it tanked many computers that could otherwise play the game. If you tried to walk out into a starter area a couple of hours after launch, you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about. ArenaNet has added some extra graphical options to help relieve this problem. We’ll go to Loew one more time:
Under the new system, characters can be rendered in three different ways:
High resolution models - These are the high-res character models that you’re all already familiar with.
Lower resolution fallback models - These are the models that we’ve been using as placeholders in WvW while the hi-res models load. They differ depending on race and armor class, though human, sylvari, and norn share the same model.
Nameplates only - We don’t render the model at all and instead only show the nameplate for that character.
We’ve also added two new options to allow players to select how WvW characters are displayed:
WvW Character Limit - This controls how many of the reported characters render with a model and how many are rendered only with nameplates.
WvW Character Quality - This controls how many of the characters rendered with a model use the high resolution models and how many use the lower resolution fallback models.
This is a good solution, and much, much better than the status quo, but it’s not quite the “end of culling.” I guess nameplates are better than nothing.
Former GW2 artist turned freelance, Kekai Kotaki, posted an update to his blog today with some AMAZING legendary weapon concepts created during his time at ArenaNet. Check out his entire post to see the beginnings of some of the incredible ideas that thankfully made it into the game. The man has talent.