GW2 – Maguuma Entry

I’ve recently played several hours on various characters, and come to realize a few things about them… specifically why they felt a bit “off”.

First up, my elementalist Aurora. This is a fun char to play, except the ele is very fragile. As in, I need to kite in circles for many fights because they are so fragile. Lots and lots of dodging, using skills on the run (hm…. sounds like Wildstar). I remember now that’s why I sort of stopped playing my personal story in Chapter 8 – Starving the Beast. Basically in Malchor’s Leap with tons of Risen enemies all over (frenzy, bezerk, etc) it got to be pretty tedious to solo. I do best when others are around and I can linger in the back and use my skills.

Nevertheless, I decided to take Aurora into Heart of Thorns, after all, I bought the expansion. So I switched over to the new story and eventually found myself in the Silverwastes working through it.

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Aurora is now at the part where I need to attain the first level of gliding mastery to continue. I decided to put that off and leave it for another night.

Over on my ranger Glyneth, I also adventured for a while. What seems a bit off to me with this character is something inherent in GW – henchmen and heroes. My favorite char in GW was a ranger. I rarely used a pet, always had hench/heroes, and loved to be the master tactician in the back paying attention to the big picture: interrupt that mob, daze this other one, use a skill to benefit the group (secondary profession). That’s all gone in GW2, no secondary profession, no hench/heroes, and I’m left with a pet that occasionally gets me in more trouble due to aggro.

Most of the time the pet is awesome in that it does help keep aggro off me, so the ranger isn’t as squishy as my elementalist (plus the ranger can wear medium armor), but it isn’t the same.

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What is nice is that the rangers elite spec is the Druid, a healing spec. I’ve come to enjoy playing healers and they are always in demand, so I’m going to make an effort to advance Glyneth. She’s already level 80 so perhaps I should take a break from the storyline to jump over and open up Maguuma and the mastery tracks.

My “newest” char is my guardian Autumn. This char is fun to play – heavy armor so far more durable than Aurora (a very noticeable difference!). Good combo field/finisher skills, to add a nice amount of extra utility. Unfortunately, Autumn is only level 52 so that’s a ways to get to 80 and opening the jungle.

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If I had to pick one char to play, it would either be Glyneth or Autumn. Glyneth currently has the advantage because she’s level 80 and can spec as a Druid, sure to be handy. The only bummer is I wish I could change races and turn a Norn into an Asura. I just like the short races and Asuran culture (golems, inventors/scientists, etc). 🙂

Whatever I do I am going to make an effort to finish up one/any of the storylines. I haven’t finished a single one on any character!

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WS – Galeras Zone Story

I haven’t played Wildstar in months, so I decided to take it for a re-spin with my new graphics card.

I left off with Summer in Galeras, so I continued to zone story. It’s a basic plot about fighting the enemy (Dominion), helping settlers (civilians), doing minor quests here and there, etc. The actual zone story quests involved attacking an outpost, destroying enemy artillery, moving the advance position forward and things like that.

As a medic, I found a nice compromise with the full blown action combat and jumping/dodging all over, and the standard tab-target battling of planting on one place and slugging it out: moving slowly backwards!

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Here I’m fighting 6-8 little creatures, trying to keep most in the cone of my ability while also backing up. I might move my keybindings slightly as I hit my abilities with the number keys while “S” is backup. This is fine but in extended battles my hand cramps.

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Another fighting innovation is timing my interrupt properly. Yes… level 20+ and I just figured this out. 😉 Basically, if I interrupt a mob while it is casting/telegraphing, that starts a Moment of Opportunity (MoO). When the mob is in this state, its health bar becomes purple, which means it is stunned, can’t defend, and takes bonus damage. That’s the best time to unleash the hardest hitting skills!

Here in the zone story, I had to kill Stormwing. So I hit him with an interrupt while he was casting, leaving him in a MoO…

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… which made it easier to me to finish him off.

I wrapped up by reaching level 22 (started from level 20.7 ish, so I gained about 1 and 1/3 levels while playing for an hour or so) and stopping before the final assault. I probably have a few more quests for the zone story and plan to finish that up later on.

TSW – Talismans and Suits

I bought The Park a few weeks ago, since I wanted to support Funcom’s psychological adventure/story game. It is set in the Atlantic Island amusement park which is also in TSW.

Even more interesting is the item tie-in – a set of QL10 gear.

I wasn’t sure how to get that gear, but I finally finished The Park and from the Extras screen, there is a way to log into a TSW account and link the items to the account.

The Park
The Park

So I did that and logged into TSW to greedily pick up my new stuff. Even though I can’t use it because I’m only at QL5 or 6.

Inside TSW I didn’t see anything delivered, but after opening the Store windows, Claim Items tab, I saw my items. Woohoo! (Again, partly muted because I can’t use QL10 heroic items yet. But this is more motivation to quit diddling around and make some real progress in the game).

Squirrel Suit
Squirrel Suit

I also picked up the Squirrel Suit (also a tie-in with The Park) and a Green Zoot Suit. I like my previous ensemble better so after a bit I’ll switch back.

GeForce GTX 970

It is certainly a #firstworldproblem to endure sub-par frame rates while gaming… but after ~2.5 years with my trusty GeForce GTX 650, I decided to upgrade to a 970. It arrived and I swapped out cards and went to do a FPS check.

TL;DR – holy moly my frame rates have skyrocketed!

LoTRO

Breezy Banners
Breezy Banners

In this scene Naerys is standing in a gentle breeze whipping Éowyn’s banners in the wind… at a sweet 175.8 FPS!! When I turn around and render more in the distance, the frame rate plummets to 120-140. I can live with that. (CTRL-F to display)

ESO

Stros M'kai
Stros M’kai

Hakarla, my Breton Templar basks in the sun and a triple digit frame rate. 🙂 It bounces from the 90’s to the low 100’s but still, this is triple what it was before. (/fps to display)

TSW

Blue Mountain camp
Blue Mountain camp

Wayness in the Blue Mountains, with military men doing pushups in the background. 88.4 FPS. Oh yeah! (CTRL-ALT-F to display)

GW2

I checked and get the same 62-63 FPS I got before. This tells me GW2 is coded to limit the FPS. In any case, that’s awesome the game runs so well on earlier gen cards. No new screenshot since it’s the same.

WS

WildStar FPS
XAS Forward Camp

The big one, the game that felt weird playing at a mid-20’s frame rate. Check out that awesome frame rate of 101 FPS – more than 5X what I was getting before. Summer, my Granok Medic, will be able to play again! (CTRL-F to display)

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty excited about my new graphics card. Great upgrade, well worth it.

EDIT: add in how to display the frame rates in these games.

LoTRO – Finished Helm’s Deep

My poor guardian Naerys has languished in Helm’s Deep for months. I’ve just been unmotivated to play the Epic Battles involved. They are OK but a bit confusing the figure out what to do exactly.

After an Epic Battle or two, I figured out that the best thing for me to do was 1) make sure the Commanders that were awaiting orders actually had some (I tell them to boost morale, haste, damage, defense) and 2) ignore all white mobs (since those die in seconds to my NPC allies) and instead make sure the orange mobs (signature mobs) don’t roam freely.

And as a guardian, #2 is easy – I can taunt them to me and away from whoever they chose to attack.

So with that basic strategy, I set out to complete the last Epic Battle of Vol 3 Book 13: The Hornburg.

Epic Battle UI
Epic Battle UI

First up was figuring out the new UI… I guess it had been a while since I played and in the meantime the UI was revamped.

Initial Orders
Initial Orders

After quickly surveying the area, I ran around to issue initial orders.

Enemy Enaged
Enemy Enaged

And then it was just waiting as the enemy leaped over to fight us!

Signature Mob
Signature Mob

I tabbed through everything and made sure all the orange/signature mobs were immediately attacked; typically I would taunt them if they were out of melee range, or just attack if close enough.

This method works for me and lets me complete the Epic Battle. Granted, I don’t get as much merit as you probably can, but I just want to finish and move on. There are side goals as well – in this case my two were 1) defend workers as they repaired a collapsed door (success), and 2) stop the ballista (failure) – and I try them, but I don’t redo an epic battle just to succeed at those.

After wrapping up, I played up to Vol 3 Bool 14 Chapter 4… back to the remains of Isengard and meeting up with fellow hobbits Merry and Pippin!

I also noticed something in my inventory, a small yard decoration for the world mergers. So I visited my home and replaced a row of flowers with that flag. I think it looks pretty nice!

Yard decorations
Yard decorations

GW2 – Ranger and Guardian

I advanced Glyneth in the storyline a bit. That dynamic event on the lakeshore from a few days ago? The next storyline mission was to rescue people from an underwater prison.

Ugh. I don’t like the underwater stuff because I get turned around trying to target the enemy. Some skills leap you to the mobs, which is fine on land, but add in the ability of either side to move along the z-axis and it always boils down to me frantically rotating the camera just to figure out where I’m attacking.

Plus, the first five skills change. GW2 locks the first 5 skills to the currently equipped weapon (2-handed for 5 skills, or mainhand/offhand for 3/2 skills) which is great, except I avoid going underwater so I’m not as familiar with those weapon skills. Net result, me hitting the keys on cooldown hoping I’m in range and pointed the right direction for the attack to be useful.

These are solvable problems but I vastly prefer staying on the land.

Anyway, after talking to the initial set of prisoners I had to defeat the Slavemaster to get a key to release everybody.

Slavemaster
Slavemaster

He was easy to find due to the minimap and soon I had picked off his escorts and swam in for a final confrontation. After freeing the underwater prisoners I had to climb a structure and free more, and eventually reach the top where somebody important was held captive.

Priestess Fight
Priestess Fight

After a quick battle I freed them as well, and finished up the mission.

Then, I switched over to my Guardian.

I like the ranger but… it is tough to put my finger on it, something is slightly off about playing one. Sometimes my attention wanders during fights, because there isn’t much to do besides wait for cooldowns.

Perhaps I need to mix up my utilty skills. Most are spirits which means they are planted before fights and longbow combat reduces to hitting 2 and 5 on cooldown plus 1 (rapid fire, barrage, and long range shot).

I think of my guardian in LoTRO, a game which features many more skills for each class. The guardian there has a set of skills plus many more reactives, ones that become available on a parry or block. So there, I pay more attention to fights to follow reactive chains and of course use other taunts, shield skills etc.

In GW2, the guardian’s first 5 skills are also locked to weapon choice, but there is an extra mechanic of combos as well. Rangers have those too, but as you can see from the chart the longbow only has finishers; if I want to initiate a field I need to pick them from my healing or utility skills.

Meanwhile, the GW2 guardian has weapons with both combo fields and finishers, such as the greatsword and hammer. Plus, they have a bunch of fields available as utility skills.

The combo adds a nice extra dimension to combat when solo, and are very useful while grouped too.

Anyway, my guardian Autumn is level 32, so there’s a ways to go before catching up to Glyneth and Aurora, my two level 80’s!

Keppa
Keppa

I pecked away at the storyline, confronting Keppa, who is quite honest about his business model.

Cepha's Constant
Cepha’s Constant

Later I attended a talk by Professor Gorr, but he had to retrieve some notes. In the meantime, Cepha presented a measurement which ranked the Asura first over all the other Tyrian races – what a surprise!

After wrapping that up I stopped. I’m enjoying my time back in Tyria.

GW2 – Timberline Falls

I can keep busy in GW2 by simply following the storyline.

I planned to advance to the next mission, so I ran off from the outpost at Condordia Waypoint towards Nonmoa Lake in the south east. But as I stepped out, a dynamic event popped up – an invasion! So, I stuck around and helped repel the invasion with the help of 3 or 4 other players.

And on my way to Serpent Waypoint, another dynamic event popped up – escort a researcher to the lake in order to test a device. What the heck, I jumped into that one too.

Lake Defense
Lake Defense

The researcher setup right next to the green star for my storyline… but afterwards I decided to go to the outpost and tag another waypoint – Talus Waypoint.

In that outpost, the undead decided to invade so I participated in that too! Perhaps ArenaNet has cranked up the frequency of dynamic events, or I’m just lucky. 😉

I decided to put off the storyline mission, Striking Off the Chains, until another day. The reason was… superstition I suppose. I hit a graphics driver crash and decided to investigate. You see, entering a mission right after a driver crash seemed like tempting fate.

I just so happen to windbg setup, so I used it to open the crash dump (which wound up in C:\Windows\LiveKernelReports\WATCHDOG\blahblahblah.dmp, so I opened it and did the basic triage steps:

3: kd> !analyze -v
*******************************************************************************
* *
* Bugcheck Analysis *
* *
*******************************************************************************

VIDEO_TDR_TIMEOUT_DETECTED (117)
The display driver failed to respond in timely fashion.

Yeah well I knew that from the crash popup. No extra info that is useful; all signs point to the driver:

MODULE_NAME: nvlddmkm

IMAGE_NAME: nvlddmkm.sys

DEBUG_FLR_IMAGE_TIMESTAMP: 55b03217

FAILURE_BUCKET_ID: LKD_0x117_IMAGE_nvlddmkm.sys

BUCKET_ID: LKD_0x117_IMAGE_nvlddmkm.sys

PRIMARY_PROBLEM_CLASS: LKD_0x117_IMAGE_nvlddmkm.sys

Of course, nVidia might claim that the game (i.e. Guild Wars 2) didn’t setup various graphics calls properly and that was the real cause.

Unfortunately there are no public symbols for the nVidia drivers, and even if there were I am not really familiar with the graphics subsystem or any of that stuff. It’s always worth a looking at a crash dump in case there is an obvious cause but digging into this one is past me.

I’ve seen people complaining about instability with GW2 after the HoT release… this is my first crash. I’ll keep an eye on it though. I remember having a lot of trouble playing GW2 when it first released, 3 years ago. I was hitting driver timeouts constantly way back then!