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22 Mar 2015

Mission to Foostival

Foostival UK

Guild Wars 2 is going through a revival. The Heart of Thorns expansion announcement, followed by a deep-discounted sale, resulted in a surge of new and returning players to the fantasy world of Tyria. But despite the renewed focus and hype surrounding ArenaNet’s MMO, it’s the tenaciously loyal fans that have kept it alive over the past two and a half years, either through feedback on game systems, or supporting it with cash at the item store.

The player-run Foostival is a further example of fan involvement, with teams from across Europe organising low-key gatherings to connect, discuss, and celebrate the game. Personally, I find this aspect incredibly interesting, as I get to hear the passions and fears without any kind of forum-warrior bravado, and how it compares with my own experience of the game. For someone who spends their time understanding and writing about online worlds, there are few things better than conversing with those who inhabit them on a daily basis.

SEE ALSO: Foostival Flickr Gallery

Foostival is also fairly unique in being a meat-space event that’s organised by the players themselves, instead of being a PR-led initiative from the publisher or studio. It somehow made the experience more authentic, even though ArenaNet helped out with swag, prizes and community manager representation for the events. In turn, it also meant that the Town Hall and state-of-the-game discussions seemed more practical and less conflict-driven than I’ve seen elsewhere with other games. It’s a model that I can see working well for other MMOs with large communities, and one that I think studios should start to consider. After all, not everyone can make it to a BlizzCon or SOE Fan Faire.

Foostival UK

That said, Foostival wasn’t just about dry discussion. Numerous events, from siege engine building to game knowledge quizzes, gave participants the opportunity to earn valuable Black Lion Key raffle tickets. These keys were worth gathering, with prizes ranging from SteelSeries gaming accessories to rare and exclusive signed merchandise.

As for me, it’s helped to rekindle my interest in Guild Wars 2. After crawling to level cap with an Engineer and having a horrific experience with instanced dungeons, my playtime tailed off substantially. But games change, and so do people – I’ve been working on a slower-paced Guardian and having much more fun with it, experiencing a game with many of the rough edges smoothed off. Now that I’m armed with a bucketload of new contacts fresh from Foostival, I might even start dipping my toes in instances again. That, in itself, is worth more than all the swag I could carry.

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12 Oct 2014

Guild Wars 2 Competition: The Winners!

Guild Wars 2 Swag

Remember this competition? After the craziness that has been early October, I’ve finally had a chance to chose some winners and send out some prizes! Apologies for the delay with this, but hopefully the winning entries will more than make up for it!

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First prize goes to Foxfire Daye from Gunnar’s Hold, with this fantastic Aetherblade combination!

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Second prize goes to Grizabella, with this haunting screenshot. Despite being from the EU, Grizabella plays on Tarnished Coast for the roleplay.

Aetriess, also from Gunnar's Hold, looks fantastic as a princess, and wins third prize!

Aetriess, also from Gunnar’s Hold, looks fantastic as a princess, and wins third prize!

That said, I couldn’t wrap this up without a few honourable mentions. Unfortunately I don’t have any more prizes to hand out, but these entries are too good to keep to myself.

Chokapika from Arborstone looks pretty in pink with her Quaggan companion!

Chokapika from Arborstone looks pretty in pink with her Quaggan companion!

Neala Wiverflower from Whiteside Ridge came up with this spooky combination - ideal for the return of the Mad King!

Neala Wiverflower from Whiteside Ridge came up with this spooky combination – ideal for the return of the Mad King!

Tiny Lotus from Ring of Fire is trying to teach her pink Moa how to fly.

Tiny Lotus from Ring of Fire is trying to teach her pink Moa how to fly.

I’d like to thank everyone who entered the competition – there was some amazing creativity on display, and a lot of throughout went into so many of them. Screenshotters, I salute you!

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23 Sep 2014

Death of a Super-Genre

The time of the full-fat feature-packed MMORPG is at an end. They are ridiculously expensive to produce, and are regularly met with scorn and disinterest by an increasingly cynical audience. The market has spoken very clearly – these are not the games people want to play. Blizzard’s decision to cancel Titan – an upcoming MMOFPS that didn’t have their full confidence – just goes to show how tough this is.

Publishers and developers are paying attention. Just take a look at the MMORPG release schedule for 2015 – there’s nothing for the traditional genre fan. It’s something I noticed when walking the floor at Gamescom, where all the big MMO stands were for games that had been out for months if not years. World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, WildStar and Guild Wars 2 on the Twitch booth. But nothing new or upcoming to carry the MMO banner.

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22 Sep 2014

Competition: Win Guild Wars 2 Swag!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Firstly, an apology. I meant to get this competition up several weeks ago, but things at Chez Gazz have been absolutely manic. Anyhow, thanks to the generous folks at ArenaNet and NCSoft, I have a small collection of Guild Wars 2 swag from Gamescom that I wanted to share around! Here’s what’s on offer:

  • First Prize: Guild Wars 2 blank hardbound notebook, Living World mouse mat, and Mini llama item code.
  • Second and third prize: Mini Llama item code.

How do you win? Simple. I want you to take a screenshot of yourself and a Mini of your choice, looking completely co-ordinated. I’m going to leave it up to you how and where you take it, but I’m looking for imagination here. Be creative!

Here’s how to enter:

  • Email your screenshot (or a link to it) to gareth@gazimoff.com (that’s me!)
  • Use the subject line ‘GW2 Screenshot Competition’
  • Include your character name and server, so I know where it’s from!

The closing date is Friday September 26th at midnight BST. All entries received after this time will be redirected to the Inquest.

And finally, the small print:

  • My decision is final. Don’t like it? Don’t care.
  • Only one entry per person, one screenshot per entry. Please have mercy on my inbox. Multiple entries will be disqualified.
  • Because I have to send these out myself, I regretfully have to limit entries to EU only.
  • By entering the competition, you’re granting me the right to use the screenshot in a future post where I announce the winners.
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18 Sep 2014

The Value of Opinion

There’s a whole bag of controversy raging around the internet of late. Of subjectivity versus objectivity, of fact versus opinion, of divergence versus convergence. Who should write about games, what should they be allowed to say, what should even be considered as a game. There’s also been an incredible backlash that has pushed people out of gaming completely, and it’s been horrifying to watch.

Anyone should be free to have an opinion on a game and share it publicly – you, me, anyone. The tools are cheap or free. Websites should also be free to hire who they want for those opinions. Don’t like the opinion, or trust the person giving it? Choose someone else. The number of voices in gaming grows every day, and there’s no shortage of places to find them. But that’s a great thing – gaming culture is growing to include more than ever before. Yes, there’ll be growing pains, but there’ll also be new games to play, new concepts to unearth and new directions to take. Who doesn’t want that?

So that’s the short answer. The TL;DR. But if you want the whys and wherefores, read on.

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