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The Aesthetics and Creative Side of GW2 – Part 3: Customization

continued from Part 2: Audio

It’s expected that the developer team of a game is creative. They come up with ideas to make the game more enjoyable and attractive for the gamers. But what about you, the gamer?

I, being an artist and crafter, enjoy being creative even while I’m playing a game. It’s nice to be able to outfit my characters the way I like and stand out from the crowd in my own special way. It’s also enjoyable to solve puzzles or hunt for the Easter eggs that the developers leave in the game for the players to find and enjoy. I therefore want to shine a spotlight to these features in Guild Wars 2 that I enjoy.

Armor Dye System

The leveling during the beta has been very limited, more by the time allowed for me, so I haven’t seen large equipment variations for different levels. From what I have seen so far with my level 16 Charr guardian, the armor style selection is rather limited so far. I think this may be uninteresting to those who don’t like to spend much time in customizing their armor. For those who likes to play around and visually customize their equipments, however, there is a supplementation to the lack of armor models: the dye system.

In the original Guild Wars, you need to physically prepare vials of dyes, which takes up inventory space or are sometimes expensive to purchase. In Guild Wars 2, the dye system is altered so that you can pick colors directly from predetermined palettes and apply to maximum of 3 parts per equipment. While this potentially limits the variety and fine tuning of colors that the former dye system offers, it makes customization easier and more accessible by no longer requiring specific items. I personally favor the new system even without the multi-part coloration, for the fact that it doesn’t cost anything or take up inventory space as I am one of those people who hoard consumable items like dyes and not use them as much.

There are only so many palettes available in the beginning, but as you progress through the game, more dye color sets are unlocked, improving the selection of colors.

Crafting

Like mentioned earlier, I like to craft, even during a game. I have been looking forward to the Guild Wars 2 crafting. I say that I enjoyed the Guild Wars 2 crafting system so far overall, but I feel it can use some improvements.

As mentioned by my fellow press beta team members (Gorani and Lady Rhonwynn), the crafting involves exploration: exploring the world for a wide variety of materials, and exploration of different combination of materials to develop new recipes. First of all, I really like the ingredient selections. Strolling along a road in a contested area, you can’t help but smile at a patch of blueberry bush or a bunch of carrots huddled among a deserted hill, and finding a precious gem among copper ore is always exciting.

The crafting system, like the dye system, is designed to be very accessible. Though they do require ingredients, you are not required to own a specific tool or instrument; you just need to be in the vicinity of the proper “craft” area, like the stove for cooks or looms for tailors. As have been mentioned several times already, you can pick up and drop a crafting profession without penalty.

Each crafting mastery has its perks. Picking up armorcrafting, leatherworking, and tailoring offers you a more customized armor than the armor vendor can offer, and cooking lets you prepare consumable buffs.

The most interesting part of the crafting system is discovering new recipes. Though this is involved in every crafting discipline, none exploits this system to its full potential better than cooking. Cooking has very wide variety of ingredients involved, increasing the recipe combinations exponentially. I have been successful at making some ingredients myself that I was not able to find a recipe to be used for, and Lady Rhonwynn, who seem to have been able to explore cooking much more than me, mention some ingredients and recipes that I didn’t know was there.

Like Lady Rhonwynn, I quickly have run into the inventory space problem. Because cooking offers so many ingredients and recipes, it quickly fills up your inventory if you are not careful. It took me a grand total of 12 minutes to multiply my cooking ingredients from 8 to 23. In earlier levels when you don’t have as many inventory spaces, this can be devastating to your inventory space.

I really think the problem is that the vendor ingredients come in sets of 10. This is not as big of an issue with other crafting, such as armorcrafting, that doesn’t involve as many types of ingredients. However, with the huge amount of ingredients involved in cooking, this can quickly grow into a very big problem. Different ingredients are consumed in different amounts, and unless you are cooking 10 of each recipe, you will have several ingredients left over. This, combined with the fact that you are also producing cooked food and even more ingredients, packrats are not going to be only ones with inventory problems.

Currently, the only solutions to this inventory problem is to sell of all the vendor ingredients on the market or back to vendor, or toss them over to your guildmates who can find an immediate use for them. Selling the ingredients back is far from being economically efficient, especially since even some of the common ingredients are bought with karmas, and you are not guaranteed to find a guildie who can use or store them (though it could stay in the mail system for a short while). I think it’s a little wasteful how they make the approachable crafting system unapproachable by making it more costly and complicated than it needs to be. I think it should be fine to sell ingredients individually and be able to specify how many a player wants to purchase, especially with karma items. I mean, the Guild Wars 1 crafts are traded in sets of 10 common materials and individually the rare materials; it still can make sense if at least the karma items were sold individually.

Me? Did you really think inventory problems are enough to stop me from crafting? I will continue to work with crafting and inventory space management and find just the right balance to alleviate the problem.

Extra – Remnants of Guild Wars 1

Let us go back to the creativity of the developers. With the Guild Wars 2 being the sequel and future of Guild Wars 1, it is only natural to find remains of the past. There are several videos and posts about these remnants already, so I’m going to only cover the ones that caught my attention.

Barradin’s Estate

Barradin’s estate is notable for its rectangular irrigation system. This can still be seen in Old Duke’s Estate in Plains of Ashford, though the water is long dried up.

Searing Crystals

In Plains of Ashford, formerly where the kingdom of Ascalon once stood, you can still see a few large crystals from the Searing. The one particular that I remember is due west of the ruins of Ascalon City; I believe this crystal is the one that was close to the statue of Balthazar, near the gate in Presearing Ascalon.

Pyre’s Arrowheads

There is a vendor at Charr’s Triumph in Plains of Ashford that sells Pyre’s Arrowhead, an accessory that adds +4 to healing power. Whether it is truly genuine as the vendor claims, no one knows. Considering it’s only 1.20 silver, it sounds a bit fishy. But at least +4 to healing is genuine, so you can always get the accessory for that reason.

Jora’s Statue

Just as Pyre is admired by the Charr, Jora is praised by the Norn. Her portrait makes an appearance in the Norn character creation movie, and in Hoelbrak I saw at least one statue of Jora.

The Goddess Kormir

The statues of the 6 gods got some make-overs, but the one that got me interested the most was Kormir’s statue. Her new statue looks more goddess-y, partly because she no longer dons that funky armor and her hair is shown straight. She also got horns on her head, similar to some of the statue of Moses sculpted with horns in early Renaissance. Kormir’s banner shows a more accurate portrait of her, back before Abaddon got her eyes. Also, the inscription on her statue is a quote by Jurah – for those of you who don’t have the wiki page up, that is the real name of Master of Whispers that Norgu manages to get out of him during the Dzagonur Bastion mission.