Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Some Things Never Change. Some Do.

By rights I shouldn't even be here. I should be playing New World. I've been wanting to all day but as usual there's been other stuff going on and the time just drifts.

We've had several days of rain where I live but today the forecast was for sunshine and plenty of it, so since I'm technically on holiday I thought we really ought to do something that got me out of the house. We spent the morning at Farleigh Hungerford castle. It's not far from where we live and we've been before but not for a few years. 

I recommend it for a couple of hours on a nice day. The setting is glorious, the ruins are interesting and the family history is like a crazed medieval soap opera. We wandered around, looked at everything, read all the descriptions, then sat in the sunshine eating ice cream. We were almost the only ones there. It was great.

After that we came and had lunch and by then it was two o'clock. There was some nonsense about flu vaccinations I won't bore anyone with that I had to sort out and by then it was two-thirty. I could have logged into New World only Mrs Bhagpuss was in Guild Wars 2 and I knew there was new stuff there...

Yes, it's true! ANet added something to one of the holiday events! I saw it in the patch notes, late in the evening, when I logged in to do my dailies, between writing yesterday's post and getting a final hour of New World in before bed. 

I didn't have time to go look then but Mrs. Bhagpuss told me there were two new bosses in the Labyrinth, which she helpfully described as "a fat blob and another one". I figured I'd probably have to go see for myself and this afternoon I did just that.

It didn't seem like it would take too long so I opted to do it before playing New World rather than after. I also had it in mind that I could get a quick blog post out of it but I promised myself this time I'd hold off on writing it up until last thing in the evening. That way I could play New World up to the time when things start to get too busy for my PC to feel comfortable, generally around nine in the evening.

New World runs amazingly well on my aging rig (Rig? Who says "Rig"?). I can even play with the graphics on "High" without too much complaint if I'm on in the mornings or early afternoons and on "Medium" I'm fine pretty much all the time until early prime-time on the East Coast of America, around ten in the evening over here.

Around then my frame rates start to drop and the fans in my PC rev up to the point I can really hear them, something that almost never happens and which makes me very nervous. I'm starting to realize it makes more sense for me to play first and blog later rather than doing it the other way around.

Of course, having logged into GW2, first I had to my dailies, because you do, don't you? I did them on one account and then logged in the second and did them again. Finally I clicked that handy "Go to all the Holiday events without bothering to do the usual dance" device they gave us a while back and ported my necro into the Lab.

And then I spent the best part of ten minutes trying to find a squad that was in a map that wasn't full. Halloween is a popular holiday in GW2 and the Mad King's Labyrinth may be the most popular event on the schedule. People run it for hour after hour, round and round, hoovering up the endless torrents of loot. You can make a lot of imaginary money at Halloween and some people do nothing else.

All I wanted was to see the two new bosses, get some pictures, log out and play New World for a couple of hours. I wouldn't say I was jonesing for it, not least because a) it's not 1975 and b) no-one ever said "jonesing" even then unless they had a bit-part as a junkie in Starsky and Hutch. But I was getting twitchy.

Twitchy... hmm... that reminds me. Did you see Twitch got hacked? Raided, really. Supposedly the entire source code's been lifted. Advice is to change passwords and activate two-factor authentication. I do have a Twitch account although it's years since I used it for anything. I suppose I'd better get on that right after I finish up here. Just one more thing I have to do before I get to play New World. 


Getting back to Tyria, when I finally found a squad I could join it took me another half an hour or so before both new bosses popped. The first, Harrower Veltan seems to be a faster, tougher version of Steve, aka the Labyrinthine Horror, which is what ANet called the skeleton with a chainsword who pops out randomly to gank people. 

Some wag of a player renamed him "Steve" many years ago and it caught on and now no-one calls him anything else. I'm betting the new one gets called something similar pretty quickly because she's basically Steve on crystal meth cut with angel dust (Like I'd know what that would be like...) The squad I was in managed to get both of them at once and it was a bloodbath. 

In the end we got them both down because players always win in the end. They die and come back whereas NPCs just die. After we'd disposed of those two it was a long wait before we came to the door behind which the second new boss waits. 

I recognized immediately it was a new door in a new spot so I was ready for something. What I got was a very big Charr in golden armor. He (I think it was a "he". Hard to tell in all the chaos.) goes by the name Hallowed Gourdbinder (Catchy? I think not.) and likes to throw exploding pumpkins in all directions. 

Seriously, couldn't they just have called him the Pumpkin Bomber or something? The Mad Pumpkin Bomber. That would be thematically appropriate and we could remember it.


He also has an aircraft-hangarful of hitpoints. It took forever to whittle him down. I passed the time by asking Mrs Bhagpuss, who was busy doing something in World vs World, if the one she described as "a fat blob" was a charr. "Yes", she said, "a fatipuff charr". That's his nickname in our house now, although we should probably keep it to ourselves.

While all this was going on I also noticed a welcome change in ambience. For years we've had to listen to the same, stale, tired banter between Mad King Thorn and his son, much of which, as I've observed before, seemed ill-advised even in 2012 and downright offensive today.

This year, Prince Edrick, Thorn's usual verbal sparring partner, has vanished. Or at least he was gone when I was there. I hope it's for good. 

He's been replaced by the always-annoying Palawa Joko. Much though I dislike Joko, I have to say his dialog with Kingy is significantly less disturbing and, being new, for the time being at least, less irritating.

Removing offensive NPC dialog in games seems to be a bit of a thing right now. Not before time, in my opinion. It's not so much the innate offense as the crassness of it that I object to. Okay, it's also the innate offensiveness.

Joko, chuntering away in the background.


I tried to take some good pictures of the two new bosses but as anyone who's played GW2 in any content that involves a bunch of players will know, you can barely see a thing most of the time. It's all explosions and special effects. 

I got downed three times, trying to get screenshots with the UI hidden. Didn't really get me anywhere. In the end it's only in the shots with the UI still on, the ones where you can see the nameplates, that you can tell who we're fighting. 

I see from the update notes there's some kind of "fact-finding expedition" connected to the new additions, meaning, presumably, some kind of collection or achievement. You have to speak to Magister Tassi of the Durmand Priory in Lion's Arch to get that started. And there's also the second in the collection of holiday-themed books to find.

No hurry to get started on either of those; Halloween will be with us for a long time. Over a month, in fact. It doesn't end until 9th November. I'll do them in my own time.

What I'm going to do now, I thought as I logged out of GW2, is play New World. At last! Only there was a patch so I couldn't. I let the patch download and install.While that was going on I read the patch notes. Also didn't take long. 

Then I logged in and guess what? The servers were still down. There was a note suggesting I visit the forums for more information. That was interesting. Until then I didn't even know New World had any forums. How very old school.

Weird, how my abomination shows up in sillhouette...

A quick visit there told me the servers went down at 11.00am and maintenance was scheduled to last four hours. Well, that's neat! That covers pretty much the middle of the day when I was doing all these other things. So I couldn't have played anyway. I didn't miss anything!

Except as I was reading that it was just gone four in the afternoon. The servers should have been up for an hour already. I read on. A further message apologised for the delay, saying the maintenance was taking longer than expected and the servers would come up at 4pm. That was two minutes ago, by my clock.

I read on. "Unfortunately, we are having some technical difficulties and need to extend the maintenance for two more hours. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and support!" Oh. Okay. I know how this goes. I've been here before.

Which is how I came to be writing this rambling mess of a post. To kill the time while I wait. Better than staring at the login screen and clicking "Refresh" every thirty seconds. Don't tell me you never did that.

As I write there's another message on the thread. "We are slowly bringing worlds back online. Stay tuned and thanks again for your patience!" And thank you, dear reader, for yours. If you'll excuse me, I'll be off. I have some numbers I need to make go up and they won't do it on their own.

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