Thursday, March 31, 2022

This, That And The Other.

A bit of a grab-bag today, I'm afraid. I'm not really feeling it for long, involved treatises at the moment, which is probably just as well. Then again, I also haven't come up with any clever new ideas for short, pithy posts, so it's just going to be a little bit of what I've done and what I've read.

And mostly what I've done is get my Charr Engineer in Guild Wars 2 set up as a Mechanist, the new elite specialization for her class that comes with End of Dragons. I mentioned I was working on her in the post on planning but at the time about all I'd done was spend the points. That's the easy part.

Yesterday I got down to the detail. I went to Metabattle to look for a build. As I may have mentioned about a hundred times, I find making and changing builds every bit as compelling a piece of content as camping a two-hour spawn for a rare drop. Actually, not even that compelling. At least if the drop does finally drop there's a moment of euphoria before the grim realization of just how much time you wasted sets in.

My dislike of builds puts me in an odd position in regard to Metabattle and sites like it. In theory I kinda, sorta disapprove of them. They're somewhere in there with all the other forces that push mmorpg gameplay towards some kind of bland, cloned efficiency. It drives originality, whimsy and quirkiness to the perifery, whereas I'd like those sorts of behaviors to be right in the center.

On the other hand, they are really useful and they save a whole lot of time. When it's something I don't find fun to do the long-winded way, it's extremely easy to overlook the implications of taking a shortcut. 

In this particular instance I felt happier than usual about doing it because it's far too soon for any genuine "meta" to have coalesced. All we have so far are are suggestions. The build I followed, the Power Mechanist, is in the "Draft" section and so far just one person has voted on it. They did give it the full five stars, though.

I was drawn to it by the description: "Power Mechanist is a simple build that offers very high damage. It is exceptionally easy to play and is one of the best generalist options for open world farming currently."I especially like the part that says "exceptionally easy to play."

Naturally, I couldn't resist fiddling about with it. I didn't like the sound of the bomb kit much. I remember using that many years ago and finding it both exciting and unreliable. I stuck the speed signet in that slot instead and resolved to stick with my trusty rifle.

I did go with the suggestions for gear, more or less, which led me to a typically bitty, frustrating crafting session as I tried to remember which of my characters was the Leatherworker and then who had all the mats. Despite GW2's nominally excellent material storage, there's always something you need for Ascended gear that isn't where it's supposed to be.

In the end I opted for a mix of Ascended and Exotic gear, using some Ascended chests I had lying around, unopened, in the bank. They had the wrong stats, of course, so that meant making all the relevant items to throw into the Mystic Forge to change them to the stats I needed, namely Berserker (It's almost always Berserker for me, even now.)

After that I had to find which Guild's vault I'd used to store my runes and sigils and then of course it turned out I only had five Scholar runes so I had to buy a sixth on the Trading Post. Eventually I got it all done. It took me a couple of hours, including the most important part of all, coming up with an appropriate new look.

As the screenshots in the previous posts and this one show, the new look is radically different. As an Engineer, this character has always fancied herself something of a cool customer, clad in black leather and looking like she means business. As a Mechanist she's show-offy, stylish, even a little bit glam rock.

The gloves, which I think look great, come as a reward for becoming a Mechanist in the first place. All the rest are things I had unlocked in the wardrobe except for the rifle and shield, both of which come from the End of Dragons Saltspray set. I bought them on the TP for a few silver.

As you can see in one of the shots, but not, for some reason, in the one at the top of the post, which is from the login screen, I've given her orange, glowing eyes. I don't usually go for that look, which is very commonly seen in GW2, but the colors went perfectly and it seemed to fit the quasi-robotic theme.

All in all I'm pretty pleased with how she's turned out. Now I just have to learn how to play her.

New World

Following on from another recent post, I spent a couple of hours in New World today. The postponed patch has landed and as far as I can tell hasn't totally wrecked the game. Yet. 

I wanted to find one of the Easels for the new pictures you can put in your house but so far no luck. I was hoping they'd be marked on the map but if they are can't see them. I also didn't happen across any of the new random roadside encounters and the Level 40 Group Instance that was blocking me from continuing with the Main Story Quest is still in my journal. It hasn't been converted to a solo option. Boo!

On the plus side, the linked storage seems to be working. I completed a quest in Monarch's Bluff using some timber I pulled out of the storage in Weaver's Fen and it didn't cost me a coin. Even more positively, I had a great time running around Aeternum. I remembered very quickly why I enjoyed myself there so much for so long last year. 

I dinged 55, cleaning out some old quests and I feel moderately motivated to motor through to sixty. Fast travel and linked storage make the game feel considerably more like a regular mmorpg, something about which I have mixed feelings. I'm very glad I got to play before they changed it but as has always been the case for me, having had my chance to do it the slow way when everything was new and exciting, I'm more than happy to do it the fast way now it's familiar and routine.

A couple of other things of minor note to mention before I move on from New World. For some reason, all my Achievements had been reset. It was just a mouse-click to restore them at the game's prompt but I have no idea why it was necessary. Also there's a free bear-skin rug in the cash shop. I've claimed it but my rent hasn't been paid so I haven't placed it yet. Something to look forward to next time!

And finally, The Metaverse. Oh, god, not that again!

Don't worry. It's just a couple of links. I expect most people reading this would have already seen Andrew Ross's summary of the GDC 2022 panel entiteld “A Brave New (Virtual) World: Ethics and Governance of XR and the Metaverse” over at MassivelyOP. It's an interesting, if occasionally hard to follow, read. 

Less likely to have been spotted but even more interesting is this piece at The Atlantic by Ethan Zuckerman from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. It's well worth reading not just because of the good sense Prof. Zuckerman talks about the Metaverse and what it can and can't be but also for a whole lot of historical detail about the kinds of proto-metaverse platforms that existed anything up to a quarter of a century ago.

It certainly wasn't news to me that we'd seen all of this before but it's very satisfying to see it laid out in chapter and verse with links to the evidence. This one, particularly, looks worth investigating further. It's the write-up of something called The Metaverse Roadmap Summit, which took place in 2006 and featured, among others, our good friend Raph Koster.

And finally, one more from The Atlantic. Dating back to late last year, this one goes under the provocative title "The Metaverse Is Bad." It's an extreme position, to be sure, but I suspect what the author really means is "Facebook's version of the Metaverse is bad" and no-one's going to argue with that.


  1. Having watched Facebook become the juggernaut it has, I can't decide which would be a better ending for it: to be broken up, to remain as-is, or for space aliens to swoop down and beam Zuckerberg aboard with an apology for leaving their defective android behind when they visited. I mean, it's entirely feasible that if Facebook were to be broken up it would only create more money for Zuckerberg, because I think it unlikely that he'd be forced into selling all of his stock in the various "mini" FBs. But an 'as-is' Facebook would just continue down its merry way, attempting to consume all data for their own purposes. Which brings me to Zuck getting removed from Facebook, which would mean that it'd simply continue as a faceless entity, without a single unifying person to hate.

    1. I'm very happy to say I have never had a Facebook account. It's a pretty safe bet I will never have a Meta account, either. I'm very keen on the metaverse concept itself but a good deal less so on the people and companies currently trying to hijack it for their own ends.


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