Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns Interview

We interview Colin Johanson and Mike O’Brien of ArenaNet about the upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion, Heart of Thorns

At PAX South this weekend, ArenaNet took control of the Main Theater to announce their first expansion for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns (HoT). We got a chance to sit down with GW2 Game Director Colin Johanson as well as President and Co-Founder of ArenaNet Mike O’Brien to get more details about HoT. If you missed the announcement, you can find an overview of all the features the two revealed during the announcement here on ZAM.

The announcement was a high level look at all of the new major features coming in the expansion, but we were curious if any existing features were also going to be expanded and upgraded with the expansion. Colin simply said no. When they said these were the major features of the expansion, they really meant they were all of the features.

This expansion is looking toward the future, with every feature laying the foundation for how the game going forward. “We waited until [now] to announce this expansion, because we wanted to be at the point where we can say this is our plan and this our vision for the way that Guild Wars 2 will grow in the future, not just with this expansion, but in all of the content that we do.” The Mastery system is how PvE and PvE progression will grow, skills and traits will grow through the Specialization system and Guild Halls will allow you to grow your guilds and progress and expand them in the future. Since launch there have been questions about how Guild Wars 2 will expand and these systems are the answers.


The mastery system will be a bunch of different ability lines that you can spend points on, with new abilities unlocked if you spend more points into a line. Hang gliding, for example, will unlock the ability to fly farther and later on to use air currents to get to higher in places on the map or use them to shoot down quickly.

We compared the mastery system to the current WvW ability lines and Colin replied that it is a pretty fair comparison. He said that in some ways the mastery system took some inspiration from the WvW system, but then builds on it and probably improves what the WvW system does. That won’t leave the WvW system old and dusty, however, as he added that they are also taking some of the concepts from mastery and rolling those back in to make the WvW system even more robust.

While not going into specifics, they did talk a little more about how players will be unlocking mastery points to spend. One of the ways that players can get mastery points is through completing a map, and that map completion in Heart of Thorns was going to be much of the same key experience in HoT that it has always been in Guild Wars 2. The mastery point reward will be the final reward for completing a map, not replacing what is required for map completion. While there will be additional sources of mastery points located throughout a map, these additional sources will generally not be required for map completion.

Mastery points are going to complement everything from discovery to exploration to overcoming challenges, where it feels natural for a mastery point to belong in the world and be a core system of progression, growth and discovery. Any places or moments that fit those description could potentially have a mastery point. One of the things mentioned in the announcement was using your mastery points to unlock better hang gliding or secret locations through the lore. We asked if these hidden locations could then contain mastery points, where players are in a sense using mastery points to gain even more points, and Colin replied that it certainly makes sense that this is something players could encounter.

If you are wanting to max out all of your masteries, it might be a little harder than you think. Mike said that mastery is a long-term system, a system that they will continue to layer content onto including layering Living World content. Over time there will be more and more mastery points available, but they will also be adding new things that you can spend those points on. Additionally, players will have gotten a certain depth into these lines and new content will come out that will let you go even deeper.

We asked if these abilities are going to be showing up on the action bar for ones that are active, and were told that the action bar will remain for the player’s profession and expanded upon with specializations. The mastery system is complimentary to that, being passive; a context-specific interaction or very situational if active. An active one, Colin explained, is jumping from the top of an area and activating your hang glider. He said that it varies greatly based on each mastery line and that players will just need to wait to be able to experience all of the depth that the system has to offer.

With the example of hang gliding being used often, we were curious if this was the only example there was for exploring, or if this was just the one example they were using to explain the system. Colin confirmed that it is an example of one of the things that players will be able to do to master exploration. We also asked how learning languages of civilizations as part of the lore would work and if unknown civilizations would be talking gibberish to players before they learn the language. Colin again kept the details from us, saying that we will have to wait and see exactly how that works, but not before adding with that famous Colin smile, “We have some fun plans.” They didn’t want to go into too much detail on the mastery system for now, but said that they would share a lot more information about the mastery system before the launch of the expansion.

A big detail that we did learn is that it is not only the Heart of Maguuma that will be getting mastery points. In fact, there will be two separate mastery systems, one for the jungle and another for the core areas of Guild Wars 2. Players will be able to earn mastery points in the jungle to spend on abilities specific to the jungle and then earn separate mastery points for the core areas of the game to spend on abilities for the core areas.

Albion Online Starting Out Fresh

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I wanted to give you guys a quick look at the game. This is a sandbox title that needs a little patience. But if you can keep an open mind. You will greatly appreciate the game for what it is. Theirs something about building a character from scratch.

True Sandbox build everything from scratch Player Driven Economy Play as you want PVE/PVP/Trader Make whatever you want in steps Plenty of Dungeon running Easy to understand what you need to do Destiny Board is a different take on questing

Where’s the story in this game? More random enemies would be nice May take more patience then people have Opening land costs are a little high Getting into the beta at this point is pay2play

Those of you who like run and gun or diablo fast games. This ones not for you stay away. For those of you who want to feel accomplished. Like wow I took this character from nothing to legend. This game maybe for you.

Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns Announced as the First Expansion

ArenaNet has announced their first expansion pack, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns! Watch the official trailer for a glimpse at the journey ahead, and then delve deeper into the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns site to discover the exciting new features they have planned. ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O’Brien and game director Colin Johanson surprised thousands of fans packed into the PAX South Main Theater and many more tuning into the Twitch livestream from around the world with the announcement, unveiling each of the core features the expansion would bring to Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns – Expansion Announcement Trailer

Guild Wars 2 – Point of No Return Easter Egg Cinematic

ArcheAge Reveals Updates in Store for 2015

Trion Worlds producer Merv Lee Kwai today published a detailed article letting ArcheAge’s 2 million players know what they can expect to see coming to the game in 2015.

First of all, Trion is improving communication and transparency with players, pledging more from the ArcheAge team on forums, social channels and live streams — starting now.

Some of the key improvements being made include:

Trion will be slowly introducing alternative drop methods to the game to help combat inflation within the game’s economy.
Some of the most popular cosmetic and companion items will be made available through the loyalty system, in addition to supply crates. An example of this is the highly anticipated Sloth glider.
The team will be adding new mechanics like a weekly ranking system for the PvP Arena and Fishing Tournaments.
To ensure that in-game rewards reflect the level of effort taken to obtain them, Trion is making it a priority to review top tier drops and rewards — better loot for harder work!
More bots and hackers kicked from the game create a better experience for all players.
Players now see the initial stages of the road to Diamond Shores, Secrets of Ayanad, which is populated with creatures and quests designed to support the level cap increase to 55.

Blizzard plays to its base by rewarding veteran World of Warcraft players

Blizzard Entertainment is rewarding the most loyal World of Warcraft players by sending out an orc statue to anyone with accounts older than 10 years.

“As a way to thank our most loyal World of Warcraft players,” Blizzard explained on its support page, “we are sending a physical gift to players that have stuck with us since the very beginning.”

Eligible players have already been contacted via the e-mail address registered to their accounts.

The statue, posted online by user Smitti, is of an orc warrior riding a worg. It appears to be a scaled-down replica of the statue in front of Blizzard’s main campus in Irvine, Calif.. An inscription on the bottom of the gift elaborates on its significance:

“The Orc statue is a constant presence in our life at Blizzard Entertainment. It’s where we meet to talk, to eat, to celebrate. As we celebrate ten years of World of Warcraft, we present this token of appreciation to you, stalwart adventurer. Thank you for being a constant presence in our lives as we adventure together.”

Related: Celebrate 10 years in Azeroth with Blizzard’s World of Warcraft documentary
The statue gift is well-timed to coincide with the announcement of the Veteran’s Edition of World of Warcraft. This new option is designed to tempt players with lapsed accounts to come back into the fold. The longtime Starter’s Edition has allowed new players to get into the game for an unlimited amount of time under particular limitations, such as a level cap at 20 and reduced communication capacity.

Until now that option has been completely unavailable to players who have ever had an account. The Veteran’s Edition fills in that gap, allowing returning players to test the waters under the same restrictions imposed by the Starter Edition with the one exception that players with characters already in a guild will be able to sign up their sub-level-20 characters to that same guild, should they want to.

WoW: Blizzard Sending Gifts To Veteran Players!

Blizzard decided to award veteran players a physical miniature of the statue that’s outside Blizzard headquarters as a tenth anniversary gift.

Here’s an official statement of Blizzard, along with requirements for getting your gift.

“As a way of thanking our loyal World of Warcraft players, we will send a physical gift to players who have been playing with us since the beginning. Players who are eligible have received an email at the address listed on their accounts. If you did not receive that email, your account is not eligible for this gift.

These gifts were sent to physical addresses of eligible registered accounts. To be eligible for this gift, a player must have created a World of Warcraft account within 60 days of the game’s release in America or Europe.

Eligible players in America have received tracking information for the shipment of the gift. Eligible players in Europe will receive tracking information when your gifts are sent throughout the month. If the shopping address in the email is incorrent, you will need to contact us with the updated address.”

In order to receive the gift, you must have created your WoW account within 60 days of its launch. If you’re eligible, you’ve been sent an e-mail, containing further information. The physical gift has been sent to the address entered in your account.

Here’s how the statue looks like

Final Fantasy: Space, Crystal – Game Trailer for Upcoming Mobile Game

The Official Game Trailer for Final Fantasy Legends: Space, Crystal has been released by its developer Square Enix.The game is led by a 29-year Square Enix veteran, Takashi Tokita, who worked on console projects including Chrono Trigger and several Final Fantasy games. Space, Crystal will launch in Japan later this month. Let’s enjoy the trailer right now.

Guild Wars 2 Living World Finale Puts Players at ‘Point of No Return’

ArenaNet, publisher and developer of the acclaimed Guild Wars franchise, is releasing “Point of No Return” for Guild Wars 2’s Living World today. As the conclusion of the Living World’s second season, the episode promises to be a memorable one. Earlier in the season players were warned that ‘the road to war is paved with points of no return’. Now, Tyria stands at that threshold, with the Pact Fleet poised to take the war to the Elder Dragon Mordremoth and his increasingly fierce forces, the Mordrem.


In addition to bringing the Season 2 storyline to its epic conclusion, “Point of No Return” delivers new game play and access to new treasures:

Time is Running Out

The Pact Fleet is poised to launch, and Glint’s egg is still missing. You have one last memory seed to plant, and the search through Caithe’s past has led you to a cave sealed shut with strange magic. The time for truth has come. Find a way to break the seal, enter the cave, and learn what happened all those years ago.

Ancient History

Marjory thinks Ogden Stonehealer might be able to shed some light on the origins of the seal on Wynne’s cave. The old dwarf has lived through events that have since become mere myths. Players must go to the Durmand Priory to seek his aid in understanding the seal’s ancient magic – and how to break it.


Mordrem Vinewrath

Players can take the next step in the war against the Mordrem by fighting the Vinewrath, a lieutenant of Mordremoth that has claimed a portion of the Silverwastes for its own. This fight will take the coordination of many heroes working together with the Pact to force their way down three separate lanes of attack and take out the Vinewrath’s three deadly champions.

Silverwastes Treasures

Players can round out their Carapace and Luminescent armor sets with the addition of the chest and headgear pieces in this episode. Complete the Points of No Return storyline to receive the Carapace headgear, and fight the Mordrem Vinewrath for a chance at the Carapace chest. Bandit Crest collectors now have Mordrem Bladder and Spleen Extraction Devices and a new ascended accessory for players to purchase.

How to Fix Toxicity in League of Legends

Riot Games recently announced a new initiative in which they will be rewarding non-toxic players with a Mystery Gift if they haven’t been chat restricted or suspended/banned within the last year. This effort is the latest in a long line of attempts to reduce toxicity in the League of Legends online community.


League of Legends is infamous in the gaming community for being infested with trolls and so-called “toxic” players. Riot has literally spent years trying to combat it through various methods. Many players probably remember the Tribunal which allowed other players to vote on whether to punish or pardon other players’ reported behavior. The Tribunal was riddled with flaws which I helped to point out and was eventually torn down and replaced with a new chat restriction system.

The new system is automated which means other players no longer vote to punish you. That’s a step in the right direction at least. Instead, the system apparently applies a chat restriction to you if you get reported a certain number of times, or if you get reported in a certain percentage of your games. This system, while better than the Tribunal, is also plagued with serious flaws such as the fact it doesn’t have the ability to judge behavior improvements. This has ultimately caused lots of players to be chat restricted pretty much permanently. The chat restriction system hurts the game overall for reasons I wrote about in a previous article. In short, when a player is chat restricted it is not only punishing him/her but also punishing all of his/her allies in subsequent games which they can no longer effectively communicate with. Obviously these people did nothing so why should they be punished?

As previously mentioned, Riot is now trying something else by focusing on rewarding good players instead of simply punishing the bad ones. Will this help cut back on toxicity? The answer is probably not.

The reason this won’t help things is because toxic players and trolls don’t care about mystery rewards. If you’re trolling in a game that by definition means you don’t care about it so why would some in-game gift be any incentive to stop? Not to mention how nobody knew about this reward until after the fact.


So how can Riot actually cut back on toxicity in the game? The solution is actually quite simple. First off, they need to completely remove All Chat from the game. There is absolutely no reason to have this feature in League of Legends. You don’t need to converse with the other team during or even before/after the game. You don’t need to say “Good Game.” You don’t need to discuss what’s happening in the game with your enemies. All Chat is nothing more than a breeding ground for toxic behavior like taunting and insults. It unnecessarily provides an opportunity for players to act like jerks to their opponents. If you look at a game like Hearthstone, you can’t chat with your opponent at all in that game. What point would there be? So step one of “curing” toxicity in League of Legends is to remove All Chat completely.


The next step in fixing toxic behavior is to change chat restrictions so that if you do get chat restricted, it simply means you’re auto-muted for a certain number of games and that teammates and proactively choose to unmute you. Other games online such as Halo and Call of Duty use a system like this where if you have been disruptive in past games, you will be automatically muted in future games. Teammates can then choose to unmute you so that you can communicate during the game. This system would be far superior to the current one which doesn’t even allow you to talk with your friends that you have queued with if you have a chat restriction. That’s dumb.

The third and final step is for Riot Games to stop focusing on chat behavior and start focusing on actual in-game behavior. People who AFK at the fountain or rage-quit matches ruin entire games for people and should be dealt with accordingly. There are legitimate trolls like people who sell all their items and feeders. These are the players Riot needs to be dealing with.

Riot also needs to crack down on those who falsely report other players because they’re mad at them. As mentioned previously, the current chat restriction system kicks in automatically once you reach a certain threshold of reports. This means it still hurts you to get reported even if that report is not true. For example, if someone is queued with a full party it is likely they will get all of their friends to report you as well. Receiving five reports in one game is gonna hurt you.


This actually happened to me personally in a Dominion game. Despite the fact I didn’t say anything at all or do anything objectionable in-game, a player and his two friends reported me because they didn’t like me. Luckily for me, these false reports were caught on video because the user was livestreaming at the time. He readily admitted on his stream “we’re trying to get this guy banned by reporting him every chance we get.” Fortunately I wasn’t punished for their reports, likely because I sent the URL of the video to Riot via a support ticket. But there’s obviously not always going to be video evidence to exonerate you which is why false reports should be taken seriously.

The report system is perhaps one of the most abused features in League of Legends because angry players will often report you for doing well as a means of “getting back” at you. Thus far Riot has done nothing to quell false reports as far as I’m aware. Perhaps they should implement a system where if you report someone and they don’t get punished within a certain timeframe, your report counts against you instead. People who file a false police report in real life get charges brought up against them. The same threat of rebounding punishment should hold true for falsely reporting people in League of Legends. This would discourage players from reporting others unless absolutely necessary instead of just hitting the report button willy-nilly as so many players seem to do.

World of Warcraft 6.1 patch notes have been spoiled; Twitter integration, new items and much more

Patch 6.1 for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft has been spotted in the midst of being deployed to the PTR servers for testing. Inside is a lengthy list of additions and changes, including in-game Twitter integration, graphical settings and hundreds of new items.

We’ve cherry picked the best of the patch notes below, so check them out if you want to know what to expect when patch 6.1 lands – it’s not that far off.

The new questline with patch 6.1 will take place in the Iron Docks, as we further pursue the Iron Horde and their threatening war machines.

Blizzard have seen fit to include Twitter integration to the game, allowing players to write and send Tweets based on their activities. Examples include earning achievements, downing raid bosses or looting mighty items. You’ll even be able to attach screenshots too.

A slew of new (and returning) Anti-Aliasing options have been added, including MSAA, SSAA, SSAA + and CMAA. They’re varying levels of of each, so you’ll have a much easier time finding that sweet spot for smoothing out those jaggies. Nvidia’s flashy horizon based Ambient Occlusion has also been thrown in.

For you raiders out there, several new additions will make you jump for joy. Killing a boss will now show a new flashy UI element to celebrate your success. Also, if you step in the fire and die, WoW will now give you a detailed Death Log that reveals what and/or who killed you. You’ll also be able to get your hands on the new loot from the next raid tier, Blackrock Foundry.

World of Warcraft Patch 6.1 Alliance

Speaking of items, Heirlooms are returning to be your companions all the way from level 90 to level 100. You’ll need a token to upgrade them though, and we don’t know exactly how to attain them yet. We’ll also see the long awaited Heirloom collection tab be added to the game to help clear that precious bag/bank space.

Finally, it’s time for Garrisons. Players will be able to get their hands on various consumable items that affect Garrison missions. Garrison Scout Reports will give you a new mission, Mission Completion Orders will instantly complete a single mission, and Rush Orders will instantly complete five work orders; followers will also gain experience for work orders too.

For those quiet days, you’ll now be able to summon 10 – 40 player bosses inside your Garrison – ya know, for funsies.

Cheers MMO Champion!