Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 8: September – early November 2005

In this update, 59 screenshots of Guild Wars, taken between the release of Sorrow’s Furnace in early September, and the Halloween event of late October and early November.  I took a bunch of pictures of the Halloween event, and that makes up the bulk of this update.  It happens every year, but this was the first Guild Wars seasonal event, so it was pretty cool at the time.  In the early years of the game seasonal events changed significantly from year to year, too, as they added more things each time.  This first Halloween event is mostly just a visual change, with a redone Lion’s Arch and visits from a certain crazy undead king.  The minigames and such they added later were,  I believe, not present yet.

A. Sorrow’s Furnace Releases, Fall 2005

This is a cutscene showing a flythrough of Grenth’s Footprint, a new zone in the South Shiverpeaks added in early September which contains the games’ third ‘dungeon’, Sorrow’s Furnace. Unlike the other two though, which require a significant payment in gold each time you want to attempt them, Sorrow’s Furnace is freely accessible, if you can handle it. The Sorrow’s Furnace addon was released in a free patch, which was pretty awesome, and came with new music and some very nice looking areas, such as this one.

More of the flythough of the outsides of Sorrow’s Furnace.

Before you get to Sorrow’s Furnace itself, you’ve got to travel through several zones, go to the new outpost in Grenth’s Footprint, and gather a party there for the trek to the dungeon. Here I am heading towards that outpost, exploring the map towards the green mark on the minimap which shows where you need to go for the currently selected quest. Clearly there was a quest to get to this outpost, and I’m following it. This part is doable with henchmen.

And here I am, in the outpost! Made it.

B. Halloween 2005

I’ll get back to Sorrow’s Furnace attempts later — it’s a tough dungeon even with a human group, and I attempted it a bunch of times — but now for something different: the first Halloween event, or “Mad King’s Day” as Guild Wars calls it! It was late October, and to celebrate the holiday ANet did a big event with lots of custom graphics and NPC dialog lines, and some new gameplay content as well, though that would be added to greatly in later years.  The event was focused on Lion’s Arch, though the Tomb of the Primeval Kings and Droknar’s Forge also had a few changes, and the altered moon was visible everywhere you could see it. The official wiki has a page on this event here:  I’ve got a bunch of screenshots of various elements of the festivities, starting with this, some transformed Krytan civilians in Lion’s Arch. First though… why so much focus on Halloween? I guess they were trying for something that isn’t just one nation’s national holiday and this qualifies, so everyone playing the game can enjoy it, but Halloween is also something that I believe is more popular in the US than other places, so it’s not a universal thing. It’s a fun day when you’re a kid, getting candy, but I don’t like horror stuff and haven’t done anything special on halloween in a long time, so I don’t care about this stuff as much as some. Still, seeing the seasonal events in GW is always quite entertaining, and this was the first one so it was something of a big deal.

Here’s a skeleton knight.  Actually, it’s a Krytan civilian shopkeeper, transformed into a skeleton for the week by the Mad King’s magic…

Here are more people, or NPCs rather,  messed with — these have been tied up in spiderwebs.

Despite the spiderwebs though, the traders are open for business…

Just your average everyday demon and animal … who is probably just some poor randomly transformed citizen.

Nope, this horseman is one of the special event NPCs, only here during Halloween. For this first seasonal event, ANet added some special items to the game, namely the four shown in the picture: Witch’s Brew, Squash Serum, Ghost-In-A-Box, and Absinthe.  You could get them several ways, but this trader sold them for drops. These party items each do some entertaining thing, such as making your character ‘drunk’ (this messes with the screen for a bit), setting off a visual effect, and such. Over the years ANet would add many more seasonal party events like these. I’ve got lots of them in my storage box, it’s fun to keep them. But yes, other than the new visuals and the special visit on Halloween day, these items were the only other content addition; festival minigames would not be introduced to Guild Wars until 2006.

The sky looks different from usual as well, during Halloween, but there are many more changes as well…

But first, just another undead trader offering those four new amusement items in trade. Collect those emblems, you can’t buy them for cash!

Here’s a bigger change, there’s a big cauldron in the middle of town, with magic emitting out of the top of it! The ground’s not changed though, I’m pretty sure; the textures are just broken as they sometimes did on that computer.

And here’s the moon, now with a slightly creepy face on it. It’s a nice touch which adds to the atmosphere.

Another view of the moon, cauldron, and sheet-white ground.

In this area, a circle of stuff is marked out on the ground… huh.

This circle doesn’t have much of a function yet, but it will.

Turning into a Moa for a week or two might not be much fun, they’re surely not as smart as people…

Candy corn guards appear during Halloween. They look pretty silly… though while candy corn is an iconic Halloween candy, it’s not that good tasting. So yeah, these guys are probably safe. :p

With ghosts in the sky the ‘creepy’ atmosphere shows. Note the giant candle on that rock, as well.

This one’s a nice shot! And yes, that’s not a rock, but a skull. And there’s another demon skull on the now-black sails of the ship at the port. As I said I’m not a big Halloween fan, but the work they put in to redoing the city with a stereotypically creepy-Halloween theme is impressive.

While focused on Lion’s Arch, here in the Shiverpeaks we see that other areas have some changed graphics as well, here including that skull banner as well as the usual ghosts flying around.

Returning to Lion’s Arch, the sea looks sick… though it might be in better shape than that ship in the distance.

At specified times on Halloween day itself, the main event occurred: the Mad King’s visit itself. This entertaining, but maliciously crazy, pumpkin-headed spirit tries to escape his prison once a year. On that day he visits Lion’s Arch and torments the masses, which would be awful in reality but is a fun event in a videogame.

A closer view. The crowd looks larger here than in the previous shot that shows how we’re all clustered around him… heh. The Mad King’s got a good design. He’s both kind of silly and kind of creepy.

During his visits, Mad King Thorn goes through several phases. Some of the time, he gives commands to the whole group to take some action, and then rewards people who did it and punishes those who did not. Other times, such as here, he chooses one person, and tells them to play a game with him. I believe the game works like rock-paper-scissors, presuming that you participate by replying.

Leaving already? This isn’t his first visit, as the chat points out, though; again, Mad King Thorne would visit every few hours through Halloween day. The Mad King’s Day events would expand over the years, as minigames and quests got added to this base, but his visit still is the centerpiece of the Halloween event.  One other thing that got added to over the years was the Mad King’s backstory, though; he’s not just selfish and randomly cruel, but quite evil at times.  This comes across much more in the Halloween event quests added in later years than it does in his visit itself.

The ship’s sails have a pretty cool look here, all black with a skull and crossbones… imposing, but nicely done.

Other than the visuals it’s the same as usual though. But between the water, sails, and sky, the visuals are quite different.

And here he is again! Yes, I made sure to experience Mad King Thorne’s visit several times. It went the same each time, with different targets of course.

Yes, he’s quite self-centered.

Just comparing his text line in chat to the lines over his head, he sure does go back and forth between giving people gifts and wanting to kill them, doesn’t he. But that’s what makes the event interesting, of course.

It’s a pretty amusing thing to experience, the first few times for sure.

Yeah, this shot’s nearly identical to the last one. I left it in anyway… but uh, yes, you could get pumpkin-head festival hat, like that person at bottom has. Festival hats were introduced here in Halloween 2005, and as introduced here were zero-armor hats that you could wear instead of your usual head armor. Given their lacking defense they were meant to be worn in town for fun, and not in battle, but you can put insignias on them. In 2009 the festival hat system would change, as a new festival hat and costume feature was added that adds festival hats and paid DLC costumes as skins that you can have appear instead of your regular, and equipped, armor, allowing for the wearing of festival hats in battle in a way that they weren’t before. That was an improvement, but the original system wasn’t too bad, the festival hats worked reasonably well as things to just show off but not use in serious gameplay. You got a pumpkin crown for being there during one of the Mad King’s visits, so yes, I got it too, though I didn’t take any screenshots wearing it. I still have at least one of the original ones, the one for my monk seen in most of these screenshots. And yes, it is the original armor-slot version; the festival hat maker can make copies, but those go in the festival-hats slot instead and are purely cosmetic. There was a new exclusive festival hat for each Halloween from ’05 to ’11, and until 2012 the only way to get each one was to have been there for that one event. Since 2012 it is possible for anyone to get them as Halloween quest rewards, though. Being able to get all the festival hats you missed is kind of nice, but it does remove their cachet. Oh well. At least the handful of head armor-slot festival hats I have are not replicable in the game today.

He’s picking a new target… I mean participant… for his game! Who will it be this time?

Ooh, he picked me! Yes, I’m playing as my monk here, as should be obvious from the character panel that’s been open for like five screenshots now, and I got chosen. Yay?  I didn’t take any shots of how it went, but again the game is essentially rock-paper-scissors.

In this phase of the event, he’s telling everyone to do the things (emotes) he says… or else.

Sounds like you’re having a fun week too…

C. Back to Sorrow’s Furnace and A Last Look at Halloween, Fall 2005

With Halloween day over, I went back to Sorrow’s Furnace. The Halloween event was still running through some of these screens, as you will notice, but the main part of the event, Halloween day itself and the Mad King’s visit, was over.  Anyway, Sorrow’s Furnace is a very hard dungeon.  Maybe too hard for me or the parties I was in.

Here’s a shot from one attempt. It looks hot in the distance there, to say the least… and our chances look grim, with two people quitting on the group.  Sorrow’s Furnace is a tough dungeon and you need to be very good to beat it…

Just putting a slight reddish hue over the screen does a nice job of making the area look hot. Sorrow’s Furnace is a literal furnace though, with fire and a Forgeman, so that makes sense.  They did a great job with the visuals in Sorrow’s Furnace.

And here’s another example of that. This bridge didn’t need to look this great, but it does!

The art design here, both for the environment and this cutscene, have always impressed me. It still looks fantastic, from an artistic front at least.

And this shot might look even better. All of the mining equipment hanging from the ceiling may not really come into play in the game, but it definitely adds to the atmosphere.

Around that rock, you get an even better view of this abandoned mine, and the great design work that went in to this area.

Halloween is over, but the event isn’t quite yet, so the moon still has that grin on it, visible everywhere in Tyria.

I went back to the city to look around again before everything returned to normal.

The Lionguard might want to check out that ship, could be pirates…

The area looks better when you can actually see the ground textures. Heh.

D. Guild Wars Gameplay, Fall 2005

With Halloween over and new Sorrow’s Furnace attempts on hold for a while, this final section of this article shows me doing various things in Guild Wars.  It’s just regular gameplay in this incredible game.

And now, the Random Arena, as my ranger. I’ve clearly been playing Ranger, because I’m up to level 16.  I’d been playing Monk too, but the Elementalist was being left behind…

I hope we did well!

Here are some of my stuff and guild people, circa October ’05. Note how there is a vault box in the game… with one whole storage panel. The vault box is available to all characters on your account, once you get past pre-Searing that is. One panel isn’t much space! Still, through this you could store some resources, and share items between your characters.

This was about as far as I got into the zone The Wilds for many years — to this guy partway into it which you need to visit for a quest. The rest of this large zone is entirely optional, and I didn’t actually explore it all until last year… but it’s worth doing, because The Falls themselves are really impressive! Dark Oak here, though, has an unpleasant vision for us to go back with.

A mission outpost in the Maguuma Jungle. GW loved putting key NPCs on pedestals like this. It looks a little silly, but does make them easy to find. The one here is the person to talk to to enter this mission.

If you want to do well in Tombs, even in ’05, you probably wanted an organized group which used some external voice chat service like Teamspeak or Ventrilo to coordinate, but in-game, text-chat-only groups did still exist. Here I’m trying at that yet again.

And here we go, into the Hall of Heroes…

… Looks like that went great. Let’s try something else instead.

Yes, you spend a lot of time in this game running around. It’s fortunate that between the good graphics, music, and gameplay, almost all of it feels worthwhile.  Looking at these screenshots makes me want to go play Guild Wars, in fact…

And last for this update, a first-person shot of my Moa Bird. Er, Strider, technically. Again, I’ve stuck with this pre-Searing Strider all of the time since day one. Sure, I could get other pets, but technically the Strider is pre-Searing only… the Moa Bird of post-Searing may look the same, but they have a different species name. There also was a longstanding rumor that Striders and Moa Birds were different, that Striders were larger, but I don’t think that is true. Even so, GW would eventually add a place where your Ranger characters can release pets, the Zaishen Menagerie, to collect them all, but adding a Strider or Moa only puts Moas in the Menagerie to tame, so if I did that I’d lose the Strider permanently. And even if they really are identical apart from the names I like the Strider, so I’ve always had to ignore every charmable animal in the game… oh well.

Next time: More Sorrow’s Furnace attempts, and a few shots of the first Christmas event.  Unfortunately unlike Halloween I have only a couple of Christmas ’05 shots, so the next update will get to early 2006.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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