Important update to the previous article and small site update

When I went back into my screenshot folders to work on the next update in the Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots article series, which will post soon, I found an error I should have noticed last time — the second screenshot batch in my previous post actually goes after the third one, not before it. In fact, actually, it goes after another small image set that I hadn’t posted yet! So, in order to keep the screenshots in chronological order, I re-organized the previous post, moving the second part to the end and adding a new part three with 13 new screenshots in it.  Some captions were changed as well, to reflect the correct time.  I thought about putting both of those parts into a new post here, but I think that this way makes more sense both chronologically and in terms of how many screenshots are in each article; the next one will have plenty of its own.  So, readers here who are caught up will need to go to the previous post to see the first new content, before moving on to the next one. Sorry about that.

Additionally, I finally added the Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots page into my Table of Contents… by making a whole separate second contents page for it.  This is a different kind of article series from the others I have done, and that main Table of Contents page is quite long as it is, so I decided to make a new second page for it.  It is in the top bar to the right of the main Table of Contents, and also is linked to in the main Table of Contents page at the appropriate points.  This page links all articles in the series, and forum threads on several forums that are copies of or references to the series as well.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 11: May – October 2006

This will be a long one.  In this 73-screenshot article, I will cover five things: the first Dragon Festival in late June to early July and more of release Factions; the first, PvP-only Nightfall beta in late July; the period in between the Nightfall betas; the second, PvE Nightfall beta; and last some more Factions gameplay from after that beta.  Originally this post contained only 55 screenshots, but I realized that the 25-screenshot set of Factions gameplay actually is from after the second Nightfall beta and not before it, and that I’d forgotten to post most of the handful of second Nightfall beta screens that I have.  So, after multiple edits to correct the timeline, this post is now very long and one of the biggest in the series.  Sorry about that, it probably should be two articles.  Anyway, versus the original 55-image article, the major additions are the 13-screenshot set between the Nightfall betas and the 10 screenshots from the second Nightfall beta.  Also the 25-screenshot last Factions-focused set has moved to the end where it goes.

But yes, despite Factions only being a few months old, Arena.net was already advertising their upcoming third campaign with betas.  My screenshots from the first Nightfall beta are almost all from the character creator, so it looks like I didn’t play it much, but I do have a few gameplay screens from the second beta.  It was interesting that they were already showing Nightfall in July, though; that was only a couple of months after Factions released, and Nightfall would not release until October.  This is a similar timetable to Factions, in that the first Factions beta was also a PvP weekend event three months before the game launched, but there was a year between the original Guild Wars’ release and Factions, while Nightfall came only six months after Factions.  It felt different with the campaigns so close.  I know I will keep repeating this point, but it’s what I think.

Anyway, while 2006 was a great year for Guild Wars, going from my screenshots and memories, as I’ve said before 2004-2005 was when I played the game the most.  That should be easy to see in this post — there are a lot of screenshots here, but it also covers a full five months, so compared to 2004 or 2005 it’s clear I was playing the game less than I had before.  The slow decline of my hours in GW would continue, unfortunately.  That may be part of why I was not as hyped for Nightfall as I was Factions, I still had plenty more Factions to play when Nightfall released.  I kind of wish ANet had spaced out Guild Wars’ expansions more evenly, but they seem to have kept changing their minds about what they should do with the game, until eventually abandoning it for its far worse sequel.  That part of the story is pretty sad and frustrating, but fortunately Guild Wars 1 is still fantastic regardless of how badly I think things went with the second game.


A. Guild Wars Factions – First Dragon Festival, June 30 – July 6, and the rest of July as well

A month after the release of Factions in late April, Arena.net added a new, third festival to the yearly calendar.  They would eventually have seven time-limited festivals that run at different times of the year, and this was the third after the Halloween and Wintersday (Christmas) events which started in 2005.  The Dragon Festival is Guild Wars’ Fourth of July event, occurring annually from the end of June to early July, but it’s Asian-themed fitting with its Canthan setting.  This event introduced the Shing Jea Boardwalk and several limited-time minigames, including the Dragon Arena and three little minigames.  The other main Boardwalk minigame, Rollerbeetle Racing, would be introduced in 2007.  These events are only playable during the Canthan New Year and Dragon Festival events, in January-February and June-July each year.

I guess I either didn’t take many screenshots or had waited a while before getting Factions, because these screenshots are the next ones I took after the ‘I got Factions’ Factions tutorial area batch from the last update.  The Dragon Festival was pretty cool, though; I really liked the new minigame, and it would be a good sign of things to come as more minigames would be added to Guild Wars over the year following.

Heh… I’m clipped right on top of another character, so the two models are kind of merged together…

This is the Dragon Arena, or rather probably the lobby area for it.  The Dragon Arena was a new limited-availability mode that, again, is only available in the January and July events. This arena is a random arena with some unique skills and rules which make for an amusing and unique challenge.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any shots of the skillbar, only interface-off shots like this.  That’s too bad because, as I said, the Dragon Arena uses its own exclusive skills, not your usual ones.

In the Dragon Arena everyone has these wand things which you shoot at eachother with. You don’t use your usual weapon. As the Guild Wars Wiki says, gameplay was inspired by dodgeball — you need to avoid enemy shots, while hitting them with your own.

The festival grounds are all decorated for the event, with lanterns and everything. It’s a nice looking area.

Here we have another shot from an ongoing match in the Dragon Arena. Yes, everyone has those wands.

I also spent some time doing regular missions during this festival, though. Here I am exploring Shing Jea Island. As this is a Prophecies character you don’t have to do that, but I wanted to because it’s a pretty nice area with some beautiful sights to see.

Shing Jea Island feels quite Japanese and pastoral, and it’s a great contrast from the big city and ruined landscapes of the rest of Factions. This is a beautiful area.

Back to the town, which is all decorated for the festival.

Those lanterns all over are nice and definitely add to the atmosphere. You know a special event is on when you go to a place you’ve seen in its normal state hundreds of times, except this time it looks different… after this the Dragon Festival might have ended, but I’ll break the article where I started a new images folder, instead of after this screenshot.

I’m not sure why I took this one, but I do like those snowy Guild Wars trees.

From this point you have an overlook which allows you to see the town, far below in the distance. You’re above the fog, which looks like it’s actually a flat layer. It works though, so sure, why not.  Today this scene would look better, as the ‘full detail to the horizon’ patch from 2018 does wonders for vistas like this one!  Not that I would ever enable that option on a computer running a GeForce 2 like the one I took all these shots on has, though.. you’d be lucky to see a frame per second, probably…

I think we might all be poisoned here? That’s what the green auras emitting from the characters means, I believe… it makes for a pretty nice shot though, with the green glow and light rays lighting this dark area.

And without that light you get this, very dark areas. I took three screenshots of this character (or player?) running back and forth in the distance for some reason. I don’t know why, now… but here’s one of them.

Back in the city, we have a well-dressed NPC official in a not too nice looking part of the city center.

Arena.net’s artists and graphical designers made some truly impressive things in Guild Wars, and this area is definitely among them! This shot is another one of my favorites from this update. The sickly red-yellow light, in this dark area, looks great… ominous, but great.

Oops, the ground textures broke again! At least we can finally see a skillbar here… but yeah, with broken ground textures the chat is unreadable because lines do not disappear so long as you’re looking at the ground, everything just overlaps.


B. Guild Wars Nightfall PvP Preview Event: July 28-30, 2006

Only two months after Guild Wars Factions released, Arena.net was already starting to preview their next expansion, Nightfall.  For an expansion as large as it is, as I said at the top in this post I kind of think that Nightfall might have released too soon.  I know Factions is a short campaign and many people surely were ready for something new, but I was taking my time with it and definitely wasn’t done yet!  But no, here’s a huge new campaign to play, and it’s a pretty hard one too.  Well, at least all this content has given me something to do with the game over the years since, and that’s a very good thing considering that ANet started abandoning this game in 2008…

Anyway, following Asian-themed Factions, Nightfall is African-themed.  It has a North African theme specifically, with a mostly desert and sahel environment.  As with Factions, two new classes were added, one melee and one ranged.  Nightfall is a great campaign, but I have never liked these classes as much as the original ones, and the campaign took me a very long time to finish as well.  The first beta, as the name suggests, was PvP only, so it served to test the two new classes but did not show off any of Elona, the new continent where the campaign was set.  There would later be a second beta with PvE content in it, much like Factions had.

As a note, I don’t seem to have played this beta much at all.  In fact, of the dozen or so screenshots from it I took, only two are from out of the character creator, and only one of those two is worth posting!  So yeah, enjoy like ten pictures from the character creator, I guess… yay?  It is at least a little interesting, though, as where else will you see the two new Nightfall classes, the Dervish and Paragon, existing in front of the Factions select screen / character creation background?  Only in this beta, that’s where!

So as I said, almost all of my pictures from this beta are from character creation. It is pretty interesting to see a Dervish in the Factions login-screen environment, though…

Rear shot of this outfit.

This shows some of your options for new characters in this test. You had more options than a regular new character since they gave everyone some stuff to play with for the beta.

Side view of this second, less skimpy outfit.

And here’s a third one, with hanging blades that match the scythe weapons Dervishes favor.

This is the one I went with for my character.  I changed the colors to green though, of course!  It only colors the highlights and not the main dress, but that’s better than nothing.

Starting a battle.  This is a very interesting environment indeed… it’s definitely something new, this isn’t from Prophecies or Factions.

This area was the main little taste of Elona you could see in the beta. It’s a small area where your new characters go through before you fight in PvP.

And here we see my account, with my five regular characters and one empty slot that I was using for a test character in the beta. (I thought about keeping this character, but ultimately did not and made a different Dervish eventually instead, after Nightfall released.)

Rear view.

This shot is from after the end of the beta, but as you see, after that I deleted that character and created a Paragon, to also try out the other new class. Male Paragons have Roman legionnaire-styled outfits which are kind of cool. I never have played much Paragon at all, though… I should try it sometime.

 

C. August 22 to September 23, 2006: Between the Nightfall Betas

The first Nightfall beta ran in late July, and the second in late September.  This first shot is from mid August, though, so either I didn’t play for a month or the file date is wrong, but I don’t think the file date is wrong in this case, so perhaps I just hadn’t taken any screenshots in a month, if I played any.  In the interim, as expected I went back to playing more of the great game that is Guild Wars Factions.

Before Nightfall released and I decided to do with the character slot, I decided to take another screenshot of this Paragon character.

Rear shot of him.

I was slowly progressing through Prophecies with my Ranger, here and there.

The Canthan official outfits are good designs.

This is just a lobby area in Cantha. It looks pretty nice from a distance like this though, like it could be from a cutscene… but it isn’t.  The environment is somewhat low-poly of course, but the art design is impeccable.

At this point, I decided to abandon following my college friends from guild to guild as they made new ones, and just stayed in this one ever since, despite its very dumb name that I’ve never liked. I did make one big change, though…

Yes, I brought back my Lego Black Falcon shield-inspired guild cape! I tried a few designs before settling on the final one. I love this design, it looks great…

This solid-color pattern looks nice, but ultimately I stuck with the cross-hatched one.

And here we see the results, my guild cape. I still really like the look of it.

This is a street in the city in Cantha. The polygon count doesn’t come even close to what games can do today, but back then this looked very nice… though of course in art design it still does!

She’s got a quest now, apparently. The background’s more interesting though, with those nice trees in front of a wall of shack-like houses.

 

Guild Wars Nightfall World Preview Event: September 22-24, 2006

As I previously mentioned, similar to Guild Wars Factions, Nightfall had a second, PvE-focused beta several months after its first one.  This beta occurred in late September and I participated.   And again, just like Factions, this beta is, for some strange reason, not mentioned at all in the official Guild Wars Wiki!  As before this confused me while putting these articles together, and I had this mislabeled previously.  I should have figured this all out correctly before posting these screenshots instead of a month later… oh well, at least the record is correct now.  I will post another small update mentioning the corrections.   Here is another Guild Wars wiki that mentions this event: https://guildwiki.gamepedia.com/Guild_Wars_Nightfall_World_Preview_Event.

For the event, I decided to make a new character, another Dervish this time.  This isn’t my character though, just a henchman.

Here we see the beginning of the Nightfall intro mission, before you reach the main town.

Here we see my new character. This character was made in my main account, and I still have it, though barely played… I’ve just never liked melee classes in Guild Wars nearly as much as ranged ones.

Elona is a nice-looking area, as always for Guild Wars, but with a unique look to it you don’t see elsewhere in the game or, as I said, all that often in games in general. You see some hints of that here.

When you pull the camera overhead, the way the grass textures are attached in the ground here and there to look like a field becomes exposed…

After playing this beta I was looking forwards to Nightfall, but given how much of Factions I still had left, I definitely wasn’t as excited for it was I had been for Factions. I know I’ve said it already, but the timing for these campaigns was perhaps not the best. Oh well, at least it meant that we got lots of content to play in this game, enough to last for many years!

And here’s my character in the select screen. I also took a couple of shots of my Paragon in the second account, showing that I did load that account up again for this beta, but none of the shots are worth sharing. That may have been the last time I was able to play those characters though, unless the Eye of the North beta also unlocked accounts without a key and I actually loaded up the second account. My guess is I probably didn’t, though.

 

E. Guild Wars Factions Screenshots: September – October 2006

 

With the Nightfall beta over, I continued on my way through Guild Wars Factions, only occasionally taking shots from the other campaigns.  There are a few Prophecies screens in this set at the start, but it’s mostly Factions.  As I just said I was kind of looking forward to Nightfall, but was much more interested in playing more of Factions.  So, I did.

I kept trying every so often to finish Prophecies with my Prophecies Elementalist.

Unfortunately, while the cape is great, not so great is that I’d pretty seriously stalled out with this Elementalist by this point. I’m late in Kryta here and have probably barely made any progress with the character since I took these screenshots back in 2006…

My six characters as of fall 2006, all together.  Nightfall was not released yet at this point, of course, so I’ll need to wait before playing this character again.

But instead of continuing with that, I went back to the new campaign, Factions, with my main Talindra. Yeah, the clipping in Guild Wars is kind of weird. Most games don’t just let you clip through everything like this one, or at least offline games don’t; maybe it’s common in online games for technical reasons? Anyway, this is the big city in Cantha, the continent in Factions. This woman NPC in front of me may be a bureaucrat, that looks like one of their outfits. East Asian-inspired Cantha has a very large bureaucracy.

And here we have some players, albeit in a screenshot that’s not so great, with all of the close characters being on one side of the image and all.

Running along in this game is so much fun! I really like this kind of shot, it accurately represents a substantial part of the game. Factions has some pretty cool environments, and this one is definitely one of those.

Tahnakai Temple has statues of several of Cantha’s legendary heroes of the past. I took screenshots of a few, starting with this one. I forget who this is offhand… the shrine, including candles and statue, is nicely done though.

This female warrior hero gets a large podium as well.

Deity statues, such as this one in Tahnakai Temple, look the same in Cantha as they do in Tyria. The environment doesn’t look the same at all, though! The city in Cantha is incredibly dense and built up, so you often have ceilings like this which appear to be made of buildings. That ring of cloth sunshades up ahead isn’t normal, though; this is a special area.

I’m not sure why this statue is there, other than to have yet another scantily clad female figure in an MMO, as if there aren’t enough of those already… the environment’s pretty nice though, and well modeled.

This is the important hero from the past, the assassin who killed Factions big bad Shiro Tagachi. You talk to her ghost at one point.

The giant city is such a cool environment, it’s definitely one of my favorites in Guild Wars. This scene is just one example of why! This is a pretty interesting area, with those buildings on one side, rocks on the other side, and buildings in the background…

Yes, Danika is in the city as well, for a while at least, with her pets/fellow henchmen. This area with the exposed rock pillars is on an edge of the city.

This one is definitely one of my favorites from this update. It shows off the city well, and this mostly still looks pretty good. Sure, the ground textures aren’t the most detailed, but it mostly looks really nice. The beam of light is well placed as well, breaking through the gloom of the layers of buildings…

It would be hard to see the sun much in some parts of this city, with how many things are built on top of other things. On another note though, shots like this showing me exploring with just henchies is a nostalgic thing, with how ever since Nightfall I’ve mostly explored with Heroes. Talindra’s skillbar is familar, however; it hasn’t changed much since.

And here we see the party, or rather, me (not visible due to using first person view) and a bunch of AI helpers. This city’s crazy stuff, with how huge the spaces are and how overgrown with buildings everything is… it might be my overall favorite Guild Wars environment, I’m not sure.

I’ve gotten out of the city now though, as were we meet some Luxons and one of their giant turtles. The green open space between the city and the Luxon and Kurzick areas stands alone in Factions, there are other green places in the campaign but none quite like this one. … oh, and yeah, that’s obviously a player there with that chat window in the background…

Here’s another Luxon woman NPC, at this camp.

And here is my first shot of the Jade Sea, the bright green frozen ocean. The same disaster that petrified Echovald Forest turned this former inland sea into jade. Green is my favorite color so I do really like the look of the Jade Sea, but despite that I’ve always preferred the Kurzicks so there won’t be too many Jade Sea screenshots here for quite some time. Still, it’s a great area which, like much of Factions, makes me kind of wish that the game had the kind of scale of Prophecies. Its relative denseness, with many fewer zones in the game compared to the first campaign and how Factions mission areas that can also be explored as regular explorable areas instead of separating the two, makes for a strong contrast when you compare Factions to Prophecies. The result is that if you take a regular, straight path through the game, this game is half the length of Prophecies, 50 hours for a new character instead of over a hundred. Nightfall kind of splits the difference, with more areas than Factions, but fewer than Prophecies. I know I just said I wish Factions was larger, and I do, but it is kind of nice that the game has this variety; you can play a shorter or longer, harder or easier, campaign depending on your preference.

Moving the camera overhead is rarely a good idea in gameplay, but it does at least make for a slightly different-looking screenshot. Otherwise, this text is just henchman chatter, not humans saying things.

Now I’m in Echovald Forest, which I posted a bunch more shots of in the beta set in the last update. What’s going on here…

A lot of exploration, apparently, is what was going on, going by how many dots are on that map! And I’ve completed several quests as well, and gotten a new elite skill — you can only have one at a time, so the only way to have two as you see here is to capture it and not go back to a town yet, as once you do one will be unequipped.

Ahh, snow… I love snow, winter is great. I’ve got something else to celebrate, too — I’ve finally finished my elite scar pattern armor set! If you look at the screenshots above in this set, I still didn’t have the glove piece yet, but now I do. Getting all of the materials to build this set took quite some time, and many trips to the specific area of the South Shiverpeaks you had to go to to make it, but it was worth it. … Well, honestly I have always thought that I should have an armor set that includes actual clothing, instead of this thing which obviously does not, but still haven’t bought another elite armor set for either this or any other character. I really should do something about that…

Yes, it’s another shot of the very cool tree-sky of Echovald Forest. It’d be pretty awesome to see a high-def version of this done with modern graphics tech…

It’s the Jade Sea! But continuing from my last comment, looking at this shot makes me think that yes, some things about this game have aged graphically. It still looks very impressive, for a game that hasn’t had much work done to it since 2007, but that creature in the background here sure doesn’t look great.

These really giant turtles don’t move, only the smaller ones do.

And that’s all for this update.  At least a few of these screenshots were nice, so I guess I’m glad to share them.  Next time, the 2006 Halloween event, and more Factions gameplay.  The next article will be the last one for a long time entirely taken on the by-this-point-aged computer from 2001 I took all of these screenshots so far on, so look forward to a significant increase in screenshot image quality starting in two Guild Wars Memories updates from now.

 

 

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 10: March – May 2006

Following those two screenshots at the end of the last post from after the end of the January Factions PvP beta weekend,  my screenshots jump straight to the next Factions beta in late March 2006.  Arena.net’s writeup of the beta still available is here: http://gw1101.gtm.guildwars.com/events/ingame/factionspreview.php.  I guess I wasn’t playing much Guild Wars that spring.  I did graduate from undergrad college that spring, so I was busy.  My retro gaming collection was growing fast as well.

So, this post is made up of two parts again.  First, the Factions Preview Event in March 2006, and second general Guild Wars gameplay from March to May of 2006.  That second part isn’t as interesting a screenshot set as the first is, I would say.  I have at least some more good screenshots to post in this series, though.


A. Factions Preview Event, March 2006

 

As the article linked above says, from March 24 to 27 Arena.net ran a second beta test for Guild Wars: Factions, which would release the next month.  I may not have been playing much in the two months between these tests, but I was back for this beta, because I was looking forward to Factions.  This time the PvE and PvP sides of Factions were shown, and we could explore a chunk of the world in Echovald Forest and the Jade Sea, though I only went to one of those areas.  Again using my second account most of the time, I created a new Factions character there and explored the forest.  Other than the first shot here, all the rest of my screenshots from this test are either of the character creation screens or of me playing as a new Elementalist character that I made in the second (beta) account.

 

This shot shows my regular Guild Wars character Talindra in the Battle Isles.  So, this test definitely allowed regular PvE characters to access the Battle Isles, which might have been a new thing; I’m not sure that the previous test from January allowed that.  This is the only shot I have of any of my regular characters in the new Factions beta areas, though, so I found it kind of confusing when I saw it.  But that has got to be what’s going on here.

Here we see my new character (again, in that second account at this point) – an Elementalist, because I always have preferred ranged classes to melee and I like combat classes more than healing. Also I was interested in making a new one, other than the Prophecies Elementalist I also had.

Here we see one of the 37 screenshots I took in the character creator for this beta. I took screenshots of a lot of the costumes available to female characters of all of the classes. Yeah, female ones only this time; I just wasn’t interested enough in the male costumes, I guess. I think I will post a side-article part of this series eventually where I post most of the character-creator screenshots I took in three of the betas, namely two of the early pre-release betas and then this one. It’s not that exciting, but I took all these screenshots, so why not? It is at least a little bit interesting to see the options they gave you, I think.

I took a bunch of shots of some of the Kurzick NPCs in this test. Right from the beginning I preferred the Kurzicks to the Luxons, both for character and environment design, and you see that here as I didn’t do their side right from the start here.  Even as of writing this I still have actually never finished the Luxon side of the split portion of the Factions campaign, though last year I did finally play through most of it. The Jade Sea is a beautiful area indeed, I’m glad to finally have explored it. Echovald Forest is also a great area, though. Factions is maybe a bit too short, but it’s a fantastic campaign I have always loved, for the most part.  It’s my second favorite of the four Guild Wars campaigns, after the original.

Despite Factions’ Asian theme, the Kurzicks have a quite gothic look to them, to say the least. Despite how much I like Factions, I have always found it a little weird how past the city the last two areas are this gotic forest and a frozen, somewhat Asian/Greek-ish pirate area. I know this is a Western game and you can tell, with how the city and such is a mishmash of Chinese and Japanese elements in a way you probably would not see from an Asian game, but still it’s a little odd. The visual design here is great, but how Asian-inspired is the Kurzick area? Anyway, this is Danika, one of the leading members of the Kurzicks and someone who you can fight with as a healer henchman. Behind her are her pets, two Rot Wallows who also are henchmen. Yes, really.

And here are two more of the Kurzick henchmen, a mage and a guardian (warrior-healer).  Most of the frozen Echovald Forest is made of petrified trees, but some areas are bright green with returning life, such as this ground here.

Yes, the classic henchies are here as well. Well, some of them are; they divided them between the Kurzick and Luxon areas, so the main party — Devona, Aidan, Eve and Cynn here, and such — are in the Kurzick areas, and others in the Luxon.  Mhenlo is not available as a henchmen in Factions, unfortunately; he’s a major story character and doesn’t have the time to explore around, pretty much.

A disaster turned this whole forest to stone. You learn more when you play the full game, here we were thrown into this part of the campaign that ended up being fairly far in. It’s a really cool concept and they executed on it very well.

Henchmen.  The assassin woman in front is on the Factions box. But yeah, the character models still look good, but those rock wall textures in the background have not…

This is not Danika, just someone else who looks kind of similar. The Luxons and Kurzicks both use consistent design themes throughout.

And here, the same shot but with the interface off. The image quality looks about the same this time though, really…

Yes, some other people were playing this beta as well.

Mesmer Kurzicks have weird masks like this one.

And now, finally some actual gameplay! I wish I’d taken more gameplay shots, and less in towns… oh well. Anyway, this area of the Kurcick cathedral is nice.

Run! This looks like a shot from a cutscene here, but I think I’m just exploring, not playing the mission.  It’s an alright shot though I think.

Yes, I am thoroughly exploring this zone.

See? I think I’ve covered almost every bit of it now!

Here is another female Kurzick NPC, albeit one with a much less fancy outfit.

Zoomed out to see more of the environment, Echovald Forest is still pretty beautiful. Cutting something that looks like a church out of that petrified tree is interesting and looks great.

The sky in Echovald Forest mostly is not visible because of the giant petrified trees. Here is one shot of the sky, or rather, the branches…

And here is another. It’s yet another great touch in this fantastic area of the game. Echovald Forest has always been one of my favorite parts of Guild Wars to explore around and look at…

The ground is mostly dead in the forest, but with so little light getting through those branches you’d expect that. I like the look of that tree in the center here, the light in this otherwise dead tree is pretty cool.

Now, I’ve returned to an outpost. Unlike the depths of the forest above, this is not one of the forests’ best-looking areas. Sure, it looks alright, but the giant trees are the best…

A Factions-style dragon, in this outpost? And is that a dead person on the ground on the left side? What is going on here… is this normal, or an end-of-beta event?

It’s not a huge crowd, but at least some other people were playing this beta near the end here.

Another shot of my character from the front, the direction you rarely see in games.  GW has great character designs, but the Kurzick building here is pretty great as well.

We’re probably getting close to the end of the beta now…

Before the end though, I took four screenshots of what, exactly, I had explored in the ten or so hours I’d played the beta. Yeah, I spent almost the entire time in this beta exploring the forest in PvE with this Elementalist character, neglecting the other things you could do — much PvP, the Alliance battles, and such. See the link at the top to Arena.net’s article for more on those other events.

North of that last shot, we see the upper part of Echovald Forest. Factions areas really aren’t that large.

Oh yeah, I got far on the Luxon side… yup…

On the Kurzick side, though, I did as much as I could!  You couldn’t explore everything in this beta, but I got to most of what was there.

And last, to conclude the beta, I … explored the forest a bit more, because I was really having a lot of fun doing it. I took a screenshot of my playtime at this point as well, since I was on a second account so I knew a record of how long I’d played the beta would be valuable. And indeed it is.

 

B. Guild Wars – March – May 2004, Prophecies and then the Factions launch

With the beta over, I went back to only infrequently playing GW over the next month as I probably focused more on school and classic games, something I was really getting into in 2006.  Factions released April 28th, and I’m not sure exactly when I bought it — I bought a physical box, so I probably waited a weeks until after college ended —  but I’m sure I got it by sometime in May.  Here we see my first few shots from the tutorial area.  Next time, more Factions release shots, and the first Nightfall beta.  My favorite time for Guild Wars is 2004-2005, but despite my paucity of screenshots, 2006, up until the release of Nightfall, was also a great time for Guild Wars.  I played the game a lot less than I had in ’05, but still was playing some of the game, again, even if I wasn’t always taking screenshots of what I was doing.

Sometimes in this game, you die while exploring when deep in an area, close to your objective. But your death penalty is high, so you run all the way across the stupid map from the respawn shrine near where you started, only to find…

Gah! Died again, barely getting any farther. Back to square one… well, at least the few enemies I got past last time are dead now! When you are in these kinds of situations and then actually surpass the challenge and make it through it’s incredibly satisfying; despite the occasional frustration this is a thing I really love about Guild Wars.

And here we see, I’ve gone back to playing as my Monk character and that’s why I am going through the desert this time. Healing is hard, and I found the standard Heal-focused build less interesting, so as you see from my skillbar instead I have a mixture of healing and protection skills at this point.

I know I keep saying this, but even on this aging computer Guild wars really did look great most of the time. I’m thinking that again while looking at this screenshot.

And now, back to the Shiverpeaks.  Heh… edge of the world, again! Usually you aren’t supposed to be able to get to the actual edge of a map, but some pathing glitch allowed it here. That’s fun stuff.

And here’s another shot of this edge of the map. Again, usually there are walls, visible or invisible, that keep you from getting to areas like this.

The glass-like water in GW is pretty great as well.  Or is this ice?  It is cold out, after all.

And now I’m exploring something back in Ascalon… no idea why, though, beyond that Ascalon is one of the best parts of Guild Wars, so it’s fun to go back to once in a while.

The area outside of Sorrow’s Furnace here clearly has more going on than any of the Shiverpeaks areas in the original launch game, both in design and in art. They put a lot of effort into Sorrow’s Furnace, it’s too bad that they didn’t do much else like it afterwards.  On another note, I’ve stuck with this outfit for my Monk because it’s probably my favorite Monk clothes.  She still has it.

66% of Tyria explored with my main… I’ve gotten that number a lot higher since. Anyway though, that’s a big monster up ahead! I’m sure this will go fine…

At this point the people from school I was in this guild with decided to make a new guild, so we were switching over to the new one at this point. I took a few shots of all the people, but won’t post those. This one’s fine though.

See? I’ve got a new guild cape. I didn’t take any shots of the new guilds’ player list and such at this point, but the cape changed for a reason.  The color is wrong, though, because this is the team arenas and I’m on the blue team.

And here is the new capes’ its actual color, red. The new guild has a pretty dumb name, and I’ve always kind of hated the acronym… but I’ll get to that later.Anyway, I’m exploring the snowy forest. Those snow-covered trees are, as always, one of my favorite background objects in this game…

Next though, I decided to log in to the second account, and take screenshots of the three characters I had used in the second Factions beta. Yes, I did have three characters, and not only the one seen in all of the screenshots from part one of this article. This Assassin is the one that I’d delete here after Factions released and recreate in my main account.

And here is the new Elementalist, which I would eventually also delete and recreate in my main account. … Yes, both of my Elementalist characters have Fire-focused skillsets. I really should branch out but always have preferred the Fire skills…

And here’s the other Assassin.  No, this isn’t the one from the first Factions beta, but another one.  I was trying more Asian-style names than that one had, and chose the other one over this.   This character still exists, however; I logged in to this second beta-only-use account of mine today, albeit with a different hair style for some reason. I must have recreated the character at some point in the Nightfall betas, I guess? I don’t remember, and unfortunately this is the only old screenshot I have of the character, so who knows.

Yes, I had logged in to the other account to choose which character to delete to create in my main account, since I’ve gotten Guild Wars: Factions! As I said, I chose one of the Assassins.  Unlike Prophecies, Factions has a much faster pace — this campaign is only maybe half as long as Prophecies.  That game takes me a bit over a hundred hours a character to finish, while this one is 50 or 60 hours.  It’s a densely packed 50 or 60 hours, though, without anywhere near as much downtime and aimless wandering as Prophecies has.  Despite the short length, it’s a great campaign and my second favorite of the four overall, after Prophecies of course.

New Factions characters start on Shina Jea Island, a very traditional-Japan area which looks beautiful.

Unfortunately, I did not take any more gameplay shots in this set. Instead, all I’ve got are a handful of shots of (mostly female) NPCs and such… blah. I mean, this character has a good, interesting design, but still…

A warrior woman. As for the background, yeah, Shing Jea Island is quite Japanese. Then the city on the mainland is much more Chinese, and then the Kurzick and Luxon areas are gothic and asian-pirate themed for whatever reason. Of course characters from Shinge Jea Island and the mainland have a mixture of Chinese and Japanese names, because East Asia is all the same, right? To be fair, Guild Wars Prophecies is similarly mixed together — Ascalon stands in for just about all of fantasy-medieval Europe, after all, not any one nation, but it’s something I noticed because it is a common thing in Western depictions of Asia.

Here we see some Henchmen from Shing Jea Island.  There isn’t much healthy, green areas on the mainland, other than one zone and some bits of grass here and there, so the island really stands out. It’s kind of too bad it’s all very easy content, though Hard Mode adds at least some challenge to it…

Yup, it’s another character creation shot. This time it’s only one, though. No, I did not make this character; it wouldn’t be until 2018 that I actually made a semi-serious effort at playing Mesmer… it’s a tricky class due to all the timing requirements on Mesmer skills, and has never been one of my favorites as a result.

And last, we have… another NPC in an interesting outfit. Okay. The next screenshot batch is better, though, really.

 

 

 

 

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 9: November 2005 – February 2006

This time, I’m kind of combining two posts into one by covering two things.  I chose to do it this way because both sets end in January 2006, so this way it keeps the dating simpler, and also because under 40 screenshots didn’t seem like quite enough for a solo article without much descriptive text.  Future articles will often do this as well as they cover more time.

The two parts of this article are, first, a set of images of release Guild Wars, circa late ’05 to early ’06.  The second part is of the first open beta for the upcoming second Guild Wars standalone expansion game, Guild Wars: Factions.  These are from the Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend.  I had a hard time figuring out what event these shots were from at first because this event is not mentioned in the official Wiki, confusingly enough, but I found it eventually.  See the section below, in the middle of this article, for much more on what was in this beta, and also for a link to further details.


A. Guild Wars (Prophecies), November 2005 to mid January 2006

 

The first half, approximately, of this article is a set of screenshots from release Guild Wars.  This contains 39 screenshots from after Halloween 2005 until mid January 2006.  Included are a bunch of Sorrow’s Furnace shots, from my many futile attempts to beat the Iron Forgeman, and the few pictures I took of Christmas 2005.  I must not have had much time to play GW that holiday, but at least took a couple of screenshots when I could.

I’m honestly not sure exactly when I took this screenshot, but it definitely isn’t from this point in time; it may be from one of the later pre-release Beta Weekend Events? It’s either that or it’s promoting the upcoming Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend, which ran for a weekend in mid January. I’m not sure, but it’s more likely the latter — this still has the original ‘camp’ character select environment, so it’s pre-Factions, and visually looks like the release game.  The phrasing of that message is confusing, but that’s likely what is going on here, though I’m not certain.  The image was in the folder with the rest of these, so I’m putting it here. (The email address is my usual one for the account, not something different.)

Yes, I’m in the desert now with my Ranger character, I’ve kept at it.  Running around in Guild Wars can be boring, but between the great graphics and music fortunately usually it’s pretty fun. It can be tense at times too if you’re trying to avoid enemies, but I don’t think I’m doing that here.

The desert area in GW is moderately sized and kind of empty, and is mostly made up of big open zones. It’s a fun area to explore, but isn’t as challenging as you might expect so it’s not that big a part of the game. I kind of like that though, because being able to wander around and explore without having to constantly fight is nice!

Some of the enemies pack a punch though, for sure, particularly in the desert’s Missions. It looks like I’m in a decent fight here.

There area few oasis areas in the desert filled with plants, such as this pond here. The plants are appropriately desert-themed, with cacti, palm trees, and such.

And now something different, the Fire Islands, or maybe more likely the random arena fire islands map.

Here is my world map, for Talindra almost certainly, circa late 2005. As you can see I have gone to some areas in the game, but there are still big parts of the overworld that I hadn’t explored. There are some sizable optional areas in this game, and I finally got around to going through a lot more of them in 2018, many years later — that is when I finally went along that long path connecting the North and South Shiverpeaks, went to the Falls, and such, for example.

Back to the ranger, my college guild definitely wasn’t a PvP guild, as that default Rating shows.

I wonder if any of these people have played the game in the past, oh, decade…

First person view of a bridge in the desert. The first person view is very impractical in combat, but can look kind of cool at times when you’re just running around.

And now I’m nearing the end of the bridge. Also, I know I’ve said this repeatedly, but having that U-key map open, the one on the left side of the screen, really is essential when exploring, it’s much easier to remember where you’ve been that way! Good maps are an important thing in games.

Going back to Talindra, here is one of those Sorrow’s Furnace attempts.  The lighting here makes the cape look different… that’s kind of cool.

Sorrow’s Furnace is a fairly good-sized dungeon, so getting a random public group to both stick together and actually stay long enough to finish it was difficult. Witness, three people have abandoned us already in this run, and this is not near the end… but given that the party is mostly dead and our death penalty is high, I don’t blame them; it’s probably better to just start over at this point.

Here’s the Iron Forgeman! He’s big, and the battle is tricky; you don’t just fight him, but have to stand on different points at the same time to be able to damage him.

Let’s go in again, maybe it’ll go better this time! At least the area looks pretty neat, with the reddish light and good texture work.

This area definitely does not look too hospitable to human life. And it looks like the party agrees… :p

But despite half of the team giving up, a few of us kept trying anyway, and talking about strategies for what to do in the chat.

It’s just incredibly difficult to beat this guy at 60% down with only four people, unfortunately… still, it’s great that I saved this chat with screenshots!

The strategy conversation continues. I really wish that I’d beaten the Iron Forgeman on one of these attempts, it’s still something I’d love to do in the game…

At some point after this one we finally gave up. Oh well… I’ll try again!

Long match? Just how long was this guy on the other team able to evade us for, exactly?  Also… it’s weird that I think I’ve never even made an account at The Guild Hall / Guild Wars Legacy, no idea why really.  That IGN Guild Wars forum shut down many years ago, after all.  I did join the GW1 general Discord recently, though.

… Well, if that chat is accurate that WAS a pretty crazy-long match… 51 minutes, seriously? And we stayed. Heh… I don’t know if that’s really worth it, but you don’t want to lose, you know? And we didn’t.

Still lots of people here grouping for Sorrow’s Furnace runs. Beating Sorrow’s Furnace was much more plausible in late ’05 than any time since, since finding player groups was so easy.  Oh, and on another note, those white boxes are players who haven’t loaded in correctly, or something like that.  It was a much less common bug than the textureless white ground, but as you can see happened once in a while.

And now, a handful of shots of the first Christmas event. I must have been busy during most of this event because I only have a couple of Christmas ’05 screenshots, but at least I have some! I’m liking this already, the giant presents are a nice touch. I love winter, and Christmas is a great holiday.

A giant candy cane! This is much nicer stuff than Halloween decorations…

Oh, yes, this is Lion’s Arch that somehow has seen a snowfall. That’s rare for a jungle city… but it happens every year anyway. Convenient!

Before the Battle Isles, again, the Team Arena was in the South Shiverpeaks, so grouping for it was done here. I don’t know if this party filled up though, because the next shot is of something else.

Yes, it’s the Iron Forgeman again. And a note full party and high death penalty again, too.  Sigh…

The Sorrow’s Furnace area really does look great, though. This game in general has really impressive art design, but this area upped things versus the original release in some ways.

The Forgeman’s design is great as well, even if it’s a bit too hard probably.

… Yup, this is going about as expected, we keep failing and respawning and eventually more and more people leave as they give up.  It was worth it though, even if not successful; Sorrow’s Furnace is a cool dungeon and I really liked exploring it with player groups.

And last for this batch, a few shots of standing in fire in the Fire Islands PvP map.

Yes, I’ve started to collect Elite Scar Pattern armor. I’d eventually get the full set, and it’s pretty much what I’ve been using ever since.

 

B. Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend, Jan. 20-22 2006

The second part of this article includes 33 shots from the Guild Wars Factions Global Free-For-All PvP Weekend which, again, ran from January 20 to 22, 2006.  This beta weekend event was the first of two that preceded the release of Guild Wars Factions in 2006.   This PvP-only beta introduced the Battle Islands, a new PvP-focused map with several outposts, which would, once Factions released, replace the previously on-map random arena, team arena, Tombs, and such outposts.  Putting most of the PvP stuff in a single place was a good idea, so this was a welcome addition.  If you had PvP character slots on your account, you could, additionally, create characters using the two new classes Factions would introduce, Ritualist and Assassin.  If you didn’t, they had free keys available for making a new account that you would presumably use only for the betas.  In fact, those keys were available to anyone, not only current Guild Wars owners, as Factions would be a stand-alone title which does not require to original game to play.  So, Arena.net let anyone who wanted to use those keys to create an account.  I created a separate account that I used only for the betas, because my four character slots were full and this way was free while buying additional character slots costs $10 each.  This beta was PvP-only, so making a new account didn’t mean much, you only missed out on faction experience and such.  That’s fine.  This is why the shots from this beta of the character select screen for the Factions beta have only the beta characters are present, and not my regular ones.  I have checked, and this account does indeed exist.  It uses a now-dead email address, but fortunately I managed to correctly guess the password and thanks to screenshots know a character name, so I logged in, and yeah, it’s still there, with two characters but no games attached to the account.  That’s pretty cool, though it wouldn’t be usable unless I bought GW again for it, and i don’t really want to buy the game for an account attached to an email address I can’t access anymore, so oh well.  It still was pretty cool to see that it still existed.

In addition to the January test covered here, post-release beta accounts or characters would be accessible several more times, for the four Factions and Nightfall beta events in 2006. You had to use PvP-only or new characters for this beta, I believe, and I, like many people,,wanted to anyway in order to try the new classes.  As a result, I’ve got some new character creation shots showing the interface used for this beta, and some of the character list because these are kind of temporary characters and not ones I could use in the main game.  After Factions released I would use some of the Factions beta characters in the main game, by re-creating them in Factions’ new character slots, but not all of them.  Once Factions released, as with the base game, you couldn’t bring anything from beta into the main game other than your character names, so if this was a temporary second account I didn’t lose anything for it.

I mentioned this in short at the top of this article, but I did not have these Factions beta screenshots in a folder named with the name of the event and mostly use the official Wiki as a reference, so because it was not in the Wiki, while it was clear from looking at them that they were from a beta, I had a hard time figuring out what event, actually, they came from.  I knew about the second Factions beta, from March, but these did not seem to be from that PvE-focused event.  But since I hadn’t named the folder back then and it wasn’t in the official Wiki, unlike all betas before it, this one took a little more searching to find.  I eventually did find the name and details of this event, though: the PvP Factions beta weekend from January ’06 I’ve named above.  Here is the page for it on another Guild Wars Wiki which actually has info on the event:  https://guildwiki.gamepedia.com/Guild_Wars_Factions_Global_Free-for-All_PvP_Weekend  Arena.net or whoever oversees the official wiki really should correct this mistake and add a page for this beta somewhere, it did happen.  One other beta from later ’06, for Nightfall, similarly isn’t in the official Wiki sadly.

These are the Battle Isles, islands run by the Zaishen Order for the purposes of gathering together people who want to fight eachother together in one place. This is probably from a little cutscene introducing the Great Temple of Balthazar.

I made my first PvP character an Assassin, since that class sounded like the more interesting of the two. No, this isn’t my character, just the party.

Here’s my assassin, beta version. You could choose several different armor options in the character creator, and I chose this one.

And here we see the Factions beta character creator, as I decided to make a second character. Here’s the default look of the Ritualist. The new background is for Factions, as each of the four campaigns introduced a new login and character selection screen. Unfortunately the first three have been inaccessible for a very long time now, as the Eye of the North snowy mountain has been the games’ only selection screen background, and soundtrack, while the other three, such as this Factions one that was only in the game for about six months, languish semi-forgotten. It’s unfortunate, they should add in the option to use any of the four.

Now the model from behind.

And here’s the character creator itself, showing all the costume and skill options available here. Because these characters are created at max level, and are only usable in PvP, you can choose different armor options and set all your skill points as you choose. For the beta, if you made a new account with the beta key or made a new PvP character, a bunch of armors and such were unlocked for everyone; normally PvP characters can only use things unlocked on your account.

I believe this is from the tutorial stage a new PvP character has to go through.

Yeah, definitely. That’s Kisai there most likely.

That isn’t Aidan on the right though, but someone who looks somewhat like him, but factions style…

This is probably more shots of this AI character group than I needed. Oh well…

Now hopefully we’ll actually get to some PvP gameplay, with this new class!

The Battle Isles look great, and were a nice introduction to the East Asian-themed setting of Factions.

Oops, I think the ground broke again…

And here we see that yeah, this definitely is not my main account. I’d made two beta characters so far, one of each new class, but was mostly playing this one.

Here’s what I went with for a Ritualist. That’s kind of a cool outfit, but it’s never been a class I’ve played much of… I still don’t have one in my main account, in fact.

I did play some hours of Assassin, though. Here we finally see some actual gameplay, from a Random Arenas bout.

Playing Assassin is all about chained skills that build on eachother, and is the games’ second melee class, after the Warrior. I’ve played just enough Assassin to get the idea, but ultimately really do prefer ranged classes over melee.

Multiple costume options were available, so I switched to another one here. A fair number of people were playing this beta.  There were a LOT playing the new classes though for sure… but as you can see, not all.

Another scene from one of the outposts in the Battle Isles. Cantha and the Battle Isles, the setting of Factions, are a generic East Asian setting, made by a Western developer, so it’s a random mishmash of Chinese and Japanese elements, tossed in together into one place. What, China and Japan are different countries and actually aren’t the same? Who knew… I mean, I like Factions a lot as a campaign, but this IS a very legitimate criticism. The main game’s nations are similarly broad-themed though, so that’s maybe more just the style of the game than historical ignorance. I hope.

It was always weird, and kind of amusing, when the ground textures broke, but things on top of the ground like this starting point were still fine…

Posing for a shot in the Nolani-styled Ascalon PvP arena.  It’s an alright map, but has some rarely-used elements in it with that central thing you can control and the like… but teams usually just fight like normal.

This map’s better, I think… the Shiverpeaks map’s great.

And here’s my first shot of an area I have seen a lot of since, the Random Arenas. This is the multiplayer area in Guild Wars I’ve been in the most, since its introduction here.  The higher level multiplayer of the rest of the game is great, but it’s never been something I really wanted to get into myself.

Why not make a third character, just to see the new costume and skill options available here and such? First I need to choose an outfit… aeromancer?

Geomancer, maybe?

The costume I chose will be in one shot later, but now some first-person shots of NPCs. I wish I had more shots from actual PvP battles, but oh well, this will have to do… anyway, here’s a warrior.

And a monk.

That ranger guy.

And the mage, probably Kisai from Factions I’m guessing.

Near the end I took shots of my characters in the beta yet again.  I wish I’d also taken ones with their usernames, since I don’t have any shots of the names of two of these three characters, but this is better than nothing.  As I said this account still exists, but I deleted all three of these characters in the later betas and don’t have any of them anymore.  One Factions (Assassin) and one Nightfall character are in that account, but they aren’t these. Here’s my first Factions beta Elementalist. Yeah, I went with Pyromancer of course.

And the Assassin, in the costume I used the most. This is the character seen in the screenshots through most of this beta, so I do know this name, though the character is gone because I would change to a new character with a different name later that is the one that still exists.

And last the Ritualist, still little-played. It’s a second healing-focused class, but with spirits you summon as the class’s major focus.  For some reason I didn’t keep this character either, even though the account currently has only two characters on it.

Playing in the Random Arena again, before the beta ends.

These last two shots are from after the end of the January Factions beta event, I believe. So, these two are the only screenshots I may have taken in February; otherwise this whole set is from November to January. Either that or they were taken late in the event but with my regular account, and not the beta one. It’s more likely the former, but either way, I’m in a Fissure of Woe attempt with a player group.  With a two frames per second framerate as of this shot and a player dropped, though, I doubt this run lasted too much longer…

Here we are gathering people together in the Temple of the Ages for another go, probably at the Fissure again.

 

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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 Arena.net 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: https://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Halloween_2005  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.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 7: July – August 2005

For this update, I broke up the next screenshots folder into two parts and this is part one.  The folder these screenshots was in got messed up years ago, as I mentioned previously, so none of the files have the original creation dates in them, but going by context these images are from July until just before Sorrow’s Furnace’s release on September 7; that’s about halfway through this folder so that’s where I broke it into two pieces.

This was a good time for me in Guild Wars.  I was still playing a lot of the game that summer, as I was off from college and had plenty of free time, and I was still loving the game for sure.  Screenshot-wise, though, most of these screenshots aren’t particularly interesting, I think.  Hopefully enough of these are interesting to make reading through this update worthwhile.  I am posting many of these despite that because I still very much want to post old Guild Wars screenshots online, and hopefully some images in this set are good.  There are 48 screenshots this time, so it’s not too many.  The next update will be a bit larger.

A. Guild Wars: July – Early August 2005

Obsidian armor? I will never have this, sadly… though the Elementalist one here is definitely one of their coolest-looking outfits, it’s just so crazy expensive!

Tombs used to be quite busy. And full of people dancing, too.

It may be a party outside though, but in Tombs it’s a bloodbath…

But hey, people doing silly stuff in games can be amusing to screenshot. Also, that door in the background has some great art design, as expected from this game!

I think I tried to get into a party for Tombs here, but I don’t think anything came of it. Here’s some chatlog anyway.

I’m posting this otherwise very similar shot for the new chat.

This is the mission outpost for Prophecies’ final mission, which I was getting a party together for here.  From this camera angle it looks like I’m knee-deep in the ground, but that is just a raised stone platform in the middle, so it’s not really like that.  (Interestingly, you can move the camera down through that stone platform in the center of this area, which reveals that it’s on top of standard ground.  It turns invisible once you get the camera down into it.)

Yeah, at this point a lot of people were reaching the end of the game. It was a crowded outpost indeed! Also, more Obsidian Shard armor, this time the Necromancer one.

And here’s another person with the female Necromancer Obsidian Shard armor. Just to test, I tried taking this shot at the maximum resolution supported by the monitor I had at the time, 1600 x 1200. As you can see, the framerate got … a bit worse: it went from 11 fps a couple of shots ago, to four in this one. I did not keep the resolution here after this screenshot for that reason.

This attempt at the final mission seems to be going poorly… most of us are dead, me included.

This time the party I was in got to a cutscene, though! Awesome. Nah, I don’t think I’ll skip it… I rarely did that, whether or not I’d seen it before. Guild Wars’ cutscenes aren’t too long, and they’re mostly good.

Looking at the background here, winter is my favorite season, which is probably why the Shiverpeaks are probably my favorite environment in Guild Wars.  This area looks pretty nice…

This area’s plainer-looking, probably because of the absence of trees and falling snow, but it is still nice and white.

I should get 15k Pyromancer armor sometime… but after all this time I still only have one 15k armor set, for my Necromancer.

… If you pretend that this scene was real, I don’t know that I’d want to know what is going on here…

The desert. It’s not that large an area of the game, before Nightfall greatly expanded on deserts in Guild Wars that is… but back when Tombs was there that little piece of it was a destination, anyway.

Watch out for unlicensed bots that steal your login data!

And now, a couple of shots from in a Tombs match. I played Tombs post-release more often than I remember, it seems…

Some of the team. I’m facing the other way though…

Looks like that match ended quickly, probably. We’re going to try again though!

Now I’m off to the random arena instead. Maybe this is a first person shot or something? Because that looks like my monk character in the center, but I hadn’t created her quite yet so… yeah, it’s someone else.

Dwayna.

We won some, but sadly lost eventually… too bad.  I wish I had a shot showing how long the winstreak was.

See my message on the screen: this shot is probably taken under-water, but you can’t tell because when you get the camera underneath things such as water they disappear. So yeah, I’m totally on land here… yeah…  It’s a neat trick of how the Guild Wars camera works.

Standing in the fire of the fire islands arena between matches can be entertaining. This isn’t my character though, but is another monk who looks a lot like the one I would soon make.  Because…

B. A New Character, as well as the old, August 2005

At this point I can definitely date the rest of the screenshots to August, because this new character was created in August 2005.  So, this is a good point to break the article into two parts.

Because here is my monk character, just created at level one. The name references two characters from Quest for Glory I, a favorite game of mine from the early ’90s. I don’t love playing monk and aren’t as good at it as I am at ranged combat classes, but I did eventually finish Prophecies with this character, which took over a hundred hours. After that I mostly stopped playing Monk though, and it’s hard to go back to, remembering how to heal teammates well and such takes practice.

I’m sure Sarah here will be fine this time…

You’re being pretty confident there! Probably over-confident, really. I don’t know how well we did, but hopefully it was well… most of the year the Fissure of Woe costs quite a bit of money to get into, after all! It’s some of Guild Wars’ postgame content, and it’s hard. Challenging areas like this are, even more than the rest of this game, really designed to be played with an all-human player party. There are even harder areas in the game now, that are totally inaccessible to all but the best solo players, but the Fissure’s more than hard enough for me to not get far at all playing it these days with just Heroes and Henchmen. I love Guild Wars’ grouping focus, but it does mean that solo play can be inapproachably hard, and groups just aren’t around these days like they were in 2004-2005… ah well. It’s still an amazing game anyway, and thankfully some people are still playing.

Moving forward in the Fissure a bit. You go here to get Obsidian Shard drops, to make that cool Obsidian Shard armor if you can get a lot of them. Good luck with that, I only ever got a few…

That over apparently, here I’m back in the Shiverpeaks for a bit.

You get to the two GW1 high-level areas, the Balthazar-themed Fissure of Woe and the Grenth-themed Underworld, from the Temple of the Ages in the middle of Prophecies’ map. You can also get there from similar five-gods temple zones in Elona and Cantha, today. Even today you often see a decent number of people in the Temple of the Ages, particularly when an event is going on.

GW really should have had an auction house… but instead people who want a good return for their items have to do this, spam chat.  They would add that search-list thing later on, but you still need to be logged in and listing it for it to appear there.

More people in the Temple, mostly grouping for Fissure of Underworld runs.

Returning to my monk, I’ve gotten a new costume and have progressed to Seared Ascalon. Nice. Monks were always popular,there was always way more demand for human monks in groups than there was supply! Finding groups is definitely easier if you’re a healer, the AI healers are decent but can’t match up to a player.

More of this mission. Yeah, I got very used to playing this game with an unstable framerate under 20 fps.

This is some nice loading screen art. The Ascalon Arena is a low-level-only 4v4 random PvP arena, so today surely it’d be nearly impossible to find a match there. Things were different back in 2005, of course.

I believe this is a countdown for a mission, not the Arena.

These timers are pretty annoying, though. Once you have a group, why make people wait so long all the time? If things could just start, you’d save so much time that you spend standing a round for countdown timers to start… I know some are needed to allow for people to load into matches and such, but it’d be nice if it would start once everyone’s in. Oh well.

Nolani Academy… of course. It’s a much easier mission here than it was back in E3 for Everyone, but because of my first experience with it I still think of it as hard…

I went back to my main for a while here.  I’m running through (Seared) Ascalon, seeing some sights. Stuff like this destroyed building with giant mural is pretty cool as is the sky behind that.

Guild Wars has nice water reflections, too.  That makes even muddy water like this look kind of nice.

Yeah, there’s definitely no life to be found here… apart from the monsters I’ll be killing and plenty of Charr, of course!

And now my monk is out of Ascalon and has reached the Shiverpeaks. As I’ve said before, the story arc in this game, from Ascalon through the mountains to Kryta and eventually to the Fire Islands, is very well done. It’s far from one of the great stories, but it is a good one which succeeded in making me care about the characters and world. I have not liked any of Arena.net’s stories anywhere near as much since, sadly, so maybe their success writing such a compelling story was a one-off thing… but still, this accomplishment is worth remembering.

This effort at getting through this area of the game sure wasn’t worth remembering though… but I took a screenshot anyway. Heh.

And for the final screenshot before Sorrow’s Furnace, here is a shot of the map screen, zoomed in. Here you can see your path and you can see which parts of the maps have been revealed. It makes exploring most of a zone easy. Getting every single scrap of a zone mapped out is very hard, but getting close is easy enough, if you have the time. Guild Wars’ mapping system is one of the best I’ve ever seen in a game, and that is something that means a lot to me.

Next time: Guild Wars: Prophecies’ free content addition, Sorrow’s Furnace, releases, and the first annual Halloween festivities (?) commence.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 6: June + July 2005, I Bought the Game

A bit over a month after the release of the game and those two days I spent playing the release version of Guild Wars with the access that my preorder got me, I finally bought Guild Wars.  I bought a retail copy, though I never used the disc, I just entered that key into my beta install of the game.  I believe that the preorder had expired, so I had to pay the full $50, which I was fine with given how much playtime I got out of that $5.

The dating on this article skips a month because I actually never played GW in May 2005; the release was at the end of April, then I bought the game in early June.  The screenshots in this update from cover from early June 2005, the month I bought the game about five weeks after release, until July 11th.  There are 52 screenshots in this article, so there are fewer than the last one.  It ends at that date in specific because some time after that my computer had something go wrong, and the next 133 screenshots do not have accurate date codes in them.  They’re all dated “July 20, 2006” which is most definitely not accurate.  I went back to that computer to see if anything better was there, but sadly no, none of the screenshots are still there; the originals were probably lost in a partial hard drive failure that computer suffered several years back, though they probably also have that incorrect date on them so that wouldn’t be too useful anyway.  From looking at those screenshots they clearly are from after this set ends until fall ’05, though.  Anyway, as far as number of screenshots goes, the next two folders, which cover to spring ’06, are the largest; after mid ’06 I continued playing Guild Wars, but not as much as it had the first two years (from mid ’04 to mid ’06).  That’s next update, though.

So, from this point on, for the most part this series gets less interesting from a historical perspective — Guild Wars was out, so you won’t be seeing as much of a chronicle of the visual and content changes the game underwent during development.  I have many hundreds more screenshots of Guild Wars that I’ve taken over the years, though, so I want to keep posting these articles anyway.  I hope something here is of interest.

A. Guild Wars: Prophecies Release, June 2005

Comparing the shots in this update from how the game is now, a couple of differences stand out.  Most obviously, of course the Heroes and the party movement control buttons on the bottom of the minimap did not exist yet, as they would not until Nightfall released a year and a half later.  Additionally, the Battle Islands also did not exist yet.  The Random Arena did go through multiple maps, but there was no centralized Battle Islands hub for multiplayer areas, they were still scattered around the main map, with the Random Arena on that island south of Kryta, and the high-level tournament in Tomb of the Primeval Kings in the desert.  A Team Arena did also exist, in the South Shiverpeaks, but I don’t believe that the Random Arena would send you there at this point.  So, as you will see later in this update, you could just keep going in the random arena until you lost, pretty much.

This first larger set of 33 images are from June.  I picked up where I left off, and spent the month playing as my first two characters… or, it would turn out, mostly for one of them and not the other.  One of my characters has a sizable majority of my overall playtime in this game.

At this point, both of my characters are in Seared Ascalon. That would soon change, however… well, for one of them.

I’ve got some quests to do.  Sometime.

But how about I just play as my other character instead?  I’d rather play as Talindra.  My skillbar still has a bunch of these skills in it…

Winter is my favorite season in real life, and it looks amazing in Guild Wars too. I love the look of GW’s snow-laden trees!

These people look like trouble… and like they’re reusing that model a bit too much perhaps? Heh.

The White Mantle are your friends… those Unseen Ones they worship totally aren’t suspicious at all!

Before the Xun’lai chests inventory space was a real problem.

Looks like I’ve fully explored this zone!

Random Arena time! … Yes, I probably should switch to res signet for the arena, but I rarely did.

It can be fun to look at all the different costumes available in this game.

I do have the Necromancer scar pattern armor, but not the Monk tattoo one.

And here is that same image without the image enhancement of Shift+Printscreen.

Similar image, but I like the background better in this direction.

The Searing left some burning scars like this in Ascalon.

This is a pretty cool angle for the sun and lighting on this mural…

Random arena I presume.

Yeah, having a chest to put your rare crafting materials in was a big improvement. It’ll be quite a while after this until they add it to the game though.

Not too much going on here, but GW environment art is great.

And here is how material crafters look in the final game.

And here I took shots of a couple of other female Necromancers with similar hair to mine. Not sure why really.

Here’s another.

And a third, along with plenty of people in the background.

Shortly after this I had to give up on my guild cape, because for a while I joined a guild with some people I knew in college and wasn’t the guild leader. It’ll return eventually though…

Nice heroic shot! But yes, this shows how my Ranger’s still in Ascalon, while the Necromancer progresses through the game steadily. Yeah, I was playing as the latter character a lot more.

When you’ve got life regen stuff and there isn’t an ongoing match, it can be fun to stand in the lava and watch your health not go down much…

I’ve reached the Crystal Desert! Cool. Looks like I died though… oh well.

And here’s an amusingly weird thing about Guild Wars: some things disappear when viewed through water. Guild Wars isn’t a game with an underwater component, but you can walk into the edges of seashores and such at some points. And when you do so, you notice two things: hair, for some reason, vanishes along with the top of your characters’ head, and the bikini clothing parts of Necromancer scar pattern armor also vanish. These parts of your character model disappear completely, and you can see the sea floor on the other side in this shot. It’s a little easier to show off the hair part with a character as short as Talindra is, taller ones can’t get deep enough in many places, but regardless, it’s weird that this is a thing, and it is still like this — you can do this in GW today and you’ll see the same silly disappearing body parts thing.

And here, you see that the above disappearing-hair-and-clothing thing only is visible when you’re looking through the water-surface texture. If you manage to get the camera underwater as I did here, though, you see that the character model is fully visible like normal. Yes, I’m underwater here, and that’s the water surface above me, but my hair is visible because of where the camera is. Guild Wars is amusingly weird sometimes… 🙂 Oh, and yes, this is the first cape from one of those guilds with people from college. It’s alright but I like mine the most.

19 straight wins! Very impressive, this is one of my better winning streaks I believe. I think that later on things were changed so before you reach 19 wins you get sent to the Team Arena lobby, instead of just continuing on in Random Arenas… but as you can see here before that point you could just keep going. Unless this is from the Team Arena? I don’t think so, though.

… And yeah, with one of our team leaving that pretty much ended this awesome run, which is why we’re unhappy in the chat. Random new person (no screenshot after this one) wasn’t as good.

Yeah, I’m progressing through the game nicely with Talindra, farther in the desert now.

This is a somewhat ominous looking cave shot, if you think of it as a picture and not just ‘party standing still in a mission’…

“A new build of Guild Wars is available. Please exit and run the program again.” appears when the game is patched. When this happens you can stay in the game, but can’t do much and eventually will be forced to log out and download the patch by running the game again. Fortunately this usually didn’t take long. It’s too bad we didn’t beat the mission before the patch dropped… oh well.

B. July 2005 Guild Wars Gameplay

And this smaller set of 19 is from July.  I made a third character this month, as you can see in the next screenshot.

At this point I decided to make a third character. Yes, it was an Elementalist again, always my third class. As you can see though I redesigned my character from my beta Elementalists. I’d been reading some Drow D&D books at the time, so I chose the darkest skin tone and a character name I made in a Drow name creator online. Of course she’s human though, there are no elves in Guild Wars (or playable nonhumans).

Yup, still in Ascalon. My new character has already matched this ones’ level… though I would eventually finish Prophecies with this character and not the Elementalist (yet at least) so that would eventually change.

Somehow that ultra-light skin never burns. Videogames are nice in some ways…

Once again, we see the way the clothing textures simply aren’t there through water.

Looks like we lost this one.

Heh… here’s another silly glitch. This rock, at this point, still didn’t have the right collision on it, so you could stand inside this edge of the rock. This may have been fixed since then, I’m not sure.

Guild chat? I haven’t seen any of that in like ten years now…

The desert and snow can look kind of similar if you just look at the ground, but this is the desert.

No, I’m not quite at the Fire Islands yet, this is the Random Arena map.

And now we’re in the snowy lands of the South Shiverpeaks. The ground definitely looks kind of similar.

Light and statue

And here it is from a different angle. Not quite as cool from this direction…

I don’t think I currently have Pyromancer robes for either of my Elementalist characters… I should fix that problem, it has always been my favorite female Elementalist outfit… but yeah, that skillbar could use some work. I hope I don’t have many skills yet.

A decent loading screen.

And now I have, for real, reached the Fire Islands, the final area of the story, with my main. I’m probably close to a hundred hours in (since launch) with Talindra at this point, Prophecies took me at least a hundred hours to finish per character.

The Fire Islands are an appropriate end point, being all lava and igneous rock.

First though, let’s go back to the Elementalist for a bit, in this low-level Arena.

This is a pretty good map, it has some nice options.

Next time:  More of release Guild Wars.  After that, Sorrow’s Furnace and the first Halloween event.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 5: Beta Weekend Event, April 2005, and Preorder Release, May 2005

This time I cover a very important period in Guild Wars’ history: the release of the game!  First, though, came the final beta test in April 2005.  Then in May, the game released.  I’ll cover both the April BWE and the first two days of release in this post.  I will explain in the “Preorder Release” (first two days) section below why it’s that period of time in specific.  I was going to put these in two separate posts, but  I decided to merge them together. That means this has the most images of any posts in this series, about 80.  I know that’s a lot, sorry about that.

A. Beta Weekend Event, April 2005

In April 2005, Guild Wars finally had its last Beta Weekend Event.  There was only one month to go before release, and the game was in great shape!  Indeed, apart from the amount of the game we couldn’t play — excepting previously available areas the Shiverpeaks and Crystal Desert were still mostly unavailable, along with most of the Fire Islands — Guild Wars was almost in release form in this test.  Most notably, the final interface is finally here!  Yes, after almost a year, the look of Guild Wars’ interface that any GW player knows finally comes into appearance.  The look of the minimap and skillbar, the menus, customizable interface where you can drag any interface element to any point on the screen, all of it’s been totally redone since the previous beta, and it would not be changed again, apart from some additions that Nightfall made for Hero and Henchmen control; note how those buttons below the minimap aren’t there yet, and won’t be until late 2006.  Until then you could not control Henchmen or tell them to stay at a point, and Heroes did not exist.  This put much more of a focus on player groups, which I loved.  The addition o Heroes and being able to give your AI party members more direct movement controls is fantastic for solo Guild Wars, but it helped destroy something I really loved about the game, finding random human groups for missions.  I’m very glad I played GW before Heroes were added.  Sure, when playing the game now you’re grateful for them because finding human groups would be difficult regardless, but Heroes have both positives and negatives.  But anyway, that’s getting well ahead of things.

Returning to Guild Wars as it was in April 2005, the added customization is great, but I have always missed that Map button that used to exist to the lower right of the minimap, so I added it back in by dragging a Map icon there from the menu on the lower left.  You can add any of the lower-left menu buttons to the screen anywhere, but that’s the only one I’ve ever put on screen.  It doesn’t look nearly as nice as those integrated map buttons from the previous betas, sadly, but it’s better than nothing.  I wish you could use the old map graphics with the integrated overworld map button.  Also, readers will notice that while you can move all of the icons around, I don’t do it; I’ve kept the whole GW interface in the same exact places it has been since I first played the game in May 2004, with the map in the lower right, skillbar in the bottom center, spell effects in the upper left, and such.  I know many people move things around, but I don’t like change without purpose and the interface as it was works great.

Besides the interface though, which is a big thing, there isn’t too much to say about this beta.  By looking at my screenshots, I clearly was just wandering around doing not a whole lot, and that is reflected below.  Of the 49 screenshots here, about half are from the closing event and half are from before that, but I was just playing little bits as all three of my main characters and such, nothing too special.  Everyone playing knew that a full server reset was coming after this beta, so trying to make progress in the game or get items felt pointless when it’d all be gone in a few days.  If you read the chatlogs in these screenshots, there’s less item trading and more discussion about the coming final server wipe, understandably.  The previous wipe had, again, been between the December and January betas, so we’d had four weekend beta tests to build these characters up, quite a while in beta terms.  I took a screenshot near the end showing how much time I’d played as Talindra during those four months, but sadly didn’t do so for the other characters and again the account-wide time-played counter still was not in the game yet, so I don’t know how much time I spent in Guild Wars  pre-release overall.  My best guess has always been 150 to 200 hours, and after going through all these screenshots again I still think that’s probably about right.  I’m sure there were people who played the betas more than me, but considering the limited number of days and that I was in college I played this game a whole lot pre-release.  My memories of the GW betas are some of my favorites from gaming.  So, on to the screenshots.

Starting out, I took screenshots again of four loading screens. I’m not sure why, except that GW’s concept art is outstanding, I’ve always loved it at least as much as the actual in-game models. Also… 1060 files remaining? That probably took a little while, though thankfully the files were small; GW is not a huge game.

More fantastic concept art for this beautiful game.

And another one, of the desert this time. This has always been one of my favorites, I think…

While these screenshot-as-loading screen deals have always been the worst. The contrast between the amazing concept art and this stuff sure is stark.

And now for some actual gameplay. First, a match from the random arena. At this point, for anyone who does not know, the Battle Isles did not exist; those would be added in 2006. Instead, each arena was a solo affair, tiered by the player levels allowed there. The top-level random arena was at Fort Koga, so that’s the map you saw most of the time. After the introduction of the Battle Isles, a Random Arena with randomized play of a bunch of maps replaced this. The lower level arenas still do exist in the game, but upper-level ones like this are only in the rotation. It’s a nice improvement, because just seeing one map all of the time did get boring.

The Crag, on the Fire Islands? Was this new for this beta? I sure don’t remember it before! That’s a pretty cool inclusion.

It doesn’t look like it went well at all for us, though… But on another note, I find it interesting and kind of weird to see how often I’m changing costumes on Talindra here; I’ve had just one, the elite scarpattern armor, on ever since I bought it in late 2005, so seeing new clothes every couple of screenshots is kind of neat.

And now some exploration in the edge of the Shiverpeaks with my ranger. The Moa Bird / Strider always has been my favorite pet by far. Indeed, I’ve almost never used anything else…

This is a pretty cool looking building! GW’s snowy trees look great, too.  And yes, my Ranger here still has Firestorm.  (It’s a fine PvE skill, really!)

Ice caves look pretty awesome, though they are even better with post-processing reflections on…

And here we see a team led by me in Tombs! this is right at the start of the match and is the only shot I have of the match so it probably didn’t go great, but that’s pretty cool. I don’t think this has happened again since.

I checked in with my Elementalist for a moment. … I know I’ve said it already, but I love that cape design…

More fantastic loading screen art.

So, as that last loading screen and the ice cave shot suggested, my ranger is in pre-Searing this test apparently.  The reality of the ingame graphics can’t match the art, of course, but it does look nice.

I took screenshots here of all four characters, so as to make it easier to recreate them as close as possible in the release game; you kept your character names but not anything else, and had to make your characters again. I’ll only post this first shot.

Ventari the Centaur’s kind of cool looking, as are the mesas above the Maguuma Jungle. Guild Wars has such a great variety of environments…

Here’s a stained glass window of Grenth in the Ascalon Catacombs of pre-Searing.  It’s a particuarly impressive scene to run across.

And here’s a painting of a dragon in the Catacombs.

The framing here, with the column of light extending into the gap between the two sides of the open roof, is impressive.

And here’s another painting, this time in Seared Ascalon.

They didn’t scrimp on detail; even relatively small things like this art of, what is it, dragon wings, on this long mural is done extremely well. It works from both artistic and world-design standpoints.

Yes, Arena.net sure likes its dwarves! Other traditional fantasy races are, again, not even in this game, but Dwarves are quite prominent. They may not be playable, but they do get things like this giant statue…

And here we see, again, the major places you could visit in the betas. This does not show outposts, you need to zoom in to view those, but it gives a good sense of what was revealed before release and what was held back.

In the betas I often wanted to explore more of the snowy areas of Tyria, beyond areas like this at its start… well, not too long to wait now, only a month to go.

Now the Henchmen have actual names and unique looks, instead of their generic names and appearances before.

And now the actual gameplay shots are over, it’s on to the closing event. First, some nice fireworks and old chat. Isn’t it pleasant?

Boom!

Aah…

Ooh

Whee!

What’s going on here?

Game of the year (2005)? Yes, absolutely!

I probably should have cut some of these fireworks shots, but I decided to post all of them to celebrate the end of the betas, even though most are nearly identical.

Nothing this way.

That’s the way to look. I like reading all these chatlogs too.

Everyone’s dancing? I guess I could too then…

The Necromancers basically dance Thriller.

Dance and fireworks together!  What a nice party.

Wait… that doesn’t look right!  What is that thing in the background…

Oh. Infernal Wyrms are here to kill us all. Of course… had to expect some kind of violent end to this! And yes, for the last test, it was Infernal Wyrms, lots of them. And again, we couldn’t fight back…

People are dying left and right, though many would be resurrected randomly after a while.

Time to check the material trader! Why not? It’s not like anything is going on…

That was a close one, it almost got me.

Yeah, the giant wyrms are quite large, and the way they unpredictably erupt out of the ground and damage anyone above them can be tough even when you CAN fight back.

I decided to leave Lion’s Arch and see if the Wyrms were anywhere else. Well, they were also in Ascalon City, that’s for sure, as this shows! The page for the betas on the Guild Wars official wiki doesn’t mention that they were in Ascalon City too, along with Lion’s Arch and a few other places, but here is proof that they were.

Safe… for a moment. But yeah, losing all progress and characters in a few minutes or so is going to hurt, I agree, chat…

Gah, it got me, here in Ascalon City. I tried to escape… but with the betas ending, I took that shot I mentioned at the beginning of this article about how long I’d been playing as this character — 61 hours as Talindra since the January beta. Not bad for effectively eight days of availability! And as the shots show I did play the other characters some here and there, too, so that’s not the overall total for the 2005 betas.

Goodbye, prerelease Guild Wars…

Oops, that’s not good. Guild Wars almost never crashes! But sadly, to finish the last beta, the graphics crashed at the end as they shut it down. It’s pretty neat that it let me take this screenshot remembering that, though!

And with that, the Guild Wars betas ended.

B. Preorder Access to the Final Game: May 2005, for two days

Once Guild Wars finally reached its release day in May, those of us who had preordered the game, as I had, were allowed to start playing a day before anyone else.  Yes, the idea of giving early access to games to people who pay ahead is not new.  It is more common these days, but it isn’t new.  The difference is, all you and to do here was pay $5 for a preorder copy of the game, which I had done at Gamestop some months earlier, and you’d get that access; you did not need to actually pick up your retail copy of the game to do so.  Instead, anyone with a preorder could play for that zero day and then the first public day without needing to enter a key, but after that you’d need to pay.

Now, there probably was a way to digitally buy Guild Wars, but that wasn’t something I could do at that point in 2005, I either had to or wanted to go to a store and get a boxed copy of the game.  However, April and May were finals time at college and I had preordered at a store back at home, so I could not get to the store to pick up my preorder close to release.  As a result, I played for the two days allowed without entering a retail key, then stopped for what ended up being a month or two before I finally got around to buying a retail copy of GW.  I believe my preorder had expired by that point, so I had to pay full price.  The $5 that preorder box cost me — and yes, it was an actual boxed thing that I still have — was well worth it for the scores of hours it got me, though!  Screenshots from after I finally bought the game are for a future post, though; this is just for those two free days of access I got with my preorder/beta key.

While in the later betas I’d mostly been playing as my necromancer, I remade both the Ranger and Necromancer characters on day one and chose to start with the ranger, since that was the character I had first played a year earlier.  So, here are a bunch of shots of playing pre-Searing again as my Ranger, followed by a couple of shots from Seared Ascalon.  Losing access to all of the later parts of the game that I’d been playing so much for quite some time was kind of a shame, but it gave me something to work for.

Guild Wars is such a beautiful looking game, even today!

What happens to the nice version of Ascalon here is really sad, though…

Very nice action shot here!

This part of the Catacomb reminds me of some areas of Factions, really, more so than most of Prophecies…

That’s water there, not ground. Poison water.

Despite that, I took this closer-up shot of a damaged mural.

You want to run through the poison quickly, so as to not die. Much unlike later parts of the game Pre-Searing is easy, but it is possible to die if you mess up, as always in this game.

Grenth’s statue here emits waves of fog…

Out of the Catacombs, I return to idyllic Ashford village.

Aidan is one of the four heroes, and is one of the three on the poster that comes with Guild Wars. He’s a ranger with a good design. (Why is Mhenlo absent from that poster, anyway? If I knew, I forget…)

Ascalon City has people doing random stuff in it? Who’d expect otherwise from players in an online game…

Cynn is probably my favorite of the four heroes. Here she’s just a normal person, but after the Searing she wants to burn the Charr with fire. That sounds like a good plan, most of the time…  And yeah, she’s also on the poster.  Devona is the one in the center on that poster, but I don’t have a shot of her here.

The Ashford area is really nice, and it looks like the harvest is coming in nicely as well…

No, my Ranger doesn’t still have Firestorm today, I swapped it out at some point for an all-Ranger (and res signet) skillbar. But I sure did keep it for a long time.

It’s that ominous cutscene again… I know what this means.

More fields.  The enemies in this area sure are easy.

Lyssa statue, again.

Here’s the map of presearing. It looks like I’ve explored almost all of it now, so it’s probably about time to move on to the main game… but I didn’t take any screenshots of that.  Instead…

Instead, yeah, my next screenshot is this. I think this is from Seared Ascalon? If it is pre-Searing, it’d be the only screenshot I have of Talindra in pre-Searing, oddly enough. I think this might be from after the Searing, though. For some reason I didn’t take any screenshots of Talindra in pre-Searing other than maybe this one. I don’t know why. I can understand that after playing through pre-Searing pretty thoroughly with one character and facing that two-day time limit I wanted to get through it as quickly as I could with my first character so I probably zipped through it with Talindra, though, and I had just taken a bunch of shots of pre-Searing, but still it’s a little odd.  Oh well.

The Ascalon Arena has been remade and here is its release form, the new Ascalon Arena with a pool of water in between the sides instead of that V-angle of ground.

Bought some new armor.

Shift+Printscreen definitely momentarily increases graphical detail, you can see that again here.

I know I said it before, but Devourers, like a lot of monsters in this game, are ridiculously huge compared to the size of real-world creatures. I don’t ever want to see a scorpion larger than a horse!

The Ascalon Arena lobby isn’t as populated as it was in the betas where this was the only arena, but it was possible to find a match. This wouldn’t last of course, since only low level characters can fight here.

And here’s another shot from a random arena battle in the Ascalon Arena.

And last, the sights of Seared Ascalon. And with that, the two-day preorder release access period (from early in April 27 to early in April 29, 2005) ended, and I would not be able to play Guild Wars again until I bought the game in early June. I treated it like one last BWE, just in the final game this time, pretty much.

To conclude, remember that fan-made map of the whole Guild Wars (Prophecies) world that I said I contributed to?  Well, here is the final map, file last updated May 5, 2005, shortly after the game released.

Here is the final fan-made Guild Wars world map, compiled from maps made by all of the people listed on the bottom, myself (A Black Falcon) included.  Yes, this is the full world at release; the Sorrow’s Furnace area of the South Shiverpeaks would not be added until later in ’05.

So that’s it, that was the Guild Wars pre-release access period.  I posted most of the screenshots I took during that period, and I hope that they help illustrate the many changes Guild Wars went through during its year in open testing.  I kept playing the game after release, though, and I will make more posts filled with screenshots that I took of the final game.  Don’t worry though, I will get back to writing other articles on this site as well.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 4: Beta Weekend Event, March 2005

It’s time for more “new” Guild Wars screenshots!  I really like that I’m finally posting all these online, anyway, so this series definitely will continue.  If it gets enough parts I might add another top-bar page for the GW screenshot links, instead of having a whole category in the table of contents… we’ll see.  On that note, this time I decided to cover only one event, because I’ve got over 60 screenshots and that’s about as many as I want in one post.  For whatever reason, I took a bit over 80 screenshots of this BWE, the most I took of any of the betas not counting all of those character creation screen shots I did in the first two tests.  And now, I decided to post about 3/4ths of those; from the past updates, I posted most of the E3 for Everyone shots, but lower percentages of the October to February ones; some just weren’t worth posting.  The same is true here, but even if in some ways they’ve gotten less interesting, as the most different things versus the game you can still play today slowly are being removed in favor of the Guild Wars we know and love, as of this update release is still a few months away, and the game is still very much unfinished.  So, on to the March 2005 Beta Weekend Event!

A. March 2005 Beta Weekend Event – Talindra gameplay

As Guild Wars got closer to release, more and more of the final game came into place.  As such, this second-to-last beta mostly refined the game as it was, instead of adding major new content.  The main new addition was a newly improved PvP-only character type and guild halls, forts that guilds can buy to fight in during guild-versus-guild battles, or hang out in anytime if you want.  Along with that guild versus guild battles were also added, though I’ve never done that since I never have been in a guild large and interested enough in that to do PvP together.  Other than that, many more quests were added to the PvE game.  The character creation interface was also revamped, though I don’t show that here.  A listing of the changes is in this article here: http://gw1101.gtm.guildwars.com/events/press/interviews/fansite-friday-bwe5.php  The rest of the interface is exactly the same as it was in February, though, so the final interface isn’t here yet; that will have to wait for April.  Yes, the interface wasn’t finalized until just before launch.

Other than adding guild halls, probably the thing this beta was best known for was its closing event.   Probably the most famous of the Guild Wars beta closing events, this one sounds like it was pretty fun… but sadly, for whatever reason I have no shots of it, and instead spent the closing part of the beta in the random arenas.  I had fun there, though, so oh well.  I will say some more about this event at the end anyway though, with some links to others who did experience it.  I do have a bunch of screenshots of the April final closing event, though, so look forward to that!

One thing I do have a bunch of screenshots of this time is scenery, including a lot of large paintings and other interesting sights in Ascalon.  These things can still be seen in the game today and they’d look better now, but I decided to post lots of these screenshots anyway because the amazing graphics have always been one of the many things I love about this game, and what better way to show that than by taking screenshots of that and sharing them?

I divided this set of images from the beta into three parts within this article.  This first part is all shots of me playing as the character who had become my main, Talindra the Necromancer.

On screen here, my character and some available henchies.  Henchies are helpful but no replacement for human players. For PvE exploration, though, they’re usually fine.

I’m not sure where I took this screenshot, and it’s kind of frustrating me now.  It looks like pre-Searing Ascalong architecture, but it can’t be that, so where IS this?  Is it somewhere in Kryta, even though it looks Ascalonian?  Bah…

And now, back to Lion’s Arch.  This sure isn’t too interesting of a shot, though… what was I thinking here, that it’s kind of interesting because it’s one of the few places in the original GW campaign where you are actually under a roof?  The game is almost always set outdoors, apart from a few caves, after all.

If this is Lion’s Arch, it sure is empty…

Even in low res and with anti-aliasing off GW scenery still looks pretty good, I think. But on a modern PC with everything maxed and the new graphics option on, it looks really great! This is just an arch, but it still looks pretty cool…

And now for a couple shots of the main addition this time, guild hall islands. This is the first one they finished, the Warrior’s Isle. Buying one for your guild cost a bunch of money, but you could visit them to check them out, as I’m doing here.

More of the Warrior’s Isle. The Asian architecture here presaged the art design direction of Factions and the Battle Isles.

And now, back to (Seared) Ascalon. Such a nice place…

Destroyed houses like this sure weren’t in the original E3 for Everyone version of the Old Ascalon area!

Little bits of dying grass are about as much life as you’ll ever see in seared Ascalon. No wonder so many of the survivors left…

This was flat before the Searing!

Giant crystals like this have erupted all over Ascalon because of the Searing. They’re nice looking but are a sign of the destruction that happened…

Necromancer Munne survived the Searing, though.

Running through Ascalon…

But now, back to Kryta, and this particularly not-great looking loading screen. I get that it’s a straight, way zoomed out overhead view, but the end result looks very pixelated and kind of bad.

Yes, anti-aliasing sure does make these character models look a lot better. This is the Kryta random arena lobby area.

And here I am in battle. Random arena matches are back to 4-v-4, which is probably the right number; the experiment with 6-v-6 random arena battles from some months earlier was not popular.

We lost, apparently after several wins. Too bad, but it was fun while it lasted though.

This mission at the end of the Kryta part of the game is skill kind of hard. It’s easier with other humans like you see here of course, but it’s not easy.

Before someones’ spell hits the enemies…

During the flashy explosion…

And here are the results, they died.

Swamps in Guild Wars are bad news, you take health degeneration all of the time while standing in them. So being at the edge, like here, and luring enemies to you is a good idea.

And now, back to exploring with henchies. This whole scene is the kind of thing most improved by anti-aliasing, but look at that framerate! It’s pretty bad without it as you see here, on the 32MB GeForce 2 card that computer has in it. Regardless, foliage in GW is well drawn.

There’s a lot of running through environments like this in GW, so this is a pretty nostalgic shot.


B. Beta Elementalist Gameplay

I had three characters at this point, and wanted to try out one of the other ones for a while.  So, how about the Elementalist?  It’s a fun class, I like fire magic in games…

At this point I decided to try my Elementalist again for a while… though the crazy textures in this area are more notable. That has to be broken! That’s kind of a cool error, though…

And here I’m playing one of the early Ascalon missions, with humans because it was easy to do that during beta.

When you think about it, it’s kind of crazy how oversized things like scorpions are in Guild Wars’ world. A real scorpion as big as those devourers would be terrifying to say the least!

Maybe Firestorm will help this clump of enemies out… … Yeah, I like Firestorm, when fighting things  which don’t move out of the way that is. Heh.

On the mission out of Ascalon. Again, most of the Shiverpeaks were inaccessible during beta, so this was one of our few tastes of that beautiful area. Also… yes indeed, Prince Rurik, there are greater dangers ahead…

And now, a bunch of shots of the giant paintings in Ascalon City.  Here is Balthazar, god of war and the Warrior class.  He doesn’t look too happy here…

Melandru, goddesss of nature and the Ranger class.  Green is my favorite color, so I like the color here the best of these.

Dwayna, goddess of healing and the Monk class.

Grenth, god of death. Despite his looks Grenth is not evil. though. Severe, but not evil. I like that GW does not go for the videogame-standard “the death god is evil” plotline.

A dragon, or perhaps wyvern since dragons are in quite short supply in this game, if there even are any.

Here’s another one of those giant crystals…

And here we get a close-up of just how scary Devourers would be in person! I’ve bought one new piece of armor and probably will be fine against weak foes like this, but they look scary at least.

Using a regular attack, prsumablye because mana ran out, or because I was moving the camera for this shot instead of hitting the skill buttons… it was worth it, though, because this looks nice.

I win, but my henchie monk was not so lucky. I still had a resurrection signet though, so that problem can be solved.

And indeed, just as promised, Ascalon has a lot more quests now! There definitely weren’t anywhere near as many quests in the game before. More content is good, and Arena.net did a good job of packing the game with things to do.

This angled area is kind of unnerving somehow…

And here’s another one of those giant paintings of Balthazar.


C. Beta’s End: Lion’s Arch and PvP

This beta had a pretty cool ending event, but as I said I either entirely missed it or took no screenshots of it, as I spent most of the end of the beta in multiplayer, mostly the Random Arenas.  See the links at the end for some footage of the closing event from others.

Tired of the Elementalist, I went back to my favorite, Talindra the Necromancer. Here I am in the Tombs lobby, looking for a group and at the players’ antics, such as the people dancing in the background here.

He’s fine, just upside-down. Heh.

Tombs, like the Hall of Heroes that followed it, is a very nice looking but somewhat intimidating place, since victory is so hard to come by…

That doesn’t seem to have gone well, so it’s back to the lobby.

Yes, in beta you really could find randomly assembled groups for Tombs. This would definitely not continue on into retail, better players stuck more to their guilds once the game was out. Finding random groups for missions and stuff was easy enough for several years, but for high-end PvP areas like Tombs? That quickly became much harder, and I stopped trying after not too long. You need good team coordination to win much in structured PvP areas like this, you see, and that’s hard to do with a mostly-random group.

Guild Wars even has voiced cinematics now! It really is coming together. The first player in the group acts as the speaker in cutscenes, with two voice tracks, for male or female. If all human players hit the ‘skip cutscene’ button it’ll skip it, but it does require all to hit skip for it to be skipped. I often liked watching the cutscenes, even when I’d seen them multiple times before. Sometimes I did skip, though. Not this time, though.

This beta is heading towards a conclusion, but some people are still trying to sell stuff in town.

Yes, that’s right: capes are in the game, and I got one! Back in the earlier betas Guild Wars had little tabards instead of these capes, but they were removed because people didn’t like them, and Arena.net came back with these. I had to save up for mine so I only got it here, but here it is, a guild cape with, of course, the closest recreation I could of a Black Falcon Lego shield logo on it. It’s a great cape and is very similar to the one I have now. GW’s capes look great.

Yes, having a cape really adds to your characters. Meanwhile, chat’s zipping along.

But instead of sticking around for the full ending event, I decided to go to the random arena instead. I’m not sure if I saw any of that infamous event, honestly, but if I did I didn’t take screenshots of it.

Random arena battles in GW are something I have always loved. It’s a perfect balance of strategy and fun, as you don’t need to be as serious as you would in the higher-end PvP areas and many skill builds work, but it still is very much a skill-based mode where better builds will work better. And looking at my build here, I was clearly heading in the direction I’ve gone in ever since, towards a strong focus on the Blood skill line, with Dark Pact and Life Syphon as some of my key skills.

I hope you’re not doing that WHILE also playing in this PvP match… heh.

We won this round, but the end of the beta is fast approaching…

That’s for sure, me, I definitely like the regen skills the most! Regen and degen are some of my favorite things in Guild Wars, as far as skills go. On the other hand though, we lost… oh well. It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

That is, I probably meant that even if somehow our one remaining player lived, this beta is over…

Yup. I don’t think it got out of this loading screen, we were just forced back to the login.

So what did I presumably miss out on while I was in the arena?  Well, the closing event in the March beta here involved a lot of Gwens spawning everywhere and burning people with fire while saying all kinds of amusingly creepy things.  Specifically, we’re talking about child Gwen here, from pre-Searing.  Gwen, the character in the main game, wouldn’t appear until several addons in; in Prophecies there were a few hints that she might have survived, but no proof.  Anyway, she was very much in this beta, killing people.

The GW Wiki has a list of all the things the many Gwens that spawned said during this event: https://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/Gwen (“Beta Weekend Event” category).

A couple of Youtube videos also capture it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31Sx90HIcB0&t=23s – This video was trying to be a bunch of Necromancers dancing their very Thriller-styled dance set to the song, before Gwen interrupted…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1kW7pNFW-k (warning: language) – The Gwens spawn about two minutes into this video.

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Guild Wars Memories and Screenshots, Part 3: Beta Weekend Events, January and February 2005

Yes, it’s a third part in this ongoing series.  I’ve only ever posted a handful of these screenshots on the internet before, so almost all of them are new.  Well, it’s been long enough, so here they are.  The core of Guild Wars was in great shape, but as it got closer to release Arena.net worked on the interface and balance, as they also slowly showed some more areas of the game.  Readers will see some of all that here, as well as a bunch of shots of the entertaining end-of-beta event from January.

A. January 2006 Beta Weekend Event

With the beginning of 2005 came the fourth Guild Wars BWE, or Beta Weekend Event, in early January. While the game was mostly the same, a few things happened this month in Guild Wars.  ANet continued to work on the game as it got close to release, and the interface took a jump towards its final form this month.  I’ll get to that, but going along with it there was a full character reset, so I had to recreate all of my characters again, trying to make them look like they should from screenshots pretty much.  Character names were reserved for your account, but hours played, items, and such all were reset.  Well, it’s a beta, so you expect things like that.

The big change this time is further refinement to the interface.  The old tabbed side window has been removed in favor of movable windows, with separate panels you can open for each one of the tabs on the lefthand menu.  Oddly the righthand tab, for your graphics settings and such, is still here in this test, but the chatbox, map, and all of those left-side menus have been revamped.   See the shots below for details.  This version of the game was closer to the look of the final game, but it isn’t quite there yet– there’s still a full-map button attached to the minimap, for example, and you can’t just drag buttons onto the screen yet.

Additionally, you seem to be able to take characters to any available area this time, so the previous divide between Ascalon and Kryta characters has been removed.  So, I took my Necromancer to Kryta, of course!

This is a simple shot, but I like it anyway. In the upper right you see a hint of this updates’ big change…

Lion’s Arch. The Party Members panel has been redone.

Denravi looks pretty cool…

Guild Wars does have a first-person camera option if you zoom in all the way. I rarely use it because it isn’t very useful most of the time, but as unexciting as it is here’s a first-person shot to show what it looks like.

The Maguuma Jungle has some pretty big plants in it… though the foliage isn’t nearly as dense as it would be in a real jungle, everything’s all spaced out so you can fight unobstructed. I’ve always thought Kryta and the Maguuma Jungle don’t look realistic because of that, but oh well, they look great anyway.

Remember to set your skills, says this new tooltip!

And here is the look of the new inventory system, with a paperdoll of your character showing currently equipped items, and separate panes for different bags you’re carrying. The visual look would be improved on, but this concept is what went into the final game. By release you wouldn’t start with all those bags either, only the main Backpack. This is as much inventory space as any character can have, still, to this day, but this was before the Xun’lai Chest account storage space system, so in beta if you wanted more storage there wasn’t much you could do.

And here’s the new on-screen map you can view during play. It shows your location and your path through the current zone, which is pretty awesome. When playing now I have a scaled-down version of this map open almost all of the time.

The questlog. Functionally it’s the same, it’s just now a separate window.

And the same goes for the new Skills window. It’s still just a list, click and drag skills to your bar at the bottom of the screen to equip them.

Yes, the ground textures still sometimes broke like this.  I don’t know what caused this bug, but it doesn’t happen on newer computers or anymore, thankfully.

I promised this in a previous post in this series, but here it is, the not-in-retail Ascalon Arena! This arena is the random arena of the original E3 for Everyone, and it also appeared in the November, December, and, obviously, January tests as you can see here. It’s a simple V-shaped map, pretty much. It would be removed before release and replaced with the Ascalon Arena map of the release game, which has a lake in the center. I’m not sure which is better, but I do like this one, it’s simple and you get straight to the action.

The rest of the shots from this beta are a whole bunch of pictures from the end-of-beta event. This time they randomly made everyone do various emotes, and also grew and shrank the sizes of the players, which was pretty cool and isn’t something you’ll ever see happen in the regular game. Here, everyone’s praying.

Chat from the closing event.

And now everyone is tiny! I can understand why this isn’t in the regular game, it’d be hard to click on people this small and wouldn’t be fair for balance purposes, but it’s cool that the engine can do it.

And now back to normal size I believe.

Everyone’s tiny again.

Yup, more miniature people.

And now, suddenly people have started to get really large! I’m still tiny, as are some others, so I’m an ant surrounded by giants, or something like that…

Can’t even see myself anymore, with the giant naked people on screen…  (Underwear is class-specific, as with the rest of the costumes, and cannot be changed or recolored.  Each class and gender combo has one look everyone has.)

Yeah, I’m still small. Now everyone’s praying again.

Finally I grew in size! That’s nice. Talindra’s a really short character so it’s probably nice to be bigger sometimes…

And now some people have shrunk, but not me. This was a pretty silly event to experience, people who didn’t play the betas missed out. 🙂  I took a lot of shots of it because of how amusing it all was.

Two-day beta over! Come back next month…


B. February 2005 Beta Weekend Event

February brought two big changes to Guild Wars.  First, they continued simplifying the look of the on-screen interface.  This month, they simplified it a bit too much, presumably because the final interface wasn’t quite ready yet so we got this very basic look in the interim.  So for February, the remaining visual details around the map in the lower righthand corner have been removed, though there is still a map icon next to the minimap.  The look of the skillbar and weapon-select icons have also been simplified to a very basic state, as all visual flourishes on them are gone.  It’s fortunat that they didn’t stick with this look, because it lacks the visual flourish I expect from Guild Wars.  The final interface look would add some of those details back in, but the visually complex skillbar and map of the original E3 build of the game were gone for good.  That’s kind of too bad, I liked the look of that ornate interface… ah well.  This does free up a little screen space, anyway.

The other new thing this month is the addition of pre-Searing.  My first introduction to Guild Wars was, of course, Seared Ascalon, as it was in the E3 2004 open alpha.  That blasted, nearly lifeless wasteland is a memorable place!  We players knew that something had happened to the country, but not what.  But now, in February, a few months before release, Arena.net was finally able to reveal Ascalon as it looked before its destruction.  Before the Searing, Ascalon was a beautiful country, of green fields and very European architecture.  What happened to it is pretty sad… which is why, to this day, there is a thriving pre-Searing player community.  Once you leave pre-Searing in the final game you can never go back, so some choose to never leave with a character.  This reveal was pretty interesting, and as a result I took a lot of screenshots.  Comparing some of these sights to the ruins of the main game is kind of sad…

First though, for this beta you could recreate a character in pre-Searing, but just like in the released game you can’t travel back and forth between pre-Searing and the rest of the game.  So, a (probably newly recreated) Ranger is in pre-Searing here, while my Necromancer stayed in the main gameworld.  I mostly played pre-Searing, but not exclusively, as the shots will show.

Here is pre-Searing Ascalon. Gwen here is a young girl who follows you around in pre-Searing Ascalon. She’d become a much more important character several years later…

Pre-Searing is a really nice looking area, with green fields and nice architecture.

Verdant landscapes abound.

Ascalon City, viewed from outside. Pre-Searing is a much slower and easier start to the game than we had before! This area really eases you into the game, starting with only a few skills and very easy enemies. I do have one issue with pre-Searing, though: with it added, seared Ascalon lost much of its challenge, unfortunately. It’s just not the same with so much time to learn and level up before getting there. At least the eventual addition of Hard mode helped some there…

This nice village certainly is nothing like the E3 for Everyone version of Ascalon I first saw, either in life or in level design.

Yeah, they really want you to feel bad for what you know is going to happen next…

The pre-Saring enemies may be weak, but there are some.

Up to four skills now. Pre-Searing may be very easy, but it is a pretty good tutorial space for new players.

Some NPCs, such as this one, can also be found in seared Ascalon… but others are MIA.

There is a little bit of snowy landscape in pre-Searing.

One side of a statue of Lyssa, one of the six gods of Guild Wars’ world. Lyssa is the god of Mesmers.

And here is the other side.

Here I am standing in an oddly shallow lake by a water mill. Guild Wars doesn’t let you do things such as jump or swim, so either you can walk through something in a map or you can’t go there at all. As a result most water is impassable, but some areas are shallow enough that you can wade through them, such as this lake here.

Nice shot of this statue in Sardelac Sanitarium.

Yes, the floor isn’t solid here.

Foggy hills…

That sky sure isn’t looking quite as nice now is it…

This is a cutscene near the end of pre-Searing.

Yes, a storm is coming.  Or worse.  Finishing Pre-Searing would have to wait, though, you couldn’t have a character actually finish it and leave in this beta.

Cutscene over, I return to blue-skies Ascalon.  I celebrated finishing it for a bit before I went back to my characters in the main world.

First, though, I explored the dungeon in pre-Searing some, the Catacombs. Inaccessible in seared Ascalon, the Catacombs are a large and pretty cool network of caves, and in one of them you find this giant stained-glass window painting of the death god Grenth. No, he’s not evil, just unforgiving.

And here I am exploring the Catacombs with another human player. Pre-Searing has a maximum party size of two, with no Henchmen available, so you’re either alone with your pet if you have one, or with one other human. I mostly played it solo, but did party up for this a bit tougher bit.

An ominous part of the Catacomb indeed… this can’t be good.

With the Catacombs explored I returned to the main gameworld, and my Necromancer character.  I had to go to Ascalon first of course to see the contrast.  After the Searing all plant life is dead.

Here I’m exploring the far reaches of the Maguuma Jungle.

I posted some on the now sadly long-gone IGN Guild Wars forum during the betas, and at one point decided to help out with a giant map of the overworld people there were putting together.  I posted an earlier version of the map in the previous post, but new areas had been added to the game this time, including Reed Bog and The Falls and this outpost at Ventari’s Refuge, and I decided to map out the small zone Reed Bog.  My small contribution was to fully explore this zone south of Ventari’s Refuge. Here’s the entrance point on the map.

I added this line in Paint to show where the separation point between the two zones is for that map I talked about.  The only version of the map I have with my part on it is a post-release map of GW’s whole gameworld as of May ’05, though, so I’ll hold off on posting it until I get to that point.  It’ll only be a few more of these posts before I get there.

In order to fully explore a zone you need to run along the whole zone boundary, bumping into the sides to be sure you’ve explored every possible shred of the edges of the map. It’s kind of tedious, which is why I’ve never tried to get 100% of the map explored, but someone has to do it to put together complete overworld maps…

And here we see how far I got in The Falls, the large zone past the smaller one I was mostly focused on mapping. There is more of it past this point, but I wouldn’t see it for many years; you never have to go there, it’s an optional area.

Gathering a party in Tombs. I don’t know how it went, I didn’t take any shots this time in the Tombs battle itself.

This sure does look different from the vistas of Ascalon images above…

Here near the end of the beta, I tried out the Elementalist class again for a bit. I’d remade and renamed my Elementalist since a few months before, with a new name kind of themed after Talindra’s but fitting for an Elementalist. I wouldn’t end up sticking with this name either, after release. I did finally make a new character with this name this year, however (and yes, the name was available!), though it’s a Mesmer in pre-Searing at the moment. I’m not sure, I might keep the character there…  Oh, and yes, it’s always great to see old chat.

Now this sure is some impressively broken ground! The objects are repeating as I move the camera, essentially, in the messed up part of the display.

I hope starting the mission fixed the issue… a zone transition often would do so.

The beta is winding down, so the antics in Lion’s Arch were winding up.

I’m not sure whether there was an event this month from the devs, though, all I’ve got are these two shots which don’t hint at one.

I checked pre-Searing again before the beta’s end. I see someone in chat complaining about WoW… and I agree, I never have liked that game much…

And here’s the last shot I have from this beta. To close it out I seem to be playing this mission again, with henchies this time instead of other players. The interface and menus continue looking more and more like they have since release, but still aren’t quite there.

 

 

 

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