I started playing in the massive, on-line, multi-player world of Guild Wars towards the end of December 2005. I am sort of addicted to war games. I'm always playing one of them, Dungeon Siege, Diablo and so forth. Note: My MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) of choice is now World of Warcraft. I used to be a Dungeon Master in Dungeons and Dragons. That was a long time ago. I've made friends in Guild Wars. I've joined a Guild. You can play solo but, if you want to get ahead in the tougher parts of the game, you need to join a Guild. The game is based in large part on co-operative game play with other, real live human players located all around the globe.
I found my Guild through my sister on the west coast of Canada, who was then a member and recommended me. Her niece had tired of the game and gave me her account. Now, I have two accounts and around 19 different characters. All of them go through basically the same scenarios, they share the same adventures. In these shared adventures each character has different talents.
You and your party are alone in the game,except for game-generated characters called NPCs (non-player characters) and monsters. It is a challenge to the intellect, to reflexes, to character building (called Builds). You have a choice of skills to put in your skill bar. You give points to a list of characteristics like strength, tactics in the case of a Warrior character. Weapon strength, your armor and how many runes you've applied to your armor help to protect you and give you advantages. It takes thought and experience to do this well. Players often share Builds with each other, so a body of common knowledge is built up.
One of the more interesting characters is the Necromancer who is always saying, " Kill more! I need the bodies." He resurrects these as zombie-like minions which fight away on your side until they sort of fade off like old soldiers. I should mention that there are a number of character types, so the build and talents of a Necromancer differ from those of the healing Monks or battle-ready Warriors. I like to have a character for each class, so it adds up. New installments of the game have added new character classes such as the scythe-wielding Dervish and the Ninja-like Assassins.
You bring your character along through various hairy adventures of gradually increasing difficulty. You fight your way through all kinds of terrain, The scenery and graphics in the game are gorgeous. You go through the fire-blasted landscapes of post-searing Ascalon, through the wintry Shiverpeaks fighting Ice Imps, or through Kryta, a semi-forested area. Then, there's the jungle where there are poisonous spiders and Trolls and other hideosities. You might fight a very nasty group of NPCs (non-player characters) called the White Mantle who are conspiring to do dreadful things to the Chosen, whom you have sworn to protect.
Then, there's Prince Rurik, who is royal but stupid. You're always protecting him because, if he dies, then you don't succeed at that Mission. Each Mission gets you to a different part of the map and you work your way through until you reach the Crystal Desert where there are, oh my goodness, Hydras and sand lizards and all kinds of thing running about and nipping at your heels.
If your character is a bow-wielding Ranger you can have a pet and train it up. My current favourite pets are a dune lizard and a wolf. I generally keep the sound off because the wolf has a tendency to howl.
I have a Mesmer character and she mesmerizes. She casts her spell and mesmerizes the enemy so that they are inhibited in their fighting skills.
I have an Elementalist who plays, magically,with the Elements - earth, air, fire and water.
My Ranger shoots poisonous arrows and lays traps. My Warrior is just sort of hammer happy and hits everything. There you go. That's his job.
One of the most popular characters in the game is the Monk, the healing Monk. Oh my gosh, the party can't go out without having a Monk. Some Monks are a temperamental bunch of ne'er-do-wells but I tend to play my Monk fairly straight. Her name is White Tara, named after the female incarnation of the Buddha, and I have another one called Blue Tara. She's a pretty decent Monk. She does the right thing by her fellow players, to the best of her ability.
This can be a solitary game. I solo many quests and mission. For the more difficult areas I venture forth with other online players or with members of my Guild. The Guild I was in when I wrote this was run by a crazy Welshman called Jenkins with a slight fondness for the bottle. He had a wild Irish sidekick who liked Irish Cream and had no sense of humour. There were some lovely ladies from the southern United States and another from California. There are players from Alaska, New Zealand, and then there's myself, from Canada.
We text chat within the game but a lot of it is done with a side program, called Teamspeak. Using Teamspeak you can talk over the Internet and listen to what the other players are saying . The leader can give directions such as, "Hold back! Let those Mursaats pass!" and "We're all attacking and targeting the Mesmer Boss." A 'Boss' is a high level monster created by the game software. You you can sometimes capture valuable Elite spells and excellent weapons from these Bosses.
Military-style commands from the leader, spoken and heard by the players, are actually quite useful, especially during difficult Missions. One of the better young lady players is an ex-Marine and her husband is a Marine too. No wonder she was so good in a fire fight.
At the time I wrote this in 2005 there was great excitement because a new installment of the game was coming out, called Factions. Once you've bought this game or one of it's different Chapters (Basic, Factions, Nightfall, and Eye of the North) then it was free to play on line.
Within the game there is a thriving economy. Guild Wars and other on line war games help support young men in China who play to acquire gold and weapons which are sold from Internet sites. In the past I've bought gold and I've bought a few weapons when my character needed that extra edge. I don't recommend doing this any more. The gold is soon gone and I'd sooner farm when I need more. Farming is a term used for doing repeat search and destroy forays to get stuff, which can be sold to a Merchant an in game character(NPC) for gold You need the gold for better armor and high-price runes to empower it, etc.
There are other ways to get the fancier 'green' weapons in dreadful places where you can go and fight horrific monsters and, very likely, die. These monsters sometimes drop some very nice stuff, if you can live long enough to collect it.
The game can become obsessive. Somehow, the little triumphs in the game can make up for lack of same off-line. The game can become a habit that is hard to break.
Still, I owe a lot to the game. More for friends made on-line than for the adventures which are nearly forgotten once completed. Now, excuse me, I've got to go and kill some Corsairs.
© Sonia Brock 2005