Flame and Frost: Living Story Review

The Lion's Arch Fountain is back!
I wanted to quickly provide a review of some of the new content that I have experienced in Guild Wars 2's latest patch, Flame and Frost: Prelude. Specifically I want to talk about the new story elements added to the game. The Flame and Frost story promises to set off some exciting new story lines that will play out over the next couple months. I am excited about the contents of the story itself and the direction Arena Net is taking with content releases.

First off, I personally can not believe how large the patch is, especially after Colin down played its size, pre-release, on the forums. The size of this patch also gives me insight into what Colin was thinking when he said we should expect an "expansions worth of content" in February and March. Seeing how big January's "small patch" is makes me excited for what Arena Net has in store for us in the coming months. I now understand Colin's enthusiasm for the work his team is doing. I think I may be drinking the Arena Net Kool-aid because this patch makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Arena Net has setup the release of the January story into parts to create a "Living Story". As Bobby Stein pointed out of the forums we will not see all the changes at once or even in one week. Instead subtle changes will slowly shape the land and the story. I, personally, love this idea. I liken this to the difference between a movie and a TV show. Up until now we have been getting a movie a month from Arena Net, and now it seems we will be getting a TV show once a week. I like this because I am a more active player and need something to help keep the game fresh between monthly patches. I hope the Living Story will do just that. Releasing the story in smaller doses also creates more chances for feedback on the story to reach Arena Net and for them to modify things and cater to the players. Imagine if the current story had been released in batches instead of all at once. Trahearne would have been killed off two episodes into his story arc due to bad ratings.


The Story, so far


Spoilers begin here!

Heralds, like this one, can be found across the
zones marked with the star icon on the map.
The new story line so far concerns some strange weather patterns and geologic events which have upset the populations of the northern territories. Thus far, this is hitting the Norn and Charr of Diessa Plateau and Wayfarer Foothills the hardest. Streams of refugees are flowing through these zones and it is the players job to help them make their way to Hoelbrak and the Black Citadel. In these cities refugee camps have been setup where we can question NPCs to learn more about these events. NPC's involved in the Living Story are marked on the map with a golden star.

If you speak with the Norn in Hoelbrak you get vague answers. "Terrible Storms" are brewing and "something" is attacking the refugees. The most we get out of the Norn is that "steam's been rupturing up from underground." This steam is causing the weather to go all wonky. What could be the cause? And what is attacking these refugee's? The Norn do not have the answers ... yet.

The story is similar in the Charr controlled lands. Hot air is escaping from beneath the earth and causing havoc with the weather. Although not all the Charr are in on the details of what is going on one Charr in the Black Citadel is more specific. He pretty much straight up blames the Fire Legion saying that a group of soldiers were "run out of their posts by Flame Legion." Is that who is behind this? Time will tell as the story evolves.

A mysterious dead body, that of a merchant, has appeared in the Northern reaches of Wayfarer Foothills near Solitude Waypoint. The body is "frozen and lifeless" and it is "difficult to tell how long ago death occurred". Examining the body further reveals burn marks and trails of blood coming from the ears. Other then that there are no other signs of trauma to the body. In my non-medical opinion it sounds like he was in an explosion. This body seems like a great seed for a story and am excited to see where it goes - CSI Tyria.

For now, players can busy themselves assisting the refugees along the long path they are marching along starting in the north of Wayfarer Foothills and trickling down in two paths to Hoelbrak via Wayfarer Foothills and the Black Citadel via Diessa Plateau. Both zones are low level and offer opportunities for almost every player. The new patch changed the way rewards are handled for scaled down players such that you are always rewarded for your level. That includes chests, loots drops (not crafting mats), and event rewards. It makes being a level 80 in these zones worth it.

Tasks to assist the refugees include, lighting camp fires, healing injured refugees, collecting mementoes from the dead, and completing events. If you finish 75 of these tasks you are rewarded with the completion of an achievement, the title, "Volunteer", and a drawing from a refugee child worth 5000 karma. I completed the tasks in about 30 minutes without any problems. There are three places that the events takes place. Dulfy has all the details up on her page but if you just go to the zones and stick the refugee trails you should encounter them. All the events are the same though and involve killing elementals taking the stones they drop and placing them into an active steam vent. The events can be easily completed solo (I did one my 80 Theif and two on my 20 Mesmer). So far, the events are rather dull but that is to be expected. Hopefully, it is part of the story pacing and not all of the events will be like this.



And lets not forget the stories that started in October and November. The Lion's Arch Fountain and Lighthouse have both seen changes, with the fountain now returned to its original glory.


Conclusions


Work on the new Lighthouse continues.
Like I say, I am drinking the Arena Net kool aid. Overall, I like where they are going with the game and I am excited for the future of this story and for what is to come in February and March. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the ice berg in terms of what Anet has in store. The story, so far, has a ton of great seeds and I can see it taking a number of different paths. The other content is excellent and I hope to discuss it in the days to come.

What do you guys think of the story? Have you been going out into the world to track down every little tidbit you can? Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments below.

Polymock, Mini-pet Game coming?

A recent Reddit post grabbed my attention. Let me quote you the text,
I was looking at Guildhead and noticed this. There's both the current PvE and PvP daily goals, as well as some new ones. 
Also, monthly achievements. Polymock!?
Lets all put on our tin foil hats and get down to some speculating.

Okay, so what is going on here? Well it seems if you go to Guildhead.com and look at their achievement sections it shows upcoming daily and monthly achievements as in the achievements for future days and months. One of the monthly achievements is for winning mini-pet games, aka Polymock. This was a popular past time in Guild Wars 1. How Guildhead gets it's data, I am not sure, but that will determine if it is authentic. There are three possibilities though.

Firstly, some one could have manually entered this data. I have read on the forums that currently there is a bug in game where if you change the date on your Windows clock to a date in the future it will display the daily or monthly achievement for that day. If you can not complete your daily or monthly this is probably why. Anyway, someone could have gone through updating their clock to see what the different possibilities were and then add that data to the site.

Secondly, GuildHead could have a program that looks through the data made public by the Guild Wars 2 servers (like how GW2Spidy.com gets its market data) and then generates pages of data based on this information. Also, related to this, they could have a program looking through the files on your local client. It seems that since the daily achievement that displays is based on your system clock then it is likely that there is a file on your PC somewhere that contains a list of the daily and monthly achievements.

Polymock pieces from GW1.
Thirdly, someone could have just made it up and stuck it there. I highly doubt this because Guildhead is a fairly respected site.

So, those are the three options. If one or two is true then there is good reason to think that pet battles are coming to Guild Wars 2 in the near future, maybe February patch. Why else would this data be in the game. If all this is true, then expect to see rises in the prices in mini-pets in the future. Now may be a good time to start investing is some of the neater looking ones.

Either way, Scott Hawkes is the guy that runs the ZAM network that includes Guildhead. He is also one of the personalities on the weekly Guild Wars 2 show, Guildcast. I will be sending them a question about this and hopefully it will be answered. Hopefully others ask about this to so we can get some clarification.

All-in-all this is exciting. I know a lot of people have been waiting for this, and it will give us another thing to keep us entertain in town. What do you think? Is this something we can believe? Are you waiting for Polymock? Let me know in the comments below.

Post Patch Redposts

There are some post patch red posts that I wanted quickly take the time to catch everyone up on. Some of these posts clarify how the most recent patch effected the game and others talk of the future. I like to round up all the red posts here every once in a while so you guys can avoid the forums and still get the news.


Two Team PvP Tournaments Cost Reduced


Tyler Bearce posted the following to the forums regarding the cost of the new paid tournaments,
In response to your feedback, we will be reducing the ticket costs for this week’s Paid Tournament event from 3 tickets to 1! In addition to the other tournament rewards, winners will receive 1 tournament ticket back. Thanks for your input. Hope to see you in game!
If you are looking to give structured tournaments a try this week seems like the perfect time with the cost reduction.


Combo Killer Daily Disabled


Colin Johanson had the following to say,
The combo killer has been removed from the weekly rotation, clearly not working as intended.
A lot of people were saying they had a problem with this, however, as I said in my previous post I had no issues what-so-ever. Actually, I had a lot of fun with this one. When I first saw it, I quickly started thinking of ways that I would be able to get combos. I got my first couple by dropping my Elementalist's Fire Ring around enemies that I saw other people attacking. This got me one or two, so I decided to start up a group to get it done. I had to explain to some people how to combo off my fire field, but most of them got it after a couple tries and the whole party was done in 15 minutes. I thought this was a great way to bring people together especially if they are just going after the achievement. Hopefully, they fix it up and bring it back.


Star Icon a Bug



If you are one of the people wondering what that star icon under your dailies achievement tracker in the top right of the HUD is, Tyler Bearce has an answer.

A number of people have asked what the star icon, underneath the new Daily Achievement UI, in the upper right corner is. The star is related to the week long paid PvP tournament change, but wasn’t supposed to be displayed. It will be fixed in the next patch.
Good to know. I thought it was going to have something to do with the new living story events and was waiting for stuff to appear here. Guess not!


Town Clothes Headgear Disappeared!


Perhaps you noticed your missing Town Clothes headgear? It's another bug introduced by the latest patch.
It would appear that the Hide / Unhide option accidentally went away for town clothing headgear in the latest build, so the setting is currently stuck at whatever you had set it to prior to the build. We’re now tracking the issue.


Living Story Clarifications



Last night I could not find any of the new events in Diessa Plateau and I was wondering where they were. Seems like the Living Story will be released in stages slowly seeping out across Tyria. Bobby Stein took to the forums to explain the particulars of this system.

The Flame and Frost story content progresses over time. You will not see everything today, tomorrow, or even the next day. 
Expect subtle changes at first. Maybe you’ll encounter some familiar characters. Perhaps you’ll be introduced to some new ones. You might see a new structure where there wasn't one before.
The Living Story content is initially about the thrill of discovery. We’ll put some markers on your map, maybe send you a letter, or parcel out details through certain characters, but the rest is up to you.  

As the weeks progress, you’ll notice bigger changes in the world. New events may appear. Plots will advance and characters will develop.
This makes sense! This is kind of what I thought the dynamic events would be like at launch. This is interesting and I am looking forward to getting back in game and exploring this story now that I understand how it will work.

And indeed when I logged in today I received a mail message telling me that the Heralds have arrived.


Mini Patches Continue


There have been a couple more mini patches since the big patch dropped on the 28th. Here are some of the highlights,
Changed all non-copper karma gathering tools to have a level restriction.
I was wondering how people were harvesting the Rich Orichalcum node in Southsun without being level 80. Now I know. This has got me thinking about how this will effect the long term price of Orichalcum. I may have to invest some gold into this as I know a lot of people were harvesting the rich node using low level alts. Now the rich node is gone as is the ability to farm Orichalcum with low level characters. There has already been one large spike, maybe there will be more.
Magnetic Grasp: This ability now immobilizes the target that it strikes. It is now a large Projectile finisher, and damage is now split between this ability and Magnetic Leap.  
New skill – Magnetic Leap (Earth Skill 3): Activate this ability to leap to an enemy that’s been struck by Magnetic Grasp.
Not much changed here. The skill was simply split from one spell that you cast then channelled for the leap, to now where they can in individually cast.
Fixed a bug that did not remove the Lava condition from players who died in the pools of lava at the final boss in the Volcano Fractal.
What was happening was people would get killed by falling into the lava, or getting knocked into it. When you enter the lava it deals damage to you by putting a debuff on you. Apparently this debuff wasn't going away, even after the whole party would wipe and reset. I read some horror stories on the forums. Good to know they were on top of this.
 Adjusted Orr Undead loot drops
Sigh... vague comment is vague!


WvW Rating Reset


Habib Loew popped on to the forums to provide details about a planned rating reset for WvW. They have some good reasons for doing so and it sounds like it may increase a lot of people's excitement for WvW.  Now servers will have to fight for the places in the rankings again. Here is what Habib had to say,
In the run up to the end of free world transfers we saw large population changes as people settled in to their home servers. This means that the WvW teams being fielded by many of the worlds are now dramatically different. In recognition of this fact, and in light of the increased population stability that comes with paid transfers, we feel that this would be a good time to reset the ratings of all the servers. A reset at this point will allow the rating & ranking system to more quickly and correctly rate these (effectively) new WvW teams.
So, the idea behind this is to quickly correct all the server ratings now that server populations have settled down and people can not jump ship. He goes on to explain that this weeks matches will continue to play out and the rankings at the end of the week will determine the preliminary rankings for the new server spread. On Friday, February 1st when the new matches start up the rankings will be set back to 0 and everyone will be on equal footing.

But wait, there is more! They are also going to change some of the math behind the scenes. Mike Ferguson came out and game some more details.
Over the last couple of months we've seen that when worlds experience dramatic changes in their ability to field a consistent fighting force for whatever reason, it can take quite a while for them to work their way through the ratings until they end up in a match that suits them better. In a lot of cases, some worlds took multiple matches to work their way through a single tier even after a series of blowouts. We really don't like that, so one of the goals for updating the math behind the ratings is to try and reduce how often we experience the repeated blowouts that can come from that sort of situation and get those teams through the rankings quicker.
We are promised that details of the math will come in the future, but for now we get an idea of what there plans are. The idea is to allow servers to get into the match ups that suit them best, faster. I know my server, Gates of Madness, had to suffer through a couple weeks where we did not stand a chance due to large population shifts. The idea seems solid, but we will have to wait to see.

Both posts contain more minor details. If you are looking for those follow the links to the posts above.

~~~~

I hope you found some of this interesting. I will try to get my first review of the Flame and Frost content up later today. For now I have to get in game and get my daily Laurel.

New Events Start Today

Just wanted to give everyone a quick heads up. Regina Buenaobra, NA Community Team Lead, posted the following on the forums. She contained this text in spoiler tags, as I suppose this information is available in game some where by talking to NPCs.
Check in with the heralds for updates. There are hints of things to come already in the game. 
The playable Living Story content will start appearing tomorrow (January 29) at around noon Pacific Time in Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau. When the events start in Diessa Plateau, you’ll be sent an in-game mail letting you know about it. However, if you’re already logged in when that happens, you need to change maps to receive it.
I was wondering where these events were! Good to know that they are still coming. Looking forward to this story starting. I am currently levelling my Mesmer in Diessa Plateau seeing what I can find out.

I am having a blast playing around with these new features and will have more details later today. They have really added some new spice to the game. The new hero panel is fabulous, and the new daily achievements are nice. Last night when the patch launched one of the daily achievements was "Combo Killer". Apparently a lot of people were having trouble with this one. I started a random group and got it done in about 15 minutes just laying down Fire Ring on my Elementalist and instructing people how to combo through it. Either way Colin said on that forums that it has been removed until further notice.

Anyway, I want to get back to playing. I will have a more detailed review of some of the new features later today once I have had the chance to fully experience them.

For now, here is a link to the patch notes, including two mini fixes that went in after the main patch. Also, check out Dulfy for detailed information about some of the new features including, information about the new ascended gear, and the laurel system.

Fire and Frost patch notes up!

The new patch notes have been posted up. Check them out!

Seriously, these patch notes are huge. They are well organized though so you can find what you are looking for quickly. They are far to large for me to provide a decent summary, so head over and read them for yourself. I will provide some reviews of the new content as I get to play it. I am excited!

Expect a long patch. I have been going for over half an hour and I am only at 30%.

Last Week in Guild Wars 2

*links fixed, sorry about that

Every week on Friday, GuildMag.com rounds up all the community articles into one big post on their site. Here on my site I like to pick out my favourite articles of the week to share with you and add in a couple of my own links. This week this post is coming late due to my internet outage, thus, I call it Last Week in Guild Wars 2. There are some great articles this week which I have linked below.

I got a virtual "high five" from Raphia at GuildMag for this series of posts.
I like the co-operative nature of this process: I do the rough-hewing by gathering everything I can, and Phil selects the ones he likes the best and polishes them. It's like teamwork without needing to be on a team.
I am glad Raphia feels that way, as I too enjoy the process of going through the post on GuildMag every week and pulling out my favourites and giving you guys a brief on those articles. Raphia does a great job pulling the community together and deserves tons of respect for the work he does. I find out about all kinds of new sites and news through this weekly post. It is an invaluable resource in the community that everyone should be checking out!


ZAM.com and MMORPG.com Interview with Colin Johanson


There were two interviews with Colin Johanson. The first was done by Jarimor, aka Scott Hawkes, was posted to his site ZAM.com. In part one of the interview they discuss guesting, raiding, party size, boss mechanics, personal story, to name the major topics. In part two, they mainly discuss PvP and WvW, but there are some other gems hidden in there as well.

I already mentioned MMORPG.com's interview with Colin Johanson here before. It is a good interview and you should check it out if you haven't already. In the video a bunch of other MMO news is covered and Colin is present the entire time giving his feedback. It was cool to see him outside the GW2 world. The GW2 stuff starts at 18:00 into the video. Dulfy has a transcript up here. In this video Colin talks about improvements coming to WvW with respect to the culling (more about that below), balance issues, WvW progression, the new laurel system, guesting, changes to Orr, and some player Q&A.


Upcoming GW2Guru State of the Game


Also, while we are on the topic of interviews, GW2Guru has announced that the third edition of their monthly State of the Game stream will be on February 7th, 2013 @ noon PST. Attending will be some competitive players as well as Arena Net developers Jonathan Sharp and Jon Peters. The show will be streamed live on twitch.tv. For all the details check the GW2Guru page.


Habib Loew on WvW Culling


The WvW developer, Habib Loew, took to the forums to explain the upcoming changes, in the Jan 28th patch, to the culling system. The post is detailed but can be summed up quickly. Firstly, the engine will start using "fallback models." Essentially, these fallback models are less detailed version of the player models currently used. Habib says, "there is a distinct fallback model for each race/gender/armor-class combination". Loading this fallback model will mainly help lower end machines. This should help fix some of the problems. 

Also, they will be switching back to the December culling trial. What this means is that enemies and allies will be "culled" separately  Currently, for example, you see the nearest 20 players to you. That means if there are a large number of allies near you, and a group of enemies comes into range, you may not see the enemies at all because your allies are using all the culling slots. With this change, that was tested in December, the game will be sure to load a minimum of the nearest enemies too you as well as the nearest allies. This distinction should help some of the silliness currently seen in large WvW fights. Check out Habib's post for more details.


ArenaNet SoundCloud Page


Regina Buenaobra posted on the forums a link to Arena Net's SoundCloud page. It has archived music from the holiday events and some outtakes. My favourite bit was the little "undead hunter" jingle in the outtakes. If you are really into the music of GW2 or up for a couple laughs then you should definitely check this page out.


GW2 Hub Crafting Guides


Crafting has never been my favourite thing to do in any MMO. I do not like fiddling around with all the ingredients and figuring out what I need to level up. I particularly do not like thinking that I have wasted silver. That is why I usually look for a guide to help me make the choices that I do not find fun. GW2 Hub has recently posted articles just like this for five of the crafting disciplines, with more to come I am sure. For now they have weapon smith, huntsman, jeweler, artificer, and chef. The guides are simple and straight forward guiding you through levels 1 to 400. I particularly like that they show you what you can expect it to cost and what you can expect to recoup through sales through the levelling process.

On another note, crafting guides like these are a great thing to look at for items to flip for potential profits. Typically a crafter will "buy now" and "sell now" just to get the crafting and levelling done. Watch the markets around the items mentioned in these guides and look for opportunities.


Inventory Full on Alts and GW2


Bhagpuss at Inventory Full has an article discussing his experiences levelling up alts in Guild Wars 2. This article is my favourite this week as it touches on something I have been feeling lately too. Bhagpuss has just got his fifth character to 80 and discusses why he is moving on to his sixth right away. These are similar thoughts that went through my head when I got my Elementalist to 80 just recently. Although I geared the toon up (with yellows) and ran some dungeons, I have already pushed the character to the side and moved on to a Mesmer. Personally, I have a more optimistic view of the future, but it is interesting reading someone else's take on the game.


Black Lions Profit 10 markets in 10 days


In a similar vein to Markco at Guild Wars 2 Trading Post, Black Lions Profit has started a series of X markets in X days. Black Lion has decided to tackle 10 markets, and is already up to market nine as of the writing of this article. These series are a great way of highlighting markets with potential for flipping and bringing a readers attention to markets they may not have thought of before. I have also thought about doing a series like this, but guys like Black Lion and Markco have this down so I will focus more on ways to make silver while playing the game, like my series on converting skill points to silver.


GuildCast Episode 58


Gary is back this week for an extra long two hour GuildCast over on Gamebreaker. I try to catch this every week as it is a fun review of the weeks Guild Wars 2 news and events. If you haven't been watching this show I highly recommend it. Gary, the shows host, loves to speculate on everything Guild Wars and always keeps the show entertaining.


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I hope you have found something hear that you haven't seen yet. Don't forget to head over to GuildMag.com  for the full list of community articles this week.

Wealth Growth in Guild War 2, part 2

Today I would like to continue my discussion of wealth growth in Guild Wars 2. This discussion was inspired by a post made by John Smith on the forums. He stated;
"There are several good reasons why wealth distributions in game don’t mimic the US Economy. Another reason is that the growth of wealth is exponential in many developed economies, where it’s closer to logarithmic in GW2. The entire set of reasons would be a very interesting discussion…Well for me at least." - John Smith (from forums)
In part one of the series I mainly answered the questions, what does it mean for something to grow exponentially? and what does it mean for something to grow logarithmically? Today I would like to tackle the final question I presented in the first part, why might wealth grow logarithmically in GW2?


Exponential vs Logarithmic


This graph shows the opposite nature of these two functions.
The blue line is exponential growth and the purple logarithmic
To quickly recap, in the last article we found that if something is growing exponentially, than the value of that "something", x(t), at some time in future, t, is given by the formula;
x(t) = a * bt
where, a is the initial value, and b is the rate of growth. On the other hand we discussed that logarithmic growth is the exact opposite of exponential growth in the way that division or subtraction is the opposite of multiplication and addition. If something is growing logarithmically than its growth is described by the formula,
x(t) = a * logb(t)
where x(t) is the value of the formula as some time, t, the initial value is a, and b is a base of the logarithm and governs the rate of growth much like it does in the exponential function.

The primary difference between the two can been seen by looking at their respective derivatives. Without getting side tracked into calculus, all you need to know is that the derivative of a formula merely describes that formula's rate of change from one time to the next. The derivative of the exponential formula is;

    x'(t) = a * b* ln(b) 
          = a * b* C

and the derivative of the logarithmic formula is,

    x'(t) = a / (ln(b) * t) 
          = a * / (C * t)
          = a * 1/C * 1/t

You can see the two formula are drastically different. Firstly, let me explain the ln(b) term that appears in both expressions. Really the only thing you need to know is that ln(b) will always be the same for any value of the functions main variable time, t. That is why I made the substitution C = ln(b). This substitution just makes the formula easier to read because ln(b) is a constant term. For the specifics, ln is a special type of logarithm where the base is equal to the number, e. This number, e, is a constant like pi. For more details see the natural logarithm. Since this logarithm is being taken on the number b, which is also constant, the logarithm of this number will always be the same as well.

Quickly examining the simplified derivative of the exponential formula and you can see that as the value of t gets bigger so does the value of the derivative. This means that as time goes on our exponential formula increases the rate at which it grows. The rate of change itself is actually increasing exponentially. Look at the function and see that the only term that depends on t, is bt. You can see that this term will clearly get larger as t gets larger.

On the other hand if you look at the derivative of the logarithmic formula you will see that as t gets larger the value of the derivative actually gets smaller. This means that as time goes on our logarithmic function slows down in growth. You can see that by looking in the equation for the term that depends on t. In this equation that is 1/t. As t gets bigger this clearly gets smaller as any fraction would when you increase the bottom term.

So, exponential functions grow at an ever increasing rate, and logarithmic functions grow at an ever slowing rate. That is the main difference between the two and a difference between the GW2 economy and the US economy. This is also why it is interesting! So, why would the two be different?


Why does the Guild Wars 2 Economy grow Logarithmically?


Now that I have described what exponential growth and logarithmic growth are and what the differences between them are we can start to talk about why the Guild Wars 2 economy grows logarithmically versus the US economy which grows exponentially. The main things I am thinking about are what would cause the rate of growth of the economy as a whole to have the brakes applied as time goes on?

The Guild Wars 2 economy as a whole has been fabricated by individuals using gold sinks and gold taps. A gold sink is a way for the developers of a game to constantly remove quantities of gold from the economy, and a gold tap is the exact opposite, it is a way for developers to add gold to the gold supply of the game.

Believe it or not, this kind of thing happens in real economies as well. The federal bank adds and removes money from the general money supply through the buying a selling of bonds to help regulate economic growth. This is sometimes referred to as "printing money", but because no money is actually printed the correct term is "Quantitative Easing". There are other ways for wealth to be generated (a mine creates wealth from work done by people removing materials from the earth), and for wealth to be destroyed (a war destroys wealth every time something of value is blown up).

A comic showing the situation the central bank finds itself
in when attempting Quantitative Easing.
The whole point of controlling the money supply is to attempt to control inflation. Inflation is a general rise in the cost of goods and services as time goes on. Inflation is always going to happen and it is the reason why your Grandpa can tell you about the hundreds of things he could buy for a nickle when he was a kid, and now a days you can not buy anything. A steady amount of inflation is healthy, but uncontrolled inflation can lead to all sorts of problems, such as people starving in the real world, or new players not being able to afford basic items, in GW2.

In general, since the GW2 economy has been designed from the ground up, we can imagine that there are plenty of gold sinks in the economy to prevent crazy amounts of inflation. Some examples of gold sinks in the game include, the 15% TP fee, anything purchased from a vendor, soul binding, or account binding items (they can still be sold to an NPC, but the difference in the old sale price on the TP and the new price to a vendor is a gold sink). The more you think about it they more you will see that a large amount of wealth is pulled out of the economy, enough to prevent it from growing on an exponential scale, and instead limit it.

This comic depicts the amount of fun to be had
fighting against inflation.
I have played MMOs before where the economy is so inflated that a new player does not have a chance at purchasing any of the items in the game. The MMO's solution to this is to start new server and start the inflation cycle all over again. The designers of Guild Wars 2 are smart people. We can trust that they have specifically designed the game in a way that money will be drawn out of the system with each cycle. Think about the places in GW2 that you can purchase things with your gold, then think about where that gold is going. When gold is "sunk" in GW2 it isn't just moved somewhere, it is GONE. It is not coming back. This is utter wealth destruction. This prevents the uncontrolled inflation seen in other MMOs.

If you compare this to the real world, the scale of the wealth being removed through the gold sinks does not even compare to what the federal bank does to control the money supply in our real world economies. In order to have the kind of wealth destruction seen in GW2 economy in the real world there would need to be something actively undoing human production, like a massive disaster or a massive war.

The best case for economic growth in GW2.
The only way to create wealth is to play the game and farm gold from the gold taps, such as dungeons, or materials from creeps, etc. There is a fixed limit to how much a player could earn from this and if every player was doing this and not spending their money it would ensure that the GW2 economy would grow at a constant rate (aka linearly). Playing the trading post does not add wealth into the economy, it actually only destroys it through the 15% transaction fee. Even without the fee it would be a zero sum game with nothing produced in the economy (gold and items just change hands nothing is produced).

In the real world you can innovate and create new technologies which can create wealth at ever increasing rates. Then you can use the wealth you have earned from that innovation to fund a new innovation that help generate even more wealth. For example, think of the industrial revolution and its impact on the number of useful things that can be produced. There is nothing like this in Guild Wars 2. There is no way to take wealth and use it to generate more wealth in game.


Conclusions


Everything in GW2 leads towards some sort of gold sink. If you are making money in GW2 it is usually because you want to buy something big. If you buy it from a vendor that gold is instantly gone. If you buy a large item and equip it, most likely that will soul bind or account bind the item, then effectively that wealth is gone. This leads to the conclusion that most player's goal in GW2 is to destroy wealth. This is the exact opposite to the real world where most peoples goal is to create wealth. When put that way, does it surprise you that the two economies grow in exactly the opposite manner as well?

So why does the GW2 economy grow logarithmically? It grows logarithmically because that is what makes the game fun for the most number of people. This is done through the control of gold sinks that utterly destroy wealth and gold taps which ensure that at best the economy could grow linearly (at the constant rate). Playing the game requires players to destroy wealth. Players are essentially earning wealth in order to destroy it.

I hope this two part series on the growth of the GW2 economy has taught you something, or at least given you something fun to think about. Economics is an interesting topic that I hope to discuss more here on my blog. Let me know what you thought of this discussion in the comments. If you think I have it wrong, I might I am no economics expert, leave me a comment below. If you want more details on something or clarification also leave a comment. I would love to talk about this more.

Internet Back, Patch Today

My internet is back up. While my internet was out, I played a lot of this game called Towns. It is a fun little game, that I would call a mix between Minecraft, and Age of Empires. There is a demo available on their site if you are interested. Luckily I had this game to keep me entertained while the internet was out. I will look to see if this game gets updated in the future, but for now I think I have got all I will get out of it in a weekend of play.

Back to GW2, I have a couple articles nearly complete that I will finish up and post today to make up for my absence. I have managed to keep an eye on the red posts enough to know there hasn't been anything dramatic posted. Later, I will also discuss the patch when it hits later today by trying to link the patch notes when they are up and also highlight the major changes.

Hopefully that will not happen with my internet again and I can continue to bring a post a day into the future.

Unexpected Internet Outage

I have been hit with an unexpected internet outage. It has nothing to do with my physical connection, and everything to do with a billing dispute. They say I haven't paid, I say I have... they finally agree with me. Anyway, internet will be back on Monday (if they show up on time), and that is when you can expect me to return to my regular posting schedule. Sorry for a interruption in service.


January Patch ~ Flame and Frost Prelude

I am going to hold off on the discussion I started yesterday on wealth growth, and instead I am going to discuss the news posted on the Guild Wars 2 main site. If you haven't seen the post already, head over and check it out. It details Arena Nets plans for the January patch and story. Today I will summarize the changes we know are coming in the January patch.


Flame and Frost: Prelude


Flame and Frost is the title Arena Net is using for the next portion of the Guild Wars 2 story. Whether this will include personal story elements is not known at this time, but it will definitely feature story arcs playing out in the dynamic world.
Flame and Frost: Prelude is the prologue to a multi-stage narrative that will bring big changes to Guild Wars 2 in the months to come.
It sounds exciting! As we read more we find out that the focus of the story will be in the north where "the sky falls and the ground shakes." The Char and Norn will be the hardest hit by this and in fact the first part of the story appears to focus on these two races in Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau. Is this the work of an elder dragon? Perhaps Jormag is involved some how? Only time will tell!


New Features



There are a ton of new features coming in this patch. A lot of the things a detailed in Arena Net's post on Flame and Frost, but some of the things we have heard about in other places are hardly mentioned. So what do we know will be in this patch?


In PvP we will see the addition of the 2 team tournament format. Also, we will see the Temple of the Silent Storm available for tournament play. For the first week it will be only available for the the 2 team tournament format, but at the end of the week it will be open for all tournament formats.

The new daily achievement system will go live on the 28th. This system will allow for different achievements each day. To start you will still have to complete all of the listed goals to complete the achievement but in the future you will only need to finish 4 of 6 of the listed goals. At that point this system will truly shine as they will be able to get more esoteric with the daily goals without having to worry about people not wanting to do something that specific. For example, we might see daily goals in WvW to capture a tower, or to complete a jumping puzzle. For now though, I wouldn't expect things to get to wild.



Also, some what relating to daily achievements, is the new Laurel System. This system was formerly called the crown system and we first heard about it last week in Colin's "big post". The way this works is as follows. For each daily (after Jan. 28th) and for each monthly (starting with February) you will receive 1 and 10 Laurel Tokens, respectively. You will be then able to take this Laurel's to a new vendor and trade them in for rewards. On offer will be gear packages designed specifically for your class, new cosmetic items, dyes, advanced collection tools, obsidian shards, ascended gear, and infusions. There will probably be more stuff as well, that is just what has been confirmed so far. In the future this system will be expanded to include more achievements.


Guesting will also go live on the 28th. This is something we have talked briefly about here before. There is also a blog post on the GW2 site with more details. Essentially the way the system will work is twice per day you will be able to pick another server in your region (NA or EU) and play on that server. This will work for everything except for WvW. Your home server is the only server you can WvW with. Once guesting is implemented you will no longer be able to switch servers for free. There will be a gem costs associated with switching, with more populated servers costing more to join. Make sure you select the server you wish to be locked into before the 28th.

There will also be some new items and gear added with the new patch. We will see five new "utility" infusions and thirty new ascend amulets. This new gear will be purchasable with Laurels, and most likely also available in fractals. Colin noted on the forums that "infused ascended gear" (that is a piece of ascended gear with agony resistance built in) will not be available for Laurels as that is a fractals specific mechanic. My guess is these new utility infusions will be more designed for PvE. All the ascended gear will be available in its non-infused version through the Laurel System, with infused gear still only available through fractals. I would expect that next month we will see ascended gear available in WvW through trading in Badges of Honor.

WvW and culling will also receive some fixes. Although there were no details in this new post from Arena Net, we did get details for another place. Aparently Colin Johanson did an interview with the site MMORPG.com (missed this completely until now). In the video the guys go over a bunch of other MMO news and Colin is present the entire time giving his feedback. It was cool to see him outside the GW2 world. The GW2 stuff starts at 18:00 into the video. Dulfy has a transcript up here. In this video Colin talks about improvements coming to WvW with respect to the culling. He says that we will see an improvement that will only load a low poly model first while the high poly model is loaded up. This should improve the culling issue so that you will be able to see the people attacking you, even if you can not read the expression on their face.

Also in this interview we find out that we will be definitely seeing changes to Orr coming. The idea is to thin out the native population of undead, make way points easier to access and active more often, and adding new rewards from drops and vendors. Also, there have been some changes to the temple fights to make them "more exciting for larger groups." In the GW2 live stream the guys also mentioned modifying Orr with new animations and effects as well as new events. How much of this will make it into the January 28th patch is up for debate.

Finally, last but not least, there will be new gem store items. What specifically we do not know... asides from the Quaggan Backpack pictured. Arena Net seems to have also learned from past mistakes and will not be making this item only available from RNG. Instead, confirmed on the forums, is that you will be able to buy it directly from the gem shop.


Conclusions


This sounds like a fabulous patch. If this is considered a "small patch" in comparison of things to come, then I have to say, I am really excited. There were a number of other things mentioned from different sources that may also make it into this patch, namely, the "rez rush" fix for dungeons mentioned in part one of my coverage of the GW2 Livestream and the "AoE nerfs" also mentioned in my coverage on the GW2 Livestream parts 1 and part 2. I couldn't find anything confirming this stuff for January. Also on the table are the improvements to the WvW progression system although it was hinted that this stuff was coming in February (my take on that interview here).

Either way, I think this will be a great patch. It has been well over a month (Wintersday went live on December 14th) since our last addition of new content and I am well past ready for some new stuff. I am looking forward to a lot of these changes and I think they will be taking the game in the direction it needs to go. There is so much more to explore in the game that exists already. Just early tonight I completed two mini-dungeons in Caledon Forest that I had never seen before and had a blast doing them with guildies!

The final thing to note with this patch will come an end to the Winter's Day vendor. If you still have Winter's Day items to turn in for prizes the 27th will be your last day to do so. This was confirmed on the forums by Mark Katzbach, a Community representative from Arena Net.

I am eagerly awaiting the patch to drop to see what we get. Did I miss anything? What are you guys hoping for in this patch?

Wealth Growth in Guild Wars 2

Today's article was inspired by a post made by John Smith on the forums. The quote has to do with Wealth Growth inside Guild War 2 versus a real world economy. He stated
"There are several good reasons why wealth distributions in game don’t mimic the US Economy. Another reason is that the growth of wealth is exponential in many developed economies, where it’s closer to logarithmic in GW2. The entire set of reasons would be a very interesting discussion…Well for me at least." - John Smith (from forums)
These discussions are interesting to me as well, thus the reason I thought I would write an article on the topic. What does it mean for something to grow exponentially? and what does it mean for something to grow logarithmically? And finally, why might wealth grow logarithmically in GW2?


Exponential Growth


What is exponential growth? It is the growth rate of a lot of things around you. Already mentioned, is the US economy, other things include populations of humans, cultured microbes, compound interest, computing power (see Moore's Law) and internet traffic. There are lots of other examples, these are just some of the things you might encounter in your day-to-day lives. Let us look at the math a little more closely by examining the example of compounded interest. I will try to keep the math as simple as possible.

Firstly, what is compound interest? Well firstly, interest is a fixed payment paid on a principle amount over a given period of time. The payment is usually a percentage of the principle amount. For example, if your principle amount was $100.00 and you were to receive interest of 10% per month, than every month you would receive a payment of 10% of $100.00 or $10.00. These interest payments would not change amd  month to month you would keep receiving $10.00. With compounding interest, the interest payments get added to the principle amount each month and the interest is calculated with the new principle amount in mind. Using the same example, in the first month you would receive $10.00 making the principle amount $100.00 + $10.00 or $110.00. In the second month you would receive 10% of $110.00 or $11 making the principle now $121.00. In the next month you would receive $12.10, and so on.

So, lets try to generalize this. Let our portfolio's value be defined by the variable x. The value of our portfolio at any given time will be given by the function defined at time t, or x(t). The initial value of the portfolio, the principle amount, will be given by the variable a. Thus the initial value of our portfolio would be,
x(0) = a
In other words, the value of our portfolio, x, at time t = 0 is a. There is no reason for this other than these are the variables and values we are selecting to setup the equations that will describe compound interest growth. The only other variable we need to define is a rate of growth for our portfolio, or the percent interest to be paid each term, t. Let, i, be the rate of growth of the portfolio. Thus, at t = 1 we would have,
x(1) = a * i + a  = a * (i + 1)
This is simply, the new portfolio value at after the first payment (t = 1) is the value of the interest payment, a * i, plus the initial value of portfolio, a. We can simplify this equation further by letting b = i + 1. That way we have,
x(1) = a * b
For compounding interest, we have to add in the interest from the last payment when calculating the interest to pay for the second period. Thus, the interest we pay at t = 2 is based off the value of the portfolio at t = 1. So, if we write that out we have,
x(2) = x(1) * b  = (a * b) * b = a * b2
And we can continue this,
x(3) = x(2) * b = ((a * b) *b) * b = a * b3
x(4) = x(3) * b = (((a * b) * b) * b) * b = a * b4
You should notice a pattern by now. The power b is raised to is equal to t. Thus we can generalize the above into one formula to describe the value of our portfolio, x, at any given time, t, given compounding interest i, such that b = 1 + i.
x(t) = a * bt
This is the form that all exponential growth takes, whether it be compounding interest, human population growth, or internet traffic.


Logarithmic Growth


Another beast completely. Most people have not worked with logarithms, so I will not go into as much detail as I did with exponential growth. The main thing you need to know is that a logarithm is the inverse of the exponential function, as division is the inverse of multiplication, and subtraction is the inverse of addition. The logarithm is defined in the following manner. If you have,
x = bt
Then,
logb(x) = t
That is, the logarithm, with base b, of x equals t. Basically the logarithm returns the power that the base of the logarithm would need to be raised to in order to equal x. Here are some examples,
log10(10) = 1
log10(100) = 2 
log10(1000) = 3 
log2(4) = 2 
log2(8) = 3 
logx(1) = 0
It is hard to put logarithmic growth into a context that most people can understand as not a lot of day-to-day things grow logarithmically. It is an important part of computer science though. A lot of mathematical problems are broken down and solved in ways that as the complexity of the problem increases the amount of time it will take to solve the problem grows logarithmically with respect to the complexity of the problem. This makes the problems compute faster when put into a computer. A population that is growing and has its growth limited by resources will often grow logarithmically. If you do not understand logarithms, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is what the graphs looks like when we compare them. 


Exponential vs Logarithmic




The differences between the two can wait until tomorrow when I will continue this discussion. The graph to the right show them both graphed together on the same chart. You can see that one is the inverse of the other. In fact, when I made the image above for exponential growth I merely rotated and flipped the logarithmic graph. Start thinking about why wealth in GW2 would grow logarithmically and not exponentially. Remember wealth growth in the real world is exponential, ie the exact opposite  Leave the reasons you think there is a difference in the comments below. I find this topic really interesting and I will be posting my thoughts tomorrow.

Converting Skillpoints to Gold

Today, I would like to share with you a spreadsheet that I have been working on for a while. It takes everything that I learned writing the articles on promoting common, fine, and rare materials, as well as piles of dust. This spreadsheet automatically pulls data from GW2Spidy.com and shows you the costs, revenues, profits, and risks associated with promoting crafting materials.


About the Spreadsheet


It is still a work in progress and I know there are things that I can improve. Namely, this spreadsheet is not easy to read unless you know what is being discussed. I will try to explain those things below to make it easier. Also, this spreadsheet only has conversions for tier 5 to 6 fine materials and rare materials as that is all I have researched so far. When I get more data on the rates for the lower tiers I will add those as well.

** Update ** I have updated the spreadsheet. Please go to my latest blog post for more information.

Anyway, here is the spreadsheet. It is on Google docs and anyone can access it and read it. You should not need to register for anything to view it. When it is opened it should automatically update the buy prices and sell prices for the promotion formula involved. It is also set to automatically update once an hour.

I will quickly explain the values that you will see in each of the columns.

  • Description
    • Lower Material
      • The name of the lower tier material to be promoted.
    • Higher Material
      • The name of the material the "Lower Material" will be promoted into.
    • Dust Required
      • The name of the pile of dust required to promote "Lower Material" into "Higher Material"
    • Low ID
      • The GW2Spidy ID for the "Lower Material". *See getting ID below.
    • High ID
      • The GW2Spidy ID for the "Higher Material". *See getting ID below.
    • Dust ID
      • The GW2Spidy ID for the "Dust Required". *See getting ID below.
  • Costs
    • Lower Material Cost
      • The highest buy order listed on GW2Spidy for "Lower Material".
    • # of Lower Material
      • The number of "Lower Material" required in the promotion formula.
    • Total Material Cost
      • Calculation: "Lower Material Cost" times "# of Lower Material".
    • Dust Cost
      • The highest buy order listed on GW2Spidy for "Dust Required".
    • Number of Dust
      • The number of "Dust Required" used in the promotion formula.
    • Total Dust Cost
      • Calculation: "Dust Cost" times "Number of Dust".
    • # of Elonian Wine
      • The number of Bottles of Elonian Wine needed in the promotion formula.
    • Elonian Wine Cost
    • Total Wine Cost
      • Calculation: "# of Elonian Wine" times "Elonian Wine Cost"
    • Total Cost
      • Calculation: "Total Material Cost" plus "Total Dust Cost" plus "Total Wine Cost"
  • Revenue
    • Price of High Material
      • The lowest sell order list on GW2Spidy for "Higher Materail"
    • Number of Higher Material Returned
      • The expected number of "Higher Material" that will be produced. Divided into five categories to show you your risk.
      • Low: The absolute worst case.
      • Low Average: Slightly lower than the average, what you can expect in a realistic worst case when running larger numbers of promotions.
      • Average: The number of materials you can expect to obtain. This is based on my trials.
      • High Average: Slightly higher than the average, what you can expect in a realistic best case when running larger numbers of promotions.
      • High: The absolute best case.
    • Revenue
      • Calculation: "Price of High Material" times "Number of Higher Material Returned".
    • Trading Post Fee
      • The amount taken, as a percent, by the Trading Post as a fee.
    • Revenue After Fee
      • Calculation: "Revenue" times (1 - "Trading Post Fee")
  • Skill Points
    • # of Philo Stones
      • The number of Philosopher Stones required to promote "Lower Material" into "Higher Material"
    • # of Crystals
      • The number of Crystals required to promote "Lower Material" into "Higher Material"
    • # of SP / Try
      • Calculation: ("# of Philo Stones" / 10) + (3 * "# of Crystals" / 5)
  • Profit
    • Net Profit Per Attempt
      • Calculation: "Revenue After Fee" minus "Total Costs"
    • Profit Per Skill Point
      • "Net Profit Per Attempt" divided by "# of SP / Try"
    • Return of Costs
      • "Net Profit Per Attempt" divided by "Total Costs"
  • Last Update
    • Low Mat
      • The last time "Lower Material Cost" was updated on GW2Spidy.com
    • High Mat
      • The last time "Price of High Material" was updated on GW2Spidy.com
    • Dust
      • The last time "Dust Cost" was updated on GW2Spidy.com
You may also notice that the columns and cells have different colours. The colours just represent where the data is coming from. Stuff on a white background are item names and IDs. Cells with a pink coloured background are cells that have data pulled automatically from GW2Spidy.com. Oranges cells are variables and constants associated with the promotion recipe. Cells with a grey background are cells that are calculated with a formula. Finally, green cells are cells in the profit section showing a profit, where as, red cells in the profit section show a loss.

* Getting GW2Spidy ID. To get the ID simply go to GW2Spidy.com and search for the item you wish to retrieve the ID for. For example, "Egg". Navigate to the page for the item you are looking for. The URL for this page will look something like this, "http://www.gw2spidy.com/item/12143". The five digit number, in this case 12143 for eggs, is the ID.


Using the Spreadsheet


Using the spreadsheet is easy. Once you load it up the prices will slowly update. If you scroll all the way to the right you will see the "Last Update" section and may even see these change as the prices are updated. This is live data from GW2Spidy showing you the age of the data I have pulled for the prices of the commodities. This should be no older than one hour as that is the minimum time between updates. If it is older than an hour, something is wrong with the spreadsheet or GW2Spidy might be down.

Once you are sure the data is up-to-date, scroll to the "Profits" section. If you are looking to convert skill points into gold look to the "Profit Per Skill Point" section. You will see that in this section there are five columns, Low, Low Average, Average, High Average, and High. I have added these columns to help you judge your risk. Your risk is always higher the fewer promotions you perform. This is due to something called "the law large numbers". Basically it states, the more you perform an action with random chance the more your average result will tend towards a true mean. On the wiki page linked, they use the example of rolling a six-sided die. The more you roll this die, the closer your average roll (the sum of all your rolls divided by the number of rolls made) will be 3.5 [ (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6) / 6 = 3.5]. This is because there are more ways for you to roll a large number of dice and receive an average of 3.5 than any other combination of dice rolls. For example, think of the extreme case of having an average of one over ten rolls. There is only one way to order the dice to get an average of one: every die showing a one. The next lowest average you could obtain is 1.1 with nine dice showing a one and one die showing a two. Each of the ten dice could be the two, thus there are ten different ways to achieve this average, versus the one way to obtain the average of one. You would find that if you calculated all the averages that it would be most likely to roll the dice such that the average is 3.5. And this only gets more likely the more dice you roll.

With that said, the more times you do your promotion the more likely you are to obtain the result in the "Average" column. If you only do a couple promotions or just one you could receive any result between "Low" and "High". If you do around ten promotions you will most likely be between Low Average and High Average with your result. Use this as a guide to determining your risk. Anything can happen. You could roll ten ones in a row. The Law of Large Numbers is not a fact. If you roll nine ones in a row there is nothing that says other results are more likely on the tenth roll. The tenth roll still has a one in six chance to give each of the results including another one.

I tell you all this because this method is a gamble, there is no lying about that. You need to judge the risk for yourself. You also have to keep in mind that these markets can be volatile and change within hours. Do not be afraid to hold on to produced materials until you can sell them for a profit. Also, making your own dust to lower its cost can help increase profits.


Conclusions


I hope this spreadsheet helps you. I have already shared it with some guild mates and they have told me that it is intimidating. I hope that this guide helps you understand what is going on in this spreadsheet. It is really quite simple once you take a moment to examine it. If you have any problems with it, or have a question please do not hesitate to ask it below and I will do my best to answer. Most importantly if you notice any mistakes or bugs please let me know.

Now that I have all the data in the spreadsheet I will work on making an easier to read version of this sheet that shows less data in an easier to read format, perhaps with pictures. Also, I learned a lot about scripting for spreadsheets working on this project. This means that if this sheet proves popular I will create more spreadsheets in the future, and perhaps do a tutorial on how to make your own.

Finally, let me know about your successes. As much as I am gaining from having made this spreadsheet (roughly 30-50 silver per skill point) I want you guys to be successful as well. I hope this helps you make some silver. Good luck!