Life in Tyria: A Guild Wars 2 Primer for joining in the fun!

Over in the Google+ community “Good Guys Gaming” I have tempted a few people into playing GW2 and buying the Heart of Thorns expansion and so to help those totally new to the game I wrote this very brief primer on getting started – I thought I’d re-post it here just in case anyone wants to check out #GW2HOT and join in 🙂


A Guild Wars 2 Primer for the Good Guys Gaming G+ Community (updated 27th July 2015 – originally written 21st July 2015)

Buying the game. First thing to know is that the game is buy-to-play so you buy the game and never have to pay a sub. Ever. Most updates are free with only Expansions requiring payment (also the Living Story episodes if you miss them when they are released) as Arenanet make money from their cash shop which sells cosmetics and ‘quality of life’ items. When you are looking at buying the game there are currently two main options each with three sub-options:

1) The Core Game only – this will give you everything you need to play up to the Heart of Thorns Expansion that is currently in beta. The only exception is that you won’t have access to the Living Story Season 1 (no one does as they haven’t yet found a way of making it available) or Season 2 (you can buy access to the story episodes in the store for a couple of quid each). The three variations of this version offer additional cosmetic and QoL items that are nice but you don’t need – if you are a budget get the cheapest one (currently about £15 via Last thing to note is that is you buy this version you will have to buy the Heart of Thorns Expansion separately (which has the core game bundled in – see next).

2) Heart of Thorns Expansion – this bundles in the Core Game (see above) and grants access to the HOT content once released. As above there are three versions offering increasing levels of cosmetic and QoL items but the bottom line is if you can afford £35 then the HoT Standard edition represents the best base content value for money as you get Core & HOT together. You can get it from here:

Choosing a Server. As we have just found out (sorry Max!) you can’t play together across the Pond – EU & US servers are totally segregated and so if you want to play with the GGG players and join the GGG “All the Gs” guild you need to select Piken Square in the EU server farm as your home server. This might give US players a 100ms to 500ms lag according to various Reddit posts, but many GW2 players play across the divide with no lag effects at all. One thing to note is that changing servers can cost about £20 so choose wisely.

Joining the GGG Guild. Simply whisper one of us in game or ask to join in the GGG G+ community and we’ll add you to the list – once added you need to open your guild panel and accept the invitation with a small button at the bottom. The GGG guild is called “All the Gs” and once you accept and ensure you are representing the guild (you can be in 5 guilds but only represent one at a time – again see the guild panel for the represent button) you’ll have the following tag after your name [GGG].

Choosing a race and profession and crafting skill and… ARGH! It’s a wee bit beyond the scope of this post to advise you on that so I would suggest you check out the following resources first but bear in mind the game is well balanced so race doesn’t give you any real benefits and professions and skills are going to be situationally useful rather than over-powered. Choose what you like and enjoy 

Story Telling. When you start you will be in a small story instance that sets you off on your quest to save the world. After that you are treated to a new episode in your Personal Story each 10 levels or so – the Personal Story can be great at times and totally awful at others but Arenanet have learnt a lot about story telling in the three years the game has been live and it does get a lot better. Arenanet release a season of “Living Story” each year (or more) and these are episodes released each two weeks or so over a two to three month period. You are free to ignore all aspects of the story and just adventure through the world, but you’ll need to complete the Personal Story to defeat the big bad boss of the core game.

Arenanet’s introduction videos to GW2 (a little dated now but still good):

Arenanet’s Living Story videos:

Arenanet’s Heart of Thorns videos:

Arenanet’s Points of View (PvE) videos:

Arenanet’s Ready Up (PvP) videos:

Arenanet’s profession guides videos (again, dated but good for an overview):

Wooden Potatoes – UK YouTuber who’s played GW for 10 years now so knows it inside out and provides tones of lore and insights as well as updates, news, views and comment:

Guild Wars Reporter – Under the MMO Rorter banner, a great and friendly weekly podcast about the state of the game:

Races of Tyria:

Official GW2 News feed:

Mobile Me… The Hunt for the Perfect Phone!

This is such a First World Problem but then, as this is a blog about wasting my life playing computer games, please feel free to register you vote of disgust here

My problem is that I can’t find a new phone.

There’s nothing really wrong with my current one except it’s old. It still does what I want it to – browse the web, send emails, take pictures, film stuff and make the occasional phone call – but I can’t shake the feeling I want a new one. Now partly this is down to the desire for a new toy to play with, but there is also the very real (1st World – see here if you’ve forgotten how to complain) problem that I running out of app space on it. I don’t have that many apps but the fact Google make all of theirs unable to move to the SD card means I’m constantly having to delete apps to install their updates.

But I can’t find a new bloody phone.

Oh, I can find a phone obviously, just not one I want and it’s really grating away at me (complain here). I don’t ever want an Apple anything in my life and I can’t bring myself to even consider a Windows phone. I’m an Android lad through and through but the choices in Android come down to the following:

  • Over-sized, over-priced, bloat-ware filled horrors from Samsung, HTC, etc.
  • Poxy under-powered pieces of crap from everyone and his dog
  • The Nexus line from Google which don’t have any bloody SD card slot. Ever. FFS.

Do I want the latest slab from Samsung that will try to monitor my very bowel movements before I’ve even had them? No. Do I want a tiny piece of crap that fell out of a cracker? Take a guess. Do I want a Google-experience only Nexus. Yes! With 16GB memory and no SD slot? What? NO! Stick it up your jacksie! Sideways!

After those options it all get’s a little pointless even looking.

So what do I want from a phone? Well it’s simple really. I have a Galaxy S2 and I like it a lot. It’s fast and light and feels good to use. I want a phone the shape and size of the S2 but with more power, a much, much better battery and none of the Samsung shite I never, ever use on there. And I want it to have the voice activation of the Moto X. And some fancy NFC capability like the Skip 2. And a whole heap more app space because I’m sick of deleting Maps, G+ and Chrome every time Google Now needs an update. Oh, and I want it for no more than £150. Now someone snap to it and make it so before I have to come out there and start slapping you all senseless.


I’m the best phone ever. Stop whining and buy me, you loser.

What a Burro’s playing – March 2014 update

It’s been a few months since I last wrote one of these posts but the last couple of weeks have seen a surprising change in my gaming that has awoken an old worry of mine that I’m going to poke at again and see if I can’t answer it once and for all in my next post (spoilers: I don’t think I can).

Right now:

Guild Wars 2: As amazing as it seems, I’ve become slightly, but only slightly, addicted to this again. I only really got into it after I agreed to download it again for my son who, like me, has grown a little bored of nothing but Minecraft to play. True I have also had Left 4 Dead, but that’s a little on the mature side for him so I re-installed GW2 and watched him play for a bit and suddenly I felt the old familiar urge to run about brutally solving the often minor issues of total strangers for pretty much worthless rewards and BANG! I was hooked again. This re-start coincidentally happened to coincide with the total destruction of Lion’s Arch and man alive was that fun! True it’s a zerg-fest but I don’t mind zerging too much – at least I can hide my incompetence in the crowd 😀


MCPE: Update 0.8.0 was great! Minecarts were added along with some nice farming changes & graphical updates and the whole thing felt brilliantly fresh and fun again. I had a blast in Termite Canyon and really only stopped because I played the arse out of it. I’m waiting for 0.9,0 which will, if the tweets coming out of Mojang are right, be another great update that adds even more fun. We are while off Realms yet I think and that’s a shame because that’s exactly what I’d need to make this my ‘go to’ game again

Pioneer Spacesim: In my desperation to play Elite Dangerous I downloaded this free Elite Frontier mod and tried it out with my new Hotas X flight stick & throttle. The results were, to say the least, underwhelming and I shan’t be playing it again. Ever.

Left 4 Dead 2: Ahhhhh, what can I say about this game that I haven’t already said. It’s just amazing fun. I’m not as good as I was 5 years ago when I could do the levels on Expert (with the right team, of course) but I can hold my own in Advanced even with a basic PUG. Cold Stream is still a bloody nightmare though ;-D


Second Life: Nope. I didn’t even make it back for the memorial of my mate Os. I thought I would but missed it and then found, whilst sad I missed seeing Sal, Ilia, Enjah, Holo, Mari, Tak and my other friends that I was relived I didn’t have to struggle with the experience of logging in, lagging out and seeing nothing but grey blocks. Lately (by which I mean the last couple of days or so) I have found myself missing this world a little but I don’t think it’s been enough of a pull to tempt me back. Not yet, anyway.

LOTRO: It must be the GW2 effect but I’ve been missing this world too. Not enough to actually go back into the nasty grind-fest that it is, but still missing it a little. Maybe one day someone will make a less grindy, more explorable Middle Earth and then I can finally be the Gondorian explorer I’ve always wanted to be.

Survivalcraft: Christ no! No way! The last few updates have moved further and further away from fun game play and more into the realms of boring twaddle. There is now a bow you have to load each time to fire by dragging an arrow from your inventory to the bow. This is a game with limited inventory space, non-stacking arrows and a ranged combat system that is, in a word, shit. My life is too short too waste it on non-fun things. 

Borderlands 2: This is a strange one. I just stopped. Don’t really know why. I just stopped and I don’t think I even noticed. I do that a lot with long story driven games. Thief (all of them). Walking Dead. LA Noire. Never finished any of them. What a waste.

Ingress: Nah, I’ve totally lost the plot here. I’m not a social gamer and you reallllly need to be for this to work. Oh, and I need the app space too much 🙂

Carmageddon: Not even the boy is playing this one now – it’s ok but just limited.


Elite Dangerous: Still the big dawg on the horizon, I’m looking forward to this more and more with each Alpha update I watch on youtube. It just looks amazing! The flight is smooth, the combat challenging, the visuals drop dead gorgeous. Oh man this is the game I want right now! This is the game I’d turn the shed into a cockpit for and end up on the local news in the “And finally…” humorous nutjob section.

What are you playing right now? let me know in the comments below.

Mobile me… Things I’ve learnt from filming games on my tablet, part the second!


Twelve hours is a long time in the video editing world, it seems. As I was typing up my last post yesterday afternoon, my tablet was rendering another video for me, or rather it was failing to. I did mention how I’d moved from VidTrim to AndroMedia for reasons of quality. Unfortunately AndroMedia failed to render videos more often than it succeeded, and at 2+ hours a time that’s a lot of wasted time. Something had to be done.


Mobile me… Things I’ve learnt from filming games on my tablet, part the first!


It’s only been ten short days since I rooted my trusty old 1st Gen Nexus 7 and installed SCR Screen Recorder and I’ve already added more videos to my YouTube channel than I managed to do in all the years I’ve had one! Here’s what I have learnt in the last ten days on filming, rendering & uploading:


Mobile me… Rooting, casting, editing and uploading for fun and (no) profit!

I’ve had a busy old day and no mistake. It started off with me rooting my old V1 Nexus, a nerve-wracking experience I’m in no hurry to go through again but thanks to this guide it wasn’t really all that hard. Still, oy vey.

Once I had rooted my N7, restored a backup and reinstalled my apps, I installed a nifty little app called SCR Screen Recorder that needed the rooted access in order that it can record whatever is happening on the screen.

I fired up Survivalcraft, found out that I’d forgotten to back up my worlds and therefore lost them all including Antland! Oh well, these things are transitory anyway. I recorded the first two and a half minutes of my creation of a new world just to see how the software worked. The file turned out to be 150Mb at 720p which is a little on the large side.

So I used an app called Video Trim to shrink the file size down to a more manageable 30Mb, although I’m not happy with the drop in quality so a little more practice is needed, I feel. Any tips on this stuff will be gratefully received.

Uploading to YouTube couldn’t have been easier, and I just shared it directly from the gallery on the Nexus and in seconds it was up on my channel for all the world to see, like this 😀

I’m not sure what my plans are, but I’d like to film some of my son’s builds and post them here and on his blog here. We’ll see, we’ll see…

Me and… You Tube

I’m a recent YT convert, really only getting into it in any way once I got an internet capable TV about a year ago. Before then I had seen YT, used YT and enjoyed YT but only whilst sat in front of my desktop and that’s not a position I enjoy doing anything for very long. No, for me YT has only begun to play a part in my viewing life since I could watch it from the comfort of my sofa (or now I have a tablet, my bed) and so until recently I’ve never had enough experience to form any real views about it.

Now that I have, however, I can say that whilst I find the medium certainly fun I also find it immensely frustrating! and dissapointing. From the fact screen links don’t work on mobile devices to the seemingly odd way videos are located by a search, I find using YT an unintuitive minefield. Here are my main gripes:

  1. Whilst watching, for example, a Tech Feed vid on my phone or my tablet, I’d like to click on the ‘further stories’ boxes that appear at the end hovering to one side of the reporter. Except I can’t. I can only do that on my desktop or laptop. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that I can’t simply touch the video and the highlighted link would work, because it does me and I find watching YT on my tablet or phone a very unsatisfactory affair.
  2. Another thing that baffles me is the diversity of user experience I get from using YT across all the different devices in my house that can run it. From my desktop to my my tablet & phone via my Sony TV and my Virgin TiVo box, every single one works different. Obviously the first three are closest in look and feel, but the last two could be entirely unconnected services with nothing to tie them back to YT bar the content.
  3. Parental controls. Jesus Effin H F-bomb, YT is not something you could let your kids loose on, is it? Even innocent things like video reviews of lego toys are laced with effin & jeffin minefields. If I can’t put it on the TV without having to dive for the controls to cut off profanities then it’s *never* going to be a mainstream TV channel in my house, it’s as simple as that.
  4. Finding stuff is way too much effort. The current Geek Week & the recent Comedy Week feel as though there should be a central ‘guide’, maybe a web page with links but instead there is a cool intro video and then you’re on your own. God help you if you want to find a specific video you saw in the trailer because so far I haven’t been able to.find much that seems directly connected to them, just re-badged shows that sometimes only have a very tangential link to the theme – more frustration that drives me away from it.

The various differences listed above along with the lack of confidence that I can let my kids watch seemingly innocent stuff which can prove too bloody hard to find anyway annoys the hell out of me and prevents me from adopting YT as a main media viewing medium. I want my YT experience to be smooth as silk and instead, at times, I feel as though I have to battle through a briar patch just to find something to watch, and when I do I have to be mindful of what I’m watching at every point in case someone starts effin and jeffin, and what I’m watching on in case I want to explore further. This does not a restful viewing experience make and I’m afraid YT still has a looooong way to go before I’ll see it as anything more than a place for adults to watch funny, risqué videos – more of a post-watershed TV show than a TV channel if you will, which is a shame.

Adventures in Ingress: Hitting level 6…


Snapping up portals around King’s Cross I hit level 6. I tell you what, portals swap hands quickly on the city! No wonder you can burn through levels in a place like London.

Adventures in Ingress: London Calling…

In in London again and whilst working on my papers for tomorrow’s meeting I noticed a hell of a lot of unclaimed Portals around St Pancras & King’s Cross so I grabbed my phone and went for a late evening wander.

I now own most of King’s Cross, all of St Pancras and a few bits of the British Library 😀









Tomorrow I think I’ll try and reclaim the small park I took over in my last visit. Wish me luck!

Adventures in Ingress: A sprightly wee thing…

My Ingress client updated overnight and I’m now on v1.30.2 and it’ a sprightly wee thing indeed! Gone are the large screen-covering windows and in are small pop-up toasts messages informing you of stuffz. Also the hacking animations are pretty slick now with a more firework-y type pop of particles and wee 3D icons whizzing about – it’s all very pretty 🙂

Here’s a video showing the changes from this great site: