Flameseeker Chronicles: A look back at 2010

Welcome to the last Flameseeker Chronicles of 2010, in which I wax sentimental over this year and salivate over what the next one promises.

It's been a huge year for both Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 -- probably one of the biggest since Guild Wars 1 launched. There was civil war in Tyria, with consequences more far-reaching than any of us as players could imagine at the outset. Profession reveals came fast and furious for a while, and when the dust settled, we had extensive information on half of the Guild Wars 2 professions.

Gamescom and PAX brought us actual Guild Wars 2 gameplay, the War in Kryta seemed to go on and on, and there were even some shakeups behind the scenes, with ArenaNet swinging a banhammer of massive proportions and dismantling the Xunlai tournament house. Follow along and let's take a look at what 2010 brought to Tyria.

War in Kryta

The War in Kryta fascinated me on several levels, both in and out of game. First of all, I love that such a tiny beginning -- a handful of half-page flyers distributed to a few fans -- sent the entire community into a frenzy of speculation and excited interest. Second, that tiny beginning heralded the onset of changes that shook Tyria and the North to its foundations, taking us along for every step of the ride. Talk about the ultimate payoff for fans who have been loyal since the beginning! Kryta and the White Mantle have been a huge part of life in Tyria since April of 2005.

These factors alone would have made the WiK arc great to me, but add in the fact that it helped us bridge the gap between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2, and we've got something really special on our hands. We participated in the founding of the Seraph, a powerful force in Divinity's Reach in Guild Wars 2. We helped bring together the founders of Ebonhawke and the ancestors of Logan Thackeray. Guild Wars: Beyond was one of the best things to happen to the Guild Wars franchise, and I am eagerly looking forward to similar events in Cantha and Elona.

The death of the XTH

I discussed this in great detail way back when it happened, and I'm still tickled by poor Kun Shao's having taken the fall for the entire mess. One element of the situation caught my attention: According to ArenaNet, this happened because the XTH was built into a system that was not designed to support it. Rather than join the contingent of players screaming "fail" at the top of their lungs, I really appreciate what this says about ANet. The team is constantly pushing the boundaries of what it has, seeing how it can be bigger and better. Sometimes it doesn't always work, as in this case. But the ArenaNet staff never seems to stop saying, "How can we do more? How can we make it better? What else can we do with this?"

I'll take that attitude with a few hiccups along the way any day of the week.

The birth of Massively Overpowered [MVOP]

Last spring, some of the Massively staff talked about starting a few official Massively guilds and setting designated play nights to hang out with our readers. I leaped at the chance to start a Guild Wars guild, and Massively Overpowered was born in May. Today it's part of an extremely active Kurzick alliance and sports a full roster of active players. It's a project I'm extremely proud of, but the only reason it's worked so well is because of the mix of Massively readers who jump in with a positive attitude and a desire to enjoy the game together. You guys are incredible.

The banhammer heard 'round Tyria

Just about 3,700 bans at once. Dhuum popping in and out of outposts, swinging his scythe and leaving a flaming, banned corpse. Howls of outrage from banned players. May 26th was an interesting day in Guild Wars to say the least. ArenaNet had been quietly working behind the scenes to identify and eliminate bots, and once the team had finished preparations, the banhammer (or banscythe) was released without warning.

Those of us lucky enough to be around to see the results broke out the popcorn and enjoyed the show. Those of us foolish enough to think there was an acceptable justification for breaking the EULA went to find another game.

It was a controversial decision, but my personal opinion lines up pretty firmly with the EULA. In the vast majority of bannings in which I've heard the player's side of the story, one of two things has been the case. Either the player did in fact break the EULA and is screaming out some justification to make it sound like she didn't have a choice, or the banning was a mistake. In the latter case, the players I've talked to simply provided the requested information (which they wisely wrote down and kept somewhere safe), had their accounts reinstated, and went about their merry way.

Gameplay!

Gamescom and PAX Prime brought Guild Wars 2 gameplay to the fans at large. I'd say that this was the biggest thrill for the Guild Wars community since the development of GW2 was announced. To finally get our hands on this stunning game -- and to be able to play with an ArenaNet staffer standing beside you, waiting for feedback -- was a privilege that we all waited in line for happily.

Hall of Monuments Calculator

This was another surprise reveal that shook and expanded the Guild Wars community. Finally, finally, here was a tangible way we could start preparing for Guild Wars 2. Veteran players dashed to their Xunlai storage chests, and everyone else dashed to the store to buy Guild Wars and start catching up.

Brand-new players hurried to create a character, logged in, and in many cases just... stopped. The amount of gameplay needed when you're a new player staring at a Hall of Monuments calculator that says 3/50 seems insurmountable. I've probably said it a hundred times, but I'll say it one more time: slow down. You've got all the time in the world.

Guild Wars is a beautiful, immersive, and fascinating game. Take time to enjoy it. If you missed it the first time around, take some time to check out my Road to 50 series. There are guides for getting 30 points, for getting the full 50 points, and even for those of you who only have three points and are wondering where on earth to start. This is our first tangible link to GW2 gameplay, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride.

Profession reveals

Finally, we met the Guild Wars 2 Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger, and Necromancer. As always, the ArenaNet team was unsatisfied with the standard class image and fact sheet. Instead, it delighted fans with multiple images, multiple videos, and exciting descriptions of what each class could do in great detail.

The method of delivering information was as fantastic as the information itself, and I can't wait to see the next four beginning in January.

There you have it! The year 2010 was a big year for ArenaNet and its fans -- much more happened, but these were the major highlights. Here's to an even bigger 2011!

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.