Flameseeker Chronicles: Going Commando

Yes, we all made the commando joke, so I couldn't very well leave it out. As my excited and frequent Tweets indicated Friday, ArenaNet carried off full honors for April Fools' Day in the MMO world.

Not that there wasn't good stuff out there. World of Warcraft simultaneously cracked me up and charmed me with Crabby the Dungeon Helper -- seriously, could the little guy be any cuter? I loved the introduction of Dungeons and Dragons Online's Broccoli class. Sadly, the page is now gone, but the description pointed out that since broccoli has no legs or arms, it's the perfect class for weaponless fighting. I loved it.

However, the ArenaNet team arrived fashionably late to the party and promptly carried off full honors in every category. The April first prank spanned both Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2; had text, video, images and wallpapers; and gave us new (albeit temporary) content.

Follow along after the jump for a complete rundown!

First things first

I want to take just a moment to emphasize that the Commando class is not real. It really was an April Fools' joke. Shawn and I have received a surprising number of emails expressing either anger or excitement regarding this class, which I suppose is a testament to how well and thoroughly ArenaNet did its job.

However, it really really was just a joke. A fabulous, intricate joke.

The biggest surprise

We've been stick people, we've been tiny people with gigantic minipets, we've been chibi Gwens, we've even been the opposite sex. The Guild Wars community rushed to log in Friday morning and see what we looked like this year.

Wait, nothing? My guildies and I did the same thing many others did. We ran in and out of Lion's Arch. We logged out and back in. We got out our minipets. We checked our weapons. We tried going to the guild hall. We were mystified. What's going on? Why don't we look funny?

That was probably the biggest surprise there -- that ArenaNet seemed to have forgotten to toy with our characters. Don't get me wrong -- I absolutely love the pranks we've had in the past. I've had a blast every year with my friends, family, and guildmates laughing at what ANet dreamed up this time. And I will admit that I was sort of secretly hoping we'd log in Friday to find that we all looked like Minecraft characters. (What? It would have been hilarious!)

I was more than happy to miss out on a funny avatar this year, because it was so refreshing to see ArenaNet break its own mold and let the team stretch its creative wings. The opportunity to break genre so completely and totally -- and bring Guild Wars 2 into things -- had to have been such fun. You can almost always tell when developers are having fun with a project, and it was easy to see that this one was a joy to create.

If you can't laugh at yourself...

If you can't laugh at yourself, you officially have no sense of humor. The Guild Wars developers laughed at themselves in our April 1st skill update, and they took a few gentle pokes at the community too. It was all well-deserved, and I hope every single player out there joined me in laughing at our little quirks and foibles.

These were hilarious because they hit home:
  • For the Assassin: Way of the I: "For each dead foe, you gain 10 seconds of +12...42 damage, but everyone makes fun of your build."
  • Avatar of Kormir: "Elite Form. Your are permanently Blinded. Any time one of your allies finishes a quest, you get credit for completing it instead."
  • Signet of Distress: "While equipped, Signet of Distress repeatedly pings your position on the minimap."
  • Added the Patience title track. A player's progress toward this title is based entirely on the length of time since the player last sought information about the Guild Wars 2 release date. Elapsed time can be checked by typing "/gw2" which prints, "You have inquired about the release date time(s) and have lasted minutes since your last inquiry."
Finally, the chat channel additions, might have been my favorite:
  • /pc : Send a message to all chat channels asking for a price check on the item indicated; message automatically repeats every 15 seconds until player types "/pc cancel."
  • /recruit: Send a message to all chat channels announcing that your guild is recruiting; announcement includes the name of your guild, its Luxon/Kurzick affiliation, the average age of your guild members, the time zone for the majority of your guild members, and a declaration of your friendliness; message automatically repeats every 30 seconds until player types "/recruit cancel."
  • /sell : Send a message to all chat channels listing the item you're selling and your asking price; message automatically repeats every 10 seconds until player types "/sell cancel"; every fifth message is in all-caps.
The best jokes come with a grain of truth and recognition, and this "patch" had it everywhere. Well done.

There is a helicopter on Embark Beach!

That's how I woke my poor husband up Friday morning. The poor guy was enjoying a chance to sleep in, and I came running in yelling about pretend helicopters.

Really, though, I had a point. After spending my early morning hours tabbing into Guild Wars over and over and asking my guildies whether the event has started, the announcement of the Commando came as a great thrill. I raced to Embark Beach and divided my work time between actual work and checking Guild Wars to see whether anything was going on yet.

I'd half-decided that Bane was a joke as well when Andrew Patrick and John Stumme came roaring into Embark Beach shouting about eating bullets and crapping dead Charr. Wait, what? Why is everything all military? What are they shouting about? Space-time anomaly? Aaaand... cue new build. I don't think I've ever logged out and back in to Guild Wars so quickly or been more impatient for that update bar to finish.

As I said earlier, breaking genre in such an -- ahem -- explosive fashion is almost guaranteed fun and excitement for the community. Guild Wars players have had nearly six years of a fantasy setting and fantasy combat. And while it's not that we are tired of it by any means, having the chance to throw some grenades and landmines into the mix is fun for the sheer novelty of it if nothing else.

That enjoyment that comes with recognition made a debut appearance in the new quest as well. How many of you gave a start of recognition followed by laughter as the pieces all fell into place at once when the golem bellowed "SARAH!!"?

The combination of pop culture jokes, new content, a class reveal that spanned both games, and sly recognition of the familiar quirks of the community made this the April Fools' Day to remember. Well done, ArenaNet. Now when will my Commando gear arrive in the NCsoft store?

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.