GW pre-searing
The clock is ticking -- 2011 is winding down (less than six weeks left!) and Guild Wars 2 fans everywhere have closed beta on the brain. This news has been out there for a very long time, but just to eliminate any confusion, I'll go straight to a recent quote from Martin Kerstein: "We will enter CBT before the end of the year, and depending on the results we get from it, we will decide on Open Beta and Launch." The phrase "small closed beta" has also been tossed around, so I seriously doubt ArenaNet plans to go all BioWare on us and start slinging hundreds of thousands of keys in every direction. (Of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic is exactly one month out from launch at this point, and Guild Wars 2 is definitely not.)

That doesn't stop us, the fans, from having a pile of questions. When will the beta start? How many people will get in? How long will it last? Will it be ongoing or weekends only? What is the development team hoping to focus on? Only time will tell, but it doesn't stop us from waiting, wondering, and anticipating. (Aside to the developers: I'm out of town this Wednesday through Sunday. Please don't do anything then.)

There's a lot to look forward to, but at the moment we're in the lull that comes after new information has been revealed, dissected, and discussed to pieces. We're waiting for whatever comes next, so I'm going to take the opportunity to look in the other direction: back. Follow along after the jump to join me on memory lane.

I'm going to get a little meta and self-indulgent this week, and I hope you'll join me. You see, the timing worked out really well. We're in a hopefully brief quiet period before the next wave of Guild Wars 2 excitement hits, and Guildcast celebrated its sixth birthday this past Saturday. It set me to thinking about how I wound up here -- a Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2 fangirl through and through.

You see, back at the beginning of 2007 I loved The Sims and The Sims 2. I had such fun with those games: building homes, raising little families, drowning them in the pool (don't look at me like that, you did it too), and challenging myself with crazy setups like a single guy with seven infants to care for. This is making me want to dig my Sims discs out, but I digress. Anyway, my husband wasn't really a fan, so he started shopping around for something he could play while I played my Sims games. He's a podcast fan from way back, and he'd stumbled across this fan podcast about a game called Guild Wars. The podcast was called Guildcast, and the premise intrigued him enough that he listened to several episodes and finally went and picked up Prophecies.

He played it quite a bit, and one day I was lying on the sofa reading a book and glanced up to see what he was up to. That was my first look at Pre-Searing -- his character standing on a path as a Strider ran past. It was gorgeous. I asked him what that was, and as he tried to explain it to someone who hadn't even heard of MMOs at that point, I kept glancing over at this gorgeous game on his screen. Eventually I asked if I could try it myself, so he let me make a character on his account. Thus began a too-long period of sharing an account and bickering over whose turn it was.

After a little while we got annoyed enough that we just went out and bought a second account. Once we could truly play together, I saw the advantages of grouping with people. The concept of playing with even more people intrigued me, so I learned about guilds. My husband told me that this podcast he'd been listening to had its own guild, and the people seemed nice, so off we went to the Guildcast forums to apply for membership.

The official Guildcast guild was so crowded that we wound up in an overflow guild of sorts -- longtime Guildcast listeners will remember the Ramen [Mmmm] guild. We spent some time there, eventually graduating to Guildcast Listeners United. I absolutely loved that guild and alliance; I made friends there whom I still have to this day. When the alliance was disbanded due to the Guildcast hiatus, it took eight months to find one that felt as much like home as that one had.

I kept contact with many of the friends I'd made during that time, and eventually I was brought on board with Guildcast round two. Or Guildcast part two. Or the second iteration. We don't really call it anything special; it's just Guildcast. Regardless of the name, Guildcast and the people I met through it have been a constant throughout my nearly five years with Guild Wars. They've helped set the standard for what I look for in MMOs and their communities.

ArenaNet has created a beautiful, immersive world and a fantastic game, one good enough to stay at the top of my favorites list no matter what other games I enjoy, but it's truly the people who make it come alive for me.

This is the part where I ask you to join me on Memory Lane. I want to hear all about it: how you heard about Guild Wars, what your first experience was like, what hooked you, and what's kept you all of this time. Don't be shy! Hit that comment button and tell us all about it!

P.S. to the Americans: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families!

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.
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