Clock Tower Madness

Ascent into Madness

It is altogether fitting that an apparition of royal descent who is normally confined to an otherworldly realm when the leaves are not hued and falling would describe the chains and staggered platforms leading decidedly downward to the place of his eventual undoing as an “ascent.” One would have to be either deliberately contrarian or mad to do so – perhaps both. We must simply accept that this is a realm of frights and sights not meant to be understood. Plain language be damned. These places demand thorny, winding words.

The Mad King's Labyrinth

I’ve been playing Guild Wars 2 on and off for about two years and have just now gotten around to completing the meta-achievement for the Mad King’s festivities, if they can be called that. The majority of these events were completed by participating in large-group waste-laying, the calling card of what we would now call “classic” Guild Wars 2. Mind you, I’m not even tangentially referring to the realm of Mordremoth as I’ve only just now begun to roam the switchbacks of Verdant Brink. There’s much too much Halloween to be done in too many places and not enough time to do it.

The majority of my ooky-spooky accomplishments were self-completing affairs that popped up onto my screen as I followed this or that snaking mass of players through the Mad King’s Labyrinth. The most time-consuming of these was the Master Carver achievement which required knifing a face into the sides of 150 pumpkins; I squirreled away from the icon of the hour (variously colored diamonds for commanders and apples for mentors) every time I spotted an uncut jack-o’-lantern sneakily tucked away into the corner of an unfenced precipice. Six hours and roughly twice that number of Looking For Group taxis later, I had completed the eight achievements required for the “meta.”

Shadow of the Mad King Meta-Achievement

In doing so, I finally broke 4,000 Achievement Points and am now unofficially qualified to participate in dungeon runs with random players. Somehow that doesn’t strike me as a perk worth acknowledging, but there it is. Now I have only to increase that score by four- or five-fold and I’ll be on par with some of the Hall of Monuments veterans on my friends list.

There is Real Ultimate Madness to be had, if one so desires. There are all manner of consumables and crafting recipes found on the vendors in Lion’s Arch which can be purchased for corn cobs – comprising a mere 1,000 pieces of candy corn each – and other holiday sweets that are awarded en masse for the simple act of opening scores upon scores of the ubiquitous Trick or Treat bags that are handed out for having done pretty much anything. That there are so many of them has little influence on their selling power: thousands of them are needed to generate the mass quantities of candied ingredients required to master the culinary creation of even the simplest of holiday treats. There’s also a miniature that can be yours for the low, low price of 100,000 pieces of candy corn. I think I’ll pass.

Ascent to Madness

When all was said and done – all that I cared to say and do, that is – there was one thing that continued to nag at me: the Mad King’s Clock Tower. It’s a timed, Nintendo-hard platforming dream-smasher that typically sees most – preferably all – players fail before reaching the halfway point. On the first and last occasion that I managed to hurl my scrawny human form up to the very top of that devilishly wretched, Glint’s Lair-caliber assemblage of demented geometry, I thought I felt my icy heart freeze solid for a few seconds as I wondered aloud whether one of the last jumps would, indeed, be my last. The Mad King relented at the end and, as I fell short of the final jump into the lightning-shattered window, granted me a generous hitbox that transported me into the soothing ambience of the treasure chamber’s innards. My reward was two tonics, 25 bags of candy, and an exotic heavy armor chestpiece that was promptly skin-unlocked and mystic-salvaged for Globs of Ectoplasm. Some people’s treasure is other people’s trash.

It had only taken me 70 or 80 agonizing attempts and the waiting time in between to liberate myself from another year of bemoaning my inability to precision-jump up frustratingly unforgiving real estate faster than the swirling acid bath below could rise up to greet me and send me back to the bottom via the Coffin Express. It was a non-combat version of Liadri that made me just as furious and foul-mouthed as her one-shot mechanics had. Instant murder, in any context, has a tendency to lead to cracked monitor screens, mutilated desks, and sailor-length strings of profanity.

I spared my possessions this ill-tempered treatment and found myself the following morning cooling off in the Mad King’s Labyrinth for a brief time farming up a few dozen more of those Trick or Treat bags. Having engaged in a bit of Trading Post research on gw2tp, I found that profit derived from the sale of Trick or Treat bags has historically peaked on 1) the day before the Halloween event begins and 2) the last day of the Halloween event. The first option was right out as I wasn’t interested in waiting a year to sell my supply, so I opted on the last day of the Shadow of the Mad King to sell my 500 or so bags (minus the several hundred I had previously opened out of curiosity) for a cool 6 silver and 72 copper each before Trading Post fees. I’m now sitting on a grand total of 50 gold pieces which is the personal Tyrian financial equivalent of swimming in Scrooge McDuck’s money vault.

And so I find myself in prime position to engage with Heart of Thorns. Come to think of it, there is that business with Samhain going on in The Secret World until the 17th of November and I haven’t even touched it…


5 thoughts on “Ascent into Madness

  1. This text could yield you my personal “most masocistic posting i have read this year” award.

    Just like with any other event in GW (first and second), i used the same tried and proven approach: ignore. Due to my girls curiosity (and forgetfulnes) we again spent like two hours on this event this year (just like last year) before she also again was convinced that it’s an endless grind, a pure waste of time and just built to annoy the players.

    I’d yet have to see just one seasonal event in either version of Guild Wars which was designed in any other way. The whole “quickly and cheaply done” seasonal events, which then are re-run the same way every year is tried and proven in many MMOs, but feels very insulting if you also play TSW and experience their seasonal events, which are not only of much higher quality but also get something new every year. New this year in TSW: a kind of “scavenger hunt” through the world of TSW, including nine unique dream sequences crafted only for this event. The big drawback being that the events of this year requires the player to be able to access most or all zones, which means you have to have played the story arc quite far to be able to access Tokyo. (The events from previous years also require you to to to Egypt and Transylvania, which might too tough for very new or very casual players, but these tasks can be done being escorted by a stronger player. )

    Since the tasks of the previous years also get available at the season, the seasonal content grows constantly. The only thing TSWs events could be critisized for is that they also bring seasonal grab bags which provide new optical stuff (mounts, outfits and emotes) and can not only be earned by doing (and repeating) the mission (self only bag) but also can be bought for real money in the “self only” version but also in the “gifts for 20 people around me” variant, which sees lots of use at social events.

    But hey, GW2 also sells halloween styled outfits for gems and weapon skins for black lion tickets, which require playing the lockbox game (and thus requiring real money) to get, so why would i blame Funcom for doing the same? (Especially considering the difficult financial situation they are in and knowing that while they just secured their companies survival for one more year, nobody can tell if they will still be here after that. )

    But while i could drift further off and write a huge essay, i rather return to the start and conclude: GW2 is a nice game, i also play it and have fun there, but i absolutely can’t understand why anybody bothers with their all-grind-no-fun events and especially how somebody can invest that much time into them. Quality events are to be found elsewhere, i’d rather play those parts of GW2 which are actually fun. Anyway, you also mention the TSW event at the end of your posting and i am looking forward to read your posting about it.
    [And hope you still get people for the multiplayer part of the event if you choose to also do that. At the end of the event the interest for that usually runs low. ]


    1. The presence of the meta-achievement really helped channel my energy in the right direction. I took things bit by bit and enjoyed it for the most part. Yes, it’s a huge grind if you’re trying to buy everything from the vendors. Instead of systematically acquiring all of the vendor offerings as I did in WildStar, I took the opportunity to improve my skills. The labyrinth helped me learn to stay in melee range and obey mechanics. The clock tower improved my jumping and navigation abilities. I wanted to say “fuck it” and give up but motivated myself by recording the entirety of my clock tower attempts with the hope that I would be able to post my successful attempt on YouTube – and I did – even if nobody would ever watch it besides myself.

      I’m playing through Heart of Thorns at the moment. I am focusing on play and experimentation with the new masteries and Chronomancer features. I can’t say that I love it. It’s interesting, at the very least.

      I’ll be trying out Samhain in the near future. It’s good to hear that there are many, high-quality activities to engage in. I’m still in Kingsmouth because TSW’s been on my backburner forever. Not enough time to play all my favorite games.


      1. It’s yet another matter of taste issue, isn’t it? I completely agree on the quality of TSW’s events but they have almost no connection with or similarity to GW2’s holiday offering. It’s like trying to equate reading a novel with putting your books into alphabetical order. Yes, both activities involve books but that’s about all they have in common.

        GW2 holiday events tend to be about performing repetitive, unchallenging actions for purposes of relaxation and, of course, acquisition. They aren’t designed to inform or even to entertain in the context of narrative. They occupy time pleasantly, like whittling or thum-twiddling, with the bonus of a few presents thrown in along the way.


        1. Yes, I would say so. Your metaphor is quite apt. When approached therapeutically, I find it makes for a nice, relaxing session in which one is free to experiment or not at one’s leisure.

          This year I -will- be completing the Wintersday jumping puzzle. My therapist insists.


      2. Repetitive and unchallenging actions you write, isn’t that the mere definition of grind? But yes, i guess it’s a matter of taste and to everybody his own.


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