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The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu: Being a master or an apprentice

Historical, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Being a master or an apprentice
Fun facts for fans of the Art of Wushu: I wrote three articles about Age of Wushu for this week. I started off writing something lame, but I scrapped it because I didn't like the topic. The second is one about reaction times, perception, and brain chemistry. However, I realized somewhere in the middle of writing it that I used terms about "skill levels" that I have never really defined, and I figured it would be a good thing to do that before I went any further.

So this time, we're going to talk about skill levels and what they mean. All of them are fairly discrete, and they are pretty universal, whether you practice swordsmanship or carpentry (or do either in a video game). I have probably used the term "expert player" over 9000 times while writing for Massively, and I've held an opinion on what an intermediate player is since long before I was blogging. This is a good way to identify where you and others stand, which is how you'll know what kind of advice you need to get to the next level.

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The Art of Wushu: Preparing for group PvE

Historical, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Sandbox, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Preparing for group PvE
I will be perfectly frank when I say that I tremendously dislike PvE in Age of Wushu. It's not that the PvE is bad compared to other games; it's that I feel that the point of the game is ultimately PvP, whether that comes in the form of economics or direct combat. I play Age of Wushu because I like the PvP, and I don't see the point in spending hours in co-op dungeons to get rewards that I could just buy on the market.

However, the playerbase pretty much disagrees with me. Most high-level guilds focus heavily on PvE. There seems to be a very fixed mindset in place with MMO players that encourages them to go for "endgame" PvE content, even though it is really just one path of many in Age of Wushu. Therefore, I feel obligated to cover it. If you are interested in learning more about forbidden instances, I advise you to get into a high-end guild and ask questions. I can give you the basics of what to expect and how to prepare, but there are a lot of specifics and everyone does things a little bit differently.

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The Art of Wushu: Exploring China with true parkour

Historical, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Exploring China with true parkour
I'm a bit spoiled by Age of Wushu's flying skills. Parkour in Wushu is one of the most satisfying things in any game, as heroes can truly go anywhere and do anything. When I was first playing the game in beta and was unsure about everything else, I said with certainty, "Any game with airdashes can't be bad." As it turns out, the parkour in Age of Wushu stands head and shoulders above the travel in any other game.

Other games have jumping puzzles that are awkward, and some games have flight or other Z-axis travel that allows players to freely go wherever they like. In Wushu, it takes effort to get to hard-to-reach places, but the feeling you get when you climb the highest heights and explore places no one else might ever see is truly satisfying.

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The Art of Wushu: The truth about mind games and timing

Historical, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu The truth about mind games and timing
Once upon a time, I was teaching a friend how to duel in Age of Wushu. She was easily frustrated by things, and she expressed to me that she felt as if everyone had superhuman reflexes compared to her. Because she was a beginner, I couldn't just convey all the complexity of mind games to her. Explaining all the different options (beyond the basics), weighting them, and explaining the opportunity costs of each was not really an option. She was having trouble even with slightly advanced stuff (which is totally normal), but she also lacked some of the natural "killer instinct" that allows some of my other friends to duel.

At the same time, I had been fighting Zyden, one of the most skilled duelists in English-speaking Age of Wushu. He actually does have near-superhuman reflexes. Earlier that day, though, I had hit him with a very slow-animating feint that he normally interrupts with a stun. Normally, his reactions are superhuman, but there are some times when they aren't. It's not a matter of "off day," either. He just wasn't prepared for me to do what I did right at that moment.

I told my friend, "Outside of a moment, you can only react." Immediately afterwards, I realized just how important those words were.

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The Art of Wushu: Offense is the best defense

Historical, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Offense is the best defense
Previously in The Art of Wushu, we discussed the basic combat mechanics in Age of Wushu. If you have played the game for more than a week or so, you are likely familiar with most of it. A basic RPS mechanic is the simplest type of combat design, and many other games, especially those with "robust" melee combat, tend to have some RPS as the basis of its complexity.

However, Age of Wushu focuses a lot on uneven risk and reward. It is not enough to simply have RPS elements. A combat design built around mixups should also have many different options between these mixups that create an inter-RPS. Let me explain broadly: Some rocks beat other rocks, but the other rocks provide better rewards when used against scissors. Some rocks might even provide benefits when used against paper! The series of mindgames interwoven into your attack choice are the focus for this week.

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The Art of Wushu: Learning the basics of combat

Historical, Game Mechanics, PvP, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Learning the basics of combat
Many readers balked when I said Age of Wushu had the best combat in an MMO ever back when I did my first impressions piece. I admit, it was a bold claim. However, even after playing Guild Wars 2, TERA, and numerous other games with "deep MMO combat," I stand by what I said back then. Age of Wushu's PvP combat is the best in any MMO.

If you're coming from a mostly MMO background, combat in Age of Wushu is a bit daunting at first. It's really nothing like combat in any other MMO. It has a bit slower pace than a typical action-MMO, but it is the first to really employ tempo control. Attacking recklessly is a patch to a quick defeat, forcing players to make tough tactical decisions.

If you're like me and came to MMOs from a fighting game background, things readily click into place. Baiting common reactions and punishing them, punishing actions on reaction, and getting in the head of your opponent is better-rewarded than in any other MMO combat system. I don't want to badmouth games like GW2 that have great combat, so don't get me wrong; many other games have excellent combat. Age of Wushu's battle system is just even more fantastic. When I win a fight against an even-leveled opponent (or higher level, though that's rare) without taking an unblocked hit, I feel like a total beast.

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The Art of Wushu: Understanding the Meridian System

Historical, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Understanding the Meridian System
Age of Wushu is not the most accessible game. It is full of confusing systems that are hard to decipher, and a large part of the "skill" in the game is being able to wade through the mess of gameplay elements and produce an optimized character.

Meridians are one more extremely confusing system to handle. There are nine meridian lines, advanced characters can activate four of them, and even training them at all is pretty confusing. Training the correct ones adds another layer of complexity to an already confusing game.

I'm not a huge fan of the system -- it causes a number of metagame problems, particularly due to the increased HP inherent to everyone who trains a meridian line. However, it's there and we have to make the best use of it. How do we do that? Read on!

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The Art of Wushu: The war for server time [Updated]

Historical, Events (In-Game), Opinion, Free-to-Play, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu The war for server time
Scheduled events are a huge part of Age of Wushu. While each player has the option of enjoying the game at his own pace, scheduled events mark the major ways people can have an impact on the world at large. Because these events have to occur at a specific time, their placement will always be convenient for some and inconvenient for others.

Recently -- and without warning -- Snail changed the server time in response to complaints about various events being inconvenient. This time change was influenced by a vote thread on the official forums, but was otherwise invisible; there were no warnings in the game's launcher or via in-game announcements until days afterward. The lack of communication about the time change was bad enough, but unfortunately, listening to the vocal minority had much larger, far-reaching problems for players. [Please see the end of this article for Snail's appended response to these arguments.]

I was going to talk about meridians this time, but addressing this topic was something you requested. You came to the Massively tip jar. You emailed me directly. You messaged me in game. You even came to my house and said, "Hey man, you should write about how messed up the time change is." You asked, and this is my reply.

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The Art of Wushu: Launching into Age of Wushu

Historical, Events (In-Game), Launches, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu, MMORPG

The Art of Wushu Launching into Age of Wushu
Age of Wushu just launched publicly today, and as you read this, thousands of players are getting into the game for the very first time. For a lot of you first-time readers, you might be wondering what the heck is this game, why should you play it, and what are some of the community resources for the game?

Age of Wushu is an open-world PvP sandbox set in a fictional Ming Dynasty China where traditional MMO elements like sorcery and character levels are eschewed for martial arts and proficiency in a wide variety of different skills. I'm fond of saying that Wushu is "like EVE in China." Many of AoW's features are similar to EVE's systems, including an emphasis on leveling breadth versus depth, a true player economy, and social maneuvering and backstabbing. At the same time, Wushu is a fundamentally different creature, with skill-based gameplay and a much clunkier interface. It's also a bit simpler than EVE, but the barrier of entry is still pretty high.

The Art of Wushu column is about lowering that bar a bit, and I'm simultaneously proud and sad to say that the English fan-made wiki still currently provides much less in-depth information than this column does. If you're already playing the game, check out some of the previous articles as they are pretty useful things that I link people to regularly. If you're not a new player yet, well... this one's for you.

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The Art of Wushu: The right stats for each style

Historical, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu The right stats for each style
There are a few questions I answer on a very regular basis in Age of Wushu. "How do you make money?" is a pretty common question, but I think we've answered that. "Can you annotate my book?" happens rather frequently, too. However, the most common question I answer is "what stats should I get?"

The answer for this question is anything but simple, and I end up spending hours explaining it to individuals. If I went back through my chat logs, I could probably fill this entire column just by copy-pasting because I've answered this question so many times.

For the first time, this information will be available as a public resource. Instead of spending hours of my time explaining it to people, I can just link it! Even if you think you know what you're doing with your stats, this is a must-read.

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The Art of Wushu: Winning in market PvP

Historical, Economy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Crafting, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu Winning in market PvP
Last time on the Art of Wushu, I promised I would write on how to sell production crafts. Crafting is a big deal in Age of Wushu, so it seemed like a reasonable topic to cover. However, I realized doing so would probably be a mistake. Why?

If you followed my advice from two weeks ago, congratulations. You probably noticed a huge nosedive in a few markets: hemp, ramie, iron, and mint all took a huge hit. It's a bit flattering to see how I can write a post on what to sell and readers like you guys take it to heart, flooding the market with supply and crashing the value of these commodities. If I gave advice on production crafting, the same thing would happen.

Instead, this week I'm going to talk about real market strategy. Pointing out things that sell doesn't help you if the market takes a nose-dive. Understanding supply and demand curves, market equilibrium, and the importance of market diversity are all long-term tools that will help you regardless of what you're selling.

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The Art of Wushu: Making silver through harvesting

Historical, Economy, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu Making silver through harvesting
I got a lot of backlash over the last installment of The Art of Wushu. While the issues over pay-to-win are understandable, an overwhelming number of you seemed to disbelieve the amount of silver I was able to produce daily. Some of you protested my 1D/daily figure (which is on the high side), while others questioned whether I could make even 500L per day. My email was flooded with people asking me to share some of my secrets.

I was going to talk about movement and parkour this time, but because you guys asked, you'll get an answer. "How do I make money in Age of Wushu," you ask? Let's cover the easy ways to make money. These are methods that literally any player, regardless of subscription status or level, can take advantage of. This time we're going to cover harvesting -- what sells and what doesn't. Let's get started.

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The Art of Wushu: Paying doesn't mean winning

Historical, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu Paying doesn't mean winning
Age of Wushu has come under a lot of fire as a pay-to-win game. There are ways to get in-game power for out-of-game money, so there are a lot of reasons to assume that real cash can turn you into one of the top fighters in Jianghu.

Fortunately for the dedicated players (and to the chagrin of cash shop whales), the truth is a bit more skewed. There are varying degrees of pay-to-win cash shops, but Age of Wushu's cash shop provides very few outlets to directly buy power. The main culprit is the simple fact that spending real money can give a player silver to spend on anything he or she wants.

Silver is king in Age of Wushu. The entire player market revolves around silver, and the largest source of it comes from the cash shop. Does this mean you need to pay to have a chance?

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The Art of Wushu: Gathering and crafting

Economy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Guides, Sandbox, Crafting, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu Gathering and crafting
Life skills are the central point of Age of Wushu's player economy. All useful equipment, food, and most of the useful consumables are only available through crafting, and equipment requires lengthy production chains and an injection of tradable silver in order to make it effective. This process is fairly daunting to a new player, and even experienced players go for a long time without taking advantage of the many advantages present from trade and crafting.

In Age of Wushu, life skills represent a character's day job. You'll go to work gathering materials to sell or to craft into goods to sell, and then use the money from those sales to purchase things other people make and food to sustain yourself. Because we have a limited amount of space, this column will focus on production skills and production chains so that you can make the best choice about which type of goods you want to craft.

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The Art of Wushu: The right martial arts school for you

PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu, The Art of Wushu

The Art of Wushu The right martial arts school for you
Normally at Massively, we start off a column by linking to relevant community sites and information resources for a game. Things are a bit different with Age of Wushu, however. Aside from the main community site and the wiki currently under construction, there isn't much information about the game available in English.

Running biweekly, The Art of Wushu will help you navigate the sprawling Wushu sandbox. This week, we'll be looking at the various martial arts schools in the game and which schools to select in order to fit your preferred playstyle. While we can't go over each school's intricacies in depth, we'll do our best to give you a brief primer on what you can expect as a member of a particular school.

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