Shmi's guide is pretty comprehensive, and should provide a great deal to think about. I can't do better than that, there.
You indicated that starting an alt would preclude you from "having a strong character." I tend to disagree with that. You don't need max armor in this game in order to participate in any of the level 80 areas. Rare gear (yellow) works just fine, although exotic (gold) would be better. Except for weapons, I have not thought much about chasing ascended gear. the ascended I have is from drops, only. You can also obtain gear through dungeon badges.
Hero points, right now, allow you to unlock skills and traits. I have all unlocked on all of my toons, even the skills and traits I don't use. When HoT is released, those hero points will be used in a similar manner for masteries.
Shmi's guide has a section on gearing up. FOr my part, I bought rares from the TP to find out what I liked, before investing karma into temple armor, before leveling up crafting to make my own gear. WvW badges can also be used to purchase armor. I would caution against placing any expensive runes on either badge or temple (karma) armor as you can not salvage those armors.
PvP is different from WvW in GW2. WvW is player versus player, but much more organized than something like a WoW PvP server, but much more chaotic than structured (5v5) PvP in an arena. I was never much for PvP myself, but I still find WvW enjoyable. You should give it a try, just to see. GSCH holds several WvW events each week. Just let the Commander know that you are not experienced, and they will try to explain a little more than normal.
Exploring the world opens up way points to access world boss fights, guild events (there is an event tonight), jumping puzzles, etc. If you achieve map completion, you are rewarded with crafting material that is used to create a legendary weapon. For my part, I have world completion on one toon, and somewhere between 40-60% completion on the rest.
Oh, and, have you found the Silver Wastes, yet?
» Edited on: 2015-08-04 08:43:35