INTERVIEW Guild Wars 2 PT1

Published on June 10th, 2011

GZ: Guild Wars was very much a trend setter in the MMO space. Do ArenaNet aspire to do the same thing with ? Is it as much about introducing new ideas as it is about adding what the modern gamer expects from an MMO?

ERIC: At ArenaNet we believe that one of the things that gamers want out of their games is to experience new things. We think we were able to offer a unique game play experience with the first Guild Wars games and we certainly hope to continue that trend with Guild Wars 2. That being said, we don’t believe in changing things just for the sake of changing them, nor do we believe in keeping to conventions simply because they’re what people are used to. What we try to do is look at the big picture vision of what we want to create and then look at how each feature both individually and collectively accomplishes that goal.

GZ: A lot has been said about Guild Wars 2′s new quest structure. How exactly will tasks be initiated? Is it true you’ve gotten rid of the stationary NPC and the glowing exclamation mark phenomenon?

ERIC: It is true that we don’t have typical MMO quests. What we do have are two different systems that work together and form the backbone of our content.

First we have our personal story system. This system begins during character creation, when the player is asked to answer some questions about their character’s background. The answers to these questions will determine the story that the player experiences. Combine this with branching storylines based on explicit player choices, and you have a unique story being experienced by each player.

We do guide our players through their story with markers (which resemble a green star burst) and these markers will sometimes appear over an NPC’s head. The important difference in this case is that a player will only ever have one step in their story, one thing that they are trying to accomplish, not a journal full of 20 tasks that by their very nature and quantity start to seem unimportant. The things that the player is asked to do while on their personal story are often long and involved and they should always feel like they flow organically from the narrative that the player is experiencing. In short, the player should never be asked to kill X monsters by someone who they’ve never met before. Think of the personal story in Guild Wars 2 as you would the “main” storyline of a great single player RPG.

Guild Wars 2 is an MMO and we provide players with a massive world that would feel empty and without context if they didn’t have something aside from focused, narrative driven things to do. That’s where our event system comes into play.

Our event system is the primary way that players interact with our world. Events differ from traditional quests in that there is no start or end NPC, and they can be joined at any time by any player who happens to come across them. Events also have a persistent effect on the world. If bandits take over a village then that village will stay taken until players do something about it.

So although you will see the occasional icon above an NPC’s head, you won’t see a traditional MMO quest anywhere in Guild Wars 2.

GZ: One of the aspects which we think enabled Guild Wars to stand out so much in the MMO space was the richness of Tyria and how exploring that continent felt unique to the player. Do you think this is something that will be lost when Guild Wars 2 no longer adopts the small instanced approach?

ERIC: We are building Guild Wars 2 with players who love exploration firmly in mind. We design our world to have a lot of nooks and crannies just waiting for players to discover and we reward exploration with rare events, XP for visiting new areas, profession challenges, and a host of other incentives.

GZ: As much as players and developers pretend, no mainstream MMO – outside of EVE – allows players to change the game-world permanently. Will Guild Wars 2 deliver on this often promised feature?

ERIC: Our event system offers persistent change but not permanent change. If a village burns down it is not gone forever, but rather gone until players help rebuild it.

More permanent change can be found in our personal story instances where characters that die will stay dead, buildings will stay destroyed, etc?

GZ: Calendar-based events are the main reason why we’ve been going back to Guild Wars over the past few years. Will there be more things to do in GW 2′s live events, than just taking part in rollerbeetle races (as much as we love them!) and setting off bottle rockets?

ERIC: We haven’t planned out exactly what we’re doing yet, but we certainly plan to support all of our usual holiday events in Guild Wars 2. Since our event system is very robust I imagine we’ll be able to do a lot more things than we were able to do in the first game.

GZ: You must get asked this a lot, but as the proud owner of more mini-pets than we care to mention, how exactly will the collectible cuties feature in Guild Wars 2?

ERIC: Our mini-pet system is undergoing development as we speak. I can’t offer much in the way of details yet, but I can say that we want to push the fun and collectability of our mini-pets to new levels.

Check back Monday for part two of our exclusive interview, when we’ll quiz Eric on expansions, the in-game shop and how players can express themselves in the new and improved Tyria.

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