Gentlemen, Set Your Game World to Stunning

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Wait...What?

Since the video release of ArenaNet’s MMO Manifesto the information, and misinformation, has been flying thick and fast. Some of the wording used by ArenaNet seems to partly be behind the confusion, and outright disbelief of ArenaNet’s claims is fuelling much of the rest.

First and foremost, Guild Wars 2 will not feature phasing. Nil. None. Nada. The two words we need to focus on are “permanent” vs “persistent”.

Guild Wars 2 is going to feature two worlds. The first world is each characters personal storyline and this will be heavily instanced. Decisions that the player makes in the storyline will be permanent. If a player decision results in the death of an NPC, that NPC will stay dead forever in that characters storyline. Players will be able to invite their friends along to experience their storyline, but any decisions made will only effect the main player – everyone else is just along for the ride.

The second world that will exist in Guild Wars 2 is the open persistent world all players will share when not dabbling in dungeons (also instanced) or working through their personal storyline. This is where the dynamic events come into the picture.

Guild Wars 2 is going to feature over 1500 dynamic events. But what is a dynamic event?

Rather then trying to explain it, I will give an example.

Let’s say a centaur camp exists a little off the beaten track. Over time the centaur population increases and they develop entrepreneurial ambitions. One day the centaurs launch an attack on a nearby village. A number of players who happen to be in the area at the time hear the villagers cries for help, and mount a valiant defence. Ultimately the centaur numbers are too many and they overwhelm the village. The centaurs establish an outpost at the village with a supply line back to their original camp. This supply line intersects an established merchant caravan route, which disrupts supplies to other villages.

To further compound the downslide of the neighbourhood, the centaurs are also staging raids from their new outpost into the surrounding areas.

A bit further down the road in a village yet to be targeted by our acquisitive centaurs a group of players notice their favourite bar is running low on beer, and marketplace scuttlebutt is all abuzz with centaurs. By back-tracking the caravan route these players discover the centaur supply line and the new outpost.

Meanwhile an additional group of players, having just thwarted a centaur raiding party on another village, arrive from the other direction. The players collectively attack the outpost and drive the centaurs back towards their original camp, thinning their numbers considerably.

The disrupted merchant caravan route is able to resume and the beer supply is restored to our players favourite bar. As the villagers who were displaced by the centaurs learn their home has been liberated they return and begin to rebuild. New caravan routes delivering building materials spring up and the world marches on.

Got a reasonable grasp on all that? Ok, so what if the centaurs original attack failed? Enough players showed up and the village was saved. Hooray. All the players involved get karma for helping and life in the village continues. But no, the village did fall and a centaur outpost was established. The disruption caused a beer shortage (oh the humanity!) in a neighbouring village. Perhaps this shortage could trigger another offshoot event. The imagination of the devs is the only limit, and they’ve already proved themselves in spades in that regard. Outpost destroyed, the beer supply resumes. Might some local bandits try attacking it? Or will they target the building materials destined for the rebuilding of the sacked village?

For each step of a dynamic event the players can either pass or fail. A pass branches the chain in one direction, a fail into another. Dynamic events can also overlap, with one event only able to commence when certain conditions are met within another event. Some event chains might loop around on themselves in 10 minutes. Others might branch out for hours, days, weeks or months before they return to the beginning again.

What this will give us is a living, breathing world full of replayability. That village you visited at level 5 on your first character might be a centaur outpost when you arrive there on your latest alt. That beautiful river where you went swimming for the very first time could be over run with skale when you take a trip down memory lane on your high level character.

No phasing, just an ever changing environment waiting to branch one way or the other depending on your choices, your actions.

And the centaurs brood quietly until their numbers build up once again and they grow restless…

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