The Revolution Will Be Dynamically Scaled

May 12, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 2 Comments
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Thar Be Dragons

Guild Wars 2 has been ramping up their marketing with interviews, features, blog posts, and additions to their main website for the past couple weeks. The latest addition is a feature on their homepage about the much talked about Event System.

Everything we’ve learned so far about the system is that it will entirely replace the traditional quest system, no more exclamation points over the heads of the quest giving NPCs. Kind of an enormous change from the status quo. They’ve released dozens of examples of how these events work, how you’ll interact with them, and how the game world won’t just be static. They’ve quoted numbers like 1500 to 1600 events in game, many instigated by players themselves.

What the overview on the website does is give a detailed look at their intentions, philosophy, and the practical implementation of the system, and I’ll dive into some of the more interesting parts right now.

Early on Colin Johanson, Content Lead, gives us the usual spiel about improving on past mechanics. Basically “How can we make this better?” Virtually every game designer in history has spouted those very words, yet few have ever truly achieved improvement. In fact it’s so typical of what a designer might say it actually lends him less credibility, it’s harder for me to believe that the Event System will work now that he’s said this. It made me cringe.

That said the ideas that follow are interesting. He challenges the normal quest system in MMORPG’s by calling it outdated. Didn’t know you were a trash talker Mr. Johanson. The Event System is a cure to that ill.

Actually he’s kind of right. Quests suck in MMORPG’s. Most are by no means fun or interesting. Saying they’re flawed is no big revelation though, so I guess I can’t be too surprised someone might actually be doing something about it.

Which brings us to something that I had never really thought about before.

There is a second fundamental flaw to traditional quest systems: what the quest text tells you is happening in a quest is not actually what is happening in the world.

For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character’s home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, “Kill 0/10 ogres” and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies.

If that’s not enough motivation to progress games into a more dynamic world, I’m not sure what is. When will we provide a lush and enabling environment for blood thirsty ogres to tear apart human flesh!?

It’s not just one repeatable event though, things cascade through each zone.

If an enemy dredge army is marching out of their main base, players will be asked to mobilize with their allies and help destroy the army. If the dredge army is defeated, other events will cascade out from there. Players will be able battle their way inside the dredge base, face off against their commander, rescue captured friendly troops being held in the dredge prisons, and even hold the captured base while fighting waves of dredge, who arrive from deep underground to try and take back their home.
Dynamic Events

If, on the other hand, players fail to destroy the army, it will establish a fort in friendly player territory. From there, the dredge will send shipments of troops and supplies to the fort from the main base while building up walls, turrets, and siege engines to help defend it. Enemy dredge forces will then begin to move out from their newly established fort to attack friendly player locations in the area, sending snipers out into the hills, sending assault team forces to capture friendly player villages, and trying to smash down friendly fortifications with massive dredge walkers.

The Dredge are back! Commie bastards. This actually makes me wonder though, what is the reward delivery system? Are drops and xp from mobs the only thing I have to look forward to? Another thing, how do you keep track of quests? Is there even a need for a quest log?

They go on to describe how MMO’s should be more social, with lines of people waiting for their turn to kill a boss or being obnoxious towards people who are killing the same mob you are, slowing your rate of progress.

Their event system changes that by including people without having to join a group. The more people, the better. This exponentially improves upon the original Guild Wars I think. Where there it was near impossible to run into the same person twice, here you’re working with people right next to you all the time.

Definitely more of a community feel.

Johansan also adds that the event system is great for non-traditional play styles like Exploring and Altaholics. Playing through multiple times will ensure you see content you missed the first time.

I have to admit they make a strong case for Guild Wars 2 being an evolutionary step in game making, or at least, in mmorpgs. I’m still holding on to my doubt though, nobody has yet proven to me that in the gaming business they will follow through on their hype. Lets hope Arenanet can.

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2 Comments

  1. The bare bones version of this has already been done, an event system. Was it warhammer? The problem with it was that there was not 1000 odd of them it was treated more like a dungeon in it’s rarity. So I’d have a look at that, from memory you get a hunk of loot at turning points (ie, youve defended the village, or taken a place). The problem with the above implementation was that it was not scalable, and the game was not popular leading the events to be left alone as no one ever had enough people to complete it and leveling you character was easier to do with normal quests since you didnt have to organise a party. It sounds like they’ve learned the lesson here.
    I know that Tabula Rasala also had a basic version of a ‘life like’ world. However, it just wasnt that interesting; again because it lacked scaling and also predictbility. The enemy takes over some base (as its always try to and it well always succeed at if there are no players around). A single person couldnt get the base back as he was out numbered; and no one could be bothered to get a party together to take it back.
    There are pluses and minuses to this; why get a group together if its going to scale it to make it harder? I know they say it doesnt matter if someone comes along, but why actually bother to get someone along when its going to be just as easy without them?
    I assume you’re going to have some sort of quest line which we are going to learn about next week with the ‘story’ otherwise you’re going to wonder around aimlessly looking for some stone to turn over to start an event.
    I do hope they are better than both the above systems as the events were essentially just teritorial in nature which sort of bores you. Why bother defending a pipline when you know that 5 minutes later when you turn your back the pipes are going to be broken again when your gone?

    • Yeah, i’ve been thinking over how this system is social but at the same time, it might not change anything. people will still play without talking to one another.

      For what it’s worth, they have said and keep saying that events will chain across each zone triggering new events. so yeah. good luck to anet on making this work.


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