Engineering A FantasyJune 3, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 27 Comments
Tags: Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
A lot of people seem to have a problem with the technology of Guild Wars 2. They say technology doesn’t fit the fantasy setting. I understand their worries. They want to feel at ease and immersed in a game they are anticipating but I don’t agree with them.
Before we go further I’ll even concede on one small thing. The engineer’s landmines should not make digital beeping noises. Landmines go back pretty far, but beeping at it’s oldest is from the late 19th century in the form of mechanical horns or telephone rings. An actual digital beep didn’t come about until the 1950’s. Plenty of living people remember the first digital beeps, but moving on.
From very early on we knew that the lore was taking us 250 years into the future. We saw trailers with 18th century styled mansions, and concept art depicting technology such as guns. Already in the original Guild Wars we had gunpowder, golems, fireworks, and other examples of technology.
Just look at how far the real world has come since 1761. Even the most advanced and civilized people from that era might think of us in 2011 as witches and burn us at the stake.
Many have pointed out just how old some of this tech is. Firearms can be traced to the 12th century while landmines can be traced to the 13th, and some types of grenades can be traced even further back to the 8th century.
The list goes on but perhaps we’re missing the point? Not every player is a history buff and maybe it’s about more than just technology being out of place. I think part of the hesitation to embrace steampunk in Guild Wars 2 is simply fear of the new. The transition from a game we’ve all enjoyed to a game that, although promising, is unknown.
Part of it could be that people just want to play Guild Wars only better. They want to exist in the same space, with the same lore, and same professions, only with jumping.
Another part might be people want the same generic fantasy setting that just about every game has. Sword fighting, elves, dwarves, bow & arrow, a few orcs and trolls. Game done.
Unfortunately for those people, more and more games have steampunk elements. World of Warcraft, Rift, Warhammer all have technological elements mixed with fantasy. I can’t really applaud Arenanet’s penchant for innovating and twisting the genre on this one. This ore is being mined by everyone.
One sentiment I’ve heard in response to criticisms of technology in Guild Wars 2 is that Arenanet can make whatever kind of game they want, that’s their prerogative. I don’t think Arenanet works like that however. While other companies tend to be tone deaf to their customers it’s always been clear that Arenanet is open-minded and gives more time to these details than those of us with less patience might.
In fact I’m sure they had long debates internally about this very subject before any of us ever knew about it.
While I don’t agree that the engineer spoils immersion, I have no doubt Arenanet is taking these criticism seriously. That said, I’m not Arenanet and will conclude with this. The engineer looks impressive, allows for a lot of interesting gameplay, and has lore stacked up to support it. If even after watching skill videos, reading lore, and seeing the details about the class you still find yourself (without ever having played the game) completely having your immersion broken, maybe you need your head checked.
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