Standalone Complex

June 15, 2011 at 4:58 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 31 Comments
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I'm gonna need a bigger golem.

The original 3 Guild Wars products were sold as stand alone expansions, meaning you could buy only one of them and still get a full gaming experience. For Guild Wars 2 they seem to be changing this approach.

From an interview in Gamerzines.

At this time we don’t plan to continue with the standalone expansion model. We felt that this model split our player base unnecessarily and also caused us to focus development effort on things that were redundant with the original release of the game such as tutorial areas and duplicates of already existing skills.

Now obviously they’re saying no standalone expansions, not, no retail expansions as many have misinterpreted. That aside, this is yet another big shift from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2.

It makes sense. There are many reasons to do this.

Of the 5 races only 1 is found on continents other than Tyria. To make a standalone expansion you would have to recreate tutorial areas for all of them on each new expansion’s continent, and lore-wise it wouldn’t make much sense.

There are 5 tutorial areas as it stands now, the amount of work put into them is probably staggering, it most likely would be a bad idea to try to recreate that for each expansion.

A game lives or dies by it’s tutorial areas. In World of Warcraft 70% of its trial players never made it past level 10. If you put a lot of work into your original newbie zones, hopefully you can both impress potential customers and make sure you never have to revisit those levels again.

Already with 5 races and 5 newbie areas, Guild Wars 2 has more beginner areas than Guild Wars. That’s a more diversified atmosphere for people starting new characters than they ever had with the original GW.

Bottom line though, this is just plain simplification. Getting rid of the redundancies, the excess, and the unnecessary bloat so they can work on the max level content more. How much of Guild Wars was wasted on low level areas? Nearly half of Prophecies is bogged down by slow leveling and low powered characters.

This really makes room for a stronger focus on higher level content but it does raise a few questions.

What is the likelihood of new races being introduced? I certainly have heard a lot of speculation about centaur and tengu being added to the game since Guild Wars 2 was announced. They have a lot of fans.

Certainly the removal of standalone expansions does not rule out new races being added in expansions. Other games do it all the time. It does seem slightly less likely to me however. Again they’ve already got 2 more tutorial areas than they ever had in Guild Wars and 4 more races. I don’t think they’ll feel much pressure to add races.

Will people feel less motivated to try out Guild Wars 2 once new expansions start coming out and people know they will feel obligated to buy an expansion along with it?

Being freed from the shackles of the standalone model, what kind of opportunities open up for the developers?

Overall I think this change makes it harder to introduce new professions, as you would have to explain why new professions suddenly showed up in the 5 original tutorial areas. I doubt Arenanet would ever make a profession exclusive to a race. I think it also might make it easier to introduce races, as you can mold the tutorial just to that race alone.

Guild Wars 2 is certainly influenced heavily by Guild Wars but it’s turning out to be much different than I think most people expected.

I don’t know, what do you guys think? New races? New professions? Does the absence of a standalone product mean any difference at all?

Anyway the only other thing of note in that interview was a mention of “multi-week” persistent pvp matches in WorldvsWorld. Previously I was under the impression they’d last a week.



  1. I’d love to see Tengu, honestly. 😀

    • Drop the Norn race, give us the Kodan instead! XD

      The one Tengu henchman really didn’t get any spotlight, while-as Zhed the centaur got his own cutscenes. I’d rather have a centaur race than the Tengu.

      • the tengu are in both tyria and cantha though, and have shown that they can be reasoned with on shing jea island.

    • Yeah tengu would be one of the more interesting friendly races to be able to play. Unfortunately a large number of them seem more hostile than friendly so it’s hard to say.

      • “Unfortunately a large number of them seem more hostile than friendly …” Could be said of Charr as well, or Humans for that matter don’t ya think?

        • but not asura, sylvari, or norn

  2. I loved the Factions tutorials, they introduced the concept of “change your bar depending on what you want to do.” I really hope they bring that back for GW2.

    • Enh, I hope the tutorial is more show and less tell than cantha.

  3. I’m assuming that they are going to just stick with 8 professions, as it’s easier to balance, although I guess some of the 12 may show up later. I think that adding two or 3 more starter areas for new races could work.

    Overall, I prefer the expansions to campaigns. I still feel like I never spent the same time with Factions as I did the others. I think true expansions may avoid this.

    Nice post as always mate.

    • Yeah they’ve definitely been saying that the 8 professions they went with fit every role, so its hard to imagine what profession they’d go with next.

      I was thinking one starter area per expansion (if they add races) since the amount of artwork would be a bit of a strain for more than one race.

  4. It is always possible to add new professions in a similar manner like the Charr and the Enginneer. Even though said profession represents more than that I believe you can still create another profession if there is something about the new content that it can represent.

    • right, in that you mean the engineer is synonymous with the charr but all the other races can play engineer anyway. I suppose that’s true, but to me it just seems a bit awkward to shimmy in a new profession for all the races that way, but, it might happen. if you told a good enough story to introduce it, it would be fine.

  5. They may also do something like introduce new weapons – and skills for using those weapons – to existing classes in expansions, rather than creating all new classes themselves.

    Still gives players something “new” to play with, but without adding the complexity of new classes (and making people “start over” to try those classes out).

    *imagines a Canthan Engineers backpack…a fireworks backpack! Hold a sparkler over your head to drop hot sparks on the enemy, setting them on fire…or to throw up a distress flare to let people know you need help…* lol.

    • Good point, new weapons are an interesting way to add new gameplay without professions or races. It’s a whole other way around it.

      That distress flare is a great idea. In a game with dynamic events that could be very, very useful.

  6. I am not sure why anyone likes the idea of standalone expansions. I hated having to start again over and over. Feeling alien with my main wasn’t really all that nice either.
    It does have one cavet however, GW started with an absolutely awesome starting zone. Easliy one of the highlights of the game really. Punishment for not getting this right is of course having to do it all over again.
    Now that they are putting more emphasis on levels (well sort of) I assume itll just be higher level areas which everyone will want to go through thus preventing your players from splitting up. Not really all that new here, just going back to the old WOW formula which is notably starting to fail WOW but nether the less… new areas, new crafting, new foes, same characters.
    Oh god, I hope they have a good think about this sort of expansion, it made me bored just writing it (sorry for making you read it). Its been done too much.

    • I enjoyed starting new campaigns with a fresh character but i always had the choice of moving through with my main. there was nobody forcing you to start fresh.

  7. I think the GW2 Expansions would may be about Other Elder Dragons. since i’ve read some interview that we’ll only be able to meet Zhaitan the Undead dragon at GW2 launch.

    but will the Expansions come with new professions? may be, may be not. for what I’ve seen so far i think Arenanet would have plan as things go.

    • The speculation is they’re already working on the expansion, so they’ve probably already made decisions about new professions or races.

  8. Do we even need new races or professions if the expansions contain exciting and interesting new areas to explore and each has a new character story line to follow? Sure, add in some new weapons and skills for each expansion, as long as they don’t get carried away. But I’d much rather stick with the races and professions we’ll start with and have ArenaNet put most of their efforts towards creating new areas and stories to explore with our current characters than on creating new ones; and I’m one of those types that likes having lots of alts.

    On the other hand, the amount of back story they are putting into minor races shows they could probably add some interesting new ones for people to play, so I wouldn’t say no to that either.

    Considering what they’ve mentioned about creating the professions for GW2 I doubt they’d want to put that much effort into new ones, which might also upset the balance of the current eight professions, similar to what happened in GW1.

    • To that I would say that new races and new professions are not only big selling points in marketing expansions, a lot of people sort of expect those things in their expansions. While i agree they aren’t necessary, it might be a good idea to include them.

      I also agree a new profession would unbalance things, and they’ve clearly put a lot of work into making classes perfect, i wouldn’t put it past them to try to add something new.

  9. The reason why 70% of trials in WoW didn’t make past level 10 is because most of those were gold sellers and scammers.

    Now, gold sellers are “somehow” more limited. To have acces to auction house I think they have to buy expansion or reach at least level 11. To use genera, trade or /whisper chat they have to reacl at least lvl 11. They can write only 2 lines per minute.
    Yes, situation is a lot “grimer from that perspective. But it makes wonders for chat box. No more constant goldselling spammers and similar shit.

    I personaly approve of that change. With standalone expansions you always had the feeling of starting everything over all over again. You never had that feeling in WoW (not realy). Everytime some expansion came out, you were excited for new quests, new dungeons, new mechanics, there was no tutorial, all was already known.

    On some ideas of new races;
    I think eventualy adding some new races would be nice, but would require integration of that race everywhere, so it can become quite a bother if they want to feel good. In all tohse zones from level 1-80 they would have to include members of that race in some of the orders and some dynamic events and all of that. At least that is how I imagine it needs to be done so it does not come out cheap
    Imagine playing kodan, you are from level 1-10 surrounded by bears and then you go into the world. You know who are your allies yet, you never see not even one member of your race. It would be a bit out of the picture. At least for me.

    On new professions;
    Maybe commando. That aerial supprt looks realy usefull. ^^

    • I’m sure you’re right, but I thought most games prevented trial accounts from using the auction house or mail systems. I mean that article was just last year, i’m sure blizzard must have instituted that long before.

      I similarly approve of the change but not for the same reasons. I never felt like i had to start over, i thought starting new characters was great when expansions came out.

  10. Sidenote: How ridiculous is it that we are talking about expansions before the core game has even been released?

    You really can’t address speculation on the possible content of expansions without a thorough examination of what sort of content will be the focus of characters who have reached the level cap. (see how I managed to not say “that” word there?)

    With the flat leveling curve of GW2, the leveling up process is essentially one of exploration… exploring different areas of the map, exploring different skills for your class, etc… Every indication given so far points to an emphasis on the “journey” rather than a “destination” and there is another key innovation in GW2 that factors heavily into this; scaling / sidekicking.

    For example, just because you’re a sensible person and chose to start an asura character (I mean, do we really have to go into the reasons why that is so obviously the correct decision? … *sigh* bookahs) and you go through the incredibly entertaining and fascinating starting area for the asura, exploring and adventuring and basically soaking up every little bit of the ambience and lore associated with the region – that doesn’t mean you’ve “missed out” on the admittedly less interesting (everything is relative) content of the other races starting areas, and it doesn’t mean you have to roll an alt of another race in order to experience it (*shivers* just the thought!)

    Because of the scaling and sidekicking features of GW2, it will theoretically be possible to experience ALL of the content of the game with just one favorite character if that is your preference. You will be able to play in other race’s events in their starting areas, without having to “start over,” and with the familiarity of the character you’ve been enjoying already.

    It cannot be overstated how completely genius this is (obviously conceived of and implemented by asura researchers.) All of the intensive effort to create content for a race, or even just an area of the map is not necessarily the exclusive domain of only a small portion of the player base, but instead is accessible by the entire community – and at the time of their choosing in their own progression through the game!

    Now, I refuse to use “that” word to describe this but, for characters that have reached level cap that means there is still a considerable amount of the map left to explore if they would like to, and we haven’t even touched on the Mists, which is of course another option available to players who are interested in PvP.

    So, if “you” were creating a game, and quite rightly moved away from the “holy trinity” type of class design so that you actually had a hope in hell of being able to achieve class balance for both PvE and PvP how interested would “you” be in throwing a wrench into that smoothly operating dynamic? Correct… not very…

    However, if you had already established that each of your playable races had their own starting area AND had already made each of those explorable for BOTH low level members of that race, as well as higher level members of the other races through the PFM of sidekicking and scalling, then how hard would it be to introduce a new race along with a new area opened up for exploration? Answer: not freakin hard at all bookah! (sheesh… are they paying attention at all???)

    Players could roll new characters of the newly introduced race to explore the area with and then go on to travel through lands of other races they may have already seen, but with the novelty of seeing them “as new” through the “eyes” of the new race… OR, they can continue play with their current characters and be able to explore the new race’s area without throwing off the balance of the area or creating griefing issues at all.

    In addition there is the issue of Vertical vs Horizontal expansion;

    With the above described system in place, you are able to create “new” content for ALL characters in your expansions – not just those at level cap. If you are introducing a large new set of areas in an expansion, you can include varrying level ranges in those areas, that allows lower level characters to also “get in on” the new exciting stuff right away, instead of feeling like they’ve just been hit with a cattle-prod and frantically trying to “power level up” so they can see the new stuff. In other words, still focused on the journey – not the destination. And, those “lower level” areas included in the expansion so that no one feels left out are still explorable by characters already at level cap JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER PIECE OF CONTENT IN THE GAME!

    The degree of sheer brilliance in this type of game design is simply mind-boggling (for non-asura)

    The immense size of the content available to every single character created in this game, regardless of what race or class they choose, puts a whole new spin on the entire concept of what players do in a game once they reach level cap. (*whispers* “endgame” … there! ok? I said it… you happy now?)

    (PFM: pure f***ing magic – it’s a technical term used by engineers and tech support personnel… ya bookahs.)

    • Please bear in mind that each of these areas (the ones in the core game at release as well as new ones included in expansions) will posses dynamic events, and 5 man dungeons, and all of the other types of content associated with the game in general. So, if there were aspects of the game you found interesting in areas you’ve already explored, those would almost assuredly be included in new areas in expansions also.

      • Will there be raids?

        Don’t know… don’t really care to be perfectly honest. I’m sick to death of gear grinds and “vertical” only expansion (ie; higher levels, and content directed only at those who have slogged through the grindiness of past MMO’s leveling up content.)

        Is the Shaterrer encounter a “raid?” I really couldn’t care less what you call it… it looked like fun to me, and incorporated a large number of players WITHOUT having to wait around for everyone to get organized… I don’t know… looks better than raiding to me, and you don’t have to get to level cap to experience it. What if new areas of expansions just included several examples of that type DE?

        Anyway, I’m just in favor of “level cap content” that is more of what I was already enjoying about the game, and does not include a soul-crushing, mind-numbing, unbelievably tedious gear-grind or grind of any type for that matter. Being able to explore “lower level” areas with a character already at level cap sounds like a great deal of fun to me.

        • One of the main things i’m looking forward to in gw2 is the vast amount of content that will be aimed at the power cap, not some new or different level cap.

    • Oh i agree that if they do make racial areas they’ll obviously be open to all characters, my only concern would be that they themselves say that they dont’ want to spend on redundant areas, meaning a new racial area might be less likely. maybe. also the amount of artwork for a 6th race, when they’re already designing armour etc for 5 races, and the amount of work put into 5 solid racial areas already might mean they won’t feel pressured to take on the goal of a new race.

  11. You’re talking a lot about “high level content” while Anet stated that : “Our endgame starts at level 1” in this interview : . I don’t think that the whole game will be as fun to play whatever level you are and that the begenning place won’t just be a “must get out” thing

    • what i mean by high level content is that the original guild wars had a level cap of 20, and the vast majority of content was aimed at level 20. I know you can go back and do the leveling areas but in gw2 your power cap is around level 20 as well, so the vast majority of content will again be aimed at “high level content”.

  12. I always thought that they might first release a content patch dealing with Jormag, then have players take care of Kralkatorrik and the DSD on the way to Elonan and Canthan expansions, respectively, and wrap it up with another patch for Primordius.

    As far as races go, I’m pretty sure they’ve said that the “Dominion of Winds” off the coast of Kryta has a significant Tengu presence and won’t be accessible upon launch. Centaurs seem like they would be too much to deal with hitbox-wise.

    • I figure the elonan expansion will deal with kralkatorrik since they’ve noted he went south into the crystals desert that borders elona. and i figure cantha may deal with the dsd since we have to cross the ocean to get there and they’re being quite tight lipped about it. So instead of just content patches, i figure the expansions revolve around the dragons.

      Yeah I suppose they could add tengu by making the dominion of wind a tutorial area, and I wouldn’t rule out centaurs on that basis alone, but you make a good point.

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