Atlas Shrugged

February 27, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 2 Comments
Tags: , ,


The new Guild Wars 2 Atlas is a beautiful and finely made example of a modern website. It capitalizes on the popularity, functionality, and usefulness of Google Maps. And while I feel it is well made, one thing I find it doesn’t do is what it’s supposed to do.

The Atlas is supposed to be a resource for recapping the storyline.

Through the “Living World Atlas,” users explore this storyline as it unfolded in the game through videos, art, screenshots, audio clips and other content.

But for the most part, it doesn’t do that. There are a number of flaws I’ll touch on briefly to illustrate why.

– No information. Only the most basic details are given. Descriptions beneath concept art and screenshots consist of a singular sentence to describe what they’re showing.
– No context. Why is this location important or notable?
– No relevance. Some locations do not correlate with their dot.
– Chronology. There is little to no indication of time.

So how do we make the Atlas something people might actually want to spend time on?

I’d start with the obvious, like features that Google Maps uses. Where google maps uses roads to draw a line from point A to point B, I’d use a timeline that is colour coded by release and draw that line between relevant dots. The Tyrian calendar, real world dates, or just release titles would be great.

I’d also add much more detail. The specific people involved, why they were there, why the location is important. The point of a website meant to recap living story is to recap the living story so lets make sure to recap the living story on the living story recap website.

I think I’d also be much more thorough, there seem to be just a few sections in the library for the past few updates and then one big section for every release before Edge of the Mists. I think there should be a section for each release. It doesn’t have to be large, just a few screenshots with detailed descriptions of why they’re important. I’m not asking for every pesky detail like Scarlet having a rocket powered yak drawing in her lair, but the fact that we found her lair and got much loots? Sure.

Some updates are entirely left out. No Halloween, Wintersday, Super Adventure Box? They had storylines, why do they not get any mention? I’d love a way to remember which Halloween had what events at some point in the distant future.

Altogether I’m not a big fan of the Atlas. I’d much more like for there to be some form of in game implementation for this kind of thing. A menu option alike to Personal Story, book items we can read short stories in instead of at, longer NPC dialogue trees. All of that is superior to some out of game resource (excepting the wiki, all hail the glorious wiki) that takes me outside the game.

And I know it’s not quite the same thing but how about some work put into features like a web-based guild chat or other cool apps that may or may not have been mentioned in the distant past.

Maybe some people like this thing, I don’t know. I like that they released a screen shot this way, and I understand why they stopped doing the upcoming release pages (to drive traffic to MMO fan sites and recapture a little publicity from those places) but for me this thing doesn’t fly. Not everything has to be for me though.

Honestly I got more enjoyment out of this poster Arenanet put on their Flickr page.



  1. I’d rather a timeline type thing, like maybe on Fb? Don’t care though cause I lived it, I don’t need to read it(isn’t that what gw2 is about). Also at least include all the in game cinematics for Pete’s sake. Does it even link to the wiki ?! Not impressed, hope this wasn’t one of their “big” projects.

    • I don’t think I need every single thing, but a basic guideline is absolutely necessary for this type of thing.

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