Guild Wars 2 – Completionist Hearts

I saw them days, possibly a week or more, before I knew what they were.  From the Guild Wars 2 gamescom videos almost every one showed the player hitting the map.  The world would zoom out and re-orient from the character in a somewhat artistic way, and I saw heart outlines on the map.

I actually allowed the puzzle of their presence a few cycles of the old brain when an NPC was circling the hearts and at the same time telling me there were farmers about each heart that needed help.  Event hubs! I first thought.  Wait, hearts as the icon for event hubs don’t make sense was the second thought.  Then because I didn’t like the look of hearts on the nice map, I conveniently forgot about them while I was inundated with plenty of other Guild Wars 2 information.

My first big worry when hearing about the dynamic events system was that there was no place for the completionist.  The events were too dynamic for that.  Some events were built on players losing prior events.  Some events might only occur under narrow conditions such as event A and event B occurring at the same time to create event C.  Some events were easter eggs, based on time of day, or caused by an undead butterfly sneezing in Orr.  Time would be wasted to the point where it just wouldn’t be fun to do an event for the fifth time while yelling at players to get them to not fight the marauding centaurs.  No one wants to be that guy.

Coupled with the branching personal story system where players begin shaping their story at character creation.  For example, the humans choose from being a noble, a commoner, or a street rat, and that choice has a large effect on the immediate story.  That’s just one race out of five! ArenaNet also frequently foreshadows that players will be faced with even tougher choices like saving either an orphanage or a hospital.  With all this in Guild Wars 2, I feared I would have to kill the little completionist in me in a very cliche kōan manner.

I watched the excellent Dynamic Events presentation that ArenaNet developers Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson gave at GDC Europe.  (If you like hearing about the nuts and bolts of developer decisions especially regarding shaping a player’s experience, then this presentation is definitely worth your time.)  Anyway, the two developers brought up the hearts on the map that I had discarded from thought.

They said that the hearts on the map were basically for the completionists suffering under these virtually uncompletable systems.  It was true that doing all the events in the area would be an incredible task, but by doing some events and tasks in the area, a player’s heart for that event hub would begin to be filled.  Basically, the filled heart meter would let a completionist know “you done good; time to move on.”  It was at least something to complete.

I am a completionist because the games I play are usually finely crafted, and I like exploring all the nooks and crannies of the work.  Accompanied with the fact that I am a lore fanatic, I want to see all that the devs have to offer.  I expect that once I, and many others, start playing Guild Wars 2 I will have to change my outlook.  I will have to decide when it is time to leave an area mostly behind and head off towards the unknown instead of sauntering off once the quest icons have been depleted.  I am grateful that ArenaNet threw us completionists a little helping hand.  Maybe, though, they should reconsider the icon… at least for us charr players.

–Ravious
serious injury book is a red book

16 thoughts on “Guild Wars 2 – Completionist Hearts”

  1. Charr’ed Hearts / Growl

    Make them “The RED and the BLACK (it’s their color scheme)”

    PS: Points for who can get THAT reference (I think you gotta be old…)

  2. A heart is not so much different from a ! then. Quest or Event, does not make much of a difference.

    Do you really need a filled heart to tell you to move on? If you really missed something, you could always return after you heard of certain events in this or that area. As you said, the filled heart only means you completed a lot, but not necessarily all events in an area.

    I know the completionist attitude mostly from single player RPGs myself, but for a MMO this is rather poison. You basically just asked for an achievements-to-do-list or a quest-list. Things I actually want to leave behind in favor of a virtual world instead of an achievement and quest-driven theme park.

    1. In a way, yes a heart is similar to a !. It is a piece of the old to bridge to the new.

      Still the ! has strong purpose in getting a player to an area, and getting a player to complete a task. A heart utilizes this strong purpose, but leaves the crux of the event system intact…playing with others over a common goal instead of sharding populations over individual’s quests.

    2. I think you fail to grasp why events are revolutionary. It’s not because there is no ! icon. It’s because you always have the same objectives as the people playing around you. You don’t have to ask “what quest are you on”? You visually see some sh** being torn down and you both go over to help.

  3. I was thinking that the hearts only show up if you talk to the scouts, so I’m hoping they can be ignored. The other thing I’m not certain about, but the hearts seem or said to be filled (just?) by doing optional tasks, feed cattle, water crops, and their purpose is to lead players to where events may occur, such as bandits attacking the farm. In the GDC talk, they mention how much more quickly players adapt to the event system with the inclusion of the scout system, training wheels so to speak, and probably once players adapt the scouts can be ignored?

    1. Good points! And, argh I forgot it was called the scout system. Could’ve changed the whole theme of the post. Oh well… it’s been one of those days.

      1. It’s a very traditional mechanic, maybe a bit too easy to fall back on completionist tendencies. Would like to think that I could be happy to explore and turn off all such notification, which has to be a conscious decision like you said. I understand why it’s in, but if it’s still around by mid-levels (there were scouts in the charr demo) could be hard for a lot of people to wean themselves off of it. So it might be better to start the game with the clear intention of not using it and see how long that lasts.:)

    2. That’s a good question whether the Scout/heart icons can be ignored. You bring up a point whether hearts are only meant to direct players to events (thus promoting that cooperation that ArenaNet is seeking) or whether they are filled out by completing events.

      Either way I think they are different from the typical quest exclamation point because going to place marked by a heart, you’ll never know what you’ll find. It might be a burning farmhouse overrun by bandits, it might be a happy farm with cows that need to be fed.

      I thought I read another article that described the tasks of feeding cattle and helping the farmer in non-combat ways as the events that are occuring when the bandits have been driven off.

      I’m not sure if this was accurate but one can’t expect the farmer to be constantly attacked by the bandits. ArenaNet may be offering events that are not always based on combat or fighting, but rather just helping people in need. A hero isn’t just about killing things, but also aiding others.

      Though perhaps if you hang around long enough the bandits would attack again, but if someone doesn’t want to wait they can just help the farmer, complete their heart and move on?

  4. Love the idea myself. Filling in a symbol to show how much of a quest areas quests you’ve complete – very cool idea. I can see Blizzard ripping off the idea way before GW2 launches.

  5. Sounds a little like Faction Rep, based around something akin to the Citizen missions in Champions Online.

  6. I agree with Longasc, that completionism is poison for a game that is supposed to encourage teamplay (MMO).
    The scout system sounds too itemized. I understand they want to create system that acts like a guide but often times it turns into a checklist to achievement because it’s that easy to use it as such.

    I think more NPC involvement (conversations) would be a better way to guide players to different areas. Have a NPC come up to you and mention watering the garden, feed the cattle or have him say enough already move on to the next town.

  7. Like others said here already. Some people (and haters) will claim that the <3 is the same as a ! and just another way to implement a questlog.

    The thing they fail to see though is that Events aren't special because they don't have a ! icon, but because of the way you do them or don't do them, the way you get involved to them instead of "clicking accept", the way you get stimulated to play with other people (instead of asking on what quest step they are or fighting for spawns), the way the rewards work, the way the world changes around you depending on the outcome and by much other ways…

    The way Dynamic Events are implemented in GW2 is really changing alot. It's not just an expanded version of WAR Public Quests, it's not just a Quest with a little juice to it… it's big and it changes the way you play and enjoy MMO's.

    I played GW2 for +2 hours at GamesCom across 3 days. I'm sold, totally. And that was just an introduction.

    The thing I loved most is how I spontanious grouped (cluttered around) with people from the one event to the next. We didn't knew what would happen, we didn't knew where our adventure would take us to, we didn't knew each other at all but started to take care of each other… we adventured together, more then I ever experienced in a formed group of any other MMO, and we weren't even in a group!!!

    PS: This is also why a DEDICATED HEALER would never work in GW2 (or any other MMO that is actually). You need with this new system some form of self heal so you can take care of your own healthbar. That’s simple to explain… you don’t have to group up in a fixed group so there are no healt bar UI of your group members on your screen. You just can’t be a healbot watching bar’s go up and down all the time. This is why in other MMO’s grouping fails so hard in an open world….

    Example: Max group size is 6, but then you adventure into an area with 8 people. 1 Dedicated healer available. Then you have a group of 6 running around, sharing their loot with their healer. And 2 guys who have no healer and are totally screwed over. They can’t help the other group, they can’t get loot drop or much EXP, and the 6man group will be annoyed the other 2 are around… Griefing is bound to happen.

    MMO’s fail hard. GW2 is the cure!

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