“It’s like a teenager figuring out who they are.”
“Yeah, but that’s every [MMO] their freshman year.”
-Chris and Celeste, Guild Wars Reporter Episode 70
A month from now Guild Wars 2 will be one year old. I’m sure I, and everybody else, will have memoirs of journeys, troubles, and a look back when that time comes. For another month, though, we’re still in the freshman year. Except, it would be like if the freshman’s big sister went to high school in a conventional way, and then the freshman (and school) changed everything. There is no convention to follow. ArenaNet is trail blazing the entire way, good or bad, for the rest of the industry to follow (or not), and for a cohesive story in the Living World, it’s been a rocky path.
In the fantastic GW2Hub interview with Bobby Stein, Stein remarks that they don’t yet have a mechanism to log what’s past and what’s to come for the Living World story. It’s slated to come later this year. ArenaNet understands that it’s hard for an average player to make sense of it all with the two-week increments. I agree that the road the past couple months has been jarring. Conventionally, MMO players are used to festivals as being… breakaways. For Guild Wars 2 (post Flame & Frost) it feels like each month is a new breakaway.
I think Stein understands this. It’s one thing for a player to understand that while the Bazaar of the Four Winds is a breakaway there are connections to the Lion’s Arch happenings as well as the Aetherblades. It’s quite another for a player to see where they are heading, and I can’t imagine any Guild Wars 2 player understanding where they are heading. For example, next week is the Queen’s Jubilee in Divinity’s Reach, which right now feels like another breakaway (although it seems like Rox and Braham are present in the header). I guess Aetherblades could also swoop in from the sky at any time to crash that party too.
I am even more troubled with Syp’s recent post about having a “dead interest” in the Living Story. He writes the troubles in another way:
I’m feeling both overwhelmed and underwhelmed with the living story lately. I’m overwhelmed that it’s rolling in every couple of weeks now, making me feel as though I’m perpetually behind the curve and trying to catch up with whatever needs to be done. I’m underwhelmed because I still don’t get how this scattershot activity setup is supposed to be spinning a great yarn.
It always happens on vacation. I’m riding through southern France on a small winery tour bus. I see beautiful vineyards, Roman ruins, and farms, and I am soaking it all in. After about an hour, as much as I am enjoying the ride, I still want to know where I am going and when I will get there. I am getting a little hot, and I would definitely like to be drinking more wine. Kids usually have a much shorter duration of “along for the ride”-enjoyment. Are we there yet? (repeated ad nauseum)
More importantly, in Guild Wars 2 where are we going?
I don’t mean the whole of the game. ArenaNet recently posted a pretty comprehensive feature list for plans the rest of the year. There is a lot to look forward to in that regard. Already with the Queen’s Jubilee players will be getting a currency wallet, new rewards for dungeons, champion loot updates, daily mini-game rotations, and a much-asked for effects detail system. PvP is getting more WvW ability lines, a solo queue, and permanent finishers. Features are not the issue here. ArenaNet is winning heavily on that front. The issue is with the story and story locations.
In the Stein interview, he mentions that ArenaNet is currently finalizing their plans for the rest of this year, and starting to make decisions on the direction of next year’s story and character arcs. What I want is an actual campaign that we would get in an expansion. Breakaways are fine, but as slow as it was I liked the direction of Flame & Frost immensely more than the current world tour. I want the four Living World teams to feel like they are coming together creating a semester of inter-linked content rather than four vignettes. And, honestly, I want things less clever. Nobody wanted “Dragon of the month”, but right now my characters are playboy, murder hobos heading off to the next festival to kill whatever needs killing.
Unlike Syp, I am still having a blast on all eight with Guild Wars 2. Next Tuesday I know my wife and I are going to be staying up late with the guild because there will be an energy flowing through the game that I cannot currently find anywhere else. There will be new things to explore, new mechanics to learn, and new achievements to chase. I will be looking out that tour bus window in awe. However, I am fairly certain after a couple days when the buzz from the Abbey’s wine is wearing off, I’ll turn to the other passenger who will be asking me… “Where are we going?”