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.
serious injury book is a red book