This morning ArenaNet dropped a nice article expanding on the mobile app for Guild Wars 2. In conjunction with a brief interview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, we finally get some screenshots of this app-in-production. News of the app has been known since the Curse announcement over PAX Prime, and there are some other really good interviews about the feature. I think some of the apps are going to be pretty cool, but I am dubious as to how much of the Guild Wars 2 experience they will carry to the small screen. (ArenaNet says that there will be similar functionality for web users, instead of app users.)
The primary purpose of the Extended Experience is to remain connected both to the game and to friends when the actual game cannot be played. ArenaNet says that they will have a “Marketplace” and “Hero Viewer” functionality for mobile apps, but that they do not really consider that an Extended Experience. In the article, Rick Ellis (Tech Director) says:
While we’ll be providing mobile and web apps for our Marketplace and Hero Viewer, along with functionality you’ve already seen in other MMOs, these are not what we refer to as extended experience components. Why, you ask? These applications, while useful, don’t really allow players to participate in the game world. The auction functionality of the Marketplace gets close, but it’s essentially a solo activity that has little to do with the actual gameplay experience.
The solidly announced Extended Experience features surround mostly chat capabilities and a map view of the game in action. The map view allows a voyeuristic viewpoint of the activities of some of the guildies. I imagine that guildies can shroud themselves in game from prying eyes should they choose.
This is where I get a little confused. For me a Marketplace (i.e., Auction House), albeit a solo activity, is a piece of gameplay that impacts the game world. Skill queues from EVE Online and crafting queues from Fallen Earth represent a solid piece of gameplay. Chatting and watching a map do not seem to be much greater for an “actual gameplay experience.” How do they impact the game world? How will they impact me when I log on later?
Don’t get me wrong. I love that we will get information. Information about the guild, information about current events, extensive item information, and information about the players throughout the day will be fun, but I think I will get the reminder that I am not playing. I am not experiencing Guild Wars 2. I am merely watching, and I don’t play MMOs to watch.
There is a bright point, and I hope the Extended Experience team focuses on capabilities like this. An app user can “ping” a location to guildies on the map. In other words, the app user can act as some sort of commander to marshal guild forces. If they allow this capability in World vs. World, the app might become necessary. This is the impact, the “extended experience,” that I feel represents the goal of ArenaNet.
Looking ahead, I would like something like Wizard 101’s app that lets me accumulate stuff when I can’t play Guild Wars 2. Getting stuff is one of the absolute cores to MMO gameplay. I would also love a monster viewer. Yes, this is more an information thing than an “extended experience” thing, but the monster models are beautiful and should be open for examination outside of the quick combat in game. Heck, combine the two and turn the monster viewer into some sort of collection game. Watch a friend kill a monster, and add it to your app’s monster book. From this interview overview it seems like they have a lot of ideas in mind.
I do have one warning bell. The app sounds like an awesome source of information. Information that would be highly useful when I was actually playing Guild Wars 2. Hopefully there won’t be any glaring differences in in-game information and app information. It would be pretty silly if the app (and similar functionality on the web) allowed for extensive item information, and that capability was not available in game. In other words, I hope the full experience does not include me playing Guild Wars 2 on one monitor, one app on my iPad, and the web functionality on a second monitor.
Last I heard, some apps will be available prior to Guild Wars 2’s launch, and they are looking at Guild Wars functionality as well. I will be watching the development of this service with great interest.
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