[GW2] Stories That Should Be Told

There are interesting views about stories stemming from open world PvE in Guild Wars 2. Tobold disavows using “themepark” to prefer the slightly broader rendition of the term “guided gameplay”. Guild Wars 2 is guided gameplay, but I’ve always felt it edge much closer to a “sandbox” form because it always wasn’t clear what I would get in each play session. I liken Guild Wars 2 with events and very cooperative multiplayer PvE to more of a zoo. Never know what the animals are going to do.

Jeromai has a Spink-stamped Quote of the Day regarding the stories that stem from Guild Wars 2. Spinks notes that Jeromai’s anecdotes might be more interesting than a lot of sandbox stories. That’s the thing. The best sandbox stories, sometimes spanning month’s of work and play, are among the best MMO stories, but they gloss over those hours and hours of scanning, waiting, or running “guided” content to pass the time.

Jeromai’s post got me to thinking. I had tons of stories and moments. I just wasn’t giving them the credit they were due, even in my mind. I wasn’t just completing some quest. Things were moving around the periphery. Sure, sometimes I did an event solo, sometimes the event went as planned, but sometimes there was no event but my momentary play switched based on the actions of another player. Those are not to be discounted.

I stood at the Vizier’s Tower having advanced from the east side amidst the relative safety of Pact-controlled lands. There was something upwards towards the shattered sky. A member of my guild, an asura I had not noticed before, was slamming himself against a cliffside wall trying with stunted arms to futilely grasp upwards. I decided he might have a point and jumped against the vertical barrier seeking any nook or cranny to stand upon. We met again having both realized that a broken expanse of rock, carved stone, and corrupted coral gave causeway to the Tower from the western side. He and I reunited with each jump, although I admit my nimble sylvari legs won the day over his tottering. I was glad to have his momentary companionship at the top where a wicked wizard lay in wait for any delver of hidden lore.

I was overwhelmed. Cautiously I had revived a few Pact members with risen standing away from wreckage. The risen had been stayed by the belief that none had survived the dragon’s attack and fall from the sky. Now the hearty band were attempting to repair the craft, and the risen came as if called to life and evil action. One by one the companions I had just revived fell under waves of risen. I ran because I felt all hope was lost. As I ran a charr warrior and a human thief ran against me. They smashed into my pursuers, and I turned to watch as I searched myself for the will to rejoin the battle. We would send the Pact skyward again.

A giant was roaming the southern expanse. I was trying to push forward so that we could remove the Elder Dragon’s conduit of power through the Statue of Balthazar, but the giant was putting pressure on the supply and reinforcement lines. We scurried like mice through the razor spires trying to avoid his gaze. I stopped with a ranger to look down at the champion. We nodded at each other in sorrow because we would not be enough to take the risen monster. I hoped, moving ever westward, that some heroes behind me would be able to win where I could not.

There are so many more coming from random events in dungeons (a troll explodes out of nowhere mid-battle) or even group makeup. Of course WvW is chock-full of stories, but that’s more “sandbox”-y content anyway. It’s easy to miss that stories are happening all the time.


11 thoughts on “[GW2] Stories That Should Be Told”

  1. What ever happened to talking about games (gw2 in particular) as “playground” in between “theme park” and “sandbox”? Didn’t you guys coin that in the first place? Feels like you’re going backwards in your analysis, heh.

    1. I’ve never used “playground”. I’ve used “zoo”. I don’t really see how “playground” would be different from “themepark”. You stand in line to ride a ride.

    2. I always use playground. In a themepark you queue for the next ride. On a playground, there is always something going on. You enter the playground and some children are sitting in a sandbox, build castles, 4 are playing hide and seek and another group is making teams for a football game. But that is not all, you have 1 child wandering around aimlessly, another one trying to escape the walls through a pipe, 2 boys poking a dead animal, another boy scaring a girl with a spider and a kid chasing birds.

      And you can just join any of those groups. And if the cool kids don’t let you join their uber team, just make your own team of unpopular kids. And if it’s starts to bore you, just wander off, join someone else or find your own dead animal to poke.

      1. @moondog548 and @musik:

        This feels like semantics. I can just as easily say at a themepark I go watch a show, shop, eat, build crafts, interact with larps, etc. The gist of either playground or themepark is you interact with mostly set (static) content.

        I like zoo because it’s mostly developer-controlled, but it contains some noticeable element of change/fluidity.

        1. Actually, having thought about this a lot more… I’m going to retract that. Zoo only makes sense to combat “themepark”, but playground with toys and rides seems a better allegory. I’m going to run with that from now on.

          Playground stories, indeed.

          1. And I retract my ditsy first comment being first instead of “Yes, very sage as always, btw didn’t someone say ‘playground’ sometime?” :p

            Good stuff getting to the heart of the game and what it means to the players as usual, Ravbro.

          2. Yeah, that was what I was going for. Of course you can spin the theme park allegory in the same direction you spin the playground allegory. The idea I had is that a theme park has attractions (scripted dungeons and quests that you are supposed to do) and the playground has children playing games with rules that you can or can not join (events), but also kids creating their own fun (exploring)

            Of course you are also supposed to do stuff in GW2 to get rewarded, but it feels much more up to the player if he does it and especially when he does it. It is far less linear.

            Maybe I should start refering to the typical theme park to an Ikea store and to GW2 as a flea market. Am I going to far? Feel free to stop me anytime now…

  2. I agree with this post, it is too easy to keep oneself distant from the game and constantly analyse it looking for faults – many bloggers have a very cynical view to new games.

    I can see the faults in GW2 but I don’t care one bit. Last night playing in duo we were exploring and got into a Garradan Fields event following children (which I was immediately adverse to doing). The event finished pretty quickly as a small group of 5 or 6 had now assembled.

    Then just as the group starts dispersing a nasty giant crocodile thingy spawned and proceeded to down two of the players in one attack. My fellow asura was down shortly after and then I went into overdrive kite-tanking the beast desperately while the remaining standing player ran around res’ing and dealing with trash. We rallied and took the beast down though with several more casualties along the way (almost my own character twice, illusions ftw!). It was an *epic* battle, we’re only level 30 and I cannot wait to see what else this game has in store!

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