A Revolutionary Step?

There is a lot of discussion when a new MMO pops in on whether its advancements to our beloved genre are iterant evolutionary steps or something revolutionary.  World of Warcraft was often seen as the perfect evolutionary game coming off of the Everquest-type MMO.  I think there was one revolutionary step that World of Warcraft had that is often overlooked: quests.

Lots of RPGs and MMOs had quests, but World of Warcraft took the concept and ran with it.  It changed the MMO landscape forever.  No longer were people supposed to go grind and putz around in the zone made for their level.  They now had a keen purpose.  The quest-based MMO design demarcated a term called grind.  If a player had to go out and kill ten rats to gain a level it was grind.  If an NPC rewarded a player with quest text and a quest reward for killing ten rats, it was not.  Could the MMO genre imagine a PvE-MMO with purpose that was not saturated with quests in every zone? Continue reading A Revolutionary Step?

Guild Wars 2 Trailer and Site!

This early morning (or lunchtime in Germany), ArenaNet finally opened the gates to their much anticipated sequel to the original Guild Wars.  The Guild Wars 2 website has gone live with the trailer available for download or streaming.

The trailer is done in a 2.5D paper-doll fashion (which is why the ship in the first few seconds looks off), and it tells the story of a dragon named Zhaitan raising the sunken nation of Orr.  It’s undead armies then waged war on the five main races of Tyria, which just happen to be the playable races.  The trailer then goes on to show some of the vistas in-game.  It is beautiful, and will likely even give Aion Online a run for the money in best-looking MMO once Guild Wars 2 launches.

I find it interesting that the trailer and website focus on Zhaitan, whose name was not known before today.  Eye of the North focused on the elder dragon Primordus, but the first conflict we are told about is with Zhaitan.  I wonder if Guild Wars 2 will be episodic in that each battle with another elder dragon will bring on a new expansion of content.  Too early to tell.

A few more quickies from the flood of information.  Aside from Asuran “magitech,” the weapon technology of the world seems to be at a rudimentary firearms stage.  There will be day and night cycles in the persistent zones.  There will be instancing, but the hub system of Guild Wars 1 is mostly going to be replaced, which is very interesting.  Hopefully they still keep the same level of map travel as in the original.  The event system is the main focus of getting people working together.

The opening bomb has dropped in great style, and we will be getting lore updates for the rest of the year.  Gameplay discussion will begin next year according to the Guild Wars 2 FAQ. 

twice as bright burns half as long

Stuck on the Train

It seems that most cool things happen on the internet, when I am disconnected from it.  Yesterday, three things rocked Guild Wars’ small corner of the internet, most of which happened while I was on the train home.

The first was the USK’s certification of a Guild Wars 2 (gamescom – Trailer).  ArenaNet will have a good presence at the convention (Jeff Grubb would be my personal target to stalk), but they will not have a booth.  The certification has since publicly been taken down.  Although I would love to see any Guild Wars 2 trailer sooner, PAX would be a much better convention to present it because ArenaNet will have a booth and very strong presence there.  I am excited about the possibility of a CG trailer because the Guild Wars Factions trailer is one of my all time favorite video game trailers.

Then Jeff Strain, one of ArenaNet’s co-founders, amicablyleft NCSoft as President of Product Development.  The public is not really sure as to the reasons of the departure only about a month before the NA/EU launch of Aion Online.  Strain is an MMO giant, and I hope one day to be able to chat with him.  Hopefully someday, somehow he will be back in our little niche market.  Regardless, Mike O’Brien, one of the other ArenaNet co-founders and current executive producer of Guild Wars 2, has the best thoughts, especially with regard to Guild Wars 2:

Jeff is a personal friend of mine. We worked together very closely from the time he joined Blizzard in 1996, through our founding of ArenaNet in 2000, until he left ArenaNet to join NCsoft West in 2008. I’m sad to see him leaving NCsoft now. We remain good friends and I wish him great success in his next endeavor.

It’s important to understand that ArenaNet is a separate and self-contained development studio. Jeff hasn’t been involved in the day-to-day development of Guild Wars 2since he left ArenaNet more than a year ago, and I don’t expect his departure to have a direct impact on our studio or on Guild Wars 2. I continue to lead ArenaNet, and I’m not going anywhere.

The final bit of news is the application process for the Guild Wars Test Krewe is now almost open.  The application went up and down most of last night because there were backend issues that prevented actual submission of the application.  It seems like it is currently down, but should be re-opened sometime in the west coast morning.  The application asks for beta experience, age of your favorite Guild Wars character, and a very open-ended “what would you bring to the Test Krewe.”  If you want to help Guild Wars Live Team development, with a possible jump to get into Guild Wars 2 testing, check it out.  I highly recommend reading this wisdom before submitting an application.

I finally logged off last night, and XKCD, as usual, knew exactly how I felt.

sleep tight in your cot

Defensive Patch Notes

For the minority of players that read the patch notes, there is an even smaller minority.  Let’s call them nicely the Caretakers.  The Caretakers are players that love the game to a degree that emphasizes the definition of a love/hate relationship.  They read the patch notes for your favorite MMO, and whereas more casual players just nod that things are getting better, the Caretakers see holes.

The bear skill is still overpowered.  Those fire wizards are still overpowered.  The combo-class is still weak and still not wanted in parties.  The Cap of Pulcritude (sic) is still (sic).  And, what are all these needless things that the developers wasted their time on.  Who gives a rodent turd about the stuff they actually did?  Except for that one thing, that was pretty good.  A light salve for the godhanded slap in the Caretakers’ faces.

The Caretakers then unite in their public council for all casual forumgoers to see, and they pontificate on how the developers clearly do not understand the problems in their own game.  Which makes me wonder… Should developers put some defensive, non-patch notes in their patch notes?  I don’t just mean the “we understand the issues with [a most reviled feature], and are looking in to it” (which rarely makes it into the patch notes anyway).  I mean something that a game designer would query another game designer on.

At the end of the day the Caretakers truly care about the game.  Sane community managers and developers know this.  Caretakers are also some of the most expert of people on the game.  They know the game better than many of the developers.  Sane community managers and developers also know this.  So could the Caretakers be used manipulatively as an unknowing think tank? Continue reading Defensive Patch Notes

Guild Wars 2 Dust Bunnies

Apart from the usual forum bickering, there has been some pretty decent detective work regarding Guild Wars 2 the past week or so.  I would like to share.

First, 4thVariety disclosed that he or she keeps notes on trademark licensing and domain registration that ArenaNet has done.  4thVariety does this by comparing the attorney NCSoft uses for ArenaNet work and other work.  Some very interesting tidbits ensue.  On April 11, 2007, BlightedEmpires.com was registered by Peter J. Wilsey, who registered other ArenaNet websites.  Guild Wars 2 was announced only two weeks earlier.  On March 12, 2009, the domain name was refreshed.  Could this possibly be the subtitle for Guild Wars 2 – a game where dragons awoke and destroyed nations? (UPDATE: This trademark has gone abandoned.)

The second interesting thing was found from voice actors’ resumes.  It seems that many voice actors are including Guild Wars 2 as work they have done.  Voice acting requires content and story (especially for “two major characters”).  Content and story are one of the final legs of development.  Concordantly… the dawn might be breaking soon.  For a poor benchmark, Warhammer Online released a video podcast on adding voice acting in March, 2008.  Warhammer Online was released September, 2008.  On the other hand, The Old Republic has started voice acting for their fully voice acted epic, which may be as far off as November 2010, or farther.

Regardless, we are going to get news later this year, possibly at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) on ArenaNet’s back doorstep, or likely after Aion’s launch dust settles.

irrevocably human

Interview with Guild Wars Guru’s Inde

For many MMO fans, a large part of the hobby comes from communication outside of the actual game. Fansites and their forums are one of the best places to get the latest news, interact with devs, and discuss the game down to its base mechanics. Inde is the site administrator of Guild Wars Guru, which has one of the most active Guild Wars forums. She, along with a cadre of other moderators, keeps the site and community in good condition. Inde agreed to let me ask her a few questions on running an MMO fansite with an active community.

Continue reading Interview with Guild Wars Guru’s Inde

Guild Wars Book Titles

Time for a lore lesson.  Guild Wars 2 occurs 250 years beyond the happenings in Guild Wars 1.  In between this time, a lot will undoubtedly happen in Tyria (and beyond).  I would guess that we will learn a lot of the changes in-game.  ArenaNet likes to leave a lot of crumbs so lore-happy fans can piece together things like civilizations, cultures, metaphysics, history, etc.  They are also releasing three novels via a deal with Pocket Books that will give vignettes of the changes that occurred across a quarter millennium. Continue reading Guild Wars Book Titles

Facebook ArenaNet

ArenaNet’s Community Managers have been very busy as of late (well always, but this is business we can see).  Their two big pushes this late Spring have been with the alternative gaming communities: Twitter and Facebook.  ArenaNet has had accounts there for quite some time, but the push has been trying to make them very active.  The Community Managers are hoping for 1000 fans on Facebook (as of writing this it is at 894). Continue reading Facebook ArenaNet

Guild Wars 2 Concept Art!

The floodgates are starting to leak, but only in the most unusual way.  It seems that Kekai Kotaki, the Guild Wars 2 Concept Art Lead, and Daniel Dociu, Art Director, were allowed to use some of the concept art he produced for Guild Wars 2 to advance ArenaNet’s and the artist’s standing in the art world. Not that said artists need said boost… like at all.  Regina Buenaobra was kind enough, in her teasing, to confirm that this one was indeed Guild Wars 2 concept art.  The two pictures (plus bonus) after the break: Continue reading Guild Wars 2 Concept Art!