The Impact of Story Pt. 1 - Guild Wars 2 Gets Personal

When ArenaNet, developers of upcoming Guild Wars 2, revealed details on the game's dy

When
ArenaNet, developers of upcoming href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2">Guild
Wars 2
,
revealed details on
the game's href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/84465">dynamic
events system it certainly got a
lot of
people talking. Much more than a simple iterative pass on href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/war">Warhammer
Online
's
public quests, dynamic events in GW2 are expected to
add a layer of depth and immersion to a degree rarely seen in an MMOG
up to this
point. Achieving this will be no small feat when you consider that most
titles in
the genre typically adhere to static world design to specifically
account for the
massively factor of online gameplay.

Yet, for all the inventive
thinking that's gone into dynamic
events, one question that's arisen is: won't
individual characters simply get lost in the shuffle and lose a sense
of place or importance in world events? A core component in the highly
successful Guild Wars
campaigns and one that's kept players
hooked for over 5 years now, is that your characters embark on a true
hero's journeys which span entire continents and ultimately
pit your skill and knowledge against some of the biggest threats the
world of Tyria has ever seen.

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If you find yourself in this
camp then fear not young Tyrian, as the
most recent details for Guild
Wars 2
shed plenty of insights
into the
importance of personal story and how it will factor into the game.

Guild
Wars 2
Lore &
Continuity Designer Ree Soesbee starts off
his href="http://www.guildwars2.com/en/the-game/personal-stories/personal-story-overview/">Personal
Story Overview at the official
site for the game by
addressing that exact concern:

One of the challenges
of a massively-multiplayer game is that in being
inclusive to a vast number of people, it loses a lot of the personal
interaction that makes single-player RPGs so much fun. When you're
looking at the games on the store shelf, it seems you have only two
options - a game that you can play with your friends, or a game that
has a satisfying personal story. The Guild
Wars 2 design team believes
that a game should have both.


Ree goes on to explain how
these two elements intertwine to create a
virtual world which itself has a deeply engrossing story for players to
unfold as they progress, yet also provides ample opportunity to shape
the much more personal story of your characters along the way. In this
first of a two part look at the impact of story in GW2, we'll
dive right into the latest details on how ArenaNet intends to give
players plenty of tools to weave a highly individual storyline within
the overarching tale of the Elder Dragons.

Players will assume an active
role in creating these personal stories
as early as character creation. Once the MMOG staples of selecting your
gender, profession and race have been completed, Guild
Wars 2
will take
things a step further by providing a series of questions designed to
develop a character's personality.

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While obviously a different
take on the core concept, Vampire
the
Masquerade: Bloodlines
springs
instantly to mind here. In that game,
players were given the option between manually selecting their clan and
starting stats or answering a series of questions. If you opted for the
latter, the game would create a character based solely on your
responses. That approach to character creation struck a chord with many
gamers, myself included, and always seemed to be an excellent way of
establishing a deep personal connection with your character from the
word go.

In Guild
Wars 2
, players will be able to
help shape their characters
"Biography" in much the same way. The net result of
these core decisions - gender, profession, race and biography
- will very likely add a high degree of replayability since
each character you create can start out on a wholly separate path
should you so choose. To help illustrate how this will work in the live
game, Ree provides some interesting insights as to how your choice of
race will influence which specific questions will be asked to help
define your personal biography:

An asura will be asked
what college they attended (Synergetics,
Dynamics or Statics), while a human will be asked to define their
social background (Gentry, Commoner, or Streets). Other questions might
establish that your character has sympathy for a particular lesser
race. A charr would have little opportunity to meet the peace-loving
quaggan, as quaggan are sea-creatures and Ascalon has no coastal
territory. So, while the game may have stories that focus on the
quaggan, skritt, ogres, hylek, and grawl, a charr character chooses
between grawl, skritt and ogres. A sylvari character, coming from the
coastal Maguuma jungle, instead chooses between hylek, skritt and
quaggan. In this way, we've made certain choices distinct to each race.


One of the more compelling
extensions of this system is that characters
will be given a "home instance" which not only
reflects the decisions you've made about your
character's background, but will also dynamically change over
time. ArenaNet has implemented highly effective versions of a similar
design concept previously of course: Nightfall's
Sunspear
Command Post and Eye of the
North
's Hall of Monuments
instantly spring to mind here. Only this time around, rather than a
static list of trophies and NPCs for players to collect, these home
instances will be a much more personal overall experience. According to
Ree, the home instance never stops updating in fact:

Your home instance
never stops updating; as your character becomes more
involved in their story, it will alter accordingly. Two norn will
quickly differentiate their personal area through choices in the
storyline. They will encounter different adventures, make different
decisions, and their home will change to match their story.


It sounds as though ArenaNet is
taking Guild Wars 2
in some excellent
new directions that will provide an incredibly high degree of
immersion as this latest update on personal story helps illustrate.
Call it what you will, but it’s been quite some
time since I've stepped into an MMOG that offered a truly
vibrant, rich setting to embark on virtual adventures in. Like many of
our readers, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing how these
elementss of
personal story play out when GW2 launches.

The latest update at the
official Guild Wars 2
site didn't end
with insights to how players will shape their character's
personal story, however. In the second part of the series,
we'll be taking an in depth look at the larger story of
Tyria, the Elder Dragons and Destiny's Edge. So keep your
eyes peeled right here on Ten Ton Hammer's Guild
Wars 2

community site to learn more about the impact of story in Guild
Wars 2!

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To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars 2 Game Page.

Last Updated:

About The Author

Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.

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