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Design Philosophy and the Endgame – An Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Interview with Eric Flannum

Posted Mon, Oct 11, 2010 by Sardu

While ArenaNet may not have had the same kind of massive floor presence as it did for gamescom and PAX Prime, the developer nonetheless still managed to make a huge splash with Guild Wars 2 at New York Comic Con 2010. Not only was the rewards calculator for the Hall of Monuments revealed for those players of the original game who have been eager to learn what shiny new things they can unlock for their GW2 characters, but there were also numerous demo stations and an excellent panel discussion for the game.

We also had the opportunity to sit down with Lead Designer Eric Flannum to discuss some of the design philosophy behind Guild Wars 2, including an interesting look at how crafting will fit into the game and what players can expect once they’ve reached the level cap.

Ten Ton Hammer: We know that there will be both PvP and PvE aspects to the game. Once players hit level 80 to you expect to have more of a focus on one type of gameplay over another such as competitive PvP?

"We don't want to force a particular playstyle on you when we didn't ask you to do that the whole time you were playing up to level 80"

Lead Designer Eric Flannum: Not really. Philosophically the thing we think is that we don’t want to ask someone to play a different game when they hit level 80 than they were playing to get to that point. What that means I think is if you were a player who just plays PvP – in World vs. World PvP it is possible to start as a level 2 character and level all the way up to 80 – if you did that we don’t want to force you to go do dungeons.

If you’re a player that likes PvE and you really like dungeons and mostly focus on them as you level up, we also don’t want to force you to participate in World vs. World as an endgame. World vs. World is kind of its own endgame, where it’s a constantly evolving PvP game.  

For events, we have a system where you can go back and experience them. So if you really like events and enjoy playing through them, what you can do there is take your level 80 character and go back to an area that maybe you didn’t go to before. It’s a huge game world, so let’s say you’re a human but you never went to the Sylvari starter area. You can go back to that area any time you want, even when you level past it and it will sidekick you down automatically when you get there so that you can do those events.

You’ll still be really powerful for that area, but you’re powerful in a way that you won’t break the events. Some will still be easier for you, but let’s say you really like The Shatterer or maybe you never even fought it before, you can go back and do that. As for dungeons, there are multiple dungeons when you hit level 80 but even there you can do the same sort of thing where you can go back to a dungeon and play through it at any time.

So the basic idea there is that we don’t want to force a particular playstyle on you when we didn’t ask you to do that the whole time you were playing up to level 80. We want you to be able to play the same game you enjoyed. Certainly you could decide to branch out and try the World vs. World thing to see where it goes; we don’t restrict you from experiencing different things either in that sense.


Ten Ton Hammer: What impact, if any, does that have on your personal story in terms of going back and experiencing some of the lower level content you may have missed the first time through the area?

Eric: Personal story is one area where we have to create more for you to have more of it added for your character once you hit level 80. So for personal story there are really two ways you can approach it once you’ve reached level 80.

The first is obviously the option to create another character, and you can choose different things or even pick a completely different background and will experience the story in a different way. You can also go find lower level characters who are going through things you might not have experienced yourself and you can see what their story is like compared to your own.

For example if you’re a level 80 human character but you’ve never really saw what the charr stuff was like, you can go and find a low level charr character who can sidekick you down to their level so that you can go through and experience that story with them. But if you really want to experience those things again for yourself once you’ve reached level 80 you’ll have to roll an alt.

Our business model also relies on us releasing new content occasionally, so we’ll be releasing more personal story that way as well. There are actually questions that we do ask you and decisions that you’ll make that have more of a minimal effect on the game right now, so they don’t cause big huge branches. We built those in kind of on purpose to give ourselves somewhere to go when we do add personal story expansion.

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