The Heart of Tyria - An Exclusive Interview on Personal Story and Progression in Guild Wars 2
Last week Ten Ton Hammer brought you an exclusive interview on some of the more combat-focused aspects of Guild Wars 2, such as weapon sets, skills and the traits system. And while saying that we’re impressed with what we’ve seen of combat so far in the game demo would be a gross understatement, that’s only one aspect of the much larger gameplay package that Guild Wars 2 has to offer. The story of Tyria and of your character’s place in the world are of equal importance, so we set out to discover all we could about personal story and progression in the game as well.
Just how deeply does the personal story rabbit hole go in Guild Wars 2? How will the Hall of Monuments bridge between the two games, and how soon can we expect to learn the details on the specific rewards Guild Wars players can unlock for their characters in Guild Wars 2? All this and much more awaits in the second installment of Ten Ton Hammer’s exclusive interview with Game Designer Izzy Cartwright.
Many of the questions for this interview were submitted by members of the Guild Wars 2 community at Ten Ton Hammer, with additional questions by Managing Editor Reuben “Sardu” Waters. We’re committed to building a strong community for our Guild Wars 2 site, and giving our readers the opportunity to have their questions asked at events such as gamescom and PAX Prime is only one of the many awesome things we have in store for our readers over the coming months. In the meantime enjoy the second installment of our exclusive Guild Wars 2 interview from PAX Prime!
Question Submitted by Gorlag: How will personality play out in the open world apart from your personal story and home instance? Will there be the ability to affect it in the open world and conversations with personality choices outside of the instanced content?
Game Designer Izzy Cartwright: A lot of that type of stuff is very conversation-based, or reactions from the NPCs. The full extent of those types of interactions I don’t actually know, but I do know that there’s a lot of that kind of stuff. The decisions you make, especially the important ones such as the orphanage burning in your home instance, that’s something we do feel is one of the important decisions you’ll make, and we do have a bunch of those key decisions. And the NPCs do react to those things.
One of the things that I know we do have a lot of and that we do plan on is the personality aspect to the game where you get to be ferocious or charming and things. The NPCs in the game will interact with you, so that you can walk around them and if you’re really ferocious they may cower to you. If you’re really charming they may be excited to see you. So we do have a lot of NPCs reacting to things that you do and the personalities that you become, or even with your background if you’re a noble they may react to you in different ways.
Another cool part of that is, depending on your personality, it will give you more options in your personal story in that if you’re ferocious you may be able to bully someone in a way that you weren’t able to. Or you may be able to charm someone in your story that you weren’t able to before. And all of that will happen both outside in the persistent world and inside of instanced parts of the world.
But we do kind of have to be careful with that because you might burn down an orphanage but you might save a hospital so we’ve always got to be able to play with those different things. But with the personality parts, an NPC can cower to you but be in love with someone else depending on those types of choices. We’re kind of exploring and pushing that to its limits in terms of ways the world will interact.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will some of your personal story be visually represented with objects or trophies you can collect in your home instance?
Izzy: Your home instance will have a lot of different things you can interact with such as saving NPCs, putting different things in there etc. So not only will you see that orphanage, but there’s also a lot of smaller things that you’ll be able to do and collect in there. It’s really your trophy cage of your story and of your character and it’s a place you’ll care about because your story really matters there.
Question Submitted by Gorlag: Will there be the option to print or buy a book of your personal story journal maybe with your character and name on the front cover? It could give you the ability to have something tangible to share with your friends.
Izzy: I do believe so. I think we plan on having people be able to look at your character and see a lot of that information, but I’m not too sure exactly how that interface is going to work. But the point of that stuff and the way it’s laid out is for people to be able to see what you’ve accomplished. So I think we do want that, but exactly how we’re going to present it is still being worked on.
Question submitted by Vile Shadowstep: Will titles earned in Guild Wars 1 after the release of Guild Wars 2 be reflected in the Hall of Monuments, and will they still be added for your GW2 characters at that point?
Izzy: Yep, those will all be transitioned right away.
Question Submitted by Vile Shadowstep: We know that the Hall of Monuments will grant us exclusive items. What I want to know is if we will be told what items will be given for completing certain things, e.g. having Legendary Carto, full hall, etc.
Izzy: Think of it kind of like a culmination of all the different things that you do, and then here are the rewards that you’re going to get. There are a couple of things that will be a one to one ratio, but we really didn’t want to make it a case of ‘get this thing and be rewarded with that thing’ because there’s a lot of stuff that you’re doing in Guild Wars 1. Also, we don’t want it to be the case where people feel obligated to go buy Guild Wars 1 and have to go do all of these things for the rewards. We just want it to feel like you are rewarded for playing Guild Wars 1, rewarded for the time that you’ve spent in the game and enjoying that time, and feel proud of your accomplishments.
It’s going to kind of be like, here are the things that I’ve done and here are the rewards for those things. So it’s an accomplishable thing. And there are also things that you can get for being really extreme.
We’re going to be having more details coming out really soon so you can see exactly what you get, and it will be all laid out. All of that information will be available in the next couple of months. But again, the idea and feeling of the system is that in Guild Wars 2 you should kind of feel rewarded for the stuff that you did in Guild Wars 1 but we’re not trying to make it so that every single accomplishment in that game is equally represented on a one to one ratio. It’s more of a culmination of things that you did that you’ll be rewarded for.
Ten Ton Hammer: A pertinent storyline question that comes up somewhat often with the Hall of Monuments is the idea that, say I create a Charr character in Guild Wars 2, how is it that I’d be rewarded for the accomplishments of a human in the first game?
Izzy: It’s more a case that your character in Guild Wars 2 finds this Hall of Monuments, or finds this thing. So it’s not that your characters are a direct descendant of that Guild Wars 1 character because that obviously doesn’t make sense for the other races. Instead it’s more like you discovered this monument of another person, almost like a gravestone and you’re paying homage to that character’s memories.
Ten Ton Hammer: Each of the original Guild Wars campaigns and the expansion had that overarching mission chain that would help guide you on an epic journey across the different continents. In Guild Wars 2 we’ll have the main focus of the Elder Dragons and how they’ve quite literally changed the landscape of Tyria, but will there be something similar to that epic mission chain that leads to a massive confrontation of some sort?
Izzy: We have a couple of different things. We have your personal story that definitely guides you through the storyline. And then there’s a second thing which is the dungeons. The dungeons interact with your story, and every one of them has a “story mode” of that dungeon which is almost like a mission. It’s got an embedded part of the story, and those do help guide you through the overarching story, so we do have some of that in Guild Wars 2.
But your story itself almost takes on more of that role, like a handcrafted way of taking you through the whole story of the game. The dungeons are the part where you work with other players kind of like how a mission worked in Guild Wars 1.
Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any dungeons that we might recognize from Eye of the North?
Izzy: I’m sure that in a world that has transformed over 250 years, like many of the things you see here, many of your favorite dungeons may return.
Ten Ton Hammer: Really I just want to know if the Secret Lair of the Snowmen will be in the game…
Izzy: *laughs* Who knows?
Ten Ton Hammer: Are there any comparisons that can be made to the dungeons in Eye of the North? For example, with most of them you’ll initially gain access due to having a storyline quest that sends you there, but once unlocked you always have the option to go back though the experience may be slightly different without specific quests active.
Izzy: I think those aspects exist. They’re definitely very different. We have a lot more systems that we can leverage to do more interesting things in the dungeons. But the goals of the dungeons are very similar. We wanted them to tell a story, but we also wanted to make them interesting and repeatable.
Ten Ton Hammer: Then kind of as an extension of that, with Eye of the North most of the dungeons were concentrated within the specific regions of Tyria introduced in that expansion. In Guild Wars 2 will we see more of that type of content peppered throughout the world so that no matter which race you select during character creation, there will be dungeons or that type of content in their thematic regions?
Izzy: Yeah, we spread out the different types of content all over the game. It’s one of the things that we like everybody to experience the game in a very similar fashion. The stories that you go through are all very different and have a very different emotional impact, but the specific types of content available are definitely going to be the same all across the board. Essentially we use the same tools to tell each of those different stories.
Ten Ton Hammer: In terms of leveling, you’ve said that you’ll be keeping that more of an even pace rather than forcing players to constantly fight against an increasingly steep curve. Could you expand a bit on how that fits into the overall gameplay experience?
Izzy: If we decide that it should only take a couple of hours to level, that’s what we want it to be throughout the game. It’s kind of similar to what we did in Guild Wars 1, where the leveling you did once you hit level 20 was flat, and that’s what we want to do in Guild Wars 2. We have a lot of levels, but we don’t want it to be this longer and longer and longer experience as you go up. We want it to be a short amount of time between levels.
Leveling is really supposed to just help move you through the different maps in our game so that you experience the different content at a natural pace. We really don’t want it to be this long amount of time, or this thing that keeps you in our game. If you want to spend a lot of time in Guild Wars 2, we’re going to have tons of activities, or you can make lots of different characters since we have lots of different professions, but overall we just have lots of really cool things for you to do.
We don’t need to make you spend hundreds and hundreds of hours playing a single character. We have PvE, PvP, all sorts of achievements, titles, mini-games – just like in Guild Wars 1. There are thousands of things for you to do in Guild Wars 1, and if you like our game, play our game and enjoy our game, play it for the fun and the cool content that we make. Don’t play it because our experience bar is really big and you have to grind through it.
Ten Ton Hammer: That quick leveling was a little more pronounced in both Factions and Nightfall, but by the time you were ready to leave the early zones and make that journey to the mainland areas you were already at or closer to level 20. There’s still the bulk of the world and gameplay waiting for you at that point and in some ways it’s like the game and your journey through it is only just beginning.
Will there be a similar sense in Guild Wars 2 where, instead of hitting level 80 and asking where the 1337 raid zones are, you’ll still have a ton of gameplay and parts of the world to go out and explore?
Izzy: We have a lot of cool content when you get to the end of the game. That’s one of the cool aspects of our events. You can play all of our content over and over again, and even when you get to level 80 you can go back to old places and finish out the areas and we’ll level you down to where they are to allow you to go back and play that stuff at the appropriate level. So you can always go back and play through content, it’s not just worthless content to you because you leveled past it. It’s almost like a temporary thing where the game sidekicks you down to the level range for the content.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will there also be a sidekicking system that you can manually use to be able to play alongside your friends or guild members at different level ranges?
Izzy: Yeah, we’re planning on working out a system along those lines. We haven’t released the details on how that works, but we do plan on having a really robust system that allows you to play with your friends however and whenever you want.
Be sure to come back for the next installment of our exclusive interview with Game Designer Izzy Cartwright which focuses on core gameplay mechanics in Guild Wars 2. In the meantime, step through the closest Asura gate and into our Guild Wars 2 community forums to discuss our exclusive interview on personal story and progression!