Alphabet Soup - Written Languages in Guild Wars 2
The written language is the focus of the latest Guild Wars 2 reveal. We’re given the advance scoop on something that’s a bit different than solid gameplay mechanics like Dynamic Events or customizable stories. This time around ArenaNet is taking a look at written language within GW2. Writing is really important to any civilization because it allows us to save information in a convenient format that can be retrieved later by anyone who can read that language. This works both ways for GW2. The first is from a lore standpoint where it helps reinforce a realistic and detailed touch to the game’s fictional story. The second is from the community building standpoint where the community can come together and work through various Easter Eggs in the game.
Lingua, Idioma, Language
Literacy wasn’t very prevalent before the industrial revolution. It would make sense that the great citizens of Kryta wouldn’t have much in the way of education or book learning given the time period and state of the world. Yet as time advances it would only make sense for the world to grow and with it the written language.
It’s interesting too that the Durmand Priory is powerful enough to bring the races together and help unite them to form a single written language on Tyria. This is just a meager 35 years from the invasion of the Charr into Ascalon, meaning that the Durmand Priory becomes influential within the world very quickly and will have situated itself deep into the lore long before we see Tyria 250 years in the future.
Concept art has shown that the Charr become metal workers, but the fact that their technology is capable of producing a printing press tells us that the world will be a lot more advanced for not only the Asura, but also the other races as well. The Charr are a barbaric species, but the fact that they’re capable of developing (or assisting in the development of) a printing press tells us a lot about the direction the world is taking.
Small details like these and larger details like Dynamic Events and Personal Stories are adding up fast and helping accelerate GW2 from a game that has a story somewhere on the official site to a game where you’re actually going to be in a world developed from the ground up in which players will live out the story live. This is the first time I’m actually anticipating playing an MMO for not only the awesome gameplay but the in-depth story as well.
This just isn’t about the gameplay either. The fact that there will be more translatable languages is kind of a big deal for some members of the community. The community has worked together to translate every possible rune, alphabet, and scribble except for a single Asuran banner. These “easter eggs” were placed into the game by Matthew Medina who developed these “languages” while working on assets for the game. Not all objects in the game are translatable, but there are a large number of props in the game that contain lettering which can be turned straight into the English language.
Players have already translated the text on this sign.
These letters weren’t just used in the game for aesthetics either. The War in Kryta viral campaign required players to translate Old Ascalonian in order to find the URL to the next website they had to visit. The same may apply to GW2. Finding something in the world that’s translatable may lead players to some secret area or reveal some other Easter Egg within the game.
Another thing about translatable items is that it can help build a sense of community. Something that may be difficult to translate can become a hotbed for community discussion and bonding, especially if it’s a prevlant part of the game instead of just something associated to a few random props throughout the world.
I’m enjoying the length that ArenaNet is going to in an attempt to provide us with details about GW2, even if they’re smaller updates focusing on a small aspect of the current GW1 community. It shows that ArenaNet is watching the community and is focused on making a game that appeases not just themselves but the community.
Speaking of the community, why not come visit our community forums and share your thoughts about the alphabet in GW2? Do you think it’d be fun to work on translating ancient runes or are you more of a bash your hammer into things until they die kind of person? Let us know!