Posted Wed, Jul 27, 2011 by Sardu
Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of things will you be doing with underwater maps in GW2 that will improve upon some of those areas from other games you’ve looked at, or make underwater combat and travel a bit less disorienting for players? For example, are you adding in mechanics to help players figure out where they’re at on a map in terms of depth, and combat awareness?
Colin: Very much so. We’re very aware of the problems that people have navigating the Z axis and understanding what they’re doing. And honestly, when we first put underwater combat in the game, we actually ran into the same problem. A lot of people could figure it out, but for a number of people it’s really just disorienting to navigate that Z axis. And so we tried to take some elements of the game and have them communicate to you where you are and have a better sense of what’s going on.
The deeper you get in the ocean, the outside of the screen changes a little bit to try to give you a sense of depth, and give you a little bit less visibility and a little more haze as you drop down. So it feels like you’re actually like a scuba diver who is going down deeper and deeper into the ocean. Then as you start to swim back up, that starts to clear up so you have a better sense of which way you’re going on the Z axis.
Also, from the content perspective, the spawns and the content you experience are layered on certain levels of the ocean, just like what you would find in a real ocean. So up around the top of the ocean, it’s generally very safe. There are not a lot of creatures up there, if there is there’s usually a lot of ambiance or little things floating around on the top.
The next layer of the ocean is mostly neutral creatures, and you can choose to fight if you want to, but it’s a lot of larger fish and dolphins, and big angler fish. You’ll see those and know, alright, I’m in the mid layer of the ocean based on the spawns that I see. Now, you’ll encounter some aggressive stuff in there. There will be sharks occasionally and things like that, but we try to have a strong ecosystem of these oceans so you understand.
Then you get down to the bottom, and the bottom is where you see a lot of the aggressive stuff, and it’s where a lot of the events happen. So you always have that bottom of the ocean floor to kind of navigate off of, and to use that as a point of reference.
We try to keep a lot of the content tied towards the bottom of the ocean or around the bottom so you always have a point of reference. The areas above it are more for exploration, for getting a sense of depth, and a real sense of exploring these parts of the world.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will there be any elements of the event system that might alert you to where on that Z axis a nearby event is taking place?
Colin: Right now we actually have this in game, and it’s not incredibly clear so we’re going to need to do a little bit more to make it clearer. But the event markers actually have a little arrow up or down on them that shows you if it’s above or below you on the Z axis. And we don’t just do that on water, we actually do that on hills and on mountains so you know that it could be on a different level of the cave than the one you’re on.
Also with the events, we try to make them really visual so that you can kind of just look and see there’s all this stuff going on, and know that’s the area you need to go to. If there’s a quaggan town that’s under attack, and the krait are coming in kidnapping all the cute little quaggan, you’re going to see the quaggan town all over the bottom of the ocean. You’ll see krait swimming in from different directions harpooning them and taking them out of there.
So you don’t have to use your map to understand where you have to go. The world should be showing you all of that by your experience and what you’re seeing on the screen instead of having to follow markers around.
We'd like to thank Colin and the rest of the ArenaNet team for taking the time to talk with us during San Diego Comic-Con 2011. For the necro fans out there, be sure to read NecroBator.com's exclusive interview with Colin on combat roles, necro tanking, and more!