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Dynamic Events in Guild Wars 2: Living in a Living World

Posted Tue, May 18, 2010 by Xerin

Details of the “dynamic events”  mechanic in Guild Wars 2 were posted in Colin Johanson’s developer journal last week and a storm of discussion is already brewing. Potential players are sensitive to claims such as this after many other “living world” games have had massive hype only to let everyone down when they were unable to come good on their promises. Though, with what ArenaNet is promising it’ll be hard to doubt that they can pull it off.

Guild Wars 2 is aiming at making a withdrawal from the clichéd static quest system that almost every MMO uses now and will be replacing them with dynamic events. These events are similar to Warhammer Online’s public quest system but work in chains. If players make a certain choice then one event will lead to another, creating different opportunities for other events. This way they will be able to tell different stories for every character and allow players to have more choices in what their character does rather than leading them from step a to step b holding their hands.

For instance, enemy soldiers may be marching through the map. If you ignore them then they’ll setup camp, continue to ignore them and they’ll assault the friendly village and will eventually capture everyone requiring you to go liberate them. Defeat them before they fester into a massive evil force and an entirely new story will open up where the friendly city allows you to come and you go from there. These events, such as taking on the soldiers initially, are open to everyone and will scale dynamically with how many players are in the area and will reward everyone who participates.

Want to read the full details? Check out the original developer diary at GuildWars2.com or the follow-up interview at MMORPG.com.

So, it’s essentially like questing except your actions and choices have a real affect on the world. Don’t worry though. The world won’t change once and be stuck there. Many events are cyclical and will eventually reset at the start so that new players coming along can start the chain all over again. The enemies will eventually retake their fort allowing new players to come along and try to take it again and begin the event chain from there.

This all plays into the way they want to do storytelling in Guild Wars 2. Your choices will build your own story instead of the game holding your hand all the way through until the end. You’ll have your own personal story that you’re following where it’s your character making the choices and not the game.

All of this sounds absolutely phenomenal, but doubts are surfacing and they’re surfacing fast. Players are a bit jaded when it comes to promises of a “living world” because so many games have promised to make the entire world dynamic only to come up short. The most infamous would be Fable where, while it was a great game, it fell very short of what was being hyped.


Storytelling will be done with graphics instead of words, something that the industry lacks a lot of right now.

I have been playing Guild Wars on and off since its launch five years ago and I can say without a doubt that ArenaNet is a very conservative developer. They usually do not make promises or announcements without following through until the end. So these features are probably already working in one form or another on their internal builds of GW2. Will they meet player expectations?

Well it all depends on what you expect. To me it sounds like they’re taking the “public quest” mechanic and improving greatly on it and making each “public quest”  have a different result based on which objectives are completed and when. So if you finish the event in a timely manner then you’ll move on the result for that. If you aren’t able to do it before time runs out then you’ll move on to the result for that. It’s not that complicated when you think about it, but it’s something we haven’t seen yet.

Of course, if you’re expecting Fable levels of interaction where every blade of grass you move changes how everyone treats your character then you’re out of luck.

One thing though that has really caught my eye is how they keep making analogies to wanting to ditch static quest text and instead have the game let you play through the story. They want the game to show you why you need to kill a dragon instead of tell you through some quest text and have you go kill a random dragon somewhere. This is what really has me excited as someone who is in love with game lore. How many times have you clicked through quest text even if you were interested in what’s going on? Way too many times for me to count for myself.

Overall, I find this to be something I am really looking forward to. I’m not going to set my hopes too high and expect this to be everything I dreamed for, but looking at it realistically I see something that will be a ton of fun once we can get our hands on it.

What do you think? Do you think this is something you’re looking forward to or something that ArenaNet will never be able to deliver on? Come share your thoughts on Ten Ton Hammer’s forums.


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