The Guild Wars 2 website was updated with more information about the Dynamic Events. I took some time to really read the overview because this is one of the biggest selling features that ArenaNet has used in order to hype people up for their game. I’ve identified a few concerns and talking points within the article that I think warrant questioning or at least further explanation.
Reading through the general concept, I get the immediate impression that this is very similar to Warhammer Online’s Public Questing system. You come up on an area where something is going on and, instead of getting a wall of text, you live out the quest in what appears to be a dynamic event unfolding. It was a cool idea on paper back when WAR was in development and it’s a cool idea on paper for GW2. However, in WAR it played out to be nothing more than a little event that resets where you kill the 10 rats that run at you instead of going out and hunting for them. Throughout the overview I kept identifying something that would match up almost exactly with WAR’s mechanics: You have to defend against an attack, rescue people, put out fires, whatever. It’s all glorified with the imagination, but in reality it’s truly nothing special -at all- … in fact it feels like you’re participating in a reenactment every time.
Bringing people together with scaling content to allow the community to work together instead of working against each other is admirable. Nice idea on paper again, but just because something sounds cutthroat doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s a new trend to spin scenarios of games that have one person coming out ahead as a bad thing because supposedly what everyone wants is for everyone else to be on equal grounds. Personally, I do not see someone else coming up to my area in the world as a potential threat because he’s going to take my kills. I see another person coming up, and the action or inaction that they take, as part of what makes the world ‘living and breathing’ as well as my experience a dynamic one. What makes a RPG community interesting for me is the complex diversity and the stages of progression that each player is on. So they need to be careful, as all future and current developers do, that they do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Appealing to the explorer with the line that the world is constantly changing is admirable. That’s what I really want in a MMORPG because that’s the tag line that they were originally sold on: “Ever-evolving and changing worlds”. However, with what has already sounded like little more than an updated Public Questing system, can this really be true? Will a player not quickly be able to ‘figure it out’ and have that sense of ‘constantly changing’ ruined? I’m not great at puzzles and I’m terrible at understanding how things work (as Graev, I suck at Legos) but when it comes to things like MMO’s I have this terrible gift of immediately seeing the entire picture at once. Having it all figured out is a cursse because the magic is gone. I can’t help but wonder how fast players will discover how this new event system works and no longer see it as constantly changing.
The current generation’s “traditional” questing is indeed outdated. Guild Wars 2 has a really neat system on paper but where they’ll fall flat is whether or not they can live up to their own hype. If the Dynamic Event System does not truly CHANGE the world DYNAMICALLY and PERMANENTLY then it’s going to be a flop. It will feel cheap, just like WAR, and the player will immediately figure it out. Once the trick is known, it’s no longer magic.
I’ll be watching this one closely to see if ArenaNet pulls it off.