Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Ogres picking daisies
I never played much of the original Guild Wars, which probably comes to no surprise to you, given the game's PvP focus and my dislike of PvP. So Guild Wars 2 wasn't high up on my list of games I'm waiting for. But in the open Sunday thread several readers asked about my opinion about the announced Guild Wars 2 Dynamic Events System. So I looked it up, and I really liked what I saw. Not just the announced feature, but also the writing about the feature, which reads a lot more like a blog than like some marketing hype. Quote:
For example, in a traditional MMO, the character who gives you a quest will tell you ogres are coming to destroy the character's home, and you need to kill them. You then get a quest which says, "Kill 0/10 ogres" and you proceed to kill a bunch of ogres standing around in a field picking daisies. Since every player in the game needs to be able to do this quest, the ogres will never actually threaten the character's home - they will just eternally pick daisies in the field. The ogres aren't actually doing what the quest says they are - the game is lying to you!Now several people said that this is just like the public quests in Warhammer Online, but to me it doesn't sound like that. I rather have the impression that any situation has several possible "states", and it is the player's actions that influence what state the situation is in. Look at this quote:
At ArenaNet, we believe this is NOT good enough. In Guild Wars 2, if a character tells you ogres are coming to destroy a house, they will really come and smash down the house if you don't stop them!
If an enemy dredge army is marching out of their main base, players will be asked to mobilize with their allies and help destroy the army. If the dredge army is defeated, other events will cascade out from there. Players will be able battle their way inside the dredge base, face off against their commander, rescue captured friendly troops being held in the dredge prisons, and even hold the captured base while fighting waves of dredge, who arrive from deep underground to try and take back their home.That sounds a whole lot like what I've been asking for nearly a year ago. Not that I believe ArenaNet got the idea from me, but players have been asking for more dynamic virtual worlds for ages. How many million times have players told Mankrik that his wife is dead? And he *still* keeps asking every passerby to look for her. The current generation of MMORPGs is static, with most things resetting within minutes, and nothing ever changing unless the change is part of a patch.
If, on the other hand, players fail to destroy the army, it will establish a fort in friendly player territory. From there, the dredge will send shipments of troops and supplies to the fort from the main base while building up walls, turrets, and siege engines to help defend it. Enemy dredge forces will then begin to move out from their newly established fort to attack friendly player locations in the area, sending snipers out into the hills, sending assault team forces to capture friendly player villages, and trying to smash down friendly fortifications with massive dredge walkers. All of these events continue to cascade out into further chains of events where cause and effect is directly related to the player's actions.
And I believe that it is because of the fundamental truth of the above quoted "the game is lying to you!" that players stopped reading quests and just look at the reward and click accept. Why should I be interested in the long story how the dragon kidnapped the princess, if I know that 5 minutes after I slay the dragon and rescue the princess, the dragon will be alive again and the princess back in captivity? Rescueing the princess has no impact on the world around me, so I concentrate on that what *has* an impact: The 10,000 xp and Sword of Uberness quest reward. The quest text being, well, text doesn't help, but I don't think that is main reason players just aren't interested. Which is why I believe Guild Wars 2 has the better idea here, with the dynamic event system, than Bioware has with their "4th pillar of storytelling" for Star Wars: The Old Republic. If the stories of SWTOR don't have any impact and everything resets 5 minutes later, players will click through voiceovers as fast as they clicked through text to get to the list of rewards and the accept button.
Having said that, a dynamic virtual world also has obvious pitfalls. The player population in any given zone goes up and down with time: There are more players online during prime time than at night, and newbie zones are full shortly after release, and then get progressively emptier, with a bulk of players moving through the various zones as they level up. That was one of the problems the public quests of Warhammer had, a public quest or dynamic event with a big invasion isn't much use to you if you are alone in that zone. And when the zone is crowded, the event becomes too easy, which also isn't all that much fun.
Nevertheless now I started looking forward to Guild Wars 2, even if it won't be out before next year. I would really like to see how they actually implement those ideas about a dynamic virtual world. Because if they do it right, this could easily become the next big thing.