Guild Wars 2 Lead Content Designer Colin Johanson released some interesting details today about the Dynamic Events System that will be featured in the new MMO claiming that it will “challenge the fundamental ways content has been presented to players in traditional MMORPGs.” A big statement, but does Johanson’s claim live up to itself?
Johanson insists that the new Dynamic Events System will improve on the standard idea of quests in your average MMO. Johanson states that, “walls of text are just outdated forms of storytelling,” claiming that traditional ideals of talking to a quest giver, getting a text box heavy with dialogue, doing the quest and returning to the quest giver are underwhelming ways of advancing in MMO’s.
The Dynamic Events System Guild Wars 2 hopes to implement will focus on in-game action and NPC interaction taking place in real-time leading players to quests. Instead of activating a quest, they will always be available. Perhaps its a town guard calling for help as a dragon lays waste to their city, or an old man struggling with a group of orcs – either way, the in-game events taking place live are the sources of quests in the new system. They are always occurring and its up to the player to spot these events and react to the situation.
Johanson spots another flaw in the basic quest design used in traditional MMO’s, “what the quest text tells you is happening in a quest is not actually what is happening in the world.” Johanson mentions that often times the events you are supposed to alter, say slaying a group of goblins that are attacking someone’s farmstead, actually don’t effect the game environment. By slaying your 20 goblins you are supposed to kill, you won’t actually save the farmer’s home, those same goblins will simply respawn, ready for the next adventurer to take the quest, thus, in the game world, perpetually putting the farmstead in danger. Johanson says that this is an unacceptable form of questing. With the new Dynamic Events System, if you don’t stop those 20 goblins, they will destroy the farmer’s house, or oppositely, if you defeat them, they will be gone and the farm will truly be saved.
This kind of quest system will fundamentally change the gaming world over and over again as players succeed and fail at their quests as Johanson explains: “The core of this evolution is our event system, which allows the world to dynamically change based on actions and decisions made by the players. A single player decision can cascade across a zone, changing the direction of a chain of events until they dramatically alter the content played by players in a map.”
The affect one player has on the game will result in this “cascade” of events that affect all the other players playing in the nearby zone. Johanson lists another example of players either failing or succeeding in destroying an enemy fort and the implications this will have on other players and the game world. “[I]f the players do not mobilize to stop the dredge snipers, they’ll begin to shoot down all the villagers and merchants in nearby friendly villages. If they fail to stop the dredge assault teams from capturing a village, players will need to lead a force to help liberate the town and free the villagers. All of this content is derived from a single initial event – the dredge army marching through the map.”
Johanson feels this will add to the overall community feeling of playing an MMO. Not only will your play effect others around you, but the designers hope their new system will implement a more friendly and antiquated environment for players to succeed together as a whole. Johanson claims, “[t]hrough our internal game testing so far, it’s been remarkable to see how well this idea has functioned in practice. Our entire studio has experienced countless moments where we’ve been drawn together to parts of a map to do events and felt a strong bond with other players; a truly dynamically created sense of community born out of the event system.”
Johanson also feels that by keeping the world ever-changing in this sense, that “altoholics” (people who replay the game many times over) will always have new variety in their different play throughs. Never will the world be exactly the same as it was before, ever time is a distinct new adventure hoping, “this dramatically changing world will create the ultimate sense of discovery for the explorer.”
Whether this new Dynamic Events system will play out as the Guild War 2’s team hopes it will is still up in the air, but the outlook is very intriguing.