Guild Wars 2: Lead Designer Talks Dynamic Events System

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 Johanson states that, “walls of text are just outdated forms of storytelling,” claiming that traditional ideals of talking to a quest giver, getting a text box heavy with dialogue, doing the quest and returning to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.


  1. Sounds like they took the idea of the Player Quests in Warhammer and turned it to 11. I loved PQ’s in WAR. One of my favorite parts of the game (even if they did have other drawbacks).

    This appears to be amazing. Sounds like a lot to live up too, but if they can pull this off… it will reinvent questing in general, not just MMOs.

    One of my biggest pet peeves with WoW and most other MMOs (outside of EVE), is the server aspect I have met literally 100’s of people who I would like to play WoW with. But every single one is on a different server. Will GW2 keep the single server aspect of the game. Seems like it would be tough to make enough world for everyone without servers or instancing the entire game world. If not, will I be able to move servers as easily as I did instances in GW1? Then in regards to these quests that change the game world, will each instance evolve differently, etc?

    Please, don’t go the server route like WoW, if you have to, make it seamless and easy to transfer instantly so I don’t have to choose which friends to play with.

  2. I’d imagine they’d make it seamless, rather than make it another cash cow with paid server transfers (Oooh, we changed a few bits of data – that costs $25! (or however much it costs on wow))

    And I’d agree that it sounds like warhammer PQ’s

    What I don’t understand is if the farm is destroyed or truely saved…well, your going to run out of content? They haven’t said how their going to handle that. You could just have the farm saved or destroyed for a certain period. Or even generate a farm with new randomised names for the farmers and some randomised elements to the farm, to make it appear a new farm.

    But just having a farm that is really saved or really destroyed…certainly this is something no other mmo offers at all right now. But HOW are they going to do it? If at all??

  3. Yea. One way or another, that farm has to have a way to come back. Maybe the idea is that the content coming back is also part of the quest line.
    After a certain interval, a couple of farmers could be waiting in the local tavern, looking for escorts to the farm. They could need escorting (depending on how many people are helping escort there could be more/bigger ambushes (or only something the NPC’s could fend off themselves if nobody helps). After making it to the destroyed farm, there are a million things that could be done to help the farmer get re-started, Go get wood, collect seed bearing fruit, help defend, etc etc.
    Problem with this line of thought is that none of the changes in these quests are really permanent then. Though at least they do have an effect on the world and impact later quests.

  4. I loved WAR’s PQs. But there were so many player diluting factors in the game (server/racial zone/multiple PQ’s/PvP instance/world PvP/Teirs 1-4) that it was hard to do them later and later in the game on both the servers I tried. I really hope that these ‘quests’ scale all the way down to solo content when needed.

  5. Thanks for that, Qix!
    “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.”
    “These events change the world when they occur, but it isn’t a change that lasts forever in the persistent world”
    So the farm is saved for twenty minutes, or half an hour, or something.
    And their example of Skritt? It makes it sound like you have to go through Skritt, somehow, to get to the ending. Like it’s B in A, B, C and D, where D is the game end. In other words, the bigger picture is linear, no matter how many ways you can approach Skritt.
    That said, even with that critique, they still seem to be taking a giant stride ahead of other mmorpgs!
    And the non subscription plan seals it for me – I’ll buy it. But I really think this is just a giant stride ahead. In the end, that farm is still put back into danger.
    If they could procedurally generate new farms, or have player built ones somehow, and after being saved X number of times that particular version of a farm is permanently saved, that’d be taking the next big step.

  6. Agreed, procedurally generated world’s (little details and all) will be a huge boon to MMO’s. It would allow for things to be destroyed permanently, and replaced later with something completely different. All without anywhere near as much ongoing work from the Dev’s.
    I remember reading about it being used in other RPG’s like oblivions forests. Back then at least, it required a lot of revisions and personal touches and checking after the fact or it ended up too boring, etc.

Comments are closed.