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[Column] Guild Wars 2: Trying to Make a Living World

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,571MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

ArenaNet is determined to make Guild Wars 2 a dynamic, ever-changing space thanks to the Living Story. In our latest column, we take a look at the dynamic that the Living Story brings to the game and much more. Read on before leaving your thoughts in the comments.

Lore is perhaps the most important part in making a game feel like it's alive.  Without lore you don't have anything to build on.  The races feel bland, and quests become boring.  Your character is just another face in a lifeless crowd.  Guild Wars 2 has the benefit of being a sequel, expanding on the story and lore created from the first game.  Players experienced this lore when the game launched, but to evolve the world, something has to change.  New dangers need step out of the shadow, and new challenges must be conquered.  It doesn’t matter how much Lore you already have, you always need to add more.  That's where the Living Story comes in, or at least that's idea. 

Read more of David North's Guild Wars 2: Trying to Make a Living World.

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Even fighting dragons over and over again can get boring.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon

    My complaint about their living story is that I don't notice any change really. It's so small that it doesn't feel like it matters at all. For example, besides Southsun Cove what has changed in this latest attempt at a living story? Maybe part two will make it more obvious but when it's sectioned off to one itty-bitty part of the world then I as a player I could care less and it makes it so I don't really feel that invested in the lore.

     

    Not to mention the lore and story from this event so far has been very weak. Flame and Frost was much better when it came to that so I think they sort of took a step back when they did this event. I'm assuming it was meant more as an event-type situation though than a living story so hopefully in part two they expand upon it.

     

    While saying this, I give ArenaNet props for trying to be different and I have had a lot of entertainment value gaining all the achievements in Southsun Cove and doing the events with players so great job on that part. I got all the achievements I could so far, even all the crab ones (not an easy task for me, let me tell you).

     

    Smile

  • MindTriggerMindTrigger La Quinta, CAPosts: 2,596Member
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.  ANet is just trying to stay one step a head, but in the end it's still a very contrived experience.  They need game play systems for an emergent, dynamic experience.

    A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.  ANet is just trying to stay one step a head, but in the end it's still a very contrived experience.  They need game play systems for an emergent, dynamic experience.
     

    I do realize that most likely it would be pretty hard to make the living story world-wide. I'm sure they'll do it for some of the living story installments but that probably takes a lot longer to make than one month so maybe they're working on the epic-scale sort of living story while also working on the smaller ones. At least I hope so. But like the author said the smaller ones are just as important. It's just hard for me to feel like they're important.

    Smile

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.

    Ideally, they do it together.

    But one of the drawbacks of "massive" is how difficult incorporating player contribution becomes. How many people do  you know that have permanent features of a game universe created by them? Or affected the lore in any way?

    Me, I've got a statue in Dalaran, on one server...not even a nameplate...and that's about as much as I can expect in any MMO, really.

     

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,923Member Uncommon

    Do we really need to have so many fluff articles posts up about GW2 every other day? We get it, fluff words that amount to very little content added to it. It gets obnoxious when something is pushed so hard on us with so many words and very little actual 'action' for it. /endrant

     

    Though yes, going with the other posts thus far, 'living story' isn't very 'living' as its claimed, granted it could be for the better considering how cringe worthy the main story was. Its only going to really take hold if it feels that big of an effect and it just doesn't sound to be pushing any huge effect. Even then its hard to really make players feel as if they took much of a part and really give that great of a feeling to them. Its a challenge a lot of MMos have tried to accomplish and GW2 is no exception in failing to do this. It can entertain players but its not giving the feeling of a living world at all.

  • Soki123Soki123 Kelowna, BCPosts: 1,477Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Purutzil

    Do we really need to have so many fluff articles posts up about GW2 every other day? We get it, fluff words that amount to very little content added to it. It gets obnoxious when something is pushed so hard on us with so many words and very little actual 'action' for it. /endrant

     

    Though yes, going with the other posts thus far, 'living story' isn't very 'living' as its claimed, granted it could be for the better considering how cringe worthy the main story was. Its only going to really take hold if it feels that big of an effect and it just doesn't sound to be pushing any huge effect. Even then its hard to really make players feel as if they took much of a part and really give that great of a feeling to them. Its a challenge a lot of MMos have tried to accomplish and GW2 is no exception in failing to do this. It can entertain players but its not giving the feeling of a living world at all.

    Agreed, yet another nothing post just to push GW2 down our throats.

     

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by Purutzil

    Do we really need to have so many fluff articles posts up about GW2 every other day?

    Sour Grapes, right? What's your game? See if they can work it in.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • BraindomeBraindome Posts: 764Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.  ANet is just trying to stay one step a head, but in the end it's still a very contrived experience.  They need game play systems for an emergent, dynamic experience.

    This is getting lost in translation and really needs to be something fans of MMO's utter again and again until companies get it.

  • RecoreRecore Posts: 5,090Member Uncommon
    Game is a themepark mmo and you cant have a living world in a themepark mmo.  
    Raptr Gamercard
  • MindTriggerMindTrigger La Quinta, CAPosts: 2,596Member
    Originally posted by Icewhite
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.

    Ideally, they do it together.

    But one of the drawbacks of "massive" is how difficult incorporating player contribution becomes. How many people do  you know that have permanent features of a game universe created by them? Or affected the lore in any way?

    Me, I've got a statue in Dalaran, on one server...not even a nameplate...and that's about as much as I can expect in any MMO, really.

     

    Examples past games had were in-game player housing, shops, combat and non-combat player classes/paths, RP tools that allow players to interact with and entertain each other, tools for player-made quests, etc.  The list is quite long.  The simple feature of giving players a camp and camp fire to use while adventuring opens up all kinds of player interaction possibilities, for one tiny example.

    In the end, the game developers can and should provide the players with tools and systems that allow emergent game play.  I agree both devs and gamers make this happen together, and that there needs to be a lore/theme and larger goals for the players to use as a game play guide, but in the end the players are the only truly dynamic content.  Give them the right tools and context, and they will make the game transcend its design.  This is why some folks around here are fond of games that offered this experience in the past, such as Star Wars Galaxies.

    You speak of a statue in a game.  Well in SWG, I used to use my housing slots to put up "Hunting Lodges" in the middle of nowhere on a couple planets.  I would spend days/weeks setting them up, spend tons of credits and decorating them so that other players could enjoy them when they came across them in the wild, including having a vendor with camping/adventuring gear in it.  I would get tells from people all the time thanking me, and telling me that they were enjoying using them as part of their adventure  That's something I built that made the game world a better place for some people, and I used other people's content all the time as part of mine.  You just can't measure how important that is. 

    A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  • rpm1986rpm1986 TondelaPosts: 7Member
    So you want to make a living world? Start by making a world that is seamless instead of split into instanced zones where we have to see loading screens everywhere
  • MultibyteMultibyte Los Angeles, CAPosts: 76Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by rpm1986
    So you want to make a living world? Start by making a world that is seamless instead of split into instanced zones where we have to see loading screens everywhere

    This is the only thing that bothers me in GW2. It probably is related to server performance concerns but still I wish the zones was seamlessly connected. It definitely would contribute to the feeling of a real living world. Besides this I think they've been doing a good job.

  • simsalabim77simsalabim77 Somewhere, CAPosts: 627Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Purutzil

    Do we really need to have so many fluff articles posts up about GW2 every other day? We get it, fluff words that amount to very little content added to it. It gets obnoxious when something is pushed so hard on us with so many words and very little actual 'action' for it. 

    Don't be such a child. I'm sure if it were a "fluff" piece for a game you enjoyed, you would have no issue with it.

  • nerovipus32nerovipus32 dublinPosts: 2,735Member
    A themepark will never feel like a living world because it's all driven by content instead of community.  You can add all the raids, dungeons and battlegrounds you like but it will always end up becoming redundant.
  • ESSKAESSKA jacksonvill, FLPosts: 111Member
    You could you know.....like....not click on the link if you don't care about it. None of these articles are being pushed down anyone's throat. 
  • AnthurAnthur StolbergPosts: 686Member Uncommon
    As already stated GW2 is a themepark and therefore it can't have a living world. I once jhoped that dynamic quests would add some life to the wortld. But they don't. Not saying themeparks are bad, but they have no living world.
  • eye_meye_m Notta Chance, ABPosts: 3,132Member Uncommon
    I think that they should have intermittent hosted events like they had in the BWE's. Events like when the dragon flew over Ascalon and turned half the players into branded.  Short events that don't even have to create a lasting change in the world, would do wonders for making it seem more alive.

    All of my posts are either intelligent, thought provoking, funny, satirical, sarcastic or intentionally disrespectful. Take your pick.

    I get banned in the forums for games I love, so lets see if I do better in the forums for games I hate.

    I enjoy the serenity of not caring what your opinion is.

  • bliss14bliss14 eleva, WIPosts: 565Member
    Originally posted by Icewhite
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.

    Ideally, they do it together.

    But one of the drawbacks of "massive" is how difficult incorporating player contribution becomes. How many people do  you know that have permanent features of a game universe created by them? Or affected the lore in any way?

    Me, I've got a statue in Dalaran, on one server...not even a nameplate...and that's about as much as I can expect in any MMO, really.

     

    I hope your statue is pink.  It's like red but not quite. :)

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by bliss14

    I hope your statue is pink.

    Well, the only reason to mention it as all is to contrast.

    I got a statue for being first to down a raid boss, that SWG feller is proud of his housing...

    In a (pre-mmo) title I could name, I put the moons in the sky. Created the constellations and created several other parts of permanent "lore" too...all as a player, long before being paid for it.

    Roleplayers had to paint inside the lines; except once in a while, they got the opportunity to help create the lines. One of my friends was the major force behind an entire race (eventually added in on the software side).

    That was back when staff and players often worked together, instead of being adversarial. And yes, realistically it's a world that's now impossible thanks to that "Massive" that we all wanted.

    Took at least half a decade of growing disrespect to reach Us vs. Them, and another five years until GMs were typically denied contact with players to "limit liability".

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • AsamofAsamof La Canada, CAPosts: 738Member Uncommon
    did anyone else feel that GW2 HUGELY under delivered with the story? not to say that stories in MMOs matter at all, but it was a huge drop in quality compared to the original GW
  • BloodaxesBloodaxes ZabbarPosts: 2,650Member Uncommon

    I don't know about you people but I didn't feel the sense of adventure in guild wars 2 like in the elder scrolls, dark souls and other similar games and it definitely was not because of other people being around.

    My major complaint is having to hold right click or risk a ban using a mod BUT I also would have loved to see "jumping puzzles" more apparent in the normal world. 

    Why no mmo ever uses dangerous paths in maps? I would so love to have certain parts of the game were you have to watch your step or you can fall to death or traps and puzzles not restricted to some places only...

    Darks Souls part on the wooden bridges and such was so intense that my hands were sweating on the fear of falling off to death just to give an example.

    image

  • CalerxesCalerxes LondonPosts: 1,630Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Originally posted by Icewhite
    Originally posted by Razeekster
    Originally posted by MindTrigger
    Game developers don't make a game a living world.  The players do.

    Ideally, they do it together.

    But one of the drawbacks of "massive" is how difficult incorporating player contribution becomes. How many people do  you know that have permanent features of a game universe created by them? Or affected the lore in any way?

    Me, I've got a statue in Dalaran, on one server...not even a nameplate...and that's about as much as I can expect in any MMO, really.

     

    Examples past games had were in-game player housing, shops, combat and non-combat player classes/paths, RP tools that allow players to interact with and entertain each other, tools for player-made quests, etc.  The list is quite long.  The simple feature of giving players a camp and camp fire to use while adventuring opens up all kinds of player interaction possibilities, for one tiny example.

    In the end, the game developers can and should provide the players with tools and systems that allow emergent game play.  I agree both devs and gamers make this happen together, and that there needs to be a lore/theme and larger goals for the players to use as a game play guide, but in the end the players are the only truly dynamic content.  Give them the right tools and context, and they will make the game transcend its design.  This is why some folks around here are fond of games that offered this experience in the past, such as Star Wars Galaxies.

    You speak of a statue in a game.  Well in SWG, I used to use my housing slots to put up "Hunting Lodges" in the middle of nowhere on a couple planets.  I would spend days/weeks setting them up, spend tons of credits and decorating them so that other players could enjoy them when they came across them in the wild, including having a vendor with camping/adventuring gear in it.  I would get tells from people all the time thanking me, and telling me that they were enjoying using them as part of their adventure  That's something I built that made the game world a better place for some people, and I used other people's content all the time as part of mine.  You just can't measure how important that is. 

     

    This is all well and good for the players that like to make their own entertainment in MMO's but for me its seems as if modern developers have disregarded it as a way forward. I'm also sure they have thought about it. Every armchair dev loves to think their ideas are the savior of their favorite genre but have most probably been discussed and rejected by the dev's as not cost effective to make a game viable or too complicated to keep under control as you want to be able to foresee all outcomes to a feature before implementing it which is the opposite of what you are saying. Allowing too much freedom to players will not achieve that and make it harder for dev's to make the gameplay viable to all and not just a few who abuse the systems in place, think of FFA PvP as an example or the Jedi unlock in SWG. You give freedom to players to make their own entertainment sound and thats great but at the same time  you also give players the freedom to inhibit other players gameplay which isn't good and we all know who wins out in the end. 

     

    The failure of SWG was most probably the inherent difficulty in keeping the systems fair for all to play the way they want thus an unfinished game at launch, EvE tries its best with low and high sec space but many players don't like the fact you can get podded or scammed by other players, totally legal of course, and stay well away for that reason. Which then brings in more problems with funding a game that allows players to ruin others gameplay experience. Its easy to theorize about emergent gameplay systems but I feel the reality is too complicated to actually make it viable in modern MMO's. If you give people the tools to enhance others gameplay experience you'll give them the tools to do the opposite as well. MMO's are more democratic in their features these days and I don't see it changing much regardless of what John Smedley and other dev's are saying with their Sandbox rhetoric.

    This doom and gloom thread was brought to you by Chin Up™ the new ultra high caffeine soft drink for gamers who just need that boost of happiness after a long forum session.

  • SQTOSQTO victoria, BCPosts: 188Member
    the world felt bland and not alive to me because of the lack of pvp, and dont tell me that world pvp would go against the lore because every race fights their own race in the personal stories.
  • DeeterDeeter SO. SF, CAPosts: 135Member
    So how much is Anet paying you guys to keep writing all these pointless articles about this game?
  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,258Member Uncommon
    You can't make a living world centered around npcs It has to be the players. The players need systems that are living world like.
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