One of my guildies (hat tip to Kote) posted a video on our forum that blew me away. Here's the youtube video. I wrote a prior piece here about slowing down and savoring GW2; I had no idea at the time just how deep that savory content was.
I played a Norn during the past two BWE's, and I enjoyed this particular area immensely and involved myself in the events played out in the above video 5-7 times. I thought I had a pretty good handle on what was going on in that sequence of events, but after watching this video I realized I hadn't seen anything.
I hadn't seen anything because I have been trained by countless MMOG hours to expect developers to put in minimal effort on anything less than end-game content. Who follows an NPC after they talk to them and it appears their conversaion is over and the "quest" or "event' is done? Who watches NPC kids play and see where they go and what they do? Who follows and talks to NPCs for several minutes and listens in on their conversations? Who expects anything - ANYTHING - to happen as a result other than the NPC to just say X in response to your Y and then do Z and then reset?
I actually spent 2-3 hours walking around in Lion's Arch and other places just listening to conversations and interacting. I didn't take the time then to follow NPCs much (outside of checking out their gear), but after watching this video I realized: as much as I enjoyed my "walkabout", I see now that had I followed up on those conversations and instances where NPC's began talking to me and telling me about things, who knows what would have happened?
This level of multi-faceted detail and storytelling in this part of the game is nothing short of amazing. It never even occurred to me that a developer might put in such fantastic, loving detail and texture and story, from several different perspectives, that could all be explored and found out, in what in other games is nothing but a throw-away area everyone rushes through to get to max level, with npc's that do nothing but stand in one place or do one thing over and over.
Yes, I have played WoW and AoC and have played to enjoy what powergamers would call "scrub" content - just normal areas of normal zones with essentially static NPCs. Of course, those areas were bare of any real depth, variety, and interest, but I made do. This video, however, shows me that ANET has hidden a king's feast in those areas other developers just throw together on their way to raid zones. Sure, you can rush through and miss it. You can take your time and still miss most of it. ANET challenges us to purposefully look deeper for the treasures it has embedded throughout the whole game, available for everyone and anyone who makes the effort.
I only thought what I was doing before was "savoring". My 13-year diet (since EQ came out) of empty, wasteland scraps has been revealed for what it was and replaced by a cornucopia of delights just waiting to be uncovered in GW2. With this kind of stuff to find, who cares about leveling?
Who ever thought a development team would take the time and effort to put this in a part of the game most players just rush through and would never notice?