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Interviews: Interview with Game Designer Jeff Grubb

By Carolyn Koh on July 27, 2010

Interview with Game Designer Jeff Grubb

Guild Wars 2 is set some 250 – 300 years after Guild Wars 1 and the face of Tyria has changed as the Elder Dragons have awoken and moved across the lands. When Kralkatorrik the Crystal Dragon awoke and flew across the land, all that she passed was blighted. The lands under her flight path turned black and the plants and animals turned into crystalline life forms of their former self. That is the power of the Dragons. Kralkatorrik did not have an agenda to despoil the lands. She was simply flying elsewhere, to a destination only she knew. The destruction in her wake was simply a manifestation of what she was.


With time comes change and with change comes advancement. The might of the humans has shrunk. The Norns and the Charr have pushed back to conquer lands that once were theirs, the Asura have been driven from their underground cities and the Sylvari have come into being. Grown fully formed from the mother tree, each born with the knowledge of others that had gone before them and returned back to share their knowledge with the yet unborn.

Guild Wars 2 will have five playable character races, races previously introduced in Guild Wars 1 expansions, the Norn, the Charr, the Asura, the Sylvari and the humans. Game Designer and author Jeff Grubb was present at Comic Con to speak of the world and story of Guild Wars 2 and the new series of novels that are being published, based in the world of Guild Wars.

“The big differences are the new player races,” said Jeff, “as well as the persistent world.”

The main thrust of the Guild Wars 2 story, is that the Elder Dragons are waking up all over Tyria, and the coming together of the races to combat them. In the game, choices and events will have consequences. The cycle and chain of events will create a sense of growth in the story. There are two stories in Guild Wars, the story of events, and the story of you, the player. Your experiences are unique and as you make different choices, different opportunities will open up to you, playing out against the backdrop of the greater world events.

ArenaNet will still use instancing for some raids and quests in Guild Wars 2, but the persistent world is where it’s at for the game and that is where most of the cycle and chain of events and the stories will play out.

Together with their efforts for the game, a series of three independent Guild Wars novels are planned with Simon and Schuster, under their Pocket Star books imprint.

“The novels will fill in the bits between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2,” said Jeff. “They will fill in the bits of lore and enrich and deepen the experience of Tyria and Guild Wars.”

Each novel is an independent book, but the stories and characters will interweave and will tell the story of how the races came together. How the truce between the Charr and the Humans came about, told through the smaller stories of the adventurers and heroes of Tyria.

Ghosts of Ascalon is the title of the first book, co-written by Jeff Grubb and Matt Forbeck which tells the story of Dougal Keene, a human thief who faced the Ghosts of Ascalon and survived. In the book, the story of Ascalon is also told from the Human and Charr side.

“Writing the books have helped ArenaNet develop the world,” said Jeff. “The information and characters will be folded back into the world, so indeed, players will find Dougal Keene in game.”

The areas that are described in the novels will also be found in game, and without revealing too much of the novel, we can assume that the city of Ascalon will be an adventure zone and that there will be ghosts, and the Dragonbrand (the swatch of land branded by Kralkatorrik’s flight) will be a crunchy crystalline land filled with crunchy crystalline mobs.

An extract from the first novel may be found on and the second titled Edge of Destiny will be available later in the year. As to whether the series will continue, it really depends on how this first set of three are received. Jeff was kind enough to give me Ghosts of Ascalon and sign it for me, and I’ve already read it. It’s an easy read with good pacing. I’m a sucker for mythology, well developed worlds and adventure stories of daring-do if written well, and it was. Even for someone not well schooled in the world of Guild Wars, I was able to easily slip into the land of Tyria as I followed our motley band of adventurers into Ascalon to retrieve a legendary weapon that would assist in forging the truce between the Charr and Humans.

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn has been writing for since 2004 and about the MMO genre since 1999. These days she plays mobile RTS games more, but MMOs will always remain near and dear to her heart.