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Exclusive Interview

By Garrett Fuller on December 08, 2009 | Interviews | Comments

Exclusive Interview's Garrett Fuller recently sat down with Guild Wars 2 Lead Designer Eric Flannum, World Designer and Writer Ree Soesbee,and Environment Art Lead Dave Beetlestone to talk about the highly anticipated upcoming follow-up to the successful Guild Wars franchise.

The biggest question on everyone's mind is how will Guild Wars 2 be different from Guild Wars?

Eric Flannum:

Almost too many things to mention! Most if not all of the same philosophies behind the design of Guild Wars 1 were maintained for Guild Wars 2. However, once you take into account the major differences between the two games and start applying those philosophies, things tend to diverge quite a bit. The biggest differences include a fully persistent world, fully 3D engine, a less complex combat system with fewer overall skills, multiple playable races, and separate world servers. Each of these differences has an enormous impact on every decision we make from there.

One example of this was how the decision to have multiple playable races impacted the way we created armor for the game. In Guild Wars 1, every single profession had armor and animations that were specific to that profession. Multiplying the number of professions with the number of races in the game made it next to impossible for us to maintain the same armor system in Guild Wars 2. Because of this, we went to a much simpler armor system where professions use light, medium, or heavy armor. This has allowed us to provide each profession with a lot more diversity in what they can choose to wear. For example, in the past Rangers had to wear armor that tended to have a long coat and mask. They can still choose to wear an outfit that looks like that, but they now also have a much greater diversity of appearances to choose from.

Give us a short history of the new races in the game. What will players be able to choose?

Ree Soesbee:

There are five races available to play in GW2--the humans, charr, norn, asura and sylvari.

When a player creates a character in Guild Wars 2, they will be able to answer many questions about their personal character history. These answers will help determine your personal story in the game. As many fans have theorized, one of the first things you choose is a 'subdivision' of your race, which provides a more personal feel to your character's history. For the humans, that means their ancestry--Elonan, Krytan, Ascalonian and Canthan--and also their social status as gentry or commoners of the city of Divinity's Reach. For charr, it primarily means their legion, whether Blood, Ash, or Iron. The asura choose between the three most respected colleges of learning; Synergetics, Dynamics, and Statics. The sylvari follow the path of their seasonal cycle, or the time of day in which they awakened, being Dawn, Day, Twilight or Night. The norn choose their personal totem, and may choose to walk in the path of bear, snow leopard, raven or wolf. From these and other initial determinations, a wealth of personalized storylines develop, so that each player in the game experiences a story that is individually tailored to their character.

Eric Flannum:

There are five races available to play in GW2--the humans, charr, norn, asura and sylvari.

One thing that's important to note: the choices made to determine a character's personal storyline do not affect the power of the character. For example, a norn choosing to walk the path of bear can still choose to use snow leopard form instead of bear form.

The world design is expected to use less instancing than Guild Wars. Can you tell us what you have planned?

Eric Flannum:

We use a lot less instancing than we have in the past. The game is structured much more like other MMOs, with the world consisting almost entirely of fully persistent areas. That being said, we have a number of different ways in which we use instancing. Dungeons, for example, are instanced areas designed for group play. We also use instancing very heavily in the players' personal quest chain to reflect decisions that the player has made on those quests. For example, Logan Thackeray, captain of the Seraph, has an office located in Divinity's Reach; his office is instanced because we need to update his status based on choices the player has made.


The end game has become a critical element to MMOs. What plans do you have for the Guild Wars 2 end game?

Eric Flannum:

As you said, the end game is critical, and we've been considering our end game right from the beginning of development. That being said, we have three different end games to worry about: Player vs. Player, World vs. World, and Player vs. Environment. Each of these game types needs its own end game, since each of them has its own opening and mid games as well.

We aren't quite at a point where we can talk about specifics, but one thing I can say is that we want our various end games to be accessible to the average player. That means that we won't have massive multi-party raids that disallow smaller guilds and groups from taking part. We want our game to be as accessible as possible to the largest group of players possible.

You have mentioned that story telling is a large part of the design. How will this fit into the game play and player experience?

Ree Soesbee:

Guild Wars was built on a foundation of storytelling, and we plan to continue that through GW2, expanding the experience beyond anything that's ever been done before. Individualized quests, events that alter according to player interaction, and personalized character history are only a few of the many ways in which we encourage the players to make their story personal and unique.

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