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Columns: Playing Solo Together

By William Murphy on September 27, 2010

Playing Solo Together

Back at PAX Prime I got to sit in on a rather revealing and simultaneously engaging developer panel with the folks at ArenaNet that was all about the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2. While taking it all in, Jon, Garrett and I each kept looking to each other and saying something along the lines of “Man… this is how WAR should have taken the Public Quest system.” And that’s not to bring down Mythic’s game either. If it weren’t for their Public Quest system the chances are that we wouldn’t even be seeing the kind of “Dynamic Events” ArenaNet is pumping us up for. Mythic’s creation seems to be exactly what drove the Guild Wars 2 team to design their own system, and they’re just taking what they learned from past iterations and applying those lessons to their own sequel.


One of the things I never really could get over when it came to the original Guild Wars (and I’m speaking mainly of the original client, not its subsequent releases) is that I couldn’t solo as effectively in Tyria as I could in Azeroth. WoW, like many other folks out there, spoiled me and showed me that there could be equal amounts of both solo and group content and that my day to day didn’t have to be spent looking for a hunting party. Warhammer Online took this another step further with their Public Quest system, giving players shared objectives in areas and giving them the tools to easily and quickly join into groups to conquer the PQs and then be on their merry ways.

But there was a fundamental problem. The Public Quests in WAR didn’t scale accordingly.

So when the general playerbase quickly and inevitably moved on to higher level areas, those who were playing alts or just joining the game found PQs that they couldn’t complete and in short order a lot of content Mythic had spent oodles of time designing became obsolete. Sure enough it’s somewhat better these days since the team has had a chance to go back and do a “double-take”, but that’s the kind of thing ArenaNet wants to avoid altogether.

To that end, they’ve designed their system from the ground up to scale with each person that enters or leaves the designated event area. One person starts it, and it’ll be targeted to just that person. But when more come, and the next stage begins it’ll alter the amount of enemies and the difficulty to match the amount of people there. When we asked the team whether they’d taken into account the effects of people who show up and just go AFK or don’t do any work and just hope to get rewards they assured us that the “Karma” system for rewards takes actual numbers and actions performed into effect. They also assured us that the AFK folk would likely fall in battle before they had any real chance to ruin the fun for you and others.

And this is just one of the many areas that ArenaNet seems to be pushing the envelope with Guild Wars 2. Dynamic Events do sound exactly like the kind of thing players have been wanting for years. While there’s no permanence to the results, the world changing aspects are there and for the effects to be changed back someone will have to come along and trigger another event. The world will actually be in a state of flux. And what’s more is that these events are designed for anyone of any play-style to come along and join in on. With the scalable nature of them all, it means the developers don’t have to worry so much about content going unused in the future either. I guess my only real concern with the emphasis on Dynamic Events is whether or not they’ll make the standard questing system of old completely obsolete. But while nostalgia might tug at my urges to go out and collect boar intestines for a farmer, something tells me that if the Dynamic Events system keeps evolving, eventually I just won’t care.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.
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