Dark or Light

Factions Preview, Studio Tour

Carolyn Koh Posted:
Previews 0

Carolyn Koh visits ArenaNet's studio and sees what Factions has in store

On Thursday, March 9th, ArenaNet in Bellevue, WA held a small media event for their upcoming Guild Wars Campaign; Guild Wars Factions to be released on April 28th, 2006.

When I arrived at the appointed time, it was to find that the top line feature preview of Factions had been delivered by ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain and the studio tour was about to start. No biggie, I wasn’t the only one to miss the preview presentation, and joined the tour. As we toured the studio, one thing was evident. There was a lot of excitement in the air as Guild Wars Factions neared one of the last major milestone of the Release… locking down its art for release.

Concept Art

Children's Art

Concept Art

The walls of the ArenaNet’s offices are covered in art. Concept art, scribbles and doodles adorned the walls and a “Wish-board” with items such as chickens, cockroaches and crates. We were walked from office to office and introduced to the various teams. The Creature team, Landscape, Animators, Player Character – carefully steered away from the Chapter 3 team – except for the animator who showed us a fantastic Unicorn with Hippogriphic details that had one calling it a “Goldfish” Unicorn. We were told - tongue in cheek according to ArenaNet - that Chapter 3 would be Unicorn themed.

Guild Wars Factions takes place in Cantha - an Asian inspired three-nation continent and ArenaNet’s Asian partners assisted in providing the art team with large picture boards of Asian faces that were considered cute/sexy/handsome/etc. to assist them in creation of new player characters.

Alliances: Players in Guild Wars Factions will be able to form Guild Alliances: Allied guilds share alliance chat and can visit each other’s guild halls. Alliances can also gain control of cities and towns in Cantha by participating in Alliance Missions, which gives them the ability to trigger events and gain access to exclusive areas. Factions: Players will be able to align themselves with one of two warring factions, and participate in Faction Battles. The outcome of these battles influences the progress of the war between the two factions and the alliance can gain and hold territory. Current battle lines and control of cities and towns is visible on the world map. However, there will always be a limit as to how far this battle line will move on either side. Capital Cities will remain inviolate. Missions: Four new mission types are available:

  • Challenge Missions: Cooperative missions with specific scoring objectives, such as holding out against progressive waves of enemies. Personal bests and high scores will be tracked and displayed in game.
  • Elite Missions: The most powerful alliances will have access to new areas that are designed to be the ultimate cooperative challenge.
  • Alliance Missions: Multiple teams compete to control resource points and achieve strategic victory. Victors earn faction points for their alliance that will determine control of towns and outposts.
  • Faction Battles: Large-scale, strategic PvP battles that allow factions to conquer new territory.
Professions: Two new professions:
  • Assassin – able to shadow-step to enemies. To quickly insert themselves behind the enemy ranks and strike.
  • Ritualist – a “dark” priest which summons spirits to aid them in battle.

Hands-On Factions
We were introduced to two of the four mission types that will be available in Factions, and we played each one of the new professions in two different scenarios. During the tour, we had seen the animators working on the dance animations and the “Signature” dances which will also include particle effects and NPC backup dancers, so the first thing everyone did was to try out the dance animation. With Game Designers Eric Flannum and John Peters coaching and accompanied by several other devs that provided back-up characters other than Assassins and Ritualists, we were off.

Alliance Mission – Here, I saw the power of the Assassin. As long as you have line of sight and a viable path to your target, you have the ability to “shadow-step” or teleport to it and strike. The Alliance Mission is much like a “capture the flag” mission, except that there are multiple flags and we had a blast racing over the landscape following the people that knew what they were doing and where they were going, the devs.

Challenge Mission – The mission we played was complete with storyline and cut scenes. When you reach a critical point in the mission, it cuts to the movie and player characters are picked up as actors, complete with voice-overs.

Then we /danced again. Stripped our characters down to their base “dress” and danced. Just like a microcosm of any gathering spot on any server, in any MMO, we set our characters dancing.

Artist Workstation

Concept Art

Dancing Characters

Interview with Jeremy Soule – Lead Composer
Developers are beginning to realize the importance of sound and music in MMOs. Just like the advent of surround sound enriched the movie experience, the MMO experience is being enriched and enhanced by reputable composers and sound engineers in the game industry. Although mixed for 5.1 surround (5 channels – 2 front, 2 back, 1 center and a subwoofer), Guild Wars music is currently delivered in stereo. Few games currently deliver sound in 5.1 format but Jeremy assures me that this is not long in coming.

As games and gamers move from the “geek in the basement” stereotype to the mainstream Dad, Mom and kids in the entertainment room of today, I do not doubt that MMOs will soon begin to deliver sound in 5.1 channel formats.

Guild Wars provides an option to download music through Direct Song Players wishing for better sound for a more immersive experience in Guild Wars, may purchase upgraded music packages. There are some free downloads available; the Sorrow’s Furnace mini-pak is provided free.

  • Pages: 
  • 1
  • 2


Carolyn Koh

Carolyn Koh / Carolyn Koh has been writing for MMORPG.com 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.