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Factions Preview, Studio Tour

Carolyn Koh Posted:
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ArenaNet Studio Tour & Legions Preview (Page 2 of 2)

Chat with the Founders
Arenanet’s founders have an impressive background in developing PC games. Jeff Strain, Mike O’Brien and Patrick Wyatt all came from Blizzard and have under their collective belts, programming and development experience with Starcraft, Warcraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft and battle.net

Categorizing Guild Wars as an MMO has been an interesting point of debate since the game was first shown at E3. In a chat with the Founders, I tried to determine what exactly the game was. What differentiates it from the other MMOs currently out there, and why? As questions were asked and answered, I gleaned several excellent pieces of information to share with MMORPG.com readers.

The game itself is different. Two goals of Guild Wars set it apart from other MMOs: Minimize the amount of repetitive actions a player has to perform to become a respectable force in the gaming world, and also to keep a player's dependency on game items to stay competitively low. How well a player uses the character's skills is what really counts.

Guild Wars provides players the option of choosing “pre-built” character templates to create a character. Most of the builds were gifts to ArenaNet from top guilds around the country. As skills are upgraded during class and skill balances, players create different builds to counter each other’s skills.

Game Designer Eric Flannum expanded on the new professions in Factions,

“We operate with constantly improving checks and balances. The early Assassin teleported with line of sight, but that proved much too powerful and currently, you can only shadow-step if there is a viable path available. No doubt, players will quick figure out ways to counter this. Players will also find that Ritualists will neutralize each other. If one team has a couple of Ritualists, the other is going to need one to counter them.”

Mike O’Brien talked about operating in a live environment.

“Guild Wars is developed on machines that you and I use. Not on the super high end machines that only 1% of the gaming population can afford, so we are able to accept a wide cross-section of gamers in our beta tests. We deliver using streaming technology. It’s okay. You CAN patch and we do. We release new builds as needed instead of saving it up for a gargantum patch.”

Patt Wyatt talked about the Observer Mode which is equivalent to an instant replay on a televised game.

“Apart from the popularity among players, it has given us a lot of insight as we watched players in various beta tests and in competition. What you see is what you would see if you were in the event. You have the ability to see what a player’s opponent would be able to see.”

On the drawing board now, are visual cues so that players will be able to tell what is being cast on you and will be able to take steps to counter them.

About a dozen developers work on the Live Event team – among other things – and the focus on events is in the in-game story line, although Holiday type events have proven very popular. Once again, the use of streaming technology that allows Guild Wars to react very quickly also allows them to create live events with significant changes to a character’s skills.

In the Snowball fight during the Christmas season, Players entering the PvP instance found their skills changed. “Rock inside Snowball” was one new skill players discovered they had.

Finally, Guild Wars is different from most MMORPG's in that it will never have any additional recurring fees, but will base revenue on game expansions/sequels, or "campaigns". These expansions are planned for release every six months, but in between, players will still get free content updates, such as the “Sorrow’s Furnace” expansion. [Editor's Note: After publish, ArenaNet PR contacted us to correct the last sentence. They say that no free content is actually in the plans.]

As a follow-up “Chapter” to Guild Wars Prophecies, this is touted as a stand-alone game and is priced like one. One can purchase and play Factions without the need to purchase Prophecies, and beginning on March 24th, current players and new can try it out in a Preview Event.

But wait…. Is it an MMO? ArenaNet prefer the term CORPG. A term coined by the developers for Competitive Online Role Playing Game. With the concept of Faction Battles and Alliance Missions however, where lines of battle move over the landscape in a persistent world, it begins to move towards the accepted definition of an MMO just a smidgeon more.

Is it an expansion? Is it a sequel? Is it its own game. You let us know in our comment thread.

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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.