San Diego Comic Con 2011 – Guild Wars 2 Panel

This panel focused on how Guild Wars 2 will be moving to change the way social gaming works in a Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game. With everything that the game is proposing and showing it has a great chance of honestly changing just how an MMORPG can be played. Present at the panel were Colin Johanson, the Lead Content Programmer, Leah Rivera for Content Design, Bobby Stein, the Lead Writer, Kristen Perry, a Character Artist and Kekai Kotaki, the lead Concept Artist.

Colin took charge of the panel to answer some of the more basic questions about the game. The first was if it was going to be as highly instanced as the first game, to which the answer was no. Guild Wars 2 is going to feature a persistent world, one shared by all around. The second was if there was going to be Jumping or Swimming to which the answer was Yes. In fact he was very clear that there was going to be a lot of underwater content as well. The third was how you were going to pay for it, which was simple to answer, you buy the game and that is it. From there he started to talk about some of the social aspects of the game. It was designed for people to play games and build a community through it. Everyone can help others for Experience and Loot Rolls. Everyone can resurrect anyone around and it has rewards.

Next he talked about combat and how Guild Wars 2 is looking to change everything known in the MMO world. Within Traditional MMO Combat there is a Holy Trinity of Classes and Styles: The Tank, Healer and DPS. While this Holy Trinity works as a whole, it still has it problems. These roles honestly limit what someone can do inside an MMO, forcing them to play the game a particular way, not what they would want to play. An example is that long wait a group of people can have waiting to get the last pieces of a team to launch into a raid or dungeon. He referred to this as waiting to have fun and not something that should be incorporated into Guild Wars 2. In Guild Wars 2, everyone has a healing skill and there is no need to target these skills, simply use them. This alone removes the role of Healer. No part of the trinity survived in whole. Anyone can freely change their role in combat quickly and easily. One can go from the tank, playing as a tank, to the back to begin a ranged assault with minimal effort. This means that no player is stuck in one role. That ultimately gives the player the freedom to take up not the aspect but the troupe or concept of the character they would want to play.

Leah spoke next about something new in the world of Guild Wars 2, Dynamic Events. This is something new in the world of MMO's. These are truly dynamic story lines that will show what the world within Guild Wars 2 is capable of. This system is yet another thing that will help people bond together. Any given area can have a huge number of this occurring simultaneously. These events will be paced and respond to how the players react. If people do not, say, stop a Centaur invasion on a town, that town will be taken over and need to be recaptured. There will be subsequent quest that change based on this. If captured, the village will offer quests to free the captured villagers and eventually retake the village. If the village is protected, you instead have quests to assault the Centaur village and kill their leaders. Within that one chain there are a number of variables that can change how any of it will play out. A second thing to understand about all this there are thresholds to be achieved and through that receive rewards for your own efforts even when working with a group. From all that, your own homeland can change, with friends you have made in the village.

Next up to speak was Bobby. He talked about the changes they implemented for the Quest Giving system. It is one thing to be told about a squad of marauding monsters while quite another to see them actually charging at you. Say you come across a village on fire, under attack. The villages will honestly be fighting for their lives and have you both fight the invaders and the fire, giving you orders. Their goal is to build a quest system that is more about getting people involved and invested in the game than the traditional long winded quest explanation. They are still there but very few and far between. Bobby figured that over the 250 years their manner of speech would change, keep it simple and to the point. At the core it is all about keeping the people involved.

Kristen was next on the panel, talking about character customization. To aid in making it possible to build a more unique armor set, all armor has been broken into three categories: Light, Medium and Heavy. There will be many professions within each of the armor classes. A second option was also expanded upon too, the Dye system. In the original Guild Wars you could color any part of your armor what you chose. Now you can add up to three different layers of dye to any given piece of armor, you are limited only by the piece of armor itself. Later on she added that there will be an incredible variety of options, lots of sliders, to give you a lot of variety within sensible limits.

At this point things opened up to the floor for questions. The first one was to Kekai, asking what it was to be the head of the concept art team. He explained it was a lot of meetings and management. He needed to have work and to set goals for everyone. He was the face of that part of the Guild Wars 2 team and had to keep them in touch with everyone else.

The next question was directed at Kristen, about the quiet redesign of the Sylvari. She felt it was a tough race to design in the first place, as they are a plant race. This was made more challenging by the fact the oldest of the race is only 25 years old! The design needed to be changed to better reflect the lore that surrounded them. Some people thought that the Sylvari would be more elfen while others expected something along the line of an Ent. In the end, it was apparently a blend of both that was the final result. This apparent creation looks like something a Norn, the most glory driven race in the world of Tyria, could have stand next to it and look like it can stand up to it. The new design will apparently be revealed at Gamers Con and PAX. She told us clearly that she will reveal more through her blogs about the lore as time goes on. She also mentioned that the final profession will be revealed before the year is out.

Another question asked at the panel was how the chat system worked. Bobby explained that there would be chat channels similar to what we had seen in Guild Wars, but much more refined. We will see more on this later but he told us only that there would be map, Guild and local channels. There are unique needs, he explained, that need to be met for the dynamic world model they are going for.

An important question that came up was about redistributing your character's skill points. Bobby assured us that there will be one but at present it was unfinished. It has something to go up against as the original Guild Wars allowed for constant redistribution.

One last question of note was about the Dynamic Events, if they would self-resolve. The answer, provided by Colins, was they would stay at a point until players did something about it. The chains within the event will stop at particular points until someone comes along and manages to move events forward.

The best question was saved for last though, who would win in a battle of a Norn against a Charr. The answer came back on how angry the Charr was compared to how drunk the Norn!