Ben Miller, Game Designer for ArenaNet, has just posted a new blog post on the processes of developing an online world.
Every company has its secrets: secret recipes, secret codes, secret programs, and secret ways of doing things. Some secrets are kept for important spy reasons, and some are kept simply because no one bothers sharing them. The secrets I’m sharing in this blog post are equal parts both.
Some developers might wish there was a secret recipe book for designing an online world—some big ol’ Betty Crocker-style book with chapters like “Combat System” and “Interactive Story Telling,” containing recipes for “Melee Weapons” and “Compelling Main Characters.” And they’d wish all you had to do was add in the particulars specified and work on each bit for the required amount of time.
The truth is that designing an online world is a lot like the real world. It’s messy business. It’s organic. It’s chaotic. The mental space in which you are creating is different from moment to moment with assumptions and extrapolations piling into a confusing tangle that only your gut has time to sort out. It’s like a turbulent ocean storm of ideas, processes, people, and collaboration.
At ArenaNet there aren’t really recipes, nor are there secrets, but there are the high-level design principles that have guided our design process of Guild Wars 2. They have been the stars in the night sky that have kept this ship from running aground on more than one occasion. You can see them reflected in the combat, in the story, in the event system, even in the world map. Every aspect of the game has been touched and shaped by one or more of these “golden rules.”
You can read the article in its entirety here.