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Guild Wars 2
By Allen 'Delsyn' Rausch
ArenaNet takes a big gamble with a sequel to their mega-hit MMO Guild Wars.
I recently spent some time on the phone with ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain and a number of the Guild Wars development crew. After talking to them, I've come to realize that they're crazy. Or they might be geniuses. Or maybe both. How else do you explain the decision by a developer to just abandon a successful MMO? Guild Wars launched in April 2005 amidst a flurry of critical praise and PvP fan huzzahs. The unusual MMO experience had no monthly fee to play. Players simply bought the game and could play as much as they wanted for as long as they wanted. The company would make its money with a series of stand-alone content additions that would be released every six months or so. This resulted in the highly successful Factions and Nightfall campaigns. Then ArenaNet dropped a bombshell. The next campaign in the series was being cancelled in favor of Eye of the North, the game's first true expansion pack. Even bigger news than that was that Eye of the North would be the last product for the original Guild Wars. Instead of new campaigns, there would instead be a full-blown sequel called Guild Wars 2. I wondered why, when most MMOs are designed to run for years and years (if not in perpetuity), ArenaNet would mess with something that was clearly working? This conversation would be my chance to find out. "We're All Very Educated About Guild Wars." "We're not really excited by the idea of changing something that people are attached to." The voice coming through the speaker is that of Mike O'Brian, one of the co-founders of ArenaNet. "But we're learning all the time about the ways that people play MMOs. We learn from the successes and failures or competitive products, of course, but mostly we've learned a lot about the way people play Guild Wars. After two years of working and supporting the product, we're all very educated about Guild Wars and we have a pretty good idea of what the ultimate Guild Wars experience should be." According to O'Brian, the genesis for Guild Wars 2 came about during the planning stages for the next Guild Wars campaign. "Guild Wars is a really unique game," O'Brian said. "In looking at the design, we got a lot of things right. The problem was that after two years we also saw a lot of ways in which the core gameplay could be improved. These weren't things that could be addressed by adding new layers on top of the original game, though. They involved going in and making upgrades and improvements to the fundamental gameplay systems. In the end we made the decision that in order to truly make the ultimate version of Guild Wars we were going to have to make Guild Wars 2." Jeff Strain jumped in to continue O'Brian's thought and give some concrete examples of changes between the original game and Guild Wars 2. "It's always difficult in an operating MMO to go in and change fundamental gameplay systems because you tend to be carried forward by your own momentum." He mentions that other MMOs have tried to do this with disastrous results and while he doesn't mention any single game by name, I'm reminded of the Star Wars: Galaxies and its nightmarish New Game Experience. "Part of it is just that we found that layering complexities on top of existing gameplay systems kept existing players happy at the expense of bringing new players into the game. When the tutorial levels keep getting bigger and more complicated, there needs to be some reassessment of what you're doing." Jeff's first concrete example of the perils of overcomplicating things was the concept of leveling. "The level cap in Guild Wars is 20," he said. "We set it deliberately low to let players know that the game is not all about leveling but about player skill. By the time players hit the level cap, they'll actually only be about halfway through the story and they need to look for other ways to improve their character. What we found was that while players understood and appreciated that, at the end of the day, they still want to level their character. They want an unambiguous tangible marker that displays their progress in the game. We want to give them that, but every system in the game is built around a level 20 character. Raising the cap in the current game breaks every piece of content we have." The new game will have a much higher level cap - and the team is actually playing around with the idea of having no cap at all. Missing Out On Social Opportunities One of the major new additions to Guild Wars 2 is persistent world areas. The original game was entirely instanced which, according to the ArenaNet team, did wonders for their ability to tell a story (there's a major event in the middle of the original game that completely alters the world forever). "What you lose in an entirely instanced game is a lot of social opportunities," Mike O'Brian said. "There's a lot to be said for running into the same people over and over again. If you run with a pick-up group and you never meet them again, it can make a completely instanced game a very lonely experience." While Guild Wars 2 will contain a lot of instanced mission content, it will also sport a lot of shared landscape and will also be divided up into different servers filled with smaller groups of people in the manner of traditional MMOs. Strain is quick to emphasize that that doesn't mean that players will be ghettoized into their own unique shards. "We're doing this to create more of a neighborhood feeling," Strain said. "But we also want people to be able to switch worlds easily and also interact with players from other worlds." In order to do this, the team is introducing a big addition to the game's lauded PvP systems called "World PvP." Into the Mists "Guild Wars had two kinds of play -- RPG and PvP," Strain said. The much-lauded Guild Wars PvP system was designed to completely skill-based, not (as in many other MMOs) dependent on equipment found in the PvE section of the world. In fact, players who only want to participate in the PvP aspects of the game can eschew leveling altogether and jump straight into a level 20 PvP character and do nothing but guild battles for their entire Guild Wars experience. They've been notably successful at implementing this, as the many positive reviews of the game's PvP aspect have attested. The issue for the team was that as the game evolved, the PvP and RPG aspects of the game have started to diverge. "We're very proud of our PvP system." Strain said. "We've had plenty of tournaments, world championships and other big Guild Wars events. That's our high-end PvP experience and we certainly don't plan on abandoning that. We want to enhance that aspect of the game in Guild Wars 2." According to the team, the problem with high-end PvP is the learning curve. With so many skilled players, there's no way in Guild Wars to gently introduce players to the concept of PvP. Newbies can be brutalized by the experience of letting teammates down as they develop the skills to be competitive in PvP. "World PvP is the solution for that problem." Strain said. "It acts as a bridge between the RPG world and the high-end PvP world." World PvP takes place in something called "The Mists." This is the nether region that exists between different world shards. In it, different worlds will be set against each other on a large battlefield that has a variety of objectives to attain. Large crews can attempt to seize gigantic castles while smaller group can work on protecting supply chains that feed giant catapults or capturing guard towers or defending important choke points. They key element, according to Strain is that nobody can be a detriment in World PvP. "There's no reason not to go out there because anything you do helps." Strain said. "Everyone reaps the benefits of your efforts while really good players or guilds can be recognized." "World PvP also teaches players core competencies that allow them to get involved in the high-end PvP if they wish," Strain said One of the key goals of the design team is to create a world where players don't have to spec out different PvP and RPG characters. They want players to be able to smoothly transition between one and the other. "There may be different player skills involved in a tournament match, but they should be able to use the same character they just used to capture a castle in the Mists." Eye of the North Guild Wars 2 takes place roughly 250 years after the end of Eye of the North, Guild Wars's first and last official expansion pack. "The general theme is one where humanity, dominant in Guild Wars, is besieged on all sides and they're worried that their day is coming to an end." The speaker is Eric Flannum, the design lead for Guild Wars 2. "The Charr in Ascalon have all but taken over and a whole bunch of non-human races that we'll be introducing in Eye of the North have finally reached an equal footing with humanity. That allows us to set up a four way competitive dynamic but we're also introducing a fifth faction, a common enemy that threatens the whole world." According to Flannum, one of the team's design goals is to structure the world differently. Rather than the very linear world of Guild Wars which was designed to tell a very big story, Guild Wars 2. will instead be persistent where the player will uncover pieces of the great story in what they're calling "story bubbles." The team likes to compare it to the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting where players can participate in multiple story arcs rather than just one large one. "Eye of the North provides a direct bridge to Guild Wars 2," O'Brian said. "We want everyone to eventually move on to Guild Wars 2." In order to do this, one of the major element introduced in Eye of the North will be the Hall of Monuments. This museum will allow players to store many of the great armor, weapons and achievements they've accumulated in tfhe first Guild Wars and transfer them to the new game. The Hall of Monuments will still exist 250 years after the end of the first game and the player's new character will be considered a descendent of their original. As such they're entitled to some of the older stuff that will be displayed in cases inside the hall. Players won't be able to bring everything with them. Some of the old skills and weapons won't make the transfer to the new game, but the team wants players who've invested so much time into the original game to not have to lose that when they start the new game. The Old World That, of course opens up the question of what happens to the first Guild Wars when the new game launches. "Nothing," Strain said. "If people want to continue playing Guild Wars 1 they can. We're going to continue to support it and there's no 'cut-off' date when we're going to shut off the lights. In the end, though, we expect everyone will migrate to the new game." And the business model? "The same," Strain said. "No monthly fee and we'll be bringing out new content for purchase on a regular basis." He wouldn't elaborate further on exactly how that worked save to say that it probably wouldn't be the same 'Campaign' system they used for the original game. "ArenaNet is the Guild Wars company," Strain concluded. "We've got about 100 people here focused on nothing but what's best for Guild Wars. The new campaigns were great, but in the end, that wasn't what our players wanted. They wanted a deeper experience that we just weren't going to be able to provide for them in the original. Thus Guild Wars 2." And what about the future? "Well, we're not saying anything, but assuming everything goes well, there's no reason for the franchise to end with Guild Wars 2." Strain said. Back to Top

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Guild Wars 2 English Interview with ArenaNet By Thomas Bayer After the announcement of Guild Wars 2 and the expansion Eye of the North there was a lot of excitement within the Guild Wars community. But more than that there were a lot of questions. So we picked up the phone and called everyone at Arena.net who could give us the answers. And here we go: Jeff Strain (Co-Founder of Arena.net and Programmer), Mike O'Brien (Co-Founder of Arena.net and Programmer), Ben Miller (Game Designer) and Christopher Lye (Director of Marketing NCSoft) gave us a lot of insights into Guild Wars 2. gamona: Rumors about Guild Wars not being profitable are still alive, although you sold an impressive number of copies. Is it really possible to run an MMO just out of box sales income? Arena.net: If you sell 3 million of anything, nearly every business model is profitable (laughs). Serious: Guild Wars has been designed from base to support a no cost model. Not having a monthly fee is something we're going to keep in any circumstance. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Jeff Strain, Co-Founder and Programmer, currently leads the production and art teams for Guild Wars. Prior to the founding of ArenaNet, Jeff was the team lead and lead programmer of Blizzard's massively multiplayer role-playing game, World of Warcraft. He was also a senior programmer on both Warcraft III and StarCraft, and a programmer on Diablo. Jeff was the creator of the StarCraft Campaign Editor and was employed at Blizzard for four years"]Jeff Strain, Co-Founder and Programmer, currently leads the production and art teams for Guild Wars. Prior to the founding of ArenaNet, Jeff was the team lead and lead programmer of Blizzards massively multiplayer role-playing game, World of Warcraft. He was also a senior programmer on both Warcraft III and StarCraft, and a programmer on Diablo. Jeff was the creator of the StarCraft Campaign Editor and was employed at Blizzard for four years[/caption] Guild Wars is a huge success for us and introducing a monthly fee would be a complete breach with our philosophy. Of course an MMO produces more costs than a standard offline game, which you just have to sell and then can nearly forget about follow up costs. But on the other hand, it's not really THAT expensive - even if this is common belief. And as you can probably imagine, companies running MMO which have to be paid for on a regular basis are quite happy if everyone thinks they have huge costs. (laughs) Having a no cost model gives us the additional advantage of not having to implement new content by all means just to keep people playing (and paying) to remain profitable. If someone wants you take a break (and possibly come back again at a later date) that's perfectly fine for us and we don't have to worry about losing a paying customer. gamona: You already announced some of the new races in Guild Wars 2 (Humans, Charr, Norn, Asura, Sylvari). What other races will we be able to play? Arena.net: Sorry, but that's super-duper-secret. I can't tell you anything about that, not even when we're going to announce new details. What I can tell you is that the newplayable races are even shown or shadowed in Eye of the North (EotN, announced for summer 2007). By introducing the new races and their stories, EotN will act as a "bridge" between GW 1 and GW 2. gamona: With Guild Wars 2 you're going to introduce a persistent world. How many people will be able to play on one server/shard at a time? Arena.net: That's not finalized yet but it's more a design decision than a technical restriction, because our technology is able to handle quite large numbers of players. So we will have to put the player cap in a way which avoids both abandoned and overcrowded areas. Eventually, the maximum number of concurrent players is a secondary thing, because of our global player database which allows players to join any server/world they want to. This is a key feature to us, because it gives our players much greater freedom of choice than in other MMO's. playable races are even shown or shadowed in Eye of the North (EotN, announced for summer 2007). By introducing the new races and their stories, EotN will act as a "bridge" between GW 1 and GW 2. gamona: With Guild Wars 2 you're going to introduce a persistent world. How many people will be able to play on one server/shard at a time? Arena.net: That's not finalized yet but it's more a design decision than a technical restriction, because our technology is able to handle quite large numbers of players. So we will have to put the player cap in a way which avoids both abandoned and overcrowded areas. Eventually, the maximum number of concurrent players is a secondary thing, because of our global player database which allows players to join any server/world they want to. This is a key feature to us, because it gives our players much greater freedom of choice than in other MMO's. gamona: Are you going to keep the "8 skill system" from Guild Wars in Guild Wars 2 or at least use a similar one? Arenat.net: The skill system used in Guild Wars gives us great possibilities to make our game exciting and tactically challenging in the long run. The limitation to eight skills at a time stresses the tactical component and makes it possible to discover and try out new stuff constantly, even for high level characters. For this reasons, we will definitely have a similar system in Guild Wars 2. Unfortunately, I can't give you any further details on this. But one thing is for sure: The basic mechanisms of the Guild Wars 8-skill-system will also be in Guild Wars 2. gamona: Will there still be teleporters in Guild Wars 2 or will players have to rely on mounts or similar means of transportation? Arena.net: We think having teleports in the game is a very cool feature, especially when you're playing with your friends. Instead running through the world endlessly, you can jump to any important location by just "pressing a button". We always try to avoid artificial bottlenecks in our games, so there will be no radical changes to the teleport/transportation system in Guild Wars 2. gamona: We heard some rumors about the level cap, which is said to be much higher in Guild Wars 2 than in Guild Wars (150 instead of 20). Why did you decide to raise the level cap that drastically and how is character development going to look like after reaching the cap? Arena.net: We know that there are some quite "precise" numbers ("Level 150") floating around. First of all, I'd like to say that there has been no final decision about the level cap yet. The numbers you heard should rather illustrate the fundamental idea of the "new" level system. What is sure by now is that we will have a much higher level cap in Guild Wars 2 than in Guild Wars or even won't have a cap at all. The reason for this is that in Guild Wars, the game does not really start until level 20. But after reaching the level cap - although there are so many ways in developing your character - Guild Wars is lacking public recognition of character development, because the level does not increase any more. That's what we're going to change in Guild Wars 2 by rising the level cap a lot. At the same time, we're flattening the power curve, so the difference between a level 50 and a level 100 character would be much bigger than between a level 100 and 150 char. This increases freedom in character development without making Max-Lvl-Characters too strong. gamona: Just some words on Guild Wars 1 and its upcoming add-on Eye of the North. After the announcement of Guild Wars 2 there were some fears in the community that Guild Wars 1 would suffer a content draught till the release of part 2. Please stop the panic! :) Arena.net: First of all -no reason for any fears. We got a huge player base in Guild Wars, and the last thing we would want to happen is to dry things up. However, you have to distinguish the periods before and after the launch of Guild Wars 2. While we will firstly focus on Guild Wars and the add-on EotN - which will serve as a bridge between GW1 and GW2 - focus will shift over to Guild Wars 2 after its release. Of course, we will not shut down Guild Wars as long as there are players who want to play it. For example, there will still be holiday events or similar stuff. gamona: When you talk about EotN, you often call it a "bridge" between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2. Does this mean that there will not be any further add-on or campaign for Guild Wars after the release of EotN? You know, that would be the "bridge of the bridge", then. Arena.net: (laughs) That's a good point. We don't have a definitive plan right now. gamona: Last question: Will you be at Games Convention with EotN and Guild Wars 2 this year? Arena.net: We're just finalizing the details - but if EotN will hit shelves in summer, there would be no reason for not showing it at GC. gamona: Jeff, Mike, Ben, Christopher - thanks a lot for your time and all the best for your future projects! Back to Top

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NCsoft, ArenaNet reveal future plans for high-flying online roleplaying franchise; Guild Wars: Eye of the North scheduled for holiday 2007 release

Bellevue, WA., March 27, 2007—NCsoft® and ArenaNet® today revealed their exciting plans for the future of the hugely successful Guild Wars® franchise. The companies announced that development already is underway on a full sequel to the original Guild Wars games. Guild Wars 2TM will draw from the game mechanics that made the original Guild Wars one of the most popular online games ever and will add a fully persistent world. It was also revealed that, like its predecessors, Guild Wars 2 will not have a subscription fee. No launch date was announced, but the ArenaNet team anticipates that Guild Wars 2 will go into beta sometime in the second half of 2008. In addition, ArenaNet developers are working on the first true expansion for the Guild Wars franchise, Guild Wars: Eye of the NorthTM. Due to hit store shelves during the 2007 holiday season, Guild Wars: Eye of the NorthTM will require at least one of the previous Guild Wars campaigns (PropheciesTM, FactionsTM, or NightfallTM) in order to play. It's a game that will benefit long-time players of the Guild Wars games, with all of the content targeting existing Guild Wars characters. "We felt it was extremely important to reward those people who have been playing Guild Wars since the game first launched in 2005," said Jeff Strain, co-founder of ArenaNet. "Those players have seen three very large campaigns created in a little under two years and so we think it's time to begin filling in the details of the existing world and to provide more content for current characters. We are thrilled to focus our time on something that our players have been asking for." Set largely in the dungeons and caverns of the lands of Tyria that players first explored in Guild Wars Prophecies, Guild Wars: Eye of the North will have 18 large, multi-level dungeons, 150 new skills across all 10 Guild Wars professions, 10 new Heroes, 40 new armor sets, and even more items, weapons and titles. And for those looking even further down the road at Guild Wars 2, Guild Wars: Eye of the North will provide a Hall of Monuments where players' accomplishments are memorialized and eventually inherited by their Guild Wars 2 characters, unlocking exclusive items and bonuses in Guild Wars 2. "It's the payoff we hope players will appreciate as we continue to build on the Guild Wars franchise," said Strain. "We're excited to announce these two new products and we want players to know that Guild Wars has an extremely exciting future in the months and years ahead." An exclusive full preview of Guild Wars 2 and Guild Wars: Eye of the North can be found in the May issue of PC Gamer which will be on newsstands by April 3. More information on the Guild Wars franchise can be found at http://www.guildwars.com. Back to Top

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Interview: Guild Wars 2 by Susan Arendt In the process of gathering information for my upcoming feature on the future of MMOs, I happened to cross paths with Jeff Strain and Mike O’Brien, co-founders of ArenaNet and the folks behind Guild Wars. Guild Wars rattled a few cages in MMO-land when it debuted without a subscription rate–pay by the campaign, not by the month–and its insistence that players didn’t need to devote a lifetime to the game world in order to have fun or make progress. Though Strain and O’Brien are quite proud of what Guild Wars accomplished, they acknowledge some if it could’ve been done better, so guess what? Here comes Guild Wars 2. The guys gave me a bit of insight into how the new GW will differ from its predecessor, and I must admit, I’m a bit tingly. Wait, maybe my foot’s just gone to sleep. Nope, nope, it’s the Guild Wars. Keep reading to find out what I think sounds so darn nifty. Part of what made the first Guild Wars stand out from its fantasy-flavored MMO brothers and sisters was its lack of a persistent world. Though some fans of the genre cried foul, it wasn’t done simply to be different, but rather to combat some of the frustration of "get in line to complete the quest" that players of other MMOs were facing. In a persistent world, explained Mike O’Brien, when there’s a quest you want to complete, there are about a zillion other people trying to complete it, too, which leads to a lot of waiting around for creatures to respawn or for the folks ahead of you to hurry up with the adventuring. So what’s the single biggest change to Guild Wars 2? Why, adding a persistent world, natch. Bwah? It makes more sense when you back up and get the big picture of what Guild Wars 2 is trying to achieve. As I talked to O’Brien and Strain, what they both kept emphasizing was the desire to give the player as much freedom as possible. Keeping the incidence system from Guild Wars and combining it with a more traditional, persistent world gives players the freedom to play the game however they like–run around the world, meet people, enjoy the community, or just go raid a dungeon. Your choice. Speaking of running around the world, that’s something you’ll actually be able to do; run, jump, basically just dork around however you like. When you land in a new world, O’Brien explained, you don’t want to have to read a bunch of skill descriptions, you want to run around and jump and swing, so that’s what you’ll be able to do in Guild Wars 2. It’s meant to be a learn-by-doing sort of situation–rather than have overly complex skills that take an excessive amount of brain matter to understand, players will learn less complicated skills that they will be encouraged to test out in any situation they can think of. What happens if you use this skill while jumping, or that one while surrounded by monsters? Who knows? Give it a whirl and find out! Strain referred to it as "emergent complexity," and if it works the way they say it will, I shall personally send them each a fruit basket. Having a wide variety of skills in a game is great, but the amount of reading and memorizing you usually have to do to have even the most functional ability in an MMO is enough to drop me into a deep state of catatonia. If you’re currently a fan of Guild Wars, and debating whether or not to "jump ship," as it were, to Guild Wars 2, the ArenaNet boys have included a little incentive for you, via the Hall of Monuments in the latest Guild Wars expansion, Eye of the North. It goes like this: when you accomplish something great in Guild Wars–maybe you finished a particularly gnarly quest–a monument is erected in honor of the event in the Hall of Monuments. The Hall carries over into Guild Wars 2, and all the greatness you achieved will still be on display, despite the fact that the action of the game takes place several hundred years after the first GW. This is about more than just bragging rights, though. Thanks to your efforts in GW, your character in GW2–the descendant of your GW character–will have access to exclusive titles, companions, pets, armor, and weapons. None of the unlockable content will give you a huge edge over other players, but it will provide you with a nice badge of honor that brands you as an Old School Guild Wars pro and personalizes the gameplay for you just that little bit more. Personally, I think something that nods to the old fans without screwing the new ones is a great idea. Of course, we couldn’t have a new Guild Wars without a new playable race or two, and the bad guys from GW Prophecies, the Charr, fit the bill here. All of the playable races in GW2–humans, Charr, Norn, Sylvari, and Asura–make appearances in Eye of the North, so pick that up if you want to do some recon on your future GW2 character. So that’s all the good news. The bad news is that the beta isn’t expected to start until the end of next year. Boo, hiss! Still, I’m excited that there’s at least one MMO in development that isn’t simply trying to be World of Warcraft 2.0 (I’ll be telling you about some of the others in that feature I mentioned). One more thing: Strain and O’Brien take input from gamers very, very seriously, so if you have something to say about your Guild Wars experiences, now is the time to speak up. Back to Top

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Feature: Guild Wars 2, GW Expansion Unveiled By: Brian D. Crecente The Arena Net guys are messing with me. Jeff Strain, former Blizzard coder and co-founder of the dev team behind Guild Wars, is clearly enjoying having me on the hook while I'm on the horn. He's talking up Guild Wars 2 when I break in with the most, I believe, relavent question: Are you going to charge a monthly subscription fee this time around? "With Guild Wars 2 we will be introducing a persistent world," he says, as almost an excuse. "We will have playable races. Everything you expect in a subscription system..." He pauses for dramatic effect. "...and we decided not to charge a subscription fee." Strain and the people on his side of the phone call break into laughter. "Funny," I say, genuinely amused. The phone call is about two things, first that Guild Wars, what NC Soft believes to be the second largest massively multiplayer online game around, is getting a final expansion and that the final expansion will prepare gamers for Guild Wars 2. Eye of the North Eye of the North, set to hit this holiday, will be Guild War's first expansion. In the past the games that came out to bolster Guild Wars were all stand-alone titles which while they could be played with the original title, didn't need to be. This first expansion brings you back to Tyria, the setting and storyline of the original Guild Wars. In it, Strain says, you will be finding out what happened to some of the storylines and characters that peopled that first game. The game will feature 18 new multi-level dungeons, 150 new skills across all ten Guild Wars professions, 10 new heroes and 40 new armor sets. Because the game will require you to own one of the three Guild Wars campaigns the price will be less than a full campaign, Strain said. Eye of the North, which will take place mostly underground, will also introduce three new races, but they won't be playable, at least not yet. The Asura are an underground dwelling race that begin to come to the surface. They are ver "goblinesque" and the builders of the Guild Wars world. The Norn are Viking savages of the mountains and the Sylvari are a kind of forest dwelling race which you witness the birth of the Eye of the North expansion. While the character races won't be playable in the expansion, they will be in Guild Wars 2 as will the Guild Wars' perpetual enemy, the Charr. A lot, it seems, that happens in this final expansion is about preparing for the launch of the new Guild Wars. I asked Strain why Arena Net decided to stop producing expansions and campaigns and instead develop an entirely new game with Guild Wars 2. Strain said that after shipping the last campaign, Nightfall, this past October the team sat back and evaluated where they were in terms of game design . When they looked at what they had accomplished with Guild Wars and its campaigns they were happy with what they saw. Then they looked at what their gamers were asking for and it wasn't one more campaign, one more continent to explore, new professions to learn. "What people wanted, I think, was more content for the existing models," Strain said. So the team started creating a wishlist of all of the things they'd love to see added to Guild Wars and when they were done they realized it was too much to stuff into the existing game. Instead it was a master plan for how to build the "ultimate Guild Wars game," Strain said. But the plan required something to transition current players from the original campaigns into the new experience and, in many ways, that's where Eye of the North comes in. Most central to that idea is the Eye's Hall of Monuments. In the hall you can store achievements that can then be transferred to a Guild Wars 2 account. This hall will be located in a sort of base of operations you can establish in Eye of the North. The instanced base will allow you to store not only the Eye of the North achievements in the form of monuments but the achievements earned in all three campaigns. Every monument earned will unlock something, from heroes and pets to weapons, clothes and miniatures, in Guild Wars 2. When you create your character in Guild Wars 2 you can choose a character from Guild War to inherit these unlocks from. Kind of a neat idea, I think. To bad these new character don't also inherit some other attributes or traits from your Guild Wars characters, that would be fantastic. Strain said the team decided to include this form of inter-character inheritance to make sure that all of the time players spent playing Guild Wars wouldn't be wasted. Guild Wars 2 Since the game is essentially starting with a clean slate, Arena Net decided to make some pretty substantive changes to the game. First, and most importantly though, the game will remain subscription free. This time around the game will have a persistence world, one still set in Tyria, but now hundreds of years after the events that took place in the original Guild Wars. "The big new feature is a persistent world," Strain said. "I think Guild Wars has some very radical departures from typical role-playng. One of those was the instancing model. As each of the campaigns was released we took greater and greater pains to do that. On the other hand, there are things we missed out on, like the more organic type of community building where you wandering through the area and hook-up with other people." "In Guild Wars 2 we wanted to have the best of both worlds. We are retaining the strengths of instanced areas, but we are also integrating a persistenced world. We are not making a World of Warcraft clone here, we are not trying to do what other MMOs have done." Arena Net's new spin is sort of an amalgam of both instanced and massive environments, where instanced events can have domino effects on other parts of the world, or zone.. Here's one example of this Strain used: You are wandering through the countryside and you see a dragon flying overhead. You and a group try to stave off the dragon. If you are successful the nearby town gives you a treasure. But if you don't drive off the dragon, the bridge will be destroyed. This will lead to a team of carpenters gathering at the bridge to try to fix it and then you will have to protect them from bandits. "The idea is that there will always be something going on in the world," Strain said. He said that there will be hundreds of these types of events that happen in the world, some daily, some hourly, some will be triggered by specific player actions. "That is what persistence allows us to do. That is the type of content and play experience that we can offer in Guild Wars 2 that we couldn't offer in Guild Wars." Another major change will be in the way the game handles player versus player. In Guild Wars 2, the same character you use in-game will be used for player-versus-player conflicts that will take place in the Mists, the place between the many worlds, aka servers, of this new Guild Wars. Despite having several worlds, the game uses a global database so you can instantly transfer between worlds, Strain said. And these inter-world battles in the Mists, which Strain says almost play like a large real-time strategy game, can have a real impact on the worlds. "By achieving victories in these battles there will be benefits to your world," Strain said. "Bonuses, advantages, maybe everyone gets increased energy regeneration or healing rate or enhanced loot drop rate." Strain says the world-versus-world match-ups will be shuffled every couple of weeks to make sure things stay fair. Every week or every two weeks we will shuffle who is matched up. Arena Net, it seems, is trying to tackle many of the biggest drawbacks most current massively multiplayer online games face. Chief among them is level capping. Why, once you top out, should you stick around in a game? Guild Wars 2 is trying to deal with that issue by using a system with a high level cap once that could be set to 100 or even boundless. "So there is not a level 20 cap," Strain said. "Either it will be a high level like 100 or unbounded, we haven't decided." Besides these significant changes to the game, Guild Wars 2 will also introduce plenty of smaller ones, like the ability for your characters to do things like jump, swim, even climb trees. The combat though, Strain says, will remain purely RPG "Our belief is that role players aren't playing a RPG because they want a twitch action," Strain said, "there is a difference between playing a game like an RPG and playing a game like God of War." Guild Wars 2 is expected to hit public beta next year, but now release date has yet been set. Back to Top