(To me the biggest mistake in GW2's world design)
Game Zone Borders and Transportation Effects:
In my browsing of game forums, I have come across some threads and posts touching upon the world design in Guild Wars 2 (GW2). There have been various opinions and defenses of Arenanet’s design of the GW2 game world. I would like to sum up my thoughts relating to this.
GW2 World Design: (An explanation of GW2 World Design)
The game world is broken up into ‘zones’. These zones are somewhat like the zones you would find in Everquest. Zones are defined areas of a world typically bordered off by natural impassable barriers, typically mountains and oceans.
Travelling between zones is accomplished in a few ways. The first way is to find a few special points along the zone border that has magical portals. You navigate your character through this portal and then you encounter some generic loading screen. You will be on this loading screen for however long it takes your computer to start loading the zone you will be entering. A second way to travel to a different zone is via waypoints. Waypoints are magical portals placed in various locations in each zone. You uncover these waypoints by first travelling to them. Once you unlock a waypoint, you can transport to that waypoint from most anywhere in the world for some coin. A third way to travel between ‘select’ zones is by magical portals called Asura Gates/Portals. These portals are very similar to the portals I mentioned in the ‘First Way’ above, yet they take you to select locations and do not require to be placed along a zone edge.
All ways above require one to be kicked out to a loading screen.
Why This Design Is Good:
The good thing about GW2’s World Design is that it provides a high level of convenience for the player for a minimum cost. Players may travel between many locations in many zones quickly and easily (providing they have unlocked the waypoints). The Asura Portals allow players to travel between select world locations without any requirement to unlock them (from what I know).
Having these two travel methods (waypoints & portals) provide a high level of convenience and one can argue successfully that it provides players the ability to join up with each other with relative ease. Which is a good thing, right?
Why This Design Is Bad:
You may have noticed that I left out one of the three ways of travel, portals along zone edges. I would like to say I could find something good about this. I would like to say that from a technical design perspective, there is plenty of good justification to have this. However, I just cannot. There are plenty of games that provide a near seamless world design, the likes of WoW, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Rift, Darkfall, Asheron’s Call …
So a near seamless world has been possible for many years in the MMO industry. So why doesn’t it exist in GW2?
I believe many MMO players and perhaps a whole heck of a lot more of us (even if we don’t admit it) appreciate a game world where we can feel we’re exploring, without the hassle or interruption from zone borders and even magical insta-portals. Without getting kicked out of the world into a loading screen..
Unfortunately, GW2 is not designed this way.
If you are the adventuring type and want to travel and adventure to new places by foot (or mount if they’re ever implemented), you will most always be required to find a select location along the edge of the zone you’re in and walk through a portal.
No, in GW2 you cannot traverse that mountain range to get to another area of the world. You’ll be herded like sheep along a few selected paths to areas of the zone line in order to go to the next zone.
This type of game world design is very anti-immersive.
The continuity of the game world is broken due to this design. It is very easy to feel like you’re not in a game world when you’re kicked out of the world into loading screens. Loading screens that while introduce you to some interesting art, break you out of the game world for up to 30secs, maybe more!
I’ve spoken to other fellow gamers who feel the same way.
Why is this a bad thing?
Let me put it this way, this method of game world design is NOT doing Arenanet any favors for many of us who appreciate a seamless game world presentation.
Is it a game breaker? No, not really.
Will it dissuade people from trying the game? It might.
Could have Arenanet have done better? IMO Yes.
So we'll just go with a defeatest saying like: 'It is what it is..'
But does it have to be.... ???
While it is unlikely that Arenanet will ‘Tear Down The Walls’ of the zone borders and open up the world, it still may be feasibly ‘possible’.
In the absence of this unlikely occurrence, I propose a compromise that will help ‘somewhat’ repair the feeling of being disconnected from the game world by loading screens…
Make animated transition screens when players pass through Portals, Zone-line Portals and use Waypoints.
You can see an example of what I’m talking about if you check out this Tera Online video(Timemark 46sec):
Now it doesn’t have to be exactly like Tera, but I think something similar, if implemented smartly, would definitely assist with making it feel that we haven’t left the game world. It will allow us to see firsthand that there’s MAGIC AT WORK instead of LOADING SCREEN… PLEASE WAIT….
Why not tear down the portals between zones and allow some transition as WoW does it?
At least along the predetermined points of entry to a new zone.
And, for those that don’t appreciate nor can fathom the feeling of being connected to a game world, we’ll leave in the option that you can still see your loading screens..
I believe the more a game maker can help reinforce a players feeling that they're constantly in the game world, the more the game becomes believable. The more the game becomes believeable, the more immersed a gamer feels, which leads to a higher level of loyalty to the game, which ultimately leads to more fun, and potentially more profits for the game maker!
Edited by Inquisitor, 16 June 2012 - 07:29 AM.