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Interview: The ArenaNet Team on the Aftermath of Season 1

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#1 Azure Skye

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 06:23 PM

MMORPG: Some players aren't very happy with how Ellen Kiel handled not only the attack, but also the threat against Lion's Arch. Would Evon have handled things differently? If so, how?
Bobby Stein, lead writer: I would say the people who aren’t happy with how Ellen handled the attack, my gut tells me these are Evon Gnashblade supporters who are probably a little bit sore about how the election turned out. Ellen is somebody who traditionally does things by the book. So when she learned about the Lion’s Arch threat the first thing she wanted to do was appeal to the council and try and get the support that she felt was necessary to fend off the attack. As anybody who knows anything about politics, sometimes the political machine moves very slowly, if at all. Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done about stopping the attack, so really at that point it was about Ellen doing her best with the resources she had to make sure as many people as possible got out alive.


Obviously Evon wasn’t too happy about being made the equipment quartermaster after the initial attack. It was pretty clear that he would’ve been a lot happier if Ellen had been buried under a lot of rubble during the attack, but he wasn’t so lucky in that regard. Remember that here’s a business man, and when you think of a business man in Lion’s Arch it’s a business man in a rough part of town. He might be doing business unethically. The lines for fair trade for him are a little bit different than they would be for your average person. Would Evon have prevented the attack? I don’t think so. Would he have handled the aftermath and damage and getting people to safety and trying to fight back differently? Yeah. I don’t know if the city would be in any better shape because of it.

There is more questions asked in the interview.


Source: http://www.mmorpg.co...f-Season-1.html

Edited by Azure Skye, 07 April 2014 - 06:43 PM.

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#2 Desild

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:16 PM

Book ends for the first dull chapter of Guild Wars 2 history. It ended as it began. With a lot of refugee moving from one place to another due to a threat that will "shake the very foundations of the world".

I'd say I'm glad it is over, but then I remember this is but a prelude of things to come. Which will probably be as bad and as forgetable.
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#3 MazingerZ

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 07:35 PM

I would say the people who aren’t happy with how Ellen handled the attack, my gut tells me these are Evon Gnashblade supporters who are probably a little bit sore about how the election turned out. Ellen is somebody who traditionally does things by the book. So when she learned about the Lion’s Arch threat the first thing she wanted to do was appeal to the council and try and get the support that she felt was necessary to fend off the attack.


The question will be... will you guys actually use this failure to develop her character at all, or will she still be apparently as dull as dishwater.

Book ends for the first dull chapter of Guild Wars 2 history. It ended as it began. With a lot of refugee moving from one place to another due to a threat that will "shake the very foundations of the world".

I'd say I'm glad it is over, but then I remember this is but a prelude of things to come. Which will probably be as bad and as forgetable.


I doubt it. The IGN interview implies that its full-steam ahead with no real admittance of things being 'bad' in the game at all. The real-talk you get at MMO Champ is generally more refreshing than this bilge.
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Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#4 MCBiohazard

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 08:56 PM

Really, I think most of the issue with the LS and its main narrative flaw was that the spotlight wasn't on your character. I am willing to bet that a good deal of the tepid player reaction stems consciously or unconsciously from that. Instead of focusing on a new personal story that evolves the world around you, which the original personal story somewhat does, even if it's on a rail to nowhere for the latter half, they decided to put the spotlight on their new set of NPC characters like they did for Destiny's Edge in the story dungeon content. I like the B Iconics as characters more than the first set of yahoos, but it was still really only their story and you were the sidekick.

You can argue all day about the tiny things that annoyed you about the LS narrative but there were plenty of poor writing moments like that in GW1 as well. But we liked it anyways despite the low fantasy not trying hard to be original flavor because the story revolved around us and our actions however ultimately linear they were. Just like the choose your own adventure-ness of the personal story was really cool for the first half where it pretended that the story was about us. I think it's time for them to make a new personal story and that will reignite interest in the lore if they make it go in a different direction and give the player the illusion of full agency to the end rather than pass it to a gary stu halfway through.
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#5 Datenshi92

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 12:01 AM

Really, I think most of the issue with the LS and its main narrative flaw was that the spotlight wasn't on your character. I am willing to bet that a good deal of the tepid player reaction stems consciously or unconsciously from that.


As much as I can understand that point of view, I don't see how is that supposed to work or be "effective" in an multiplayer game. In MMos, doesn't matter how awesome you try to be, doesn't matter how many towns and lives you save, there is always someone who did more than you and is therefore more awesome. Being the focus of attention in single-players works well because the story doesn't have to focus on anyone else but yourself and your enemy but in an MMO its different.

I think that MMOs are more about the overall picture, a common goal to be achieved by the masses, political intrigues, commoners rising up for their rights, wars raging between continents, a humongous threat that threatens to swipe the continent, etc and not just one random Joe who happens to be (or wants to be) a special flower. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have our own special moments as well, in fact, I think that Aftermath where we meet Rox, Taimi and the others and just chill after a arduous battle, is kinda of its own personal reward for us. But seriously, that attitude reminds me of that one soldier in a thousand-man army who's whinning that he deserves some merit for being in a fight - so does all his brothers and sisters.

I think its imperative that players start dropping the narcissistic view that they are the center of the universe and that everything that happens must be by their own doing or whatever role they have in it. Being the sole hero of Tyria is not the point of this story, hell, they even instantly pit you with other NPCs like Braham and Rox ever since the first major LS was implemented just to accentuate the feeling that you can't be victorious alone. Even in your own personal story you always have an NPC with you, either Caithe, or Zojja or Tibalt or whatever, aiding you out.

Same thing happened in GW1, you always had NPCs with you that helped you through your missions and this is specially notorious with the Hero NPCS in the Nightfall campaign.



TL;DR - Read the bolded parts.

Edited by Datenshi92, 08 April 2014 - 12:26 AM.

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#6 MCBiohazard

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 05:03 AM

But even in GW1, even in a full party of eight players, there can be only one face interacting with those NPCs. It's just easier to treat the overreaching plot as revolving around you specifically because then there is an emotional connection between your avatar and the characters you meet. Sure, it can be on a grander scale because MMOs like to do big things, but it shouldn't swing the camera focus completely away from you. That's why Trahearne is a ♥♥♥♥ plant. All the things he says and the NPCs say about him, that was your thunder he stole. When the Priory members after the battle of Claw Island start talking about taking that 1000 in 1 chance if it's Trahearne, I wanted to punch him in the mouth so hard. That was your mentor who died and your victory to take. And the dishonor plot afterwards where the undead mesmer obviously wasn't gunning for you, she was trying to get to him. Grr.

Oh, if you talked to the sylvari guy from the Pact during Aftermath, you find out that ♥♥♥♥ plant didn't even send help to save LA from Scarlet even though your freaking mentor died there in the PS and was his god dang friend too. Gawd.

Off topic though, haha.

Anyways, to be fair, the LS tries to involve you in the B Iconic storyline to some extent. I think they learned their lesson from the story dungeon content where you're literally just watching Destiny's Edge spit and yell at each other for 8 dungeons with little interaction. But it felt like a drawn out side story where your avatar is still somewhat inconsequential next to the NPC characters when I feel players would have been better served by a personal story that alters the world in some way as well. And that's why everyone wants an expansion. They want a new story that revolves around them for once.
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#7 Konzacelt

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 03:23 PM

Really, I think most of the issue with the LS and its main narrative flaw was that the spotlight wasn't on your character. I am willing to bet that a good deal of the tepid player reaction stems consciously or unconsciously from that. Instead of focusing on a new personal story that evolves the world around you, which the original personal story somewhat does, even if it's on a rail to nowhere for the latter half, they decided to put the spotlight on their new set of NPC characters like they did for Destiny's Edge in the story dungeon content. I like the B Iconics as characters more than the first set of yahoos, but it was still really only their story and you were the sidekick.

You can argue all day about the tiny things that annoyed you about the LS narrative but there were plenty of poor writing moments like that in GW1 as well. But we liked it anyways despite the low fantasy not trying hard to be original flavor because the story revolved around us and our actions however ultimately linear they were. Just like the choose your own adventure-ness of the personal story was really cool for the first half where it pretended that the story was about us. I think it's time for them to make a new personal story and that will reignite interest in the lore if they make it go in a different direction and give the player the illusion of full agency to the end rather than pass it to a gary stu halfway through.


I really disagree on this, I don't think it's the non-pc focus at all. I'm not really sure how anyone could think that. The narrative is written with a junior high, pop-culture mentality that doesn't even come close to GW1 story-telling. Sure there were times in GW1 where the story felt derpy or trite, but not because they were trying to. In GW2 they actually are trying to be derpy and trite. Anyone remember the Ginyu Force pose-off the Molten Alliances bosses did in the final dungeon encounter? WTF is that? Is this a Saturday morning cartoon? I could care less if I'm the star or not, I just want the story to connect with me on a level that doesn't evoke giggles or images of plain white bread(occasionally toasted).

Give us something that makes us care about it.
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#8 Mordakai

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 03:40 PM

Something is wrong when the (early) Personal Story has better writing then the Living Story.

That said, there were some good moments: Kiel letting the consortium ship get blown up, for example: http://wiki.guildwar...yak_to_the_ship

Problem is: it was hidden as an epilogue of the LS. Some people didn't even know about it!
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#9 Datenshi92

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 12:31 PM

--snip--


The problem with the LS is that its quality sucks. Even if we had Tybalt on the lead, it wouldn't make things any better because whoever wrote the story (or at least the last half of it) clearly lacks the skills for it.
I don't think we need our main character in every front page to feel good about ourselves, I don't even mind being the iconic B character in the greater scheme of things, as long as there's a purpose for it and a decently enough character in the lead.
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#10 MCBiohazard

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 01:08 PM

I really disagree on this, I don't think it's the non-pc focus at all. I'm not really sure how anyone could think that. The narrative is written with a junior high, pop-culture mentality that doesn't even come close to GW1 story-telling. Sure there were times in GW1 where the story felt derpy or trite, but not because they were trying to. In GW2 they actually are trying to be derpy and trite. Anyone remember the Ginyu Force pose-off the Molten Alliances bosses did in the final dungeon encounter? WTF is that? Is this a Saturday morning cartoon? I could care less if I'm the star or not, I just want the story to connect with me on a level that doesn't evoke giggles or images of plain white bread(occasionally toasted).

Give us something that makes us care about it.


I just think people set their expectations too high and A-Net failed to deliver on that front. They might have undershot the par standard too but I really think it would have gone over better than it did if most of the events in the LS were framed more from your perspective (there were a few moments where you got to have some input and those were probably the best parts).

As for triteness, there was plenty of intentional cheese in GW1 too. What about Palawa Joko ranting like Skeletor at his minions after you give him back the Bone Palace in Nightfall? Or the constant harem anime that is Mhenlo's life in Factions? Not to mention the tons of obvious pop culture references diffusely sprinkled throughout both games? GW1 was better written no doubt, but you can't really argue that A-Net was setting out to make a completely srs-face Tolkienien epic even back then.
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#11 Konzacelt

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 02:00 PM

I just think people set their expectations too high and A-Net failed to deliver on that front. They might have undershot the par standard too but I really think it would have gone over better than it did if most of the events in the LS were framed more from your perspective (there were a few moments where you got to have some input and those were probably the best parts).

As for triteness, there was plenty of intentional cheese in GW1 too. What about Palawa Joko ranting like Skeletor at his minions after you give him back the Bone Palace in Nightfall? Or the constant harem anime that is Mhenlo's life in Factions? Not to mention the tons of obvious pop culture references diffusely sprinkled throughout both games? GW1 was better written no doubt, but you can't really argue that A-Net was setting out to make a completely srs-face Tolkienien epic even back then.


Those pop-culture references and cheesy lines were minor and largely subtle in character...until Nightfall and beyond. Like Zinn's A Few Good Men trial and Cynn's constant tantrums, those silly episodes were from a crew brought onboard in the later stages of GW1 life and are some of the same devs we have now. Yes, it wasn't super-cereal even in the beginning, but it was a far cry from what we have now. The shift was apparent even back then.

*note: I am mostly talking about the Personal Story, I just couldn't force interest in the Living Story.

Edited by Konzacelt, 09 April 2014 - 03:30 PM.

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#12 Mordakai

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 04:43 PM

Those pop-culture references and cheesy lines were minor and largely subtle in character...until Nightfall and beyond. Like Zinn's A Few Good Men trial and Cynn's constant tantrums, those silly episodes were from a crew brought onboard in the later stages of GW1 life and are some of the same devs we have now. Yes, it wasn't super-cereal even in the beginning, but it was a far cry from what we have now. The shift was apparent even back then.

*note: I am mostly talking about the Personal Story, I just couldn't force interest in the Living Story.


Oh, they were in Factions too! You don't remember Cynn being jealous of Mhenlos ex-girlfriend?

Actually, Factions had some of the worst voice acting and dialogue of ANY ArenaNet project, including GW2.

Just google Togo or Danika to see some hilarious stuff. (I am sure someone can find and post links to funny videos).

Prophecies is probably the best because there wasn't a lot of voice acting or, really, character development.

The henchmen were henchmen.... you were the hero. (The hero who inadvertently helps the Lich, but that's another story.)

Edited by Mordakai, 09 April 2014 - 04:44 PM.

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#13 MCBiohazard

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:08 PM

The voice acting in Prophecies was kind of hilarious too in the Bethesda Skyrim way where you can't tell what kind of vaguely European accent they're trying to cop for the dwarves. Are they Scottish? Austrian? Russian? Who knows.

The henchmen were henchmen.... you were the hero. (The hero who inadvertently helps the Lich, but that's another story.)


Y'know, if anybody calls himself a vizier by trade, you should probably wring their neck before it's too late.

But that makes a good indirect point for me too. In GW1, the henchmen and heroes you were with were just that, henchmen and heroes. The Ascalonian five never steal your spotlight in any of the three campaigns, they're just there to help and banter. Your Nightfall and EotN heroes got some more of the story because of their shiny customizable and equippable status but they still call you boss. As it should be and it's an old P&P roleplaying tenet. Anytime a gamemaster's obstensibly protagonist NPC outstrips his players to the point where they feel overshadowed, he's done screwed up the campaign and he's just going to have to play with himself eventually. And that's a gaming situation where players can influence the story directly. In a computer game that can only pretend to have them influence the outcome, players need to feel important to maintain interest in it because they don't have real agency.

Edited by MCBiohazard, 09 April 2014 - 08:21 PM.

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#14 Kymeric

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 12:55 AM

It's time for MMORPGs to stop telling traditional, linear stories. Then there will be no need for "is my character the Hero?"

ArenaNet had the foundation to tell stories that make sense in an MMORPG environment. Each zone has a non-linear, web-like story created by DEs. Move through the zone in whatever way you want, and you can piece together a story that isn't the traditional inciting incident>plot complications>climax>denouement of other media, but a network, holistic kind of story that is perfectly suited to a game in which thousands of players are running around an open world.

What they could have done was explore this Dynamic Event idea further, pushing to see where it could take story. It could have been groundbreaking as they worked to discover ways to integrate players personally into those zone-wide stories, developing new DEs to continue to flesh them out over time, and opening up new zones with new stories that flowed out of neighboring zones. That could have been the MMORPG revolution people were hoping GW2 would be.

Instead, they got their feeling hurt because the players didn't ooh and ah over their first batch of new DEs, and went on to try and shoe-horn an episodic, linear Saturday morning cartoon story into the game.

So much potential.
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#15 Tarug

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 02:47 PM

Something is wrong when the (early) Personal Story has better writing then the Living Story.

That said, there were some good moments: Kiel letting the consortium ship get blown up, for example: http://wiki.guildwar...yak_to_the_ship

Problem is: it was hidden as an epilogue of the LS. Some people didn't even know about it!


Or, in my case, I was abroad on vacation during the last week of that particular LS chapter, so I never had a chance to see it (and never will). But I don't want to keep beating that dead horse... :P
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#16 Mordakai

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 02:53 PM

Or, in my case, I was abroad on vacation during the last week of that particular LS chapter, so I never had a chance to see it (and never will). But I don't want to keep beating that dead horse... :P


Another major problem with the Living Story.

And why spend time on cinematics that noone will see again.
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#17 Miragee

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 03:01 PM

Anet: We want players to feel that they have an impact on the course of the story. Our Living Story will provide that.

Players: Ok, we didn't feel we had an impact at all.

Anet: But this was just the beginning! In the next patch you will have so much impact.

Players: Ok, we didn't feel we had an impact at all.

[...]

Several month's and updates later the living story has concluded.

Anet: See, you had such impact!

Players: Uhm, we didn't feel we had an impact at all.

Anet: Ok, then let us tell you how you felt that you had an impact (if you can't fathom it)! [...] Besides, this was only the begin... errr the first season!
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#18 Konzacelt

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 03:05 PM

In a computer game that can only pretend to have them influence the outcome, players need to feel important to maintain interest in it because they don't have real agency.


Yes, but you shouldn't expect to be the most important person in Tyria. This isn't a single-player rpg like Baldur's Gate where you eventually become a demi-god, nor should it be. It would have been super silly, for instance, had you been the one to assume Abaddon's mantle in Nightfall. Granted Kormir Forrest Gumped her way to godhood, but that's a problem with the writing, not the premise. That kind of singularly epic approach to story is better suited for single-player games. Even in Prophecies, where you are the "Chosen" of Glint's visions and end up saving Tyria from the Titans and Khilbron, there were a lot along the way that overshadowed you up until the very end. And in Factions and Nightfall you largely play 2nd fiddle to Togo and Kormir.

Edited by Konzacelt, 10 April 2014 - 06:35 PM.

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#19 Gyre

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 03:59 PM

Yes, but you shouldn't expect to be the most important person in Tyria.


They had a pretty nice wrap up in WoC: "Ministry of Oppression". While helping civilians flee the ministry you are viewed as 'the great hero of Cantha' by Xin Ji but your character immediately corrects them that you are not a hero but a killer. That particular section of dialogue is something I've always enjoyed though it's apparent now Anet has no plans to go anywhere with it and there was no lesson learned from it in the sequel. The writing here lacks that shades-of-gray morality they pulled off so well at times starting with never being sure which side was the good side in Prophecies.

Spoiler

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#20 Miragee

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 04:35 PM

They had a pretty nice wrap up in WoC: "Ministry of Oppression". While helping civilians flee the ministry you are viewed as 'the great hero of Cantha' by Xin Ji but your character immediately corrects them that you are not a hero but a killer. That particular section of dialogue is something I've always enjoyed though it's apparent now Anet has no plans to go anywhere with it and there was no lesson learned from it in the sequel. The writing here lacks that shades-of-gray morality they pulled off so well at times starting with never being sure which side was the good side in Prophecies.

Spoiler


That dialogue is one of the best in WoC. Back when I played it the first time I was hoping this was the kinds of thing we would see throughout the story of gw2.
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#21 MCBiohazard

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 07:28 PM

Actually, on the subject of henchmen, you know what would have given the illusion of feeling important and be fun at the same time? If they had done the original rumor that was bandied about in early development where you had one Nightfall/EotN style hero permanently attached to you. Then you could totally have a Don Quixote/Sancho thing going on. Or the sorts of relationships that the Alexandre Dumas musketeers had with their servants. Instead of being the henchman for somebody else (Trahearne), you have one of your own that you have to take care of but who will loyally serve you. Then you can be at the whim of whatever greater destiny that is above you that guides all the players in the game as cogs in a machine but at least you all have an anchor tethering you to the ground while you're dealing with it (also occasionally making fun of your dumb decisions, like aiding a vizier).
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#22 Tagat

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 10:49 PM

I hope that in the future they will start doing more with the priory,whispers and vigils. So much more potential. They touched on it slightly in the PS but I think they could do so much more if they were used as the LS.

They could add event changes that could only be started by the different group members and could have different paths for each group. Then people could use ther alts to see all the different paths.

I just think they could do so much more with the groups than what they have been doing. Just my 2 cents.(probaly worth less)
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#23 Datenshi92

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 11:06 PM

Another major problem with the Living Story.

And why spend time on cinematics that noone will see again.


My suggestion is that the Durmand Priory should have something like a Hall of Records - where they keep track of every major event that has happened so far since the fall of Zhaitan, including all the cinematics. That way, new players may get the chance to KNOW the story, even if they didn't participate in it.

What's the point of a living story if somewhere down the line lesser and lesser plays will remember how it all started? If the game is not going to have expansion packs, with a more "permanent" plot working as a continuation for the series, then at least give us a way to remember what has happened in Tyria!

Edited by Datenshi92, 11 April 2014 - 11:12 PM.

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#24 ilr

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 02:40 AM

As much as I can understand that point of view, I don't see how is that supposed to work or be "effective" in an multiplayer game. In MMos, doesn't matter how awesome you try to be, doesn't matter how many towns and lives you save, there is always someone who did more than you and is therefore more awesome. Being the focus of attention in single-players works well because the story doesn't have to focus on anyone else but yourself and your enemy but in an MMO its different.


What you discredit ... is the entire basis of real Socializing (and drama) in a proper "social ladder" MMO. Those people who are better... can still be affected by those who aren't. One example which I'm not exactly holding up because it's really a horrible horrible game right now, is Planetside2. None of the redshirts (well, other than Havok) is under any delusions about who are the best players and the best outfits on the server. And at the same time are able to completely grief those players too up to a certain threshold (before getting weapons locked or some other arbitrary limit put on them) There's also massive transparency of everyone's statistics and direct head to head competitions that generate those stats.

This is basically the place many MMO's started out with the potential for even when it just came down to stupid ass raiding guilds and minmaxxing. Being a side-kick to a real person still feels like an accomplishment when that person is literally a super-human tactician or combatant. Meanwhile these worthless NPCs are nothing like that. We can't actually affect their existence in any meaningful way. Therefore they aren't remotely inspiring or compelling. More often they're just painful Escort missions that should have stopped being a design staple back when basic A.I. gained the ability to shoot a grenade launcher effectively (Now there's AI that wiretaps us and drives cars .... get with the times VideoGames!)

Edited by ilr, 23 April 2014 - 02:41 AM.

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#25 raspberry jam

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:28 AM

The GW1 Prophecies storyline had something that the GW2 storyline lacks. In GW1, you start out as a member of an elite but irregular military scouting force. You get drawn into hero stuff already then though: you prevent the charr from making the final breakthrough into southern Ascalon, you go deep behind enemy lines to free people, you get to recapture the capital city! And that is before the main story even starts. By the time you get to Lion's Arch, you're a hero - but then what? Instead of joining the refugee Ascalonians, you are dumped in LA where you have to find new employment. After joining the White Mantle, you are drawn into a conspiracy theory that turns out to be true, you have to escape across the seas carrying a magical artifact, you have to find your destiny, recapture another kingdom and then finally invade the home of the bad guys - and then there is another twist waiting for you.

That you see all these story twists and narrative pumps way before they happen, or that it's all very cheesy, doesn't really matter. Because even though there were no narrative branches, it still felt like progressing the story was your choice. That is in part due to gameplay: everywhere you went, you could stay as long as you wanted and smell the flowers. There was never the feeling of "I want to do this but I have to stop and grind this first" that you (or at least I) ran into with the GW2 personal story all the time. There was also the feeling of wanting to see where the story went - you knew it would go somewhere cheesy and that it would have bad voice acting, but you never knew exactly what twist was behind the next corner (for example, I thought that Khilbron was going to turn the world undead or something, I had no idea that his plan was to summon some kinda monsters from hell itself).

In short: deep hero stuff and player agency.

Oh and this:

The narrative is written with a junior high, pop-culture mentality that doesn't even come close to GW1 story-telling. Sure there were times in GW1 where the story felt derpy or trite, but not because they were trying to. In GW2 they actually are trying to be derpy and trite. Anyone remember the Ginyu Force pose-off the Molten Alliances bosses did in the final dungeon encounter? WTF is that? Is this a Saturday morning cartoon?

While I don't agree with you about the PC focus, I do agree about this.

Edited by raspberry jam, 23 April 2014 - 09:33 AM.

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#26 El Duderino

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 03:53 PM

The GW1 Prophecies storyline had something that the GW2 storyline lacks. In GW1, you start out as a member of an elite but irregular military scouting force. You get drawn into hero stuff already then though: you prevent the charr from making the final breakthrough into southern Ascalon, you go deep behind enemy lines to free people, you get to recapture the capital city! And that is before the main story even starts. By the time you get to Lion's Arch, you're a hero - but then what? Instead of joining the refugee Ascalonians, you are dumped in LA where you have to find new employment. After joining the White Mantle, you are drawn into a conspiracy theory that turns out to be true, you have to escape across the seas carrying a magical artifact, you have to find your destiny, recapture another kingdom and then finally invade the home of the bad guys - and then there is another twist waiting for you.

That you see all these story twists and narrative pumps way before they happen, or that it's all very cheesy, doesn't really matter. Because even though there were no narrative branches, it still felt like progressing the story was your choice. That is in part due to gameplay: everywhere you went, you could stay as long as you wanted and smell the flowers. There was never the feeling of "I want to do this but I have to stop and grind this first" that you (or at least I) ran into with the GW2 personal story all the time. There was also the feeling of wanting to see where the story went - you knew it would go somewhere cheesy and that it would have bad voice acting, but you never knew exactly what twist was behind the next corner (for example, I thought that Khilbron was going to turn the world undead or something, I had no idea that his plan was to summon some kinda monsters from hell itself).

In short: deep hero stuff and player agency.

Oh and this:
While I don't agree with you about the PC focus, I do agree about this.


Really love this post. The illusion of choice is just as strong as real choice, if done well. Actually, the benefits may end up being better from a design perspective.
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#27 Konzacelt

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 06:43 PM

While I don't agree with you about the PC focus, I do agree about this.


I don't mean to say the PC was never important, he/she was. But there's a difference between being an important part of the narrative, and being the backbone of the narrative. Up until the Fire Islands, I never felt like where ever I went my fame demanded instant respect from anyone. There were plenty of times where NPC's in cut scenes treated you as a peer and not as one above them. And still other scenes where you were obviously the smaller fish, like with Evennia or Rurik. The Crystal Desert area is kind of wehre you "come into your own" and start to be the worldly hero you were supposedly meant to be. And that whole area I think is supposed to be seen as you wondering out there in the desert, searching for your fate like a forlorn, but hopeful soul. Even in the Southern Shivs your job is to rescue others who's lives are invariably more important than yours.

Even without nearly any choice in the matter, GW1 managed to make a story with quality and immersion that kept you interested, despite the limitations and faults like sub-par voice-acting or corny side-quests. I honestly can't put my finger on any really specific reason, other than what I've said already, as to why GW2 just doesn't "do it for me" like its predecessor. I even started a new toon this week just to try and get a fresh take on the game with the new updates in place. After a year of even seeing any PS cut-scenes, I still find myself immediately clicking the skip button almost every time.

/le sigh
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#28 Mordakai

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 06:53 PM

And now from the "GW2 is not that bad" side:

I created a new sylvari and picked the Green Knight story path. I had done this before, but for some reason never noticed the girl I save actually stays in my home instance. It also helps that Sylvari have one of the best homes in the game: it's intimate and feels like a home.

Unlike the human area where I feel like a visitor: seriously, can I get a house already?

But staying positive: there are little things done right in GW2.
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#29 raspberry jam

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:03 AM

Really love this post. The illusion of choice is just as strong as real choice, if done well. Actually, the benefits may end up being better from a design perspective.

Yeah. I think that giving players just the right amount of choice while at the same time giving them something important to do will make them feel as if the parts where they can't choose are like them being dragged along by fate itself or something - like in so many tales of heroes. It sort of feels real, yet feels epic. I think that that's how you build immersion.

And yeah, it's much easier from a design perspective. Imagine doing a sandbox game that could still generate the same kind of story as in GW1. Very tricky, even in single player.

I don't mean to say the PC was never important, he/she was. But there's a difference between being an important part of the narrative, and being the backbone of the narrative. Up until the Fire Islands, I never felt like where ever I went my fame demanded instant respect from anyone. There were plenty of times where NPC's in cut scenes treated you as a peer and not as one above them. And still other scenes where you were obviously the smaller fish, like with Evennia or Rurik. The Crystal Desert area is kind of wehre you "come into your own" and start to be the worldly hero you were supposedly meant to be. And that whole area I think is supposed to be seen as you wondering out there in the desert, searching for your fate like a forlorn, but hopeful soul. Even in the Southern Shivs your job is to rescue others who's lives are invariably more important than yours.

Even without nearly any choice in the matter, GW1 managed to make a story with quality and immersion that kept you interested, despite the limitations and faults like sub-par voice-acting or corny side-quests. I honestly can't put my finger on any really specific reason, other than what I've said already, as to why GW2 just doesn't "do it for me" like its predecessor. I even started a new toon this week just to try and get a fresh take on the game with the new updates in place. After a year of even seeing any PS cut-scenes, I still find myself immediately clicking the skip button almost every time.

/le sigh

I really like that in the crystal desert there missions are not in order, you can do them as you like. Well, I guess there is an order of sorts, but you can mostly ignore it. You are right in that before that area you are more restricted, but there is still the illusion of choice when getting to LA and having to locate the quest giver that starts the new string of missions. Before that, yes you are definitely following Rurik around. When it came to Evennia though I disagree, I felt like a hero already. She might've led the Shining Blade, but I was the tip of that organization's spear. So to speak.

Ugh the GW2 cutscenes. IMO it was a big, huge, mistake to make those cutscenes where two guys just stand there talking to each other as if on a stage. You don't even see where they are. They kill the mood so hard for me.
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#30 Pariah

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 10:26 AM

You could do almost all the missions in Prophecies out of order, except for Thunderhead Keep which was required to access the Ring of Fire missions... Many people skipped the Maguuma ones altogether by running to Sanctum Cay from LA, or straight to Droknar's Forge and the southern Shiverpeaks missions from Beacon's Perch. I don't miss the voice acting in GW1, but the replayability and the greater length of many of the missions is a definite plus for the first game.
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