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Interview: The ArenaNet Team on the Aftermath of Season 1

living story anet gw2

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#31 MCBiohazard

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 01:06 PM

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.


The two ends of your post kind of contradict each other even though I agree with the overall message to a degree. How come people kept trying to skip Maguuma or paid for runs, especially Drok run? Probably because some of the missions in between were a bit too long to be replayable especially for an alt that's seen most of the game already (or hasn't but doesn't want to).

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.


Maintaining the illusion of player agency is what A-Net dropped the ball on completely with their personal story and LS and I think that's what I've been trying to say from the start in this discussion. What they ended up with was like the Mass Effect 3 ending only you didn't even have A B or C as a fake choice that comes to the same result. But that is solely a writing and narrative issue in my opinion. It isn't to say that the personal story structure didn't have or can't have the potential to be executed better. If they refocused the writing team and put together something entirely new for an 'expansion' style release, or even went back and rejiggered the entire second half of the existing personal story, it could go over well as long as they maintain the illusion that you are important and you're in control of things. Not necessarily the most important as some folks here think I was trying to say you should be, but the primary focus of your own dang personal story. It's supposed to be about you after all. Then they can throw whatever twists they want at you, no matter how cheesy they are.

For example, why do you have to go to the Mother Tree if you're not a Sylvari and can't be arsed to care? If you're any other race, you should have an equally flavorful prophecy thingy tailored to your particular race. Maybe the humans evoke their gods, the asura work some technobabble magic, the Charr don't prophesize at all but just hash it out in a tribunal council, and the Norn likewise in a moot or maybe a spirit animal quest. Instead of following the ♥♥♥♥ plant like a lapdog, you find your own way of figuring out that you have to go into that blasted wasteland. He has his thing and his mom's sword, sure, but you're going in for your own reasons instead of following his quest and his story. That's the illusion they dropped the ball on.

Edited by MCBiohazard, 24 April 2014 - 01:11 PM.

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#32 Pariah

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 01:14 PM

The two ends of your post kind of contradict each other even though I agree with the overall message to a degree. How come people kept trying to skip Maguuma or paid for runs, especially Drok run? Probably because some of the missions in between were a bit too long to be replayable especially for an alt that's seen most of the game already (or hasn't but doesn't want to)

Many people skipped them, I didn't :) I liked the Maguuma area and all the areas in Kryta without any quests in them for exploration, and I'm definitely interested in getting back to those western areas of the map in GW2 when they eventually open up. A lot of people got runs to Droknar's Forge due to the maximum armor as well (especially if they didn't like the sets in Cantha and Elona).
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#33 raspberry jam

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 01:48 PM

Maintaining the illusion of player agency is what A-Net dropped the ball on completely with their personal story and LS and I think that's what I've been trying to say from the start in this discussion. What they ended up with was like the Mass Effect 3 ending only you didn't even have A B or C as a fake choice that comes to the same result. But that is solely a writing and narrative issue in my opinion. It isn't to say that the personal story structure didn't have or can't have the potential to be executed better. If they refocused the writing team and put together something entirely new for an 'expansion' style release, or even went back and rejiggered the entire second half of the existing personal story, it could go over well as long as they maintain the illusion that you are important and you're in control of things. Not necessarily the most important as some folks here think I was trying to say you should be, but the primary focus of your own dang personal story. It's supposed to be about you after all. Then they can throw whatever twists they want at you, no matter how cheesy they are.

For example, why do you have to go to the Mother Tree if you're not a Sylvari and can't be arsed to care? If you're any other race, you should have an equally flavorful prophecy thingy tailored to your particular race. Maybe the humans evoke their gods, the asura work some technobabble magic, the Charr don't prophesize at all but just hash it out in a tribunal council, and the Norn likewise in a moot or maybe a spirit animal quest. Instead of following the ♥♥♥♥ plant like a lapdog, you find your own way of figuring out that you have to go into that blasted wasteland. He has his thing and his mom's sword, sure, but you're going in for your own reasons instead of following his quest and his story. That's the illusion they dropped the ball on.

I agree. About the different stories for the races, well I get what they were trying to do, but IMO they did it wrong, just like the EotN storyline was done wrong. The story should indeed be centered on you, not on random NPCs that get in the way and hog the glory.

But then yeah, the gameplay affects how the player thinks about the story, and vice versa. I still think that a large part of what players feel about the GW2 narrative comes from the gameplay.
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#34 Konzacelt

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 03:41 PM

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 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.

Hmm, I got a different feel from the Shining Blade connection. I remember that cutscene at the end of the mission where Saidra dies, with Evennia yelling and shaking her fist at the heavens...I certainly felt like she was still in charge at that point lol.

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.

Totally agree.
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#35 Mordakai

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 04:17 PM

I still watch the GW2 cutscenes, I don't know why. My biggest peeve is that I can't see their faces, if they just turned 45 degrees towards me, it would be much better.

It's especially bad with some charr horns, where you can't see their face at all!
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#36 MCBiohazard

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 06:48 PM

I am in agreement re: the cutscenes as well. While MMO in-game engine cutscenes tend to glitch in places due to network latency or other syncing issues, they also help sell the dialogue because they provide context and can make the characters gesture and emote beyond the default speaking animations that get looped in the ones we have now.
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#37 Konzacelt

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 09:59 PM

I must be missing something then. To me, the dialogue is barely better than the 3rd-person cut-scenes...which is to say bad. I honestly don't know how anyone can be the least bit engaged with the dialogue. It's childish.
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#38 MCBiohazard

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 10:12 PM

I must be missing something then. To me, the dialogue is barely better than the 3rd-person cut-scenes...which is to say bad. I honestly don't know how anyone can be the least bit engaged with the dialogue. It's childish.


I meant dialogue in cutscenes as a general concept, not if the dialogue we currently have in the game were done that way. Though come to think of it, I do think the extant dialogue would go over a bit better if there was action and scenery to punctuate it. They experimented with that in the LS finale and aftermath. I think they came off marginally better than the talking scenes in the personal story.

Edited by MCBiohazard, 01 May 2014 - 10:13 PM.

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