In both April’s beta event and the recent stress test I noticed something happening in the game world that made me stop and gawp in wonder. Something so simple yet so revolutionary that the only other time I have heard of something similar happening was way back in legendary days of Second Life’s pre-alpha existence. Something I have wanted to see ever since I joined my first persistent online world in 2006.
I saw animals attacking each other.
Now lest you think me no better than a bloody-thirsty virtual bear-baiter, let me qualify my last statement – I haven’t wanted to see animals fighting per se, rather I’ve often found myself looking at the lack of wildlife in Second life, and the dumb sword-fodder of LOTRO and thinking “There has to be more to in-game fauna than this…”
You see, in Second Life the only wildlife you ever see are the scripted creations belonging to (and made by) the users – there simply are no animals, no birds, no fish, no insects even that intrinsically exist in that world and that void leaves me with a saddening sense of sterility. Now LOTRO is different – LOTRO has wildlife in abundance, but once you’d got over the fact that some animals attack you whilst others run from you (unless you are an elf, of course) you began to notice something very, very odd indeed… a deer that would flee from your approach would stand quite happily next to a huge, slavering wolf! Hell, more than that, the ruddy great wolf that would nosily chew your legs off if you crossed its invisible aggression threshold appears to be quite happy ignoring the tasty deer stood a mere two feet away munching on lovely grass! How can this be right? Let me answer that for you, it isn’t. It isn’t right and annoys me because it seems so… well, lazy.
Which is why when I came across a wild boar fighting a ruddy great spider in the Guild Wars 2 beta I assumed it was part of a scripted dynamic event I’d stumbled on. But it wasn’t. A little later on I saw a giant wasp fighting another spider and a huge timber wolf brazenly wander up to a pack of moose and determinedly attack and kill them. In fact the more I wandered, the more animals I found in the middle of a rumble – they are wild already, wild and ready to start a fight with their own shadow it seems!
You see Arenanet have managed to do something I’ve never thought I’d see anyone pull off. They have created a world populated with animals that wander and think and fight each other and in my book that is a rather bloody wonderful addition to an already wonderful world. Now, shall we run a book on a fight between a timber wolf and a giant spider?