So, in my last musing I mused about what I want from a game and whether or not it is possible. I’m sure it didn’t adequately cover everything I want and it certainly didn’t tell me if it was possible so that post could, in the eyes of a sane and rational person, be seen as abject failure. Luckily I’m a blogger and therefore such measures as sanity or rationality don’t apply to me. No, that last post wasn’t a failure but rather another bright spot the spectrum of my unfolding selfhood, an oasis on my journey to joyous enlightenment, a shining star right in my fundament. Oh yeah, each of my posts are just that good so hold on to your hats because here comes another one, you lucky buggers.
OK, in that last slice of awesomeness I toyed with the idea of multiple story lines happening around the world that players could get involved in at will and it’s this I want to expand on here, partly because I like to think about a game world where this could happen, partly because I like to sound of my own voice droning on and on and on, but mostly because I’m hoping one of my three readers might offer so cool insights into this idea that my baked bean sized intellect hasn’t been able to grasp so far.
Let me start with Kryta and those pesky ponies… *cue wavey dissolve*
The centaurs that currently plague the humans of Kryta have nothing to do with Zhiatan and everything to do with humans and centaurs beating on each other. This means stories could be played out there with no harm to the Personal Story that drives new characters towards a final (disappointing) fight with the Big Bad Zeester. Obviously there are stories playing out there but let’s take a broad brush look at them:
Heart Quests: Whilst these add flavour and some background & lore to the area they can hardly be considered stories or adventures. They are fun diversions at best, slow drags at worst and they have no impact on the world or character other than a XP boost and opening up some trinkets for sale.
Dynamic Events: Now these start to get closer to what I’d like to see and I have waxed lyrical many-a-time about just how much I love GW2’s DEs but as far as I can see the devs see them a resource sink that takes them away from developing more (increasing poorly named) Living World* story updates.
Dungeons: What can I say? The staple of adventuring and they have been abandoned by the devs in favour of raids and fractals. What a total waste.
Living World Events: Occasionally a living world story arc will see a zone become the focus of an attack but these are usually nothing more than zerg-fest fights which are fun but pointless.
So the in-game offering isn’t exactly ideal. It’s not conducive to making the world feel alive. There’s the big old Dragon story or nothing. Well, nothing but trivia instanced and disjointed, which is a real shame given how detailed the world and the lore can be.
Instead of just the above, what I‘d really love to see is three-fold:
- (More) Dynamic events that lead to dungeons with both being changed and updated.
- A ‘Bulletin Board’ system in local towns and taverns where players can pick up jobs, some of which would lead to the events in item 1 above.
- The ability for players to create and run their own adventures in game via the ‘Bulletin Board’ system in item 2.
Now there is a lot there expressed in those three points so let me explain a little further:
Dynamic events leading to dungeons is easy enough to understand and if you’ve ever experienced the dynamic event thread in the Harathi Hinterlands that leads you to face off against the boss Centaur then you’ll know what I’m getting at, only I want them to go further. No other game does dynamic events as well as GW2 (at least as far as I know) but they could be so much more because by now the DEs in game feel more like they are endlessly repeating without any reference to your actions. I want the experience of running past a villager running in the other direction and for them to tell me their village is being attacked only for my defence of the village to coincide with an army push into enemy territory to bring down one of the biggest enemy strongholds around which someone is using as cover for a robbery of an ancient artifact from the dungeon below the stronghold, etc. etc. etc.
Many other games have a ‘Bulletin Board’ system (hereafter called a BB as I can never remember how to spell Bulletin!), most notably for me the Elite games, and I love them! I want to head into the town square or pub and look for a list of jobs in need of brave/stupid souls. In the example above the BB could advertise for guards to defend the village or for militia to march on the enemy or even for thieves to delve into the dungeon. These jobs could be generated by the game to match a DE or they could be player generated.
Player generated? Are you mad, Burro? Well let me explain. You see, if there were a system that allowed players to create adventures such as the one above (and many more far more interesting and better thought out than that poor example) then just imagine how much content would be created for free by the community. Star Trek Online has just such a system with The Foundry and whilst I have not played it and I’m sure it will have issues, I can’t help but think that allowing the players to create BB jobs and events and dungeons for other players to participate in would be amazing. Sure you’d have to also implement a moderation system to filter out inappropriate content, and yes you’d have to manage the loot and XP and other rewards, but none of these things are insurmountable. If the player tools were good enough to allow talented creators to design adventures for other players then Tyria would be a far more dynamic place full of roleplay and storytelling. Hell, you would even have the best GMs designing their own seasons that people would follow, possibly with more interest than the main Living World story line.
So there you have it. This is one way in which I’d open up GW2 to help it feel more alive but I’m interested to hear what you think so leave comments below.
* I’m not sure that the Living World story actually makes the world feel alive to me. Phasing of locations would do that so that if I took my characters through story seasons out of order the locations would not look like they do for everyone regardless of the period. The little town of Prosperity in Dry Top is a great example as no matter when you visit it looks like it does after the Mordrem vine attack, even if you play through a chapter that takes place before that attack! That’s not living.