The Nature of Dynamic Events – ArenaNet’s Hat Trick

As stated in my previous post, Dynamic Events are the primary form of content in Guild Wars 2.  I say this with almost total certainty, in fact.  Primary content in an MMO should become more plentiful as you become higher level, because you are more capable and expect more.  As we learned recently, there are no renown areas in Orr (the majority of the high level zones in GW2 are in Orr), yet there are twice as many Dynamic Events in these high level areas.  In addition, there are far more Dynamic Events than other types of content (over 1500 events as of a year ago and still growing).

What are Dynamic Events though, and why move to this?  This type of content fascinates me, not only with the flexibility of the content, but also how events seem to take benefits of previous forms and remove the problems with those forms of content.  Everyone has probably played a game where there were some aspects they really liked, but it also had problems that really soured the experience.

There’s a pretty awesome video of a panel ArenaNet did in 2010 at GDC Europe where they describe the whole Dynamic Event system, how they came to this setup, and things they learned early on.  Give it a look, it’s really enlightening into the whole process even if one or two aspects may not have made it to current iterations.  Of particular value (to me, at least) is their descriptions of the first two eras of MMO content (starting at 1:05, or the Hunting and Questing sections), and their benefits and problems. Continue reading

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Dynamic Events and the Subtle Training of Questing

Ever since the BWEs started, there’s been plenty of discussion about the game and how everything works out for the players.  Between the new combat system, overflow servers, new event system, fast travel, personal story, etc there’s a lot of things that can possibly go wrong.  One thing definitely comes up a lot though, and that’s the fact that it’s possible to 100% complete an area yet still not be leveled up enough to move on to the next area.

On the world map there are five items that are tracked: waypoints, points of interest, skill challenges, renown areas (hearts), and the new vistas.  There are a limited number of these on each map and they are all one-time completions.  This makes these items very good for completion tracking, so it makes sense they would do this.  However, there’s a problem that has been rearing it’s ugly head for a while now, and it has to do with the interaction between these completion goals and how dynamic events work. Continue reading

Norrath to Tyria: Skills – It’s Not the Size That Counts, It’s How You Use it! (Part 2)

In the last post I covered the layout of the skill bar.  While this is a major part of the skill system, it is yet only a part of it.  Both systems are also distinguished by how you learn skills and how you use them, and even here they are significantly different.

EverQuest 2 has a skill system that is very much about multiple upgrade paths for skills, either upgrading the individual skill via upgrades or replacing it with a more powerful version as you level.  Guild Wars 2 skills, on the other hand, have only one version of each skill that automatically scales based on your level and build, relying on the versatility of the skills and builds to provide complexity.  That’s a significant difference, both in skill design and in-game feel as you use them.

There’s a good amount to cover here so let’s jump right in. Continue reading

Norrath to Tyria: Skills – Kitchen Sink or Deck of Cards? (Part 1)

Skills are the bread and butter current mainstream MMO combat, whether you want to call them combat arts, abilities, spells, or whatever.  Pressing a skill icon on your bar (by clicking a hotkey) activates an action to attack, heal, buff, etc.  This style has generally become known as “hotkey MMOs” by many, sometimes even in a negative connotation.

Seeing as how combat is a very large part of most MMOs, these systems tend to be very complex and pretty deep .  There’s a lot more work going into these systems than just what you use during combat including how you gain them, how you improve them, any customization options available to provide different strengths, etc.

While EQ2 and GW2 both fall into the hotkey style, the method in which they utilize it are significantly different, so let’s take a look at the two systems. Continue reading