After you choose your race, class and appearance in Guild Wars 2, you also answer a series of multiple-choice questions that make up what ArenaNet call your bio. For a human necromancer, these include what was your biggest regret growing up? Were you raised by nobles, tradesmen or peasants? What dark creature do your paint on your face? And do you get yourself out of tricky situations with charm, ferocity or honour?
Your answers to these questions then personalise your experience, in a way that MMORPGs are traditionally quite bad at. What was your biggest regret growing up? That’ll affect your character’s personal story. Who raised you? Again, that affects your personal story, and who your friends are in the human capital city. What do you paint your face with? That gives your necromancer a unique bit of visual flair.
How do you get out of tricky situations? This is, perhaps, the most exciting part. Depending on which of these three personalities you chose, your character will get different dialogue in conversations with NPCs, and the world will react differently to you. The sole example we were given is street kids either following you or running away, so it’s impossible to know how far this’ll extend. Still, it’s a wonderful idea.
The phrase ‘personal story’ surfaced a lot during our presentation of Guild Wars 2. Basically, it’s an attempt to individualise the player’s personal experience of the game’s narrative. Again, it’s impossible to know how far this’ll extend, though there is already one incredible-sounding feature relating to your personal story. Let me tell you about the Home Instance.
One district of your race’s capital city is instanced. When you go there, you go there alone, and what you find there relates to your personal story. Your home instance is filled with friends, family and quests relating to the answers you chose in your bio, and this place will actually evolve over time, depending on whether you choose to save the hospital or the orphanage when they’re both found burning, for example, and any people you save out in the public game world might be found later on back at your home.
Talking to ArenaNet about GW2, they have an animal confidence to them; they seem hugely excited that they have all these ideas, they have the money to actualise them, and they’re not fucking it up. I’m posting an interview with GW2′s global brand manager, Chris Lye, and designer Eric Flannum tomorrow, but for now here’s a choice snippet:
“We’re not just designing an MMO. We don’t want to make the best MMO ever. We want to make the best game ever.”
I’m know that’ll strike some people as arrogant, but it makes me happy. What would you rather a developer wanted to do?