In Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet have done away with the traditional quest; there are no quest markers, no people standing around with ! over their heads waiting for you to come and activate them. If Farmer Jones wants you to clear out the rats from his basement, you won’t have to go and speak to him before the rats will appear. They will already be there; munching all up in his grain n shit. So, you run past and see him waving his arms around, you shoot past into his basement to attempt to mess dem rats up a treat. If you do manage to kill the rats, then another event might open up where the Rat King declares war upon Farmer Jones and you have to travel into the Rat-Kingdom (or “Squeeksville”) to broker a peace. These kinds of events happen all the time, all around you – whether you take part or not. Failure in an event does not just lead to the event resetting; a whole different branch of storyline will be created (perhaps the rats get so fat on grain that they begin to burst, and you are left to clean up the mess). They are not quests – they are Dynamic Events.
I have a few wonderings which are bouncing around my head; not concerns as such, but certainly little thoughts which keep popping up the more I hear about DEs.
1. Is it always a “win or lose” situation? Are there different ways to complete certain dynamic events which would lead to a different branching storyline? For example, perhaps instead of slaughtering the rats, you decide to reason with them (as much as a person could reason with a pack of hungry rats). Then, instead of the Rat King declaring war, perhaps you have to arrange and defend a caravan carrying grain from the farmer’s store to the Rat Kingdom. If these kind of branching storylines did exist, it would certainly prolong the inevitable time when we all reach the “seen it; got the t-shirt” moment – as Hunter says, MMO players tend to run past quests which they’ve done before.Just like any new idea, the dynamic event’s true test will come when the hundreds of thousands of players test it 24/7 upon release. The players will push the system to its absolute limit and no doubt they will break it. It’s inevitable for MMO players to push and push until they find a way to break and exploit the system – it’s just their way. ANet know this. Unfortunately, any alpha or beta testing before then is just licking the pudding bowl of the left over batter in comparison to the feast which will occur upon release.
2. What happens to events later on in the game (particularly when we have just started) do they run and run without player input - and each one failing over and over – the storyline getting worse and worse as there is no one around to intervene? Or are they activated upon a player entering an area? So, I rock up into the Maguuma Jungle and am faced with 5 different events; and all of them my responsibility (Spiders eating babies on my left, Wind Riders raping puppies to my right – what to do!?). Are these dynamic events going to end up like worrisome chores; where if we aren’t constantly nursing them then the whole world will go to pot?
3. Also, I can see a problem with the whole “participation meter” idea. In that, in order to prevent players from showing up at the end of an event and reaping massive rewards, player participation will be measured in Gold, Silver and Bronze and each level will bestow a certain amount of reward. The problem I see with this is where does the distinction lie between obtaining Bronze and obtaining nothing? The same goes for any of the boundaries. It’s an inherent problem with all tiered reward systems; I’ll go back to Farmer Jones’ basement to demonstrate:
Imagine you rock up and there are already 3 players down there hacking away at the rats – they’ve been there for half an hour (these are some fricken’ badass rats). You barge into the fray and begin healing and slicing away. After 5 minutes you are down to the final, scared looking rat. At this point a rogue Thief shadowsteps in; slits the rat’s throat and then teabags his corpse. It would be reasonable to expect the Thief to be rewarded for participating, but he certainly hasn’t participated as much as you. However, neither of you have put in as much work as the 3 who were already there. They’ve obtained Gold, and you and the thief have been left with Bronze. Is this fair? You haven’t worked enough for Silver, and you certainly aren’t deserving of Gold – but by being lumped with Bronze, you’ve received the same reward for 5 mins of work that the Thief has received for 5 seconds. I can see this being alleviated by a sliding scale system of rewards where you receive gold/karma equal to your exact amount of participation (assuming ANet are measuring some arbitrary counter of participation; currently based upon reaching certain thresholds to attain the different reward medals).
4. As far as I understand, ANet are using a similar system to regulate the difficulty of the events. I.e. As more people show up, enemies will get harder or spawn more quickly.
However, and I think this has been brought up before, if the scaling is tiered then you can see that as player participation reaches the threshold the event will get easier and easier until it hits that next level when it will become drastically more difficult very quickly.
Right, back to the basement: You are down there hacking away at the rats and the going is tough, another player shows up to help – hey, that’s nice. Thanks mate. After a bit another player rocks up, and another, by this point it’s pretty easy. However, as one more player happily bounces into the fray this kicks in some invisible scale to tip over into the next level of difficulty. At this level, 2x the normal number of rats spawn, along with cute little rat healers (complete with little pope hats), your whole team almost immediately wipes – unprepared for such a drastic change in difficulty so rapidly.
The only way to counter this would be to make the easiest level only just easy enough for the smallest number of players to defeat – then as new players join it will get easier, but if it was too easy to begin with, there would be little point. Otherwise, if the easiest level was too hard for the smallest numbers to defeat then unsuspecting parties who just reach the threshold to start spawning Ratbeasts from the Underdark (complete with cute little rat codpieces) are going to find themselves getting trashed very easily and either someone will have to leave to push the difficulty level back down (so they are at the top of the tier below) or they’re going to have to sit it out until they find a couple more people to help (which isn’t what ANet want either).
Solving this problem is a little more difficult than the rewards one as “difficulty” is more problematic when you try to place it on a continuous scale (unlike currency or karma) than more malleable substances.