Guild Wars 2: Designing a cooperative experience

PAX 2011: ArenaNet details its new approach to massively multiplayer online role-playing games, from scrapping loot drops to shaking up the standard party makeup.

Who was there: Various members of ArenaNet, including Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson.

What they talked about: This full-to-capacity panel revolved around ArenaNet's long-awaited massively multiplayer online role-playing game sequel, acting as a primer to give fans and newcomers and an idea of what to expect when Guild Wars 2 launches. The panelists discussed a number of different ways in which they are building a game that is meant to be played with others and how much more beneficial it will be when cooperating with friends or strangers in the long run.

While Guild Wars 2 does, in fact, have a single-player story campaign, the entire world changes based on the actions of the population. What happens in the world today may drastically change future events. Noticing that mission structures in other massively multiplayer online games would often have people competing against each other in order to complete the same objective, the developers decided missions should instead be cooperative and that everyone who is involved in any particular situation should be working with others to complete the task.

Mission difficulty will vary depending on the number of players involved. The term "dynamic" was used frequently to describe many functions within the game. On top of that, everyone who takes part in a particular mission or dungeon will earn participation points, regardless of what their function was. Be they healers, archers, or tank characters, every player will earn rewards for his or her efforts.

Regarding those rewards, gone are the loot drops that would often leave players with items that are useless to their characters. In their place, players will be rewarded with tokens that can then be redeemed for the items they want. Just like money, players can spend those tokens all at once or save them up and get the item that will really help their characters out.

Further discussion about the cooperative experience made mention that higher-level players will not have to create a new character in order to play with new players or friends. With the sidekicks system in place, higher-level characters will drop to a level matching their friends' levels, so they can still reap benefits and gain experience without having to develop a new character.

But the most interesting talk regarding dynamics dealt with the game's dungeons. One issue ArenaNet identified that plagued other MMO games was the reliance on "the trinity" of characters to complete a particular instance. If a team didn't contain the three--a tank, a healer, and a damage-per-second specialist--the likelihood of success was greatly reduced. In Guild Wars 2, the dungeons are being designed so that any group of five can tackle them and, in theory, complete them with little to no modification made to the party. Details regarding this were not too specific, but expect to hear more about this in the future.

Guild Wars 2 continues to "wow" players, even with no clear release window.

Takeaway: Much of the panel was devoted to recapping previously announced facts instead of revealing new ones. And unfortunately there is still no word on when fans can expect the game to be released.

Written By

Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Content Manager for EA SPORTS.

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62 comments
simon1812
simon1812

dre256x on the contrary!!! with SWtOR releasing this years, and it is going to release this year, arenanet can not afford to play the underdog card again like they did with GW, how many ppl out there can say they play more than 1 mmorpg at the time? they certainly try but eventually they end up sticking with one or the other. in the case of SWtOR will require a monthly fee, who will be paying to play that game while also dedicating time to GW2? some body who failed math or somebody rich thats who.

Boomer76
Boomer76

If the game was focused more on pve and had raids I would consider this game. As it stands it is just another pvp centric free to play game like the first one was.

Dragonballz290
Dragonballz290

I've never felt this way about an MMO ever since I was about to get WoW when I was younger. I thought WoW was what Guild Wars 2 is now and while I did enjoy WoW, it wasn't what I imagined. Guild Wars 2 will take my life.

savva
savva

Wow=Mage op. Rift=Mage op. Aion=Mage op. Hope they not gona do same crap

DraKKuLL007
DraKKuLL007

I'm playing Age of Conan and Dragon Nest at this moment, and waiting for BF3, Skyrim, Rage, etc, but if you ask me to trade ALL my games for GW2 I would say: "Noooooowwwww!"

AzatiS
AzatiS

The more i hear and see , the more i eager to play it. And that happened with only one game before , gladly i was lucky to get into beta , and that was World of Warcraft. Never felt so excited about any MMORPG again till GW2. I cross finger to enter beta!!

ghostmax
ghostmax

"What did they talked about?" Is Gamespot hiring straight out of elementary school these days?

Zloth2
Zloth2

We would call that 'reverse sidekicking' in City of Heroes as the higher level character is getting pushed down to the lower level. But anyway... this is sounding MIGHTY good!

Pete5506
Pete5506

This game is shaping up to be awesome, now wheres our beta news

heroesfan261
heroesfan261

people are forgetting that yes, while they are taking all of the best gameplay elements of other mmo's, as well as coming up with new ones such as dynamic events in place of quests. What keeps players playing MMO's is the world. That's part of what made WoW so popular. It seems that GW2 is really taking the time to make sure that their world is original and unique.

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

Good to see good design decisions from other games being implemented (sidekicks and tokens for one, I for one hate when I get some totally unrelated piece of gear after working so hard through a dungeon) while I'm excited about some of the new dynamic features. I especially would like to see how the trinity system going away would work, as not many people like to play healers and they're almost always the limiting factor to parties. For a very long time I didn't get why people were so excited about GW2. I liked the original, but the new one's feature list seemed to just be making it like every other MMO. It seems now that they're doing some really cool stuff with it though.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

The token drop and sidekick systems are hardly new, but I'm still glad to see them being used. It'll be interesting to see what they do to get around the "trinity" system. I still enjoy WoW, but the most interesting fights have little to do with the tank/healer/dps system. If they designed the entire game around the more dynamic aspects of some of the better boss fights it would quite interesting.

dre256x
dre256x

@ Noonshifter If wow is too loose half its 10mil sub base now, so that put it @ 5mil subs.. For a mmo game 6yrs old that a heck of a dominance. Blizz knew that WOW wasn't going to be king of the hill for all its life, hell i don't think they had a clue WoW would be this big. But people are forgetting that WoW had the time to grow that big. When it launched only game that posed a challenge was Guild wars but that had a No sub model, so people could play WoW & Guild wars so they basically shared customers. 6+yrs later we have Star Wars coming out which will take some people away from WoW, then you have Guild Wars 2 & Tera getting ready to launch next year launch which will take people from WoW. But wow has reach a point where people come back for new xpac, play a few weeks then leave. Because they will all have the same mentality, i have seen/and played this experience before. Truth be told there is nothing blizz can do to rise WoW popularity pass its peak a year ago, by the time there next MMO launches wow will still have over 1mil subs going... I'm hoping Guild Wars 2 change dev's mind into designing games around the ''The Trinity'' class system, its good @ start but over the life of an MMO its always proves troublesome for the masses to enjoy the game.

packers91
packers91

Even if the game is somewhat flat at first(unlikely) Anet has been steadily adding new content and re-balances for 6 freakin' years on GW1, so there's no reason to believe this won't be the most epic RPG ever.

dre256x
dre256x

Quote: One issue ArenaNet identified that plagued other MMOs was the reliance on "The Trinity" of characters in order to complete a particular instance. If a team didn't contain the three--a tank, a healer and a damage-per-second specialist--the likelihood of success was greatly reduced. In Guild Wars 2, the dungeons were designed so that any group of five can tackle it and, in theory, complete it with little to no modification made to the party''... I have been saying this almost in all MMO that use this system, the dev's mostly go for that system because they are lazy to try something else, and its easier to design dungeon mechanics around that system.. But the system is broken, in that when a mmo launches the server is populated so you find groups/raids more easier to form but over the life of the mmo player quit groups become harder to form and you find the roles of Tank & Healers becoming harder to fill.. So it becomes a pain to old players who stay and even new player who want to get into the game & that what i think is holding the MMO industry back along with sub fees (to a point)..

dre256x
dre256x

To maximize market potential, don't release a hyped game in a crowed time of the year.. I totally agree with not launching this games this year.. Yes the game is really hyped up, but along with console Triple A titles, plus you got a star wars MMO probably launching this year, then there's the chance Diablo 3 is gunning for a December release. Why rush Guild Wars 2 out this year, the hype isn't going to die down after all..

Zerabp
Zerabp

@Drokmore You haven't played Aion recently all bosses automatically drop loot now so in that regard it's now the same as WoW grind until you get the drop you want. However you can also buy and sell "loot rights" basically if no one in your group can use the item and you don't want to DE it you can invite someone into the group and still give it to them. So the game is a bit more fair than WoW in that regard. I have played since beta so I know the game you are talking about as well ever since 1.9 though Aion is a whole different game and has only gotten better with each patch and the free expansion they released. Hell with 2.5 they even Fixed Chanters and now most of the classes are balanced (there are two majorly OP classes). My point is if you haven't played a mmo game for a while don't bring it up because a lot can change in a short amount of time. Edit: With the most recent patch a few of the instances can also only drop gear usable by the classes in your group hopefully they institute this game wide as it would be a compromise between those who are for and those who are against selling "loot rights" (you have the guy who got his gear the first run complaining that the guy who has run it 50 times and either not one or not gotten the drop he wants not "earning it"). Right now you have geared Legions (guilds) running it just to sell the "loot rights" which they do at a high cost which hasn't effected the economy of the game which is pretty strong.

Noonshifter
Noonshifter

with tera gw2 and swtor...wow is gonna lose ALOT of subscribers

Cenkris
Cenkris

@KnocturnalGS There is no Holytrinity in GW2... every profession can play the tank role and all of them got heal... and you can do dungeons with a group of 5 warriors or 5 elementalists. @Valcrist08 GW1 is B2P is not F2P same for GW2... you buy it once you play it for how long you want and as far as I know it will be out in 2012 ... Beta is this year

Kmangamer
Kmangamer

If Star Wars: The Old Republic wasn't coming out and it wasn't made by Bioware I'd definitely look into this game. I was so tempted to try the first GW but sadly I didn't have a computer to play it on. I am more intrigued with GW2's design choices than I am with SW:TOR but I'm a sucker for the SW IP and also I love BW games...fanboyism I suppose.

fredwv
fredwv

playing Rift at the moment to hold me over until Star Wars comes out. Guild Wars II might be the real prize, though. I wasn't a huge fan of the original Guild Wars, so I'm not exactly sold on GW2 being a world beater just yet.

drokmore
drokmore

Tokens for items, well that definitely rewards the grinder...but that also takes away some of the excitement of loot drops where you never know what youre going to get. Although at least its not like Aion where you take down an instance boss and might actually get no loot...

FaYt2021
FaYt2021

@KnocturnalGS What healers and tanks? This game doesn't have any dedicated roles. and as for the dungeons, they were talking about the "Story Mode" dungeons. the "Explorable Mode" is an extremely difficult and long dungeon with different enemies and areas.

KnocturnalGS
KnocturnalGS

"In Guild Wars 2, the dungeons were designed so that any group of five can tackle it and, in theory, complete it with little to no modification made to the party." Where this may make grouping take less time and easier to form, but, correct me if I'm wrong, this removes the interest players will have for the healing and tanking class. Just like in every MMO, there is an abundance of DPS, not enough healers and tanks to go around and they want to remove the need for these classes? I've played all three roles in different MMO's, and most will agree that playing a DPS feels more UBER, and also more competitive where we all want to be dishing out the highest possible DPS while respecting strategy, and without tunnel vision... I don't feel like GW2 is going the right way with some features, but it's all to soon to jump to conclusions at this point anyways.

Valcrist08
Valcrist08

this game is taking to long, it looks cool but i am def losing interest, with WoW heading into its 4th expan, Rift, and of course the highly hyped old republic near launch and Tera mid next year I just dont think there is room for yet another MMO.. I think it was better off going the free to play like the first one. Way less Action RPG games out there these days, aside from the highly antis plated Diablo 3 and torchlight 2 that is about it, much more room in that department.

Ronaldius
Ronaldius

At this moment i don`t have a game that really pulls me to my console or pc, im so scared that all the good games come out around the same time and then i dont have the time to play em all. (Torchlight 2, Diablo 3, Guildwars 2, SW old republic, Skyrim.) All games i want to play, give me one now plz!

Doomguard3
Doomguard3

@Dragonstrike Every class has dedicated healing spells, hence how the trinity is broken, and now everyone is a healer, which is how all dungeons are then made for "5 healers". Nobody wants to restrict themselves to only healing, that's boring, as soon as you equip a weapon you will have attacking skills, so everyone will be able to do decent damage and everyone can take care of healing themselves as well. Moving around in the battlefield plays a big role, you cant just stand next to a boss dishing out attacks and wait for a healer to heal you, just as how soldiers in war don't rush in with closed eyes and then blame medics for not having their backs, that's not how combat is actually supposed to work.

StryfeBringer
StryfeBringer

No release date yet? Guess I still have some time to fill up my Hall of Monuments and get that elusive Gwen doll.... Nick, Y U No give me Gwen doll?!?!

FaYt2021
FaYt2021

@voldalin You've obviously never watched any gameplay footage of this. Also, it isn't "Free to play" it is "Buy to play". Box sales, no monthly fees, but supported with cosmetic micro-transactions like Guild Wars.

Zerabp
Zerabp

To back up what FaYt2021 said not only has it sold over 7 mil copies but almost every major city is still packed day in and day out even now. Anet definitely not only knows how to make a successful MMO they also know how to make a lasting one.

janrabbit
janrabbit

WOW 400 dyes!!!!!!!!........ why did that get the biggest applause.....

DraKKuLL007
DraKKuLL007

Seeing all this good things I ask to myself: "How could I waste 6 damn years playing that stupid thing called WoW?!?!" Well, release date, please? Before I kill myself...

sonicare
sonicare

The screen shots continue to impress me. Can't wait but I bet this game is still 2 years away.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

To get rid of the holy trinity is to(most likely) homogenize all the classes. I don't see how you can get rid of the trinity and still make each class feel different.

1Duy
1Duy

I doubt they can do much about the Holy Trinity. If only there is any dungeon for a group of five healers...

Triton
Triton

Yep, day one purchase. Wow is / was great...just like the Roman Empire was.

stefangtaiv
stefangtaiv

GW 2 looks much better then wow, so i recommend to blizzard to go in small hole and CRY!!!!!! because wow time is over soon

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

GW2 looks pretty sweet so far and with no monthly fee, probably day purchase from me.

Jhezuz
Jhezuz

"Much of the panel was devoted to recapping previously announced facts instead of revealing new ones" Your account link to as many guilds as you want and been able to represent any at will was a new info for pax, also traits completely revamped they say, and if you are helping your friend in his personal story and you two are both humans lets say, you can "save" the progress you made with him and bring it back to your own story if they are similar, so you dont have to replay stuffs. Pretty cool.

voldalin
voldalin

There will always be room for free MMO's, but regardless of what they manage to put in this game, it still won't be fun to play.

packers91
packers91

WoW killer, if WoW doesn't implode on itself first

SergioMX
SergioMX

@watchuwa WoW is slowly dying thanks to Blizz making everything easier, and charging for everything and anything. So GW 2 or not, WoW will lose a lot of their players in time. Only fanboys will remain.

starduke
starduke

Hmm, I think ArenaNet pretty much said that GW2 will be done when it's done. Which is why they haven't set a release date. I just hope they finish up whatever they're doing, and at least have a Beta soon.

watchuwa
watchuwa

no one will ever beat wow

FaYt2021
FaYt2021

@Pikdum Doesn't know how to make a successful MMO? GW sold over 7 million copies... how is that not successful?

cephas90
cephas90

I'd like to thank vindictus and other free to play mmos that have branched out of the WoW clone fad and created innovative new mmo combat and playstyles that big games (ie GW2) can then piggyback on and use to create action oriented, wonderful mmos that are worth my time. Which is why, sadly, my interest in TOR is quite limited compared to the serene simplicity and intelligent intensity that GW2 will culture and grow.

BornGamer
BornGamer

I have an idea that I'd like the Arenanet team to consider... RELEASE THE GAME NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

george43
george43

If Arenanet delivers, Guild Wars 2 is going to be the next step in MMO evolution.

Pikdum
Pikdum

@SergioMx That is one thing I like about them. I'm sick of all the WoW clones as much as the next guy. I don't know I could be wrong, It might be really great.

SergioMX
SergioMX

@Pikdum Guild Wars Prophecies was really fun and popular, and every class could heal and solo in one way or another. So I think ArenaNet knows what they're doing; they're not like every other MMO developer out there that's trying to mimic WoW. I think GW 2 will definitely be a success.