Who was there: NCsoft-owned ArenaNet trotted out a large contingent of developers for its "Guild Wars 2: A New Type of Fantasy MMO" presentation, which occurred during the waning hours of Saturday's Comic-Con 2010 schedule. Among those in attendance were game designer and lore master Jeff Grubb, design director James Phinney, character artist Kristen Perry, concept art lead Kekai Kotaki, and cinematics lead Rich Anderson.
What they talked about: The Guild Wars 2 panel offered little in the way of new information for those who have been closely following the game. Instead, the team on hand focused on illuminating what ArenaNet has been trying to accomplish with the first full sequel to the not-quite-massively multiplayer online role-playing game, which saw first release in 2005.
Delving into a bit of the backstory, Grubb said that Guild Wars 2 is set 250 years after the events of the original game, with the most dramatic event being that dragons have returned to the land of Tyria. To meet the threat, the once-fractured races have united to stave off the elemental forces of destruction unleashed by the dragons.
Against this backdrop, Grubb emphasized the personal story that Guild Wars 2 hopes to tell, one that is dominated by player interaction and social dynamics within the game. He emphasized that player choice will play a more pronounced role in Guild Wars 2, where decisions will impact players' characters and the options that are open to them throughout the game.
Phinney then took over the conversation, describing some of the goals that the team had for crafting Guild Wars 2. He noted that many key aspects of the original game will remain, including the rich lore, the heavy emphasis on customization, and, of course, the lack of a monthly fee.
However, the team also had a number of areas in which it wanted to improve over the original, which is the reason that it began development on Guild Wars 2. He noted that the social experience in the first game was lacking. Also, as in other MMORPGs, the actual gameplay didn't live up to that of other, more traditional role-playing games. One other point Phinney made was that it was important to make a more living, breathing world, one that responds to players in a dynamic fashion.
Phinney then turned the panel over to Perry, who talked a bit about character customization. The big new change with Guild Wars 2, she said, was that players can now wear nearly all of the clothing that non-player characters can wear (she gave the example of a merchant's garb or a blacksmith's apron). Also, armor and clothing dying will be greatly expanded, with players able to alter the hue for up to three parts of each piece.
Quote: "When is Guild Wars 2 coming out?"--A very enthusiastic, and very young, child.
Takeaway: ArenaNet seems to be taking a page out of BioWare's book, emphasizing player choice and the consequences thereof for its latest online RPG. For the sequel, the team hopes to deliver a far more dynamic, immersive world that better engages and involves the player community.