Making Guild Wars 2 a social MMOG

Comic-Con 2011: ArenaNet developers explain how upcoming fantasy online game will distance itself from those on the market with unique group efforts.

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Who was there: ArenaNet developers Colin Johanson (lead content designer), Leah Rivera (content design), Bobby Stein (lead writer), Kristen Perry (character artist), and Kekai Kotaki (lead concept artist).

The team behind Guild Wars 2.

What they talked about: The panel started off with a developer-themed trailer for Guild Wars 2. The clip showed the environments, characters, and features gamers can expect to see when the title finally launches.

The commentary in the video talked about how many massively multiplayer online games don't do everything they can for the player, especially in the social department. According to ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2 will be "your world, your story."

Johanson said many MMOGs on the market today have broken quest structures. He said quests in these game can easily become overrun by other players completing the same tasks, inhibiting a player from enjoying the experience. He said the point of Guild Wars 2 is to be social. "It's about coming together and building communities," he said.

When players enter combat together, they earn individual experience and loot rolls. This was done in the name of creating an environment in which players will organically decide to work together, socially.

ArenaNet also thinks that the "Holy Trinity" of MMOGs (tank, damage-per-second, and healer classes) is a broken system. Thus, Guild Wars 2 will not force players to choose one class or another. Rather, each character has his or her own healing capabilities. ArenaNet said it would, "rather have players having fun" than waiting around to form a group.

Guild Wars 2 is being designed as a social MMOG.

ArenaNet also addressed a very hot-button question: When will the game enter closed beta? The developer said, "We have not announced when the game will go into beta" but added the feedback gathered from the beta will determine if the trial test will open to the public before release.

When Guild Wars 2 does launch, it will cost a fee up front, but will not require a monthly paid subscription to continue playing.

One of the final questions of the day came from a fan asking what the final profession will be in Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet did not name the skill but did note that it will be "highly controversial" and that the developer will announce it by the end of the year.

Takeaway: Like its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 is taking an unconventional approach to the massively multiplayer market, from the business model on down to the nitty-gritty of the combat system.

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