Colin Johanson Answers Your Dynamic Event Questions

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Creating Colin Johanson Answers Your Dynamic Event Questions[edit]


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Recently, Lead Content Designer Colin Johanson described Guild Wars 2's dynamic events system. The reaction from the gaming community was fantastic and seems to have really struck a chord with people who have grown weary of traditional MMO quest systems. We searched the web for the most commonly asked questions about the event system and ran them past Colin.

We've got a lot to talk about, so we're going to break this up into easily digestible chunks. Today, Colin will answer FAQs about events in GW2, and tomorrow Lead Designer Eric Flannum will address more of your questions. Let's get started!

Will dynamic events reset? For example, if an NPC dies in a dynamic event, will that NPC die forever for everyone in the world, or will she eventually respawn? What if players kill a boss in a dynamic event, and I logged off for the day and missed it? Are dynamic events really just one-shot, large-scale quests?[edit]

Colin: Dynamic event chains can reset. As chains, they move along paths based on player participation and event outcome. If an NPC dies in a dynamic event, their corpse might sit there waiting for players to come resurrect it and kick-start the event chain again, or it may re-spawn some time later.

Our event chains will never be lost to everyone in the world forever, they'll simply cycle back into different states based on their outcomes, or they might not be actively running based on the current state of the event chain. If you and other players push an assault on the centaur base event chain to the point where you kill their commander, eventually the centaurs will choose a new commander and the event chain can begin again.

Changes from events will not be permanent and last forever, but they will change the world directly and last for a period of time long enough that it feels like what you did matters and has an impact. If we wanted every event we designed to run only once, we'd need to hire approximately 100,000 people to make enough events to fill GW2. Since our budget isn't quite that big, we're going for the next best thing and creating awesome cycling event chains that allow you to experience a wide variety of ever-changing content, but allow us to use event chains more than once. With our dynamic event system, you're never really missing the fun stuff, just experiencing different fun content than someone else at a specific time. It gives the world a feeling like there is always something exciting and fun going on out there that you may have never seen before. You don't feel let down because you missed an event; instead, you're excited to discover the next event!

Are dynamic events cyclical? If so, how often do the cycles occur?[edit]

Colin: Dynamic events are cyclical in nature, yes. Many of the events in the game belong to large event chains that cycle in various directions based on the outcome of the events in the chain. Other events can be one-off events that can occur, change the world, and cycle back so some conditions must be met in the world to make the event start again. These event cycles vary dramatically on a case-by-case basis. In some large event chains, depending on player participation and the outcome of events, the chain could go entirely from one end to the other over the course of hours before it cycles back. In other cases, the event may change the world for 10-15 minutes before it can cycle back around. Some events only occur when specific conditions are met, like a snow storm rolls into the map, or night falls over the graveyard. If an event reaches one end of the chain, it could sit at that point for days, weeks, or months until a player comes along and decides to participate in the event chain. We've tried to vary the conditions that trigger events and change the length and variety of the event cycles so that everything feels organic and unique.

If a dynamic event happens on a completely different continent, and I'm too far away to get there in time for it, will I ever get to experience that event in the future?[edit]

Colin: If the event chain branches to the point that the event occurs again or the player triggers the event, you could absolutely experience that event in the future! It's also entirely possible you could come to that map and find a completely different and exciting event going on as well. This is the great thing about the dynamic event system – every time you explore the world there is always something new and different around every corner for you to discover.

Do dynamic events happen at a particular time every day? If so, wouldn't time zone differences mean that not everyone will be able to experience an event that starts at 11:00 PM GMT for example?[edit]

Colin: Events are not designed to occur at specific real world times; they're triggered by game conditions, player actions, and in-game time occurrences (like night falling in the game world). Players from all countries and time-zones in the world will never feel like they're missing out on content.

Can two events that run parallel to each other influence each other?[edit]

Colin: Yes, they can! At times, our dynamic event system can create situations where events can overlap, creating these really interesting moments of emergent gameplay. For example, one group of players could be escorting a merchant to the town of Beetletun with a shipment of beer from Divinity's Reach. When they get near Beetletun, the players could discover that Beetletun is currently under attack by centaurs and the players can join in the battle to save the town. Saving the town not only liberates the now grateful citizens, but also allows the beer shipment to reach the now even more grateful citizens! The merchant will set up shop in town and a new beer merchant becomes available for a while, all due to the players completing two events that ended up running in parallel and influencing one another.

Aren't events going to be perceived by most players as insignificant details or too ephemeral, in particular because they're received orally/visually rather than via text?[edit]

Colin: We feel strongly that players will experience the exact opposite. Events will seem more significant and more important because you're actually experiencing them in the game world, rather than reading about them. Let's say you walk up to someone on the street and say hello and they hand you a note that says, "A lion got loose from the zoo." It doesn't really have the same dramatic impact as walking down the street and witnessing the lion chasing screaming people around while the police chase the lion with tranquilizer guns. Our dynamic event system is like hundreds of lions running all over every street of the city… and they haven't eaten in weeks.

In regards to events being too ephemeral, one of the benefits to using voice and visuals to present dynamic events is our ability to dramatically change the game world based on the outcome of an event. We can let you experience that change in the best way possible – by hearing and seeing it, not forcing you to read about it, or worse, making no change at all. If you take part in an event chain where you storm the beaches of Orr, clearing out enemy defenses and creating a location for troops to set up a forward base in enemy territory, it will really happen! You and other players will wipe out the enemy, destroy their defensive structures, clear a path for the troops to land, and watch them build a command center while you defend them. You'll see mortars and catapults being built, watch golems carry in supplies, and witness troops begin the assault on the Orrian mainland. Should the players fail in these events, these chains can be pushed back in other directions, but the events will truly have an effect on the game world and make a lasting difference for as long as the players choose to participate in them.

Will loot category be related to the event? For example, depending on how an event goes, a peasant/prince may or may not give out valuable loot?[edit]

Colin: Loot will never be directly given as a reward for an event. The idea here is you should never feel like you need to participate in a specific event, or feel let down that you missed an event because it had a reward you really wanted.

All events reward you with experience, gold, and karma, which you can spend at merchants and vendors in the game to purchase rewards. This way, we're rewarding you for participating in any event equally, so you can play in the events you discover, or the event types you really enjoy. We'll never force you to wait around for an event to begin so you can get a specific drop or make you want to cause an event to fail because some other event in the chain gives you something you need. In Guild Wars 2, our princes and peasants are benevolent; they all reward you for participating in events, and then you can choose what to purchase with the rewards you have been given. Eric Flannum will talk a little more about this tomorrow.

Is there a clear-cut "end" to an event when loot is distributed?[edit]

Colin: Each event has a clear-cut end point of reward distribution, in which event success or failure is determined and the players who participated are rewarded. The event will then branch based on the outcome and cascade out to change various parts of the world, kicking off other events in the zone. It's worth noting that players are rewarded for participation if an event succeeds or fails – you simply get less reward if the event fails. This gives you an incentive to want to succeed, but makes it so you don't feel your time is wasted by participating in an event that could or does potentially fail. Players don't receive loot based on event participation; loot is dropped by monsters you kill during events, and everyone who helps kill a particular monster will receive rewards for doing so. Loot is the immediate reward you receive from the monsters, but at the end of the event everyone who participated receives their event reward.

Thanks Colin!

Check back tomorrow for Eric Flannum's answers to common questions about the GW2 event system. We'll see you then!