Guild Wars 2 Dynamic Events

One of the key features of Guild Wars 2 is the dynamic event system.

Before going on, perhaps it would be helpful to see how most games and MMOs in particular work, for my non-game playing friends/family/visitors. Those familiar with the basics of quests can skip ahead. While walking around you may see a NPC (Non Playable Character) have an icon over their head letting you know they want you to do a quest (do something) for them. You talk to them and they will let you know what they want. More and more this tends to be voice acted rather than having a long text box to read, but either way you are normally given a chance to accept the quest or not. Normally if you don’t pick it up then you can at a later time. If you pick up the quest and fail completing it, you can normally abandon the quest and pick it back up again. After finishing the quest you will turn the quest back into the quest giver or somebody else, which could be across the game map.

Generally there will be several quest givers in a given area, these are called quest hubs. Sometimes, as noted, you will turn a quest in to somebody else at a new quest hub area and you can keep going forward with a new area. This can be frustrating if you have lots of quests yet to do or turn in at the old area, which is where strategy guilds can come into play giving you a better idea of the order to accept, do and turn in quests as to take the least amount of time walking all over the place. With World of Warcraft I used a free addon to the game called the WoW-Pro Leveling Addon to tell me that order in the game itself without having to refer to outside sources. Some of the older adventure and RPG games would only give you one quest at a time, and force you to take a specific path through the game, but most modern games allow a more open path allowing you take what quests you want or not and going where you want whenever you want… you may pay the penalty of not being a high enough level though if you journey into areas your character isn’t ready for yet.

Normally if you pick up a quest, the icon disappears from your view, but the quest giver will still be able to give the quest to other players who haven’t picked it up yet. There may be a limited number of mobs (enemy NPCs) to kill or items (sometimes called mats for materials or nodes) to pick up, so if lots of people are doing the quest it may take a while to complete as most MMOs have a limited number of nodes/mobs around and they take a while to respawn (that is, come back into the game).

Once you finish most quests they are done. But there are some quests that are repeatable. The MMO norm is that they can be repeated every 24 hours per the player’s clock.

In addition to these quests, some MMOs have story progression quests. Guild Wars 2 isn’t alone on this, Star Wars: The Old Republic does as well, as do many modern games. Then there are the group quests that require (or at least strongly suggest) a group of players engage in the quest. Trying to attempt such quests while playing solo can result in failure, though some of the early SWTOR group quests can be soloed if you are at the upper end of the suggested quest range for that quest. This is one of the ways that set MMOs apart from normal solo player games, the social aspect. The group quests usually come in a few varieties: small group quests in the world, dungeons and raids. Group quests in the world are not the norm. Dungeons may or may not have a quest giver asking you to complete them, in many cases the dungeon just becomes available in your dungeon finder, if the game offers one, once you reach a certain level and disappear if you don’t do it before reaching another level. Raids are like group dungeons but involve far more players and generally require far more strategy and have better drops (items, coins and the like that the mobs drop when they are killed). Almost all MMOs have the mobs drop just one pile of items that the players then share or in case of more rare drops, roll for. When you roll for an item you decide if you want to roll or not, and if you do if you need the item or just want it (greed). If only one person needs the item, they get it automatically, if more than one say they need it the game rolls a dice to see who gets it, otherwise it rolls the dice to see who among those who said greed, gets it. Saying you need an item if the character you are playing at the time can’t use the item is called being a ninja and is generally considered very bad form, especially if your only intention is to sell the item.

These dungeons and raids may or may not be started by a quest, and sometimes may have quests to do while in them. They can take half an hour to several hours to finish and once started you are expected to stay until the end.

Players often form Guilds to better be able to do dungeons and raids. Sometimes these are very serious players and serious guilds that are like a job. You are expected to show up to specific raids at specific times with penalties if you don’t show up or find a suitable replacement (that is a player as good as or better than you). Sometimes groups are formed on the fly, these are called pick-up groups (or PUGs), normally one player wants to do a dungeon and asks in the chat if anybody else wants to join, or people just join the dungeon finder when available and get in that way. Some guilds are just social guilds where people hang out and chat when they aren’t busy with quests or other functions in the game. There are roll playing guilds where you are expected to be in character at all times. There are family guilds which are basically social guilds but the chat is kept more kid safe. There are leveling guilds where people help other players do quests that they may find difficult, generally social and family guilds do this as well, but in a leveling guild you are more expected to help others level up, they also help gather materials/mats for leveling crafting professions… which again social guilds normally do, as do the hardcore raid guilds, the difference is the level of expectation and consequences for not helping. Local guilds are players from one geographic real world area, such as one city, state or part of a state. Some guild players form very strong in game friendships, and sometimes become friends in real life, sometimes even getting married.

Most MMOs have what is called the Holy Trinity. So called because there are three main type of roles in these group events.

  • There is the Tank. These characters have strong armor, and ways of making the mobs focus on attacking them more than other players. They can do a mild amount of damage.
  • There is the DPS (Damage Per Second). These people do the bulk of the damage in the group. They may have a mild degree of armor to nearly non at all. By causing the bulk of the damage the mob may want to turn to them, this is where the tank’s skills and abilities come into play by getting the mob turned back to them. Generally one tries to attack the mob the tank is aiming at. The number of DPS players far out number the number of people playing tank and healers, so dungeon finders often are full of DPS people waiting for a tank or healer to show up. The DPS comes in two varieties:
    • Melee – The player gets up close and attacks the mob with swords, knives and other up close and personal items. These normally will attack one mob at a time, but sometimes can affect a few.
    • Ranged – The player stands off at a distance and casts spells, shoots bullets/lasers or something along those lines to attack the mobs. These can be one mob at a time, but can also do Area of Effect damage, which generally causes less damage per mob, but hits several mobs at a time.
  • The Healer. These people have very little armor and can do the least amount of damage. Their primary roll in groups is to make sure everyone, especially the tank, stays healthy. They normally do this from a distance, casting healing spells of some type to the characters who need it.

I’ll get to Dynamic Events in a bit, but first, Guild Wars 2 gets rid of several of those MMO conventions.

  • Goodbye to Quest Hubs… Sort of anyhow. Rather than go from NPC to NPC gathering quests, you’ll find a scout that has a spyglass/telescope over their head, they will point the way to several people that need a hero like you. These are the heart quests. As you do these dynamic events might happen in the area which you can join in on, more on those later. Generally once a quest is done it is done, there is no turning it into any particular NPC unless you were gathering stuff for somebody.
  • Nodes are client based, not server based. This means that if you see a gatherable node, it is yours. You don’t have to worry if somebody else is close by and might gather it before you get to it.
  • No rolling for drops. There is no need to worry somebody might ninja a good drop as all drops are unique to each player. Now this doesn’t mean that the items will be needed by your profession, and somebody else might get something that you could use, for that you need to communicate and trade in the group.
  • No Holy Trinity. Gone are the three primary roles. Everyone gains a heal early in their leveling process and this is normally for self heals, though some are group or area of effect heals. There is no tank specific role either, though some professions are better armored than others and will be at the front, and depending on how they build their character’s skills, they can be a sort of tank. Everyone does DPS.

However, it is the dynamic events that I wanted to focus on here. During the BWE last weekend the dynamic events were speed up (the time between them was much shorter than they will be at launch)some so that they could be tested out, and not all the dynamic events were in the test to keep some secret and to avoid event clutter since the other events were speed up. I am not sure, but it seemed the degree that the events change stuff in the world was turned down or off, perhaps due to how fast they were resetting and others being skipped that might have reset the world the way it was… that is we saw event A and if it failed, you might need event B to fix things, or if it passed, event C might happen to try to reset things the way they were before A, but only A was in the game… I don’t know, whatever was the case, many of the events I saw didn’t seem to change the game as much as they said they would. I am passing it off as this is beta and we aren’t seeing everything yet. Last weekend was more or less to give us a feel for the dynamic events and see what they are like. Perhaps next time we’ll see a better range of examples and more drastic changes to the world.

This is how I think it should be. If invaders are trying to destroy bear statues then and we fail, we’ll need those statues rebuilt in a dynamic event in the game before they can attack again, so event B happens where either players gather resources for them to be built and/or another event where NPCs build statues while defending them. If those fail they can loop until they are rebuilt. Then reloop back to the invaders which if passed then reloops to the invaders trying again. As it stands it seems to just reloop with the invaders attacking and the statues resetting if the event fails before the event loops again. Given how much work they put into the events as they are, I am sure that is how things will work on release (the prior step A, B C example, not the reloop A one).

Dynamic events also scale with the number of players and their levels. If you are by yourself it will cut it down from if there were 20 other players participating with you.

What is amazing is the degree of detail they put into the event NPCs. XPhiler over at MMOSite decided to follow NPCs before, during and after events to see what would happen (Guild Wars 2 – Dynamic Events). In most MMOs they would simply wonder off from the scene (if they left at all), and vanish after going from player view, so that if you followed them they would simply just vanish after a while, or walk into a mountain/wall and vanish. Not so with Guild Wars 2. The NPC actually does something with what you gave them, they deliver it to somebody and talk about the heroes. Be sure to check out his article and the video he posted about how this all works out. I think this shows the level of detail ArenaNet put into the game and I think they should be commended for their work. They didn’t take the lazy route, they made sure that the events have a reason to be done, and that the NPCs go on as if it failed/completed properly.

Buy yourself or your loved ones select items from this post:
Guild Wars 2… not sure if pre-orders from Amazon can get into Beta weekend events or not yet, last I heard ArenaNet was working with Amazon to be sure they would be able to, but the Amazon page doesn’t mention it yet, nor does it mention the three day head start but just one (pre-purchases will get to be in game 3 days sooner than the official launch day, which hasn’t been announced yet)… this is likely because Amazon doesn’t charge the full price, if they did you probably would get a code… One can also use if they need to… of course I don’t get anything off that, but it is a great game and you’ll want to be sure you can get in on the next BWE.

The original Guild Wars and the first two expansions for a really low price.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, perhaps my second favorite MMO game after Guild Wars 2 now. I am taking a short break from it, but if it didn’t have a monthly fee, I’ll probably still be a bit more active in it.

World of Warcraft (this edition has the main game and the first expansion for one really low price). WoW is still the grand daddy… not the first MMO, nor the first successful one, but it is the king of the hill and likely will be for a very long time for the solid fact that despite its age (and it shows it in many ways) it is still a fun game.