Story is a big part of any role-playing game, and this is especially true in a massively-multiplayer online game where so many players are sharing the world — and seeing it from different perspectives. As a writer, how would you handle that? How do you keep the individual stories interesting, while at the same time making sure they all align with the same continuity?
Well, the fine folks over at Under A Pale Tree had a chance to discuss this and more in a great new interview with some of the Guild Wars 2 writing team. Writers Peter Fries, Bobby Stein and Angel McCoy sat down with Verene and — as you might expect from people who craft stories for a living — got some in-depth answers.
Of particular interest was some discussion about the branching story lines, and how that’s handled:
Verene: The sheer size of the story in Guild Wars 2 is massive – I remember a recent blog post saying that there’s 30 storyline splits in just the first ten levels. What kind of challenges did the writing team face in coming up with these branching storylines?
Bobby: Eric Flannum, Ree Soesbee, and Jeff Grubb drafted the personal story arcs near the beginning of Guild Wars 2 development, almost in a vacuum. This was at a time when the game’s core systems hadn’t been built yet and our content creation tools were in their infancy. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the personal story team was formed and work began in earnest. That new group, consisting of various members from the content, lore, and writing design teams, revisited the original story outlines, making changes where necessary and iterating on the gameplay and plot until things felt right.
Talking about the decision to eliminate choice of heritage from character creation:
Verene: In Guild Wars 2 we have the option of playing a character that is a descendant of our Guild Wars character; many of us played Canthan or Elonan characters as our main characters in GW1 (my human character will be descended from my Dervish, for example), and one of the things I remember from the February press beta was that in at least one of the human storyline options you could establish your heritage. Is there much that is planned or done for those who intend to play characters of Cantha or Elonan heritage?
Angel: We decided not to put a character choice based on ancestral heritage in the game at this time; however, we strongly encourage players to role-play their heritages—and it’s especially cool if you play your own grandchild or great-grandchild! That’s awesome! We absolutely want to see players make characters who descended from Canthan or Elonian heritage! You will find that, with our flexible tool for changing how your characters look, you can even create a family resemblance.
This is but a snippet of the entire interview, and if you’re a Guild Wars 2 fan at all, it’s well worth the click! Head on over to Under A Pale Tree for the full read.