"A video game comic and blog that would have been awesome and relevant 10 years ago. Maybe." -Famous Website
Pie and I have been hotly anticipating Guild Wars 2 for quite some time. We've mentioned it on a few occasions and recently there has even been some active discussion about it on our forums. But what can one do when sitting around waiting for a game that never seems to come?! Well, make a comic on it, apparently!
In the character creation process, you build your story through multiple-choice selection. These questions directly influence the game as you experience it; character appearance and NPC dialogue interchange have been mentioned as some of the examples. Throughout the course of the game, ArenaNet intends for you to develop your personality and build Karma through story events that unlock quests, rewards, events and the like. We found it funny that the human race get to choose their upbringing (street rat, commoner or nobility) and thought it funny if someone were to RP a thief from nobility.
Even with as excited as we are to play GW2, I get the feeling that it won't quite quench my thirst. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I've been missing, and I think a lot of it boils down to the level of depth being offered in character creation. Blizzard fully admits that their talent trees were too streamlined in Cataclysm and desperately want to give more meaningful choices to players in Pandaria, but I don't really think that will make WoW enticing enough for me. I actually believe that it is missing something far more fundamental that might not be solvable. The game is a champion at storytelling, environment, design and a whole host of other things, but the game is just not doing it for me. Why?
I have to look back to Ragnarok Online, the only other MMO that I have a LOT of experience with for clues. So many people criticized this game for being a grind fest, but there was something so much more interesting to me in that game (at least, when I still played it). The closer I look at it, the more strongly I feel that it has to do with the immense depth in character creation through available classes and ways to augment a character. 80+% of a characters power was derived from player assigned stats gained through leveling. This meant you could make numerous variations on every available class.
The game also had a very interesting underlying mechanics system that let you reach noticeable character achievements. Ask a high wizard who reached a certain magic attack (MATK) threshold or instant-casting speed how amazing it felt to play that character. Or a melee class that was able to achieve max attack speed (ASPD). It may have taken a tremendous amount of time and effort to achieve those things, but when you did you felt empowered and accomplished. RO is full of those through interesting augmentations in its card system, immense skill and character classes and equipment.
Even now I feel like if I were able to make my dream game, I would want to make "RO, but better".
Well, no sense living in the past; for now I'll put my hopes in the ArenaNet team. At the very least I believe they will show us very interesting aspects of what an MMO can do; their theories on profesisson crafting certainly lead me to believe in them.