Guild Wars' heavily instanced-based nature and subscription-free model raised more than a few questioning eyebrows when the MMORPG was initially unveiled, but the game went on to prove itself and ArenaNet's design philosophy reap reward. Now the developer is expanding the Guild Wars horizon and is working on a sequel, and its foremost goal with Guild Wars 2, it says, is "to make it the ultimate Guild Wars for Guild Wars fans".
We spoke to ArenaNet founder Jeff Strain and Guild Wars lead designer Ben Miller to discover more about the follow-up...
So could you 'set the scene' for Guild Wars 2?
Jeff Strain: It's set hundreds of years after the events in the original game. Obviously, when you sit down and you're going to do a sequel to a big game like this, one of the first things you talk about is the world and the setting and what the story should be. Our belief with Guild Wars is that we've really covered throughout the three campaigns of Guild Wars 1 a wide swathe of area from a geographical standpoint. The world is quite large. And we really didn't relish the thought of throwing all that away and building a new world.
I think people really love the world of Tyria and we've grown quite fond of it and I think our belief is there's lots of stories and lots of cultures and lots of environments to explore, that we haven't explored yet. We've kind of done a broad sweep across it but there's a lot we feel we haven't had to opportunity to go and bring out yet.
Right from the beginning what we wanted to do was give our players a sense of home. And so it will be largely set in the world of Tyria in the original kingdoms of Ascalon and Kryta, all of the places that characters have become familiar with across the first three campaigns. But we're going to fill it in with a tremendous amount of detail that hasn't been there before.
It's not only just the physical geography and the setting but the cultures themselves will have evolved of a couple of hundreds of years. So a large part of the story is what happens to the Charr, what happens to the humans, after the events of the original campaign.
What will Guild Wars 2 offer above and beyond World of Warcraft?
Jeff Strain: Well, I don't think I can even give a meaningful answer to that question, because our goal is not to offer things above and beyond World of Warcraft. Guild Wars is a very different kind of game to World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2 will be a very different kind of game to World of Warcraft.
We're pursuing a design mechanic that's unique to the Guild Wars franchise. It's certainly not our intention to go and chase after any other MMO on the market. We think that those players that enjoy those kinds of games are probably going to enjoy World of Warcraft and we think that Guild Wars will continue to be a unique experience. So it'll stand up on its own and have its own set of features and own design direction.
In what major ways does the experience you plan to offer with Guild Wars 2 differ from what you've offered with Guild Wars?
Jeff Strain: I think, first and foremost, one of the biggest differences that people will perceive in the world between Guild Wars 2 and the first campaigns is that it's much more of a living, breathing world. In Guild Wars, we were able to tell very specific and very grand stories through the use of our instancing technology and the way we structured the campaigns. Each campaign had a big epic story and we were really able to cast you as the hero of that story.