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Guild Chat at SXSW: A Summary

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On the latest episode of Guild Chat, Content Marketing Manager Rubi Bayer hosted a panel at SXSW in Austin, Texas, titled “It’s Your World: Creating Gameplay for a Massive Community.” She was joined by Associate Game Director Steven Waller, Narrative Director Leah Hoyer, and Environment Design Specialist Josh Foreman, who explained how the development team creates a variety of content for Guild Wars 2‘s diverse audience.

They began by introducing the variety of content available to Guild Wars 2 players and providing a history of how the presentation of story and gameplay through content like the Living World has evolved. An example given was the destruction and rebuilding of Lion’s Arch.

The Living World is the primary vehicle for content that appeals to many different players, while raids are more focused on challenging mechanics for coordinated groups. Steven and Leah discussed the necessary balance between adding engaging narrative to raids and making sure that nonraiders aren’t shut out of important developments in the main Guild Wars 2 story without any way to get caught up.

The narrative and design teams work closely together to make sure that pick-up-and-play content like jumping puzzles, adventures, festivals, and events fit well in the world. Josh talked about how jumping puzzles arose naturally from Guild Wars 2‘s organic map design and from exploring the possibilities of jumping, which wasn’t available in the original Guild Wars®.

Leah said that because Guild Wars 2 is a role-playing game, it’s important to make sure that stories featuring the player’s character don’t disrupt the player’s idea of who that character is. To that end, the narrative team has worked to create more dialogue options that vary based on a character’s race, chosen order, and profession.

The process for creating new content typically starts with a pitch that shows how the idea will touch on key areas like gameplay and story. The next phase is prototyping, which helps the development team nail down what makes the idea fun. In the design and development phase, different departments bring in fresh perspectives, and that leads to new ideas in turn. Eventually the content is polished and ready to ship—although sometimes there are so many ideas that some of them need to be reserved for later to ensure content goes out on time.

If you missed the panel, you can check out a recording below!


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