Guild Wars Interview

GameZone Online has conducted an interview with ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray, asking him several questions about their upcoming MMORPG, Guild Wars. Check it out:

Q: Please explain how a casual player can compete with the hard-core MMPer who will spend a lot of hours leveling their toon?

A: Our primary design goal with Guild Wars is to create a game that provides meaningful competition. In other words, we are not trying to find arbitrary mechanics to ensure that a casual player has a shot at defeating a hardcore veteran. Instead, we focus on designing the combat mechanics around player skill rather than the number of hours you have invested in the game. A classic strategy game like chess is a good example. If you have been playing and studying for ten years, and I have just read (Chess for Dummies) and decide to challenge you, chances are very low that I will defeat you. But is it possible? Is there a chance that I am just a brilliant player and might find a way to expose a weakness in your play style? You bet. And that’s what makes classic strategy games so much fun. It is a level playing field, and the rules don’t dictate who wins or loses based on any factor other than the skill of the players.

Traditional RPGs, on the other hand, do not offer this kind of challenge. Instead, it is a mathematical certainty that if you are level 40, and I am level 10, you will win. Skill is not a factor, just the relative amounts of time we have invested in the game. Guild Wars addresses this in two fundamental ways: rapid ascension and skill parity. Rapid ascension means that after a relatively short amount of time your character is (ascended), and will no longer become strictly more powerful with every hour spent playing. Skill parity means that skills and spells in Guild Wars are designed more like Magic: the Gathering cards than traditional RPG spells. There is no concept of a (Level 4 Fireball,) or (Fireball) evolving into (Meteor Storm.) Instead, each skill has a cost and a benefit, and choosing the best combination of skills, and the best way to deploy them in the heat of battle, is what Guild Wars is all about. So while the hardcore veteran will always have the advantage of experience and diversity on his side, younger characters can be competitive in a short amount of time, and the best player will win.

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