Guild Wars Build Wars
Guild Wars 2 has been all over the news lately, but they're not done yet. ArenaNet are not satisfied with increasing their update schedule (which we reported on only a few hours ago) to a bi-weekly model, they want moar! So they're opening the API to the playbase too. It seems even adding in new jumping quests and pirates isn't enough for them, they still want more. So, their solution? Let the community do it. As Mike Zadorojny, the game's lead content designer, puts it:
"We have a team working on exposing some of the code to the player base. We have APIs the players can tie into. The fans are already working on a Google Maps for Tyria that lets you zoom in and see what's going on at the individual map level. We've exposed what events are running and where they're running too, so say you're on Metrica Province, you'll be able to determine what events are on right now and where they are at that location. If you want to know the current World versus World status and who owns what towers and keeps, all that information is being exposed.
We're going to keep adding new features and exposing more code. The API tools are extensive enough, claims Zadorojny, to allow for the development of fan-made iOS and Android apps. ArenaNet's newfound focus on rapidfire updates, on the other hand, seeks to transform Guild Wars 2 into something approaching a live experience. More 'like a television show', with short narrative arcs and events shaped by actual player involvement in the fortnightly updates. When we originally did the dynamic event system we were thinking about how we could take the traditional quest and make it more co-operative, more enjoyable, to have it have more of an impact on the world.
As we launched the game and we started supporting it we realised we could take it one step further. Now we're seriously looking at how the world changes based on player interaction. That's why we've been moving towards this more frequent build structure. We've got four teams building content that will be coming out every two weeks, because we want to create a true living world that reacts to what the players are doing as much as possible. That's kind of been the holy grail for MMOs. If you can have enough engaging content, you keep the player excited and challenged. They're always going to have something new every time they log in. That's really the impetus behind what we're doing."
As well as being a curious decision, considering the inherent danger in exposing so much of the assets to, well, pretty much anyone, this is a very clever move on their part. Think of it as akin to, say, adding custom content to a Minecraft sever, or DayZ, something like that. A community driven MMO is a logical progression in today's gaming climate. Honestly, I expect this kind of thing to become all the more common as time goes by. If, that is, more developers and publisher finally realise that we are their customers, their loyal followers, not their hated enemies. But that's just my take on the situation, what does everyone else think?