There’s a bit of a meme going around the MMO blogosphere, forums, and news site comment sections about the Dynamic Events ArenaNet has described as a new mechanic they have implemented for Guild Wars 2 (go on, read the link about Dynamic Events up there. Don’t just mouse over it, or open it in a new tab to read later, or skim it. Please – just read it. Yes, now. Yes, the whole thing. I’ll wait. Okay, back? Good). The meme goes something like this:
- Dynamic Events are just glorified Public Quests
- Mythic said exactly the same things about their Public Quests that ArenaNet is saying about Dynamic Events
- And we all know how that turned out, amirite?
I will attempt to address the point that Mythic overhyped their Public Quests, which then under-performed, and therefore there is no reason to take ArenaNet at their word about any of the things they describe about their Dynamic Events. The rest will follow from there.
In my search for evidence, I read the following interview with Jeff Hickman by Massively, dated May 30, 2008 – right before a press demo and nearly four months prior to release:
Massively goes to WAR: Jeff Hickman’s view of Warhammer Online
In it, he describes Public Quests as follows:
“Some of them are bigger and cooler than others, some are smaller and more intimate, but they’re all really interesting. The whole concept of ‘I walk into the area and it’s a mini-raid’ is great. You’re having fun, it doesn’t require coordination. As you gather more people it becomes easier to do, you can do some if it alone, and if you have a bunch of people you can just overrrun it. Even that’s not bad, though, because you get that feeling that you’ve just destroyed your enemies. And then it resets and you can do it over again.”
Hickman also declares that they are “revolutionary in the industry” for the hype angle, and that there are “over 300” in the world.
Note that in his description, he reveals that
- You can’t do all of a PQ alone
- It is possible to overrun it
- It resets and you can do it again
Having taken part in several Public Quests, I have difficulty singling any part of this out as dishonest except for the subjective bits; of course it is spun to sound positive in every respect (really? It’s “not bad” when you overrun the quest with massive numbers and trivialize the whole thing?), but even the much-maligned “reset” feature is admitted to openly. In fact, most of the problems players had with Public Quests is noted right there in the interview: since they cannot be completed solo, most PQs were left abandoned once the population in areas (and, later, the entire game) began to thin.
So, maybe Jeff was finally being “more” honest about Public Quests because he was about to demo the game and couldn’t get by on pure hype. What was Mythic saying about the game before people in the press had a chance to play it? How about back in January, 2007?
EA Mythic Event: Warhammer: Age of Reckoning
“Everyone in the zone automatically has the same quest! The group objectives are up on the screen, and it keeps track as you do your part (or not – you don’t have to help!). After the public quest finishes, you can go over to the “leader” of the area, and he’ll reward you for helping out. A couple of minutes later, the public quest starts over again.
“You can do the same one over and over to build your reputation with the leader, or you can follow them as you go up in levels and get new, cooler stuff – stuff that’s tailored to you and your class.”
I’m not seeing anything misrepresented about Public Quests here. Further, this is not what ArenaNet has said about Dynamic Events. Certainly, the descriptions of Dynamic Events are loftier and more expansive and even address the concerns about repeatability and population issues, but the hyperbole, such as it exists, is not the same between Mythic and ArenaNet.
Here’s an article from April 2007:
Massively Online Gamer’s Warhammer Exclusive
Saying the same things: kill 300 orcs, kill 25 mauraders. Paul Barnett says that Public Quests pass his “genius test.”
See, if the argument here is that Public Quests were not as cool as they sounded, then well played. However, they worked pretty much exactly as they were presented, so any additional hype really existed in the eyes of the beholders. For what it’s worth, I adored Public Quests when the conditions were right. In the first month or two of Warhammer’s existence, my better half and I would roam the land calling for open groups to do PQs with; we would join groups mid-event, throw heals around, tank for people, and every time a PQ ended, we’d check to see who had maxed out their influence and throw out grats. Most of the time, everyone would stick with the group until everyone had maxed out their influence, and then would come the question: “want to go to next chapter?” Usually the answer was yes.
For myself and my better half playing as a stubborn closed duo, this was revolutionary. For us, having never raided in another MMO, being able to take down a seven-headed hydra with thirty other people by level 5 was revolutionary. I have rarely seen it argued that Public Quests were a bad idea; rather a good idea that suffered from poor implementation and lack of failsafes against the things players inevitably do (like abandon open areas in order to chain-queue scenarios because the XP gain was faster).
Of course, then we played City of Heroes/Villains and found that zombie invasions were very similar to Public Quests. Whoops, Mythic, you got caught out there!
My point here is that I am seeing it thrown around that Dynamic Events are like Public Quests as though that is some sort of terrible thing. Public Quests are not terrible and they were not a terrible idea. I applaud any game that takes the idea started in City of Heroes/Villains, iterated in Warhammer Online and copied in Champions Online/Star Trek Online, and tries to improve on it as ArenaNet is now attempting to take to the next level with Guild Wars 2. From the looks of it, Mythic did not even mischaracterize Public Quests in their descriptions of their impact, duration, or contents, so to dismiss ArenaNet’s extremely detailed blogs and interviews about the way Dynamic Events will work (trust me, most of your questions are answered there) as dishonest on the face of it seems more than a tad overly cynical.
Frankly, if Dynamic Events turn out to be as true to ArenaNet’s words as Public Quests were to Mythic’s, then it will have been Mission Accomplished, no more, no less.
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