Living World in Guild Wars 2

by Colin Johanson on July 2, 2013

“How do we craft an online world that feels like it is a truly living world?”

For years, MMO developers have been chasing the answer to this question; it’s one of the holy grails of MMO development.

By our definition, the answer to this question is to create a world that feels like it can change and evolve, a place where you can have unique experiences each time you log in, where you feel like the world is changing around you.

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On the release of Guild Wars 2, we managed to accomplish this feeling across shorter time elements through our dynamic event system. You could visit a town, and later come back to find it under attack, or under control of an enemy (enter centaurs stage left) and in need of liberation. The centaurs who hold your friendly village will stay there until players drive them out, the enemy camp you control will stay that way until enemies win it back from you.

“…we believe we can do these releases even better, more often, and on a more wide-sweeping scale than we have before.”

That’s what our dynamic event system looked like at launch. It’s something we’re extremely proud of and we feel like at a low level, it helps create a sense of a world that evolves and changes around you.

However, a second element was missing. We heard questions from our players, old and new. What about events that are more time limited and won’t continue to happen forever? What about holiday events we can look forward to each year? What about events that can permanently change the world and create stories to share for years into the future? Isn’t that truly what is required to achieve the concept of a truly living world?

Our answer to all that: Hell yeah!

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Since the initial launch of Guild Wars 2, we’ve shown the capacity to create holiday moments, special event moments, and events that can change the world permanently. We’ve accomplished a lot, but we believe we can do these releases even better, more often, and on a more wide-sweeping scale than we have before.

We believe through these events and festivals, our world is the perfect platform to provide the sort of episodic experience that supports this sense of an ever-evolving landscape and storyline. Guild Wars 2 has been hugely successful so far, and we believe this living world strategy represents a smart way to organically grow both our game and player base.

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We’re Excited to Announce: Releases Every Two Weeks!

To make the world of Tyria feel alive, first and foremost it needs to frequently update and change. We’re excited to announce we have adopted a two-week major release cadence going forward for Guild Wars 2.

Our goal is to make Guild Wars 2 the most frequently updated and best supported game experience you can find, and to that end, every two weeks there will be a release with brand new playable content and a mix of supporting features and updates across the entire game. As you read these words, a release is seven days or less away or has just happened within the last seven days— those are now the only two states you’ll find the world of Tyria.

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“…every two weeks there will be a release with brand new playable content…”

Everything is fair game as we progress and expand the range of stories, events, and experiences in the living world of Guild Wars 2. We’ll refine and update existing content and locations, we’ll overhaul our explorable dungeons to make them more exciting, update our reward systems, add new fractals, create new activities, and turn our world’s giant bosses into even more epic encounters. We’ll introduce holiday festivals and other events that will appear on a yearly basis, but with updates and changes each year. We’ll create events that change the landscape of the world forever, leaving behind epic monuments, destruction, new playable content, and fantastic memories in their wake. We’ll introduce new maps and regions permanently to the world, but with a storyline that drives their creation and discovery to make them feel natural and seamless rather than suddenly tacked on.

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Though there will be a broader narrative that carries across many of the releases, players will find the themes and story of each release will be relatively self-contained. Players who miss a release or new players who arrive won’t feel lost in the story and can just dive right in and join in the fun.

We’ve got other plans to take this concept of a living world even further simmering on our proverbial back burners, but that’s something we’ll save for a blog post someday in the future after we’ve accomplished the goals we’ve set so far.

A Living Game

Of course, our new two week releases will continue to include new features, game balance, new rewards, additional WvW and PvP experiences and content, and so much more.

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We’ll also expand the ecosystem around the world of Guild Wars 2. As you’ve recently seen, the APIs we’ve exposed to our players have allowed for the creation of amazing new aps and websites allowing players to track our living world on the go.

Some of our feature teams—like the PvP, Skill Balance and World vs. World teams—have staffed up even larger to bring you more updates as we continue to hire and expand ArenaNet with the success of GW2. All of these teams will be working hard to continue to improve the core elements and other fundamental parts of the game to give a sense of growth and life to the entire world. And with a release every two weeks, it means every part of the game can be updated more frequently as well.

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Final Thoughts: Hello (Living) World

When we decided to make Guild Wars 2, we wanted to make something unique and different; we didn’t want to make the same MMO you’ve been playing for all these years. As a live game, we want to continue to build on that goal, to take the core concepts that inspired GW2 from the start and see if we can push the boundaries and explore even further what they can mean in the MMO space.

Creating a truly living world is one of the core pillars of Guild Wars 2, and this initiative is one of in the many ways we’re continuing to build towards the promise of what our game can be. We won’t stop here. We’ll continue to explore where this concept can go in our open world gaming experience, but we’re extremely excited to share with you where we’re at right now and our vision for what a modern, living world game experience can offer.

We’ll see you in game!

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