On the latest episode of Guild Chat, host Rubi Bayer was joined by Game Designer Andrew Gray, Narrative Designer Ross Beeley, Gameplay Programmer Ben Newell, and VFX Artist Franco Galletta to talk about the design and implementation of the story in the Living World release Out of the Shadows.
The story begins as players are called to Hoelbrak to attend a memorial for their friend Eir Stegalkin, who lost her life in the battle against Mordremoth. The instance not only needed to be a respectful send-off for a beloved character, but also set the tone for the return of Living World. The writers wanted to strike a good balance between mourning for the fallen, concern over the fate of Logan and Zojja, and the tone of a norn memorial, which focuses on celebrating the life and legend of the dead.
In Rata Novus, Taimi lets the Pact Commander into her secret lab. This instance needed to pick up on story threads from Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™, remind players of the state of the world, and progress the story. Ross said that Canach and Taimi are two of his favorite characters to write, and Taimi is feeling out her new role as the team’s “queen of research.”
The next parts of the story guide players on a tour through the new zone, Bloodstone Fen. Taimi places a communication device in the Pact Commander’s backpack and introduces players to a new Mastery, which unlocks a skill called Counter Magic. Franco wanted the visual effects for the skill to portray an intense flood of bloodstone-touched energy, which reflects the out-of-control state of magic in the map.
Ben said that Andrew approached him to hook up ley lines so players with the Ley Line Gliding Mastery could use them for travel. When he saw how tedious the process would be, he created a brand-new tool to streamline ley-line creation. That tool even helped the raid team add more ley lines to Stronghold of the Faithful.
Bloodstone Fen is full of visual effects and information to help players piece together a snapshot of what happened before and during the explosion. Ominous shadow shapes in the Cavern of Unseen Lights were based on the real-life phenomenon of atomic shadows. Wild magical storms pop up in midair to cause hazards for gliders and can even turn them into moas (that are, unfortunately, flightless birds). Pockets of unbound magic hover in the sky. Andrew said players can follow the unbound-magic nodes to survive the map’s diving platform, which originally created an endless loop between the platform and the portal at the bottom. Mercifully, Andrew decided not to trap divers in eternal torment.
If you missed the episode, you can check out a recording below!