While players enjoyed the demo on the show floor, Colin Johanson introduced the game's innovative adventuring structure in developer sessions in an upstairs theatre, showing dynamically scaling events and your character's personal storyline in the starter area for the Charr race, and a high-level open-world boss fight against an immense, cadaverous dragon called Tequatl the Sunless. Robert Purchese caught up with him afterwards to find out more about events and dungeoneering in Guild Wars 2.
Eurogamer: You needed a minimum of 10 people to begin the boss battle against Tequatl the Sunless. What's the largest minimum player requirement an event in Guild Wars 2 has?
Colin Johanson: Most of those scale down to a single player in difficulty. And some of them, like the giant boss battles, take about two groups or 10 people to do it at a minimum. That is, right now, the intended largest minimum size, about 10 people. I don't think we'd want to do anything bigger than that.
Eurogamer: What's the most people you can have doing a dynamic event?
Colin Johanson: It depends. They differ. They can go higher [than 100], they can go much lower too. Technically there's not a cap, but there's a point where the event stops scaling to support those people. Any number of people can do an event, it's just going to stop creating additional content to support the number of players that are there.
If you're fighting a giant dragon, certainly 100 players or more can participate, and the boss would recognise that and scale to match.
Eurogamer: Is there any protection against lots of rag-tag people showing up and making, by virtue of it scaling, a dynamic event too hard?
Colin Johanson: The intent is the balance will be the same regardless of the amount of players. The difficulty would be the same, it's just going to react differently.
The fight should feel the same, you really shouldn't notice that there are those extra people coming in. Because his health is just going to be scaling so that it matches the damage those people are doing. His attacks are going to be taking advantage of hitting a wider areas or doing other stuff to offset the amount of people that are there.
Eurogamer: The hardest content in the game, then, is the five-man dungeons?
Colin Johanson: Correct. There are two versions of every dungeon: a story mode that you do first... that's pick-up group friendly. It's much easier and fun content that has a lot of cinematics in and tells a fun story. And when you finish the story dungeon, you unlock an explorable dungeon. And the explorable dungeon tells the story of what happens after you completed the story dungeon.
That is the most difficult content in our game, our explorable dungeons. They're very, very hard. And they're actually really unique when you look at traditional MMO raids. In Guild Wars 2, every time you load into one of our explorable dungeons you actually get to vote on what path you want to take through the dungeon, and there is a minimum of three paths through the dungeon, and each path is completely different and unique. You can play a dungeon over and over and experience it in different ways.
"Everyone, including casual gamers, by level 80 should have the best statistical loot in the game."Colin Johanson
On top of that, we take the dynamic events that happen out in the world and seed them in our dungeons. Each time you play through a dungeon, even if you've been down that path before, new dynamic events can completely change the experience for you. It's like you're playing with your favourite D&D group; you're walking through the hallways and you never know what you're going to run into next - what boss is going to break through a wall and come out, when an ooze is going to drop from the ceiling.
The idea is that you should always be on the edge of your chair - you never know what's coming. That's what dungeon experiences, to us, are all about. We think the fun of content is reacting to and trying to overcome things you don't see coming. That's what all our dungeons are about.
Eurogamer: Some of the Elite character skills, like turning into a tornado or into a lich, are fantastic. How many Elite skills are out there for each class and how do you go about acquiring them?
Colin Johanson: The answer to both of those is we're still trying to finalise that right now. The way you earn skills in the game is something that is currently in flux. The weapon skills you unlock by killing stuff. The way that you gain all the other skills is something that we're trying to update. The basic intent is that you'll go out into the world and do challenges to unlock those skills. That's the core concept.
Elite skills would be a little harder to get and something you get through harder challenges. The total number is still something we're trying to finalise. It's going to be in the ballpark of like three, four, five, maybe six Elite skills. We're still trying to come up with a final number per profession. And obviously we would add to those after the game releases as well.
Eurogamer: Can you unlock skills by killing bosses?
Colin Johanson: Right now you don't. That's subject to change, but right now skills aren't currently learned from killing bosses, no.
Eurogamer: How are you handling endgame loot - will we be farming bosses?
Colin Johanson: Everyone, including casual gamers, by level 80 should have the best statistical loot in the game. We want everyone on an equal power base. The rare stuff becomes the really awesome looking armours. It's all about collecting the unique looking stuff and collecting all the other rare collectable items in the game: armour pieces, potentially different potions - a lot of that is still up in the air and we'll finalise a lot of those reward systems as we get closer to release. And those come off of things like the bosses at the end of dungeons - the raids.
When you get to the end of the dungeon and you kill the boss, when the five of you take a boss out, everybody gets a token. And you can turn those tokens in and use them to get whatever reward you want from that dungeon at the end.