Guild Wars 2‘s Living Story So Far

A screenshot from Guild Wars 2 showing Braham, a male Norn, on the left, and Rox, a female charr, on the right in the foreground.

The first major arc of Guild Wars 2’s Living Story just completed and transitioned into the next segment, so I thought I would take a look at what’s worked so far.

If you don’t play GW2, the concept of the Living Story is that, rather than end the story of the world with instanced personal story missions, more storylines are added to the persistent game world–sort of like the holiday events, but not holiday-themed and having a lasting effect on the world. The idea is for it to be “sort of like your favorite TV show,” that players want to check in on regularly to catch up with characters and the development of the world.

I am completely in favor of video games taking cues from the TV format. Like TV, games allow us to spend dozens of hours with a cast of characters and the world they live in, allowing for deep characterization, extensive world building, and lengthy character arcs. Kirk Hamilton wrote about how the TV-like format Mass Effect 2 really worked, and I’m really interested to see what other aspects of TV big games can borrow.

The storyline itself is interesting so far, introducing new characters like Eir’s son, Braham, and an awesome (but weirdly cartoon-eyed) female Charr named Rox. And even though the next chapter of the story has moved from the snowy mountains into a tropical paradise, it is continuing the story of the refugees displaced by the events of Flame and Frost.

So far, the living story has definitely kept me coming back to Guild Wars 2. After playing through beta weekends and launch, I took a long break from the game late last year, and came back during the tail end of the Wintersday event. With new things to discover every few weeks, playing never started to feel boring or repetitive.

More importantly, the living story events make GW2 feel like GW2 at launch, when everyone was low level and taking their first steps into the world. Leveling a character now or just doing map completion, you’ll notice that most of the maps are rather empty. I don’t usually mind the solitude–it’s peaceful, and trying to take down that veteran or complete that group event on your own is a fun challenge–but it does make completing certain events unnecessarily difficult and fighting bosses downright impossible. But both the living story and the area-specific daily achievements funnel players into certain areas, making the game feel like its old self again. The current living story content is located in the Southsun Cove map, and playing there after the update on Tuesday was a revelation. There were tons of other players, and events happening everywhere. If I get into a jam, there’s always someone around to help out. It’s easy to get a group to take on a Champion enemy. I love doing dungeon and fractal runs with my guild, and hopping into WvW, but it’s great to once again play the persistent world PvE as it’s meant to be played.

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HAX Hint System

I made a hint system in Twine for my game HAX. I know I made a couple of the puzzles a little bit too obscure, and some of the comments on the Free Indie Games post about it mentioned the two in particular that I was concerned about. So here is a handy hint system that covers every puzzle in the game, as well as the secret room, and a simple HTML table map. Each puzzle has two or three hints before giving you the full solution. The links are orange because it reminded me of those hint books for old games where you used a highlighter to reveal the answer.

I tested it, but if there are any problems with links or if I missed something, please let me know. I hope this helps!

HAX Hint System

NaGaDeMo 2012: HAX

A screenshot from HAX.

I’ve finished my first-ever game, just in time for the end of NaGaDeMo 2012. It’s called HAX, and it’s a text adventure where the only way to win is to cheat. You can download it from the NaGaDeMo site here. The zip contains standalone distributions for Windows and Mac OS X, as well as the .love file if you’d rather install LOVE 0.8.0 instead (this is the only way to play it on Linux right now).

I had a lot of fun making this game. I’d never programmed in lua before, so that was exciting. I’m pretty happy that I managed to finish this tiny thing in a month, with how hectic my life is right now.

Please play it, and let me know what you think! And also feel free to post here if you have any trouble running it or run into any bugs.

ETA: Seems like there are some issues with the NaGaDeMo games submission right now. For the time being, you can download HAX from Dropbox.

ETA2: It’s available on the NaGaDemo site now!

ETA3: I made a Hint System for the game using Twine, since one puzzle in particular didn’t have enough roadsigns for the solution. So if you get stuck, feel free to get a hint!

NaGaDeMo 2012

I’ve been meaning to start on a new game for a while now, and shortly after I began work on it, I found out that this month is National Game Development Month, aka NaGaDeMo. It’s NaNoWriMo (which I also enjoy), but for games. Sweet. It’s the perfect thing to get motivated.

I’m making a text-based game in LOVE that uses buttons instead of a text parser. I chose this format because I have zero art skills. So far I have some basic game objects and a rudimentary event system. Here’s a screenshot:

The beginnings of… something.

TERRIBLY EXCITING, I KNOW. We’ll see what I have by the time June 30th rolls around. Good luck to all the other participants!