Guild Wars producer spills the beans on a new breed of MMORPG

How does the Guild system work?

Jeff Strain: You don’t have to form a Guild, and you can quite happily operate a team of players without forming one. But if you want to make your Guild official someone has to go to the Guildmaster, pay him a fee, then select the Guild logo and the Guild tabard. He can then issue invitations to anyone to come and join the Guild. When you form a Guild you automatically get a Guild hall which is your own little world where members can hang out, meet up to embark on co-op missions, or challenge another Guild.

So who is your target Guild Wars player?

Jeff Strain: I think the ideal Guild Wars player is probably the kind of person who has enjoyed online action-based RPGs like Diablo but who yearns for more infrastructure and support for social gaming, and who wants to feel more like they’re party of a community and a vast world.

Guild Wars is due for release in the UK in the first quarter of next year, but you can participate in the game’s World Preview Event – for free – from today until Sunday night. Go here for more information about Guild Wars and how you can get involved in the World Preview Event.

However if you want to see Guild Wars in the flesh right now, why not check out this brand new movie from the game, which showcases the MMORPG action at its finest?

Guild Wars allows you to both play missions against NPCs in co-op multiplayer and indulge in player versus player gladiatorial combat. How do these two styles of play fit together?

Jeff Strain: When you create your character you place it within a certain world that corresponds to the real world, so you can decide to play with other Europeans or Americans, and so on. When you go to social areas and on missions in your world you’ll be with people from the same world. You can challenge other Guilds from within your world, but the coolest thing is that we’ll be running an International Guild Tournament between Guilds from the different worlds. If you have a team and that Guild fights its way to the top of the intra-world Tournament then your specific world will receive benefits like exclusive missions, items and special features that’ll be unlocked. That’s why we call it the International Tournament because you’re always pulling for the team from your world to be in the top spot.

In what other ways have you pared back the features in other MMOs which require a lot of effort for very little payback?

Jeff Strain: If you read the box copy for a lot of MMORPGs they list things like 10,000 square miles of pre-rendered 3D terrain which takes eight hours to cross as a selling point. That sounds really cool, but what essentially is happening is that you’re taking an hour of content and stretching it as far as you can. Richard Garriot from NCSoft Austin likes to say ‘concentrated coolness’, which is something we focus on.

So in Guild Wars world travelling is done by opening up a map and clicking on a location. It’s as simple as that. We’re sticking in magic portals to make it more believable, but it’s not something we’re getting hung up on. The emphasis is on getting where you want to go and having fun. It’s the same with getting into missions and forming parties – you go where you want and there should be people there who want to do the same thing. Even the item system is designed for ease of use. You don’t get rewarded with a more powerful weapon for playing sixty hours, but you may have a very different sword because you’ve customised it with all the items and rewards you’ve collected. Again, it’s not about how long you spend in the game but what you do with that time.

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