In Guild Wars 2, we want to retain our ability to do that, but rather than telling one big monolithic story our goal is to pursue story arcs and story bubbles - that players can choose to take their characters into a story arc and maybe there a several missions and persistent areas that'll tie that together. And there's going to be numerous of these story arcs throughout the world. What we want to do is adopt more of a sandbox mentality, that players can direct their own play and pace to a much greater degree than they could in Guild Wars 1.
So, the way we kind of say it is that in Guild Wars 2 we're building a world and all the mechanics that go along with that world and then we will tell stories within that world, whereas in the original Guild Wars it was more that we were telling this big story and developing the world to fit that story.
How much of the sequel will be instance-based, and how much persistent? There's been talk that the whole thing is persistent, but that's not the case then...?
Jeff Strain: No, the foremost goal of Guild Wars 2 is to make it the ultimate Guild Wars for Guild Wars fans. Guild Wars charted new territory, not only with its business model but with a very innovative design, and a large part of that innovative design was the way we utilised instancing technology to tell this more direct story.
We're not going to let that go, it's one of the most powerful features of Guild Wars 1 and one of the features we think really makes it stand out. So that will still be a core foundation of Guild Wars 2. But we want to use the addition of persistent world to also explore other types of gameplay.
So no, it's absolutely not the case that we're dropping instancing technology, we'll continue to carry that forward because we think it's one of the foundational pillars of Guild Wars.
World versus World combat sounds an intriguing feature - can you elaborate are that part of Guild Wars 2?
Jeff Strain: I'll start by talking about how the PvP combat works in Guild Wars and then how we're changing that for Guild Wars 2...
Guild Wars 1 has what we call structured PvP, more of an e-sport - it's design is such that it's a very balanced playing field and people who really enjoy hardcore PvP can enjoy the e-sport nature of the game. It's something that's been a very popular component of the game.
We're going to maintain that for Guild Wars 2, we're still going to have this form of e-sport, but we're going to take it one step further by doing away with the unlocking mechanisms we have in Guild Wars 1. If players want to go straight in to the pure e-sport PvP style of play in Guild Wars 2, they'll be able to take their existing character - and there's no difference between a role-playing character and a PvP character - into this e-sport arena area and immediately have access to all of the skills and weapons and items in the game without having to unlock them.
So for the people who really enjoy that e-sport component, it's going to be even easier and accessible to them in Guild Wars 2.
But the other part of what we're looking at is that there's a lot of people who we think would really enjoy a more casual style of PvP, one that's more integrated with the role-playing element of the game and the world of Guild Wars 2. And so for those players we're introducing a new form of PvP that is called World versus World.
The idea here is that this is a much more casual form of PvP, there's no restriction on the number of people who are fighting on your side or on the other people's side. It takes place in what we call The Mists, which is areas between worlds so everybody in your world is fighting on the same side. And you'll be matched up with a few other worlds and we'll rotate those matches around every couple of weeks.
The idea is that it's this big open-structure PvP battlefield, and depending on your personal play style, you can choose to either be a tank and go up into the front lines and enter direct player-versus-player combat, or you can play more of a support role. Perhaps you want to protect a supply train that's bringing supplies to ballistas on the castle walls, or perhaps you want to man the ballistas and shoot the ballistas at the enemy. Or maybe you want to man a watchtower way out in the forest so that you can give your team early warning that the enemy is trying to flank around the side.