Everyone claims having dynamic events in their MMOs nowadays. From RIFT to GW2 and almost every other upcoming title such as WildStar or The Elder Scrolls to name a few. In today’s rumbling you will find me wonder what that term could really mean and how it actually tie to the public questing theme which I began exploring with you yesterday. Please join me after the break.
Dynamic events originate in my opinion from public events in so many of the old titles. In these events members of the production or a designated GM team orchestrated raids and attacks on the community, resulting in some of the most memorable fun experience. It definitely was special, as there was a human mind behind the monsters. In my opinion dynamic events at their best will always be human driven, and I am looking forward to a future where we see the AAA titles run every day at least one public event per server through a designated team of GMs. But obviously this is not enough and the need for automation and dynamic event AI is needed.
Giving credit where credit is due, RIFT was the first game to release with elements of dynamic events AI. I am sure that GW2 and other games have already been in advanced production at that point, but RIFT was the first to release with it. RIFT’s version though is a very basic concept so to speak. The game produces points of origin for rifts, where NPCs are setting camp and starting to invade the area. If not stopped by the community (or in some situations opposing rifts too) they may advance and take over the zone, as well as visually altering the environment. When fighting rifts back the community is experiencing special bosses while receiving special loot.
While these ideas were definitely novel, the missing piece was putting dynamic events as an organic component of the game play. In RIFT these events feel, at least to me, as inorganic and non related to the story of the zone. Its like two different story vectors that happen to meet together. Fast forwarding and a year later – GW2 is starting to address this in a more fluent manner. In GW2 events are part of the story, tailored for the area and part of the designed experience. Naturally it means a lot more work on the development team side. But it gives everyone the feel as if the world is actually evolving through one’s adventure. In GW2 events are also said to be chained. Meaning that one event will affect the flow of other events in the zone. Honestly I have not seen much of that promise yet in the beta. I think that the dev team came with that concept late in the production process and didn’t manage to implement it at that point throughout the game. I am looking forward to see it though in the higher level content areas.
My opinion is that while GW2 is probably going to be the most advanced and fun game for dynamic events for years to come, there is still a lot more to be done around this concept looking forward. Firstly I would like to see some elements of chaos. By that I mean that games need to add a lot of dynamic events per a single area. Hub areas should be bigger in size (where in GW2 it is sometimes very small), and as a player I should be able to decide what to do. Today in GW2 at least based on beta, I couldn’t find more than two events running in a single area – usually defending against a single attack and protecting a supply route that happen to get there. What I am talking about is e.g.Centaur could come from different sides and we would need to decide whether to defend the south gates, eastern walls or meet them in the northern waters. I may be able to use my crafting skills to build back some of the wall too. Well if you follow me here, you probably realize that what I just described was a WvW session in GW2. And that is exactly my point – PvE dynamic events should feel as grand and chaotic as PvP/WvW. With different possible contribution vectors and much more required coordination. Multiple events in a single area hub could also be unrelated. There is a ton of imaginative ideas to apply here (I have a cool idea now for a following post :)). And designing them might be one of the most fun jobs in the industry in the future. Though playing them might prove an even more fun.
On top I would like to see much more direct connection between zone hubs. Much more than I see now in GW2. But that is far less important than experiencing multiple organic events in a single hub at a single time. What do you think?