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Telling Stories - From Global to Personal and Back Again

by Balandar on 24 Jul 2012

From ArenaNet:

Tyria is a deep, dynamic setting, filled with stories. Some are small intimate tales, and some are grand in scale. Some stories are short, while others are lengthy. Some are as personal as the wounded father of a dear friend, or as large as fighting for the survival of the land itself.

One of our goalsis to tell a variety of different stories that challenge the players on many levels. Let’s take a look at the three general classes of story that come together to support the main themes of the game.

[b] [size=5][b]The Global Story[/b][/size][/b]

The biggest story is the “Story of the World,” which is portrayed on the largest canvas. This is the tale of awakening of the Elder Dragons, and the threat that they pose to Tyria.

At low levels, near the starting areas, this is distant thunder; each race is absorbed within their own problems and threats. Some of these threats are related to the Elder Dragons, but you’re not fighting dragon minions every time you set out from Divinity’s Reach or Rata Sum. Challenges in these areas are more local. As you move into higher levels, the threat of the dragons becomes greater and greater, “…the central theme of the game: pulling people together to face more difficult challenges.” until at last, at the highest level, you reach Orr and the lair of Zhaitan, the Elder Undead Dragon.

We tell these tales mainly through dynamic events. For instance, low-level human adventurers are more concerned with bandits, centaurs, and nasty wildlife, but over time the threat of the dragons becomes clear. While the sylvari have more direct conflicts with the minions of Zhaitan, they have local problems with the Nightmare Court as well. As you advance in level and travel across Tyria, the global threat of the dragons becomes more evident and representatives of the races you encounter are increasingly concerned with the danger posed by the dragons to their people.

This is an underlying theme of the game—people coming together and cooperating to fight a greater foe. The dynamic events occurring in every map of the game have their own challenges and resolution. Every event tells a story, but not every event deals with dragons and their minions. Still, in the aggregate, the game is designed to advance in difficulty and gradually shifts focus from the regional problems of the world to the direct threat against Tyria that the Elder Dragons pose.

[url="http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Zhaitan-in-Orr.jpg"][img]http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Zhaitan-in-Orr-600x346.jpg[/img][/url]

[b] [size=5][b]Your Personal Story[/b][/size][/b]

Weaving through this large tapestry is the thread of your character’s personal story.

The biography choices you make when you create your character set you off down an initial path, but the decisions you make as you play will send you down different narrative pathways. Your story path will take you from the gates of your home city all the way to Orr and Zhaitan. Over the course of this story, your character grows in level, power, and wisdom. They realize the nature of the true enemy and rise above the more local concerns that troubled them during the early levels of the game.

As your horizons expand, you come into conflict with the forces of Zhaitan more and more often, and by the time you reach the ruins of Arah, you are ready to take on a dragon yourself. You do more than bear witness to this titanic struggle against Zhaitan, you are a direct participant. You work to bring the races and the Orders together. You make a difference to Tyria in a very big, very heroic way.

[url="http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/LoganB.jpg"][img]http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/LoganB-600x337.jpg[/img][/url]

[b] [size=5][b]The Saga of the Iconics[/b][/size][/b]

[left]The third type of story supports both the world and the personal stories: the story of the iconic characters of [i]Guild Wars 2[/i]—Zojja, Logan, Rytlock, Caithe, and Eir. These are great heroes among their people who serve as mentors to characters of the same race. Your mentor plays an important role in your character’s life early in the game. You meet them in your first personal story adventure, and your actions impress them. Your relationship with them evolves over time as you eventually become an equal, a friend, and an ally.[/left]

As you’ll learn, these iconic heroes each have their own problems and painful history together. All of the iconics were former members of the famed adventuring band Destiny’s Edge, which was torn apart by tragedy. The whys and wherefores are explained in the game (as well as in the novel [i]Destiny’s Edge[/i], by J. Robert King), and part of uniting the races involves reuniting the members of Destiny’s Edge.

In the challenging multiplayer dungeons of [i]Guild Wars 2[/i], you help Destiny’s Edge come to terms with their past and reunite to face Zhaitan. This iconic story, told through the dungeons, contributes to your personal story—but is not a requirement. That is, if you don’t care for multiplayer instances, your story will still be dynamic and rewarding. But experiencing the story of those dungeons adds a richness and depth to the overall story of [i]Guild Wars 2[/i]. The iconic story, along with your personal story and that of the overall world, all lead to the City of the Gods and an ultimate confrontation with Zhaitan.

[url="http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/eir_cropped.jpg"][img]http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/eir_cropped-600x337.jpg[/img][/url]

[b] [size=5]Pulling it All Together[/size][/b]

Each of these story types is an independent contributor to the greater whole that is [i]Guild Wars 2[/i]. Each underscores the central theme of the game: pulling people together to face more difficult challenges.

In many ways, this is a very MMO-friendly theme—it’s what a player is doing in the gameplay itself, and our mechanics make it easy for you to form alliances, create guilds, and fight alongside people you don’t yet know, forging strong inter-player bonds and rewarding players for working together.

Taken together, the type of stories we tell along with the way those stories are being told, contribute to a deeper, richer experience in Tyria.

[url="http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Norn-Female-Elementalist.jpg"][img]http://www.arena.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Norn-Female-Elementalist-600x337.jpg[/img][/url]

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