Zoning Restrictions

SynCain and Ravious have some interesting points about the nature of dynamic events on their blogs. One of SynCain’s last statements reminded me about a concern I have with the Guild Wars Dos zoning system.

In GW2 each zone is quite large but it is bounded on all sides with impassable terrain. To move between zones you must pass through a portal. This system is one of the reasons

Fear me Lions Arch... Oh wait a zone portal... never mind

 that Anet can unequivocally say there will be no flying in game as you would regularly run into invisible walls at zone borders. The real problem birthed by this is that it suggests that each zone will be an island of dynamic events. For example; what if you failed to push back Tequatl the Sunless and his zombies take over Sparkfly Fen? In the current system players in Lions arch don’t care because he can never threaten them. I agree with SynCain when he says;

The ‘real’ solution is to make the world an actual world rather than a collection of zones…

There are ways around this zone segregation such as allowing events to bleed through portals. I could be minding my own business when a horde of NPCs spawn at a portal and start running across the zone screaming bloody murder. Following the NPCs could be an army of Zhaitan’s undead minions perhaps with a general striding amongst them. With characters able to scale to events Anet would not need to make the enemies level appropriate for the zone. Instead they could sidekick players up, perhaps with a “defend your homeland” buff. These events could be massive, possibly resulting in low population servers needing to ask other servers for help. Breaking a two week siege of lions arch could be an epic affair.

A reason Anet may avoid such events can be seen in the rift invasion system. In rift if a zone is captured by enemies the result is that quest vending machines become unavailable. Reestablishing control of a zone becomes a tired affair of Po-going from one enemy foothold to the next till they are all defeated or until he server makes them disappear. As you out level zones you stop caring that the pretty forest zone is being invaded by fire elementals because is is just too much of a time investment to clear it all out and you want to do something else. This in turn frustrates new players as they cannot efficiently progress because very few rifts can be efficiently soloed. I remember logging off several times because the level [x] character I was on could not progress past a level [x]+5 foothold in the middle of my quest hub. A way to encourage high level players to return to zones that have been invaded would be to add command posts to the area.

Command hubs would be a central point of an invasion perhaps around a portal or at a major town. These hubs would gain buffs as the faction captured more territory. Imagine Zhaitan’s minions spreading from the tarnished coast towards Rata Sum. They conquer a town and then the event forks and they assault three other towns. From current descriptions even if you return to the first town and free it you must still deal with the undead armies assaulting the other towns. With a command post system the undead would fortify the one town and if it gets retaken it would force the undead armies on the maps to retreat freeing not just one town but entire swaths of the map. As the command posts gain buffs dependent on the size of the area controlled the difficulty of freeing an entire map in one fell swoop would be exponentially harder than freeing three villages in a far flung corner of a map. Lore wise it would be like destinies edge defeating the dragon spawn as opposed to simply defending Hoelbrak.

This system I think would make Tyria in GW2 feel like a much more open world and bring greater stakes into the actions of a server as a whole.

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3 Responses to Zoning Restrictions

  1. Kaden says:

    In a game where each side is capable of throwing near infinite forces against one another I’m not sure this argument holds up, but I’m gonna make it anyway.

    The enemies, computer generate monsters, have a base as do the players and their computer generated allies. The lands between them are in a constant state of struggle as the two forces fight for dominance and control. At some point the enemy will be stretched so thin extending towards the other that they are weak enough to be easily repelled. So instead of the force marching forward endlessly with always growing numbers they will set up a foothold, expand their reach, and eventually assault the opposite side. However defeating an attack on the outskirts of your base will be much easier than assaulting theirs. With proper scaling and map layout any random group of players will be able to halt the advance at some point inside the zone and then push it back. The massive zones allow the line of combat to move constantly in wide very noticeable ways without actually threatening to cross the border. The massive enemy army doesn’t need to cross the zone borders because they don’t have the resources to do so even when faced with a small group of defenders. The border events may still fail, but they won’t be able to branch further into the next zone, instead instantly evolving into an event to reclaim the last line of defense with enough NPC allies to make it possible.

    This will lead to some zones being mostly controlled by allies while others are mostly controlled by enemies. The difference between zones and a single world is that the areas controlled will be different. Instead of the same zones frequently being on one side of the line or the other each zone will have it’s own line. This also means that a smaller group will be able to more significantly alter that line in a shorter amount of time. Instead of pushing from Lion’s Arch all the way into the Tarnished Coast before tackling Tequatl you will be able to push from the fort in Sparkfly Fen. I would worry about that decreasing the epicness of the encounter, but I’ve seen the game and that is one thing it doesn’t lack.

    • ArcherAvatar says:

      @Kaden
      These were exactly my own thoughts on the subject. Well said sir. The only thing I would add is an emphasis on the aspect of “small” groups of players being able to “noticeably” influence the lines of conflict and how important that is for the game’s continued health over time. The dynamic events need to remain accessible and interesting even after the initial rush of launch. If they conform to the points you made in your comment, then I believe they will successful do so.

      One of the facets of gameplay served by the scaling and sidekicking systems is that friends can play together… another less often mentioned aspect of it is that a player (even a solo one) is not “cut off” from content due to level or gear to nearly the extent that is almost universally the case in current MMOs. Whatever story or area you want to be involved with on a given evening is accessible to you, even if you’re a level cap asura, and you’re wanting to check out the charr’s “early level” zones to see what’s going on over there. Not only can you satisfy your curiosity, but you will also be able to be a full participant, receive rewards that are meaningful, and do so without unbalancing the content for other lower level characters.

      After reading SynCain’s post referred to in the OP, I have to say I was pretty disappointed. So many folks seem “stuck” in a style of thinking associated with the current and past MMOs… to the point where they honestly don’t seem to be able to even understand the scope of the differences proposed for GW2. SynCain clearly thinks in terms of gear grind, and just assumes that a significant amount of an individual character’s power will come from gear… except that won’t be the case in GW2.
      Player Skill > Character Gear
      It’s a concept that appears to be so completely foreign to most MMO players that they simply can’t wrap their heads around it.

      Honestly, I’m not really sure what’s going to happen with the hyper-ambitious, “A” type personalities when or if they come into contact with GW2. The WOW raiders I mean… there are some players who actually rely on the co-dependency created by “holy trinity” class systems and who need their gear score to be more important than their own playing skills. I guess they can go to SWTOR instead of going back to WOW if they want but, I seriously doubt they will enjoy GW2.

      Any veteran MMO players who have “seen behind the veil” as I have after more than a decade of playing will most likely see the game mechanics and systems of GW2 as the breath of fresh air that it promises to be.

      Randomessa made a valiant attempt in her responses to SynCain’s post to correct some of the erroneous assumptions he was making about the game but, I didn’t get the impression that she succeeded in breaking through the “fixed thinking” in the current paradigm style. SynCain seemed determined to place old/current systems and mechanics into his hypothetical examination of GW2’s dynamic events, and that, in a nut shell, is the major error that underscores his entire post.

      In contrast, Ravious’ post on the subject of dynamic events was full of hypothetical questions and a little bit of speculation, but seemed to successfully avoid the stagnant type of thinking that insists on not seeing at least the possibility of something “new” (not just re-skinned) coming into the MMO genre. I guess there have been so many “WOW clones” that folks like SynCain just can’t even mentally reconcille with the possibility that something “else” might be arriving soon.

    • shongaqu says:

      Excellent point. I wasn’t looking at it that way and that makes sense.

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