Writing your story: An interview with the writers of Guild Wars 2

Have you ever wondered what exactly goes into writing Guild Wars 2? Well, thanks to a recent opportunity I had, I have some answers for you! I was able to interview several of the writers for Guild Wars 2 on what it’s like working on that game that we’re all waiting so very impatiently on.  I received answers to my questions from Bobby Stein, Lead Writer, Peter “The Explorer” Fries, and Angel McCoy, the voice of the sylvari.

As Bobby, Peter, and Angel are all awesome people, the answers I got were far longer and more in-depth than I had been expecting; thank you so much (and also a big thanks to Regina for granting me this chance in the first place)! Without further ado, here’s what you’re waiting for!

Verene: Hello! First of all, I would like to say thank you very much for your time in doing this interview and answering these questions. I’m hoping to get a look at a side of games that many people don’t pay as much attention to, but for most games I find just as important as the artwork and mechanics, and that is the storyline of the game, as well as how it’s written. Guild Wars 2 being what it is, the story is certainly one of the most important parts of it! So, thank you for taking your time to answer these for me.

First and foremost, just how different is it writing for a game from writing, say, a novel or script? And how does writing for Guild Wars 2 differ from writing other games?

Angel: Writing for a game differs from every other type of writing. You could say it’s its own animal. The grand majority of writing in a game has a technical element. By that, I mean that it serves a practical purpose and is rarely just creative. Even the dialogue between NPCs may be there to guide or inform players. It’s all there to build a cohesive imagining experience for players.

When you’re writing a novel or a script, your only goal is to tell a great story. In a game, your goal is to tell a great story AND make sure the player knows where to go and what to do next. This can be quite challenging because you don’t want to sound like you’re giving directions. You have to be extra creative to make it all sound natural. If you’re doing your job right, the player gleans the information without ever realizing they were hearing a lecture on how to proceed.

Guild Wars 2, being an MMO, has a vast ocean of text in it. Games that come close to the same amount of text are few and far between. Many people are contributing to the text in the game, and it’s the writers’ jobs to make sure all that text is as flavorful, useful, and lore-ful as possible.

First drafts come in from all over the company (content design, level design, story design, etc.), and we writers buff them up. For example, a content designer may develop a town in the game, and that town will have certain non-player characters (NPCs) needed to support gameplay. The designer builds those NPCs into the game and gives them temporary text that expresses what’s happening. This then comes to the writing room, where we take their ideas and polish them to a shine.

In addition, we write from scratch many of the elements unrelated to gameplay ourselves. This includes scenes and player/NPC interactive conversations that are scattered around to share world history, anthropology, and politics. It also includes those scenes written to express racial characteristics or social norms.

We have an in-house style guide that we use to uphold grammatical continuity and a wiki for tracking lore continuity. A large part of the writing team’s job is to police text and make sure it abides by those two rule sets.

Bobby: Game writing is especially challenging due to the emergent stories that happen through player influence. For instance, as a player, you can roam a region somewhat freely, encountering dozens of characters that may or may not be involved in an event chain due to a number of external or player-driven factors. An event chain could be in a number of different states, so you have to make sure that the voiced dialogue is written clearly, concisely, and in character to convey everything from character development to gameplay information for every possible state. All too often, character development takes a back seat to thinly veiled exposition, so it’s a constant fight to pull the “gamey-ness” out of character dialogue and instead treat your NPCs as true characters. The most memorable moments happen when dialogue is triggered under a crazy set of circumstances and everything just clicks, but that’s very hard to predict.
The scale of game writing is also very different from novel and screen writing. Where an average 90-minute film might have around 10,000 words of dialogue and a tight narrative, an MMO might have 100-200 times the writing with many smaller stories to juggle. To generate that much content, you need entire teams with representation from multiple disciplines. For Guild Wars 2, there are about 50 designers, with specialties ranging from systems and content design to writing and editing. Ideas are kicked back and forth between teams, ultimately passing through the writing sieve to ensure a more consistent voice and writing style. It’s an enormous, complex challenge to tie it all together.

Writing for online games is especially difficult because you have to account for multiple players experiencing the same content from different perspectives. It’s relatively easy to generate dialogue for grouped content, such as dynamic events, but once you factor in personal, branching storylines, it gets a lot hairier. Cinematics can be triggered under a number of different circumstances. If party members are spread throughout a map, some might miss critical story or gameplay information unless you broadcast VO in ways that might not sound natural. There are technical challenges as well. There are only so many types of character interactions we can show in certain types of cinematics or gameplay scenarios, which limit the types of content we can even show. You must learn to write around situations, presenting plot points or character interactions differently than if you were writing a novel or screenplay. Even if the scene calls for characters to embrace, you may not be able to show it due to technical limitations or animation constraints. So, while games may share some common challenges in telling compelling stories, those problems are magnified when applied to MMOs. And don’t get me started on the number of characters inside an MMO; it’s obscene.

Peter: Though the scale of an MMORPG like Guild Wars 2 makes it a project to dwarf any novel or script, it’s the amount of collaboration that sets it apart from other writing work. With dozens of designers and the dozen or so writers on our team working on the game’s sprawling content for years on end, finding and maintaining a consistent voice throughout the enormous amount of written and voiced text is a constant challenge.

Verene: The sheer size of the story in Guild Wars 2 is massive – I remember a recent blog post saying that there’s 30 storyline splits in just the first ten levels. What kind of challenges did the writing team face in coming up with these branching storylines?

Peter: Our team had to constantly compare notes to make sure we were on the same page with the overarching storyline envisioned for our game and that we were hitting the right story beats to provide players with an interesting set of characters to spend time with. We wanted to be sure each of the many possible player decisions paid off in a satisfying way while also taking each of our iconic characters through an arc that saw them learn, change, and grow.

Angel: We started designing these storylines back in 2007, well before we knew exactly which game mechanics we would have available to us, so the initial designs were full of pie-in-the-sky ideas. As we progressed in the development process, we realized that we would never be able to do some of those things in an MMORPG environment, and we had to hunker down, evaluate, and redesign where needed. This meant that, in some cases, we rewrote the text for a particular portion of the story more than three times.
That’s iteration. With each redesign, the gameplay got tighter, and the story got better. The iterative process takes longer and produces a lot of discarded text, but it’s worth it because we come to a place where it all works beautifully together (text, gameplay, and art), and you get a final product that you can truly be proud of.

Bobby: Eric Flannum, Ree Soesbee, and Jeff Grubb drafted the personal story arcs near the beginning of Guild Wars 2 development, almost in a vacuum. This was at a time when the game’s core systems hadn’t been built yet and our content creation tools were in their infancy. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that the personal story team was formed and work began in earnest. That new group, consisting of various members from the content, lore, and writing design teams, revisited the original story outlines, making changes where necessary and iterating on the gameplay and plot until things felt right.

We learned some important lessons once our tools came online and we were able to build content inside the game world. Some character arcs and plot points that made sense in our heads showed less favorably on the monitor. There were logic gaps all over the place and many of our favorite characters came off as flat and uninteresting. After months of rigorous company playtests and feedback sessions, the story team went back to the drawing board armed with pages of notes. Encounters were adjusted, character motivations were shifted around, and thousands of new lines of dialogue and voice-over were implemented.

It was worth all the stress and aggravation, though, because the current versions of the starter story chapters (a.k.a. the “1–10 bits”) are more cohesive and engaging than the initial drafts. The story team gave the supporting characters more screen time with the player. They also implemented more ambient and triggered voice-over, which made for a more immersive play experience.

The writing team was then able to take the first draft dialogue, which was authored by various members of the story team, and further refine it to make it more conversational. A big part of the writing team’s job was to cut back on redundant information, rephrase lines to sound more in-character, and edit scenes and cinematics down to their most potent forms. The more time we had to spend on review and revision cycles, the tighter the scripts became.

So, the burden of personal storytelling was shared across maybe two dozen people. The designers came up with compelling scenarios, and with the story writers, they drafted the dialogue framework. The writing team further refined the dialogue for our actors to voice, and the animators brought it to life. It was a large collaboration that took place over several years.

Verene: The five races present in Tyria are all very different, with differing philosophies, general personalities, and outlooks on the world and life. Was there any particular methods you used to get into the ‘role’ of, say, an asura, while writing lines for them?

Angel: In the early days, when we were developing the voices of each of the races, we had many discussions in the writers’ room about how best to bring the races to life. Ree Soesbee, Jeff Grubb, and Bobby Stein gave us strong guidance on their visions for the races, and we took that guidance into the practical arena of actually writing dialogue.

Bobby: My background is in film, so I’m always concerned with spoken dialogue sounding natural in context. Tyria is an enormous world filled with thousands of characters, and since there are dozens of writers and designers working on voice-over, it’s important that we’re following the same guidelines. I sat down with Jeff and Ree early in production, and we discussed the personalities and dialogue tones for each playable race. From there, I put together a simple image as a reference point.

Peter: While each race in our game ideally has its own voice, it’s also important to remember that each character is an individual person, capable of acting and speaking idiosyncratically. We didn’t want to stray too far from each race’s flavor, especially in areas where meeting one of its representatives might be a player’s first introduction to that race, but in areas where they were well-established, we had a bit more freedom to develop people who just happened to be asuran, quaggan, or whatever race. Asura are eccentric by nature, though, and eagerly competitive, so that provides a lot of leeway to establish memorable characters.

Bobby: Of course, we have extensive lore documents that go into minute detail on specific characters and speaking styles, but I wanted to make the point that players should have very different experiences after character creation. The content design and art teams made sure that what you do and see is distinct, and my team filtered through the thousands of lines of dialogue in an effort to make each zone have its own linguistic identity.

Angel: I use a key phrase for each of the races that helps me get back into voice after I’ve been writing for a different one. For humans, it’s simply, “They’re only human.” For me, this evokes a sense of vulnerability and potential for making mistakes that is core to this race. They’re tough, yes. Badass even. But, they’re only human.

For charr, I think, “Yes, boss.” It brings me images of militaristic loyalty, which is the glue that holds charr society together. And yet, it doesn’t imply blind obedience, but rather leaves an avenue open for challenge and even mutiny. Among the charr, it’s the strongest leader who gets to be boss.

Whenever I’m going to write for norn, I think, “By Bear’s hairy butt!” and that says it all. It puts me in just the right mood, a little smile on my face, a sense of being a bit naughty, and yet ready for anything. That’s the norn.

With the asura, getting into character is as easy as putting, “you idiot,” on the end of everything I think. It works in the recording studio as well, and we suggest to our voice actors that they imagine “you idiot” on the end of every line they read.

Finally, with sylvari, the key phrase I use to pull myself into their heads is “knights of the round table.” This sends me right into their nobility, their civility, their honesty, and even their sheltered innocence. I sit up a little straighter and write my sylvari dialogue with dignity.

Bobby: In short: Asura speak in techno-magic babble. They toss around big words, speak in confident tones, and view magic as a tool. Humans speak more naturally; their speech patterns most closely resemble modern dialogue without sounding anachronistic. Norn and sylvari speak in ways that are familiar to followers of traditional fantasy, using more passive sentence construction, and sometimes speaking in grander terms. Charr are direct and efficient.

We want players to feel like their character creation choices matter, and that extends to the kind of writing and voice work you hear in your home cities and starter areas. If you’re a fan of traditional fantasy dialogue, you’ll feel at home playing a norn or sylvari. If you’re looking for something more contemporary, charr and human will be more in line with your expectations. Asura are a fun mix of the two styles.

Verene: Related to the previous question, which race was your personal favorite to write?

Bobby: Man, that’s a tough one. I suppose it’s a tie between humans and charr, the former due to their dialogue flexibility and the latter for their simplicity. I wrote some idle scenes in Divinity’s Reach and the surrounding maps a few years back. They were mostly oddball conversations between quirky characters and were constructed such that you only hear bits and pieces, leaving plenty of room for player interpretation. Everything from dating woes and family problems to gossiping guards and playing kids were thrown in there to spice up the city. I’m really happy how the designers implemented everything.

Regarding the charr, I just love their grittiness; they don’t mince words. They’re a nice contrast to some of the more florid races like norn and sylvari. Charr love to eat meat, drink whiskey, and pick fights, but they also value structure and discipline. Morbid humor suits them. In a game this big, you need that kind of variety.

Peter: Because of their eccentricity, I particularly loved writing asura characters. Charr were also fun to write, with their clipped, all-business militarism and gruff dispositions. I found norn and sylvari to be the most challenging to write, because each of those races had an outlook that could easily veer into cartoonish proportions: norn as loud drunks, sylvari as naïve innocents. Each of those races has a lot of potential for interesting storytelling, though, and for demonstrating strength of character in surprising ways.

Angel: I love writing them all, but if I had to choose one that I’d be stuck writing for the rest of my life, it would be sylvari. I feel that the sylvari race has far more story potential than we will ever have the time to tap in Guild Wars 2—though we’ll certainly give it our best shot! Sylvari have so much adventure ahead of them, so much to learn, and so many losses to endure—and all for the first time. They provide rich earth for growing stories.

Verene: Tyria wasn’t precisely a happy world where all was well in Guild Wars, but things have definitely gotten worse by the time of Guild Wars 2. Were there any particular difficulties that were faced in adapting the world of the first game to the new, dragon-ravaged Tyria we know now?

Angel: It’s fun when you can drag your favorite world even deeper into darkness! Evolving the Guild Wars world has been the kind of challenge that isn’t much of a challenge at all. If I had to name the biggest thing that made us put our thinking caps on, it would have to be the way the races changed across the centuries.

Peter: Even though Tyria’s been ravaged by upheaval and many of its races displaced, they’ve also progressed quite a bit from the last time we saw them. Civilization has managed to grow even in these dark times, and societies have come a long way. We’ve tried to give the races from the first game some extra nuance that you might not expect and may find refreshing in a fantasy title. For example, the outwardly beastly charr and the blustery norn barely discriminate according to gender, expecting the same level of valor from male and female alike. (It’s probably notable that each of those races also has an evil misogynist splinter faction of antagonists.) Tyria’s various races are just starting to work together in the time of this new game, to forge alliances that will change their societies for the better.

Angel: The charr, for example, went from being the bad guys to being the good guys with a long history of being the bad guys. They’ve become far more complex than they ever were. In order to do the world justice, we couldn’t just make the charr suddenly good. We had to maintain that history and the tension in relationships between charr and humans. It’s been a challenge, but it’s what we love to do!

Bobby: Since Angel and Peter talked about writing and lore, I’ll address the VO hurdles. We faced enormous challenges giving Tyria a voice (hundreds of voices, actually). We had to juggle character archetypes with specific personal story roles, sometimes within the same content space, to varying degrees of success. Sometimes we’d assign an actor to a particular character only to find out later that, while their voice was a good representation of that NPCs race, their performance style just wasn’t appropriate.

We’ve reassigned and recast many different roles over the past three years of voice-over production—sometimes multiple times for the same character—in an effort to make our cities, events, and personal stories sound plausible. Many of those decisions were driven internally, but a fair amount of them were inspired by constructive feedback from beta testers, fans, and members of the press. While we can’t please everyone, we’re certainly trying to find the best pairings of actors to roles and characters to dialogue. It’s been a massive, humbling learning experience to say the least.

Verene: In the game there’s both regular in-game dialogue (walking up to someone and chatting with them), and cutscenes; was there any difference between writing the two different types of dialogue?

Bobby: Certainly. Ambient audio is more forgiving simply because it takes place within the context of the game world. When everything is working as designed, dialogue should sound natural and appropriate for the current situation. Part of that comes from technical implementation, so things like falloff and occlusion imitate real-world physics, but the rest has to come from conversational dialogue, a good actor, and solid voice direction while in the sound booth. The actor might not know who she is talking to, how far away the other person (or player) is, or what’s happening at the moment, which in a game full of dynamic, scaling events, may change from moment to moment.

We’ve left the recording booth thinking we got exactly the performances we needed, only to hear them inside the game sounding very out of place. It happens maybe 5-10% of the time, and because we’ve scheduled our recording sessions all throughout development, we usually get the opportunity to fix those lines that just don’t work.

Cinematics are a completely different animal. Whereas ambient audio doesn’t require extensive animation support and facial gestures to get the point across, conversational cinematics certainly do. As many of our fans remember, our first draft cinematics had placeholder lip-flap articulation and wild gesturing. When those technical limitations were paired with first draft dialogue and temporary voice performances, the results were embarrassing to say the least. But once the lip sync and gesturing systems came online, we went back to those cinematic scripts, revised the dialogue, and recast some actors, and saw things gradually improve.

Peter: There was a huge difference between writing conversational, non-voiced text and dialogue that was meant to be voiced by our huge cast of acting talent. Unvoiced conversations in our game are deeper by design, giving us a chance to more fully flesh out the lore of our sprawling world while also conveying important gameplay information. The conversational text tends to be much more conditional, with NPCs reacting to players in different ways, dependent on player choices and experience. Our voiced text was our greatest chance to inject character into our dialogue and to advance the overarching story of the player’s journey through Tyria.

Angel: They are different in some ways, but the same in others. Cinematics text, because of its visual and audio components, has to be shorter than the unvoiced conversations you have with NPCs. In addition, cinematics can have multiple NPCs and the player’s character in the dialogue. This lends a more screenplay-like feel to the writing because you have multiple actors all contributing lines. The unvoiced conversations, on the other hand, are only between one NPC and the player’s character.

Writing both types feels like you’re building a puzzle because of the branching required. What you see is determined by the character choices you’ve made both at the beginning in character generation, but also as you’ve been playing along. You may experience different responses from an NPC based on your choices of race, gender, character history, and your story choices as you go through branching storylines.

Verene: There are also the cutscenes at the start of dungeons, such as the Ascalon Catacombs we’ve seen a few times in demos so far. These are heavily cinematic; where in the process of creating these was the writing done? As in, was the scene written out first, storyboarded/animated first, or were the two sides of the scene done in tandem?

Angel: Peter gives you a perfect response to this question, so I’ll defer to him. :)

Peter: In general, these scenes were done in tandem with our talented cinematics team. Some were written based on storyboards, others storyboarded based on written specifications. The dungeons tell the story of our iconic characters, Destiny’s Edge, and went through a great deal of revision to advance the storyline as much as possible despite their brief running time. Very little of these cinematics were taken to the point of animation without having their story beats carefully considered and written out to make the most of our animators’ valuable time, in the same way that scripts were ideally given multiple reviews to make the most of our voice actors’ time and keep retakes to a minimum if possible.

Bobby: The stylized cinematics are treated very differently than conversational ones. Most were generated by Ree or Jeff very early on in production to outline major plot points. As to their construction, they usually feature a single narrator. The tones and themes are generally grandiose, foregoing character development for exposition. They serve as clearly defined, artistic billboards to fill you in on your story progress.

Our cinematics team spends months layering and animating art to the drafted text, with the final outcome being what you see after character creation and at critical moments in the personal and world stories. Any timing adjustments are made after the VO is imported.

Verene: ArenaNet is known for their iterative process to making a game; redoing and tweaking things until it’s right. How does this affect the writing of the script for the game? Have you ever had a scene that you just rewrote a bunch of times until you were pleased with it?

Peter: Of course I have, many times over. Our non-voiced text will likely be edited and revised right up until release. You’ve probably noticed aggressive revising of the beginning experience of our game in the successive demos shown over the past couple of years. This was in response to alpha- and beta-test feedback as well as internal feelings that we could do better. We try to get as many eyes on our work as possible, if only for sanity-checking—“Am I hitting the right tone here for the charr? Does this scene even make sense?” Our work is collaborative and perfectionist. We’re hard on ourselves and on each other, but always in service of making our games better. As long as players end up feeling an attachment to our characters and world, we’ve done our job.

Bobby: Absolutely. We get our best results when we have enough time to play through the content, take notes on the dialogue and pacing, and revise accordingly. We don’t always get the luxury of having weeks (or even days) to review large swaths of scripts, but when we do, the dialogue and the voice-over are always better. Sometimes we’re able to cut out some “first draft habits,” which are things like overused direct address, wasted introduction lines, or needless player coddling. Other times we’re able to cut entire cinematic conversations in favor of ambient triggered audio, which keeps the player inside the game world and in the action.

For example, the original cinematic drafts in the human personal story didn’t have much revision time before we went into the recording studio the first time. There were a few particular moments where the cinematics lacked the emotional punch they needed, partially because of the unedited dialogue, but also because of the characters we chose to use. We went back to the drawing board and completely overhauled those moments doing everything from recasting particular actors to rewriting dozens of lines, and also by paying off those decisions inside your story instances.

Now, when you’re faced with the decision to save Quinn or prevent the poisoning of the town water supply, we show you the consequences in the dialogue, the voice acting, the animation, and the ambient scenes. You can only do that when you’re given ample time in a production schedule to review and revise, so we’re grateful for every moment that we have. If anything, we could use more time, but that’s the reality of game development. You have to do the best job you can with the resources you have, in the allotted schedule.

Angel: This happens every day. As most writers know, the first draft is never good enough. Revision is key to making your writing acceptable for public consumption. The only difference between “revision” and “iteration” is that a single person revises a work, whereas a team iterates it. We believe strongly in the power of “two minds are greater than one” and “two hundred minds are AWEsome!” And, it works for us. Of course, we don’t have two hundred ArenaNet employees all correcting every line in the game, but we’re all vigilant for bits and bobbles in the game that sit wrong with us, and we tell each other. I change lines every day as a result of someone else’s feedback—and it’s always for the better.

Verene: In Guild Wars 2 we have the option of playing a character that is a descendant of our Guild Wars character; many of us played Canthan or Elonan characters as our main characters in GW1 (my human character will be descended from my Dervish, for example), and one of the things I remember from the February press beta was that in at least one of the human storyline options you could establish your heritage. Is there much that is planned or done for those who intend to play characters of Cantha or Elonan heritage?

Angel: We decided not to put a character choice based on ancestral heritage in the game at this time; however, we strongly encourage players to role-play their heritages—and it’s especially cool if you play your own grandchild or great-grandchild! That’s awesome! We absolutely want to see players make characters who descended from Canthan or Elonian heritage! You will find that, with our flexible tool for changing how your characters look, you can even create a family resemblance.

Bobby: The original drafts of the human personal story accounted for your heritage, placing your home instance in a different district depending on your lineage. We quickly realized that doing so would require us to quadruple the same story steps, but without being able to add any meaningful content to differentiate them. We decided that it was better to put the effort into polishing one version of those steps rather than simply copying content to give the illusion of choice. As a result, we’ve had the time to revise and improve what’s there. If we hadn’t made that decision, the human personal story would’ve been a diluted experience.

The good news is that the Elonian district is still in the game, so you can walk around, listen to all the idle chatter, and purchase from its many merchants. The Canthan district fell prey to the Great Collapse. You can run through its former location over a long rope bridge, but there aren’t any homes or shops to explore. There are some displaced Canthans wandering the city, so if you listen carefully, you can hear them.

Peter: At present, we don’t have story branches based on a chosen national heritage for humans. The choices we do have in our human storyline have more to do with your character’s immediate family background versus a heritage that plays off ancestors from centuries prior to the game’s events.

Verene: Last but not least, we all know that Guild Wars 2 is going to be a huge game, but that not every idea that was come up with or developed for the game is able to be included. Was there a particular scene or line that you had written that was unable to be included? Please share what it is, if you can!

Peter: I’m in a bit of a unique situation in that I began working on Guild Wars 2 as an environment artist and transitioned to writing about a year ago. Because of that, I’ve been on both sides of the event design process and have seen my art and writing revised out of the game many times over. Still, as far as I can remember, those cuts and revisions have always happened for good reason, and I can’t think of much of anything that I regret seeing improved or replaced by something better that a teammate came up with.

Bobby: Actually, we have a number of voiced idle scenes that are ready to go but not yet implemented due to redesigns or time constraints. Some may get hooked up in time for release and others may find their way into the game via the Guild Wars 2 Live Team.

I wrote a series of foxhole scenes between a few different soldiers out in the field. They’re mostly comedic, focusing on the kind of reminiscing you’d see in an old war film before the bullets start flying. It’s mostly talk about going on leave, a girl back home, sowing wild oats, etc. And since these guys are all friends, there’s plenty of chop-busting going on. To my knowledge they were never hooked up, but I think a few players would get a mild chuckle out of them due to their quirkiness.

I wish we could publish some of our studio outtakes and bloopers, but let’s just say they’re for mature audiences only.

Angel: Oh, I really do need to start collecting these because I have a hard time remembering what they were. I can tell you that it’s usually something I wrote that was a little too off-color or gory. There are certain topics we must avoid because of the ESRB or because someone in the company has a particular aversion to a certain topic. For example, I have a coworker who is so grossed out by the thought of someone getting skinned that we have to be careful not to describe it.

Usually, if an idea hits me for a line that I think might be borderline, I’ll turn to the others in the writers’ room and ask for a sanity check. Then, as a team, we decide whether the line is okay or if it falls outside our definition of “good.”

I can tell you about a scene that I didn’t think would make it in (and may yet get yanked once they read this interview). I wrote an ettin—that’s our two-headed giant monster—who farts and then blames it on his other head. Heh.

Verene: Once again, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions for me!

Angel: Delighted! Best of luck to you and your blog, and I look forward to reading more of your articles and interviews.

Peter: Thank you for your interest and thoughtful questions. We’ll see you in Tyria this year! This is your story, after all.

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20 thoughts on “Writing your story: An interview with the writers of Guild Wars 2

  1. Please, please, please keep the farting ettin in! PLEASE!!! On the GWInsider facebook page we have been discussing Ettin’s underwear and this would just fuel our fire. :D

  2. Pingback: Interview With Guild Wars 2 Writing Team – Peter Fries, Bobby Stein And Angel McCoy | Guild Wars 2 Beta News Source - Guild Wars Insider

  3. There have been many, many other games I’ve enjoyed where I appreaciated the efforts of the developer, and respected their design choices, but GW2 and ArenaNet are the first time I find myself actually being fond of the individuals themselves, and actively cheering for THEIR success as well as the game’s.

    The folks at ANet are just simply “likeable” and their enthusiasm for their work, and genuine sincerity during interviews and while talking with fans is so refreshing and appealing that I can’t help feeling real affection for them.

    The game is hugely popular (even before being actually released) and I’m absolutely certain I’m not alone in feeling like the DEVs just “get it” on a level that is incredibly refreshing. They don’t come off as “lords on high” or anything like it, despite the fact that they must feel some of the glow of being appreaciated by so many fans. They’re just good, decent, regular folks, who are clearly doing their level best to produce a product that we are all going to enjoy for quite some time.

    Obviously, the game is still in a formative state (beta) and they are still hard at work on it, but when I see the incredible attention to detail in every single aspect of it, the sounds, the settings, the personalities of the NPCs, the gorgeous landscape artwork, the fine detail in every single thing you look at or interact with in the game… it’s simply mind boggling.

    Appreaciation of art is always an extremely subjective thing, but for me personally, the quality of work produced by this developer is a purely pleasurable experience.

    Fantastic job on the interview questions Verene. I’ve long been enjoying your blog as a “safe place” to let my inner fanboi run free, and I think it’s simply great of the CMs at ArenaNet to give you this opportunity – you did a great job with it.

  4. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 writers talk (at length) about MMO story | Guild Wars 2 News & Media!

  5. Huh. Interesting article as a whole, though one thing did catch my attention. It sounds a bit like the Charr are fuzzy fantasy-genre Krogan, in a way–which I see as a *good* thing. :-) I always did like their attitude and morbid humor. Haven’t done enough of the Charr stuff in EotN yet to see how the Charr Hero you team up with does, personality-wise.

  6. A farting Ettin is hysterical. A farting Etting who blames his other head for it is priceless!

    What I want to know is….did they write a Bear Hunter group in GW2? Please? Please say yes! I just love those guys!

  7. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 Guion | Noticias | JuegosdB

  8. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 tiene un guion 200 veces mayor que el de una película – PC | TRUCOS, JUEGOS FACEBOOK

  9. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 writers talk (at length) about MMO story | Game Ninja

  10. Pingback: Game » Blog Archive » Guild Wars 2 tiene un guion 200 veces mayor que el de una película – PC

  11. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2 | GuildMag - Guild Wars 2 Fansite: Magazine, Podcast, Editorials and more

  12. Fantastic interview; I love getting to see the internal creative process of game designers — and GW2 has such a high level of thought and detail that goes into every little aspect of the game!

  13. Pingback: GWOnline.Net » Guild Wars 2 Weekly

  14. Pingback: The Writing of GW2 interview – Under the Pale Tree | The Longbow Chronicles

  15. Pingback: Score one for a GW2 fansite… | Lion's Arch Irregulars

  16. Whilst I genuinely like this publish, I think there was an spelling error near to the end with the third section.

  17. Pingback: After years of waiting… « Under the Pale Tree

  18. Pingback: Guild Wars 2 follow-up, the difficulty of game narrative, and the future of MMOs ← This is happening

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