Tuesday, October 02, 2012

It's not the destination, its the journey.

Being a military guy I’ve travelled cross country quite a number of times. It could be duty related, moving to a new base or a vacation. I’ve driven from North Dakota/Canada to Alabama and back; from California to Mississippi; from middle USA Nebraska to Virginia and everywhere in between. If I add travel by flying it would look like spaghetti all over the map. The trips usual fall into two categories – time restrained or leisurely. Time restrained means I have to be somewhere by a certain day or time. They are usually stressful, rush-rush, eat in the car, sleep when needed and the main goal is – arrive quickly. I do not enjoy those trips. On the other hand, leisurely travel allows me to enjoy the varied terrain, the cities, the monuments, the weather, everything. The destination is important but not the full experience, why, even the travel itself is part of one long destination. I prefer the later form of travel.
Have you ever seen the St Louis Arch? It’s pretty amazing. A polished metal arch and if you see it a sunrise or sunset it shines oranges and reds. When I’ve travel I’m usually on I-70 or on the I-55/I-64 (Poplar St Bridge) depending on which way I’m going. It wasn’t until my kids were older and I pointed it out to them that I noticed how amazing it is. I’ve passed by it numerous times but still missed it. Another great hidden gem is the Mississippi Gulf Coast. You can fly right by it on I-10 but you’ll miss out on some great food and vistas. From BBQ to Creole to seafood, I don’t know why but the food is stellar. Of special mention is “The Bamboo” Chinese restaurant in D’Iberville, Mississippi. It has the best Chinese food…ever. If you take, I-110 to Hwy 90 you can cruise along the coast and enjoy the antebellum houses that survived Katrina, the wood sculptures in the center run of the highway, the beach and all its activity. I can go on and on about different locations since there are so many, but you get my drift.
“Hey this is a GW2 site, why the travel story?” Funny you should ask. There has been a lot of chatter regarding GW2 “endgame” and questing. It ranges from “it totally lacks traditional endgame e.g. raiding” to the quest hearts have no story/continuity. These observations surprised me at first. No end game, really? Maybe it’s because many people are conditioned to think max level is the end or the supposed real beginning of the game. For me, the whole game is design as one big end game. You can reach level 80 and still have only seen a fraction of the explorable world. As such, a player can go to an unvisited area, auto down level and experience all the vistas, quests, jumping puzzles, stories and world events it has to offer. In addition, they can acquire more skill points, karma and gold. To get to the end, if we want to use that term, is going to take a while.
In regards to quests and their stories, I have enjoyed the many multiple parts or inter-connections. After many events, players just need to wait or explore a little and a new event soon kicks off related to what they just did. Take the pumping station in Shaemoor, Queensdale. In this event, players can participate in one of two main events with multiple pieces. The first has bandits trying to poison the water. If players prevent the poisoning, they chase the bandits off, if not, a few things happen. Some villagers in the main part of town, will have a green poison skull icon above their head. If you talk to them they will complain about the water and direct you to the pumping station. In addition, many of the farms will have green globs, caused by the poison, making a mess of things. Players have to kill the blobs and deliver the goo to a fellow located near the pump station. After he has enough he can neutralize the poison. Also, if player’s character comes from the poor side of town, their personal story will hook into this particular event.
 The other main event has bandits trying to blow up the water pipes. In the first part, players have to stop bandits from blowing up all three water mains. If successful, the bandits run away. If they blow up one or more of the pipes a new event starts wherein the pipe repair personnel must be protected as they rebuild the pipes. If players fail, bandits infest the pipes and players have to revive the workers and push the bandits back, essentially a recapture. This event also has a relation to the middle class personal story.
I wonder how many players speed through any one of the many parts I just outlined.  If so, they don't even realize they have only seen a part of the event, a part of the story.  I imagine they are thinking it was fun but not too involving.  Maybe it's because much of GW2's stories are played out with player participating and watching it unfold.  Sometimes they need to something to move it forward, other times it just moves along.  It's like speeding past the St Louis Arch, I got a glimpse but did I really see it?    
GW2 players, a word of advice, take your leisure and enjoy the journey through Tyria.
I found a great video by Emmanuel showing in game footage examples of how dynamic events' stories unfold and how slowing down can help players enjoy them more.  It is well done and worth the view.  His blog entry with the video can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. That is soo true! I can't tell you how many times I have triggered a DE just by talking to the npcs standing around.