Bit-Gamer:What are you showing here today, is it PvP?
Colin Johanson: We’re showing competitive PvP for press, and we’re also showing the Charr intro experience, where you can play as far as you can get for 40 minutes. We also have the human and Norn intro experiences, which is something we’ve shown in the past. We also have the Sylvari and Asura races in a high-level map, so you can see a high level of the game with a fully unlocked skill bar and a whole bunch of weapons unlocked so you’ve got loads of stuff to play around with.
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BG:For people reading this who aren’t completely familiar with the game and all the races, can you give a quick rundown?
CJ: Okay, the Charr were the antagonists partly in the first Guild Wars, they’re giant cat people partly inspired by Roman legions, they’re super ferocious, very powerful fighters and they’re one of our really big races – physically imposing. Our humans are different to those in other MMOs in that humanity’s been pushed back in Guild Wars 2. It takes place 200 years after the first one, when the Charr have driven the humans out of lands, so they’re in a bad way.
The Asura are a very minute race, physically small in stature, but are incredibly smart and known for their ability to use techno-magic. Then we have the Sylvari, who are a new race for us, they’re heavily inspired by Arthurian legend and have proper British accents [laughs]. The Norn were in Guild Wars; they’re a race of huge humanoids, and every one is a hero, so they’re all about glory, inspired in many ways by Viking mythology.
BG:So with the Sylvari, how do you explain, in the context of the story, how a new race has been introduced in just a 200-year gap?
CJ: We built that story up over a long period. At the end of the content for Guild Wars you see this tree with little pods growing on it, it’s a pre-cursor leading to the reveal of the Sylvari for Guild Wars 2. Over the period leading to the release of the game we’ve had novels that have told more of the story of the Sylvari and their birth into the world. We’ve also made some videos on our website that explain more about their history, and we’ve had some short stories added to our website for extra background.
From a game design perspective, we go through all the things you’d do when designing a brand new race for any game. We work through all the little details: what’s their history, how do they interact with other races, what challenges do they face, what’s the life experience like for them? Because we’re introducing them into a world where they were only born 25 years before Guild Wars 2 begins – even though it was 250 years between Guild Wars 1 and Guild Wars 2 - the idea is this tree has flowers that blossom and the Savari come out of them.
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They have a dream line that lets them share dreams and they see the things that Savari who are alive have seen, so they’re actually born at a fully reached state. When they come out they’re 20 years old or so, meaning there are no Sylvari children and each one has all the memories of all the Sylvari who came before. So the very first Sylvari who came into the world had no concept of anything and went out blindly to discover and learn things, and all the memories go back into the tree.
Each new generation of Sylvari that’s born has this information and, as a result, they’re very curious; they want to discover, explore, touch and see everything. There’s a lot of content in the game that plays up to that: there are events where Sylvari are poking at beehives to see what‘ll happen and they end up getting stung by bees and running away, that memory gets back to the tree and everyone understands ‘okay, that’s what a bee does’. They’re always getting into trouble and going places they probably shouldn’t because they’re trying to understand the rules of this world in a very short amount of time.