Talk about dynamic events has been somewhat constant since ArenaNet shared information about the idea, with KTR posting some new comments, Tobold and Keen putting posts up, and on this blog I put my own thoughts down on the subject as well. I’m still not sure this won’t be more than PQ2.0, but rather than continue down that path today I instead want to talk about what dynamic means to me in an MMO.
When I think of dynamic events I think of a developer setting up some random variables and letting them loose on a virtual world. The interesting and yet dangerous thing here is that since the developers don’t fully know the results, much less the players, the event could go horribly wrong for a number of reasons.
Let’s say the event in question is an undead horde rising up to attack an empire. The devs identify locations the horde could arise from, what mobs have a chance of spawning, and what their behavior will be (hold, attack, retreat, etc). Other random factors could include the appearance of special mobs such as necromancers to speed up the growth process, vampires to act as champions, or human cultists to infiltrate cities and act from within. But all of this is randomized, so one location in the world might only see a few skeletons protecting a graveyard while another might get 3-4 necromancers that overnight create a city-crushing horde.
Of course what happens next is where the real player-driven randomness kicks in. If a strong guild attacks the three necromancer spawn early, they might defeat all of them and that area will be safe. If you are not online or around when this happens, you miss out. If on the other hand the graveyard of skeletons is left unchecked, it might eventually get a vampire champion and a cult of humans, leading it to grow to such a size/power that the local players are unable to stop it, and in turn they lose a city or a questing area. If the player population continues to ignore the area, the horde continues to spread and its champions get stronger as time goes on. Since variables rather than a script are in control, nothing is to stop the area from getting a silly amount of necromancers and being swarmed, or a vampire champion growing to an unstoppable power level.
At some point the devs might have to step in if the players are unable to handle things, but this just presents an in-game lore-based opportunity for some NPC hero (maybe GM controlled?) to rise up and aid the players in pushing the evil back. Again however it’s entirely possible that without such aid, entire areas of the game world might become death zones, and while veterans will know to avoid such places for the time being, newer players might instead view this as the game being impossible and simply not fun. The randomness creates a lot of variety, but not all of it will be positive for everyone.
For any of this to happen you would need a fairly open-ended MMO with a dev team willing to take some significant risks, not to mention some impressive technology to correctly handle it all, but when the topic of dynamic content comes up, this ultimately is what I envision, and hence why what GW2 is pitching does not meet MY expectations.