One of the nice things about being in the initial wave of WAR players was seeing all of the PQs played out more or less as intended. Only the newbie zone PQs were heavily zerged, and even then at least you got to see the three phases and see the ‘story’. This all broke down later of course, when the population was all at the level cap and Mythic forgot to include a third faction for RvR, but for the first few months, PQs worked and they worked well.
Long before even DAoC was a twinkle in Mythic’s eye, during the Ultima Online beta the game featured a living eco-system. The idea was that if players killed too many sheep, the local wolves would hunt players instead of said sheep. If the players killed the wolves, the local dragon would lack food and also attack players or venture further. This all famously broke down when players killed everything and complained about the lack of targets. Before release, the system was scrapped and replaced by the now traditional static spawn system. To this day I think the scrapping of the eco-system is one of the genres biggest regrets, but then again MMO history is littered with stories of players grinding the fun out of a game. We suck like that.
It seems Anet never took the above history lesson, as GW2 is repeating UO history now, and will likely repeat WAR’s history in a few months (the PQ part, they got the 3-faction thing already in place).
Currently in the starter and 20ish human zones, both ‘world’ ‘events’ (quest chains limited to just that zone, but I’m sure some GW2 apologist will explain how those quest chains are in fact world events) are in a permanent victory state, with the centaur ‘fight back’ event getting instantly crushed the minute it comes up. Having experienced the starter zone quest chain, I can say that current players are indeed missing out on some pretty neat content. I’m guessing the 20ish zone’s quest chain is also neat, but after two days of seeing “all points held, you win” on my screen, I can’t tell you. Maybe I can revisit and faceroll it once I hit 80…
The difference between UO’s eco-system and GW2’s quest chains is that in UO, how the local area reacted was both unique and interesting (until it totally broke down anyway). That local area was also not a 1-10 or 15-20 zone, but a ‘real’ location in a world you would visit or live in. The impact was unpredictable because the reaction was not scripted (chained or otherwise), but instead a formula that changed based on input factors (players). EVE’s Incursion system is somewhat similar as well, where if the players beat the MOM site, the Incursion ends and another starts in a different part of the world, bringing all of its benefits and penalties with it.
In GW2 the starter zone is content on demand, and once you have seen it, you move on much like any other themepark. Novelty aside, a level 80 would never just find themselves stumbling through a starter zone they had already finished, unlike in UO where 7x GM would hang out in and around Yew for various reasons. Because of this, if the biggest, most impressive piece of content, ‘world’ ‘events’, are unavailable, you miss out. And not only do you miss out, you can’t do a thing about it. In UO players could organize to fix the problem (the birth of anti-PKs, for instance), while in GW2 all you can hope for is the masses move on and letting the quest chain reset itself. I can’t rise up and become the great defender of the centaurs. Instead all I can do is look at the giant centaur-looking spire, filled with friendly NPC guards, and imagine what it must have been like to take down whatever big-bad was ultimately at the end of the chain.