Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Never After : GW2

Oops! Spoiler Alert!

I guess it's a bit late now...

Thing is, it really doesn't matter. Whatever you do that's the ending you're going to get. Might as well know it up front.

When the link to Drooburt's Last Wintersday popped up in the launcher I thought the name sounded familiar. As I progressed through the storyline and reached Droobert's descent into alcoholism in the tender care of the Lion's Arch skritt an image came back to me.

Wasn't Droobert the quaggan sot we first discovered slumped outside the door of the bar in Dry Top, begging for change to dampen his endless thirst? Why, yes it was, as the ending of the Twine tale revealed or, at least, hinted heavily.

There are a lot of quaggans. I can't say I keep up with them all. Some I remember because they are so very, very annoying, like the one in Frostgorge Sound that yelps and moos about "Icebrood attacking Moshpoipoi" or whatever the infantile name of his ludicrous village is supposed to be.

Others stand out for the sheer effort the writers have expended on them, the prime example of which would have to be that increasingly desperate couple harried from map to map by Scarlet and her invading armies. They reminded me of Unlucky Alf from The Fast Show, harmless, inoffensive, hated by the fates. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Reddit remembers Drooburt but I'm afraid I didn't, though I guess I should have. I was there outside Martinus' unnamed bar, handing the down and out amphibian a few silver during his brief and controversial stint as a gold sink. I can just about recall being taken aback by his horrific death, when Mordrem vines overran Prosperity, Dry Top's oh-so-ironically named mining town. If nothing else, I really should have remembered his celebrated return as a ghost at Halloween - I must have seen him reprise that performance not three months ago.

I was at least able to summon up some vague shreds of familiarity as I worked my way through his retrospective. Mrs Bhagpuss couldn't even remember who he was when reminded. I don't see that as any kind of indictment on the quality of the writing, though.

Rather it suggests to me something I've felt about GW2 since the outset. The real strength of the franchise lies not in the mechanics of the gameplay and even less in the grandiose overarching narratives about Dragons and Demi-Gods. It lies in the breadth and depth of the world-building; all those small lives that vanish in the middle distance.

Syp was eulogizing today about the storytelling brilliance of a wagon ride in WoW. I agree. If we're talking story then this is what I come to MMOs looking for and I welcome it wherever it's found.

Although I have to say, given the choice, I'd prefer to get my slices of life in the game itself.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, too. GW2 was good at creating the little NPCs you cared about - it was one of the best parts of the game and the Living Story (mostly season 1) for me. Small details that changed made the world feel more alive - and I did remember who Droobert was before you went into more detail, though I haven't played in over a year. :)

    I think I remember more about these little NPCs than I do the Rox/Brahm/whatstheirnames from the Living Story. Just never really got on board with that team, so I guess that's where the game lost my interest with story. It's a shame, though, because I know there's world builders behind all this that really think about the details and love Tyria.


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