By John Stumme July 1st, 2010 I am a legend. I have beheld the countless wonders of these lands. I have stood against the greatest of threats, and I have watched them fall before me. I have walked the path of a hero…and I am in need of a vacation. And that, my friend, is where activities come in. The world of Guild Wars 2 is incredibly vast. Between following your personal story, participating in events with other players, exploring dungeons, engaging in PvP battles, there’s no shortage of cool stuff to do. But we’re not stopping there. Too many MMOs are satisfied with basing their game content solely on “This is your sword. This is its pointy end. Now go stick it in things until your numbers don’t go up anymore.” Wait a second—aren’t MMOs supposed to be set in a virtual world? Surely we do more than just go to work or school in real life, so shouldn’t we have options in our games too? In Guild Wars 2, you have those options. In the capital cities of the five playable races, you’ll find a variety of fun activities that are unique to each location. These are our mini-games, and they cover a wide range of game styles. Are you looking to prove yourself against others in tests of skill? Sure, we’ve got that. How about team based games? Yeah, we’ve got those, too. What about an out-of-control free-for-all? You’d better believe we’ve got that too. No matter your interests, you’ll find an activity that appeals to you, and best of all, activities aren’t restricted by level. A new character is going to be just as effective at playing an activity as a max-level character with all of the best gear that the game has to offer. Activities offer us an exciting chance to engage in one of a designer’s favorite pastimes: breaking things. These mini-games let us use the existing rules and mechanics of Guild Wars 2 in different and interesting ways, or they let us throw the established mechanics out the window entirely for the sake of creating something new! For example, let’s talk about the bar brawl, because that’s something I see continuously getting talked about on the forums whenever we mention it. First, understand that Guild Wars 2 is a game about working together with people towards shared, common goals—whether they are close friends, or total strangers. Our game is built around making cooperative play an easy, enjoyable, and natural experience. This is not the bar brawl. The bar brawl is, quite literally, all about downing an ale and breaking the empty bottle over someone else’s head. Ales come in several different flavors, each conveying different effects when consumed—for example, Grenth’s Grog goes down easy but comes up rough, allowing the player to belch out a noxious gas cloud. As you might imagine, this burp cloud is unhealthy to anyone foolish enough to get close, as well as unattractive to prospective dates. Be careful when imbibing ale! As characters become increasingly more drunk, their chance to land a critical hit rises…as well as their chance to totally miss with attacks. In the bar brawl, players can choose to throw an ale bottle to stun someone, or use it as a makeshift bludgeoning object. Bottles have a chance to break on impact, but if that happens, the fun isn’t over yet—you can use your broken bottle to shank people! Maybe ale isn’t your thing and you’d prefer to use a weapon that’s a little closer at hand—what’s a brawl without being able to punch someone? Outside weapons aren’t allowed in the bar brawl, so you’ll have to rely on your fists and feet a lot. Kick someone into a table, splintering it into pieces, then send another opponent flying by swatting them with one of the boards from the broken table. Use your surroundings to your advantage! If you see someone else engaged in a fight,why not be the opportunist and chuck a keg at them from behind? There’s no teamwork here; you’re in it for yourself, and just like an actual brawl, you’re encouraged to fight dirty in order to win. You might ask yourself, doesn’t that sound like it’s running counter to the cooperative spirit of Guild Wars 2? OK, even if you didn’t ask yourself, I’ll answer for you: no, not at all. Guild Wars 2 is about having fun, first and foremost. We have created such a wide range of content and activities that you can find something to do regardless of your play style or mood. If you’re not interested in playing an activity centered on kill-stealing and fighting dirty, then there are plenty of other activities out there for you to enjoy. Maybe you’re in the mood for a more arcade-style game? Try your hand at the shooting range, where you’ll compete against other players to rack up the highest score before time runs out. This activity isn’t just about being the quickest on the draw—you’ll have different abilities like firing a spread shot or an attack that can pierce through multiple targets in a row. You can’t use these special abilities often, so you’ll have to tactically use them at the right time. But you’d better think fast, or someone else might take the shot for you! Perhaps you’re in the mood for some good, clean (occasionally yellow-tinged) fun? Then you might enjoy revisiting a time-honored Guild Wars tradition, the snowball fight! A Tyrian tradition for over 250 years, snowball fights just goes to show you that even the looming threat of the Elder Dragons isn’t enough to break the spirit of the people. Just remember: if you let go of the precious little joys in life, you’re letting the dragons win. Those are just a few examples of some of the activities we’ll be offering. We understand that each activity won’t be for everyone, and rather than shy away from that, it’s something that we’ve embraced. A bar brawl should feel like a proper bar brawl, or else why bother having it? We believe designers should know firmly what kind of game they’re making and invest themselves in making it the best that it can be. As soon as one begins to compromise integrity for accessibility, you run a very real risk of watering down content and creating bland, unengaging activities. In Guild Wars 2, we’ve crafted unique activities for you to experience, and part of the fun lies in traveling from city to city and trying them all. As an asura, you might find that you particularly excel at a rough-and-tumble norn sport. Whether activities are a pit stop on your path to greatness, a way to unwind with friends at the end of a long adventure, or something challenging to master, Guild Wars 2 has something to offer you. Whatever your interest, we’ve got your game.