By Curtis Johnson August 3rd, 2010 My name is Curtis Johnson, and I’m one of the designers on Guild Wars 2. In addition to watching Colin Johanson master the “sandwichmancer” profession, one of the things we try to do is to turn even simple parts of the game, like NPC interaction, into valuable player experiences. I think of it this way: the difference between a really good movie and a really good game should be you, the player. In a game, you don’t want to just click through the scenes and have things happen to you, you want to be a significant character within the fictional world that moves the plot forward in your own way. The question is, what kind of character will you be? One of the core elements of a role playing game should be the role you play, meaning how you interact with the world and its inhabitants. When I say “role,” I don’t mean a combat role, such as fighter, support, or magic user; I mean being allowed to express your attitude and personality. In persistent game worlds, NPCs commonly get all the good lines and dialogue, and the player character is more of a flat character that is passing through with very fixed or very little emotion. Usually, it’s hard to role play in a massively multiplayer role playing game because the game doesn’t really support it. In Guild Wars 2, we’re going even further to make the out-of-combat experience a role playing experience by introducing “personality” as a player character role. How you respond to other characters develops and changes your personality over time, letting you affect how the game treats you. Personality is your character’s attitude toward others; it grows and changes as you play through your personal story and as you adventure in the persistent world. Will you play a charming friend to all with a quick tongue and sharp wit, a dignified visionary who puts loyalty first, or a thug who solves everything with his fists? Your biography at character creation sets your starting personality, but almost immediately you will start refining your choice in dialogue with NPCs. When you decide to con a free weapon out of the local lumberjacks, that choice moves you more toward being known as a scoundrel. Inspiring some war-weary guards to carry on the fight moves you more towards being known as honorable or even noble. Perhaps you will boast and bully your way through Tyria and become known as barbaric. Your actions will sometimes allow you special responses or interactions with the world. Barbaric characters, for example, can occasionally just cut to the end of a conversation with a punch to the face. Does this mean you have to be extra careful about what conversation options you choose? Can you make mistakes and ruin your personality or miss out on cool rewards? Personality choices are entirely designed to customize the experience and have the world echo your personality but not to block you from content. Unlike story choices, your personality is constantly changing; so, while you might play the brute today, you could at any time begin to reform your ways, rally the troops, fight the good fight, and eventually go back through the same areas you had previously visited and receive different reactions from the inhabitants. Personality is one of the primary ways you will cash in on karma rewards earned by participating in events and helping other players with their personal stories. While most interactions are free or of a minimal cost, there are many opportunities to impose your personality on the world for significant reward. Doing so requires you to have earned some karma first, but it can save you a lot of gold. For example, in the persistent world you may find a norn mercenary who likes your style and decides to follow you exclusively for a while, without charging his normal fee. Along the way, you might talk a farmer into parting with some strength-granting pies, or you may even meet a local dignitary who offers to double your experience gain or boost your speed for a short time. Personality rewards can be beneficial, prestigious, and even humorous—like the farmer who is willing to give you a jar of bees to throw at your enemies. As you grow your character from your starting personality, you’ll also unlock some of the first titles available for display. Many NPCs in the game will then begin to recognize and react to you, even if you’re not talking directly to them. They may talk admiringly about you as the new hero of Queensdale, or they may cower behind their merchant stalls, afraid of your brutish ways. But what if you don’t want to read flowery language and pick from a lot of dialog? What if you just want to simply kill everything and hand in some heads for a reward? No problem! We understand that not everyone wants to hone their interpersonal skills with NPC banter, but we recognize they don’t want to miss out on all the benefits either. Well, have no fear because the most rewarding NPCs will, as an alternative, also sell their services for some gold if you haven’t developed your personality or earned enough karma. And if you truly don’t want to be bothered reading at all, we make clear the shortest path through a conversation so you can get back to the fighting. Whether you’re in it for love, legacy, or loot, Guild Wars 2’s personality system will help you get it done with charm, with dignity, with ferocity, or with something in between. After all, it is your story.