Content Designer Matthew Medina Alphabets of GW2

Discussion in 'Game Discussion' started by Aspira, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. Offline

    Aspira Admin Officer


    By Matthew Medina June 21st, 2010

    First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Medina, and I’m one of the content designers at ArenaNet – which is just a fancy way of saying that I’m one of the people that create “cool stuff for players to do.” I’d like to take this opportunity to let players in on one of the things that I, and a number of our other team members, have been working on in order to give players the aforementioned cool stuff.

    Hopefully by now everyone has noticed that ArenaNet has been very, very busy crafting an incredible game in Guild Wars 2, and hopefully everyone has also noticed the more recent trend of team members communicating directly with our fans about the game’s development right here on this very blog. As a part of our ongoing effort to lift the veil on some of the aspects of the development of Guild Wars 2, I wanted to give everyone some details on one of the ways that we’ll be injecting a subtle, but hopefully rewarding element of lore into the game. Specifically, I wanted to talk more about the written languages of Tyria and how they will be used in Guild Wars 2.

    Sure, it may not be as dramatic as our dynamic event system, or as sexy as the customizable personal storylines, but as a deep admirer of lore and storytelling in games (and since I’m a huge nerd and proud of it), it’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart.

    The writing systems in Guild Wars 2 have deep roots in the original Guild Wars and its subsequent campaigns. I have a passion for creating languages and symbols, so as a member of the art team for the original Guild Wars: Prophecies, I took the initiative and crafted a simple runic cipher script for a map that I created for post-searing Ascalon. I didn’t really expect anything to come out of it, but to my surprise, some dedicated players found the map, and working together, they translated the runes and “discovered” the alphabet I had used (a twist on ancient Phoenician). I was incredibly flattered that a number of players had taken such an interest in something that I was also passionate about. Inspired by this, I created other alphabets and writing systems for subsequent campaigns. Sure enough, groups of eager individuals fervently turned their attention to deciphering the new written languages.


    When we started development on Guild Wars 2 (thanks in part to the incredible enthusiasm of our lore aficionados) I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have a fully integrated set of writing systems that would include all the written languages we already have, plus a couple of new ones. After speaking with our writers and designers, who were really excited by the prospects of this level of immersion, I set to work collecting our existing alphabets, crafting new ones, and setting guidelines for the written languages that players will discover in Guild Wars 2.

    A recent batch of screenshots gave people their first glimpse of these efforts, by featuring examples of writing on a sandwich board and a carnival sign. However, what we’ve revealed in those screenshots is just the tip of the iceberg. Translatable writing systems, both old and new, will be prevalent throughout Tyria!

    When you browse through the market stalls in Divinity’s Reach, all manner of signs and posters will be calling for your attention, and vendors such as the cloud candy stand and the potion maker will advertise their specials. As you delve deep into the ruins of Old Ascalon, you may find distressed runes that tell of heroic exploits of ages long past. In a grand laboratory within Rata Sum, you could come across notes about fiendishly difficult mathemagical formulae written by a crazed asura elementalist. You may even be the first to discover an ancient language that until now had been lost to history – will you be the one to translate it?


    In addition to the Ascalonian runes from Guild Wars: Prophecies, select Canthan logograms from Guild Wars: Factions, and asuran script from Guild Wars: Eye of the North, players will have the opportunity to read and translate examples of two new writing systems in Guild Wars 2. New Krytan is the alphabet most prevalent in the time of Guild Wars 2; it’s the alphabet we used to create the signs seen in recent screenshots (see below for the history of this new alphabet). The other language will remain our secret for now, but rest assured that if you see writing in Guild Wars 2, you’ll almost certainly be capable of reading it.

    This brings me to an important point you need to know about the various writing systems that will be featured in Guild Wars 2: Deciphering these alphabets will be 100%, completely optional. That’s right: optional.

    We fully understand that there will likely only be a small minority of players who will actively participate in a feature like this, but we trust that all players will appreciate the feeling of authenticity that such details lend the world, and hopefully recognize the passion that we have in creating a rich fantasy world, complete with ancient scripts and mysterious languages. We have established reasonable guidelines for using these writing systems so that players who enjoy immersing themselves in this kind of fantasy element can do so, without creating an unnecessary burden on players who don’t enjoy that level of detail.

    That’s all that I have to say about the written languages of Guild Wars 2 at this time, but I would like to leave you with a brief history of the New Krytan alphabet – something to hopefully tide you over until the next update. Feel free to send follow-up questions to our great community team.

Share This Page