2011: The Year in Guild Wars 2

2011 is over. Out the door. Whoosh. As arch-curmudgeon editor here at GuildMag, I’m here to bring you an overview of how Guild Wars 2 developed over the year.

Sadly, there was nothing worth noting—no follow-ups to Bobby Stein’s House (of) Style post from 2010. Surely the 16th Edition of the Chicago Manual of Style brought desk-rattling changes to the writing staff and challenged their very core beliefs? Perhaps they’re keeping a lid on the bitter war among the Order of Whispers, Durmand Priory, and the Vigil over the serial comma? That must be it.

Wulp, there you have it. The year in Guild Wars 2 as brought to you by the editor. See you next year.

CORRECTION: We may have overlooked a couple things in the original post. Included below are the blog posts, events, and updates that have helped make Guild Wars 2 one of the most anticipated games. We regret the error.

in which the old is out and the new is in

ArenaNet began the year by celebrating their 10-year anniversary and released a retrospective video.

They added their own twist to the Rule of Cool by introducing the Kodan; instead of something being so cool we’re willing to suspend disbelief, the Kodan came about (according to Jeff Grubb) because some concept art was just too cool and had to be written into the world. No suspension of disbelief necessary!

And on a sadder note, an old friend retired. Blue Mace Lady, her services no longer needed to mystify the fanbase, packed up her bludgeoning implements and made room for her replacement, the guardian. Hope the year treated you well, ma’am.

in which we didn’t pay attention because our hearts were stolen by a heavily armored asura

The guardian! Wow! Being the first profession not returning from Guild Wars, one thing was clear: This ain’t your grandsire’s GW anymore. Hammering that point home, Jon Peters wrote about the game’s combat and subversion of the dreaded Holy Trinity.

Next was the first of undoubtedly many—or five, depending on your math skills—week-long features focusing on the playable races. Not only offering a wealth of information and goodies, it gave fans much more excitement to look forward to: here were five more things we could count down on the road to release. One down!

Norn Week followed in the fashion Human Week set for race weeks to come, from lore and worldbuilding to writing and visual design. Fans were given a taste of what they might see in the new demo at PAX East.

in which scores of fans get to play Guild Wars 2 and a 6 is not pressed

In the buildup to PAX East and its demo, the newly revealed thief showed us how far ArenaNet can push their game—how all professions, given their own tools and same (lack of) constraints, can let the player develop their own playstyle. The thief promised to turn everything upside down.

Of particular interest to, like, everyone, was the blog post on the game’s crafting system. Everyone who wasn’t sighing with relief was squeeing.

Then PAX East happened and everyone was dazzled.

Shortly after, our old friend the hylek returned. Heket? He’s always the same fellow.

in which ArenaNet shows how serious they really are

Something was a little off about the commando. Sure it was an April Fools’ Day joke, but somehow it fell a bit short of being so completely ridiculous that you could almost believe it. Maybe it was that it was actually worked into the story of the games. Maybe we just wanted to believe. I, for one, hope to see Corporal Bane again. I can think of a job for him now that Dhuum’s gone…

Returning to the realm of the definitely-not-kidding, ArenaNet told us about the skritt. No other minor race shows ArenaNet’s ingenuity as well as these little rat folks do. Rat people are a staple in fantasy worlds, and rats are the bane of many RPG players. Rats are one-tenth of an albatross. Yet, the skritt are unique, their society is a little mind-blowing, and they command the player’s sympathy. Not an easy task.

Charr Week came later in the month. Another big task, another high wall to—uhh, bad analogy. How will the most iconic race of Guild Wars appear in the sequel? What will it feel like to be one? Amazing and amazing.

Finally, a feature on yet another thing Guild Wars 2 will surely be known for: environment art.

in which—say it ain’t so!—the fanbase is split

Ah lovely springtime, the perfect time for ArenaNet to freak us the crap out with their tales of the krait. They were bad enough in the first game just be being really tough enemies—now they have beliefs.

Following the guardian and thief, the engineer appeared as the third new profession. While surely an exciting profession to play, its real impact was to reiterate how far technology has come in the 250 years since the end of Eye of the North. It removed any doubt that ArenaNet would hesitate to make bold changes to the world and, most importantly, follow through with them.

In May we also saw the two hard-working and creative winners of the ambassador contest. Their videos won them a trip to ArenaNet HQ in Soggytown, USA. Stayed tuned, this little subplot isn’t over!

in which we avoid the sun

It wasn’t the first time we learned about the quaggan, not nobody would complain about meeting them again for the first time.

June ended with a series of looks into two as-yet obscured regions of the game: underwater combat and dungeons. All at once dispelling fears that they would be like other games and promising to go above and beyond expectations, ArenaNet gave us a preview of where we’ll be spending a good portion of our time. And to top it off, we saw the impressive cinematic for the Ascalon Catacombs dungeon.

in which I’ve never felt so indulged or proud to be a Guild Wars fan

You wouldn’t know it by glancing at the list here, but July turned out to be the most exciting and busiest month (for fans and ArenaNet both). The Community Open House was a brilliant show of love to Guild Wars fans and community members. Reading tweets and blog posts throughout was so thrilling and nearly overwhelming, and that’s only as a spectator!

in which the sylvari make a splash and even more people get to play Guild Wars 2

The month began with a series of posts and videos on the technical aspects of sound design. Interesting behind-the-scenes material of course.

Following that was one of the biggest weeks of the entire year: Sylvari Week. The wait had been long and the expectations high for the coming redesign, and the results were stunning. The redesign—in particular Kristen Perry’s post on their new artistic direction—garnered attention from all over. People’s fascination with the sylvari inspired many new voices in the community expressing their interest and enthusiasm for the game.

Also notable was the nonchalant description in Angel Leigh McCoy’s post of the sylvari’s dismissal of gender roles in relationships. Now more than ever, gamers and game makers need to show responsibility for where they fit and how they affect the social spaces of all gamers. This daring, subtle, and touching statement of inclusion was a moment worthy of the highest praise.

In gearing up for the coming demos at Gamescom and PAX Prime, ArenaNet offered substantial information on PvP and revealed one competitive map, The Battle of Khylo.

The month ended in an international whirlwind of conventions at Gamescom and PAX Prime. Featured in the demos were PvP, the charr starting area, the opportunity to play as high-level sylvari or asura, and the frightening Tequatl the Sunless.

in which disarming cuteness and menacing intelligence dare you to make a short joke

Asura Week was, as far as I’m concerned, a chance for Grubb, Soesbee, et al. to show off. It was a week of silliness, technobabble, subterfuge, and determinist ethics. Asura are the best. Don’t argue.

in which we got Pre-Searing music stuck in our head again

Our old friends the grawl made an appearance, wrapping up the minor race features for the year. We learned how some things advance between the two games, and others, like the grawl, just develop.

in which everyone is going to look fantastic

November’s offering was an update on the conversation scenes. These posts explained some of the techy stuff that goes on during dialogue, which will be an important thing in the game. It’s where everything comes together: the story, the art, and your character and personal story.

in which mesmer

Purple. $%#&#. Butterflies.

A massive interview on Reddit gave fans plenty to mull over for the holiday break, including news that closed beta would be starting in December. Congratulations to ArenaNet for hitting this milestone! It was a thrilling end to an exciting year.

LittleBoat is on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/looocas

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