Content of our Own

One day, there will be no new news. For now, specialization details have dominated social media, Lion’s Arch is being rebuilt, and the Heart of Thorns release grows ever closer. While players across the spectrum are excited, eagerly awaiting the moment when they can roll a revenant, pick a specialization, master hang-gliding, and take the fight to Mordremoth, new end-game content does not depend solely on ArenaNet. Every day, the community comes up with its own content. And it’s a good thing, too, because official content will only sustain the game for so long. Inevitably, there will come a moment in time when there is nothing new; the game, by nature, is finite, and the story will end.

The End Awaits

Yet, the Guild Wars community I know is not limited to ArenaNet-created content. While not modded outright as some games are, Guild Wars invites the creative to play with the game and explore the boundaries of the world that the developers made. Our player base is unabashedly imaginative in their creation of new content. A recent news post by freelance writer Anatoli Ingram highlighted some of the boundless creativity our community holds. Examples of community-created content can also be found in the game as creative gameplay, which existed as early as Guild Wars Prophecies. The Legendary Defender of Ascalon (LDoA) – a misnomer, as for a number of years the only way to earn the title was through dying repeatedly – is one of the more interesting examples of this.

Eternal Legendary Defender in the Hall of Monuments

Eternal Legendary Defender of Ascalon in the Hall of Monuments

Prophecies players began life in an idyllic setting, the last perfect day before the war with the charr destroyed the kingdom of Ascalon. On a normal playthrough, characters would leave this tutorial area before reaching level 10 and progress to the main content. Yet, a large number of players returned to the tutorial area, known as pre-Searing, and created characters that never left; characters fittingly enough known as perma-pre. Additionally, players discovered that it was possible, through an exploitation of game mechanics, to progress to level 20—the first game’s level cap—without ever leaving. Once ArenaNet realized what players were doing, they introduced the title Legendary Defender of Ascalon, awarding it to the dedicated players who reached max level in the tutorial area. Even now, players still reside in pre-Searing Ascalon, dedicated to the community they created there.

The LDoA title acts as an example of the developers embracing the community-created game content. Other pastimes led to a more antagonistic relationship between the players and developers. As developers worked through the delicate rebalancing needed to maintain skills and builds, they disrupted several specialized builds that max-level characters used in their own self-created content – that of running. In the original game, these “runners” dedicated themselves to fine-tuning a build in order to solo dangerous areas and taxi lower-level characters, or those unwilling to chance death, to high-level outposts. Perhaps the most famous – or infamous – of these runs was that between Beacon Perch and Droknar’s Forge. Players reaching Beacon’s Perch could hire a runner to take them to the southernmost Shiverpeaks outpost where max-level armor could be had for enough gold. Other runs included tours of Eye of the North and the Crystal Desert. The builds and character classes favored by the community were constantly changing as ArenaNet reworked and rebalanced skill functionality. But dedicated veterans continued to hone their craft and retool their builds.

Beacon’s Perch from Lornar’s Pass – Say goodbye to civilization.

In the second game, the Guild Wars community continues to create its own content. Some ideas for what to do next have proven more disagreeable than others. The Queensdale champion train fomented poor sportsmanship, though the idea of hopping from one champion to the next continues in both the world boss train – complete with community-created timers – and champion trains in high-level areas. The champion trains hint at other specialized player-generated ideas, such as farming runs. One example of this, Black Lion Chest Key farming was a fast way for dedicated players to collect the Black Lion keys through gameplay by starting a new character and playing through to the end of the first story arc, which awards a key. Prior to the introduction of the New Player Experience (NPE) in September 2014, a single run took less than an hour to complete. Post NPE, key farming continues, albeit at a slower pace.

Less exploitative content abounds as well. For example, an open world bathed in extensive lore lends itself to role-playing, and dedicated communities and guilds can be found in many corners of the game world. For role-players, the world ArenaNet created has become the setting for myriad stories beyond those of the Living World. The characters they create live lives beyond the personal story and the fight against Zhaitan that ArenaNet first provided. Additionally, many veteran players probably have self-imposed challenges or guild-based games that we play; content of our own that makes use of the world ArenaNet created without being limited by the content they have provided.

Knowing of my interesting ability to wander in circles while playing the game and never really getting anywhere, a friend of mine recently challenged me to level a character to 80 without leaving the starting zone and without using boosters, but with the ability to enter just one city and craft. This immediately brought to mind my own quest for an LDoA title so many years ago and the perma-pre character I had left behind.

A new perma-pre, resurrected at the gates of Ascalon – her home now overrun with charr.

Feeling nostalgic, I accepted her challenge and resurrected my perma-pre from Guild Wars. Because she was human but once a perma-pre, I garnered permission to move the poor dear from Queensdale to the Plains of Ashford for the sake of continuity. She’s at level 6 and counting. This challenge and the resurrection of my perma-pre started me thinking about the content players create on their own and I’d be interested in learning what games or challenges you have created.

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