What if Guild Halls could fly?

With Guild Wars 2 coming out later this month I wanted to do a blog series in the weeks leading up to the launch.  This series is not meant as a telling of facts but more of a What If for things that could happen in Guild Wars 2 after its initial launch. This What If is not going to be any kind of “What if GW2 fails!?” but what if they add this feature or this event happens in the lore. This first article is directed at guild halls in Guild Wars 2.

Last year at PAX Prime a panel of ArenaNet developers talked briefly about guilds and one of the things mentioned were guild halls.  Eric Flannum commented that there would be no guild halls at release, that they wanted to make guild halls a great experience and not just a “place”.

At Gamescom 2011 ArenaNet released a new trailer for GW2 which ended with a fleet of airships floating up into the sky. A few months after Gamescom I was talking in a chat room when the conversation started on the airships.  I joked about maybe they could make the guild halls be airships.  Then I started to think, what if guild halls could actually fly?

In a Q&A at the same Gamescom, Eric Flannum answered a question of what the role of airships would be. He answered that there would not be any individual airships that players could fly and that airships wouldn’t be used as any kind of transportation.  At some point during our personal story quests and eventual confrontation with Zhaitan (the undead Dragon located somewhere in Orr) we would be mounting up on these airships and would take the fight to the skies.

The fact that we are going to be using the airships in the story at launch, but that guild halls will be added later is a great fit for making the airships into guild halls.  From a lore point of view the player will go through his or her story, possibly even helping build up this fleet of airships, then after the dragon is defeated your guild takes an airship for their own.  If the Guild Airships were available at launch, then the introduction to the ships in the storyline wouldn’t have as big of an impact.  With the Guild Airships arriving late, it helps build upon the storyline and gives a bit of lore to the guild halls.  This guild defeated Zhaitan and earned itself the right to take an airship as a reward. These Guild Airships probably wouldn’t require defeating Zhaitan, but it sets itself up nicely from that lore perspective.

In the original Guild Wars, guild halls had two main uses. The first use was as a location that members of the guild could go to hang out and use the NPCs that the guild added to their hall. Guild Airships in GW2 could have these same uses. The influence a guild earns could be used to expand the airships and npcs that are located there. Looking at the influence categories, Architecture is a little short on the number of upgrades which would be the perfect category for upgrading an airship. Even with this the airship would still just be a place and not an experience, which is what ArenaNet is wanting to create with their guild halls.

The second use for guild halls in Guild Wars was as the map where Guild vs Guild matches would take place. While ArenaNet has commented that they were not planning on initially putting Guild vs. Guild into GW2, having Airship vs Airship battles would certainly be an interesting experience. Imagine manning cannons to weaken the opposing guild’s airship before boarding for the real fight.  Or maybe there is a floating Asuran island in the sky that the airships would dock with. This island map could incorporate the three capture points found in structured PvP and have either cannons that can fired from the airships or airship captains that may be killed for more points. The one thing I didn’t like about the guild halls in the Guild Wars was that when you were not in GvG like 90% of the guild hall map was not being used. With airships and this island map idea, you wouldn’t have the unused map space since the island would not be part of your guild hall but your guild hall would still be used in the GvG match.

To add on to creating a great experience for guild halls they could also add mini-games to the airship. This isn’t some revolutionary idea, especially after how well received Keg Brawl was received after the third Beta Weekend Event. This does however highlight a significant bonus to having airships being the guild hall. Airships can move!

In Guild Wars you were able to select which guild hall you wanted, which essentially let you pick the scenery for the hall. With Guild Airships maybe you pick a style of airship and then pick which type of map you want to fly over. If your guild likes the look of the Shiverpeak Mountains you could have it fly over them, or maybe the Crystal Desert if that’s your thing.

Now to bring it back to the mini-games, since Keg Brawl was instanced I am going to assume that all mini-games are going to be instanced (which makes sense if you think of how many people could be playing the mini-games at any moment). Even if you pick to be flying over the Shiverpeak Mountains, the mini-game instance could show your airship flying over the Sea of Sorrows where you play Duck Hunter… with a cannon! Then it could fly you over Kryta where you play a skydiving mini-game. My point is that airships allow for multiple unique experiences that you could not get with static locations that you would get with a normal guild hall. Even if you want static mini-games or events, you can fit those on the ships. Thinking of carnival games, you could play ring toss just as well on an airship as you can on the streets of Divinity’s Reach. Heck, maybe you could have other guild members capable of “rocking the boat” to try and mess up your toss to add a community experience to it.

To finish off, those who don’t like the idea of instanced housing where everyone lives on the same plot of land through instancing would enjoy Guild Airships.  While the airships would be instanced, the impression can be given that there are tons of airships in the sky it is just that the sky is so big that you don’t run into any other ship. Just think of it like riding an airplane and how you don’t see another plane in the sky until you get close to your airport. Again it gives a reason in the lore for these to fit into the world.

So to sum up the article, I like the idea of Guild Airships because the fit in with the lore of the game, they allow for interesting PvP experiences, and they allow for unique locales as well the ability for a wider array of mini-game possibilities.

Check out the next article in the series: What if there is a Sixth Dragon?

Author: Mattsta

I recently earned a BS in Game Art and Design and write for ZAM.com including my weekly Guild Wars 2 column The Scrying Pool.