Your Next: Friendly Competition

Why GW2 news may be the EQN news you've been waiting for

This week we begin with a little trip down memory lane and a few thoughts about Guild Wars 2. I know I’m supposed to be talking about EverQuest Next and Landmark, we’ll get there really soon, I promise.

With the rumors of a Guild Wars 2 expansion looking more solid every day (at this point we’re just waiting for the official announcement), I found myself downloading the client for a trip down memory lane. After years invested in World of Warcraft, and the disappointment of Star Wars: The Old Republic, GW2 sits as my second MMO love. It’s true that it’s sweeter the second time around, but you never forget your first.

As this column goes live GW2 will be on sale at 75% off, and after the announcements at PAX South interest in the game will be peaking. I imagine many old faces will be returning to mingle with the new ones. If you’re wondering whether it’s worth your time, I definitely recommend it. It’s fast paced, fun and polished with plenty to do, and it’s really grown into itself over the last year. While there’s no shortage of things to do with other players, the traditional raiding endgame is absent, so if that’s your one and only love you’re better off looking elsewhere. No doubt there will be big things happening over the next few months, so it’s a perfect time to jump in.

Two of my favorite aspects of the game are the build system (which is beautifully elegant in design) and the combat system. Both these systems are best demonstrated in the various PvP types; the PvE content is not the best light to see them in, but it’s been this way since launch and the efficiency-obsessed corner of the community has only made the situation worse. This may be about to change though, and the reason why might interest those of you keeping a close watch on the development of EverQuest Next and Landmark.

We got to the part about EQN! If you made it this far, allow yourself a little treat as congratulations. A bon-bon, perhaps, or a glass of wine. Don’t overdo it though, there’s a few hundred words to go.

Some of us have been paying excruciatingly close attention to EQN for a while now, and we know that at one time, a company called Intrinsic Algorithm were working with Storybricks to develop their AI system for EQN. The name Dave Mark may ring a bell, and his fascinating work on utility based AI is a key component of the Storybricks foundation.

What some people may have missed is that after the relationship between Intrinsic Algorithm and Storybricks ended, Dave Mark took his work to ArenaNet, and he’s been tinkering with their systems behind the scenes ever since.

For those unsure, the concept of utility in AI is relatively straight-forward: the AI is given a set of goals, needs and wants that together form the motivations for all its actions, and by weighing the different needs and wants against each other it can come up with a solution to whatever situation it is presented with. Certain needs like ‘safety’ can be set aside if another of the desires of the AI become powerful enough for them to be disregarded. Hatred of players, for example, or the need to eat, even. Simple dynamics like these can quickly become complex if enough variables can be weighed against each other, the ultimate goal being AI that can behave in surprising ways, but always in ways that make sense.

Presumably, Mr. Mark has the same goal for GW2 as he did for EQN—creating a dynamic AI that could make decisions based on a wide variety of input. Creating more dynamic encounters would be a boon for the somewhat stagnant PvE in GW2, and will give us another window into what the system is capable of.

It’s been the stated goal of ArenaNet, since before the release of GW2, that they want to change the way people think about story in MMOs. Since we can expect EQN to start making waves again in the coming months they’ll have their work cut out to stay ahead of the curve.

For now, I’ll be happy to see the world of Tyria and the surrounding Mists continue to improve, and maybe provide a glimpse of what’s to come for MMOs as AI systems improve. Hopefully by the time EQN is ready for the public it will already have some competition as a dynamic, story driven MMORPG.


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# Jan 30 2015 at 9:04 PM Rating: Decent
So, my dream of the polearm for the Warrior is confirmed dead for this expansion? (๑◕︵◕๑)
# Jan 24 2015 at 6:15 PM Rating: Decent
EQN better hurry up then before some 1 beat them too it
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