Breaking Bad is one of my favorite television shows. Matter of fact, I would go on record as to call it one of the best shows of all time. It is simply fantastic.
A couple of seasons ago, there was an episode titled “Half Measures“. During this episode there was a long monologue by one of the characters (Mike, played by the great character actor Jonathan Banks). In this monologue Mike talks about a situation he was in when he was a beat cop.
In short, he found himself constantly called out to one certain address where he would find a wife who had been severely beaten by her husband. After going there one too many times, he had finally had enough and, on the way to the police station with the husband, he pulled to the side of the road, got the husband out of the car, placed a gun to his head and told him that if he ever beat his wife again his life would be ended right there on the side of the road. Of course, Mike found himself called back to the same house a few weeks later to find the wife beaten to death.
The moral of the story, according to Mike, was that by not killing the husband when he had the chance he took a “half measure” when he should have taken a “full measure”. By holding back and not going all the way, he doomed the wife to die.
One year ago, Trion was kind enough to fly me to their studios in San Fransisco to interview them and take a tour of the studios. One of the things that I heard about while on the trip was how Rift changed from his original inception of “Heroes of Telara” to the Rift that we finally saw on release day. In its original version, Rift was much closer to Guild Wars 2 than it ended up being. Dynamic Events were originally able to change the world in a much bigger way than what we see in modern-day Rift, where they are only a temporary change. As time went on, Trion decided that the original idea would not make for a good MMO and changed everything, instead layering a pseudo-dynamic event on top of the standard WoW-style quest hub world.
By making the decision to keep the standard quest-hub to quest-hub style MMO Trion had to dramatically throttle down the effect that the Rifts could have on the open world. Anyone who has played Rift can see why. How many times have Rifts and invasions gotten in the way of your leveling? If you have played Rift a lot, probably more than a few times. When your number one option to level is the standard MMO quest-hub to quest-hub style, then anything that interferes with that can be a nuisance. No longer could a Rift take over a quest hub for an extended period because it would make leveling too difficult. The dynamic events originally envisioned, the ones that could radically change the world, were instead changed to events that had only a small and temporary effect on the world.
Simply put, Trion decided to scale back their original vision so that they could keep the standard MMO trappings that we have all known since WoW reared its head back in 2004. In short, they took the “Half Measure”.
Guild Wars 2 is also selling itself through its dynamic events. The same ideas that made “Heroes of Telara” so compelling are present throughout Guild Wars 2 but, where Trion scaled them back, ArenaNet looks to have embraced them. They went the Full Measure. Instead of keeping the hub to hub, quest to quest MMO style that we are so used to, they threw out quests altogether. They are making the dynamic events the star of the show. They are attempting to revolutionize the way players look at leveling, classes and the endgame.
By throwing out questing, they can make their dynamic events have real and permanent consequences in the world. They don’t have to worry that their newest dynamic event might inconvenience a player trying to get their quests done because the events are the quests. They have a chance to take their dynamic event system further than Trion does.
Now, I can not say for sure that ArenaNet has done more with their event system than Trion did with Rift because the game is not out. But I can say that without quests they certainly have more room to do more. Only time will tell.
One last thing, I want to bring up. ArenaNet has gambled much more on their dynamic events than Trion did with their system. If the Rifts and invasions were a dud in Rift, you are still left with a very solid WoW-style MMO. One that would have been moderately successful even without the dynamic-events. However, if the dynamic events in GW2 are not fun, or boring or don’t work, well, you are left with nothing at all. The events are GW2 and without them you have very little.
Yes, ArenaNet took the “Full Measure” but sometimes the full measure doesn’t work out the way you want it to…..
Just ask Walter White.