After last week's outcry for mounts, The Scrying Pool looks at how they could be implemented in Guild Wars 2.
Welcome back to the second article in ZAM's weekly Guild Wars 2 column: The Scrying Pool. If you missed the first article you can still find it here. You can read about the mysterious Sylvari and what stories could come to pass.
In the first article I said that I have no insider information, a statement that I want to make clear during these first few articles, and that nothing here is destined to come to Guild Wars 2. Also mentioned is that this column will be taking a “What If” look at lore and story, as in the first article, but also at game mechanics which is what this article will focus on.
Last week ArenaNet released January's content patch teaser page. As with all of the teaser pages so far, a new concept art was released related to the new content. The story behind the Flame & Frost series is a group Charr and Norn refugees displaced by some unknown disaster in the north. As such the concept art depicts a large group of people along with horses and pack animals laden with belongings leaving their homes in a convoy.
This concept art caught the eye of some of the community who starting crying that this was proof that mounts were coming to Guild Wars 2. In the foreground you can see a horse and Norn which players thought was concept depicting a mounted Norn. ArenaNet developers and community managers took to the forums to quash these rumors of mounts.
If there are no plans for mounts, why is there a mounted Norn in the concept art? Some wrote that ArenaNet is trying to keep mounts secret and others claimed artist's interpretation, but further inspection of the concept art revealed that the Norn isn't even mounted. The only piece of evidence to mounts coming to Guild Wars 2 isn't actually evidence at all.
With the only evidence gone and ArenaNet stating that no mounts are planned, will we ever see mounts in Tyria? Well no, probably not. But could there be a place for mounts in Guild Wars 2? Maybe, but it wouldn't be your typical mount system.
Most games that have mounts either launched with them already implemented or were designed with the plan that mounts would be added post-launch. Guild Wars 2 did not have mounts in at launch and there are still no plans to add them five months after launch.
This does not rule out mounts, but since none of the zones and mob densities was set up to allow for mounts it could lead to problems both mechanically and from a game play perspective. Sure events and mob density can be adjusted (with a good chunk of man-hours), but changing entire map terrain just to allow mounts is a lot of work. Some of you may be thinking that the maps wouldn't need to change, but imagine trying to ride a mount through the rocky terrain in Lornar's Pass.
To give an example, World of Warcraft added flying mounts with the Burning Crusade expansion. There is a distinct difference in the size of the maps between Vanilla and BC to accommodate this new flying transportation, a size which has carried over to every each expansion since. It wasn't until Cataclysm changed Vanilla that players were able to fly through those zones. The Vanilla maps were not designed for flying mounts so they were originally kept out of those zones.
Some of you may be getting where I'm going with this. If World of Warcraft could design the new expansion maps to accommodate flying mounts, why couldn't Guild Wars 2 do the same with some expansion down the road?
They could, but then players would probably complain how the Vanilla maps can't have mounts and try to convince the devs to allow them there. That would just bring this full circle to the problems of adding mounts to the current maps. So adding the ability to use mounts to every new zone would not be ideal, but what if there were only certain maps that would allow mounts?