For gaming geeks, this will probably be of interest. For everyone else, maybe not. I’ll put it under the fold so it won’t cause too much distress for non-gaming readers.
This is an example of the difference between a traditional MMO quest and a dynamic event in GW2, by Eric Flannum:
You see, we’ve been running some brand new players through Guild Wars 2 in some very targeted focus tests lately to see how they’ll react to the world we’ve created. Some of these players have been strongly conditioned by years of MMO playing to look specifically for quest bangs over the heads of NPCs and ignore everything else. We have found that at first, they tend to ignore the events going on in the world. They might run right past a fisherman imploring passersby to kill a marauding Drake Broodmother and they might even run by a wheat field being burned to ground by bandits.
Eventually it will start dawning on them that something different is going on in this game. One of our testers, upon seeing a huddle of sick villagers standing around a poisoned well, made the comment, “I feel like someone is trying to tell me something.” She ran down into the valley and noticed that the irrigation towers that water the fields were pumping out a green noxious liquid and that the fields were being overrun with grubs living off of the poisoned water. When she reached a giant water reservoir brimming over with noxious poison, she said, “Ah, this is where my peeps are being poisoned.” She immediately looked around the area for some solution to the crisis, found a waterworks worker who knew how to remedy the solution, and helped him do it. Once the reservoir had been cleansed, the villagers got better, the irrigators stopped spewing poison, and the grubs started to die. She received a nice reward of XP, gold, and karma for helping out.
All of this occurred without her accepting a single quest, and our tester got a nice heroic story about how her character helped save an entire village. Of course, she arrived somewhere in the middle of the event chain — she didn’t even find out what caused the poisoning in the first place. This particular tester was satisfied that she had helped the poisoned villagers, and didn’t go looking deeper for what had caused the poison in the first place. However, if she had wanted to look deeper, she could talk to some of the inhabitants of the area and learn that they’ve been having problems with bandits who inhabit a nearby cave system. She might even have learned that these bandits poisoned the water reservoir. Now it would be up to her to decide whether or not she wanted to go into the bandit caves and try to stop them further or even stick around and defend the reservoir in case the bandits tried anything else.