Guild Wars Utopia
Guild Wars Utopia is the name of the cancelled campaign four, which was later adapted into Eye of the North. Its release date was expected to be April 2007. It first came to the attention of the community in April 2006, when a domain name and a trademark from June 2006 were found. An NCsoft employee referred to it as a "cancelled project" at the time, prior to the announcement of Eye of the North and Guild Wars 2. Since then, it has been confirmed that it was, in fact, campaign four in the PC Gamer Ultimate Guild Wars Guide. A small amount of information was also made available from the aforementioned guide. Some more information can be inferred from this thread, which is filled with concept art, some from the cancelled Utopia.
Production for Utopia was "well underway" in May 2006 and cancelled in "early 2007". People believe that much of the work done for Utopia was adapted for use in Eye of the North, particularly zones, outposts, heroes, and NPCs - primarily those focused in and around the Tarnished Coast.
We’re guessing you’re wondering what we’re wondering: Why mess with success? It's not as though Guild Wars isn’t a financial triumph, despite its unusual business model (it’s the only major MMO without a monthly subscription fee). It’s hardly lacking in depth (more than 1,000 skills support 10 professions, and each character has a primary and secondary profession); aesthetic appeal (lush settings recall African savannahs, ancient Asian temples, and posh Arabian castles, among other gorgeous environs); or ways for players to spend their time (ArenaNet says a “shockingly large” number of GW players have logged more than 2,000 hours of playtime). And, given that the development team has aimed to release a new campaign every six months or so (despite missing that deadline by six months for the second campaign), one might assume that every Guild Wars designer's wildest ideas have found a home somewhere between the lands of Tyria and Elona.
But, in fact, the restrictions of the every-six-months model meant the team found itself perpetually wistful over what didn't make it into the game.
“We sat down to discuss what was going to go into Campaign 4 and realized we couldn't do all the things we wanted,” says Game Designer Eric Flannum. “Why? Partly because we’d need more time [than six months], and partly because some ideas wouldn't work well with things we’d done before.”
At that point, there were still no plans to fix a system that didn’t seem broken. But ArenaNet Co-Founder Jeff Strain decided to let everyone “freestyle a little bit,” he says. “And the more we talked, the more excited we got about what we could be doing.”
What the team felt it couldn’t do was implement its exciting new ideas in the game’s current campaign-every-six-months plan. While the promise of fresh standalone content twice a year sounds great to players, its requirements have actually caused Guild Wars to become somewhat convoluted from a game-design perspective.
“With each new campaign, we’ve been trying to introduce brand-new mechanics that change how the game plays. That’s led to the need for larger and larger tutorials to explain the new mechanics, and it’s made each campaign’s beginning experience much more bloated,” explains Flannum. “And since every new campaign was aiming to bring in new players—thus requiring bigger and bigger tutorials—plus aiming to give stuff to older players, the list of skills just kept growing.” Each campaign that’s been added to the Guild Wars world—three in total—has added another layer of design that, in the name of making things easier for new players, has actually ended up creating barriers to entry as they try to sort through multiple training areas, increasingly intricate tutorials, and an ever-ballooning list of skills.
“We’re battling against complexity,” Strain adds. “We don’t want to make complicated games. We want to make fun, easy-to-grasp games that are easy to get into and not frontloaded with complexity.”
As the team considered its situation – how to uncomplicate the current campaign model and add new, cool features without making the game any more Byzantine – what began as a brainstorm about Campaign 4 evolved into the blueprint for a completely new game.
“We kept changing the scope of what we were doing, until it became Guild Wars 2,” Flannum says with a shrug and a smile.
ArenaNet's abrupt about-face is a shock, but not necessarily an unpleasant one. When a dev team with a track record of doing great stuff announces it wants to focus on doing more great stuff, there's little to complain about-except that Guild Wars 2 won’t be coming out in six months, or even six months after that. (More like two years, says ArenaNet—expect a beta sometime in 2008.)
— PC Gamer no. 161, May 2007
Little is known about the features of Utopia, however, horses, giant beetles and other mounts are featured heavily in artwork for the cancelled campaign. It's possible that these were a planned feature, or part of a planned profession for C4, but for whatever reason were not implemented. Mounts may, in fact, be one of the "exciting new features" the ArenaNet team wished to implement, but couldn't due to technical or time constraints, or the fact that it wouldn't work with what they had done previously.
In the interest of offering more variety with an efficient use of existing models, ArenaNet played around with the idea of texture alternatives.
Chronomancers and Summoners were two of the proposed player professions for Utopia.
This forum post contains many images of the profession "Chronomancer", which is traditionally, in fantasy games, a time mage. Other concept art, some very recent, and some dating back even to before Nightfall depicts men and women with a range of weapons, including maces, dual-wielded spears, javelins, halberds, dual-handed swords and dual-wielded axes.
Just as Nightfall had an African theme, and Factions had an Asian theme, Utopia was to have a mainly Aztec theme, along with elements from other indigenous societies. Concept art depicts Aztec architecture, Inca masks, Maya pyramids, a sport somewhat resembling the Danza de los Voladores, and domesticated llamas (which only existed in present-day Peru). It's likely that some of this - presumably already implemented - content was moved into Eye of the North in the forms of the Tarnished Coast and the Depths of Tyria. As there was an Hourglass Staff in the Eye of the North pre-release pack, and images of something called a "Chronomancer", we can also assume that technology would have been important (note the time-related connotations of an hourglass). The equivalent of technology and an Aztec theme in Eye of the North would be the Asura race and the Tarnished Coast (specifically the climate and the unexplained ruins in the area).
As with the professions and features, no information has been released on the storyline for Utopia. However, once again, some inconclusive information can be inferred from concept art. It is difficult to distinguish between the concept art for Utopia ideas, Eye of the North ideas that were scrapped, or Utopia ideas that were implemented into Eye of the North, so looking through the concept art for storyline information leaves much to interpretation. This section should be taken with a grain of salt, as the information herein reflects the interpretations of the writer.
Although the PC Gamer articles heavily implies that the plans for Utopia were scrapped and the initial plan for GW2 were started at the same time, there is a possibility that this is not the case, and Utopia, not Eye of the North was intended to be a bridge to GW2. Indeed, it is known that multiple races were intended to be introduced in Utopia, such as the Sidhe (which later became the concept for the Sylvari).
The plot of Utopia seems to have focused on the ruins of some earlier civilization. The Asuran constructs known as golems seem to feature in artwork in multiple different forms. Many depict the golems as - contrary to the existing image of shiny, almost modern constructs - older looking, more statue-like beings. They are also depicted as being a fairly old technology, with one piece of art showing a deactivated golem overgrown with plants and weeds. In any case, it can be assumed that they played a fairly large part in Utopia. It is not known whether their creators, the Asura, were also featured in the game.
Destroyers were also possibly featured in Utopia, albeit not as we know them. Early concept art for "Taneks", "Tanecks" or "Tanneks" (the actual spelling is unknown) feature fleshy, piglike creatures. Later concept art, also entitled tannek.jpg or something similar features the Destroyers as we know them. It's probable that the name was changed to "Destroyer" sometime after the game was adapted to become Eye of the North (if, indeed, the Destroyers were featured in Utopia) to promote the notion that they were literally mindless creatures. Interestingly, art exists of a sort of hybrid between the old, fleshy Tanneks and the new fiery Destroyers here.
Also featured in artwork are wizards with fiery skulls, with the ability to possess their foes. Nothing more is known about them.
Concept art by Jaime Jones.
Concept art by Hai Phan.
Concept art by Jason Juan.
Concept art by Kekai Kotaki.
Concept art by Katy Hargrove.
Concept art by Doug Williams.
- In his palace, Prince Mehtu the Wise tells the player about some artifacts from an ancient civilization recovered at the west coast. It may have been intentional foreshadowing to the new continent of Guild Wars Utopia.
- Interestingly, "utopia" is Greek for "No Place". It could also be interpreted as "unseen", which, in turn, points to the Mursaat.
- Utopia is a term to describe a society with no crime, violence, etc. The term was first coined by the English Renaissance author Sir Thomas More.
- ^ Post by Eric Flannum, GuildWars2Guru.com
- ^ Enter the Lair of Mere..., Merekatcreations.com, Kristen Perry
|Guild Wars releases|
|Campaigns: Prophecies • Factions • Nightfall • Utopia (cancelled)|
|Expansions: Eye of the North Others: Bonus Mission Pack|
|Upgrades: 2008 Upgrade • 1 Million Edition Upgrade • Game of the Year Upgrade • Beyond|
|Compilations: Platinum Edition • Factions Platinum Edition • Guild Wars Trilogy • The Complete Collection|