The Joy of Jumping: Why ArenaNet Lets You Hop In Guild Wars 2S

If you've been playing Guild Wars 2 at all, then you've probably seen people talking about jumping. Dancing is cool too, and actually, standing in one place is pretty neat as well, but the thing people love to do most is jump.

That's partly because jumping was impossible in Guild Wars 1. I visited Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet yesterday and sat down with lead designer Isaiah Cartwright to talk about all things Guild Wars 2. We talked about a lot of stuff, but one of the easiest questions was this: Tell me about the jumping.

"So, that just came, when we were sitting down going, 'Okay, what are we going to do for Guild Wars 2…. well, jumping." Cartwright laughed. "It was probably the number one thing that people brought up from Guild Wars 1: 'Yeah, it's great… you can't jump.' Everyone just kind of knew that about the game, so it's a big thing for us."

One of the most unexpected but enjoyable elements of Guild Wars 2 is the fact that there are actually jumping puzzles in the game. The MMO stops being about casting spells and blasting monsters and becomes something of a platformer. I asked Cartwright how that evolved—was it a sort of winking joke? You know: "Oh, so you wanted jumping? Well here, have some platforming sections!"

"No," Cartwright said, though he seemed to enjoy the idea of punitive platforming. "That actually kind of just came about as the map artists were playing around, saying 'Here's a fun little jumping puzzle,' and then we'd think… let's put a reward at the end of that! That looks fun! Once the map artists started doing one or the other, they [started saying]. 'Check out my puzzle,' and they started competing, and then we had a billion of them."

"It's sort of this joy of movement. It's fun to move around," Cartwright said. That's why he and the team decided to make it possible to perform actions while jumping and rolling around. "We were like, 'Okay, if it's this fun to move around, why do you have to stop to use skills? Why is combat not more fun?'"

Cartwright said he understands why not all games allow you to move and jump while performing actions. "It's a lot of work; there are a lot of aspects to it. Figuring out how to make the animations move around between each other, and all that kind of stuff, but in the end, when you succeed at it, it's hard to go back. And I think that the reason jumping was such a big thing is that people play games with jumping, and it's hard to play a game without jumping [after that]. The more fun, interesting movement we have in the game, the more fun and interesting it is."

Cartwright and I talked about a range of different topics; check back for more from our interview soon.