'Guild Wars': An experiment that worked

'Guild Wars': An experiment that worked - On the Level - MSNBC.com:

With more than 3 million units sold, legions of passionate fans and heaps of critical acclaim, “Guild Wars” is probably the most popular massively multiplayer online game you’ve never heard of.

Strain, O’Brien and Wyatt wanted to do something different. They wanted to create, as Strain puts it, an “MMO for the rest of us.” Those folks who may have played their fair share of “Ultima Online” as teenagers, but were now looking for something that didn’t require five hours a day to feel satisfying.

“Our design goal when creating ‘Guild Wars’ was this: ‘If I’ve got 30 minutes before dinner, will I have fun playing this game?’” says Strain.

It took the trio a year and a half to build their “secret sauce,” a smart publishing system that would let them stream cool new stuff to players in real-time, rather than the massive downloadable patches used by traditional MMOs.

“Guild Wars” also has a number of fans that have played plenty of MMOs in the past — and found them wanting. Thom Gavin, 39, has been playing games for 25 years and online games for 10.

“I have played games that require a fee and have found them to be hardly worth the original price,” he says. “This is simply not the case with the ‘Guild Wars’ franchise.”

Many fans cited the constant updates to “Guild Wars” as a major reason to keep playing. Log in around Christmas and you’re likely to find a winter wonderland complete with candy canes and gingerbread men.

Check out A Guild Wars Slide Show on MSNBC.com.