Today ArenaNet put up a blog post about the theme song for the Dragon Bash festival, which you can hear in-game and over the trailer on the event’s main page. The song’s rather catchy, and very much gives the intended impression of a hearty drinking song for the pubs of Lion’s Arch, bolstering the spirit that this festival is meant to celebrate and foster for the good NPCs of Tyria. The story behind the song, however, makes it extra wonderful – a little piece of Guild Wars history, incorporated into the game. To me, this is a great example of ArenaNet’s collaborative and sharing attitude toward their fans.
The tune for ‘Bash the Dragon’, we are told, comes from the days of the first playable convention demos of Guild Wars 2, and was originally called ‘Spawn the Dragon’ (you can listen to that original here). ArenaNet’s Matthew Moore wrote it based on the experiences of the company’s team who spent a week playing through the same small sample of content with demo players so that the world wasn’t empty. This included the then-mind-blowing Shatterer fight, hence the refrain of spawn the dragon, kill the dragon, spawn him, kill him, spawn him again! I don’t know if this fun little staff in-joke would ever have made its way to us in other circumstances, but as it was someone suggested re-purposing the song as an in-game one to support the Dragon Bash festival Tyria is currently celebrating.
It’s a good little song, as catchy as they say, and if I had a big enough group of Guild Wars friends and the right kind of pub, I’d be planning a night out this weekend to teach it to a crowd! But more importantly to me, it’s connected to those early days when the game was all rumours and expectation on our end, and extremely hard work and passion on ArenaNet’s end. I really enjoyed hearing about that demo experience from the other side, both the highs of player reactions to their creations and the tedium that bringing that to us actually entails. The fact that someone wrote those guys a song to celebrate the whole experience is great. The fact that they now share the whole story with us is even cooler. We, the players, now get to participate in the song, not by just adopting its original meaning (which, let’s be honest, we didn’t earn!) but by joining in with ArenaNet for the song’s new, triumphant, celebratory form.
ArenaNet have a history of incorporating fans and their ideas into their games, as well as endorsing fan-run events and supporting what their communities do for themselves. The long development period and large, devoted fandom led them to take an open and collaborative approach to developing Guild Wars 2 as well, sharing their ideas and their infamous iterative design processes with the public. For years, they have portrayed Guild Wars 2 as our game: not just made by them as they want it, or even made by them for us, but made by them and us for them and us. The devs post about their play experiences; we post about how we find their designs. With this song and its story, ArenaNet are sharing another little piece of the development of the game with us, and inviting us to join in – and I find the idea of Guild Wars 2’s staff and its players singing the same damned catchy song together very appealing.