Guild Wars 2 on how it’s upgrading the Canthan language from Factions to End of Dragons

It’s a known fact that the Canthan language in Guild Wars 2 is suffering from a serious case of annamakan flu. It’s been suffering since the original, but it’s had a nasty resurgence lately, with the official announcement of the Wintersday event.

The Canthan language of Guild Wars 2 is set to be upgraded in an upcoming patch. The change will bring the Canthan language up to the level of the original game, so players don’t have to learn and memorize new words. Factions introduced a new language, but due to the great popularity of Canthan, the developers are making this language the basis for the upgrade.

In April of 2014, ArenaNet released the first major update to the Guild Wars 2 community, which focused on changing the language used by the game’s many nations. The update added many new words and phrases, which made the game’s localization more accurate and easier to understand. As a result of this, some players are complaining that they can no longer understand what most NPCs are saying. How will ArenaNet deal with this?

ArenaNet didn’t wait until next week to start hyping Guild Wars 2’s End of Dragons announcement, as it published a dev blog on Cantha’s written language today. Of course, Cantha is the continent we’ll be visiting in the expansion, as we go to the realm made famous by Guild Wars: Factions.

The piece, written by Da-Hee Im, Matthew Medina, and Tracey West, takes a trip down memory lane to explain how, during the development of Factions, ArenaNet had to scale back its original plan to create a full constructed language (conlang) for the continent and instead settled on 64 symbols “chosen to emphasize the nature of Cantha and its people – wonderfully spiritual and openhearted, but with a glimmer of a glimmer of a g

End of Dragons, on the other hand, required a significantly expanded language that the studio couldn’t afford to develop, so for in-game text, it’s using a non-translatable set of characters based loosely on the Korean alphabet, peppered with specific translatable logographic words that players could recognize.

“We wanted to keep some of the form language from Guild Wars: Factions while focusing on terms that would be used a lot on props in our expansion,” says the team. We made some icons for the different NPCs that might present, as well as words like “open” and “welcome” that you could see on neighborhood signs. The sign for ‘open’ was inspired by the words ‘air,’ ‘light,’ ‘up,’ ‘night,’ and ‘day.’ You can see how the smaller accent mark may be used to highlight direction or sun location in the previous terms that are linked to ideas of wide space and times of day. As a result, we chose a word that roughly translates to “outdoor air.” And what are you doing when you open a building if not allowing the outside world in? Some of those ideas are continued in ‘Welcome.’ With this sign, we wanted to convey that the place is not just open, but that it is open with love. We merged the sign for “open” with a repeating component seen in symbols such as “love,” “brother,” and “sister” to express the extra idea of considering another as family.”


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