In many ways, they try to approach the story of Guild Wars 2 from unusual perspectives, noting how it differs from “traditional fantasy.” In most fantasy worlds, the forest-dwelling elf-like race is old, wise, and in decline; GW2‘s sylvari are the exact opposite of those conventions in every way.
Similarly, human races are typically dominant, at or near the crest of their power, such as in The Lord of the Rings. In GW2, humans may have already reached their peak and are more of a fringe race than what is usually seen.
In general, Grubb and Soesbee said that fantasy is perceived as a “mirror” to the past, which can be altered slightly to apply different traits to different factions or races, such as the charr’s resemblance to the Roman Empire or the notion that, if you had an airplane in GW2, you might open up the engine compartment and see that it’s powered by magical hamsters — which is something I think the asura should totally build.
“The best stories have enough reflection that you feel comfortable identifying, but are different enough to make you feel uncomfortable.”
The pair also took a handful of viewer questions, the most interesting one of which concerned Tyria’s #1 baddie, Zhaitan himself. Supposedly, if you defeat Zhaitan, he won’t be there — for you, not for other players — the next time you go to his area. Does that rule out the battle with Zhaitan being an instance or a dynamic event and confine it to a story mission? We’ll just have to wait and see…
You can catch the whole talk, (mostly) free of technical difficulties, here.