GW2 Colin Johanson MMORPG Livestream transcript – Jan 18

A transcript and summary of the MMORPG.com livestream with GW2 developer Colin Johanson.

Twitch TV recording: http://www.twitch.tv/mmorpgcom/b/358339359

How are things going in GW2?

  • Interesting life cycle in a MMO – once a MMO comes out, you immediately become a MMO service provider. Once a MMO launches, you have that peak concurrency right off the bat, then population drops down and it settles into the core player base, then that core population slowly decline every month after that.
  • If you look at EVE, WoW, those are great examples of games that settled into their base population after launch and then every month start to grow a bit. All the other games that weren’t as successful hit their base point and started to drop off a bit.
  • We actually hit our base point with GW2 where for a month we saw the same login numbers and every week for the last 5 weeks it has being slowly going up and that is really exciting for us.
  • We are the fastest selling MMO ever made – to get to 3 million copies (maybe not including China). The game is doing better than we ever imagined it could

Where did you guys think you would be after launch at this point?

  • We definitely didn’t expect to have this many sales, this many concurrent users, this many logins. Our goal is to hit our base user and then build on that every month and have it go up. We definitely seen that.
  • The actual sales and actual numbers are much higher – a big chunk higher than where we thought we would be right now. Can’t say the details.

How is the Black Lion Trading Company working out?

  • In GW1 we had a really small live team because the game wasn’t big enough to generate a consistent revenue. The gems/micro-transaction based model allow us to have a much larger live team in GW2, allowing players to see much more content on a monthly basis.
  • Our live team in GW2 is 15-20 times larger than the live team in GW1.

Have you found that things are easier to make in GW2 since you are now working on your second game?

  • It is mixed – we are learning more.
  • The challenge that is different GW1 is that our dynamic event system is really complicated, much more so and time consuming to make than traditional quests in GW1.
  • You have to account for when the event occurs, how does it interact with other events/contents, and what happens when the event occurs too many times in a row, how do you reset the event after completion.
  • It is much more challenging to build but also much more rewarding – we are getting faster and better at it.
  • So the short answer is no – in the amount of times it takes to design a quest in GW1, we are only about 10% into an event in GW2.

WvW: How is the fight against culling going?

  • It is a huge project that involve us basically rewriting the entire way how models and assets load.
  • Jan update is our first major improvement – models that appear near you will first be a low res model that act as a placeholder until the whole character is loaded in. This will fix those “invisible” characters that appear next to you that some of you are currently experiencing.
  • Next major step is how do we show more models and more things happening on screen. We are doing a lot of internal testing and it is looking very promising.
  • We are going to stay away from doing massive open world events with hundreds of people until we get culling fixed.

AoEs in WvW

  • Guys working on skll balance are still trying to decide what to do. Some of it will be going through and evaluating all the AoEs in the game and trying to pick out a couple that are over the top and making some tweaks.
  • We don’t want AoEs to be as strong or more powerful than a single target damage spell in the same amount of time when it has the capacity to hit 5 people instead of 1.
  • There are some skills right now that you always use no matter what and they are not necessarily situational or you time them properly. We want there to be a lot of tactics and thought that goes into the things that you do. That will be part of the strategy when we look through the AoE skills.
  • We don’t want to make them useless, we just want to make them working as intended and we noticed that there are a couple right now that are not.

Bunker Elementalist on your watchlist – what does it mean?

  • Watchlist means we are seeing it as a very common build. This warrants the discussion is this the meta that we want to have right now. Is it fun to play as, is it fun to play against? If the answer is yes to both, then we don’t change it. If it is no, then we will take a look at  it and tweak it a little bit.
  • If it is not fun to play as, and play against, is probably something we don’t want to see in our game.
  • Watchlist means someone is sitting around watch people playing Ele bunker 24/7.

Engineer feels weak compared to my guardian – what classes are the team looking to tweak?

  • (Host) – Engineer Grenade build was on the watch list before and it was changed accordingly. To be fair, the engineer is still awesome with the grenade build. (Colin) – yes that is what I run on my character and I agree.
  • We are looking at all professions at all times, we try not to just look at a single profession at any one time. That is a really dangerous thing to do and you are not look how it affects the entire game.
  • The guardian is intended to be meaty-tough, engineer is more for people who are looking to play with versatility, tricks, and gadgets. If there is something on engineer we need to tweak, we will take a look at it.
  • In GW2, the 8 professions are very closely split between the game population, which you don’t see in a lot of other games.
  • Most popular race is human? Yea, same with all other MMOs with humans – the most popular race is human. Lowest played race in GW2 is the Charr.

WvW & Zerging – what are you guys working to get people away from zerging.

  • Zerg is sort of the natural gameplay that is kind of evolved – find a commander and follow it. Comfort in numbers.
  • Strategically, the best strat is to split into mini zergs and constantly harassing the map.
  • We need have more capacity for commander to direct others, coommunicate, develop tactics and strategy.
  • Provide reasons to holding multiple objectives for long period of time other than just score – If my server is losing, what is the reason I am going to keep logging in to keep playing.
  • We need to provide incentives to winning over a short period of time and that is one of the major features that we are focused on.

Progression Model for WvW

  • We are actually working on two systems: one is the new feature we just talked about to incentive short term win and the other is the progression system.
  • One of the key features missing from WvW right now is a reason for me to login and progress as a individual – I can fight for my server, for scores, for fun, but there is not a clear sense of progression for me as a player.
  • This progression system will give you WvW specific abilities you gain as you work down the progression path and recognition so other players can see your progression.
  • Enemies won’t see your name but they will see your progression – i.e. title, name that show up differently to enemies (i.e. not just an invader). Details are not finalized yet.

Crowns (renamed to Laurels) and achievements

  • We renamed crowns into laurels – crowns translate into bad words in other languages.
  • Laurel system is a new currency like gold/karma. You earn 1 laurel for each daily, 10 for per monthly. Merchants in cities you can trade – ascended gear, infusions, more hidden items in the game, tonic that transform you into cats, some new mini pets, WvW things you can get.
  • This is taking some of the rewards that are currently buried behind RNG and giving you access to them by just logging in to your dailies/monthlies. 
  • Daily achievements – in the initial release for Jan, each day of the week have different dailies but you need to do all of them. Down the road we will add in a new system that allow you to pick from a list of which dailies you like to do and make dailies choices a bit more specific (i.e. complete 4 jumping puzzles).
  • The intent with new system of achievements we are releasing later on is to create hotspots in the world to direct people to – i.e. score goals in keg brawl.  Give us a chance to showcase part of the game people may not know about and give people a incentive to go back some of the older areas. We will also be adding in new content to these old areas to make them more exciting.

Guesting

  • Guesting allow you to click on a world and play with your friends seemlessly – limited to 2 worlds per day to play on. Server transfer cost depends on how full the servers you want to transfer to.
  • We had guesting almost done in each of the earlier patches but right before we were about to release it someone found a major bug that forced us to push it back.

Not having a level cap in earlier versions of GW2– what made you change about that design?

  • That idea sort of morphed into our level scaling system. We need to make it rewarding and fresh everytime you go back to that world.
  • One of the factors right now preventing the rewards to be as good is that on some maps, you can’t get loot up to your level
  • We are fixing that soon – you will always have a chance to get loot up to your level on those maps that are not giving out level appropriate loot.

Orr

  • For Jan update , we are thinning out the density of mobs in Orr, making some more waypoints always active, and adding some more new rewards – from vendors, from drops.
  • We also tweaked some of the bosses in temples to make them a bit more exciting for larger groups.
  • We didn’t complete rebuild Orr but we tweaked it a little bit.

Player Q&A

  • Guild houses/player houses anytime soon? We will do guild halls some point, it is not something we are actively working on atm. Player housing is in our radar.
  • Fractal relics – anyway to trade them in for other items? – not in the upcoming Jan release. It is something we will look into.
  • Plans to tweak precursors for legendaries? – we like to do in the long run is doing an epic scavenger hunt – we are in the midst of designing that right now. That is going to take some time. Legendaries don’t make you more powerful and not our #1 focus. Our #1 focus is making our core world stronger because that affect all the players. We will also find additional ways to get precursors – additional places that they can drop – not intended as a fix but something to go by until the real fix.
  • LFG: It is something we are working on, we have a team working on it. We are not building on a dungeon finder that auto places you in dungeons. We want to make a tool easier for players to play with. It is not automated. It is something you won’t see for the next couple months.
  • Additional hairstyles, additional cosmetic features? We will continue to expand on that
  • Additional playable races? It is something we could be. Might be part of an expansion. No guarantees.

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