GW2 developer livestream notes for the Dec 13 livestream titled 2013 Retrospective. Due to the conversational format of the livestream some of the responses were paraphased.
- Isaiah Cartwright (Lead Game Designer)
- Dave Beetlestone (Environment Art Lead)
- Linsey Murdock (Game designer mostly on rewards)
- Mike Zadorojny (Design Lead w/ focus on content)
- Steven Waller (Coordinator on living world releases)
What was your favorite moment in 2013?
- Steven: Start off the year with Flame and Frost stuff – creating the dungeon was fun, we got to know Braham and Rox better and the bosses were really good. Slow build initially but in the end we had a fun time blowing all the dungeons and told a good story. This got the Living world off to a good start.
- Isaiah: Beach whales – how it got such a big thing. We put water buckets in. We always mention that we need to put some whale content in from time to time. Steven: It was a good teaser but we should have known that people were going to care about the whales and want to take action. It gets people excited and speculate about what is coming. Dave: We did a good job in holding back a bit, with the whales. We even went as far as trying to design a collection event with whale tutors. Lindsey: There were a lot of terrible ideas that came up indevelopment that we shielded the players from.
- Isaiah: 2 week cadence – internally it was a bit of crazy trying to figure out how to do it – we need rotating teams etc. Now we are used to it and we know the things that come months from now. Every Tuesday when a new build comes out the entire company goes down and play the new content on the live servers. It was scary thinking if we could pull it off. Steven: Seeing Halloween come again this year – has a year gone by already? Lindsey: Two week cadence really make time go by really fast.
- Isaiah: Hunt for crystals in Bazaar of Four Wind. Initially we only had 13 crystals but we really enjoyed it so we kept adding more of them in. Steven: We really wanted that release to be joy of movement and exploration. The lighting skill that made you run really fast were triggering security things that were detecting bots. We had to adjust how they were detecting them and this made the security people a bit unhappy. Mike: The additional crystals we added in were well past the time when this stuff was all suppose to be locked down and done. People were coming in after hours and be like okay we can put some crystals here at these locations – it was really a labor of love to get the final adjustments in.
Which living world release would you like to be improved more before releasing it?
- Steven: We learned a lot over the year. I am really proud of the Nov release with the veil, open world events and progression into tower (open world dungeon experience). We have being trying to improve every release all year. It is a lot of moving parts and we have to plan them so far in advance.
- Issiah: The first Nov tower release could use more overall meta event seeing how fast people absorbed all the content. Steven: Right towards the end of that we were saying it would be great to add in some exploration stuff like the crystals in that release but it was just way too late.
- Lindesy: There are always things we feel like we could do better and we always have stretch goals and things we want to do but we just don’t have time to do. Looking back there was a lot of things we could have done differently.
- Beetlestone: We have a lot of stuff that is listed in brainstorming sessions but down the road in development some of them get cut.
- Mike: Even the different living world teams were trying to one up themselves between releases. Oh these guys did this amazing thing last release, we should try and do something a bit better.
How many of you got to finish season one WvW achievement?
- Issiah: I got it.
- Mike: I did ALL of them.
- Lindsey: I don’t play WvW as much.
- Steven: I have being playing a lot of WvW but I didn’t focus on the achievements.
- Dave Beetlestone resembles the appearance of Caudecus.
- Dave: I really want to point out that it is basically the entire Arenanet and not me that has done this to me. Everyone must think I am this guy that is like oh I need a statue of myself in the game and I need this in the game.
- Lindsey: Especially since you are the lead on environment right?
- Dave: People do all these extra fun prop, they do good work . All I can really say is not do the statue but a little less bird poop on my head would be nice.
- Dave: Queen’s Jubilee – we took a ruined area in a major city and made it better and made a world changing impact. Lindsy: Filling the Great Collapse was a big deal and we were all excited to be revisiting that.
- Bazaar of the Four Winds – we couldn’t just take out all these movement skills and release them to the whole world. That would being a nightmare for us with everyone jumping and leaping everywhere. Being able to create custom maps to allow that is a lot of fun.
- Mike: Aetherblade Retreat where you come out from inside the lab – that moment is so amazing with the lightning and thunder effects.
- Mike: Audio guys going offsite to explode stuff and then record them in crazy videos. Lindey: I really love the audio videos they put up.
New characters introduced in living story, which is your favourite?
- Issiah: Frostbite: simple and true to the core. Steven: There was a moment when designing Frostbite when Rox tells it not to follow her but Frostbite holds for a moment and follows. That was actually turned out to be a bug but we liked it so we put it in as it shows some thought inside the little creature.
- Steven: I personally like Braham because I think there is more to it: He come across as a big brute without a lot of brain power but there is an underlying side in his relationship with Eir that we have more to show about. Wanting to be a hero but also have something that make him vulnerable.
- Isaiah: Evon Gnashblade is more important to me than Frostbite: Lindsey: You did so much campaigning internally and on the forums to campaign for Evon. Steven: He also voted a lot too, he might have single handedly shifted the voting. Lindsey: He would come in and have a calculation if I spent all of my money then how much vote I would get. Mike: Internally we had these buttons for Evon and Kiel. I had both of them on my desk and Isaiah took my Kiel one and throw it in the trash. Isaiah: I am still convinced that Kiel is the center of all the badness in the world.
Living world events overlapping
- Isaiah: Right in the beginning we were trying to figure stuff out and how the four teams were going to communicate. Right now we are working out the kinks and start stepping stone the next ones and feed and tether everything together. Mike: We have built all these things that we can pull out from our toolbox. Holidays are a bit thing but some point we can revisit Zephyr Sanctum and locations that players really have a fondness for. Steven: There is a lot of infrastructure like how release the builds, getting all the marketing done and getting all the localization done which takes weeks and recording all the actors which takes multiple weeks. We have being refining stuff that will make us more flexible and more nimble.
Is this the whole Arenanet staff?
- We have 340 people and growing. Only a few get in a front of a camera or do interviews. Every little thing you see in game is touched by multiple people – production, Q&A etc.
- Steven: Some of these Living world releases take up to 4 months so we may see something and some of them may not be out there for 4 months. We are adjusting but there is a bit of delay before players can see it. It was interesting to see on a forum thread for favourite living world release that a lot of people had different ones for different reasons. We have to find a balance – providing different experiences for different play styles.
- Steven: People are really going to be surprised when they come to the next 4 Living World releases next year that a lot of the things they have being speculating about are going to be a lot clear. There are a lot of threads that have being tieing together things throughout the year.
- Milke: We really enjoy all these conspiracy theories and all the pictures you guys have being throwing around. How close some of you guys are is really amazing to see. Continue doing these as we really enjoyed them.
A lot of new styles were used for cinematics throughout Living Story, which one is your favourite?
- Stylistic one starting with Marjory and used for Nightmare Tower destruction – more art intensive so we do less of them since they take so much resources.
- Ingame cinematics – keeps you in the world and we use those a lot since they are effective. We shifted away from the two people on the screen type of cinematics.
- They both serve their purposes but one of them is more expensive to do.
Have you being surprised by any positive/negative player reactions
- Isaiah Cartwright:: Everytime before a release we do a huge list of possible player reactions to different things, Usuaully one or two end up going one way or the other and a whole bunch of them are things we thought could go wrong. There are always something we miss from that list, always something that we didn’t think was going to be that big of a deal. Resetting fractal levels – we knew it was going to be a risk and slightly controversial but it hit players a bit harder than we expected, we kinda scrambled to try and get something..
Scarlet planted a bug inside Xplit and killed the livestream. It will be rescheduled to sometime next week.