GW2 developer livestream notes for part 2 of the 2013 Retrospective. Part one can be found here.
- Isaiah Cartwright (Lead Game Designer)
- Mike Zadorojny (Design Lead w/ focus on content)
- Hugh Norfolk (PvP Designer)
- Leif Chapelle (Content Designer).
- Steven Waller (Coordinator on living world releases)
What do you do ingame
- Isaiah: Auction house is where I spend majority of my time. I also do a lot of WvW.
- Hugh: Play a lot of WvW, getting feedback and enjoying myself. I do a lot of smaller group stuff where I take like 5 guys who are really good at PvP and just run around and gank people. Now that I am on the sPvP team I do a lot of PvP as well. PvP/WvW, anything where I can kill somebody is where you will find me.
- Leif: Playing through the Living World stuff, especially fun to play through Living World releases I havn’t designed. Leveling up a new thief. Doing world completion on my main mesmer.
- Steven: Playing Living World and a lot of WvW. Trying to bring respect to rangers in WvW.
Favourite Bug from 2013
- Leif: Zephyr sanctum travel skills – a lot of bugs with them and took a lot of development to get them right. Unintended combinations – lighting skill had no limit initially to what you can tether to. Combined with sun skill and air skill I was flying across a tiny map in a seconds and the server hated me. It was the most fun thing but had to tone them down a bit.
- Hugh: I hate mesmers. If you were a Norn mesmer and you had the bear elite and dodged rolled (with the trait that clone you when you dodged), it would clone you as a bear with massive health and no cooldown on skills. If you dodged rolled twice two bears would come up, bum rush you, flip you, shout to give fury and hit you like 10k straight up. Then they would rush you again and flip you. Mesmers being able to run into walls and port the entire zerg over the walls. There is a reason we had a mesmer pass in all of our dungeons.
- Isaiah – champion bags – had bags inside bags, creating an infinite loop that had me terrified.
Office rivalery between living world teams
- Steven: I don’t think there are any. Every release is different and has different positives about it. When we see positive feedback on a release all the other teams are like we want this too.
- Mike Z: on the whiteboard outside the room where people draw the theme of their living world releases. Some art rivalries.
- Leif: Looking at what people have in development and get inspirations from it. I looked at SAB team and used some of their ideas to design Zephyr Sanctum
- Mike Z: SAB team did a lot of prototype of technology such as the jump pads that were used in Aetherblade release. Less about rivalries but more about here we did this cool thing and now you guys can run with it and use it as inspiration for the stuff you are working on now.
- Steven: The living world teams are not locked, people go between teams.
Redesign the rewards for any piece of content, what would it be
- Steven: Spore backpiece to fit more with toxic gloves and shoulders that came out via the gemstore.
- Isaiah: Have Evon Gnashblade instant kill all Kiel supporters.
What is your favourite non playable race
- Hugh: When I was making the PvP rewards vendor the one feedback Isaiah gave me was to make it a Kodan.
- Isaiah: I love the Kodan but skritt is my favourite- I like tiny little dudes that steal everything
- Leif: Golems
Soccer Team stats
- Mike: we are down to one team. Team Bloodbath and Team Commando. Bloodbath folded. Some injuries into the holiday season.
Things you are most proud this year
- Isaiah: Actually achieve 2 week cadence. From wondering how we are going to pull it off to now where it is just the norm.
- Leif: Just to see how much Living world developed as a concept and still developing/getting better.
- Mike: Finish world 2 tribulation mode.
- Hugh: I got so mad at World 2 tribulation. That was one of the only times where I was like I don’t know if I can actually do this. I went to one of the QA guys and asked why, why did you do this. I just remember I hate flowers.
What class was the funniest to develop during development
- Isaiah: Elementalist: We moved the elementalist skills around so much because there is always some crazy combinations like perm stun a guy for 45 minutes or infinitely heal. Ele had more skills than other classes. Every Friday was a new elementalist and people didn’t know how to play them until the live release.
- We originally had the thief mechanic as guardian mechanic because we were trying to get a throw back to the GW1 monks. It was not a good system for guardian at all. Guardian mechanic was the second last one we figured out (last one was engineer).
Who is the best pvper here
- Isaiah: Not going to answer that question because it is just Hugh.
Ruins of Orr – random pillar in Cursed Shores
- Isaiah: There are all kinds of hidden secrets that we have ideas for that we have scribbed down in some place. A change we did from GW1 to GW2 development is that we really tried to integrate environment artists with designers in the brainstorming process. Some of this has lead to interesting things. I am sure someone has a plan for it, I don’t really know about it.
Examples you learned from past mistakes
- Isaiah: We built this technology where we can do things outside a build and have things trigger. We used this really heavily in the beginning before we really understood how the tech worked. This lead to some crazy OMG everything is on fire moments. It was a learning process on how to use that technology and fix things on the fly.
- Mike: It was one of those situations where oh we got this new tech – everyone lets overhaul and use it as much as we can and go totally overboard.
Positives surprise – something got more positive feedback/interest than expected
- Isaiah: I was surprised to see how much people were involved in the Evon/Kiel election process – Trahearne for council etc.
- Steven: Zephyrite area – different NPCs would sing a small verse of a song. We didn’t think it would get so much positive feedback. People really liked it and recorded it to put on youtube.
- Isaiah: I was surprised how dataminers didn’t spoil a lot of the story content that are inside the .dat files. There is a little bit of community around dataminers to not spoil story content.
What World boss you guys always try to farm
- Leif: Fire elemental since it is always there when I log on
- Isaiah: Mark Golem – I can do it while I do auction house. I find a spot where I can get a little hits and do auctions at the same time
- Mike Z: Tequatl since I still miss one of the achievements (Defend the turrets)
- Hugh: Tequatl as well since it is fun. It is very involved and can be really different from day to day.
Do players continue to surprise you with new builds /adaptations after each patch
- Isaiah: How players overcome the Tequatl fight – i.e. using icebows etc to increase DPS.
- Hugh: Sometimes we see things internally where we see something that is really strong but no one is using it. People would cry how bad it is and then somebody would take it to devise a build around it and it becomes the new hotness (i.e. No one used to use warriors in PvP).
Disappointed in some of your work?
- Isaiah: You always think of how you could have improved things due to tight deadlines. It can be hard sometimes to play your own content because you are always like “Oh I should have done that etc”
- Mike: Growth aspect – some of the first events I designed were so easy to break, after seeing some of the stuff other designers designed I am like I could have done this so much cooler.
- Steven: Not being able to get the crystal hunt type of content from Zephyr Sanctum into the Nightmare tower and had to cut it out due to time constraints.
- Hugh: Having brown bag lunch weekly with all the devs to share what you have learned. Making email chains to describe what they have learned.
How you could have better expressed story. Are there parts of story you had to cut due to deadlines
- Isaiah: VO had to be recorded fairly far out. Beginning of the year we didn’t have much lead up time. We would be reviewing the content and can’t change text/VO that are abit rough because of the VO deadlines. Some of the teams had their VO recorded even before they started doing their development which was not ideal. Some of that has now being ironed out and we can change things.
- Some of the VO datamined during Dragon Bash were cut out for example and they could have being used to better develop characters. Some of the lack of controls early on really did hinder some of our storytelling abilities.
- Steven: There are a lot of interesting reveals to come out in the first four updates of the Living World next year. A lot of the questions players had or unsure of where the story is headed will be resolved. In retrospect we could have gotten to some of those answers a bit quick to help people understand where we are headed.
Why decide to bind weapon skills to weapons
- Isaiah: In GW1 we had a giant array of combinations. This resulted in a huge amount of bad builds and a lot of people were not able to do the content. If we package things together and give them a minimum bar of effectiveness that give us a lot more control over what we can expect the players to do.
- Mike: There were surprising a lot of GW1 players who were running with the first 8 skils that they have unlocked throughout the entire game.
Selecting voice actor for Living World (i.e. Tara Strong for Scarlet)
- We have a general idea of the tone/sound we want – usually comes down to 2-3 people for a given role. Sometimes we get VO actors that give such a good performance that they nailed it right away (i.e. Tara Strong for Scarlet). We got a great agency we are working with and we always have options.
What should returning players check out first?
- Steven: So many things have changed – check out Wintersday, WvW is always fun to jump in. sPvP had reward changes. Fractals got instabilities.
- No sub fee, jump in anytime you want.
Get excited for next year.