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GW2 Colin Johanson on the New Player Experience

Colin Johanson, GW2’s Game Director, has spoken out on the new player experience revamp introduced with the Sept Feature Patch.

Hey folks,

Wanted to pop by and give another update on where we stand, as well as to help provide some information on some of the more common misconceptions we’ve seen floating around as well:

– There are bugs! We’ve seen the content direction system (the little arrow) pointing people at super high level maps when it shouldn’t, some systems/features not unlocking as intended for all characters on your account once your first learns them, some systems level gated that aren’t intended to be, balance issues where certain levels appear to be very out of whack, etc. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, our team is working to figure out what happened here and fix these as quickly as possible.

– There is misinformation: Numerous systems that show up in the level up guide that teaches you about things in the game when you gain levels are not locked out, the system simply tells you they exist in the game to help give you a better list of things you can do. Just because it’s included in the level up guide, doesn’t mean it’s actually locked out. You can dodge from level one, jumping puzzle from level one, etc. There also appear to be a lot of folks chiming in who haven’t actually played with any of the system, and are making claims that aren’t remotely true.

– There are some things happening at the wrong levels. Things like utility skills and elites are intended to come at approx. the same time they used to in actual game time, we sped up leveling for levels 1-15 and had them slide back in levels a bit to offset that pacing, they are not currently where we want them to be in the level up system. This was an oversight, and will absolutely be fixed.

– Not all of these changes were made as ways to teach the game, some of them are to provide a better sense of pacing, reward and progression. Early on we want to give a sense that you’re rapidly gaining new abilities, rewards, and learning new things as you level up. We added the level up reward messages, and the actual rewards themselves, and took abilities you’d usually use around that point in total game hours and presented them as unlocks (or things we teach that are already unlocked) to help give a better sense of pacing and progression.

With the addition of the new rewards, messaging, and level up screen to make leveling more exciting: we also wanted to make sure you had that feeling of excitement more often early on in the game, and presented new learning on a more regular cadence. So we greatly sped up leveling from levels 1-15. Many of the things unlocked at later levels are earned at about the same time period you used to start using them in the old system in actual real game time, we just staggered them out across the levels since we sped up leveling to make the game feel more rewarding early on.

– In general, this system is intended to be not only better for new players, but our hope is by the time it’s all in place you’ll find via the better rewards from levels 1-80 via the level up guide, the better rewards from personal story, the faster leveling from 1-15, and the ability to toggle the content direction system to help you with map complete will make this a better for experienced players as well.

– Over a years worth of testing with new players found we were absolutely able to keep them both more engaged, and more likely to return to keep playing Gw2 as a result of the intended system. That is at the end of the day, a win for all of us since all of you need more people to play with! However: if we find in the live environment that isn’t true and we’re not retaining new users better, we’ll absolutely both share that information with you, and continue to iterate to make it better. We keep very real time metrics of player retention for new users, and we’ll know very quickly how effective the work we’ve done is. I want to make it clear: what we used to have absolutely wasn’t good enough for our standards of retaining new users. Before we do some of the other things we want to do with Gw2, we had to fix this, period.

– Finally, I want to add that a few things (hello traits!) are things that can be improved for players who make multiple alts, we’re aware of this, and though company policy prevents us from discussing what’s in development: I can say we know Gw2 can be an even better game for people who love making alts in the long run, more info: when it’s ready™.


By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

30 replies on “GW2 Colin Johanson on the New Player Experience”

As someone with a lvl 80 of each class I can safely say I have done a reasonable ammount of leveling, IMO The biggest thing holding back low level chars is the high lvl chars – its the curse of scaling. Every time someone has asked a question in a low level area over the past year some high lvl has trolled in with “you suck – uninstal” or “use google and shut up” or similar. Most people dont play MMO’s in order to level, you level in order to play the MMO, sure if people hate leveling so much they quit thats bad. Maybe a better solution would be to encorrage guilds to take in new players and help them, AP or title etc.

Unfortunately, imo people have been perverted by what they think is a good example of an MMORPG, which is WoW and its concept of “endgame”. Things were different when I played UO “back in the old days”, or at least I think so. Especially on freeshards with very strict rules. GW2 has always been promoted as a game a) “for busy people” where you don’t have to grind 24/7 to keep up and b) where the journey is the reward, i.e. leveling alts is not a minor annoyance on the way to the max level where the “endgame” begins but an integral part of the game’s concept. I stopped playing one year ago when ANet couldn’t keep that promise, but now they’re almost done and it’s the game many people have been looking for.

It seems it really depends of the mindset of the server you’re on. My experience is that you almost always find someone who is willing to help/explain.
I play on europeans servers, mainly wih French player, maybe the mentality is different elsewhere.

Or, maybe they will integrate a Hero System like the one from GW1 but use your alts as the heroes. I hope not, but you never know.

Could really be, they hired An ai developer not long ago.. Ho posted on Twitter he can’t wait to show us what he is doing

I don’t think they’ve ever seen this level of backlash before, I certainly have not. The entire GW2 forums are in an uproar. Seems like every single thread has been negative. I haven’t done the new lower leveling stuff yet, don’t have any alts left at low levels, but my guildmates have been giving an earful on how bad they gated stuff.

the last time they fucked up was with the culture armor in gem store bs. well they keep trying to balance things but in the end its completely fucks the game over gg

seems like he still has no idea whats going on.

im so glad that i finished all 8 classes to 80 before this.
even that the game now is “how much real money are you gonna invest in trash skins or how much trash you can farm”
so do dailies and log off just like the past 2 years, no hopes no dreams.

These were not bugs, I just wish they’d admit their mistakes and say they’ll correct them instead of calling this entire update a bug…

Here is what I hope they will do: make trait unlock account-wise so that once you unlock a certain trait in a certain line, that trait and line remain opened for all the new character in your account.

The trait thing is probably for the next big feature pack. I read this on the forums earlier and the few dev comments as well yesterday. It was hard to get through all the hate and rage threads the devs seriously need to start pinning their replies to the tops of the forums with links to which threads they’ve replied to.

I fully admit some of the hate and rage was mine. But I would like to think I posted valid concerns and at least logged in and tested it with new toons the last couple days. I am holding all further judgement till the patch next week at which point I will roll another new toon and try it again.

I am still upset about mini’s and would have never added them to my wardrobe had I known that this was as intended. It’s a silly thing but since the days of EQ I have been a vanity player. Spending as much time playing as browsing the market and mixing gear and dyes for different styles. My pets are different for each alt and are my accessories.

Colin, just stfu and restore things to the way it was. Enough of these “new ideas” that keep alienating people. If you lot have time to mess things up, how about fixing things that were brought up since game started.

I like leveling up new toons before the patch. New leveling content is unbearable to do and not even flexible. I leveled some 80s toon and I would say the pre-patch leveling is better. I would like to see more proper content and bug fixes than anet destroying everything and making such a mess then branding it as “balance patch”. But thank you though, my bearbow is having fun with rapid fire without contributing anything except selfishly firing from afar (at least I know when to rez fallen comrades unlike some). lol

i’m just relieved that i already have 16 level 80’s…i don’t have to be affected by this stupidity 🙂

“right, so it’s the bugs’s fault, wasn’t our intention to F you up so bad at all (cough*). ”
Honestly, these people ask themselves a sacred question upon waking up every morning “what should we take away from them today, can’t stand it when they all are going happy go lucky. If that backfires, just blame on bugs”

I spent 2 years with this game, it was good fun, now im bored, nothing new in this game, same old content only in new colors, last year only www have something to offer for me, but now its bored also, nothing more to do but gaining more and more AP, thank you all for fun and Dulfy for this site who help me not once.

traits-unlock system and new leveling system,the worst patch and worst user experience ever!the best way to drive new user away! give the original GW2 back to us

I don’t know why all these negative feelings at people trying to bring something new to the game. Most players here have lvl 80 so leveling characters doesnt really concern you. I was also a little annoyed with the longer period to farm keys. But look at this people, Anet did not remove the key reward they just added several lvls before you can get it. and it does not take that much longer

Anet are just dumasses, they basicly ruin the game for no reason and expect us to keep playing, my advice, leave GW2. these niggas wont learn until they are making no money of re-used skins and trash updates. srsly, worst game ever made right here. These mofos even beat Nexon, and Nexon is known for gimme ur money and “sry we are closing the svs cuz we are not making enuff money”….

Srsly, i made a post on the forums regarding this, and got banned from forums, what a fking lol.

Trash game fora trash company, niggas that keep playing are as dumb as the ones that come up with these trash ideas.

I disagree. They gave me head and they will give it to you as well, if you just spend $1000 USD in the gem store. #truestory

Well yeah look at them, they look to the players to help them optimize the classes in game. Devs not knowing their own game they created is the worst.

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