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.
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™.