Colin Johanson has left Arenanet and Mike O’Brien is taking over as the game director with some Ask Me Anything questions on Reddit.
Reddit Thread can be found here:https://redd.it/48zlyd[toc]
Intro Post from Mike
I’m here today to answer some questions and to share some news.
The news is that I’m taking over as the game director of Guild Wars 2 for a while. Colin will be leaving us. Colin is a personal friend, leaving on good terms, and I wish him all the best.
Game direction is a big job. I have a lot of talented people helping me in the role, and we’re all here to answer questions today. Steven Waller continues to direct Living World and Raids. Stephen Clarke-Willson, another long-term veteran of the company, will be directing WvW. John Corpening and Hugh Norfolk are here to talk about PvP. We have Crystal Reid, Paul Ella, and Jon Olson here to talk about Raids, Nellie Hughes representing Living World, Sean Hughes representing Fractals, Shuai Liu and Tyler Bearce representing WvW. We’ve got Leah Hoyer here to talk Narrative, James Ackley here to talk Audio, Steve Thompson here to talk Cinematics, Roy Cronacher here to talk Creatures, Ester Sauter and Lance Hitchcock representing QA and QA engineering, John Smith representing Megaservers, and more devs joining us as we continue!
I’m excited to be back in this role. I’ll say up front that I do eventually have to hire to replace myself. Believe it or not, running a company is a lot of work too. 😉 But in the meantime I get to lay down the path I believe in. One thing I believe is that a game director represents the players. So I think it’s only natural that my first official act as game director is to hang out and talk shop with the players. And that’s what we’ll do today.
To kick it off, I’ll give some updates on what we’re working on and how we’re going about it.
We recently started PvP season two and we’re about to launch the next raid wing. After that we’re packaging up and preparing our next big quarterly update for April. The April update is about reducing grind, clearing away some tedium, getting quickly to the fun, and improving rewards. We’ve always said that Guild Wars should be about having fun rather than preparing to have fun, and this will be a back-to-our-roots kind of update. After the April update, we’ll start live beta-tests of improvements to WvW. Our goal is to be very incremental and visible with the changes we’re making there, so that players are involved every step of the way. Further on, we’ll launch the next raid wing in May or June, then Living World and the next quarterly update.
You’ve seen in past years that we went through times when the whole company worked on one thing. In 2013, the year we shipped 21 Living World updates, pretty much the whole company was working on Living World. In 2015, we were all working on the expansion. Going forward we’re putting ourselves in a more sustainable mode where live and expansion don’t compete with each other.
We have about 120 devs working on the live game, 70 devs on Expac2, and 30 devs on core teams that support both. Within these groups we have cross-discipline teams with focused missions. For example on Live we have the PvP team, the WvW team, the Fractals team, the Raids team, the Living World team, the Legendaries team, and a couple others. The teams are charged with carrying a feature from inception and design through completion. When they finish, we typically package work from multiple teams into a single release, then we hand it off to release teams for final voice integration, localization, QA, and release management.
The final thing you should know is that we’re working hard to avoid having a default assumption that “this thing will ship on this date,” or even, “this thing will ship,” and instead we’re proactively deciding to ship things when they’re done and polished and we’ve played them and love them. So if you ask us for a list of things that will ship in April, we’ll probably be coy because we think it’s nice for you to have presents to unwrap on release day, but more than that, the truth is we don’t even know. We’re working on a lot of potentially great improvements for April, all themed in the direction of less grind and more rewards, and they won’t all make the cut, but any reasonable subset will make a great release.
And with that, let’s get to the AMA! It’s a big game and there’s a lot to talk about. I’ll be here for about three hours this afternoon, with other developers coming through for shorter periods.
Are you planning to add more laid-back maps that aren’t event driven? You know, ones that you can just walk around on killing mobs progressing in some way and getting + – as good rewards as on event driven maps? I feel too much pressure on the maps you’ve added lately.
I think you’re asking whether maybe with HoT we’re moving the game away from exploration-driven maps toward very event-focused. The reality is when we make maps we try to make them great for free-form exploration and also great for groups. With HoT the game currently seems to be pushing you pretty hard to do the just group event content, but that’s not our intention.
Fyi. If it wasn’t your intention, having activities and map areas closed off based on progress of the meta goes against that intention. Having people get kicked off a map copy after the meta has been progressed to a map copy with no progress also does not meet that intention. Just 2 nights ago many of us were kicked off, without any warning, from a T4 AB shortly before Tarir event to a map with zero pylons. That can’t possibly be intentional.
It’s not, and we’re working on ways to fix it.
Anet managed to avoid the "Lots of senior folks leaving" post-launch for the base game (a problem with regularly plagues MMO’s, especially those that underperform), but it seems to be hitting pretty hard for HoT. Damn, doesn’t look that good externally : /
As for a question…are we going to see the HoT zones be a bit more solo player friendly? Specifically speaking of the first zone. I fully admit I’m bad at the game, but I /loved/ that in Tyria I could make it through the world on my own with few problems. But HoT? I’ve barely made it into the first zone because I’m so often stonewalled with events that require groups to clear and don’t have much interest in taking part in multi-hour long zergs.
Yes. You shouldn’t have to take part in multi-hour-long zergs. There’s a lot of content in HoT and we’re trying to make it rewarding to play in a variety of play styles.
How do you view the HoT maps being on a timed meta? Any plans to make them more casual friendly where we wont have to wait hours for a map or have to play one for hours? Eg dragon stand requires 2hrs of gameplay isnt that unrealistic?
The goal of our maps is to create epic moments that bring players together to take on larger than life challenges, but give the players the freedom of exploration and reward multiple styles of gameplay. With HoT we leaned more heavily on the organized content unfortunately at the cost of more casual experience. This is something that we plan on making adjustments to and are taking into account as we develop maps in the future.
Skimpy armor for males?!
While I cannot speak for our Commerce or Art teams, I will say that some of us at the studio have conversations about brainstorming ideas regularly and something that often comes up is the differences between male and female armors. I obviously cannot answer this question, but I just wanted to say that we do discuss these things! 🙂
Let’s talk armor. One of the devs mentioned a few weeks ago they’d look into the missing assets (Tribal armor is the most notorious, but Apostle armor also comes to mind). Has anything definitive come up to bring back the old PvP skins?
We are definitely working on bringing these sets back into the game.
The April update is about reducing grind, clearing away some tedium, getting quickly to the fun, and improving rewards.
Is this going to address the huge disparity in difficulty/cost gearing out some builds over others?
There are some improvements in obtaining the new HoT gear in April, though I don’t believe they will completely resolve this issue. This is one of my main goals for Living World Season 3 rewards.
Mike, why were there so few new armor sets added to HoT? Why did the new raids offer no new armor skins, and when can we expect some actual new ones to help our fashion addiction?
Not Mike, but I do have some answers to this:
Armor sets are one of (if not actually) the most time expensive things we make for GW2. Each set has an incredible amount of detail and customization, and then has to be fit to very disparate rigs. That’s a big part of why we did the number we did for HoT.
That being said, there are plans for more reward armor sets in the future. And while raids doesn’t have armor skinsyet, it will be the way players obtain legendary armor.
Its sad to hear Colin go but am excited that to see what direction you will take the game.
The game has seen two very different methods one in 2013 where all that was done was incremental living story updates. In 2015 we saw a long wait and an expansion that dropped, what could have been viewed as a bulk incremental updates.
I guess my real basic questions is…
How in the future will content primarily be delivered?
What method of delivery translated into the most success for the company?
Will we ever see the world evolve again like we saw in Season 1 where things that happened effected the landscape and the lore of the land?
Hi Mireles. You’re right that in 2013 we were really focused on Living World, and then we decided to do split and do both. We decided to do both because there are big, fundamental improvements that you just can’t do when you’re only shipping Living World.
There are a couple things we’re focusing on going forward. First of all, sustainability. We don’t want to shift back and forth, so we need to make sure Expac2 doesn’t need us to pull down Live devs and vice-versa. Second, quality. When we’re shipping every two weeks, we just have to ship. But going forward it’s much more important for us to be proud of everything we ship, and for you to be proud of everything we ship, than to hit a specific cadence.
The Story Journal was created as a way to provide story content to players in a way that they could control the pace at which they choose to play. We’re definitely looking to continue with that.
Wow, this was unexpected. So I bet my questions are hush hush answers, but might as well try.
- Extended Experience. Is it still on the table?
- What’s an estimated timeframe for Expac releases? Are you counting for one every year, every two years etc?
- Any information about a character rendering API from the web devs?
These are farfetched, but I’m really curious about these things.
Oh yea, and I’m gonna miss Colin and his amazing smile. Even though he steals our precursors.
Extended Experience never really existed in the form promoted in that blog post and the team working on it was restructured to focus on other things. I don’t expect us to ship anything like what the blog post promised, it’s not a good use of our time.
Character rendering is still a "that would be awesome" sort of long-term goal. There are a TON of more-attainable API goals in front of it though.
We decided a long time ago that it would be far better to have the community own the extended experience than for us to do it internally. Since then it’s been all about the APIs.
Sorry, I’m not going to predict a release date for Expac2. When it’s done. 🙂
I’ll see if I can get Pat and the web team to join us to talk APIs.
New legendary weapons?
Yes we are working on several legendary weapons. It is always a challenge to determine when these will be ready to ship, so we are always evaluating those that have reached our quality bar before we announce / release them.
Going to attempt to answer what I can here. As mentioned in the original post, we won’t be saying when things will be coming out. What I can say is that we are working towards completing the entire set of 16 HoT legendary weapons (sorry underwater). Of the 13 left, they are all in various stages of concept, modeling and design, but the two that are furthest along in development are the Short Bow and the Mace.
I’ll be happy to answer more questions, so by all means.
Do you plan to release them all together or by couple (let’s say 3 for example) at times?
We will be releasing them as they are ready with each of the "packaged up" releases that Mike mentioned.
Whats the deal with the fractal backpiece? Is it going to be the April update (hopefully)?
I can’t promise A certain date, but we’ve de-linked the backpack from Fractal Leaderboards so we can release it sooner rather than later.
So there’s literally nothing holding it back atm, right? Or is there another reason as to why you cannot release it?
Well, it was originally tied into leaderboards pretty closely. We had to undo all that, which took time. Now we need to test it and make sure all the changes work correctly.
Ah I see, thank you for the reply. I don’t know if you can talk about this, but a lot of people are speculating that the fractal backpiece will be a glider since the PvP one was, were there any plans of doing the same for the fractal backpiece?
Why’s Colin leaving?
I answered this in another spot for Malchior as well. Just want to reinforce this is an opportunity for me to get closer to my home, family and try something new. After eleven years now at ArenaNet, I have nothing but love for this team, game and community – I’ll be rooting for all of you.
Colin, are you at liberty to say yet where you may be going?
To Mike, grats on being back in a design role! I look forward to where and how you guide the future of Guild Wars 2!
An opportunity came up that allows me to see my family far more, support my wife on a project she is tackling after years of her supporting me, and a chance to cut my commute down to zero from an epic commute I have today. For now I’d rather let this discussion be about the future of Gw2 and leave my own future to that!
Mike you will do just fine! As for my question… Do you think we’ll get outfits armor’s again? Not these full outfits? Just so we can customize our looks? If not why so? Also can you expand the mailbox Kk thanks ;)! Colin you will be miss !!! -Kit The Traveler
Posting on behalf of Curtis: We believe that armor sets make great rewards and the best place for them is earned, in-game rewards.
Great to see this kind of communication! Always great to hear this kind of information (including a remarkably detailed mention regarding the how resources are split up, including mentioning that expac2 is already in production).
The question(s) most on my mind, is what is the plan regarding elite specializations? Will new ones be released as they are individually ready, groups, or only when each profession has a new one? Are the releases aimed only for expacs, or can we look forward to seeing some in one of the quarterly patches (especially since we have all these extra hero points sitting about)?
Thank you for taking your time to do this!
Hi Solife! Elite specs are for expansion packs.
Will there ever be any official fashion contests?
That’s a nice idea. Some of our fansites and one of our subreddits does a great job with those, but we could discuss this as a team and see if it fits, in the future. Thanks for the suggestion!
OMG seriously, thank you for asking. So the original designer of the crafting system, before I got my paws on it, was so in love with fishing minigames that there was probably more documentation on fishing than there was on the rest of the crafting system and we didn’t even have plans to do it! Since that guy left the company 5 years ago, I am always championing fishing as our "next big feature! c’mon guys! let’s do it!!" but I tend to get laughed out of the room. It’s become a running joke more than anything. It doesn’t help that I go home to that original designer every night (it’s my husband!) and he is always reminding me to bug people about it.
Sadly, I don’t see fishing in the near future, but I’ll keep bringing it up!!
We’ve lost a big smile today :/ I wish you the best, Maestro :’)
And for the Lore/Narrative team, will we ever explore the nature of magic and Tyria itself beyond elder dragons? The Mists, Lord Odran, The Antikythera, The Six Gods, The Hall of Heroes and the rift, The Spirits of the Wild… There are lots of mysteries out there yet to be explored, and we are aproaching them rather slowly :/
I won’t give away any spoilers on future content. What I can say is that the team loves weaving long established lore into our new story, and we’re excited about a lot of ways that we will be doing that in upcoming releases. And yes, magic in Tyria is broader than dragons.
Hey there, the other day you guys released a new bug tracker. Is the new bug tracker meant to supplement existing QA or are you guys planning on taking QA in a new direction?
The Bug Tracker is intended simply to make our processes more transparent. It will keep you aware of what’s currently on the "short list" for fixes, but I don’t believe it will ever display every single bug that is being worked on. Consider it a "hit the highlights" sort of thing, and we hope you find it useful.
To build on what Gaile said:
The tracker is built upon the solid foundation of our QA department’s work. Recently I’ve been taking a more active role to improve communication between QA and the customer base, and this tracker is the result. In addition to my own efforts, a large group of QA folks puts in a lot of time to comb through bug reports, forum posts, and Reddit reports to get bugs into our internal tracker where they are assigned to the appropriate devs for fixing.
This has all been going on for years – what’s new is that I’m jumping in to make sure the players can stay informed of what’s happening with the most annoying of those bugs.
There have been some changes in how we’re doing QA, but they’re not really related to the issue tracker. I’ll see if I can get one of our awesome QA people to come over and talk more about that!
Is there any chance you would consider adding a Lore/Story/Exploration mode to instanced content that disables rewards but just lets us see the story without needing to beat the encounters?
This is something we have discussed, but currently don’t have any plans to implement.
When will we finally get justice for Chauncey? It’s simply unacceptable that a cat so fancy only got second place in the fancy cat competition… This is a game breaking problem tbh.
I agree with you soooo much! Chauncey was robbed! In fact, I’m told that some behind-the-scenes investigations revealed that the judges were heavily influenced by offers of baked goods and shiny sigils! 🙂
I suggested an idea to Lizzie for a future episode of Community Showcase Live, and it involves Chauncey. We’ll have to discuss and figure out a date, but I’m thinking a "Chauncey-themed" CSL has a certain appeal.
Roy on creatures? I want Revenant developer back, tho!
Yup, a bit after the launch of HoT I transitioned teams to be team lead on creatures, working on expansion 2. You are in good hands with /u/Anet_KarlMcLain and the rest of the skills and balance team. I’m still involved with that team though and provide lots of advice and feedback, 😉
So what happen with legendary armor with EXP? Still no in-game 🙁
If I understand your question correctly, we are still planning to release legendary armor as part of the raids rewards.
Question for Leah (same name as my character yay). How far have you guys planned out the story so far? Do you have an idea of the long term grand plan, or are you doing it the way some book writers do and just brainstorming things as you go along?
Also, tell us Steve’s real name in some form! (The deep sea dragon)
We definitely have a long-term plan! I feel that is really important and something that will help us be sure to emphasize key beats and wrap up threads moving forward, rather than create loose ends.
That being said, there are many ways for us to get to the big milestones along the way, and with every new release/season/xpac, we always do a lot of brainstorming on the best ways to get us there.
And fun fact, we Devs have taken to calling it Steve in meetings. It isn’t official, but it makes us laugh!
Some QA related questions. How big is your QA dept., how is it structured and what is your bugtracker of choice?
QA at launch was a very large group (something like 60ish people) in-house, but since then we moved to a leaner model with more testing being done as the content is developed. QAE started up after launch and we are a little more than a hand full of developers now.
Before launch we used Fogbugz, we switched to DevSuite after launch, and recently transitioned to JIRA after the HoT release.
What are the chances of a graphics engine update? As in, are we likely to see the game running under a later version of DirectX (12 being the newest), or maybe switching to a different graphics API (e.g. Vulkan)?
I’m not sure if any of the listed people would be able to answer this (though QA people might be able to?) and I assume the answer is "never going to happen", but because it pops up on this subreddit somewhat regularly and I’d be intrigued to see an official answer.
There are currently no plans.
I really hope this does seen an answer – this is something I really am curious to know about, especially in terms of the Mac port going forward.
When we shipped the game originally we used a third-party shell to ‘host’ the Windows version. While this got the product out the door on Mac there are some things we haven’t been able to do to make it a true Mac application. We are actively experimenting with getting native code that runs directly on the Mac with OpenGL etc. I don’t know how long it will take to make it "real" but I can say that this week we finally got it compiling, linking, and starting up on a Mac before it crashes at the login screen. 🙂
Why wasn’t the Hall of Heroes (HoH/Tomb of Primeval Kings) ever implemented into GW2? And will it be in the future?
Halls and Tombs were a huge part of GW1. While we loved those modes in GW1 we wanted to try something different for GW2. In GW2 we have Unranked Arenas as a fun place for all players to enjoy PvP. Ranked Arena for seasons of high competition. The Pro Leagues for the top players to compete for prizes and our in-game progression path for the Pro Leagues, the Guild Challenger League. In addition, there are Custom Arenas for scrimmages, casual play and practice. Guild Wars 2 PvP takes a new and different approach to PvP and overall is much more successful for it.
HoH was a huge part of my time playing GW1. I was one of the leaders of an HA guild, The Spearmen, and we LIVED there. I have so many fond memories of that game type, I truly did love it.
That said, as a game designer who also worked on HA in the later years, I can tell you that it had a lot of problems as a PvP type. It’s easy for us to look back on it with rose colored glasses and reminisce about the good times, but if the conversation turns to why did we not carry it forward, I have to say that its design problems were great and it was time for us to move on. But oh the memories!
Do you mind sharing what happened or is happening with Guild Anthems? They were on the official HoT page, but never made it in game. I thought it sounded like a really neat idea.
This was a feature that wasn’t fully polished so we pulled it from the HoT launch. It’s something we want to get back to but we are not actively working on it right now.
1)Are we finally going to have tonics for the Mordrem Creatures from HoT (Mordrem guards + the three Mordrem commanders + Mordrem mounts, etc) ? And if not, why ? Seems weird that we wouldn’t get those, when we got like 4 different mushrooms and chak tonics… pretty please ? 🙂
2) Was there a backstory for the Mordrem commanders like Staffmaster Adryn & Axemaster Hareth ?
3) Was the Nightmare Court storyline really cut off ? There’s no explanation whatsoever about who is the duchess Chrysanthea and why we actually let her lead us against Mordremoth at the end of Dragonstand.
4)…What about the other Pale Tree mentionned in the Sylvari personnal story, and Malyck who came from it ? Are we going to know more about that someday ? HoT seemed like the perfect occasion to get some informations about them, but we’ve got nothing.
5) Could we please get more sketches and rough works for the creatures ? Those are awesome to see, but it’s rare that you actually show them, it would be awesome to see the though process, graphic studies and rejected designs behind HoT’s creatures.
We’ve had many discussions here about most of your questions. The reality of making games is that we often have content that we love that doesn’t make the cut because of scope concerns. We are discussing ways we might be able to delve further into some of these.
As to the Nightmare Court question, there are places in the game where we deal with the fact that, in the war against Mordremoth, we’re pretty much on the same side. Nightmare Court don’t want to follow anyone blindly…not the Pale Tree and not Mordremoth.
We’ve heard some hints about megaservers improvements.
I’ve found the megaserver/taxi behavior to be one of the most head-scratching parts of the game. There are several maps now where the only way to really play the map is to find someone in a "we’re taking this seriously" instance (using the lfg tool or guild chat) and trying to join on them before the instance fills up.
Seeing things like "anyone got a good dragon’s stand instance?" or "hey, we’re doing silverwastes, don’t know if there’s room in the map tho" in guild chat just feels really contrary to the spirit of the game.
Do you plan on the taxi system being an important way of playing major map content going forward? Or is the taxi system scheduled for replacement? What is the experience of logging in and joining a map event supposed to work like? What parts of that experience are going to change?
This is a pretty big question. The taxi system is not designed to be the primary way people make it into maps with their friends. That being said, I don’t think getting rid of the options gets us many benefits.
There are two major aspects of problems. First, the criteria for who your playing with is immense. It’s pretty common for players to have friends that aren’t on their friends list, aren’t in their guild, aren’t in their party. GW2 is designed for dynamic grouping. That being said parties and guilds hold strong values and I think the megaserver system should represent that.
The second problem is that megaservers isn’t a load balancing problem in the normal sense. If we spin up new servers as the old ones fill, the the criteria for matching what server you are in becomes a single question, "which server is currently open". Instead you have to know how many server you need BEFORE you need those servers and spin them up. Then you need an effective matching algorithm to place players in the correct server.
Both of these are very difficult problems and that’s why we’ve been working for so long. I can’t say specifically at this point what the final experience will be like, but I can say that it will be better.
We will eventually be able to get legendary armor through raids … are there any plans for alternate methods of acquisition for legendary armor?
Perhaps something more similar to how the weapons are acquired?
We designed the rewards for raids around the acquisition of Legendary Armor. It’s similar to how players are working towards their legendary backpiece in Fractals or the new Legendary Weapons that are largely something acquired in the open world.
Is there any future for regular dynamic updates to the game, like the 2-week cadence of season 1’s Living World? (As someone who loved it, I feel less engaged in what I feel is a more static world than the original dream. Hearing that LW3 is still far down the road is disheartening)
Hi. We can’t get back to the 2-week cadence, not only because we’re also working on an expansion pack at the same time, but also because shipping every two weeks forces us to sacrifice quality. To ship every two weeks, the overriding concern has to be shipping, and we actually want the overriding concern to be quality. That doesn’t mean we can’t keep the world feeling alive, as we did between episodes of season two. I’ll turn this question over to Nellie.
As Mo mentioned we love to sprinkle little bits of stuff in there between releases. While I won’t go into detail because that will ruin the surprise, know it will happen!
Which teams are in charge of class balance and how does internal testing for skills work?
What do you primarily look for when discussing changes to certain classes?
If you don’t balance around Pro League or top level PvP, what do you use as a benchmark for balance?
Are there any plans to split skills between PvE and PvP?
We do have a team that works on skills. We focus on maintenance and balance of current skills, in addition to the implementation of new player skills down the road (I.E. H.O.T. Elite specializations). Internal testing is a mix of Dev/Q.A./tester Hands-on interaction, and some automation. When discussing changes for classes, we look to a variety of areas to determine what should happen. We use metrics from many areas of the game, feedback from a plethora of sources (yourselves included), along with our own spreadsheet comparisons and experiences. In addition, we have meetings with each feature team to discuss the issues in that we then investigate and come up with solutions for. We balance from many different perspectives, top tier pvp is included as well as Raids, Fractals, WvW roaming/group play, casual open world, huge map-wide encounters and a few more that I’m not thinking of at this moment. As for skill splitting, I’d suggest checking out Isaiah’s answer in this thread.
Can you provide a succinct statement on why ArenaNet is against splitting skills between PvE/W3/PvP because I’mglad you guys are not doing it due to what happened in GW1 when ArenaNet did this (PvE become more wildly imbalanced with massive power creep on skills that became completely different from their former counterpart like Signet of Spirits, PvP was balanced about the same prior to it, class mechanics changed between both formats, added another huge barrier of entry into PvP which is a format that already has a huge barrier of entry which killed off the PvP population pretty fast etc) but a lot of people still seem to want it even though the Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet has spent time these past few years actually reverting the splits you guys did do around launch so you seem to be against it as well with little statement as to why? 🙂
We are not fully against it but it adds a lot of overhead to every balance and design decisions as you move forward. While it does give you another tool box it does lead to optimizing skills heavily for each game type which does make power creep. like Mike Z always says and Colin gets blamed for its on the table and it’s something we may use in the future but we do often find most issues are global issues that are just highlighted in one area.
Thanks for being willing to do this, Mike!
My question is less about Guild Wars directly, but more those who are behind it. What sort of skills and experience do you feel is required to be a great game director? Would you be willing to share some of your experience and advice on how to develop those skills?
Remember that games are created by teams, not individuals. Most decisions will always be made by the teams. Game directors coordinate it all, set the long-term direction, set the anchors that teams use to make decisions, and generally ensure that the finished product is more than the sum of its parts.
Especially for a live game, game directors should be the internal champion for the players. You need one person to do that, one person to represent the players, because otherwise things devolve to, "some players would prefer this but other players would prefer that." So a big part of my job is to represent you, the players, and that’s why my first action after taking over is to hang out with you.
You asked about how to develop the skills. My personal take is that the most interesting problems are the problems that happen between different disciplines. So learn as much as you can about each discipline.
Leah Hoyer! If you’re here:
How does one break into the industry of writing and narrative design for video games or, specifically, Guild Wars? I know you come from a background with other mediums, but I suppose the question still stands. I have a ton of experience in world-building and dialogue construction and all that jazz, but I get the feeling that the industry looks more for experience in live development than for talent in writing or dedication to a particular world/game. Would you say that’s true? What led you to ArenaNet, is narrative for video games competitive, and what helps one to stand out?
Storytelling experience in any medium is going to be useful. The fundamentals of character and world building, conflict, structure, good dialog, etc all apply. But the awesome challenge of game narrative is the way that you take into account the player role. Making choices feel meaningful is hard.
A great tool that I would recommend to build an interactive narrative protfolio is Twine. It is mostly text based, which certainly isn’t the ideal way to tell story in a game. But it really helps creators think about choice and the role of the player. We have a large group ANetters, both Narrative and folks from other disciplines, who are getting together next week to do a Twine Jam.
Play aorund with it. It is free and easy to pick up. If I’m looking at candidates for a position and they don’t have professional game experience, I love seeing a Twine or two among their writing samples.
And also, a team-focused attitude is critical. Everyone who works on the game helps to tell the story. People have to be able to collaborate in this industry, and great collaborators get better results.
Will there be a new server system instead of random mega server instances? Maybe selectable channels?
We’re currently reworking the megaserver system, we’ve been at work for several months already. There will be very little random about the new system.
What is the hardest part of developing the soundtrack for Guild Wars 2?
The hardest part of writing any music for the game is making sure it matches the intent of the rest of the team, from the artists to the writers to the designers. Since we started recording the soundtrack live, the schedule for when it needs to be done is backed up significantly, often before the areas in the game it’s written for are finished. In order to make sure we all end up in the same place at the end, this requires pretty close communication with the other teams, as well as some imagination of how the final areas will be.
The other difficult part is making sure it feels "Guild Wars-y", for lack of a better term. There is room to grow and expand what that means, but I’m always very aware of the legacy of Jeremy Soule and what he means to the world of Guild Wars. My intention is always to make sure the new music fits side by side with his while also reflecting what I, Lena, and Stan feel at the time we’re writing, and if it goes off in a new or different direction, that there is solid reasoning behind it.
Any chance to see back weapon design contests by the community?
I would love us to do that, like the old "Design a Weapon" contests we did for the original Guild Wars. Contests are tricky, though, in part because for legal reasons they require limitations on who can enter. And they actually can take quite a bit of work to implement, with the needs to incorporate the item into the game. On the other hand, they can be tremendous fun, so I feel the team will be happy to discuss this possibility in the future.
Any thoughts on improving the availability of adventures? Especially the ones in VB; if you don’t have a team with you, it can take most of the daytime to complete an area’s eventchain to unlock the adventure, then it locks again at night, leaving barely enough time for 1 or 2 runs.
Oh, also, any thoughts on making XP matter for people who already have masteries maxed out?
Availability of Adventures is absolutely something we are addressing for the April release!
Hello. Personal curiosity.
- How does your test plan look like?
- What kind of approach do you have with Guild Wars 2?
- What tools do you use?
- How many people are in your department?
- What project management methodology is mainly being used? How Agile is the team and how does that affect you?
- What’s the most crazy bug you encountered?
- Are you guys performing any automated tests?
- How many environments do you have? What’s the path of the build from Dev to Live?
Testing guild wars, like any MMO, takes a lot of different strategies. We do a combination of direct feature testing, halo testing around new content and then ad-hoc testing both around new content and in general. I work on the manual side of things, Lance can speak to the automation, but we have general in house commands and things a bit more specific to the feature we’re working on. For example, when I was testing the reward coordinator I had commands to progress the map, move my personal progress and reset the map.
As far as project management methodology, I work very closely with the producers, designers and engineers on my teams to make the best product possible. The circumstances can change depending on the situation, but I have a voice throughout the process from beginning to end. It’s different every day, for example today I am checking things off of a list for a feature you’ll all get to see in our big content update helping the engineer make sure all of the bugs and notes from different sources are accounted for, Monday I may be assisting another team in a play test and we have a release on Tuesday so I’ll probably be sitting in Lion’s Arch listening to players talk about the patch. As far as crazy bugs, I’m going to let Dara share hers, I spend most of my time on the programming side of things and it’s not as interesting!
Ester said I should share my most crazy bug!
The craziest bug I ever encountered was back when Triple Trouble (world bosses) were being developed. While working with the Cobalt Head part of the encounter, the Cobalt wurm used Charge to go after some crabs on the beach. The charge caused the Wurm to leave intended playable space and the teleport kicked in to put it back into that space. HOWEVER, the teleport placed the Cobalt wurm head up high on the surrounding cliffs instead.
The Cobalt got a-head of itself that day when it tried to wurm its way out of trouble. But its shenanigans were observed and the team put in some protections to keep it from teleporting weird again. This continues to be my craziest and favorite bug.
QA Engineering (QAE) started up after launch, so our strategy was focused around covering the breadth of the game’s systems. Now that we have thousands of tests, we’ve been focusing on automating high risk areas, keeping automation results reliable, catching up with new content changes, proactively automating new features, etc.
We use Tableau and JIRA for analytics and bug tracking. The rest of our tools (test execution, harnesses, instrumentation, reporting) were built in-house. If you’re looking for more info, I gave a talk about our test automation tools at GDC last year.
QAE has been "agile" since we started. We made some early mistakes trying partial implementations of SCRUM, but we switched to Kanban a long while back and it just worked for us. I’d say we are better off for having made those mistakes, and learning from them, because the team is still invested in our process.
We have a lot of environments internally. Most dedicated content teams have their own deployment. We run automated tests on as many as we can, all the time.
Will there be changes to daily gameplay stuff? Like a bigger choice of dailys to do.
HoT daily achievements were overlooked during development. Expect to find these and some of their friends in an upcoming release.
It’s a cool suggestion. But, sorry, we’re not working on a key ring. We’ve got a full plate with other development, and as I said above, my priority is for us to do a great job on the things we’re already tackling.
Can you tell us if you guys view the current state of amalgamated gemstones in hot legendaries as a problem?
We do think there is a problem with amalgamated gemstones, but it’s somewhat complicated and we’re still looking at the best way to address it.
We have a posibility in Guild Wars 2, to make a Public Test Server?
We’ve experimented with public test servers and there are two problems for us: 1) much of our stuff is story driven, and not suitable for a public test server; and 2) the results from play patterns don’t match what we see later on live. Instead, we developed a system we used for HoT where we can beta test characters and maps on the Live servers with a cute little personal sandbox that surrounds beta characters. We will be exploring using that tech more so we can do public-test-server-like things but in the live game, so we get real useful results back. Also nobody needs to download another 25 gigabytes for a test server. And you can take your current live character into the test world almost instantly.
Can you talk about why it’s so difficult to produce armor sets when it seems like the design teams are able to churn out a very steady stream of gem store skins?
You two answered it for me. 🙂 It does in fact take about ten times the dev effort to make an armor set as to make an outfit.
On the subject of combat in different media, what about aerial combat? Will we ever see something like say, air jousting? Since we now have bundle skills we can use while gliding, I’m wondering how much effort it would be to make weapon/utility skills functional while gliding.
I especially like the aerial jousting idea. But, no. We’re full up working on other things. We’re choosing our battles carefully so we can do a great job of anything we take on.
Question: Have you guys consider using District system like gw1? Not just for Cities but for every map. I believe it would be so much easier for people to organize a map. Is it even possible to select a map district like GW1?
Thank you for reading 😀
Megaservers does what Gw1 did ala districts, except automatically. The downside, which really became apparent with HoT, is that we have an almost impossible problem to solve: how do we reserve space for all the people that will want to play together but are not currently playing together? Fans have solved his problem with taxiing, which is amazing, but obviously that is not the best solution. Or perhaps if it is the right way to do it we should make it easier. But the basic problem is a map holds N people and if we leave space for M people that may or may not show up, then it really only supports N-M people and if M is large, the map is mostly empty. Megaservers favors parties when grouping, which is why taxiing works: a small buffer is reserved so parties can generally get into the map together. But reserving say for an entire guild, where we don’t know how many will show up for any particular map, is a hard problem conceptually, never mind the programming of it. I’m open to suggestions.
Living World Season 3
When is Living Story 3 going to start?
It’ll start in the quarterly update after the next raid releases.
He said next releases. Next release is 3/8 with Salvation Pass, Mike said wing 3 in May or June. Looking like early/mid Q3.
This! We will be releasing after the 3rd raid.
Oh, I get it now. What should we expect in LS3 (except of story episodes)? More permament world changes (like what Towers of Nightmares did to the environment of Kessex Hills)? More maps being added?
Expect to see permanent changes in the world, that can happen in new maps or old maps. Yes I’m being purposely vague because living world is all about options and we don’t want to talk ourselves into a corner. Bottom line, we’re gonna do stuff we think is really cool and shows the world evolving.
Are you ever gonna do something like LS1 again? i missed out on the whole living world thing for the most part and wish more stuff changed in a permanent way.
LS2 was nice but i liked the open-world parts of the HoT story more than the instanced stuff.
We also love telling stories in open world. We’re definitely looking at all the ways we can tell our story in upcoming Living World releases.
Will LS3 be only for HoT owners or will base game owners & f2p players have access to it as well?
Living World Season 3 will require players to have purchased HoT, since the story picks up from the end of HoT.
My question is for Leah: At the end of HoT some pretty shocking events came to pass. Will we be able to deal with these events in Season 3? Pressing F just… Didn’t feel right. 🙁
The story will definitely pick up in Season 3 where we left off in HoT. I totally understand your concern. As Mike mentioned in his letter, above, we had to take a lot of people off of Living World to focus on getting HoT out the door. This meant that we were left with a larger gap between that content and resuming Living World content. We had originally intended one to more quickly lead into the other. But the next chapter will be coming!
And yes, Canach does rock! He’s one of my favorites.
I really enjoyed the quality of content and story that was brought along with LS2, but I kind of missed some of the epicness of the events of LS1. So, are there any plans to cross over both styles? Majority LS2 repeatable content, but also a few larger events that only last for a month or two (rather than 2 weeks) and can ben enjoyed by large groups? Also, start closing some plotlines before opening more! I love the stories in this game.
Thanks for the nice words about the story. As we continue, we absolutely have these as some of our broad story goals: — Bring exciting content with every release — Integrate story with gameplay to make a great overall experience…both in instances and open world — Tie up important story threads as we can while advancing our story
The story in HOT left a lot of threads hanging. Can we expect these to be picked back up in the next LW season? Are there plans for expanding the amount of lore shared with players a la LW S2 optional conversations, inter-actable objects etc? I missed this in the HOT story. (Also farewell Colin, and good luck!)
Our LW season definitely picks up where HoT left off. You will certainly hear more about Rata Novus, the egg, etc. And yes, we always look for ways to put in bonus and optional story for the folks who really want it. We had a good deal of this in HoT, but it was probably in slightly different forms than we had previously. We’re always trying new ways to get this info to the folks who love our story!
How does the Living World team come up with the ideas to go to this or that specific place. Like the story could have taken somewhere else (except for the mordremoth story line)
It’s a collaborative process between the open world designers and narrative. We (open world designers) get a high level concept of the story beats that we need to hit, and we work with that in order to come up with the right setting that works the best for everyone.
Am I reading this correctly that Living Story will not be returning until June at the earliest? I’m just curious since Living World was one of the nice things to keep the more casual players logged in and engaged.
We’ll all miss Colin. And yes, Living World should come back around the time of the July quarterly update. We took it down at the beginning of 2015 to focus on HoT, and now we’re rebuilding. My goal now is sustainability: we shouldn’t ever have to sacrifice Live to ship an expansion.
Are dungeons going to be truly left behind forever? Will they ever be revisited.
I know this horse has been beaten to a pulp but since the directors have changed maybe the direction has changed too. Also thanks for all the hard work Colin! Good luck!
We’re continuing to focus on Fractals as our primary focus for 5-man content. However, given the reaction, we are taking a second look at the current dungeon rewards.
Have you guys reconsidered your decision to push players away from dungeons? Fractals aren’t the same thing and agony resistance is a big gate for players who don’t have a bunch of ascended gear.
Players need challenging content to bridge the gap between "I hit 80!" and raids and right now, there’s no good options.
PS Good luck, Colin! You’ll be missed!
Simple answer, yes. We didn’t need to nerf dungeons like that. But we also don’t have a dungeons team to keep dungeons updates. So that’s the dilemma.
Guild Wars 2 is a big game with a lot of dev needs. My personal focus is to ensure that we do a great job of anything we choose to do. I’m all about doing fewer things and doing them better. So we have no current plan to staff a dungeons team; no free developers to staff one with.
Do you plan on adding more fractals or dungeons for those that enjoy the 5 man content but don’t have the time to raid? I see you guys are hitting the ground running with raids and that’s great I just hope that casual dungeon/fractals don’t get left too stale. It’s been over 2 years since we have had any new fractals.
Absolutely! We’re working on some new Fractals right now, as a matter of fact. We’re also looking into making improvements to Fractals as a game mode, so stay tuned!
What about instabilities? One of the big problems of the Fractal rework with HoT is that it didn’t really change much. Instabilities are recycled for 10 levels and stacked rather than there being particularly interesting ones.
That’s one of the things we’re working on 🙂
Can we hope to see new fractal instabilities in the future (preferably replacing some of the existing ones)?
I understand that some community ideas might be hard to implement but there have been dozens of simple instability suggestions that would make fractals both more fun and more challenging than they currently are. Well, anything would work since the existing ones are mostly annoying and just waste time.
Yes, we’re absolutely working on new Instabilities. I agree than many of the ones live right now are more frustrating than anything else…
shakes fist at No Pain, No Gain
Ahem. Anyway, going forward we really want Instabilities to be something that mixes up gameplay at higher scales and become something players need to interact or react to, and not just something which passively makes the Fractal harder.
Will the mist-stalker instability be brought back? I always found that one the most fun, simply because Mossman always finds a way to throw a wrench (read: axe) in the works.
Not just that, we also want to add new Instabilities similar to Mist Stalker (i.e., Instabilities that players interact or react to, as opposed to passive ones).
So will the passive/RNG instabilities be completely removed/replaced? I hate the instability (Afflicted) that causes random condi’s to be applied on enemy attacks. It’s the anti-fun since, realistically, there’s very little you can do to stop getting feared constantly. It’s completely unpredicatable. 🙁 The Social Awkwardness instability actually made 94 Cliffside a little more interesting since we had to spread out instead of stack for everything. Last Laugh is also okay since we can actually react to it as you say.
To answer your question, as we develop new, better Instabilities we do plan on phasing out the old ones. We’ll likely end up with a mix of new and old Instabilities for a period though, at least until we develop enough new ones.
Have you considered making certain existing encounters into fractal content? I know our group agreed that dungeon bosses even could be a fun addition (Clockheart being a good example).
Especially since dungeons are not being played as often anymore, shame to miss out on that content.
We’re looking into it, and have found one that seems promising! We also want to develop brand-new islands for Fractals though, to make sure we provide a fresh experience for our veteran players.
When looking at existing encounters to turn into fractals, my advice is to not copy/paste it.
Oh heck no, we’ve run into waaaaayyyy to many issues with that in the past to do that ever again.
Claw Island would be fun. Maybe at some point?
Mechanically though, if we convert existing content into Fractals going forward they will definitely need a mechanical tune-up. What works well for a Living World instance doesn’t necessarily make a good Fractal.
…nope, no new dungeons. Not now, anyway 🙁
Will you manage to implement any changes for Fractals in the April Update or will they come later ?
I can’t commit to a specific date, but we would really like to get some of these changes in for the next quarterly update 🙂
Anything about a reward system that incentivises people to do the longer, more challenging fractals in the works? The 2016 blog mentioned it but from what I got was that, at the time there weren’t any ideas.
Yes!! We want to incentivize players to play all of our Fractals, not just the shortest/easiest ones. We have several ideas on how to tackle this, starting with changing how the Daily Achievements work.
Why not random again like in old good days?
Because while that was great when you had an hour or two to sink into Fractals, there are a some players who only have 15 minutes here and there to play(busy parents being one example). We want to make sure Fractals are accessible to everyone.
Why not randomized individual fractal? Rather than four randomized fractals – it’s just one randomized fractal?
Because then you just end up with people ‘re-rolling’ Fractals by entering and leaving over and over until they get something they like. It’s not a good player experience.
Do we also get different types of instanced group content or will GW2 focus on Raids (hardcore) and fractals? On the long term, not this year.
Just Raids and Fractals for the foreseeable future.
I play a lot of fractals. (Over 40k relics and counting) They were my main content to play before the expansion, and now they hold no interest for me. So I guess this is directed at /u/Anet_Sean . (Questions at the end if you want to skip straight to the questions.)
Ascended drop rates are definitely down. And with higher level fractals requiring mostly or full ascended, this is a serious detriment to the system. Before, if you ran a few times a day for a few weeks, you would almost surely be ready to run higher tier ones by then. And if you had to craft gear, it would only be one or two pieces. Fractals now are locked behind a gear wall, a time wall (many groups will only do "swamps of the mist" because it saves time), and are just generally boring. At least when repeating dungeons it took you a good few hours to do all the paths. Now you simply do 3 swamps or a twin for each daily and it’s over in 45 minutes. I found the rng of fractals to be one of the main reasons this content was repeatable. I also find that fractals are a more hostile place now than before, because no one will teach pugs in a 10 minute one-and-done. They might actually have tried in a 30-45 minute run.
- Are there any plans to re-add the rng aspect?
- Are there any plans to increase the ascended drop rate?
- Are dipoles supposed to be nearly unobtainable?
- Has the drop rate for shards/vials/globs also gone down as people suggest, or is that just because of the whole "swamps of the mist" nonsense?
- What are your views on the "swamps of the mist meta"?
- Is Mossman married?
- Can we please not have fractal leaderboards. With the current system a leaderboard would be cumbersome and frankly quite try-hard. Fulfilling old promises on defunct content.
Are there any plans to re-add the rng aspect?
Do you mean the 4 random islands thing? No, not currently. While I do absolutely see the appeal of that (Personally, it was my favorite thing about Fractals pre-HoT), we want to make Fractals more accessible to new players and make sure it’s something that is easy to just pick up and play. Unfortunately that old structure was a significant barrier to that, which is why it was changed.
Are there any plans to increase the ascended drop rate?
Are dipoles supposed to be nearly unobtainable?
Has the drop rate for shards/vials/globs also gone down as people suggest, or is that just because of the whole "swamps of the mist" nonsense?
That’s due to Swamps of the Mists. Shards/vials/globs are random drops from mobs, and Swamp/Duo really don’t have that many mobs to kill.
What are your views on the "swamps of the mist meta"?
Ugh. I don’t like it at all. I really want to add more incentives to play a wider variety of different Fractals, though I do know there are some people who do enjoy it so we don’t want to nerf Swamp/Duo directly.
Is Mossman married?
Why don’t you ask him and find out 😉
Can we please not have fractal leaderboards. With the current system a leaderboard would be cumbersome and frankly quite try-hard. Fulfilling old promises on defunct content.
So yeah, development on this has been suspended. The more we worked on Fractal Leaderboards the more we realized it just wouldn’t work with Fractals as they are right now.
We did come up with something else entirely that we really do like as an alternative, but that would take a lot of development work and we just have too many problems with Fractals in their current state before we can devote those kind of resources to a project like that.
Even though it is probably obvious; will dungeons ever get some fixes or will we even get new ones? Or is this type of content considered "dead" and won’t be touched anymore in any way?
What is holding back the release of the Ad Infinitum legendary backpiece? Fractal leaderboards or something entirely else?
Have there been any ideas to rework fractal instabilities? For example, instead of binding them to scale-ranges, create a handful especially for each fractal, then either assigning them to specific scales or making them randomly assigned per day; people who seek that little extra challenge could also be allowed to activate more instabilities for bonus loot, similar to the gambit system which existed in the Queen’s Gauntlet.
Will Jeweler and Cook 500 ever happen, or rather, are there any plans for it? Especially with the release of quad-stat gear and how awfully difficult it is to acquire ascended versions of the respective trinkets I was very surprised that at least Jeweler 500 was not included in the release of HoT.
Why are we only able to buy a maximum of five shared inventory slots?
I hope you can at least answer a few of those questions, would be really amazing.
We don’t have a Dungeon team currently, so development there will be slow at best :/
Ad Infinitum was held back because we were trying to work it into Fractal Leaderboards. The problem is Fractal Leaderboards, as a feature, ended up evolving into something else entirely that was taking way more development time than originally intended.
Ultimately we knew we couldn’t keep developing this feature while we still had a lot of problems with the core Fractal experience, so we’ve suspended work on that to focus on improving Fractals as a whole first. As part of this shift in focus, Ad Infinitum has been de-linked from Leaderboards and we’re trying to get it out as soon as we can!
We are currently reworking Fractal instabilities, though we’re still in the very early stages of development on those.
Can’t answer the other questions, they’re not my area of expertise.
Any plans to give incentive to other fractals dailies besides Swamp and Molten Duo?
Absolutely! We’re currently working on revamping the daily achievement system to encourage playing a variety of Fractals instead of just the fastest/easiest ones.
What would be the general direction on 5 man instanced content?
For a lot of people, both the fractal rework on top of dungeon reward nerf have been very hard to digest, and we’ve got little to look forward to. New fractals are to come, but in what way shape or form leaves very many questions. As well as: is that it?
After the launch of HoT, we saw quite a few issues with Fractals and formed a new, dedicated Fractals team to take these problems on. I know we’ve dropped the ball on Fractals in the past, but we’re working on making it up to you!
As far as Dungeons go, we’re not actively developing those, though we are taking a second look at the changes to Dungeon rewards.
Any insights on what the thoughts were of transitioning the old fractal system into the newer ones (release – fractured – post hot)? I’d love to hear what the process and expected outcomes were.
I wasn’t working on Fractals when those changes were made, but as I understand it the primary goal was to make them more accessible to new players. This was partially successful, but I think it came at too high a cost to players who loved Fractals as they were. In the future we want to make sure we can have Fractals that appeal to both crowds.
I always wondered how some things manage to go through, sorry if I sound rude.
Like the boringness of swamp x5 molten x2 daily x2…
And now that we’re in such a state, what would be the way to approach it?
Yeah, ‘Swamps of the Mists’ is definitely not ideal. I think the main driver behind this is how the Daily Achievements are structured, so we’re currently looking into reworking those to encourage players to play all of our different Fractals.
Will fractals always require agony resistance? Will agony resistance be revamped?
Now that fractals are meant to replace dungeons, you’d expect them to be more accessible to the general playerbase. However, they still preserve the old "mechanic for grinders" that make fractals, IMO, a niché to me. It’s what is preventing me from enjoying it as much as I could.
We do want to rework how Agony and Agony Resistance works, but those are plans for far in the future, as we have other more pressing issues we need to work on first.
Any word yet on when we can roughly expect the new fractals, or Ad Infinitum? Or could you perhaps give out a hint on what we can expect from the now infamous Fractal Leaderboards? Will they be about level, speed, or something else?
We’re currently developing new fractals, but don’t have an ETA yet.
Development on Fractal Leaderboards has been suspended for the time being, while we work on fixing core issues with Fractals as a game mode.
Any chance of seeing the fall of abaddon fractal make a return? I know there was talk about wanted Ng to make the effects of the election really felt, but from a lore standpoint both of them were really quite fascinating.
Maybe? I’ll talk with the team about it.
How do you plan on implementing new fractals?
Replacing excisting levels or adding more levels past 100?
For the near future, replacing most likely. We don’t really want to add more levels past 100, because that opens up a whole new can of worms.
For much, much later on, at some point I think we will need to simply change how Fractal Scales work. Maybe instead of having scales at all, you would just play Core Molten Duo or Casual Jade Maw or something like that, instead of Scale 40 and Scale 20.
Is there really a point to artificial ‘difficulty’ created by AR? Agony itself seems like a solution looking for a problem.
Not to mention infusions are not really explained well in the game. We regularly get people here asking for help because they can’t make sense of the different slots/infusing in the MF/etc.
Yeah, Agony and AR currently leave a lot to be desired. We do want to rework these systems, but as they’re currently at least functional (though admittedly not fun) it may be a while before we get around to it.
But the current ones aren’t? Are you going to be redo-ing the current fractals to make them more mechanic focused?
Also how are you going to achieve this at high levels when currently nothing is changed aside from larger health pools and instabilities that are slapped on in 10 lvl increments with no actual care with how they affect the fractal you are playing in specific??
We’re borrowing a page from Raids here with things like phase transitions and different attacks, which will then become more challenging at higher scales (e.g. larger AoEs, shorter breakbar windows, more punishing attacks when you fail to dodge, etc.)
And yes, we are looking at both doing this for new Fractals and reworking old Fractals to incorporate these things as well. It will take us some time to get to all the old Fractals though.
Any thoughts on the difficulty of the fractals themselves? Even with the changes to toughness scaling, the bosses in later fractal levels are incredibly tedious due to their colossal amounts of health making them take forever to kill. Add in that they do almost no damage compared to pre-HoT and you have some pretty boring boss fights where the only reason why people die is that the fight took long enough for them to make a random mistake.
Pre-HoT fractals difficulty was challenging enough that I loved doing my fractal 50s (and even sometimes 40s and 30s) everyday. Call me crazy but I used to love pug-buster fractals like volcanic and mai trin and the current iterations are shadows of their former selves.
“the bosses in later fractal levels are incredibly tedious due to their colossal amounts of health making them take forever to kill”
Yes, they are. We’re investigating possible solutions to alleviate this other than just flat-out nerfing them(since they would be too easy at that point).
Raiding, generally speaking, is a game type that appeals to a small subset of people. I think Guild Wars 2 is at its best when it appeals to large crowds, the majority of players. Why is so much effort being put in to raids?
While it seems like there is a lot of effort going into raids, the teams are actually a lot smaller than something like a Living World release. For example, with Salvation Pass, we had only about 5-6 people working on it full time for 4 months. A few others assisted with their time for a week here, or a month there, plus additional people helped when it came time for reviews. And many of those full time people work on 2 raid releases simultaneously (Bobby worked on the scripts at the same time for both releases).
Semi-related/followup: I assume you’ve got data about what percentage of active players ever enter a raid or beat a raid boss. You probably can’t give us numbers, but do you have a sense of how it compares to other games? Is it lower or higher than you want it to be?
Raid in MMOs are high-end content designed for the more hardcore player. However, from an analytics standpoint, the participation is higher than other games we’ve seen. This is likely due to the nature of our progression system in GW2.
how much work on the 3rd raid wing has been done?
We have several encounters in a playable state and we continue to iterate on the release. It is looking great!!
oh i forgot to ask if all the raid wings have 3 different bosses
There will be variances between the raid releases regarding the number of encounters / bosses depending on complexity of development and design. Most raids will try to be of a consistent size.
to expand his question, will the current raid have a final boss, thats only accessable after you cleared all 3 wings?
No, that is not our plan.
Oh! Question regarding numbers which probably won’t be answered! How many legendary insights and provisioneer tokens do you need for legendary armor? Redeeming those daily tokens is such a boooreee~ :C
You will need one Gift of Craftsmanship to upgrade each piece of the final set of precursor armor to legendary. I’m still working on balancing the number of legendary insights you will need, though if you raid regularly and successfully, you should have enough to complete your armor without having to go back and grind more insights.
You will need one Gift of Craftsmanship to upgrade each piece of the final set
So that’s… Oh my god. 300 tokens? T_T Is the way redeeming the tokens works going to stay like it is now?
We’re looking at making the provisioners easier to access to make it less of a hassle.
My guild has problems to get 10 people together and we can’t raid. Any plans to have 5 man version of the raid?
Not at this time.
We want Fractals to be the content that fills this game space. They’re not quite there yet, but we’re working on making them less of an Hit point slog and more mechanically interesting, especially at higher scales.
Any plans to make ascended gear more reliably acquired through fractals? It’s needed for higher scales but only drops at higher scales, leading to quite a catch-22 for new players looking to get into the content.
Players don’t necessarily want to have to level 2-4 crafting professions to 500 and craft ascended gear to be able to enjoy 5-man instanced content that’s still supported.
Yes! One of the things we’re looking into is the reward loop for Fractals.
We want to make sure you can get everything you need to play Fractals, from Fractals, without being completely reliant on lucky drops (though those will still exist).
Any plans to have easy mode version of the raid? I’m a casual player, I can’t find raid groups.
the raids team is working on solutions for finding raid groups
Could we perhaps get a LFG for raids in the mean time? 😀
We are looking into adding Raids to the LFG tool.
Externally it seems like Raids have taken priority over smaller group content. Is that the case internally? Do you feel that Raids have been successful so far in terms of player turnout?
Raids had always planned for 3 wings to encompass the first raid. So we had some stuff and ideas in progress before we ever shipped the first release. While it seems like it’s the priority, that is definitely not the case. We just got a head start is all.
I guess my question would focus around how end game content that ISN’T raiding is going to go forward in the future. I’m talking about whatever dungeons Mk2 are, fractals etc. I personally really enjoy raids but the high skill ceiling means that the rewards that were taken out of dungeons are now inaccessible for a large part of the player base. Will the upcoming changes and additions to end game content reflect the more ‘casual’ aspect of GW2, as that’s always been the game’s core demographic.
We have multiple teams working on different types of content for Guild Wars 2 and raid content is just one of them. Expect to find a variety of content types of varying difficulty in future releases of Living World and Expansions.
My question is this: Are you planning on making ascended gear available to everyone WITHOUT having to do raids? For example, getting ascended viper jewelry. I thought a core idea for GW2 was to make all gear available to all players in the game style they prefer (fractals, WvW, open world, raids, SPvP)? I can understand having exclusive rewards for raids, but feel those should be cosmetic like exclusive skins and mini’s — not equipment.
Living World Season 3 should open some avenues for non-raiders to gear up with ascended equipment. This should also allow non-raiders to get the gear/stat combinations that are currently only available in the raids, like jewelry with the new HoT combinations.
What do you think about updating older raid wings with different difficulty levels. For example, when Gorseval was bugged and the adds would not move. It was really challenging and I think it adds more depth and strategy. It would also be a good way to offer better rewards for completing challenge mote bosses.
One of the things you’ll see in Salvation Pass are some new achievements that force you to play the encounter differently. It’s one of the ways we are slowly exploring making encounters with opt in extra difficulty.
I must ask, have you guys thought about next raids after Forsaken thicket? Or are they going to be a thing on/after the next expansion?
We’ve slowly started talks about what the next release is and where it will take place, but that’s the extent.
Will future raids have different number of wings?
When the raids team began, we committed to 3 releases initially which turned into what you now know as Forsaken Thicket. But anything is possible! We can do raids that are a singular wing, or we can do them chained together like FT.
Hi there! Can you give us any info to what you plan to do with WvW? Specifically any info involving increasing rewards, server reworks, or PPT adjustments?
Thanks for this info today!
I can’t really go into the ‘whens’, but here’s what I can tell you. At a high level we plan to address core WvW issues such as population imbalance, scoring issues, and rewards. Of those, the first updates you’ll see will be related to population balance and rewards. As always, as we get closer to releasing an update we’ll be publishing a blog post including more details.
The WvW team has been working on fixing population imbalance and increasing rewards. They’re set to beta-test changes starting after we publish the April update.
WvW has suffered too long. As I wrote above, I asked Stephen, our studio tech director, to take this project on. He’ll clear the log-jam and make sure we can ship frequently and incrementally.
Other than that, with me stepping in, it’s an opportunity to reevaluate priorities. Right now our priorities are population imbalance and rewards. But they don’t have to be. I’ll contact WvW opinion leaders and put them in front of the team to make sure we’re working on the right things.
Yes – we overscoped a big "WvW 2.0" awesome update that was taking forever … so now we will ship lots of small incremental improvements that get us to where we want to be, and so y’all know we are actually working on it! Some of the things done over the last year and a half are reusable, and we’ll get those to a ship-able state.
Shuai Liu and Tyler Bearce, what experience do you have with WvW from a player’s perspective?
What do you think the most important parts of its success in the last few years of GW 2 can be contributed to? And to what do you contribute the fact that WvW is at an all-time low in terms of activity?
Hi. This question isn’t addressed to me but I want to jump in here.
I absolutely want to bring more community representation to the WvW team. We’ll find the right people and fly them here.
The WvW team’s current top priority is fixing population imbalance. It’s a really hard technical problem. It has taken us a long time to ship a solution, so it’s been a long time since we’ve shipped significant updates, and of course that hurts.
Currently, we’re clearing the log-jam by making sure we can roll-out incremental updates to the Live servers. It will be nice to be back in a mode of shipping frequently.
In alll seriousness though, I’ve been involved in the development for almost 6 years now. During one of the first Gw2 betas, Izzy and I stayed up all night long fending off the attacks of an invading French guild. Back when repairing a structures used to be an instant action, with no animation. Since then I’ve played on both NA/EU servers, on many different tiers (Free world transfers is a nice benefit of being a dev.) I try to continually experience as many different WvW playstyles as possible (roaming, zerging, havocing, upscaling, etc) Sometimes I log in and just ask players for feedback directly, or to show me any bugs or exploits that they know about.
As for questions towards what I believe was part of WvW’s initial success goes… World vs. World had good timing (lots of players felt the lack of a high quality RvR experiences), it had a strong RvR development team, and it was just part of a really great MMO.
It’s awesome that you want to bring more community representation in, but I think the priorities are slightly off here. I personally think there should at least be a band-aid fix put in place before the population imbalance problem is addressed as the game mode is dying. Maybe the metrics show that it’s thriving because F2P players and people that hopped on the HoT hype train are now high enough level to hop into WvW, but the gamemode is absolutely hemorrhaging veteran WvW players and it’s a real problem. The GvG scene is almost totally dead and the population imbalance problems will only increase as more and more players keep leaving. This might already be on the table, but would it be very difficult to revert the borderlands to the old style so roamers once again have a place in WvW?
Yes, we can do that. Look, I know I’m walking into a very tense situation with WvW. The two things I’m going to focus on are clearing the log-jam and using the WvW community to drive team priorities.
Any plans to change some things on desert bl map? What about Alpine bl?
We are currently working on layout improvements to the Desert Borderlands map. Specifically, we are looking at changes that simplify navigation, reduce line of sight blockers, reduce/eliminate critical choke points (Fire Keep Lord Room), reduce lethal fall locations, etc.
We still intend to eventually bring back the Alpine Borderlands map, but it’s not as simple as just toggling it back on. We don’t have the tech for rotating between the two borderlands built yet, and the map itself required a significant amount of content updates to support all of the features that were added to WvW as part of the HoT update.
We could really use someone to address the unrest in the WvW forums, an introduction post there and outline things about the overhaul that you can talk about would go a long way. (a time frame would be even better if possible)
I appreciate the fact that you can’t talk about things that aren’t finalised and such, but the overall deterioration of the game mode over the years has left fans of the game mode feeling disheartened and impatient.
Once we’ve released our blog, announcing the first part of the big WvW update, we’ll be able to be a lot more open when answering questions about our solutions to these big issues and how exactly the updated systems will work.
After the April update, we’ll start live beta-tests of improvements to WvW.
Can you define what a "live beta test" is please?
In a Live Beta, the beta feature is available on the live game servers, but we are able to quickly disable the feature in the event that it’s negatively impacting gameplay, or any other serious issues arise. Depending on the feature the length of a live beta can be highly variable, it may be a few hours, a weekend, or much longer. It’s an opportunity for us to gather feedback on the feature, from the entire playerbase, and update the feature before shipping it ‘for real’. See Heart of Thorns Beta weekend events or Looking For Group.
so you want to do beta tests for wvw. who do you invite to it? and will you finally listen to the dedicated wvw guilds?
On Live servers. So everyone. We’ll turn on test functionality during certain hours, or during one match.
Yes! We’re doing it for the players. Of course players get to prioritize what we work on.
I would like to ask why the director of WvW team has been changed again. What is the reason? And what is Anet vision of WvW for the future?
Stephen is the studio technical director of ArenaNet. He’ll clear the log-jam. We need to work on things we know we can ship, things we can update frequently and incrementally. And beyond that, Stephen is great at taking a player-centric approach to development.
Hello. Sorry I’m late. I just had a tooth removed.
We got into a pattern where we wanted the WvW update to be super awesome, a "2.0" version, and it kept growing in size and complexity, which took longer, and fans were waiting, and so we wanted it to be more awesome, and rinse, repeat… As Mo said, we need to clear out the log jam, so we’re going to focus on ship-able pieces, even if that means we do some rework later. And we’ll get each piece onto the Live servers as soon as possible.
When are you going to announce details of the WvW overhaul? The mode is bleeding players at an exponentially increasing rate and needs clarification.
Instead of thinking of it as a monolithic overhaul, which we have been doing internally, we’re going to start thinking in terms of smaller ship-able pieces so you can see progress as we make it. Then it won’t be about promises but instead about what you see. We were definitely over scoping this and in some ways over thinking it.
Will a change in game director mean a change in your communication policy? It seems off to a good start, just hoping it doesn’t slip back to complete silence. Also, WvW. Changes need to happen now. Some details would be nice as well.
We are going to start releasing upgrades to the system in smaller pieces. BTW, the original construction of WvW took on the order of three years (and I did the back-end server work). We kept underestimating how much work it would be to do an overhaul, and so kept coming up short. Instead, we’re going to be less revolutionary (initially) and more evolutionary so y’all can see progress and provide feedback as we go.
Big question for the wvw team, would you guys consider moving back to Friday resets? Works a lot better for all of us wvwers, and gives meaning to Friday and early saturday. Currently the major part of the weekend is wasted, as the week is already decided then, moving it back to Friday would help a lot.
This is a conversation we’re going to need to have with y’all. We moved to Saturday because sometimes we do a build on Fridays and just about the time we wanted to activate the build was during the reset time. So we thought it would be better if there was no conflict in the timing of those things. Since people love Friday, but we might do a build on Friday, we need to talk about exactly what time of day would be good for the community, and then adjust based on that.
All I keep hearing is the reward system for WvW is being worked on. WvW’ers don’t care about rewards!!!. Yes, it would be nice to get cool shiny things every now and then but that is not why we play. I have logged almost 6k hours in GW2 and I would say 90% of that has been in WvW knowing I was more than likely not going to get anything worth anything for rewards from playing yet I still did it. I am part of a very large guild and most of the members could probably say the same thing. Rewards are not going to revive WvW. First and foremost the new borderland maps need to be reverted back to the Alpine maps until something more playable is developed.
Previously we were working on a mega update to WvW which would incorporate every fix we ever wanted to make. One risk, besides the fact it turned out to be too big for us, is that concerns like yours would get lost in the big update. So we’re switching to a cadence of smaller updates where we can get feedback on each thing as it ships. As it is, some people do want meaningful rewards; but my main point is that we’ll switch to a mode where we can have those conversations, experiment, and iterate, and nobody is stuck waiting for a huge update.
Maybe I overlooked it but I do not see anything being addressed about the new borderland maps. It is not a secret that WvW population is decreasing by the day and one of the biggest factors are the new maps. EBG will be qeued all night long and very few if anybody on the BL’s. I am curious what the plans are to address this.
When we made the new borderlands we planned to be able to switch between it and the previous map, perhaps by round, or perhaps by ‘season’. But the tech to support that on-the-fly swap never worked; we kept thinking it shouldn’t be that hard, because we can redirect people to/from PVE and PVP maps with simple configuration changes. (One big problem is the overworld map can’t dynamically update.)
So, to answer your question, we didn’t mean to get into a place where there was only the new map but unfortunately we did. (In fact, this is why WvW had to be tested on a public test server, because we couldn’t do live configuration changes.) It turns out that because WvW maps communicate with each other that on-the-fly changes are super-hard. Since I worked on the original back-end implementation of WvW we will look at those systems with fresh eyes and see if we can work out a reasonable way to do map swaps.
When can we expect the sPvP Leaderboard to return? And will it be not terrible this time?
The old iteration of the leaderboard will not be returning, but we do have the Legendary Division Leaderboard which highlights our top Ranked Arena players as well as the Guild Challenger League which highlights our top guild teams.
Has Arenanet taken the dissatisfaction of players with the PvP season 2 matchmaking under advisement and looking to revise it for season 3?
We are definitely aware that there are some frustrating match-ups being made during this Season’s initial kick off period and we are actively working to improve this for Season 3.
So no planned changes for S2?
It’s very weird to have a double negative on losses – as your MMR drops your expected team is going to be worse – your chances of winning become lower – etc.
The only real way to go about that is waiting it out for people to pass by the league and hope worse players enter/stay… but that doesn’t seem like a healthy state.
The way that matchmaking is set up for Ranked with PvP Leagues, you’re definitely either losing or not gaining pips, but your MMR is actually not adjusting enough to bring you down to get matched with "even worse players." The matches in which you lose against opponents that are much higher rated than you do not adjust your MMR significantly. We’re aware that there are frustrations with the initial starting period for Season 2 and we are currently planning to improve overall match quality for Season 3, particularly during the start of the season.
Did Gw2 thought about some Betting for the PvP esports games? (with gold for example) to promote the scene a bit.
We know that this has been successful in other games and it’s something that comes up occasionally in brainstorming sessions but at the moment we don’t have any plans for a system like this.
Don’t you think that waiting to balance the game’s PvP only 4 times a year leads to stagnation? The bi-weekly updates kept the game fresh, both in PvP and out. How do you justify moving away from that?
We believe that having distinct meta periods is healthy for the state of PvP, but keeping the meta constantly in flux is frustrating for most players, because things that were effective one day were ineffective the next week.
as we have shown, we’re willing to make changes to improve the health of the meta mid-season, but we also don’t wish to constantly change the meta during PvP League Seasons in general.
Hey guys, thanks for doing this. Are you aware of any issues with the current matchmaking system for league season 2, or is everything working as intended? If you do see an issue, is there anything we can know about that you are doing to fix it?
We’re aware that there are frustrations with the initial starting period for Season 2 and we are currently planning to improve overall match quality for Season 3, particularly during the start of the season.
PvP Leagues: Why are pips and MMR updated separately instead of using a player’s MMR to determine league position?
We use MMR for minor matchmaking considerations (like finding similarly skilled teammates), but it doesn’t really work as a determiner of which division you technically belong in for our specific league system. There is a lot of things involved in the League progress system, but sufficed to say, we’ve explored the idea of using MMR as the sole means of determining player positions and we identified enough pitfalls that we decided to opt for a different system instead.
So, to be more precise, what role does league mmr play in the determination of matchups, and do you plan to tweak it or leave it as is for the remainder of season? A number of threads have popped up on official forums concerning this, and I am curious as to what will or could happen.
Right now, for the purposes of matchmaking, MMR is currently used when searching for players to be on your team (unless you’re in a pre-made group, of course). We do not plan on making any changes to matchmaking until after Season 2 has ended.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: PvP season 2 matchmaking.
Will you fix it, removing the stacking algorithm, or change it in some significant way?
Any PvP loving player wants nice matches, not pre-determined stacked matches just for the sake of grinding/climbing useless ladders (like the divisions).
Will you ever bring back a much more fair system like the one in GW1 GvG?
We have gotten a lot of data on the first 2 weeks of the season and plan on making some changes to address some of the matchmaking pain points you are describing in season 3. We also are looking into improving the initial starting period of league seasons with regards to match quality.
Are there any plans for new (ranked) pvp maps?
It is definitely our intent to build new maps for PvP for both Conquest and Stronghold. Before we dig into that, we are taking a pass on making some improvements to our existing maps. We’ve had some feedback from some of our top players on how some existing maps could be adjusted to be more competitive. Expect to see some adjustments along those lines first.
Any plans for simple 1v1, 2v2 pvp queues where you just fight other players with no pve, point capturing stuff?
It’s something we’ve discussed, but there are currently no plans for 1v1 or 2v2 PvP gamemodes at the moment.
Why wasn’t stronghold adjusted anymore after the last beta? There are still many issues with it, for example archers being basically useless.
We’re aware that there are still existing pain points on the Battle of Champion’s Dusk map and we are actively working to address them.
About sPvP, how do you feel about the balance and the impact of engineer/ele/rev still being able to bunker, while the necro do a crazy amount of damage, the warrior can’t be competitive nor the thief or the mesmer? How do you consider the power creep? Is there a team working actively on balance ? How do you feel about the impossibility to play ranked between the pvp season? On a sidenote how do you consider the matchmaking for ranked, are you considering improvement to stop successive lose streak due to high spread of mmr between players in a same team?
The team has been evaluating what to do in the off season. We don’t have a firm plan yet but it is something that is being discussed.
Regarding ranked play, it is our highly competitive mode. While everyone can participate in it, you do need to think of it more like a tournament. That said, we are looking at ways to get higher tier players to where they need to be faster. In S2 we added win streaks which our data has shown has helped a lot to achieve this. Again, no solid plans yet but this is something that the team is keeping a close eye on.
What are the chances on bringing Courtyard PvP map back to the unranked selection list? If you already answered it I apologize as there
was wayyyyy too much to read haha.
Our currently supported gamemodes are Conquest and Stronghold. Courtyard still has a place in custom arenas, but it won’t be returning to Unranked or Ranked arena.
With regards to pvp: we have small group and massive scale, any chance you might try and implement something inbetween? Say 10v10 or 15v15? I know you used to have 8v8, but they didnt work well for the maps you created. Any thoughts on revisiting this? I played a good 7 years of wow, and even though i dont play anymore i miss warsong gulch and their other maps because the dynamic truly changes with different team numbers and different objectives than just conquest.
We currently don’t have plans for match sizes larger than 5v5 in PvP. When it comes to PvP, we’ve seen in the past that once we get above 5v5, match quality and individual skill tends to matter less the more players we add, so we won’t be going higher than 5v5 at the present.
You you plan some big changes on PvP unpopular maps? For example changing the orb mechanic on spirit watch etc. Do you plan to add some new PvP maps in near future?
It is definitely our intent to build new maps for PvP for both Conquest and Stronghold. Before we dig into that, we are taking a pass on making some improvements to our existing maps. We’ve had some feedback from some of our top players on how some existing maps could be adjusted to be more competitive. Expect to see some adjustments along those lines first
Hello, Mike. Thanks for doing this!
When can PvPers queue outside of Heart of the Mists?
How players move between maps in PvP is different than in the rest of the game and because of that it there are technical limitations on our ability to have players queue from outside the Mists. If we can find a solution to the technical challenges around this we would love to be able to do this but it is a very difficult problem given how the code between these systems work.