GW2 Reddit Developer AMA Summary
Summary of the GW2 Reddit Developer AMA with all the important points and hightlights.
- Next big quarterly update in April to reduce grind and improve rewards. After that we will do live beta tests of improvements to WvW
- Raid Wing 3 will be launched in May or June and then LW3 and the next Quarterly update after.
- 120 devs working on live game, 70 devs on expansion 2, 30 devs on core teams that support both. With in the live release/expansion groups 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
- We will ship things when they are done and polished rather than on a hard schedule.
- 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.
- 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. However we do love to sprinkle little bits of stuff in there between releases.
- 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.
- New Eite specializations are part of expansion packs.
- Current Hot Maps seems to push players to just do group event content rather than free-form exploration. That is not our intention. When we make maps we try to make them great both group events and exploration.
- It is not our intention to kick players off a map with progression to one with no progression and we are working on ways to fix it.
- Players should not have to take part in multiple 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.
- 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.
- Availability of Adventures is absolutely something we are addressing for the April release!
- HoT daily achievements were overlooked during development. Expect to find these and some of their friends in an upcoming release.
- Studio has regularly conversations about differences between male and female armors. Things like skimpy male armors are being discussed.
- We are working on bringing the Apostle and Tribal armor Old PvP skins back into the game.
- There are some improvements on obtaining the new HoT gear in the April update but it won’t resolve the issue of having some builds difficult to gear than others until Living World Season 3.
- Armor sets are one of the most time consuming 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
- It take about ten times the dev effort to make an armor set as to make an outfit.
- We believe that armor sets make great rewards and the best place for them is earned, in-game rewards.We designed the rewards for raids around the acquisition of Legendary Armor and have no alternate plans for getting them.
- 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. We will be releasing them as they are ready with each of the packaged releases.
- Legendary armor are still being released as part of raid rewards, that has not changed.
- We have delinked Fractal backpieces from the leaderboards and can release it sooner. It took sometime to undo the link to Fractal leaderboards and now we are testing it to make sure everything works correctly.
Story/Living World S3
- Living World should come back around the time of the July quarterly update.
- Living World Season 3 will require players to have purchased HoT
- The story will definitely pick up in Season 3 where we left off in HoT. You will certainly hear more about Rata Novus, the egg, etc and we always look for ways to put in bonus and optional story for the folks who really want it
- As we continue, we will absolutely have epic events like the ones in LS1 as some of our broad story goals
- 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. Magic in Tyria is broader than dragons.
- We have a long term plan for the story and not just brainstorming things along the way. 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
- Expect to see permanent changes in the world, that can happen in new maps or old maps
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. We have no current plan to staff a dungeons team; no free developers to staff one with.
- No new dungeons. Just Raids and Fractals for the foreseeable future.
- Development on Fractal Leaderboards 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.
- We’re working on some new Fractals right now and also looking into making improvements to Fractals as a game mode. We can’t commit to a specific date, but we would really like to get some of these changes in for the next quarterly update, New fractals are still in early prototype state and won’t be ready for Q2.
- We’re looking into making certain existing encounters into fractal content, and have found one that seems promising. 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.
- New Fractals would replace existing levels.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.
- To make high level fractals more challenging, 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.) 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.
- Instabilities are one of the things we’re working on. We’re absolutely working on new Instabilities. We agree than many of the ones live right now are more frustrating than anything else. 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.
- 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.
- We are currently reworking Fractal instabilities, though we’re still in the very early stages of development on those.
- 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
- Random fractals like before were not accessible to everyone as you needed 1-2 hrs to sink into fractals. 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.
- There are plans to increased Ascended drop rate.
- 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.
- We really want to add more incentives to play a wider variety of different Fractals, though we do know there are some people who do enjoy it so we don’t want to nerf Swamp/Duo directly.
- The primary goal for HoT fractal changes 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.
- 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.
- Raid teams are smaller than teams for Living World releases. For example, with Salvation Pass, we had only about 5-6 people working on it full time for 4 months.
- 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 over smaller group content, that is definitely not the case. We just got a head start is all.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- There are no plans for a final boss that is only accessible after you cleared all 3 wings.
- 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.We’re looking at making the provisioners easier to access to make it less of a hassle.
- No plans for 5 man version of the raid or easier mode of the raid. We are working on solutions for finding raid groups such as adding raids to the LFG tool.
- We’ve slowly started talks about what the raid after Forsaken Thicket is and where it will take place, but that’s the extent.
- Stephen is the studio technical director of ArenaNet. He’ll be the new director for WvW and clear the log jam.
- 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.
- We are set to live beta-test changes starting after we publish the April update .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’. The live beta will be available to everyone.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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). We didn’t mean to get into a place where there was only the new map but unfortunately we did.
- We moved resets 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.
- Halls and Tombs were a huge part of GW1. While we loved those modes in GW1 we wanted to try something different for GW2.Guild Wars 2 PvP takes a new and different approach to PvP and overall is much more successful for it.
- 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.
- 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, particularly during the start of the season.
- No plans for a betting system for PvP esports games.
- 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.
- 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.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.
- 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.
- 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.
- No plans for 1v1 or 2v2 PvP gamemodes at the moment or plans for match sizes larger than 5v5 in PvP.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- We are not fully against skill splitting between the different game modes but it adds a lot of overhead to every balance and design decision. While it does give you another tool box it does lead to optimizing skills heavily for each game type which does make power creep.Its on the table and it’s something we may use in the future
- 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. Don’t expect us to ship anything like what the blog post promised, it’s not a good use of our time. 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.
- Character rendering API is still a “that would be awesome” sort of long-term goal
- New Bug Tracker is intended to simply make our processes more transparent, it will display a highlight of all the bugs being worked on. It is to improve communication between QA and the customer base.
- No plans for graphics engine update (i.e. no Direct X 12 or moving to Vulkan).
- Mac version was done via a shield party shell to host the Windows version and isn’t a true Mac application. We are actively experimenting with getting native code that runs directly on the Mac with OpenGL etc
- Guild Anthems weren’t fully polished so we pulled it from the HoT launch. We want to get back to but not actively working on it right now.
- Megaserver/Taxi behavior is a very complex problem. The taxi system is not designed to be the primary way people make it into maps with their friends. That being said, we don’t think getting rid of the options gets us many benefits. There are two major problems with megaservers: the criteria for who your playing with is immense and it isn’t a load balancing problem in the normal sense. We can’t say specifically at this point what the final experience will be like, but I can say that it will be better. We’ve been at work for several months already. There will be very little random about the new system.
- Keyrings is a cool suggestion but we are not working on that as we got our plates full with other developments.
- 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
- No plans for aerial combat. We like it but working on other things.
- Colin is leaving due to a new opportunity that allow him to see his family more and support his wife on a project. Also less commune for him.
- 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.
- Official fashion contests are a nice idea that the team can discuss and see if it fits.
- Weapon design contests like we did for GW1 are tricky due to legal issues that restricts who can enter and can take a lot of work to implement. The team will be happy to discuss this possibility in the future.
- Original designer of the crafting system was in love with fishing and it had more documentation than the rest of the crafting system. Unfortunately we never had the plans to do it and the guy left the company 5 years ago. This designer is actually the husband of the current crafting designer. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be fishing in the near future but she will keep bringing it up.
- Roy is now a team lead on creatures and working on Expansion 2.
- QA at launch had a very large group of 60ish people in house but it is more leaner now.
- 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. 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