GW2 Colin Johanson’s Farewell Post
Game Director Colin Johanson has posted a farewell post on Reddit regarding his departure.
I didn’t plan to write something like this but due to an overwhelming response from friends around the industry and folks from this great community it has become clear to me proper closure requires a real goodbye. Today is my last day at ArenaNet, so here goes nothing…
Eleven years ago ArenaNet took a chance on me. The company’s very first ever game: Guild Wars (Prophecies) needed a game designer to build the bulk of the quests with just a few months left till ship. The offer came on a Friday and required I fly to Seattle from Virginia and be there by Monday morning to start working. On a recommendation from my friend Lewis who was a coder at ArenaNet – I quit my job and jumped on that plane. I flew with what clothes I could bring in a few suitcases and a sleeping bag. I rented an apartment I didn’t have time to furnish and with my sleeping bag as a bed, I set to work banging out the quests. One of the first quests I got to work on involved a little girl named Gwen who needed you to recover her lost flute, I would never have guessed the legacy she would have.
I knew it was a special place when I was immediately made a part of the family. No one ever treated me like an outsider who came in for the final months, I was made to feel like a true part of the team who was helping make something great and it was clear to me I had found a home. Shortly after the launch of Guild Wars, the company banded together to work on the most fun project I’ve ever been a part of in my gaming career: a free update to the game called Sorrow’s Furnace. So much pure joy and love was poured into that little update and most importantly the amazing friends who I got to work with on it will last with me forever.
As a game designer on Guild Wars ArenaNet continued to support me and let me take chances on wild ideas like a Mad King who told jokes for Halloween (thanks for the jokes James!), an iron forgeman, rollerbeetle racing, a Grenth vs. Dwayna wintersday battle, dwarven boxing, Polymock, mimes galore, bog beasts, glint’s challenge, siege turtles, journey’s with Koss, a dungeon full of snowmen, an Elonan party, a lunar iron chef battle and so many more fun projects I can’t begin to remember them all. They took a chance on me again when they let me become the quest design lead for the Eye of the North (I love you team quest!). In my final project before moving to the Guild Wars 2 team, they took one last roll of the dice and give me a shot at being the lead designer of the bonus mission pack.
In Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet gave me the incredible opportunity to lead the team that designed and prototyped the dynamic event system – it all started with a prototype sector we called Shaemoor. Shortly after that they took a chance on me again and let me lead the team that designed and built all of the game content that launched with Guild Wars 2. That team and those years together is another of my all time favorite memories. To those of you out there from that team who read this – I am so proud of you and the amazing things you accomplished – I am truly honored to have been able to have been your lead.
Around launch in the ultimate step of taking a chance on someone, they asked me to step away from my role as a game designer and hand my design team off to a new leadership team to become the PR and media facing voice of the game as the game director for Guild Wars 2. A position where I’ve got to take the credit for everyone else’s hard work ever since 😉
I’ve spent over a decade at my home at ArenaNet; first the building sinking into the swamp, and now the shiny new building on the hill. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the time I’ve spent, or more humbled by the trust put in me. My departure to take on a new challenge elsewhere shouldn’t be a sad day, it’s a day to celebrate new opportunities. I’ve been blessed with the chance to do so much at ArenaNet – and now new people who probably have better heads on their shoulders than I do will get new opportunities. It’s an opportunity for developers to move into new roles they’ve never been in before, for new designers like I was once to get to take chances, and for ArenaNet to support them taking chances the same way it has supported me.
I have loved my time at ArenaNet. I loved my time working with the amazing teams and developers over the many years that really deserve far more credit than they ever receive for the work they do. I love this amazing Guild Wars community. I’ve met so many of you over the years at conventions, talked with you in game, discussed ideas through forums, and read the letters you’ve sent to our office – your passion is simply unmatched. To the ArenaNet team and to the entire community who without which there would be no game at all, it has been an absolute pleasure building games alongside you.
Thank you to everyone for the amazing memories, all of you and the Guild Wars franchise will hold a place in my heart forever.