Action Reaction

March 7, 2016 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 2 Comments
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Recently Arenanet did a full blitz of the Guild Wars 2 subreddit where they held an AMA, Ask Me Anything. There were loads of questions, and a surprising amount of openness to things I had wondered about for months, even years. I haven’t posted in a while, but I still play Guild Wars 2 heavily and the AMA prompted me to give my reactions.

I’ll pick out the stuff I find interesting, quote it, respond to it, and skip over the rest, but you can find a great summary here.

The main body of the introduction to the AMA is actually pretty interesting.

The news is that I’m taking over as the game director of Guild Wars 2 for a while. Colin will be leaving us.

Mike O is actually pretty experienced, I would imagine, having worked at Blizzard and had a heavy hand in the original Guild Wars. I’m sure he’ll be fine until a new game director is found. A lot of people seem to be reacting badly to Colin’s departure, but I always felt that maybe the community latched onto him a bit much. He seems like a nice enough guy but company turnover is normal, I don’t see any reason to see this as negative. There’s a lot of speculation as to whether he’s joining the new Amazon game studio where other former Arenanet employees have shown up but Colin doesn’t seem to be indicating that himself.

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.

Of course the big news in the main post are some timelines for upcoming content.

After the April update, we’ll start live beta-tests of improvements to WvW

So it sounds like the long awaited WvW content is coming but post April, and from other questions surrounding WvW it will probably deal with population redistribution and rewards. Other things that may come soon are…

Working on layout improvements in the Desert Borderlands, like simplifying navigation, reducing line of sight blockers, reducing/eliminating critical choke points, reducing lethal fall locations, etc.

And then further in the timeline.

Further on, we’ll launch the next raid wing in May or June, then Living World and the next quarterly update.

Living World can’t come soon enough for some people but June/July seems reasonable to me. Heart of Thorns should have placated and tided people over until season 3 can begin, unless you’re some kind of impossible to please man-child or something.

But what is more interesting to me from these few opening paragraphs is that we got hard numbers on how many people are working on each part of the game. This has been a repeated argument I’ve had with various people so I’m glad to finally see definitive numbers that land squarely in my favour.

We have about 120 devs working on the live game, 70 devs on Expac2, and 30 devs on core teams that support both.

Even when they mentioned a while back that the Season 2 team was around 30 people, various people told me that they didn’t have enough devs to work on an expansion. This was Pre HoT announcement. So nice to be entirely vindicated.

And we get a good idea of the number of teams and what they’re working on.

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.

Good to know there’s an actual fractal team, I expect updates may be coming at least as often as raids, though the raids team was probably created for HoT development, and it sounds like fractals came later.

And in response to one anonymous yet handsome commenter we even get to see the approximate size of an individual team.

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

I think this is interesting because we can maybe make some educated guesses as to the size of other teams, like the fractal team for example. Raids are kind of a big feature at the moment, so perhaps that team is a bit larger than the fractal team but I’d imagine they’re similar. Game development is a time intensive process, and they can never produce enough content to keep up with how fast players consume it, but I’m still glad to see some actual numbers on team size.

But yeah, back to fractals for a second.

we’ve de-linked the backpack from Fractal Leaderboards so we can release it sooner rather than later.

People have been waiting on the legendary backpack so maybe that will come out soon. Good thing they’re decoupling it from the leaderboards too considering they can’t even get the Adventure leaderboards or any leaderboards working properly.

And it sounds to me like they’re going to ditch swamptals as soon as possible.

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.

‘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.

Seems like the dailies will be changed so it won’t just be 3 fractals of your choice.

And hey, the fractal backpiece will be a glider skin.

Idzids – …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?

Anet_sean – Yes.

Moving on to dungeons, I was surprised to see Mike O admit that maybe the dungeon nerf was unnecessary.

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.

I appreciate that they don’t have the developers to work on dungeons, I get it, it just flabbergasts me that they put devs on nerfing them, but not on improving them. At least they’re reconsidering the rewards?

given the reaction, we are taking a second look at the current dungeon rewards.

Looks like there’s going to be improvements to HoT as well.

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.

I guess the question is how do they make adjustments to that? Make some of the events more soloable? Adjust scaling? New events? Virtually every event in the HoT zones is tied to meta so making any adjustment means taking into account the whole thing.

Glad to hear this one.

Availability of Adventures is absolutely something we are addressing for the April release!

Most of the adventures are an unqualified success in my mind, so I’m glad that the one thing holding them back is being addressed. I don’t think I should ever be prevented from getting an adventure going. Annoying that it’s even a thing.

This is pretty good too.

HoT daily achievements were overlooked during development. Expect to find these and some of their friends in an upcoming release.

I was actually really surprised when HoT was not included in any daily achievements. I predicted this as a thing at launch. Seems like common sense to me. What does that comment about “some of their friends” mean? Are we going to see Raid dailies? Dungeon dailies?

I don’t know how to feel about this one.

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.

The cost and time to make some gear verges on the ridiculous. Full ascended gear for my raiding friends keeps them permanently poor, especially when a small nerf here or there greatly effects which stat sets they have to outfit themselves with. Hundreds of gold is spent to keep their builds competitive, and it is so much harder to make gear for the stat sets that Arenanet never fully supported or gated behind time barriers.

Legendaries. Don’t get me started.

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.

Okay. I’m started. Are you fucking kidding me? Did the Legendaries team just get created briefly before launch? Because we’re closing on 5 months since HoT and 3 legendaries have been released. As something that was promoted as being apart of HoT, I guess I expected more. Arenanet really fell down on this one. Not to mention, the shortbow and mace are almost done? Because those are the most sought after and used weapons I guess?

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.

I saved up orbs for years before HoT launched. I was near maximum storage of orbs, I had donated some emerald and some opal. I still needed to buy hundreds to complete my amalgamated gemstones. This isn’t that complicated in my opinion. Reduce the number of orbs required.

Here’s a couple things about Living World Season 3.

Living World Season 3 will require players to have purchased HoT, since the story picks up from the end of HoT.

I’m fine with this. Seems fair. How else would they encourage f2p players to buy the game?

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.

So I imagine this will be a lot like Season 2 rewards, if not exactly the same. Recipes will be thrown at your head like baseballs in a batting pit and ascended jewelry from achievement rewards.

And there’s a ton of PvP and WvW stuff that I don’t really care about. Glad Arenanet did the AMA, mostly a good talk, only provoked me to rage once or twice. Hope the openness continues in the future.


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