Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2
was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.
The ever-living story
While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
Waiting for a Living World release you know is coming eventually is one of the more frustrating parts of playing Guild Wars 2
for the chronically impatient like me, but when you add a delay announcement on top of that, community frustration can quickly accelerate. Cue a minor online panic
: Content creators making parody trailers, prominent accounts announcing indefinite breaks, and general fear that we’re headed back to the Heart of Thorns
content drought days! I want to slow down for a minute, though, keep my admittedly thin patience intact for a moment longer, and ask if we really need to worry just yet though.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I will dig into what we know about the delay to the next episode’s release and will consider if this is the start of a worrisome pattern or a justified blip on the radar. I’ll also consider why even small delays cause the degree of frustration they do, giving some ideas for how to minimise the impact of cadence shifts in future.
You might have noticed it’s Tuesday, and there’s been no big trailer drop for the next Guild Wars 2
living world episode. That’s behind schedule if expected, given datamining
, but ArenaNet has now acknowledged the delay all the same.
“The Living World Team currently is hard at work preparing Episode 3 of Living World Season 4,” ArenaNet’s Mike Zadorojny writes through the community team on the official forums. “We’re excited about how it’s shaping up, but wanted to give you a heads up that the release date will be a little outside our normal release cadence.” If that looks like a fancy way of saying the episode is late, welp, have a gold star. But there’s a reason:
“Our key focus while creating the Living World experience is the quality bar we’ve set for ourselves for each episode. With the amount of gameplay and breadth of content in Living World, we noticed that we had an opportunity to make some adjustments to how we approach developing each episode that will help us hit our quality standards more consistently. This logistical change has had some short-term ‘cost’ in time, but will provide benefits to all Living World episodes moving forward. We’ll be announcing Episode 3 as the date gets closer, and everyone on the team is looking forward to playing this new content with you!”
It’s not every day that you walk into a building dominated by an enormous griffon, the enormous statue replicating the mount in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire
. You could, of course, argue that the griffon is functionally an upgraded version of the glider from Heart of Thorns
, but that just brings you back to the idea that Path of Fire
is closer to what people wanted from Heart of Thorns
in the first place. It’s a bigger expansion for people not interested in the rather narrow focus of the jungle.
Which makes sense, since according to the game director, Mike Zadorojny, the focus of what the expansion was meant to be about was radically different between the two expansions, and Path of Fire was closer to an expansion of the base game.
I had the chance to sit with Zadorojny and chat about various issues of both current development ant future direction, although we did not have that chat on the back of the griffon. (There were people waiting in line.) But considering the nature of the griffon and the talk, it might have been appropriate.
Were you expecting Guild Wars 2
to drop a new living world episode trailer today, complete with deets on when the episode is rolling out? We were too. Turns out it’s all been slightly delayed
“We are fast approaching the end of our 2-3 month cadence window for Living World Episodes and this morning we were hoping to unveil the Episode 2 Trailer along with the announcement of its release date,” says ArenaNet’s Mike Zadorojny. “However, as we were preparing the episode for launch we discovered issues that we want to take additional time to address, to make sure it lives up to our standards. Once we have nailed down the last few details, started the process for moving the build to Live, and are confident when the episode will launch, we will release the trailer. Thank you for patience and bearing with us as we put the finishing touches on Episode 2. We look forward to playing the next chapter of Living World with all of you once it is released.”
Maybe next week?
There’s a bit of a kerfuffle over Guild Wars 2’s new mount
, which is a gorgeous peacock reskin of the raptor. ArenaNet
has put it up for 2000 gems ($25) – a direct-buy, mind you, instead of repeating its lockbox mount fiasco from earlier this month
. That hasn’t stopped some players from arguing it’s too expensive, however, compared to the expansion itself, which cost only $30.
ArenaNet’s Mike O’Brien actually answered one player’s Reddit thread on the topic, arguing that even if you don’t want to buy a thing or it’s not aesthetically pleasing, metrics point the way for the studio, and we should be happy if cosmetics like the peacock can manage to support development.
It’s a unique experience to be able to sit down and watch developers play the very game they made. Even if it gives you only a different perspective, sometimes it is worth the time to watch and learn a few new tricks.
Guild Wars 2’s development team recently took an hour out of its schedule to send a few members on a trek through Path of Fire and record the proceedings. Community Manager Rubi Bayer, Lead Designer Mike Zadorojny, and Game Designer Clayton Kisko sit down in front of the camera to get a little silly and subsequently explore the gorgeous new lands of the expansion.
Check it out after the break, and then get caught up on our own impressions a week in!
We’ve reached the end of the third season of Guild Wars 2’s story, and now… what comes next? A new expansion, we all know that. If you’ve forgotten, that’s being announced on August 1st, so you have a bit longer until you find out about it; until then, you can rest with some assurance knowing that Mike Zadorojny is the lead designer on the second expansion. This was announced as part of a lengthy letter from current director Mike O’Brien recapping the game up to this point and where the studio sees it heading in the future.
O’Brien’s letter is largely positive, expressing a sentiment that the game has hit a good balance with this season of the Living World and its content releases. Others are slightly less positive, pointing to Heart of Thorns as something of a blunder and the game subsequently struggling to find its footing and deliver the sort of content players were expecting. So it remains to be seen what sort of reveal will be coming on August 1st, but we can bet money that it’ll be significant. (And will probably line up perfectly with the mountain of leaks about masteries, areas, titles, and everything else, but we’ll just pretend those don’t exist.)
Today is the day, people: I’m hoping you’re all willing and able to log in and follow along with the Q2 update patch notes because Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns
has just had a major revamp with changes affecting every type of content you can think of! Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to the 16,000 or so words that comprise the Q2 patch notes in advance, but I did have the opportunity to quiz several key players at ArenaNet
about the patch and get some hands-on time with the improvements in preparation for today’s launch. I joined Lead Game Designer Mike Zadorojny, Game Designer Link Hughes, and Associate Global Brand Manager Joshua Davis for an absolutely info-packed chat, which I’ll be unpacking here.
If you’re unfamiliar with the patch content, know that this is a long-awaited, largely reparative update that seeks to quell the most pressing issues the community is currently voicing. Zadorojny described the goals for the update as “reducing the perception of grind the players had with HoT, increasing the overall rewards and payouts the players get for playing the content, and getting to the fun faster.” Prepare for a long but worthwhile read: I’m hoping that this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles will help you figure out how valuable the patch will be for you and your guildmates, especially those of you who aren’t active right now. I’ve divided the information into handy content-specific sections, so feel free to scroll to the parts that are most relevant to you if you’re pressed for time.
Last September, a Guild Wars 2 player shared a story about his departed wife. She died from complications during the birth of the couple’s son, and she had been a fellow GW2 player who enjoyed picking up rabbits and wielding a hammer on her character, Hiralyn. It’s a tragic story we’ve all sadly heard before if we’ve played online games for a while: a fellow player, a person, a life cut short unexpectedly with a shared memory of a game.
Now, Hiralyn stands in Cragstead. According to the official posting, design lead Mike Zadorojny put in the time necessary to add a memorial to the departed player, placing her character surrounded by rabbits with a few lines of dialogue about creating a legacy for her son, even if she couldn’t be there. It’s as touching a tribute as you could hope to see to a player lost.
We’ve added some screenshots below for those of you who can’t make the journey to meet Hiralyn.