ZAM speaks to ArenaNet's Game Director on the future of GW2
No other MMO has made an impact on the industry as much as Guild Wars 2 (GW2) has this past year. Aside from the plethora of prizes it has won from journalists and the public alike, its launch has sent ripples through the industry that can be seen in various upcoming titles.
After launching ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 manifesto for the first half of 2013, Game Director Colin Johanson set a precious hour aside to talk to me about the response to the outline, the ideas behind the plotted course and what else might be over the horizon.
In part one of the interview, we focused on guesting, guild content, encounter design and more. Be sure to return tomorrow for part two which primarily concerns Guild Wars 2’s PvP content.
One of the features expected at launch of Guild Wars 2 was guesting. It will finally land on January 28 and I asked Colin what had caused such a delay to this much anticipated facility.
“Guesting has proved far more complicated than we thought it was going to be, we’ve actually had it almost done in the past two releases and each time right before we were getting ready to release it, QA found a major bug with it and we ended up having to pull back out and not release it.
The biggest thing is just making sure that it’s really stable, it’s easy to understand how to use and how to connect and it lets you know how to get to another server and how to communicate when you’re on that other world. Those are all challenges.
In the initial design we did it quick so, you know, “Let’s get people on different worlds and play with each other,” and we found that people didn’t understand where they were, there wasn’t very clear messaging on how to get there and the process needed to be really streamlined. So we cleaned that process up a bit and we found out there were some issues with it right before the WintersDay release, there were some bugs where players could have a lot of issues and couldn’t get back, or would get stuck and we figured we should wait and put out the version that is as clean and safe as possible rather than rush it out the door with any potential issues.
It’s taken longer than we would have liked but hopefully we’ve got a really stable and more polished version of it ready to go and we’re really excited to get this out there.”
I asked about the response from the public on guesting’s imminent arrival and what difference Johanson felt it will make to the game.
"The overarching response has been extremely positive. I think people who are really into WvW are thrilled to finally have a limiting factor that people will have to start taking where they live a lot more seriously now."
Though the system will help players join friends on different servers, it will not function across different regions (such as the EU and US). Fans who had been expecting cross-region guesting have voiced their confusion and disappointment. Something that Johanson was aware of and had anticipated:
“We definitely knew that was coming and we knew that is something that people really want to do. Unfortunately the way our server architecture is set up and the way our back end data structure is set up, it’s just not something that is feasible for us from a standpoint of providing a top quality experience.
In Guild Wars 2, because the worlds are giant, open, persistent world maps where there’re players all running around together; how the game runs and how the performance works is completely dependent on how close to the data center you are that you’re operating in. It is not a very good experience potentially to be playing with people across the entire world and it is something that is much more complicated for us to try to solve, so for the purposes of us trying to provide the best possible experiences for people that we can, it’s something that we didn’t want to do.
In Guild Wars 1 it was a lot easier for us to do and it was a sub-optimal experience, you would have a lot more latency and ping times were a lot worse, because of all of the things we do in Guild Wars 2, for example having 3D movement space and persistent maps, it’s much more difficult for us to do and having worlds that you live on, those are the big technical ramifications that prevent us from doing that.”