Guild Wars 2: Colin Johanson Interview

ZAM speaks to ArenaNet's Game Director on the future of GW2


A feature that has been partially disabled for a while is previewing item links. The community had also been waiting to see this facility added to the Trading Post (not only to just preview Twilight for hours on end, honest) before issues with the basic preview occurred. I asked Colin if there had been any movement in that area.

“I can give two answers to that. The immediate answer is that we’re going to be putting back in the ability to preview yourself in armors from other professions and other armor classes, all of that will go back in with the January release. If someone links an item in the world, you’ll be able to see it again and see it for you as a preview. That’s the first step to getting us there; getting that system fixed again and that will be out in the January release.

We actually do have a team that is working on building preview for the Trading Post; it’s coming along pretty well. It’s not something that will be in this month’s release, it’s probably still a ways off but that is something that they’re actively working on right now and you will see it at some point in game.”


While speaking to Colin, it was obvious not only how passionate he is about the game, but also how aware the ArenaNet team is of the need to further strengthen its content, particularly in order to be responsive to the audience’s feedback. Guild Wars 2 is the fastest selling MMO in history, the dev team is not exactly headed in the wrong direction, but they are not resting on their laurels for a moment. One example of Johanson’s commitment to improving on the game’s initial success is in the approach to the much discussed topic of guilds.

“One of the things that we found is there aren’t as many things that give you the opportunity to get together as we would like. That’s something we knew on launch and want to keep building on and we’re really taking that opportunity to expand on that list even more as we move forward. The strength of your social network in any game and the capacity of fun things to do with that group are often directly relative to how your game does and how strong your social communities are going to be. We recognize those are really important things and they’re areas we’ll keep supporting and building on as we go forward. I think they’re directly tied to the pillars of what Guild Wars 2 is as a game.”

The very mention of raids is enough to set blood pressure gauges spiking for many fans of GW2 due to ArenaNet’s pronounced move away from traditional gear-grind MMO raid content thus far. With the announcement of around five different content areas that a guilds will be able to participate in, I asked if these streams would involve instanced areas or if they would take place solely in the open world.


“I’ve seen a lot of comments on our forums, people saying “Are they adding instanced raids to the game?” and no, that is not the intent of this system at all. We really want to leverage our open world and make it as strong as we possibly can. We think that these missions that guilds can kick off are things that other people can come help them with; as long as they’re designed well and people don’t ruin the experience but just make it better.

It’s actually a better tool for the guild, it allows them to recruit that way and it allows them to have a larger impact on the world. It potentially allows people to see the guild out in the open world and get to know them more and recognize that they are a guild that creates this content and that’s just better for the communities of our games.”


Though the focus on the open world is the primary target for ArenaNet, Johanson didn’t rule out the possibility of instanced content in the future.

“We may look at, down the road, potentially doing some stuff that is specifically playing with instanced areas for guild missions as well, but in the short term our major goal for the first half of this year is making our world as strong and compelling as we possibly can. Taking advantage of the strength that provides to our game and so that’s the type of stuff we’ll see out of these missions. They will be able to create content that currently doesn’t exist. They’ll be able to create new events and other types of content that right now other people haven’t really seen, but I don’t think we’re going down the path of creating all new systems entirely for this initially, that may be something we look at doing as we expand the system in the future.”

Currently, the party size in Guild Wars 2 is limited to five. With new content arriving for guilds to do together, I asked Colin if this meant that larger groups would become an option.

“It’s something that we talk about a lot, certainly larger party size comes up in World vs. World sometimes, it’s not something we’re actually working on right now, but it is something we’re discussing: what systems would we potentially put in place to support this if we wanted to do it down the road? Currently, we’re not working on anything like that, but if we find that with the addition of the system, or as World vs. World continues to evolve, if we need to add systems like that, we’re certainly open to looking at them.”


Johanson went on to explain the dangers of ramping up party sizes and what effect it could have on the game.

“One of the strengths of Guild Wars 2 is that the UI is really clean and streamlined, it’s not overwhelming, it’s easy to see what’s going on, so one of the challenges we’re going to have is we don’t want to lose that capacity to easily look at the screen and understand what’s going on. We really don’t want people to spend their time looking at the edges of the screen watching progress bars move up and down in all directions. We want them drawn to the middle of the screen and watching the action and watching the things that are going on in game. So if we did a system in the future that lets you see more and more of what’s going on, we have to build it with those things but keep in mind that we don’t want to just cover the screen in UI everywhere.”

 Continue to Page 3 as Colin talks about Dungeon Encounters, Veteran and Champion rewards and more >>>>


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# Jan 21 2013 at 6:41 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
Surely they should let the players decide whether they want to put up with the additional ping, rather than enforcing it?

Lots of players play games on US servers from all around the world. I play on the US servers from Australia, why is that any different from a UK player guesting on the US server?
I love this game.
# Jan 21 2013 at 6:35 PM Rating: Decent
1 post
However, after Wintersday fiasco (no grouping for toyapocalipse and most seasonal events), it hurt my will to play.

Sadly, GW2 needs more "end game" content, or w/e you want to call it.

I know they gonna add it more, so I'll be waiting to check it out, sadly, wont be logging in till then.

Logged in today and I had nothing to do except grind mats or run FotM over and over.

FotM was genious. But I'd completly change how it works to prevent it's grind. I know they said they learned from it, but still...

Next content update must come ASAP.
GW2 lost me after two and a bit months...
# Jan 21 2013 at 5:57 PM Rating: Decent
2 posts
GW2 lost me after two and a bit months as it just got so boring.

Once you finish your character's personal story, and have done most of the hearts on the map (the ones that aren't bugged, at least), and crafted a bit, and done some PvP and dungeons, you get this feeling, "OK, so is that it?"

And this is the problem with theme park games... once you do them, they're done. Unless you have a very specific kind of personality (some might say personality disorder), doing it all over again is just pointless behaviour.

I guess the saving grace is that there's no monthly fee. But, aside from that, GW2 wasn't half the game I thought it would be. And that makes me very sad because the people who made it seemed to know what they were talking about.

The MMO community is starting to turn back to the concept of sandbox MMOs (after SWG terrified so many in the community, early on), and I can only hope that attitude continues, because theme park MMOs are a dead end.
GW2 lost me after two and a bit months...
# Jan 22 2013 at 6:28 AM Rating: Excellent
Word Kludger
36 posts
I disagree that theme park MMOs are a dead end, but they do require a lot of work to keep delivering regular content. It's something that Rift excelled at, and The Secret World and SWTOR are learning.

That said, there's a lot to be said for making MMOs more sandboxy, either through extended gameplay components, or by overlaying themepark on top of the sandbox. It's something that games like EVE grapple with (Jon Lander mentioned it when I interviewed him), and something that Everquest Next will need to consider.
Gareth "Gazimoff" Harmer
Senior Contributing Editor | ZAM Network
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