Guild Wars 2: Colin Johanson Interview Part Two

In the final part of his interview with ZAM, Colin talks PvP and design philosophy


I suggested that Guardians get a teleport, or a Symbol of Levitation, making them able to create AoE elevators to scale those pesky walls. I was completely unbiased in this suggestion of course, but Colin said he would let the skill team know that I had requested it. I am sure he wasn’t joking at all.

Moving on from my delusional requests, I suggested that one of the reasons players had been disappointed with Structured PvP in Guild Wars 2 was that other MMOs in the past had done such a shoddy job of implementing eSports capability. GW2 fans were hoping ArenaNet would hit the ground running and the wait has proved taxing for some. I asked Colin about the development of SPvP so far and what still had to be done.

“If you look at what is required to make a game a really big hit as a competitive game and not even as an eSport but just as a PvP game, you really have to have two components to it.

The first one is you need to have a compelling game with easy accessibility, you need to be able to jump in and quickly figure out what’s going on, not have them matched up against people who are really good so that they die constantly and that group forms your core. That’s the vast majority of your player base. When you have that solid and strong, then you can build your eSport on top of it and that provides the sort of people who others look up to, it provides the builds that start to trickle down, it provides the sort of community that watches the eSport and sees it grow.

I think that we need to be really careful that we don’t try to jump the gun and try to do the eSport side of things before we have every piece in place to have a solid eSport.

Those will be things like custom arenas where people have a place to practice, spectator mode so the major shoutcasters out there can actually come in. When two major teams face off against each other someone like djWheat can commentate on the whole thing, jump around and show us what’s going on. It’s really important for us to have that support.

Then we also need to make sure that we have the core PvP side of the game set up so that it has that strong base community of PvP people who are more progression based; people who play it every day for a sense of progression or enjoy that sense of playing more casual PvP.

I think we’re building to do both of those things simultaneously. Features like custom arenas and spectator mode tend to be for the more hardcore PvPers, although custom arenas will also help the casual group.

I also think we need to take a fundamental shift to the way we look at how our average day to day PvP players log in and what they want to do. We need to make sure we’re offering everything they’re looking for and I would say that right now we offer some of that but we’re not offering everything.

A lot of our focus for the first half of this year is going back and addressing those issues as well, so that the core group that plays PvP is supported and we have them in place so we can have that eSport on top of that and really grow that aspect of it.

I would say it is a two pronged strategy. The eSport is the second half of it and it’s something we’re building, but we have a lot we need to address across PvP and those are all things we’re working on sort of simultaneously.”


How to bring the casual, more PvE oriented player into SPvP has been a matter of debate in the community at various times with various suggestions broached. I asked Johanson if WvW had an edge in that regard as PvE players could still progress their characters’ levels while joining in the mass PvP fun. Could bringing XP into SPvP perform that function?

“It’s something we’re talking about, I don’t know if we’re going to go down that path or look at a different path entirely for how we want to do progression.

There are a lot of options on the table that we’re still trying to pick from for exactly what we’re going to do with that.

If you want to play a game that actually has meaning, you need to be able to get into it quickly, then quickly get out again and not take a really long time. It needs to have a strong sense of progression and rewards, so you feel like your time in there is being rewarded and those are all things that we need to address and improve to ensure that experience is fantastic.

How we’re exactly doing each of those? We’re laying out all of that right now, some of it we’re working on, some of it we’re finalizing the designs for. So I can’t say for sure, I can just say that it is definitely important to us to have that sense of reward and progression in there for the players who are looking for that, while at the same time we want to keep our promise that competitive gamers can jump in on day one and have all of their abilities there. We need to strike a balance between the two.”


With a need for a competitive edge in PvP, I wondered if such competition could be fostered in PvE, as it has in the past in other MMOs. I asked Colin if that was an area that he thought could be introduced in Guild Wars 2. His answer confirmed the principles behind all design decisions ArenaNet makes.

I think if you look at the fundamentals and core pillars of what Guild Wars 2 is, the PVE side of the game is based on cooperation rather than competition. So I think where we do introduce that into PvE, it will have to be in ways that encourage people to cooperate but also provide them with things like high scores where they’re cooperating with other players to try to achieve a score or try to be the best at something but it doesn’t put them at odds at other players. I think that’s really important to us.

We are currently working on leaderboards right now that will go on our website and certainly some aspects of the leaderboards may contain some PvE stats as well. That would be our first step toward doing that and we will look at that system in the long run. If there is continual demand for places like that we want to be very careful that we don’t do things that drive a wedge between our players, we don’t want to create in PvE a sense of elitism or reasons that you don’t play with other people.

The pillar behind our open world PvE is playing with other people, building a community and cooperation and we don’t want to do things that will conflict with that so we have to be very careful on how we implement any system like that.”

Continue to Page 3 as Colin talks expansions, innovation and the next generation of MMOs in Guild Wars 2 >>>


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5 zones?
# Jan 22 2013 at 9:35 PM Rating: Decent
Good interview Scott. Some nice questions that were on the mind of the community.

But I was wondering, where did they say there would be 5 zones for guild content?

The large guild content sounds like a very cool mechanic, I really hope they can pull it off. The idea of open-world raid/event where large guilds can display themselves and gain public attention (more importantly while allowing others to join in) sounds far better than some private instance only accessible to hardcores who do a tedious gear grind.

If GW2 can pull it off, it could be another one of those genre-impacting mechanics.
5 zones?
# Jan 22 2013 at 10:56 PM Rating: Good
75 posts
Thanks Doc.
Colin said there would be five or six content streams, by areas I didn't mean geographically. Sorry if that was confusing.
I too am looking forward to seeing what can bve done in the open world to make guilds feel more vital.
Scott Hawkes

Last question was gold
# Jan 22 2013 at 5:46 PM Rating: Decent
38 posts
That last question, while risky (because he could just flat-out not answer it), was probably my favorite in this interview. He answered all of the copycat name-callers perfectly and really showed that ArenaNet means business. I loved that Guild Wars (1) was different, they really didn't borrow much from other games and set out on their own to create something that stands out, sure it wasn't for everybody but it amassed a cult following and more importantly was successful.

My biggest criticism of ArenaNet has always been that they failed on the things [in GW2] that they had done so perfectly in Guild Wars, things like Guilds and PvP. Then I have to remind myself -- as Johanson does -- Guild Wars 2 is its own game and I need to respect that. After an expansion or two Guild Wars 2 will undoubtedly be the next "World of Warcraft."

Edited, Jan 22nd 2013 6:47pm by Crainey
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