Guild Wars 2: Colin Johanson Interview Part Two

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


In every interview there is always a question I have to ask that I’m almost certain can’t be answered, while speaking to Johanson, I ended up asking two of them. Firstly, I asked about the possibility of an expansion in the year ahead.

“I can’t give any timelines, I can say that we are going to have expansions in Guild Wars 2, we are currently focused on making the core living world and the support systems that support that as strong as we possibly can and that’s really our primary focus right now. That’s where most of our dev time and energy is being dedicated; certainly there will be expansions as well, but I can’t put any timeframe on that at this point.”

And secondly I spoke about how Guild Wars 2’s design choices had begun to permeate other games. Features like shared loot, shared XP and more can be seen in a number of MMOs planned for release in the next two years. With that in mind, I asked Colin if ArenaNet was planning to release any more features to set new benchmarks for the industry.

Honestly, there’s some stuff that we’re working on right now and prototyping that I really can’t talk about as we really don’t want to get that information out there, give it to our competitors and have them potentially jump the gun on that.

I have to be pretty careful about exactly what I say there, but I can say that certainly there are some things that we’re working on that will push the game forward into another layer of innovation that we haven’t really touched on yet. And building on that living world will certainly be the core behind all of those decisions that we make.

I guess that this is kind of dancing around your question but I think that it is important to say is that if you look at the success of World of Warcraft, they made an MMO, they made it really accessible and really polished. They took the first generation of MMOs and they evolved that into the second generation by making it more polished, by making it more approachable and much more casual friendly and they also introduced stronger reward loops and reward systems than I think the first generation of MMOs provided, that concept of building on a traditional quest and constantly having a carrot dangled in front that you’re chasing after.

Building those strong reward loops is something that they innovated on. What that built is a powerhouse for that generation of MMOs and what you saw is just about everybody that came after them tried to copy that design or tried to do most things in the same vein as World of Warcraft did.Screenshot

For us, I would argue that we never even called Guild Wars 1 an MMO, it was a cooperative online role playing game because we wanted to do something different and that led us to the successes we had in that game. In Guild Wars 2 we wanted to do the same thing.

World of Warcraft has already been done; our goal is not to redo World of Warcraft. We wanted to innovate and make something different and make something that’s unique and stands out.

I think EVE Online is another game that did that, it is very successful and the way they went about doing it is they made a very different game, they built a niche market and they’ve continually expanded from there.

I would say the challenge that any MMO developer has going forward and especially with a lot of the big collapses we’ve seen with MMOs in the recent years (and companies that have failed because they didn’t do this), is if you’re making a new game you need to innovate, you need to try something different, you need to give your customers a reason to go play your game that is different than anything else that’s out there. Because if you’re just trying to do the same stuff that everybody else is doing, they’re already playing that game and it’s not going to be enough to get them away from the game they’re already playing.


We recognized that with Guild Wars 2 and with the expansion and ways that we’re going to grow the game in the future, we can’t stagnate and just keep building on the core systems we’ve already got. We need to drive innovation and drive new ways to play our game and new features that grow the game that really make it feel like it’s this evolving world with a unique structure to it so two years from now maybe the next genre of MMO could exist within Guild Wars 2.

It’s very humbling to see some of the decisions we’ve made carry over into other games and I think that’s fantastic and it speaks volumes for what we’ve done with the game. I think Guild Wars 2 is now the fastest selling MMO to ever be released, so that’s going to grab people’s attention and I think that will result in them potentially taking some of the things we’ve done.

We just need to keep innovating and driving forward from here.”

As was palpable when talking to Colin Johanson, there is a lot more to come from ArenaNet in 2013 and the years ahead. Keep an eye on ZAM for more Guild Wars 2 news and interviews as well as our new Guild Wars 2 column, The Scrying Pool, every Wednesday.

Scott "Jarimor" Hawkes, Editor in Chief

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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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