On Wednesday I had the privilege of attending a community lunch with Guild Wars 2 game designer and sword-swinger extraordinaire Colin Johanson. At a secret location in London, we gathered around a table – representatives from all corners of the community – and awaited the arrival of the big man with the big smile. We’d been corralled by Aidan Taylor: Community Manager at NCSoft, and he plied us with drinks whilst we swapped WvW war stories and waited eagerly.
Once Colin arrived (after having tactically placed myself directly opposite him at the table) we provided a pint of lager (he declined the traditional warm beer) and a fish finger sandwich (also a British delicacy), and then we all took a communal deep breath before the onslaught of questions began. What follows is a summary of what we managed to squeeze out of him:
- PvE Content and Gameplay
- The Living Story
- Guilds and Guild Missions
- User Interface
- World vs World
- Game Philosophy and Vision
We talked about the possibility of making the skill-bar more dynamic by allowing the addition of a utility skill into the elite slot at the expense of your elite skill. However, Colin was reluctant to say this could be done off the bat, he compared it to the original game were players had so much freedom and choice when it came to what skills they might choose to bring, that balancing the game became a nightmare, and it became prohibitively complicated for new players to learn. So, any changes such as this would need to be weighed against the possible complications which might arise as a result of their implementation.
The ArenaNet team loved skill templates in Guild Wars 1, and would love to bring them into the new game. But again it’s an element which is on the table, but not being actively worked on currently.
We talked about User-Generated content. Colin mentioned that Guild Missions are a small step in that direction – insofar as the content is gated and activated by specific player input. When you fully commit to allowing significant user-generated content into your game, however, then you have to be able to quality control the vast amount of content which users are going to want to create – and this would require the kind of manpower that ArenaNet simply don’t have on tap at the moment.
They are adding more mini-games (ala Keg Brawl) soon, and the new daily achievement system will point players towards playing new games when they’re released. Hopefully this will also encourage players to repopulate the home-cities.
They are looking at new ways to recycle items which players receive very often, but usually just sell to the merchant or drop into the mystic forge (think blue weapons/armour, transmutation stones and dungeon tokens), again this is something which is on the drawing board, but not in actual development at the moment.
Colin mentioned that they want to develop a core reward system “that we can infinitely expand, which is unique from weapons and armour