GamesCom Chat Series – Part 2

Today we continue where we left off yesterday. The following series of articles are a compilation of the discussions I had. You won’t see many direct quotations, as the scribbling in my notebook tried to grasp the essence of the replies, but I will still provide you with the correct information as I uncovered it. I hope you will enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed gathering the information.

Jonathan Sharp (Systems Design)

Jonathan works on the PvP systems, and the question I had for him was about the scoring system. There are two different scoring systems in the PvP demo, one is the personal score, the other is the team score. The personal score currently assigns points for capturing and defending, for kills and assists. The team score is determined by holding capture points, where at set intervals the system gives points for each capture point held, and killing an opponent also gives points to the team score. The team getting to 500 points first wins. The PvP format will have rewards to them, similar to rewards for PvP in the original Guild Wars, the way how these will be implemented is still under discussion though.

Josh Petrie (Core Technology Programmer)

The core technology department is the department that build the tools which are used by the game designers to make the game. As you are probably already know these tools are built ‘in house’, and Josh is one of the people helping to make them a reality. Next to the tools they also work on the very basic elements that make the game work: writing/reading files, CPU and memory management, so basically all the core stuff besides the engine. They write the tools in C# and the game is written in C++. Unfortunately ArenaNet won’t release their tools, which was also stated by Colin in one of the Q&As, which means that there probably won’t be an extensive map-building community forming around Guild Wars 2 PvP, as some might know from various FPS games.

Josh really loves the game and states it’s the most exciting project he worked on in a long time, it is really cool to see the environment and the game itself come to life with the tools he helped build. His favorite is underwater combat, mainly due to the challenges it put forth and the solutions they came up with that really worked and made it as much part of the game as the above-water content. For those people (like myself) who still think that the underwater world is a bit empty, and lacking small fish and life, he told me that the technology is definitely capable of adding these things, and very likely will be added in the ‘polish’ phase of the game.

To all those aspiring game coders he had this advice: if you want to build games, just go and do it, and make sure you actually finish the game. For even very basic games you run into the same challenges as really large games. And when you are done, go make another, which perhaps has different game mechanics. As nothing beats experience, and having finished code to show (and experience) can help you during your application process.

Braeden Shosa (Lead Game Programmer)

Game programmers write the code that goes in between the core/engine and the actual content that the player gets to experience. Think of hit boxes, movement, scoring and the likes. Braeden’s favorite part of the game is the underwater combat, the 3D aspect made it challenging both for the gameplay programming as well as for offering visual challenges. Due to players swimming on top of it without any skills available, they had to put spawns in layers. They also had to combat the player getting lost in 3D space, especially in deeper water, where it is possible for players to be visually equally far away from any recognizable feature and thus any direction visually becomes as the other. Spawns can help players determine above and below, as do other features (like plants) the game programmers have less influence on, as they are determined by the map builders.

When I ask him if he has any words for the fans, he tells me to relay his thanks for the dedication and support we have given ArenaNet over the years. He likes to point out that the current demo is as ‘complete’ as they could have it as this point, with all major features implemented. He is really looking forward to the moment they are going to release the game, as he thinks it’s the best.

To all those aspiring game programmers he has the advice to keep coding, as much as you can, and to finish your projects. And besides that, play a lot of games yourself, the more experience in both fields will help you get to where you want to be.

John Corpening (Game Programmer)

One of the hard things about interviewing programmers is coming up with interesting questions, since what they do is write code, and there are only so many ‘do… while’-loops that readers might be interested in. In general though: the game designers have the ideas, and the coders make them happen. Game programmers work together with both writers and designers on the front end of content creation. They inform the writers and designers on what content is and is not possible to code, and afterwards codes the things needed.
Personally John worked on the PvP coding, which means the coding on the underlying systems used to make PvP possible. He describes programming as both a technical as well as a creative job: “coding is problem solving

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