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Mike O’Brien on ArenaNet and Communication

We’re all passionate about Guild Wars 2 – you, me, the developers – and we all want to know how our game is evolving in the future. We ask questions like “what’s the next update like?”, and “when can we expect to see feature X and Y?” As a fansite, we at GuildMag feel compelled to voice the opinion of the community, and try to do so reasonably: we do not ask about ‘big’ topics like an expansion, because we know that ArenaNet do not like to talk to us about these kind of things in lieu of a big press announcement. Instead, what we try to do is try to voice opinions on features that have been hinted at, or maybe haven’t had the attention some people feel they need. Questions like these were topics of discussion by both ourselves and other fansites during the last gamescom.

The reaction given by ArenaNet to these questions was described as vague by some within the community, and resulted in a largely negative backslash in which fans were wondering whether ArenaNet actually still wants to talk with the community about their future plans. Believe me when I tell you that they would like to talk about all of the cool stuff that they are preparing just as much as you want to know what those things actually are. They themselves would like nothing more than to finally be able to tell you about a specific feature that is in the works – after all, they are also fans of their own game. The fact is, when they do so, they commit themselves to these features that in the end might not be realistically attainable, take much longer to develop, or just go through a long iteration process which causes it to be changed considerably from the original announcement.

Today, Mike O’Brien took to the forums to explain ArenaNet’s point of view on communicating with us, and I believe it is an important read for everyone in the community. Because the forums might currently be down, we’ve copied his original post below:

[symple_box color=”yellow” text_align=”left” width=”100%” float=”none”] I know some are concerned about whether ArenaNet is communicating with you and listening and responding to your feedback. As you saw with yesterday’s announcement, we do. All of us at ArenaNet play the game with you, chat with you and read your forum posts, and work on the things that we think will most delight and entertain you.

We’ve set a clear policy in the past year: we don’t talk speculatively about future development. We don’t want to string you along. Creating fun is an uncertain business: sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t; sometimes we go back to the drawing board over and over before we get something right. If we make optimistic promises and then can’t deliver on them, everyone suffers. So when we attend a trade show or give an interview, we’re there to talk about what we’re getting ready to ship, not to speculate on what we might ship someday.

Don’t read that as meaning that we don’t want to talk with you about the longer-term roadmap. The intention of the CDI threads is to talk with you about the roadmap. We want to talk design philosophy with you and hear how you want to see the game evolve. When those discussions trigger development, we’ll work internally until we have something we’re proud of before we’ll announce it.

A lot of the questions I’ve seen posted this week are as simple as this: does ArenaNet have an agenda to never do something? That’s almost never the case, and if it is the case you deserve to know and we’ll make sure we get more clear. In general the simple truth is this: when we’re not currently working on something, it’s because we’re working on something else instead that we think is more important for the game and community.

Our developers post on these forums on a voluntary basis, and in addition to developers, we have a community team who can clarify and be the bridge between players and developers. They’re ready to engage you on these topics. And I know it’s hard for the community team to engage players across all the forums and sites where these questions are being discussed, so I’m going to support the team in consolidating and focusing as necessary, so that we can be clear to the community where you can go to get a response.

See you in-game, Mike O’Brien[/symple_box]

It’s often so easy to jump on a bandwagon on the official forums, across fansites or through any other means of communicating that we all do; it’s much harder to form your own opinion when those around you are so prevalent. If you take a step back and look at what’s really going on, things often aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be. ArenaNet want to communicate with us, to let us know about what’s going on – but in their own time. It’s not perfect, and it’s probably not enough for some people, but it’s something that both parties can work on. It’s up to us, as much as ArenaNet, to communicate effectively.

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