In those times of Web 2.0 and social communities like Twitter, Behance, Tumblr and Food Porn pictures, it was time to dust off the old MMORPG formula, or massively multiplayer online roleplaying game. ArenaNet and NCsoft have worked together to produce Guild Wars 2 : the game where in half an hour you can help anyone you come across, plunge into the water to dodge a fireball, climb a mountain, jump from its very top, then land on a bear, dodge a sword, a bullet or a spell, then on a whim attack a castle with hundreds of other players, and throw away everything before deciding that playing a magician tree is way cooler than a barbarian wearing shorts and a furry horned helmet, biodiversity wise. We meet with Matt Wuerffel, game designer at ArenaNet, visiting Paris, right after a multiplayer session at Milk, in the Opera district, for a game design talk.
Wishing to create a new type of MMO is refreshing. Turning dreams into reality, that’s something else. What were the steps or principles that turned Guild Wars 2 into what it is today?
We’re a company of gamers, and we’re driven to make the best game that we can – a game that we’d want to play. Early on, we made the decision that to make that a reality, we’d have to be willing to re-examine everything about MMOs and the challenges they present. With that decision at the heart of the process, we let our passion for games and commitment to iteration drive the project forward. Every feature and piece of content that goes into the game goes through multiple iterations before it goes live. And once it’s live, we continue the process: How is it received? Is it accomplishing what we wanted? Can it be better? No matter the stress, we had to be committed making time to do things the right way.
Two million players in a month… One more million between September and now. Quite the accomplishment. What’s the next step, more players or more content?
We’re aiming for both. We’ve just released our first monthly installment, which features new seasonal Halloween content and new permanent content in existing maps of all level ranges. This update includes new activities, events, rewards, and achievements, as well as lots of new places to explore and stories to tell. And teams are already hard at work on the other and numerous updates. Our goal is to create an evolving world that is different every time you play through it. When you log into Guild Wars 2, you will find a bigger and better game waiting for you. We want to bring Tyria to life with large amounts of new contents for our players, and we are committed to do so without a subscription fee. (not a usual practice for these communities)
The Guild Wars 2 community keeps growing. Which tendencies are emerging? Guilds, free for all, World Vs World, or something entirely new?
The growth of our community has just been amazing across all areas of the game. We have seen a lot of people focus on PvE in the start of their journey, and then once they have established a good feel for their character they have no problem jumping into WvW or finding a good PvP match. This leads to great feedback from all types of players, and this diversity strengthens our community. We have also seen some emergent gameplays as our players find ways to play the game in their own way – dueling against siege golems, jump puzzle races, and more. We love seeing all the creative things that they are coming up with, and we look forward to getting feedback from the community as we continue to roll out new features and content.
Between the PvE and the PvP, do the communities mix? If yes, how?
Often our PvE community ends up melting into our PvP community. In our PvP lobby players offer tips and builds, as well as strategies on our PvP maps. WvW has proven to be a great meeting ground for both communities as well, as it has a healthy dose of PvP and PvE. WvW encourages teams to work together, by sharing common goals that require coordination for success. When the scope of the battle requires simultaneous assaults on multiple objectives, or splitting forces to flank the enemy, players from all backgrounds can find themselves working together for the success of their team. The rewards from success in WvW also affect players in PvE, as the servers gain bonuses to various stats, so there’s a real incentive for even hardcore PvE players to care about the battle for the Mists.
A lot of games tried to pull it off, but only Guild Wars 2 has a real World Vs World mode, and a good one on top of it, with both stealth and gigantic battles boasting hundreds of players at the same time. You wanna share some other crazy ideas with us?
We’d love to share all our ideas with AMUSEMET! But we have to be cautious and make sure that things are ready before we announce our ideas to the world. Regarding WvW, what we can say is that while it is extremely fun, it can always be improved. For example, we’re looking at system improvements such as the number of players appearing on screen, and we are looking into ways to increase the amount of players that can join WvW at any given time. We’re also constantly looking at the overall play experience to see how we can continue to iterate and improve on the game. Last week we formed a new live team that’s 100% dedicated to supporting the WvW experience, they will be dealing with issues like culling as well as looking at expanding the array of WvW gameplay.
Last but not least: tomorrow a new player wants to start diving into Guild Wars 2. What would you recommend him?
It’s a big game, and we have approached the gameplay in a lot of new ways. But at its core, Guild Wars 2 is a game about the player’s choice. So grab a friend and go on an adventure. Find out what’s over that next hill, what’s in that cave, what’s hidden under those waves. Join WvW for a bit, or competitive PvP. Get out there and explore – play the way you want, and find the things you love!
Thanks Matt for your time. It’s been a pleasure, cheers!