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Interview

Guild Wars 2 Developer Interview

IncGamers recently sat down with Guild Wars 2’s lead designer, Eric Flannum, and fellow designers Curtis Johnson, Jon Peters and Ree Soesbee to talk about the upcoming MMO and answer some of our burning questions.We talk about the game’s lore, the community, changes to game mechanics, PvP and more. Check it out below:The most recent trailer showed us GW2’s five races. Does each race have unique abilities, and how important will they be when choosing a character?

Eric Flannum: Each of the five races has unique skills available to them. Our philosophy behind the design of these racial skills is that they are slightly weaker than equivalent skills determined by profession. While they may be less powerful, the racial skills capture the flavor of each race and provide additional options for the player. For example, a human playing a profession that normally doesn’t have a good way of dealing with conditions could take the “Prayer to Kormyr” racial skill, which removes a condition but is a fair bit weaker than comparable skills provided by a profession specializing in condition removal. By doing this, we hope to give the various races access to skills that make them feel unique without making them overpowered when played as a particular profession.

Will there be high-level Pick-Up Group PvP, as we saw in Heroes’ Ascent?

Jon Peters: We have two main types of competitive play in Guild Wars 2. First we have World vs World (WvW), which pits uneven numbers of players against each other across large maps and involves level progression. We also have Player vs Player, which pits smaller groups of evenly matched opponents against each other.The plan for PvP is that it will be broken down into two types of play: tournaments and pick-up play. Tournaments will allow organized teams to face off in brackets that determine an eventual winner. These will run frequently to give ad-hoc teams a fighting chance. Pick-up play will feature variable team sizes and will be hot-joinable.  Players can form a group or play solo, picking a game to join based on map, available space, and other settings. Rather than spending time looking for a group, players will simply be able to jump in on their own, form a group with friends or strangers, and look for a game that satisfies their level of play.In GW1, the norn worship six spirits: the Bear, the Raven, the Wolf, the Ox, the Wurm and the Owl. One GW2 interview mentions different spirits: the Bear, the Raven, the Wolf and the Snow Leopard. Have the Norn really changed the spirits they revere? If so, is there a lore explanation for the change?

Ree Soesbee: The norn have not changed the spirits they revere; the list in GW1 was an incomplete one. Although the Great Spirit, Bear, is seen as the strongest, most important Spirit of the Wild, she certainly is not the only one to guide and inspire the norn people. Groups of norn – usually families, larger lodge houses, or isolated hearthsteads – tend to revere a particular animal spirit more than others, invoking its bravery, wisdom, or cunning in order to emulate its beneficial qualities. As with all things, the norn are very individualistic about their personal beliefs. This means that in some areas, Ox is a very well-known spirit and guardian, while in others he is far less important.

When the Elder Dragon Jormag arose in the northern Shiverpeaks, the norn were led south to establish Hoelbrak by four of their most powerful Spirits of the Wild – Bear, Raven, Snow Leopard, and Wolf. The other spirits did not take an active hand in the norn exodus.  Spirits such as Ox and Owl had other issues taking their attention; they were not able to lend their aid to the norn in their time of greatest need. The four Spirits of the Wild that aided the norn the have become more prevalent, and the norn who settled Hoelbrak built four large Spirit Lodges to thank them for their protection and wisdom.  The other spirits are not given the same prominence, but that does not mean they have been forgotten.What’s the degree of hostility between the Gold Legion and the other charr legions? Do they openly try to kill each other, or is it just a matter of not liking each other but working together for the good of the charr?

Ree Soesbee: Open warfare rages between the three charr legions and the Flame Legion, mockingly called the ‘Gold Legion’ by their foes due to their soft characteristics and reliance on magic rather than weaponry.  The Flame Legion subjugated and enslaved the other three legions during the period before the Searing through the fall of Ascalon. Kalla Scorchrazor’s defiance and the great war between the charr earned freedom once more for the Iron, Ash, and Blood Legions, the Flame Legion fell into chaos – but they did not lose their drive and determination to gather all charr under their banner and seize the throne of the Khan-Ur.It has taken the Flame Legion two hundred years to gather their forces enough to once more face the other three legions in open battle, but even over that time, they never lost sight of their goal. They have used tactics ranging from guerilla warfare and sabotage to infiltration and betrayal, all in the name of power. There have been times during the interregnum when the Flame Legion was strong enough to challenge one, or even two of the other legions – but now, with the rise of their new ‘God,’ Gaheron Baelfire, the Flame Legion is strong enough to challenge the combined might of all three legions in battle.If the Flame Legion dominates the Iron, Ash, and Blood Legions once again, they will usher in a new era of tyranny among the charr. They will take their vengeance on the charr females who dared oppose them and raise weapons against their ‘rightful lords.’ They will raise Gaheron – one of their own – to be the sole God among their race, and other charr will worship him, or be destroyed.So, no. I wouldn’t say it’s an amicable relationship.

{PAGE TITLE=Guild Wars 2 Developer Interview – Page 2}How long does an asura live? We got some hints on GW:EN that an asura could live for centuries…

Ree Soesbee: Asura live for slightly longer than a human – perhaps 5-10% longer (an exceptional lifespan for an asura might be 120 years). They do not live for centuries – but asura inventions often continue to operate long after the original architect has become no more than a facet in the Eternal Alchemy.

Is Vekk still alive?

Ree Soesbee: In GW2? No, I’m afraid not. But as to what happened to him in the end… well, let’s just say physics choked back.

While there are guns in GW2, will characters still have the choice of keeping the primitive weapons like bows?

Eric: Weapon use in Guild Wars 2 is restricted by profession.  There are indeed professions that use guns, bows, or both, as well as some professions that can use neither. If a player wants to wield a bow they will certainly have multiple professions to choose from.

What have you learned from GW1 in terms of management of an online community and about how to structure a game in general?

Eric Flannum: After releasing three full games and an expansion, we’ve learned a lot about community management and game structure. For example, one of the things that seemed like a great idea to us when we first started making GW1 was the unified server for all players. On the surface this seems preferable since it allows people the greatest amount of flexibility when playing with their friends. In practice it means that player community is much harder to build. When playing in a world with hundreds of thousands of players you hardly ever encounter the same people on a regular basis (our heavy use of instancing also had a huge effect on this). Some players also use the large number of players as an excuse to act in a rude manner, knowing that they can’t really gain a negative reputation or ever have to be held accountable by the community for their actions. Of course, breaking things into different servers isn’t magically going to make these issues go away or solve all of our problems, but online games are ultimately all about player communities.  Anything we can do to foster healthy and active player communities is a big win for us.

Do you intend to make PvP a strong enough game on its own for it to be viewed as a competitive game (E-sport)?

Jon Peters: We’re building our PvP from the ground up as a separate experience. Players will take a character to PvP to retain their name, race, and profession. After that, they will be limited by skill alone. After that, we’ve taken a lot of cues from the first-person shooter genre, to make Guild Wars 2 feel more like an E-sport. Public games will be hot-joinable. We will track player statistics, generate rankings to let players see how they compare to their peers, and hold a variety of tournaments, both large and small, to let the most competitive players duke it out for the bragging rights to be called the best Guild Wars 2 players in the world.

The word “Guild” in the Guild Wars franchise has always suggested the central role guilds would play in the game. As you have stated, Guild Wars 2 will in many ways be improvements to what you wished you could have done in GW1. In this regard, could you tell us what lessons you have learned from GW1? How will guild-related features be different from GW1?

Curtis Johnson: When we made GW1 we knew that guilds and community were essential parts of the online role play experience, so we made it easy to start a guild very early in the game and for players to keep those relationships going by including all their characters in the same guilds. For Guild Wars 2 we’re keeping that same focus on early connections. We’re making it easy to keep all your characters in one guild, but for GW2 we decided that more friends means more fun, so it will be possible to have different characters in different guilds.  We also wanted to give guilds more common purpose, so we’re including guild achievements, and placement in the world including guilds holding keeps in World vs World. We also want to make it easier to stay connected with your guild mates, so we’re introducing features like a guild calendar to make meeting and coordinating across time zones easier, and participating in guild chat from any web browser so you can stay in touch even when you can’t play.If you’re interested in Guild Wars and GuildWars 2, make sure you drop by the IncGamers Guild Wars channel for all the latest news and information on the games and join in the community discussion. The site has just re-launched so do pop by.

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