With the Guild Wars 2 convention madness slowly winding down, the predecessor Guild Wars will slowly be ramping up with more Guild Wars Beyond, the legendary Halloween festival, and Hall of Monuments information. I had a chance to ask the Guild Wars Live Team a few questions, and John Stumme (rhymes with tummy) took some time to answer a few questions about what is happening on the Guild Wars forefront. Check it out after the break.
The Guild Wars Live Team has had a few shakeups in the past month or so with overlord James Phinney going to zombie pasture and Linsey Murdock going underground with secret projects. Who is who on the Guild Wars Live Team now?
Here’s the run down on who is who and what is what, in order of alphabetical by first name:
Andrew Patrick: is working on design and spawning. He did this part time with the War in Kryta, and will be doing it full time moving forward. Andrew is fond of saying inappropriate things, and may or may not enjoy long walks on the beach.
Joe Kimmes: is our programmer, and voice of reason. He is stuck with having to make our content work, as well as adding new features and functionality to the game. Joe aspires to be Bang Shishigami in real life.
Joey Knight: is QA, focused primarily on our pvp content. Joey assists with new content and balance, and frequently finds his way into the quote file for inadvertently saying some very unfortunate (albeit amusing) things.
John Stumme: is lead designer. I write things, talk to people, and go to meetings. I am not quite as awesome as Colin is, but my desk is pretty amazing (or so I keep telling people.)
Michelle Juett: is in charge of our QA. She gets to tell us when we do things wrong or stupidly, and we’re too afraid to argue back because she has facehuggers on her wall. Who knows what those things are capable of?
Mike Zadorojny: is our producer, and occasionally helps us with implementation. Mike gets to chase people around making sure we get the assets we need, and also makes sure that we’re working. He pilots a Gundam in his free time.
Robert Gee: is our designer in charge of pvp. He has the perilous task of balancing approximately 8 bajillion skills, and somehow maintaining his sanity in the process. He will one day join forces with Joe to fight evil.
And that’s all of us! Even though there have been some changes and departures, we’ve been able to adjust accordingly, and the team is a really cohesive whole right now. Things have been a little quiet in the wake of our restructuring, supporting Guild Wars 2 for Gamescom and PAX, but I think people are going to be pretty excited about the things that will be coming down the line!
The big things buzzing in the Guild Wars communities are the upcoming Dervish update, some GvG changes, and the loose threads from the War in Kryta (specifically Kieran Thackeray and Evennia’s disappearances, the Seer on the asuran operating table, and Gwen’s wedding). Can you tell us anything new about those upcoming additions to Guild Wars?
Some things that I can tease: the upcoming Keiran/Gwen content will be doing more than just resolving their story – it will also help bridge us into the new content in Cantha that will be coming. Additionally, when it’s all said and done, players will be able to unlock a new Hero from the content – and it’s probably not what you expect. As for Evennia, she’s not forgotten – but her story is on hold. It’s part of something larger than just her disappearance that we’re not ready to get into yet.
As for the Dervish update, it has been seeing good progress although it’s temporarily on hold while this year’s Costume Brawl is being worked on – since there’s new costumes and builds being added. For those curious, the Dervish update is looking to include some new mechanics for the class to make it more feasible to play – it’s more than just a matter of changing skill numbers around. We’re trying to address issues such as other classes being better with scythes than the Dervish itself, which offers very little incentive to play one as your primary profession.
In a recent Relics of Orr podcast, you said that Guild Wars Beyond would be heading to Cantha. Will the Canthan Guild Wars Beyond story be as pertinent to Guild Wars 2 as War in Kryta was? Will the Live Team be lore forging the Guild Wars universe ahead, or will the story be more insulated against the Guild Wars 2 future?
The new storyline that will be happening in Cantha will absolutely have ramifications that will be felt within Guild Wars 2. I’m in something of a unique position after having been so intensely involved with Guild Wars 2 for so many years – I’m very familiar with the lore and the world, and that’s something I took with me back to Guild Wars. There are situations where I know what’s going to happen, and that lets me say “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we got to see some of that history in motion?” The new arc is also something I’ve worked with Jeff Grubb on – I pitched him the story, how it relates to the world, and we went back and forth a bit until we came up with something even better than what we started with. This way, both teams are aware of what we’re doing. Not only are we going forward to Guild Wars 2, but 2 can also look back.
Speaking of lore, what’s up with Bahltek? (I had to try.)
I tried asking him, and the most I got was some incomprehensible diatribe that I’m sure was meant only to show off his sesquipedalian lexicon. When I inquired as to what he meant by that, he would only tell me I was not important enough to keep his attention. While speculation may remain as to his true nature, one thing is not uncertain: Bahltek is rather ill-mannered at best.
Another interesting tidbit from the Relics of Orr podcast was with regard to heroes. You said you were open to reviewing the decision on using 7 heroes, but that you were looking in to something else for heroes. Can you give us any more information on a possible heroes update?
This one could probably use a point of clarification – I am open to the idea of 7 Hero parties in addition to something else that we’ve been looking into. It’s still in exploratory development to see if we’re able to pull it off, but things have been looking promising so far. I don’t want to say too much about it yet, just because tldr and paraphrasing is going to happen – and the next thing you know, people are going to be demanding the giant combinable robot moas from the orbital space platform of the Mursaat that we promised them. (How did that even happen?) As for Heroes, we’re looking at having that happen in the next major build after all of the Keiran/Gwen content, as well as some other planned feature releases to help improve the game experience. More on that to come!
The Guild Wars Hall of Monuments link to Guild Wars 2 is also a constantly hot topic. Is this feature completely under Guild Wars 2 as far as design, or will the Live Team have input as to feature, especially with the requirements for the rewards?
Since the rewards that you’ll be getting from the Hall of Monuments are for Guild Wars 2, the GW2 Systems Design team has been handling that one. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re in the dark about it – I think players are going to be excited when they see the rewards from the Hall of Monuments. It’s enough that I’ve started working on mine for serious – speaking of, does anyone have any Cloth of the Brotherhood they’d like the spare?
So far Guild Wars has offered four costumes for purchase as some of the latest additions to the in-game store. Has the sale of the costumes helped expand the Live Team’s budget for updates? Is ArenaNet considering any more in-game store items, apart from costumes, such as another Bonus Mission Pack or smaller microtransactions like consumables?
Any time we’re able to put out something successful, it makes it easier to ask for some kinds of support on future projects, certainly. Costumes have gone over well, and it is something we’re going to be having more of in the future – it’s a win win situation for us, because it’s also an opportunity for our artists to have fun with the game. I’m not sure that I have the proper words to describe what a design meeting with Kristen and Susan is like for coming up with costumes, except to say we’re all having a great time with it, and they are very passionate about their work. You should see what they have planned for Halloween, it’s absolutely amazing.
As for the question of would we be offering other kinds of things in the store – the short answer is yes. Generally speaking, I want us to try and stick to the precedents that we’ve already set with the store. That means having things that are largely aesthetic, or are large blocks of stand-alone content, akin to what we did with the Bonus Mission Pack.
We don’t hear much about the Test Krewe, a group of 200 Guild Wars fans volunteering their time to test the game. They seem to be sticking to their non-disclosure agreements pretty well. What can you tell us about the feedback they provide?
The Test Krewe has been a really valuable resource for us, and in more ways than you might think the name would suggest. Aside from helping test out new content and weighing in on balance/game changes, the TK serves as an excellent platform of discussion for new ideas. Sometimes we’ll have something we’re thinking about (be that sane or otherwise) that we would like to see what people think of, how they react to it, or what other ideas might spawn out of discussion on the topic, and testers have been willing to indulge us in that.
Guild Wars 2, with its recent public demos at gamescom and PAX, seems to be coming together quite well for a release before the Mayan apocalypse. How will the launch of Guild Wars 2 affect the Guild Wars Live Team and the Test Krewe? Will some of the developer resources shift back to Guild Wars?
I imagine that there won’t be much of an impact on us – the folks working on Guild Wars 2 would continue forward on new content for that game, and the Live Team will keep on as we have been.
Thanks for your time, John!