Guild Wars Live Team Interview

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!

49 thoughts on “Guild Wars Live Team Interview”

  1. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    And why is the dervish update being delayed? That’s ridiculous. It’s been several months. Get it done, and forget the Costume Brawl (it’s one of the only good things left in GW).

  2. @Karate – I hope that comment about the Costume Brawl was a joke or you might get lynched.

    Thanks for that, Ravious. A really good interview that covered a lot of burning questions. I lol’d at the NDA comment. As if anyone would want to “tell all” and no longer be part of the Test Krewe.

    1. @Darcy, you know that there has been at least one major leak each month since the TK started, right?

      The NDA is broken constantly, but I don’t think the Live Team has the ability to force them to stop. They don’t have a whole ton of TK members left.

      1. This is funny because I honestly (and objectively) don’t believe that this is a current truth. It’s funny where you hang your hat sometimes, KJ. :)

        1. Ravious, if you’d ever like to see one of the TK leaks just let me know. I don’t have a copy of the dervish leaks, but I have plenty of others.

          I have around 40 screenshots of the TK boards that have been passed around. Look up my email on PvX if you’d like a copy.

            1. Let me know what you think about the stuff I sent you, Ravious. I know it sucks, but stuff leaks constantly.

              And, to be perfectly honest, the TK is doing their best. They want stuff to happen and the ones that are left are passionate about it (although, they’re aren’t many PvP TK’ers left).

              The Live Team just ignores them a lot and doesn’t really give them much to do. I imagine that would frustrate me into leaking stuff too.

            2. It’s pretty sad that people feel the need to leak. We all want more information. I am glad the TK is doing their best. Thanks for the info. :)

  3. I love that James has bailed on Arenanet. I guess even the game designers have recognized that Guild Wars is dead and GW2 is going to be a flop?

      1. But he left for a zombie MMO. How could you not want to do that? Huge success, right guys? ….Guys?

        Anywho, GW2 will be popular for being a free-to-play WoW. Good enough.

        1. Likely the same reason Jeff Strain left. He didn’t want to be in top management anymore because he was far removed from actually designing games. I think it is pretty clearly spelled out, and honest, in James’ letter on undead labs website.

  4. @Darcy There have been alot of people leaking stuff that wasn’t allowed to. And they got kicked.

    The balancing stuff was promised to be every 2 months, but that never happened so they practicly lied to us.

    And also, when the 7 hero thing will be added the GW population will be 0. Just saying.

    1. Very true. And don’t forget that over 20 TK members were kicked for botting (during the bot crusades). Ask Tahiri :D

      And I look forward to John actually doing something, but I don’t expect it. So far, he’s a no-show.

    2. Nah, people that want to group will group, people that don’t want to group and are playing with 3 H/ 4 h anyway are still not going to group.

      1. I completely agree with this. I would happily group in places that had that option, but most of the outpost missions that I need are borderline devoid of life. Sometimes I can find groups of players in those situations I happily group up, but in other situations I run with 3H/4h and just suffer through it.

        Setting up my heroes was one of the most fun things I’ve done in this game and the idea of getting to set up an entire team of them is extremely exciting to me. It’s a shame that patch is far down the road, cause there are some missions I would love to complete using that setup. I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to the 7H patch.

  5. Tahiri and especially Karate Jesus are trolls.

    Please, whine more.

    Do the world a favor and shove the stick further up your ***.

    Others aren’t eager for a build update, they enjoy what they have. Costume brawl is boring. Happy, they’re making it interesting

    Things needing to be updated or corrected is the Rits and the Mesmers.

    Not the Dervish.

    1. They haven’t technically agreed to have 7 heroes. Oh, and another hero is slightly pointless.

    2. I don’t really care about a new hero but the 7 hero thing is probably the most exciting change I’ve heard about GW yet. :)

  6. It will never cease to amaze much and how many things some people complain about with Guild Wars and ArenaNet. None of it makes any sense.

    “Guild Wars has hidden monthly fees by releasing expansions”; wtf? my pay-to-play MMOs also release expansions, and they f***ing cost more than my GW expansions did.

    “Guild Wars has micro-transactions, ANet is greedy!” uh. Again, all my pay-to-play MMOs have micro-transactions as well. Moreover, most of those micro-transactions (and the expansions) are practically REQUIRED in order to keep up with your fellow players. If you don’t keep up, you’re left behind in the average MMO. I could cite a lot of exmaples, but I doubt I have to.

    “Wah, ArenaNet nerfed something and now I’m bitter. :(” ArenaNet balances skills in ways that are nothing but appropriate, and their developers’ notes/explanations for the reasons each skill was changed are warmly welcomed having come from MMOs whose devs are disconnected, secretive and uncaring about its players (I’m lookin’ at you, Square-Enix).

    “ArenaNet isn’t updating the game fast enough!”
    On this point, I couldn’t care less how fast they add/remove/adjust content in the game. Why? Again, coming form pay-to-play MMOs, I see updates to *those* games once every *three* months, and even then, the most desirable content comes with something you have to buy. I understand that players get bored and want new content. Maybe you’ll get it in the future and maybe you won’t. Guild Wars was ArenaNet’s baby. Now, that’s Guild Wars 2, and I’m glad they’re focusing their collective talents on it.

    If they take a little extra time to roll out an update, that’s not only their prerogative (yeah, that’s spelled correctly), I’m more-so grateful for what they DO get done within Guild Wars because of all the good things there are about the game. Things a very small faction of Guild Wars players lose sight of sometimes. ArenaNet does a lot right by its players, and they deserve a lot of respect for that.

    Pardon me if this seems a little fanboy-ish; and no, I am not an ArenaNet employee or a relative of an employee. :P It’s just that when someone is doing so much right, it pisses me off when everyone spends their time nitpicking what they aren’t.

    As far as Jeff Strain/etc. having departed ArenaNet, what’s been openly said is true. They simply wanted to do something different. They weren’t abandoning GW/GW2/ANet, foreseeing some shadow of doom on the horizon. They wanted to work more directly with something new.

    Personally I don’t see how a console-only Zombie Apocalypse MMO could do well, but hey, L4D may be a barometer for success. :P

    1. 100% agree…Anet will not drive me away because I also agree they are working hard…now whiney-a#* players who either can’t make it through the game and want to complain how much they don’t like it, or are spending too much time in their parent’s basement between their shifts at their local fast food restaurant…well they will just annoy the crap outta me. Perhaps if they are the most fabulous game designers and programmers on the planet they should apply for jobs with Anet to help make this game we all enjoy even better…or, they could have another cup of jell-o, shut their hole, and enjoy the game…sheesh…:)

    2. Amen! There may be things ANet does that aren’t perfect but compared to the current direction EQ2 (my old game of choice) is going, it’s positively heavenly.

    3. I do enjoy how, whenever somebody presents a valid argument opposing people like KJ, FO, Tahiri, and Zul, they often don’t respond or resort to personal insults…

      Seriously guys, while (I’m just using this as an example) Mindy may not have actually said WHY Rits and Mezzes need an update, you could correct her at least, if (as you clearly do) think differently…

      Personally I think Grateful is spot on. (Y)

  7. I’m looking forward to a seven hero build too. It won’t affect the rest of the world, because I currently mostly h/h. The reason for this isn’t because I’m antisocial. It’s because so many people have very rigid ideas of how the game is “supposed” to be played. It seems like if you don’t have a specific build dragged off Pvx Wiki, or you don’t want to just run straight into each mob and kill stuff, some people don’t want you.

    And as a strategic player, who uses flags and positioning, and doesn’t just charge into each group, the last thing I want is an eager beaver pug aggroing an area the size of mainland China. I do quite well with a few personal real life friends, and h/hing the rest of the time.

    I think that being forced to play with a bunch of elitists isn’t my idea of fun anyway. I’ve done all the same stuff as anyone else, but I’ve done it on my own merits instead of using a rentabuild. It’s a personal choice. So is playing alone.

    So bring on the seven heroes.

    1. Grateful, Thor, Kyr, Im so backing u guys up. I dont see whats all the fuss and trouble about GW people say its dead but i get online every day i see tons of people i have a full active Guild and alliance, I enjoy my lore a lot. These people have focused so well in Game content and Lore that they deserve some praise. I bought all campains and the expansions and i assure u its less than what i would waste in any MMO like Wow.

      I been playing for 3 years now and so far ive never had problems with skill changes, they do a balancing and chages, Cool ok just learn to use the new mecahnics, find new builds. These cry babies get so pissed just because now their old PvX builds dont work anymore Bohoo!

      I dare anyone to find an MMO that is Buy-n-Play with graphics, Gameplay, and Lore as complex as the one we find in Guildwars. In this game If you dont find something to do U really havent been playing it well.

      Go Anet, Im looking forward to those lore updates. And whatever you add or dont i know ill enjoy it. Whats a good game without some story that makes sense?

    2. The days of the 7 heros will come. And it will be awesome. I have three guildmates. We all know eachother IRL. If we can’t manage to be on at the same time, then we’ll h/h suffer thru whatever it is we’re working on, be it one of the three original campaigns, EotN, or Beyond. I’ve been playing my main since the beta god knows how long ago, and I’ve never once been bored with GuildWars, and never once been upset/mad at ANet for skill balancing or complete PvP changes.

      I’m happy to say that I have gotten as far as I have without once using PvX. Yes, I may have spent more than a few ecto’s worth on skills that I don’t often use, but when I need them, I have them *and* know that they’d work better for the situation.

      So, ANet, keep doing the awesome that you’re doing. And all you rent-a-builders, try building something from scratch. It’s suprisingly enjoyable :)

      1. The trouble with smearing for people for using builds they’ve read somewhere is that – most of them have no attitude about it. It’s great that you’ve gotten as far as you have without using PvX, but not everyone can be you my friend.

        Humans work on copying, and even if we were all individually creating our own builds all the time, it’s unavaoidable that from a limited box of lego we will build the same shapes occassionally, and often use the same colour bricks.

        Of every build we can say it was original once, but over time, no more.

        I miss all the people that used to play. All the ones left seem aggrieved or overly opinionated.

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  9. funny how quiet the original moaners and whiners got in the end when people started standing up for the live team, if your bored and have no faith in this awesome team……go play the free version of lotr and see how much fun you have. great job GWL ….who plays dervs anyway? (ok that one was just a joke)

  10. I couldn’t agree with you guys more, if anything guild wars has too much to do. Between the zaishen dailies, traveler, and war in kryta, i barely have time for anything else. The active balancing anet does is perfect and quick most of the time. Other than having to play with elitist a-holes when h/h doesn’t cut it, i couldn’t be happier with anet, and the 7 heroes thing will solve me having to play with elitists so its becoming the perfect game to play while i eagerly wait for gw2.

  11. I find it amusing to see the whiners carry on. I remember when Shadow Form got nerfed the first time…that was a hoot! A bunch of sins showed up in Cantha in a circle playing violins. Lol!
    I have all the campaigns. I have played Guild Wars every single day since I bought Prophecies 3 years ago. I have 3 accounts that I have obtained during that time, but I usually only play my original. I can’t help but laugh when I see someone say that they are bored and have nothing to do. I have too much to do!
    I hate joining a group where the first thing they ask you to do is ping your build. I never ask for a build because I figure you were good enough to get where you are, so your build must work for you (only exception is my GWAMM rit since spirits do conflict).
    I am excited about the possibility of using 7 heroes as are several in my guild. We have already been talking about who we are gonna bring and what we are going to do.
    On a side note, I would love to be a part of the Test Krewe!..Where do I sign up? (Spoiler Alert! for major suck up!) I would be honored to be a part of the TK team. Hopefully my daily dedication to playing would come to be recognized. Did I mention that I average playing a little over 8 hours each and every day? That’s right, I have no social life…but that is by choice. I have loved video games for the past 30 years, and GW has proven to be the ultimate D & D for me.

  12. I agree with many of you about being able to play the builds that you like. I can’t tell you how many Urgoz, Underworld, FoW, and Deep groups i’ve either been kicked from or refused entry just because I refuse to use the build they want and wanted to play the one I enjoy and understand how to use. Khr, Lithlius, Ursa, if you ever need someone to group with and can find me, would love it. I think that a lot of people have forgotten that the game was made so that every profession could do everything in it, supposedly equally. It’s impossible to forsee all the possible ways that the numbers of skills present can be used so that now and then it is necessary to update them so that they stay equal and that one profession is not favored over another and the original premise that everyone can do everything is maintained.

  13. The 2 things that i really looking foward is to play with 7 heroes (which i think its gonna make me play Guild Wars more & more) & the new Dervish update (God knows how noob i am playing as a Dervish). The thing i dont like about Dervish is their enchantments. They will get stronger while under enchantments but most of their enchantments cost 10 energy & when they confront with mesmers or any casters that can remove enchantments, its THE END of them.

    Oh yes, i forgot 1 thing, the damage they deal with their scythe….well….. i thing Warrior can deal better damage with their weapons & Assasin can deal better damage with their daggers ( can deal better damage with scythe too).

    I dont know if u guys agree with all my comments about Dervish but like i said, im a Dervish noob. I really hope that the new Dervish update will be better or easier to play with.

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