I’ve been slowly catching up on news, blogs, and emails since I took a journey half-way across the country for a wedding my whole family would be a part of. (Flower girls nearly stole the show!) I have been watching, though. I did see the When It’s Ready blog post from Guild Wars 2 master Eric Flannum. It made a 500 ton splashes at the various Guild Wars 2 communities because of the information it gives, the information it doesn’t, and the virtual pressing of the mute button for the rest of the year.
The information the blog post gives is fantastic. I believe that official articles designed to enlighten fans about design considerations and the reality of the studio are worth their weight in gold. Flannum’s words carry plenty of weight as he discusses the very iterative development process employed by the studio in questioning everything. Prototypes of systems, mechanics, and graphics are employed in a working fashion to give the developers some sense of the feel of the prototype. Of course the old adage holds true when ArenaNet looks at quality, time, and cost and gets to decide on two. Eric implicates the trade offs of development best:
The primary thing we get out of this iterative development process is that it helps us get things right. We can make a better game because we try everything out as it’s being implemented and we aren’t afraid to take something that isn’t working and say “this isn’t good enough.” It results in a game where all of the various systems are working together to produce something that is greater than the sum of its parts. We couldn’t do this if we were more worried about finishing things by a particular date.
Of course, it all comes back to information flow. They definitely have a schedule of points of dicussion, but it’s a fluid one. Flannum discusses how they had a roadmap of profession reveals months ago, but the eight professions danced around the roadmap to the degree that the current roadmap looks very different. Between the lines, it’s easy to tell that things must be very iterative with big things like PvP and underwater combat. It’s not that they don’t have a good idea; it’s just that when they tell us, they want to freakin’ tell us. With the degree of reception of the revealed professions, convention demo material, and everything else we’ve learned so far, I’d say this is a pretty good strategy.
There is a point I feel they either missed or didn’t want to discuss, and that is the tempo of information flow. Of course the beat was insane during the early conventions, and they slowed down at a good pace until the Hall of Monuments information dropped. Then it felt like the tempo went in to a coda (one letter away from coma). There are plenty of things that ArenaNet could still discuss.
How about the amazing music we’ve heard so far in the trailers and concept art videos? What are some of the triumphs of the network guys in transitioning from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2? Can we get an update from the sound guys or the celeb-squad voice actors? What about some of the secrets to the lore? Articles like the old Ecology of the Charr are a gold mine of blog posts, and the lore topics I know exist could easily give weekly articles until a 2012 release. There are plenty of things to talk about besides professions, PvP, and underwater combat.
Flannum puts on a stern face at the end of the blog post when he tells the fans not to really expect anything until the end of the year. With the U.S. holiday block starting this week plenty of people are going to be taking vacations and spending more time with family. This includes the voice of ArenaNet as well as the game developers themselves. I have a surprise coming after Thaniksgiving that will be nice, and I hope ArenaNet throws a few other Guild Wars 2 bits here and there. It is hard to be patient for such a beautiful game.
that is a tasty burger