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Tyria in 2013: the year ahead for Guild Wars 2

Monday, 18th February 2013 13:34 GMT By Dave Cook

Guild Wars 2 game director Colin Johanson reflects on the game’s shaky launch, and tells Dave Cook about ArenaNet’s big plans for Tyria throughout the year ahead.

Guild Wars 2

Launched August 28th 2012, Guild Wars 2 has since sold 3 million copies worldwide. The games had been in development for many years, starting with the studio’s design manifesto, that laid down their core aims for the project.

The series is developed by Washington-based studio ArenaNet. The developer recently announced a series of new changes coming to the game in the near future.

Guild Wars 2 topped Time Magazine’s 2012 games list. We covered the list announcement here.

You can check out the official Guild Wars 2 website here.

At midnight on August 28th 2012, Washington-based game developer ArenaNet opened the floodgates after years of Guild Wars 2 development, excitement and hype, officially declaring Tyria 2.0 open for business. The influx was too great, the rush too hasty, and one by one the cracks started to appear.

“There are times where I’m envious of developers who get to make offline games that don’t have to deal with these kind of issues, it’s insane how complicated it is”, ArenaNet’s game director Colin Johanson told me.

He’s referring to a string of server overflow issues, Black Lion Trading post exploits and connection problems that plagued Guild Wars 2 at launch. It’s a shame that these stumbles became marquee headlines across the gaming press, because as anyone steeped in the industry knows, MMOs are colossal projects that are by their very nature prone to frayed ends. All things considered, the launch could have gone much, much worse.

We’re now just over five months on from Guild Wars 2′s launch and ArenaNet has its ship firmly back on course, after shifting over 3 million copies since release, and launching a few world events so far.

There’s also been a steady string of updates that keep Tyria in check, because being an MMO, there is never room for complacency. In many ways the job of Johanson’s team is only just beginning.

“I think the biggest area we’ll be looking at building on in 2013 is really solidifying the core game and living world we’ve created,” Johanson explained. “We’re going to add more variety and diversity to the existing world, so there is even more of a sense of discovery and mystery in every corner.

“We’re going to expand on the concept of living story lines in the game word, so there are events and narratives with a strong sense of finality and permanent world change.”

Such is real life: if you don’t keep up with the world, you fall behind. With MMOs, newcomers can feel intimidated when approaching a vast online space like Tyria later in its lifespan. Catering for players at both ends of the spectrum is something that ArenaNet sees as vital to its long-term appeal and survival.

This is something Johanson feels must run alongside the game’s world events, such as The Lost Shores, a popular weekend-long event that saw some areas of Tyria changed permanently.

ArenaNet isn’t done with these by a long shot, he teased, “You’ll see a lot more of these events in 2013. The concept in particular of building a living story that plays out across the game is something we’re really excited about.”

“We’ll of course have festivals and special events as well”, he added in reference to last year’s Halloween and Wintersday celebrations, “but we want to expand the concept of what events can be to tell stronger narrative stories that drive the overall story of Guild Wars 2, and change the world forever as a result.”

World events are one thing, but ArenaNet has made no secret that it’s planning a full Guild Wars 2 expansion, the nature of which is currently shrouded in secrecy. Regardless I asked Johanson for details, “I can say we absolutely will have expansions in the future, however right now our major focus is on building upon the core living world and major game systems of Guild Wars 2. Thematically, we’ll discuss expansion content a lot more once it’s closer to being realised.”

Defeated I asked Johanson about the increasing eSport nature of Guild Wars 2′s updates and ArenaNet’s own blog posts. It seems as if the studio has something brewing that may capitalise on the growing popularity of competitive titles such as Dota 2 and League of a Legends.

Surprisingly, Johanson didn’t hold back. In fact, he confirmed that eSports is indeed a strong desire of the studio going into 2013 and beyond. “I think there really are two steps we need to accomplish here before we truly realise the possibility of Guild Wars 2 from a PvP perspective,” he explained.

“The first one is ensuring the core PvP game and systems are strong enough to support a solid base of players who enjoy PvP from a more casual or progression standpoint. They’re looking to have fun, be matched against players of similar skill, for it to be easy to get in and out of PvP games, and most importantly, feel like there is a strong sense of reward and progression for their time.”

Once ArenaNet feels confident that it has this core nailed down, Johanson confirmed that the studio would then look at tackling the eSports world head-on, and that means catering to the needs of Tyria’s more hardened players. It’s going to be an open invitation brawl to all-comers, even if – as Johanson added – the smaller hardcore minority will be those that other players aspire to.

“We’re actively working on building the core features required to make the eSports community shine,” he confirmed, “while simultaneously building on everything required to expand our stale base community for PvP as well.

“Once all the major pieces are in place, you’ll see us ramp up strongly on the PvP side of the game and expand our influence in the eSports sphere. This is a community that has really grown in the last decade or so, from the early days of StarCraft, to the massive communities now playing games like League of Legends.

“We know we need to have all of the components in place and really polished before we make our major push into that scene, but once we do we expect to carve out a territory as the strongest PvP game in the MMO market, and then build beyond that market from there.”

I close in asking Johanson that ever-burning of MMO questions: “Will we ever see the game on console?” Oddly, he didn’t say no, but warned that it’s a task – for any developer – fraught with a sea of prevalent issues that need tackled first, and offered insight into ArenaNet’s own investigation into the concept of Guild Wars 2 on consoles.

“We’ve had a team do preliminary investigations into console development in the past,” he confirmed, “but at this time were 100% focused on developing and making Guild Wars 2 the best possible game we can do on PC. As for major MMOs on consoles, I think the challenges are enormous but the possibilities are really exciting.

“A few games have dabbled in this area, but I’m not sure anyone has been a smash success in bringing the console to the console space. These games are absolutely huge, so you’re looking at how to handle install size, texture and rendering issues, and performance issues based on the limitations of the specific console OS.

“On top of this you have to deal with monetization and bandwidth contracts, issues with the console developer, questions on how you handle and publish constant releases and updates to your game, in a game space that rarely has large patches, and so much more.

“All of that is just logistics, never mind all of the gameplay issues that come with converting games [that are] typically extremely deep and complicated with numerous menus, skills, skill bars, and figuring out how to simplify them down to operate on a controller.

“It’s a big challenge, and I wish anyone who takes it on the best of luck.”

So probably not then.

You can also check out my three-part blog – ‘Guild Wars 2: A Noob’s Journey’ – in which I break my MMO virginity and make a real effort to understand and enjoy what the game has to offer.

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17 Comments

  1. Klaxusprime

    Some fresh air in the middle of all this PS4 monomania and aliens: cm quarreling….

    A big thanks to you Dave :D

    P.S.: Who’s editing the headlines? Such a good story deserves more horniness dudes!!! :)

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 No problem, glad you liked it :) I’m always keen to hear from ArenaNet. I’m doing the headlines today :D

    #2 1 year ago
  3. OlderGamer

    Good reading. I really enjoy the game. I am not addicted to it like I have been to Rift/Wow in the past. But I really enjoy spending time on it. And I like their biz model, buy once, play when ya want. No subs.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Dave Cook

    @3 thanks OG :) Yeah I like their model too. It works.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Hybridpsycho

    “All things considered, the launch could have gone much, much worse.”

    Sure, it could’ve gone much worse. But it’s still one of the worst launches I’ve been through.

    The fact that the trading post was down for so long is just insane (took more than 2-3 weeks for them to fix it and on top of that they didn’t have a normal trade feature. This completely screwed over the economoy of the game and I’m not sure it’s still fully picked up.

    There’s also the fact that one of the biggest selling-points of the game was the world-bosses. Yet the servers couldn’t handle these properly either, after doing the end-game bosses 1-3 times a day always lagging (server-end, my PC is a small monster) for 1-2 weeks I tired.

    Also, if you want e-sport, either go all out PvE to make it completely PvE competetive or skip the PvE element completely and go make a PvP game with some small RPG elements.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. GrimRita

    I havent been back to GW2 in ages. Shame because it looked to offer so much. I like the business model, spent around £100 on gems during my time but found that after initially getting moist with excitement about WvW it just became a zerg fest.

    I became SO bored that over night, the (insert name of time zone different server here) just destroyed everything you upgraded for you to capture it again and then see it all be destroyed.

    The launch was a mess simple as. If you produce X amount of copies of your game, you know that you will need capacity for X. However, because it was F2P, I did forgive it. It could have been as poor as SWTORs constant down time which was a PAID game at that time.

    But thats what made me leave GW2. Combat. Its shit. Utter shit. PvP is dull, your abilities are about as exciting as seeing a comedy moment in Eastenders and compared to SWTORs combat(albeit a stunfest) it cant match SWTORs attempt at offering a true unique feel to its classes and the ability to create your own hybrids with the skill trees.

    Sure, in GW2 you can stick 5 points here, 10 points there but all it doesnt is just increase your small set of core abilities, which is a shame and its almost like it feels as if its an after thought.

    If they revamp combat, I could return but until then, I wont be

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Gekidami

    “But thats what made me leave GW2. Combat. Its shit. Utter shit. PvP is dull, your abilities are about as exciting as seeing a comedy moment in Eastenders and compared to SWTORs combat(albeit a stunfest) it cant match SWTORs attempt at offering a true unique feel to its classes and the ability to create your own hybrids with the skill trees.”

    Indeed, i thought exactly the same thing. I abandoned GW2 because, as you said, the combat is lame and the skills feel unrewarding, just as unrewarding as the horrible side quest system. The plot sucks too and is overall sub-par, the voice acting being hilariously bad at times.

    GW2 is just a very average game, i wasnt interested enough to continue playing it and then some dumb email verification thing came along and stopped me from accessing it all together. The whole “free MMO” thing was an interesting pull, but now its common practice amongst MMO’s, i’m currently into SWTOR for free and its just an all-round more interesting game.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. roadkill

    And that’s why you never play a game when it launches. You wait a few days, or weeks. Anyway, I think Guild Wars 2 is awesome in very way possible. I have spent more than 600 hours in over 2 and a half months and I still have so many things that I want to do. Oh and I have only 1 character. There is just so much that you can do that I simply didn’t have the time to create more.

    So, thank you Dave for the interview. It didn’t offer anything new, just reassurances but these are better than nothing. And thank you Anet as well for being so awesome and caring about customers. Cheers!

    #8 1 year ago
  9. GrimRita

    @8 but thats just it. If you love PvE than GW2 offers that up. The underwater stuff is simply awesome. But I don’t like pve that much and no matter how much GW2 tried to make it feel less of a grind, it still was.

    PvP is more my thing and unfortunately for reasons stated, the game needs some new direction.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Guia889

    yah he is rioght…. If you think Hazel`s story is great,, one week ago my mum brought in $4486 sitting there eleven hours a week from home and the’re buddy’s mother-in-law`s neighbour was doing this for four months and made over $4486 in there spare time from their laptop. use the guidelines from this website….,, is.gd/e9mZen

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Butcher8

    I was very hyped for this game since they announced it and pre-purchased it (I even bought a Charr plushie), but I became bored within a week when I realised that removing the trinity and traditional questing sounded good on paper, but they didn’t replace it with anything worthy and so the game became just one long zerg fest in every game mode, I might add.

    I’m surprised that I have no urge to play it, as it’s now free for me to play and wow held my attention for several years, the fact that the world always feels empty and in the guilds I tried no one spoke, didn’t exactly help either.

    I really wanted to like this game but my attention has now turned to Wildstar, teso, Star Citizen and a few others to satiate my mmo hunger pangs.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. roadkill

    @9 Find the right group and the right commanders to play with and it changes.

    @11 Removing the trinity and the traditional questing was smart. Just because you are unable to adapt doesn’t mean it’s a bad game. Go back to WoW! I have no idea why you people get out of your shell and comment on other games. You are always clueless. I’m not surprised that you have no urge to play it but I’m very happy about it.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. JROCKET

    Thanks for the heads up. I myself just got my first legit gaming rig this last Cyber Monday on newegg. As an OG console RPGer I have been looking forward to joinging the MMO cult for awhile, and Guild Wars 2 has made me very happy. I started out on Star Wars since lightsabers are the baddest weapons imaginable, but quickly grew tired of the lack of exploration and payoff in SW. The way Guild Wars allows you to just randomly team up for activities is awesome, I haaaated sitting for long periods of time trying to LFG in SW.

    regarding this line:
    You can also check out my three-part blog – ‘Guild Wars 2: A Noob’s Journey’ – in which I break my MMO virginity and make a real effort to understand and enjoy what the game has to offer

    I will be checking to compare our journeys

    #13 1 year ago
  14. roadkill

    @13 Hey J what server are you on?

    #14 1 year ago
  15. JROCKET

    I’m on Jade Quarry – and am looking for PVE guild so…

    #15 1 year ago
  16. roadkill

    Ah you’re US. I’m EU. :) But if you’re looking for a PvE guild you are on the wrong server. Yours is strong in PvP so I think there are a lot of good PvPers there just like on mine. Anyway I can’t help you there. Good luck in finding a good PvE guild wherever you decide to go. :)

    #16 1 year ago
  17. JROCKET

    Thanks for the advice, I hope to try and search some sites and find an appropriate server/guild for my play style. Its really hard to tell what information is up to date when it comes to this stuff.

    #17 1 year ago

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