Interview: Talking Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns with ArenaNet's Development Director
What’s coming first, capes or polymock?
There will be a sudden inundation of all things Guild Wars 2 from here on out. ArenaNet recently gave several news outlets the opportunity to visit their studio and get their hands on Guild Wars 2's first expansion, Heart of Thorns. The demo sessions were followed with an interview with one of several developers, I was lucky enough to be paired with Kristen Bornemann, the Guild Wars 2 Development Director and Regina Buenaobra, the Content Marketing Team Lead at ArenaNet -- I have a hypothesis that she was there to make sure we there weren't any leaks.
The full interview is below, to get a better picture of who was in the room you can check out the info below:
- Kristen Bornemann | Guild Wars 2 Development Director
- Regina Buenaobra | Content Marketing Team Lead
- Tatiana Morris | Gamezone
The interview covers how Heart of Thorns will expand the living world, how the expansions plot affects the previous story, whether the expansion will create a division in the community between non-purchasers and purchasers and more (like capes and polymock).
Guild Wars 2 is a living world, constantly updated with random dungeons and events -- How will Heart of Thorns expand on that feature?
The best way to think about how we landed on an expansion for the living world, we had over 40 releases, and this is something I am deeply and intimately aware of -- all 40 releases. we have been doing this living world and now the baton is getting handed to the new expansion. That carries through in story, that carries through in all of the features, we are just handing over the baton.
The next major step in GW2 is this huge expansion, that’s really what we landed on that makes sense for the game right now.
We will be supporting the game after expansion, but we will detail what that looks like...closer...to that.
At the end of current GW2 story, the Sylvari turned evil through mind control from Mordremoth, will that affect older content like starting zones?
I will say that is a huge major component of the story that we are telling. The story will take place mostly in the heart of Meguuma, so that’s worth keeping in mind.
Will living world updates focus on HoT content and what does that mean for players that haven’t purchased the content? Will there be a huge division between purchasers and non-purchasers?
All of the expansion features, or most of the expansion features, that we detailed will lead you to purchase the expansion.
We will get into what stuff lies outside of that later, but even the content that lies outside of that will be experienced in a more powerful way if you have the expansion.
So, it still gives something to the players that have yet to purchase HoT?
Yes, and we will talk about that soon.
Is there going to be small group instanced content -- basically, are there going to be dungeons?
We will be detailing more of the hard challenging content.
The Wyvern fight is a good example of what we are looking for and doing more of in the future. That Wyvern fight, if you think about it, that’s just in the open world potentially - well it was in our demo and that’s more of the stuff that will be in the open world.
If you take that even further, you can see, sort of, what you can extrapolate out and see what we are thinking about for challenging hard group content in the future.
We will talk about it as we get closer to the launch date.
Precursors are rare, hard to find and expensive on trading post - even if you were to go to the Mystic Forge crafting there’s a .79% drop rate… You guys [ArenaNet] are going to be bringing a scavenger hunt like challenge will help players build legendaries with precursors. Will this challenge promise players a precursor or is will it give you a higher drop rate for the items?
It’s going to be a journey and a scavenger hunt that will lead you to a precursor, and that is pretty much all that we are saying.
What that journey looks like... We have a specific plan to talk about that in the future.
In GW2 you can play with friends and access most areas because the games scales with the sidekick mechanic, will mastery limit what you can do with other players - how much content will be blocked if someone doesn't have a certain level of mastery?
So, the best way to think about masteries is that it is context specific. and it is an alternative to leveling that allows you to be stronger in the areas in that you are in, or more proficient in the areas that you are in.
For gliding, you will get access to some areas in the jungle region that you wouldn’t previously have access without it.
That’s a good example. I mean, you’re not blocked off. If you’re playing in the jungle, you will be able to level up the mastery system in order to experience all the areas you want to see. But it’s context specific, so in the jungle region you will just be stronger there.
Can you glide in non-Meguuma areas?
I don’t know if we’ve said anything about that yet...
With the knowledge and hindsight you now have, with regards to content production/design what would you guys have done differently?
Heres the thing, we have an amazing team of people that work really, really hard on this game and have worked really hard -- not only leading up to launch, but in the past few games -- developed an amazing, amazing game and support it throughout the lifespan.
It’s easy to have hindsight on these, but we are proud of the game we have built and proud, honestly, of the way we have supported it. We have a great opportunity with GW2 to support it with the way we have in the past and we are going to continue.
In a lot of ways it’s an unfair question, it’s like asking a painter if they are ever done with a painting. We are certainly always looking to improve the game, but we are very very proud of it here.
Oh yeah, I see you guys on forums across the internet answering questions. Someone’s like ‘well, I work there so I can help you out!’ You guys notice these things that it’s almost like you guys are like, ‘maybe we should consider implementing this somehow.”
It’s amazing. I think that out of any other place I’ve worked, people here still play the game the most out of anyone. I’ve worked on other games and after you ship something it’s like, I don’t ever want to touch it again!
I am logging in every day just to do my dailies and I’ve never experienced that with a previous game.
Yeah, that’s a tell-tale sign of a great creation and the living world just keeps the game evolving and interesting.
My last question: What’s coming first, capes or Polymock?
[Laughter] Um, yeah...
Maybe in the next expansion?
The answer to that is, we are full focused on HoT. We detailed all the expansion features, that is hilarious though.
A big thank you to both Kristen and Regina for taking their time to talk about Guild Wars 2 and Heart of Thorns, and givins us some insight on how amazing ArenaNet is at keeping tabs on the GW2 community.
ArenaNet has done a fantastic job at updating this fantastic MMO from day one, and never asking for its user base to pay a subscription fee to make it happen. It's no secret that they're very perceptive to their fan base, ensuring the game continues to evolve not only in their own vision, but also caters to the specific desires of their fans. We can't wait to get our hands on Heart of Thorns.