GWOnline is very happy toÂ presentÂ this interview with ArenaNet about their insights from the beta process so far, and how they go about balancing the game now that we are getting ever closer to release.
We were particularly excited to learn that ArenaNet can roll out and test changes to 100 skills in mere minutes, allowing for quicker and more responsive balancing in Guild Wars 2. Oh, and that there are ghost cows, and we will get to fight them!Â Questions are answered by Mike Ferguson (Game Designer), Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda (Game Designer), Theo Nguyen (Game Designer), Leif Chappelle (Game Designer), Eric Flannum (Lead Game Designer) and Isaiah Cartwright (Lead Systems Designer).
GWOnline: After you finished the first round of closed beta, what was the general feedback, and what insights did you gain?
Mike: Overall the feedback was extremely positive. For WvW, the beta was extremely useful for us as we were able to learn a lot from playing with a large population over the weekend. After the beta ended we immediately went to work on implementing various updates to make siege weapons more effective, we’re optimizing various systems that were extremely taxing on our servers, and we’re looking at various ways to make WvW easier to learn for people who are first starting out.
Annie: One big thing I think the story team took away from the beta is how players react to the information we gave them – negative points where the seams between quests were showing, points where they wanted information that wasn’t there, but also positive ones from how people responded to our use of cinematics, scenes, and “flythroughs” (little staged cinematics more typical of your standard game cutscene). It felt like we were definitely on the right track with hitting the high notes of the story. Beyond that, responses to characters and the balance of boss fights was definitely useful feedback – it’s always fun to see the aggregate response of players to certain elements of the game, especially trickier subjects like tragedy or humor. I now have proof that fighting ghost cows is just as hilarious as I always thought it was!
Theo: As Mike said, response from the beta has been largely positive. As with any feedback cycle, weâ€™ve received a multitude of important insights that are too varied to discuss individually at this point. Needless to say, weâ€™re working on several concerns that were brought up. To give an example, the rate at which players level is something weâ€™re keeping a close eye on. Numbers balance can make or break a game. We feel itâ€™s essential to get this right.
Leif: The beta weekend was a really great milestone for our development, as it was an opportunity to test server load and look at just how everything comes together. One of the most important insights gained was how all the content flows and how well it matches up to our intentions. During a normal week of design, we on the story team are focused intently on getting the balance for our instanced areas just right, but that’s only one part of the overall experience. When you have the ability to jump from one story step to the next, you might lose sight of how you actually get there. Yet between the events, renown hearts, and skill challenges, I often found myself pleasantly surprised when looking down at my map and realizing I was right where I needed to be just by following people and engaging with the world.Read more & comment >>