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IncGamers’ Guild Wars 2 Interview Part 1

GuildWars: IncGamers caught up with ArenaNet’s Eric Flannum, lead designer of Guild Wars 2 and game designer John Peters to find out how development was going and also get some answers on specific game mechanics. This is the first part of our lengthy interview, part 2 will follow shortly.

John Peters and Eric Flannum

How is the character customisation coming along? What will players be able to tweak and change? You have said it will be extensive but players are wanting to know exactly what they will be able to tweak.

Our character customisation is something we are working on right now and it’s going pretty well. It will be a lot more extensive that in GW1. You’ll be able to alter, depending on your race, different things. Obviously a Charr has very, very different things you would alter than a human does. Depending on your race there’s all kind of options.

You can do different body types, I think we’ve mentioned this, but one of the benefits we’ve gained from NCSoft is that we looked at the AION character creation and we thought it was pretty spectacular so we are using their technology as the basis for ours. So we can do a lot of the same things they do. You’ll be able to tweak a lot more than GW1. At the same time we want our character creation to be easy to use and you don’t have to be an artist yourself to come up with a cool looking character. So you can expect a hybrid between a system something like where you can tweak every detail and something more simple like GW1 where you had presets. It’s somewhere in between those two things. We think it should give our fans who really like to customise their character more than enough options to keep them happy.

How is the item system going to differ with regards to crafting from the original Guild Wars?

One big difference is crafting in the original GW was you salvage stuff and you brought it to an NPC and he crafted it for you. In GW2 we have a number of different ways to get materials. One is from drops, another from salvaging and also from gather nodes in the world. For crafting your character chooses crafting professions and you are going to be doing the crafting and you find a crafting table where you take your raw material. You then craft the items

What this does for us, it creates a more social experience, it’s a little more traditional but it gives the chance for players to interact a lot more with each other.

So that basically opens up more opportunities for auctioning and becoming a key player in your particular crafting profession?

Yes absolutely, players are going to have learned recipes and crafted items they are going to want to trade with other players. These games are very social, and in every way, Guild Wars 2 is trying to build a community and its definitely going to play a part.

Will the environment play much of a role in combat? Can it be utilised to a player’s advantage?

Absolutely. In number of different ways. First of all there’s jumping in the game. So if someone is chasing you and you jump over something and they decide not to they have to go around the object. On top of that, everything is very physics based, so if you’re higher up than someone your projectile will go further.  If there is a rock in front of you and someone shoots an arrow at you it’s going to hit the rock. There’s a lot of physics going on there

There are also environmental weapons so there might be a situation where you turn the corner and there’s a rock and an elemental picks it up and drops a meteor on you.

You mention that if you fire a projectile and you hit a rock. Would the arrow just strop dead or could it ricochet off the rock depending on where it hit the rock?

We do stop them dead on purpose so it doesn’t get too crazy. We do some ricocheting with players. For example if you’re a Ranger and you have an axe in your off-hand and you use a skill called Whirlwind Defense, stuff that’s coming at you can ricochet back at enemies. We try not to do stuff where it bounces off the environment because it can become chaotic

Boom!

 

What sort of security measures are going in place for player accounts? This is always a huge concern for players.

I‘ll start off by saying security is very, very important to us. One of the things that we’ve done is we have a team who looks at that stuff and we have a lot of features that we think will help out with security. We’re not quite ready to talk exactly what those things are, but yes, security is a big, big priority for us.

We understand having operated GW and seeing all the account theft that has happened. Obviously we’re hoping to shoot for accounts never being stolen, but there’s only so much you can do. At the moment though we’re not quite ready to talk about exactly what we’re doing.

What can you tell us about the guild features such as moving guilds from one server to another.

This is one of those things we are still developing and we can’t really say anything about it right now. But I want to explain why we can’t talk about this stuff .You develop these things along the way and they change or they never work out the way you thought. It’s the sort of thing where we really want to  make sure that anything we talk about the is definitely in the game and is working in a way that we like. Guild features are one of those things that we’re currently working on. We’ve got some exciting stuff planned but we’re just not ready to talk about it quite yet.

Will players be region locked on servers or can US players join EU server etc.

We’re still trying to make decision on this so I can’t say one way or the other yet.

You have mentioned that dungeons will be playable once you have completed the  personal story version of the dungeon and that they will have several branches and paths. How exactly is this going to work?

There’s not really a personal story versions of the dungeon. The Dungeon has as story version but it’s not really your story it’s the story of a group of characters that are important characters In Guild Wars that you encounter in the world during the personal story. However the dungeons are more their story.

What happens is once you finish the story part of the dungeon, there’s an explorable mode you can go into. Each dungeon is very different so there’s no  standard way that the branching works. One of our philosophies is we don’t want to fall into patterns too much as it can make the content feel very predictable.

So it’s not the case you finish the dungeon and the explorable mode has three paths because this is not always the case. Sometimes this is true but sometimes there’s one path and then it will branch and then branch again. Sometimes there are different ways to accomplish the same thing and it varies from dungeon to dungeon.

One example is, there’s particular lab that you demolish and you have to beat the main antagonist in story mode but you go back into the dungeon in exploreable mode and clean up the aftermath, the mess you made. First time you went in and took out the Commander but you didn’t take care of the entire lab and you have to go back. What happens is you get teleported down and get a number of options on how to deal with going through the dungeon again. That’s one example of the way the branching works but it will work very differently depending on the dungeon you are in.

Did you say something?

More recently we have seen other developers make game date available to players so the community can be creative, Are ArenaNet planning anything like this?

We know that if we didn’t give you damage numbers for weapons all that means is players are going to go out and do experimentation and try to find out how much damage a particular weapons does. So we try to put all the stats for a particular skill or weapons in the game. We try to be very transparent with giving players the info they need so they can evaluate whether one skill is better than another. We don’t really have a lot of hidden data that we would need to give.

Doing things like giving a big XML dump or something of all these stats for all the items in the game , we have certain players that like to tinker with wikis and we have always supported the GW1 wiki and we’ll continue to do that for the GW2. We think there’s a community that’s like to collect data. We don’t want to hinder those guys but we don’t want do the fun things they like to do for them.

Will there be built in statistical means of tracking character progress apart from character level, like overall gear level or damage meters or publicly viewable achievements that show dungeon experience?

I’m not sure we want to include damage meters or things like that. I think they maybe tend to focus on the wrong things with everybody concerned about min/maxing things. There are lots of things you just can’t measure, like the DPS somebody is doing, are they helping towns players get back up and that sort of thing. We want to avoid DPS meters.

We have an achievement system that you can gain titles with and a lot of your different types of tough dungeons have very unique visual rewards. It’s not that they are statistically better than the other stuff you can get in the game, it’s just the only way to get a particular set of armours to finish the dungeons several times in explorable mode.

A lot of times you can tell what a person likes to do based on how they look and what titles they are displaying

Read part 2 of our interview >>

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