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London 2013 Community Meet and Greet Q&A with special Guest Colin Johanson

“Hey, wanna go to London?” I was asked, it’s not my most favourite of places so I was hesitant. “Wanna go to London to have lunch with ANet?” Okay, you’ve got my attention.

A luxurious train ride down to the capital city and before I know it I’m in a bar restaurant with a few other Guild Wars 2 fans awaiting the rest of our group, the ArenaNet guys and the guest of honour, Colin Johanson. We chatter amongst ourselves for some time and eventually Colin arrives with a giant beaming smiley, naturally. By pure dumb luck I get the best seat in the house with Colin sat to my left. I may have squealed a little inside (and outside).

Introductions, Ponies and the Living Story

We said our hellos and before everything kicked off I had a gift for Colin, my guild’s mascot, Blinkie. A custom made My Little Pony that was made about 3 years ago by a guildie. For the rest of the afternoon people were taking photos of my little Blinkie and having Colin pose with her, she then appeared on half a dozen Twitter feeds. Blinkie got her 15 minutes of fame on Facebook too, which was pretty neat.

We were asked what classes we have as our mains, a mix of just about everything though Warriors were lacking in attendance, which lead to a cool revelation that at ANet HQ there’s a live graph of class / race and it shows you what everyone’s been rolling as. So if they suddenly see a spike of increased Warrior activity, for example, then it’s probably because some really cool Warrior thing has just been discovered. Colin said he was surprised that the Charr were the least played race (Humans first, Norn second), a few of us suggested it was because we remembered what happened to our in-game ancestors 250 years ago.

We were all super excited about the upcoming Living Story and Guild Missions and found out a little more about those.

  • A specific rank will start off the mission
  • It can take months to build up the influence to unlock them
  • The first Guild Mission will be a bounty hunt, and this can actually take place over multiple maps. Small guilds can still do these and they can rally the support of other guilds, then take it in turns to be the one to trigger the events which sounds really awesome and a nice way to form bonds.
  • Southsun Cove will play a part in these missions which I’m thrilled to here, as I do feel that place has much wasted potential. Nice to see it getting some love.
  • Holiday Events are going to wrap nicely into the Living Story

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Not just a one trick pony

It wasn’t just the Living Story they’re expanding on, they’re looking closely at the new user experience and when they open the game to other countries and launch it officially there they want to make sure they got the best experience possible, this includes the possibility of a return of the BWE events like Hunger Royale if you were to participate in that Beta!

A lot of us had something to say about various UI elements. The two particulars were customising the UI (not possible at the moment based on how it was built) and the addition of quality of life improvements for Guild rosters such as last online, last repped, and so on. The people that could do these things are also working on half a dozen other things, so we’ll get there. Maybe. One day.

Dungeon, Boss and Dailies revamp

For dungeons, the team are working on revamping all the bosses in Dungeons, making them more interesting and fun. Starting with the February patch, Ascalon Catacombs will get an overhaul, and they’ll slowly work their way down the others. On the subject of named bosses (a la GW1) they didn’t exist in GW2 as much because of the persistent and respawning nature, so that’s why we have a generic Ettin boss rather than Krunk Smashyface and so on. They are working on making these types of bosses more interesting from their lesser counterparts to make them something different than just a big ettin who hits hard.

Storage of dungeon tokens should hopefully happen at some point since people are sitting on stacks of them clogging up their banks. We also lamented the lack of town clothing storage so maybe we’ll get that one day!

Dailies will be expanded so it’s more a list of ten and you do the five you find most interesting. We discussed the healer daily and how major cities have suicide parties from high places, rez everyone up, then go again. We also learned that not enough people dodge! Which is why the daily dodge is in there. The new style dailies will include things like Keg Brawl too, and eventually open up to the other town games they hope to add one day.

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World Vs World discussion

Away from PvE, we discussed World Vs World and discussed breaking up the Zerg, because let’s face it, zergs get dull to run in after a while, and they’re annoying to play against. The change to this that’s going to cause the most drastic change is changing the “orange swords” that notifies you when more than 5 people are trying to attack something, they want to increase this number (the number 25 was mentioned, but was no way set in stone) to encourage scouting on the map, but because scouting is boring (Hi, I watch Watergate for 4 hours once in a while) they want to find ways to reward that too.

Further WvW discussion included:

  • Changes to the commander function, making it a bit more useful, nothing set in stone and we discussed what we would like. Which basically boiled down to “More info about our squad, thanks!”
  • Commander tags are character bound so people can get used to the character name, since not everyone will know that Engineer Bob and Thief Bob are the same person.
  • WvW Utility skills, making it very clear they wont make you more powerful, just more useful. We were given an example of being able to carry more supply!
  • WvW achievements are being looked at, so that it doesn’t take 7 years to obtain the Yakslapper achievement and so on, which is very good.
  • GvG happening in WvW was surprising, they expected the small group skirmishes, but for people to come together en masse and GvG, that surprised them but they’ve been watching the videos and think it’s cool!
  • The existence of PvE content in WvW (Map completion, Jump puzzles. Colin wasn’t a big fan of the JP being there, and feels it may go at some point)

This last point gave a lot of discussion and food for thought. Both WvW/PvP players and PvE players have mild to strong opinions over the PvE elements and I myself am on the fence about it, as we discussed, a lot of WvW players get into it because they came for a Point of Interest and stayed for the fights! So ANet still want to find a way to keep that going. A lot of thought is going into this which makes me a happy WvWer.

The other major point was that they’re looking at adding incentives and ways to keep people interested in mid-week WvW since a lot of the time matches are decided as early as Wednesday or sooner, and the team in third has a habit of not showing up after this point. Similarly, the teams in first who get a forty to fifty thousand point lead by Monday or Tuesday don’t feel the need to put the effort in for the rest of the week, which is sad when there’s still many people out on the battlefield who need their help. So ANet are looking at ways to keep the people interested in the matches. Those of us around the table interested in WvW liked the sound of this!

Away from PvE and WvW the question was asked if other Legendary Weapons like Eternity, made from 2 other legendaries, would exist and this is indeed a possibility. They’d like to add more legendaries, more skins for weapons and just more skins in general, they just need the people to do it!

The afternoon came to a wind down at this point. Group photos were taken via a mix of smart phones, pocket cameras and fancy digital SLR cameras. We said our goodbyes and thank yous and headed off into the wild blue yonder, back to normality to write up the day’s events, and Blinkie the Ponie left with Colin to go on further adventures.

And Finally…

Before we parted ways I had a final question for Colin. “Where is Final Rest?” He laughed and simply replied “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.” I was more than willing to take one for the team, I just asked that he lets me tweet it first. Alas, no Final Rest location reveal. I tried, guys. I tried!

Thanks ArenaNet for the awesome day, thanks to the rest of the community website representatives, you were all fantastic. Many memories made.