“According to tradition, the dragon embodies passion, independence, and ambition. We think it’s a perfect analogy for what we’re trying to accomplish with Guild Wars 2.”
ArenaNet have just updated their blog with an article that is somewhere between a promise and a call to arms, a mission statement and a battlecry.
“Welcome to the Year of the Dragon,” they say, and proceed to lay out a general plan for what fans can expect in the next couple months of preparation for release.
There is no live date even hinted at, but ArenaNet have committed to ship this year. This isn’t surprising – even the most level-headed of fans would likely have been taken aback had the team held off til 2013 – but it is tremendously pleasant. There’s mention of increasingly-large beta testing in the coming months, all culminating in the hugely-anticipated release sometime later this year.
It’s a fantastically direct article that falls in line with some of the earliest statements we heard about the game – this is not a team of people to speak shyly about the work that they are so evidently proud of.
So, welcome to the year of the Dragon. It seems we shall all be in for quite a treat.
I’m having a hard time balancing how very full and exhaustingly interesting the second day of PAX was against how incredibly quickly it seemed to fly by.
I was incredibly lucky enough to not be bucking for a shirt or a party pass by the time day 2 rolled around, which meant that while I was far from the first person to the booth (I’m guessing it was closer to number 200 or so), I was one of the first people to the demo stations themselves. This means my day started off right off the bat with a spin through the high-level asura engineer.
It’s been mentioned that some classes, like the guardian and the engineer, can take a bit more finesse and mastery to play to their fullest extent than other, possibly more straight-forward, classes. From my experience, and the experience of a few other fans I spoke with, that’s very much the case. I enjoyed the engineer, but I was never expecting it to be my favored class anyway, and I think it’d take a while longer playing the game to get really comfortable with the profession. That said, I did very much enjoy my time in the land of flamethrowers and equipment packs.
The first day of the Penny Arcade Expo is winding down, and what a day it has been! ArenaNet and Guild Wars 2 are a major presence at this convention – between the panels that seem to be constantly running in room 2B, the massively popular PvP matches at the Alienware booth, the Guild Wars 2 booth itself, and the advertisements and t-shirts everywhere, it seems like one can hardly turn around without being reminded that Seattle is Arenanet’s ‘hood.
My day started at the Guild Wars 2 booth, waiting in line for the demo. I didn’t have any particular fire to get out of bed at 6 to get in line in time to be part of the first massive wave into the expo hall, but with only three people in front of me, I felt pretty good about my wait for my turn with the newest demo build. While in line I ran into a couple folks from the Guild Wars twitter community (big thanks to BigCat72 for holding my spot while I ran a couple errands!) and got to chat with a few devs. It was a really neat experience, personally, coming back to the second year of PAX and seeing devs again: PAX is such a bizarre little universe unto itself, there was an odd sense of continuity that really messed with my sense of time. Wasn’t it just a while ago that I was here, talking to these devs, wasn’t it just weeks ago that the first GW2 trailer was released? Aren’t these the same lines I waited in just a while ago?
The demo quickly debunked me of that notion: time has passed, and the ANet staff have been busy in that time!
One of the things that hasn’t really gotten much attention, in the flurry of excitement about the recent Fan Day, is the building itself that ArenaNet now inhabits, which is both beautiful and superbly functional.
By way of explanation, I should mention: I spend most of my time surrounded by architecture and industrial design folk, which means that my ears are constantly full of mantras about the importance of ‘form following function’ and other specious-sounding slogans about the importance of intentional design. After a while, one begins to notice that type of thing, especially when it’s being done so very right. As a result, I was very impressed indeed by the (quite nearly literal) nuts and bolts of ArenaNet HQ and how it has been set up.
Izzy C. is not standing in a small room. But he could be! He could be standing in one of several small rooms, if they deemed it necessary!
The company makes much of their open and collaborative design method, which is quite visibly upheld in the layout of the office – a good portion of the content design, tool design, and story teams are in one long room – not crammed or cramped, certainly, and with evident structure and purpose, but very obviously accessible to one another all the same. If at any point rearrangements need to be made, however, their two floors of the building have been excellently thought out to accommodate any resettling or shuffling which the rooms might go through: with superbly mobile desks, mutable wall-sections, independently reprogrammable ceiling lights (which, might I add, seem to dynamically adjust based on the amount of natural light available – which I was just tickled pink to discover, as it would be such a shame to waste those huge windows and that impressive view they have), and sectional-style air-conditioning, they are truly set up to make switching up teams or locations as hassle-free as possible. This thorough preparedness extends to their internal server room and the newly furbished sound recording space, the design of both of which we got to learn about in great detail.
My experience of going through the Catacombs dungeon at ArenaNet’s recent Fan Day was perhaps the single most enlightening experience of the entire wonderful day . It had everything – the companionship, the fun, and the visible fulfillment of many promises and bold statements on behalf of the developers. It was, effectively, a microcosm of the event as a whole: in it, one could find all the elements which defined the success of the entire venture.
also: everything was gorgeous
ArenaNet charrged up the hype machine this week with a look into another one of Guild Wars 2’s featured races: the fearsome charr. As promised in Monday morning’s post, they took a spin through many of the aspects of the charr: their starter area, their voice-work, the visual design behind their race, and some exciting new lore accompanied by images and an epic video of the Black Citadel.
The week kicked off with a post by Devon Carver, a member of the content design team who has contributed to the charr starter map, talking yet again about the benefits of ArenaNet’s iterative process and how their willingness to go back and change things has really strengthened the design of the game. Very little of what he said about the process of feedback and iteration is new to people following the game’s development, but it still gave readers a nice glimpse of what to look forward to as a charr.
This is about a rather trivial change in the language of Guild Wars 2, the name-change of the race of frog people from “heket” to “hylek,” and why it pleases me.
One word has changed. The nature of the hylek really hasn’t changed at all. They are a sentient people with which we as player characters may have peaceable relations or full-on warfare. We see that they still look very much like the frog-men we’ve all come to love stomping on. Their tribal culture seems relatively unaltered. They are still more or less behind on the technology curve, since they have to trade with other sentients for weapons and other goods. The hylek are in most ways indistinguishable from the heket – which leads many people to beg the question “why change the name at all?” What purpose does this serve?