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Tyler Bearce has just posted a new blog article on the official site about some big changes to PvP. As the title suggests, Paid Tournaments will be replaced by Free Tournaments in tomorrow's big patch.

One of the reasons we initially introduced Paid Tournaments was to create a place for hyper-competitive, highly skilled players to find matches with other players of comparable skill, leaving the Free Tournament system available for more casual competitive play. However, now that we have a ratings and matchmaking system in-place that matches players of similar skill levels, we’ve decided that the ticket cost barrier-to-entry of Paid Tournaments is no longer necessary.

Instead, we’ll have 1-round Free Tournaments and 3-round Free Tournaments. Both of these tournament types will use a separate rating for the purposes of matchmaking.

Those with left-over tickets can exchange them for gold, silver, and copper Tournament Reward Chests at a new Ticket Merchant NPC in the Mists.

Not only that, but how players are rewarded will be updated as well. Winners of the 1-round Free Tournaments will receive a new Match Win Chest while the losing team will no longer receive a chest.

Another big change coming tomorrow is that Qualifying Points will be removed as a reward system. Tyler mentions that in the future, high ranked QP earners will receive a valuable in-game prize instead, but that we won't know more until later in a blog post.

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Hey everybody! If you're wondering how many more parts this Q&A is going to be, well, this is the last one! In case you've missed the other ones, here you go: Do you think you'll ever go down the PvE only skill route again?
Colin: Well we kinda have that with racial skills, or they're the closest thing to that. How much we'll expand on those, I don't know. I'm not sure that that's really that compelling. [...] I would be shocked if we did. A stronger split between competitive PvP and the rest of the game is possible.

Have you ever considered trying to spread players out across the WvW map instead of sticking with the zerg?
Colin: One of the things I've noticed while playing World Vs World is when I get a group together to go take a keep, every time there are more than (say) five players a little orange marker shows up on the map. One thing I miss about playing [...] is that there were scouts that would find out where people went and they would report back to different people. The little orange swords just ruin all of that. It's basically everybody knows where you're all the time.

Our February release will change that. The little swords won't pop up unless there's, I wanna say, 25 people present. We're looking for more ways to spread out the players on the map.

Are you able to make a bigger WvW map?
Colin: No, bigger we can't do. With our existing tech those are the largest maps we can make (engine limitation). We're currently looking several different ways to spread players out, and that's been a big focus of the World Vs World team right now.

What's the deal with the PvE elements in World vs World, such as exploration or the jumping puzzle?
Colin: For the jumping puzzle, I   would prefer that it would not be in the WvW map and have it be a separate thing. I think it takes up the queue space and disconnects players trying to get in. How we answer that is going to be interesting, but in the long run it's very likely it's going to stay as it is. World complete is an interesting one though, because what we've seen from our data measures is that people go to World Vs World for map completion then stay because they end up enjoying it so much. I'm really nervous about removing it because I think it's a great recruiting tool. Though it kinda sucks for people who don't want to have anything to do with it and have to wait for certain areas to open up.

Comment about how the fights are condensed in the center of the maps. Question about spreading things out more so that the fights aren't always in the center.
Colin: All of those things are on the table. Spreading players out and trying to make better use of the space we've got. The WvW team, right now, is really looking at all those options. That's a big part of what their focus is, is trying to answer those questions. That's certainly one of the options that we talk about.

What's your view on the PvE components in WvW such as world exploration, the jumping puzzles and things like that?
Colin: I think for the jumping puzzle, I would prefer that it not be in the WvW map and it's a separate thing that. Especially when there's a queue like that and people are trying to get in. I think it disconnects players from the content they're trying to play. How we answer that is going to be interesting. There's a lot of different ways that we can separate them now, but I think in the long run it's very unlikely that it will stay in the WvW map where it's eating up population queue. It will go somewhere else. We'll have to figure out the best way to do that.

World complete is an interesting one. We've seen from our data metrics, because it's on world complete, there's a bunch of people that play WvW. Because it takes them there to actually get to do it and they end up having so much fun that stay. I've talked to countless people who've said, "I only went there for that, and I ended up running around and I got so addicted to it that I can't stop playing it." One of my best friends actually got into it because of world complete and literally he's on four hours a day now and he doesn't play anything but WvW. World Complete was the only thing that got him into that. So I'm really nervous about moving it because I think that it's a great recruiting thing. It also kinda sucks for people that don't want anything to do with it and have to wait for those areas to get opened up. It's a tough one and I don't really know a great answer for it.

Question about WvW ranks and matchmaking and how you end up fighting the same worlds each week.
Colin: Matchingmaking has the same problem as everything else I just said. It's basically the same couple of people who have to fix that also because it's all server work. But yeah, certainly matchmaking is another thing that we'll be looking at at some point when resources are available. I think matchmaking works right now. It obviously gets stale if you fight the same people over and over again. And that's less than ideal. I think our major goal is how do we make the existing game more fun first before we deal with matchmaking. Because if it's so much fun it doesn't matter if you're fighting the same opponent. I think that's okay. So I would say that it's higher on the priority list, but at some point we're going to have to look at matchmaking and try to find ways to make that more exciting. Personally, I'm a fan of the English, or I guess the European football relegation system. You fight your way up to a tier and you get knocked out of a tier and you're fighting your way through it. I don't know how we adopt exactly that but it'd be awesome if we could do that. I wish American sports had that. It's a way better system in the long run.

Comment on how it's hard to keep going if your server is really losing, or always loses. Would hiding the score help?
Colin: It's a really interesting idea. I've actually never heard anybody at the office throw that out there. I'll go back and throw that at the WvW team and see what they think. [We] definitely want to solve that problem. We want to create incentive for you to login every day - on Thursday your server's getting destroyed and there's a reason why you still want to play. Surprising people with the score is an interesting way to accomplish that. Very, very different that the stuff that we've been talking about. That's a very simple thing we can do.

Comment about Jade Quarry and if they have a 50k point lead that no one feels the need to login to WvW and that it's a really big demotivator. That there are guilds that are falling apart because of it. Question on if that could be addressed somehow.
Colin: I think they're really the same problem. It's like, if you're getting killed or if you're winning by a lot, in both cases there's no reason for you to login. We need to fix both of those. I think it can be the same answer for both pretty easily. Because it really is the same issue, which is "why do I play every day," as opposed to "why do I want my server to win this week?" So that's really high on our list of stuff we're trying to address.

Was there a reason why you went with servers in WvW and not teams, for example?
Colin: The biggest reason that I'm aware of - and a lot of this, just to provide context to isome of these answers - I was only on the content team when a lot of this stuff was decided so it's hard for me to say 100% for sure what the decision making process was four years ago when I wasn't in the room. But I would guess that the reason that was made was to try to make worlds feel more important to players and feel like the people that you play with on your world is your community and that teams would be a subset of that and it wouldn't feel as compelling. It's interesting to see if that still stands up. Now that the game's out, is it still the case. Do people really feel a bond with their world or.. actually, that's a question for you guys. Do you feel attached to your world at all? Do you really feel like your guild, or the people that you play with in your guild, are more...

Comment about how he feels the bond but that the people that jumped servers a lot might not feel the bond/feel as attached.

There's a link between the server you play on and the server you represent in WvW. My question is why have them linked? Why not choose a server to WvW on, and the actual server that you choose to play on the rest of the time be independent of that.
Colin: The reason for that is that we want to build a sense of community. The people that are out in PvE, when you go back out from WvW, or you're out in the PvE world - you're trying to recruit them. You see these people and you have the capacity to say, "you're a part of my world, come represent us in WvW. Come help us out." I think Guild Wars 1 had some really compelling parts of this. It's like the Hall of Heroes, right? When the message went out in the game that our world now controls something. That was sort of the sense that everybody that was on that side felt tied to it, they felt like they were a part of that win. I would hope in time we could get that type of messaging for WvW to a certain degree as well. So that everybody who's on that world feels an even greater tie to it. But the biggest reason is just so that you recognize and get to know the same people in every part of the game. There are a huge percentage of our playerbase that plays WvW that also plays PvE on a regular basis so we want to create that tie between the two of them so that you really get to know people and have that community.

Where's Final Rest?
Colin: Someday you will all discover it and everybody will be really excited.

Comment and question about how conditions only stack to 25 and if you have more than one condition stacker that it becomes useless and if anything is being done to address it.
Colin: Currently, no. Interesting statistic for you - every condition in the game costs server bandwidth. We have to track how often the condition is running, what the duration of that condition is, and what the stack is at. So the more stacks we allow, the more expensive it gets because we're tracking every additional stack on there. So, we could say that you could have infinite stacks. Number one, that becomes really imbalanced. But number two, it's really expensive for us on a performance basis. That's one of those weird, kind of backend server issues that can help make game design decisions regardless of what you want to do with it.

Comment and question on how if everyone has their own individual stack on a mob instead.
Colin: Yeah, it's tough. It's certainly something that we can look at. It does drastically change the way the professions play. It does say that you can no longer stack all of one type of condition. It might change the skills on each weapons if we were to do that. It would encourage more group play to a certain extent. It's not really something that we're talking about, but it's an interesting idea.

Are there any plans to add any further content to Southsun Cove?
Colin: Yes! There are guild missions that happen in Southsun Cove. There is content coming.

I really like the landscape but it's a bit quiet at the moment.
Colin: Yeah, we definitely are going to continue to expand on that.

The guild missions is how many times can you run past a champion Karka and pick up the orichalcum.
Colin: And pick up the node and run back. <random banter>

A little while ago it was also mentioned that there was going to be different ways of getting precursors.
Colin: Some day, yes.

.. like scavenge hunts.. so no immediate plans for that?
Colin: We've thrown in a few more RNG ways to get them, like random chances for places they can go in the game recently. But that's no the real solution, that's just a "hey, let's just increase it a few more point so people can earn them at this point." The fixes for qualifying for loot that'll go in the February release will also increase the chances of getting precursors because it means you have a higher chance of rolling for loot on every creature you kill which means you have a higher chance of getting a precursor. So that will help as well. But long term we'd like to do something a little bit more epic where there is a clear path of, "here is everything you need to do and when you complete it you'll automatically get a precursor." We're not working on that right now, we're really trying to decide what that will be. But yeah, certainly at some point we will add a system that lets you do that.

Are there any plans to make legendaries account bound, so they're not getting sold on the Trading Post?
Colin: I think they only concern with that would be retroactively changing it, since they're already out that way.

You could stop them being added, couldn't you, and then when they go..
Colin: No, we can't. The way the items work is if we were to do that we affect all the existing items. So I don't really know what's going to happen there, that's really more up to our commerce team on how they'll want to handle that. But it's certainly something where there's been a lot of discussion about it.

Yeah, I keep getting mails from gold sellers that want to sell them for 1200 euros and stuff like that so there's an immense amount of money involved for gold farmers to sell those.

With regards to legendaries, obviously with Twilight and Sunrise you can combine them to make Eternity. Are you planning on doing that with any other legendaries?
Colin: Yeah, we will at some point expand on the legendaries. There might be new types of weapons, more combinations. Certainly there will be more legendaries at some point. Certainly weapons, maybe even other types of legendaries. We'll see. We're not done with those but what we don't want to do is roll a whole bunch of those out when we don't have a better system for getting precursors.

Is there going to be a fix for female Asura tier 3 shoulders? Because it's pretty demoralizing to buy the shoulders for the silly amount of gold it is to quickly find out that they don't work on female Asuras.
Colin: I would hope so. I don't know where that is in the pipeline.

<laughter, banter>
Colin: And when you dance on their corpse you've got to have shoulderpads. It's very important.

Question about the customization of weapons.
Colin: It's an interesting idea, I know our art team would like us to do it. It's not currently something that we have anybody working on but it is possible in our system to do that.

What about making dyes account bound? Can we please have dyes account bound?
Colin: I think at this point it won't happen. It's gone too far down that path. I don't think the commerce team will swap that back. That would be my guess.

As someone who ran lots of big events in Guild Wars 1, one of the things I'm slightly disappointed in Guild Wars 2 is the itemization. Things like account bound tonics because it's great to have little prizes you can give out for things and there seems to be a lack of little fun prizes to give out and stuff like that.
Colin: We've tried to do as many of those as we can and certainly we'll keep doing more of them. I think the holiday festivals were loaded with a bunch of that stuff and we'd like to do a lot more of those. They're just fun for social events, right? To get together.

Comment about how they should unbind the quaggan tonics so that they can give them to everybody.

<more banter about tonics, dyes - how there's a lack of stuff to give away for events: "first prize is a dye!" wow, you know>

Activities, like for example bar brawl, things like that, are there any other ones in the pipeline in the future?
Colin: Bar brawl is coming eventually. There are other ones we've prototyped. They'll need a lot more work before they're going to get added. But at some point we'd like to have them all over the game. One of the nice things about the new rotating achievement system is that you can pick... I want to say keg brawl is almost every day of the week. There's different things you can do in keg brawl to contribute towards your daily. My hope would be as we add more mini-games like that. We can create a little rotation, so like Monday is keg brawl day and everybody goes to keg brawl for a day as it's on your daily achievement list. And Tuesday is bar brawl day and everybody goes there, and then Wednesday is shooting gallery or whatever.

Polymock?
Colin: Yes, maybe that one.

It'll be really nice to encourage people to go back to the cities to do that.

I love the new daily system, it's so good.
Colin: The one in February is so much better. There's so many things we wanted to do that we can't do because we don't want to force people to do a specific game type. You know when you open it up a give them a choice, "hey, pick five of these ten and do the things you want to do," suddenly jumping puzzles can go on there, keg brawl can go on there, and we're not forcing you to do that game type and then it becomes a choice.

One of the things about Star Wars daily and monthly system, is it didn't actually have a month to do it. It didn't just chop off at the end of the month. You could take two months to do you monthly but it would then roll over. You see what I mean? As we've got in US and also UK, a multi-national guild, having the daily cut-off at midnight or whatever, when you're right in the middle of a team it can disrupt the flow.. "gotta get this done, gotta get this done!"

That's happened to us a few times, especially when there's been a new build or something like that. You're trying to do the daily and you've got like one more creature or dodge or something...

One more salvage to go!

It's amazing how so many people don't actually know how to dodge.
Colin: That's why we put that in. It's incredible how few people actually regularly dodge.

Somebody wanted to ask how you manicure your beard.
Colin: It's different.. some days it's kind of crooked because I'm half awake when I do it.

In regards to guilds, would it be possible to have a little bit more management for guild leaders in a raid instance. For instance having guild dots on the minimap or the main map would be even better. Because one of the things we find quite often is literally you've got a commander tag up and you find people tend to get a little bit lost and stray off. It'd be nice to, when raid leading, I stopped doing it because it's so tough, is being able to see whose running away from the guild.
Colin: We were actually talking about that earlier. It's certainly something we'd look at. Right now nobody's working on that but over the course of the year... Every community building tool that we can do that makes it easier to play with other players gives you more reasons to play with them and better rewards, those are all stuff that we're focused on. The guild missions system is definitely a huge part of that and we want to keep building stuff like that.

Anything you'd like to ask us quickly?
Colin: What is your guys' favorite part of the game? What's the thing that's most compelling to you?

I like the jumping puzzles.

I think for me it's all the little areas, the hidden areas, the hidden gems.

I'm still trying to get into the kitten room.

That's what makes me go back and do more exploring. It's what's over there? The detail that you put in the world and how vibrant it is.

I like all of the easter eggs from Guild Wars 1.

Did you have a mission to destroy everything in Guild Wars 1? Apart from the Granite Citadel, is there anything left standing?
Colin: The ruins of many things are there.

Any plans for storage of town clothes, and dungeon tokens?
Colin: Yeah, dungeon tokens probably earlier than town clothes, but it would be nice to do things to allow you to store any of that stuff.

Did you say the dungeons tokens before, that we are gonna have another use for them?
Colin: Well, I think that we would like to expand the reasons to use them. If nothing else, just new items on the vendors down the road is something that we'll be looking at for sure. As we add new types of reward systems to the game we'd like to layer those across everything we've got, so my hope eventually we'll add more types of rewards on laurel vendors, on merchants, on karma merchants, they'll go on dungeon guys. So we can kind of go on Fractal NPCs and we can layer it all across the game and make it more rewarding.


Whew! So that's done. And unfortunately it looks like our recordings got cut off from time to time so if you see some answers on other fansites (personally, I'm not sure who all else was invited) that we haven't had on any of our Q&A posts, please feel free to highlight and link them in this thread!

Again, big thanks to ArenaNet for including us in this Q&A session and a big thank you to Colin for answering all of the questions we, as a community, had! If this Q&A spurs on more questions for you, leave them in this thread and we'll see if we can get enough good questions for something else down the road.

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Today we bring you Part III of our Q&A session with Colin Johanson! If you haven't checked out the other parts, here are the links to them: How much will players will be able to affect storyline, will it sort of be contingent on player action or is it sort of a storyline that you'll watch as it happens?
Colin: Well certainly you'll be able to play a lot of content in it on down the road. I think right now it's more kind of the setup stuff as we're trying to get our feet under us for this Living Story thing works. But, eventually there'll be a bunch of playable content. As for the story branching based on what the players do, that's not something we're doing right now but down the road I can see that being an option.

That's such an awesome idea, that Living Story, brilliant idea.
Colin: It's definitely something we'd like to be able to have. On different servers different content is happening and the outcome of any can be different, but we don't have the backend right now to be able to do that but at some point I hope we will be able to do that.

So what kind of sort of changes might we see to the world itself as the Living Story progresses?
Colin: I think you're not going to see a ton of stuff in February. It's mostly just a little more setup stuff. We hit the end of the year and decided to really make that a big thing for 2013 and as a result we really just didn't have time to build that much stuff yet. I think, looking ahead, March and April is more when we kind of get in to the cadence of what a Living Story can be. Other than that we'll build from there as the year goes on.

Question about one time only events.
Colin: Content wise we can do anything. I can see that as a way we introduce new permanent content, we can introduce new fractals that way, new dungeons. Have stuff that show up for a month then leaves again. It's really kind of a context for anything that we want to do in the game. It really kind of gives you that sense of it's your favorite TV show, right. You regularly want to tune back in and see what's going on with the story. Long-term that's where we want to get living story to as well. We're not gonna be there for a little while but at some point we really want to build up to that.

Are there any plans of re-runs of the feature events like the Hunger Royale and stuff like that?
Colin: We might. We haven't ruled it out but it's currently not something we've got scheduled. Certainly as we look at launching the game in other regions we might re-run those for them as well, so you can always jump into the China beta and check out Hunger Games. But I think in the West, maybe? We'll see.

What about weekend events? In Guild Wars 1, you had double faction weekends.
Colin: We'll probably take a look at that. I would prefer that we do even more, you know, story-driven. I think it's more compelling. I think that's more where we're at.

I'm curious actually, because it's really something we're just kind of walking down that path now. Is that compelling to you guys? The concept of, you know, say take everything that happened in January and condense that down so maybe that's a week's worth of content and the next week there's more story built on that.

Absolutely, yeah, brilliant, yeah. I was about to say I speaking to the alternative reality gaming community and that's very similar to that. I mean that's unique to MMO's being able to do that, push that content out in that concept. That's really good. I like that.
Colin: Is there anyone who's not interested in that at all?

From a WvW perspective, it doesn't really have much of an impact. I mean the general feedback from the community seems to be "yes", you know, they want more of it. But from my point of view it doesn't really impact us at all.
Colin: I think that's fair. It's really not intended for the only WvW players. Although I did touch on the elements, right?

Maybe your keep commanders get replaced by specific NPCs for a month or something that tie into the story line that's going on. We might be able to take elements of that and roll those in. Wintersday and Halloween had that, where it's cannons shooting toilet paper and pumpkins. As long as we don't take away from the gameplay, I think that's the key. It would be nice if we could find ways to pull that off.

Group talks about events. Question about if they've learned from past events. For example, Wintersday was well received but the Karka event had a lot of issues.
Colin: Tremendous difference. One of the problems that we had is that the day we shipped Guild Wars 2, we immediately started development on everything that happened in October and November. We were building it all simultaneously. So we learned a bunch of lessons from October but we didn't have time to do anything about them in November. It was basically like we were locked in on these release dates, we have a free trial in November, go, go, go, go, go - we have to hit those dates. And that's one of the challenges of a live game. You know, we spent five years saying "if it's not ready it doesn't matter, just wait and we'll put it out when it's ready," and then we got into the live space and we have to keep free updates going we have to have this fun stuff going on and it didn't really give us an opportunity to stop and catch our breath and say like, "is this the right thing we should be doing, is this the stuff we should be putting in the game?". It was more "we have to get stuff out," and we learned a lot of lessons from that.

I think December with Wintersday is a great example of taking a lot of the lessons we learned from the other events and trying to make it more approachable, easier for everybody to play the content. We spread it out over a longer time, you can re-play stuff that you missed. Those are the types of strategies we're going to use for all of the live stuff going forward, it's just making it a lot more inclusive. Certainly we want to avoid 400 people out in the open world until we can deal with culling issues, things like that. It changes the strategy of how we do stuff. It also means that we've really reverted more back to our original philosophy which is "if it's not ready, don't ship it, don't talk about it until it's polished enough that it's ready to go." So things like WvW getting pushed back a month, that's an example of that. I think that right after release we would have put that out whether it was ready or not and I think that instead what we're saying is, you know, "even though we made the mistake of saying that this is the month it's gonna come," and we shouldn't have done that, because it just sets expectations. We'd rather wait and get it right and then we'll put stuff out when it's ready to go and I think we're kind of back to the point where we're comfortable in saying that and we have a better idea of what we want to do.

On the note of more content there was a question, would there be a possibility to add "hard mode" to dungeons that are already in the game?
Colin: It's interesting. We might do that. Right now, we've actually talked a lot about it, and our biggest concern with it is that it's already hard to find a group to do a dungeon. When you add a hard mode on top of it you're further fracturing the player base between story mode, three explorable modes and now three hard modes and it can become extremely hard to find people to play with if we do that. For me, I always felt explorable mode was supposed to be hard mode and I would like to see us fix the dungeons to the point that they really fall into that category more than trying to add another mode on top of it. So in the February release, we haven't talked a lot about this, but we actually rebuilt all of the bosses in the Ascalon Catacombs from scratch. All of them will be brand new in the February release and a number of the encounters have all been redone as well. We're in the midst of going through all of the major bosses in the game, in 2013, and trying to make them more fun to fight against, making them more challenging. That's a huge projects, it's going to take us a really long time to do that, but we are just in February alone and we're rolling some of it out. For a lot of people their answer for playing the game has been "it's really fun, but there's not enough challenging stuff for me to do," and I think for people who are looking for challenge, we need to build in more of that optional content that is challenging. Optional is the key, right, we don't want to make it so that casual players don't feel like they can't play the game. But we're trying to go back and rebuild a lot of stuff to just make it a lot more optionally challenging for people who are looking for that and Catacombs will be the first place we do that. Some of the open world champions also are getting rebuilt in February, just some of the regular open world guys, and we're gonna keep doing that every month going forward - just try and just go back and find stuff to make it more fun.

Question/comment about Fractals.
Colin: I thought the guys that did Fractals did a lot of really good encounters in there. I would hope that that's more how we build stuff in the future.

Are there any intentions on bumping up the maximum usable levels of Fractals? (Comment on how past level 40 you have to get pretty creative.)
Colin: Yeah, I'm sure at some point. We'd want to do that with content that goes with it so that there's stuff to get to that's new or feels more exciting. That's not off the table.

Question on champions - how in GW they all had names and lore behind them and in GW2 they are generic. Is there any chance of getting more unique or interesting champions?
Colin: Unique mechanically, yes, we're already doing that. We're in the midst of going through every champion and veteran in the game and looking at their skills and trying to make them unique and more fun to play against and exciting for groups. Just more involved content in general. Naming wise, one of the reasons why we didn't name all of them is because most of them just respawn again. In Guild Wars 1 it was part of the concept that you cleared the maps and you feel like it made sense, whereas in Guild Wars 2 you see "Bert the Ettin" and he respawns every two minutes. It just really feels immersion breaking. So that's why we chose to do that - that names in general are very rare because we wanted it to feel like this is a really big deal when you see this guy. But building up more back story behind guys and having named characters that do show up occasionally - I do hope that's something that we do more of. I think our Living Story is the best place for us to do that because it means that they can show up one time and everybody gets to experience when they leave again. Like the Mad King boss fight for Halloween I think is a great example. For a week you got to fight the Mad King. I hope we do more stuff like that.

Question on if the Living Stories will introduce things like new skins and armor and if you will be able to craft anything new.
Colin: You can assume the same type of stuff that we did for holidays, you know where we kept on adding new recipes and items. In the long run that's the same thing we want to do with the Living Story. Sometimes the Living Story will just be a holiday for a month. That's kind of the concept - that there's this narrative going on that may tie into a festival, it might not. But we want to have all of that feel like it's the same type of reward system.

Question on if it's possible in the future to be able to craft skins rather than the armor and weapons themselves.
Colin: Yeah, we just need more artists. I think it would be nice to [have] more reasons to level your crafting to 400 and have cool things from doing so. I think that's one of the problems with crafting right now. There's just not a lot of reason to do it.

Question about extremely rare recipes that were hard to acquire and if there are plans to add more or make them easier to get.
Colin: I would hope that we could exapnd that beyond weapon skins. I think this ties back into the question about tiered loot in general. I think one of the things that we're missing is a core rewards system that we could infinitely expand and is unique from weapons and armor. At some point we're going to have to introduce that or figure out what that is so that we're not just doing endless tiers of loot. And hopefully there's a bunch of stuff that ties in that is exactly what you're talking about. Guild Wars 1 skill capturing is a good example of that. I think we need to find out what is the skill capturing system of Guild Wars 2 that is the infinitely expandable rewards system.

Question about excess dungeon tokens and transmutation stones.
Colin: Yeah, absolutely. We're going to have to address that. I think any of that stuff that piles up and feels like it has no use... In an ideal case there's something that you can use that for that always feels rewarding. I think blue items have that same problem. You can salvage them, which is nice, but otherwise when you mostly get a blue you're like, "eh, whatever."

And you put it in the Mystic Forge and hope that you get a green...
Colin: Yeah, and then your four greens become gold fodder and that's about it for trying to get your Mystic Forge rares. Ideally we need to find systems to make all of that stuff feel like when you get it, "hey, I actually have a use for that." I think low level crafting items accomplish that right now. When you get one of those, at least they're useful for people across all levels. We need to try to find systems to make that the case for all items across the game.

You mentioned that you have some other issues you want to tackle with crafting. What are they?
Colin: For me the biggest one is is just making sure there's a real reason to take crafting to 400 and things you can [get] rewards out of it. That's the biggest thing.

What are you doing to resolve that?
Colin: We're not yet. I think we're still trying to figure that out.

Question on if they plan on introducing new weapon types like scythes or spears.
Colin: Coming up? No, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out. I think that with the way that the weapon system is built, it's really easy for us to add new weapons and tie skills to those.

Comment about two-handed axes.
Colin: Yeah, I see that one a lot.

Comment about pole staff.
Colin: Frying pan.

Question about ranger utility skills that aren't being used and how it hasn't been addressed yet.
Colin: I actually have no idea right now what stuff that group is working on. I'd have to check in on them and see when I get back. But one of the big things that we've kicked up recently is basically and analytics team that records all the data in the game. It allows us to look at that and help make decisions about the things we're doing. They're actually the group that helped us find a lot of the loot issues recently. Because we really just didn't have any information to get that stuff. We kicked this team up so that we could get all of that information. It's incredibly useful to have all of that stuff so that we can figure things out. Without that you're kind of flying blind. We're able to look now at what weapons are getting used all the time and we use that date to determine what weapons really suck and go and try to fix those. And what kind of skills are getting used, which ones aren't. It really helps us determine what needs a boost. So I imagine if no one is using a bunch of the ranger utility skills, they're going to see that and look at those and go try to address those based on that data. So hopefully that's on the list if no one is using those subset [...].

So are there plans to change or add new weapon skills?
Colin: It's certainly on the table. It's not something that we're working on yet, but it's a possibility.

Question about adding skill templates.
Colin: We loved templates in Guild Wars 1 and I would say that it's certainly a possibility in Guild Wars 2.

One of the aims of the game was to make every class feel unique, but also viable and fun to play in a variety of ways. What professions have been highlighted as a falling short of this target and what crazy ways have been tried internally to spice them up?
Colin: For me, I think that every profession actually has a lot of different variety available to them. It's just a matter on if you enjoy that play-style or not. I think that people look at each profession and they'll judge it based on, "do I enjoy playing the ways this profession offers me." So we could get, just going around the table, everybody's playing a different main for the most part. There's no thieves or warriors here but there's plenty of them in-game so we know those are represented.

We talked about that graph that's up on the wall at work. We look at that every day based on what professions people are creating and it's almost always very close to being even across all professions. That's a really good sign. That is very hard to do. In Guild Wars 1 it wasn't even remotely close to that and it's a very big difference between viability and playstyles versus not at all. I'm actually really impressed at how generally balanced the professions are. I think that there are certain skills and abilities that all need to get better, but across the professions I think it's pretty decent. It's just about what playstyle you're interested in. And I would have to say that the thing we have to improve is look at weapon sets that aren't interesting for that profession or don't fit the playstyle that we've said that profession should have, and bring those up to the point where they are.

Question about dual pistol mesmers.
Colin: You guys can go around the table and name your profession and one weapon that you think is weaker than the rest and it's totally the case. We need to try and make those close to on par with the other weapons. And there's always going to be one that someone perceives as the best. If it's a choice like, "well I like double daggers better," and, "I like staff better." That's okay - we want that. But if it's just no one uses dual pistol mesmer because it just sucks? Those are clearly obvious ones that we need to go after first. Back to Top

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For a limited time, save more than 30% off Guild Wars 2 Digital Edition and Digital Deluxe Edition.*

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**In-Game Items Back to Top

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Here we have Part II of our Q&A with Colin Johanson. If you missed Part I, you can catch that here.

On a related topic with the blue tag: is there any chance [...] position of that on smaller character? it very quickly disappears into the crowd of nameplates [...] (This refers to the commander icon.)
Colin: That's an interesting point, yeah. I'll throw that out to our UI guys.

Question on the ability to resize and change the UI.
Colin: Right now there's not very much at all we can do with the UI, from like realizable elements and things so hopefully at some point we can tackle that

Question on hiding UI elements such as the purple daily stars, green personal story arrows, etc.
Colin: Yeah, I think the UI team has something down the road so that we can consolidate that whole right side of the screen and make it easier to manage and use. That's still a long ways off 'cause that's a huge engineering project to try and re-do the way all that works. That's definitely something that at some point they'd like to take [...]. We do want to have that daily reminder up there too, so it's a careful balance, right.

You must be able to sort of just say I've seen it, go away now, even if it's just for one play session or just until the next map load or something.
Colin: As an advanced player it's not something I'm worried about now. Yeah, careful balance 'cause that UI, some of that stuff is like the, "I don't know how to play this game, here is something telling me what I should be doing right now," so we don't want people to be able to get rid of some of that because they suddenly have no idea what they should be doing. There's that very careful balance, making sure there's enough for advanced players to be able to do things without newbs getting totally lost.

Yeah, 'cause it's a very tidy UI isn't it? Compared to a lot of MMOs we're used to toolbars spread everywhere.. a very neat, concise UI.

There's certain things which still would be nice to do.  Once you hit max level you don't really need the XP bar there anymore, it's just extra clutter.
Colin: Unless you're setting up skill points.

I've got a rather sort of involved question, well it's not really involved, one of the questions I've got was about user-generated content - how in the past the focus on gaming, on MMOs, was to develop content. There seems to be mood, particularly with other games like Team Fortress, Minecraft and what's rumored to be in TESO towards player-developed content. Is that something that you'd be looking forward to Guild Wars 2 down the line?
Colin: I think the guild mission system is sort of a small step in that direction, it's kinda tiptoeing down that line but it's a concept of various content that's gated by groups being able to kick it off. They're not actually creating it, they can't just go anywhere in the world and say "I want to create content here". But there's a whole bunch of content that's gated from its inception in the world until a guild comes and creates it. I think that's kind of us toeing our foot in the water to see how that goes.

It's interesting right, the perpetual thing that you battle with an MMO is how do you create enough content for your players to feel like there's always something new to do and you can never keep up creating enough for people's consumption rate. The only real solution to that is either completely computer-generated content where the game generates everything automatically which potentionally loses kind of the soul of.. that feel of something that's hand-generated, or played-created content. And then the question of that is how do you control it so that stuff isn't completely breaking your system or operating outside the rules of your game or, you know. This happens with developers, we build content all the time that's terrible and we have a QA team that comes in and tells us that this is terrible, re-do it. And we'll do it over and over and over again until we get it to the point that it's fun to play and often times it takes 50 or a 100 people to get that right or it takes thousands of alpha testers who are playing and giving feedback for weeks until it actually gets good. I don't think a designer's ever had a good idea the second they thought of it that is what we put in the game. It's always been somebody thinks of something and then hundreds of people give feedback and it gets iterated on over and over again. So the challenge with player-generated content is how do you build that process into it where it constantly gets refined and made better until it can actually go in the game. I don't have a great solution for it but I think that those are the challenges that a game will face, and my hope would be that whatever the cutting edge of that is we actually get that implemented in Guild Wars 2 at someday but it's definitely a challenge and something we're gonna have to figure out at some point.

Yeah, thanks, I'm really interested in the player-generated content thing because we've had some guild members who have come in and burnt through content and then just left where I think building a strong community you've got the tools to enable the players to do events, like the guild missions, basically use what's in the game already in a more creative way.
Colin: It's just a win, right. As long as it's fun, that's the tough part. Neverwinter is a great example of that, right. Where it's basically, in the original one, players could build all the content and they had really good stuff. Occassionally some of the player-generated content is fantastic but you had to sift through all the other noise to get down to it. And so it's a careful balance you have to walk. How do you open that up so that everybody can get the right stuff and have a great time without having to pick through all the stuff that doesn't.

I think they were talking about submitting like player-generated armor - one of the best Skyrim content is players making their own models and stuff like that. I think the way they were talking of doing it was you submit to Bethesda and they say "Yeah, that's good content," or "that works," and it then goes in the game but it seems like quite a lot of admin overhead to get that into.
Colin: That's the tough part, right, is how do you do it without all the overhead. 'Cause what you're going to end up doing is instead of having a department of developers you're going to end up with the exact same number of people and all they do all day is review content that gets submitted. And your pace is exactly the same because it takes them so long to review it all and you're basically getting the exact same rate of content into the game. So I'm not sure that's going to solve the problem. I think the key is how do you build a system that lets players generate content unto infinite volumes and you don't have to review it but it also works and gets in the game. I don't know what the answer to that is. I mean, that's a challenge for all of us to try and figure out, right. But that's what the next step will be someday and whether that happens in Guild Wars 2 or another game will be interesting to see. I hope we're the one that comes up with the right answer but that's not easy to solve.

Question about how often they look at something they produced and then decide to step away from it.
Colin: Oh, all the time. I think one of the really unique things about ArenaNet is the QA team is actually embedded in all the projects. Almost at any other game company I've worked at or heard of the QA team is in a separate building, they're not allowed to talk to developers. I've heard horror stories about some companies where they're not even allowed to make eye contact with people who work on the game and if they walk down the hall they need to like look down as they walk past. And that's an experience a lot of QA testers go through. It sucks right? That's awful and that's not how you make good games. I think good games are made by hundreds and thousands of people who are all giving feedback until you come up with the best idea. I think that if you can push your ego aside and realize that you're never going to have the best idea and that everybody together will come up with it, you can make really great games. So we bring our QA team in and they sit with the developers that are part of the process and if any of them says, "this isn't good enough," we stop it and don't put it out. We work on it until we get to the point where everybody is really behind it. I think that's one of the really unique things about the company. Alpha testers - we try to do the same and really give them a chance to say, "this isn't working at all and we're concerned about it". There's a lot of content that people have never seen that we've actually just canceled because it wasn't working and we take it back to the drawing board and try something else. That's part of the development process that's behind the curtain but I can't tell you how many times that a specfic event in the game was done over and over again until it got to the point to it being what you actually saw in the game.

I think that openness to say that you're willing to say no to content is kind of part of the difference between like your development studio and other companies - this whole "we're not gonna tell you about it" where as you will come around to talk to the fans and sites, "this isn't ready" or "we're gonna shelf this, this isn't coming out 'cause its just not gonna impact the game in a way that's going to be enjoyable for you."
Colin: Yeah, I think it's unique. I don't know too many other companies that do that. I would love to see that at this point. It's really different, I mean, it means sometimes that we will make a huge mistake, right. We'll do completely the wrong thing and everybody gets behind it and we'll put it out and realize we did the wrong thing. I think you have to be able to get out there and be like "hey, you know, we completely blew it on this, we're responding to that and we're gonna change our plans because of that." I think if you can be honest about that it makes a big difference too. Certainly we're human and we make really bad mistakes sometimes as well and I think as long as we can accept that and go do something better we're gonna be okay.

Comment and question on how the fans are more forgiving of ArenaNet and how does it feel to be held accountable.
Colin: It helps. There's still plenty of vicious folks who want us to be infallible and I wish we could be but I think we definitely get the benefit of the doubt more often that other studios do because at least we try to have that level of interaction and honesty with our fans as much as we can.

One of the things I've got down here is that there was some quite disappointment from GW1 fans about some of the things put in the game. Things like not being able to play with friends in different regions, asthetic weapons, that kind of stuff. How do you go about balancing the expectations of this longstanding fan community with the vision of the game?
Colin: It's really tough. I think that at the end of the day we always have to look at if it's exactly Guild Wars 1, we already made that game, and if people love exactly GW people should go play GW, right. So it has to be something different or we're gonna end up remaking the exact same game we already built. So we definitely look at it that way as we know there are some people that aren't going to be thrilled with Guild Wars 2 because it isn't GW and it can't be. It wasn't going to be successful because we'd be competing with our own games.

One of the things from Guild Wars 1 that is missing from Guild Wars 2 is the ability to have a utility skill in the elite slot. Is this something that's possible to be implemented in Guild Wars 2 because I know a number of classes, specifically as an elementalist, our elites skills are underwhelming in most instances and to have a utility skill in the elite slot would be better than a lot of the elites. Is this something that would potentially looked at?
Colin: Potentially. I think that some of it is accessibility, you know, any time you start adding more and more complicated rules to the way things operate it gets that much harder for new players to understand how the game works and plays. So we have to be really careful of that, like Guild Wars 1 eventually turned into that where by the end it was a really niche game for people who really understood how all of it worked. It was very very complicated, it was very hard to learn how to play and it was incredibly fun for all of us who understood it. But for a new player, we saw very few new players would get in the game and stick with it for a long time just because it wasn't that accessible. It was really overwhelming, there was really complicated rules so we need to make sure that there's a careful balance of great depth as you level through the game and the game keeps getting more complicated at a rate you can learn it - that doesn't completely overhwelm you in the beginning as well.

So on that same stance, I have heard a few issues where new players have come in and found the learning curve quite steep. So what kind of things do you think you can do to help assimilite new players into the game?
Colin: We're actually working on that right now as we look to releasing the game in other regions we need to make sure the new player experience is as easy to learn as possible. So we're going back at looking at everything we can do to try and do that and we're looking for a lot of feedback too. We're evaluating what level players leave the game and where they should kick in.

Sticking on the topic of the skills, obviously there's bits of information coming in about the March update, that there will be WvW specific skills. Maybe you can elaborate on those?
Colin: So the WvW progression system doesn't give players skills, it just gives them new abilities that are specific to WvW and they are not intended to make it so if you're standing out in the field and you're fighting 1 on 1 against another player the abilities do not making you more powerful than anyone else in WvW. They just expand your ability to operate in WvW. We don't want to create a system where like, five years from now someone who's leveled way down the tree is able to just kill everbody else. Instead it just makes you more functional and it gives you additional abilities that helps your capacity in WvW that doesn't make you more powerful than anyone else.

Are you able to give an example?
Colin: Like potentially carrying more supply, would be an example, things like that.

It's like a passive thing that's not slotted in your bar or anything, it's just something that's active in the back?
Colin: Correct.

So I gather the intention is not to allow players that have been in WvW for a long time to have more power than than someone who's just coming in for the first time.
Colin: Correct.

So you guys are potentially aware of that issue.
Colin: Yeah, I think that kind of goes against our core design philosophies so we would never want to do that. We need to make sure that you're more functional but not more powerful. We might do some things like you're better at using siege weapons, which could be interpreted as slightly more powerful but it is only in very specific situations where you're on siege and everything. I think that that's at least far enough away from the core issue that maybe it's okay but we would never give you like more strength or more power or anything like that. We don't want to touch that stuff.

Does that same assumption apply to any potentional expansion and the level cap? You've said the level cap went to 100. In my MMO history an increase in level means an increase in power and I'm not assuming that's going to be case in Guild Wars 2 or...?
Colin: I don't know at this point, we're really not focused very much on that stuff. We're really focused on just "how do we make the core live game we've got as strong as possible?" So we haven't really looked at what the answers to those questions are. Certainly at some point we might raise the level cap and with that that could mean that your stats all go up another 10 levels, I think leveling is easy enough in Guild Wars [2] that that's not that big of a deal.

It was more of the "I've gone and got my exotic armor, I've gone to all the dungeons here, I leave the game for a few months and because of an expansion sudden I then have to go buy and farm all my gear again because the stats have gone up."
Colin: I think in other games that's super frustrating and I would hope we not do something along those lines. I think we can do things that are unique to Guild Wars [2] that are different than that. Back to Top

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As you all know, we had a chance to sit down with Colin this week. It just so happened that it took place in London, so our very own shanaeri rynale got to attend along with other community members from other fansites.

First, we want to thank you for all the questions you guys submitted across all of the fansites. Because of you, we had a vast assortment of questions to ask Colin. Secondly, we'd like to thank ArenaNet and Colin for the invitation and the opportunity to make this all happen!

Now that that's said, I received a lot of files from shan yesterday so I've decided to post the Q&A in chunks as I write them out. Also, I'd like to go ahead and apologize for the issues I had with the questions. It was really hard to hear (and sometimes understand) what other people were asking Colin so I just summarized them as best as I could.

Without further ado, here's the first bit of the Q&A:

Guild Missions
Colin: It's giving you a chance to decide when the guild gets to do stuff together. The guild leader and their officers can kick off [...] for everybody.

It's really spread out all over the game and it depends on what type of mission you're doing. There's actually five completely different types of missions and based on which one it actually is. So like, bounty hunters is the really basic one. It's the one you get right off the bat when the release first goes out. You actually have to unlock all the other mission types. It's literally going to take months for your guild to build up enough influence to unlock all of them. So it's really a progression here. You're moving [...] to [...]. It's on the whole unlock tree like any of the other guild abilities so you work your way down all of that stuff and you use that to kick off missions as well. So finally you have a use for that giant pile of influence. Some guilds are probably going to tear through it pretty quick because they have huge piles of it, but it's going to take a while. With bounty hunts, you can pick which tier of bounty hunts you go on and it randomly generates bosses in different zones that get spawned because the bounty hunt started and it spreads your guild out all over the place. If you do a really big bounty hunt it will actually spread your guild out in about five different zones where there's a boss in each and you have, say, 15 minutes to kill all five of them. So you actually have to split your guild into five different groups and send them to all of the maps [...].

Are you going to add any other features for guilds? (Had trouble catching what features were mentioned.)
Colin: That's all stuff we'd like to add. We're not doing it in this one, but in the long run, we need to get all that stuff in for sure. If you look at what features are available in the game, there's a lot of stuff for small groups to do, but there's not a lot of really compelling stuff for larger groups - in particular for guilds other than WvW. We're really trying to head down that list and get a lot more of that stuff in. For building a good community, that's a really key component that we have to add and that's a big focus for us this year - it's just trying to get more of that "what can my guild do together," "how do we interact together," "how do we maintain a strong guild," and "what's the content we can do?"

Question about the guild UI.
Colin: That's the type of stuff that we're not building yet but I think that'd be included in the list of stuff that we're looking at with other guild upgrades. We need to get to the point where we're able to just sit down and start getting people working on it. We're always leveraged by how many engineers we have. That's our biggest issue at any given time - how many programmers do we have that can actually code anything. I always get a kick out of it because the feedback all the time is, "why aren't you building X, Y and Z when you're building this instead?" There's a bunch of stuff that we build that takes designers and artists to do. We have a ton of designers and artists and there's then there's certain things that takes programmers to do and we only have so many of them. It's always managing what they're doing on their lists, which is huge, versus content that's easy for us to do. But yeah, I think it'd be great for us to go at some point as well. Just anything that playing in a community easier.

Question about smaller guilds.
Colin: Our hope would be that will dynamically come out of this emergent game-play. Like the bounties have different tiers so there's a small tier that small guilds can do, so where it's say, three bosses in three zones. Ten or fifteen people can do that as a small guild. You can pick which tier you want to kick off on based on how many people you have online. But maybe one of the things that will come out of that is, "well, our guild's going to do a tier 3 bounty and it takes a lot more people to do, so let's get three guilds together and our guild will kick one off and you help us do ours and then we'll help you do yours," so each of the three guilds all work together to accomplish it. I think that kind of emergent game-play will hopefully come out of that, for sure. We don't really know what to expect just because it's so hard to test internally to see what guilds are going to do when this goes live. So some of this is - we're going to put it out and we're just going to see how guilds interact with it and what they do. That'll help us determine what other features and additions [...].

Question about custom chat channels.
Colin: Anything that we can do that will help communication across communities is really important.

Question about addition functionality with the commander book.
Colin: Certainly there will be. That's on the list of stuff that we're not working on currently, but down the road that's we absolutely want to make that more involved, more stuff that you can do as a commander. That's the type of stuff that's really anything you guys can think of that is really strong community supporting tools - those are the types of things that we really want to do this year to make it easier to play with other people, coordinate with other people. The more of that we can do, it's just better for the game.

So you'd like to get as much as that done this year as possible?
Colin: Yeah, if we really can I think that blog post I did earlier this year was kind of trying to set the table for expectations of what we're going to do this year. It's a lot less of opening new zones and things like that and a lot more of, let's take the core of the game and try to make that as solid as we possibly can and build on that and make that a lot better because there's a lot room for improvement in that and I think that we want to focus on that.

Question on the commander book being character bound instead of account bound. Any possibility of that changing?
Colin: I don't actually know. I asked the WvW team about that and they had some good reasons why [...], for getting to know who the commander is and they don't want that concept where if you've got 20 characters on your account and you login with each one as a different commander - they really want people to get to know and recognize a specific commander. That was the reason why they made them character specific. If that were to change, if it became less important for a commander to be a known name that people recognize and follow, that could be different, but I think that's the primary reason behind that - so that you really get to know someone and know that name.

It's a shame that you have to buy it. It's a shame that there's no prerequisite like a certain amount of kills.
Colin: Or a voting system where people on your server vote you up. It'd be really interesting in the long run, but it would be hard for us to take it away from people [...].

Perhaps the additional functionality that you're hoping to add could be based around competence and time spent rather than gold. Then you wouldn't have a problem taking it away from people that have already gained it. Kills, badges, objectives met, [...] Stonemist. (Basically mentions a bunch of different ways for commander book prereq's.)
Colin: It's hard to gauge because that's not necessarily a sign of a great player. But some sort of system that allows them to be rewarded based on people recognizing that they're a commander worth having. Something like that would be really cool.

There's also a PvE use for the commander as well. (Group talks about events and how it's useful to corral people to certain areas.) Back to Top

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If you'd be so kind and pause your exploration of Tyria, I'd like to let you guys know that several positions have opened up on the Curse team. For those of you interested, Curse is hiring in Huntsville, Alabama for a handful of positions: For more information on how you can apply, check out Curse's career page. Good luck to those who apply! Back to Top

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Bag Slots and Bank Tabs are 20% off in the Gem Store through February 26!

Reminder: take care that you do not purchase more bank and bag slots than you can use! Your character can have up to 8 bank tabs (including your original bank tab) and 8 bag slots (including your original Starter Backpack).

Source. Back to Top

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Leah Rivera on New Guild Missions


Guild Missions, a new type of mission, has just been revealed by Arenanet. February’s release will include the following mission types:
  • Guild Bounty – Your guild is tasked with tracking down and capturing various targets for the Orders. These people are wanted for a variety of reasons and have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to resist arrest!
  • Guild Trek – Think you know Tyria? Well the Tyrian Explorer’s Society has a challenge for you! Find the list of locations before time runs out.
  • Guild Challenge – These challenges leverage our existing event system but are specifically geared to require multi-group, coordinated play to succeed. So gather your guild and see if you’re up to the challenge!
  • Guild Rush – Test your skills with a mad dash over harrowing terrain, traps, and other hidden dangers. Just remember, there’s safety in numbers!
  • Guild Puzzle – It’s a puzzle and a jumping challenge all in one! This mission type requires multi-group coordination as well as individual jumping skills to get to the treasure at the end.

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