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The day is here! The Guild Wars 2 Trailer with gameplay footage has been released.  You are going to want to see all the goodness below: Guild Wars 2 Trailer Download Head over to our Tyrian Assembly forum to discuss: GW2 trailer: art and gameplay and check out the interesting post from Regina Buenaobra, Community Manager: Just a few notes about the trailer. You'll also want to check out the new GuildWars2.com website! [singlepic id=69 w=320 h=240 float=center] IGN has an exclusive interview with the ArenaNet Devs: GC 2009: Guild Wars 2 - First Details and Q&A Discuss all the latest in our forums GC 2009: Guild Wars 2 - First Details and Q&A . Back to Top

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ArenaNet has revealed two new pieces of concept art by Daniel Dociu on their Facebook page, see them below:

Concept Art

Ebonhawke

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According to forum member Fluffiliscious, Regina suggests we watch the Guild Wars 2 website closely over the next 24 hours. Guild Wars 2 Website I'm thinking we might see the trailer on there, but what else might appear... Who knows! Back to Top

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Rumors of a Guild Wars 2 trailer (stemming from Martin's video) seem to be coming true. Earlier today Martin posted this message on his Twitter page:

"Children of Tyria - make sure to gather tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:00 MESZ at the NCsoft booth hall 9 A011! ~MK"

Just to hammer the point home, this screen was briefly displayed on NCSoft's live video stream for Aion:
[caption id="attachment_433" align="aligncenter" width="431" caption="This screen was captured during NCSoft's live video stream by ChrisCo from GuildWarsGuru.com"]This screen was captured during the Aion live video feed from GamesCon.[/caption]
Here's hoping they get that trailer online as soon as it is screened!

We also have a new photo courtesy of Martin Kerstein, Community Relations, from GamesCon 2009:

[singlepic id=18 w=320 h=240 float=center] Wearing Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet Convention T-Shirts - Randall Price, Chris Lye and Martin Kerstein Stay tuned for more updates. Back to Top

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There's a lot of excitement in air right now about Guild Wars 2 and small bits of information we are seeing. Starting on Monday, August 17th, 2009 Mike O'Brien, Executive Produce for ArenaNet's Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 released this message on the Guild Wars Official Wiki:

Hey all,
Last week I promised you’d get your first glimpse of Guild Wars 2 “very soon now”.
That day is almost here.I want to thank all our fans for their patience as we developed the game to the point where we can start talking about it publically. I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting this moment. You’ll soon understand how ambitious we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished during these past two years of development. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but from here on out we’ll be able to provide you with more regular updates.
Guild Wars 2 is going to be a huge leap beyond the original. We have the best team in the industry executing at the top of their game, and I’m very proud of what our team has accomplished so far. As I said last week, I’m confident that when you get your first look at what we’ve been working on, you’re going to love what you see. Stay tuned for an exciting week ahead.
Along with the announcement, this image was released on the new GuildWars2.com website:

[singlepic id=15 w=320 h=240 float=center] GuildWars2.com This new Guild Wars 2 concept art was also released today:

[singlepic id=14 w=320 h=240 float=center] Guild Wars 2 Concept Art There are more pieces of information coming in from GamesCon 2009 courtesy of Martin Kerstein, Community Relations, such as this YouTube video where they are testing out equipment:

Voice in the background: "Tyria. The dragons were always here."

We also have a few more pics floating around:

[singlepic id=16 w=320 h=240 float=center] Daniel Dociu, Artist and Chris Lye, Global Brand Director of ArenaNet

More exciting news about Guild Wars 2 is sure to come in the days ahead so stay tuned!

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 A Letter To Our Fans By Mike O'Brien To our fans, There have been some published rumors over the past few days about Guild Wars 2 delays, and I'm writing you today to set the record straight. You've all seen announcements about restructuring at NCsoft West, and it's natural to wonder whether that restructuring impacts ArenaNet's Guild Wars 2 development. In fact, the reason NCsoft West is restructuring itself is so that the company can put all of its focus into its top-tier games like Guild Wars 2. Our team continues to grow, and has the strong support and financial backing we need to achieve our goal of making Guild Wars 2 the best online role-playing game ever created. On Friday, NCsoft released investor materials that showed a very broad release window for Guild Wars 2, with the explanation that release timing is still "to be announced." ArenaNet has never given a release date for Guild Wars 2 other than "when it's done." NCsoft's investor materials are a reflection of that philosophy. I know some fans had hoped for a smaller gap between the launch of Guild Wars: Eye of the North and the start of beta testing for Guild Wars 2, but we communicated last summer that it would be some time before we could commit to any beta or launch dates. Guild Wars 2 is a large and ambitious game, and we're going to take the time to do it right. I'm immensely proud of what our team has accomplished and continues to accomplish with the development of Guild Wars 2. We'll have a lot more to say when we're closer to release. Until then, we thank you for your continued interest and ask you to stay tuned. Mike O'Brien Back to Top

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Will there be a subscription fee for Guild Wars 2?

Nope. Like the original Guild Wars, there will be no subscription fee for Guild Wars 2. You just buy the game and play it online without paying a monthly fee.

Will Guild Wars 2 be an MMO?

Yes. Guild Wars 2 provides a massive, online persistent world.

How is Guild Wars 2 different from other MMOs?

While Guild Wars 2 adds a persistent world, it retains the unique nature of the original game including a strong narrative, extensive instanced gameplay, an anti-grind design philosophy, and strong support for competitive play.

Will Guild Wars 2 have non-human playable races?

Absolutely! In addition to humans, players will be able to create, customize, and play asura, charr, norn, and sylvari characters.

  • The conquerors of Ascalon, the charr are ferocious, warmongering creatures—the intractable foes of humanity. Now, as greater dangers threaten their conquests, the charr legions marshal their war machines to meet their enemies with deadly force.
  • The norn are half-giant brawlers from the frigid northern lands who can shapeshift into mighty bestial forms. They've been driven from their homeland by a force beyond reckon, and now regroup among the lost dwarven ruins of the Shiverpeaks.
  • The asura, who once ruled the caves and tunnels below Tyria, are an advanced race of small stature and large intellect. Having emerged from the depths, the asura aim to rule the surface world with their powerful golems and razor-sharp wit.
  • Not much is known of the sylvari, save that they are a race of sentient plant-beings, newly blossomed into the world. They are the youngest of the races, and are bound together by a common dream.

How will character progression work? Will you be raising the level cap?

Guild Wars 2 will have the kind of extensive character advancement appropriate to a persistent world RPG. It is our priority to avoid forcing players into the grind-based gameplay that too often accompanies a high level cap.

Also, to allow players the freedom to play together even if their friends are at a much higher (or lower) level, we are planning to implement a strong sidekicking system, similar to that used in City of Heroes.

We're applying this same philosophy to competitive play. Players will be able to engage in organized, balanced PvP (similar to GvG in the original Guild Wars) without needing to first level up characters, find equipment, or unlock skills. While inside the organized PvP area, all characters will be the same power level and will have access to the same equipment.

Will Guild Wars 2 be solo-able?

Yes. You will be able to advance your character to the maximum level without ever joining a group if you so desire. Most content will be designed in a solo-friendly way, though often with mechanisms for scaling up in difficulty when more players are involved. This will give players the option to experience the game whichever way they prefer.

At the same time, it is important for an MMO community to join together to overcome challenges. There will also be some areas in the game that require a coordinated group effort.

Can I play my original Guild Wars character in Guild Wars 2?

Because Guild Wars 2 is a whole new game with different professions and races, new technology, and expanded gameplay, it would not be possible to directly use an original Guild Wars character.

However, your original Guild Wars character names will be reserved for your use in Guild Wars 2. In addition, Guild Wars 2 recognizes the accomplishments commemorated by your original Guild Wars characters in the Hall of Monuments and provides you with unique rewards to showcase those achievements.

What are the system requirements for Guild Wars 2?

The system requirements haven't been finalized, but just as with the original Guild Wars series, we're committed to creating a beautiful game that will play great on mid-range gaming PCs.

When is Guild Wars 2 going to be released?

When it's finished. Seriously though, we haven't announced a specific release date yet, but when we do you can get those details and more right here on the official website.

When will there be a beta?

Although we publically alpha- and beta-tested the original Guild Wars while it was still in early development, with Guild Wars 2 we will commence beta testing closer to the game's release. With that in mind, we will not start beta testing in 2008 as we had originally planned. Guild Wars 2 is a very large and ambitious game, and Guild Wars players rightfully have very high expectations of its quality. We want players to be absolutely blown away by the game the first time they experience it.

To stay up-to-date with the latest information about Guild Wars 2 and the beta test, be sure to sign up for the Guild Wars newsletter.

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Dev Corner: Imagining Guild Wars 2 ArenaNet's James Phinney talks about developing Guild Wars 2™ Every great game starts with a simple question: What do we want to play next? If you aren't passionate about the game you're working on, it is already doomed to mediocrity. And the best way to make sure you're passionate? Make something you want to play. For the team at ArenaNet, the idea of making Guild Wars 2 started with a single conversation about all the things we wanted to do in the next Guild Wars® campaign. Very quickly it became clear that we could move the game forward by leaps and bounds... but only if we were willing to rebuild it from the ground up. Here's what we thought we could accomplish:
  • Give players immense freedom of movement. The underlying systems in Guild Wars allowed us to make a very responsive, yet hack-proof game, but they also prevented us from giving players the ability to jump and swim and explore their environment freely. We’ll still keep movement hack-proof, but we want players in Guild Wars 2 to simply enjoy moving around.
  • Allow players to encounter each other in common, persistent areas. The instancing of Guild Wars gave us a ton of story-telling and gameplay advantages over our competitors, but instanced areas and persistent areas each have their strengths and weaknesses. We want to give players the best of both worlds.
  • Let players choose from multiple playable races (including our own unique addition to the fantasy genre, the Charr). Our team takes a lot of pride in the look and feel of each of the professions in the game, but some of the early technical choices we made for them prevented us from even considering introducing playable races. Now we have a chance to make new choices that give players more options.
  • Give players deeper options for character advancement. We knew this would be the most controversial of our new goals. Could we do this without creating a game full of grind? As avid fans and players of RPGs, massively multiplayer or otherwise, we saw many untapped opportunities for making this work.
  • Make everything about Guild Wars better. When you look back honestly on a game you've made, there are always things you wish you could have done better. Could we create a stronger economy with better options for trading? Definitely. Could we address player concerns about the relationship between PvP and PvE? With a new system, yes. Could we give players more and better storage? Yes! The list goes on and on.
Beyond the sweeping gameplay improvements that we are introducing, we also know that any sequel worth its salt needs to show major graphical improvements. Let’s face it, a lot of people love this game because it is beautiful. We fully intend to stay true to the Guild Wars tradition of looking better than the competition while featuring surprisingly inclusive system specs. (And, as a designer, I’ve got some very talented and hard-working programmers and artists to thank for that!)Even so, not having to worry about backward-compatibility with the original Guild Wars engine and tools gives us an abundance of opportunities to make Guild Wars 2 jaw-droppingly beautiful. At the same time, new budgets for textures and poly-counts, and a whole new bag of tricks from our in-house graphics gurus, mean that every environment, character, and effect we’re making truly looks like a whole new game. Getting excited about new graphics and new gameplay ideas is only part of the equation for us, though. As some fans noted when Guild Wars 2 was announced, by adding persistent areas and extensive character advancement to Guild Wars, we risked creating another me-too MMO in the Everquest tradition. Plenty of those games already exist, though, and making yet another has never been our goal. Instead, from the start, we talked a lot about the core principles of Guild Wars.
  • Guild Wars isn't a hassle to play. Fundamentally, we made a choice to not build a game around time-sinks and inconvenience. Our streaming updates, instant map travel, character templates, account-wide storage, easily removed death penalty, and myriad of core features are all based on this principle. Although some details would need to change, we wanted the sequel to stay true to this tradition.
  • Guild Wars lets you play the way you want to play. We've had a few years now of observing our players and their tendencies and preferences. Whether their play-style focuses on exploration, story, wealth, collection, achievements, socializing, PvP, playing solo or with strangers or friends, our goal is to give them a rich and rewarding experience playing the game they want to play. With Guild Wars 2, we'd seek to diversify their options even further.
  • Guild Wars encourages skillful play. If you’re going to spend as much time playing a game as people spend playing their favorite online RPG, it had better engage you socially, viscerally, and, yes, intellectually. From the very foundation of the Guild Wars design, we’ve tried to create a game that rewards clever and active play. We’re confident we’ll do an even better job this time around.
  • Guild Wars tells a story. We've learned a lot over the years about running events in common areas, and how to get the best effect out of instances. Guild Wars 2 gives us an opportunity to take that knowledge and apply it in even better ways.
  • Guild Wars has no monthly fee. Let's face it: one of the reasons that Guild Wars has enjoyed so much success is that people like owning a game after they buy it. They like being able to take a break without a subscription continuing to drain their bank account. They like being able to buy and experience other games, too. Now we plan to bring that same model to a game with persistent areas, playable races, freedom of movement, incredible depth, spectacular graphics, and gameplay that builds on the best of Guild Wars while taking things to new heights.
Yowza. Looking back on what I’ve written, I’m a little surprised at how effusive I’ve been. Thing is . . . that’s just the sort of energy and enthusiasm we’re feeling around the office right now. I believe it’s because all of the guiding principles, lessons learned, and new ideas amount to one simple thing: we are moving forward, making the best Guild Wars we know how to make. And we can’t wait to play it.James Phinney, Guild Wars Game Design Team Lead

James Phinney is currently the Game Design Team Lead for Guild Wars. He started as a programmer at Chaos Studios, which later became Blizzard Entertainment. James worked on Warcraft II and Diablo, then as lead designer and producer on StarCraft. He also wrote the story and dialogue for Shiny Entertainment's Sacrifice.

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A Conversation With ArenaNet
Details on Guild Wars 2 and the soon to be released Eye of the North expansion.
by Charles Onyett June 28, 2007 - Eye of the North is the fourth retail package for ArenaNet's Guild Wars, and the first that isn't a standalone product. To run it, you'll need one of the previous versions, be it Prophecies, Factions, or Nightfall. The studio's focus this time around was higher level content, putting together a total of 18 expansive dungeons for level 20 characters along with plenty of additional skills, items, and enemy types. The storyline is back in the realm of Tyria, the setting for Guild Wars Prophecies. We recently got on the phone with Chris Lye, Director of Marketing at ArenaNet, and Ben Miller, Design Lead for Guild Wars Eye of the North, to find out exactly what to expect from the expansion, as well as the upcoming sequel, Guild Wars 2.
IGN: For Eye of the North, this is the first Guild Wars product that's expansion only. What was behind the decision to do that instead of making another standalone? Ben Miller: We have a large established player base and a lot of them have level twenty characters that have gone through every campaign that we've released. There was really less pressure on our end to make a brand new starting area like we would if we'd made a brand new level one through twenty progression like we did with the other campaigns. Guild Wars, primarily, the game really starts when you're at level twenty and in Factions and Nightfall we facilitated you getting to level twenty rather quickly in the grand scheme of things. It was a natural progression for us to come out with a product that didn't have a starting area. The other thing is with a campaign, they take a lot of our creative effort, such as making a tutorial area or developing two new professions, we were able to take the time and devote that creative energy into making the Eye of the North expansion something cool, something that's new, and something that has a lot of really compelling content in it. Chris Lye: Between Guild Wars and the other two campaigns we really ended up introducing a new area, a new culture with each of the campaigns. And one of the other important things about Guild Wars: Eye of the North is that we just felt that the original content of Tyria, there was so much stuff introduced there, so many storylines that we wanted to go deeper into, that it really made sense to have an expansion that allows you to focus on an area that we've already introduced and really go into depth there. Ben Miller: Creatively, at least, there's such compelling stuff in Prophecies, such as the Charr and the White Mantle, the Maguuma Jungle, all of the races and cultures that we introduced that, having the chance to go back to an already established foundation we had created and pour more of our heart and soul into it was something that was different from what we had done and it was a nice, refreshing change. IGN: Is ArenaNet still split into two development teams where each is simultaneously working on a different campaign? Ben Miller: That's how we were structured for the campaign model. Right now with the expansion content there's basically a team working on it, the vast majority of people working on the expansion while people are also developing Guild Wars 2. IGN: How far along is Guild Wars 2 at this point? Chris Lye: Development on Guild Wars 2 has been going on for a while. I mean I would say that probably it's fair to say that a lot of resources are focused on the expansion right now and then once the expansion is complete that'll, you know, basically everybody, all hands on deck for Guild Wars 2. IGN: Since you guys have been cranking out these expansion for a while now, what kind of changes have you made to the development process, in terms of efficiency, procedurally, for getting these done? Ben Miller: With the campaign model we had two distinct teams that were working on two distinct projects and what we found is that it's actually a lot more efficient to, as far as design-wise, not have that distinction in place as rigidly as we had previously. So people would be basically focusing on expansion content or focusing on Guild Wars 2's content as their different project required their different skill sets. We kind of did away with the strict, campaign-specific distinction. Also, one of the biggest benefits that we had throughout the process of doing this is we've got a good idea, design-wise, how long it takes to do things, how best to communicate with programmers, artists, and really fine tune not only our design process, but also our communication across all other departments. We've been able to basically efficiently foster good communication between the other departments and the design department. And that's just something it just takes time to do. Our design team, for the most part, has been together since campaign one. So, from Prophecies all the way to Eye of the North we've grown and matured as a team without a lot of turnover. We're really developing the Eye of the North expansion and Guild Wars 2 with a very veteran team, people that work very well together. The more time we do it, we just get better and better and more efficient at it. I hope that answers your question. IGN: Yeah that works. Then after Eye of the North comes out is everyone diving into Guild Wars 2 development at that point, is it one hundred percent staff effort, or is there still a small team being set back to continue to monitor what's going on with all the previous campaigns? Ben Miller: We all keep up on the current trends and the PvP metagames and stuff like that. We do have a subset of people that when live issues do come up we get them addressed quickly and efficiently. Those same people are also responsible for any live content that takes place for the holiday events. Even though we'll be focusing on Guild Wars 2, we already have processes in place that allow us to strongly support all areas of the live game. IGN: Why is this expansion called Eye of the North? Chris Lye: The Eye of the North is actually a plot device, and Ben can talk a little bit more… Ben Miller: The Eye of the North is actually the central area in the Far Shiverpeaks that contains what's called the Hall of Monuments. It basically serves as the focal point for the whole plot and the narrative. What the Eye of the North does is it basically is this big magical tower that shows you visions and helps drive the plot forward. IGN: So what does it look like? Ben Miller: It's a gigantic, monolithic tower. It's going to be awesome and dominating. It's a gigantic, gigantic piece of architecture. IGN: Is the Hall of Monuments a communal space where people meet up? Ben Miller: So there's the Eye of the North, and an interior portion of the Eye of the North is an area called the Hall of Monuments which is another one of the big features of Eye of the North. I don't know how many more times in a sentence I can use Eye of the North but I think that one is the winner. What the Hall of Monuments is, it's an area that will dynamically change to reflect your personal accomplishments within the Guild Wars world. When Guild Wars 2 comes out, your Guild Wars 2 characters will be able to inherit this eternal legacy that your Guild Wars 1 characters have basically immortalized within the Hall of Monuments. It's something that's personal to your character. IGN: So that would be an instanced area then? Ben Miller: Yep. IGN: But people can meet up too at the Eye of the North? Ben Miller: Yep. IGN: In terms of what goes into the Hall of Monuments, from what I've read it just says accomplishments and things like for this expansion and previous campaigns - is that retroactive? Meaning, if you already completed some of the accomplishments do you have to go back and complete them again after you get Eye of the North to register them in the Hall of Monuments? Ben Miller: It's one hundred percent retroactive. You won't need to start a brand new character or anything like that so if you've already accomplished some of things that it will recognize, it will automatically do that without you having to go redo them. IGN: So what do you actually get for these accomplishments in Guild Wars 2? Ben Miller: We want it to be something that will set you apart from other characters that haven't necessarily played, haven't necessarily inherited those accomplishments. We want them to be meaningful and we want them to be rewarding for the amount of time that some of these accomplishments take to actually get. There are many different ways to do that in Guild Wars 2 and as Guild Wars 2 evolves there'll be more specifics. Right now we've just been throwing around general things like you may be able to get unique looks for you character, unique companions, and any manner of other things that we think fit the bill for rewarding you for your investment in the original Guild Wars franchise and also visually, well not necessarily only visually, but distinctly set you apart from other from Guild Wars 2. Chris Lye: The final intention is that someone who made a huge investment in the original Guild Wars series of games, when they come into Guild Wars 2 and they have their inheritance through the Hall of Monuments, they will look and feel significantly better than someone who didn't. IGN: It sounds like people are going to be able to bring their level twenty characters from Eye of the North into Guild Wars 2. Ben Miller: Because of the large amount of technological differences between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, a straight conversion isn't possible which is kind of the driving force behind coming up with this immortalization of your Guild Wars 1 character. Chris Lye: You will not be able to take your level 20 from the original Guild Wars game and transfer them over to Guild Wars 2. Ben Miller: But you will be able to take all those accomplishments that you have achieved in Guild Wars 1 and… Chris Lye:…associate them with your Guild Wars 2 character. IGN: So in Guild Wars 2 everyone's going to have to do the level thing again. Is it going to be more or less the game starts at twenty, where it's a quick run from one to twenty, or is it going to be more of a focus on the leveling process? Ben Miller: Guild Wars 2 right now, so what we've talked about publicly, as far as the whole leveling thing in Guild Wars 2, is it's going to be significantly different than our current paradigm of the whole plateau at level twenty. IGN: It's going to be a different level cap then or a different rate of progression? Chris Lye: It's going to be a different level cap. At this point we have not confirmed what that level cap will be. Ben Miller: It's all around going to be significantly different in terms of progression and level cap. Fundamentally there are some things about Guild Wars that we are going to carry forward, so even though we are going to change some things, at its heart it's still going to be Guild Wars. IGN: Have there been any discussion internally about changing the number of active skill bar slots from eight to another number? Ben Miller: [laughs] We're looking at all kinds of stuff for Guild Wars 2. We're basically going to come up with a system that is fun and exciting whether it has eight skill slots or not, we'll see. As far as Eye of the North goes, it's going to be eight character parties and eight skill slots. IGN: Are you doing anything with Eye of the North in terms of interface, being able to invite people into parties is that being tweaked at all? Ben Miller: We actually went live with a bunch of new party formation stuff that is currently live. So you're able to search for groups, broadcast that you are your own group and this is what you're going to do, so we already have extended our party search functionality and that's going to carry over into Eye of the North as well. IGN: How does the story in Eye of the North work? Does it hook into Prophecies at all and then continue into Guild Wars 2 or is it just its own separate thing? Ben Miller: It's actually integrated on both ends, it has its hooks deep in both. It ties up and deepens a lot of the stories that you encountered in the original Prophecies as well as serving as a prequel for some of the plot devices and characters that are going to be in Guild Wars 2. IGN: Can you talk specifics about any of the storylines? Ben Miller: As far as it being a prequel to Guild Wars 2 the Asura and Norn are probably the two strongest examples of that. You'll actually get to have an Asura that will become a hero, a Norn that will become a hero. The Far Shiverpeaks itself, which is one of the first areas you get to in Eye of the North is dominated by the Norn. And the Asura play a large part in the battle against the main nemesis which is this malevolent, seamlessly mindless force that's bubbling up from the bottom of the Earth called the Destroyers. Another point of how it's hooked into Prophecies - we did a live update called Sorrow's Furnace that has a legend of the great dwarves fighting the great Destroyer and plot-wise, the centerpiece of the whole story is building up to this climactic battle between the dwarves and this malevolent force. IGN: Does that plot play out over the course of the - it's 18 new dungeons in Eye of the North - is there a linear path through them or can you branch off all over the place. How is the progression structured? Ben Miller: That's actually one of the biggest things we wanted to change design-wise is how it's structured. One of the biggest things with Eye of the North is we wanted to make the world feel alive, like, a world, and also we wanted to give you a sense of intrepidness and exploration. So with that, the story itself, there's a small linear part that then opens up into these three larger story arcs. It's really open-ended and you can play them at your own pace. You can do part of one story arc and drift on over to - so you can be playing the story arc that involves the Asura, for instance, play through a portion of that, then your friends come online to play through a portion of the Norn story arc so you can jump right over and join them. It's very, very open and at the same time we put in some new mechanics that kind of help you if you do get off the beaten track. IGN: With the multi-tiered dungeons in Eye of the North, is there any change in mechanics while fighting through them? Is there a different feel? Ben Miller: The dungeons themselves, I'd like to give the example of what players can expect out of dungeons are basically a basically a big, badass, epic version of what we did with Sorrow's Furnace. And Sorrow's Furnace itself had its own kind of feel, its own kind of open-endedness and it also introduced at the time some of the most unique rewards that we had. The dungeons in Eye of the North are going to have that kind of same unique feel to them. It's not going to feel like you're playing a quest in an explorable area or some of the other types of content that we have. It's going to feel like it's a dungeon and it is full of traps and you get unique rewards. Chris Lye: One of the things that Ben and his design team wanted to do with his dungeons is definitely introduce that idea as, that dungeon environment as another kind of opponent that you have to overcome. There'll be things like traps, secret doors, puzzles, and things like that that will make the dungeon environment itself much more interactive. IGN: To what extent will the Charr be involved? Ben Miller: The Charr play an important role in Eye of the North, and there is a whole third of the, basically one of the story arcs is the story of the Charr and heavily involves them. IGN: So the three main story arcs are Charr, Asura, and Norn? Ben Miller: There are actually four. There's the one that takes place in the Charr homeland that is focused around the struggle between Ascalon and the Charr. There's the one that's focused in the Far Shiverpeaks that involves the Norn. There's the Asura, and then there's the one underground that focuses on the battle between the great dwarves and the great Destroyers. So the fourth one is the dwarves, basically. IGN: Can you access that fourth one immediately or do you have to go through the other story arcs to get there? Ben Miller: You have to go through the other three to get there, but it kind of opens up to the other three then once you have completed the other three it sort of culminates with the - it's bookended by the story of the dwarves. It starts with the dwarves, opens up, then the climax involves the dwarves and the battle with the great Destroyer. IGN: Are you doing anything with PvP for the expansion? Ben Miller: With PvP one of the important things is it's something that's so big, and something that's so worldwide that we're actively continuing to support PvP. Whatever new PvP features that we come out with for Guild Wars 1, we're just going to do them outside of the expansion and outside of Eye of the North. We still are actively going to support our PvP community, we're just not going to do it under the pretense of you have to buy and expansion. IGN: They'll be rolled out in live updates? Ben Miller: Yeah. We're not going to abandon PvP or anything. IGN: And there'll be some new heroes in Eye of the North, right? Ben Miller: Ten brand new heroes, and the coolest part of Eye of the North is if you own Prophecies or Factions but have not bought Nightfall, you can use heroes without having to use Nightfall. IGN: Do you get access to the heroes from Nightfall? Ben Miller: No, you get access to the Eye of the North heroes, and you can take them back into Prophecies or Factions. IGN: What are the new heroes like? Ben Miller: The sexy blonde girl that we're using for all of our marketing, her name is Jora, she's a Norn. You meet her fairly early on in getting to the Far Shiverpeaks and through helping her enact some retribution against a terrible beast that's ravaging the countryside, she'll join you as a hero. Chris Lye: She's one of the first new race heroes that you get. Ben Miller: You get to see the Asura hero, there's a dwarf hero that you get right off the bat. IGN: Jora's the one in the picture with the giant bear behind her? Ben Miller: That's her. Part of the cool thing about being a Norn is they shapeshift into giant bears. IGN: What about the new skills. What sorts of challenges have you been faced with just in terms of putting something new in there and making sure it's all balanced? Ben Miller: Luckily we are not introducing two new professions and a whole bunch of skills which means our PvP community is going to be less tumultuous with this release than any other one. Out of the 150 new skills, 100 of them are PvP-legal and 50 of them are PvE only skills. Actually some of the PvE only skills have been some of the most challenging to design because we wanted them to tie pretty closely in with the story, the different groups of NPCs you do quests for actually reward these skills to you. Some of the skills that you get, for example, will tie extremely closely into the quest that you're doing. There's a series of dwarven boxing quests that you do with an NPC that people who've played Sorrow's Furnace are very familiar with, his name's Kilroy. He's back in the north to settle some debts and you get to watch his back while he goes on a dwarven boxing spree. We switch your skill set out with boxing skills and at the end of this chain of quests you actually have not only a set of brass knuckles that you get to box with but also a set of PvE only boxing skills. IGN: Such as jab and right hook or something like that? Ben Miller: The names may change between now and then, but essentially that's what they are. One of the key things about these PvE only skills, there's kind of two key things. One is that they're tied to your reputation with these NPC groups that get more powerful the more reputation you gain with them and the higher your rank is. The other thing is that we understand how people like to play the game and people don't like builds dictated to them, so at no point during Eye of the North that you will have to equip some PvE skills to get past a certain encounter. The PvE skills are there just to deepen your experience and to give you more options in how you play the game. IGN: What sort of new monster types, what sort of new enemies should people expect to fight? Ben Miller: The dungeons themselves are full of some brand new monster types. There's the Destroyers, they're not the Great Destroyers, but the Destroyers in general, it's one of the most expansive armies that we've done and you'll fight them throughout Eye of the North. Any respectable dungeon could not be done without its fair share of dungeon creatures. We have some pretty awesome ooze monsters that you end up fighting that split apart and come together and do cool, ooze-like things. You get to fight new Charr. We've expanded the Charr army that you get to fight to include some brand new types and have some brand new mechanics. IGN: What do they look like and what would those mechanics be? Ben Miller: There's some white tiger striped looking Charr. And then as far as the mechanics go, for the first time ever they're dual professioned. We want to make the Charr feel more like you're fighting intelligent creatures, so they'll use skill builds that draw from two professions. IGN: Do they use more advanced AI team tactics than other enemies might? Ben Miller: We've gotten some better tools to make monster encounters a little cooler. So the Charr for example, we could set up some boss encounters where there's a Charr in the middle where his warriors will ring him or Charr that march in formation. That kind of stuff that you haven't seen before in Guild Wars. IGN: Have you made any changes to hero AI? Ben Miller: Nothing drastic. We're not trying to make them try to do anything different. Since we've released them in Nightfall and moving forward we've just fixed bugs and problems and addressed player concerns with them. They're not going to play crazily different, they'll just play a little bit cleaner and a little bit tighter just because we've had time to clean up their code. IGN: Is it a more relaxed atmosphere at ArenaNet now that Eye of the North is almost out or is it more stressful with the sequel on the way? Ben Miller: [laughs] Part of the design process is that after doing this, this being the fourth time, we're getting a little bit better about scheduling our time about what we can and can't do. Overall it's, I think it's more excited than stressful. IGN: It just seems like you guys would have had to be in crunch mode for two years. Ben Miller: [laughs] No, no, no. The thing is is that we're, as far as the design team is concerned, we're getting to pull out all the stops and getting to do all the things we always said we wanted to do, but had to devote our time and creative resources to making a brand new campaign. This time around it's more of a playful atmosphere than anything else. If it's cool and it's fun, it's probably going to go in. IGN: Is there a cohesive visual theme for Eye of the North? Ben Miller: The cohesive theme of Eye of the North is kick ass. But to seriously answer your question, we're drawing heavily on the first campaign. The Charr homeland looks very similar to what Pre-Searing Ascalon looked like. The Far Shiverpeaks look like an incredibly beautiful version of the Shiverpeak mountains. The Tarnished Coast looks like an incredibly epic, beautiful, kick ass version of the Maguuma Jungle. This by far, aesthetically, hands-down is the most gorgeous thing we have ever, ever, ever done. But we had that foundation to draw on from Prophecies. As far as that visual theme goes, it's basically a more awesome version of some of the areas you saw in Prophecies - because it's all part of the same world, so, it wouldn't make sense for us to drastically change anything. IGN: You're still using the free to play model with Eye of the North and you need one of the previous games to run it right? Ben Miller: Yep. IGN: What about Guild Wars 2 - still free to play? Ben Miller: Yep. IGN: Are you thinking at all of some sort of - I know a lot of Korean games are free to play but you can go to a website and pay to download a bunch of in-game items. Chris Lye: It's a little too early to say, but one of the things we respect a great deal about working with NCsoft is they give us here a lot of latitude to explore different revenue models. And so we're looking at a lot of stuff right now, but as far as the Guild Wars family of games, it's buy the game and play it for as much or as little as you want to. We may do some additional things, but nothing that's going to fundamentally change that model. IGN: Would you be able to go online and buy gameplay altering items - things that would give paying customers an advantage over non-paying customers? Chris Lye: We've had a lot of internal discussion about that and there's some really strong design reasons why we don't think that'd be a good idea. IGN: When's Eye of the North coming out? Chris Lye: We've announced Q3 of this year. IGN: No specific month? Chris Lye: No we have not announced a final release date yet. IGN: And what's it going to cost? Chris Lye: We'll finalize that information soon. IGN: Ok. Thanks for your time. Back to Top

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Guild Wars 2
By Allen 'Delsyn' Rausch
ArenaNet takes a big gamble with a sequel to their mega-hit MMO Guild Wars.
I recently spent some time on the phone with ArenaNet co-founder Jeff Strain and a number of the Guild Wars development crew. After talking to them, I've come to realize that they're crazy. Or they might be geniuses. Or maybe both. How else do you explain the decision by a developer to just abandon a successful MMO? Guild Wars launched in April 2005 amidst a flurry of critical praise and PvP fan huzzahs. The unusual MMO experience had no monthly fee to play. Players simply bought the game and could play as much as they wanted for as long as they wanted. The company would make its money with a series of stand-alone content additions that would be released every six months or so. This resulted in the highly successful Factions and Nightfall campaigns. Then ArenaNet dropped a bombshell. The next campaign in the series was being cancelled in favor of Eye of the North, the game's first true expansion pack. Even bigger news than that was that Eye of the North would be the last product for the original Guild Wars. Instead of new campaigns, there would instead be a full-blown sequel called Guild Wars 2. I wondered why, when most MMOs are designed to run for years and years (if not in perpetuity), ArenaNet would mess with something that was clearly working? This conversation would be my chance to find out. "We're All Very Educated About Guild Wars." "We're not really excited by the idea of changing something that people are attached to." The voice coming through the speaker is that of Mike O'Brian, one of the co-founders of ArenaNet. "But we're learning all the time about the ways that people play MMOs. We learn from the successes and failures or competitive products, of course, but mostly we've learned a lot about the way people play Guild Wars. After two years of working and supporting the product, we're all very educated about Guild Wars and we have a pretty good idea of what the ultimate Guild Wars experience should be." According to O'Brian, the genesis for Guild Wars 2 came about during the planning stages for the next Guild Wars campaign. "Guild Wars is a really unique game," O'Brian said. "In looking at the design, we got a lot of things right. The problem was that after two years we also saw a lot of ways in which the core gameplay could be improved. These weren't things that could be addressed by adding new layers on top of the original game, though. They involved going in and making upgrades and improvements to the fundamental gameplay systems. In the end we made the decision that in order to truly make the ultimate version of Guild Wars we were going to have to make Guild Wars 2." Jeff Strain jumped in to continue O'Brian's thought and give some concrete examples of changes between the original game and Guild Wars 2. "It's always difficult in an operating MMO to go in and change fundamental gameplay systems because you tend to be carried forward by your own momentum." He mentions that other MMOs have tried to do this with disastrous results and while he doesn't mention any single game by name, I'm reminded of the Star Wars: Galaxies and its nightmarish New Game Experience. "Part of it is just that we found that layering complexities on top of existing gameplay systems kept existing players happy at the expense of bringing new players into the game. When the tutorial levels keep getting bigger and more complicated, there needs to be some reassessment of what you're doing." Jeff's first concrete example of the perils of overcomplicating things was the concept of leveling. "The level cap in Guild Wars is 20," he said. "We set it deliberately low to let players know that the game is not all about leveling but about player skill. By the time players hit the level cap, they'll actually only be about halfway through the story and they need to look for other ways to improve their character. What we found was that while players understood and appreciated that, at the end of the day, they still want to level their character. They want an unambiguous tangible marker that displays their progress in the game. We want to give them that, but every system in the game is built around a level 20 character. Raising the cap in the current game breaks every piece of content we have." The new game will have a much higher level cap - and the team is actually playing around with the idea of having no cap at all. Missing Out On Social Opportunities One of the major new additions to Guild Wars 2 is persistent world areas. The original game was entirely instanced which, according to the ArenaNet team, did wonders for their ability to tell a story (there's a major event in the middle of the original game that completely alters the world forever). "What you lose in an entirely instanced game is a lot of social opportunities," Mike O'Brian said. "There's a lot to be said for running into the same people over and over again. If you run with a pick-up group and you never meet them again, it can make a completely instanced game a very lonely experience." While Guild Wars 2 will contain a lot of instanced mission content, it will also sport a lot of shared landscape and will also be divided up into different servers filled with smaller groups of people in the manner of traditional MMOs. Strain is quick to emphasize that that doesn't mean that players will be ghettoized into their own unique shards. "We're doing this to create more of a neighborhood feeling," Strain said. "But we also want people to be able to switch worlds easily and also interact with players from other worlds." In order to do this, the team is introducing a big addition to the game's lauded PvP systems called "World PvP." Into the Mists "Guild Wars had two kinds of play -- RPG and PvP," Strain said. The much-lauded Guild Wars PvP system was designed to completely skill-based, not (as in many other MMOs) dependent on equipment found in the PvE section of the world. In fact, players who only want to participate in the PvP aspects of the game can eschew leveling altogether and jump straight into a level 20 PvP character and do nothing but guild battles for their entire Guild Wars experience. They've been notably successful at implementing this, as the many positive reviews of the game's PvP aspect have attested. The issue for the team was that as the game evolved, the PvP and RPG aspects of the game have started to diverge. "We're very proud of our PvP system." Strain said. "We've had plenty of tournaments, world championships and other big Guild Wars events. That's our high-end PvP experience and we certainly don't plan on abandoning that. We want to enhance that aspect of the game in Guild Wars 2." According to the team, the problem with high-end PvP is the learning curve. With so many skilled players, there's no way in Guild Wars to gently introduce players to the concept of PvP. Newbies can be brutalized by the experience of letting teammates down as they develop the skills to be competitive in PvP. "World PvP is the solution for that problem." Strain said. "It acts as a bridge between the RPG world and the high-end PvP world." World PvP takes place in something called "The Mists." This is the nether region that exists between different world shards. In it, different worlds will be set against each other on a large battlefield that has a variety of objectives to attain. Large crews can attempt to seize gigantic castles while smaller group can work on protecting supply chains that feed giant catapults or capturing guard towers or defending important choke points. They key element, according to Strain is that nobody can be a detriment in World PvP. "There's no reason not to go out there because anything you do helps." Strain said. "Everyone reaps the benefits of your efforts while really good players or guilds can be recognized." "World PvP also teaches players core competencies that allow them to get involved in the high-end PvP if they wish," Strain said One of the key goals of the design team is to create a world where players don't have to spec out different PvP and RPG characters. They want players to be able to smoothly transition between one and the other. "There may be different player skills involved in a tournament match, but they should be able to use the same character they just used to capture a castle in the Mists." Eye of the North Guild Wars 2 takes place roughly 250 years after the end of Eye of the North, Guild Wars's first and last official expansion pack. "The general theme is one where humanity, dominant in Guild Wars, is besieged on all sides and they're worried that their day is coming to an end." The speaker is Eric Flannum, the design lead for Guild Wars 2. "The Charr in Ascalon have all but taken over and a whole bunch of non-human races that we'll be introducing in Eye of the North have finally reached an equal footing with humanity. That allows us to set up a four way competitive dynamic but we're also introducing a fifth faction, a common enemy that threatens the whole world." According to Flannum, one of the team's design goals is to structure the world differently. Rather than the very linear world of Guild Wars which was designed to tell a very big story, Guild Wars 2. will instead be persistent where the player will uncover pieces of the great story in what they're calling "story bubbles." The team likes to compare it to the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting where players can participate in multiple story arcs rather than just one large one. "Eye of the North provides a direct bridge to Guild Wars 2," O'Brian said. "We want everyone to eventually move on to Guild Wars 2." In order to do this, one of the major element introduced in Eye of the North will be the Hall of Monuments. This museum will allow players to store many of the great armor, weapons and achievements they've accumulated in tfhe first Guild Wars and transfer them to the new game. The Hall of Monuments will still exist 250 years after the end of the first game and the player's new character will be considered a descendent of their original. As such they're entitled to some of the older stuff that will be displayed in cases inside the hall. Players won't be able to bring everything with them. Some of the old skills and weapons won't make the transfer to the new game, but the team wants players who've invested so much time into the original game to not have to lose that when they start the new game. The Old World That, of course opens up the question of what happens to the first Guild Wars when the new game launches. "Nothing," Strain said. "If people want to continue playing Guild Wars 1 they can. We're going to continue to support it and there's no 'cut-off' date when we're going to shut off the lights. In the end, though, we expect everyone will migrate to the new game." And the business model? "The same," Strain said. "No monthly fee and we'll be bringing out new content for purchase on a regular basis." He wouldn't elaborate further on exactly how that worked save to say that it probably wouldn't be the same 'Campaign' system they used for the original game. "ArenaNet is the Guild Wars company," Strain concluded. "We've got about 100 people here focused on nothing but what's best for Guild Wars. The new campaigns were great, but in the end, that wasn't what our players wanted. They wanted a deeper experience that we just weren't going to be able to provide for them in the original. Thus Guild Wars 2." And what about the future? "Well, we're not saying anything, but assuming everything goes well, there's no reason for the franchise to end with Guild Wars 2." Strain said. Back to Top