One of the developers on Reddit (I think?), claimed something as simple as a party votekick number change (in other words, kicking requires three or four players instead of two), was a big deal and was being worked on for the end of this year or 2015. With that in mind, the engine may be a bit more difficult to use than we think.
I used to believe in the "there's 300 people at ArenaNet" response. But after seeing two Living Story breaks in six months, after seeing nothing but new armor for PvP and some new traps/masteries for WvW, I genuinely think that whatever number of employees they have are mired in mismanagement both in time and in funding. I am sure they're working on stuff, but they're clearly all a bunch of small projects that coalesce into a whole that is less than the sum of its parts. We came into the LS2 thinking we'd get a new region. Two months in we have one new zone and are parading around Timberline Falls, Kessex Hills, and watching NPCs talk to one another in towns. While I acknowledge that some of our requests have been made, they're making obvious short cuts in design time by making us fight in areas we have already been before. Why can't the LS2 be like GW1 campaigns where you progressed onward throughout a region and into the next? I thought that was the path we were going with Dry Top unlocking a little bit at a time, but then it all came crashing to a halt and went in full reverse.
Certainly that is work that has been done, and I know some players asked for more personal story instances in the CDI threads, but we also asked for new dungeons, raid bosses, and regions. They're clearly tackling the easiest of these requests, just as they are in WvW and PvP. We asked for new game types, unique armor, and new maps for PvP. So they made the unique armor and left it at that.
One of the WvW guys a while back on a live stream said it took them an entire year to make Edge of the Mists. Either their projects are hilariously understaffed or underfunded or something needs to change about their development process. And with such a nebulous guy at the helm like Colin Johanson that can't confirm or deny anything concrete, who writes up manifestos and doesn't hold up to them, who signs off on CDIs and takes none of the input from them, I can't help but think that, looking from the outside, the culture of their company is well within question.
Also: I genuinely think fractals were something that were worked on before launch and just didn't make it to final release. I do think that ascended gear was something created after the fact, however. The fact that fractal weapon drops were all exotic on launch, including the weapon skins, says that enough.