A Message from Andrew Gray — Guild Wars 2 Forums

A Message from Andrew Gray

Hey everybody, my name is Andrew Gray. I took over as Content Design Lead a few months back and I want to talk a bit about last year, this year, and what's on the horizon for Guild Wars 2.

First, 2019 was hard. I've been with ArenaNet since 2004 and I can say without question that 2019 was the studio's most challenging. Many of the people who left in 2019 were not involved in the day-to-day development of Guild Wars 2, that much is true--but they were our friends, colleagues, and in some cases literally family. All the teams were affected by saying goodbye to so many colleagues. I'm proud of what we were able to ship under the circumstances, but we also understand the legacy we are trying to carry forward with Guild Wars 2; rather than slip into a status quo, we are all determined to create an even better game moving forward.

We've got our footing and we have exciting plans for the future of GW2. I can't talk about what I'm most excited for yet, but I can tell you 2020 is laying the groundwork for an exciting future. Here are some of the highlights:

Living World

  • Between episodes two and three, we already mentioned we'll be releasing a special new type of content called Visions of the Past; we'll have more details on that at PAX East.
  • I can't go into a ton of details on episodes three and four because, you know, spoilers and all, but I can tell you the map is meta-focused with a push-and-pull feel similar to WvW in a PvE setting. We want maps this season to bring something to them that makes them a permanent part of your play experience. That's why the culmination of Bjora Marches is a world boss and we're striving for high replayability for the episodes three and four map. We want it to be a unique, fun, and rewarding experience that will be part of your daily/weekly play cycle.
  • After episode four, again I'm going to be somewhat vague here, but we want to revisit some of the types of content we pioneered in the past. We learned a lot with Living World Season One and one thing it did very well was to bring the community into the story, and make their actions drive the plot forward. The Nightmare Tower, the election between Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel – these things are memorable experiences because the community's combined efforts had an impact on the world. As you may have noticed, we've been testing tech with things like the boss rush event, that we hope to leverage later on in The Icebrood Saga to create a unique, community experience. But, learning lessons from Season 1, the bulk of this content will be built in a way that it is still playable after the Icebrood Saga comes to a close.
  • Generally, as a team, we are placing a greater emphasis on repeatable content (open world events, world bosses, WvW, and yes, even Fractals (hint hint)). We want to make the types of content that have a lasting, positive impact on the game, so expect that design approach to focus on that more going forward.

On the topic of Fractals…

  • Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated, though I apologize that our silence on the topic raised that concern.
  • I am personally committed to Fractals and see them as an area that deserves more focus and attention going forward. I'm happy to announce that Cameron Rich, who worked on Fractals during Season Three, will be taking the reins on a new Fractal as he rolls off his current duties. This Fractal will feature a challenge mode. Beyond that, I'm working with the Systems Design team on more plans to keep Fractals fresh and exciting. I'm excited and when everything is ready to share, we'll have more details.

Raids

  • Raids are a trickier beast. They're a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn't anything to help players work their way up.
  • Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we've mentioned before and you've likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder. Once a full suite of strike missions is complete there should be a graceful ramp up to the existing raid content rather than the imposing leap that previously existed, and our hope is once that ramp is in place, the number of players participating in raids will go up. In addition to that, we're striving to make improvements to Strike Missions themselves to make grouping easier, and to improve the rewards. We hope this will help introduce more people to 10-person content, which will in turn increase the number of people interested in Raids.
  • Regardless of if that succeeds or not, we understand the importance of balancing our efforts between accessible content with broad appeal, and content that appeals to the more hard core audience, and recognize that we need to do a better job of supporting the latter.

I'm excited for what's coming next. There's going to be more news coming out throughout this year that will make it pretty kitten clear why, but in the meantime, we're incredibly grateful for all your constructive feedback and continued support of the game.

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Comments

  • ugrakarma.9416ugrakarma.9416 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 3, 2020

    we're striving for high replayability for the episodes three and four map.

    this showed be a good direction, Bjora Marches, inst more just a "more LS map". also it add more deep, i wish u guys continue honing this direction.

    main pvp: Khel the Undead(power reaper).

  • Thanks for taking time to be transparent and post an update for us, I hope you continue to do so.

  • NICE!
    Replay-ability is a major thing. I enjoy the story but I usually just play it on one character and thats it. Seeing a new fractal, raid, or change to pvp which affects the repeatable content thrills me so much more. Please keep up this open communication, it is great for the community!

  • Fantastic news, love the communication from you guys as of late

  • Ahhhh, I can only hope this will be the first of many posts with such transparent communication! Either way, very happy to see this!
    Looking forward to those Fractal changes, if anything. Just hearing them mentioned after so long brings a spark of joy, haha.

  • Long time no hear. Keep us posted. We like our devs close to us... speaking of devs. Will I be able to achiev the achievment of killing (downing ingame) a dev anywhere near? (I'm in Europe) >_>
    Taking the words of Randulf in the first post I add: "take a time to breathe in and sink in" Look out your windows and look at the worst game in history in metacritic by USER score standards.
    Feel us. Don't trick us. :) We like you.
    Thats why we always appreciate the comunication. Maybe you guys should spend more time playing your own game with the comunity.
    Keep it coming. We surely are looking forward for the updates.

  • lodjur.1284lodjur.1284 Member ✭✭✭

    Personally I'd really like information about whether new elite specializations are at all on the map, for me hearing that there was gonna be another season of living story instead of an expansion was a disappointment, simply because it meant no new elite specializations as those as add a lot to the game imo.

    Ögonen omges av vita och svarta penseldrag som gör att de ser större ut än vad de egentligen är. Baksidan av lodjurets öron kantas av svart päls som slutar i den karaktäristiska tofsen högst upp på örat. Lodjurets svans är kortare än de flesta andra kattdjurs.

  • FrigginPaco.4178FrigginPaco.4178 Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 3, 2020

    I am happy to see such a post, yet I gotta add more to your plate:

    Guilds should interface with more content in this game. Their systems have so much room to be more robust and it's one of the big targets to strengthen communities and bring in more players. There are many ways for them to be brought to the forefront. The game already favors solo play, so that needn't be changed, but please take additional steps to interface Guilds and their systems into more of the Guild Wars experience.

    On the other hand... While people have been frothing at the mouth to see a 'communication' post like this, I'm certain a lot of the more cynical players (even myself) would be happier when the items above get shipped. I know 2019 was rough, and I know the community at large knows this too, but it's time to get serious.

    Best of luck, I hope to see some great things soon.

    Potential requires action in order to be realized.

  • I know that some people this applies to won’t see this or care about this, but all the people complaining about the fact there was nothing said about WvW need to pay attention to what was in this post. If you read through this post everything is for PvE content so why should there be stuff for PvP when it’s clear the focus of this post was on up coming PvE content.

  • Hey Gray, first of all thanks for the feedback and letting us know what's up.

    I have 2 questions:

    I can't go into a ton of details on episodes three and four because, you know, spoilers and all, but I can tell you the map is meta-focused with a push-and-pull feel similar to WvW in a PvE setting.

    Can you tell us how much of a Dragon Stand and less than a Drakkar meta is gonna be the map?

    In my opinion Dragon Stand was a master peace of a map, a really good way to group up "casuals" and "hardcore" players with mechanics, dps, events etc, a whole map organized together the right way. I see that you guys have been trying to do the same specially now with Drakkar, but _pumping up the health bar of a monster is not the correct _way to do so.

    Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we've mentioned before and you've likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder.

    As a returning player from a 2 year hiatus I love this, back when you guys released W1, 2 and 3 it could only be adapted by "elitists" which is why the buying of kills market got so popular. But the new fight colors don't help at all to identify key stuff. With the whisper of Jormag , taking out the bugs, the amount of visuals make it hard to identify even key mechanics like the chain, so please have that in mind for future fights, and don't get me wrong the cluster of stuff happening with Mathias is amazing, we can call it chaotic good, but the colors on the floor and whats happening and environment elements are just on point. The whisper of jormag has a shad of blue on top of a blue with more blue and white stuff happening around which makes it kind of harder than it should to identify key stuffs.

  • as Mike O'Brien said: "if you are into wvw, typically, you are really into pve", so the wvw element they are adding to new map is for wvwers

  • Iron.4372Iron.4372 Member ✭✭

    That's great to hear a news about State of the Game!

    I would like to share some memories, as I play Guild Wars since 2005 - still remember the best Quality of Life impovements in the game industry - double the fun - Lockpicks mechanic, lucky/unlucky system, intoducing Vanquisher/Guardian titles. Generally - It was Hard Mode.

    Yes, I remember, that it was all about instances, closed, with hero/hench, read thousands of posts about pros/cons and possiblilities of introducing it to Guild Wars 2.

    But, to the point.

    People love achievements, loot, increasing progress (had those crazy 42 PvE maxed titles in Guild Wars 1). Most of the hardest ones were account bound - it took time. There is repeatable content, achievements across the Account, achievements by Season, the exact type - THOUSANDS !

    Guild Wars 2 is a great game, but it lacks of LIFETIME achievement connected to whole game. People love this little-little achievements just from playing the game. I remember it keeps me playing at the beginning - 2012/2013 to get this weapon/creature slaying achievements - for example.

    So... What about little things, that made Guild Wars repeatable across the maps, everywhere (buyable expensive keys and introducing of lucky/unlucky system) - via Chests located across the world. Increasing Luck etc.

  • Mikuchan.7261Mikuchan.7261 Member ✭✭✭

    Just want to poke my head in and exclaim that I hugely appreciate this form of communication.
    I though, regrettably, also want to point out that it would be great with this form of communication on the build templates as well.

  • Could the strike missions be taped together into a raid, with upscaled mechanics and better rewards?

  • Tayga.3192Tayga.3192 Member ✭✭✭

    I'm a mainly PvP player, I don't play PvE at all, but this is great news!
    Also, this kind of communication (admitting shortcomings and pushing forward) makes me and probably many other players want to play all 3 game modes.

    Hopefully, the studio brings new content (instead of just talking) but it seems like Anet has been getting itself together lately with the big patch on competitive modes and fixing copy paste weapon skins from LNY.

  • @jasonorme.5014 said:
    I'd love to start raiding but It's too difficult for new raiders to join raids as groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because they want a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because groups want proof of experience with a currency we are unable to get because we can't get into a raid group because... you see the problem?.

    No, I don't see the problem. You can go ahead and acquire KP and LI like the rest of us did. Join groups that are learning or training new people, or make your own groups. But if active players haven't tried raiding in all these years, they just dont care about the game mode and they never will, the LI/KP excuse is just an excuse.

  • @Fire Attunement.9835 said:

    • Generally, as a team, we are placing a greater emphasis on repeatable content (open world events, world bosses, WvW, and yes, even Fractals (hint hint)). We want to make the types of content that have a lasting, positive impact on the game, so expect that design approach to focus on that more going forward.

    First thing I did when I opened this thread was Ctrl+F for alliances. Nothing. Ctrl+F WvW. One comparison and this quote. And that's it? Seriously? 2 years since alliances were announced, this is where we're at now? Thanks.

  • Any chance of addressing the quality of life gap between power and condition builds in pve? It is frustrating wanting to play certain weapons that require a condition build knowing that I will not be as optimal as a power build with weapons I dislike.

  • Bassdeff.1895Bassdeff.1895 Member ✭✭✭

    If you wanted to make a gradual introduction to raids wouldn't have been simpler to just add an easy mod option which just reduces boss HP and damage output while keeping all the mechanics intact and reduce the rewards accordingly? People get to experience the content while learning the basics until they get comfortable enough to do it for real.

    Also, pleasing more experienced raiders could be as simple as making the rewards for CM worth repeating CM for. Many of people have resorted to buying their CM and getting blacklisted because finding anyone wanting to do them after they get their title is near impossible because it isn't worth their time.

  • I just want to say Thank You for all the hard work all of you at Arenanet have done. Looking forward to what's coming in 2020. :smiley:

  • Dahkeus.8243Dahkeus.8243 Member ✭✭✭✭

    I think 2020 will be a good year for Guild Wars 2.

  • Tulki.1458Tulki.1458 Member ✭✭
    edited February 6, 2020

    This is legitimately a roadmap post for the future. And I totally get that you can't spoil certain stuff on the horizon, so I'm trying to temper my expectations.
    I'm actually really glad that you're sort of doubling down on hardcore content. Or at least developing the game to try to expand it. Raids were one of the best things to happen to GW2, not just because the content was challenging but because it created communities and theorycrafting that had never before been necessary, refreshing the playerbase's interest.

    I am cautiously optimistic, unfortunately because raids have really fallen off since HoT. I hope you can knock it out of the park.

    Thanks Andrew!

    My outlying concerns that make me "cautiously" optimistic:

    1) The game needs a new round of elite specs. They refresh all game modes. IMO they are the smartest "groundwork" the game has ever laid, but they've been squandered with only two being added this far into the game's life. Comparing to how aggressively GW1 added skills and whole classes, this is really sad to see. The professions and their current elite specs are stagnating. These are not being talked about which tells me you have no plans to ever add any more, and that the combat system will continue to stagnate.

    2) I hope the data you collect for raids is contextualized by the fact that rewards are on weekly lockouts, rather than daily like your points of comparison (open world metas, fractals). I absolutely guarantee that if raid rewards were daily, boss attempts would be way higher, the LFG would be populated all the time, and players would form communities around raids more frequently. As others have mentioned, everyone who is committed to raids gets their clears after reset and then goes dark for the rest of the week. There is currently zero crosstalk between the experienced and the new within the mode because of this, aside from training guilds which you will rarely find in-game.

    If the data is not presented within this context, I'm afraid you might have created a chicken-and-egg scenario. Weekly lockouts mean less engagement. Less engagement means raids are cut. Raids being cut means players perceive the mode as unsupported and unworthy of investment. Fewer raiders draws resentment from the hardcore community, who move on to competitors who have the conviction to provide content they can aspire to (FFXIV).

  • where the like button at

  • But again, there is no improvement on the guild side.

  • maddoctor.2738maddoctor.2738 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @Fire Attunement.9835 said:

    • Raids are a trickier beast. They're a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn't anything to help players work their way up.

    This part I'm a bit confused with, can't really put all Raid encounters in the same basket, just like you can't put all Fractals, or Strike Missions together.
    There are Raid bosses that are easier than some Fractal bosses, and if we add CM Fractals -a LOT- of the Raid bosses are easier. Even Whisper of Jormag is harder than let's say Cairn or Mursaat Overseer. What you could've done is "mark" Raid bosses or entire Wings with their difficulty, to tell players which ones to try first, like what you are trying to do with Strikes now. Give them some progression, as Raids are all over the place. Making the bosses in a wing progressively harder would also help, they are a bit of a mess with easy encounters after hard encounters and so on. But probably nothing can be done to fix all those issues, it's a shame though. I guess Strikes is the future.

  • S1 needs to return too eventually, as it ramped up difficulty between Personal Story and the following S2 and HoT.

    Too often players feel the jump in difficulty from Personal story to S2 and HoT because of this missing rampup stage.