Gamescom 2013 – Day 1

 Posted by on August 21, 2013  Community Gatherings, Conventions  Comments Off on Gamescom 2013 – Day 1
Aug 212013

Day one of gamescom is over! It’s been a good day with a couple of surprises on the show floor. I’m going to be doing a few game reviews based on what I saw today, covering Elder Scrolls Online, Project Spark, Beyond: Two Souls and Dragon’s Prophet. That’s going to take some time (maybe will have to wait until I get back) so I’m going to bridge the gap in the meantime with some of my pictures from today.

There were 2 things that struck me about the convention in general today.

  • There were more cosplayers than normal for the trade/media day. Lots of Assassin’s Creed cosplay, but I also saw a Lara Croft and various other anime cosplays I couldn’t place.
  • It was insanely busy. It seems non-media/trade visitors were allowed in from 2pm and the lines for some games shut 3 hours early as a result. I’m not overly happy about it (I travel especially for Wednesdays so I can get more done) and I’m worried how the booths will cope tomorrow.

Anyway, here’s some pictures!

PS: If anyone would like to use one of these in their blog or other publication, please get in contact with me through my About page and I’ll give you the unwatermarked high resolution pictures

Gamescom 2013 Preview

 Posted by on August 19, 2013  Community Gatherings, Conventions, Guild Wars 2, MMO Gaming  Comments Off on Gamescom 2013 Preview
Aug 192013

August rolls around again and that means it’s gamescom time!

I love gaming conventions. Not only are they a good way to get your hands on games you’re looking forward to and find new ones to get excited about, but they’re fantastic for dipping your toes in the water with new peripherals you’ve been considering. That’s before you get to the real reason I love the conventions – people. Wonderful people.

Gaming has broken into the mainstream of late but it’s still very hard to have a meaningful conversation about it with people you meet going through life, mostly because of platform divisions. Experiences of the same game differ wildly on different platforms and people play different games because of exclusivity. It ends up being quite difficult to talk to your neighbour who plays games because you don’t actually share that much in common experiences.

Conventions sweep all this away. You get the full spectrum of geeky awesomeness; cosplay to esports, board games to virtual reality and everything in between. gamescom turns Cologne into a gamer’s paradise for a few days (there’s stuff going on in the streets after hours), and 270,000 people flock to that paradise. With that many people, it’s easy to find people who are just as passionate as you are about your gaming niche.

I’m going to be going to gamescom on Wednesday (I’m trade, not press), Thursday and Friday. Thursday is turning out to be the big meet and greet day but if you happen to see me around on any day feel to grab me and say hi, even if I’m waiting in a queue (I changed my twitter avatar so I’m a little more recognisable). Please don’t be surprised if I don’t recognise you without your handle and/or avatar picture, I’m terrible with names and far better with locations. So saying something like “I’m blah from Twitter” is going to jog my memory a lot more.

This year is going to be a bit thinner on the ground for MYSTies than other years, but I’m going over with my husband Somnium and my friend and deputy guild leader Andypanda, who has his reporting hat on for Split Infinity Radio (check out their coverage). We’re going to be meeting up with a few of our German guildies there too, which should lead to fun times. Add to that the parties and it’s going to be a great few days (providing I shake off this cold). I’m also going to be meeting up with a few people from the Guild Wars 2 universe, like Paeroka and Bookahnerk from Nerdy Bookahs, Screenager from Afterlife Gaming and hopefully many others from the Twitterverse and I Can Outtweet A Centaur [TWIT].

And of course there’s the games. I’m looking forward to having a snoop around the MMO market, especially seeing how Elder Scrolls Online is doing, having a look at some of the smaller developers and trying to get freebies from Valve. Also I really hope to get some hands on time with Watchdogs, which is one of the games I’m mostly looking forward to for the rest of the year.

Hope to see some of you in Germany!

Apr 062012

This blog post is a continuation from EU Fan Day Part 2 – PvP, Dinner and Beaches.

Tuesday morning I met with Paeroka, Dutch, Tilion and Kronos for breakfast before heading back to the venue for a few more hours of game play. We were given a choice of taking on the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon or doing more exploration; nearly everyone in the room jumped at the chance of facing up to the dungeon that we’d seen the press struggle with.

We had to roll charr to get bumped up to the minimum level 30 requirement for the dungeon so I quickly made myself another elementalist, figuring I felt more comfortable and competent with that profession than any other. I didn’t fiddle around with the creation screen very much. This wasn’t the time to make the prettiest kitty in the world as she was likely to spend a lot of her time on fire. I hit the “skip to end” button on character creation and moved on.

A quick word about starter zones in Guild Wars 2. I’ve had the pleasure to play all 3 of the available starter areas and while the human area felt familiar, the charr area was loaded with nostalgia and the norn area felt like new beginnings. Having recently been playing Rift and Aion where the starter areas for either faction feel like skins of each other (ie swap murky area for sparkly one, or tech infested town for a ruin of one), its nice to see the opening blows of a race feeling so different. That is not to say all the starter areas for Guild Wars 2 are unique. They are not. They roughly follow the same formula of “get directions to boss guy, do x, wait at y point until previous group has passed, then fight big boss z”. Frankly, I’ll allow the first 5 minutes of my character’s 120 hour journey to level 80 to have some repetition across all professions of the same race. However, that doesn’t mean that all the areas are identical, especially when it comes to the charr. As part of your character’s setup you choose who in your warband you were closest to, and you see those npcs in the tutorial area helping to fight back the ghosts. I thought it was a nice touch.

So with Barradin beaten back, I warped to the unlocked waypoint next to the dungeons and spoke to an npc who bumped me up to level 30, gave me a load of weapons, new armor, skill points and a book to unlock the first tier of traits. Elites were the most expensive to unlock so I had a look through my options and thought that the racial elite Artillery Barrage would be best for a dollop of aoe damage and control in one. I also picked up Conjure Frost, thinking the skills on the conjured Frost Bow would likely be control or support oriented (it was a little disappointing not to see what skills that would give), Mist Form in case I started getting hit on a lot and Arcane Power to boost my damage output. I picked out the staff as I knew how those skills worked and then sorted out my traits. I can’t honestly remember exactly what I slotted, but I do remember dropping 10 into fire.

After a bit of confusion with teams and working out how to all get in the same instance of the dungeon, I ended up grouped up with Tilion from Dragon Season, Yalu from Guild Wars 2 Journal, 4thVariety from Wartower and Ligia from Mediavida to take on story mode. We didn’t consider which professions we were putting together, or actually how our skills synergised. We just grabbed 5 and went. I won’t spoil the story other than to say that if you have read both books and played Guild Wars 1 it will resonate more strongly with you than someone who has not. However, enough of the background is shared in the cinematics that if you have not you will still understand exactly what has happened and why you are there. The dungeon itself is like no dungeon I have played before in an MMO. The closest I think is either some of Age of Conan or that 3 hours I spend in Dungeons and Dragons before running out of the F2P stuff. There are deadly traps. Enemies come looking for you and there are dynamic events inside the dungeon. You have to think smart and fast to survive, all while fighting mobs that pose a very genuine threat to your group and you have to work together to progress.

The Frost Bow came in handy, not only because it creates another copy of itself that someone else could use, but because the 5th skill freezes foes in place for a few seconds. Using that at the right time saved people, as did throwing up the odd Geyser and Healing Rain. During combat I was constantly trying to balance damage, control and support depending on the health of my teammates and what we were fighting. It turned out that we’d made a group of 1 guardian and 4 elementalists which worked quite well but did not save us from getting downed and completely wiping once (those who say “just take elementalists and you’ll breeze through” are plain wrong). Any comparisons I give to content in Guild Wars 1 will be skewed by people’s experiences of farming builds, but if I had to I’d put it on a par with doing the Underworld or Slaver’s Exile on hard mode with a balanced team and no consumables. It is solid concentration the entire way. Again using the terrain came in handy and especially with the very final boss fight, hiding behind pillars was needed to stop your character taking a dirt nap. We did it though and fairly quickly compared to other groups who had started long before we had and finished a little after.

Gluttons for punishment, we decided to go in for explorable mode, repaired up and went in again. At that point I decided to check the map.

The dungeon is huuuuuge. I knew we’d covered a lot of ground in story mode but really. And when we got to the decision point inside the dungeon and saw marked on the map that we were going to an area that we hadn’t been to before… I think it is safe to say that there is a lot to be done in a single dungeon.

If story mode is tough, explorable mode is the thing that teaches story mode how to be tough. Admittedly we were attempting it at level 30, when I’ve heard various people say you should be level 35 for explorable mode so maybe that isn’t surprising. We didn’t even make it past 2 rooms of enemies before my charr was getting decidedly naked. We took it in turns to go out of the dungeon and repair (I had more than enough to foot the bill several times over) and came back for more. Again there were traps, enemies who came looking for trouble and champions who seemed to be made of stone. Having had only 6 hours on the game rather than the 40 or so we should have had by this point really showed. As did sitting on the opposite sides of the room to each other, where we couldn’t easily converse real time. Typing is not going to be a practical solution in dungeons in Guild Wars 2. Get decent headsets if this is your kind of thing.

Eventually, we made it 5 rooms past the decision point before time ran out and we gave up. What had felt like 45 minutes had actually been closer to 3 hours. Time flies when you’re having fun and getting your butt kicked. I felt exhausted.

Overall, I feel very happy about the dungeon we saw, especially because we couldn’t beat it. Story mode will test you while still being possible and explorable mode will be an extra additional layer of pain over that. Dynamic levelling down to 30-35 will make sure this dungeon is relevant all the way to 80. Yes, there may be a complaint about there “only” being 8 dungeons you can tackle multiple ways, but in my opinion there will be more content to enjoy in the game before a player who can sink 20 hours a week into the game has finished seeing every route. There’s so much of Tyria to see that if you only spend your time tackling dungeons, you’re doing it wrong.

Before wrapping up, I managed to get a few minutes to chat with Matthew Moore about life as a QA tester in the games industry which was very interesting to me, but probably very boring to everyone else out there. I also grabbed a few minutes with Stephane and got the answers to a few more questions – the post with the answers to the various other questions I asked will be out in a few hours.

That done, I headed back to the station and swapped a sunny but chilly Brighton for a rainy Suffolk. When can I go back?

Thank you very much to Aidan, Melanie, Matthew, Stephane and everyone else at ArenaNet and NCSoft that made this event happen. It’s great to see a company support the community in this way and I had a great time.

Apr 052012

This post is a follow on from EU Fan Day Diary Part 1 – Norn Starter Area

After being forced out of the room for a break by Stephane and having a chat with Paeroka, Dutch and Tilion about what we’d seen so far, we came back into the basement for a bit of PvP. We could either use our norn characters or roll something new – once players have gone through the opening cinematic they could either jump to the mists or straight into a match from the hero panel of the character. I decided to roll a human elementalist to see how hard it was with a single weapon and 4 attributes and jumped straight into a match. My character was immediately bumped up to 80, provided with max weapons and armor with some basic jewellery, and my skill bar fleshed out with skills including Mist Form and Tornado.

I had entered a match already in progress on the Battle for Kyhlo map. I got a couple of goes at Conquest at gamescom so vaguely knew my way around, which definitely helped. Things were tighter this time around as there was more markings on the environment to show what was going on – for example just by looking in the direction of the mansion point, I could see who was holding it even if my character had no direct line of sight. This made it a lot easier to work out where players should be going next, which points were contested, held or needed to be captured.

The Battle of Kyhlo

PvP in Guild Wars 1 is something I have a love hate relationship with. I love the format of GvG, but hate that it takes so much planning to get to play. ArenaNet have definitely made PvP more accessible in Guild Wars 2 with the hot join aspect and I can definitely say that this would be something I’d break away from PvE or WvW for as a change of pace. Some members of the hardcore PvP community may lament the influx of “nubs” this will create, but in my eyes a constant stream of new players is required to maintain a healthy and competitive PvP scene. Hopefully a good matchmaking algorithm will help keep the experienced and new players apart to stop both groups getting frustrated.

Fighting other players was great. Picking the right fights, dodging and using the terrain added to the skillful aspect of PvP. Using skills on cool down will not help you win the match. Picking the right skill for the right situation will. As an ele  wielding a staff, I was juggling all 4 of my attributes mostly using air and fire skills. If there was a team fight where we were under pressure I could switch to water to add a little healing and damage, slowing enemies to help my allies. I’d use fire to deal a lot of damage when control had been supplied by another player. Air was used to apply a speed buff to allies, knock down enemies and stun them in place, while I used Earth skills to slow them. Sometimes I switched attributes just as the battle changed pace and was unable to switch back, meaning that things would invariably not go the way I wanted them to unless there was backup nearby. At that point I’d use my elite skill Tornado to turn the tide of the game, sometimes it would work sometimes not, but heck it was satisfying sending players scattering!

I can honestly say that a single player had less importance than teamwork in PvP. Having more players than the other team was not an automatic win situation, evidenced by matches where the team with the smaller number of players won. Other matches were incredibly close, with teams that were over 150 points behind coming back to win at the last second (one match ended 500-499). Teams weren’t static either, players switched teams every match which kept things fresh.

While on the Battle for Kyhlo map, I tried the trebuchet for the first time and found it quite challenging due to a lack of feedback. It took quite a while to re-aim it and the length of time the button was held determines how far the projectile goes. There wasn’t a lot of feedback as to where or what had been hit (if anything), and I soon gave up in favour of trying to capture points because I felt I was more use to the team doing that.

Forest of Niflhel

After a match finished we immediately went into another alternating between the Battle for Kyhlo and the Forest of Niflhel maps. The Forest of Niflhel map is amazingly beautiful and lives up to the name, with the map scattered with boulders, trees and stone ruins steeped in mist that obscures the battlefield from above. The two guardians add an extra dynamic to the capture point map, as killing either of them awards a hefty dollop of points to the killing team. It felt easier to get lost on this map because of the scenery (walls were higher than on the other map and the paths were more winding and natural), but the multiple routes to each location screams strategy.

Bear in mind that voice communications were not in use while playing this PvP. I didn’t really know who exactly was on my team and it didn’t matter. People were acting in a similar manner as they do in Alliance Battles in Guild Wars 1, moving from point to point in the way they thought best, helping in fights along the way. There is lots of scope for strategy and teamwork on top of that. I’d count the hot join scenario as a cross between Alliance Battles and the old Team Arena, except with the teams changing every match. If players went in with set team, I’d see the bar for skill being set a lot higher. It’s impossible to say if this is esport material, as those kinds of games seem to live or die on broad appeal, shoutcasting and tournaments, but I’d suggest the first part of that recipe has been fulfilled.

As for playing with an elementalist, the combat was a nice variety of damage and control with a bit of support. It is important to remember what skills are granted to your current weapon on the other attributes so you can switch appropriately and get have the best benefit. If you’re looking for a general all rounder profession, I suggest giving it a go. I only played with a staff and didn’t significantly change my utility skills. I tried equipping the Hounds of Balthazar elite but it was disabled (as expected) and there wasn’t any visual feedback to say what was able to be equipped and what wasn’t.

Q and A

As we left the gaming room in the basement of the venue for the evening to go into the Q and A, we were each given our own ArenaNet zip up hoodies. They are incredibly cosy. Participating in the Q and A was great, and it was nice to hear the responses from the developer’s lips rather than in text. Some of the joking and expression of the words doesn’t translate into the text. I was a bit disappointed to only be able to ask one question as I had 10 or so (other sites had brought 60!), but I’ve managed to get a few other answers from Aidan, Matthew and Stephane over the 2 days which I’ll be posting tomorrow.


Picture 1 of 3

Dinner and the beach

After a brief stop at the hotel, we went to the Italian restaurant for dinner where I had a got to know Tilion a lot better. I’m hoping to work more with Dragon Season in the future, either posting original articles over there or helping out with building their community, but we’ll have to see how much time I have for that. Dutch and I spoke about various aspects of working together for the better of the community when things line up, the start of which we saw yesterday when we split the load for transcribing the Q and A.

In the weekend before the event I’d been talking with Paeroka and others about going down to Brighton beach. The schedule we’d been sent was tight so the only time we’d get to do it was after dinner. Aidan (UK CM) had seen my tweets about the beach and even though he was tired from getting everything ready for us, he graciously escorted around 8 of us down to the beach. Brighton, even at 11pm on a Monday night, was alive with people and it took us only about 10 minutes to wander down to the pebble beach. I was a bit disappointed to see the pier wasn’t lit up but still very excited – I love beaches! We spent a few minutes down there, and then wandered back to the hotel after dropping off a couple of people at a nightclub next to the beach (they managed to show up for the right time the next day too!). I was tempted to join them, but having been up since 5:30am bed was calling. All in all it was a long but excellent day.

This is what Brighton pier looks like at night!

Apr 042012

So I was invited to attend the EU Fan Day in Brighton earlier this week and as part of the activities, we had a teleconference Q and A session with a few of the ArenaNet team. We got an hour to ask questions which turned out to be about 1 from every fansite in attendance. There’s quite a variety of questions and some juicy answers too! Because it takes quite a while to transcribe something of this length, part of the Q and A is here and the other part can be found over at GuildMag.

Attendees from ArenaNet were Eric Flannum (Lead Game Designer), Colin Johanson (Lead Content Designer), Ree Soesbee (Writer and Lore & Continuity Designer), Kristen Perry (Character Artist) and Josh Petrie (Tools Developer). Regina Buenaobra was also there live tweeting. As I don’t know everyone’s tags and it feels wrong to post real names on the internet, I’ve sourced questions according to the fansite. If I get permission later to release the audio I recorded, I will do so. Note that I have tried to be as accurate as possible without including all the “erms” and “ums”, but there may be some inaccuracies. Also the audio was unclear at some points – I’ve indicated where that has occurred.

The community poses questions to ArenaNet

Nerdy Bookahs: How does the overflow shard work? We know we can play PvE, but can we play structured PvP while we’re on the overflow shard and can we join structured PvP matches with friends who are on other servers?

Eric Flannum: So I guess I can take that. Yes you can join structured PvP when you are on the overflow server. People who are on other servers, the matchmaking in structured PvP are between different servers so you will be able to play with people from different servers.

Attached to Keyboard: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to face to get the game to its current stage, either programming or just trying to decide what it is that you want to make out of Guild Wars 2?

Josh Petrie: From a programming perspective at this point in the game the biggest challenge we have is optimising everything, making sure it’s all going to run as fast as we can get it on all the hardware we’re going to run it on.

Kristen Perry: From an art point of view its sort of the same thing we’ve been doing all along just making sure everything is as polished and as awesome as we can get it in the time we have going on.

Eric Flannum: I guess design wise balance is kind of the optimisation for us. You know working on creature balance, skill balance, making sure that all the various numbers that we have in the game work actually together and everything is exactly right. That’s always tricky and takes a while, but I think is often the difference between an ok game and a great game.

Ree Soesbee: From a story perspective we now have thousands and thousands and thousands of lines of text in the game written by lots of different people in the company from events to story, dungeons to everything else, and making sure that they’ve all said the same lore can be very difficult because someone will make a small point about a hylek in one map that absolutely has to be carried over everywhere else or it doesn’t make any sense and we have to find that tiny little assumption that somebody made and make sure it’s even throughout the game.

GW2NL: What mechanics do you consider unfinished and will be developed further in the future?

EF: I think just about every feature is eligible to be worked on depending on feedback that we get. So even if there’s something we think is perfect, it’s completely done, if when the game releases we then realise “oh ok well that thing’s not as great as we thought it was” we’ll absolutely work on it. We have a fairly sizable live team that we’re going to dedicate to creating all kinds of stuff after the game ships. One of those teams is kinda just an R & D team to come up with cool new things and to fix things that aren’t as good as they could be. You can expect to see a lot of additions and refinements and all kind of things after the game ships.

GuildMag: Can you tell us anything about the upcoming PvP maps and specifically the underwater PvP map?

EF: Upcoming PvP maps, I think we released a screenshot that showed a little bit of one the other day with the guardians and the warrior, both with hammers. So we’ve for 2 more PvP maps that we haven’t revealed yet, they’re both capture point, one of them… I don’t want to totally give them away ‘cos I think we’re planning on revealing them. One of them is actually going to be pretty nostalgic for GW1 players so you can expect that to be something that has a lot of familiar elements for GW1 players and the second one actually is a pretty cool one that has a lot of underwater combat and involves a pirate ship so those are both pretty cool and we’ll be talking more about those I think pretty soon.

CJ: Guild Wars 1 players are going to be pretty excited I think.

GWOnline/OnlineWelten: Most achievements in an MMOG at least in people’s interests, translate directly into time spent in game. At the same time these achievements have some kind of social value to them. People like to compare their characters, dungeon runs etc. How will micro transactions affect the social dimensions of MMORPG and game play?

EF: Some of the items in the shop that you guys have seen are basically things that can kind of circumvent a bit of time spent in the game and our achievements, if you go back and look at them, are a combination of things that take time as well, but there are also lots of things, I think even the majority of things, that don’t really take time and can’t really be effected by cash shop things. So achievements like killing other player in WvW or for PvP, or achievements for things like finishing dungeons or doing things like that, most of those things really can’t be circumvented or rushed along by using micro transaction and then we’ve got kind of just the way that our achievement score works, it’s kind of just an aggregate score and so there’s no real top limit to it. So when you’re comparing with your friends, you kind of just have this one achievement score that you’re comparing. I don’t think micro transaction, it will have some affect on it, but it won’t be the major determining factor in whether someone has a super high achievement score or not.

CJ: Some of those things too that you show off in game as achievements of stuff that earned, So like if you do explorable dungeons and collect the rare armor sets or rare weapons that come from that dungeon, those are things where you can’t take those items and trade them around with everyone. They’re bound to your character for completing that stuff, so it’s a sense of this is your ability to show off to everybody else “I did this” and people can’t get those abilities from the cash shop. Those are purely things that people playing the game, who are skilled enough to beat the dungeons can earn them and that’s the only way to get them. We think that’s really important too is things like that are achievements that allow you to show off to everybody. Those will stay limited to people who can earn them and the amount you spend will have no effect on those.

DragonSeason: What is your number one thing you are worried might just go wrong?  

(Everyone laughs)

KP: There’s always something to go worry about, it’s just preparing and making sure everything doesn’t go wrong.

RS: Yeah if we thought of something that we’re scared will go wrong, we’ve been trying to address it.

Everyone: Yeah

EF: The big thing is something always goes wrong, I think we learnt that from our previous game releases, so the big thing is to be ready for when that happens and be able to respond to it. But I mean, if there were anything that er, I mean the sort of the “I’m pretty sure this isn’t gonna happen” but you always worry about some progression stopping bug getting through right, like I think we had that with Nightfall where something snuck through, but with a game as big as Guild Wars 2 is, I think you always worry about the you know how can we have possible seen everything that could possibly happen with it. We worry about that. But the big thing is we’re always ready to respond to that. We know that the day we release is not the end day; it’s kind of the beginning. We always have the mindset of we’re ready to respond immediately.

KP: Yeah especially if there’s ever a wardrobe malfunction I need to be on that.

CJ: My biggest fear is that the day the game comes out people will forget to eat and sleep. That is very important. Please remember to sleep and eat. We don’t want to lose any of our community!

KP: Well look at it that way too, that the hallucinations from sleep deprivation will be some added special effects!

Wartower: I’m a big fan of raiding and I was very happy to hear an attrition mechanic so ultimately players are going to go game over and turn around. But what I didn’t like was the addition of a micro transaction that could circumvent this attrition. Do you have any plans for the raiding community to lock that item out of final group raiding?

CJ: That item is actually not usable in dungeons. It is not usable in the high level raiding type stuff. I’m really interested in craftable items compared to normal loot you get from dungeons concerning the end game and raid content. How important will it be to rely on craftables and how much do I need my dungeon loot?

EF: Our basic philosophy on all of that is that the base power level that you need to get to in order to do things, is attainable multiple ways, its attainable in whatever way you most enjoy playing the game. So those items will be available to WvW players, I can get those items in WvW. If I’m a dungeon player and all I want to do is play dungeons then I can get sort of to that power level by playing dungeons. If I’m a player who really enjoys crafting and really enjoys being out in the open world, I can get those items by either crafting or through drops or like that. In a lot of game there’s sort of a power tier that’s reserved for a particular type of content and then what happens is that content suddenly becomes the end game of the game, it becomes the thing you have to do because it’s the only way to get that power. And so what we did is spread that power out, throughout all the different types of content so you shouldn’t feel like you have to do dungeons or that you have to do WvW or that you have to do this.

A big part of Guild Wars 2 is all about playing the game the way you want to play. And as Colin mentioned before, if I get that tier of items by playing dungeons those items will have a certain appearance and the only way to get that appearance is by having attained those items through dungeons. The same goes for crafting, there’s a certain look to the super high level crafted items that you can only get by crafting the item. There’s a certain look, there’s a WvW armor set that you can only get through playing WvW. And so that high end reward thing, appearance is really the thing, but as far as power goes, you can get power by doing any part of the game.

Guild Wars 2 Fan Blog: I wanted to ask you a question about Martin Kerstein’s blog post about building community. Recently he wrote that you will be opening new forums, the official ones, and I wanted to ask what kind of a shift does it mean for your community policy. I mean your community managers were often present on different fan forums like Guild Wars Guru, does it mean they will be coming back to the official forums and they won’t be appearing on community forums? When will the forums officially be launched and will they be available only in English or will there be sub forums in other languages? 

Regina: I guess that’s my question. In terms of what it means for the community, it means that we will be participating on the official forums but we don’t think that it means that the fan sites will die out as some people have been predicting. The thing is that a lot of people enjoy having the freedom and being able to speak their mind. They don’t want to be moderated by “the man” which can happen on official forums and our community philosophy is that is that we want to have a welcoming and friendly community with productive discussion and we will moderate to that effect. And it does mean that we might not have as much time to communicate on different fan forums, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be reading and that we won’t still be watching. In terms of supported languages the forums will be in languages that we have community managers for, so the main languages for the game.

CJ: Wherever you post we’re always watching!

Regina: Even if we don’t post, we’re reading.

Guild Wars 2 Spain: (audio unclear) What you can tell us about Ebonhawke?

RS: Ebonhawke is the last real bastion of the Ascalon resistance, the Ebon Vanguard. They’re being assisted by the queen of Kryta who has sent seraph, who have an Asura Gate in Divinity’s Reach through which she sends supplies to make sure they’re provided for against the charr. They’ve been holding out for a very long time right now and they’re on the edge of a treaty with the charr. If that goes through Ebonhawke’s position will probably be a lot more stable but as it is they are sort of losing the battle against the charr in Ascalon. The charr have had Ascalon now for a very long time and have pretty well kept the line against the humans; the humans have resorted to guerrilla tactics to try to keep the charr off balance. But they just don’t have the forces to commit to taking any part of Ascalon back, they can only really keep the fortress.

A lot of people in Ebonhawke feel that if the Queen would give them more support, more troops they might be able to take part of Ebonhawke back, so there’s a certain amount of friction there. There’s also friction in the fact that the people holding Ebonhawke tend to be the descendants of Ascalon, the descendants of King Adelbern and so forth, and the Queen of Kryta sort of rules them right now and they feel like they should be an independant country but they’re trapped in the position where they have to rely on Kryta so they can’t really be independent. They’re hoping that if they can work this through, then they can once again have their own leadership, their own king.

Guild Mag Spain: My question is focussed on the lore in Guild Wars 2. In the game how will we be able to explore the lore of the early Tyria?

RS: There are a lot of ways that we get lore across to the player. One is in the personal story where your character actually goes investigates the Durmand Priory which is very big on finding out ancient lore finding anything that was left by the (not clear, lords possibly?) in particular hopefully to fight the dragons with, but you can follow a story chain, you can make choices that will give you more information on that if that’s what you’re interested in.

Throughout the rest of the game we’ve also got places you can go find, people you can interact with, locations you can recognise from Guild Wars 1 and some that are even older than Guild Wars 1. When you go to Orr you’re going to get a lot of information going back and forth from place to place about how that country operated, how the people there lived and that will give you a lot of very initial information on the humans in Tyria.

CJ: There’s a lot of unanswered questions from Guild Wars 1 that the answers are scattered all throughout Guild Wars 2 as well, so there’s lot of great Easter Eggs for people who love Guild Wars 1 lore. And we tried to give all the lore of the world in there so people who have never played Guild Wars 1 can actually understand the story and understand the history without having to go back and play GW1. You’re going to learn all that by just playing Guild Wars 2.

RS: By playing Guild wars 2 we want you to love Tyria, and if you love Tyria then this past information, this historical egg, stuff in the background is going to be important to you as well.

Guild Wars 2 Spain: Will the game be made available with Spanish voice acting as well as text at some point in the future?

KP: I don’t think we’re sure about that.

EF: I think that’s something that we’re continuing to investigate, I’m not sure we actually know about that. Sorry.

CJ: The people who can answer that are not sitting in this room.

Mediavida: In our community, everybody plays a lot of games especially esports like for example League of Legends our mates are very interested if you’re likely to orient your PvP into an esport in a more competitive way, organising tournaments etc.

EF: We would definitely like our PvP to become an esport. I think there are a lot of things you have to do to support that. The first thing you have to do is come out with a game that is sort of broadly appealing that can bring in a big PvP audience and keep those players playing it. So that’s kind of the thing that we’ve been concentrating on the most, is trying to make the PvP game that is really accessible that people that can kind of get into and really play and has a lot of ability to really master it. I think once we do that then you have to kind of come in with that second tier of support like observer mode and being able to watch matches and having tournaments and having support for all of that. So it’s fully our intent to support the game as an esport and right now we’re concentrating on releasing a broadly appealing accessible and fun to watch form of PvP and that’s kind of our concentration at the moment to do that, but we definitely look at our competitive PvP as an esport. We had a chance to try the game and noticed that the side kicking system didn’t work inside instances. We were wondering if you are going to confirm this or if in the future or in the release there is a side kicking system inside instances or dungeons?

CJ: There is side kicking in all of dungeons in the game. Each dungeon whether it is a story dungeon or an explorable dungeon has a correlated level that your character gets side kicked down to if you are over the level of the dungeon, but we do not sidekick you up to the level of the dungeon. So to do any of the dungeons in the game you need to get be high enough level to participate in it and then if you go over level for it, we’ll side kick you down to keep it challenging and fun for you. So for example the Ascalon Catacombs story dungeon is a level 30 and if you get up to say, level 38 we’ll side kick you down to the level of the dungeon so you can keep playing it with everyone and have it be fun and challenging for you.

EF: One thing to note is that, earlier we talked about how we were going allow players to sidekick up in level we actually don’t have that functionality in the game and the reason we don’t have it is because when we were going through the game we thought one of the really important moments in the game was kind of that moment where you ran into something and you weren’t quite powerful enough to overcome it, or skilled enough to overcome it, and we wanted to give people the ability to kind of be able to build their character in such a way that you could by those moments instead of just bypassing them by getting artificially side kicked up a level. And so we don’t have side kicking up anymore in the game anymore except for in WvW. So if you want to think of how our dynamic level adjustment works is that it automatically happens downwards in PvE and automatically happens upwards in WvW. And competitive PvP obviously you get set to equal level everybody. So that’s kind of how that works now.

You can read the other half of the Q and A session on GuildMag