In an announcement sure to surprise most in the Guild Wars 2 community, ArenaNet's Colin Johanson has announced that he is leaving his position as Game Director and the company itself. Mike O'Brien posted the news on the Guild Wars 2 Reddit and announced that he will be taking over as Game Director. He will be on hand for an 'ask me anything' event that has just started.
I’m here today to answer some questions and to share some news.
The news is that I’m taking over as the game director of Guild Wars 2 for a while. Colin will be leaving us. Colin is a personal friend, leaving on good terms, and I wish him all the best.
Game direction is a big job. I have a lot of talented people helping me in the role, and we’re all here to answer questions today. Steven Waller continues to direct Living World and Raids. Stephen Clarke-Willson, another long-term veteran of the company, will be directing WvW. John Corpening and Hugh Norfolk are here to talk about PvP. We have Crystal Reid, Paul Ella, and Jon Olson here to talk about Raids, Nellie Hughes representing Living World, Sean Hughes representing Fractals, Shuai Liu and Tyler Bearce representing WvW. We’ve got Leah Hoyer here to talk Narrative, James Ackley here to talk Audio, Steve Thompson here to talk Cinematics, Roy Cronacher here to talk Creatures, Ester Sauter and Lance Hitchcock representing QA and QA engineering, John Smith representing Megaservers, and more devs joining us as we continue!
I’m excited to be back in this role. I’ll say up front that I do eventually have to hire to replace myself. Believe it or not, running a company is a lot of work too. ;) But in the meantime I get to lay down the path I believe in. One thing I believe is that a game director represents the players. So I think it’s only natural that my first official act as game director is to hang out and talk shop with the players. And that’s what we’ll do today.
To kick it off, I’ll give some updates on what we’re working on and how we’re going about it.
We recently started PvP season two and we’re about to launch the next raid wing. After that we’re packaging up and preparing our next big quarterly update for April. The April update is about reducing grind, clearing away some tedium, getting quickly to the fun, and improving rewards. We’ve always said that Guild Wars should be about having fun rather than preparing to have fun, and this will be a back-to-our-roots kind of update. After the April update, we’ll start live beta-tests of improvements to WvW. Our goal is to be very incremental and visible with the changes we’re making there, so that players are involved every step of the way. Further on, we’ll launch the next raid wing in May or June, then Living World and the next quarterly update.
You’ve seen in past years that we went through times when the whole company worked on one thing. In 2013, the year we shipped 21 Living World updates, pretty much the whole company was working on Living World. In 2015, we were all working on the expansion. Going forward we’re putting ourselves in a more sustainable mode where live and expansion don’t compete with each other.
We have about 120 devs working on the live game, 70 devs on Expac2, and 30 devs on core teams that support both. Within these groups we have cross-discipline teams with focused missions. For example on Live we have the PvP team, the WvW team, the Fractals team, the Raids team, the Living World team, the Legendaries team, and a couple others. The teams are charged with carrying a feature from inception and design through completion. When they finish, we typically package work from multiple teams into a single release, then we hand it off to release teams for final voice integration, localization, QA, and release management.
The final thing you should know is that we’re working hard to avoid having a default assumption that “this thing will ship on this date,” or even, “this thing will ship,” and instead we’re proactively deciding to ship things when they’re done and polished and we’ve played them and love them. So if you ask us for a list of things that will ship in April, we’ll probably be coy because we think it’s nice for you to have presents to unwrap on release day, but more than that, the truth is we don’t even know. We’re working on a lot of potentially great improvements for April, all themed in the direction of less grind and more rewards, and they won’t all make the cut, but any reasonable subset will make a great release.
And with that, let’s get to the AMA! It’s a big game and there’s a lot to talk about. I’ll be here for about three hours this afternoon, with other developers coming through for shorter periods.