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Colin and MO Talk Heart of Thorns, Raids, and Free to Play

By William Murphy on September 01, 2015 | Interviews | Comments

Colin and MO Talk Heart of Thorns, Raids, and Free to Play

MMORPG: Before, you guys were running on a crazy biweekly cadence with the Living World content. Is that something you’re looking to get back to once the expansion is out?

Colin: We haven’t commited to our live release cadence yet. But as soon as HoT ships, we’ll pick up our live updates. We did announce today that raids will be a key part of that, and we’ll talk more about what kinds of content we’ll put out for our free updates once the expansion is out.

MMORPG: What about traditional group dungeons? Are you pretty much done with those for now? Leaving them as part of the leveling experience? Or will group dungeons be making a return?

Colin: We’re treating Fractals of the Mists as our focus on end-game five-player dungeon content. And all additions we make to make five player dungeon content more fun will expand on Fractals. And then raids will be the next level of that.

MMORPG: Was it that you noticed people were playing the fractals a lot more than they were the traditional dungeons, so you turned your focus on the fractals? Using metrics, or…?

Colin: All of the above? When you hear dungeons in GW2, it means something very different than Fractals. Fractals were sort of the evolution of our dungeon system. We are making them more approachable. We feel like Raids mean something else too, something even harder than Fractals. So when we needed to take a look and see what kind of content we could focus on as being the most challenging yet rewarding, it became clear that it was all about fractals and raids.

MMORPG: There’s a lot of story content that’s packed into those dungeons, with Destiny’s Edge, and… I guess is there’s any way you might bring some of those story modes or incentivize people to play them again? I guess, my point is that they seem forgotten, but they shouldn’t be!

Colin: Right now we’re not really focused on that. We see the LFG used well for that, and I think that’s for now the “solution” to finding groups to experience story modes. But we’ll of course always watch the status of things on the live servers and make adjustments as needed.

MMORPG: Let’s talk about Guild Halls a little bit, if we could. Did you notice anything you need to change since E3? Any additions?

Colin: It’s such a big system to try and encapsulate.

MMORPG: Have you been letting in any guilds to try and test it under NDA or anything like that?

Colin: We’ve been testing it a ton, building our own, and all of that. We actually just launched the new website, which goes into even greater detail about it all. We’ll have even more info between now and launch, with lots more details on what Guilds and Guild Halls will be seeing. So there’s a lot more to talk about there, even this close to launch. So stay tuned for that.

MMORPG: What about the initial raid on the Guild Hall to take it back from the forces that hold it when your guild first enters? That’s one of those things I think people would love to play again and again, even if just because a lot of guild members might miss it the first time.

Colin: Oh definitely. We’ve heard that feedback. We know it’s something a lot of people would like to be able to do.

MMORPG: One of the things I see my twitter feed and Reddit talk about a lot is the size or amount of zones. Are there plans to talk more about those?

Colin: We don’t want to spoil the story and exploration. We think that’s part of the joy of this expansion especially so. They’re largest in volume in terms of content and vertical play-space.  One of the fallacies of traditional MMOs is that, “Ok, I have 22 maps but in two weeks’ time I’ve played through 20 of them and I have no reason to ever return unless it’s on a new character.” We wanted to avoid that. These zones in Maguuma are so rich and so big…

MMORPG: Do you have a number? How many zones there will be?

Colin: We did, we released it today on the new site.  The Maguuma region is made up of four of these huge maps: two guild hall zones, and the three raid wings. So that’s the core Maguuma region at Heart of Thorns launch.

MMORPG: When you say “these huge maps” do you have a comparison?

Colin: They’re three distinct biomes, if you will.  The jungle floor, the core lush experience. The canopy, way up high where the airships are crashed and all of that. And you’ll use helicopters, gliding and mushrooms to get there. And then under the jungle there are the roots. And then the raid (and its 3 wings) are a whole different region in a sense.

MMORPG: There’s a continuation of the story. Does that go to a logical ending in the expansion?

Colin: Correct. The raid actually comes after the story of the expansion. So you don’t need to go into the raid to finish your story or any of that.  The core story of the expansion is like your personal story and exploring through the maps.  The raid picks up after that, and is related to the story, but not necessary to get your “ending” of the launch story of HoT.

MMORPG: [Our time was almost up here.] One more I guess, is in also about the story and lore. In the demo, you get the choice between forking storylines. But how do you keep these all together so that everyone gets an ending, and when the story picks up in the Living World of a later expansion, there won’t be issues?

Colin: At the end of your choices, the gameplay experiences you have, those are different. But at the end, the story threads come back together. Loose ends are tied up and all of that. It’s more for the replayability of the story with other characters than anything else. A big part of the dialog and the story is about those choices, not so much the actual way the world is effected as a whole. Most importantly, it’s how your character effects the other characters [NPCs] of Tyria with his or her choices. It’s a lot about character development.

MMORPG: So will there be lots of Taimi?

Colin: [Chuckling] You’ll have to wait and see!

MMORPG: Just no more Braham and his mom. I’m sick of his issues…

[Everyone laughs.]

MMORPG: Thanks guys, for your time. And good luck with the launch!

Colin and MO: Thank you!

William Murphy / Bill is the former Managing Editor of, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.
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