It’s never a dull day at Grinding Gear Games. The team is always hard at work to provide Path of Exile players with the best experiences possible, both in older content, with newly-released content and in planning new adventures for players. We touched base with GGG to see what they’ve been up to lately.
MMORPG: Now that The Fall of Oriath is out in the wild, what insights have you gained about players?
Grinding Gear: They respond really well to new content! All of the hard work that went into making six new acts paid off due to the engagement, retention and praise that we saw at the release of The Fall of Oriath. We're also pleased to see that the cycle of releasing new content every few months and seeing returning players come back to check out the new release works really well. Having a tight turnaround for content like this is something that more games should do, in our opinion!
MMORPG: What are some of the biggest adjustments you've had to make since Oriath launched?
GG: Earlier in the season, we made some improvements to the Harbinger League based on community feedback. We both amped up the challenge/reward and changed how currency shards were grouped so that there was less busywork picking them all up. We're pleased that engagement in that league continues to be high and the community appears to be enjoying it.
MMORPG: What are some of the most interesting and innovative Builds of the Week you've published?
GG: Here are some of our favourites from earlier seasons.
- Season 1 Episode 13: Flame Totem Templar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMv0lO5KVW4
- Season 2 Episode 1: Spectral Throw Scion Build https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xud0Xf3UaVY
- Season 2 Episode 7: Cast on Crit Shadow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt5M92rLUbU
- Season 2 Episode 11: Glacial Hammer/Elemental Proliferation Duelist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91rFwhlK4ks
- Season 3 Episode 9: The True Glass Cannon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfzEKCd1pg4
- Season 6 Episode 4: Mathil's DreamFeather Spectral Throw https://youtu.be/wV2LjCCAFOg
MMORPG: The XB1 launch has been very successful. Do you have plans for XBox One X and / or PlayStation 4? Why or why not?
GG: We expect to have our Xbox One X version available at the launch of that console, so that players can bring their new console home and play Path of Exile immediately in 4k at 60fps. We haven't announced any plans for other platforms at this time.
MMORPG: Recently you told us that you were going to release another big content expansion later this year. What hints can you provide?
GG: All we can say right now is that we're expecting to launch the expansion internally known as 3.1.0 and its accompanying challenge league on Friday December 1st (PST). We'll start teasing information about it in the coming weeks!
MMORPG: As you imagine the future, how long do you see Path of Exile in active development? How do you keep "old" content, as in the earliest beginning levels, relevant moving forward?
GG: We plan to actively develop Path of Exile for as long as we can. If people are still playing in 10 years, then we'll still be actively updating it then. There are games dating back to the early 2000s that are still really popular, 15+ years later.
In order to keep old content relevant, it's important to reinvigorate it from time to time. We have been slowly working our way through updating art assets in the earlier acts, as time allows. At some stage we may make a stronger push on this, though it's always tricky to balance that with new content creation.
MMORPG: Many developers speak about "active engagement" numbers. What type of metrics does GGG examine? What do you learn about your community from them?
GG: We're not a very metrics-driven company, preferring instead to work on what feels right for the game rather than what increases monetisation or retention. We believe it's very possible to get short term increases in monetisation and retention while doing hard-to-quantify damage to the game and its brand in the process. We're therefore very careful before drawing conclusions based on metrics. They're mostly useful for measuring how successful releases are, so for that we have a look at peak and average player concurrency figures, and occasionally monthly active users.
MMORPG: How do you decide what microtransactions to create and when to include them? How long is the process from concept to implementation?
GG: We recently shared some insight into our microtransaction development process with the community in [this post] where we show step by step the development of the Ultimate Chaos Armour Set. The process length varies depending on what the microtransaction is. For example, armour sets tend to take the most time to create as there are four individual pieces, both modelling and effects work as well as time to rig the set onto all seven character classes.
Choosing which microtransactions to create depends on what the occasion is. For supporter pack microtransactions, they typically have a theme associated with the expansion or challenge league that they're launched alongside of. For microtransactions that go directly into the store, at any one time we're typically working on all types of microtransactions: armour sets, helmets, cloaks, weapon effects, etc. As for what theme to take with these, this depends on artist inspiration as well as what feels 'missing' from the store and what would help players complete their in-game looks.