In this week's Path of Exile: The Exiled Tribune, Grinding Gear Games tackles a number of questions across a variety of topics including the return of the Build of the Week, the Hideout Showcase event, Harbinger League stats and lots more.
MMORPG: You have returned the Build of the Week! Why did it go on hiatus and why did you choose to bring it back?
GGG: We run the Build of the Week series in seasons. These usually coincide with the launch of a league or an expansion. We find that the best time to do them is often after there has been a big shake-up in the game where mechanics may have been fine-tuned and new microtransactions and skills have been added. This gives us a fresh crop of build-guides to select from to consider for the series.
MMORPG: How is the Build of the Week selected? Is there a "committee" making the choice? Community? A few people?
GGG: The process of picking builds starts with Nick, one of our game designers, looking through the build-guide submissions on the website and selecting candidates that look interesting and meet other specific criteria. Such criteria often includes things like having a well-written build guide that's easy to follow and is kept up to date with the current game version.
This list of suggestions is then brought to the community team to discuss and will be checked by Chris, Jonathan and typically members of the design team. We'll select a shorter list of candidates based on a few factors. For example, we try to vary the classes and playstyles between episodes. Generally speaking, if a build showcases a compelling game-mechanics interaction while managing to survive in game, it's likely to be a pretty good candidate!
MMORPG: You recently published Harbinger League stats. Do you see trends developing longitudinally or in ways you didn't expect? Do players defy your general expectations sometimes? What are the most interesting things you've seen when compiling stats over time?
GGG: We occasionally do notice interesting trends, especially when we're examining stats that we don't publish directly to players. For example, a common community Atlas strategy happened to lock players out from finding some specific item types. The value of these items reached pretty high levels in some leagues due to this, but no one had a good explanation until we dug into the stats and investigated.
The most interesting things are usually when we see that "bad" skills or items are actually used in quite large numbers, to great effect. Sometimes the accepted wisdom of what is good and bad isn't accurate!
MMORPG: You recently completed a Hideout Showcase. How many submissions did you receive? Do you have plans for more showcase events like this?
GGG: We select Hideout Showcase submissions from our hideout sub-forum on the website. Players frequently showcase their hideout creations there and we will periodically pick a few of our favourites and share them in the news. We do plan do to continue this in future, but not necessarily on a scheduled basis.
MMORPG: You have been providing a lot of design information recently -- most recently for the Ultimate Chaos Armor set and the Pale Horse Council. Do developers volunteer to write these articles? If not, how are the topics chosen?
GGG: We aim to periodically include behind-the-scenes information about what happens at the development studio as it's a great opportunity to give the community a window into the world of Grinding Gear Games. When we're looking to create one of these news post we'll first look at what topics are relevant to the Path of Exile community right now. The most recent examples include Hrishi's insight into new Pale Council Uniques and the Ultimate Chaos Armour Set production, both of which were introduced with The Fall of Oriath Expansion.
MMORPG: With the XBox launch complete, have you noticed any trends in that player group? Have you found areas of challenge with regard to XBox specifically? If so, what are they and how are they being addressed? Biggest celebration since and including launch?
GGG: The Xbox One players actually turned out to be really similar to our PC players. Gamers are gamers, after all! While we haven't found any specific areas of challenge (as we tested the game extensively in its Beta), we are putting a lot of effort towards reading and responding to community feedback so that we can incorporate it in updates to the Xbox version.
MMORPG: How's the China launch going? What ways are you and Tencent getting the word out to Chinese players? How has the community response been in China?
GGG: The Chinese launch is going well! Tencent have immense marketing power, so it's very easy for them to spread the word among Chinese gaming communities. We hosted a fun launch event in a church in Shanghai, with some celebrity guests. Chinese gamers are really enjoying Path of Exile. It's pretty different to most of the games available in that market!