Guild Wars Co-Creator Jeff Strain Interviewed at Leipzig GC '07 - Page Two

Ten Ton Hammer: Are you planning on shipping another expansion (or addition) to Guild Wars before Guild Wars 2 ships?

Jeff: We don't have any definitive plans right now. Eye of the North is very much a bridge to Guild Wars 2. It's intended to bring everything needed to Guild Wars before Guild Wars 2 ships.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are you
planning on shipping another expansion (or addition) to Guild Wars
before Guild Wars 2 ships?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: We don't have
any definitive plans right now. Eye of the North is very much a bridge
to Guild Wars 2. It's intended to bring everything needed to Guild Wars
before Guild Wars 2 ships.

I will say that, since this is our first true expansion that when I
say, "There are no definitive plans." it's not because I'm holding
anything back. It's just that we truly don't know. We're very much in a
mode of "let's wait and see."

Ten Ton Hammer: Is that
due to a lack of a timetable for Guild Wars 2?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: No. We intend
to be in some form of public beta by the second half of next year.
There is a timetable and we're off and running. Hard.

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With Eye of the
North, the dev team wanted to give fans of the original Guild Wars an
expansion that brings them back to that old PvE style of play.

Ten Ton Hammer: How long
had you been working on Guild Wars 2 before it was announced?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: It was in
active design and early R&D as of early 2007. Once we made that
decision, we went ahead and hopped on it.

Ten Ton Hammer: What are
some of your goals for Eye of the North? What would you like to see
happen with the expansion?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: One of the
strengths of the Guild Wars is its business model; you don't have to
subscribe to the game. On top of that, it's easy to put the game away
for a little while, then come back to it again. You can continue doing
that for quite some time without having any big reprecussions.
Personally, as a player, I don't play the game every single day - I've
taken a break now and then and waited for some new content to deploy
then I'll start playing again. It doesn't harm us for players to quit
playing for awhile then come back. We encourage that.

But the beauty of it is, when we do release new content, players come
back into the game and play again. Our big goal for Eye of the North is
specifically for all those players who experienced the original version
of Guild Wars and had a great time with it. This is the spiritual
sequel to our original game. For those gamers, this is what they've
been waiting for.

Ten Ton Hammer: Was it
difficult for the team to shift gears a bit and focus on the PvE
elements of the game, specifically the dungeons?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: We've done
dungeons in the past, but what we really wanted to do was to capture
the feel of an off-line dungeon crawl. That meant adding features like
bringing up a map to locate yourself. We wanted to add those features
to the game, but other than that we had most of the skills necessary to
make the dungeon, we just had to add the "dungeon crawl feeling" to the
gameplay. Bosses at the end of the levels and that sort of thing.

We're all big fans of the classic dungeon crawl and bringing that into
the game has been a really fun experience for us.

Ten Ton Hammer: You have
included 18 new, multi-part dungeons to the game. How long did that
take for you guys to create all that content?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: One thing that
we're proud of at ArenaNat - and I'm very honest with the things we do
poorly - but the one thing I think we do exceptionally well is rapid
content generation and brining it to the player quickly. Alot of that
is having a team at ArenaNet that's been doing it for three or four
years now. Building up the landscapes and populating the dungeons takes
time - do to all the trial and error involved - but we are very good at
getting this new content out there.

It was a big deal, but I think the speed that we executed it was a
testament to the quality of our team at ArenaNet.

Ten Ton Hammer: You've
stated that you want Guild Wars: Eye of the North to be a bridge to
Guild Wars 2. However, was the content in Eye of the North only
realized after Guild Wars 2 was give the go-ahead, or was this
something you had wanted to do in the first place?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: I think it's
actually the inverse to the first part of your question; Eye of the
North consists, in large part, of stuff that we didn't feel like we
could create simply due to what our game was all about. But with the
creation of Guild Wars 2, we could finally explore another part of the
Guild Wars universe. It sets up the story for Guild Wars 2. For
example, a lot of players were interested in what happened to Gwen (a
little girl NPC that you meet early in the first game), and we really
couldn't go back there and address it because it was in a different
direction than where we were taking the game.

But knowing that we were making Guild Wars 2 was an enabler for us to
go back and really tell this meaty sort of detail without having to
worry about where you go after that.

Ten Ton Hammer: Where's
the chronology for Guild Wars 2 fall in the scheme of the lore?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: It takes place
several hundred years after the original series.

Ten Ton Hammer: So how
much continuity will there be between the two games?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: There's
definitely continuity between the conflicts and the cultural encounters
that you'll experience in Eye of the North. You'll see where its going
in Guild Wars 2. But as far as specific characters are concerned, you
won't really see much.

Ten Ton Hammer: Because
there's nothing that lives that long in your lore, right?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: *laughs* Right.

Ten Ton Hammer: From a
business model standpoint, how do your previous additions to Guild Wars
stacked up with the sales of the original game? Are they comparable?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: As you know we
just passed four million units sold of the original game, and each of
the additional content upgrades have sold at least as well as the
original game in the amount of time they've been on the market. The
only reason the various additions haven't sold as many total units is
because they haven't been on the market as long as the original game.
But Guild Wars also continues to sell very well.

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ArenaNet wanted to
give a little back to their players and fans, so they are running the
sneak peek weekend.

Ten Ton Hammer: With the
sneak peek weekend coming up this weekend for Eye of the North, what
are you guys hoping to get out of that time the players can spend in
the game?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: On Friday
morning, 9 a.m. German time we're going to let anyone who's pre-ordered
the game play for 72 hours this weekend. Anything that you earn over
the weekend - whatever you find, loot, discover, or unlock - will
remain with you after the game has gone live. After that, the servers
close back down again until the official launch date.

Since it's the first time we've ever done something like this, it's
going to be exciting to see everyone get their first taste of the game.

Ten Ton Hammer: Do you
think its becoming more common in the MMOG industry for games to give
these "sneak peek weekends" to the players?

style="font-weight: bold;">Jeff: With Guild
Wars, we pioneered this concept of having weekend events, instead of
having this "one month of closed beta, one month of open beta" sort of
schedules. I think we did about five of them, where every month we'd
have an event and allow players to play for a certain number of hours.
It was definitely exciting for us from a design standpoint, but it was
also exciting for players as well. The difference is, in the past we'd
always say that we'd reset the gamers characters and not let them keep
anything, and that was a bummer. So much of an MMOG is watching your
character grow, and with beta resets that takes away from that

This time we wanted to give a little back to the players. We scheduled
this sneak peek weekend now instead of a month ago because we wanted to
be absolutely sure that there would be nothing in the game that was so
egregiously wrong that we'd have to reset the characters. We're happy
to be able to do it; it's tough, but I do think it's more exciting for

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