by Cody "Micajah" Bye
Amidst all the clutter and thunder of the Leipzig Games Convention, a
brief bit of news was traveling on the lips of professionals in the
games industry: Guild Wars had sold over 4 million units in just two
years since its release. A million units is an exceptional number
anywhere in the entertainment industry, and four million is an absolute
milestone no matter who you talk to. Until World of Warcraft was
released and compiled such a huge userbase, four million units sold
would have broken every industry record previously set by the highly
popular Ultima Online and Everquest; possibly exceeding both combined.
In any event, Guild Wars has certainly shown that it has no lack of fan
support and has given its subscription-free business model validation
With that news freshly in mind, the Ten Ton Hammer team sent Cody
"Micajah" Bye to the NCsoft booth at the Leipzig Games Convention to
have a conversation with Jeff Strain, co-founder of Arena Net and one
of the lead programmers on the team. For those of you who aren't
familiar with Jeff's work, the man has been an influential member of
the video game industry for several years and was the lead programmer
and team lead for Blizzard's World of Warcraft before setting his feet
and founding ArenaNet. While our conversation was focused around the
upcoming expansion Guild Wars: Eye of the North, we also discussed a
bit about Guild Wars 2 as well. Sit back and enjoy the read!
co-founder of ArenaNet and general Guild Wars guru.
Ten Ton Hammer: Guild
Wars: Eye of the North is going to be released on August 31st, which is
a mere week away. We've heard a bit about the Hall of Monuments that's
going to be included in the game; could you tell us a bit more about it?
time you're releasing the sequel to an MMOG, it's a scary time. The
thing that you have to realize is that having communities change en
masse from one game to the next is always a tough proposition. It's why
so many MMOGs that come into the market get lost. They don't strongly
differentiate themselves from what's out there and they can't pull that
player base off from existing games. They could say that their features
are better or that their combat is more up-to--date, but that just
doesn't do it.,"
In many ways, when you're releasing a sequel to an MMOG you're actually
competing with yourself. Guild Wars 2 is going to be everything that
the original Guild Wars was times 10. It's going to be an
overwhelmingly cool game. But we have to be sensitive to the fact that
Guild Wars has a very large and very active player base. We need to
make that migration from one game to the other as easy and fun as we
One of the things we look at is what keeps people glued where they are.
Part of it is, I've invested all this money and time into my characters
and I can walk around town with this bad-ass swagger, why would I want
to leave? We don't want to take that away from people.
The Hall of Monuments is kind of like taking a snap-shot of your
bad-assness, and then will let you take that bad-assness forward into
Guild Wars 2. It's kind of visual representation of what your
character has accomplished. When you get into Guild Wars 2, you can
physically access that Hall of Monuments and use all those statues to
unlock special things in Guild Wars 2. You won't be able to give any of
those things away. So, your Guild Wars character is a bad-ass and your
Guild Wars 2 character can walk into the Hall of Monuments and walk out
looking like a bad-ass.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will
other people be able to walk into another player's Hall of Monuments
and see all these cool accomplishments you made in the original game?
definitely serving a dual purpose. One side is serving as a method of
transferring your legacy into Guild Wars 2, but it certainly is a place
where you can go to show off. We've gone to great lengths to make the
Hall look cool, and the idea is for you to be able to take your friends
in there and say "Hey, look at all this cool stuff!"
Ten Ton Hammer: Since
you're trying to get players to go from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2, are
you expecting a decline in the original Guild Wars numbers? What are
your plans for the original game?
question. We are committed to supporting Guild Wars as long as their is
one player in the game going through the content, and we'll make sure
it functions smoothly and that there's no bugs making it hard for
players to have a good time. But are we going to be producing a lot of
content for the original game after Guild Wars 2 comes out? Probably
not. I mean, this is where all of our design focus and energy is going,
and I think if we release Guild Wars 2 and DON'T see a vast majority of
our player base going to Guild Wars 2, we've obviously done something
But yes, as long as there are players in the original Guild Wars, we
are going to support it and keep it running. However, we understand
players won't play both because Guild Wars 2 is going to be better in
Guild Wars players
should not be afraid of Guild Wars 2, the devs are doing everything
possible to reward long-time GW players.
Ten Ton Hammer: Will new
players be able to go back and play through the original Guild Wars
after the release of Guild Wars 2 in order to get those special items
in the Hall of Monuments? Or will there be a cut-off point to that sort
exactly what the timing will be, but I will tell you that we aren't
going to allow new players to Guild Wars 2 to go back and get those
items in the Hall of Monuments. Our intent is to reward players who are
playing Guild Wars right now. We have so many people who have stepped
up to make Guild Wars successful and have invested so much time into
their characters. The whole point of this [the Hall of Monuments] is to
reward those gamers. We want to say, "Thanks for playing those one,
two, or three years in our original game. We appreciate you guys
getting into the game early, and we want to reward you for that."
So I can't imagine that we'll let somebody coming into Guild Wars six
months after Guild Wars 2 ships and letting them have rights to all of
the same opportunities our original players had. Our expectation is
that a lot of people are going to be getting a lot of stuff in the
original Guild Wars in the several months leading up to Guild Wars 2.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Guild Wars Game Page.