Interview with Debuffed: Out of the Box

I did a live interview yesterday with the Grievance Gaming clan, on their Debuffed: Out of the Box show. I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were very cool people. Thanks, Steelheart and Ehvayne! John Ryan and I had a lot of fun.

You can see the videos here:

Things to look for as you're viewing:

  • Codille's attempt to become internet famous.
  • John Ryan's reaction to some hidden dirt about the British Museum.
  • The sun slowly setting as the interview went on, leaving me in darkness by the end.
  • Nixy turning my camera off.
  • Fangirling by multiple people.
  • And this:

Thanks a lot for having us on your show, GG! 

GW2: Cathedral of Zephyrs on Crack

This video makes me straight-up cackle. The blistering speed with which these players assault the temple and lay low the possessed Dwayna statue is hilarious. So different than I imagined it as I wrote the text. Malchior's story is supposed to be heartwrenching, a reimagined Pygmalion tale ending in pure horror, but it plays out as pure comedy for this guild. I've seen some other videos where the players progressed slowly throught the entire event chain, and events unrolled at the pace I envisioned, but this group is a wonderful reminder that players determine their own game experiences.


Super Adventure Box

I have to admit, I'm impressed by the content that ArenaNet has been putting out to keep GW2 fresh for the players. It explains why everybody I know at Arena is dead on their feet these days. I can't imagine how hard they're working to meet this string of brutal deadlines. But it's worth it! Check out this incredible retro commercial for Super Adventure Box:


The critics are loving it:


Even I am tempted to fire up my account and give it a go. I mean, look at this madness!

Nice job, peeps! 


Official Release Day

Today was the official release day for Guild Wars 2. Wow. It doesn't seem real. After working on this project for almost three years, it is so weird to think that it's DONE. People are playing it.

And apparently liking it.

The response has been generally positive, but some people have leveled harsh criticism at the game—some of it legitimate. It's difficult to read criticism and not be able to explain what really happened. For example, when I hear people say that Guild Wars 2's story is "lame" or "terrible," I want to say,"Yeah, some parts aren't successful. Some storylines we had a lot of time to work on; some storylines had to be rewritten and handed off with just a cursory review. Some parts of the story were given the green light without writer approval." There's so much that happens with game creation that players don't see or know about.

Overall, I think the story is successful—ALL the stories: the story of the player, the story of Destiny's Edge, and the chaotic, changing story of the world. The writing team had more input in some areas than in others, and I'm not saying there aren't things I would change if I could. But I'm proud of all the work we did. GW2 has enough voiced text to make 90 full-length feature films. And even more unvoiced text. Maintaining high standards across such huge tracts of text is harder than you know. I think we did okay.


Telling the Story

Great article from IGN that discusses how complex our storytelling system is in Guild Wars 2.

" ArenaNet uses a personal story system threaded throughout each zone, which takes you to instanced areas and uses voiced dialogue sequences to tell the most important parts of the story, more in the style of a single-player game. These stories won’t be the same for everyone, but tailored to the decisions made through character creation as well as decisions made at crucial moments throughout leveling and questing."

Playing the GW2 beta

I've been playing the Guild Wars 2 beta this weekend. I've mostly been showing my brother around and bragging, but I also jumped in with a fan and played in the norn starter area. I'm glad I did, because I had a blast and got to see events that I wrote in action. Some of them, like the Snow Leopard event, I had never seen implemented in the game before. Some of them, like helping Grimarr Molesmasher, I've seen before, but I remembered how much fun I had coming up with the phrase "kick 'em in the comrades." Peter Fries and I giggled all day about variations on that line. 

It's always fun to see how the designers flesh out something that you've seen only in outline or written form. I had no idea that the Snow Leopard event was going to be such a slaughter fest. I was more focused on cuddling the cubs, I suppose. I did feel like a bully as harmless, little creatures fled from the safety of the brush and I butchered them with a single claw-swipe. Lizzie of Kryta said it best: "Snow Leopard thanks us. PETA does not."


Voiced Over

One of the designers sent us this comic strip today:

The writers had a good laugh, because that's how it is in the sound booth. We ask our voice actors to produce sounds for some extremely unusual sitautions. The questions they ask are hilarious out of context: " I dead when I say this? Or undead?"  "My character is a plant, right?" "Okay, so I've just killed a giant bone creature that was trying to suck out my life. Should I go with 'relief' here?" 

One of the sound directors in Burbank, Phil Bache, uses instructions just like these to help the actors find the right one for each line.  


Occasionally, a bit of content gets added at the last minute and somehow slips by the writing team without an editing pass. That happened recently, much to the glee of our fans.

As embarrassing as the charrtender is, I'm kind of glad we missed it. It shows how rough the text is that we start with. Sometimes we start with only the barest bones: "[INSERT LORE ABOUT THE REGION HERE.]" Then we have to research what's happening in that part of the game world, who's there, what points of interest there are, and then dream up a history for it. I love telling stories about the people and places of Tyria. It's the best part of my job.