Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Arenanet Targeting Free FortNightly Updates For Guild Wars 2

Lead content designer Mike Zadorojny reveals ArenaNet’s exciting plans.
Today marks the launch of the ‘Sky Pirates of Tyria‘ update for Guild Wars 2, a bulky piece of content which adds new story events and features to an already value-packed MMORPG experience, and if new comments from ArenaNet are anything to go by these kinds of updates are about to become a lot more common.
ArenaNet Targeting Free Fortnightly Updates for Guild Wars 2
These fortnightly updates will introduce new features and story content.
We spoke with lead content designer Mike Zadorojny yesterday afternoon about ArenaNet’s recent trend of monthly updates for Guild Wars 2 and to our surprise Mike told us that these kinds of multifaceted updates are not just continuing, but they’re actually increasing in frequency.
“We’re doing three weeks [updates] currently, but now we’re pushing to two weeks,” he told us.
“It’s a marathon not a sprint and we’ve been getting better with each of our releases, in terms of how we budget, how we plan it out, how we manage personnel etc. Now we have four full ‘Living World’ teams that are building these content updates, so that we can stagger releases and make sure that people [developers] can decompress and get the quality time necessary to build a good design document before going back in and trying to implement it all over again.”
ArenaNet Targeting Free Fortnightly Updates for Guild Wars 2
Expect new loot, achievements and more.
This new commitment is undoubtedly designed to ensure players return to Guild Wars 2 on a regular basis, rather than just popping in once a year to play a new expansion.
“It’s interesting because it feels like were launching [a new game] every two weeks, and so there’s still that level of excitement when we jump in and see what’s new, what’s going live, and play the content again and then realise, ‘Oh god there’s a bug, okay,’ then it all starts over again,” Zadorojny explained.
“’Okay we’ve got this issue, do we need to fix this right now, or can it wait until the next release? Okay we need to fix it now, okay what hotfix? what’s the priority? Do we have somebody working on it, what’s the solution?’ That kind of stuff…”
ArenaNet Targeting Free Fortnightly Updates for Guild Wars 2
ArenaNet will continue their 'Living Story' approach as seen with the recent Dragon Bash update, but at the same time they still want to experiment with new systems and gameplay players wouldn't expect, like that seen in Super Adventure Box.
Now we know what you’re thinking. Less development time between updates usually means buggy content making its way onto public servers, but Mike doesn’t believe that has to be the case.
“Our goal is that as we do this, we’re getting better and better at it. We’re starting to catch the bigger mistakes that we would’ve missed earlier on. We’re starting to build the infrastructure, the framework and the tools to help us do this because we really think that this is the longevity of the product,” he told us with an air of confidence.
“If we can push this, if we can add content every two weeks that is engaging to the players, then really it’s almost like a TV show at that point. It’s kind of stay tuned until next week for the thrilling conclusion of…That’s where our goal is, and it’s really fascinating when you have an entire studio dedicated to pulling off.”
How many developers are behind that dedication? Well, at time of writing ArenaNet consists of 300 developers and the studio hasn’t let go of any staff since Guild Wars 2, in fact it’s actually ramped up production even more.
It seems all of this free content is only possible due to the ongoing popularity of the in-game gem store which Mike told us feeds new revenue into the studio at a “constant” rate, something which regular updates would inevitably increase as players return to the game regularly to sample newly added content. Essentially it seems those who use the store are essentially sponsoring those who don’t ensuring these new content updates remain free, and that’s a tough balance which very few online games get right.

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