Category: InterviewsHits: 2704
Page 1 of 2We tracked down the guys at ArenaNet to talk about their upcoming MMORPG (with no monthly fee!), Guild Wars. Here are the questions we asked and the answers we received:
GB: First of all, how is Guild Wars coming along? Can you give us a quick summary of where you stand in the development cycle?
ArenaNet: Guild Wars is progressing really well! In the early days, we were very focused on the technical aspects of the game because we had to start by building the global gaming network to support the game. At the same time, we were also creating our 3D engine and toolsets. Now that the infrastructure is complete, we're adding a ton of new content on a regular basis, and will continue to do so until ship.
GB: What would you say is your primary design goal with Guild Wars?
ArenaNet: Our primary goal is to create an online RPG that supports truly meaningful competitive gameplay. We are making a role playing game that offers you a full range of gaming choices: competitive play in one-on-one duels, team play and in massive group battles; cooperative play; and single player gaming. We plan to offer this on a global network that will allow true world championships, and most importantly, we intend to provide all this without a monthly fee.
GB: Since the game will stream updates to a player's client instantly, how do you intend to test some of the updates before they go live?
ArenaNet: We update on the fly, working with live builds, every day. This has been our internal procedure since Day One, and we have been involving the public in testing this process since early in 2002. You see, changes and updates and additions to Guild Wars are developed by the design team, and are then uploaded to the live server. We avoid (patch paralysis) with a process that is almost organic, that makes the fixes immediate and worldwide. We don't have a separate (test server.) This allows us to avoid time lost in waiting for the next evolution of the game. It also helps us prevent getting reports about a game build that has already been replaced.
Streaming our content means that the players have the most recent and best build of the game whenever they play. What is changed within the game world is live to all of us the design team and the alpha testers alike and this process works! We are currently producing an average of five live game updates a day in the alpha test, and updates in the final game will be streamed live as well. Eventually, during the beta and after release, we'll have a (sandbox) where we send the updates to be play-tested for a short period to verify them. But our updates will go live in a very short period of time rather than weeks or months.
GB: Your website states that there will be no monthly charge to North American players. How do you plan on continually updating the game with new content without having a steady stream of income?
ArenaNet: We founded this company to create online role playing games, and we've designed Guild Wars around network technology that is very efficient in terms of bandwidth and hardware utilization. In addition to lower operating cost, we believe that we can sell a lot more copies of Guild Wars by not charging a monthly fee. We believe that not charging monthly fees allows larger communities of gamers to enjoy the online role playing game experience. The money earned from game sales will be turned right back to support the game and to develop the expansions. And because we will keep developing expansion packs for Guild Wars, we are highly motivated to keep our customers happy and keep them coming back for more. If they like what they've experienced, they will want to buy an expansion pack when it comes along.
Eight or ten years ago, no one believed that you could offer a gaming network for free, but Battle.net proved that you could offer a free gaming network and remain financially successful. Our new goal is to prove that you can offer an excellent online game with full support without a monthly subscription fee.
GB: Tell us how the game allows for skill experimentation but doesn't allow a player to "ruin" their character?
ArenaNet: We've put a lot of thought into character creation, because we want to avoid those ruined characters. We've all had the sort of game experience where you place attribute points or choose a skill for your character, only to learn later sometimes after investing hundreds of hours into the character that you made a bad decision and the character is permanently flawed, or (gimped.) With Guild Wars, we never ask you to make permanent decisions about your character until you have all the information you need to make good choices. The only thing we ask you to decide when you start out is appearance, such as hair colour, gender, height, etc. Any choices you make that affect gameplay are made after you have enough knowledge to make good decisions.
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