Jonathan: One of those things too where we do talk to some of the top teams, we talk to you guys, and that is one of the things we want to do, we want to balance your feedback versus what we see on the forums.
But that is a whole other issue; with how do we balance the for the top guys like you, who play a different game from what most people see when they jump into the game, you see it from a whole different light. How do we balance for you guys as well as balance for the new players, which is one of those things that is always a challenge as a designer and a balancer. You basically have the Master Yi problem from League of Legends, is Master Yi broken at low level? He will eat through a team if he is built right at low level! But at top tier play? Usually not, since people know how to deal with him by now. A hundred blades? For the warrior right? Is that completely broken? You see threads right now about a hundred blades and it has been coming up forever, is that really broken? The top, you guys, know how to deal with it and a lot of the time I think you guys won’t even run a warrior with the current balance as they will be snared and shutdown. It is really hard for us to get warriors to work right now against really good CC teams. Which is one of those things that, maybe they need some more resistance to that stuff.
Another example is Terran for Starcraft, when it first came out, back when we were first playing Terran was just this clunky, unwieldy, difficult to play race, it was really hard to get to work. And then after the community started to learn how to be really, really quick, micro started to improve across the community and you started to see some of the top Koreans, Slayer, he got really big and started to show this is how you play Terran. But if they had balanced it for the beginning players at the very beginning Terran would have been completely broken for somebody like Slayer once he would have gotten a hold of it.
So it is one of those things that people need to learn how to play but at the same time we have to balance feedback from the noobs who are coming into the game, who just wants to learn, they are fresh to everything and they don’t really understand anything. Versus you guys who are becoming the pro tier of players, you guys play all the time, you know every single class and you know all the interaction, you know all the traits, you know all the matchups. So we are trying to find a way to balance for both these types of players which is a big thing.
Metor: I know that this is incredibly hard for you, but I think that the new players just don’t know that the game is broken or not. If they played longer, they would see what the problems were, maybe they would switch to warrior and they would see that the problem with warrior isn’t the cc and the damage but the problem is cond…
Xeph: Metor, I think what John Peters is trying to say…
Xeph: Ohhh, haha, I think what Jonathan is trying to say is basically it is just two sides to one coin. You are going to have the competitive side and the people that just started with the game. And you know when you just started the game and come out the gate and some warrior pop a hundred blades and you are just down. You are obviously just thinking this is broken.
Jonathan: Haha, yeah and what do you do? Go on the forums!
Xeph: Exactly, so I think instead of thinking about it that way, how can it be easier for the casual community to ease in to the game?
Jonathan: About that, what does that really, why that player is dying, what is their frustration, why are they not really seeing what they want to see out of “oh how do I kill that warrior, it must be broken”. Sometimes you see this in threads, we don’t want to say learn to play, which is basically what you are kind of saying, they need to learn the game, learn how to stop that stuff, learn how to shut down a master e, learn how to play a Terran not just complain how unwieldy it is. You have to learn those type of things, we don’t just want to say learn to play all the time, as that is not nice to them, so at the same time it’s like; What else do we need? We need to have really strong streams, we need to have stuff like spectator mode, and we need to have things that teach these players how to learn the game.
And if you look at something like League of Legends, people can just go on and can watch streams and see how do I play solo mid, if I am bottom support what is my job? If I am a jungler what is my job? If they dint have the streaming and the community to teach them this, then they wouldn’t know. That is why it is on us, right now we feel as like we got to get those key tools to make an e-sport. So that the new players can have a safety net to sort of learn from, so they can learn from guys like you so that they can see “oh this is how you deal with that warrior, oh that is how you shut him down, this is how you deal with those thieves” They can learn this through you guys once we got these tools setup. That will help I think.
Grouch: I believe a blog post a while back, you said that you guys goal was to get the custom arena’s out first. Is that still your top priority or are you looking at other features for pvp?
Jonathan: Ehm, no, let’s talk about that real quick, we have segwayed off for a couple weeks with our key programmers for that. We think that rating and match-making might help even more, so it is going to be a real small thing but we want to get that in, so that is what we are focusing on right now. We have most of the people working on Custom arenas and we have a small set of people pulled off to work on rating and match-making. So this goes to what you guys were talking about earlier with the new players, as we want them to feel like, okay I can get into a game and my match making will sort of protect me against the really good players and it will allow me to play with people at my level and my pace. And it also means you guys aren’t playing the new players and smashing them all the time, but you are playing each other a lot more. That is one of those things that we want to pull off and get working really quickly and then get custom arenas working for e-sport down the road.
Avalor: Is this going to be under tournament mode, for ranking?
Jonathan: For match making what we are focusing on first is for the free tournaments and the paid tournaments and uses it there first to just get people into the right tier of who they should be playing against. We think that will help a lot of people and encourage playing more paid tournaments as they aren’t just going to get curb stomped by you guys, and we have threads that are basically saying we don’t want to just get curb stomped and that is a very legitimate problem that we are going to be fixing very soon.
Lowell: Was there any plans for a ladder like, with one team facing one team on a random map. Even without the ladder just with rating?
Jonathan: …Yes, but I can’t say to much but yes.
Jonathan: I kind of wrote down our key-features right now, and I can just list those off to you guys, so you guys can kind of see what we think is important. Some people will say that dueling mode is the most important thing for pvp right now, we have to have dueling, and I just don’t think that is really going to help the game over all, I think it is very important and it is on our list but it is not as important as other things.
Then there is stuff like, match making and the rankings and being able to play a game that is comfortable to your skill level, I think that is really important for people, for noobs and for high level players. Custom Arenas is important, and Leaderboards which we just mentioned, Spectator mode is very important. Daily and monthly tournaments, which is what all those QP’s are adding up to, is also something we are working on that is going to be very very important for the system. 1v1, dueling is important it is on the list but it is not as important as the things we just mentioned, especially for e-sport concerns, but it is on the list.
Stats and scoring, right now the system that we have is okay for a first path, but we really don’t like it, we want to put a lot more information in it, we want you to know ‘how was our thief compared to theirs’, ‘how much conditions is our support ele taking off compared to their support ele, how much healing is our necro putting out with his stuff when he is trying to support people and how many conditions is he taking off. You can’t really tell any of these things right now so we want to really improve the stat stuff and improve the game-breakdown at the end of a game to let people have a better sense of their own progress and be able to judge supposed their own play versus other classes maybe in the same game. So they can see how they are improving over time and you can gage how well your team mates are performing and their various roles.
Those are also very important, that is just letting you guys know, as we said before on blog, those things are all very important and we have the resources and we have the people but we just need the time. And we aren’t going to stop until those things on that list is ticked off, and once those things are ticked off we can start to focus on other things, as the e-sport need to have these things and they need these features. It is not as fast as you guys want but that is just how it works, we aren’t going to stop until we got it working.
Avalor: Are you going to have any plans in segregating solo queues and premade queues, because that is a huge concern the community is looking at.
Jonathan: What we want to do now is we have a proposal for a system that we are going to try first, which is going to try to keep both of those systems while keeping everyone in the same pool. So we won’t keep solo queue, just like a solo tournament and then a team tournament, but we do think that with the rating system the way that we have it now is going to be able to balance out solo queue with their aggregate rating and then match-make that against team queues that have a similar aggregate rating. So it is like you can play, like GW1, you can be on a really good arena team and you are actually better than most of the arena teams in the pool at that time, and our rating system will be able to match you up correctly when that happens.
Grouch: Can you give us any information on the monthly tournaments and how those will work?
Jonathan: Sure, it will be really similar, we thought we did really well with the GW1 system, so we are going of off that as our base frame-work we are going to be making some design changes and some programming changes on the back. We want people to have QP’s through the paid tournaments as they have now and those will build up to placements and entry into the monthly tournaments down the road. And we will also have daily tournaments that will work in a very similar fashion, so you can have three or four major daily tournaments that are going to have a huge pool of players all coming together for one spot. And it is going to be you won the daily at that time, whereas the monthly there is one winner, and one team legacy to say that they were the best in that region, so that is what we are pointing towards with the daily and monthly tournament.
Grouch: What is the main benefit from winning a monthly tournament besides saying “I am better then you”
Jonathan: Monthly points to something else… Let’s just keep it at that. It’s, okay we won a monthly what does that do? That qualifies us for something else which we will talk about a little later when we are ready for it.
Grouch: You mentioned the timeline in listing all these features, do you have a rough estimate as when you think you will have to majority of the features to make this an e-sport ready game?
Jonathan: All the features… I properly shouldn’t give a timeline, like today with the stream we thought we were supposed to go and it just didn’t happen and then 30 minutes later we had to just record it. Some of the things happened with us, so I will say next year… I won’t say exactly when, but next year we are going to have a lot of these things working. We have a lot of these things working internally but as you guys have seen we have to test these things very very vigorously because we want to give you guys the tools when they are ready, and that sucks to hear “when its ready” but we don’t want to give you something that is not working, if you put out something to early and it got a lot of bugs in it, last patch we had some bugs in there, so it’s like, give it to them and it will be “oh but its buggy” and that is not good for you or for us, so we need to be sure with these things and make sure that they are ready when its ready.
Avalor: What’s Anet’s philosophy about hotfixing something? For example, the Svanir rune bug. I’m not sure if that was a bug, but I mean it was basically meta game. Everyone used the Svanir bug.
Jonathan: It changed the game, yep. That’s one of those things where we have the ability to fix extremely high priority things very quickly. We just have to determine whether or not we think it’s a high enough priority. So it depends on every single bug when it comes through. If it’s something like nobody at all can play paid tournaments right now, nobody can play free, it’s like, okay, let’s get that fixed right now. The programmers will actually have a producer with them to make sure that they’re walking through the check-in process correctly. We make sure that everybody is on page, we get it to our internal servers, we get it checked, we get Q&A on it, we get it checked as soon as we can and then we ship that out to the live servers. For most balance things, if it’s not something that’s completely breaking the game, we’ll save those for the major patches, when we put out the major stuff that hits PvE, dungeons, and all that stuff, PvP together. We’ll wait for that stuff if it’s a smaller fix.
Grouch: You mentioned earlier that you have some new plans for January and Feburary. Is there anything in those patches that you haven’t outlined yet?
Jonathan: Yeah. I won’t say too much so I won’t get in trouble with Chris Lye or Martin, but I can say a little bit. Moving forward what we’re going to be doing in January, Feburary, March, we’re going to be having different themes for our patches. One of the patch themes will be entirely focused on PvP and WvW. So that’s going to be really exciting. I can’t give any details about that, but it’s going to have a lot of the features that we just talked about. We’re going to have some of the things on the list as well as some other things that I haven’t mentioned yet. We just want you guys to know that stuff is going to be themed and one of the themes for one of our early patches next year will be PvP and WvW.
Avalor: We’ve been talking a lot about the January patches and next year. What’s coming in December, though? Like on the 14th I know that’s the Wintersday and new patch coming. What’s new for PvP?
Jonathan: We’re going to have a big balance patch, which is what I have a meeting today, to make sure that stuff is going well. Balance is going to be the main focus. We’re holding on to some of the other things we’ve talked about until early in the next year so that we can test them correctly. We want to make sure that December has strong balance going out so that’s why we’re trying to focus on balance. The Christmas time-frame is really good for balance. It’s really hard to get patches out during the Christmas time because a lot of the studio takes vacation, so we’ll have days when we’re down to 70% strength because we have a lot of people that are on vacation, so the December patches usually aren’t as big. Once everybody gets back, you get to February, March, that’s when those big patches roll in because everybody’s working full speed.
Grouch: I see a lot of complaints about this on the forums about this. How do you feel about the communication with the community from ArenaNet?
Jonathan: It’s good. It’s not as good as it should be. We can talk a little about why we maybe don’t say more stuff. When we talk about dates, if we give you guys a date and then it slips, then it’s like, well crap, now you guys feel like we lied to you, and it’s like well, it just happened that a flu went through the office and hit one of the programming pods and now we’ve lost two or three programmers out for a week. It’s like, crap, we didn’t really plan for that. That’s just going to hit us. So we have to be careful with giving you guys dates and stuff which is why we’re really reluctant to do those a lot of times. That’s just something you’ll see across the entire game development world. You have to be careful with giving people dates for those things because a lot of times things can just happen. But at the same time, we do want to be as transparent as we can with you guys, which is one of the things that I try to get on the forums and talk to you guys more. A lot of times we’ll try to be careful with forum posts as you’ll notice. Any major forum post that I put up I’ll actually send to Community and say, ‘Hey guys, I just put up this up, could you localize this into other languages for me so that we can get this to everybody?’
Because normally I just don’t want to be talking to english readers all of the time on the forums. If we have a really big post we try to get it to everybody in all languages to make sure that it’s good for everybody. The blogs are another thing we try to use to communicate with. In the past we’ve tried to use that. It takes a long time to get a blog post written, unfortunately, because there’s just so many things that have to happen for it. We’ve got to get art for it, we have to have localizations sign off on it, Marketing’s gotta sign off on it, Community’s gotta sign off on it, Design’s gotta sign off on it.
Everybody’s gotta have to say, ‘Okay, we endorse this, this is something that we can say as a company.’ So that’s why sometimes even if it takes me a day to write it at my desk, there’s still a lot of process that has to happen to actually get it to you guys as the readers. And you know, also just stuff like this. We do want to communicate with you guys, we do read the forums. A lot of times, though, we’re busy. If we’re not posting in every single thread, the reason is that we’re working on stuff. So that’s why a lot of times if you don’t see us, if we’re quiet for a while, it means that we’re probably working really hard to get this on patch.
Grouch: That’s a little bit reassuring I guess.
Jonathan: Yeah, I mean, you can ask more. Is there other stuff you want to ask for that?
Avalor: I guess we haven’t touched on the ESL thread.
Grouch: Yeah, that was interesting. For you guys that don’t know, Electronic Sports League is an e-sports organization that essentially tries to pick up certain games and sponsor them and have tournaments like you might see for League of Legends, Starcraft 2 and whatnot. ESL did go on Reddit and did mention that they would be interested in basically doing some stuff for Guild Wars 2 once the custom arenas come out. I guess it’s a pretty good thing. Are you pretty excited about that, John?
Jonathan: Yeah, I am. It’s one of those things where we feel like it’s eventually going to happen. We think that GW2 is probably positioned to be an e-sport. It just needs those things that we talked about. Like it needs those custom arenas, right. It needs the spectator mode, which is why those things are at the top of our list. It’s exciting to see those guys talk about it. We’ve had some requests from some other people as well wanting to talk about GW2 as an e-sport. It’s exciting for us, it’s exciting for the players, I think. I think it’s going to bring a lot of players back once they see that support coming in for the game. We’re just excited about it. It’s going to draw a lot of players to the game. We’re just excited for you guys, as some of the top players and the mid-rank players, they’re going to actually, you know, get kinda famous playing GW2 and we think that’s really cool for you guys. That’s what we want to see.