Lunch with Colin Johanson

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The problem we have in Jade Quarry at the moment being top of tier one in North America, is that we currently have something like 50k point lead and no one wants to log on to actually play, they don’t feel the need to log on. That is a really big de-motivator at the moment, there are guilds falling apart because of this. If that could be addressed somehow…?

Colin: I think they’re really the same problem. It’s like if you’re getting killed or if you’re winning by a lot, in both cases there’s no reason for you to log in and we need to fix both of those. I think there can be the same answer for both, pretty easily. Because it really is the same issue, which is: “why do I play every day” as opposed to “why do I want my server to win this week?”. So that’s really high on our list of stuff we’re trying to address.

Was there a reason why you went with servers for WvW rather than teams?

Colin: So the biggest reason that I’m aware of – and a lot of this is just to provide context for some of these answers – I was only on the content team when a lot of this stuff was decided, so it’s hard for me to say 100% for sure what the decision-making process was four years ago when I wasn’t in the room. But I would guess that the reason that that was made was to try to make worlds feel more important to players and feel like the people that you play with on your world is your community and that teams would be a subset of that and it wouldn’t feel as compelling. It’s interesting to see if that stuff stands up now that the game is out, if that’s still the case. Do people really feel a bond with their world or…? Actually that’s really a question for you guys. Do you feel attached to your world at all or do you really feel like your guild or the people you play with in your guild are more…?

We’ve built up our server from tier 9, so for us, yeah we do feel that bond. I can imagine for those who moved, especially just before the gem prices were introduced, who jumped about a lot to avoid trying to avoid queues and stuff like that, them not being as attached, whereas for us we are really attached.

So I was just thinking there’s the server you play on and the server you represent in WvW right?

Colin: Correct.

So I was wondering why have them linked? Why not choose the server to WvW on and the actual server you choose to play on the rest of the time be independent of that?

Colin: The reason for that, is we wanna build that sense of community, so that the people who are out in PvE, when you go back from WvW or you are out in the PvE world, you are trying to improve them. You see these people and you have the capacity to say: “You are part of my world, come represent us in WvW, help us out”. I think Guild Wars 1 had some really compelling parts of this, like the “Hall of Heroes”. When the message went out in the game that said: “Our world now controls that”. That was sort of a sense of everybody who was on that side. They felt tied to it, they felt like they were part of that win. I would hope in time that we can get that type of messaging for WvW to a certain degree as well, so that everybody who is on that world feels an even greater tie to it. But definitely, the biggest reason is just so you recognize and get to know the same people in every part of the game. There are a huge percentage of our player base who play WvW and also play PvE on a regular basis, so we want to create that tie between the two of them so you really get to know people and have a community.

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Colin: (laughs) Salted caramel.

One quick PvE question: where’s the Final Rest? (laughs)

Colin: If I told you, then I’d have to kill you. (laughs)

Tell us or the pony gets it!

Colin: I love the pony, but I can’t tell you. Someday you will all discover it and then everyone will be really excited.

There’s a cap on condition stacks of 25. In a scenario where you have two thieves attacking a boss and one of them can achieve a stack of 25 by themselves, the other one essentially becomes useless because they’ve got nothing to stack on. Is anything being done to address that to make them less redundant?

Colin: Currently no. Interesting statistic for you: every condition in the game costs server bandwidth. ‘Cause we have to track how often the condition is running, what the duration of that condition is and what the stack is. So the more stacks we allow, the more expensive it gets because we’re tracking every additional stack on there. And so we could say, you can have infinite stacks. Number one: that becomes really unbalanced. But number two: it’s actually extremely expensive for us, on a performance basis. That’s one of those weird, kind of back-end server issues that can help make game designer decisions regardless of what you want to do with it.

One of the things people have been talking about is having their own individual stack limit that they can apply, rather than an infinite amount on one boss.

Colin: Yes, it’s tough. It’s certainly something we can look at, it does drastically change the way that the professions play, right? It does say “you can no longer stack all of one type of condition”. It might change the skills on each profession if we were to do that. It would encourage a little more group play to some extent. It’s not something we’re really talking about, but it’s an interesting idea. I’d have to think a lot about what the effects of that would be overall, but it’s an interesting… interesting idea.

Is there any plans to add further content to Southsun Cove?

Colin: Yes. There are Guild Missions that happen in Southsun Cove. There is content coming. (cheers)

I really like the landscape of the cove.

Colin: Yeah we are definitely going to continue to expand on that.

The real question is how many times can you run past the champion Karka.

Colin: (laughs) And pick up the node and run back.

Precursors. A little while ago there was mention that there were going to be other ways to get hold of precursors, like through the scavenger hunt.

Colin: Someday yes.

Someday. So no plans for the immediate future?

Colin: We’ve thrown in a few more RNG ways to get them, like random chances for places they could go in the game recently, but that’s not the real solution. That’s just a “hey lets just increase the number of places people can earn them at this point”. The fixes for qualifying for loot that will go in the February release will also increase the chances you can get precursors ‘cause it means you have a higher chance of rolling for loot in every creature that you kill. Which means you have a higher chance of getting a precursor. So that will help as well. But long term we’d like to do something that’s a little bit more epic, where there’s a clear path of “here’s everything you need to do and when you complete it, you automatically get a precursor.” We’re not working on that right now, we’re really trying to design what that would be, but yeah certainly at some point we will create a system that allows you to do that.

Any plans to make legendaries account bound so they can’t be sold in the trading post?

Colin: I think the only concern with that would be retroactively changing it, because they’re already out that way.

Could you do it going forward?

Colin: So we can’t. The way that items work is if we do that we affect all the existing ones. So I don’t really know what’s going to happen there, that’s really more up to the commerce team and how they want to handle that but it’s certainly something where there’s been a lot of discussion about it.

With regards to legendaries, you can take Twilight and Sunrise and combine them to make Eternity. Are you planning on doing that with other legendary weapons?

Colin: Yeah, we will at some point expand on the legendaries there might be new types of weapons, more combinations. Certainly there will be more legendaries at some point. Certainly weapons, maybe even other types of legendaries, we’ll see. But yeah we’re not done with those. But what we don’t want to do, is roll a whole bunch of them out when we don’t have a better system for getting the precursors.

Is there going to be a fix for females Asura and their shoulder pieces?

Colin: Er, I would hope so. I don’t know where that is on the pipeline.

You’ve got to look good while killing people!

Colin: And when you dance on their corpse you’ve got to have shoulder pads. It’s very important.

Is the customization of weapons coming?

Colin: It’s an interesting idea. I know our art team would like us to do it. It’s not currently something that we have anybody working on, but it is possible in our system for us to do that.

What about making dyes account bound?

Colin: I think at this point it won’t happen. I think it’s gone too far down that path. I don’t think the commerce team will swap that back. That would be my guess.

IMG_04951When it comes to community run events in game, we’re struggling with items to hand out as many of the tonics are account bound. Can anything be done about it?

Colin: We’ve tried to do as many of those as we can and we certainly will keep doing more of them. I think the holiday festivals were loaded with that stuff. I would like to do a lot more of those. They’re just fun for social events right? To get together.

Can you really unbind the quaggan tonics? Because I want to give those to everybody!

(laughs)

Colin: It’s one for the commerce team. There’s a lack of stuff to give away. It gets a little disappointing when you see repeatedly “first prize is dye”.

I dunno I sold a black dye the other day for 9 gold the other day.

I bought one for 20 gold… Shoot me.

Colin: It’d be great if you’d bought his dye. (laugh)

Activities, such as bar brawl, is there any other ones in the pipeline?

Colin: Bar brawl is coming eventually.

(laughs) We’ll accept eventually! So anything else on the horizon?

Colin: There are other ones we’ve prototyped but they need a lot more work before they get added. But at some point we’d like to have them all over the game. One of the nice things about the new rotating achievements system is you can pick like er… I want to say Keg Brawl.. almost every day of the week there’s different things you can do in Keg Brawl to contribute towards your daily. And my hope would be as we add more mini games, like that we can create a little rotation. So that Monday is Keg Brawl day and everyone goes to Keg Brawl for a day because it’s on your daily achievement list. Tuesday is Bar Brawl day and everybody goes there and Wednesday is Shooting Gallery or whatever it is.

Polymock?

Colin: Yes, maybe that one.

It’d be a nice way to get people to go back to the cities.

Colin: Yeah, I think that’s going to go a long way.

I really like the new dailies system.

Colin: Yeah, the one in February is so much better. There’s so many things we wanted to do, that we can’t do. Because we don’t want to force people to do a specific game type, that when you open it up and give them a choice of “hey pick 5 of these 10 and do the things you want to do”. Then suddenly jumping puzzles go on there, keg brawl can go on there. We’re not forcing you to do that game type, and it becomes a choice.

With the new dailies system, it’s amazing how many people don’t know how to dodge

Colin: That is why we put that in (laughs). It is incredible how few people actually regularly dodge.

Colin is there anything that we haven’t asked about that you wanted to share with us?

Colin: Er, the fish sandwich was delicious. Thank you very much for this discussion! I talked too much but that was a great pick, thank you.

Somebody wanted to ask how you manicure your beard…

Colin: It’s different every day. (laughs) Some days it’s kinda crooked because I’m half awake when I do it.

Would it be possible to have more options for guilds, like having dots on the mini map of where other members are to help stop people getting lost?

Colin: Yeah, we were talking about that earlier. It’s certainly something that we would look at. Right now no one’s working on that but over the course of the year, every community building tool that we can do that makes it easier for you to play with other players, gives you more reasons to play with them and a better rewards set is what we’re going to be focused on. The guild missions are definitely a huge part of that and we want to keep building stuff like that.

Anything you’d like to ask us?

Colin: What’s your favorite part of the game? What is the thing that’s most compelling to you? (Indicates down one end of the table that have been asking the WvW questions) I know what it is for you guys!

  • Jumping puzzles mainly.
  • I hate jumping puzzles, I’m so bad at them (laughs).
  • I like playing with friends, and making new ones.
  • I think for me it’s all the little areas that are hidden gems.
  • I’m still trying to get into the kitten room.
  • That’s what keeps me going back and doing more exploring, it’s finding out what’s over there. That kind of detail you put in the world, how vibrant it is.
  • And like you said, actually going in and finding Aurora Glade and things like that. I like all the easter eggs from Guild Wars 1. That’s my favorite thing, I’d like to see more of that in fractals because that’d be awesome.
  • I’m much more of a dungeons person.
  • Did you have a mission to destroy everything from Guild Wars 1? (laughter round the table) Apart from Granite Citadel is anything left standing?

Colin: The ruins of many things are there!

Any plans for storage of town clothes and dungeon tokens?

Colin: Yeah dungeon tokens probably earlier than town clothes but it would be nice to do things to allow you to store any of that stuff. It’s just a matter of when.

Sorry, did you say for dungeon tokens before that we are going to have another use for them?

Colin: Well I think we’d like to give you more reasons to use them. If nothing else just new items on the vendors down the road is something we’ll be looking at for sure.

I think I’ve got 5 or 6 stacks of some of them

Colin: As we add new types of reward systems to the game, we’d like to layer those across everything we’ve got. Some I hope would eventually, we’ll add new types of rewards and they’ll go on laurel vendors, they’ll go on merchants, they’ll go on karma merchants, they’ll go on dungeon guys, on Fractal NPCs. We can layer it all across the game to help make everything more rewarding.

Can we get a photo? Would that be ok?

Colin: Yeah sure, team pic!

(We get up to take the pic)

IMG_04991One final thing, is considered an exploit to move siege equipment from one character to another?

Colin: It’s not an exploit, we’re totally ok with it.

What was the reason why they were done that way?

Colin: I don’t remember the reason for it but there was some good reason for it. For the life of me I can’t remember what it is now. There was a reason though that made sense when I heard it. (pauses) I’d have to ask, I can’t remember. But yeah we don’t consider that an exploit.

Ok cool.

At this point I would like to thank all of those who helped with this colossal undertaking. It was a blast to work on this transcription with you people. This is the main reason I’m here. My love for you guys. And here’s your proof:

the-transcription-team

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