We have managed to get by with ArenaNet Lead Content Designer, Eric Flannum, responsible for the various twists and turns that are slowly forming Guild Wars 2. Also, you will have the opportunity to wiew some amazing fanart made by one of our readers, Plutonka. Enjoy!
Question: After redesign of Sylvari we see that The Grove and Caledon Forest don’t look like Maguuma Jungle from the original Guild Wars. Could you explain the goal behind this visual change?
Eric: The area that the sylvari and asura inhabit is the Tarnished Coast, which has always had a tropical jungle feel. Any changes you see are just our artists interpreting those areas differently in the Guild Wars 2 art style. The exception to this is the area immediately surrounding the Grove and the Grove itself. The sylvari have had a dramatic impact on the flora that they live around and have enacted large scale and dramatic changes in the areas they inhabit.
Q: How easy it will be to determine the gender of Asura characters? Do female Asura have breasts?
Eric: Asura are mammals and female asura do have mammary glands, however they are not particularly prominent the way they are in humans or norn. For the sake of physical attraction, asura place much more importance on the ears, eyes, and shape of the head (larger head equals larger cranial capacity of course!) than anything else. As for telling the genders apart, female asura tend to have much softer and fine features than males and wear their hair differently.
Q: Will we be able to create less muscular characters? For example, have not seen any fat characters during character creation, will we have a chance to play one?
Eric: We will be adding more options for builds and some of them are definitely less muscular than those that we’ve seen so far. Some of the builds are larger and others are smaller.
Q: Are those black squares on this map of Tyria from the dungeons in "Ghosts of Ascalon"?
Eric: Those are important locations in the world, but not necessarily the location of dungeons. That being said, most of them do coincide with the location of a dungeon.
Q: You recently made two big changes to skill mechanics – removed the energy cost of skills and changed the way players learn their skills. As far as energy goes, you have previously said that you would not want players to simply bring more defensive skills to defeat a boss, as they were presumably more costly. At this point it is quite opposite and if dodging was a factor for this change why not simply separate the dodge meter and leave energy exclusive for skills?
Eric: We need to make certain that our game remains accessible and that the UI remains clean. Adding another bar to the UI was not acceptable for us, so we had to choose between the energy bar and a dodge bar. Dodging is one of the primary ways for every profession to avoid damage. Through playing the game, we found that restricting this important defensive maneuver was enough and that we no longer needed to restrict the use of defensive skills through energy.
Q: Considering the new system of learning new skills and tiers, will players be required to level up weapons after unlocking of all 5 skills, so that we can level up these skills? Or is it enough to unlock these all 5 skills and the skills will be leveling along with our character?
Eric: Once you unlock a skill there is no further “leveling” of that skill. Skill effectiveness automatically increases as you level. The unlocking of skills is meant only as a tutorial device that allows players to learn a weapon over a short period of time.
Q: Why not allow players to choose whether they want to learn their skills by combat or by trainer, to perhaps save some time when learning skills on weapons that were previously unused?
Eric: Part of being a game designer is that you are faced with tough choices. Adding versatility almost always means adding complexity which means that you are raising the barrier of entry for your game. Also, any game development features a finite number of resources (even games that ship “when they’re ready”) so any feature you add is always added at the expense of something else. We wouldn’t choose to have two methods of unlocking the same skills for both of these reasons.
Q: Have you considered introducing any other types of structured PvP than Conquest before release of the Guild Wars 2?
Eric: For the sake of this answer I am going to define “conquest” as a game type that utilizes control points to accrue score. Using this definition, then we are not considering adding any other game types before launch. We want each map we release to be completely unique. We feel that we can get a ton of variety out of our maps by changing the secondary objectives and mechanics. For example, we won’t be launching with another map with trebuchets and destroyable terrain; those things are reserved for the Battle of Kyhlo map. The other maps we are testing all have some very involved mechanics and unique playstyles in them and we wanted a core game mechanic that was easily learned by players and stayed consistent across the maps we release at launch. This will ultimately help players learn each map and the game since they don’t have to relearn an entirely new scoring mechanic for every map they play on.
Once the game matures a bit, it is likely that we’ll experiment with both new maps and some new game types if we find a demand for them from our players.
Q: Many people that played PvP, including BOON Control members, said that asura characters have a slight advantage due to their small size and therefore reduced visibility compared to other races. Do you believe this is a problem? What about putting all asura player-characters in golems during PvP matches?
Eric: We don’t feel that this advantage is significant once people become more familiar with the game.
Q: Have you considered turning on friendly fire for the trebuchet? It seems to be powerful weapon, with which we can control the entire map.
Eric: The point of the trebuchet is that it is extremely powerful which is why it is destroyable by the enemy team and works as a secondary objective. We are strong believers that friendly fire of any kind is just not a good thing for our game.
Q: Can characters move and fire at the same time using longbows and rifles?
Eric: Most longbow and rifle skills can be used while on the move.