Yes, that’s right, we’re finally back with a brand-new interview for the first time since February! (the Corona outbreak sure messed up a lot of things for us and so many others all over the world…)
And this time we got a chance to sit down and talk to ArenaNet’s Andrew Gray (Content Design Lead for “Guild Wars”) about everything from “Guild Wars 2“, old “Guild Wars” memories and the future for the “Guild Wars” series.
So with that said, please enjoy our interview with Andrew Gray 😉
I’m going to start off this interview by asking you to give a brief introduction of yourself. So please be my guest and go right ahead and do so =)
My name is Andrew Gray, I’ve been with ArenaNet for 16 years and I’m the Content Design Lead for Guild Wars 2. I started out as a game designer on the Guild Wars: Beyond content that bridged the gap between Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, and I’ve been working on Guild Wars 2 content ever since.
Straight off the bat, “Guild Wars 2” has come a very long way since it’s initial launch back in August of 2012. For starters, “Guild Wars 2” went F2P in the summer of 2015. Well, what was it that made you go down the F2P route? And what has the development journey of “Guild Wars 2” been like for you as a development team?
One of the key pillars of the studio that goes all the way back to the original Guild Wars is the idea that everything we do should be as player-friendly as possible. As you know, the original Guild Wars had no subscription fee, which was very different from our competitors at the time.
With Guild Wars 2 we continued that forward, but we also wanted to look at other ways we could defy expectations when it came to the business model of MMOs.
When we introduced the Play For Free version of Guild Wars 2, we felt it was the right thing to do to lower the barrier to entry for new adventurers to join the world of Tyria.
With the way we’ve supported the game long term via our four seasons of Living World and now The Icebrood Saga, it’s important to us that we continue to provide value to players and give them something new to look forward to when they log in without massive financial commitment.
From your point of view, what has the response and feedback been from fans and the games media since “Guild Wars 2” launched Vs how things are in the current date?
We have very dedicated fans and many of them have been with us since Guild Wars 2 launched in 2012, or in many cases back into the original Guild Wars days, and the level of excitement in the community right now is honestly invigorating.
With the announcement of our third expansion pack, and I really feel like that not only got the community fired up, but also those of us on the development team.
As far as game media goes, I honestly think we continue to surprise them. We’ve been busy the last 8 years, not just adding new content, but improving the game as a whole, both with player-facing systemic and mechanical improvements, and also back end technical improvements.
This wasn’t done with a major re-release of the game, or a massive, single technical upgrade that coincided with an expansion release, it has been done gradually and continuously throughout the life of the game, so it’s easy to fly under the radar. The future is bright, and we hope to continue surprising both our players and the press.
What would you say that it is that makes GW2 stand out from the MMORPG? Simply put, what is it that makes GW2 so special, unique and different from any other MMORPG on the market right now?
ArenaNet has always pushed to challenge industry norms, and Guild Wars 2 was basically born out of that principle. We do things differently, always with a focus on a positive, memorable experience for our players, and even when it seems like we’re following someone else’s lead – like when we announced mounts for example – we reimagined what having a mount can mean in an MMO setting.
We strive for a constant evolution of the game. Guild Wars 2 post Heart of Thorns, with the addition of gliding, masteries and elite specializations, is night and day a different – and much better – game than the game at launch. The game in 2020 is far better still, and I have no doubts that the best days of Guild Wars 2 are ahead of us.
Just across the board, the passion, talent and love the team puts into the game shines through in every moment you play.
What has the response been like for The Icebrood Saga since its release back in September of 2019? And are you happy with how everything turned out in the end?
Well, there’s still plenty of Icebrood Saga left, so we’re not to the end yet! It’s been amazing to see the response from our players to our most recent release Visions of the Past: Steel and Fire.
We tried a lot of new things in it, and I’m very pleased that our players enjoyed playing it as much as the team enjoyed making it. We’re aiming to keep that level of excitement going through the rest of the saga and beyond.
Since it’s now 2020 and people are still very much into “for Guild Wars 2”. Well, will we get to see an expansion for GW2 during 2020? If so, is it something that you could talk about at this time? And what does the Roadmap look like for GW2 in 2020?
Unfortunately, I can’t share more than what we already announced in our recent blog post. We have more Ice Brood Saga and festivals planned through 2020, we have a Fractal in the works, and while we have announced we are working on an expansion pack, I can’t give any details on a timeline.
I know that we’re very early into 2020 and all, but, is there a new IP in the making? And is there any possibility that we could see a Guild Wars 3? In the future?
Of course, we’re always thinking about the future, but right now, the team is focused 100% on the development of the third Guild Wars 2 expansion, and we’re just as excited as the fans to get it into their hands.
Now, as for my very last question interview question to you for this time. Well, what’s your hopes, goals and expectations for the rest of the year? And is there anything else that you would like to say to our readers?
We’re a veteran team and our goal is to continue to evolve the game and deliver high-quality content for our players.
One of my personal hopes is for people who have played Guild Wars 2 in the past who aren’t playing it right now to give it a try again. We’ve already seen a renewed interest from players since the announcement of our third expansion, and I’m consistently seeing those returning players being blown away at how much the game has improved since the last time they played it.
And lastly, I wanted to express gratitude to the players who have shared with us how Guild Wars 2 is helping them during these challenging times.
Knowing that GW2 provides people with a bit of joy during this crisis lifts our own spirits, so thank you. Stay safe out there, everyone.
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
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