Frankly My Dear

Posted: June 13, 2011 in Wait...What?

The MMO industry has a pretty lousy reputation when it comes to being honest with their playerbase. Fine, sometimes promises are made that end up having to be broken due to time or budgetary constraints (or because whomever was doing the spruiking apparently got high on all the smoke they were blowing…) but more often than not they’re just flat out lying.

Enter ArenaNet. Now, before you accuse me of being a fangirl – I’m not. Yes, I am very excited about Guild Wars 2 and yes, I have been following the development since actual information started coming out but I am trying very hard to maintain a “I’ll believe it when I load it and play it” attitude.

Interviews like this one tend to nudge me a little more into fangirl territory though. When was the last time you read anything like this from a game developer:

Jon P: I think the ranger pets are terrible right now, no one would argue with that!

I currently intend to run a norn ranger as my main character and if I hadn’t been sitting down when I read that it would have sat me down in a hurry. It takes a very dedicated developer, a wise and patient publisher (take a bow NCSoft) and a lot of chutzpah to do what ArenaNet is doing. Seven of the eight professions have been revealed, with the eighth to be unmasked soon. The game is slated to enter closed beta by the end of this year. Internal test builds have been running for over a year now on the actual game engine. An entire race, the sylvari, were completed until a staff member came forward with a redesign plan and her vision was embraced. The redesigned race was completed many months ago and awaits its reveal.

How many other AAA developers out there have the courage to frankly assess their own creation as lacking? Most of them probably, behind closed doors. Recognising an issue publicly is something else entirely. ArenaNet have stated from the outset they have a very iterative development process. If something doesn’t work or feel right, it’s fair game to be tweaked or torn down and rebuilt completely, no matter how big it is or how long ago it was completed. Races, professions, skills, character creation, dynamic events – not one line of code or idea is sacrosanct. Guild Wars 2 is shaping up to be exactly what ArenaNet want it to be – the best game ever. They’ll do it too.

All because they give a damn.

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