Avarre posted a very long letter to Anet highlighting current problems with GW and ways to resolve them.

Guild Wars Guru Thread

Response of Regina Buenaobra (Community Manager)

Hi Avarre,

I’ve read through your criticisms and concerns.

From what I gathered, you feel that developers should place more importance on balancing a game for existing players rather than new players, hence the criticism that making the game “too easy” is bad for players as a whole, and that GW:EN and the introduction of PvE-only skills contributed to this. Your opinion is that Guild Wars has strayed too far from its original vision and now lacks depth, which it once had. These changes have been made over a relatively long period of time and can’t be addressed all at once. There are reasons behind each design decision, though some players in the community may not agree with them. As you admitted, one of the things ArenaNet needs to do is try and please everyone. With the number of different perspectives and play styles out there, this is a monumental task and we do our best.

I’m going to address the points you made under your section, “So what can you do?” because they are areas that we’re currently taking action on and/or seriously exploring for the immediate future.

One of the underlying points that I’m getting from your letter is that you want more transparency. One of your points is the need for players to understand why the developers make the decisions they do. We recently started making major Dev Updates, which explain the rationale behind changes made to the game, more visible to the community at-large by including them in News Posts on the official website. Not everyone reads fan forums or wikis, and this was the reasoning behind making Dev Updates more visible by linking to them more frequently in News Posts.

We are exploring other ways in which we can communicate developer design decisions to the community. I have been discussing this issue with players, and several have suggested creating a Developer Blog, in which various staff at ArenaNet could post and give their insights into the design process, amongst other types of content. I have been soliciting and collecting feedback on what sort of content players would like to see in a Dev Blog.

Another point you made is regarding the collection and organization of community feedback. The design team does regularly consult with and solicits feedback from experienced and knowledgable players. I and other members of the team are accessible through our wiki pages and through PMs on the forums as well. I and the other members of the community team have been communicating with players through email, forum PMs, in-game, on the wiki, and in the forums at large. However these discussions are dispersed through many different mediums and there is no single, unified place where feedback is visibly given and read.

Forums can be a great place for discussion, they are not necessarily the best place for organizing feedback in such a way that people (players and devs) can easily find it, search for suggestions that are the most popular, or figure out which pieces of feedback rank highly in terms of importance to the community.

The official wiki, which is another place where we view, discuss, and solicit feedback, is a great place for documentation, but it’s not conducive to discussion, search, or ranking in terms of importance/popularity.

We’re currently exploring ways in which we can use technology to collect feedback in a more intelligent and visible way. If you have any suggestions, please let us know.

I can assure you that our team has a strong goal for what we want to accomplish with Guild Wars 2, and hopefully we can get this across in future communications.

Thank you.
Regina Buenaobra
Community Manager
ArenaNet, Inc.


Some more interesting responses:

The core philosophy behind GW design, which is “have fun now” was behind those decisions. The designers are well aware that they can’t please everyone, and that trying to please everyone is an exercise in futility. Not all parts of the game will appeal to everyone. So what do the designers do? They look at how most players are playing the game. For example, they saw that people who liked PvP wanted to get in the game and play right away without having to spend too much time unlocking skills (“Have fun now” — remember?), so they made changes accordingly. The devs have read that open letter thread on Guru. I’ve discussed what the OP was concerned about with James Phinney. He knows that there are facets of the game that could use some work, and there are also facts that will not change at this time. We haven’t abandoned GW1. One of the main issues we are facing here, which I have talked about time and again, is resources. Our design and programming teams currently spend most of their time on GW2 and some people split that time with GW1 responsibilities. You all feel like no one is listening, and for example that’s why I’m working with the developers to get more frequent and detailed Dev Updates so you get the explanations about game changes that you want. –Regina Buenaobra Image:User Regina Buenaobra sig.png 19:26, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

I don’t think you actually understand the design underpinnings behind GW1. The game wasn’t designed to be an MMOG. It’s obvious that the storyline is linear — it has a beginning and an end. This is in contrast to MMOGs, where there is no end. I think there is a problem about expectations. Because it is an online game, players expected the same depth as subscription MMOGs. You don’t have that with GW1. Instead you have a very flexible game that allows players to become involved in a linear story and also allows for balanced, arena style PvP play. Guild Wars is not an MMOG and for you to expect the same things you expect from MMOGs or even traditional offline RPGs is a little unfair. The decision to add ranks and titles wasn’t arbitrary; these decisions came from observing how players play the game. GW1 is a three year old game. Currently, there are no plans to add additional storylines or major content to it. We are working on making the sequel even bigger and better than GW1, and I do think that your desire for character development and storytelling will be addressed in GW2. –Regina Buenaobra Image:User Regina Buenaobra sig.png 18:17, 17 June 2008 (UTC)


My Thoughts

I applaud Avarre for his harangue, but it will not change anything. Anet is a business with the primary goal to make money. It does not matter how good the game is, as long as the players are addicted. Forums are not representative of the entire GW population by any means. Only a small percentage of people read or post on forums. Anet can’t make a game to please everyone. Thus, it aims for the most prevalent segment of the population. Yes, hardcore players will not like it and quit. Moreover, they will not buy GW2 probably. However, guess what? They will be easily replaced with thousands of new players in GW2 that will get a free and better GW with WoW flavor. Do I like the direction Anet has taken? No, but I don’t care anymore either. Nowadays I log on just to talk to friends.

I feel compelled to quote Jeff Strain, one of the founder of Anet. This is an excerpt from a very good speech: How to Create a Successful MMO

Pay close attention to complexity creep. Don’t assume that most of your players are reading your website and consuming information about your game. Most of your players will never read your website, never visit fansites, and never participate in forum discussions. We are often immersed in the community forums and rants and raves posted to game fansites, and it is easy to lose perspective about the knowledge level of most of our players. Players who participate in fansites and send six-page emails to your community team are experts at your game – they probably know more about it than you do – so it’s important to realize that they do not represent the average player. The vast majority of your players are not digging into every detail of every spell or creating lists of animations so that they can react when they see the basilisk twitch its nose. They want to play, not study, so take care to create a game that allows them to do so.


5 thoughts on “Open Letter to Anet and Their Response

  1. I wanted to write a response, but I felt it would take at least half an hour to write everything I wanted. Thus, I’ll give a short version.

  2. “I want to dispel any notions you have that your current method of development is a gold-plated road to booze and hookers on top of a giant pile of money.”

    Great line and great letter.

    Signed, The ranger with the bug named after his wife who took his 40″ TV.

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