Points of Interest, Jan 16

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Hosted by Rubi Bayer, with Colin Johanson, and Steven Waller

Today gave us the first Points of Interest since Guild Wars 2 reached the Point of No Return, and slipped us a glimpse at it's dark Heart of Thorns.

HoT hype really has everyone out in full force: WoodenPotatoes, MattVisual, BogOtter, AuroraPeachy, that_shaman. Hype train rolled into town!

PAX South in a week. Lots to talk about to pass the time. Feels really far away and really close. "Impending doom and excitement at the same time" - Colin

Shout out to BogOtter for pre-stream. AuroraPeachy is doing a post-show.

Fan art. Quaggan baubels. Killer whale quaggan in Shiverpeaks (internal name). Sylvari in a salad bowl. Idea of things to come, perhaps! Grouch had to rule the chat with an iron fist.

Colin thinks Peter Fries should be the face of the hype train instead.

Season two. Opening up new zones. New types of events. Huge storyline. Far-reaching effects. Getting back in Guild Wars lore. They don't think of season two as separate from everything that came before it, even back to GW for some storylines. Zephyrites big theme this season. Introduced back in mid-2013. Testament to the narrative team and the planning. Working out how crash would happen. Love Zephyrites because they helped Lion's Arch in season one. Colin rememers a Peachy video about them coming back with dread because he knew they'd all be dead soon (lol). Have to give just enough hints for people to latch onto, but not enough to give it away. Pieces got stronger and stronger until it all came together in season two.

Definitely tried to set Zephyrites up as good people so we'd feel invested in them. Made us want to go and help them in Dry Top. Glow in the ship cinematic. Canach's billet being bought. Hints in story. Really try hard not to be too blatant; just enough to show that it was planned all along. Worry if things are too subtle. That balance has been one of their main challenges with the living story.

Worked with environment artists for verticality of Dry Top. Weaved instances into open world play. One of the cool things that worked well. Core release lacked cohesion between personal story, open world, dungeons. Too disparate. This is a big focus for them going forward: asked the team to solve it for season two. "Belongs in one cohesive story, experience." Opening Dry Top in sections was largely tied to story progression. Silverwastes was a big PvE/WvW mashup which made sense to open in one large chunk. Trying to play to the strengths of the story overall.

Key moment for Dry Top was the idea of the sandstorm. Cool idea became meta event which determined how the whole map would work. Synergy. Core release has a lot of discrete events scattered around which you might only ever do once. Game doesn't make it worth your while to go back and do them. Season two tried to fix that. Gameplay prepares you for future content and rewarded you well. More important/impactful. Paradigm that will be taken forward. Silverwastes meta evolved as episodes came out. Both maps show that the above can be achieved and can introduce original content/events. Important for content to feel replayable/more life in it.

"Finding the fun" - Silverwastes maze. Initial implementation was fun from the start so it stuck. Sometimes takes some time to refine. Maze inspired in part by Pac-man (wakka wakka wakka).

Main aim going forward is cohesion. Art. Story. Gameplay. Not being so strict that it restricts personal creativity and ideas. A lot based on instinct.

Always ongoing discussion to see how things fit in. Belinda was going to die. Tried to see where it would fit in the story arc. Once we started our quest to find the egg it didn't make sense to drop it in. Airstrikes weren't added until late on as well. "Too OP? Who cares? It's really fun." Emergent gameplay as they develop. Prophecies. Had an extra map in Glint's architecture before shipping. Turned it into a big hold out map. Ended up inventing the baby dragon and putting it in the game. One of Colin's favourite things he got to work on. Always watching what players are saying too. Sylvari storyline began with Eye of the North a long, long time ago with Ree Soesbee. Reinforced by books.

Wondered if Sylvari 1-10 gave away too much. 6 years in the making. Important to show it from different perspectives: Scarlet, Caithe, Aerin, Canach. Build-up was a challenge and broadly successful. Fun to look back and see how it all fits together.

There are other storylines seeded in the game that haven't been revealed yet. Will be fun to get to and answer those over the life of GW2. Everything will make sense when you see the reveal.

"Why do you keep showing us Rytlock when he doesn't show up in the next patch?" - working very far out on story. They feel like they could do 50 different storylines - which ones do they pick to work on? Exciting and overwhelming. Lesson taken from season one is to try and get to the core story beats more frequently. Better pacing for season two. Always iterating to try and get better. Company restructured after season one to support better pacing.

Love the argument over who voted for Kiel/Gnashblade.

Short run down of who Glint was. Dead (sorry). "Dragon before her time". Prophet. Friend to all of us. Told of the impending rise of the bad guys in Guild Wars. People should go and play it for themselves. Lots we don't know about the egg. Linked to Kralkatorrik. Glint's legacy has been a big part of the story and will continue to be.

Team got really excited about the library in the Durmand Priory. Grew beyond original scope due to team's passion. Great example of "everyone firing on all cylinders"; writers, artists. Loved reinventing Glint's Lair. Talked about having Glint's Lair the start of the next episode, but left it in episode five for technical reasons. Might try not to leave quite so many cliffhangers. Question of pacing. Some episodes will be bigger than others. Statue of Abaddon really set the tone.

Knew where Sylvari were headed with the ultimate reveal. Had to set that up for pacing which is why such a heavy season two focus, different perspectives, introducing characters, etc. Complex concept

Episodes designed so that they could be played standalone, but playing all of them will give a deeper and richer experience. Playing episodes live when they come out, and then watching how the world changes outside of stories. Always a sense of things moving forwards and progressing. Binge season two in one go - totally different experience. "We will answer every question some day, when it's ready!"

Pact Fleet being blown up is quite the cliffhanger. Lots more going on behind that. They were the world story that was developing. How do we build up Camp Resolve and breath life into it? All the races contributing. Military build-up tied into Silverwastes. How Trahearne comes back into the story and recognising the player's role in the Pact. Had time to build up Destiny's Edge 2.0 so that they could hold their own in scenes with (legendary) Destiny's Edge. "Certainly have fewer ships now." Colin said that it's one of the best cinematics that they've ever produced.