BG:How do you reconcile that within the context of the game? Why doesn’t everyone who plays as a Sylvari know all the spells of all the other players, for example?
CJ: Gameplay is more important than any lore when it comes to things like that. It wouldn’t be fair if everyone who played as a Sylvari started with everything, so we just said: ‘hey, you know what, you haven’t learnt that part yet, or you don’t remember that part of the dream.’
BG:It’s good to hear that as opposed to having some elaborate reason.
CJ: We feel gameplay’s more important than writing some crappy story to try and accommodate things like that.
BG:Why make Guild Wars 2 a sequel to an MMO, when the model is normally to build on the original and expand, expand, expand? Surely you’re requiring players to know a certain amount about the fiction just in order to approach the second game?
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CJ: You actually don’t need to know anything about the first game to appreciate Guild Wars 2. All of the history and lore of the first game is contained within the second, and we’ve made the story so it teaches you the history of the world - you never need to have played Guild Wars to understand what’s going on. That’s very important to us – we don’t want to alienate new players.
We made Guild Wars 2 because we were making expansions for Guild Wars and there was this one called Utopia that was based around these giant world events where the world you play in was constantly changing. We wanted to do this and have a really strong driven storyline, we wanted to make combat more action orientated and what we realised was that this expansion was drastically changing the game that everybody who plays Guild Wars was used to, and they were probably going to be upset if we released an expansion that massively changes the game they’ve spent the last five years playing. We decided that, rather than make an expansion that does all these things, we should instead make a brand new game - then people who love Guild Wars and that style of game can continue to play that.
It’s something you don’t usually run into in the MMO industry - a part two. You also don’t usually announce you’re starting a new MMO the day you begin building it, but we didn’t want our fans to think there were more expansions coming for the first one, so we said, ‘hey, as of tomorrow we’re starting work on Guild Wars 2’.
BG:You’re no longer developing anything for Guild Wars then? That game as it is now is how it will remain?
CJ: There’s a small live team dedicated to supporting Guild Wars, and over the last few years they’ve constantly been adding free content to it, but we’re not doing large boxed expansions anymore.
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BG:Do you expect Guild Wars to remain strong after Guild Wars 2 comes out, or do you think it will be a case of mass migration between the two?
CJ: It’s likely there’ll still be a small, niche group of people who stay with Guild Wars, but we do expect a lot to move over to Guild Wars 2. When part two comes out of anything it’s pretty rare for many people to stick with part one. We’ll leave Guild Wars up and running as long as people want to play it.
BG:Is there any benefit for those who’ve played Guild Wars 1? Can you get boosts or anything like that?
CJ: You’ll be able to reserve your character names from Guild Wars 1 and carry them over. Also, in Guild Wars there’s a building called the hall of monuments where you can display all your achievements. In Guild Wars 2 we give you items based on those achievements. There’s a reward tracker on our website where you can enter your character name and it shows you what you’ll be eligible for. The items won’t make you more powerful, but it’s stuff like unique armour, weapons and pets.