Update: Check out the corresponding gem cards giveaway (EU-only). Open until March 31! This is the interview from Foostival with Ramon Domke, the German community manager of Guild Wars 2 (click this link for the Guildnews version and this link for the Wartower one – the videos are identical!). It was done completely in German and even though nothing spectacular was revealed, it is still fun to listen to it and we thought it may be a good idea to translate it and share it with the rest of the community!
On the left, you see Johannes (Lord Walek) from Wartower. The guy on the right is Alex (Sputti) from Guildnews. The one in the middle with the pretty pink shirt is Ramon. Prior to Foostival, they had asked their communities to give them questions they can ask Ramon Domke, who is the German community manager for Guild Wars 2. Alex asked his community for more personal questions, so most of those below are from him.
I decided not to translate everything they said literally. The video is more than one hour long, so I assume you can understand why I didn’t do that. ;) I tried to stay as close as possible to the answers Ramon gave while summarizing and translating them. Sometimes, they are closer to what was said literally. I’ve also added a few comments in ((brackets)) where necessary (like the changes of the reveal dates for the features pack or when I wasn’t sure I got the correct translation).
Ramon starts with the warning that there will be one sentence in three variations that you will be hearing in his replies pretty often (and he assures us, he hates it as much as we do):
1) I can’t say anything about that.
2) We’re not talking about this yet.
3) Nothing is ever off the table.
He tries to answer the questions as best as he can.
1. Loot and reward system: Will there be changes e.g. in dungeons and fractals? Champion runs get better rewards than other things in the game.
He can’t promise which direction the changes will take, but there will be changes. Different content should be rewarded similarly. There is a “loots and rewards” team looking at how different things are rewarded, so changes will definitely come. He can’t say if they’ll be viewed positively or negatively in the beginning.
2. Will there be changes in the skill system or how the enemies behave? So far, damage is more important than anything. Support is more of a burden to the group.
Ramon knows this feedback. They have just released the first information about the features pack and those are the first steps towards this direction where eventually different builds should be equal. On the other hand, with the open world content, they try to implement different game mechanics to make different builds strong.
3. What does Ramon think about the professions’ balance?
He’s not too keen on speed runs or getting the most gold per hour played. He most often plays with friends and can play with less effective builds, but he can understand that there are issues, especially with PUGs where they say “You either have this build or you can’t come!”
4. Are they still working on a solution to limited condition stacks?
There are lots of developers and are trying to find a solution, but the last things they tried out resulted in the server infrastructure to go down. There was too much tracking of e.g. stacks of different lengths. It’s not off the table.
5. New profession/weapon combinations: Are they planning this?
He wouldn’t exclude the possibility of this, but nothing will come in the next weeks or months. There will be the features patch next and then they will continue the living story.
Or more skills per weapon? E.g. switching between/choosing skills?
That is an interesting idea. If they can implement this reasonably, then why not. Either through a different weapon or by giving one weapon more skills. It would maybe be easier to just put in a new weapon.
6. What was the reason for only now giving free retraiting?
They looked at different systems – not only about retraiting. And they thought: Who is disadvantaged the most? When retraiting, then it is the beginners, who don’t have that much gold yet. They need to travel to a city, then retrait and travel back. That’s 10 silvers which is a lot for a beginner. Or you want to try out something. You’re out in the world fighting a veteran, you die and think: What can I do? You can now try different things without having to travel. It’s a much more interesting game now. The answer is: because they want to make the game better and because they grow together with the community.
He gives the example of Guild Wars 1. On the back of the Prophecies box was an example build with a warrior. It was completely ineffective. Developers had put it there as an example build, but the players who brought in new build ideas every day developed the game along.
7. What does he think about the upcoming warrior trait where you get more attack speed with two one-handed weapons ((dual-wield agility)) and if he knows how it stacks with quickness?
He does not know if it stacks. But he is also “such a boring warrior” with two one-handed axes, so he doesn’t haven an issue with this new trait.
8. Is more group-content planned?
Definitely, but it depends on how you define “group-content”. 5-party instanced content? Or “raid-like” in instances with e.g. 20 people. GW2 tries to have lots of content in the open world. Yes, they try to put group content in there. They try not to have it “too zergy”, so that even with a huge group with 150, players can interact and fight together.
9. Will there be more world bosses like Tequatl?
He definitely does not want to exclude that possibility.
10. Are they thinking about putting the bigger bosses that need lots of coordination onto special maps? So that those who do this content don’t disturb those who want to level in that zone.
He refers to the last few bullet points on the April 2014 Feature Pack release and tells us to wait for those to be revealed ((Facilitating Friendly Play Parts 1, 2 and 3 which will be shown April 2 – April 4)). This question will be answered in detail in there.
11. What does Ramon think of the ending of Season 1?
He looks at it like it was a TV series. He doesn’t have a problem with the ending. It’s like a cliffhanger: Lots of the questions that appeared with Flame & Frost have been answered so far, but more and more loose parts appeared and not all of those have been answered. He saw a planning document for season 2 and there will be answers to all open questions. In this document, you can also clearly read: “E. is… (name of a person)“. What they learned is that it is important that players can see there is a common thread throughout all parts.
12. In general, how did he like Scarlet?
Scarlet was a bit of a crazy kale. She fulfilled her purpose and even if she wasn’t liked, she still caused emotions.
13. What does ArenaNet think about dungeons with more than 5 players? Maybe making dungeons scalable?
Nothing is off the table, but they’re trying to bring big and interesting encounters to the open world. They want to design this content in a way that people who are just passing by can form a group and do it, but it should also be challenging enough, so players aren’t standing there hitting “1″ repeatedly.
14. Will there be more content on Southsun Cove?
He can’t say anything about this ((I assume because he doesn’t know.))
15. There is one armor set ((“Rüstungsset der Genesung” in German which I believe are the Mending gauntlets, greaves, helm in English)) you get as rewards from the personal storyline, but the leggings are missing.
He has no idea!
16. Will there be more possibilities to get ascended armor? E.g. dungeon tokens, karma.
He doesn’t know exactly how, but they are looking at ways to make items available through different means, so players with different playstyles (like people who do WvW or dungeons, …) can also get them. He compares it to the changes in the trait system where new traits can be unlocked by doing specific content or by paying gold. He also refers to the design philosophy they had in mind for Guild Wars 2 that they do not want to force players to play a certain way.
17. Will there be new legendary weapons? And if so, will they be available in the same way than the current legendaries?
They’re thinking about how to handle legendary weapons. They had originally planned to implement the feature of crafting a precursor or doing a scavenger hunt with the feature release. But since they’re now rethinking the whole system with their “loots and rewards” team, they postponed it. But they are looking for ways to reasonably put them in and give players the feeling that they’re slowly but surely working towards their legendary weapon and aren’t dependant on the loot luck from the Mystic Forge. Of course, they are also thinking of possible new legendary weapons. This does not mean there will be new ones, but that they are of course thinking about them.
18. There was also the question if there will be more skins from Guild Wars 1?
He thinks this is possible, especially when it’s about very popular ones. But he doesn’t know if it’s being done.
19. What is Ramon’s favourite zone in Guild Wars 1 and which zone die he like in Guild Wars 1 which doesn’t exist in Guild Wars 2 yet.
He generally likes barren land in MMOs. In Guild Wars 1, he liked the desert areas. For example, the Crystal Desert which looked like a huge desert, even though it wasn’t. He talks about an abandoned temple there and that it looks like there is a statue, but the closer you get, the more it looks like a mirage. Also, the area before you go to Maguuma Jungle, that looks like a desert: He thinks this is beautiful. And in Eye of the North, he says “Longeye’s Ledge” was just great with the atmosphere, the autumny look, the warm sunlight.
20. What is going to happen with Lion’s Arch now?
Lion’s Arch is currently destroyed. It won’t be rebuilt within a day. He doesn’t say what or how it’s going to change.
21. Which update of the Living Story was his favourite?
When it comes to gameplay, Bazaar of the Four Winds. It was fun and he loves Sanctum Sprint. He is also sad that the Aspect Arena is not part of the daily activities. He would also love to see this one again.
22. How far developed is Season 2 of the Living Story?
It’s all planned.
23. Ellen Kiel or Evon Gnashblade?
Ellen Kiel. His bet was on her winning because while the hardcore and Guild Wars 1 players wanted to see the Abaddon fractal, he was sure that the bigger crowd would go with the reduced waypoint costs.
24. Would Scarlet have appeared in the Abaddon fractal as well?
He doesn’t reply to that question.
25. Will there also be something to vote on in Season 2 like the vote between Ellen and Evon?
He doesn’t know that.
26. Will Season 2 see content that is closer to an “expansion”? For example, new regions, new professions, new races.
He says that the question is what you call “something like expansion content”. He says yes, at least, it will go into that direction.
27. Are they working on a continuation of the personal story? And is it possible to combine the personal and the living story?
They are thinking about different possibilities of the personal character progression/story and revisions of current systems, but he can’t say what they are going to do.
28. Will there be more blending of story and game events? As in having more cut scenes in between.
They extended their cinematics department. So he won’t say “no” to this. The recent updates also showed some more cut scenes. They do not plan to use those cut scenes anymore where your character and one other character can be seen on the screen – like in the personal story – and will concentrate more on scenic cut scenes.
29. Are they working on a way to let the player repeat living story? E.g. through fractals?
He would not say “no” and they do hear this feedback very often: Why do you make temporary content that will be lost forever once it’s over? He thinks they are probably looking at how to make replaying it possible.
30. Will we see World 3 of the Super Adventure Box on April 1 and if so, will the story be continued?
Ramon’s reply: “And who would benefit from an April 1 spoiler?”
31. What does Ramon think of the SAB?
He thinks the idea is interesting. He shook his head when he first heard about this. But it’s such an ingenious idea that it works. In general, he is just too bad to do jumping puzzles.
32. What does Ramon think of the tribulation mode of the SAB?
He doesn’t like going from full life to zero without understanding why, so he doesn’t like this mode. But there are different players and everybody likes different content. He is happy that there are people who love the tribulation mode.
33. The next topic is datamining: What do they think about dataminers?
He personally hates dataminers. They destroy the fun for the players and the result is that developers have to think about how to deploy a build, so that hardly no datamining can be done. So, building something over a longer course of time is difficult.
34. There was an “alternative ending sequence” to season 1 of the living story which got revealed by dataminers. Does something like this happen more often at ArenaNet that there are different endings or that different endings are done and the “right” one will be chosen at a later time?
In general, if you look at filmmakers, game developers, authors, this happens frequently to test out different endings: How would this ending affect the rest of my story, etc.? This happens especially when you’re working with several authors. The ending they did is the ending they need.
35. Some complained that almost no new town clothes have been implemented. Will this change?
He refers to the announcements for the feature patch and that some questions will be answered there: Monday. ((Note: This was changed and the date on the website now says “March 25″, so today, the correct answer is “Tuesday”))
36. Could it be implemented that regular armor could be changed to town clothes?
He again refers to their website and the feature patch: Monday. ((Tuesday!))
37. How about a crafting profession that lets you create town clothes?
38. Will there be new emotes? Or animations for some existing emotes?
He doesn’t know the answer. It’s currently not talked about, but as usual, nothing is off the table.
39. Would he like more vistas to see more of the world?
He would love to see a “filmmakers kit” where he could basically dock the camera of his character and then make his own vista/film.
40. How many screenshots has he taken?
His screenshots usually tell a story, as he never deletes them. He has no idea how many he has.
41. ((The question if Ramon plays GW2 in his free time is obsolete: Yes, he does!)). So on to the next one: How often/regularly does he play?
He has almost 6000 achievement points. It’s not that much, but not bad either.
42. What is Ramon’s favourite profession and what is his favourite profession/race combination?
He plays sylvari. He would love to play asura, but there is no “change sylvari to asura kit” and he doesn’t want to do everything again. But he really likes asura. He plays all 8 professions. His favourite is engineer. He hasn’t played it that often recently, as he’s playing his necromancer in PvP and WvW more often.
43. Is there a general trend towards one race or profession at ArenaNet?
No. It’s mixed. Everybody has their own favourites.
44. What is his favourite in-game dye for armor?
Thanks to having sylvari, he has a lot of choices when it comes to skin colours and he tries to choose dyes that support that colour. His guardian has an armor that has metal colours (gold, silver, dark bronze). His necro has a very dark green and around the dark green, he has light golden borders and a white shirt below.
45. Are they working on solving some cosmetic issues, especially the warrior shouting of gaining adrenaline when it’s slowly decaying?
He can’t say that. Since it’s not a critical bug, it’s probably low on the list of priorities. More critical things are worked on first.
46. Will there be an expansion of the API that can be used?
They are currently reworking a lot of systems which will render the API useless in some areas at first. Then they will definitely need to rework things to keep the API useable.
47. Has ArenaNet thought about implementing a region lock because people from different time zones could get an advantage over night on EU servers?
They discussed this, but decided against it, because there are players who travel a lot, etc. Or when players from Oceania are on European data centers, etc. They would not want to dictate players where and when to play the game.
48. How did Ramon get to ArenaNet?
He applied. They did not want him back then. 1,5 years later, they called him and asked if he was still interested. And obviously, he was.
49. What is a typical day of a community manager?
A normal day doesn’t exist. As community manager, he is talking to different departments and sits in between everything and tries to coordinate everything. He has to know what’s going on inside the studio and what’s happening outside of the studio. Then he tries to combine this. He gave an example of how they wanted to name something which, unfortunately, was a nazi parole when translated to German. So it is his job to know what will and won’t work in his community.
50. When Ramon sees a suggestion on the forum, does he have to tell the lead community manager about this first or can he tell that to the developers? What’s the hierarchy like?
He is the highest rank for the German-speaking area. He decides what to report to the developers. He also has people who report to him. But he is the one representing the German community. He can forward feedback directly, but they are communicating between the teams and if there is an issue in one region, it’s very often an issue in other regions as well. He gives the example of the Zodiak armor and that in the UK, it was a big issue that it was seen as too sexualized on female characters whereas in other regions, it was mainly seen as too similar to a smurf with the blue colours. ((Also notable in this aspect is that he knows what was being discussed on the Wartower forums – a German fansite)). A lot of his time is spent looking for feedback and reporting about this. He also tries to figure out if, for example, negative feedback comes from a lot of different people or maybe there are a lot of negative postings, but they are from just a handful of people. In the latter case, he still doesn’t disregard the feedback and it is still being added to the list of feedback. Additionally, the communities (on fansites, etc.) differ. Something that’s being discussed in the Wartower forums may not be an issue elsewhere or discussed differently (e.g. the other German fansites, Twitter, Facebook, …). His job is to find out what the whole of the German community thinks and not just parts of it.
51. Do community managers get unlimited gems?
Ramon would love that. They get a certain amount of gems every month, though. He’s saving them currently. But he has also bought gems and says he spent about 80 – 90€ for gems since the game’s release. He tries to stay in the range of what he would pay for a subscription game… around 5 to 10€ for the game.
52. Which Elder Dragon is the most interesting for him?
He doesn’t think he has a ranking. Kralkatorrik is funny, because of his dragon breath and how he corrupted everything with it. Mordremoth and how he influences nature and everything… he generally likes the idea that each Elder Dragon is more or less able to manipulate different elements.
53. Does the Deep Sea dragon, lovingly called Bubbles by the community, have a real name internally?
He thinks he saw the name “Bubbles” on a document. He doesn’t know anything about an official name.
54. If you could tell a part of the Living Story yourself, what would happen in it and which characters would definitely make an appearance?
His reply: “Children are watching.” He mentions Caithe… and adds a “maybe”. Then he stops, laughs and the next question is asked.
55. Somebody said that in the last 1,5 years, there wasn’t much lasting content and an expansion hasn’t been announced yet. What is your position about that?
He would also wish for more content that stays in the world, but he also understands the idea behind the progressing story. He believes that ArenaNet can do it a lot better in season 2. Players should also understand that this is the first time ArenaNet has developed a real open world MMORPG and they are experimenting a lot. Some things don’t work, sometimes they learn a lot and he thinks that they are on a good path and that season 2 will be better.
56. XBox One, PS4, Wii U or PC?
PC and PS4. And Oculus Rift – he really wants one!
57. Are you a fan of Game of Thrones?
58. What did you think about “Red Wedding”?
It was not very surprising for him. He is one of the people who read the books. He really liked the atmosphere created by the music, though!
59. ((Here was a spoilery question about Game of Thrones – I deleted it, just to be safe. Also, be careful when watching the video!))
((Here was the spoilery answer to the spoilery question above.))
60. What happened with the Guild Wars 2 ComChat ((it was a chat between people from fansites and Ramon to talk about the game))?
He did not have enough time to do those. He did them when he had time left. They restructured and he has more time now and in fact, after this very interview, they had planned to do another ComChat. He will also try to do it regularly again. Maybe once a month.
61. How does he get his bald head to shine this nicely?
Bloom effect! Go to your graphic cards settings, click on “bloom effect” and you can have such a shiny bald head, too!
62. Last question: The VIP feature in the Chinese version and our Western version.
There are usually content differences between the Western and the Eastern versions (or one being behind in versions). When they said that we would have the same “version”, they meant the content. Content updates will be simultaneously. The builds will not be identical! The Western version has the “buy to play” model where you buy the game and can play it as much as you like. This is the Western version and this will stay the Western version. The version in Asia is different. He ends his reply with: In the history of MMOs there hasn’t been an MMO that started as a free to play or buy to play and then added a subscription. It has always been the other way around.