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Foostival 2014: Interview with Ramon

Foostival_Interview with Ramon

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?

Monday! ((Tuesday!))

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?

Yes.

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.

Housing in MMOs: Aion

This is part 2 of the “Housing in MMOs” series. Part 1 was looking at Lord of the Rings Online. Today’s MMO is Aion.

This blog post was largely written by thevalliant and edited by me in some parts. While I did play around with my free studio in Aion, I really don’t know that much more about housing in the game, so I asked somebody who does.

When reading this article, please keep in mind that we both play on the European servers which are handled by Gameforge while the US servers are still handled by NCsoft. There may be differences in details like item shops, etc. between those two versions.

Aion housing neighborhoodThere are 5 types of residences in Aion: studios, houses, mansions, estates and palaces, in order of grandeur. These can be found in three areas for each race (Elyos and Asmodians): two ‘contested’ areas (where PvP may occur) and one ‘neutral’ area, that is the main ‘residential area’ for each race, Oriel (Elyos) and Pernon (Asmodians). Note that the residences located in the ‘contested’ areas are surrounded by an aetheric veil which does not permit players of the foreign faction to enter, hence no PvP is possible behind it. Mobs can enter if aggroed and can also be killed right at your doorstep. :)

Quick FAQ

Is there a minimum level required to get a house?
Each character gets their own studio once they hit level 21.

Is there a fee/a recurring fee to keep the house?
Your first ‘house’ (a studio) is given to you as a reward for a series of minor quests, so you pay nothing for it. It is also free of any maintenance fees, plus you can get a 4kk refund should you decide to sell it (in order to buy a bigger house). All the other types of ‘houses’, i.e. palaces, estates, mansions and houses, are only available via auction and they come bundled (or burdened) with weekly maintenance fees. These go up pretty steeply depending on the type of residence: house – 400k/w, mansion – 2,24kk/w, estate – 6,7kk/w and palace – 20kk/w! If you fail to pay your weekly dues, you get two warnings (once per weekly expire) after which your house is flagged as available in the Auction Market. You are refunded with 90% of its buying value, but I do not know what happens to all the items you had installed inside it. :(

Which choices do I have when it comes to my house?
Differences between them are many and varied. Obviously and primarily they differ in appearance: a studio is like an apartment in a block of residences, quite indistinguishable from one another, while a mansion or an estate really stand out and come with a (small) selection of looks for you to pick from. Secondly, they differ on the number of objects you can install on them. More on that in the section “Is there an item limit?”. Another big difference is the buff your character receives depending on the type of ‘house’ he owns (more on that in the paragraph about advantages you get when owning a house).

When it comes to appearances, there are nice – thus expensive! – neighborhoods and others that are, let’s say, less popular ones. Popularity, hence starting bid at auctions, depends on the area’s surroundings (town or swamp, for example) and also how easily accessible the house is (if there’s a teleporter nearby for example or if you have to walk to it through hostile/contested grounds).

Is there an item limit? What about item placing?
I already mentioned about interior and exterior items’ limits being different for each type. Studios allow for 20 interior and 0 exterior items, ranging up to 70 interior and 20 exterior items for a palace! An additional note: Free players who did not have the game before it went f2p only get “1/3 functional items” in the studio.

Let’s take the example of a house, as the most popular and also cheaper alternative to the poor studio. You may install 7 exterior items, 30 interior ones and 4 ‘blooms’ (more on these later). All items may be freely placed in their respective ‘domain’ (inside or outside) and there are no restrictions (i.e. hooks) except those one may expect. For example, you may not place a picture frame on the floor or a carpet on top of a table! Rotation is available along the Z-axis only, i.e. counter-/clockwise. You cannot tip an item. There’s a House Butler, a warm and cute little shugo who doesn’t ask for a salary and who may be ‘programmed’ to welcome friends or shoo away visitors! Adorning your house isn’t really expensive, especially if you craft the furniture yourself. Plus the 400k weekly maintenance fee is not worth mentioning as a common (white quality) drop, typically once every hour of playing/killing/farming, can be sold to the general merchant for anywhere between 300k and 650k!

Additionally, Aion allows you to write scripts that do certain things. E.g. making a couch bounce, making furniture glow or other fun stuff. Here is a guide that explains how to write scripts.

Can you expand the house?
You cannot expand the house, either in area or in storeys (floors) it occupies. You need to sell your house and buy a bigger one. What you can do is add more storage space by installing ‘containers’ (cabinets).

Are there any advantages when you own a house?
You get a skill that teleports you to your house; it practically opens up a portal to your residence which remains open for 5 minutes, allowing you to return to where you were before. Your ‘Energy of Repose’ (this is a counter of how long you’ve been offline. The higher it is, the bigger the XP boost will be when you get back online) regenerates 5% faster if you own a studio, 10% for a house or a mansion, with the mansion additionally removing all death penalties, etc. Additionally, if your friends – or any guest actually – visiting your house decide to water and fertilize your plants you may get valuable items, like crafting materials or even Godstones! Finally, you can hire special NPCs which provide specialized services to you (or your guests; all customizable through rights and permissions) like selling items, etc.

What’s the maximum amount of houses per characters / per account?
Each character can have one house only. Characters on the same account don’t share either their houses or any items therein.

Are there guild houses?
Guild houses? What guild houses? :(

Are there any limitations unless you pay real money?
Big topic this… If you already had an Aion account before the game switched to f2p, your account is considered a veteran one. If you start to play the game now, you can only have a free account with lots of restrictions or pay a monthly fee to get rid of them. See this overview for more information.

There are a lot of items one can use to place in their home and these come from all sorts of sources: quest rewards, ‘chest’ loot (yellow bags), crafting (they introduced a brand new discipline, Construction), trade broker (the auction house), events, etc. A “starter”, i.e. a player who’s not a Veteran and has not purchased a “Gold Pack” (which removes all restrictions for one month) cannot sell stuff at the broker or mail stuff to other players, or trade with them – so I would say that’s a significant restriction. They can buy a ‘Gold Pack’ either with real money (at the NCsoft shop) or from the broker. By the way, it seems that the US version, which is offered by NCsoft, does not give any restrictions to f2p players. So you may consider going checking out their business model and decide which one you prefer. European – and US – players are free to play with either version.

Additional information
One thing worth noting is that once you register an acquired item with your home (you enter ‘Decoration Mode’ and press the ‘+’ button) you can either have it sitting there or place it in your home. Should you place it there though, there is no way to take it back. Say you wanted to stash it away to some imaginary warehouse, to be used later or in another house, etc. You may only destroy it!

As mentioned above, there are three zones in the game where you can find houses. Oriel and Pernon each consist of several villages. Walking between those would take quite some time. Each Village has its own little square, typically at the middle of their name tag on the map. Among the NPCs found in each such square, there is one called ‘Village Teleporter’. There’s a fee for teleporting, but at least you can travel much faster that way.

Each race on a server has access to 242 houses, 157 mansions, 127 estates and 4 palaces. That means there for each race, there is a total of 530 ‘houses’, excluding studios. This means that once those 4 palaces are owned by players, there is no way for you to get one. Studios are unlimited, so you can always get one of those, at least.

Taking the mic – or pen rather – back from thevalliant, I want to add a few thoughts on housing in Aion. When I first saw the Aion vision trailer, which showed that they wanted to add housing down the road (and obviously did at some point), I was so excited that I went and got the game. Up till then, I had only watched bookahnerk play, but then and there, I wanted to play as well! By now, I have almost completely abandoned Aion and even after looking at the housing, it’s just not enough to draw me back in. It’s pretty, I’ll give you that. It has more freedom than housing in Lord of the Rings Online. But it’s still not enough for me. Unless you buy a palace – and as mentioned above, there is a very limited amount of those per server – you only get one rather small room and a bit of space outside. A house or a mansion – imagine a mansion… look at the pictures below, look at the size of those buildings! And then you get one measly room. No, thank you. And when coupled with Gameforge’s version of “free to play” (even though I do have a veteran account), I’m even less inclined to play this game.

Giveaway No. 2: Two GW2 Charrlies

Update: This Giveaway has ended. Please be patient while we’re going to decide who’s going to be added to both drawing pots and drawing the winners. We will make a post announcing both winners later today!

Here is our second part of the post-GamesCom giveaway. We got two Charrlie plushies which is really great. Unfortunately – or fortunately for you, depending on how you’re looking at it – we already have two. If you look at the picture on the left, you can see that my own Charrlie did not want to accept the newcomers! Thus, we are looking for new owners for those two (the packaged ones, of course).

Please read the following rules carefully to see what you need to do in order to enter our giveaway and have a chance of winning one!

1. We want you to comment and present us a scenery screenshot – that you took yourself, of course. Preferrably from Guild Wars (1 or 2). If you can’t give us either, then any screenshot of any MMO will do. As with our previous giveaway, we would hate to exclude a new Guild Wars 2 fan, so that’s why we give everybody the chance to enter. While we love Guild Wars, we will give every screenshot an equal chance!
With “scenery” we mean that we do not want to see the UI or the chat. We want to see something of the game world (a sunset on the beach would be a classic).

2. Leave a valid email address when commenting. It will only be used by us for contacting the winner and nothing else! The best way to do that is to enter said email address into the “email” field. We can see that address but nobody else will be able to see it (if you instead put it into the body of your comment, everybody will see it)!

3. From all screenshots, we will choose the ones we like the most (no definite number. If there are lots of great entries, then we’ll choose lots) and out of that pool, we will randomly draw the winner of the first Charrlie plushie.
ALL other entries (best + rest minus first winner) will then be put into the random drawing of Charrlie no. 2.
That means that if we really like your screenshot, you’ve got a higher chance of winning a plushie.

4. The winners will be contacted by email. Please reply within 7 days and give us your real life address, so we can send the plushie to you. Do NOT leave it in the comment field! If you do not reply within 7 days, we will choose another winner.

5. One entry (and one screenshot!) per person (IP addresses are always logged by wordpress.com when somebody comments)! We reserve the right to exclude entries when we think you’re trying to cheat by entering multiple times. Stay fair, please. :)

6. No debating about the outcome! We will draw randomly and everybody who presents us a scenery screenshot has a chance of winning. :)

7. The Giveaway is open for comments/participants until Saturday, August 25, 2012, 9am Berlin Time (this should give you the time for your time zone).

8. Last but not least, a word of warning: We usually prefer digital giveaways, because you can be sure that the winner receives their prize. Obviously, we will send the t-shirt via snail mail as the t-shirt doesn’t fit through the internet. We really hope you will receive your t-shirt and the post behaves, but we can’t guarantee it. I doubt it really has to be said, but there you go. As you can tell, we do not trust the post system too much. ;)

Last but not least, if you’re wondering where or how to upload the picture, read the following instruction (written by Tilion from DragonSeason):
1) Go to http://tinypic.com/ and select Browse.
2) Find your picture from your PC at the pop-up window. Once you select it, click Upload Now.
3) Fill in the CAPTCHA code that will appear on your screen and click once more Upload Now.
4) Once you’re through with that, copy the Direct Link for Layouts that has been given to you and come back here and leave a comment.

Guild Wars 2 at GamesCom 2012

You may remember that we have already written a report on ArenaNet’s booth last year, so of course, we’re going to write another one this year. Last year, we went to GamesCom on two days, Thursday and Saturday, which means that our experiences and observations came from two different days. Saturday is usually the busiest day, but we decided against going there again on a Saturday this year. It was simply too crowded for my liking. And there is no way I am going to do that again. While I don’t panic when I’m within a crowd, it’s not a pleasant feeling either. So we only went on Thursday this year which was just crowded enough to not make me feel uncomfortable.

It feels a bit weird to be writing this report as this year, there wasn’t much to see about the game. Last year, there were several demo stations at their PvE booth and a few more at their PvP booth. But this time, there was not a single demo station available. Our friend, who had also come with us last year, remarked that he was very surprised to hear that as he would have expected them to have a zillion demo stations around, so they could show off their game. The booth that we got to see, however, was a really good concept and a place that all three of us enjoyed.

10:10

We arrived at the booth shortly past 10am. As some of you may know, on Wednesday and Thursday, ArenaNet had announced a password on Twitter and after saying it to one of the staff members, you got a code for an in-game item (a Guild Wars 2 dragon t-shirt). Maybe they were hoping that not too many people would come to get their code. The contrary happened, of course. At around 10.30am on Thursday, they were already out of the codes they had wanted to give out during the morning. We had gotten ours shortly before that and decided to just stay at the lounge and enjoy the scenery. The booth was pretty and the design almost literally screamed “ArenaNet”: It fit perfectly. In the middle of the busy, loud and slowly crowding GamesCom, there was this little oasis with plants, white pebble stones, comfortable stools and a waterfall – or at least, something close to it. Everything was inviting you to stay, relax a bit and converse with the people around you.

We decided it was too early for that as we wanted to see other booths first, so we left and went on to explore GamesCom. As this report is about ArenaNet, I will skip forward to when we returned to their booth.

13:45

In the meantime, ArenaNet had announced that they would give away 100 codes every hour. We were curious and went back to the booth only to see that it was crowded outside and relatively full inside. They had closed the two entrances to the booth already and it looked like about 100 people were inside. Those 100 would be getting the codes at 2pm. Outside there were – roughly estimating – about 300 more people. If you have never been to something like GamesCom, let me tell you that people do queue for the weirdest things for hours. If you ask me queuing for three hours just for an in-game item belonging to a game that is coming out in just 7 days, is not too surprising. But it’s always hard to anticipate what is going to happen and how popular exactly something will be. There were no demo stations, after all, and apart from the two screens showing the trailers, you could not really do or see anything while waiting.

We had actually wanted to meet somebody there at 2 but instead found her outside the convention halls. We could not have gone inside to sit down anyway. At that point, it was disappointing to see that their concept was basically ruined. If you click on the video above, you can see it yourself. Apart from the crowd wanting codes (and I don’t blame them), the neighbours of ArenaNet were really loud (music, shouting, etc.). If you ask me, GamesCom is always too loud with too many games literally screaming for your attention. However, I doubt that ArenaNet had any say in who would be next to them and how loud they would be. We left again after watching them giving the codes away inside, letting those people out and letting the next group in.

18:30

At around 6.30pm, we returned for the last time. At that point, not that many people were left, especially as they had stopped offering codes. But in general, a lot of visitors had already left (it was open from 10am to 8pm that day). The ArenaNet booth wasn’t empty, though, but we could finally grab some seats, sit down, enjoy the scenery of the booth and talk to Stéphane (one of the two French Community Managers) and Ramon (the new German Community Manager). Finally, we felt that we got to enjoy the booth in the way that ArenaNet had intended. Of course, it wasn’t their fault in the morning as we had just not been in the mood to sit down only minutes after arriving. Anyway, we had a great talk about Guild Wars 2 and MMOs in general with Stéphane. An hour later, it was time to go, so we would not have to leave with the rest of the GamesCom visitors and get stuck on the parking lot.

What we had been able to see during our three visits was that once again, even without demo stations and developers present, ArenaNet’s and NCsoft’s staff members were there and they did not just stand around in a corner watching their fans. They were in the middle, interacting, talking, answering questions (as far as they could, I would assume ^^) and were a part of it. If they had not worn their special Guild Wars 2 t-shirts, you wouldn’t have known they weren’t just fans like everybody else.

21:00

In the evening, we were invited to their Meet&Greet. At first, we decided to just sit down in a corner and watch. My feet were aching (and I even got an inflammation in my left foot. Aaah, the sacrifices I endure for online games… ^^), so I was happy to sit. But it was a bit boring. I didn’t mind the company – that is, my boyfriend and a friend, but I can see them so often and talking to others would have been nice as well. Unfortunately, I am too shy to just go to people and ask them who they are. Fortunately, Kronos from Onlinewelten, whom I had met during EU Fan Day in Brighton, spotted me and came over. Just a few minutes later, we were in their corner of the room (where lots of other people from Onlinewelten were sitting) and I was talking to his girlfriend about basically everything but Guild Wars 2, with the exception of the shape of our future sylvaris’ ears. Very important decision, of course.

ArenaNet was very generous as they had a raffle where they gave away 4 Collector’s Editions, 2 cardboard standups, several keyboards and computer mice. Sadly, neither of us won anything. That wasn’t bad at all, though, as we had not gone there for the loot and, more importantly, somebody else from the Onlinewelten community had won one of the CEs and seeing his shocked face together with him mumbling “I have never won anything…!” was priceless. :)

I also finally got to talk a bit with Ramon. Only a few minutes, but that’s okay because the community managers were very busy with all of us around, trying to talk to everybody and, of course, organizing the event. But yeah, we’ve got a very nice new German Community Manager!

Another highlight of the evening was that one guy, also a proud winner of a Collector’s Edition, who came to us to tell us that he loves our blog. I was walking on clouds and because of that, forgot to ask for his name. Oh well, in case you read this, feel free to contact us and tell us who you are! ;) It’s always great to get feedback from readers and hear that what you are doing is liked by others.

This was just a short summary of the evening. I don’t think it’d be interesting to repeat every little detail because most of what happened was conversations with other people. We once again got to know other German fans of the game and/or writers for fansites and it’s always great to do that if you ask me. As I said earlier to Stéphane, I have the tendency to jump in and out of games and get bored with them quickly once I understand the rules. What keeps me in a game is the community, the people I get to know and the friendships that form in the long run. Guild Wars 2 may just be a game but it manages to connect people from all over the world and that is something fantastic. Being at gatherings like this always shows me exactly what it is that I love most about ArenaNet: Their care for the community and their constant effort to provide an environment where it’s easy for us to connect and get to know each other better.

Last but not least, if you have managed to read until now, let me give you a little hint: We brought something back with us (not the game!) and we do not intend to keep it… ;)

EUFanDay in Brighton, April 2 – April 3, 2012, incl. link collection!

We (the people who were invited) arrived in Brighton on Monday and left Tuesday afternoon. I’m still honoured that Nerdy Bookahs had gotten this invitation! It was a short event but fun. I got to meet all those other fan sites, blogs, etc. (of course, not all good fan sites/blogs were invited. I guess it was more a random sample of all the good ones out there because it’d be impossible to have everybody in one small room!).

On Monday, there was one thing that we had been looking forward to all day long. One thing that we absolutely had to see while we spent our time with people from NCSoft (and ArenaNet, of course). The… BEACH! There, I said it. Now come on, spam bots, sell me your chain bikinis, I dare you!

But seriously: You will probably find lots of posts about this event and, of course, about the interview we had with the developers of Guild Wars 2. If you are interested in reading about my time in Brighton and about the community members I met, about the EU community managers, etc., then you’ve come to the right place as I will write about exactly this.

As this is a special event, I am going to post all entries in both English and German (maybe I’ll get bookahnerk to help me with the translations, so it’ll be faster). We are even considering doing translations for most of our regular postings from now on but we’re not 100% certain we can keep up with the time involvement this would mean. But being Germans, we would like to get in touch more with the other German fans of the game. Anyway, if you only know English, please bear with us for having that German gibberish at the end of all the Brighton-entries. If we do decide to do regular translations for other posts, we will make sure to separate them! ;)

Scroll past the German to find a list of posts about the EUFanDay. I will try to keep it up-to-date! If you see that we’re missing a link, feel free to comment and share it with us. :)

Comments can be written in English or German. Please don’t use any other languages because we probably wouldn’t be able to understand you. ;)

***

Wir, also diejenigen, die eingeladen waren, kamen Montag vormittag in Brighton an. Dienstag nachmittag ging es dann auch schon wieder heim. Ich freue mich immer noch darüber, dass wir zu den Eingeladenen gehörten mit unserem Nerdy Bookahs-Blog. Es war ein kurzer Event, aber ich hatte viel Spaß! Endlich konnte ich mal all die anderen Macher/Schreiber hinter den Fanseiten und Blogs kennenlernen – zumindest diejenigen, die eingeladen waren. Ich denke mal, dass es eine eher zufällige Auswahl an Fanseiten und Blogs war. Es konnten nicht alle guten Fanseiten/Blogs eingeladen werden. Wie auch? Wir würden gar nicht alle in einen Raum passen. ;)

Am Montag gab es eine Sache, auf die sich einige von uns den ganzen Tag über gefreut haben. Eine Sache, die wir unbedingt sehen mussten, während wir bei NCSoft (und natürlich ArenaNet) in Brighton waren: Der STRAND! Jaaahaa, ich traue mich, das Wort zu nennen! Los, Spambots, das ist eure Chance! Verkauft mir eure Ketten-Bikinis.

Aber ernsthaft: Wir werden wohl alle über den Event schreiben (naja, zumindest ich) und wen wir dort getroffen haben und wir dürfen natürlich über das Interview mit den Developern schreiben. Wenn ihr also lesen wollt, wie es in Brighton war, wen ich aus der Community getroffen habe (inkl. den europäischen Community Managern), dann seid ihr hier richtig, denn genau darüber werde ich in den kommenden Tagen schreiben.

Weil das ein spezieller Event war, gibt es die Blogeinträge auch alle auf englisch und deutsch (wobei bookahnerk mich da eventuell mit den deutschen Übersetzungen unterstützen wird, damit es schneller geht). Wir denken sogar darüber nach, in Zukunft auch die meisten der regulären Einträge auf deutsch zu schreiben. Dann aber nicht alles in einem Eintrag wie hier jetzt sondern getrennt (wie genau das aussehen wird, wissen wir noch nicht ^^). Wir würden jedenfalls gerne auch mehr mit anderen deutschen Fans interagieren.

Ich werde in diesem Eintrag eine Liste mit Links führen, damit ihr die ganzen verschiedenen Einträge aus der Community finden könnt zu dem EUFanDay und werde versuchen, sie regelmäßig zu aktualisieren. Wenn ihr einen Link findet, der hier fehlt, dürft ihr gerne kommentieren und ihn uns mitteilen! :)

Kommentare dürfen sowohl auf englisch und auf deutsch geschrieben werden! Weitere Sprachen bitte nicht, weil wir euch dann nicht verstehen können. ;)

***

What you’ve all been waiting for: The interview!

Other write-ups about the event (including the gamplay sessions now that the NDA got dropped for us!):
I’m now listing the postings by language. However, some do want to translate their entries and in quite a few cases, people included pictures. So even if you don’t understand the language, clicking on the entries might be worthwile (especially if you’re curious about what we look like ^^).

English:

Polish:

French:

Spanish:

German:

Italian:

Dutch:

Greek:

Other things (picture galleries, videos, podcast):