PAX: My Conversations with ArenaNet Staff

On the Sunday of PAX I had great conversations with some of the people that are involved with one of my favourite games. It was nice to be able to speak to the people involved in Guild Wars develpment to let them know how much I enjoy the game and appreciate their work. The party did not afford as much quiet face time with the development team as I expected, the venue being a loud arcade/bar. So I decided to sped some time at the Guild Wars booth to not only check out the Guild Wars: Eye of the North preview event, most of which I missed due to being at PAX, but also to speak to the ArenaNet people.

Gaile Gray, ArenaNet Community Relations Manager, is really cool. I told her that she was one of the industry Community Managers that I looked up to. I actually mentioned her in my job interview. Someone that I know from the Iris Gaming Network forums, who also plays Guild Wars, told me that she also mentioned Gaile Gray in her interview with a gaming company. I think it’s neat to have people in the same profession (and in the industry in general) who you can observe and even admire.

Gray said she would send me a size small shirt because I am unable to wear the extra-large shirt that was included in my prize pack. I had a picture taken with her during the ArenaNet party.

I had a long conversation with Colin Johanson, a Game Designer at ArenaNet. Like me, he is a PvE-focused player. He had logged into the development server and showed me all the cool new places in Guild Wars: Eye of the North. He used admin shortcuts to warp around to random spots on the map. The burning forest was especially amazing. The artists at ArenaNet are so skilled and talented. I can’t wait to reach that part in the game. There are going to be tons of cool little references in the game. Like behind the Eye of the North outpost, there is a little garden with Red Iris Flowers growing… And also somewhere in the swamps lie the ashes of a fallen Prophecies hero. You can pick up the urn of ashes for a party-wide buff.

One of the things Johanson told me about the expansion is that some Charr in GW: EN will be fighting in battle formations. I asked him whether our characters and parties will have access to these battle formations. My feeling is that it would be really cool to take a quest for our Henchmen/Heroes to learn the formations. Then we could have some sort of template chooser to enable them in battle. He said that players would not have access to these formations in GW: EN. He said it wasn’t something they’d considered. However, he told me that it was a really good idea. He said he’d mention it to the development team. So if you see player-side party battle formation options in Guild Wars 2, remember that I may have been the inspiration for this! ;)

Johanson is the main guy behind the Guild Wars in-game events, and I told him that I really appreciated the events. I love them. I like the quests; I like how they add a little bit to the lore of Guild Wars. I like collecting all the festival hats. I know that many players consider the events to be completely superfluous, and to a certain extent they are — they don’t give you more powerful weapons or anything that actively improves your power in the game. For me, they add to my gaming experience in small, extra, fun ways.

I had another long conversation with Brant Fitzgerald, an Effects Artist at ArenaNet. I expected most of the Guild Wars developers to be PvP players, so it was nice to speak to ‘carebears’ like myself. We discussed online culture, and apparently he also turns off Local Chat most of the time, because the atmosphere there is very unwelcoming. People there are often complete jerks, and often resort to abuse and threats. We also discussed the game industry and working in the industry. It was a cool conversation.

At the Guild Wars party, they gave away giant display boxes for Guild Wars Prophecies. I got one, but it was really awkward to carry it around the arcade where the party was held. A friend of mine had a large bag and later took the box home with him that evening. He returned it to me the following day, Sunday. I was carrying around this folded up Guild Wars box, and hanging around the ArenaNet booth, when a random ArenaNet employee took it from me and proceeded to get everyone at the ArenaNet booth to sign it. How awesome! I didn’t even think about getting it signed by the Guild Wars devs. I forgot this ArenaNet person’s name, but I know his face. So thank you, whatever your name is!

I hope to attend PAX next year. Maybe they will remember me, too. :)