Colin Johanson's previous interviews and pronouncements have tended to rub me up the wrong way somehow and this long series of ambling, amiable replies to some rather soft questions is no exception. Filter out the fluff, though, and it's very revealing in what it lets slip about the underlying mechanics and state of the game.
The Mike Ferguson interview is much shorter and very much more focused, but the same points keep coming through: GW2 is poorly-constructed and under-resourced. Here are some quotes:
"Population limits are an unfortunate fact of life with the current wvw design" (MF)
"...bigger we can’t do currently with our existing tech, those are the biggest maps we can make. It’s actually just an engine limitation which means fixing that is gonna be a nightmare." (CJ)
"It’s very difficult to increase the size of the maps due to technical limitations" (MF)
"It’s a fixable problem, but we need some time from a very specialized type of programmer for that job and they’re all currently busy with other tasks." (MF)
|Does anyone know the way out of this mess?|
"Right now there’s really not very much at all that we can do with the UI, like resizable elements or anything...it would take huge engineering [...] to pull off." (CJ)
"the same couple of people who are required to do a lot of the guild features, are the same couple of people who need to do all the server back-end... anything that involves large amounts of server messaging or things, those are always bottle necked by the very very best programmers we have who can work on that extremely difficult set." (CJ)
"Matchmaking has the same problem as everything else I just said, which is basically the same couple who have to fix that also". (CJ)
"We’re always leveraged by how many engineers we have, that’s our biggest issue at any given time. It is “how many programmers do we have that can actually code anything?” (CJ)
And so it goes on. Read the whole thing for many more examples. It's always surprising to discover that something that has had so much money spent on it, took so many years to be ready and has been so successful can still have so much structurally wrong with it and have such limited resources to make improvements.
|What we need here is some Blue Sky Thinking|
At one point Colin Johanson happily latches onto a gushing assertion that, unlike most other MMO studios, ANet are "open with the process".
"You have to be able to get out there and be like “hey, you know we really blew it on this, we are responding to that and we are gonna change our plans because of that” (CJ)
Later, while addressing a question about the Karka event, he says
"You know for five years, we spent five years saying “If it’s not ready doesn’t matter, just wait and then we’ll put it out when it gets ready”. And then we got into the live space it was “we have to keep free updates going, we have to have this fun stuff going on”. It really didn’t give us an opportunity to stop and catch our breath, say like “is this the right thing to be doing, is this the stuff we should be putting in the game?” (CJ)
Which is all very well, only aren't all these deep infrastructure problems you keep bringing up as the reason so many things can't be done the very same things you were building during those five pressure-free years? If it was "ready" when you put it out, why does so much of it not work?
I remain sanguine. GW2 turns out to be an MMO like any other. It wasn't finished when it launched, it will never be finished. Bits of it work, other bits don't. Every time one thing gets fixed something else will break. That's MMOs for you. I get the strong impression that there's still something of a disconnect between the developers and their audience in these open discussions, but that's always the way. MMO players are a disparate, rag-tag bunch with countless conflicting agendas and expectations and trying to communicate with them at all must be a nightmare.
As for MMO developers themselves, the concept of hubris seems to be all Greek to them. Even the Greek ones (/wave Aventurine).