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Massively's interview with ArenaNet: Let's talk Guild Wars 2

Shawn Schuster

While the internet collectively recovers from the new Guild Wars 2 trailer, released during GamesCom earlier this month, we jumped at the chance to interview the creative geniuses behind the upcoming title. ArenaNet's Eric Flannum, Lead Designer, Ree Soesbee, World Designer/Writer and Will McDermott, Writer all answered our barrage of questions.

Follow along after the jump to learn more about the GW2 business model, evil Sylvari, plans to have multiple servers and much more!

Massively: With GamesCom and PAX only a week apart, why the decision to release the GW2 trailer in Germany instead of your home base of Seattle at PAX?

Eric Flannum: Europe is a huge market for us and we felt that we really needed to have a strong GW2 presence at a major European trade show. The timing of GamesCom and PAX was such that we ended up premiering the trailer at GamesCom. That being said we always have and always will regard PAX as a major show for us both because of its proximity as well as the fact that it's a great format for us to interact with and meet our fans.

250 years is a long time, if you consider how far a country like the US has progressed in that same amount of time. Some of the concept art shows a "colonial" feel to the game. Is it safe to say that Guild Wars 2 will not be a traditional medieval-fantasy setting?

Eric Flannum: While we've never considered Guild Wars to take place in a traditional medieval setting it is especially true of Guild Wars 2. We have advanced the world both technologically and culturally to a point that we thought was fitting for 250 years. Humanity for example has a parliamentary form of government while the Charr are on the verge of some very significant technological breakthroughs. Some of the more obvious gameplay impact these advances will have are in the use of rifles and pistols by some of our professions. We have also tried to reflect these advances in a lot of our clothing and armor designs as well.

We're intrigued by the concept of evil Silvari, called the Nightmare Court. What all can you tell us about them?

Ree Soesbee: The Nightmare Court are Sylvari who have embraced the darkest parts of the dream; a terrifying nightmare that contains as much horror as the dream contains inspiration. Those who choose this path are evil, cold, emotionless, cruel creatures who enjoy propagating evil. They want to burn out their emotions, forcing their converts to do horrible things in order to destroy all the sympathy, empathy, or compassion they might possess. They seek to purely understand the depths of Nightmare – and feed yet more horror to the dream. Their Dark Vigils are things of legend, filled with regal depravity; twisted courtliness and sadistic tournaments that pervert Sylvari chivalry. Their greatest ambition: to turn the Pale Tree herself to the Nightmare, and envelop the world in cruelty and bedlam.

We're also very excited about playing with our characters underwater. Will this be throughout the game world, or only in places like Orr and Ascalon?

Eric Flannum: Just about every area in the game has some form of underwater play space. We've got underwater cities, ruins, caverns, new underwater enemies and friendly races as well. We have attempted to make a setting that both looks and plays a bit different from our above water areas but is at the same time fully featured and easily accessible as well.

Will we have mounts in Guild Wars 2? Flying mounts, perhaps?

Eric Flannum: Unfortunately we aren't speaking about specific game mechanics until sometime early next year.

Will we see any timeline shifts that your character can not return to, such as with pre-searing Ascalon in GW1?

Eric Flannum: Pre-searing had a lot of very positive effects on Guild Wars 1 and we are very aware that some people were huge fans of the mechanic but with our 5 races and our desire to allow friends to play together as quickly as possible we didn't think it was practical to do something exactly like that in Guild Wars 2.

The FAQ on the official Guild Wars 2 site asks the question of a raised level cap, but doesn't really answer it. Another question on the FAQ states that there will be a "maximum level". So will you retain the level 20 cap?

Eric Flannum: We will not be retaining the level 20 cap. We will announce the exact nature and level of the Guild Wars 2 level cap early next year but let me state that our philosophy of allowing players to play the game without grinding their life away is something that is unchanged from Guild Wars 1.

The trilogy of novels will be released before GW2 is launched. Is there a schedule for these that we can anticipate?

Will McDermott: The first book will be published in the first half of 2010. The other two will follow. We do not have definitive dates for any of them at this point.

Will you retain the dual-class system that practically defines the current Guild Wars?

Eric Flannum: Unfortunately we aren't speaking about specific game mechanics until sometime early next year.

There's been talk of PvP involving different servers. Does this mean that GW2 will be on separate servers, much as you find in WoW, Warhammer, etc?

Eric Flannum: Yes, Guild Wars 2 will have different servers like many other games. We decided to make this change to help foster a sense of community amongst smaller groups of players. At the same time it is also very easy for us to allow players to transfer between servers. We have not announced specifics on how we will let players transfer but we want it to be easier than in other online games.

At a recent Guild Wars panel at Dragon*Con, attendees discussed the fact that they love how your Heroes are part of the storyline in Nightfall and Eye of the North, and having them in your party is a requirement. Is this something we'll see again in GW2?

Eric Flannum: Guild Wars 2 won't have the same Hero or Henchman systems that we had in Guild Wars 1. That being said having heroic characters to interact with is a huge part of telling a compelling story so players will have NPC heroes who are very much part of their stories.

Will GW2 see chapter content eventually, as GW1 originally did?

Eric Flannum: Guild Wars 2 will retain the same business model as GW1. That is to say you'll pay for the game but there's no monthly subscription fee, and we plan to release paid content after launch.

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