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Flameseeker Chronicles: The thrill is gone?

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

The Guild Wars 2 community has been buzzing over the past few days about the Guardian reveal. We were all thrilled to finally have another profession release, but what caught my attention was the number of people to whom this was no surprise whatsoever as well as the number of people who have predicted the next reveal with certainty.

It's a big difference from way back when we got the first reveal, and I really can't decide whether it's a change for the better or not. Follow along after the jump as I take a look at how profession reveals have changed since last year as well as the pros and cons of those changes.

The Elementalist reveal -- the very first Guild Wars 2 profession reveal -- might have been the best one. I'm not just saying that because it's my preferred class, I swear! That reveal had several advantages, the first one being that it led the pack. This was some incredibly exciting information, not only because it was our first confirmed class for GW2, but also because it contained our first look at combat details and skill bar setup.

There were other key factors surrounding the community's delight and excitement, though, one of them being that we had no idea whatsoever this was coming ahead of time. ArenaNet filled in the Elementalist's image less than 24 hours before the reveal, and her look strongly indicated her profession, but eager fans had no clue that they were about to get a detailed description, videos, screenshots, and a ton of combat information. It was a wonderful, exciting virtual surprise package for the fans.

June brought an ArenaNet blog entry from lead writer Bobby Stein. The entry discussed ArenaNet's decision to adopt a house style when it came to writing for GW2. On the surface, the post was a cool behind-the-scenes look for those who are into that sort of thing, but the implications ran deep when it came to future profession reveals -- particularly when you take the Guild Wars 2 novels into account. With ANet no longer capitalizing profession names, we can't look at the novels and say, "OK, that chapter talks about a Warrior rather than a warrior. It's clearly a Guild Wars 2 profession rather than a generic term for a strong fighter." Whether it was intentional or not, the new house style served as a pretty useful tool to help veil upcoming professions in the books.

The Ranger was the next class reveal -- a modernized and greatly improved version of the class we know now. Fans responded with delight (sharks!) and were eager for more. It was about this time that the dance between ArenaNet and the fans began in earnest. ArenaNet and NCsoft have a very clear plan on how they want reveals and development progression to unfold, and fans have a very clear idea of what they want. Each party is anxious to stick to its plan, and in the case of the Necromancer reveal, the horde of excited fans got what it wanted: a reveal before ArenaNet was ready. ArenaNet learned its lesson the hard way and changed some things from then on out, but how big of a secret was it anyway?

Killeen the Sylvari was clearly defined as a Necromancer multiple times in Ghosts of Ascalon -- the confirmation was practically a done deal well before anything happened outside of the books, and this trend has continued. Guild Wars/Guild Wars 2 fans are very smart, savvy, and determined, and when they put their heads together, they are a force to be reckoned with. Analysis of books, images, interviews, forum posts, and so much more piled up as time went by, and fans became more and more certain of future reveals.

ArenaNet has responded by simply being less secretive. For example, we've got broad hints as to upcoming classes in Edge of Destiny, and we've even been told that there is an Assassin/Rogue-style class coming. It's been gradual, but we've come a long way since last April with regard to how the professions are revealed.

The positives of this gradual change are obvious. Fans have been known to complain about the super-secretive cloak-and-dagger approach to the development of Guild Wars 2 many times in the past. ArenaNet has never been big on bringing the fans along for every little detail of the development ride, and it's left fans feeling frustrated in the past, wondering whether this game was ever going to happen. As development moves forward at an ever-increasing rate, ArenaNet is able to tell us more, and it seems a lot more willing to open the information gates in the bargain. It's great to see a studio respond to its fanbase in this way.

Is there a downside, though? How much of the thrill of new information comes from the buildup of anticipation and wondering? Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled to see a steadier stream of information, but part of me is a little sad that we don't have those weeks of wondering and speculating, topped off by finally getting to open the surprise package, so to speak. There is definitely a bit of a trade-off here, and while I think it's worth it, I have to wonder how much of the fun we've lost by knowing so much of the final reveals ahead of time.

Now it's your turn. Hit the comment button and let me know what you think!

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at

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