MMORPG Legend Brad McQuaid Has Died

Legendary MMORPG developer Brad McQuaid has died at age 51. His death was first reported on the Patheon: Rise of the Fallen forums, this was the MMO he was working on at the time of his death. According to the forum post by Benjamin Dean from Visionary Realms McQuaid died at home.

“Brad was a visionary, a mentor, an artist, a trailblazer, a friend, a husband, a father. He touched thousands of lives with his dreams and concepts. He changed the landscape of video games forever. He will be deeply missed and forever remembered in life and in Pantheon.

Thank you, Brad, for bringing us together through your worlds. Rest in peace, Aradune.”

McQuaid is perhaps best known for his work on Everquest. He joined SOE in 1996 as the lead programmer for the historic MMO and later went on to a producer role and then Chief Creative Officer. Upon hearing of his death his former boss, John Smedley took to Twitter to say “Brad was an amazingly talented creator and Everquest wouldn’t exist without his genius. He will be missed.”

In 2002 McQuaid left SOE to found Sigil Games which created Vanguard: Saga of Heroes which was eventually bought by SOE. From 2012 to 2013 he briefly rejoined SOE before once again going independent. This time it was to create Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen which had its successful Kickstarter in 2014.

It isn’t too much of a stretch at all to say that the entire MMO genre wouldn’t be what it is today without the contributions Brad McQuaid made. It has been asked that the privacy of his family is respected during this difficult time. But, if you would like to share heartwarming stories that his wife and daughter will see Smedley has suggested sending those stories to @aradune on Twitter.

 

Source: Pantheon Forums, Smedley’s Twitter

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Guild Wars 3 May Be in Development

Yesterday news that Mike O’Brien, President of ArenaNet would be leaving the company after being with them for 19 years. He’s joining some former ArenaNet employees who have created a new studio and will focus on making smaller games. An unnamed source told Kotaku about the departure last week before it was announced and said that he had been working on a new Guild Wars project, potentially Guild Wars 3.

It turns out if this source is correct that O’Brien will be one of 8 developers leaving Arenanet, all of them together were the early development team for this new Guild Wars game. Another source told Kotaku that while Guild Wars 3 had not been greenlit officially the work O’Brien’s team had done could have developed into a sequel.

The work that the team had done will be staying with ArenaNet so there is the potential for it to be used for Guild Wars 3 or another game in the future. So far there hasn’t been any sign of these other departures that are supposedly coming, but, it is possible that these have gone unnoticed and unannounced or it might be that O’Brien’s departure was just the first and that more are coming.

Right now we will just have to wait and see what happens in the coming weeks. Will these other departures, if they happen, join O’Brien at the new studio he’s joining? Again, we will have to wait and see.

Guild Wars 2 is seven years old now so the idea of a sequel to the game isn’t completely beyond the realm of possibilities. Hopefully, the project gets picked up by someone else in ArenaNet and development continues on, whatever game it turns out to be.

 

Source: Kotaku

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Pearl Abyss is Building a Massive New Headquarters in December

Pearl Abyss is building a massive new headquarters in December. The 20-floor building was first announced in January, awaiting the necessary permits. Now that the permits have been given Pearl Abyss has shared some of the features of the impressive building that will hold the more than 500 employees of Pearl Abyss.

It will have 15 floors above ground and 5 underground. An underground parking compound will be able to fit 604 vehicles. The first and second floors will feature the lobby, a gallery of Pearl Abyss’ work, a digital library, a daycare center for the children of employees, plus facilities for employee welfare and testing areas. The facilities for employee welfare include a basketball court and fitness center with yoga, pilates, and a professional masseuse.

The third floor will be a massive cafeteria.

The fourth floor is all meeting rooms of various sizes, including a massive one for all-hands town hall meetings. There will also be an audio studio and a streaming studio on this floor. The audio studio will be where all the sounds and music for Pearl Abyss games will be produced.

Sadly, that’s all we know, but of course, it is obvious that the other many floors will be for offices and the many development teams.

Before Pearl Abyss could begin building they had to get permission for 16 different government departments including the local police and social welfare groups. It will be located in Gwacheon Knowledge Information Town along with a number of game developers including Netmarble. The estimated completion date is currently set for February 2021.

The new Pearl Abyss Headquarters sounds like it is going to be amazing! Now, who do I talk to about getting a job there?

 

Source: MMOCulture

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Cliff Bleszinski Might Be Returning to Game Development

Cliff Bleszinski might be returning to game development after having quit the industry late last year via Twitter. Last year a newly-created Twitter account, one of many, expressed irritation that no one was being given refunds for LawBreakers. CliffyB responded to that by saying; “I paid my employees, their 401ks, and their health care – even months after the studio folded. I didn’t take a salary myself for two years. I get you’re sad, but god, this kinda s**t is another reason I am NEVER making another game.” An entirely fair response to be hounded by disgruntled fans while still dealing with the aftermath of his studio shutting down.

LawBreakers

Well, he has taken to Twitter again, letting the world know he has a game he can’t get out of his head.

He then went on in a second tweet to add, “AND IT’S NOT A FUCKING BATTLE ROYALE.”

So, there we have it. CliffyB has a game idea and from the sound of it he might start making it a reality. Reactions to his tweet have largely been positive with many of his fans eager to see him make another game.

Personally, I’m not all that surprised and never thought it would last when he announced he was leaving last year. Not for any other reason than the fact that he’s an ideas man and once he starts getting ideas there’s just no stopping him and he’s clearly very passionate about making games.

We can’t wait to see what he’s got cooking, though in all likelihood we won’t hear about it again for a couple of years. This is how development works.

 

Source: Twitter

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Amazon to Co-Create the New Lord of the Rings MMO

Since late last year we’ve been hearing about a new Lord of the Rings MMO in the works with Leyou Technologies, well it seems that Amazon is getting on the Lord of the Rings MMO as well. Today it was announced that the two would be collaborating and co-developing the MMO.

Thanks to the press release announcing this we also know that the game will be free to play and won’t be related to the upcoming Amazon Prime show. The two companies will develop the game in a joint effort and then it will be marketed and published by Amazon globally, with the exception of China.

A Dwarf in LOTRO, the other Lord of the Rings MMO

“We’re committed to bringing customers games of the highest quality, both with our own original IP as well as beloved cultural pillars like The Lord of the Rings,” said Christoph Hartmann, VP, Amazon Game Studios. “Tolkien’s Middle-earth is one of the richest fictional worlds in history, and it gives our team of experienced MMO developers – from the same studio developing New World – tremendous opportunity to play and create. We have a strong leadership team in place to helm this new project, and we’re actively growing our team to help build this incredible experience.”

“Bringing Middle-earth to life necessitates having the very best partners, and Amazon’s customer obsession, technology, and talented teams make it the ideal choice for a co-developer and publisher,” said Alex Xu, CEO of Leyou Technologies Holdings. “We believe our combined resources and expertise will result in a beautiful and compelling game that customers will love and play for years to come.”

Sadly at this point, we still don’t have anything resembling a release date. But it is safe to assume we are still several years away from the game being playable.

 

Source: Press Release

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Blizzard Global Esports Director Leaves the Company

After 13 years with the company, Kim Phan, Blizzard Global Esports Director is leaving the company. For anyone keeping track at home this is in fact the second major esports departure from Blizzard in the last month. The first was Nate Nanzer, the Overwatch League co-creator who left Blizzard for a position at Epic Games.

Kim Phan said that she’s leaving the company in favor of a “new endeavor” elsewhere in the games industry. She shared news of her departure on an esports forum post where she made a lengthy statement.

Dear friends,

Fifteen years ago, I discovered the TeamLiquid.net forums and became a part of this amazing family. This site has been around longer than I have been in esports, and a big reason why I’ve decided to make this post here today.

Back then, I was heavily involved in WarCraft III, running my own fan site at WCReplays.com. I played Brood War casually and tried to play WarCraft III professionally. I wasn’t good enough to be a pro, so instead I became a team manager and picked up shoutcasting. Some of you might have known me as ‘bunny’. I have always been – and still am – deeply in love with esports and its community. The passion, dedication, and camaraderie surrounding the games we love is infectious. Once you become immersed, you never want to leave.

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the passion I invested into these early projects that opened the doors to a 13+ year career for me at Blizzard. My first role was in development as a producer in online technologies (think Battle.net and game websites). I then went on to business intelligence to work on security, hacks, and anti-cheat, before eventually taking a seat at the table on Blizzard Esports. What a complete honor and privilege it has been to serve this amazing community. I will always remember the moments we created together, the blood, sweat, and tears we all poured in, and the late night hours we spent cheering on our favorite teams and players.

I have watched this industry grow through the support we’ve given one another: the strides we made when we lifted each other up rather than pulling each other down. I have enjoyed following the conversations in these forums, and in so many other venues where we have gathered both online and in person. I am a better person for having been a part of this amazing community, and will forever be grateful for it.

Going forward, I will be pursuing a new endeavor within the gaming industry. My last day with Blizzard was Friday, June 14th. As I hang up my sword and shield, I look forward to a bright future and wish all my Blizzard friends and family the very best.

Thank you for keeping me/us/Blizzard honest. I ask that you never stop. Even when you didn’t hear from us, we were listening. Even when we made decisions you didn’t agree with, we were listening (and learning). Never stop voicing your concerns and sharing what’s most important to you — it makes all of us better.

I am planning to attend BlizzCon this year, this time around as a diehard fan. I hope to be cheering alongside some of you there.

GL HF,

.kim

 

Source: tl.net via Gamasutra

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Ship of Heroes Highlights Leveling and Training in New Video

An all-new video was released today in which Ship of Heroes highlights leveling and training. The video takes a level one character and levels them up to three to show what leveling up and training will look like in Ship of Heroes. Leveling in Ship of Heroes will allow a great deal of customization. So much so in fact that two heroes with the same powers can play very differently depending on how they augment their powers.

Along with showing how leveling and training works you get to see a number of other systems in motion. The developers show what happens when the player is saved from the brink of death by leveling up. We also get a glimpse at some long requested impact animations. The character reacts to being hit by ranged attacks.

Coming up next for Ship of Heroes it looks like we may be getting a video of the superspeed travel power in action very soon. We’re also looking forward to an update on the upgrades to the Ship of Heroes character creator.

Speaking of the character creator, a character creator beta is expected this summer. This is just one of many possible events the developers are looking to host this year. They’re hoping to have a large scale combat beta in the fall. Plus there is the possibility of a third beta event at the end of 2019, though of course its too far out to have any details on what that might entail. From the sounds of it between semi-regular videos from Ship of Heroes and once a quarter beta we’ll be getting a lot of Ship of Heroes in our future. Keep an eye out for more news on Ship of Heroes very soon.

Source: Press Release

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QC Games and the Fall of Breach

Every year we see dozens, if not hundreds, of newer MMO games release into the games industry. With long standing titans such as World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the Guild Wars franchise its hard not to argue that MMO and online-driven games are incredibly marketable if not highly popular. Every year indie studios take on the challenge of putting together their own massively multiplayer game, some with great success such as Friday the 13th: The Game. Most, however, do not ever reach that pinnacle. Breach is one of those stories.

The Rise of Breach

Breach has been developed by QC Games, a newer game studio composed of former developers from Bioware Houston and Electronic Arts. They had previously worked on The Old Republic and Bioware’s cancelled Shadow Realms before leaving the company in late 2014. Designed from the remains of their former project, Breach is its spiritual successor; an isometric multiplayer endeavor much like 2015’s Evolve. Featuring a 4v1 multiplayer endeavor you play as a Mage, a techno-magical defender of the near future battling against demons invading from beyond the Veil. The fifth player in each match took up the role of a Veil Demon, a dungeon-master like entity that could lay traps, summon enemies, and personally possess minions to fight the Mages.

While putting a newer spin on the now tired isometric multiplayer model, Breach did not have a strong launch. Releasing on January 14th of this year, Breach suffered from the start; entering Steam’s controversial Early Access Program, commonly used by developers looking to develop and build their game overtime, it was not free to play at first. Instead those wishing to pick up into Early Access would pay an up-front fee of $25 USD, with the option to play free following after it left Early Access. Despite promises of wanting to market Breach as a Free-to-Play Microtransaction service model, those wishing to join in would need to purchase their ‘Early Access Pass,’ which featured game access, a 30-day experience and currency boost and 2000 QC points, the developer’s premium currency for their in-game store.

Breach

Breach and QC Games hit the ground hard and fast, finishing their closed Alpha prior to widespread release with a peak player count of roughly 1150 players according to metric database Steam Charts. QC Games had been utterly global in it’s pushing of their reborn game at conventions and trade shows. Claiming that there were 10,000 testers worldwide in their Discord Server, Breach was set for success.

To that end it launched in January and received moderate acclaim. QC Games was quick to jump on the hype and release their roadmap to future developments and plans for the game. In terms of public relations and social media power Breach was optimized for continuous, powerful growth. As a game, however, it was not.

From start up Breach featured both an incredibly interesting set-up in its world’s lore, and an unbelievably frustrating tutorial. While the game opened with a series of wonderful storyboarded cinematics the tutorial featured sluggishly wretched pacing, insincere voice acting and left far more questions than answers in the game’s wider aspects. While featuring gameplay interactions very reminiscent of Heroes of the Storm or League of Legends, there is nearly next to no information on how to go beyond combat and into modifying player gear and stats.

While particular levels and gameplay modes are blocked off until players have played certain numbers of games, I was both shocked and frustrated to find myself entering a game and stuck playing as a Veil Demon without any direction on what I was doing. The conveyance of Breach, the method in which a game expresses how to play it to you understandably, is so fundamentally lacking its simply rather astounding. While Veil Demons have quite a bit more to do in terms of their play mechanics in comparison to Mages, how to complete objectives or perform higher level aspects was simply never explained to the player. That is unless you bothered to check you hidden quest log to find a plethora of tutorials in additional gameplay modes. Gameplay modes which were not restricted in the slightest, yet playing online with your friends was.

Breach’s “Ultra” Graphic Setting in 1080p

Breach was a game of poorly planned problems in that regard.

From terrible graphics to wretched optimization and dull gameplay, Breach was a game incredibly typical of the Early Access platform on Steam. Most games launching on the platform like Tudo_RIP’s Secrets of the Forest are incredibly, frustratingly basic. From incomplete graphics packages to placeholder models these games are often requiring a steep amount of development and feedback to complete. QC’s darling multiplayer, the game the company had left Bioware to make, was incredibly troubled in this aspect. Early reviews of the game are plagued with issues of imbalances and far higher than normal GPU usages which ruined system performance and denigrated the game further.

In February the peak player count of Breach had plummeted from roughly 1150 prior to its launch, to nearly 300 by month’s end. It’s not hard to see why; Breach was a game that wanted to thrive as an MMO with nothing to grip players. Gameplay was boring, repetitive and there were no game-changing rewards. What was packaged in with its Early Access release simply wasn’t enough for long-term player adoption. Current MMOs such as World of Warcraft have faced similar problems over the last few years and have summarily injected controversial gameplay elements such as their Mission Table system to entice daily playing. Warframe too features returning rewards with a daily slot machine system for those who come back repeatedly. Breach simply did not have such systems in place.

All throughout, however, QC Games was energetic in its development cycle. Updates were incredibly frequent with more than an update per week in its second month. These patches would introduce a plethora of balance adjustments, new classes, new levels and new enemies. It was clear that despite the studio’s small size, Breach was a labor of love. Despite its glaring technical issues, of which there are still many, this was a game that was hitting its goals day after day with steady improvement.

IESnared

That changed, however, with the turn of the seasons and the beginning of March. Player counts briefly spiked upwards from a common curiosity. That curiosity, however, was not for what the game offered.

As early back as February 24th, 2019, Breach’s review scores began to drastically change. Steam users such as walkerb0h began to report that the game featured traffic tracking program IESnare. IESnare is a program that is incredibly shrouded in secrecy and frankly has quite a bit of incorrect information spread about it. Colloquially known as a type of aggressive spyware program, IESnare is a sub-routine program that runs stealthily in the background of your computer. Most often used by gambling websites to increase their odds against players, this program collects a concerning array of data and feeds it back to the originators database.

The data collected from your PC or electronic device can include its screen resolution, device type, operating system, its time zone, java script capabilities, or Adobe Flash capabilities. It can retrieve information on your browser cookies, your browser types, your browser history, how long you spend on certain websites, your IP address and geolocation down to the city. It can also read your router to discover your internet service provider’s information, your computer’s performance information including CPU speed and count, component serial numbers, your device name, your OS build number, your Kernel Information and more.

All of this information is distilled into a ‘fingerprint’ or ‘footprint’ of your system’s unique characteristics. Used often as a method of locating your phone or to see if your data has been stolen, more malevolent Steam Early Access Games have included versions of IESnare and other spyware data in their installation files. The more popular programs, like those accused of being in the game Abstractivism, reportedly utilize your gaming machine to mine cryptocurrency for the developer.

Later reviews of Breach also included reports of the launcher scanning Windows Jump Lists, a feature that allows you to view recent documents in programs pinned to your taskbar, on boot up. Several users complained of being unable to connect to Breach servers if they had IESnare blocked by their browser. Other users complained of the game searching through unrelated file directories during playtime, including those on other solid-state or hard drives unrelated to the game’s installation file.

These accusations are not unfounded either. QC Games’ partner company, En Masse Entertainment (formerly Bluehole Interactive), were accused of using IESnare as a method to check the validity of user accounts for Tera. This was later confirmed when a Redditor posted the script that ran on Tera’s load-up which linked backed to Iovation Inc., the owner-creator of IESnare. This code attempted to test several internet browser functions (including Adobe Flash) and obfuscated its actions with several lines of meaningless coding which attempted to hide what it was doing.

While no one managed to pull a similar string from Breach during its tenure on Steam, more and more users found that blocking IESnare’s target domains would not allow the game to play. Customers became confused as word continued to spread until QC Games released a frankly unsatisfactory apology. Responding to several user reviews individually instead of making a full public statement, one of the developers of Breach left the following canned response which did confirm included monitoring software used for Breach:

Several YouTube reporters and pundits would discuss the topic including popular personality Sidalpha. His video would neither confirm nor deny the inclusion of IESnare but did agree that there was some form of third-party authentication occurring during gameplay. Citing a high graphics load and communication with Amazon Gaming servers, he condemned the company for, “collecting far more information from your system than [QC Games] have any right to.”

I myself have personally checked through every individual file in my Breach installation package, having been supplied a copy of the game for the purposes of publication. I did not find any trace of IESnare during any of my playtime, nor its launching software ‘mpsnare.’ I was unable to test its reliance on connecting to its necessary communication websites. I did, however, find a version of Easy Anti-Cheat used in game launchers as a method of deterring cheating using non-authorized 3rd party software. This version is found in games such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands and has no connection to IESnare or its developer Iovation Inc.

QC Games Closes Its Doors

This was the unfortunate nail in the coffin for Breach. Whether or not IESnare was truly included in its package, the program’s history is tarnished with its invasive purpose and problematic applications. Coupled with a lackluster and dispassionate response from an otherwise passionate developer, the unchecked rumors were what ultimately killed Breach. By March its concurrent player count had plummeted to 446 players despite its second major update and continued support. Even on April 1st when the player count had dropped down to 52 users there were still published plans to continue updates. Inevitably, this was not to be.

On April 3rd QC Games announced that both its studio and Breach would be closing down. Most likely forced by its publisher En Masse Entertainment, QC Games had begun to ramp down production by the time of their posting, citing in a follow-up statement that, “[Breach] has not performed as we had hoped… The changes required to make it a successful product would require resources we don’t have.” As of April 4th all in-game microtransactions and DLC were disabled, with premium currency being removed so players could try out anything the game had to offer. Steam purchases were also disabled. As of April 30th 2019, Breach and its servers will be closed forever.

The story of Breach is one of a blind faith in itself. In splitting off from Bioware, convinced that their game could succeed, QC Games took their isometric multiplayer worldwide. This band of developers, excited in the success they knew their product could have, showed the industry what they were made of. Despite its rough-hewn edges and unintuitive design, I cannot deny that Breach had an incredible amount of potential. Sporting its own brief esports event this was a game that had the seedings to develop over time into a fully-fledged property.

This game, however, acted in such a manner, whether through including 3rd party monitoring software or the ineptitude of its developers, that it required an immediate and well cultivated response to concerned fans. Its userbase did not receive one and thus a breach of the developers own making was created. A breach which saw its player count plummet, its future decimated, and the foreclosure of a studio with a promising future.

To date Breach has sold roughly 14,000 units according to SteamSpy, not including alpha testers and those purchasing directly from En Masse Entertainment. Player counts have dropped to no more than two individual users at a time. As of April 30th the game will be shut down forever. There is little to what remains of its legacy, save some YouTube and Twitch footage of its gameplay. Breach was a game of incredible potential, but like Icarus it simply flew too high without realizing it had struck the sun.

Both QC Games and its publisher En Masse Entertainment did not respond for a request to comment prior to publication.

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Bless Online Developer Merging with Parent Company

Bless Online developer Neowiz Bless has announced that the independent subsidiary will dissolve and merge with its parent company Neowiz. This is happening as Bless Online didn’t have the success that the company had expected either in their native country South Korea or abroad. The official reason for the merger is to “enhance management efficiency” and “enhance corporate value.” The good news is that this merger is unlikely to have much of an impact on shares. This is because the company was wholly owned by Neowiz. At the moment it isn’t clear what all of this will mean for Bless Online. However, Bless Unleashed which is launching on Xbox One later this year will still be released.

Why Steam Can Be a Terrible Thing For MMO Players - Bless Online

One can’t help but wonder if the immense amount of time in between the announcement of Bless Online and its release had something to do with the game’s trouble finding success. Those who were excited when it was announced found themselves waiting years before the game was finally playable. By which time attitudes had changed and interest in the game had died. On Steam Bless Online has mixed reviews, just 40% of 9,700 views are positive. According to SteamCharts in the last 30 days, the peak number of players playing Bless through Steam has been just 691. When you look at the numbers like that it’s pretty easy to see why this merger is taking place.

There’s no word on how many jobs will be lost in this merger, but hopefully, everyone lands on their feet quickly. The merger is set to take place before June 19th and we expect to find out more about the future of Bless Online in next couple of months before Neowiz Bless shuts down for good.

 

Source: MMOCulture, SteamCharts

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Guild Wars 2 Developer Interview on the Festival of the Four Winds

The return of the Festival of the Four Winds was a massive surprise to us all as ArenaNet kept this fan favorite secret well under wraps. So, we thought it would be fun to have a chat with the developers to find out more.

 

Hello and thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for the fans. Please start by introducing yourself, what your position is at ArenaNet, and specialization you main.

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I’m Joe Kimmes, design lead on the Current Activities Team. My main is a Sylvari deadeye!
Matthew Medina, Designer: I’m Matthew Medina, one of the game designers at ArenaNet and I was chiefly responsible for implementation of the Labyrinthine Cliffs portion of the festival this year. My main character, Barefoot Contessa (named for the film character played by Ava Gardner, not the celebrity chef) is a core specialization Mesmer.

 

When did the dev team know they wanted to bring back the cliffs and the Queen’s Jubilee events?

Matthew Medina, Designer: Joe probably has a better read on when the team knew they wanted to bring it back, but as the principal designer for the previous two Four Winds releases, I personally have been hoping to come back to the Labyrinthine Cliffs since 2015.
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Bringing back either or both has been a topic of discussion for a long time – it’s something players have wanted since the events first ran. This year we had the right window of time and team to put in the work to bring back the entire Festival of Four Winds. In particular, Matthew Medina, who was key to the original Labyrinthine Cliffs design, was able to dedicate a lot of time to revitalizing its characters and dialogue. I’d say we knew for certain that the festival was coming back when we started work on it early in this year.

In game speech from Ellen Kiel suggests that the cliffs will be back again next year. That’s really exciting news. Will the Queen’s Gauntlet and Crown Pavillion be included in that?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Absolutely – the entire Festival of the Four Winds will return yearly. We’ve been taking notes as players give feedback on the event and I’m looking forward to making each area of the festival better than ever.

Matthew Medina, Designer: Yes, we are going to continue to tie these two locations together as a unified festival. They work together thematically – the idea of people coming together and overcoming great hardships as one active community is paired nicely with both the communal exploration and relaxation of the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and the structured combat challenges of the Crown Pavilion.

 

Was there anything the dev team would have liked to have included in the event but it got cut for one reason or another?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I really wanted a roller beetle focused race. Since the festival was being developed at the same time as Episode 3, though, we would have been balancing a race against the roller beetle while it was still in design. Now that the roller beetle is in players’ hands, I’m hoping to revisit the idea when the opportunity arises!

 

What is your personal favorite new addition to the Festival of the Four Winds this year?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I’m a huge fan of the Watchknight Mk2 that you can see in Crown Pavilion – the creature artists really captured what I had in mind with the model request! Generally, I like to keep festivals from being too plot-impacting, but showing the progression of the Watchknights and talking a little bit about how they fit into modern Divinity’s Reach was a fun opportunity.
Matthew Medina, Designer: You know, I *was* going to say Gourdon the relaxing choya (who doesn’t love Gourdon?!) but after playing the release with our community for the last week, I have to say my favorite thing in the release is hands down the Treasure Hunt meta event. It’s so much fun seeing an entire map full of players pulling down bundles of loot using a combination of mounts, aspect skills, gliding, or just taking a giant leap out into space. I admit this was one event where I drew upon all of my early years of platform gaming to find just the right spots to place all those bundles.

Is there any chance we’ll ever see Dragon’s Watch or the surviving members of Destiny’s Edge relaxing in the cliffs?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Since the game’s storyline is ongoing, it’s always tricky to show active story characters in the festivals. We have to be careful that their dialogue makes sense, or that we didn’t last see them in the middle of a cliffhanger. I really want to show more of the cast participating in the festivals though, so we’ll be looking for chances to include familiar faces.

Matthew Medina, Designer: I mean, there’s always a chance! Festivals are designed to be somewhat story agnostic, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude us from bringing in more central story characters if the situation ever calls for it, but it would probably need to be a rather special occasion.

 

Will Evon Gnashblade ever release a line of swimwear?

Matthew Medina, Designer: Gosh, I know there’s a lot of demand for swimwear, but that’s a decision for the Black Lion Trading Company, and Evon keeps his plans very close to the vest.

 

Can we get an update on how Zojja, Logan, and Caithe are doing? Players are also interested in knowing what Norn as a society are doing now that the tooth has been shattered but Jormag is asleep.

Matthew Medina, Designer: These questions I’ll have to defer to the Living World team to answer over time, but in a general sense I will say that, as a story designer myself, we are always looking for opportunities to return to the characters that are central to our game’s narrative and when it makes sense for them to do so, I’m sure they’ll be brought back into the spotlight.

 

How did that brown cow get up to the top of the cliffs? Does she have enough food up there? Should we task some Asura with building a big enough glider to support her?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice the cow until close to launch and had to ask Matthew Medina what was going on – I’ll defer to him as the expert in misplaced cows!
Matthew Medina, Designer: Aww, our poor confused cow! We really can’t give any more information about the cow’s predicament, but it’s certainly heart-warming to see just how many community members have expressed concern for her well-being.

Is the dev team still working to find a way to bring back some of the highlights from season one of the living story? A lot of recent suggestions seem to be leaning towards making key moments into fractals or world events.

Matthew Medina, Designer: Like many players, this is something that many of us on the development team are certainly interested in, but right now our focus is on continuing the story of Guild Wars 2 and where it takes us in the future.

 

Players have noticed that commander tags are getting in the way of being able to use a waypoint properly on the map is this something that can be fixed?

Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: In the short term, please report any players who are deliberately obscuring the waypoints using the in-game report system. We’re investigating a few solutions to the problem for the long term, but I can’t say when they’ll be ready.

 

A very big thank you to Matthew and Joe for answering these questions and for the entire team who worked hard to bring the Festival of the Four Winds back! We can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen with that cow, hopefully, whatever it is doesn’t involve a cowtapult. Now if you will excuse me, there’s a boat I need to go catch.

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