Posts Tagged ‘ ArenaNet ’

In The Mind Of Genius

While my love for the charr is widely known (dare I say legendary?), the knowledge of my fondness for the asura may be more obscure.  In this spirit I approached ArenaNet with a request for an interview about Tyria’s most diminutive of geniuses.  Mister Jeff Grubb was gracious enough to enlighten this poor bookah.  He also answered my questions.  I tried to cover a wide variety of topics from lore to mechanics to design, and Mister Grubb did not disappoint.  Enjoy!


Secret Agent Cat Interview with Guild Wars 2 Continuity & Lore Designer Jeff Grubb

 Q: We know that the asura have a good deal of interaction with the skritt and the quaggan (and logically by proxy, the krait) but what are some of the other ‘lesser’ races that the asura interact with?

 Jeff: The asura are interested in all the races, whether as potential allies, enemies or resources, and they recognize the strong points of the others. The hylek are excellent alchemists, for example, with a strong knowledge of biology and potions. The dredge have powerful sound-based technology and are the heirs to the dwarven kingdoms. Even such brutish races as the ogres and jotun have their own uses, for heavy lifting if nothing else.


Q: Rata Sum and the Pale Tree seem pretty close to one another geographically. Are there any conflicts between the asura and the sylvari? How is their relationship portrayed in-game?

Jeff: The sylvari met the asura soon after their awakening. Needless to say, the meeting did not go well as the asura were crafty and manipulative and the early sylvari were open and friendly. It was an important lesson for the sylvari – not all the other races are particularly nice. Since that time, the two races have gotten along better, but both races treat each other based on early assumptions – asura think of the sylvari as being frivolous and unsophisticated, while sylvari think of the asura as being poor, limited beings – grasping and calculating.


Q: What is the asuran family structure like? What kind of education can an asuran child expect to receive?

Jeff: Asura tend to practice serial monogamy, in that they have a serious romantic relationship with only one other asura at a time. Most of these relationships are equal partnerships which often (but not always) have a firm, pre-determined end date. Most often, such relationships come out of two asura who fall in love with the same beautiful concept. These marriages of the mind produce rapid development of ideas and increased conceptual paradigms. Oh yeah, and children. Relationships that break up tend to feature more fights about who gets the inventions than who gets the kids.

Asura do love their children, and try to provide the best environment for their budding geniuses. Of course, being asura, the method by which this environment is provided varies from family to family. Some asura children remain with their parents, learning the family legacy of invention and magic. Others are aimed to placing well within their schools, attracting the devotion of other, lesser geniuses. And many are apprenticed to well-established, notable asura who can provide instruction (and are looking for enthusiastic lab assistants).

It goes without saying that all asura children are above average.


Q: If they have such sharp teeth, does that mean they are primarily meat eaters?

Jeff: Asura are omnivores. Their teeth are adapted particularly for catching wild game in the Depths of Tyria and ripping apart the stone-like fungus that infests those caverns.


Q: You can’t say ‘asura’ without saying ‘golem’. Can you give us some more information about how they work?

Jeff: A “golem” is any limited-will, responsive construct that uses powerstones, mystic energies, crystalline matrices, or elemental forces as power sources. They are most commonly encountered as metallic bipeds with mystic ligatures, but there is a wide variety of customized and unique golem types. The great Snaff made a golem entirely of sand, and the golemancer Blimm had a tomb guardian that assembled itself out of bones.


Q: Can you give us an example of some asura racial skills? Utilities? Elites?

Jeff: There is an asura elite skill that allows you to create a battlesuit, which any player can jump into and utilize.


Q: What were some of the biggest challenges when designing the asura?

Jeff: Walking the line between cute and evil. The asura are a diminutive race of geniuses (with long ears), and it is all too easy to make them just a bit incompetent. They are not. They are a driven, intellectually fierce race whose inventions work (eventually). Similarly, it is very easy to turn them into bad guys – they tend to value knowledge above all other things, and that can lead to abuses. There are asura who think nothing of tormenting sentient creatures and seek to learn things that no asura should know, but they are in minority, and tend to be viewed with shock and disgust by the others of the race.


Q: From reading Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny, I noticed that asuran speech is highly technical. Does this create any unique challenges for writing lines and voice acting?

Jeff: The asura love arcane technobabble, and we have rules for naming things – it should reflect both magical and technological origins. A Demiplanar Transtabilizer. A Retrograde Orrery. A Conjuration Metacircuit. One of my jobs has been to name asuran creations on the fly.

When we audition voice actors, we always include a line of technical speech (“We need to calculate the inverse root of the polymetric arcane wave!”) to find actors that can deliver such lines with confidence and convince people that these are real things.


Q: What is your favorite thing about the asura?

Jeff: Their belief that every problem can be solved, given enough brainpower and test subjects.


Oh Where Oh Where Has Our Dear Tiger Gone

So I hear there’s been some audio news over on the ArenaNet blog. Truth be told I haven’t had time to read and watch (blasphemy, I know!)  But it goes without saying that ArenaNet’s audio team are supremely talented artists in their own right and that the soundscape of Guild Wars 2 is rich, varied, interesting, and every bit as beautiful as the visual artwork of the rest of the game.

I’ve been super busy, and not busy playing other games. I have been poking at Minecraft and League of Legends, but mostly because they are quick affairs that don’t encourage me to continue playing for hours on end.

I make no secret of my desire to enter the games industry. I have a Bachelor’s degree in media arts and animation and by chance I landed in advertising. But my heart belongs to 3D work, so this is ultimately not where I want to be. What’s been taking my time so much lately are drastic steps toward my ultimate goal: Work for a great company, preferably in the game development capitol of America, Seattle.

ArenaNet looks like a fantastic company, and their art department is second to none. They are definitely on my list of “places at which I want to work” (I actually have a list, I’m not some kind of starry-eyed idiot. My backup plans have backup plans), but I have no illusions that I can just walk in the door, proclaim myself a fan and an artist, and get the keys to Tyria. If I want to get to my goals I’m going to have to work for it. I’m going to have to work my ass off.

Hence me being busy. Part of my strategy is talking big, performing bigger, getting advice from the super-awesome, and diving head-first into award-winning mod projects. That indie company I was going to do work for collapsed. I took about a day to be mad and moody about it then I turned right back around and shot for the moon — and landed.

It’s still early days, and things with this group might still crumble to nothing (unlikely) or they might decide I’m not actually the droid they were looking for (more likely). But as I’ve said before, everything I do, I do to better myself. If I were to be released from this project this instant I would still come out ahead: more determined, more persistent, single-minded, and most importantly more hungry for that mountaintop.

Success goes to the most talented. Talent isn’t awarded by luck, it’s earned by relentless perseverance in the face of constant failure. I choose to play charr because of their relentless nature and ferocity. They don’t accept defeat. Seize the day? No, I will rip it… from life’s teeth.

Bonus for putting up with all this navel-gazing: An old WoW buddy of mine commissioned a logo for his beer brewing blog, I’m going to be livestreaming the painting of it tomorrow morning. I’ll make sure to put up a shout-out on twitter.

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

I was cruising merrily along, planning on putting transplants into the ground, spending the weekend hoeing.  Then ArenaNet came along with a hairline wire and clotheslined me.

They’re holding a contest.  Never before have the forces of the universe coalesced for me so clearly.  Never before have so many things in my life aligned to point in one direction.

I’ve had plans for short, Guild Wars 2 fan videos for months now.  I was only waiting on the software to implement them.  Now that I have the opportunity to play with these packages ArenaNet is holding a contest.

A 1 minute video about why someone should play Guild Wars 2, delivered in 2 weeks.

One minute goes by fast when your talking or compiling someone else’s video.  When you’re animating, however, it’s an eternity.  That’s just what I’m going to do, however.  It’s a grueling pace, but it’s also a challenge I accept with relish.

Will I be talented enough to win the coveted trip out to Washington?  In a community like this, not likely.  However, this is one of those opportunities to better myself I spoke of in my previous post, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let it slip through my fingers.

So, my fantastic readers….


See you in two weeks.

Would A Game With Any Other Payment Model Play As Well

Relics of Orr has a new thing going on.  Their latest blog post asks for reader’s and listener’s opinions.  They want to know “would you play Guild Wars 2 if it was a subscription game?”

This is a bit of a thorny question to ask, not to mention polarizing.

Earlier this week I received a tweet asking about the legitimacy of a Guild Wars key generator.  I’ll not be so high-handed to suggest that I’ve never used such ‘products’ myself, but I took umbrage this time.

I pay for Guild Wars.  I payed full price for the collector’s edition of Prophecies and I payed full price for the standard editions of Factions and Nightfall.  I have purchased costumes off of the store, extra character slots, and I bought 3 mercenary hero slots.  I have not bought storage panes or any of the PvP unlock packs because I think one is overpriced and the other is unnecessary for me.

I bought those items (not to mention the game!) because ArenaNet is a company that I believe deserves my support and Guild Wars is a game I enjoy playing.

I paid $15 per month for over a year to play WoW because I thought it was fun and I enjoyed raiding with my friends.  I stopped paying because the game itself moved on and was no longer fun for me.  Huge paradigm shifts within Blizzard left a sour taste in my mouth and I no longer wanted to support the company.

I currently pay $15 per month to play RIFT because a number of my friends are playing and it’s an amusing diversion to pass the time.  I’m not entirely enamored of the art (it’s good, but not distinctive) and I have a rant about ‘split people into servers and then cut the servers in half by faction’ planned for another day.

I paid to play a game produced by a company I disagree with.  I pay to play a game which the highest praise I can give is to call it satisfactorily entertaining.

Would I pay to play Guild Wars 2?  A game made by a company whose ideals I respect, whose artistic vision I have been inspired by, and whose products I adore?


Though a decision to make GW2 a subscription game would compromise those ideals, Guild Wars 2 is still a game I want to play.  Of course, I would expect all cash shop items to be offered for free (or maybe purchasable through a monthly stipend of ArenaPoints).

I still can’t help but feel dirty and disloyal for saying that I would pay monthly.  Irrational as it may be, I feel that mere admission of this willingness equals encouragement for the evil businessmen to take advantage of me at every turn.

That said, I don’t want to pay monthly.  I would if I had to, but ArenaNet would have lost my respect.  What’s the respect of one small blogger in the face of a multi-million dollar franchise?  Probably not much, but for now, ArenaNet has it, and I don’t believe my trust has been misplaced.

Of Mantles And Mursaat

A couple of weeks ago I put together an audio segment for Relics of Orr.  Dispatches from the Priory is meant to be a place for me to tell small lore stories while acting in character.

In the first episode I covered the history of the charr in general, and the history of the Khan-Ur in specific.  For some reason I imagine my charr character speaking in a russian accent.  I don’t think I was entirely successful, but so far I’ve only heard complimentary feedback about the segment.

This week’s Dispatches from the Priory I wanted to cover something in human history.  I chose the story of the White Mantle, and the ascention of Queen Salma to her rightful throne.

To tell this story I enlisted the aid of a farmer’s daughter in Shaemoor.  She and her little brother, Liam, are taking their father’s melons to market and she’s doing what big sisters do best: Scaring the whey out of her little brother with grisly tales of White Mantle atrocities.

In the middle of writing my script, however, I found myself stuck.  The persona I had created existed at or just before the events that will be unfolding in Guild Wars 2.  I didn’t know if the White Mantle still existed, if there were reformed sects that held a respected place in Krytan society, or even if a farmer’s daughter, no matter her education, would even know about them.

So I went and asked ArenaNet.  Regina Buenaobra kindly gave me permission to publish the answers to the questions that I asked, and I relay them to you here.

My questions:

– Do the White Mantle still exist?
– Do they exist in such a way that a farmer’s daughter would know about them?
— Would she hear rumors?
— What if she was getting a good education in Divinity’s Reach?
– Is Shaemoor actually close enough to Divinity’s Reach that farmers would take their produce there for market? If not, what is the closest farming community?
– How does human history remember the White Mantle?

ArenaNet’s response:

I had a chat with our lore specialists, Jeff and Ree, and this is what they had to say:

The White Mantle are considered a part of Kryta’s past. They are sometimes used as boogey-men to scare small children, but they are not considered part of Kryta’s present or future.

To address your specific questions:

The White Mantle, as was noted above, is not a part of Kryta in Guild Wars 2, so a farmer’s daughter would not know about them or hear rumors about them in present day Kryta, even if she was getting a good education in Divinity’s Reach. If she was educated, she would know history about the White Mantle, and about when the White Mantle was in charge of Kryta, before Queen Salma. Human history remembers the White Mantle as a treasonous bunch of fanatics that held Kryta hostage to their dark cultist faith. Queen Salma and a group of human heroes liberated Kryta and brought it back to the worship of the Six Gods. Yay, Salma, for destroying this evil cult forever!

Shaemoore is totally a place where they would sell their produce, if they didn’t want to take it to the city itself.

These questions (and their answers) aren’t earth-shattering things, but I hope any lore buffs like myself that lurk among my audience will enjoy this small peek into the more mundane aspects of Krytan life.

Bloggers Have Cooties

One word from three: NDA

Non Disclosure Agreement

I’m a blogger, and a sometimes cohost on Relics of Orr.  On the show we’ve speculated about the possibilities of a Guild Wars 2 beta.  We’ve talked about how Alpha is the new Beta and the once revered term, spoken breathlessly in dark hallways “Baaaaay-taaaaa…” is now just another cheap marketing tool.

The “new beta” leaves me feeling sad and hollow.  I participated in the Guild Wars beta events, not knowing that they were probably mostly for marketing.  I didn’t make it very far out of pre-searing because I spent almost all my time poking around for problems.

Once I fell through the world, reported it, and then spent the rest of that night (We didn’t sleep during those beta events yo!) scraping pre-searing.  I also found out that Gwen could get you trapped on the steps of those houses.  Along with reporting a slew of graphical errors, I only did a little actual playing of the game.  (The houses in pre-searing used to be floating 10-15 feet above the ground, did you know that? I like to think it was my report that got their foundations back on the ground.)

That heady time is over, however.  Betas being delivered to fans are now simply previews, polished and largely bug-free.  We only have ourselves to blame.  It’s become more about the prestige of getting that first look than about the bug-finding.  Precious few people are willing to scrape the walls of a world looking for places they could fall through. (I even did this in Ocarina of Time, want to know what the inside of Hyrule castle looks like?)  Nope, when people talk about their beta experience it’s with a little bit of smugness, that ever-so-slight “I’m more special than you because I got in early.”  Or it’s even a superior feeling because the beta-goer helped make the game better.  That second one I’m most definitely guilty of.

But the betas the betas.  Alpha is the new beta, and I want in, and I won’t be getting in, and neither will my compatriots.  This isn’t meant to be a whine about the state of the industry, and I don’t want you to think I’m some kind of puling child throwing a tantrum because the boys won’t let me into their treehouse because I’m a girl and have cooties.

In a sense though, community voices like myself and others do have cooties.  We have our arms plunged so deep into the dough that we can’t help but get flour on everything.  Let us into a selective event and we’d become a liability.  Slap an NDA on us and we’d be forced to either shut down or run every other word we want to utter through marketing first.

We are simultaneously the most valuable and most dangerous connections in the community.  If a company wants to make something known we are gold that can be traded in for hype.  Let us inside, however, and we could easily become an infection.  It’s a risk any shrewd company isn’t willing to take.

It’s not a bad thing.  It just means that we need to be patient and understanding.

Personally I’m going to grab some /popcorn and enjoy the show that ArenaNet is treating us to this week in regards to the human race.  It’s almost like a party!

Pelt Watch Is Official!

I’m a bit like the Joker who, in turn, is a bit like a dog chasing a car. He wouldn’t know what to do with it if he caught it. That’s how I am with attention. That said, I’m over the moon today from the official mention I got on the GW2 twitter feed. Regina Buenaobra (did I spell that right?) mentioned my article Pelt Watch (you can find it in the ‘SAC GW2 Guides’ under the ‘Target Acquired’ tab along the top).

With that attention I’ve gotten some more comments on the article, one of which pointed out a pelt to me which I had previously missed. Thanks Jason! I took a couple of screenshots from a video and added them, with a little write-up, to the main article.

If you know of any pelt pictures with new patterns or colors I haven’t included feel free to let me know! Either leave a comment on the PeltWatch post or e-mail me directly at secretagentcat (at) gmail (dot) com. (You can always find my contact info by clicking on “Target Acquired : About Tigerfeet”) When I get a new addition I’ll add it onto the original PeltWatch post as well as make meention of it on my latest post or (if I have nothing else to talk about) make a small post saying I’ve updated. Clear as mud? Good!

Basically, you’ll know if I’ve added anything just by checking my latest posts. There’s no need to constantly check the original PeltWatch post for updates.

With that little addendum, I’ll let you watch the video I took the screenshots from. It’s nothing new, but the slowed down version is new to me and I find myself watching it over and over… and over… and…… over………