Guild Chat - Episode 102

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Guild Chat - Episode 102

A New Claw of Jormag
Rubi Bayer
Nick Hernandez
Kirk Williford
Bryan Yarrow
July 24, 2020
Official video
The following is an unofficial, player-written transcript of the episode. The accuracy of this transcription has not been verified by ArenaNet.

The 102nd episode of Guild Chat aired on July 24, 2020.

"Join Rubi Bayer and her developer guests for a look at the new meta event coming in next week’s episode, “Jormag Rising“!"


Rubi Bayer: Hi Tyria and Happy Friday. And welcome to Guild Chat. Thank you all for spending some time with us this afternoon. I'm your host Rubi, and today we're going to be talking about the new meta coming with next week's living world episode Jormag Rising: Assault on the Frost Citadel. A quick warning before we get started. We are going to talk about some gameplay spoilers. We are going to give you a little look at some of the, some images from the game. We won't be doing major story spoilers. So if you are holding out for that, you are pretty safe. I will still try to warn you, before we spoil you too much. So let start by introducing our dev guests. I'll like each of you to go around and talk about what you worked on for this episode and what you do here at ArenaNet. Nick, why don't you go first.

Nick Hernandez: Can do. Looking into the camera. Hi, I am Nick Hernandez and I am a game designer here at ArenaNet and I worked on the actual sieging of the Frost Citadel and everything inside of the Frost Citadel, amongst other things. But today we are here to talk about those things. Yeah.

Rubi: Yeah. Kirk, how about you?

Kirk Williford: Sure. Hey, I am Kirk Williford and I am a senior designer at ArenaNet. I am the team lead for Jormag Rising.

Rubi: Awesome. Bryan, welcome to Guild Chat for the first time. Thanks for coming down to guest. It is awesome to have you. So, why don't you go ahead?

Bryan Yarrow: Hey all. I am Bryan Yarrow. I am a senior designer at ArenaNet. I helped out on making the boss that you fight after the citadel siege, the Claw of Jormag.

Rubi: Awesome. Thank you. Alright well, why don't we start with an overview of the new meta. Kirk, as team lead I am going to poke you for this one.

Kirk: Sure. So first, I want to give a little set and where, how it fits in the entire map, which is Drizzlewood Coast. The meta in episode 4 is divided in a couple different pieces. The ones that we are focusing on in this Guild Chat in particular are obviously the part where you are sieging the Frost Citadel as well as the part comes after, which is the fight against the Claw of Jormag. That said, that is not the only parts of the meta that we are adding in episode 4. There is another part before that. The big thing here is obviously the northern half of the map is now accessible. The way that the meta flows from episode 3 to episode 4 is part of natural progression. Something to note with that, it does mean that in order to episode 4's meta, you need to complete episode 3's meta. It is all turning into one big, big, big meta, right.

Rubi: Supermeta

Kirk: That way the entire maps feels - Yeah, it is a supermeta. So it will all feel as one big story. It's progressive with that obviously the episode 3 meta takes its own set of time right now, as people are playing through it. We made some tweaks here and there to the episode 3 meta in order for it to be quicker. That is not a case of us removing any content, but it is, you know, we tweaked some numbers here and there. You are able to earn participation quicker by doing events. So you would be able to get your rewards a little easier. The ten minute supply drop will still happen at the same time, but as you do events you earn participation quicker. The amount of time it takes to fill that grand bar to launch your attack on Wolf's Crossing and fight members of the Steel Warband. That would be done quicker. So the goal is essentially we don't want to have both metas take an incredibly long amount of time. We want them to all feel like one cohesive package at this point. So we are trying to make them flow together in a way that is, feels good. With that, I do, going into what you do in the episode 4 side. First off, it's , you siege the bridge. You defeat the Steel Warband and from there, you have a little bit of downtime. Go do your, sell your stuff in your inventory if you want to. Or go kill the Cachekeepers as you can do now to get even more loot. But from there you'll be able to storm across the bridge, take some areas over there. The progression on the northern side of the map is similar, but different to episode 3's. Where the southern half is a little bit more linear, the northern half a little bit more free initially. So you will be able to split in different groups and take control of different sectors by luring out Dominion tribunes and as you defeat those tribunes you seize control of the sectors. And once you are able to take control over all the sectors, then you are able to begin your push on the Frost Citadel. So where as in episode 3 you can lose those sectors once you take them. In episode 4 side in the northern half of Drizzlewood Coast, once they are yours, they are yours. You are now the invading force. The Dominion forces are now the ones having to be on their toes and pull back and fall back to the Frost Citadel, right. So that is kind of the lead in to what brings us to taking on the Frost Citadel

Rubi: Awesome. Thank you. That is a good overview and we are on the offensive now, so go us.

Kirk: That's right.

Rubi: So why don't we talk about, a little bit about, where you started once you knew. Okay, this is the meta that we are going to be doing. How did you get started? What was your genesis for the overall idea and what you wanted to do? What direction you wanted to go with? Nick? Your perspective first.

Nick: Sure. Yeah, so with the Frost Citadel specifically we wanted to kind of like once again, like Kirk mentioned, encapsulate the entire push forward and really try to like show that like all of the Dominion Charr are like smart combatants, right like. They are also strong. We are not like the most powerful team on the planet, but we, with, with this side of things. We had a few goals. The first one was to keep that world v world feel, right. That you, you get in episode 3, but evolve a little bit and then on top of that kind of give everybody a very cinematic, climactic moment, because like, you know, this is the end, this is second part of the map. This is like the climax to everything you have been pushing forward for. So we really wanted to make sure that we could play on PvE themes, make sure that it feels very similar to the episode 3 side, but also a lot more diverse flavor for lack of a better term.

Rubi: That works.

Nick: Yeah and that is kind of just like. We wanted to make sure that it had that world v world feel, wanted it to feel very cinematic, think about making it feel climactic and we also still wanted it to feel rewarding. But in its own way, right. And that is all I will say for now.

Rubi: Okay. That makes sense. How about you, Kirk?

Kirk: Nick, you know, hit it pretty well. I guess, trying to think of things that I could add to what he said, you know. Something we wanted to do very early on with introducing the Frost Legion is, you know. They have, it is a legion and you know what Charr do, what Charr Legions do. They build citadels, you know. We wanted to find a way to incorporate that into this map and into the meta. What does it feel like to storm and siege a Charr citadel. The Frost Citadel is the second citadel we have even seen in Guild Wars 2. The other one obviously being the Black Citadel. So, you know, what does that mean? What do you expect to see in, in this kind of an area? You know, that means it is going to be heavily fortified. It is going to be pretty difficult to get in there, you know. The Frost Legion is very, very - are very, very strong in their own, but then they also have a lot of things around them to help with the Dominion forces, the help of a certain Elder Dragon, kind of being around. The idea that the Claw is aware of what's going on, you know. And there are somethings, something that you will see in the meta where they are employing tactics and using some weaponry that we have never seen a Charr use before at least in game, right. So coming , having that all come together in siege things, in form of a cohesive experience from beginning to end in a way that feels truly like you are sieging a Charr Legion Citadel. That was a really exciting concept to us and I am really happy in how it turned out.

Rubi: Nice, yeah. I am excited for people to get a look at it. Bryan, since you are kind of focused on the Claw of Jormag. Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Bryan: Yeah. So this was like an interesting and fun boss to work on. Cause obviously there is another Claw of Jormag in the game. People fight that Claw all the time, so the question going in was like how do we make this version of the Claw different from the one that people are used to. So we ended up giving him some, giving the Claw some unique mechanics and trying to do some unique moments with them. So like for example when you first encounter the Claw, you busted out off the backdoor of the citadel and you kind of end up on the roost area. The Claw, you don't immediately get to fight the Claw itself, you are not, you don't immediately go to it and start hacking away at it. The Claw, this is the Claw's like sanctuary, the Claw's home-base. So he is, the Claw is very ready for the players at this point. The Claw is hanging out on these spires and the first part of the fight is figuring out how to get the Claw down from there. And a little bit of spoilers, so you end up cooperating with some of your backup troops on the ground, where they drop off the scrap, scrap metal and you rebuilt these cannons upon the roost that you use to blow the Claw of the spire. So just kind of and that transitions to a second phase of the fight, which I can talk about later. But that is sort of an example of how why tried to make it a little more different, where just have a different, unique - different, memorable moments and different, unique mechanics from how the original Claw works. So it is interesting, all those. So whenever you are making unique mechanics, you have to iterate them a bunch, you have to test them a bunch. It was definitely tricky to get some of them in the spawn where you want it, but we wanted to really make this feel like the capstone of the meta without also borrowing too much from what we have already done before. I guess is the best way to put it.

Rubi: That makes sense, yeah. Excuse me. So I want to go in a little bit and talk about that iteration that you talked about. Because the development stories are like: Hey, here is the stuff that we tried and here is how we made it better after we cried for a while. So it is kind of nice to see your successes. But let's talk about development and show a little bit of stuff off. Kirk, do you want to talk about? I know you shared with me, I think it was Meagan's designs for the Frost Citadel.

Kirk: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rubi: I am scared of you saying that it was not Meagan. Okay

Kirk: No, it was Meagan. Meagan's designs are more

Rubi: So, we will talk a little bit about that and will show that off. Yes, Meagan you are amazing.

Kirk: Sure, before we get into that. I do want to actually clarify and correct myself. Because it is Friday and it has been a long week.

Rubi: It really is Friday.

Kirk: It is the third Citadel that we have seen. There is a dungeon in the core game, that is the Citadel of Flame, which is the Flame Legion citadel. But it is still different.

Rubi: Kirk having

Kirk: Hey, it is a Friday. You know how it goes.

Rubi: It's, it's, it's allowed. We are all honestly doing the best we can right now.

Kirk: That is right.

Rubi: Alright, go ahead.

Kirk: Cool, so Meagan Glennon our map artist. When we were trying to draft out exactly what the Frost Citadel would look like. We talked about a bunch of ideas with her and with the entire art team. She ended up drafting up some concepts and there are absolutely gorgeous and we were like this is it. Right, this is perfect. This encapsulates everything what we kind of imagined what we would see from the Frost Citadel and the Frost Legion with that cherry on top being that influence of Jormag. You know it is just, it looks amazing. When we see these, this artwork done by her. It took us, it blew us away. And we were like we got to find a way to get this in game, right.

Rubi: Definitely, yes. Thank you, thank you Meagan, because that was. I'm, I'm really proud of all of our artists and it is great thing to show some of the stuff off. So, thank you for running us through that a little bit. Let's talk some more about development. What were some of you guys favorite parts of development? Nick? I am picking at random, so I am not like picking on anyone in particular, but.

Nick: Okay.

Rubi: We got to figure this out.

Nick: For the, okay, so for the like Frost Citadel itself specifically, because there is whole bunch of other stuff, where I was like uhh, so good. But I would say that like that the tank fight for me was the first thing that, once it got working and once I was able to actually see it and be like this is something that we can keep, that we can ship with. I, it was like a huge moment of like excitement and relief. Because we are doing something that we have never really done before with that tank. Actually I am going to make sure, I am going to get Kirk's approval. Can I actually talk about that part in the preview?

Kirk: My approval. Is that how Guild Chat works?

Nick: That is exactly how Guild Chat works. He is my team leader. I got to

Rubi: I am not his team leader. I am.

Kirk: Please continue.

Rubi: Touching this.

Nick: So, this is, this is actually the first time that we are going to be able to fight a moving prop boss or as like before in the game like whenever you see kind of no movement. Cameron Rich did a beautiful kind of like blog post on the car and kind of like the inner workings of the car to kind of summarize that. Drakkar was like 18 different prop bosses with a lot of art renditions and with this tank. You know we had this, this model and we wanted to utilize it. So we tried to figure out a way to actually like have, to incorporate that model, of course not the definitive version of it, if it being a prop boss . Like working on some new tech to be actually get prop bosses moving. As you all can probably imagine shout out to Joel, I am always going to butcher his last name, Helmadge, Helmitch

Rubi: Helmich.

Nick: Joel, for a long story short, because he is the one that.

Rubi: Joel H.

Nick: Yeah, he like broke into that code and like just cleaned a bunch of it up, so that we would actually be able to do it. And once we were actually able to get that working. It was like, like you see your creation. I love it and you start crying for how beautiful it is.

Rubi: Ahh.

Nick: I will not lie. I teared up a little bit and that, that is my piece. That is mine.

Kirk: I can see Nick glowing from here.

Rubi: So - ahh.

Nick: I am sorry. It is so good, like no joke.

Rubi: You are allowed. It is okay. Can you do me a favor? There is one person, who has a question about: What is a prop boss? Every once in a while we explain what that terminology means, but can you do it again? It has been awhile.

Nick: Yeah, of course. So, prop bosses are these, basically they are props. So our props are like the environment pieces that you see in the world, like the Frost Citadel is a bunch of prop stuck together. Any like tents that you see, buildings that kind of stuff. Prop bosses are moving versions of that, so if you look at like any of the World Bosses in the core game, the Shatterer, the other Claw of Jormag, things like that. They are bosses that are very big, very spectaclesque and there, they are specifically bosses that have collision. So you can run up against them and you won't be able to pass through it, like you can with some enemies. So with those, like because of that, those always had to be like static set pieces, because they are actually placed by our map artists and we couldn't get them to move before. So Drakkar was like 18 of those things and then it was like we would have effects play through other things to show those transitions and one would unlurk where it actually comes out and you can attack it. I hope this answers the question well enough.

Rubi: I think so. We talked about it well enough with Claw of Jormag, Claw of Jormag, with Drakkar back then on a previous Guild Chat and I think we showed a little bit of those, all of those little hidden Drakkars here and there.

Nick: Yeah, I wish we. Shout out to Cameron Rich for that fight. It is absolutely amazing.

Rubi: Yeah, yeah. Thank you Cameron. Bryan, how about you? What were some of your favorite things about working on the Claw of Jormag?

Bryan: Honestly, it was kind of similar, because having you know, just working on the boss. It's, there is a lot of stuff that is coming together as you are building it and you are iterating on it. You are play-testing it and it is, oh it is not feeling the way that I want it to and then kind of how Nick was describing that moment when it really feels that it has come together. And it is like oh yeah, this mechanic that I was hoping that would feel good is finally starting to feel the way I want it. So in phase 2 for example, phase 2 was really, really satisfying to work on for the Claw of Jormag. So phase 1 is what I mentioned before. He is up top, you are up top on the roost, the kind of roost area. You knock them off and then they fall down to a plateau and get kind of half buried. So they can't fly away and I. Did I just cut out? I see my. No, it seems fine. Sorry.

Rubi: I can hear you. You are fine.

Bryan: So that second part, you are fighting the Claw on, like this small plateau above a bunch of ravines. And one of the Claw's signature abilities to do this big wind burst that blows everyone back towards the cliff edge, trying to blow them of the cliff. And that is obviously with boss there is a bunch of other stuff, but that was kind of the signature movement feeling right. And that kind of happens in concert with a different avalanche attack that creates a whole bunch of boulders that fall from the upper part of cliff and land in the battle area. And you can hide behind these boulders to not get blown of the cliff. So, feeling out the placement of the boulders, how many of them we needed, how spaced out they should be, how far from the Claw they needed to be and then how often the Claw did the, did the wind attack, how long that wind attack you know lasted. You know all these little timing details and spatial details that went into it. We really needed to play around with it a bunch before it started to feel what we wanted it. Where players were at risk of getting blown off the cliff, but also at all points felt like that they take an action, fight against the wind, get behind a boulder and avoid a grizzly fate of being blown into the Blood of Jormag, you know, down below.

Nick: You know. He almost said it. He almost said it.

Bryan: I almost said it. We had like a whole discussion earlier about. I wasn't even sure if the front facing name for that stuff.

Nick: It's okay. It will, it will slip at some point.

Bryan: Yeah, definitely.

Rubi: Only a couple more days to wait and then you can spoil the whole episode. Kirk, how about you?

Kirk: Let's see. My favorite thing was seeing the iteration on all of the encounters in the Frost Citadel. But going into the Claw part, you know. It was interesting to see that, that kind of encounter come together. Because where as in core the Claw of Jormag is kind of its own encounter you know dedicated encounter. This one is obviously part of a bigger whole. So it's you know, we kind of see the Claw and the Frost Citadel as one big encounter. And it could you know that in itself is challenging, because it is very long encounter and there is a lot of stuff to watch out for.

Rubi: Yeah.

Kirk: So how do you go about balancing that and having it feel exciting, but not exhausting, but possibly exhausting in a good way, you know what I mean? So we know that there is things here and there and ease in and out of that to create some ebbs and flows of having a big peaks, you know big awesome signature moments in different places. So like one of my favorites is like Bryan was saying trying to build up the artillery to shoot down and wrangle this damn Claw right. Because it is just going everywhere, it's, it's not very happy with you, kind of wrecking its home. And so the first step is just trying to get a hang of it and be able to attack it, you know. And just seeing all the cool explosions and spires kaboom, it's just, it's really cool and lots of stuff to keep an eye out on. But then it also you know that isn't it. There is even more to come later and then combine that with all the cool things that you are seeing inside of the citadel. It just all comes together. It feels really cohesive and awesome and unique in a sense. It is like almost a mini-dungeon or you know. Nick, I know you can talk about this more, like the general feel of the progression through the Citadel leading towards the Claw.

Rubi: Yeah, Something you mentioned, feeling exhausting kind of in a good way? There seems to be a very fine line--There's like a narrow path of ok this is enough to make it feel like "Oh! We did it. We actually accomplished this. We did something big." and not "Oh my god this has been going on for a week." So that's...Thank you for working on that little path.

Kirk: Yeah nope, no problem. The challenging thing with that though is that, you know, is it's a case of respecting the player's time is an important part of game design, right? And getting into that is, this entire thing is obviously a big investment for players to participate in and being able to reward them along the way and stuff--You're only able to play for a couple of minutes or you know, a half hour, what-have-you-not maybe be able to experience the entire thing. We still want to respect your time. We still want to reward you for the time that you put in and so we're able to have bits and pieces here and there and showcase moments. Not just at the very end, right? They're all along the way.

Rubi: Right.

Kirk: That's super cool. One of my favorite things about this entire map as a whole.

Rubi: Yeah. Nick, do you want to touch on what Kirk called you out for? In the best of ways.

Nick: It was more specifically about like, the feel of the thing, right? Sure, is that like, like are we moving into the part where like we show all the pretty pictures or? Is this--

Rubi: --I would love to show all the pretty pictures! Let's show the pretty pictures.

Nick: Cool. Yeah, so before we tangent into that I kind of want to touch on one thing that Kirk said which is like something that I noticed during the development of this Claw fight is that like this Claw seems to be a lot...smarter? For lack of a better term. Than the previous ones. Like the previous ones were like, a lot more, you know, they shipped with Core Tyria so it's like, very, stalwart, and it like stands its ground and like that whereas this one, you know it's a lot more like--It's like "I got wings! You don't! I'm going to use them!" And, I really just, like, throughout the entire Frost Citadel fight, I love kind of how cheeky and smart the Claw can be. Comparatively to, you know, Claws we've seen in the past and things like that. So yeah, that was that. As for the actual Citadel part itself...This is the part where I transition into Dev Talk.

Rubi: Yay! Nick: We wanted to go for a, like, kind of mixed feeling, where when you're outside of the Citadel, we wanted it to feel like kind of a World-V-World seige. Right? And, so like, actually, before, before I go into that, I apologize, I'm going to backtrack mentally a little bit. Let's talk about the ideation phase of it. So, Mark, if you wanna pull up the first picture. We actually started brain-storming this back, way back when we were, when we were actually still in the office. So here is a rare picture of a whiteboard that we actually can get during this development phase because, yeah, we didn't have much. Much time in the office, unfortunately. But, as you can see, the like, bunch of doodles, and angry faces and actually I'm going to pull up also on my side because for the stream our stuff is pixelated. So it's harder for me to actually see it.

Rubi: Yeah, it just looks like a lot of dots to us you guys.

Nick: Yes, it does. Ok, opening up all the pictures for myself...

Rubi: and while Nick is opening this, this was before March then. Because we started working from home at the beginning of March.

Kirk: A different era. Yeah the episode 4 and episode 3 teams were trying to work together to do the best that they could as, you know, each team was trying to build up a little bit. So fortunately before we transitioned to work from home there was a little bit more, there was some communication, ah, cross-team communication there. Sorry Nick.

Nick: No, you're good. Great I got the pictures up.

Rubi: Ok.

Nick: But basically, like, with the first one we were looking at: It's really about like, here is, like how do we, kind of encapsulate this, this entire encounter? How do we break into this thing and then feel like the break in was worth, like, the investment of time? And also, kind of like, flow naturally into the other parts so as you can see, there's just a bunch of like--We threw a bunch of stuff at the wall. It's like, we have like we knew we needed "X" amount of rooms, we knew we had like "Y" area coverage outside. X being like, the number of rooms and Y being, like, the total radius of outside area. And then we were like, "How do we merge those two things, how do we blend them?" while also keeping in mind the Claw fight that comes afterwards. The first ideation phase was a lot more, crazy? We were throwing everything at the wall trying to see what stuck. As they say you can't ship with everything. So if we move on to the next picture We took all that and kinda condensed it and streamlined it into, each room kinda flows into each other. The outside is all working towards a singular point, singular goal. We have all of that blend together. I'm not going to be going into these specific details because I want people to experience that for themselves. But what I can kinda go over is the generalizations that outside is very world v world mentality, more specifically where it is. WvW players are really good at, when you siege a keep, you siege from a distance. You build your trebuchets, your catapults, and you poke and you poke as much as possible. So that way when you do go in you're going to have an easier time than just going right up to the gate and getting bombarded by your enemies. We kinda get for that vibe and the second you break into the citadel, we wanted to experiment a bit more with and "instancey raid" feel. So while we still still kinda touch on WvW-esk game play its more like what Kirk was saying of a mini-dungeon, a "instancey raid" thing because we wanted to be a lot more cinematic with this experience. We wanted to hit on a couple goals; keep that WvW feel, but also add in the "instancey/raid" feel and really highlight the strength of the frost legion. Because, while this is a citadel, they haven't been here for that long. When people think of citadel, when I think of citadel I think of the Black Citadel and that thing is massive.

Rubi Yeah!

Nick But that was build over very long time. Where as this legion has only been here for a little while. So how did they reinforce this area? How did they use the time allotted to them? That's the generalization of it. If we move on to the next picture. This is the outside part. Shout out to Megan Glenen again. She's an absolutely amazing map artist, 12/10 fantastic.

Rubi She's so good.

Nick She's so good! The amount, you see all this beautiful stuff. There was a lot of back and forth between her and I when it came to keeping this amazing, beautiful feel of the map. But also allotting spaces to feel useful for encounter and things like that. This green path is the outside path you take and all the Xs you see are actually me being like 'Megan I need a ramp, here, here, here, here, here, and here'. As you probably saw in the actual trailer, all of this area is really broken up and hard to traverse. Getting NPCs to traverse between those areas was a little difficult. Can we pretend that the frost legion made it easier for themselves to walk through here? I know they've got portals but... yeah.

Time-stamp: 37:12