Guild Chat - Episode 87

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Guild Chat - Episode 87

The Key of Ahdashim
Rubi Bayer
Novera King
Peter Larkin
Tracey West
June 21, 2019
Official video

The following is an unofficial, player-written transcript of the episode. The accuracy of this transcription has not been verified by ArenaNet.
From left: Rubi Bayer, Novera King, Peter Larkin, and Tracey West

The episode of Guild Chat aired on June 21, 2019. Rubi sits down with guests from the Raids and Fractals Team to discuss the development of the latest raid wing, The Key of Ahdashim.

Guild Chat Studio [9:03][edit]

Rubi Bayer: Hi, everybody! Happy Friday and welcome to Guild Chat. I'm your host Ruby we've been I've been having a lot of fun with our dev guests for the past 15 minutes, so I think everybody's in a fairly good mood, if a little bit ridiculous. We have quaggans. So, we're going to talk about the new raid wing today. I'm going to let our dev guests to introduce themselves and talk about what they worked on on this raid wing. All right guys, go for it. Novera!

Novera King: Hi, I'm Novera King. I am the writer/narrative designer on this raid and... should I elaborate now, should we go down and --

Rubi Bayer: You can elaborate a little bit.

Novera King: Okay. I'm responsible for the dialogue and the story for the Golden Path for this raid, and the Key of Ahdashim, and the creation of some of those characters, and the lore, and dev books, and book de--

Rubi Bayer: Book devs!

Novera King: Books and words. Words! There were lots of words.

Peter Larkin: I'm Peter Larkin. I was the QA embed for the raid and I also focus on Qadim in the open world event, but I touch a little bit everything.

Rubi Bayer: Awesome!

Tracey West: I'm Tracey West. I'm an environment artist here at Arena.Net, which means I kind of helped put together the map.

Rubi Bayer: Awesome. Alright, well thank you guys all for giving us your time today. We talked to you already, you elaborated a little bit, now it's time to elaborate some more. I'm gonna have you each talk a little bit about things you worked on. Novera, can you start? And just kind of for those of you who haven't done this raid wing, can you kind of give us a little backstory on what's the story here? Where we're at, what's going on...

Novera King: Absolutely. Raid seven, Key of Ahadashim is a part two actually. Part one was... what is the name of that

Tracey West: Mystic Forge.

Novera King: Mystic Forge! No, no! That was-- that's not the name of that raid.

Tracey West: Mythwright Gambit.

Novera King: Mythwright Gambit, there we go! Oh good gracious! Okay, in Mythwright Gambit--

Rubi Bayer: It's been a lot of weeks since.

Tracey West: I mean, I've done that one, too.

Novera King: See, that's why I looked at Tracey. I knew she would help me. So in that one we see Qadim, our bad guy at the Mystic Forge, and we helped Zommoros get rid of Qadim, who's this djinn. Qadim falls in to the Mystic Forge, and comes out like this uber-djinn kind of creature. He goes back to Ahdashim, the ancient djinn city, which folks who played Guild Wars 1 will know about, but it was sort of still a little bit shrouded in mystery, like the djinn do. So this was an opportunity for us to follow Qadim back and see what he's doing. Zommoros sends us a letter, and it's like, "Hey, Qadim is causing some problems and I've lost touch with Ahdashim. Please go find the Key, and find out what's going on." And so we go to Ahdashim to figure out, you know, that Qadim is trying to take the ancient power that Ahadashim has, and how he's corrupting that. We meet the Key of Ahdashim, who is this djinn AI, who's as old as the city. We help the Key, help the city and destroy Qadim. Basically. So that's the raid.

Rubi Bayer: That's like a flowchart.

Novera King: Yeah I look in my brain I'm like, "How does this spiderweb work?"

Rubi Bayer: I want to point out that I've gone into the Mystic Forge like a hundred times, I never came out an uber-djinn. I'm a little bummed about that.

Novera King: I know, it's a thing.

Rubi Bayer: Whatever, I'll make my peace with it.

Tracey West: Well, you do get to turn into a weird, energy anomaly person at some point, at least.

Rubi Bayer: There's that.

Novera King: See, had you started as a djinn, you would have turned in into an uber-djinn.

Tracey West: Yeah, we just have to throw some giant monsters in there with you--

Rubi Bayer: I knew I forgot something!

Tracey West: Throw in some hydras and be on your way.

Rubi Bayer: NO! No thank you. So we were talking about Ahdashim, Tracey can you talk about how did we decide go--

Tracey West: I can talk about that.

Rubi Bayer: Why Ahdashim?

Tracey West: So back in Path of Fire development, you know, we were looking at what iconic places from Guild Wars 1 we could kind of bring back. Ahdashim was obviously a place that people remember very well. The problem being that it was almost a side story at that point, and involving all the djinn. That wouldn't have quite worked with the Balthazar side that we wanted to say, and we wanted to make sure that if we went there we did it justice. We'd have to fill out some of the lore... So we kind of put it on the back burner. Then when I joined raids and fractals team we did the whole Mythwright Gambit. The next step was like, "Oh my gosh! Please, please let us go here!" Because it was one of the iconic places for me when I played Guild Wars 1. It's like, "Let me do this map!" The downside being I was kind of looking at, you know, there were two different versions of Ahdashim. Either you could kind of do more of an exploratory version, or you can do a mission. And the challenge mode mission only did kind of the first half of the city; which worked really nicely for the number of bosses we were gonna have. It gave us the three rooms and some interesting passages to tell lore and stuff, but it left out the iconic room that I think every time people think about Ahdashim. It's the room with the sea of gold coins, which is unfortunately in a far corner. So I kind of made the decision early on that was like, "Okay, I guess I won't go here and just take the backlash." But hopefully... I did the previous map, and hopefully with the Mythwright Gambit you got enough sea of flowing gold to go over. But it did work out very nicely in that I looked through the original rooms, and there was that center chamber that had the huge waterfalls, and it was super open. So it's kind of clearly calling for a huge boss fight there. And then the far right side you almost left Ahdashim, and it was kind of this earthy area with roller beetles, and palm trees, and everything. So that just kind of screams earth djinn. The far left one probably doesn't read as close as it did to the GW1 version. It was still kind of some tiered waterfall, kind of pretty areas though. So that kind of left itself nicely to when it gets destroyed. Obviously you'd have this huge... We still have flowers but then the rest of them would be all be sucked up into the air. so yeah that's

Rubi Bayer: That's such a fun thing to get to think about, especially if you played Guild Wars 1.

Tracey West: Oh, I was I was heavily playing through the dev... we still have dev copies you can go through, and so I was like trying to screen shot and try to match up some of the same angles. So it was my happy moment when Z and everybody finally played through, it's like, "Oh yeah, this feels like Ahdashim."

Rubi Bayer: Oh, that's awesome!

Tracey West: Like when they saw the center room, and I was like as long as I kind of get this vista. I can't do as big of a space necessarily with all the side rooms that the original version had just for performance issues, if nothing else. But could I nail you know the waterfalls down the side, and the little buildings up above, and everything.

Rubi Bayer: You did, so, "Yay!" Peter, real quick before we talk to you about your part, <faces camera> if you guys have questions, drop them in chat. We will try to answer some of them at the end. Some of the other people on our team will be pulling those questions and giving us as many as we have time for. So, Peter. You worked on... well, you've worked on pretty much everything at some point. Let's start with the open world event, and just talk about how... what made the decision to pull that into the open world.

Peter Larkin: So if I'm understand this—this is like hearsay, secondhand information, but if I'm understanding correctly—the idea was that because this raid release wasn't launching with a living world episode, we wanted some kind of open world tie-in, and we wanted something that everybody could work on, not just Raiders because we didn't want it to just be like, standalone, this is only for Raiders. So we wanted to have like a fun tie-in and everybody could kind of work on, so you can get... I think it was two weeks—I think. I don't remember exactly how long it was running for—you have some time to get those weapon skins in the open world, and then if you don't get those and you can go and do the raid and get them that way.

Rubi Bayer: Yeah, through the mystic forge, which is fitting. So do you want to talk some about the achievements and rewards, and working on those?

Peter Larkin: Yeah. So my favorite one was—and this was a suggestion that I had and that a lot of other people had; I was not alone in this—When I saw a Qadim for the first time, and I saw his aura I was, "Wow, that is really cool! I want that on my character." And so there was a big push... "We gotta get an infusion that gives you that aura." It's not an exact copy, but it is like it's kind of like an inspired-by-something that got put in the game. I think it's a drop, and you can buy it.

Rubi Bayer: Nice! Yeah, because we can't just let you have it.

Peter Larkin: Right.

Tracey West: Devs only!

Rubi Bayer: So, what were some of the other ones that you liked?

Peter Larkin: Let's see...

Rubi Bayer: Just the aura, nothing else!

Peter Larkin: Yeah! Oh, the chair. I love the chair! I think it's actually one my favorite chairs just cuz it hovers and a head like that has the animated cloth down below, and I just like the style of it.

Novera King: It's so djinn-y.

Peter Larkin: Yeah! That chair is probably my favorite chair.

Rubi Bayer: It's funny. I was just looking at that yesterday with like the little rippling cloth... it's got such a fun look to it. I like the rewards on this one, and I kind of want them.

Novera King: You're gonna hoard them.

Tracey West: You going join the raiding group for Extra Life, Rubi? Eh? Eh? Eh?

Rubi Bayer: Oh, you guys are trying to pull me into the raiding group, aren't you?

Tracey West: Maybe?

Rubi Bayer: I don't necessarily object to this. We can talk about that. So, what were some of your other favorite parts of working on this? And you guys, it's a free-for-all on who gets to talk first. I'm not gonna pick on anybody.

Tracey West: And everybody turns looks at me! I mean I can talk about the tiles.

Novera King: Yeah!

Tracey West: My ultimate labor of love.

Rubi Bayer: Yes, please! Tiles. It's more interesting than it sounds!

Tracey West: Yeah. Well, so I was going back through—as I said—looking at that area, and one of the things that I remember both from Ahdashim and Vabbi are just the the patterns on the floor. Other than that it was just kind of like, "Oh, I remember going through kind of some blue hallways and some wall traps." But that was kind of that, and seeing some of the buildings up above were kind of the the things that I remember about Ahdashim. So I kind of turned to my prop artist, Jeff Weber, "Can we please recreate that pattern?" And sure enough we sat there, and we looked at screenshots, and we recreated all the tile patterns! Then I went through and placed them all. So those are actual individual props in there--

Rubi Bayer: That you placed by hand!

Tracey West: I placed by hand. Thankfully I'd written a script to help me because I knew how big that prop was, so I could hit dupe, and slide it over X amount. So it went faster than it sounds. But the sad moment is when we discovered a bug. Namely there's a way that I can flag props to force cull when people are playing on lower-end machines. And so I'd very intentionally flagged all of those tiles because people don't necessarily need a fancy floor if they care about the ten extra FPS. But only half the tiles would respect the flag! So Justine came to my rescue, and made sure that that worked before it shipped. but it did lead to the interesting thing where not only did I have to hand place all the tiles, and then had to repaint the terrain to match the tile pattern, so that when the tiles went away there would still be a pattern there—you just don't get the fancy trim and reflections.

Rubi Bayer: I love that only half of them respected... some of this floor is lovely...

Tracey West: Yeah! It was this weird patchwork. It didn't even make sense. It wasn't even the close ones or anything. It was just like 50/50.

Rubi Bayer: I was wondering about that. Was it a draw distance thing? Nope.

Tracey West: Nope. Nope. We couldn't figure it out. It was half... the trim almost always stayed and then it half the bigger squares... who knows?

Rubi Bayer: I feel like we can attribute this to the vagaries of the Mystic Forge.

Novera King: It's Qadim's fault!

Tracey West: Well the question is I have no idea how long it's been that way either, because a lot of us environment artists, we just stare at our map edit version and so we don't always see like in-client what happens, or like flip between settings. We almost always just leave it on high because that's the pretty version.

Rubi Bayer: We need to have one garbage machine just designated for how bad we can possibly make this look.

Tracey West: <groans>

Rubi Bayer: It's off in a meeting room by itself if you need to go check things. <pause> Well, how about you Peter? What were some of your favorite things that you got to work on?

Peter Larkin: I don't remember what I... I answered this question before but I don't remember what... <laughs> I need a prompt. Help!

Tracey West: See, the screen isn't helping you right now. There used to be a giant mount on that screen.

Rubi Bayer: Let's talk about the gecko!

Peter Larkin: Okay. So Byron was working on challenge mode Qadim, and he was trying to come up with an idea for how do we make this awesome, and spectacular, and unique. So he came up with what we called Mega Qadim, where he's like giant off to the side and he picks up a player. So because I'm QA—and because I'm a troll—I was like, "Hm, when you are mounted, and you turn yourself into a creature that has a scale factor on it..." Cuz all Byron did was a scale of Qadim, it applies that to the mount. So I went out to Queensdale on the gecko—the Springer—and I was like, "I'm gonna turn myself into Mega Qadim. His name is Big Mclarge Huge, because Byron loves that.

Rubi Bayer: Wait, is that your character? I've seen that!

Peter Larkin: It's one of his character names. I do that on the mount, and... I think it was actually more than five hundred percent. I think it was an additional multiplier in there, so it was 30 storeys tall.

Rubi Bayer: I want to see it!

Tracey West: It's basically Godzilla.

Mega Gecko

Rubi Bayer: I love that you got it licking its eye.

Peter Larkin: Yeah. I took 10 screenshots to get it just right.

Novera King: I just want audio of little villagers screaming out of its way. Total Godzilla moment there.

Peter Larkin: When I'm breaking things I try to have fun with it.

Rubi Bayer: I'm just gonna say, you were like, "I'm QA, and I'm a troll," and I'm over here going you just said the same thing twice.

Peter Larkin: Well yeah, our job is to troll the developers.

Rubi Bayer: Well, if you don't do it someone will. Take care of that. We didn't get video, and I'm sad about it but can you talk a little bit about the skimmer.

Peter Larkin: Yeah, I was trying to do an aliens attack thing with the skimmer over Divinity's Reach, kind of hovering above it. But I couldn't get the video in time and edited.

Rubi Bayer: But you were telling me it was casting a shadow...

Peter Larkin: Yeah, yeah. So I don't know if it will... it depends on your settings, cuz it's so far away, and shadows have a max distance. I couldn't get the shadow to happen. I was disappointed.

Rubi Bayer: No, it's okay. That wasn't like, "God, Peter why didn't you get us that video!" At least tell us about it because it sounded amazing! And I want this Independence Day over Divinity's Reach.

Tracey West: Queen Jennah has a new problem.

Rubi Bayer: ...With this skimmer just like... <inaudible> <pause> Novera, I had asked you about some of your favorite things about developing this, and Glenna...

Novera King: Glenna! Oh, I love Glenna! Okay, so this actually... the raid was... I had only been here at ArenaNet for about a month, when I came on to the Raid and Fractals Team, and looking back at what Glenna has been in the past. In past raids, in the beginning she was just a vendor. She had very little personality, and she's grown over raid after raid. So, it was really important to me to kind of push that envelope a little bit farther, especially because she's the familiar NPC. We always see her when we play raids. So the opportunity to give her a really fun arc was a challenge that I was I was looking forward to. And so for Glenna to have an arc, you need an equal conflicting personality. That's what we have in the Key of Ahdashim, who is just so salty. I love the Key. Because Glenda has this very positive but very like intellectually earnest kind of personality. She's there to help, but she's an asura, you know. They think they know all the things, and they think they have a right to know all the things, and a right to have all that information. She's encountering in the Key this ancient—so old; old as the city—personality whose whole job is to safeguard the city and its secrets, because for the djinn secrets are what keeps them safe. When Glenna shows up, she's like, "We're here to help you. Qadim is destroying your city. Tell us all the things and we'll tell you how to work it out." The Key is like, "Okay, slow your roll a little one! You don't get to know everything all the time."

Rubi Bayer: I feel like Glenna isn't going to cope with that one.

Novera King: No, she doesn't. She doesn't cope with it well. At the very beginning you see that friction from the start. So Glenna and our heroes are there to help and you think as a hero a lot of times that that means that you get to choose what the help is, and you get to choose how those that you're helping... how they're gonna take it, and what they're gonna do with it. That's not actually reality. If you're going to help someone who's a victim or a group of people, you have to ask them what's going to be helpful, and then let them determine for themselves how to apply that help, and how to move forward. That was part of the friction, and you see that even from the very beginning. When the first time that everybody gets inside the gates Ahdashim, and Glenna's like, "Ooh! We get to study djinn in their natural habitat!" Like she's some sort of 19th century anthropologist looking through a microscope. The Key is like, "Alright, we're not at a zoo. We're not an exhibit. This is not a museum. We are people and you're guests here." That kind of starts that feeling, and the arc for both of them. Every time we come across them again, they're they're constantly having these give-and-take arguments. Then right before everybody goes to fight Qadim... so, Glenna... I liken Glenna to the kind of personality, like... she wants to poke a bear. If you give Glenna a bear, she's gonna poke the bear, and then run screaming when the bear attacks. But at the same time she's like recording the bear's response. She's fearless.

Rubi Bayer: Glenna would chase tornadoes.

Novera King: Yes, she would! That's what she is like. That's the kind of intellectual that she is. She wants the adventure side of things but that fearlessness also is not tempered by a sense of, "Is this really how I should say this? Is this really how I should do this? Is this respectful or not?" She's forcing the Key and the djinn to be vulnerable in a way that is really uncomfortable, and feels like a attack. So for both of them there's that moment where Glenna is like, "This is how we're gonna help you. We're gonna help you get Qadim." And the Key's like, "I'll accept your help but you have to trust me a bit as well. You need to send the power to me." And Glenna has that moment where she's, you know, "How do we know that the Key's not gonna go evil?" And you don't get to know, Glenna. You have to sort of trust in that moment. They're allies but neither is sure of each other. It's not until the very end that you see a little bit more growth there.

Rubi Bayer: I like the thought behind Glenna's arc. There's room for her to grow in discernment, and discretion, and empathy.

Novera King: Yes.

Rubi Bayer: ...But it's so true—I feel like it's true of asura in general—that she's gonna poke the bear.

Novera King: Yes! Which is fine. There's nothing wrong with poking the bear sometimes, but you have to acknowledge the bear has thoughts, and feelings, and self-determination.

Rubi Bayer: And it's going to come after you. It's funny you spoke about the bear as an analogy because I can't possibly be the only one thinking right now of Taimi running around like, "I'm gonna poke it! I'm gonna poke it!" Taimi, stop! No, you can't! So maybe part of that is an asura sort of thing.

Novera King: I think so, but I think that Taimi has more empathy in social situations than Glenna necessarily does.

Rubi Bayer: Taimi kind of had to, after a while, because she went through some stuff.

Novera King: Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Rubi Bayer: Some bad things happened.

Novera King: Glenna hasn't had that...

Tracey West: ...hardship in a way. Glenna hasn't had to face as much.

Rubi Bayer: Could we get Phlunt in there? It's a fight I want to see.

Tracey West: Phlunt and Canach for background commentary.

Novera King: I just want a conversation between the Key and Canach. How disinterested and salty they can get.

Rubi Bayer: I'm making notes in my head.

Novera King: Fanfic that, y'all. Make it happen, I'll read it.

Rubi Bayer: I do I do like the thought that you put into Glenna, and growing her arc. I'm interested to see what she does.

Novera King: It was a fun space to play in. And just you know, something that Tracey had said before about how she designed the space, it had really informed the story we ended up telling, and the lore that we chose for... how to figure out what the djinn society was going to be, based on what you were building out.

Tracey West: Well, and there was some interesting things that weren't really explained very well in the original Guild Wars 1 version of the map, because I went through and there was like these weird fountains everywhere, like pools. They didn't even have elaborate... what you would expect out of a fountain. It was just like almost like scrying pools, just sitting in almost all the rooms. So I kind of had to make a choice early on. Am I gonna put these in? If so, they're sizeable enough that do we need an explanation for it? So we struggled for a long time to figure out how like... okay, you know what? Does is the magic of the city like? What is Qadim actually trying to corrupt here? What happens when a player walks into it? Which is another funny story.

Novera King: I'm going to let you tell this one.

Tracey West: Gosh, was it Tyler? I don't even remember who. It must have been Tyler.

Novera King: It's totally Tyler.

Tracey West: While this discussion was going on, there was a huge pool on the lead-up to the Qadim encounter where we're like, "Oh, players are totally gonna jump in here." I think just as a side, funny thing he just made it so that you go back to your swimsuit. At the time I think you even got you turned bigger. You're 200% bigger or something. It was kind of this question of what happens when a player interacts with this djinn magic? They shouldn't touch it. We previously had the Mystic Forge thing where you could potentially be turned into an anomaly. So it's kind of, "Okay, what do we do this time?" I was pushing for everybody to be changed into chickens but I didn't get that.

Novera King: I feel like the semi-naked dance party is close to chickens. Maybe?

Rubi Bayer: I'm sorry, did we not have enough chicken models to do that?

Tracey West: Oh, poor Chelsea is there like, "If only we could use all my chickens!" Chelsea has a whole pile of--

Rubi Bayer: Of all the creatures we could turn somebody into...

Novera King: Poor Chelsea has so many different variants of chickens and hyenas she so desperately wants to get in. We finally gave her the chicken tonic.

Rubi Bayer: For those of you who don't know, we have... does anybody on had know how many chicken models we have in the game? There's a lot!

Tracey West: I don't think they all made it into the tonic, because I don't think we had the gold chicken in there, and she was, "Oh..."

Rubi Bayer: That's right, there was the gold chicken. There's a lot of very realistic chicken models in there because Chelsea loves chickens.

Novera King: Because reasons.

Rubi Bayer: And she kept making it! There's all these different chicken models in the game.

Tracey West: I tried, Chelsea. I tried. There's a bunch of other little hidden things in there, too.

Rubi Bayer: For example...

Tracey West: If we wanted to segue...

Rubi Bayer: We could. Please.

Tracey West: Well there's two things: one that ties back into GW1 lore again, which was... Back when you originally got there you followed Goren with his little egg—well, at the time he didn't know was an egg. It was just a rock—and it hatched into Shiny. We knew that we had to address it in some way, because players were gonna ask. But obviously that wasn't going to be one of the encounters, so it kind of fell to like, "Okay, how can we make a reference?" So there is a reference in there. WoodPotatoes went right pass during his playthrough, and I was, "Turn around! Turn around!" Where was a few lore nuggets we snuck in. And I have a tradition of putting in quail and all the maps that I work, on so there is a quail hidden in both the Mythwright Gambit and in this map.

Rubi Bayer: Do you know if somebody's found it?

Tracey West: You know, it's not really that hidden, because thankfully there's areas where it seemed reasonable to have a quail there. So, I didn't feel too too guilty about it this time.

Novera King: Just popping it in?

Tracey West: Yeah. Well the Mythwright gambit was a bit more, "Where am I gonna stick this?" I like to be reasonable about it. Not all the maps I've done have them because I just felt super weird to have a quail sitting there.

Rubi Bayer: Just put one random djinn in the corner stroking his pet quail.

Novera King: Speaking of... there are random djinn hidden, because djinn could have different forms. So, they're hiding from Qadim y'all. Look for them. You can have conversations with them and you just got to reach out. Because the thing is that once Qadim is defeated, they all come out of hiding. So, if you wait until the end of the raid, when you finished it you won't find them because they'll just be hanging out.

Rubi Bayer: Can we backtrack just a second? Can you talk a little bit about Shiny?

Tracey West: I don't know how much I can say about Shiny really. I mean it was just a Salt Spray Dragon originally. I could talk about the story...

Rubi Bayer: Yes, it's for people who don't know.

Tracey West: Oh, for people who don't know, it was almost a side quest in GW1. You just had to have been talking to Goren, who was just a character chilling in one of the cities. I think he might have been protecting one of the princes or something. He was hired help from what I vaguely remember.

Rubi Bayer: An active hired help.

Tracey West: He had his own agenda and he wasn't too intelligent. That's putting it nicely. Now you asked me this question I didn't brush up on why he was he was moving Shiny in particular. He just towed around this thing that he thought was a rock this whole time. He gets into Ahdashim and then it hatches into this is Salt Spray Dragon who basically refers to him as mommy. He just takes the role as like, "Well, I guess this is my life now. This is my baby, and I'm just gonna stay in the city like raising--"

Novera King: He was waiting for his purpose.

Tracey West: Yeah, he was waiting for his purpose. Instead of becoming a hired help thug the rest of his life, he became mummy to a dragon.

Rubi Bayer: As one does.

Tracey West: As one does. Then that's kind of where it left off. We kind of left Goren just chilling in Ahdashim with his baby dragon. So, there was this question of what happens. We don't want to spoil the little thing you can find in Ahdashim but there's a little we do reference.

Rubi Bayer: So, there's one more thing that I wanted to talk about, and that was... we've talked about some of the funnier moments and you had once you haven't mentioned yet.

Tracey West: Oh yeah, that's true. We internally play test a lot of these raids and we fully acknowledge we're not Snowcrows level. But earlier on we were working on the earth djinn and Ben Arnold was coming up with all these crazy elaborate patterns for that. I think we cut like half of the designs because it just got ridiculous. Like the transitions. It used to be that when you fell into the quicksand it would always kill you. Even on normal mode. I'd gone off to work on a different map towards the end of development, when you [Peter Larkin] came in and so I never realized that they changed that to only be challenge mode. I was watching on release Mighty Teapot, and when WoodenPotatoes were doing their playthroughs, and then realize that they were almost using it to dodge mechanics. They're like, "Oh yeah, just through this," and complaining about getting back up on the pillars.

Peter Larkin: I totally predicted that one, by the way. That people would jump into the quicksand to avoid the attacks.

Tracey West: So seeing that, I was internally dying laughing cuz I knew that they're training themselves into really bad habits. So I'm pretty sure people thought I was kind of crazy sitting at my desk just cackling. When they hit the challenge mode and just realized its insta-death, and what it meant like if you didn't memorize the patterns, and where the holes would be. They'd just fall into insta-death. Because that was my experience of that map for months. The pillars would fully destroy everything, and there's just these spots.

Peter Larkin: Part of the videos that I watched was—I don't remember who it was. I wanted to give credit but I don't remember who it was—it wasit was our first pull on Adina, and she destroyed all five of the pillars. It was our first time doing challenge mode. And they all ran right into the hole. And they all died.

<Groans and laughter>

Peter Larkin: The whole raid ran right down the whole together.

Novera King: Well, at least they died together.

Tracey West: Yeah, one big happy family. That's what usually happened too. Everybody would run behind the same pillar too. "Oh, we're all safe now!" No...


Tracey West: I love when they finally discovered too that I kind of put a bit of a mossy indicator on the center ones for various things, for how close you need to be, or how far away you need to be for some of the raising center thing. Subtle, but I tried.

Rubi Bayer: We're gonna take some questions from chat here in just a minute, but while we're waiting for the questions to pop up I realized that you've probably just accidentally trained a lot of our playerbase to look for the moss. It means something.

Tracey West: I mean some of them were immediately calling it out already, so I feel like it's it's been out there. Now you know in a more formal way.

Rubi Bayer: Now you have to do moss and quail.

Tracey West: Yeah you have to do the quail hunt and everything again.

Rubi Bayer: Today is... no it's not. It's next month. It's in one month and three days.

Novera King: Well countdown has begun.

<Inaudible off camera>

Rubi Bayer: It's not my birthday!


Rubi Bayer: Facebook would have told you guys!

Novera King: Yeah, I was just thinking that. Facebook didn't alert me!

Tracey West: There hasn't been a lunch email yet. I don't know...

Rubi Bayer: Yeah. The lunch email hasn't come, so you don't know who's birthday it is. Check Facebook.

Novera King: Okay, I kinda love this one. So I love how they adore Sabir. Yes, what inspired me on Sabir's personality... should I reread these questions?

Rubi Bayer: Yes. Chat, they can't see these. Only we can.

Novera King: Okay, so. Mad Queen Thorn wants to know for narrative, did anything inspire you on Sabir's personality? Where did it come from? I fell in love with this djinn pretty quickly. I adore him and how he bickers with his elemental. So this is definitely a case where environment and game mechanics really fed into Sabir's personality. When you get into that platform, he's constantly just running away. He doesn't want to fight you. He's, "Okay, path of least resistance. I'm going with Qadim because, well, Qadim already killed two Cardinals. Probably best to go that way." It's that sort of flighty... I totally was like every pun for air is what Sabir is going to be. That's sort of how I was thinking about all the Cardinals. Here's a little secret, I was Wikipedia-ing like crazy. So if you're pagan and you're thinking about the elements, what does earth represent to you? And what does air represent? Then I fed that back into their personalities. So air being fluctuating with the environment, and with what's going on, seeing which way the wind blows. All of that, that's where Sabir's personality really comes from. It's not that he's evil; he does feel a need to protect his people but he's convinced himself that this is the way things are going. "I don't want to fight. That's the way I'm gonna go." So very different than Adina, who's like, "Smash!" She's very militant but Sabir... People are picking sides. They either love Adina, or love Sabir, or they're like me and they're like, "That Key!"

Rubi Bayer: You're over here with Glenna going... <thumbs up>

Novera King: Okay so DaydreamingD asks, in the Mythwright Gambit there's that great story of the four djinn. Are Adina and Sabir the earth and air djinn from the story?

Rubi Bayer: You're creating cannon right now...

Novera King: I know. Props to Alex. Alex Kain was the writer on Mythwright Gambit--

Rubi Bayer: Alex is amazing.

Novera King: Alex is the best! And did those those book daffs, and also did the initial, the very first pass on an outline for this raid. So where we were picking up from Ahdashim, I would say that... maybe? My answer is maybe, is that what we find out by spending some time in Ahdashim is that they have these four Cardinals, who for each of the elements is the most djinn who's hooked into the leyline. The leyline requires the four Cardinals and the Key to stabilize it, and they sort of mete out this power to their djinn, of their type. They also have a system where you're not a Cardinal for life. There is some turnover. That's one of the reasons when Qadim is like, "You passed me over for lesser djinn!" He's salty because he didn't get to be a Cardinal. So there's the possibility that might have been them from back in the day. Zommoros was also up as a possible Cardinal but he's not salty about it. They have power potential but doesn't necessarily mean that the Key is going to judge them to be the best Cardinal.

Rubi Bayer: Zommoros, I feel like has found his passion in life.

Novera King: Yes, and he's perfect over there.

Rubi Bayer: And he's catching the crap you throw into the Forge.

Novera King: He's great at that! I really like Zommoros. I'm glad we got to use a little bit of him in here.

Rubi Bayer: I do, too. Okay, Tracey, I think the next one is for you. What happened to Shiny?

Novera King: Are you going to spoil this?

Tracey West: No, I'm not! We will explain... it hints that what happened to Goren... I don't think we ever really explicitly said what happened to Shiny and that was intentional.

Peter Larkin: I can say that the fact of the weapon skins are called Shiny has nothing to do with it. I was an oversight. We didn't think about that till the very end, and was like, "Wait a minute, these are called Shiny Weapon." No that has to do with skritt. That's completely a skritt thing. We did not turn Shiny into weapons, I promise!

Novera King: We dismantled Shiny and now...

Tracey West: The brutal answer is if we were to include Shiny, that would have been a whole new model to get the Salt Spray Dragon looking right and we're already talking about... usually we have the the bosses get their own models and everything. From the game's standpoint that's the brutal honest thing. If we reference Shiny, it probably would have still had been text, which wouldn't have been super satisfying anyway. It would have been a side story. People would have probably wanted Shiny to actually play a role in the encounters, which was never intended, so we kind of just want to leave it as a tantalizing, like you imagine what happened to Shiny. Shiny's still out there. We didn't say that it got destroyed when Qadim came through or anything. Maybe Shiny escaped. Maybe we'll meet Shiny again.

Rubi Bayer: But Shiny is definitely not weapons.

Tracey West: Shiny definitely did not get turned into weapons. Zommoros and the skritt are not the cruel.

Rubi Bayer: I had such an emotional roller coaster with that, because I didn't put two and two together. I was just like Shiny's great, yes! And then you started saying that, and I thought you were going to that yes, Shiny is weapons.

Tracey West: That's the worst soylent green ever!

Novera King: There's a part of me that's like, it would have been cool if we had gone that way...

Rubi Bayer: A dark and creepy way.

Novera King: I know.

Rubi Bayer: That's okay, that creepy streak is what makes you all good.

Tracey West: But that storyline was too lighthearted to end there. In amongst all the princes hiding out, and the djinn trying to beat you up for invading and stealing all their treasures, there's this happy little dragon.

Rubi Bayer: Alright, thank you guys so much for your time. I appreciate it. <addresses viewers> Thank you all for hanging out with us today. I will let you all get back to work, because like Tracey was saying, time and resources are not unlimited. So thank you all for your time. Thank you for the Key of Ahdashim because it is super fun. Alright, we will see you guys next time!