Exclusive Q&A with Joe Knight: Member Of Arenanet's Live Team
GuildWars2Forum.com is proud to present its first exclusive Q&A with Arenanet. We got to speak with Joey "Joe Hostile" Knight, member of the Guild Wars Live Team and Test Krewe.
So, without further ado -- enjoy!
GuildWars2Forum.com Q&A with Joey "Joe Hostile" Knight
Welcome to the first (and hopefully not last), Q&A session on the forum.
Today I have the privilege to speak with Joe Hostile (Joey Knight).
Which do you prefer, Joe Hostile or Joey Knight?
I usually label myself as Joey "Joe Hostile" Knight pretty much everywhere on the internet. Professionally, I go by Joey, and in games, I go by Joe.
How long have you been with ArenaNet? And how did you get your start?
I have been here 8 months now. I started out as a huge Guild Wars fan and made the decision that I wanted to work for ArenaNet. Saying it like that makes it sound simple, but it wasn't. ArenaNet has a very high standard for acceptance into any position here. It took me three years working across three continents to acquire the necessary experience to finally apply. Some other games I've worked on in the past include Gears of War 2 and Fable 2.
Joe is a member of the ArenaNet team. In particular, he's a part of the Guild Wars Live Team, and Test Krewe.
Can you explain what the Test Krewe and Live Team are, and how they relate to each other?
The Test Krewe is a group of about 200 Guild Wars fans who have volunteered their knowledge and passion for the game by testing and providing feedback on skill balances, new content, and other major game updates developed by the Live Team, before these things are released.
The Live Team is the development team here at ArenaNet that chose to devote their time and effort to working on Guild Wars when most of the company made the shift to Guild Wars 2. Together we strive for the highest-quality updates possible.
How close are the Live Team and Test Krewe?
There are many avenues we use to connect. We have daily interaction on the official Test Krewe forums, we have a Ventrilo server set up, and we bump into each other often on our internal test server. Three times a week, we run play tests together that we label "All Calls." On the weekdays we do two of these in two different time zones to accommodate as many of the Krewe members from across the world as we can. These two All Calls focus mainly on PvE content and skill balance.
Almost every weekend, we also get together with the GvG Krewe and focus together on GvG mechanics and skill balance effects in PvP. In a nutshell, we are pretty close and the game is better for it!
Without having to write an essay, can you explain the steps of how patches are started and eventually go live?
Without writing an essay, huh? OK, simply put: design - implement - test - release. One of the biggest realizations I've come to since being a part of the team is the sheer amount of work that is put into even the smallest of updates. I learned a hard lesson, coming on board so full of passion and ready to hit the ground running, saying things like, "Why not just do this or that? That would be easy!" It just isn't as simple as it appears to be on the surface.
With that being said, it doesn't mean we can't do anything or be bold in what we want to change or add to the game, quite the contrary. It just means that we have to be highly efficient with our time, and we have to put the resources we have on things that will be as good for the game overall as possible.
One of the main functions of the Live Team is game balance. How difficult is it to keep so many professions, skills, and items balanced?
You forgot to mention Hard Mode, Normal Mode, explorable areas, elite areas, dungeons, Heroes, Henchmen, AI, monsters, consumables, summoning stones, HA, RA, CA, GvG...alright I think you get the point without me finishing the list. Simply and honestly put, it is difficult. Balance is impacted by anything we do, as any change has a ripple effect that has to be constantly monitored and refined.
We'll be going into more detail about this topic specifically in an upcoming blog post. Be on the lookout for it at http://www.arena.net/blog.
Has there been one particular profession throughout the years which has seemed to get the most 'balancing' attention?
I can't speak for "throughout the years" as I was a fan for most of that time. Speaking as a fan though, I guess I can relate to that perception. As a player, it never feels your favorite profession is getting as much love as you'd like to see. Since working here, I've come to realize the true challenge of satisfying or at least meeting the expectations of as much of our player base as possible.
Every player relates to different professions in a different way, and we want to ensure as best we can that each profession is equally viable and as fun as they can possibly be in each format of play. I hope we've shown our dedication to that with the last few profession updates, and we will continue striving to accomplish this with the Dervish and other updates in the future.
How is time divided between PvE and PvP? Are there certain members assigned to each gameplay type?
We do our best to balance out development time between both and are usually tackling as many projects as possible at once without getting too distracted from our defined priorities. For example, we're currently working on bringing the War in Kryta to a close, making GvG changes, a Dervish skill update for both PvE and PvP, and a long list of side projects that we put time into when we can.
Team members aren't officially assigned to specific gameplay types per se, but things usually fall into place based on our individual experience with and passion for the game. In general, we are one team and support each other all around.
Has there been one update, or patch you've been particularly happy with or proud of?
I've loved them all! Heh, alright, I won't be cliché. So far it has to be last year's Halloween content and Dhuum. I had just started working here and was thrown right into the deep end to sink or swim with that update. It challenged me to learn very quickly and was a great team-building exercise for me.
I've been passionate and proud of everything else I've worked on since including the War in Kryta content (Joh the Hostile! RAWR!). I'm also really looking forward to what we are working on right now and what we have planned throughout the year.
Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't try to squeeze some nugget of Guild Wars 2 information. Can you tell us anything? Have you played it, or tested it? How awesome is it? Should we be extremely jealous until Gamescom when we'll first see the game in action?
I primarily work on GW1, but I will say that I enjoy it so much that I play and work on it every chance I have, even if that means staying after hours or coming in early. I'm also fortunate enough to be roommates with some of our key developers working on the game, and so we eat, sleep, and breathe Guild Wars 2. It isn't just work for us but rather a passion generated by believing in our mission to truly make Guild Wars 2 the best MMORPG ever created.
To answer your final question, I don't want anyone out there to be jealous until Gamescom or PAX, but I do hope the fans anticipate playing it as much as we anticipate sharing it.
My own personal question, will I be pleased with the Asura?
Of course you will, silly bookah!
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions Joe. And thanks for the time and effort to help keep Guild Wars up to date with awesome content. And making sure the entire experience stays balanced. I think the community has been pleased overall with the work these past years.
And good luck with Guild Wars 2!
If you'd like to follow Joe on Twitter, or connect with someone close with the original Guild Wars and/or upcoming Guild Wars2 you can do so at: @JoeHostile.
As a bonus to the Q&A, I just want to say how awesome it is that A-Net has stayed dedicated to keeping Guild Wars balanced. Even with the upcoming Guild Wars 2 release. You don't see that very much in gaming anymore, what with company's worried about revenue and profit, and other buzzwords.
Also, I've been reading Guild Wars: Ghosts of Ascalon and learned what 'bookah' means. What Joe calls me in the interview. It's a word the asura use when talking about humans. It's not a positively enforced word, and I'm pretty sure it's an asuran racist slur. Awesome!