Epic Weekend

Wow… I am worn out.  My team’s big project at work is live now, and we just released a big patch to fix some terrible difficulty spikes.  The last time we released Super Adventure Box: World 1 it got pretty universal praise.  (Which I put up here back in April)  Since then our founder/president has used it (Along with the Mad King Clock Tower I designed and built back in October 2012) as examples of content we release that raises retention rate, and therefore revenue.  So expectations were high for this World 2 release which came out on Tuesday.  The day after Labor Day and the Penny Arcade Expo.    

Saturday (3 days before SAB World 2 launched) my company held a party at a hotel near PAX for fans, and my project, Super Adventure Box was the main feature.  We were running speed run competitions all night where players tried to be the first to get to the end of the new zones.  I ended up MCing the whole night.  I guess there’s a first time for everything.  Seems like people had a really good time.  I had about a dozen people run up to me and shake my hand and thank me for SAB and/or the Mad King Jumping Puzzle.  When things were winding down our founder/president came to talk to me, but there were a couple fans who were going on and on about how much they love SAB, how they got their friends to play Guild Wars 2 because of it, etc. while he just stood there listening.  It was like a perfect testimonial right in front of the man in charge.  After I signed their shirts and stuff he told me that our new release was being very well-received and generated a lot of excitement.  

So it seemed like everything was turning up roses, except….   several of the contestants playing the game ran into a disturbing mysterious bug where they were falling through the floor of the map and got trapped down there.  This is a very serious problem because we have a super difficult mode that some players could have spent hours and hours earning the continue coins necessary then another couple hours progressing through a level and if they got trapped underneath they would lose all of that.  So after tearing down after the party I came home at 2am and fired off an email to a lot of the company leads saying we had a serious emergency.  Fortunately we came up with a way to fix it the next day, but it’s risky changing anything that late in the process.  So we narrowly averted a disaster we never would have found if we hadn't shown at the party.  Apparently the computers at the show had their fans off and were overheating which caused the blah blah blah technical.

Speaking of last minute, here’s the stuff that became a perfect storm.  Boy have I learned a lot this week.

1. We “fixed” a problem we had with an animated prop.  We had these water spouts that would go up and down to provide timing platforms, but if you stop and stand still when the water drops you would just float there, so that totally breaks the point of them.  Our “fix” was to give the players a little knock down when the spout goes away.  And that happened a day or two before we went pencils down.  And I guess because there were so many elements all coming together at the last minute we didn't get to test them enough.  

2. During our testing we did not run into the amount of issues related to lag (that’s a problem with online games where your computer has to constantly communicate with the server which can be next door or on the other side of the planet.) that we ended up seeing when we went live.  This was especially problematic around the rapids that sweep you downstream if you fall into them… which is also where the fixed broken water spouts are.

3. We drastically reduced how often players could gather the stuff they need to get the prizes that they got during the first release.

4. We put a new item you can buy for real money from our store that gives you unlimited continues.

5. We introduced a new mode called Tribulation Mode that is purposefully designed for people who are super good at the game and have a ton of extra lives and continue coins.  But it’s certainly faster to do if you buy the Infinite Continue Coin.

6. World 1 was basically a canyon with only 3 or 4 bottomless pits scattered around so it felt very easy going, and relaxing.  I wanted World 2 to be a little bit more challenging, but I underestimated how psychologically impactful it is to have bottomless pits all around as is the case in much of World 2.  I think this ratcheted up the perceived hostility of the world.  So a lot of people who are more casual players who loved World 1 are finding World 2 to be like a slap in the face.  (A favorite phrase thrown around the forums constantly, as if we developers loathe the players and want them to suffer.)  Our team and alpha testers are very experienced with the game and quirks of the engine, so I guess like construction workers walking around on scaffolding we just don’t notice the difficulty like most of our player base does.  So we made it too hard compared to World 1.  

All of these things came together, and the idea that we purposefully made World 2 ridiculously difficult just we could sell our Infinite Continue Coin soon caught on in our community, which means they are now interpreting everything with that confirmation bias.  Every time they fall off a cliff or get glitched off a water spout into the rapids they get angrier and angrier that we are screwing them and trying to trick them into spending money on our subscription-free game.  This is resulting in much lower numbers for this release so far.  I’ve spent the last couple of days finding ways to chop down the difficulty spikes, and we just released the results of that today.  But I’m really worried that we lost a good chunk of our fans forever because of my mistakes.

The other thing I’ve been doing is interacting heavily on the forums attempting to ascertain how much of the complaints are legitimate and how much angry hyperbole.  I’ve been trying to articulate our team’s intentions and be up front with the mistakes we made and how we plan on addressing them. 

Now, I’ve been reprimanded a couple times over the last couple of years for my forum posting.  I’m not diplomatic enough, mention things I shouldn’t, make specific comments that could be interpreted as promises by the community, set precedent for forum interaction that my co-workers shouldn’t feel the need to have to meet, etc.  I took the forum posting class our Community Team gives in order to be cleared to post on our official forums twice.  I’ve listened carefully to the Community manager and our studio producer who pointed out specific things I’d said wrong.  I’ve been pulled aside by my boss to be told that other departments were unhappy with things I’ve said.  Every time this happens I sincerely apologize and try to make sure I re-adjust my attitude towards my communication style.  

I thought I was getting better at this skill but I got another one of those talks this morning.  I can’t go into any details except to say that I am not getting good enough at this skill. I was hoping that I could find a way to follow the rules (Which I agree exist for good reasons) while still maintaining my personality when posting.  I guess I cannot.  I think my basic personality is simply incompatible with the diplomacy necessary to protect my company and co-workers.  So even though I’m getting responses like these:
Josh, you and your posts are quickly becoming my favorite dev interaction on the forums! SAB was already one of the most fun pieces of content I experienced with my friends in this game — hours of almost non-stop teasing, jokes, frustration, and laughter. And the details and passion you share with us in your posts is fantastic. Thanks for being so awesome...

Before I get into some of my thoughts on SAB 2.0, I would like to take a moment to remind you (and everyone), that you are by far the most amazing designer ANet has. No other dev stands by their work, or interacts with the players like you, and I think this is reflected in the popularity of the SAB.

This kind of back and forth over the forums, and quickly, is really encouraging and makes me glad I play GW2. You’ve caught a lot of flak in this thread, some even from me, so I wanted to point out how grateful I am that you’ve been taking the time to listen to the players so intently and respond genuinely rather than with generic diplomatic answers.
Thanks, Josh.

I just wanted to say thanks so much for interacting as much as you have with the community. It’s gotta be hard reading some of this. So often in some other MMOs, when things take a negative turn, the devs and community managers go into hiding which actually make the situation worse. So what you’re doing is awesome.

One of the most upfront honest dev answers I have seen in my life. Kudos to Josh.

It is not giving in to forum whining. Yes, there's a lot of whining on the forum, but Josh Foreman explained both his design philosophy and the reasons for his fixes very clearly.

I have a lot of personal gripes about ANet's design philosophy and response to criticism, but Josh Foreman is pretty much the only designer whom I have no issues with. He has always been very straightforward and honest about his vision and goals and is willing to weigh criticism.

Josh, I just want to thank you for the way you continue to interact with us. I can understand how rough it must be to hear criticism of something you are clearly very passionate about and put so much of yourself into. You’ve taken it well, and it says a lot about you. Hopefully you’re not too bummed
Anyway, I hope ArenaNet appreciates what an asset you are; it’s employees like you that create loyal customers.

Gotta say, props to Josh Foreman. I've been reading this thread occasionally, and he's been very polite and humble in taking criticism. I mean, it's gotta be seriously hard taking it all in after working insanely hard on something you thought was awesome (which is still awesome by the way, just a little flawed!). He's admitting his mistakes, taking in feedback and in general just being an awesome dude.
It just makes me happy to see someone from the dev team discuss issues with the community in such a way. You can tell he's a passionate guy, and it makes me more excited to see whats to come. World 2's flawed, yeah, but it's got some great ideas, level design and interesting mechanics. Maybe I'm just a bit of a nostalgia-fag but I adore SAB.

Josh Foreman is a straight up genuine guy giving honest responses - has definitely earned my respect. I like that he is so straightforward, doesn't play verbal sparring games, admits to the limitations of what he is working with, open to suggestions and works his tail off to ensure that players are having fun.
Big thumbs up to this guy.
Very classy replies from Josh, especially considering the onslaught of rude comments. I bought an ICC 'cause I love SAB, despite being quite sore about the latency issues.
What's with people, though? I'm shocked by how rude some of those forum posts were towards the dev. Saying that the dev is "brilliant" in a scheming, manipulative way like that is so incredibly offensive. That's not criticism anymore, it is just insulting someone who worked hard. I feel really bad for the dev that has to read all that condescending, fingerpointing crap, and I don't even like SAB, I suck at it.
What a scumbag cesspool that place is.
Actually, while there was a lot of nonconstructive bile early on, they seemed to mostly taper off in the later pages leaving people who were genuinely constructive and appreciative of the work Josh has been doing.
Who knows man. Some people are just downright assholes and there aint much we can do about that. People will be people.
Have to admire his patience though. The amount of vitriol fueled comments spewed into that thread is enough to make anyone flip.

I agree with your thoughts about Mr. Foreman. He's a class act and even though I agree with a lot of the criticisms, being able to not fly off the chain at some of the people who post on those forums (or any other, for that matter) takes some serious mental fortitude.
Well done, man.

...I have to shut up.  It’s really hard for me to collect the valuable feedback offered on forums without response or questioning.  Especially when it’s evident that the community likes it so much.  Oh well.  If the company that pays my paycheck and lets me work on my own crazy pet projects like SAB tells me to resist a difficult urge to interact with players because I’m jeopardizing the company so be it.  I’m told I can still post, but much much less, and I need to get my posts approved first.  So it’s not really a total shut-up.  But I know I’d have to come off as a different person if I go through this procedure, which pretty effectively kills the urge.  

So that was frustrating.  Later in the day I casually asked the founder/president if we had any analytics about how many people were playing.  Well collecting that kind of data seems to be really fun for him as far as I can tell, so we ended up working together to gather that information for a while. That was nice, except for finding out what I suspected based on my forum experience: the numbers are pretty dismal (Compared to the exceptional numbers of the first SAB) right now.  I really hope that this patch will bring people back, but without the old reward schedule I don’t think it will happen.  So I’m pretty bummed and feel like I let down the whole company and especially my team because I made some poor judgement calls as coordinator.  

Later, just before heading home the Guild Wars 2 Design Lead came and talked to me about things.  He’s such a great, positive guy, I really like him.  I found out today that he’s also a truly empathetic person.  After discussing that list of perfect storm parts I listed above, and ideas for World 3 and the logistics of development he pushed further asking, “But how are YOU doing?”  So I told him how I’m feeling.  How I think I screwed up and let people down.  He was only supportive and encouraging.  He said this sort of thing happens all the time to everyone.  And this is a great learning process.  

So this has been a really challenging time for me, but I have to say that I feel really blessed to work at a company with really great people who allow me to flex my creativity and are understanding that when mistakes are made they are learning opportunities.  They saw promise in me and my ideas and put me in a position to implement them.  That says a lot, and it’s why I don’t feel the need to go anywhere even when I’ve been at the same company for a decade this October.  That’s an eternity in the game development industry.  The last stat I read is that the average is 2 years.  Probably because it’s rare to find a company that is as supportive and adventurous as ArenaNet.


Anonymous said…
Josh, I think it would be awesome if you and your team who created SAB make a new game (platformer obviously). Having another IP that is not an MMO in Anet's library would be great.

Great work!
Jeff Hardisty said…
Josh you are awesome and never forget that. Anet sounds like a great place to work, but they are also damn lucky to have such a awesome guy like you working there.

The ideas you bring to guild wars are some of the best, and I hope to see more in the future.

Keep up the great work.
Anonymous said…
SAB is the best content in the game, can't wait for world 3! I've gotten all the achievements and can't wait for more.
Unknown said…
Thanks for putting your thoughts down. You're in a tough position and I don't envy it. Keep up the good work and be encouraged that your work is appreciated by your company and the users!
Anonymous said…
I didn't get into SAB1 the first time around. I was never did 8 bit gaming and I wasn't that good at jumping puzzles. Between last year and now I've done all the JPs in the game (That really needs a title for the achievement >.>) and tore through SAB1 this update. So thanks for letting us go back to it. I'm working through SAB2 and only wanted to strangle you once, when the zone 2 bauble achievement took 5 hours. I do hope the zone 3 babule achievement will be fixed so we can get it even if I do start crying because of it. Thanks for all your hard work.
Unknown said…
Josh you da man. I'm a huge fan and I'm sad to hear you even thought for a second you've let people like me down. Never! I love playing your content in SAB, was looking forward to World 2 for awhile. GW2 is such a great game for having this as just a small mini game inside the great "main game" itself, and the difference that you feel as an employee compared to other companies definitely shows in the game itself. It's different from other games of its type, and so fun to play.

Bring back World 3 with a vengeance :)
Anonymous said…
I can see why people were whining about the difficulty. It was kind of hard for normal players.
I've cleared tribulation mode myself and have got 3 green weapons and 1 undetermined yellow one.
I really love it when it's hard.
The clock tower is/was the best themed and most fun jumping puzzle in the game. The timing aspect of it was wonderful.
I really hope I get to see world 3 and the clock tower soon. Perhaps even a new version of the clock tower if I'm lucky.

About your forum posts, both me and my room mate were completely baffled. Never had we seen a dev respond so much and so well to the community. I agree with you, if you want feedback and want to know more about it, you need to go out and talk to the people and I think you did that in a good way.
I have a hard time seeing how that could hurt ANet, but apparently they sadly think so... and as you say, they are paying your paycheck, so I understand how you feel about it.

But needless to say I think you and your content is really awesome. I hope to see more of you soon. And hopefully ANet will lift that hush hush on you.

Also I'm not stalking you or anything, I don't know if this is supposed to be a private blog, but it was linked in a thread about the achievement Master of Baubles, World 2 being bugged. Just so you know.
Anonymous said…
Hey Josh, too bad you can't write in the forums anymore all the time, it was awesome. Also thanks for your great adventure box, I love it and can't wait for the next world, even if tribulation mode of 2-3 is giving me a hard time (some jumps are really evil) :D
Risingashes said…
I agree with the higher-ups.

Your posting while well intentioned just fed the trolls.

The content you produce is just miles above other stuff in the game and you can just stand behind your achievements in my eyes. Trying to reason with irrational conspiracy theorists is just an exercise in futility.

Producing SAB a second time would have bored the very people asking for it- don't mistake what people say for what people want. Push your work forward and the players will be pushed to catch up.
Risingashes said…
I agree with the higher-ups.

Your posting while well intentioned just fed the trolls.

The content you produce is just miles above other stuff in the game and you can just stand behind your achievements in my eyes. Trying to reason with irrational conspiracy theorists is just an exercise in futility.

Producing SAB a second time would have bored the very people asking for it- don't mistake what people say for what people want. Push your work forward and the players will be pushed to catch up.
Anonymous said…
Hey Josh, Keep up the great work you are doing.

I'm sure you will find ways to keep improving and growing as a game designer don't let this situation discourage you.

I wish you all the best in your work and life, you are an outstanding guy.
Ravious said…
You are definitely one of my favorite devs, which is hard because there are so many great people at ANet.

I thought the changes you made to World 2 to make it more in line with the difficulty ramp was perfect. I love walking around with my green eagle staff.

Thank you for all the love you have poured in to GW2. It would be bleaker without you.
Edgar Doiron said…
Thank you Josh!
Ever since Mad King, I've been following your content, expecting your next jumping puzzle iteration. Your stuff is the only thing that challenges me in these jumping puzzle. I hope you keep on flexing those creative muscles.

Also, Mad King is back next month! Yay!
Anonymous said…
My entire guild has been having a great time romping through SAB in it's current incarnation. While many of us had problems when it was first released due to lag or other issues, we were amazed at just how quickly those problems were remedied, and now more than half of us have even been taking a stab at tribulation mode, which has turned out to be a hell of a lot more fun than I ever expected. You and your team really do go the extra mile, and please do know that it is very much appreciated.
Unknown said…
I just got here via Reddit, and wanted to comment. Like a lot of other people, I absolutely love the way you conduct yourself on the official forums. I will admit that I have not read 100% of your posts, but the ones I have read are wonderful. They are direct, level headed and open. Its a breath of fresh air, in my opinion.

Im sorry, though not surprised, that this has created problems for you with management. I would love to see your forum behavior continue, and spread to other members of the development team.
Anonymous said…
about your interaction with players. I think it was really enlightening how you explain your thought process and point of view about some issues discussed with SAB.

It's sad that they disapproved of it, but hats off to you for providing us with the sense that you guys care.

tl;dr. you gave us straight answers and no bullshit. you took the time to explain things to us. you're pretty damn cool
Unknown said…
Transparency can be a dangerous thing... but I think it also creates empathy, which in turn builds loyalty. When your fans/customers are able to relate with you as people rather than a faceless company, they are more likely to overlook/forgive mistakes, broken "promises," etc...

When all of our interactions with developers are filtered through the PR machine, it becomes bland and meaningless... And hard to trust!

After trying World 2, I was convinced all of the changes were made to push sales of the Infinite Continue Coin. After reading all of your posts, I believed you. If you hadn't posted, and the Community Team showed up and denied the same thing, I wouldn't have.

DoubleFine recently did a panel about transparency. I'd suggest getting your bosses to watch it.
Anonymous said…
Awesome read Josh. Look forward to playing stuff that you hopefully design for Halloween. SAB wasn't for me because I suck but I get why people like it so much.

Did the Colin smile make your heart melt?
_wulfharth said…
If anything, Josh, it's that you should be giving the Community 101 class you got at Anet. You are there, at the frontlines, with a great enthusiasm to share your design philosophy, aren't scared to weather any critic storm and really, you have ALWAYS outdone yourself with all your content so far, we are lucky to have you as a designer in this game. Ok, so some responses may serve to ignite, but if one thing is sure, it's that player base has trolls and there's no reasoning with some of those.
Keep up what you're doing, it's gold Jerry, gold! :D
Unknown said…
Please keep up the good work! Your content is what brought me back to this game, and will again and again and again ( I really wish it were permanent). Try not to listen too much to the naysayers. They're upset because it got more difficult (zone 2's should always be harder than the first!) AND they couldn't farm the bubbles all day long. I was one of those people to be fair. The game is so fun I hardly needed an excuse to play it day in and day out.

Your contribution on the forums is exactly what this company needs. I hope your company realizes that soon, because lack of feedback and overly "diplomatic" posts are exactly why no one bothers with anet devs anymore. We (the collective) would rather silently hate them than try to get anything changed and meet a brick wall. Check the recent Reddit thread dedicated to your awesomeness: http://goo.gl/z0HBon

thanks again, and always
Hickeroar said…
You're great, and your attitude is fantastic. I'm sorry if you feel like you failed the company, but it sounds more like the company has failed YOU. Your bosses sound like idiots, which is something we've all suspected them to be for a long time now. ANet's community policy is cancerous.

They ignore the players' concerns for weeks at a time (no comments, no confirmations, etc), and when they do reply, it's cold, hard, and nothing more than a eloquently worded rebuff.

Players are driven into an angry frenzy by the complete silence of ANet (let's be honest, they're just ignoring them), and if they'd just received real interaction from the team....they would have remained civil. Anger rises in the fans because they feel like their opinions and desires fall completely on deaf ears the vast majority of the time.

Example: The WvW team's interactions with the community as of late, and their blatant disregard for player desires over the last year, have forced me to completely stop paying for gems anymore, and have me on the verge of quitting the game. Once ANet decides to start listening to players and stops pouring all their resources into a lame farm-fest of PvE play, I'll reconsider. I've spent a LOT of money on gems over the last year, so saying I've stopped buying them is (relative to most players) not a small thing.

ANet execs need to take notice of how they're treating their fans and customers, and amend their ways. It's really sad to see how draconian it's become.
Karril said…
I never really got to play SAB1 until now, but wow this is great! I really appreciate your work, and I am sorry to hear that they do not want you to talk as much as you do.

It is fantastic hearing so often from a dev, honestly I wish we could get more of you to talk so frankly with us. I think it would make the game a much better place, and us players a lot happier.

Thank you, so much, for your hard work.

Trem said…
You see the numbers and think you failed, but maybe there is a different answer. The past few events have been very, for lack of a better word, "grindable". Starting with the pavillion, the gauntlet, the scarlet invasions. Those were things that kept the players online because they showered them with gold, not because they were having the kind of fun something like SAB brings. Yes, world 2 was badly tuned at the start but it is perfect now, but mostly you are contending with burn out from the past events and lack of money grinding from yours.
Drebz said…

Linked here from reedit and want to offer this:

The numbers on SAB2 couldn't have compared to the numbers of the original. When it released earlier this year SAB had the following going for it:

1. Guild Wars 2 was still fresh, and more people had it on their mind.

2. ArenaNet pulled off the greatest April Fools joke of all time by trolling us with a mock commercial that turned out to be real, playable, and awesome.

3. Other developers who had traditionally published April Fools content did nothing new.

4. People who saw SAB was coming back may have assumed it would be the same thing from April, and decided they didn't need to check it out again.

I think your instinct to blame your own design decisions is misplaced. This is more a case of time and place. Give yourself a break, and know that the Halloween clocktower will haunt us all for the rest of our gaming lives ;-)
Anonymous said…
An interesting read, Josh. I have to say, it's disappointing that the numbers are low this month. I think World 2 of SAB is great, and I've thus far completed World 1 Zone 1 on Tribulation Mode and found it quite enjoyable. I figured it out myself, but I have to say, I will be using videos for the rest of World 1 and World 2 (if I even do them), as it pushed me to my limit of patience doing World 1 Zone 1. However, that was always the intent, so mission accomplished. :-)

I will say, however, that I haven't been logging in to the game much at all this update, and for me the reason is pretty straightforward - it's not to do with SAB, but rather because it has become quite clear to me after a year of playing that the game isn't headed in the direction of traditional MMOs where there is a structured end-game with incentives to become a better player, to be more dedicated than other players, and to excel on a personal level in-game. (Although Tribulation Mode is a measure of skill to some degree, because it's a) temporary and b) a mini-game, it doesn't really meet the same "needs".)

In the end, that's what really motivates me as a player. The monthly achievement checklist, the cool looking skins, the temporary content is nice to work through, but when you realize that looking ahead, that's exactly what you'll get every 2-4 weeks, without the slightest hint that there will ever be a new series of dungeons, or raid-style content, or any of the good stuff that 'ambitious PvE players' enjoy and that it's mostly small-time 'fluff' content, it kills the desire to log in.

I think you're a great developer, I loved the Mad King's Tower jumping puzzle and I think SAB is awesome. But in the long run, I've got more engaging games to play than one where every month I run around pressing F several hundred times, riding 30 balloons, doing 45 minute invasions in 13 zones, killing 100 of this mob, 100 of that mob, etc. Who comes up with this type of content I have no idea, but it won't hold players like me forever.

Best of luck with your next GW2 project Joshua.
Bikin' Mike said…
Keep up the good work. I loved the clock tower. I wouldn't take any dismal numbers to mean much of anything right now with all of the champ farms going on. It just isn't profitable to do SAB and profit matters to the community. Personally I have 3 Kind Toad weapons and am considering getting 3 more.
Kriknav said…

I've been a developer for about 8 years and much of it was as a consultant for government work. I had several run-ins with my bosses similar to you because I was being "too open" about my work with the client. So while I'd like to say I feel you're pain, I'm sure our worlds are different.

That being said, I appreciate you're willingness to be open in all you do: your mistakes, your attempts to fix them, your changed thinking going forward. I feel like in several ways we are kindred spirits, as far as developers go; and this is very much an encouragement to me, as I'm sure you're WAY more talented than me. I would also like to encourage you, as it very much sounds like you need it. First of all, please don't go the drastic approach and completely shut up. Please try to remain open about your development practices, and don't let the reprimands get you down. One thing that I have found very helpful, is when being reprimanded in a situation like that, is asking my boss to specifically walk through the situation and tell me what I *should* have said. This helps me specifically identify the areas of my openness that was offensive or undesirable. And over time I got better about being open, yet within the "regulations".

Like I said we come from different worlds and your "regulations" about what you can and can't say are probably way different than mine were (due to your audience), but I hope that I've been able to provide you with some small shred of encouragement and advise (helpful advise). Bottom line, please don't stop doing what you do (cause you're great at it) and don't let people stop you from being who you are (cause that's all we can be). And if it's not apparent, you did an EXCELLENT job on both SAB and the Mad King's Clock Tower and I hope you keep up the great work.
Greibach said…
Hey man. It's tough to read this. I know that you are incredibly passionate about this game, and about your work, and it shows. It kills me to see the stress this has put you under. I've said it several places, but I just wanted to tell you that I deeply respect you both for your honesty and your passion, and I love all of the content that you have done.

I'm a software engineer myself, and I can completely empathize with the situation. Last minute bug fixes can be incredibly risky, and having to throw it out before adequate testing for last minute fixes will often lead to bad results. I've been there myself.

I wish that the internet community at large were able to take your kind of interactions in reasonable, mature ways. Many of us can, and we appreciate the honesty and genuineness that you have, but I can understand the pressure that other put onto your co-workers because of it.

I hope that you feel better, and truly don't see this as a massive personal failing. Mistakes were made, but they weren't all yours, and it can be very difficult to see outside of the environment you are working in. I look forward to W3.

As a side note, I have so far completed Tribulation W1, and W2-Z1. I am anticipating being able to finish it this weekend. It's frustrating, but in a good way.
Matt Riddle said…
As much it saddens me to say that I do not find World 2 enjoyable to play, I understand your perspective in this matter. I hate that you are feeling this way, because you created an original and imaginative world that deserves a huge amount of respect and applause.

I would never say never, and I honestly think that if World 2 is given the work it needs to reduce the difficulty, and World 3 doesn't shoot the difficulty up that much more, people will come back and people will give it another chance.

I know I will.
Anonymous said…
Josh, I absolutely love the SAB and I love how you talked to us players about it, the various ideas, bugs, etc. It's a shame the higher-ups don't seem to share that same sentiment, because your commentary is a reminder of how close the relationship between a MMO designer and the playerbase needs to be at times.

Here's hoping all works out well for you and the SAB, because it has made this month in GW2 more fun than it would have been with just the ascended stuff.
Remillard said…
Read your post after it was put up on a reddit subforum and identified with it greatly. As a fellow engineer for many years I've gotten used to the notion that a good day is when you hear NOTHING from your 'customers' (whether that be external or internal) and I was extremely pleased at the frank discussion I saw in the dev tracker on the forum and a bit envious. However I can sympathize also as an engineer with the trials. The design process can be long and convoluted, and engineer conversations can be pointed and cutting without any intended implication beyond what the thought communicated.

All that being said, personally I preferred you writing more, rather than less. But then I'm also a rational engineer adult and I understand implicitly all the caveats that come with making comments on designs. I hope that some sort of happy medium can be achieved where developers can engage with the rational members of the community and we end up with something that's best for everyone.

Best of luck. I think you're a great engineer from what I've read, and anticipate seeing more of your work in GW2 and down the road.
Callidus said…
I sort of had to comment... I loved Clocktower, I loved SAB 1, I love SAB 2 (Tribulation Mode included)and I'm really hoping for SAB 3 (I want those purple colored SAB weapons for my Mesmer, for now he'll have to settle for yellow).

Anyways, just to point out, although SAB 2 might be difficult, it's something I can do and get a unique reward for to show that I overcame that difficulty... I don't really feel like there's much of that in the game. A few guildmates were all about the ascended weapons coming out.. but everyone will have those in time because it's time gated.. these rewards are given based on skill, thank you for that.

Really looking forward to world 3, please don't let your creativity die down, the game needs you!
Anonymous said…
Never stop being yourself. we all love you Josh. anet can go die in a hole for all i care. they should learn from you on how to interact with their players. and if other co worker feels like you make them look bad, well .. They are the one who is bad. keep doing what you do. the world is full with stupid people who try to smash you into pieces. but that's the secret, it means you are doing a wonderful job. i've been doing all your content since madking tower, boy that was a blast! i can't wait for october to come. i hope the tower comes back with another twist :P but for now i still have one more tribulation zone to do before i get my yellow skin. wish me luck! and good luck to you too.
Vicky said…
I did world 2 zone 1 and 2 with a pair of friends prior to the patch. One was a vet player like myself, and the other was a newbie to the game. Us vets started out with 99 lives, and our friend with only a handful and some continue tokens.

We struggled. A lot. We died. A lot. 50 lives. We were angry and frustrated and, frankly, disappointed by the content and difficulty. Yes, suspicion of P2W and the infinity coin crossed my mind more than once.

So I went to the forum, where surely we weren't the only people who thought this was too difficult. And there was a thread already, with a dev reply even! So I spent the night reading through this thread. My blood boiled a little as the dev (you, mister Josh) dismissed the notion that the content was too difficult.

I continued to read though. It's a bit therapeutic to read other people agree with your opinion. Interestingly, the dev kept posting. And posting insightful things. He was very human and organic, and quickly I began to relate to him, sympathise with him, and become much more forgiving. All he wanted was the best for us.

My frustration became non-existent. It was clear that changes were going to be made, that the difficulty was going to be turned down. I never had to post on the forums too to add another voice so that hopefully we strugglers could be heard.

Thank you Josh.

I wish the philosophy would change there at Anet. Every time I step into the ranger forum, I exit with newly discovered rage. There was only one dev who dared post in the ranger forum (a dungeon designer, but he mained a ranger) and was willing to listen to the complaints there and try to get them addressed. Those times he's posted, the sea of anger died down. Unfortunately he has been fired or laid off. :/
Grimthagen said…

I appreciate that you've received your marching orders and would be crazy to carry on in the face of your company policy, but if it means anything at all, your approach was correct and your company policy is dead wrong.

It's a damn shame that instead of using your community interaction as a model, you were treated as the nail that stuck out.

I appreciate that your co-workers might feel uncomfortable interacting with the players, but frankly the MMO space is such that companies should be including interaction in the job description of at least some of the designers. Community reps are ok, but unless they are exceptional at what they do, the players eventually cotton on to the fact that the CRs either aren't in the development loop, or that everything they say is designed to "handle" them and thus readily discounted.

Looking around the forum, this has been a tough few weeks for a very large number of areas within Guild Wars 2, and really the only way to calm the waters is to get more people like you into the trenches to calmly and repeatedly give your side of the story and actively take on-board feedback designed to make it better. Having everything going through the community team will kill any sense of responsiveness or and feeling of genuine concern.

Thank you for putting yourself out there and thank you again for writing this post (which is sticking your neck out in a different way). I hope it doesn't come back around to bite you.
Anonymous said…
Im working right now but i took a time for Reading this article and i just want to said, Josh your comunication with the comunity is awesome, I hope that this article dont put you in problems too... btw, sorry for my english, its no my main language.
Anonymous said…
You were my second favorite dev at Anet -- for the same reason I had a favorite dev, Robert Hrouda. You guys were communicative and passionate about your work, and it showed. His departure built the GW2 coffin for me. Your departure would be the final nail in it. So be good.
Anonymous said…
Josh, I cannot thank you enough for your open communication, A-Net really needs more people like you.

To be honest, the first time I saw the Infinite Continue Coin I also thought it was a cheap cash-grab-scheme, since it followed the same old system of introducing/magnifying a problem and "conveniently" offering the solution in the Cash Shop.

So back then I played halfheartedly through World 2 on Infantile-Mode, untill I hit a (frozen) wall at which point I lost all interest in progressing.

I went to the forums to see if someone else had the same experience and stumbled upon that "infamous" thread and thanks to your posts I could see that most of my complaints were no artificial difficulty to sell an item in the Cash Shop.

I still don't like the idea of the ICC (it feels like cheating to me), but thanks to your posts and the fixes I could enjoy SAB without that awfull feeling of someone trying sell me something I don't really want.

Now I play World 2 on Normal-Mode and enjoy it, and I even bought the SAB-Finisher even though im playing PvP only like once a month :)
Anonymous said…

I'm coming to this post rather late, but I have to say, please continue to be yourself! The content that you put out is amazing, and every time I saw your posts in the dev tracker it was a breath of fresh air. I'm sorry to hear we won't see as much of it.

I will admit, I am not enjoying world 2 as much as world 1, but that isn't your fault, and I still greatly appreciate the design and world you've created. This is more due to the fact that I have an illness that makes me really dizzy and hampers my depth perception in game, and I have lost 3x more lives in world 2 than world 1... somewhere around 225 deaths in normal mode... thank goodness for that infinite continue coin (30g well spent)! And I still haven't finished....

The other reason why I, and I'm sure many others, are playing less is simply because the new school semester has started. In April, exams were wrapping up and I had plenty of time to give SAB a shot. So don't worry too much about numbers... the feedback from people who have played this time around is far more important, good or bad.

Regardless, prior to getting sick I was studying to be a software engineer and I am in awe at what you've created. If I had continued my field of study, I would never have been able to make anything as innovative as Mad King's Clock Tower (which I also failed at) or SAB. You have worked hard to cater to people like me as well as those who need the challenge.

So I'd just like to say: I'm sorry for not being able to play this content to the extent you would have wanted us to, but thank you so much for being a wonderful dev and person and keep up the great work! Please do not get discouraged; let the feedback, both good and bad, be motivation for more amazing ideas!
Anonymous said…
hey josh, don't sweat it, you're doing an awsome job with SAB. I really do like 2.0 better. I was basically spending my whole week inside there and it's very rare that this kind of content in a game draws me in so much. And I do like the new reward structure, bc it rewards player skill and is not just a time sink like many other living world releases were. keep it up man! I can't wait for world 3 :)
Fredick Noack said…
Josh, what you and your team have been able to produce inside the GW2 engine is astonishing! I believe we, the players, can easily see how impressive the artistic parts of SAB are, but have a harder time realizing the technical challenges.

Without having any insight in the details of the GW2 engine, you can still tell just by comparing SAB to any other content in the game (dungeons, instances, etc) that the engineering qualities of the content you and your team put together are at another level from the rest of the game. It feels unjust you feel anything but pride about what you've produced. That a project of this size requires some patching should not be a surprise to you or anyone involved at this point.

...and W2TM didn't require patching imho.
Anonymous said…
Josh, it's unfortunate that company politics are going to prevent you from engaging with us the way that you've previously done in the past, but this post makes it even more clear that Anet's truly lucky to have you on board. As much as you feel lucky to work there, they should feel lucky that you've stuck around.

You seem like a really loyal employee without an abundance of free time, so I doubt this will happen any time soon, but I'd love to see what you could do in the indie scene. Frankly, your design principles rock, and seeing an entire game shaped by them rather than just a small slice of an MMO would be a truly wonderful thing.

That said, I haven't spent nearly as much time in the SAB this time around, but it's got nothing to do with the difficulty of W2 or any perception of P2W. After the brutal grind of the invasions last patch, I've just been compelled to get back to the base game and enjoy some dungeons, world bosses, and WvW. When I'm not doing that, I'm usually hitting up a champ farm to recoup gold spent on ascended crafting.

The ascended crafting being in the same patch as SAB is an issue IMO, because it sets the "fun" path and the "progression" path at odds with one another. Throwing the Teq revamp into the mix next week isn't going to help any either.

Anyway, came here from reddit, didn't know you had a blog until now, but have loved pretty much every piece of work you've put into the game, and just wanted to stop by to say this - Even though I'm not a particularly religious person, you truly are doing God's work, putting smiles on so many faces and providing a way for people to shed their daily stress. Chin up buddy, we all love you.
Anonymous said…
the one thing game design suffers the most these days is terribly bad players. it's not even their fault bc not many companies make games that force players out of their comfort zone in terms of difficulty, bc it's too risky. they fear the backlash and fear turning players off if their game is too hard. from what I've read you draw alot of inspiriation from old platform titles, but the thing with these is, that gamers these days had a much more tough skin. but why is it that these games are still in our memories and not rarely we remember the insanely difficult parts the most?
Reelix said…
As a player who has died well over 1000 times attempting no-continue runs through World 1 (Zone 1 and Zone 2 done - ALMOST Zone 3...), I want to thank you for providing such a fantasticly hard challenge!!!

Sure, I have 400ms ping, and sure, I sometimes die mid-air if I accidentally press forwards as I hit the middle of a jump-pad, and sure, I might break my keyboard if that ^&^%$ing Z3 cloud knocks me off a leaf again, but this is what I asked for. I WANTED something that would be ludicrously difficult. I'm a great fan of "I wanna be the guy!" and "Super Meat Boy" - Both crazily difficult platformer games. Compared to them, most of Tribulation Mode (World 1, anyways) would actually be considered EASY, so I'm actually thankful of the additional challenge that lag and "bugs" provide. They're just something you learn to deal with, and slowly but surely you find ways of getting around and through the challenges they provide.

So - Keep on doing what you're doing, being who you are, and don't let anyone try and change who you are, because who you are - Is AWESOME!
Reelix said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said…
The most important thing I take away from this post is that you care and care to the detriment of your superiors. That means a lot to me.
It's easy for players to fall into the pitfall that devs are out there to live on your schadenfreude at the same time it is for PR to give canned responses to the resulting whiplash.
Although you've been told to pipe down, that's symptomatic of a malignant company wide direction.

The design with a lot of the added JPs is more intimate than other parts of the game while being challenging in a way 100 blades can't solve. That's how development should be done, not immaculately formulated in the fortress of solitude.

I'm not sure I like where living world is going. It's tiring to keep up with it on a working schedule and it has to be equally tiring to maintain as a developer. Tuning living story content when 'second phase' content is always around the corner has to have a negative impact on fixing content among classes and skills on top of bug fixing and overhauls. Ultimately that's a problem the company needs to understand, not a design lead alone.

You have a good working ethic with a matching conscience and a knack of connecting to players far better than any community manager. Robert Hrouda was another kindred spirit that ANet seems destined to crack down on.

On the contrary, they need to a lot more people like you two around!
Anonymous said…
Keep your head up Josh! You're one of the rare ones who breathe fresh air into the gaming industry and keep it alive!
Anonymous said…
hey Josh. just stopping by to drop a hey. love your work thus far - by far the most challenging parts of the game! and also, my most loved parts of the game, despite all the hours of frustration! the true reward comes from the fact that you are able to spend time, to fail, then learn, and hopefully, finally overcome these obstacles! :DDD really adds a whole another level of fun to the vast world that Gw2 has to offer already.

glad to hear you're learning a lot. don't let it get ya down! to me, all this says is, things will JUST. GET. BETTER. and that, they will keep doing. not done with SAB W2 yet, been having too much fun with W1 TM. Extremely looking forward to W3 and W4! stay true and bless you and those you work with.
Anonymous said…
Hey Josh, here's a hypothesis for you, test it with data if you can and take it your bosses if it works out:

Developer engagement with players creates community, which increases player investment in the game, which improves customer retention rates. In general it is far cheaper to retain existing customers than to obtain new ones. Therefore, you should be allowed to continue engaging with players in the forums, creating community, and player investment.

Thanks for being awesome, good luck!
Talindra said…
i honestly do not get it. how can this be a screw up? i have enjoyed this game so much and such an amazing idea and amazing addition to gw2, it is by far the best living story of all the others (second one that i like was molten facility). there are politics within any organisation and you can not always please everyone.
Anonymous said…
You are literally one of ArenaNet's only saving graces. I love you for that. I do, however, still disagree with making rewards daily account-wide. Some people only have so much time and want all of of the skins so only 16 or so baubles per day really isn't that much, considering how much effort has to be put into World 2. That action pretty much rendered the efforts of the players who took the time to get every upgrade on every one of their characters worthless.
Anonymous said…
Speaking for myself the issue with SAB 2 is the reduction in the rewards. I'm not sure why you reduced them but it was a mistake.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Josh, I am very sad that you have been put in this situation. As someone who runs my own company, I think you are doing it right and really appreciate when employees interact with customers as people in an honest and straightforward way (as you have done). That is how you deliver better products, and it also does retain customers. When customers know that their concerns hold credence with the company, they are much more likely to be loyal. Plus, your goal is to deliver the best product possible, and listening to customer feedback is the best way. For more information on this, I suggest you check out the book called the "Lean Startup" which is all about getting a product out to customers and then iterating quickly directly on feedback.

Also, don't be so hard on yourself. Your instinct has been great, and I worry about your employer if they aren't valuing your contribution. A great company would encourage what you have done.
Lothirieth said…
You were told your posts were jeapordising the company? Are you f'ing kidding me?? I'm sorry but your bosses are absolutely stupid regarding this. I can imagine you might make other people in other departments uncomfortable simply out of jealousy. And yeah, you do make others look bad (*glares at the Q&A Josh who can't bother to confirm or not that a legendary weapon is severely bugged.. an item that's supposed to be one of the biggest achievements and vanity items in game.) Maybe instead of them getting pissy and jealous, they should step up their game. ANet needs more of its employees to be like you! The fact that so many were appreciative of your communication proves that. Silence on issues is something that really irritates gamers. Your communication really headed off a potential bad situation and turned it into something more positive.

So again, thank you! And I'm really sorry your bosses are stifling you and simply making dumb decisions.
Joseph Skyrim said…
Yerp, being silenced is really annoying (as I know from recent experience). Do unto others and all that, eh?

Anyway, chin up and just keep being awesome. Everything will be fine.
Anonymous said…
The current SAB release is what brought me back to GW2 after a six month break. I find it highly entertaining. Also, your forum postings will be missed, and I'm sure all people at Arenanet know that they were the kind of stuff we players love.
Here is hoping that you will be finding a reasonable way to accomodate yourself, the studio and the players, both casual and core, in SAB release 3.
Anonymous said…
Odd that you mention having pitfalls everywhere as a major cause of death in players, most of mine were from avoiding enemies/being knock backed by enemies into instant kill dart traps (these seemed more suited to a hard mode and seemed very unfair when combined with moving enemies)

Also the 400 bauble gate requiring a +1 Candle AKA Torch was a bit of a slap in the face due to baubles being even more scarce than they were before what is this Spyro the Dragon?

The ice seemed under used, a boss fight in an ice rink would have been very fun but instead we got the same old whack a cage only with you guessed it another instant kill if you didn't slide down onto a ledge

The overwhelming additional instant kill encounters in the 2nd world (compared to the 1st) coinciding with the release of a cash shop exclusive item to have infinite lives left both me and my guild members very disgusted with the whole update, if arenanet really needs the money they should announce a real expansion for pre-order not nickle and dime like this is some iphone app
Anonymous said…
Reading your blog made me realize that I'm missing out on a great part of the game (SAB 2) because all of my time is allocated to grinding out materials for another legendary... in 45 blocks, where I drop everything to max out my drops-per-minute in a Chaos event. There is so much going on in the game now, it's hard to compare the numbers with when SAB I stood alone.

SAB isn't what I play GW2 for, but it's what good game designers should all strive to make.

Finally, dig up "Galaxy Quest." It's a great movie to help you understand the trials and tribulation modes we go through in life.

Never give up. Never surrender.
Anonymous said…
Josh- SAB trib mode is amazing. It's the best update to GW2 ever. SO many rage moments and yelling at the screen, tears, laughter(is there a trap here *dies*), and the sense of accomplishment when you finally get it.

I think in one of the previews you said discovering the paths to trib mode made you have to think like you, the dev that created it, and this is so so true. You get to a checkpoint and are in the next section and you start thinking "ok he's totally going to have a trap here." Beyond all the rage and trials and errors in trib mode you can really see how creative you were in making each and every jump. World 2-3 is by far the most fun i've ever had platforming in a game. Finally mastering the spike/ice/wind room really makes you feel amazing.

I can't wait for World 3 and 4!

N said…
Just saw this on Reddit and felt that I have to pop buy and leave a comment here.

First of all I really like SAB and I completed the first world last time it was up. I still really like SAB but the last patches has been REALLY hectic.. So sadly SAB suffers while I'm having a "ingame holiday" leveling alts and just doing ordinary guild things.

I plan on doing world 2 as someday tho I just need a brake, and I bought the infinite bauble since it's a convenient item to have (and a nice way to show support).

Event tribulation mode has been great fun to me (even if I'm to scared to even try it) in forms of some pretty funny youtube videos :D

Keep up the awesome work!

P.S Loved the clock tower, even tho I didn't complete it... yet :p

Huronimus said…
I like the SAB - I did enjoy world one more but mostly because I am a casual player and struggle to find enough time to get through world 2. I started gaming on the ZX spectrum and love your take and references on retro gaming.

As an Apps developer myself I can see a lot of thought and time went into SAB and you have my respect and thanks for your effort.

The increased difficulty means that there is a learning curve and the world length means some of us can't find enough time to traverse that curve. I am happy with the challenge though and wouldn't want more nerfs.

I think for me the problem is that SAB will go away again after its month is done. The time gate means some of us see little point in doing it now as we will not be able to complete it which would be frustrating. I think SAB and its achievements should be a permanent fixture now and not wait until world three is done.

As for the comms issues - it was refreshing to see a dev appearing to be a person and explaining things on the forums. Without doubt you gained much kudos for yourself and company. Its sad you are being censored and I hope this blog does not cause you further issues.

Keep using your god given talent as you are making a difference to many lives through your work and it is appreciated.

Sodomy non sapiens
Unknown said…

Wow found this blog from the forums and this post urged me to compliment you on both your professionalism and honest assessment of the overall situation both with GW2 and SAB.

I want to say your work with GW2 is why I still today (after 3 BWE's, constant alpha testing, and a year plus of 8 Max Level characters) still enjoy the game.

But to me this post was more about you the person. To personally admit that you felt you let down the Team because of SAB2 only speaks to your character as a PERSON and love for your company.

That which doesn't kill us only makes us stronger (or at least till we break out the torch and slingshot and kill it first ;)


Anonymous said…
Dear Josh,

sadly I must admit that I too was one of the disappointed, complaining players on the Guild Wars 2 forums. However, the last thing I wanted was for you to get in trouble with your supervisors. I guess that (for me at least) it's a lot of smaller things combined with the stress of the 2-weekly releases.

Overall the SAB is still great, the oneshot kills get less frustrating as you play it more and the fixes you've made really improved gameplay.

Sorry for giving you such trouble.

Anonymous said…
Hey Josh, I'm deeply and heartachingly sorry for the horrible week you must have had, I know it can be tough sometimes in such an unforgiving and aggressive environment, MMO development being what it is, but please do know that there are MANY people who just don't speak up on the forums to say listen, these people are over-reacting, you did a fantastic job and I look forward to what you bring next time! The treatment you received on the forums disgusted me, how people couldn't just see how much effort and love you poured into this project. https://forum-en.guildwars2.com/forum/game/gw2/To-Josh-Foreman-and-all-ArenaNet-Developers/first#post2831815 These are some of the people who did see that. I just hope you see this post and at least get a smile or two from it, we do love your work, keep it up :)
Lenitas said…
I hope we didn't screw things up for you by "making" you the superstar at ANet. Maybe they don't want a superstar in their midst. I understand that that could screw with team dynamics.

You're good at your job and you brought us something wonderful and fun to play with for hours and hours and hours of hell and bliss. But what makes you _amazing_ is of course that you gave the dev team a face and voice and showed us that you value feedback and respect the players. It's sad that your employer doesn't see the value in that.

But you know that we're behind you all the way. Right? Good.
Anonymous said…
They need to reassess their forum posting class.

A lot of GW2 players are tired of the silent treatment whenever there are issues/bugs/concerns. Your responses to the community were a breath of fresh air, and it is even more damning of ANet that they saw it as a bad thing. If they think it's simply better to say nothing at all rather than risk broken promises, they are deluded. I am used to your level of transparency in other games and it is appalling that such transparency would be frowned upon. Shame on ANet.
Anonymous said…
Hey Josh, you definitely did not let me down! I finished all of World 2 and its achievements before the nerf patch to it. I loved it! It was exactly what I was hoping to see in World 2. It was fun and well thought out. I had no problems getting through the water spouts either (when they were going up and down).

I read through the forums and I just want to say please don't take their comments to heart. They act like a bunch of vicious animals. I'm sad you can't post anymore, I liked how your personality showed through when you would post. Other developers who post sound like they had to write through an emotionless robot first.

I am sure World 3 will be amazing too and I can't wait to play it!
crazylegsmurphy said…
Dear Josh,

What an unfortunate turn of events.

In your post you quoted something I said on the forums. I want to take a few moments to expand on that, and give you some of my personal thoughts that would almost certainly earn me a few infraction points were I to post them on the Guild Wars 2 forums.

To start, I want to talk about the SAB.

I will be blunt here. The SAB is utterly fantastic.

The SAB is one of the only parts of GW2 that is talked about on mainstream blogs, and one of the few aspects of GW2 that is more often than not talked about in a positive light. When the SAB was first announced, the blogosphere lit up. It was an instant hit with players as you know.

SAB 2.0 was anticipated by much of the community (it was often mentioned in casual play, and on the forums), and when it was announced it was coming back, there was a undeniable buzz on the internets.

For me personally, the SAB is probably the most fun I've had in GW2 since I began playing it on launch. The reasons were because not only was it new and fresh, but because it was apparent that the designers were putting everything they had into it.

In your post, and on the official forums you've stated a few times that you feel that SAB 2.0 was to some degree a failure. This couldn't be further from the truth.

You've taken a lot of what has happened to heart, and I don't think enough people have taken the time to step back and properly thank you for creating what you have. Sure, like any software there are issues that need working on, but these are in no way evidence of failure.

Above, you said,

"That was nice, except for finding out what I suspected based on my forum experience: the numbers are pretty dismal (Compared to the exceptional numbers of the first SAB) right now."

I think this is a correlation / causation issue. You have to understand that there may be other factors that are contributing to this.

1. Rewards

As you seem fully aware, the decision to reduce rewards and limit player ability to "farm" the SAB has created a situation in which players, as much as they love the SAB, have to weigh the time they spend in the SAB, and doing other things like farming invasions for Ascended weapons.

For someone like me who enjoys the SAB for the sake of the SAB, I feel as though I am limited in how much I can play. Since 2.0, I have run it multiple times with friends, but for the most part the replay vs. reward value has been compromised. I still SAB daily, just for fun, but this decision has had consequences.

2. GW2

Guild Wars 2 has been bombarding players for months with this "Living Story" experiment, and players are burnt out. More and more posts are popping up on the forums asking ANet to slow down and give players time to breath. For many, this month was that chance.

Because they're not able to "Farm" the SAB, and the achievements attached can be completed using online guides, most players have probably run the SAB a few times, and are now enjoying some downtime.

This is by no means a reflection of the love/hate for the SAB, but more so a result of ANet wringing every last drop of playtime out of it's community. I personally think you've gotten the short end of the stick here...or to put it another way, you've got a fantastic show like Firefly, and a network who runs it on Sunday afternoon.

3. Life

The SAB was released at the most inopportune time. Summer is done and most students have been gearing up for, and attending school. Combine this with what I said above, and I'm sure you'll understand why numbers may be lower than expected.

I would take a moment and research where players are, and what they're doing in all parts of the game before specifically targeting the SAB. My guess is that you'll find a drop in all aspects, with players focused on specific things (that can be done quickly), and specific times.

crazylegsmurphy said…

In the end you need to realize that the SAB is a fantastic and welcome addition to GW2. For many, it is the breath of fresh air in an otherwise mundane product. There have only been a few things that have become legend within the community (Clock Tower, Molten Facility, SAB), so don't for a second think you've failed.

Secondly, I want to talk about this forum fiasco.

If you look at my name on the GW2 forums, I'm sure you'll find at least a few posts where I complain about the utter lack of transparency by ANet. One of the most infuriating aspects of playing this game has been this tip-toeing and diplomatic answers by ANet staff.

When you started posting on the forums during the SAB 1.0 release, you became an instant favourite of myself and others, and earned yourself a spot on the hearts of the players. To this day you are one of the only Devs mentioned in-game and out by name.

Now, I'm not an ANet employee, so I can say what needs to be said. You getting reprimanded is, in my opinion a direct result of jealousy and envy. When a dev such as yourself comes online, and interacts with the community in such a way, it makes all other devs look like lazy sods.

It highlights how secretive and deceptive ANet is normally, and sets a precedent for a communication style that quite frankly most ANet employees are incapable, or unwilling to adopt.

Your communication in regards to the SAB has pulled the community together in a way that most devs couldn't even dream of doing. You've been open, honest, and fair with the community, and it is apparent in how understanding and passionate they are about the SAB.

The fact that you've personally answered my posts with honesty and understanding has made me, well, a Super Adventure Fan. I see direct result of the communication you had with players during SAB 1.0 (yes, from the little tweaks to jumps, placement of objects, timing, etc). Your interaction and desire to understand and support your work is something ANet should take notice of.

In my humble opinion, ANet should be taking forum posting classes from you. They need to understand that this, "Big Budget Mentality" they have is not only dividing the community, but coming off more and more like smoke and mirrors.

To bring this to a close. Josh, you need to understand that you're doing everything right. You've created an amazing product, and you're taking the time to stand behind it, discuss it, and adapt when needed. You've shown you have the ability to not only be professional in your design and implementation in the game, but you've also shown that you have a professionalism outside that is a very rare things in most forms of media.

I'm sorry that ANet doesn't see this, but I need you to know that you have fans out here. Well done Josh, well done!

Jeff "Crazylegsmurphy"
Anonymous said…
Hi Josh,

Thank You and your team for a wonderful SAB. A Game in a game I get the feeling like playing Day of Tentacles from Lucasarts where you could play original Maniac Mansion on Weird Ed Edisons computer.

I have mixed feelings about you getting censored from forums. I understand that in a huge companies like Anet there's suddenly urgent need to be very bland about commenting and political correct is the phrase of day. So if the policy of your company is like that then that part I can understand.

Different thing is if I accept that personally. I do not. There are bunch of gaming companies out there CD Projekt, DICE, Stardock etc. that have rly passionate developers posting on forums similar way like you did with SAB. Ppl love that. The forth'n'back throwing of ideas/patching/etc. has huge impact to players in a positive way.

It's a weird thing if you stop thinking all this PR and how we/big companies under stress of shareholders/community relation managers & whatnots manage relations with fans of the game.
Anonymous said…
Hey Josh. I loved the adventure box the first release and I want to thank you for all of your effort and work. I have barely explored this release of it, but it is not due to bugs or difficulty or anything like that. Its simply that its being released in segments. I would love to sit down eventually and play through all of the levels consecutively is all.

I felt like the first world was more of a teaser and it was great, but I wish to hold out to complete all the rest of it in a row. like an old game where you cannot save progress and such. A feature I miss this time around is farming baubles outside of the box from the invading creatures, it felt like a good way to gain some cushion .

Again, thank you for all your hard work. Its a feature I really look forward to visiting in the future.
MattVisual said…
The content you created are my favorites in the game, don't let this bring you down. If you quit now then I wont get DAT 8-bit Fire Sword!
Andrew Jones said…
Thanks for posting this Josh, I now see that my initial griping about the infinite continue coin was unfounded.

After 140 frustrating deaths in zone 1 though I have to say I appreciate Tribulation mode alot more and I'm on my second full run through of World 1. I'm having alot of fun with it now, running friends through with me.

Keep up and the great work and I'm over joyed to see that Jesus Christ is an important part of your life :)
Atrophied.8725 said…
Hey, you're probably getting a fair number of these since your blog post, but I just wanted to say how much your posts are appreciated.
Having a more transparent look into the design system really helps us understand the limitations of the game as players, which in turn makes us more understanding of any shortcomings/bugs that may arise in new content.
So thanks, and hopefully you'll be able to post again soon. Whenever I checked the dev tracker and saw posts by you, I always read through the thread because I knew there'd be actual insight into the development of fixes/content instead of a canned "we're working on it" or "soon".

Also, the new SAB world is amazing, and I hope you can work out the kinks with the water spouts. They're an awesome idea and one that I hope you can resolve issues with. I've run world 2 Trib Mode multiple times, both solo and in groups (groups are WAY more difficult, which is fun!), with our group being - as far as we know - the first 4-man completion of 2-3.

I would have posted this openly on the forums, but I doubt it would last long under the moderation rules of not calling attention to specific community members.

Thanks again,

Ben - aka Xandra (80 Ele, player since BWE 1, Honors in Applied Jumping)
Ary said…
This was fascinating to hear of.

Equally so to read thoughtful, well-explained posts from people who don't like W2. I'm in your boat--all of SAB is a breeze to me, including Tribulation Mode. So hearing this perspective is a wonderful insight to the market GW2 occupies.

I'm glad to hear your boss isn't upset with you over SAB release 2. For everyone that doesn't like it, there's another who does. There are even fanatics like me, who think nothing of buying an Infinite Continue Coin with the expectation of completing Tribulation Mode all the way through to the final boss of the series (don't disappoint masochists like me!).

On the matter of being "forum-moderated" you do what you have to. We'll miss you but I know you're still there, behind the scenes, still making the best stuff I can do in GW2. Besides, you've always got this personal space to be yourself.

Keep on rocking it, man. Live the dream.
Unknown said…
Hey Josh,

I've followed ArenaNet for 10 years, before the World Preview Event of Guild Wars. I was a teenager then and working for ArenaNet seemed like a dream job. But as someone else here said, I do not envy your position. You've got serious talent and it's great that ArenaNet recognizes it. Mad King Clock Tower was breathtakingly brilliant, and SAB was such a hit with me and my friends! I really hope ArenaNet relax their hold on transparency soon. As anyone who'd read the praise you get would notice, or anyone that scrolls through the chaotic Reddit posts nowadays would notice, the community ABSOLUTELY NEEDS the transparency and humanness of the company. I went to business school so I can tell why the higher-ups are discouraging such things, but are any of them passionate gamers? If so, they'd know why we need this.

Keep up the good work,
and don't lose it!

The Maguuma Assassins Guild [MagA] (2004)

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