Kill Ten Rats: [GW2] Player Concurrency – Water Level Vs. Waveform


Ravious over at Kill Ten Rats has an excellent article up and a must read. Very well done and I really enjoyed it and hope all the GW2 players and fans do to.






Kill Ten Rats

a group of adventurers on an epic quest


[GW2] Player Concurrency – Water Level Vs. Waveform

All joking aside, I think ArenaNet is making Guild Wars 2 work for its business model. Lost Shores is going to introduce permanent content, but ArenaNet wants fanfare. They want a crush of concurrency to surround the unveiling of that content. This is not a mistake either. ArenaNet is one of the few MMOs that can sustain itself on waveform player concurrency.

Conventional MMOs do have waveform player concurrency too, but it operates usually on huge expansions. It takes months to build up the excitement, and then it takes a month or so to go back down as players eat the expansions content up. Filled, they wander away. Most seem to rely on a plateau concurrency, especially subscription MMOs. Some players call it “grind”; some call it “end game treadmill”. Either way, conventional MMOs want consistency. They want a plateau of player activity even if it is always going to be slanting downhill.

ArenaNet wants consistency. With the Halloween update players got new events, mini-dungeons, and player events scattered throughout the world that would permanently remain. The Lost Shores update is also going to introduce a mid-size zone permanently and an “end game” dungeon. The water level is rising. However, except for the long haul required for an optional legendary weapon skin, there is no content requiring sustained “end game” activity. The consistency comes from playing how you want more so than a traditional goal to achieve some golden carrot.

It appears that ArenaNet enjoys their ability to spike concurrency more than their MMO compatriots. Most MMOs cannot handle a content designer proclaiming every player in the game should head to one city. Most MMOs cannot handle a mad rush on a single mid-sized zone which players of any level can join. ArenaNet seems to enjoy pushing the idea of spike concurrency forward, but I think that was their intention in line with the buy-the-box business model all along.

I said they like concurrency spikes more in the last paragraph because they could have easily conceived of an “end game treadmill.” Blizzard has been perfecting the theme park endgame for nearly a decade. There is still “new” design space such as Turbine’s Hytbold requiring players to do daily quests for nearly two months to rebuild a personally-instanced town. ArenaNet’s parent NCSoft probably has libraries of information on grind design. ArenaNet decided that designing an endgame requiring plateau-like activity was not what they wanted. Admittedly, many players do want or need that, and lack of conventional “end game” has been a sore point.

I think that their consistent plateau activities will continue to rise similar in style to Guild Wars 1, but for the rest of the year at least I would expect spike activities to be the headliners. Lost Shores will provide a huge weekend event followed by sustained exploration of the new zone and dungeon, which will again raise the plateau activities to a degree. Then Wintersday will be another spike along, assuredly, with gem store offerings hopefully refined from the Halloween items. There are of course business reasons to drawing players back.

Players are used to patterns and for the most part in MMOs the pattern in the water has been having a subscribed interest. Could ArenaNet be training players to play Guild Wars 2 when they want, but to keep checking back for exciting spikes? It certainly seems that way to me in the short term. Then with each spike they raise the water level of more content just a bit. It is an interesting method of snagging player interest. Sustaining those spikes in 2013 is going to be the most telling factor, I think, of how well it works.


TIME Techland: Guild Wars 2 Producer: We’d Turn Off Sales to Preserve the Game Experience


Matt Peckham over at TIME Techland has an interview with ArenaNet’s president and co-founder Mike O’Brien. Very interesting article and tells of howGW2 has been since the head-start launch and official launch. I have experienced some hiccups myself but I love the game and it’s been fantastic.


Please enjoy.



Guild Wars 2 Producer: We’d Turn Off Sales to Preserve the Game Experience
By Matt Peckham | @mattpeckham | August 29, 2012 | 21

Read more:

If you’ve had my experience playing Guild Wars 2, you’ve seen few if any in-game hiccups, no random disconnects and no just-trying-to-get-in-the-game server stonewalling. But if you follow online discussion groups, you’ve probably heard at least one or two people complain about stuff like server kicks, problems accessing the game’s guilds, hours-long World vs. World queues and of course the game’s shop-and-swap “Trading Post,” stuck offline since day one.

(MORE: Guild Wars 2: It’s the Pinball Machine of MMOs)

What’s the story from developer ArenaNet’s standpoint? I took the game’s pulse with company president and co-founder Mike O’Brien as it launched on Tuesday. Here’s what he told me.

What’s it been like the past three or four days?

Obviously the whole team is on a high and exhausted at the same time. We poured five years of our lives into getting ready for this launch, so it’s fantastic to see all the players filling up the world. When we can, we’re playing with them and having a lot of fun just doing that. We’re reading all about the experiences players are having, and as you might imagine, it’s a dream come true to be able to ship a game like this and see the fantastic player reaction. That’s thrilling.

At the same time, there’s also a scramble of, “Oh my god, there’s so many players and they’re playing so many hours a day,” and making sure that we’re able to handle that kind of demand.

What’s going on behind the scenes right now?

We’ve stress-tested every system in the game, but no stress test will get you to the point our servers are at right now with launch, so we’re monitoring every part of the game. It’s a big game, and — you’ve played it, so you know — there are so many moving pieces to it. There’s the game itself, the guilds, parties and friends lists, the trading post, web services and tons more.

It’s like you’ve tried to cram as much stuff as other MMOs-that-shall-not-be-named – that have had years post-launch to glom on content — into this single point of release.

It’s an absolutely enormous undertaking to make a game of this magnitude. We know that the other games people are playing weren’t released yesterday. Players have high expectations, and they deserve to have high expectations. They’re playing games that have had years of polish. We wanted to make sure we took Guild Wars 2 to a very high level of polish out of the gate. We want it to be the best experience players have ever had in an online world.

It’s an incredible challenge, because online worlds are so comprehensive compared to any other kind of game, and Guild Wars 2 is on the high end of that scale. I mean, there are so many things we have to get right. We have to make sure every one of those systems can handle the number of users coming into the game.

But a lot of it is going really well. In areas where we run into capacity constraints, then obviously we focus the programming team on “Why are we experiencing a capacity constraint here?” and “What do we need to do in order to address the issues players are having?”
You’ve been playing the game all weekend, right?

I have, but I’m an intentionally slow player, so — this is embarrassing — my guy’s only level 17. I was going to ask you about these players starting to pop up claiming they’ve already hit level 80. I can’t play games like that. It feels…not wrong exactly, but like missing the point.

I’m actually more like you. I like to take the time — I call it “take the time to smell the roses” — in the game. We really tried to build Guild Wars 2 so that it’s not supposed to be a race. It’s not a race to level 80; it’s a world, so I think you’re doing things right, you know, by enjoying the world.

How’s server stability at this point?

In general the game has been holding up very well and the servers are running great, even under launch stress. We did have to take some things down, like the Trading Post, which as you know has been offline for a while. That’s because, as players started hitting it, we had capacity issues, and we wanted to make sure it’s in really good shape, because it’s such an important part of the game — it needs to work well. Behind the scenes, we’ve got a lot of brilliant people working on that software, and they’ve identified where players ran into capacity constraints, and we’re testing and testing and testing to make sure we get that fixed.

I’ve had no problems to speak of so far, and I know that’s anecdotal, but I was listening to a pretty popular Guild Wars 2 podcast earlier, and all they talked about was how surprised they’ve been that the servers aren’t underwater.

Demand has just been off the charts. We can’t believe the sales volume so far — it’s been way beyond our expectations. We’ve had concurrent users pushing the 400,000 number, and that’s before the game was even on store shelves. This is why none of us have had any sleep for days. And I do think those numbers will only go up now that the game is on store shelves.
We scheduled the headstart [three- and one-day early launch access] so we’d have a chance with pre-purchasers to discover and fix any problems, and we’ve already discovered and fixed several. I think demand is crazy and it’s only going to go up, but I think we’ll keep things running smoothly.

My priority — our priority — is ultimately making sure that players have a great experience. We spent five years working on Guild Wars 2, and we’re going to spend years and years supporting it. If we got to a point where sales continued to be off the charts, and it threatened the experience that players are having with the game, then we’d just turn off sales.

Turn off sales?

To clarify what I mean by that, we sell the game on our website and we also sell the game at retail. And we know how many boxes we’ve created, so we know how many copies can possibly sell through retail. If it gets to the point where sales are so high that it would be unwise of us to keep selling on our website because it wouldn’t leave enough slots for all the people who’ve already bought and all the people we know are going to buy, then we’d just turn off sales.

That would be a shocking thing to do, obviously — not something that you ever see in the games industry — but for me it’s an easy decision, because for me, Guild Wars 2 is a long-term project. I want players to keep having a great experience, and I know if we had to turn off sales temporarily, it’d be okay.

Barring that, this whole “server overflow” concept seems to be working pretty well. I’ve run into a few glitches where sometimes you can’t join another character unless you log out and back in, but aside from little stuff like that, it seems to work amazingly well. I’m used to sitting in queues with other MMOs, where if you leave or get knocked off, it’s back to the end of the line. Here, from launch to actually in-game, it’s about 15 seconds.

We have amazing programmers — that’s what it boils down to. Our team was able to do some fantastic stuff, and on the backend we have some technology that allows us to do things you haven’t seen in similar games. That’s been an amazing release valve for us. It means people aren’t stuck waiting in queues.

That said, there’s still a certain number of total player slots available in the data center, and that’s what I’m going to protect, so that we don’t sell so many copies of the game in the coming weeks that servers start slowing down.

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Forbes: Guild Wars 2 Lead Producer Chris Whiteside Believes Subscription MMO Model Offers Huge Barrier To Entry


John Gaudiosi over at Forbes did an interview with Guild Wars 2 Lead Producer Chris Whiteside. I agree 100% with Chris Whiteside view on the old subscription model. Many players may gain interest in an up and coming MMO but one of the main questions “Is there a subscription fee?” Companies may be missing potential future customers by already limiting their player base by subscriptions. Subscriptions doesn’t make a game successful.  Good development and good content does that. Subscriptions only make a game profitable for a time period.



GW2 Stratics want to thank Forbes John Gaudiosi and GW2  Lead Producer Chris Whiteside  for the great interview for all the GW2 fans to read.




John Gaudiosi

John Gaudiosi, Contributor

I’ve been covering video games and technology for 20 years

        8/10/2012 @ 2:26PM            |13,582 views

Guild Wars 2 Lead Producer Chris Whiteside Believes Subscription MMO Model Offers Huge Barrier To Entry

With NCsoft readying to publish ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 on August 28, the game’s lead producer, Chris Whiteside, took a short break to discuss the evolvingWith NCsoft readying to publish ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 on August 28, the game’s lead producer, Chris Whiteside, took a short break to discuss the evolving massively multiplayer online (MMO) games business. The free-to-play model has changed the business, forcing even huge subscription-based games like Electronic Arts’ BioWare-developed Star Wars: The Old Republic to turn to the model.

With only Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft succeeding with the old subscription-based model – and even that game is losing millions of subscribers – Whiteside discusses the future of MMOs in this exclusive interview. He also details the unique approach ArenaNet has taken with Guild Wars 2, which the developer hopes will open up the audience for MMO players beyond the core niche gamers


What have you been able to apply from your social and mobile gaming background to Guild Wars 2?


You develop the game for the business model you’ve agreed to sell with. One of the big things about this business model is it brings a lot more players through the doors in terms of accessibility. That’s where we have to make an accessible game that retains a much more diverse selection of gamers. Some people could see that as a negative in terms of making the development hard.  For us, it’s certainly been a positive in understanding how to build a game for exactly the types of customers that will be coming through the doors.


What are the challenges of appeasing ArenaNet’s dedicated fan base, while also opening up Guild Wars 2 to a more mainstream audience?

MMOs at one point were a niche, mainly because of the technology required to play them and the way in which they were designed. I wouldn’t go so far as to saying they were spreadsheet design, but many of the early MMOs were niche in terms of fundamentals and mechanics of gameplay. While MMOs have certainly evolved, I still think there are certain staples within MMO design that have outstayed their welcome. This really opens up a good opportunity for the developer to understand that really the best game that you can make for a customer is the one the customer is telling you to make, or at least giving you advice on.

What’s been the key to ArenaNet’s approach with Guild Wars 2?

We worked from the understanding that the business model is going to open the doors to a lot more players, and you’ll have potentially a more diverse audience with arguably more casual than the hardcore niche. Then you have to think about the core mechanics and the core design of the product, and how you really bring the player into the game. These mechanics lead to more in-depth mechanics that are more typical of an MMO because we don’t want to alienate people that love the core complex mechanics of MMOs. I’m certainly one of those players. I think that that’s fantastic. As an industry, we could all do a better job of teaching the player how to get to the point where these more complex systems are in the game. And then have more enjoyment by understanding what they are, rather than feeling like an outsider. Having a more diverse community and listening to that feedback gives us metrics, and the information required, to really understand how to build a big, great accessible game.



What do you see as the challenges when it comes to the MMO free-to-play space as we see more and more games coming out and consumers having more choices?

From a dev point of view, you have the irony of having a subscription-based model in MMOs that’s a very polarizing area financially for people playing. Research indicates that the average gamer can’t really support more than two subscriptions. I know for me, I don’t really want to keep more than one subscription going. That makes things massively competitive and really polarizes not just people’s attention, but also where they flock towards. The game that has the most people flocking towards it has the biggest income, and therefore it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. The interesting and ironic thing about it is when you do more free-to-play games it becomes more competitive, which is even better for the consumer. But it means you have a lot more people having a lot more choices and a lot more eyes on your product. You get a lot more feedback from gamers, and so I do see it shifting more towards that. I don’t think it’s going to make it any easier for developers. I think it’s going to create new problems.

After the failure of Star Wars: The Old Republic, do you see room for another big subscription MMO in the future?

It’s pretty simple. The best quality MMO is going to pull customers towards it. Certainly a subscription model does offer a huge barrier to entry, so unless the game that comes out with the subscription is miles and eons above anything in the free-to-play or traditional purchased box space, then it’s going to struggle. At the end of the day, the players and the communities are going to go to the game that matters to them the most.

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Guild Wars 2: Console ports, subscription models, and making sure it works on launch day (interview) August 9, 2012 12:58 PM Sebastian Haley

Over at Venturebeat, Sebastian Haley took some time with ArenaNet content designer Mike Zadorojny and had a great interview on what is happening at ArenaNet before GW2 launch date. A great read and I hope you all enjoy!



Thank you Sebastian Haley and for having this up for all the GW2 fans to read.


Guild Wars 2: Console ports, subscription models, and making sure it works on launch day (interview) August 9, 2012 12:58 PM Sebastian Haley

Guild Wars 2, the much-anticipated PC MMO, draws ever closer to its August 28 release. GamesBeat sat down with ArenaNet content designer Mike Zadorojny to discuss the final days before launch, console ports of MMOs, and the future of MMO subscription models. You can also check out our previous interviewwith studio president Mike O’Brien on Guild Wars 2’s approach to monetization.

GamesBeat: Can you give us an idea of what the development team does in the final weeks leading to launch on Guild Wars 2?

Mike Zadorojny: Right now, most of my team is playing the game. We spent all this time building it, and now we’re making sure that it’s pitched right and polished. We do these daily play sessions where we’ll pick a dungeon on a map and we’ll spend a couple of hours in the dungeon playing through in groups and going through the content. We give feedback to the dungeon guys. And for the rest of the day, we spend it playing one of these maps. We go through, and we look for things that are broken, things that don’t feel right, things that players might run into problems with. And we continue to give feedback to each other. We’re trying to make sure that this game is going to be the best possible thing that can it be when we launch it. We’re just spending a lot of time in the game. Playing it. Looking at balance. Making sure the events are working. Things like that.

GamesBeat: What does someone like a concept artist do at this point during development? Where do you put staff members that don’t necessarily have an ongoing responsibility right now?

Zadorojny: Well, it’s the same thing. They’re helping us make sure that the game is accessible to anybody. There are some projects that we’re already looking toward postlaunch, too. We know we’re going to be working on live content. We have a live team already getting situated. So some of those guys are already looking at that. But at the same time, they’re also helping us make sure the game is polished.

GamesBeat: For quite a few years now, even as far back as the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox, a lot of major PC MMOs have promised a console version. But only a couple have actually delivered. From your perspective, why you think that keeps happening?

Zadorojny: Console is a hard thing to do. You wind up in situations where, whenever you’re doing an update…with an MMO, we need to be really flexible. If there’s a common game-breaking bug, something like that, we need to be able to patch the game relatively quickly. When you work on consoles, you start having to deal with publishers and having to go through checks and balances with them as far as making sure they’re okay with the executable that you’re pushing up. And there are costs associated with it as well. It’s much easier to reflexively adapt to situations on the PC than it is with console.

GamesBeat: With that said, because that does seem to be a pretty common answer from Blizzard and everyone else, as far as why games like that can’t be done, what would you like to see from the next generation of consoles in order to better facilitate the types of games ArenaNet makes?

Zadorojny: It’s going to come down to relationships. It’s going to come down to everyone realizing that we’re on the same team here, and when we’re trying to push things out through a console development, the publisher needs to be able to work with us. NCSoft has been fantastic with us as far as everything we’ve needed to do. They’ve given us the creative direction to take the game wherever we want. We need to be able to build working relationships like that with other publishers.

GamesBeat: Would you ever consider a watered-down, streamlined version of one of your IPs to accommodate the limitations of consoles? Such as something along the lines of what Nexon did with Dungeon Fighter?

NCsoft PR: You know, we’re looking at different things and different opportunities to get out there. We really have nothing to discuss on that score at this time. Right now, as a publisher, we’re focused on…. Over in Korea we just launched Blade & Soul. We’re focused on owning that and making that the best PC gaming experience over in Korea. Over here we’re focused on Guild Wars 2 and making it the best PC game available right now. There’s always talk about a variety of other avenues and platforms to explore. But right now our main focus is pushing Guild Wars 2 out to be the best PC game available.

Zadorojny: From the developer side, I don’t know that we would ever want to do a “watered-down version” of something. For us it’s always about pushing the boundaries and being able to create something that can stand the test of time. We want to make sure we put our full effort into something.

GamesBeat: Did anything about Microsoft Surface or SmartGlass intrigue you in regard to what the future may hold for what you can do with your games or MMOs in general?

Zadorojny: Well, I think technology in general…the rate at which it’s been iterated upon more recently has been exciting to watch. Obviously, we’re always looking at new opportunities and things that we can do, but we don’t really know what that is or where that’s going to take us yet.

GamesBeat: A lot of major MMOs still attempt to come out at full price and then stack a monthly subscription on top of it. Inevitably, they go free-to-play after a lackluster launch. Do you think either freemium titles or models like Guild Wars’ one-time purchase with a subscription should become the standard for MMOs in general?

Zadorojny: Well, I don’t know if there is any standard for games. You need to look, when you’re developing a game and you’re creating something, at what works for that game. For us, this was the model that we wanted, and it matches well with our design philosophy. It matches with how we want to take our mission forward. But I don’t know, necessarily, that I can say that this is what every company out there should do.

GamesBeat: The Asura and the Sylvari races, arguably two of the most interesting in the game, seemed like they were mostly kept a secret and locked out of the betas up until the very last minute. Was that for any particular reason?

Zadorojny: The content was ready to go at that point. A lot of the stuff that we do is based on what is ready, what we think is polished, and what we can show. We’ve always been working on those guys behind the scenes. The various maps just weren’t where we wanted them to be to show to players yet.

GamesBeat: These seem like two pretty big things to not have where you want them so close to launch. Would you say now that version 1.0 of Guild Wars 2 is exactly where you want it to be?

Zadorojny: Well, we’re perfectionists. We always want to keep pushing the boundaries. You give us another week and we’ll keep working with that, but then we’ll ask for something more. We are where our content, when we launch Guild Wars 2 on day one, it’s going to be a playable, successful experience and enjoyable for players who get their hands on the game. It wasn’t a matter of being concerned that it wasn’t ready to show. It was more like…our internal quality bar, where we want things to be, it just wasn’t ready for that time frame.

GamesBeat: A couple of major titles, like the Battlefield series and, infamously, Diablo III, have had some pretty substantial launch issues. These are games that have been in development for years, they have some of the biggest companies behind them, and things still went wrong. How does ArenaNet work to ensure that everything does work when the switch is finally flipped on?

Zadorojny: There’s a lot of testing going on with the game. We’ve already done various stress tests. The beta weekend events have really helped us get numbers of players in to help test the hardware. Our iteration time is extremely low. We were running through 20 or 30 builds in any given day. So if there’s a problem we can adapt really quickly and get a fix out in, say, 5 to 15 minutes, postlaunch. It’s about being agile. It’s about making sure that you have the right people ready at the right time in case something does blow up.

Digital Gaudium: We Talk to ArenaNet About Professor Yakkington, Mobile App Development Progress, Lore and Structured PvP in Guild Wars 2


A really great interview and if you are still wondering about GW2 Apps us fans get an answer for now. I loved the questions and I definitely enjoyed the lore. Great read and definitely worth it. Digital Gaudium my hat is off to you. Great work!



Thank you Digital Gaudium and all our readers please support these guys by taking time to visit their site.



We Talk to ArenaNet About Professor Yakkington, Mobile App Development Progress, Lore and Structured PvP in Guild Wars 2

Note: We were not told who answered these questions for us but, as soon as we are informed we will amend this piece with those details.

Q: I really like design of the Asura, from their character animations to their architecture. What were the primary inspirations when you were creating the race for the Eye of the North expansion and in what ways did you expand on that race’s attributes for Guild Wars 2?

A: The Asura were originally conceived as a highly magical race, and the nature of that magical ability quickly took a turn towards the idea of a race of mad wizards with teleportation gates, golems, and floating citadels. They have been small races of tinkerers before, but the big thing with the asura was that their creations actually worked.

In Eye of the North, the Asura had arrived on the surface, chased there by the champion of an Elder Dragon. In the 250 years since, they have settled in. The biggest example of that is Rata Sum, their main city, where they have levitated a huge cube of stone into the air and have carved it out into their own magical citadel.

Q: MMOs are constantly evolving and changing in many ways, will there ever be events that occur that affect everyone in Guild Wars 2? e.g: An Elder Dragon is killed and stays dead permanently or a notable city is destroyed.

A: All events affect everyone in the game; those who are in the map with the event have the option of joining in, or not, but the event plays out around them within the shared world. For the most part, those events are cyclical, returning when a certain set of conditions has been met, to allow Player Characters to play through the events of the chain once more.

Story dungeons, on the other hand, are designed to be played through only once (although a player may choose to do so multiple times). When a player has completed the story version of the dungeon, those events are considered to have played out for that Player Character.

In the world, some events (typically holiday ones) will come and go, playing out temporarily and possibly leaving permanent changes to the world. We’ll have to leave that up to the Live team!

Q: I really enjoyed exploring the continents of Cantha and Elona in the original Guild Wars. It’s been 250 years since the original game, have any elements of those cultures bled over into Tyria in Guild Wars 2?

A: Elements of those cultures have absolutely made their way into Guild Wars 2. The city of Divinity’s Reach has notable sections that are shaped by Elonan and Canthan culture; some naming practices, legends, and the histories of great heroes all still exist within GW2. If you choose to play a human, you can pick racial features and skin tones suitable for a character with those backgrounds, and in some of the story chains, you have the option to identify yourself as a descendant of one of those great nations.

Q: My friend and I developed a love for Professor Yakkington while trying to fill out our Hall of Monuments in the original Guild Wars. So I really want to know if Professor Yakkington is immortal and will he be present in Guild Wars 2?

A: Sadly, no. Professor Yakkington has gone to the wide fields and joyful plains of the Mists. But he hasn’t been forgotten! If you visit the Ascalonian fortress of Ebonhawke, you will find a memorial to him — and to Nicholas, who loved him so well. Much like you, we never forget our loyal and beloved friends.

Q: I was pretty excited about the announcement of the Mobile and Web Apps, from the blog post it seemed like a much more complex project than your traditional MMO Companion App. Will the Apps be ready for launch day?

A: For launch we won’t have any GW2 apps available for use for players. However, soon after launch we’ll be launching a robust app development program in conjunction with our community that should allow for the development of some truly spectacular GW2 app and website development. We’ll discuss this more post ship, right now we’re focused on making the release of the game the greatest it can be.






Q: Have you considered adding more weapons for classes down the road or changing the weapon skills they have?

A: We have definitely talked about new weapons for the professions. However, it isn’t something we take lightly because once a weapon is introduced it needs to compete with what is already out there for that profession, including not just how effective it is, but what roles it fulfills. Weapons are the heart of your character’s tool set or “build,” they really set the tone for how your character will play so it is important that we get them right. I don’t think we would consider changing skills on a specific weapon unless they were not working in any parts of the game.

Q: Some players have complained about being underleveled in the early zones of the game, have you balanced the game in any way or added any tooltips that will guide players in the right direction?

This is definitely something that we’ve looked at very carefully, and we’ll continue to monitor long term. We’ve made a couple major changes to address some of these concerns.

First, we overhauled the hint system, adding a panel that shows you the full text of all the hints in the game. You can track your progress in each category, and you can access this panel at any time to review hints that you might have missed in the heat of battle. There are even achievement points for getting every hint.

Second, we made some significant changes to the way that our low level areas play to make sure that the challenges you face are level-appropriate. Part of this update was on the code and mechanics end, by changing the way that our content scales. We also went into each start zone and looked at where players were congregating and how we could make changes to direct players a little more. After analyzing the maps and feedback, we added a bunch of new content to each starter zone to help address issues with flow and scaling.

Those are just two of the ways that we’ve balanced the early game and guide players, but there’s always room to improve. We’ll continue to iterate and explore new ways to provide an awesome experience for our players.


Q: Unexpectedly I have found that Structured PvP is my favourite part of Guild Wars 2, and will probably dedicate a large amount of my playing time to it. What were your main goals that you had when you were working on Structured PvP and what are some of the most useful pieces of feedback you have received?

A: We had a lot of different goals with our structured PvP, but the most important ones were to make it accessible and fun, skill-based to keep players playing, and to support it well (a goal which we look forward to achieving). We worked hard to build a combat system that had the depth that players expected from an MMO, but had more of the action and strategy that we think has been lacking. I think the most important feedback we receive in general is about usability. Structured PvP is no exception. At each beta event, players wanted to be able to play more with their friends. This is an extremely important aspect of any online game, so we worked hard to make changes to the system to account for this feedback. From BWE1 to BWE2 we added tournaments so players could take organized five-person teams and compete with other teams. We also added the ability to follow your friends from your contacts list into games, as well as inviting party members to follow you into a game through chat links.

From BWE2 to BWE3 we allowed users to queue into tournaments with partial rosters so that 5 players was not a requirement for joining with your friends. Speaking of supporting the game, there are more social features we have talked about for PvP that we will continue to work on. From allowing players to “rent” servers, to spectating games, and other community features we will continue to work towards making Guild Wars 2 structured PvP a fully fledged gaming experience.


Q: Are you working on more Structured PvP modes or do you feel that the current mode is all that is needed? Do you envision that game modes as complex as what we saw in Heroes Ascent to make a return?

A: Throughout the development process, we worked on almost 10 different game modes including Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, and a two-track Golem map where teams tried to push their own Golem to the finish line. Each of these modes had some merits, but ultimately Conquest was far and away the most fun mode in our internal tests. At some point we realized that the best thing to do was to fully support this mode, from polishing the map creation pipeline, to the score UI, we put all of our effort into this game mode. This was really the internal turning point for structured PvP that started us down the path to the enjoyable game that we have now, so we will continue to focus on making this mode as fun as it can be. That being said, we would like to introduce new game types at some point, however we feel that simple objective based modes that encourage positioning, a healthy amount of group fights, as well as force interesting tactical team splits are the key to making successful games types for our game.

Q: As there are far less skills in Guild Wars 2 compared to Guild Wars 1, I feel like the impact of changing the effects or properties of one GW2 skill is much larger than changing a GW1 skill. Do you feel it is easier or harder to balance the game this time around?

A: I think the number of skills is a bit of an oversimplification. There are actually almost 1000 player skills in Guild Wars 2, but we have built a very layered infrastructure that makes balance a lot easier. In fact, changing a single GW2 skill has much less impact because of all of these layers. We have worked within this system for a while to build a strong baseline of balance. How this works is that while there are many skills, a specific skill isn’t competing with all of them. For instance any given heal skill must find a place of balance within the subset of <30 heal skills. A given weapon skill must be useful on that weapon, but the balance of the game rarely depends on that skill because it exists within the rest of the skills on that weapon. All of these things give us a good understanding of the context in which a skill will be used.

Guild Wars 2 is set for release on the 28th of August, 2012 (25th for those with the 3-day headstart) on the PC (Windows only for now folks). Continue to check out Digital Gaudium throughout the month as we drip-feed you more Guild Wars 2 content to keep you going till release.

Gear vs. Skill: How Will Gamers React to Guild Wars Skillful Progression?

I’m a huge Richie Procopio fan and really enjoy his BogOtter videos via YouTube as well as his weekly appearances on GameBreaker TV’s weekly show GuildCast.


[IMG] Posted: July 9, 2012 6:00 pm By: Richie Procopio@richieprocopio

As I obsessively count down the days until the August 28 release of Guild Wars 2, I do wonder, how will gamers coming from other MMOs perceive it? The innovations that ArenaNet have poured into their highly anticipated sequel are legion. While many aspects of the game will be familiar to MMO fans, there are quite a few departures as well. One of the biggest alterations is that Guild Wars 2 is a skill-based game, while most other MMORPGs offer a gear-based progression system. The question is: Will this design choice be a breath of fresh air or a source of confusion and frustration?

Defining Gear and Skill In a gear-based MMO, such as World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic, achieving the maximum level is the beginning of your journey. At that point, it’s time to jump on that gear treadmill and claw your way to a decent power level. Players are led down a progression path which includes repeating dungeons and raids of varying party sizes and difficulty levels, which grants you statistically better gear for completing them. It works the same on the PvP side, with players competing in matches to earn various currencies to purchase yet more powerful gear. Not to mislead you—skill still plays a major factor in these games. In fact, being extremely skillful can compensate for lower gear levels, but it’s usually unwise to ignore your character’s gear progression if you want to experience the most challenging content. MMO gamers are used to this system. It’s expected and comfortable. So what will happen as the masses discover that Guild Wars 2 doesn’t work like this?
Outside of MMOs, gamers are very familiar with skill-based games. Shooters, for example, frequently offer gamers a level playing field to test their expertise. Fighting games, like Mortal Kombat, don’t require you to spend dozens of hours working to unlock a more powerful set of moves. Imagine having to play twenty matches as Ryu in Street Fighter before being able to sling a single hadouken! In these titles, your skill is the primary determinant of your success. It will work the same in Guild Wars 2.

ArenaNet’s Skillful Approach to Guild Wars 2 It’s easy to see the skill-based framework when you look at how the structured PvP is designed in Guild Wars 2. After a new character completes the instanced introductory area, they have the option to teleport to the Mists. The Mists is a PvP staging area, which is the perfect place to experiment with different builds and equipment configurations before stepping into world vs. world or a structured PvP match. Here characters are bumped up to level 80 with all trait points and skills unlocked. They are also given a set of max-level PvP gear and access to vendors with free weapons, runes and sigils. As you can see, players will be on an even playing field (in regards to gear power) from their very first PvP match.

Obviously, players that choose horrible skills or are clueless about how to set up their traits and equipment will be at a severe disadvantage. Skill is comprised of more than just manual dexterity. Knowledge of your profession and build, your strategy for the various maps, and coordination with your teammates are all facets of being skillful. But the power of your gear will not hold you back. Your progression is dictated by your personal improvement, not by obtaining a new helmet that grants you +30 to Pwnage.

The PVE progression will work similarly. As you level up, you’ll find increasingly powerful gear, but once you hit the maximum level of 80, your statistics will hit a plateau. While we haven’t been able to test any level 80 PVE content ourselves, Lead Content Designer Colin Johanson, has stated: “Everyone, including casual gamers, by level 80 should have the best statistical loot in the game. We want everyone on an equal power base.” The rewards you receive for tackling dungeons, dynamic events, and crafting will be unique skins for your weapons and armor. So you can work towards looking more bad-ass than everyone else, but your actual prowess in battle is largely dependent on you.

No Gear? Why Play? Players of the original Guild Wars will be familiar with this set up, as achieving the max level of 20 and obtaining the best armor can be accomplished by the savvy in a matter of hours. MMO veterans, who are used to games like Rift and WoW, might be asking themselves, “What’s the point in continuing to play once I hit max level, if it’s easy to get the best gear?” The topic of incentive is large enough for its own article, but the short answer is: Instead of needing to farm gear in order to the play the game, Guild Wars 2 allows you to simply play the game. Completing the dungeons, working on crafting, experiencing the story, engaging in World vs. World, competing in PvP tournaments and many other activities will all provide players incentive without requiring your gear to be measure against a “you must be this tall to ride” sign. I’ll admit that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around this concept when I first started reading about it. Many MMO gamers will also need to adjust their mindset to understand this paradigm shift.

Gear vs. Skill: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly


PvP in gear-based games usually have a tough barrier of entry for new players. A fresh level 50 character in Star Wars: The Old Republic has very limited access to expertise, which is a critical statistic for PvP. This creates a situation where newbies have to endure a period of getting slaughtered as they work on improving their gear. The most skilled and dedicated players will have the most powerful statistics and the performance gap between these players and a neophyte is colossal. Game developers can counter this with several strategies, but it’s a challenge to figure out how to entice new players to join PvP and have a rewarding experience from the start.

Gear-based PvE has similar issues requiring fresh-to-max-level players to gear up before tackling the highest difficulty content the game has to offer. One does not simply walk into the heroic Madness of Deathwing encounter minutes after hitting level 85 in World of Warcraft. Consequently, hardcore guilds often struggle to find new raid members who have the appropriate gear level for the content they are trying to defeat. Once again, there are strategies the developers can use to lessen the impact of a gear-based system, but they need to be constantly aware of these undesirable byproducts.

As most people know, Guild Wars 2 will not have a subscription fee. ArenaNet will, instead, support the game through microtransactions. The skill-based nature of the game allows them more freedom in the items they can sell in the in-game store without upsetting balance. Karma boosts, for example, aren’t game-breaking in Guild Wars 2, because the progression is based on player skill. However, selling currency boosters in a gear-based game would create a situation where players would feel compelled to buy those boosters if they wanted to remain competitive.
It may sound as if skill-based MMOs are all puppies and flowers with no drawbacks at all, but this is far from the truth. In fact, I’m concerned that some of


my friends and family may struggle in Guild Wars 2. Level 80 players exploring Tyria can’t compensate for a lack of skill by obtaining more powerful gear. Before you say, “Well, duh. Learn to play, noob!”, realize there are many players out there that have a skill ceiling that is lower than your average gamer. It may be easy on a forum or in an internet space to discount those players, but it’s a different story when you’re talking about real people you want to play with. One of my close friends gets extreme motion sickness when he plays certain games. In MMOs, using the mouse to pan the camera triggers his condition, so he uses his keyboard for both movement and activating skills. He’s defter at playing like this than most people I’ve seen, but his performance might suffer with the action-oriented combat of Guild Wars 2. My dad loves MMOs. He was a dedicated raider and one of our main tanks for 6 years in World of Warcraft. The fact is, however, that he’s 65 years old and his reflexes aren’t as fast as they used to be. I created a video that discussed the same topic as this article (check it out below) and I received many messages in reaction to it from gamers who had all sorts of physical limitations that impacted their skill ceilings. So this concern is more widespread than we may realize. Gear-based MMOs are very friendly to these players because they allow them to surpass their own personal power limit with the acquisition of shiny loot. If they can’t defeat a challenging boss now, they can continue practicing knowing that eventually their gear may give them the boost they need to defeat it. In a skill-based system all you can do is keep trying until you overcome the obstacle or give up.

The good news is Guild Wars 2 is not designed with a structured raiding environment where gamers converge for countless hours spanning several weeks in an attempt at defeating a single boss encounter. Players with lower skill levels aren’t going to be holding back an entire raiding team’s progression. Large-scale dynamic events, world vs. world, crafting and personal story can be enjoyed by everyone equally. Structured PvP and the explorable mode dungeons may prove to be more prohibitive, but since they don’t yield more powerful loot for completing them, gamers won’t be hindered from accessing other areas of the game if they aren’t successful.

Some gamers simply won’t like the skill-based approach to Guild Wars 2. To some, the allure of seeking new items is not strong enough if they don’t include a power increase with them. Others may be frustrated by the difficulty rather than inspired to rise to the challenge. For me, personally, after playing gear-based MMOs for over a decade now, I’m ready for something different. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy my time in those worlds; in fact, they are some of my best gaming moments. But I feel that I’ve seen what that approach has to offer and I’m curious as to where my adventures in Tyria will lead me.
————————————————————————————————————————- This article was inspired by a video I made on the same topic. It’s embedded below if you want to hear more of my thoughts on this topic:

Reserving Your Character Name for Guild Wars 2

Want to keep your favorite character names from GW1 and have them in GW2? Then this article is for you from the ArenaNet Blog. So if you have a Guild Wars account I suggest to sign in so they know you are active. Good luck to all that are active and gets their favorite names in.

Reserving Your Character Name for Guild Wars 2 &#8211; ArenaNet Blog



Reserving Your Character Name for Guild Wars 2


By The Guild Wars 2 Team May 17th, 2012



Ever since we announced the Guild Wars 2 Pre-Purchase program and Headstart Access, we’ve had a lot of questions about how name reservation will work for existing Guild Wars players. Here’s how it will work:

Character names in the Guild Wars universe work differently than they do in most other MMOs. Whereas in most MMOs character names are unique only within their world/server, in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, character names are unique across the entire game. In Guild Wars 2, when a player acquires a name like Wizardex, he or she is acquiring it across all worlds. Clearly this places more importance on grabbing the name early.

Today no one actually has the name Wizardex, because all character names from the original Guild Wars were two words or more. All one-word names will be up for grabs at the start of the Guild Wars 2 Headstart Access period. But there are currently 20 million two-word names in use by existing Guild Wars players. We need a policy that allows dedicated players to hold on to their established names, while freeing up the bulk of names for the rush of Guild Wars 2 players who will come into the game at launch.

Thus our policy will simply be as follows: to preserve your character name from Guild Wars into Guild Wars 2, you must be an active Guild Wars player (more on that below), and you must create a Guild Wars 2 character with the same name as your Guild Wars character during the Headstart Access period or on launch day.

After launch day (and after we work through support tickets filed on launch day), we’ll free up the millions of unclaimed names for new Guild Wars 2 players to use.

To implement this name reservation system, we need to build a list of the character names of active Guild Wars players that we’ll reserve through launch day. We actually need to build that list a few weeks prior to the launch of Guild Wars 2.

So we’ll use the following very generous definition of active: Guild Wars players will be considered active—thus having their Guild Wars names reserved and available to claim during Headstart Access and on launch day—if they have logged into the game at least once between January 1, 2012 and the day we build the name reservation list.

We’ll warn the community before we build the list, but that’s irrelevant, because there’s no reason for anyone to wait. If you want to reserve character names from Guild Wars into Guild Wars 2, log in to the original game now so we know you’re active!

We’ll see you in-game,

The Guild Wars 2 Team Guild Wars 2 Stress Test Goes Smoothly For ArenaNet

One of my favorite sites for an information concerning MMO’s is and I just love these guildcasts. I hope you enjoy watching this and we want to thank the crew for posting this information.



Posted: May 15, 2012 1:00 pm By: @jayeluu


It’s routinely said of MMO stress tests that they exist not to stress out the servers, but the players.

Outside of a few minor bugs, yesterday’s Guild Wars 2 stress test seemed to run very smoothly. Server transfers even worked properly, and were free.

At the start of the event, the commerce menu was inaccessible and I couldn’t log onto one of my characters; both issues were remedied in about an hour. Apart from one crash and a brief spurt of lag, the game ran smoothly for the whole seven hours of its operation.

Oh, there was the issue with Divinity’s Reach — about four or five hours in, it became inaccessible, with my loading screen pausing at the 95% mark on a character who was logging into the city. After several attempts, I gave up, opting to play on my other character for the remainder of the test.

I asked a fellow GBTV staffer what the last stress test was like, and the response was that it “sucked.” Having participated in stress tests for other MMOs, I can confirm that this one was comparatvely stress-free, at least on my end. Hopefully, this bodes well for the prospects of a soon-to-be-announced beta weekend — not to mention the full launch of the game.


Guild Wars 2 Stresses Servers, Not Players


MMORPG: The List: Five Truly Innovative Game Features


MMORPG has an interesting article discussing their top 5 innovative games features. Like so many games I have played, I have seen many features I liked, I always thought if it was all jelled together what a game that would make.




What I may like is not another person’s favorite flavor. We all pick and choose what we like in any games we play. I loved DaoC RvR. Was epic of all proportions in any MMO game I have played. Order and Chaos was great in Ultima Online but not for Warhammer Online. I could go on an on but those are just a few examples. Some may disagree with my assessments above but we are human after all.



Please enjoy this article from MMORPG and we thank both MMORPG and Suzie Ford for their contributions to the gaming community.



Link: Five Truly Innovative Game Features – The List at



For the click link impaired:


The List: Five Truly Innovative Game Features


In The List today, we take a look at what we believe are five truly innovative game features from five of the most popular MMOs of today, both released and unreleased. See what you think and then leave us your comments.


Column By Suzie Ford on February 27, 2012




Many of us complain about the increasingly stale features to be found in our MMOs and that true innovation is missing in the genre as a whole. In The List today, we take a look at five features in five different MMOs that we believe are truly innovative and genre-altering.


Without further ado, here are our choices for five of the most innovative systems in place in the current crop of MMOs.




5. Fully Voiced Quests – Star Wars: The Old Republic – Bioware


I know that this horse has been beaten to death and some who play SWTOR are tired of every quest in the game being voiced but even they have to admit that this is something new in the MMO genre. Never before has any other MMO done so extensive a job in breathing life into a game world. Love it or hate it, the fact that BioWare brought this to the table is something unseen in the current generation of MMOs.



I will admit that I am one of those who believes that maybe it was too much of a good thing and that, just maybe, only the main quest lines should have been cinematically created. Still, I do love to hear my character talk to and interact with the NPCs in the world. It’s particularly gratifying when I’m playing my Sith and the NPCs quiver with fear.


4. No Armor Snobbery – The Secret World – Funcom


I am one of those players who is not obsessed with getting the best, flashiest armor out there. There are people who have probably literally wasted years in getting that full set of “I Completed Every Raid Boss on EXTREME Mode & You Didn’t” armor simply so they can walk through the main cities and show off. I’m not one of them. If my armor class can hold up against the worst monsters in the world, that’s good enough for me. I admit, however, that I do sometimes feel a tad underdressed. It’s hard not to look enviously at those who wander about in their armored finery.



Funcom is taking that away from The Secret World and I, for one, love it. It’s not to say that there probably won’t be clothing items that are ultra-rare, but it’s refreshing to know that it’s all for looks and each person can choose their own fashion statement without being underpowered at the same time.


3. The Foundry – Star Trek Online/Neverwinter – Cryptic Studios


Honestly, this is one of the most exciting features for me. I hearken back to the days of yore when BioWare released Neverwinter Nights and the accompanying toolset so that people could build their own adventures and mods. The inclusion of the builder’s tools, more than the game itself, breathed life into NWN. I played in short and long term campaigns on, even in one that was a Star Wars campaign, all made using the provided tools.



That Cryptic Studios has released The Foundry for Star Trek Online, with many of the same abilities for builders, is a monument to innovation in my book. Builders can create new adventures for fans of STO and even profit from them. I have yet to actually play STO but The Foundry intrigues me enough to give it a go.


The fact that Cryptic is also building Neverwinter with a similar feature thrills me to no end. I can’t wait to see some of my old builder buddies going at it again with even more modern tools!


2. Instant Action Raiding – Rift – Trion Worlds


As a person who tends to play games “unguilded” and one who actually

likes PUGs, the Instant Adventure feature in Rift is a breath of fresh air. There have been times over the course of my MMO history when I’ve wanted to check out the end game just so I could say that I’d been there. But the prohibitive lines and long waits nearly always impeded that actually happening. I mean, come on…how many times can the raid/dungeon leader say, “LF Healer!” or “LF Tank!”? It gets tedious and boring. I realize that, in most cases, I can head out and complete a couple quests and subsequently be dragged into the raid or dungeon.

Then again, I hate to do that as I might get sucked in right as I’m finishing a quest and lose my progress.



I can’t speak highly enough of the Instant Adventures in Rift. It’s refreshing to be able to join a raid group with a pair of mouse clicks and get some nice rewards too. No fuss. No muss. No waiting. No nervously hoping to be picked over all the others also looking for raid groups. Just BOOM! And you’re there.


Over time, we can hope that the Rift team will add more Instant Adventures to bring even more variety to this innovative feature.


1. Massive Multiple Objective WvW PvP – Guild Wars 2 – Arena.Net


Arena.Net scores top honors in The List today for its recently announced World Versus World PvP system. It’s not that cross-server PvP hasn’t been done before. It has. But the Guild Wars 2 system brings a lot of cool features into the WvW system that give a lot of hope to novice and experienced PvPers alike. Even confirmed non-PvPers like me are looking at the WvW system and thinking, “I will definitely check this out!”


Not only are there massive keeps to attack and defend, but there are resources to capture, mercenaries to assist and hire, caravans to escort, castle walls to upgrade, and Orbs of Power to find and collect. In short, there is something for everyone. Small guilds and large can find a place in this new system and everything that anyone does helps the cause of the entire server.




“We Are the World” takes on a whole new meaning with WvW in Guild Wars 2. If Arena.Net can pull it off once the game is live, it will be one of those things that we look back on and say, “Can you believe it was ever any other way?” So there you have it, our list of things we think are truly groundbreaking features in today’s MMOs. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!



Author: Suzie Ford

Created: February 27, 2012

Link Roundup – WvW and Beta by Rubi Bayer

Link Roundup – WvW and Beta by Rubi Bayer February 24th, 2012

Great blog post by Rubi Bayer pulling together the past week’s events and what they have meant for the ArenaNet as well as the GW2 community. You can read the full blog post here: Link Roundup – WvW and Beta – ArenaNet Blog

We here at GW2 Stratics would like to thank ArenaNet and Rubi Bayer for putting together this post highlighting the past week’s events!



For the click link impaired:


Link Roundup – WvW and Beta

By Rubi Bayer February 24th, 2012




more on:

Guild Wars 2 - Blog Header

It’s been an incredibly exciting week in the ArenaNet offices, and we were thrilled to see all of you enjoying the festivities along with us.  We had a great response to last weekend’s beta event and this week’s beta signups, so it’s time to take a look at what everyone had to say!

PC Gamer fielded over a dozen reader questions after checking out the beta weekend, and shared some opinions about the Guild Wars 2 overflow servers.  They definitely liked what they saw, saying,  “GW2 is quickly earning its reputation as one of the most forward-thinking MMOs in development right now.”

Over at Massively, Shawn and Elisabeth had lots to say about the beta event. “Let me just say that this past weekend was not only one of the most exciting beta experiences I’ve ever had but that all of my fears about ArenaNet ruining the Guild Wars franchise were quickly squashed,” says Shawn Schuster. Massively took a close look at Guild Wars 2 crafting as well, creating a lengthy guide complete with video in a bonus edition of Flameseeker Chronicles. featured extensive coverage of the beta weekend, covering everything from the Ascalon Catacombs to PvP to the starting zones for each race.  Garrett Fuller penned a thoughtful editorial in which he describes how “Guild Wars 2 really has taken innovation to the next step.” In the piece, Fuller says, “The game innovates while paying homage to some amazing game mechanics from the past. It takes great ideas and makes them better. It takes new ideas and is not afraid to serve them up to players.”

Kotaku’s Mike Fahey learned quite a bit over the weekend, calling GW2’s combat “ridiculously entertaining.”  Fahey writes, “The skills and abilities are designed to work together well, launching the player into complicated spells or astounding feats of agility at the press of a button.”

Gamebreaker TV dove headfirst into Guild Wars 2 for the beta weekend, resurfacing with videos and opinions galore. Gamespot’s video clips from the beta weekend show off the human and norn starting areas, a fierce attack on a grawl cave, and some charr gameplay (and gunplay).

Over on the other side of the Atlantic, German sites GameStar and Buffed offered extensive gameplay videos and in-depth commentary about their beta experience. Meanwhile, Onlinewelten had a really cool article about character creation and personal story.

Finally, IGN came away from the beta weekend of the opinion that “it’s clear ArenaNet is building an incredible game. Beautiful, imaginative landscapes stretch in all directions, free of the off-putting copy/paste feel of some virtual worlds.”  Check out IGNs review of the weekend event and PvP play.

We finished off the week at ArenaNet with a bang, opening Guild Wars 2 beta signups for 48 hours.  Our incredible tech team worked overtime as hundreds of thousands of our fans raced to apply for a shot at beta. In the end we hit our milestone: ONE MILLION beta signups in just over 48 hours! (Yep, we stretched the deadline just a bit!)

Thanks to each and every one of you for an exciting week, and here’s to many more to come!

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