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State of the Game - Thursday, August 4, 2005[]

Because it has been a few weeks since we've posted a major update, we wanted to let everyone know what's in the works. Typically, a few weeks is a short amount of time in the development cycle of a game, but we know there are many people who play Guild Wars with such dedication and intensity that a few weeks without an update seems more like an eternity. Here's what's on the way...

Ascended Content[]

As I mentioned in my last open letter, one of our top priorities has been adding content for ascended roleplaying characters. It's on the way. We are now entering a testing and polish phase on Sorrow's Furnace and other new ascended content. The additions will include new quests, new monsters, new items and new accelerated sources of XP and rare items.

Character Advancement[]

We have been making significant strides in gathering and tracking data about botters. Our belief is that the better we are at combating bots, the more we are able to protect the economy for everyone. As we succeed, you can expect significant changes to the availability of high-quality loot for normal players.

At the same time, we have been able to gather and analyze a lot of data about how quickly players gain new skills and items through both PvP and PvE. This has allowed us to better gauge what improvements we can and should make. In coming updates, you should expect a significant increase in the rate of item unlocking and skill acquisition through both PvE and PvP. In other words, you will be able to get Faction, XP and rare items more quickly.

PvP Playbalance[]

Given the sophisticated nature of team builds and counters in Guild Wars, we expect to see trends in PvP, as one innovative build changes the landscape, encouraging the use of a counter, which in turn encourages the use of a counter. We have tried to balance Guild Wars to allow for this metagame without allowing the loss of balanced builds and diverse strategies. Since release, we've seen a number of trends come and go, including Warrior Monks, Healing Clusters, Lightning Spike, Enchantment Webs and Spirit Spam. Much, but not all, of the ebb and flow has been in keeping with our goals. Nevertheless, we know that improvements can always be made to playbalance, and we are watching to make sure that no one Flavor of the Month build comes to be too dominant or encourages play in ways that are not fun.

With this in mind, we have been testing a variety of playbalance adjustments internally for some weeks now. We will let players know in advance when playbalance changes are coming so that private tournaments are not disrupted too abruptly. We are also planning to announce our own schedule of ladder seasons and official tournaments. We will try, when possible, to implement most playbalance changes immediately at the start of a new ladder season. You can expect to see another announcement regarding playbalance changes in the near future.

We are also looking into improvements to individual PvP maps, GvG matchmaking for high-rated teams, and ways to ease the burden of needing exactly 8 players to GvG.

Observer Mode[]

We are looking forward to unveiling Observer Mode a short while after the changes we mentioned above. Through Observer Mode, players will be able to watch (with a time delay) any battles involving their own guild and any important battles going on in the Guild Wars world, such as rated battles involving high ranking guilds, battles near the Hall of Heroes, and the later stages of seasonal tournaments. We believe Observer Mode, along with far more detailed statistics for each battle, will enable a greater number of players to enjoy Guild Wars at higher level of play. And that means more fun for everyone.

James Phinney