The last day dawns…

(Yes, I went ahead with the obvious article name for GW1 fans…it’s just fitting)

Five years is a long time to wait for a game.  I can remember walking into a bookstore in Austin and seeing the cover for the PC Gamer magazine showing off Guild Wars 2’s announcement, along with the announcement that no more campaigns for GW1 would be made.  I think I read the whole article right there in the store…twice.

What happens in 5 years?  How long is 5 years, really?  For starters, I got married, had a child, and moved into a house.  It’s not an insignificant amount of time, and certainly isn’t for the developers.  Making a MMO game takes a long time, and you really have to love what you’re doing and you really have to love games.  Ree Soesbee (Lore Master) once compared it to chocolate cake.  You can like chocolate cake, but having it every day can get really tiresome and boring quickly…unless you really love chocolate cake.

We tend to forget the developers when we think about games, about how they put a lot of heart and soul into these games, working away for years to provide us with entertainment.  It can feel like a thankless job, especially when revealed to the sometimes critical eye of the internet.  However, when fans love it and hype it up as much as Guild Wars 2 has been, I can’t even imagine how exciting that feels.  It’s even more when those developers are able to deliver heartfelt thanks and show us gamers just how it feels to be on their side, seeing their baby ready to go.

That video was six months ago, though, before they even announced their release date.  Can anyone outside of those in game development even speak to what it feels like to be one day away from a major release?  Hard to say, but there’s at least one person who did today on the Penny Arcade forum.  She’s a developer for ArenaNet working on Guild Wars 2 and delivered what, to me, is probably the most heartfelt message about how ArenaNet themselves feel about their game:

I’m going to try to get some sleep, because I’m exhausted, and tomorrow is going to be a very long day. There is such a range of emotion I’m experiencing right now, but mostly I just want to say that I hope you guys love it. Love it forever, or love it and then move on to something else, but just love it, and know that three hundred of us melted down our hearts to give it to you. It’s all yours soon.

What else can you get from this but the sincere feeling that ArenaNet loves MMOs, and that they love Guild Wars 2 even after putting 5 years of hard work into the game, even after playing it day after day trying to get it right?  You can practically feel the emotional impact coming from those words as you read them, and that they did it to make something…for themselves, for the fans…

This is one of the most hyped MMOs in recent history, if not games in general…and unlike the other most-hyped games, it actually feels like it could live up to the hype for most players who sit down and play.  While criticism is there, it’s amazing to me just how much positive feedback I hear.  Even when other recent games are hyped, I still hear massive amounts of complaints about the games.  The negative feedback is relatively low for Guild Wars 2, from what I hear.  Others may hear different, and it may just be a massive amount of confirmation bias for me, but yeah.

Sometimes I think the hype has been wearing on me, especially after following from GW1, immediately latching on to GW2, every single thing they talked about being something I found interesting…~5 years of waiting for this game, talking and hyping it up among my family who all thought it would be vaporware or just another bomb and weren’t coy about telling me, and now tomorrow (tonight) it will happen.

One particular moment I felt the hype was worn down was after the third BWE.  I had decided at that point “yes, this is awesome, I’m playing” and then I didn’t really get interested when stress tests were announced, nor in any other game.  I was just waiting.  I knew it was good, I knew I would like it…all feelings that it wouldn’t be as good as I hoped were gone.

I felt burned out on games, and was reluctant to play anything until launch.  I was worried that I had finally burnt out on GW2 right before launch and it wouldn’t be exciting.  Then one of the stress tests came up that I could actually join in on.  I figured I’d jump on and play with the character creator, so not really interested in “playing” I logged in.  I wanted to take a look again at my last character from the BWE, just so I could take some screenshots and capture his look for launch.

Then I hit the W key (forward move).

5 seconds later:   WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

30 minutes of running around later I came to and realized that this game can pull me out of those doldrums and get my hyped up purely by running around.  What game does that?  Seriously?  How can I get excited for a game just by exploring the world?

Fanboy?  Yes, and proud.  The real question is, why aren’t you?

Tonight is the end of the waiting.  Five years of being teased and hyped by trailers, interviews, footage…  Guild Wars 2 is launching, and if the stars align as they should and everything goes well I will be joining who knows how many fans in ArenaNet’s new MMO.  I haven’t felt this excited since my early days playing EverQuest.  As far as I’m concerned, if ArenaNet can capture even a fraction of that feeling without the obvious problems of traditional MMOs, then they deserve every ounce of success we, the fans, can possibly give them.

Thank you, everyone at ArenaNet, for your hard work and dedication for fun games.  You’ve made me a loyal fan, hopefully for years and years to come.  See you on the other side.

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