The return of the Festival of the Four Winds was a massive surprise to us all as ArenaNet kept this fan favorite secret well under wraps. So, we thought it would be fun to have a chat with the developers to find out more.
Hello and thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for the fans. Please start by introducing yourself, what your position is at ArenaNet, and specialization you main.
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I’m Joe Kimmes, design lead on the Current Activities Team. My main is a Sylvari deadeye!
Matthew Medina, Designer: I’m Matthew Medina, one of the game designers at ArenaNet and I was chiefly responsible for implementation of the Labyrinthine Cliffs portion of the festival this year. My main character, Barefoot Contessa (named for the film character played by Ava Gardner, not the celebrity chef) is a core specialization Mesmer.
When did the dev team know they wanted to bring back the cliffs and the Queen’s Jubilee events?
Matthew Medina, Designer: Joe probably has a better read on when the team knew they wanted to bring it back, but as the principal designer for the previous two Four Winds releases, I personally have been hoping to come back to the Labyrinthine Cliffs since 2015.
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Bringing back either or both has been a topic of discussion for a long time – it’s something players have wanted since the events first ran. This year we had the right window of time and team to put in the work to bring back the entire Festival of Four Winds. In particular, Matthew Medina, who was key to the original Labyrinthine Cliffs design, was able to dedicate a lot of time to revitalizing its characters and dialogue. I’d say we knew for certain that the festival was coming back when we started work on it early in this year.
In game speech from Ellen Kiel suggests that the cliffs will be back again next year. That’s really exciting news. Will the Queen’s Gauntlet and Crown Pavillion be included in that?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Absolutely – the entire Festival of the Four Winds will return yearly. We’ve been taking notes as players give feedback on the event and I’m looking forward to making each area of the festival better than ever.
Matthew Medina, Designer: Yes, we are going to continue to tie these two locations together as a unified festival. They work together thematically – the idea of people coming together and overcoming great hardships as one active community is paired nicely with both the communal exploration and relaxation of the Labyrinthine Cliffs, and the structured combat challenges of the Crown Pavilion.
Was there anything the dev team would have liked to have included in the event but it got cut for one reason or another?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I really wanted a roller beetle focused race. Since the festival was being developed at the same time as Episode 3, though, we would have been balancing a race against the roller beetle while it was still in design. Now that the roller beetle is in players’ hands, I’m hoping to revisit the idea when the opportunity arises!
What is your personal favorite new addition to the Festival of the Four Winds this year?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: I’m a huge fan of the Watchknight Mk2 that you can see in Crown Pavilion – the creature artists really captured what I had in mind with the model request! Generally, I like to keep festivals from being too plot-impacting, but showing the progression of the Watchknights and talking a little bit about how they fit into modern Divinity’s Reach was a fun opportunity.
Matthew Medina, Designer: You know, I *was* going to say Gourdon the relaxing choya (who doesn’t love Gourdon?!) but after playing the release with our community for the last week, I have to say my favorite thing in the release is hands down the Treasure Hunt meta event. It’s so much fun seeing an entire map full of players pulling down bundles of loot using a combination of mounts, aspect skills, gliding, or just taking a giant leap out into space. I admit this was one event where I drew upon all of my early years of platform gaming to find just the right spots to place all those bundles.
Is there any chance we’ll ever see Dragon’s Watch or the surviving members of Destiny’s Edge relaxing in the cliffs?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: Since the game’s storyline is ongoing, it’s always tricky to show active story characters in the festivals. We have to be careful that their dialogue makes sense, or that we didn’t last see them in the middle of a cliffhanger. I really want to show more of the cast participating in the festivals though, so we’ll be looking for chances to include familiar faces.
Matthew Medina, Designer: I mean, there’s always a chance! Festivals are designed to be somewhat story agnostic, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude us from bringing in more central story characters if the situation ever calls for it, but it would probably need to be a rather special occasion.
Will Evon Gnashblade ever release a line of swimwear?
Matthew Medina, Designer: Gosh, I know there’s a lot of demand for swimwear, but that’s a decision for the Black Lion Trading Company, and Evon keeps his plans very close to the vest.
Can we get an update on how Zojja, Logan, and Caithe are doing? Players are also interested in knowing what Norn as a society are doing now that the tooth has been shattered but Jormag is asleep.
Matthew Medina, Designer: These questions I’ll have to defer to the Living World team to answer over time, but in a general sense I will say that, as a story designer myself, we are always looking for opportunities to return to the characters that are central to our game’s narrative and when it makes sense for them to do so, I’m sure they’ll be brought back into the spotlight.
How did that brown cow get up to the top of the cliffs? Does she have enough food up there? Should we task some Asura with building a big enough glider to support her?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: To tell you the truth, I didn’t notice the cow until close to launch and had to ask Matthew Medina what was going on – I’ll defer to him as the expert in misplaced cows!
Matthew Medina, Designer: Aww, our poor confused cow! We really can’t give any more information about the cow’s predicament, but it’s certainly heart-warming to see just how many community members have expressed concern for her well-being.
Is the dev team still working to find a way to bring back some of the highlights from season one of the living story? A lot of recent suggestions seem to be leaning towards making key moments into fractals or world events.
Matthew Medina, Designer: Like many players, this is something that many of us on the development team are certainly interested in, but right now our focus is on continuing the story of Guild Wars 2 and where it takes us in the future.
Players have noticed that commander tags are getting in the way of being able to use a waypoint properly on the map is this something that can be fixed?
Joe Kimmes, Team Lead: In the short term, please report any players who are deliberately obscuring the waypoints using the in-game report system. We’re investigating a few solutions to the problem for the long term, but I can’t say when they’ll be ready.
A very big thank you to Matthew and Joe for answering these questions and for the entire team who worked hard to bring the Festival of the Four Winds back! We can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen with that cow, hopefully, whatever it is doesn’t involve a cowtapult. Now if you will excuse me, there’s a boat I need to go catch.Related: ArenaNet, Developer, Event (In Game), Guild Wars 2, Interview