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It seems like the time in our Tech Demo hourglass is slipping away faster and faster every day!
The big countdown clock on the wall says we're at 20 days and counting. As you can imagine, it's pretty exciting around the Goblinworks offices. A lot of folks are working late into the night and on the weekends to bring this project in on time.
While the goblins toil away on the Tech Demo, I've been keeping an eye on the competition. This week, NCSoft's ArenaNet studio shipped the long-awaited GuildWars 2. ArenaNet is just over the hill from us in Bellevue, and there's a lot of common history—many people who work there have worked with myself or Lisa over the years. So it's pretty exciting to see them get their game out the door and into the hands of players, and we wish them the absolute best of luck.
We believe that GuildWars 2 is the second-to-last AAA fantasy theme park MMO in development; the last we know about is Elder Scrolls Online from Zenimax. Since its pretty hard to hide a full-blown theme park MMO team, we're pretty confident that there's nothing queued up behind these two titles. (We know that Blizzard is working on a new MMO codenamed Titan, but we don't think its a fantasy game—although we could of course be wrong!)
Since World of Warcraft was released in 2004, it has been the target against which most MMOs measured themselves. It takes a couple years to build a AAA theme park MMO, but these eight years have nevertheless seen many attempts to knock WoW off its throne: EverQuest II, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Aion, Final Fantasy XIV, Rift, Tera, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Each of these games succeeded in certain ways, but none were able to take a significant number of players away from World of Warcraft.
As the age of the fantasy theme park MMO comes to a close, we can look back and see a number of really important lessons from these games, as well as from sandbox MMOs like EVE Online and Darkfall. One of those lessons is the importance of establishing and maintaining community standards early.
We've been watching this week at the GuildWars 2 team has been living out this lesson in real-time. They took to Reddit to address players asking about accounts banned for violating ArenaNet's community policies—either for inappropriate character names or things typed in in-game chat. (Their Reddit page makes pretty entertaining—although NSFW—reading!) This explosion of commentary has caused us to think about codifying some of the ideas we have about how we'll manage the Pathfinder Online community.