To kick off our new Community Spotlight feature on GW2Hub, we didn’t want to just toss up any old thing up for our readers. No, we wanted to make a splash and let the larger gaming community know that we mean business when it comes to providing you with the best exclusive content possible each week. To that end, it’s my great pleasure to present you with the first installment of our interview series with Louden and Falconer of Condemned.
Having recently caused quite a stir with the announcement of their departure from SWTOR, Condemned has some major plans for Guild Wars 2. In the following interview we discuss multiple facets of this major player in competitive gaming, and what sets Condemned apart from the rest of the MMO herd.
Sardu - What was it about Guild Wars 2 that made you decide that it was the next game for Condemned? Are there any specific aspects, such as World vs. Structured PvP that particularly appealed to you, or do you plan on actively pursuing both?
Louden, Condemned GM – We’re going to be pursuing both. When we left Star Wars, they had basically pulled rated PvP and had made changes to Illum where they took away the daily quests there, and that made people no longer show up for open world PvP. The PvP was actually lacking in that game, but we were looking forward to rated PvP.
We had a very good relationship with the developers there so we don’t want to bad mouth their game at all, but we weren’t actually looking to move into Guild Wars 2 until it showed that PvP was not going to be a major focus in the initial launch of Star Wars. So when they made those changes we started seriously looking into GW2.
It has open world PvP that we can participate in as a whole guild. That’s one of the limits we’ve had going into PvE games as of recently. Rift, for example, didn’t have the calling to go out there in large scale PvP as often as we hoped it would. We thought the rifts would cause people to go out and do the rift raids and PvP and be more competitive as far as that’s concerned.
So what we’re looking forward to in particular for Guild Wars 2 is the ability to take our whole team out. We don’t like having to put people on the bench like when you’re doing any type of traditional PvE raids, where eventually people do have to sit. We try to swap them out on a weekly basis.
We build our team of people that we feel meet our team-based attitude, they reflect what we’re looking for, we enjoy playing these people, they’re competitive, they’re your friends; you want to play with them.
So the best part about Guild Wars 2, since it has large scale WvW, we’re going to be able to include everyone, and it’s competitive. We’re very competitive, and as we’ve said previously we’re looking for any achievement we can land. We’re mostly PvP focused - believe it or not, with all of our raid accomplishments – but anything to compete and put something on the guild tag, that’s why we concentrate on PvE when it’s available as well.
The game is right up our alley, we’re going to be able to include everyone, and we do have a lot of players who have history as far as their rating in previous games for tournament play, and we’ll be focusing a lot on that as well.
Sardu - Condemned has a long history of purposefully seeking out challenge which isn’t necessarily the norm when it comes to MMO guilds. Could you share a bit of your philosophy when it comes to that aspect of the guild?
Louden – We’re very proud of our organizational skills. There are a lot of individually skilled players we have on our team, but the way we conduct the team overall and fall into line, and have the team goals is really what defines us. So everyone buys into our philosophy.
When we’re looking to fight in large-scale PvP for example, we have a track record of knowing that the opposing side most likely isn’t going to have the same amount of organization. I’m not saying they don’t have the amount of skilled players, but as a team, they don’t put it together overall.
So we do go after cases where it would look like we would be outnumbered, and we regularly look for outnumbered servers. Guild Wars 2 may be slightly different, because we’re going to have to incorporate time slots when we’re not online. The score system is going to be tallied 24/7 so we’re going to look into some different methods in taking care of that.
But we never wanted to be on the side where all of the main PvP guilds are. Whenever we’re going into a game, we research all the guilds. We have ideas of who we want to fight, and we look at who we feel is the best. In past games, we’ve rarely had allies going in. We’re looking into that for this particular game just because the WvW is so large in scale, and you need people on 24 hours a day.
But we typically look for who we want to fight, so our philosophy is who is going to give us the most challenge, and try to rise to that level of competition. I feel that when we are able to find people who challenge us like that it makes the game a lot more fun. If you’re just rolling over people, it’s no fun to me.
Falconer, Condemned PR – Back when we were in Star Wars and we were pushing right after the game’s release for world first, our lead PvE officer basically said in officer chat that three years ago, I would have been content with us pushing for server first. And that just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, like we have to obtain a world first rank.
So I think that especially with a guild that has as much history as ours you get to a point when you have skilled players and are focused on a goal, you kind of get into a new echelon of competitiveness. You want to fight against either overwhelming odds, or you want to fight for the most prestigious rank simply because your locus of control and your belief about what the guild can do is strengthened by the previous accomplishments you’ve had.
I think that’s been one of the guiding forces with Condemned which in some ways is what makes it different from other guilds. We don’t secure achievements so that we can paste them all over the forums, or use them as a hammer to bludgeon or belittle others. Rather, we pursue achievements for the actual sake of obtaining the achievement, and then use them to push us forward to the next level.
Sardu – ArenaNet has talked a bit about implementing tools to allow for player-run tournaments in Guild Wars 2. Depending on how the system ends up working, do you plan on hosting any tournaments of your own? It seems like that would play well to that notion of seeking out challenge in a competitive setting. For example, it would provide an interesting means of directly challenging other top guilds outside of the ranked tournament seasons.
Louden – We do plan on running tournaments, just not initially. As we’re a competitive guild, it’s nice to be able to host tournaments and we do look forward to building community relationships by doing so. But our initial goal is to be able to compete in the tournaments up front, and make sure we’re playing at a high level.
So initially we’re going to make sure we put the practice and the time in, aside from just making the tournaments. Once we’ve got our play up to an acceptable level and have competed in other tournaments, we’ll most likely host our own.
Sardu – World v. World represents a wholly different opportunity at the guild level then. Do you have plans on organizing things on the home world level to encourage more active participation from players maybe outside of the larger guilds like Condemned? Or will your efforts be focused more on where your guild factors into things? I know that’s somewhat of a loaded question, because it partially hints at strategy discussion you might not want to share with the general public.
Louden – We’re actually looking to build community relationships with other guilds. We’re looking into alliances now. We haven’t formalized our total alliance strategy, but we’re looking to work with multiple other guilds and get the whole server involved.
We’re very organized and want our server to be very organized as well, and we do enjoy playing with other guilds. We don’t always have to lead everything; we have no problems working with other guilds with them leading particular nights, and us leading other nights. We’re just looking to make sure our community is organized as a whole so that we can compete at a higher level.
Sardu – What are your thoughts on the guild system so far? Do you think it caters a bit too much to giant zerg guilds who will be able to gain Influence insanely fast, or do you think there’s still enough flexibility and room there for smaller, more focused guilds to be as useful?
Louden – I think smaller focused guilds are always going to outperform, whether they’re awarded or not. They’ll outperform all the other guilds where it counts; on the battlefield.
The problem we have is that we’re a guild that obviously prides our own tag and doesn’t really like multi-guilding. We’re not really worried about our guild doing it at all, but it doesn’t promote loyalty, and it doesn’t promote a sense of team.
Falconer – It’s difficult for a developer to balance and cater to all types of guilds while also creating a valuable guild progression system. Warcraft, for example, got around that by putting caps on the amount of guild experience that could be earned. It seems like Guild Wars 2 is taking a bit of a different approach. So for each of the benefits, you can only have one queued up at a time, and those take time to research.
I will just say we are not a small guild by any means, but we do not consider ourselves a zerg guild, or do anything like zerg guild invites. We’ve got a pretty rigorous interview process so that we’re only taking top tier players.
That being said, in our experience what it takes to maximize a system – be it crafting, or economics, or a guild system – has often less to do with the number of players you have in the guild, and more to do with how dedicated your players are to achieving the guild’s goals.
I’ve never been a member of a giant zerg guild, but you hear stories where every member is in it for themselves. They’ll come together for various events or whatever, but they’re just kind of doing our own thing. What we like about the way ArenaNet has set up the system is that it requires members not just to do their own thing, but to also really contribute to the guild itself.
Sardu – Based on what you’ve already stated, it sounds like Condemned won’t necessarily be allowing members to use the multi-guilding option, correct?
Louden – That’s correct. As far as holding forts where you’re only allowed to hold one particular item at a time with your tag, we may have an alternative spelling of our guild. For example, maybe we’ll have the traditional Condemned spelling, but then also have C0ndemned with a zero just to be able to hold multiple points. So it’s about utilizing the system to hold multiple points for our tag, but we would never allow people to multi-guild. If they’re part of our team, they need to be committed to that.
Sardu – How does that translate to structured PvP then? Do you have a core team where you rotate members out over time, or will you be running more of an A, B, and C team setup that may or may not have separate tags?
Falconer – We have a multi-tiered approach with that which is kind of a blend of the two systems that you described.
The first is that we do have a collection of what we call our Division A teams which are our top tier teams. What’s great about GW2 is that you don’t need to level up a character to 80 in order to use that character. So we’re not bound by class compositions as the meta develops.
So those Division A teams that we have – and we haven’t decided on the final number – they will have their membership decided by our guild leadership. We’ve got a rated PvP officer by the name of Jazzy. Many of your readers will probably know him; he was the arena rank 1 hunter in the world back in Warcraft. He is guiding our direction as far as setting up our top tier competitive teams.
That being said, one of the pieces of feedback that we’ve had from members in the past is that members also have their own individual relationships in the guild, and want to be to play with a group of players that they’re close with. So for what we would call our Division B teams, our members are going to be setting up those teams themselves, and playing with who they want to play with.
As we’ve mentioned, the rosters of our Division A teams are competitive, both for the core team as well as the bench, and they’re competitive ongoing. So if we have a new player come in who proves to be tremendously skilled it will be easy for them to get a spot on one of these Division A teams.
And then secondly, even though we say Division A and B, we are not going to be surprised in the least bit if our division B teams even win multiple tournaments.
Sardu – I fully anticipate that we’ll see that kind of thing happen. It wasn’t uncommon in GW1 to see multiple teams from the same guild in the top 10 at various points, and I expect we’ll see a bit of that in GW2 as well.
Before we get into some more focused discussion on particulars of WvW and 5v5s, where are things at currently for Condemned in terms of recruitment for GW2? Say one of our readers wanted to apply to Condemned, could you explain how that process would work?
Falconer – We have an open application process, and applications are open for Guild Wars 2. I will note both for you and your readers that we do have a target. There is a total roster target which is based on a model that we’ve developed in past games of the number of members that we believe we’re going to need in order to dominate all aspects of the game.
Then added to that is the number of members that we expect to churn based on the metrics that we have from past games. So essentially those members who will state their intention of being part of the team, but for one reason or another drop out before they become an established member for, in this case, Guild Wars 2.
So we do have a hard target that we are shooting for. We also have targets which are also hard, but are a bit more flexible of the target number of members for each profession. So while guild recruitment is wide open right now, because we are still a distance from our target, as we continually approach that target our recruitment process will obviously become more and more closed.
Sardu – That neatly leads into my next question, actually. Are you looking for people who are a bit more open in terms of their willingness to play multiple professions, or are you more interested in people who will master a single profession and potentially play it better than anyone else?
Falconer – We are looking first and foremost for team-based players who ascribe to our philosophy of achievement, and competitive achievement as a team. That’s really what we look for. If we have reached any of our targets and we find a player that really fits that mold, we will take them even if it bumps us past our targets.
That being said, coming both with competitiveness and team orientation, there is an inherent flexibility in that. But part of being a team is also insuring that we are putting out the most balanced team that we possibly can. You don’t want an NBA basketball team which has a starting 5 who are all point guards.
So we appreciate flexibility, and we interview for flexibility, but we also are trying to have people lock in so that we can focus our recruitment efforts where they’re needed.
Be sure to check back for the next installment of our interview series with Condemned later this week. In it, we discuss some of the finer points of where things currently stand in both world and structured PvP, including analysis of the Conquest game type, why fulfilling specific roles in 5v5 will factor more heavily into team play than individual professions, and a whole lot more.
In the meantime, for anyone interested in applying to Condemned, you can do so at their official site. Note that you’ll need to register as a user on the site before hitting the shiny ‘apply’ button listed next to each profession on the landing page.