Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tinfoil hat speculation abounds: what is Arenanet working on?!

I'm annoyed.

I'm annoyed that I am having to write this blogpost to set some things, which I feel are perfectly freaking obvious, straight.

There is a "theory" doing the rounds that goes a little something this:
Angel McCoy said 20 people work on the Living Story, what are the other 280 staff at Arenanet doing?
We had this conversation in our guild last week and Hunter's Insight wrote a post about it.  I'm sure the same question has been asked elsewhere too. It's a good question to ask but let's not be blinded by speculation, cloaked in hope, masquerading as fact.

Right, debunking trousers on.

Firstly, she said those 20 people "create the Living World content".  That could mean literally anything. It could mean they do every single thing: write every word of dialogue, construct every single character model, design mob abilities, code events, QA every second.  It could also mean they are the production team.  A team of people that come together, agree and oversee the work of all the other employees in creating each release.  It could be something in between.  You can interpret what she said in a multitude of ways: there's no facts here.  That's why they pay PR people.  So ambiguous facts don't creep out and confuse users and, much more importantly, shareholders.

Anyway, to quote Angel, assuming she is a "reliable narrator":
My responsibility as narrative designer for the team is to keep the lore in check, to ensure the dialogue for the iconic characters is in voice, and to guide us through the overarching storyline
She doesn't mention writing any dialogue.  A lot of the dialogue varies based on your race... just checking that all would be a big job, right?

Secondly, just where has this 300 staff number come from (possibly here)?  Regardless, let's break it down based on my experience of an organisation with well over 2,000 employees.

We know people at Arenanet.  There's a good 50 people we can probably name right now.  Teams that we know for a fact exist:

WvW - at least 5 people
PvP - at least 5 people
Community Team - at least 9 people
LS Team - at least 20 people
Random PR/Leads - about 5 people

OK, let's list the "other" teams they might have just as a typical business:

Customer Services
Facilities Management

They all sound OK?  Any number of those could be outsourced.  Notice I haven't listed any animators, artists, game programmers, designers, producers, composers, monetisation or QA.

Now lets look at their current vacancies:
What does this tells us?  There are at least 4 different sorts of programmer.  And, oooh, Spanish QA.  So we need a QA team PER language so, that's at least 4. And, of course, we'll need a localisation team for each language too.

Are we getting the picture yet?

There is no way on Grenth's green earth, with that much specificity in each post, that a team of 20 people churn out a Living Story episode every two weeks while everyone else works on Cantha. OK?

I am absolutely certain that a good portion of Anet's staff ARE working on things for the distant future and that MAY include an expansion.  But since they have stated categorically that they are NOT working on an expansion right now.  I'm inclined to believe that designing, building and maintaining a game played by people all over the world takes more than 20 people.

Right? Get back to fucking work.

I edited this post because it seemed overly critical of an individual and that wasn't intended. My posts are purposefully written with a slightly tongue-in-cheek, angry tone: that's my style.  As is comedic extrapolation.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think i ever implied that every single employee not on the living story team was working on cantha, but thanks for the feedback.