As we get close to the end of 2013, I feel like taking a look back at a very incredible and crazy year for me and my career. 2012 was almost entirely wrapped up in one single thing: shipping Guild Wars 2, while 2013 was a hodge-podge of various experiences and challenges, and I feel like I've grown more in this past year as a designer than in the three years previous! :-D So here, for your perusal, is my "hit list" for the year.
January - (TOP SECRET) Sorry, I can't talk about what I did for the close of 2012 and beginning of 2013. Suffice it to say that some of the things I was involved with during that time have been or will soon be in development.
February/March/April - Living World: Flame and Frost Retribution. In February I joined the Living World teams to work on Flame and Frost Retribution, specifically as the main designer on the Molten Weapons Facility. I designed most of the main path through the dungeon, scripting all of the encounters and writing scenes and dialogue. The only parts I did not work on in this dungeon were the mid-boss fight against the "computer" and the final fight with the Dynamic Duo. Those two boss fights were implemented by designer extraordinaire Leif Chappelle. I was really happy with how the two of us collaborated to create a story dungeon that IMHO had really great pacing, strong boss mechanics and I also created and implemented the "Sonic Periscope" turret for the release prior to that, but the less said about that, the better. ;-P
May/June/July - Living World: Bazaar of the Four Winds/Cutthroat Politics. After Flame and Frost, our Living World team moved on to tackle the Labyrinthine Cliffs and the Bazaar of the Four Winds. When our team was told that we would be building out a new public map that was based around a bazaar, I just about flipped my shit. As the most experienced city builder on the team, I was chomping at the bit to get back to flexing some of those muscles. But because this was an open world explorable map instead of a hub I also got to add some fun flavorful events around the area. I worked on the marketplace spawns, conversations and events, though for most of the really memorable characters I give all credit to our amazing writers. For Cutthroat Politics, I worked on the Candidate Trials. While I think that there were some interesting ideas that I was experimenting with in this content, I don't think this ended up being as successful as I would have liked it to be. Maybe it's a concept that I'll be able to return to at some point and prove it out more successfully.
August/September/October/November - Living World: Tower of Nightmares/The Nightmares Within. After working on a bright, happy release like the previous BotFW, we took a step into darkness as a team and began to work in earnest on building the Tower of Nightmares. One thing that was an immediate difference in this cycle was being moved up to Principal Designer. At Arenanet, that's a "temporary" role but it equates to being something of a "junior" lead designer for a release. A principal designer is responsible for overseeing the release's design, so I got to write the design document for the release, and then oversee the execution of that design and work closely with the design leads and directors to ensure the release aligns with the core pillars of our design philosophy. This does entail more responsibility for managing design, so I took on less actual implementation work this time around. But I did schedule myself to create the opening "The Nightmare Unveiled" story instance, and also implemented the krait obelisk shard scavenger hunt. For the latter I worked really closely with our writing and narrative design experts to ensure that the lore for this was really well thought out. And for the former, I relished the chance to finally be able to build a solo instance, and I had a ton of fun creating something that was exactly the kind of content I enjoy playing. I'm also working on something else that I won't talk about quite yet as it hasn't been released yet, but I'm really proud of as well.
December - ??? I can't say anything about my next plans yet obviously, but you can be sure it'll be something different based on how the rest of this year has been.
So that's it for 2013. I'm really curious to see what 2014 will bring for me and my career, but I hope it's as interesting as this year has certainly been!