ArenaNet: Design of The Mad King's Clock Tower

Designer Josh Foreman delivers a short postmortem

If you're a Guild Wars 2 player, you know that the Shadow of the Mad King event has all but taken over your gaming life this past week or so. Indeed, in true ArenaNet tradition, the gang from Seattle delivered a slam-dunk Tyrian world event to coincide with our own Earth-bound Halloween.

Though most of the content was met with excitement by players, one of the major features - The Mad King's Clock Tower - drew much ire from around the community.

Chief among the complaints was the inequality caused by the size of your character, and the resulting geometry or camera issues that may have caused. Not to mention the size of OTHER player characters, which made it even more difficult to perform some of the precision jumps by (mostly unintentionally) blocking your view. Chances are, you were also blocking theirs.

One of the nice things about ArenaNet is their openness and willingness to discuss things with the community, and this time was no different. Developer Josh Foreman, creator of The Mad King's Clock Tower - stopped by the official forums to chime in and directly address some of the complaints:

"I see now it was a mistake to make the hardest jumping challenge in the game part of an in-your-face update like a holiday event. I’m not going to stop making difficult stuff like this, they just won’t be so prominent in the future. I honestly hate making people upset and have a very high level of empathy. So it’s been hard hearing all the people that are so angry, frustrated and sad because of something I’ve made. But it’s just another lesson learned."

As you can see, his response is heartfelt and personal, and he must be commended for letting players in on the thinking (and the post-mortem) of the jumping puzzle.

Later in the thread, he addresses several more player responses personally, including revealing that - as designed - The Mad King's Clock Tower was intended to be a single player instance:

"I agree that this was unfortunate. But it was not intentional. When I designed the map I thought we were going to be able to have single-player instances."

Camera positioning, character size and world geometry can be an issue with many of the jumping puzzles throughout the game. But they seem to have come together in a perfect storm of pixels to draw particular ire from the players this case. I'm glad to see Mr. Foreman with the takeaway that difficulty is good, but not through frustration.

What say you? Did you enjoy The Mad King's Clock Tower? Did you hate it? What could be done t make it better? Let us know your thoughts! 

Bill "Lethality" Leonard


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It was great and has room for improvement; even better.
# Nov 01 2012 at 11:40 AM Rating: Decent
6 posts
I loved it, and I loved that it was challenging.

I loved watching Jesse Cox (Shaboozey/OMFGCata) livestream his attempts of it. He fell to failure nearly 30 times before he finally got the challenge, where he howled in victory. Granted, when he did it there was mere minutes left till Midnight PST; most people had given up on the puzzle and left and it was himself and perhaps 2 players left.

If anything, I would agree that if the puzzle instance was single player it would've been far less difficult with a bouncing norn butt in your face/path.

Anyways, it's just so strange to see a community demand challenges, then be upset when challenges are finally delivered to them. Platforming isn't exactly a new game phenomenon either, and it's nice to see it incorporated in modern MMOs for a change -- ArenaNet seems to have lunged on top of it with enthusiasm and reckless abandon as you would expect someone would when they discovered that they could finally jump (a new feature to the GW franchise). In comparison it almost feels like other games take jumping for granted.
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