It's the first day of the Year of the Dragon, and ArenaNet founder and president Mike O'Brien chose this opportunity to reveal the studio's plans for public beta testing Guild Wars 2, as the first closed beta test is now complete.
Up first will be select members of the press who will be invited to participate in beta testing during February so they can get fans all hot and bothered with hands-on impressions. Then in March and April, the studio will "aggressively ramp up" the size of the beta test events so that fans will have a chance to participate.
So far there's no indication of when fans will be notified, or if the test will be truly "open" in that it's an ongoing test, or merely weekend-length events. So far the MMOG itself is expected to launch later this year although it's still marked as TBA (GameSpy thinks it will be June launch).
"Today is Lunar New Year’s Day, and according to the Asian zodiac system, the first day of the Year of the Dragon," he said. "It’s an auspicious omen for all of us at ArenaNet, as we get ready to make this our own Year of the Dragon. According to tradition, the dragon embodies passion, independence, and ambition. We think it’s a perfect analogy for what we’re trying to accomplish with Guild Wars 2."
"We’re a company full of MMO and RPG fans, and we’ve set out to fundamentally rethink how you deliver an RPG experience online," he added. "So this year, the Year of the Dragon, let’s usher out old thinking – the tired old quest model, stiff repetitive combat, and monthly fees – and usher in the new."
Unlike its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 will feature a fully-persistent world and a storyline that will reportedly respond to player actions. The traditional questing will also be replaced by a dynamic event system. But like the original Guild Wars, the upcoming MMOG won't require a monthly fee, but will instead rely on the game's initial purchase and microtransactions to generate revenue for ArenaNet and publisher NCsoft.
O'Brien sad that more information regarding the March and April beta openings will be revealed soon.