That's not the only important lesson which ArenaNet has learned from Guild Wars, however. The team originally planned to launch a Guild Wars title every six months, but radically scaled back their plans when it became clear that for many players, this pace would simply be too fast - a key lesson which will be carried forward into Guild Wars 2.
"I think the other thing we've really learned is that it's very possible to create too much content," Strain confirms. "If we had released campaigns every six months, as was our original plan, I think we would have overwhelmed our players very quickly."
"We had to throttle it back a little bit, because while it's true that you'll always have hardcore players who will spend the first three weeks and blaze through everything there is to see, the vast majority of your players don't play that way. They'll take six, seven, eight months, take their time, smell the flowers, and poke their noses into every little corner. They want to see everything."
"I think that was something that we learned as well. Rather than putting things into huge batches and dumping it out every six months, I think that going forward we're going to look at other ways to spread that content out a little bit more, so that it's not so overwhelming."
For now, ArenaNet is playing its cards close to its chest regarding gameplay specifics in Guild Wars 2, but Strain's comments certainly make it sound like there are a few intriguing changes being wrought in the company's development studio - with a move towards smaller, more regular doses of content suggesting an almost episodic nature for the game. From what's present in Eye of the North, we can also assume that the lands of Tyria and the other continents introduced in Factions and Nightfall won't be left behind - especially since it's been confirmed that three of the new Hero characters will be playable races in GW2.
"We get a very good feeling for what would make the ultimate Guild Wars game - you know, in a perfect world, how the ultimate Guild Wars game would work, that's crystal clear in our minds," Strain muses. "So from a design standpoint, it's coming together very quickly. A lot of times when you start a game, it takes you a couple of years to work through all the various branches you could possibly take with the design, but this one is really well solidified."
"We've got the technology team working on the new graphics capabilities, the design team has done a phenomenal job pulling the design together - as soon as this expansion is wrapped up and out the door, the vast majority of the content team is immediately going to start building all the content."
"So we've got the structure in place, we've got the bones in place," he concludes. "Now we just need to go about filling in all the detail. It's coming along really well."
Guild Wars: Eye of the North is out now. Guild Wars 2 is expected to arrive some time in 2008.