Johanson talked about how "incredibly nerve-wracking" taking the first demo to Gamescom two years ago was and how those nerves have transitioned steadily into "excitement as the game edges closer to release with each beta weekend." He also described how the beta events invigorate the team and get everybody champing at the bit to get back into making the game better. "Pride and hubris are dangerous things in this industry, though," he added, saying that the team members work diligently to listen to and incorporate feedback and remember who it is they are making the game for.
The feedback from beta weekend events is crucial to the team. Some things can't be modeled with internal testing alone, which is where the benefit of having thousands of players flooding servers all at once comes into play.
For example, in our first Beta Weekend Event, we found the newbie zones were absolutely slammed the first two days of the weekend, and the populations were so high that it often made the content experience less than ideal. We simply don't have enough people in our internal beta to truly replicate this experience for days on end, so seeing it live was something we didn't fully anticipate. We added a bunch of features, new events, and various tweaks to the scaling system to help make that experience much more fun.Without getting into exact numbers, Johanson mentioned that the pre-purchase numbers have gone beyond any of the team's expectations. The more people that purchase the game, the more support the game can receive on launch, and Johanson predicts that people will be "blown away" by the support Guild Wars 2 will receive after shipping.
There's a lot going on in the interview, so be sure to catch both parts for all the lovely details.