For competitive gamers, respect is a drug. They want to feel like a champion, and fear having their reputation tarnished by something they feel is the game’s fault and not their own. Competitive communities are so quick to point fingers and place blame without fully and fairly analyzing what they encounter. That’s fine. It’s natural, and we allow it. Folks here at QQ like to…well, QQ. A lot. It’s part of our competitive nature to do so, and it comes out in private messages, during a match, and in on the forums. Unfortunately, full and fair analysis inspires solutions while QQing does not. Fortunately, we can do both. Here’s a list of the top ten things to QQ about in Guild Wars 2.#10 – Profession Overlap
Despite their claims
, they didn’t remove the holy trinity of tanking damage, healing damage, and dealing damage in Guild Wars 2. They consolidated it. Everyone can tank, everyone can heal, and everyone can nuke. An Elementalist can take a bunch of hits using skills like Mist Form, Rock Barrier, and Obsidian Flesh to mitigate damage. Just the same, a Warrior can equip a longbow and rain terror over an area. That’s great for PvE, where waiting for the right profession to come along can be a chore, but in PvP it causes diversity and identity issues. Profession Overlap falls to #10 because the game is not yet in beta, and for that I’ll be more lenient. It takes time to establish identities and roles. Furthermore, the fact that everyone can do everything doesn’t mean they can all perform to the same degree. Let’s hope that we see professions come into their own as development moves towards release. Closed Beta is just around the corner
after all.#9 – It’s Not Guild Wars!
How many times have you heard that? The fact has somehow become both a complaint and a justification as it turns up in nearly every discussion about Guild Wars 2. Forgetting all that, it’s #9 because even though PvP in Guild Wars was too complex and too hardcore
, there was a lot of good about too. They abandoned that good along with the bad when they decided to start fresh, and the result is a game that feels less like a sequel and more like a standalone title. World of Tyriacraft? Nah, that’s unfair. There’s a lot of good to Guild Wars 2. You should get a head start reminding yourself that it’s a brand new game though, because as you play, the concept will be pounded into your head. No more stance swapping with Frenzy, juking Bull’s Strike, forming battle lines, or catching casters out of their shield set; no more negating the efforts of an entire team with your protection spells, or infusing against a caster spike; no more pushing a flagger or holding out for a morale boost, landing a clutch interrupt on a Monk elite, or rushing to make a risky last minute play for the enemy Guild Lord. The list goes on, but perhaps the biggest losses are the carefully crafted character and team builds that play like a trading card game. Guild Wars 2 is so very different from its predecessor, and coming from an amazing title like Guild Wars, it’s hard not to call turning its back on its predecessor a mistake. For all of you that encounter this in discussion, remember that change itself is not at fault – it is inevitable after all – the fault is neglecting nostalgia for all that Guild Wars did well.
#8 – Elites are Obtrusive
Elite skills are predominantly repetitive and chaotic. They interrupt the flow of combat by offering dramatic surges in power that call for dramatic responses in power. They often make an engagement one-sided. Nearly every Elite
allows characters to go on a rampage of high power for several seconds rather than offer a special tool or style. As a result, many engagements end up in one of the following situations:
1. My opponent activates their Elite skill: I run away, use my own Elite, or die.
2. I activate my Elite skill: My opponent runs away, activates their Elite, or dies.
Some player choices can change when a player activates an Elite skill, but most player choices should not. Those changes accumulate and distract from normal combat. It’s fine that Elite skills like Lich Form give the player different abilities and different options, but it’s not fine that that Lich Form is two or three times more powerful than your ordinary Necromancer bar. Elite skills should function more like Engineer kits in that they should just provide the player extra options that incrementally increase power.
It should be more common to use your non-Elite skills to counter or play around an enemy Elite skill. Elite skills are designed to “change the flow of combat” or “demand you react to them” as we understand them, but they should change and demand reactions within the boundaries of regular combat rather than introduce jarring new thresholds of power. They should barely exceed the balance limitations on control and damage that non-Elite skills are subject to. They should offer marginal improvements to opportunity costs. Doing so allows your elite skill to be a keystone in your style, rather than the button you push for a team fight.#7 – Choices are Problems
Flaw #7 begins the path of objectivity. You can refute the profession overlap or the neglect of good ol’ Guild Wars, but you cannot refute the fact that Guild Wars 2 is trying to sell you the illusion of choice. Even though you’re locked into your first five skills because of your choice of weapon, there are still many other “choices” in Guild Wars 2 that will bring your character together. Not including the numerous tweaks to nose length and lip voluptuosity
that I’m sure most of you will spend hours on, there are a bunch of choices like your weapon sets, jewellery, healing skill, utility skills, elite skills, attributes, traits, and so on that all affect gameplay. I call these “choices” an illusion because they aren’t really choices but rather problems that need solving. You choose between a path to victory and a path to defeat, rather than two different paths to victory. Here’s a snapshot of the difference:
To Solve: Arrive at a solution, usually by means of a mathematical operation or geometric construction. Solving a problem will reveal a “choice” between viable and not viable; you’re choosing between a path to victory and a path to defeat.
To Choose: To select from a number of possibilities; pick by preference. You pick from comparably viable options, or two different but equally efficient paths to victory.
Viable here means the most efficient path to victory, where victory is defeating your opponent or completing an objective. I can’t say a choice between playing to win and playing to lose is not a choice, because it is, just as much as choosing whether or not to eat is still a choice. The catch is the conclusion of the alternative is so dire that it questions the validity of the premise. Why play if not to win? If we put the semantics aside, we can say a choice between winning or losing isn’t a real choice. It’s the illusion of a choice. Once you factor in competition, however, losing actually is not an option; competition wouldn’t exist if it were. Hopefully that was a clear explanation, so let me show you how the game is creating the illusion.Weapons
When you choose a weapon, you’re choosing five skills that cannot be changed. You cannot change the location of the skills on your bar, nor what they do. You cannot remove or replace a skill you don’t like or a skill the functions sub-optimally. You’re stuck with a build someone else has designed for you. That’s so unlike Guild Wars, which is a real, quantifiable problem. It took months for teams to recognize the power of Deep Wound and build around it, or that Bull’s Strike and Frenzy were integral Warrior skills, or that Heal Party could be spammed to alleviate pressure. The metagame evolved because players had the tools to shape it. In Guild Wars 2, those tools are stripped down, leaving the designers to come up with the best “Shock Axe
” bar, or the best “Crip Shot
” bar. Maybe they can, but it’s going to be very difficult
. The choice of weapon in Guild Wars 2 is going to be dominated by which sets offer the best performance. You may not be able to choose the style you want because of a single undesirable skill that you are powerless to change.
There’s a common rebuttal to ArenaNet’s choice of locking weapon sets which compares the weapons to DotA heroes
. It’s a fair comparison, because DotA locks your hero into four skills, but it’s easy to dismiss for two reasons: you don’t spend 80 levels on a DotA hero, and DotA heroes have more robust skill sets with crazy-high levels of depth and synergy. More on that later.Attributes
It gets worse. There are four attributes
in Guild Wars 2 that all affect your effectiveness in combat: Power or damage, Precision or the chance to score a critical hit, Toughness which mitigates damage, and Vitality to increase your health pool. A critical hit doesn’t offer any armor penetration
, only a chance to proc a bonus effect, so it’s a method to always
increase damage instead of sometimes
increase it against high-armored foes. Removing opportunity costs from attributes means there is one spread to rule them all. There will be a best way to allocate points, and that will be the most efficient path to victory. Sure you can “choose” to not allocate your points that way, but you’ll be choosing to handicap yourself. Attribute spreads are arithmetic, not style.
You want attributes that are going to be more effective in certain situations. A good example of this is Armor Penetration which would be more efficient when fighting heavily-armored characters like Warriors and Guardians and less efficient when fighting lightly-armored characters like Elementalists and Necromancers. You don't get that sort of trade-off with an attribute like Precision. Activation Times and Attack Speed are other great options that have tension with a raw damage attribute like Power. Movement Speed could be another, as it grants a trade-off between closing the gap and what happens when you arrive, but it can be more difficult to scale over 80 levels.
Defensive attributes like Toughness and Vitality shouldn’t be options at all, as they allow characters to build for tanking which, in a game of conquest, equates to griefing the team trying to kill you. Building defensively is fine in small doses, but not in an equal ratio to damage. When you lose offense, combat slows to a crawl and the game loses excitement. Better options would be attributes that offer Health Regeneration versus Maximum Health to counter pressure versus spike. It becomes a real choice at that point, as both are viable. Opportunity costs go up, arithmetic goes down.
Guild Wars 2 should perhaps have no attributes at all. There’s only one path to victory, and that’s dropping your opponent as fast as you can so you can capture a point or find another guy to kill. There’s no attrition or overwhelming a healer or burning through the enemies’ energy. There’s taking damage and dealing damage, and whoever has the highest ratio, assuming equal performance, will win. If Guild Wars 2 was only arena PvP, I could see Movement Speed versus Damage as the two sole attributes. There would be tension between moving from point to point and the power of what you could do when you arrived there. That doesn’t fit well with the PvE side of the game, which by the way is far more than half the content, so we’re stuck with what works for Tyria.Equipment
Your gear modifies your attributes, so look up.Traits
They’ve said they plan to revamp the trait system and we haven’t seen it yet. It’s one small step for choice, and one giant leap for diversity. Here’s to second (or was it third?) chances.#6 – Conquest is the Only PvP
Alright, some clarification here: I have nothing against the capture point format, just how it’s used in Guild Wars 2. I also mean Conquest is the only organized or structured or objective or whatever you want to call the PvP that isn’t a battle involving hundreds
. Conquest is one-dimensional. You have one purpose: capture the points. They’re a great objective for fast paced, high-action, high-lethality games types that allow points to transfer ownership quickly. In a first-person shooter, for example, combat is over so quickly that most of your time is spent roaming the map, collecting upgrades and ammunition, scouting your opponent, getting into position, and other tactics that aren’t actually fighting (well, shooting). Conquest fits well into an FPS because roaming the map is natural, and the points force engagements. Combat isn’t over in seconds for RPG games. It sometimes takes minutes; hell, it sometimes takes 28 minutes
. While it varies greatly and depends on factors like the level and gear of players, combat in an RPG is more complex and slower than in an FPS. This means more time engaged with the enemy and less roaming around the map.
Capture point objectives conflict with longer battles for a number of reasons. The first is fighting anywhere but on the points means you’re gaining fewer points. The value of player kills factors in, but no matter the reward for killing a player, that reward will be larger on top of a capture point. The second is the defender’s advantage: if there’s an enemy between you and point they own, you must choose to battle them in a fair fight off the point, or make a move for the point while your opponent makes a move for you. The third conflict is an increased complexity of approach. There’s no sense of “this is my side, that’s your side” because a capture point is circular neutral territory. This adds confusion to formations or “battle lines” that act to organize combat for the duration of an engagement; the circle shape makes it easy to lose your bearings, resulting in two positions: in the mess, or out of the mess. A fourth reason is the linear gains of a format with steady, incremental gains. It makes defeat feel like defeat before the game is over, it makes it tough to come back from behind, it means the entire game suffers the same pacing, and there’s nothing to build up or prepare for. No big plays make Jack a dull boy
Something else to mention on the topic of Conquest are the individual player scores as they encourage uncoordinated and selfish play by rewarding individualistic actions. For example, anyone standing on a point at the time of capture is rewarded the points, yet the rate of capture suffers diminishing returns with more and more people on the point. This means your team will benefit from splitting up and going after different points rather than leaving three or four guys to a point…but who would want to forfeit their personal score? The same goes for player kills, because you only need to participate and not last hit thanks to their participation algorithms. You’ll accrue more points by leaving an ally to finish off a downed foe while you chase after the more lucrative capture points. You still get the points for the kill despite your selfish drive-by tactic. I felt embarrassed playing at PAX with my character on a big screen and at least 20 ArenaNet employees watching behind me. I went from point to point and earned the highest score, but I went so far as to CC and escape from nearly every engagement. It was boring to watch I'm sure, but it's not my fault for playing to win.
#5 – You Fight the Controls
Guild Wars 2 has more dimensions of control than any other game in the genre, which is largely the result of being able to move while you activate abilities. You have to target opponents, rotate your camera, move your character, interact with the environment (jump over a fence, push a button) and activate skills all at the same time. In total there are 19 unique buttons you will be to be using at any one moment just to move around and use abilities: 1-0, W, A, S, D, the right mouse button, left mouse button, the scroll wheel, plus hotkeys for dodge, reverse direction and reverse camera. This total isn't counting target navigation buttons like Next Target, Call Target, Target Previous, Closest Target, Priority Target, etc. Each of these dimensions is familiar, but Guild Wars 2 requires you to interact with each one simultaneously. Most RTS games will lock the camera dimension using an isometric or top-down perspective. Most FPS games will lock aiming and the camera movement into a single dimension (your cross-hair is also the direction your camera is facing). It is difficult to get used to this new Guild Wars 2 system. You often have to sacrifice movement to aim abilities, or sacrifice camera movement for character movement. There are some solutions like allowing the camera to zoom out further, implementing click-to-move to better spread the controls among your right and left hands, or to remove ground-targeting in favor of skill shots that always fly out where you're facing. You could also grab a Razor Naga
and let all those buttons do the work. The good news is that all of those can be employed together. Combined with practice to improve your speed, Guild Wars 2 could be the first competitive RPG where APM plays a significant role. Until then, the controls are definitely going to be a barrier to entry.#4 – Targeting is a Nightmare
Say you’ve mastered every dimension of control and boast an actions-per-minute score in the hundreds. You’re ready to use your skills to the best of your ability. You’ve got your favorite build, you jump into a match, and then you encounter indistinguishable enemies of greatly varying sizes and shapes, plus pets, minions, and trinkets like repair kits, turrets, or destructible wooden carts…in 3D! The sheer quantity of targetable objects combined with the lack of visual differentiation for each and then complex terrain upon which you encounter those targets not only interfere with tab targeting but magnify issues associated with the game’s automatic targeting. Imagine a guy on a hill above you that you really want to teleport up to. You rotate your camera to reveal a sliver of terrain atop the hill that you can click on, target that location with your ability, then all goes well until your target disjoints your ability mid-activation and the game automatically redirects you into a pet dog. Argh! When an entire profession is designed around the use of trinkets
, when Necromancers can have six or more minions at once
, when every Ranger has a pet, and when maps are filled with secondary objectives and an interactive environment, auto-targeting should be optional or removed so skills are not wasted on undesirable targets unintentionally. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to Ride The Lightning towards a targeted foe only to end up showing a Jagged Horror who’s boss. Pets, minions, and trinkets selected via tab targeting should be optional or removed to reduce object clutter, though clicking directly on those objects to target them is acceptable and desirable. Using Ctrl to “call out” targets as in the original Guild Wars would require acclimation to the Conquest format, since there could be two or three separate instances where a target would need to be called. It would be great to be able to tag targets with a symbol so the prioritization is as mobile as they are, which would help communicate from skirmish to skirmish. Aiming
Targeting AoE skills in three dimensions is also problematic. You have to be able to get your camera a certain angle in order to make sure the skill gets off and many times this just ends with you using a skill in a way you never intended. The two ways to solve or avoid this are (1) let player zoom out the camera so all surfaces of nearby elements are visible, and (2) ensure players will never feel the need to target that which cannot be targeted.
There could also be a targeting ring that lets you know the end range of the spell you are casting, which helps to reduce clicking errors. For example, in League of Legends, when you hover over an ability on your skill bar or select the ability and are about to use it, you get a ring around your character or an arrow that lets you know the boundary of you casting the skill. Not so in Guild Wars 2. You have to physically move your ground targeted ability around to see that boundary or just blatantly miss (and get that skill set on recharge) with your character targeted ability in order to ascertain your reach. #3 – There’s an Absence of CuesProfession Cues
Players rely on the appearance of their opponents to influence their actions. Players must be able to determine the abilities of their opponents before they encounter those abilities, so encountering those abilities doesn’t mean it’s too late to make a game-altering choice. The minimum amount of information required is knowledge of opponents’ profession and the majority of their abilities or “build”. In Guild Wars 2, only the armor of an opponent is discernable to this degree. Even a glimpse of the active weapon set is not enough to determine one’s profession. A leather-armored character with a Pistol could be a Thief or an Engineer. A heavy-armored character with a Sword and a Shield could be either a Guardian or a Warrior. The Necromancer and Elementalist share the Staff, Scepter, Focus and Dagger weapons, in addition to their identical cloth garb. If players are to engage these opponents differently, they must be able to determine the abilities of their opponents before engaging. There are several solutions from unique profession effects, race restrictions, to drawing out combat like with Guild Wars.Skill Cues
If determining the general abilities of your opponent is a primary layer of player comprehension – essential knowledge that players use a tool to overcome luck with expertise – then a secondary layer involves recognizing the specific abilities of your opponent. If unique animations aren’t possible, there could be unique visual effects; if those aren’t possible, there could be progress bars.
Knowing what is happening and about to happen allows players to respond with reflexes and instinct rather than hope or luck. Unfortunately, progress bars draw attention to the UI that is unwanted in Guild Wars 2 – a game designed to present as much information as it can on the field. Tinting visual effects or differentiating skill costs will help players assess incoming threats. You would know a stationary activation meant a more powerful ability, a channel meant an active effect, and so on. That information could then be cross-referenced with knowledge of the target’s abilities to form sufficient information as to elicit players’ responses. That kind of information is integral to expertise and mastery, as it puts the burden of a reaction in players’ hands rather than leaving it to chance. That information also does not preclude the existence of a progress bar, just as visually clear status effects do not preclude the existence of a status bar. It’s possible to have a progress bar and still rely on the field for information.Status Cues
Conditions and Boons suffer from redundancy and illegibility. There are three conditions that deal damage over time (Bleeding, Poison, Burning), two states of Stun (Stun, Knockdown), five states of pseudo-stun (Fear, Knockback, Pull, Launch, Daze), and three conditions that snare (Immobilize, Cripple, Chill). While none of these duplicates are objectively flawed due to thematic or stylistic reasons, the redundancy adds complexity without adding variety. Each of these conditions or negative states is not without reason; however Knockdown, Poison and Cripple suffer incredibly from overlap.
All Knockdown states could become Stun instead, or vice versa. Cripple could stack intensity, while Chill could stack duration; Chill could also prevent a Dodge while Cripple could be removed by a Dodge. Poison could be removed or rewritten with a new effect, such as blocking regeneration or healing, and maximum health reduction like Deep Wound, or damage over time that spreads among foes like Disease. Blind could also be made to stack intensity, with the number of applications indicating the number of strikes that will miss, in order to improve communication.
The redundancy of status effects is a minor issue while the legibility of status effects is more significant. The Status Effect bar is too small; therefore it can be difficult at times to interpret, which is exactly the type of “burden of interface” Guild Wars 2 is designed to avoid. Part of the illegibility is that redundancy, as that increases the number of individual effects being communicated. To remedy this, the visual effect for each condition could be more prominent. Immobilize in particular often lacks the necessary visual communication. The Knockdown state is a fantastic way to visually communicate a stun, while the Stun and Daze conditions have very minor visual effects. Conditions that deal damage present an opportunity to use damage floaters to communicate the effect. Bleeding can be represented by many small red numbers “pouring” out of the top of a character, which is similar to the current effect. Burning can be represented by larger orange numbers “popping” out from around a character in addition to a flame effect. Daze could apply a haze or tint around a character. Blind could be represented by a dark cloud around a characters head. Such examples of more prominent visual indicators for Conditions (and Boons) dramatically reduce the interface demand. The information provided by Conditions and Boons is another layer of comprehension integral to expertise and mastery, as mentioned earlier.Racial Interference
Different races add complexity to this comprehension and legibility issue. If it is difficult or impossible to determine the profession of a cloth-wearing, staff-wielding Charr brute, it will be more difficult or impossible to determine the profession of an equally equipped and much tinier Asura. To avoid any racial restrictions in competitive PvP, any method to identify professions must take into account the dramatic size and shape differences among the five races.#2 – Illegible Combat Visual Effects
One step above the lack of cues is the issue of visual effects from skills reaching a point of indecipherability at only two similar units because effects are prominent, homogeneous, and often lingering. A mirror match at the most basic scale – a one on one – is indecipherable at times when both units use a similar ability. Fortunately, mirrored duels are rare and some similarities are inevitable. At four units or two on two, however, the likelihood of duplicate effects dramatically increases, and so on through six, eight, and ten units. This means the more units engaged in battle, the faster visibility dissolves. It can be difficult or impossible to distinguish between enemy and allied skill effects. This is quite common in games, including Guild Wars, and there are several methods to employ which maximize field legibility, from friendly fire to color coding, stylization, drafts, formations, and even objective disseverance.Damage Floaters
There’s two parts to this: damage numbers are fucking huge, and they are everywhere. You can hit for five digits
in Guild Wars 2. Four digit numbers are the average, and they’ll poor out of you for thousands of damage a second. It’s very difficult to interpret. Add to that the fact that all skills’ damage varies, and it means you can’t use damage floaters to communicate subtle fluctuations in a targets’ armor or in your damage output. They could divide everything by ten and still have plenty of room to scale damage from level 1 to level 80. Health
It’s tough to tell just how much health you have left with a health orb because it narrows on the top and the bottom. The critical moments close to death are nigh indiscernible because the red space indicating your remaining health shrinks smaller and smaller as you come closer and closer to death. Fortunately, your remaining health is also shown as a white integer. It helps, but a bar is the most efficient communication for something as important as health.Cross-Class Combos
Adding to the difficulty of deciphering visual effects is the emphasis placed on being required to. With contrived combos triggering from players performing certain actions within spell fields, players must activate abilities in zones of equivocal hostility. Punishment for exculpable misinterpretation is two-fold: attempting a Cross-Class Combo with an enemy spell field will not only harm your character but waste the combo-initiating ability. Cross Class Combos may not be worth the risk, or may not be dependable and therefore may just be another mechanism of chance and chaos.#1 – Monotonous Skill Design
Hate me all you want, but skills in Guild Wars 2 are tediously unvarying. It’s a big problem when you have to spend 80 levels
with them, or when you’re limited to a single structured PvP format
with them. You spend so much time with your skills that failing to make them interesting is deserving of the top spot on our list of flaws.
The feeling of monotony encroaches too quickly due to an abundance of simple, repeated effects. There are not enough advantages or disadvantages for timing, aiming, and/or chaining skills. Changing how some of the skills behave can put some of the elements like positioning, recognition, and anticipation back into the mix making it much more fulfilling without adding much complexity. In fact, it is quite possible to maximize synergy, strengthen identity and distinguish sets, and increase opportunity costs, all using existing mechanics, thus maximizing the potential for proficiency without introducing any additional complexity. The Guild Wars 2 engine is so powerful that nearly every ability from games like Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends, Guild Wars 1, World of Warcraft, Diablo 2, and many other popular titles could exist in the lands of Tyria. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with skills that predominantly don’t cost anything but time and have very similar activation costs. Like this one:
The Ranger’s Axe & Warhorn
#1: Projectile damage in an area. (Ricochet)
#2: Projectile damage in an area. (Splitblade)
#3: Projectile damage with a snare. (Winter’s Bite)
#4: Damage over time. (Hunter’s Call)
#5: Apply Swiftness to allies. (Call of the Wild)
It feels as if activating skills as they are available is the most efficient way to use this set, rather than relying on timing, aiming, coordination, positioning, or using skills in a certain order. This set offers a minor increase in damage if you use skill 2 at point blank range, but little else. There is little you can do to react to the actions of your opponent or threaten your opponent into responding to your actions. An experienced player will be nearly as threatening as a novice player. If one of either skill 1 or 2 did not cover an area; if any of skills 1 through 4 did not require line of sight; if one or more skills required charging up or channelling; if one or more skills required the player to choose a target; if different ratios of damage or utility could be achieved by using the skills in a different order; if different effects resulted from different situations; and if the actions of your pet influenced one or more of these skills, then attempts to master this weapon set and build a character around these skills would feel much more fulfilling. An experienced player would be able to outclass a novice with practice. It is possible to reward experience without punishing inexperience, so designing for noob-friendlyness is no excuse. It is acceptable and desirable to have some weapon sets require more experience and other weapon sets to require less, just like it’s easier to play a Dervish than a Warrior; however, that ratio is currently lopsided in favor of monotony.
The solution revolves around the existence of basic and complimentary mechanisms, and rewards for proficiency in assembly and execution of those mechanisms. This means that basic and complimentary mechanisms may exist, and plenty do exist in Guild Wars 2 already, but without assurance that proficiency is aptly rewarded, mastery is meaningless and monotony remains. “Apt rewards” here mean increases in one’s ability to kill or avoid being killed, or to better accomplish objectives secondary to defeating an opponent.Costs
With the removal of energy, most skills lack an immediate cost. In Boston I played an Elementalist with energy. In Seattle six month later, the energy costs were gone but the skills remained unchanged. Currently, activation and recharge time are the primary methods for controlling cost, but aren’t used extensively. Skills could have longer cast times, bonuses for charging up, bonuses or requirements for standing still, or players could channel for an effect that is maintained. Some examples of these exist, but are not at the level of significance they should be at (in order to affect choice based on opportunity) since the removal of energy.
Using activation times and mobility extensively for the cost of skills would not only aid in balance but in differentiation. This approach is one method that would act to alleviate the monotony. When skills have an equal cost, as many do at the moment, there is little or no relationship between opportunity and cost; there is therefore little reason to use one skill rather than another in any given opportunity. If more skills required you to channel, take longer to activate, be stationary, or otherwise force you to weigh the costs of your time and positioning versus the benefits of a skill in a given opportunity, then monotony would be reduced, balance would be fine-tuned, skills and skill sets would differentiate and establish identities, and the removal of energy would be further justified. The inclusion of opportunity costs also adds intrigue, and is a tool subject to veteran mastery. It also allows human reasoning to overpower artificial intelligence. Opportunity costs help make fun happen, and fun is ultimately what Guild Wars 2 should be all about.
That’s it for now. It’s quite long, but one must explain why one is stepping on toes. I gave you nice big titles for skimming, so no complaints. Thanks for reading as always. Check back next week for a top 10 list of awesome stuff in Guild Wars 2. It definitely does exist, but will it outweigh the bad? Will ArenaNet step up and address these flaws before release? Stay tuned =)About the author:
I’m an old-school Guild Wars dinosaur that’s probably too excited for Guild Wars 2. For Guild Wars 1, I’ve earned a few first place tournament wins, most notably in April 2008
, and an unfortunate amount of silvers, including at E3 For Everyone in 2006. For Guild Wars 2, I’ve been to six demo events across the US, and was part of the winning team in the PAX PvP Tournament. “Winning team” means “least slaughtered by the dev team”. Not a bad start at least. I’m studying game design here in Vancouver, which is my justification for drooling over and picking apart the Guild Wars universe for over ten thousand hours since 2005.