[GW2] Interview on Energy and Skills, Pt. 2

[continued from part 1]

I started out the second half of the interview on a mistake, and it was Peters turn to run my fumble to the endzone. I brought up the three different types of skills: weapon, utility, and elite. Actually, Peters said, there is another skill type: healing skills. (Lots of headsmacking then on my end.) Don’t ignore healing skills, warned Peters, heal skills can make builds. He said “there are some very varying heal skills that really change what you are going to do with your character.”

As an example, Peters brought up two of the warrior heal skills shown in the demos. Healing Surge heals the warrior and gives him adrenaline. Healing Signet heals the warrior on use, but also provides extra health regeneration when the signet is not recharging. Healing Surge makes for a very aggressive warrior because he is ramping up adrenaline for the burst skill so much faster than other warriors. Conversely, Peters said that when warriors are using Healing Signet they basically ignore all the little plinks, and they can keep plowing through mobs or players until the warrior gets focus fired upon. The developers are finding that the one player-decided healing skill has a huge impact on style of play. Peters then asked Cartwright to talk about weapon skills.

“The design philosophy of weapon skills was to make a baseline build,” Cartwright began, “and the reason for the whole paradigm of Guild Wars 2 was we wanted to make sure that whatever you were holding with your weapons was a good build.” They wanted to make sure that players could pick up any number of combinations of weapons and to be able to actually play the game. In Guild Wars there are billions and billions of combinations, but if a player puts 8 shouts on a warrior bar, it would be a bad character. Most combinations of skills in Guild Wars didn’t work well, whereas the design goal of Guild Wars 2 was to make very few unusable builds.

Yet, the weapon skills in Guild Wars 2 could be compared to elite skills in Guild Wars because they made the character. Players built around the elite skills in Guild Wars, and in Guild Wars 2 players will be building around their weapon choices. Utility skills, then, are augmentations to the base build. They allow players to fill gaps in their builds, or add more area-of-effect damage, or give more support to other players.

Cartwright continued that there was one other part that people don’t really see yet in the system. Traits interact with skills in a really heavy way. He then gave the example of two identically skilled sword warriors. One warrior can take a trait that makes every sword attack cause the bleeding condition, and the other warrior takes a trait that causes Savage Leap to recharge twice as fast. The first warrior becomes a super pressure character, and the second warrior becomes a highly mobile melee attacker jumping around the map. So even though the warriors still have identical skills, traits can allow them to play in a completely different way. Even after traits, there are still items, Cartwright added, so the amount of builds a skilled player can create skyrockets well beyond the baseline. Peters and Kerstein echoed that the build making ability in Guild Wars 2 can be daunting to someone really delving into the systems.

The last skill type we discussed was elites. The main function of elites is to have an “ace-up-your-sleeve-type of play.” This type of skill, Cartwright said, really plays up the resource of time a lot more than other games. However, the core element of elites is not an insta-kill everything, but to create a moment of power. Peters said that elite skills are not traditional spells. “Every single elite is either a big shapeshift, or summoning some crazy weapon, or summon a bundle. There are no elites that don’t change how you play in a very drastic way.”

An example is the Tornado skill for the elementalist. Cartwright said one of his favorite stories to tell was when he was playing with lead designer Eric Flannum, and everybody was dying all around. So Flannum popped the Tornado skill to become a living tornado and start flinging enemies away while Cartwright used Vengeance to get up off the ground and start reviving people that were downed. “You almost get the sense that once someone throws out an elite,” Cartwright continued, “it changes up the battlefield. In PvE when things go bad, you’re going to use elites to turn the tide.” The elite skills are designed to create these kind of epic moments of return. Peters said the phrase he likes to use is “change of pace.”

“In PvP, it creates a mind duel. Who is going to throw it first?” Cartwright said he knew a lot of people were worried about the person using elites first wins, but that’s really not how it plays out. Surprisingly, it’s the opposite. “Whoever throws it first, loses.” If an opponent throws an elite first, and a player can trick the opponent in to using it improperly, it’s game over. If players get to an engagement, and three opponents pop their elites, the players now have power because they still have the aces up their sleeves. The player can now push the battle in ways where the opponents, who are recharging their elites, couldn’t.

“It becomes this yomi mind game.” The opponents are aware that the player still has the elite skill available, and if they misstep they could give a player a huge opportunity to use the elite skill to destroy them.  Conversely, an ill-used elite, such as a guy becoming a tornado at the wrong time could easily spell death as players start shooting the far-away tornado with ranged attacks or the like. He continued to say that he has seen PvP games where elites are never used because the threat of using the elite is so powerful.

Elites really aren’t a good way to kill people, but more of a way to make them change up their playstyle and reaction. Using the Tornade elite skill example again, Peters said that a well-timed Tornado would cause the opponents to basically stop what they are doing, roll away, switch to ranged attacks, back up and spread out. Elite skills force a reaction when used, but they can also stop opponent tactics from being useful when held in a ready state.

I brought up the s-word, “spike,” in regards to elite skills. Spiking is basically an ultra-time-compressed focus fire, where if the opposing team can’t respond within that very short period of time, the opponent taking all the hits will die. Peters said that in Guild Wars 2 where there’s reviving other players on every character, downed states, and plenty of way to save yourself (instead of relying on another monk’s Infuse Health), the game balances more strongly against the spike.

Cartwright, went back to elite recharge times, and said he was really skeptical about the long recharge because they don’t work in so many other games, but ArenaNet has been really good about playing with the elite skills and working on them. Cartwright added that he has been very happy with how they are working out in every aspect of the Guild Wars 2 gameplay so far. They are going to keep iterating on elite skills, but they really want to play up the time element. The time element (recharge) is used to a lesser degree to focus player attention on available skill choices for weapon skills and utility skills, but the huge pace changing elites will be kept at a longer recharge.

With regards to elite skills and dungeons, the elite skills are usually used as more fall back skills, instead of skills to rely on. Peters said that with an elementalist, he isn’t going to pop a Tornado unless they really, really need it. Then all it might do is delay the inevitable. However, when the boss unexpectedly summons a bunch of other guys, popping a Tornado gives the group more time to react to the new change. Still, Cartwright said, they are still pushing around with elite skills in dungeons to make sure that using elites in those instances is fun.

As other people (perhaps Seattle zombies) were scratching at their conference room door, I asked my last question about the amount of skills they were shooting for per profession upon initial Guild Wars 2 release. Peters said that there will be about 200 utility skills altogether. Every profession will have about 20 utility skills in addition to the racial ones. There are 4-5 heals and 4-8 elites per profession. This is on top of all the weapon skills, and the skills that change upon use like the necromancer’s minion skills. They are ultimately still playing around with how many skills will be launched with the game, but they assured me it will be plenty.

At the closing words, Peters wanted me to pass on that both rangers and warriors with longbows were good. Kerstein then noted that all the designers read the forums.

Thanks again, to Isaiah Cartwright, Jon Peters, Martin Kerstein, and Regina Buenaobra for sitting down to talk about Guild Wars 2 with Kill Ten Rats. I know that it will not be fully clear until we can all play the game for ourselves, but I hope that this interview clarifies a lot on the design of energy and skills in Guild Wars 2.

–Ravious
everyone runs faster with a knife

51 thoughts on “[GW2] Interview on Energy and Skills, Pt. 2”

  1. Splendiforous!
    Much PvP info I’ve been puzzling over, and solid earthy answers rather than standard issue MMO promotion speech.

    Thanks again for this week’s articles. ^_^

    1. Well they only briefly covered it, and honestly if you look at gamescom/PAX item breakdowns it will become more apparent. Quickly though items can affect the skills too like giving them a chance to stun or something.

        1. Hmmm… maybe I am misremembering. I know Crest of the Legion gives a chance of Thunderclap on a crit. That might be what I was thinking of. Either way they said choice of equipment would affect the build, or the way the character was played.

        2. no Crylos, they talk about the 5 skills that come from the weapons.

          you know – the 10 slot skill bar is split in: 5 from the weapons, 3 utility, 1 heal and 1 elite.
          (i somehow managed to forget about that until reading the article above, so i’m guessing you did too :) sorry if this is not the case)

          they are following the same structure in the interview so i’m guessing “weapon skills” in this context means exactly the five skills you get from the equipment in your hands (i.e. twohanders, bows, swords and shield, daggers, focus item and wand, staff etc.)

          1. I was referring to items afecting combat, not weapon skills. I believe they said only energy potions are usable during combat. However: “Even after traits, there are still items, Cartwright added (…)”. That’s what got me wondering.

            1. I think they mean usable items like gun turrets or bottles of water like in the demo.

              So, for example, you could pick up a bottle of water and get a new skillset, like “Throw” to put out a fire or “Drink” to restore health or whatever. I’m not sure what all the skills a bottle of water had in the demo, but there were a few at least.

  2. Egad! A post- Thanksgiving surprise is still pending, methinks. I wonder if Thursday December 9 should be on my calendar.

  3. Interesting… they did not mention the balancing aspect with just one word when they talked about all the limitations they put upon the players. Instead, they just reason with players unable (some might say: to stupid) to put together a halfway decent build.
    I wonder if the whole balancing thing wasn’t much more important for this decisions than just making the game easier for some guys unable to neither grasp the game’s concept by themselves nor copy an efficient build from forums or pvxwiki.

    I don’t like that I am forced to bring an elite skill into my build, since one of the slots is reserved for only them. I could very much imagine that there are quite some situations where I would prefer a low-recharge utility skill over a five-times-an-hour – how did you call it once? – “I win”-Button.

    1. @GLN7

      I feel the same, I don’t like this 12 min CD idea at all.

      12 min? When am I going to use it? I rather not!

      Especially in pvp, where team fights will occur, and people are going to think the very same idea “I won’t use my elite so I don’t get pwned”

      I can’t help but popping pvp imagination in my head:

      someone uses the elite

      if he is your teammate—

      “omg! why did you use it!!??”

      if he is not your teammate—

      “YES! he used it, nukers, blast them~~”

      so ultimately, they better have trait that can reduce elite CD in half, or any of that sort, which again, can lead into several problems.

      1. The thing is, not all elites make you a potential target to nukes and spikes, because not all elites make you a huge slow tornado… As stated, 4-8 elite skills per profession is alot to chose from. For example, if you see your team getting beat down quickly, a warrior might pop a battle standard -> and this doesn’t make him a spike target…

        In my opinion, think of the tornado skill like using shadow form in gw1… it would be almost taboo to use in pvp, but in pve it can be used to tank and deal heavy damage.

        If you’ve played LoL, you might see some similarity… People know how powerful elites are, and try to avoid them, and keep theirs usually for some big spike or when it could really turn to tide.

        In my opinion, we have to look at the new elites with optimism. Because each profession will have 4-8 to chose from, I am sure each one will find its own time and or arena to shine.

    2. Of course they’re going to simplify their game in ways that don’t undermine fun. It’s called accessibility, and the GW1 skill system was anything but accessible.

      That doesn’t mean the game is any less deep or more simple, specially considering the many other systems that increase customization and choice.

      You also seem to have missed the whole Elite skill coverage… they clearly stated that Elite skills are not an “I Win button” anymore than they are an “I lose button”. They are pace-changing skills that must be used strategically.
      Yes, the CD is long but as long as it fits well and is fun, it doesn’t matter. Just because other games make long CD’s bad doesn’t necessarily mean all long CD’s are. Again, remember that GW2 is not a “traditional” MMO, nor is it GW v2.0

      1. I’d leave what’s fun and what not to the guys out there instead of claiming the definition of this for myself. Strangely enough, me and quite some other guys out there found the GW skill system not very hard to understand. Sure it took a bit of time learning the game mechanics and synergies, so what? What’s wrong with not understanding everything perfectly from the start?

        If you ask me, GW2’s gonna be considerably simpler. A lot of Players have become poor little crybabies, whining when the enemy actually hits em back and they wipe. Stuff like Thunderhead Keep back then when it was natural to try half a dozen times before managing to complete it, without bonus, would be hardly feasible today. Just look at all the whining on the forums about the mean mantle troops in WiK.

        You yourself seem to have missed out on the fact that all this “mind game” and “who draws first loses” stuff was about PvP. It’s quite likely that the AI is once again unable to respond similar to a player and also the skill’s functions may vary since they are gonna split their skill pool from the beginning. So elite skills may very well still be an “I win”-button in PvE or at least make winning much more likely.

        I don’t even care about how other games handle cooldown timers. I’m only talking about Guild Wars 2 and I still don’t see the point of why not giving players the freedom to choose if they’d rather like a very strong skill which could save their asses five times an hour or a weak supporting skills which may not help you very much when you’re in real trouble, but may help getting through the game faster or better when being in a normal situation.
        I understand that they had to fix the first five skills for balancing issues (and perhaps a bit for lending newbs and noobs a hand) but regarding dedicated healing and elite slots I feel unneccessarily restricted in my freedom to choose. If I don’t wanna heal myself, why not let me? If I want a weak but more often usable skill instead of a very strong, but rarely usable skill in my build, why not?
        You see, I still not see the reason. ArenaNet treating me like a retard that can’t put a healing skill in the bar when adventuring solo isn’t really making me happy either.

        1. i think that with the ten slots, weapon switching, traits, and- this hasnt been talked up- equipment… there will be plenty of customization. and what if on the first expansion… ELEVENTH SLOT!!!!! plus, with a game so focused on traits/ customization nothing has been said about gear. is gear important? negligible? somewhere in between? i applaud arenanet for trying to switch it up, and want to support that.

    3. @ GLN7

      “Cartwright said he knew a lot of people were worried about the person using elites first wins, but that’s really not how it plays out.”

      “However, the core element of elites is not an insta-kill everything, but to create a moment of power.”

      “You almost get the sense that once someone throws out an elite,” Cartwright continued, “it changes up the battlefield. In PvE when things go bad, you’re going to use elites to turn the tide.” The elite skills are designed to create these kind of epic moments of return.”

      “With regards to elite skills and dungeons, the elite skills are usually used as more fall back skills, instead of skills to rely on. Peters said that with an elementalist, he isn’t going to pop a Tornado unless they really, really need it. Then all it might do is delay the inevitable.”

      I’m not sure who said the elite skills would be an “I win” button…but I’m pretty sure the article states that elite skills won’t be developed that way. When the game releases, we will know whether or not ArenaNet is true to their word.

  4. Wait… all elites are a morph, a weapon summon, or a bundle? I don’t know about that. I will miss the elite paradigm from gw1 but some of its elites are basically useless, or a regular skill that costs less energy. Even though the latter can be really good, I am cautiously looking forward to the new elite skills. They will certainly be flashier, and people will know when you use them.

    The weapon skills still may be my favorite thing about gw2, I’ve always wanted weapons that actually play differently. In many games, (like WoW) there is no difference between an axe or a sword, let alone a bow, crossbow, and gun. Now these weapons will not only be different they will be different across each of the professions.

    Although, I plead: make a profession that uses the staff to hit things with, not to conjure spells.

    And the healing signet sounds ridiculously cool.

  5. It does sound like they are dumbing down the build process. I was really hoping they would preserve the skill system of gw1. the more i read the less comfortable i am with potions too. GW1 gives you all the freedom , and responsibility, to create a build that either works, is just fun and quirky, or bombs totally. You have an energy bar thats simple to understand, and provides a real challenge in working within. a player who creates a build for his toon that manages to solve a mission problem in a unique way, with a unique build can get real satisfaction and kudos from that achievement. i dont want to be going down predetermined routes in build creation.

    I consider the skill/build system of gw1 one of its strengths and main achievements in the mmo markets, one of its defining characteristics. I really hoped the devs would have taken that on board more, rather than water/dumb it down as they have.

    it could be i’m judging unfairly with an incomplete picture of the finished game but my gut feeling is nervous about what i’ve read so far. i really do want to like gw2 so i hope more information later will settle my nerves a bit on the matter.

    1. Dumbing down the build process? The great thing about the build process in Guild Wars 1 in the beginning was the learning process. Then PvXWiki came out and systematically figured out the best builds for each situation, period. That is an achievement in itself, a great one. I’m a fan of the scientific method, and the way that the community worked together to test myriads of builds and determine through massive amounts of data and testing which builds were the best is simply amazing. And when it comes down to PvP, that’s what’s necessary to win. But PvE… mindlessly adding your discordway heroes and rolling through missions without a second thought to the build isn’t that great. Instead, it’s dumbed down. Why run a build that bombs totally or is unique when we’ve already figured out the best way to do this? So let’s do it and be done with it. Binary function. Build works or doesn’t. Fun factor is lost (for PvE anyway). Build process dumbed down in Guild Wars 1 already.

      In Guild Wars 2 we have specific slots for certain skills, which reduces build diversity. Five of those ten are determined by your weapon, which reduces this build diversity even further. So yes, they’re dumbing down the build process, but they’re improving two things: reliance on player skill, and player preference.

      Player skill is already a big part of Guild Wars 1, and less diversity in builds means more reliance on the effectiveness of the person using it. Simple. New things in Guild Wars 2 – skill combos between team mates, elite skill preparation and execution (no more spamming Blinding Surge lulz), defensive maneuvers, energy management playing a larger role (assuming we can’t hide energy). It’s a whole new ballpark, in my opinion. In PvE, there won’t be any more pressure to run a certain build in PuGs (which the PvE game is centralized around). Now it will simply be the effectiveness of your own gameplay abilities. Let’s face it, anyone can use an SoS build. This healing surge warrior sounds a bit more complex to me. And hey – the warrior won’t be using Meteor anytime soon.

      As for player preference, you have a smaller skill pool to choose from, but the way it is designed is to work well based on your preferences. Little tweaks to skill builds, traits, and weapon sets open up a world of personalization because the build system allows for it. It creates its own specialization tree, something that RPG gamers love because it gives defining characteristics to their playstyle, without having the limitations of an actual tree system.

      Weapon Set

      ->Heal ->Utility ->Elite ->Others

      Personally looking forward it.

      1. “<The great thing about the build process in Guild Wars 1 in the beginning was the learning process. Then PvXWiki came out and systematically figured out the best builds for each situation, period."
        Maybe, and you think GW2 will be different? No. Its called learning and sharing. It will happen. It changes my point not one jot.

        "But PvE… mindlessly adding your discordway heroes and rolling through missions without a second thought to the build isn’t that great." Agreed!

        "Why run a build that bombs totally or is unique when we’ve already figured out the best way to do this?"
        Uh… fun? Maybe not everyone has switched off their creative brains and gone for pre-packaged build that someone else has come up with? Maybe the system allows for so many permutations that even you cant assume you know it all already? Heh… Maybe some people just like figuring things out for themselves rather than getting all the asnwers and perfect builds online like maybe you imply you would, and expect others to do the same. I certainly dont. Cheers.

        "Why run a build that bombs totally or is unique when we’ve already figured out the best way to do this?"
        Yeah, i think we just covered this. If you ask the question why, you clearly wont understand the answer. Not everyone thinks like you. Really. Cheers.

        "Player skill is already a big part of Guild Wars 1"
        Yes, it is, great huh?. I like that!

        "and less diversity in builds means more reliance on the effectiveness of the person using it. Simple."
        Ummm… no. Thanks for trying to make something true just by assertion. Please try harder. Player skill is not totally defined just by how you play a build, but also in how you put a build a together. And some of us do actually like to work things out for ourselves, and not endlessly just copy the known and listed builds. I make a point of not looking builds up cos i enjoy the puzzle of woking them out and making them work for myself. Dumb down my choices/options at build time and you've dumbed down part of my current GW's experience, which i currently get a lot of satisfaction from.

        "So yes, they’re dumbing down the build process"
        Yeah, thats what i thought… To me thats not a good thing. You think otherwise.

        "but they’re improving two things: reliance on player skill, and player preference"
        I hope you're correct, honest. But again, player skill isn't *only* shown in how you play and use your build, but in how you put a build a together. Not every player is good at all things, builds and playing, or even with using all classes. Players are mixed and varied, just like people (cos thats what they are! straight up!). Hardly "Binary" as you seem to think, or "simple". Phew, i hope you're not dishing out the straight jackets of uniformity when the new world order arrives…

        "In PvE, there won’t be any more pressure to run a certain build in PuGs (which the PvE game is centralized around). Now it will simply be the effectiveness of your own gameplay abilities."
        I dont feel the pressure to use certain builds in GW1 anyway. I use builds that i test solo and tell the teams i join what the limitations and capabilities of my current build are. Want interrupt or spike damage? Just let me know! I have a regular crowd that doesn't dictate but accepts my builds and i accept theirs. we know what our responsibilities are in our teams without needing them spoonfed to us or spelt out. Cheers!

        I hope, i really do, that GW2 is something i learn to love in the same way i currently love GW1. Took me a long time to appreciate the systems of GW1 when i first started playing it, but its come a long way since, and i've also cut my teeth on other games which initially looked glossier and shiny, but which didn't get half as much right as GW1, so i went back. I better appreciate the strong points of GW1 and am keen to find out that GW2 is going to shine just as much. I hope so, and hope that i'm wrong on worries about the dumbing down of the build process (which we both agree on), or that at least its balanced out by good design and gameplay elsewhere.

        1. From this I can tell you’re a laid back player, probably a ranger main, who likes experimenting with different builds. I respect that, and wish the community would engage in this more often. However, that’s not my focus, and in no way did I mean to offend.

          My point is simply that while we are restricted in skill choice (opposed to GW1), the overall build system (attributes, skill choice, traits, equipment, movement options, battle focus, potions, etc.) allows more freedom and individuality. When determining the effectiveness of an ally, the question will no longer be “is he using the right build” but “how well does he use his build”.

          1. “When determining the effectiveness of an ally, the question will no longer be “is he using the right build” but “how well does he use his build”.”

            From your lips to [$DEITY]’s ear, but personally I ain’t holding my breath. GW *used* to be that way, generally, but I have the sinking feeling that GW2 will start pre-polluted with the “pley teh FOTM bild or GTFO n00blet” mentality.

          2. Thank you for the reply Arethir. No offense taken, though i was a bit steamed at the implication that all players are unimaginative, no-spine sops, who cant think for themselves ;)

            For the record, i play an assassin main, a lot of peoples favourite class to hate, including some of my friends :) small energy bar (lots of micromanagement) and lots of skills that can be the best thing since sliced and diced bread or totally useless if the wrong tool for the job. But though some powers are better than others, all can be made useful if used at the right time and with a bit of thinking. Love it.

            Re your second paragraph… “When determining the effectiveness of an ally, the question will no longer be “is he using the right build” but “how well does he use his build”.”

            Between the two questions, how well one uses a build is definitely what i would prefer players to focus on, agreed. The first question has an excluding effect without giving a player a chance to prove himself or forces him into a box of the other players choosing, the second at least lets a new/unknown player prove his mettle irrespective of build. It would just be nice to still be able to focus as much on build crafting as in GW1, but it seems that might not be the case. Hopefully it will be as you say and balance itself out in the grand scheme of things. Heyho, i’ve had my grumble/rant, lets not belabour the point.

            Anyways, lets see, appreciate the reply Arethir.

          3. wooo! excellent point. traits sound like game changers, not lame little “do 5% more damage” add-ons. to change the skill totally based on traits? really looking forward to that. hope it happens that way.

  6. I have faith that the GW2 build system will offer enough cool possibilities for us to play with.

    Yes, less freedom then in GW1, but there 90% of the combinations you could make were really stupid.

    Lots of people just enjoyed abusing unbalanced skills in GW1 builds to farm much faster then what was supposed to be the case and stuff like that. If you follow the forums and youtube video’s, any noob could copy it and farm night and day until the skill got balanced and the build totally destroyed.

    If you didn’t had the time or feeling to abuse all these “broken” builds, and just played your game, you were left behind poor and stupid. Balancing one broken build made other decent and fair builds also obsolete.

    I just say… balancing in GW1 was often a nightmare and with every update you had to check all details of your build to know if it really still works.

    I hope that GW2’s system will bring more stability because it would be easier to balance out (i think). So in order to be competitive we aren’t forced to copy OP-broken builds from the internet but instead play around with the fair options we have at our disposal and discover them ourselves.

  7. Excellent bit of information bud, I went through both the first and second parts, and although it sounds unremarkable on paper, I have a feeling the energy system will really change up gameplay mechanics, at least in this little title.

  8. Great series of interviews Ravious – this is a really top-notch bit of work!

    Lots of interesting info to mull over, and uniformly positive, thoughtful, and exciting to boot! Although the reaction over on Guru2 has been hilarious, as expected…

    It’s always really fascinating – as well as comforting! – to read anecdotes about ANet’s design process and philosophy. Hopefully you have more chances to do this sort of interview going forward into 2011 – you do such a great job of it, I’d love to see more of this sort of thing from you.

    As to the concerns we’re still hearing raised by people here as well as on Guru, I really think it just comes down to being stuck in the GW1 mind set – at least in terms of what we think the words “build”, “energy”, and “elite” mean. Once you step back and look at what ANet is saying in the context of other games such as LoL, TF2, Borderlands, etc. it all makes perfect sense.

  9. I’m concerned that “traits” specialise your skills to the extent that it discourages diversity.

    This happened in GW1 with attributes. It sounds interesting to run a build with powers across three attributes, but for (say) 100 points you get one attribute at 12 or three at 7, which is a significant power loss when those skills cost the same resources whether at 7 or 12.

    My concern is that we’ll see a similar thing with traits – stacking them entirely on one configuration (eg weapon set). This increases the cost of switching and makes players unlikely to do so.

    1. “We want experimentation with traits to be fun and engaging, so we’ve made the rules for changing traits extremely flexible. With no in-game cost, you can respec at will, outside of combat. This means you are open to experiment with what works and what doesn’t work on the fly, without having to go back to town or worry about if you have enough gold.” -Ben Miller, Traits Overview.

      Don’t worry, the option for creativity is not hindered in traits. And since traits are simply added bonuses to your build instead of the backbone, there should be little pressure to keep your traits in a certain setup.

      1. Good points, but you’ve missed mine. In GW1, you have to really work hard at your build if you want to be a (vaguely effective) ice and fire and earth elementalist, for example. Stick a bunch of fun-looking powers from the three attributes on your bar and you’ll end up functioning at half effectiveness due to attribute point dilution (as compared to, say, just picking fun looking fire powers).

        I’m concerned the same situation occurs with traits. I might pick a sword trait, and a bow trait, and a healing trait, and be consequently less effective than if I just stacked three sword traits to uber-power-up my sword skills and left my bow unused except for aggro plinking. Yes, the time until I can reconfigure is smaller, but that’s not the issue. Sword-only in one fight and then bow-only in the next is not the same as sword-or-bow at will.

        Equipment can exacerbate the problem. In GW1, your equipment – especially armour – tended to lock you into certain attribute and play styles, unless you carried around multiple sets. The less “skill-neutral” your equipment, the greater the disincentive against swapping during combat.

        It would be disappointing if swapping equipment during combat became something only done by clueless newbies and for niche tasks (like provoking aggro).

  10. As much as I wanted to buy this game, the more they talk about it, the more I realize that the developers drank their own kool-aid and have strayed far from the things which made Guild Wars great. Like customizing your own character, the devs are now filling up too much of the bar. If I want that warrior with 8 shouts, I should be able to play him. Don’t force me to use skills you want me to have, leave it up to me to pick. Player choice is one of the things that made the original great, and now there is much less of it. Every staff ele will have 5 skills that are the same as every other staff ele. Woo hoo, or boring? Boring.

    1. Every staff elementalist high enough level to have all 4 attunements will have not 5, but *24* skills that are the same as every other staff elementalist.

  11. I find the idea of the more standardized, effective basic skill bar extremely appealing, as someone who has increasingly less time to play. The only way that the restrictions on builds seems unappealing to me is in how it might affect my conception of my character as a role-playing entity. In the first Guild Wars, I could do fun things like have a ranger who specializes in pets and mesmer spells, essentially trading spell casting power for the benefit of a pet and defense of a ranger (it’s more effective than you might think; seriously, it’s my favorite way to play!). My choice of skills thus helped define my character. Not to suggest that this isn’t possible in Guild Wars 2: perhaps nature ritual spells or traps will have the same feeling as my spell-casting ranger. Gotta say, the torch skill video on the ranger website looked pretty baller.

  12. There will be no bad builds because everyone can just spam mana potions are cast bad skills over and over.

    1. On the off-chance that you’re not trolling, I’ll explain to you why you’re wrong. ENERGY potions have a recharge, so you can’t spam them. The recharge is even longer in combat.

  13. GW1, in my honest opinion, has an extremely fun pvp system as is. I’m anxious to see how ambiguous the GW2 mechanics will be, but it sounds like a blast so far. ^.^

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