[GW2] Stolen Thoughts of the Day on Traits

Been busy this morning, but was drafting a post in my head about the trait uproar. Apparently my mind waves were so strong that it was picked up and written over at Under a Pale Tree. They even stole my pun from my brain jelly! (Although I was going to make it Trait-ourous Trappings.)

From a game design perspective, small fees like this serve a two-fold purpose: Helping the game economy, and instilling a sense of worth to your build.  The first part is self-explanatory, but the second: If you can switch your traits at any time, with no repercussions, then do your trait selections really matter?  Who needs to think about it; just drop ‘em in wherever and don’t worry about it until you come up against something too strong.  Then you might as well just pump all those freely “respecc-able” points into whatever trait will maximize your usefulness against that particular mob, and then do it all over again on the next one.

This is the most important part. People feel they can handle infini-selections, but its been proven time and time again that narrowing choice is extremely beneficial. It promotes better decision making, a better feeling of having made the right choice, and, blazow!, it promotes better learning! I know that all the good people raging are 50 IQ smarter than the average MMO player and could easily handle re-traiting in-between mobs and weapon swaps, and don’t need to learn skritt. Still, dumb people like me appreciate that ArenaNet has signaled that traiting is an important decision, and it would be beneficial to take time considering the decision. Maybe I can actually be beneficial on the WuvWuh field?

–Ravious

42 thoughts on “[GW2] Stolen Thoughts of the Day on Traits

  1. Gingelyr

    I haven’t been clear why everyone’s focused on the re-traiting fee when they introduced these new stats at the same time.

    If you want to switch between builds that need different stats, you’ll pay much more than a nominal fee getting new gear. Maybe that also creates a positive bond with your build–but whether you like reasons to stick with the build or not, the new stats are the main thing that’ll tie you to a build, not the respec cost.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Exactly! The trait lines are already geared toward weapons, which do give some hint as to how to trait if you prefer one weapon. Take in to account mods to weapons and gear as well, and respect fee is a really, really small part of things.

      Now, I would love to have a saved build thing, like “souls” in RIFT, where I can just plop over to a different build if I have all the other gear ready to go. But, that’s a different beast from a respec cost.

      1. Lex

        this, a thousand times this. Allow us to have multiple pre-set trait builds, so we can switch at will, without having to re-setup everything, whenever we want to switch over from whatever solo build we have to whatever group builds we want to use. It lets us go and have fun, instead of preparing to have fun. We still have the sense of permanence from being unable to change our builds on the fly, but we have the freedom to switch around between them to whatever build we have that will benefit the situation at hand the most. They’ve already mentioned PvP build will be seperate, so why not have multiple PvE setups we can switch between too?

        As mentioned, Rift had the ‘souls’ system that allowed you to do essentially this. It was brilliant for letting people play multiple roles and switch between them at will out of combat.

  2. Roq

    I don’t see a problem with a respec fee & the necessity to visit an NPC for that – seems like a good idea. I think that’s necessary to stop people from respeccing on the fly, which would at the least, be very dull for their companions. What I disliked in WoW and other games was having the fee scale up every time you respec, but there’s no suggestion of that.

    I agree that a rift souls type multi spec would be good, but perhaps you might want to limit where you can change spec – i.e. it could be similar to changing a GW1 skill bar which you can only do in towns.

    1. The Ogre

      “I think that’s necessary to stop people from respeccing on the fly, which would at the least, be very dull for their companions.”

      Why would it be necessary? Just do what GW1 does and allow you to rearrange your build however you damned well please while in a safe area (out of combat and not under the influence of a dynamic event, though maybe only while in town).

      Sadly, like charging for map travel, they probably won’t change their minds on this bad, decidedly un-Guild Wars-ish idea.

      1. Roq

        I meant that doing a full respec, from scratch, whilst out in the world or in a dungeon would be annoying. But, I see no reason that one shouldn’t be able to fully respec when in town (as in GW1). Maybe the fee isn’t totally necessary – I’m not really sure what their intention is with that (maybe just a gold sink? maybe to discourage too much maths think?), although personally I don’t have a problem with it and at least it’s a flat fee.

        The ability to switch pre-defined specs would be *really* nice though – since you’d probably want different specs for different weapon combinations to facilitate different ways of playing with other people. I really hope they consider putting that in. The only feature in Rift that I really appreciated.

      2. Zoaea

        Zomg, you mean I have to pay 50 silver to respec?!?! Im going to be soooo broke. >.> pfft, its the same thing as changing it in town in gw1, now it just has a small gold sink so that there is a more balanced econ. Get over it.

  3. Ada

    I went on a rant to a friend about this. I don’t care if it costs money or resources in some way, but to not have dual-spec that I can change instantly is just unacceptable.

    You can’t praise your dynamic questing system that lets everyone in the area group up for something and then not let me adjust my traits right there to be useful to that group.

    Especially when RIFT and even WoW have made players used to this, there is just no reason not to have it. I can’t believe games do this post-RIFT – it was one of my major disappointments with SWTOR. I play this class that can dps or heal, but I have to go back to the city every time I want to switch. It hampers spontaneous group play so very much.

    Another reason TSW is going to be baller.

    1. innuendo

      It’s very simple, in those other games you spec into one or the other role and for all intents and purposes have no access to the other role while speced one way.

      That is not the case as we’ve seen in GW2. Specing damage doesn’t mean you can’t heal and support, you still can since you have utility slots (which can be swapped around), weapon skills (almost all combinations have some support option in them), and a dedicated healing skill.

      Unlike other games, no spec in GW2 is pigeon holed. That is why this system works. You are specializing but not at the cost of capability in other facets of the game. You are specializing in ability, which is a drastic and clearly misunderstood difference.

  4. bhagpuss

    I don’t think I got the memo on the “Trait Uproar”. What’s happening?

    And can we really learn Skritt? Is that the language the rats speak?

    1. ArcherAvatar

      *cough*
      I’m pretty sure that “skritt” was used as a witty euphemism for some other similar sounding word…
      ;-)

    2. Naqaj

      People are throwing a hissy fit because the trait system doesn’t allow to minmax your traits freely from one specific encounter mechanic to another.

      Essentially, they are mistaking it for a talent tree. They assume the purpose of traits is to OPTIMIZE your character, when it seems to be a system to CUSTOMIZE it.

  5. darkeye

    This is something that I’m wondering about, can major traits be reslotted anytime in PvE? The player spends points in a traitline, and unlocks a trait slot, then a choice on which major trait is made once only. If a players makes a mistake they have to go to a trainer and respec.

    1. Prometheus

      Yeah, once you unlock a major trait slot, the major traits can be swapped in or out anytime you are out of combat (so basically almost everywhere). That’s a big plus to the system – you don’t need to respec to change major traits.

  6. Vorsakan

    I’m in agreement with yourself and draconicdak; I think this is a better implementation than anytime-anyplace-for-free.

    I have an overactive efficiency gland in my brain (medical science has yet to detect this condition ^_^), and I can be pretty confident I’d spend entirely too much time fiddling around redistributing points every time the opportunity arose.

    For my own good, I must approve all mechanisms that keep gameplay prominent and mathplay down in my gaming sessions!

    1. ArcherAvatar

      Here, here!
      This captured the essence of my own thoughts on the subject perfectly.
      Please protect me (and others) from myself… and ty.

  7. Verene

    Great minds think alike, apparently!

    But yeah, I don’t really get all the fuss. Seems to me that being able to respec your traits whenever you want – including in the middle of a DE (respeccing from a defensive trait setup to an offensive one, for example) – seems like it’d take out a lot of the fun and challenge.

    You can still play around with your skills, and you can swap weapon sets as much as you want…I just don’t see the fuss in this at all.

  8. Wyrd One

    My only objection would be that I would be required to go to town to do this. I don’t mind the fee at all, and understand why it exists, but it would be nice to just have a button on the trait page that I could click, acknowledge that I will have to pay X silver, and then all of my trait points are reset.

    If I have to go back to town that interrupts the game flow, and people heading to a dungeon may find themselves “waiting to have fun” as a member or two decide a respec is in order and port back to town.

  9. Darien

    I love the flexibility of the trait system that they have presented. I love how they have taken some rather complex play style considerations and grouped them into five categories to make it easier to build out an effective character that matches my playstyle. The system is exciting to me!

    However, part of me is saddened by the barriers that Jon Peters described. A vary large part of the fun of GW1 for me was experimentation and refinement of builds. Over the 4 years that I have played GW1, I spent most of my time playing a Ritualist. I have about 5 builds I that I have refined over time and actively use with my character. I spent the time to acquire the weapons and armor that I needed for each of my builds. This allowed me fill a variety of roles and push the limits of what a Ritualist can be. Most importantly it has been fun and extended the play value of Guild Wars for me.

    Now I am told that there will be a small tax in game on me for doing something that I really enjoy. I don’t need to switch between every mob fight, I just want the ability to play my character differently today then I did yesterday once I have become accustomed to a play style. What if I want to spend 3 hours experimenting with different trait point and trait combinations for PvE because it is fun for me? Sure I will probably spend most of my time with a few builds in the end, but why punish me for experimentation now and variety in long run?

    I am still very excited about this game and will be one of the first in line to buy, I am just a little sadder.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Uhhh… you still can. A small tax does not destroy your want…. especially if you are talking about PvP, where it should be free to respec. Unlike GW1 there will be a lot less “incorrect” builds too. I cannot imagine spending 3 hours fiddling with a pretty streamlined trait system, especially since a lot of the trait system revolves around hitting 5 points for minor, major traits.

      Feeling punished for a small tax is a bit extreme especially when so many doors are still open, don’t you think? Are you going to feel punished because you have to dodge too? Are you going to feel punished for having to bring a self-heal?

      1. Darien

        No, I guess I just don’t really see the value in the barrier. I do trust Arenanet, and I do trust your experience in game. And I sincerely hope my gut reaction to the news is just wrong.

  10. Frizz Freston

    While I’m unsure whether I was ranting on gw2guru or not, I feel that I’m just a person that likes to have several approaches when it comes to building your character. (My League of Legend “builds” for example are as generic as possible simply because there’s a limit of rune pages, masteries, presets etc.) Preferably I would like to change these on the fly, whenever I feel like playing something with a totally different approach. Which probably leads me to have several different builds within traits.

    I doubt very much that all the players that are concerned about the respeccing just want to have the most efficient build for every mob. I just would like to see what kind of effect an all out condition build has or an all out crit damage build. (For example) ANd then adjust my playstyle to that build to have an entirely different experience. At least that is why -I- would customize my trait build all over again. Not because I would want to have the most efficient build for every mob or task.

    Of course with this respec fee, this seems limited. In fact I don’t care if I need to go all the way to such an NPC, I usually need to take my time for a respec anyway, so to go to a specified location would probably benefit me. I might run into problems I find two different favourite builds of course. =P But I can see why people might overreact to this, as well as I can see the logical reasons to limit this respeccing as well.

    So yeah, I doubt I feel punished, but I do think I will feel hindered at some points. Ah well there’s more time to fully get attuned with new builds at least. =P

    Slight edit: I suppose two (or so) presets for traits might be welcome. I doubt I need loads of these anyway. And make these obtainable for some amount of gold or something. Just a random idea that popped up btw.

    1. Ravious Post author

      I doubt you were one of those “alleged ragers” with a reply like this. I think this is very reasonable and well put.

      Build-making masters are going to feel somewhat hindered. Although I can’t imagine a small tax would hinder them much more than having to go back to town in GW1 anyway. This trade-off is really to get the masses attached and thinking about their builds. It gets them thinking just a little bit more, and hopefully makes them better players.

      1. Curuniel

        I think there is a bit of a mental shift between Jon Peters’ idea of encouraging people to get attached to their character and how they specifically work, and the Guild Wars mentality of being able to re-spec and re-build at any time. The upset is understandable I guess, since long-term fans want to see the Guild Wars feeling preserved.

        Someone said it on GW2Guru, I agree that the lack of division between outposts and explorable areas makes comparison between re-speccing in GW and GW2 difficult. Really, in GW we still had to wait until we were in town to change anything.

    2. Roq

      Haven’t seen the rants on GW2, on this subject, although I did notice people complaining about the death penalty, which if anything appears rather lenient to me.

  11. Roq

    One of the annoyances in Guild Wars is that although you can freely change your skills build in town, you end up with a mismatch between the build and your characters armor runes, weapons etc. which requires a lot of fiddling to fix. That’s even more cumbersome with a hero party, if say you want to change your necros from discord to blood magic, or whatever.

    So… what I’d really like in GW2 is to be able to make say 4 (as in Rift) complete builds specifying everything from armor, through default weapons, attributes, skills and to have these saved, so that you could switch between them. I don’t particularly care if I have to pay a small fee to change one of my builds (as you do in Rift), once it is set up, so be it.

    Also, once we have these builds, it would seem reasonable to be able to switch them, pretty much at will, since it could be done instantly – If you are in a dungeon and your strategy is failing, because you haven’t got your roles sorted out, it would be nice to be able to fix that on the fly – because, when you are in a party, you really don’t want to hold everything up, whilst everyone has to zoom back to town to reconfigure for new roles; that could get pretty boring.

    1. coppertopper

      I still don’t see any real roles except ‘tank’ being absolutely defined by traits. Every class has a heal spell, and given Anet’s insistence that GW2 combat will be fluid and actiony, I don’t see any one person being able to spec to be ‘The Healer’. There is no ‘healing’ line or spec, just a trait line that increases the stat that improves on that healing spell. Time (and beta testing) will tell of course, but I see this assumption as counter to what Anet has proposed in its blogs so far.

      1. Roq

        I wasn’t particularly suggesting that those builds would fit into holy trinity roles, just that they’d be different ways of playing, that might be more appropriate in some circumstances than others.

        Actually though I was a bit concerned, looking at the traits, that it might be possible to use them to make some semblance of the traditional roles. For instance, water magic is quite heal oriented – and as they say – in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king; and it’s possible that an ele with a few heals could be a significant advantage in a group compared to a fifth thief :).

        1. Coppertopper

          Yes but in this kingdom it seems all have at least one eye heh. Everyone has a heal spell. Anet said that up til now Power was being relied upon to heavily, which i assume is the fuel behind all actions including heal spells. Instead now (i am assuming – not in beta!) with Traits and the ability to boost the actual stat that increases your healing ability, instead of specing for high power and more little heals, now its less but bigger heals. But meanwhile you have a Warrior with his own heal and every other class in the game having a heal ability, i am still really confident that you will never hear “group LF healer” in general chat.

          Anyways, even if i’m completely wrong, i like that having 5 more stats will make gear grinding and AH delving (and Rafting recipes) that much more interesting. Should be a nice boost to the in-game economy.

          Also, where did you read about water magic? Did not know all the classes abilities were in print yet! Would love to read that : )

          1. Roq

            See: http://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/List_of_elementalist_skills

            TBH With or without the traits system, I think it will be pretty hard for ANet to entirely avoid PUGs looking for specific builds, in the face of hard dungeon content or PvP teams having very specific build and trait requirements.

            Even if the playstyles were totally balanced across all classes, which is probably impossible with the all the variables involved, people would still likely have skewed perceptions based on past games.

  12. Axiom

    The biggest implications are for Dungeons. No field respec = groups demanding particular specs = groups demand particular professions with particular builds = so long to no more “LFG need X Class for Y Dungeon” spam and the wait time associated with recruiting the proper builds.

    That is my biggest issue with this, plus the way it greatly encourages people to use Flavor of the Moment builds as the only safe bet when grouping with others.

    I’m fine with a fee. I’d even be fine with some restrictions on in the field trait point respecs. Giving us two to four profiles we can switch between in the field would be fine. You’d still have to respec for more substantial changes, but no more “oops, I have the wrong spec for this dungeon” issues, which is an issue, since you can not exit and re-enter a dungeon instance.

    1. JP

      Then I suppose a simple solution to this would be to just add a respec npc at each dungeon entrance

  13. Azuriel

    The problem is that the arguments presented as justification are internally inconsistent.

    1) “Fewer choices are better.” If so, why are they giving us so many choices to begin with?

    2) “Choices should have consequences.” Then no respecs (or finite ones) would be better.

    3) “People would respec for every mob.” They could do that even under the tax + trainer paradigm. If the reasoning is that people wouldn’t because it was too much of a hassle, what makes you believe respecing in the field is any less of a hassle? It is a commitment of time either way.

    4) “It doesn’t make (lore) sense to completely change out in the field.” It doesn’t make sense to level up at all, which also happens in the field. Nevermind what a trainer is supposed to be doing in the 2 seconds you talk with them.

    5) “It’s good for the economy.” That can’t possibly be true, because the stated end goal is for people to respec less, which means less money is siphoned out of the economy if the design works. This isn’t like repair bills, which happen no matter what you do. In effect, if respec fees “work as intended,” then no money would be sunk out of the economy, presumably making the economy “worse.”

    You can literally rationalize any single thing – that does not mean the action is good, justified, or worthy of consideration. Trainers where you purchase new skills every level? 2004 called, they want their mechanics back. Just like with waiting 30 minutes for a boat, or disconnected flight paths, or the uproar – the uproar! – over putting quest givers on the minimap, these sort of design decisions are anachronisms of a bygone era.

  14. mbp

    I have read very little about GW2 but I played quite a bit of GW1. In GW1 free respecs were a major feature that stood the game out from others and contributed greatly to the incredibly rich meta gaming environment around GW.

    My initial gut reaction was that getting rid of free respecs is a bad move but then I realised I know nothing about GW2 and perhaps free respecs don’t make sense in the new format. I suppose all this really means is that GW2 will be a different game to GW1 and should be judged on its own merits when it comes out.

  15. Brise Bonbons

    As some might have noticed on Guru2, I’m a huge detractor of the new system: But it’s never been because of the respeccing cost or needing to visit a trainer.

    My issue is how Anet have made this sprawling web of interconnected multiple attributes, minor traits, and major traits, and gives us such limited choice within it – by defining such specific choices (well, I pick this one if I want power AND condition damage AND these minor traits AND some of these major traits) that it exacerbates the need to constantly re-spec – as well as being the potential foundation of endless balance headaches later on.

    What happens when Anet realizes they screwed up a trait line by putting attributes together that players don’t want together, or putting traits players don’t want with attributes they do? Fixing it will be incredibly complex, with dozens of unintended interactions rippling out from any changes.

    Under a simpler system (like the old one) that separated traits from attributes, I would have been happy to have very inconvenient respecs, with trait and attribute choices feeling very permanent, and tactical adjustments being made by swapping weapons and skills. But the new system does so much to guide me down certain paths, that something as simple as swapping out a couple minion skills could make me want to drop an entire trait line.

    In the past, traits seemed like they were going to be tweaks to your play no matter what skills you chose to use. Now they seem like a way to guide us into picking one “build” that our character “does” and sticking with it, which is simply not the kind of game I understood GW2 to be.

    I dunno, maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like this new trait system has totally changed the vision and tone of GW2 when it comes to creating “a build”. Or maybe I just never noticed how entirely the idea shifted from making builds to making characters?

    Mostly I’m just not convinced that the systems in place can support this sort of long-term character building – specifically the small number of skills we have access to. I’m happy to specialize for dozens of hours in WoW where I might have access to 30 skills, but if I’m being asked to pick 15 skills that are going to be my build for the next 20 levels? well, that’s not for me.

    1. coppertopper

      It reminds me a little of Realm Abilities from DAOC, which were a set of abilities and buffs that you could buy that were additional to each classes main skills/abilities. There was an RA that increased your main stat, and tons that were individualized for each class. This is similar – there might be some OP skills at first, but mainly its just offering additional skills as a refinement to the class, not class defining.

  16. Rowen

    Actually the reasons they gave to do a 180 on their policy on trait respec (and death penalty for that matter) are, for lack of a better word, bullshit.

    It’s so unlike GW2’s general direction that makes me wonder what’s going on.

  17. Asterai

    Well. I’m a contrary person. So let me represent the other side of the argument as I see it.

    If the “small” respec cost is exactly what it says there on the label, then I’m mostly okay with this system. Mostly. The problem is, I’ve encountered “small” respec fees before, notably in WoW. They were, well, “significant”, in comparison to the amount of money I actually had in that game. I was, in fact, perpetually poor, and NOT because I was forever making impulse buys. I was poor because I didn’t have a level-capped alt, because I actually tried to develop a crafting profession (I didn’t know at the time they were designed as money sinks, and had somehow gotten the impression that they were a legitimate means of getting good gear) instead of just gathering, because I wasn’t a power trader.

    I don’t expect poverty to go away, because in GW2 I’ll probably be developing a crafting profession (I guess I’m a hopeless romantic) and definitely not power-trading. I do hope that this time, the “small fees” will actually be small, at least for respeccing. But I don’t know that they will be small. While I have faith in ANet, we’ve all seen professional game designers, great designers, even our favorite designers make decisions we’re not fans of, in retrospect. It remains that I don’t know the meaning of “small” until they tell me whether it’s the amount of money you earn (net, not gross) in one minute of play or twenty minutes of play or two hours of play.

    So suppose it’s really small. A single copper coin, the smallest denomination in the game. Then this is just an excuse to make you return to town, and the primary cost comes from travel fees, which in turn (we’ll assume) are small. Let’s say the total cost in playtime-to-earn-the-fees plus playtime-to-physically-travel comes out to the rather minimal five minutes. This situation isn’t bad, really it isn’t, but I suspect it’s not realistic; I suspect the travel fees will be higher. Maybe I’m wrong, but so far travel fees are the primary “mandatory” goldsink (mandatory in quotes, but it’s a choice between waste your time running or spend time earning the fees), which suggests that yes, they will be higher; my guess is a cost more like 20-30 minutes of playtime. And now we get into my real problem.

    I don’t like theorycrafting. This is not to say I don’t care about my build; I care about it very much. I spend each point with care, with regret for the things I can’t spend on, with an idea about what I want from my character. It just turns out that what I come up with does not tend to be very “good” by whatever the metric-of-the-day is. Sure, my pet boar is tanky and fantastic in solo PvE, and he stuns mobs and gathers aggro like a champ, but I do nothing useful in a dungeon. Or so say the guys who ran the dungeon with me.

    I’ve got massive chops when it comes to math (I’m serious, very good at it) but I do math all day long and I don’t want to do any more calculations than I can fit in my head just to keep up in a game. And we’re not even given damage formulas; I certainly don’t want to use brute force (induction and painstakingly gathered data) to figure out how all those various quantities actually influence my damage input/output. I don’t. Like. Theorycrafting.

    But if I want to get to the hard content – and I want to, not because it’s hard but because it’s content, because I want to experience all the stories – then I have to have a “good” build. So do I (a) theorycraft? (b) spend ridiculous amounts of time earning coin so I can try out different build ideas? or (c) look up a “good” build on a wiki?

    One of these options wastes the least amount of my time on things I don’t actually want to do. It also, by unfortunate coincidence, destroys all possibility of me having pride or identity in my build.

    I reiterate, I suspect (on not-ridiculous grounds) that there’s going to be a real cost of maybe 20-30 minutes to change out a build.

    So that trilemma (if you’ll excuse the neologism) is the real reason I object to needing to return to town and pay a fee to respec.

    Thanks for reading, gents.

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