Thoughts on Guild Wars 2 Energy

There are two game mechanics that really came to light at gamescom that seem to be hitting a nerve with the Guild Wars 2 communities.  I already gave my thoughts on the cooldowns for elite skills, and now I want to talk about Guild Wars 2 energy.

Before I do, one of ArenaNet’s programmers discovered a karma reward for completing an event chain in charr territory while playing with the gamescom demoers.  (I have an unfounded feeling that it might be part of the “kill ten rats”-type quest with the asura. See Pat Cavit’s comment below.)  The reward was donning a golem armor with new skills, and the programmer decided to stay in the golem for quite a long period of play.  That’s a pretty cool reward for sticking out an event chain.

Anyway… energy.

Energy in Guild Wars is an encounter-based resource especially for higher end PvE. Each character gets her own pool of energy, and when most skills are used the skill depletes an amount of this pool.  If there is not enough energy in the pool to pay the skill’s energy cost the skill cannot be used. Players can easily burn through their energy in a matter of seconds by using expensive skills or spamming skills over-aggressively, and so with energy-replenishing skills and, more importantly, the healing/energy web created in a synergistic party of 8, maintaining energy in Guild Wars is a resource mini-game.  Energy ultimately sets a tempo for a single encounter.

In Guild Wars 2, energy is now a long term resource for paying off a skill’s energy cost.  Instead of setting a tempo for a single encounter like in Guild Wars, energy will set a duration of active play.  Tempo is still important because a more frenetic encounter will shorten the duration of active play more than a calm, surgical strike on a mob, but it’s possible that a player’s energy could handle multiple spamfests of skills before expiring.

When I first heard of the new energy mechanic in Guild Wars 2, DOTA-style games like League of Legends mana popped in my head.  In that game mana (energy) is used to set the duration a player can defend a lane.  If the player is unopposed and just killing minions, he can push a lane for a long time because the calm rate allows him to spend mana equal to the mana regeneration rate.  If the player is constantly harassed by enemy players, he will lose energy much faster as they use more mana than they regenerate, and he will have to retreat from active play to regenerate.

I think this changeover makes perfect sense for Guild Wars 2.  First off, players won’t have their “8-headed hydra” of heroes and henchmen to create a web of healing and energy.  A single player can no longer constantly go full throttle in attack because the support of dedicated healers and energy providers is gone.  Players are now mainly in charge of their own health and energy.  So instead of wasting another one of the 10 skill bar slots with an energy replenishment skill, ArenaNet changed the energy mechanic.

Secondly, I believe that plenty of events and event chains will have a long duration of sustained activity.  For example, ArenaNet does not want a group to be required in The Shatterer event (that video is epic).  I believe they want LoneWolfJoe to join in without needing a group of people watching his back.  With the old energy system, LoneWolfJoe’s energy would go belly up in a couple seconds, and so would his activity and fun.  A long term energy resource would allow LoneWolfJoe to have a long period of active play without relying on others.

When energy runs out a player will have to replenish enough energy to sustain another period of activity.  Energy regenerates slowly on its own.  I don’t have any solid numbers to the period of activity or period of rest, but of all the videos I’ve seen from the gamescom demos, energy never seemed to be an issue.  I would guess that a player would have to be having a pretty continuous amount of sustained activity to hit bottom.

Now, here is the rub.  I said they didn’t add another energy replenishment skill to everybody’s bar, but they did add a mechanism for on-the-fly energy replacement in the form of potions, which are cheap to buy, drop from mobs, and refill a “significant portion” of the player’s energy.  Once used there is a recharge time to use another potion.  This  same mechanic is found, once again, in League of Legends, with the Clarity spell (3 minute recharge) to give the player just a little bit more active time in a lane (yes, I know they have mana potions too).

Many in the Guild Wars 2 community were outraged at the use of a direct resource potion in a Guild Wars game.  Most were worried that Aion Online’s pay-gold-for-everything design was creeping in to the Guild Wars game, and now it would cost gold (in the form of potions) to do anything.  Others were worried that PvP would become a potion spamfest.  Whatever the reason, it seemed potions carried a stigma that caused great prejudice before most people knew how they worked.  The most interesting response I saw came from a gamescom attendee that talked to a top ArenaNet developer directly:

“Later on I got the change to talk with Izzy about the reasons for and against potions which did ease my fears a bit. Izzy’s personal opinion is “I hate potions and want to bring them down with fire” but so far they haven’t found a better replacement for a long-term resource yet and until that happens they (including Izzy) will stick to them and try to convince people that energy potions will improve and not worsen gameplay.”

League of Legends has the Clarity spell, Kingdom of Loathing has food, and Guild Wars 2, at this moment, has potions to replenish the long term activity-metering resource in each game.  If you have a better idea or see a better way to replenish a long term resource from another game, ArenaNet is listening.

is a burning thing

30 thoughts on “Thoughts on Guild Wars 2 Energy”

  1. Lots of questions. My first question is: Why potions? Are they there to be a money sink or even worse an item shop item?

    I am afraid if Izzy hates potions or not is no solace and guarantee they will go away at all, I read people who said item shops make them wanna die and then they put them into their games nevertheless, on top of a sub. I am talking about Jack Emmert and STO.

    The simple existence of potions is enough to make them mandatory – at least in the minds of our fellow other players – for every group activity that is not on the rather casual level of events.

    This is how I make potions superfluous… hopefully!
    1.) They introduced “charged” abilities – why not let people “recharge” their energy the same way, easy to interrupt? With a recharge time on this skill. Call it the 11th skill/ability every player has.
    2.) Let defeated enemies drop health or energy tokens the player can absorb by just walking over them. Diablo 3 has something like this apparently.

    It will become potion quaffing on cooldown if energy is a “long term resource”. The real limiter at the moment seem to be the recharge times, which were 12 minutes for a lot of elite skills, which really made me and a lot of players wonder if this is going to stay.

    The “consumables” / “potions” craze got into GW1 with Eye of the North. They soon became the “Conset”, basically popping all consumables at once to make the game easier – at the expense of farming for the required materials, some kind of time and money sink. It was not really their best idea to add this kind of stuff at all.

    GW1 had 5,10,15 and 25 energy skills, and later on the really well done 1 energy and x % life sacrifice Necro skills.

    GW2 starts with 1038 energy for a skill, and you have some 8800+ hitpoints. Numbers taken from the Charr Necro demo. It seems energy cost is not a fixed amount of energy, but rather a percentage of your max energy.

    If there is an energy potion, the health potion is not far away. I think I “quaffed” enough potions in Diablo 1+2 for my entire life, don’t want that again.

    1. Can be pretty sure if energy potions drop from monsters in the gameworld, they will not be a cash shop item. ;) A minor gold sink, perhaps, but probably nothing very expensive since you can get/use them from the start of the game.

      Anet has already said they have no plans for health potions, and since everyone has a self-heal, why would they want one? Don’t see that happening.

  2. If “potions” are outraging people, they can do the exact same thing with something else but not call it a potion. Mystic energy reservoirs in town, companion cubes that can be tapped for their love, scrolls that allow one to enact an empowering ritual… A fig leaf calms a surprising number of people. Or maybe it is too late to take the cynical step now that players will see you are swapping the names on the consumables.

  3. 1) would be okay, but it does kind of take the wind out of the 10 “choosable” skills to have an 11th necessary skill.

    2) moves it away from choice and puts it back into system, which mere regen rate could accomplish.

    Be interesting to see how ANet handles this.

  4. At first I wasn’t to happy to see the shift in energy from small term resource to long term resource. Cause that’s the biggest shift really.

    It was interesting with the signets, skills and energy management skills to make a perfect build which could keep together even in longer fights (the goal was to be powerful and to have a stable mana pool).

    On the other hand, there had to be allot of skill-balancing done with this, and the energy numbers often changed because of this. I think also for PvP it’s not very funn when you are heavily under effects of energy denial… you are just totally disabled. On the other hand you can also say this is what makes it interesting.

    I can’t understand the fuzz about stupid potions while the shift in small to long term resource management is way bigger.

    I do admit that after reading this post, I see why they probably had to shift it to long term. GW2 is a different game, and it wouldn’t have worked in the old way I think.

    GW2 is for sure not taking an easy route. Moving from CORPG to MMORPG. Making a follow up game resulting in the fact that they first have to explain everything they want to change compared to their first game… cause some people like it more the old way. Then you will always have people who need to compare it towards other MMO’s like WoW. And they want to change so many “standard MMO conventions” for the better, which they will succeed in I think to some extend. But yeah there are still some kind of “kill so many things” events where people will say that they lied to us, without thinking that it’s really NOT THE SAME as pick up quest and return + get standard reward everyone gets while killstealing your 10 rat kills from other players around that zone.

    And on top of that, no henchman or hero’s to rely on.

    Yesterday evening, after playing GW2 for something like 120 minutes at GamesCom (during 3 days), I played Guild Wars 1 with my 3 hero’s and henchmen once more. I realized there are huge differences between both games in terms of mechanics with the weapons, the builds you load in a town, the lower dmg numbers you see on the screen and the difference in energy management. I was somewhat disappointed first when I thought about the fact that it would not be the same, but then again after thinking about it this night and this morning, I understand why and I’m ready to move on. Overall GW2 was the best MMO experience I ever had. Lets hope we can all move on and realize that differences are not always worse.

    I’m more then ever, a strong believer of GW2. Just don’t expect the same game. Expect a new game with GW1 lore, atmosphere, quality, and way more depth and you won’t be disappointed.

    PS: Wow I got a bit carried away I think, such a wall of text… sorry :)

    1. Couldn’t energy denial still be implemented by inflicting a condition that sets an hp/cooldown/whatever penalty for restoring one’s energy?

      1. They’ve said in interviews that they’re not interested in having energy management be a tactical/strategic part of the game. They implied it was being replaced by some of the other new combat mechanics, but weren’t more specific than that.

        That’s my understanding of the situations, anyway.

  5. I’m in the “don’t like potions” camp. Lots of action rpgs have you “quaffing” potions every few seconds and it just looks ridiculous.

    I’m at a bit of a loss, though, to see what the issue is here. Don’t almost all MMOs have some kind of power/mana pool that needs to be replenished? In MMOs I’ve played it’s usually done by a combination of any or all of:

    innate regenerative capacity
    regeneration from equipped items
    learned skills or spells (both maintained and recharge-when-cast)
    tapping power/mana from enemies/friends/pets
    converting health to power

    and so on. There are umpteen methods, of which downing potions is, of course, one.

    Am I missing something here about how this applies specifically to GW2?

    1. No I don’t think you are, but rather that no one has come up with a good mechanic that ArenaNet like to replenish the pool so they’ve settled on potions.

      Sitting/resting/sleeping interrupts the pace of a game. Shrines/inns/towns require their presence around the world where they may not be suited for (eg a pub in the dragonbrand). With the restrictions on the skill bar already, requiring another set skill (which probably would be the same one throughout the entire game) this is not a favourable solution. It also would probably act either like regeneration or like potions, neither of which require skills.

      Tricky situation to be in. DotA/HoN/LoL solve the problem through a combination of reusable items, potions and regen.

  6. An (hopefully) better idea: (not my thread!)

    This is a great thread in the Guild Wars 2 “Primordus Visions” forum, and it also makes a great point: ArenaNet’s current system is still binary. Despite my posts in that thread, I currently believe the original poster’s system combined with a long recharge (~4 minutes?) skill that you can use both in and out of combat would work best.

    Potions do have the advantage of diminishing downtime if you’re willing to pay for it and of being a decent gold sink if they aren’t dropped. If AN does want to keep that gold sink, then there’s always my ‘retroactively purchased unlimited potions’ idea: (which would still benefit from a rebranding I guess).

    There are many interesting possibilities, and I’m encouraged by Izzy’s response. Perhaps potions are like democracy; the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. Guild Wars 2 is all about trying new ideas on an epic scale, so surely this can’t stop them now!

  7. The golem reward is from a quest chain where you storm an Inquest lab that has been experimenting on “sentients” to rescue an Order of Whispers operative.

    Once you’ve completed the 3 events in the chain chain he runs back to the nearest outpost & is a karma vendor (“boon-giver”) that rewards you with an Asuran Hazmat Suit.

    No rats involved! ;)

  8. Anyway, if it’s only a mana potion and it works like they say (that they are cheap) then I’m good with it.

    On Aion I was poor from doing PvP because I always needed the best potions (flight time, health, mana, dispell) and use them almost on each cooldown to be competitive. Add to that power-shards, DP jelly’s, food buffs and scrolls which were also needed in Aion to be any good… then you had +12 buffs/potions on you with stuff you needed to buy and that was very expensive… it sucked hard. I had to PvE (which is bad in Aion) to be able to PvP a bit…

    Never, never, never I want that again.

  9. It seems (from all the demo video I watched) that the energy use seems well balanced. But this is in a “demo” where situations are scripted to be much easier than the “real game” will be.

    I did understand that in solo playing or in group playing, you can always choose to back off and build up both health and energy. What concerns me is how this will work out in the beta (or real game life).

  10. Hm… one nice solution would be to add a “campfire” similar to the one the new TERRA video uses. You know, the controversial one:

    With that long-term of a mana pool, I think a campfire-syle regeneration boost would be great for both groups and solo. You always have your position of relative safety you can fall back to for extra regeneration if you’re low. Make it give a small health regen. boost as well. Give it like a 15 minute cooldown (per group)

  11. a much better solution would simply be to scale down energy costs and energy total, and just make it regenerate faster. that way the energy pool can sustain itself with moderate skill usage, and have a big enough buffer that players can really push without depleting themselves too quickly.

    best of both worlds.

  12. I still think that the idea of a long-term energy resource is a bit outdated. It’s strange to see ANet talking about questioning everything, but then implementing a system similar to WoW’s, just as that game is realizing that the system isn’t fun and needs to be replaced.

    For those who don’t know, (and AFAIK) in Cataclysm most casters will be moving to a system similar to GW’s, where mana regenerates very quickly provided you moderate your use of big spells. At least that’s my understanding – I believe they’ve said that after years of using mana as a long-term resource to limit longevity during boss fights, they realized that having a hard cap on how long you can play for before being forced to stop and twiddle your thumbs, simply wasn’t fun. Other classes, like the hunter, stopped using mana entirely, in favor of a fixed 100 point pool of “focus” that regenerates very quickly.

    Reports from Gamescom indicated that the only real way get behind on energy in the GW2 demo is to spam dodge/roll. I like that aspect of it, but not so much the rest. If they’ve tried everything, though, and decided that this is the system that works for them, I think it’s fairly easy to make it interesting. Just something as simple as cribbing the potion system from HoN/DotA would do it for me – since there’s such an emphasis on evasion and avoiding damage, why not make the potions restore X energy over 6-8 seconds, but the effect ends if you’re hit during that time?

    That would still have all the benefits of the potion system, would be familiar to a lot of players, and would also really reward the kind of evasion and positioning that they’re trying to encourage. If that doesn’t feel right, there are a bunch of other great suggestions floating around – or just ways to give potions a twist, rather than implementing them in the most generic way possible.

    Once again, a very thought provoking article, Ravious. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to write something up about the uninspired looking gear itemization, or perhaps the boring +25 vitality or +5% crit chance Traits? :P

    1. Hopefully also energy takes care of bunny hopping problems in PvP.

      I tried my best to look at gear and traits. The traits I saw were uninspiring, but they might’ve been chosen for demo purposes. I thought we were going to get a pretty large pool of traits to eventually choose from. From the looks of it though, traits are going to take care of Guild Wars runes in large part.

      Itemization, I don’t know. I mean it looks conventional, and Guild Wars itemization wasn’t. But, what small percentage of Guild Wars item customizers were actually used? Did people really use +15% vs. hexed and what not? Hopefully they look at Turbine’s games though for itemization ideas.

      1. Traits for me were a real mixed bag. Warrior traits looked really bland. Necromancer traits, on the other hand, looked really interesting. They seemed to add a lot of fun conditional effects and things that would really switch up your play style, rather than just being 20% more damage with axes.

        Either way, it’s very easy to give ANet feedback on those, once we learn more. I’m not too worried about them, but I’d like to see less of the +stats ones.

        As for gear: I’m waiting on this one. More than anything I just joke about it, but it is pretty generic right now. Maybe their plan is to wait for higher levels to give the really fun effects? That’s certainly how most MMOs work.

        I think it’s another instance of just needing to push the idea a little more to make it unique and give it that GW flavor. Hell, the Ascalonian weapons were already quite cool, with their different effects depending on day/night. Integrate those sort of fun effects into armor as well, and add some effects that might be appealing to PVPers down the road, and I think they’ll have a fine system.

  13. I’m a little confused as to what the energy bar in GW2 is for? I mean I see people go through the entire fight with the shatterer spamming skills with no worry about running out of energy. Except, when they dodge roll. Dodge roll is the one skill that consumes lots of energy. So in a sense, the energy bar is just a limiter for dodging. Or that’s the way it seems to me.

    I’m also curious as to how fast does energy regen? If your energy is at zero, and you have no potions, how often can you use a skill? If frequently, then what is the energy bar for again? Guess I’ll just have to wait and see how it all works in practice.

    1. Hands-on reports from the con indicate that there are a few things that really eat through your energy – Self heals, big utility skills, and rolling. Your basic attack uses almost no energy at all – I think it uses less than you regen naturally in combat. Like the level 47 necro’s was 12 energy out of 5-6,000.

      A lot of the time in the videos where someone appears to just be spamming indefinitely, I think they’re mostly using their slot 1 skill, the one that’s sort of an auto-attack replacement. You should always be able to use that one no matter how low your energy is.

      Based on some quick estimates I made after doing some timings of a level 47 ranger video, that character seemed to regenerate about 1% of his energy per second. At least it seemed like over the course of kiting a mob for about 15 seconds he went from like 20% to 35-40% or so.

      Obviously this is a very rough estimate, but it seemed possible to avoid a mob for a few seconds to regen back enough energy to get back to fighting.

  14. Now that I can see Guild Wars 2 as a long resource game of active combat, I can see how I would handle potions.

    Mana on the spot potions that basically save you for stupid, or otherwise non-tactical gameplay are bad. The only reason I use Clarity sometimes in LoL is that some champions mana costs are so great that they strictly require them. This doesn’t seem to be the case with Guild Wars 2, so they potions shouldn’t work in a “chug 1 down, gain 2000 energy mechanic.”

    Instead, chugging a potion should increase the active regen of the energy meter by whatever percent is necessary to prevent unskilled or untactical gameplay. If you are down to 50 energy, but you need 500 to cast your big spell, you shouldn’t be given a 2000 energy potion because you weren’t smart in the usage of your spells.

    Instead, let the game give you 2000 energy over a period of 20 seconds. Now, if you wait long enough, or make smart usage of your smaller energy skills, you will have the precious 500 energy for your spell of choice.

    If you ran into a hairy situation that caused you to use too much mana, you should feel a penalty for it, even if that penalty is defeat. Especially now that dodging requires energy…You should not be able to refill half your mana bar all at once, of which you can use to both dodge and cast to stay alive. If it is given at a steady rate, you can use the improved regen to make your 1 or 2 dodges to stay out of trouble, and then used the excess energy to make your spells.

  15. I have no doubt that ArenaNet have considered a hundred different systems, and if Izzy said he doesn’t like potions, then I think it’s safe to say that energy is one mechanic we’ll see change a lot – like skill acquisition in the original.

    I might join the suggestion thread and discuss alternatives with fans :)

  16. For some reason or the other, I was literally waiting for a post on this topic from Ravious. I knew this was something that couldn’t be resisted for too long. ;) And as it is indeed an interesting topic, let me just present my two cents as well.

    In my opinion, balancing in the demo is not a very good foundation of a serious discussion. Yes, I never ran out of mana, even during four or five full-time fights against the Shatterer. Yes, dodging consumes by far the most energy if used extensively. Yes, energy regenerated quite fast. And yes, I didn’t even look at my energy bar because energy was simply irrelevant.

    But is this meaningful? The developers stated again and again that the demo’s balancing is all but final, and how should it? They say they’re still thinking about what skills they want to include in the game, so how should they balance those unknown skills even before they’re implemented? Not to mention that the demo was made for noobs rather than experienced gamers, so they didn’t probably want too much frustration with people running out of energy every two seconds.

    Furthermore, we have to take into account that most of the demo players were not very experienced and did especially not use dodging very often. I saw a lot of people (including me) who had rather large problems with the coordination of movement and abilities at the same time, and so they tended to stand in one place and spam their abilities as we do in most other MMOs. Had they used dodging more often, they would have maybe run into serious energy problems.

    What I want to say with that lengthy statement: Right now we cannot discuss the implementation, but only the philosophical dimension of long-term versus short-term.

    Same thing with potions, by the way. It all depends on the price, doesn’t it? If the ‘money sink’ is similar to that of the waypoint system as far as we’ve seen it yet (which means: near to zero), then I don’t care about buying 100.000 potions, putting them into my bank and drinking one every 3 minutes. Then it’s just like the arrow mechanic in WoW: noone cares about buying arrows because they’re just incredibly cheap.

    For this reason I also don’t understand the high waves of hate coming out of every community so far. Again: It’s the implementation that matters rather than the concept alone. Although I don’t understand why ArenaNet hasn’t gone the very simple way of replacing the potion slot on top of your energy bar with a default regeneration ability. That’s easy, and doesn’t produce the hate.

    We will have to re-iterate a lot over these two topics as soon as we see a more final version of the game. There definitely are some points which could make me and others worry a lot. But it’s simply too early.

    That is not to say that the philosophical discussion I see in large parts of the comments above is not very interesting…


  17. From your description it seems like it’s a difference between say the way WAR’s characters regen their resource (AP) and the way most WoW classes regen mana (or alternatively how WoW rogues regen energy vs. mana classes). I.e. something that regens very quickly but you will still run out of it by spamming skills, vs. something that regens much more slowly overall but you can spam skills for a longer amount of time while it lasts. This was supposed to be the difference between say a Mage and a Rogue in wow pve – mage can do more damage quicker, rogue can do more damage over the course of a long raid boss fight. Of course in practice that could never be balanced properly, so they ended up giving mages (and other mana based classes) effectively endless mana through pots.

    I personally prefer the style of play where the energy is quickly depleted and then quickly replenished – it keeps the game fast paced. You don’t gain anything from waiting to drink water in WoW while leveling or having to pot while raiding.

    The only sense in which slow regen of energy/mana (whatever you call it) makes sense is if it is genuinely limited and part of the difficulty of the game is using it effectively to beat an encounter – this is what DDO seemed to be going for although I never played it enough to make sure. Most of the D&D-ish bioware SP games also work like that where the total amount of spells you can use per fight is limited.

  18. The problems with potions, imo, is primarily that there is no “combat cost” of using them, they just cost money and inventory space. There is no downside to clicking that icon on recharge, which is boring. I’d rather see a dedicated energy skill (in the potion slot, so would not take up a normal skill slot) that made energy available at a cost. Like a “oh shit, need energy now!” kinda thing. The cost could be health loss, exhaustion, negative energy regen for a time or something. Just something that would give you the option to make more energy available in a tight spot, but nothing that you would spam on recharge “just in case”.

  19. Why have a long term energy thing to begin with?

    If it doesn’t affect you in an average game sitting, then it was pointless.

    If it’s for stopping someone from playing for eight hours at a stretch, that can be done at an account level or such, not gameplay mechanics level.

    Not understanding the point of it yet. Indeed, maybe it has no point.

  20. You really should be crediting DoTA instead of LoL as LoL is not the original, it is just a ‘more sparkly’ ripped version for the kiddily winks…


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