As part of the pre-PAX week, ArenaNet has posted an article on their blog about Attributes and Iteration. It’s a great read for anybody interested in the nuts, bolts, and granular advancement of their future Guild Wars 2 characters. I definitely appreciate the newly updated attribute system because truth be told, I really did not care for the one I saw last year. The simpler the better, I say, but I do agree that there has to be enough attributes to cause a choice. This choice is compounded by itemization, where Izzy writes:
With our current implementation of the item system, items raise single attributes higher than when they raise a pair. However, the total number of points will be higher for a two-attribute item than for an item affecting a single attribute. For example, a Rare Ruby Ring gives +40 power; an equal level Gold Topaz Ring gives +33 power and +25 vitality; and a Pearl Ring gives +25 power, +25 vitality, and +25 toughness. This item system enhances another choice: do you max out one attribute or raise the total effectiveness of all your attributes? The character who deals the highest raw damage is someone who has maximized the offensive attributes, but the character who diversifies becomes a jack-of-all-trades while mastering none.
Except that rarity could already affecting the choice. I am making a decent assumption here that we have a gleaming Rare Ruby Ring, a notable Gold Topaz Ring, and a Pearl Ring likely caked with oyster byproduct gnarling the hands of wearers and passersby. I am not going to go so far as to say that this itemization example is definitive for the whole Guild Wars 2 system, but it is interesting to examine.
It is interesting because it relates to how the developers are conditioning the players. Rare items are good and special, and so things related to rares must also be thus. Uncommon items, barely above vendor trash and then so only to be deconstructed for crafters, are not special. In many MMOs, the color of the item’s name carries as much if not more weight than the statistics it provides. Now most devs make sure that the higher the rarity, the “better” the stats, but what about in the diversified itemization system that Izzy paints for us.
Going back to his example, we have one item that gives 40:1 points per attribute, another that gives 58:2 points per attribute, and the third that gives 75:3 points per attributes. The choice of becoming super specialized versus jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none is easily apparent. Yet, when the choice is tainted by item color or rarity, I can’t help wonder how much affect this will have on players.
I actually just experienced this dilemma in Rift. I looted my first purple item, and it had a single stat boost. I had never seen a +18 stat boost before, and my current trousers had three stats in the +8-12 range. They were green. So did I want about +30 attribute points spread across three stats, or did I want the monster increase on a single stat? I kept the green because not only would the trousers give way to higher level wear in a short amount of game time, but for leveling purposes I wanted to be balanced. Still, I was a little miffed that I was not going to be donning my first random purple because I have been long conditioned to want to have the shortest-wavelength colors equipped, and it was not the best choice for me.
At end game, the color spread of a character’s armory becomes a badge of honor. Rare things are harder to get so a character decked out in colors of a peacock strut about with their nose sniffing slightly cleaner air. Yet, so far ArenaNet has seemed to be pushing for role variation. They want an elementalist ready to switch from air to water as the need for more support arises, and they want warriors to be ready to switch to a rifle as they jump out of a mace-n-board melee-control role to a ranged damage role. Yet, I worry that if rarity of items is already conditioning players to play for extremes, all the iteration will vanish into a trinity of a different color.
The “easy” thing to do is to have items at each rarity level with each of the various point spreads, and ArenaNet might already be a hundred-fold iterations past my issue. Perhaps we will learn a little more about itemization and rarity with the crafting article set to be released tomorrow. Regardless, I definitely want to learn more about ArenaNet’s take on itemization and progression, a core element to so many MMOs and their ancestors.
what’s in my pocket?