[GW2] Demo Changes (Turn and Face the Strain)

If ArenaNet is teaching us anything it’s that the game we see today might not live until launch. Some interviews here are now part of a mirror-world Guild Wars 2 that won’t exist in this timeline. Yet this is the double-edged sword ArenaNet knows it is welding, and as they swing that sword again, I believe everybody on all sides are learning just a little bit more. Jon Peters spends some time on the ArenaNet Blog discussing what players will be seeing in the upcoming demo builds for Guild Wars 2 for the lucky players at gamescom and PAX. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything has he starts out by saying energy is gone.

Energy has been worn away by naysayers, testers, and other feedback. All that remains is dodge energy; now with it’s own mouse-clickable dodge button. The only thing we really know is that dodging does not use long-term energy any more. So dodge-monkey thieves might not be on par with every other profession in terms of roll amount. Whatever energy potions refill is unknown because ArenaNet is not ready to shed light on it at the moment. I wonder about this change. Are they making things more complex by having players now have to monitor more energy gauges? Time will eventually tell, and I am sure if feedback shows it’s not as great, the iteration grinder will rear it’s head again.

Another big change is that the 5-weapon skills are now learned by using that weapon. Eric Flannum says that, for example, the second weapon skill is learned after killing ten foes. Malchior at Talk Tyria chalks this change up to the addition of a wasteful mechanic or grind. I disagree. If anything ArenaNet turned the learning-skills mechanic away from arbitrarily doing things, which might involve using weapons, in order to character level in to something that directly relates to using the weapon. Grind is not the issue so much as information flow. I am pretty sure that ArenaNet will be re-touching the numbers quite often to balance that flow for all players.

I remember one thing I disliked in playing the demo was going from level 2 to 3 so I could just get that new weapon skill. It almost felt like that pressure took away from some of the early game. If I can get that weapon skill mid-level 2 now by just playing and not worrying about character level of skill trainer location, I think that would be a great change. The concern I have is finding new weapons, especially for a weapon-heavy profession like the warrior. If at level 10 I finally find my first greatsword, will it be fun or tedious to have to level up the weapon? I am hoping that it will be more fun than simply clicking through buy skills on a weapon I never use.

Oh, hey PvP. Here’s two sentences.

There’s a bunch of other stuff that is more demo oriented such as playable sylvari and the charr personal story that I feel will be better described and seen through demo player’s eyes and digital devices. Peters also hints at a new giant events in higher levels. I still watch The Shatterer video from last year from time to time, and I am sure that the video will easily be topped.

Have fun all you convention attendees, and get us stay-at-home chums some great footage and feedback.

tracing time

27 thoughts on “[GW2] Demo Changes (Turn and Face the Strain)”

  1. What scares me about some of these changes is, after more than 5 years in the making, they’re still changing CORE gameplay mechanics.

    The more I read the dev blogs, the more I think that we’re not really getting close to a launch. They make it sound like there’s still a bunch of incomplete stuff.

    although, when you look at it, I don’t think NCsoft has unlimited budget for this, so there might be some pressure being pushed on them soon enough.

    Launch, and then make gameplay/balancing tweaks.

    Or do it the minecraft way, Sell your game in Alpha, to fund your games dev team :)

    1. Mechanics changes are not as big of a deal as content changes. In fact, it’s possible that the amount of content left to create is actually giving the mechanics folks more time to iterate. Either way, I tend to doubt mechanics changes would be things holding launch, right now. During advanced beta, if mechanics took wild swings, maybe then I would worry.

      I was told many times that Izzy was a master of the spreadsheet, and changes in one thing…like faster initiative for a thief were easily balanced (reduced damage, etc.).

        1. Well apparently alpha is going on. They just kind of slid that one in there. So that’s pretty good news. I would guess that around the GW1 anniversary is a pretty safe bet for GW2.

  2. Just to be clear, I had posted my article before Eric came with the clarifications.

    I’m pleased with the lower number, but I wonder why it needs to exist anyway if its so low?

    1. Different way to let information flow. Like I said above, they separated the way for players to learn and understand weapon skills from the arbitrary character level. Now it is directly tied to the weapon and how much you use that weapon.

      I mean you are pretty pro at MMOs, and can likely digest 5 new weapon skills within seconds… you are very far from the norm. Just keep that in mind. ;)

      1. I agree. The mechanics in this game are so foreign to a lot of us. Getting used to moving around while fighting is going to be tough enough without having to figure out all five skills at once. The feedback from the people who participated in the dungeons (like Rubi) was that it took a big learning curve.

    2. My thinking is this.

      If they had it set up where you learned your second weapon skill at level 2, then couldn’t you learn, for example, your second axe skill at level two when you spent all of level one using a sword? Attaching the learning of skills to the weapon and not the level makes you have to use the weapon to learn it.

      1. I was thinking how in WoW when you had a great weapon drop that you’d never used, you would have to go out and grind mobs to level up that weapon types skill. You could be level 40 and never used a 2H hammer, so your skill was level 1 and the weapon was useless to you until you caught that weaponskill up. It was a useless gameplay element that has since been dropped, so not sure what Arenanet’s thinking here. Hopefully further explanation will make this concern void.

        1. It’s more about “information flow” than numbers and power. As far as I understand, if you are level 40 and have never used a 2h greatsword in GW2, your #1 skill will be as powerful as someone that has used a 2h greatsword for 30 levels.

          It’s just that immediately you won’t have skills #2-5 available and will have to “learn” those new skills by using the greatsword.

          1. Well I like your reasoning that this is a better system then relying on dinging levels to unlock skills. Although like Mr Crackers said, your level needs to be taken into account here, because it still represents game stoppage in order to skill-up. By level 40 I don’t need a tutorial anymore, which is what this seems to represent.

            1. I really like “improve-on-use” skill systems, so that’s a plus. On the other hand I really like “level-and-go-see-your-trainer” systems, so that’s a minus. Maybe it’ll be a mix of both. That’d be perfect.

              Is there a reason why you’d want to use different weapons? Other than the obvious “I just found a sword that’s better than my axe”? Generally I stick to one weapon type for the life of my character, no matter how many weapons that class is capable of using. I find swapping between weapons irritating and once I get a look I like to stick with it.

              Do different weapons work better or worse against different opponents? Even in MMOs where that’s the case (and I haven’t seen many of them) I rarely bother to pay attention unless something is literally invulnerable to the weapon type I’m using. If it takes 20 slashes to kill something as opposed to 18 clubbings, I’m quite happy to give it the extra two swings.

            2. Different weapons allow you to act/react differently. So in a way, yes, different weapons do work better or worse against different opponents.

              For instance when I played the GoA dungeon, we all had to switch to AOE weapons to deal with the swarm critters. When facing the easier ghosts in the story mode part of the dungeon we could choose our favorite weapon instead.

    3. Where are these clarifications by Eric???? I’d love to be talked down off the ledge too. Because, quite honestly, that blog post by Jon Peters was one of the worst examples of communication I’ve seen in quite awhile…

      “Hi folks… just want to keep you in the loop… we’re scrapping everything and as far as what we’re replacing it with… well, we can’t talk about that yet…”

      A little clarity would be great thing right now…

  3. The way I read the energy changes was that there’s no more potions and skills don’t cost energy any more.

    The energy bar is still there but the only thing that it affects is the amount of dodging a player does.

    He did say that they’d add something that was a “new long-term replacement for the other benefits that energy potions”, whatever that may be is anyone’s guess. A defensive cooldown ability that boosts energy gain by 100% for a short duration to allow more dodging is my guess.

    I think these changes are comparably small, the energy/dodging is now divorced from the rest of the mechanics, so iteration there isn’t such a game changer. Skill acquisition does seem better for new MMO players especially, but it’s only half the story, where do elites, utility/heal skills, traits come from, are the profession challenges still in place. If these changes were made in the live game, most people would think ‘oh nice’ and get back to playing. I really don’t mind them trying different things like these, if it was a much bigger system then I’d be worried by the indecisiveness.

    1. From the GW2 article: “Non-weapon skills are learned in a different way. The second half of the bar will be unlocked using a collection mechanic similar to Guild Wars.”

  4. You know people keep saying there will be a new energy bar (or mana) but thats not what they said at all.

    “We have a new long-term replacement for the other benefits that energy potions provided”

    there talking about new macanics for the energy POTIONS not a new bar. energy potions will have to work defiantly to fit with it being for just dodging, probably a faster regan or something

  5. Coffee4cr,
    Game is in development for 4 years not 5.Also changing how you learn spells is something very small.And spells not consuming energy the same,they were not consuming that much either before.

  6. I’m personally glad to see that ANet has a development methodology that supports such quick and nimble iterations. This way we can have a very effective and efficient Alpha and Beta to incorporate tweaks they feel are needed, which hopefully leads to an earlier and more polished release. Based on the feedback from players at previous engagements, I doubt the problems they are addressing are true showstoppers at this point.

    On the skill leveling topic – I think anet is just looking for a more immersive way to learn the game, and I doubt we’ll feel we have to grind to get to an effective state. In fact this may make rolling alts pretty fast, considering you won’t have to wait until you find a certain skill trainer or reach a certain level before getting all 5 skills on your weapon of choice.

  7. Very interesting changes. Removing energy means less runes and customization or more room for more meaningful customization. I count that as a plus. Weapon use = learned makes sense within reason, also a plus.

    I’m trying hard to maintain perspective on the game itself. It has been 4.5 years in development (announced in March, 2007 with GWEN) which is more than double the dev time for GW 1. We’re probably getting more than 2.5 times the stuff we got in GW1 so that will be a plus. I can’t help but feel frustrated and irked that the game is being shown in an advanced state where I can’t get to it with no idea of when I might be able to actually play it.

    When is Alienware going to send that Hummer on tour to big US cities like Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Columbus, or wherever? That might soothe the jonesing.

    1. Um… ArenaNet was founded in 2000. I think we can safely assume that GW was in design since then and it was published in 2005, so 5 years later. So GW2 hasn’t been in development longer than GW was (yet). I personally have been talking of a April 28 2012 release date (hey, it’s a good birthday for a game… Nevermind that it’s my birthday too) for a good year. Now I’m thinking it might go a bit later than that, depending on how beta goes.

      Source: http://wiki.guildwars.com/wiki/ArenaNet

      1. Respectfully disagree. ^ ArenaNet (2003-04-22). “”NCsoft unveils ArenaNet’s highly-anticipated competitive role playing game, Guild Wars””. NCSoft. Archived from the original on 2006-12-10. Retrieved 2006-12-12. From wiki here:


        Announced game April 22, 2003, released April, 2005 = 2 year development. Using apples-to-apples comparison between announcement and release date, GW2 has been over 2x as long in development as GW1.

        Granted, any amount of work could have been going on in either game prior to the announcement date, but to me this seems a wash. Consider: GW1 was a cold start, developed from scratch with all of the hiring, expansion and chaos that entails. The infrastructure was already in place for GW2 so none of that needed to be done again. GW1 had to do a lot of world-building and, while GW2 has substantially transformed the world, it was already in existence and had a strong base to draw from in the creative process. GW2 had six years of experience with guilds, teams, PvP and PvE to draw from, which I count as a negative because it is a huge mass to sort through, but GW1 had to develop the core tech to make those things happen in their world to begin with.

        I just have a growing feeling that GW2 is being played all the time at Anet, but not being pushed out the door to get to the players. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve seen a pretty big drop in active players in GW1 once they started hearing about GW2 and got their HOM squared away. Many of my friends have said “What’s the point?” and I say “Winds of Change…” but that’s not exactly being released quickly either. It’s been over a month since the “first third” was released, so one has to assume they’re releasing every other month or even one per quarter, which means we’re not going to get all of WOC until November at the earliest, possibly not until Spring 2012. I’m all for using resources to complete GW2, but are they really going to do that before WOC ends, the third GW book comes out (March, 2012) and they have beta tests? No. We’re looking at summer or fall 2012, which means at least a 5-5.5 year development cycle, which means they’re going to lose a lot of the player base. I think that’s not a terribly good choice.

        1. I’m pretty sure thay said somewhere that all parts of “Wind of Change” will be realesed in this year. Not to mention they have on their minds another of this addons in NF (with more Palawa Joko story). If they really do – it have to happen before GW2 beta, because… really – no player base :P.
          But hey – I can be wrong ;)

  8. Gaining weapon skills with use is all about Dynamic Events. Say you liberate a human fort from centaurs at level 12. Now that the fort is in human hands, a group of vendors set up shop. You have some karma saved up so you start browsing their wares and find a sweet hammer you’d like to try out. You’ve been sword-and-boarding it since the tutorial, so you’re itching to try some smash-and-smash. While shopping, a “New Event Nearby” msg pops. A group of carpenters announce that they’re departing the fort to try and repair the bridge the centaurs threw down when they attacked the fort, and they’ll need an armed escort. Prior to this change, if you had no hammer skills you’d have to find the nearest trainer before being able to use the hammer at all. So in this case you’d probably have to choose: event now and hammer later, or hammer now and some other event. With the new system, you grab the hammer and look for stuff to smash.

  9. The Jon Peters blog entry is a classic example of PISS POOR communications.

    I site as evidence for this fact the sheer number of “WTF?” posted comments here and in other blogs and forums around the interwebs.

    Even where folks are not “upset” they are still questioning exactly what we were supposedly “informed” of in that blog entry.

    Personally, I’m on “fume” and will likely remain so until further, CLEARER communication from ANet. Don’t tell me you’re scrapping core mechanics and then utterly FAIL to provide even a clue about what they are being replaced with. Grotesquely inappropriate!

    1. Well, since it was a blog post about the demo and not how they changed things, I think he was just keying people in to what they would see changed… then in usual ArenaNet fashion, they would explore the changes themselves.

      I wouldn’t get too upset about things that may or may not change before release candidate is in sight. ;)

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