[GW2] Customizing Engineer Kits

In the last Reddit AMA, there was a comment that they wanted Engineer kits to “inherit some of the benefits that you get from collecting and customizing weapons”, and another comment that having kits be affected by the sigils on your weapons was one possible way to do that.

I’m not sure how it would work, but I’d really like to see Engineers customize their kits by using a profession-specific crafting skill. Flavor-wise, it’d be nice if Engineers did some crafting of their inventions.


Unnecessary Gold Sinks

Gold sinks are necessary for a functioning in-game economy, but some gold sinks turn out to not be performing an essential function.

Take, for example, identification kits in Guild Wars 1. They cost 100 gold for 25 uses, so 4 gold per use. When used, they increase the sell value of the identified item, by an average of considerable more than 4 gold. (You can even identify white items with no magical properties — the only effect is to increase the sell value.) The vast majority of identified items are sold. If identification kits were removed from the game, and the sell value of all items that could be identified reduced by 4 gold, the only effect on the economy would be an additional 4 gold in the game for every identified item that is never sold. A negligible effect, while removing a significant annoyance.

In most MMORPGs, playing normally is a profitable activity, in terms of gold. Gold sinks are necessary to add unprofitable activities, to keep inflation in check. However, sinks like the identification kit just make a profitable activity slightly less profitable — there are numerous other methods to do that, so no need to choose an annoying one.

Which brings us to gathering tools in Guild Wars 2. Like Hunter, I think they are annoying; however, I think they fall into the same category as identification kits, and could be replaced by something less annoying. Though exactly what should replace them is harder to know in this case.

I’m not going to discuss exactly what should be done in concrete terms to exactly balance the economy if gathering tools are removed; rather, I want to discuss the different methods the designers can take to balance it. That is, when working at an abstract level the goal is just to make sure it can be balanced; the work of actually doing the balancing would come later.

Removing gathering tools makes gathering slightly more profitable, so the obvious first thing to look at is reducing that directly. There are numerous methods — reduce the frequency of gathering nodes, reduce the amount extracted from each, or reduce the value of the things extracted (by increasing the amount needed to craft things, for example). With the gathering tools this was exchanging time and gold for crafting materials; now it would just be time, so the amount needed would increase. (The ability to have a gold cost for gathering is what we’re giving up — I think we can do without it.)

If we don’t want to increase the time required to gather, we’ll have to change something in another part of the game to balance. This will increase the profitability of gathering compared to some other portion of the game — I think that will be fine. We don’t want gathering to be the optimal form of farming, but other than that I’m not sure what the restriction here would be… And if we reduce the profitability of crafting, that’s pretty tightly related to gathering anyway.

The easy way to adjust crafting would be to simply increase the amount of items bought from the crafting vendor needed in recipes, or their cost. Quite simple.

If we want to adjust other parts of the game, pretty much any source of gold could be reduced very slightly (mob drops, for example), or any gold sink increased slightly (travel to waypoints, for example). Adjusting crafting or gathering seems like the best bet to me, unless there’s a separate reason to change another part of the game.

I think the same logic applies to salvage kits.

Readers, do you agree? Is there something I’m missing? Is there anything else this would apply to?

[GW2] Human Non-Elite Skill Ideas

So I noted before I find the human non-elite skills boring. After thinking about it more, here’s my ideas for more interesting, flavorful versions:

Prayer to Dwayna
Heals you. If used while reviving an ally, also heals them. Usable while downed.

Prayer to Lyssa
Gain distortion. If used while reviving an ally, they also gain distortion. Usable while downed.

Light of Kormir
Creates a Light Field (for doing cross-profession combos).

Do these seem better to you? I notice they make humans a more teamwork-oriented race; not sure if that’s good or bad.

What Fighting Games Could Learn from Starcraft

In Warcraft II, you select one of two sides at the start, and see one of two incompatible stories, where your side wins. Only when the next product came out did you see what the canonical story was.

Starcraft instead had a single story told throughout the game.

Every fighting game I’ve played uses the Warcraft II model; I’d like to see one use the Starcraft method.

Shoulder Armor

Why is there a slot for shoulder armor in Guild Wars 2, or any other game? From a realism standpoint, it strikes me as silly.

Is it worthwhile aesthetically? Readers, have any of you had a character that used shoulder and chest armor from different sets that looked good together?

[GW2] Server Selection, part 2

So in Guild Wars 2, selecting a home server is the first thing you do. Why? The decision is needed for World vs. World, but why not allow players to select a server and play as a guest until they find a server they like? It’d be nice (but more complicated) if they allowed you to play in World vs. World before making a permanent selection, so you could look for a group you work well with in that mode.

[GW2] Server Selection

Choosing a home server is your first choice in Guild Wars 2, and it can’t be changed easily. Currently the only way to pick meaningfully is to coordinate with other people outside the game — I’d like to see more community info moved into the game.

For example, some ability to get a message that a server is the unofficial RP server, or Oceanic server, or some such, into the game. Possibly through messages on the official boards, with up-votes required to get it in-game? Or possibly some ability to set up a public guild everyone on the server can join, with a description of it given on the server selection screen.

It’d also be nice to have a friends list set up before playing (possibly including imports from Facebook and other services), so it could display what servers your friends have chosen.

Any other ideas for how to do this? Or ideas for a solid implementation?

[GW2] Human Non-Elite Racial Skills Are Boring

Prayer to Dwayna is the simplest self-heal in Guild Wars 2, doing nothing beyond healing you. As a racial skill, it’d be nice if it had more flavor and excitement. Here are a few ways I’ve thought of to improve it:

  1. Make it usable while downed. (This seems very appropriate for prayers.)
  2. Let it heal a downed player in addition to you, if you use it while reviving them.
  3. Have it heal downed players around you.

Prayer to Kormir (which removes three conditions) and Prayer to Lyssa (which gives you a random boon and an enemy a random condition) also could use a little more spice. I like the idea of all of them becoming usable while downed, but I think the effects of Prayer to Kormir and Prayer to Lyssa would need to change to make that work well. (Can you have conditions or boons while downed? I’m not sure.)

Readers, do you agree this is a problem? Have any other ideas for fixing it?

New Plans

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with this blog; whether I should put more effort into it, or if I’d be better off just posting in the official Guild War 2 suggestion forum.

Thanks to the Newbie Blogger Initiative, I’ve decided to continue blogging. The plan is to do at least one post a week. I’m narrowing my focus to three things — discussing areas of a game I think could be improved; suggesting specific improvements for those areas; and pointing out parts of a game that I like, and could be useful in other games. I’m hoping that by pointing out a potential problem area before I have a solution for it I can get more discussing going, and post more frequently.

I’ll be covering whatever games strike my fancy, but it’ll be mostly Guild Wars 2 for the near future. Not only am I interested in the game, I figure suggestions are more likely to affect the game while it’s in the beta stage.

Racial Skill Balance

So it seems racial skills may be less powerful than profession skills — for example, TotalBiscuit reports the developers told him that in this video. That seems clearly better than racial skills being overpowered, but clearly worse than racial skills being balanced.

I’m hoping this is something of a misunderstanding, and the situation is more like what was explained in this interview from over two years ago — racial skills are underpowered compared to a skill given by a profession that is strong in that area, but balanced for professions that are normally weak in that area.

What I’d really like to see, though, is to split racial skills for different professions, so they are always a balanced option. The easiest way, if it works, would be to just alter the recharge. So for example Prayer to Kormir could have a noticeably shorter recharge for a Guardian than for a Thief, since the Guardian’s existing options for removing conditions are more numerous and powerful.