We recently had the chance to ask Guild Wars 2 Game Designer Jonathan “Chap” Sharp a few questions around PvP and balancing, here’s what he had to say.

Many of those who played a Ranger in previous BWE’s felt like their pets didn’t provide enough damage or had a slow reaction/target time, both ultimately resulting in a lowered DPS. First, have any significant changes been made to pets since BWE2 to balance DPS? Secondly, are there any future changes expected, and if so, what do they include?

Chap: Since the last BWE we’ve improved Pet AI, and we’ve also rebalanced a lot of the pets.  Their damage should be higher than before, due to the AI changes, and a lot of them had slight tweaks to their defensive stats as well! This means we had to rebalance some ranger skills to account for the fact that their pets work now. Also, there were a number of bugs that had ranger pets stop attacking. We think we have addressed them all now.

 

Can you give the philosophy behind 8v8 being more individual/pickup group oriented versus the more pre-made party oriented structure of 5v5? (ie: 5v5 allows queuing for group joins instead of individuals) Which do you think will be more popular in the end, and what are your plans for its expansion in the future?

Chap: 8 on 8 is our PvP format that will allow new players to jump in and just have fun.  It’s just like playing a public game in a shooter or on a random RPG server.  We feel that by letting new players play in an 8 on 8 format, they can get to know the game at their own pace.  If PvP was just limited to 5 on 5, new players would be taking away 20% of their team’s power if they are standing still or are just trying to get a feel for a profession.  If it’s an 8 on 8, players can learn at their own pace, while having the majority of their team still playing.

Our 5 on 5 format is more focused on organized play, and we want 5 on 5 to be our standard team size for organized competitive play.  6 on 6 creates even splits, and we feel that odd team numbers create more interesting splits.  PvP in the original Guild Wars was 8 on 8, and it was really hard to get that many people together at a single time.  So 8 on 8 is out, 7 on 7 is pretty much just as hard to organize as 8’s….and 6 on 6 is even numbers.  4 on 4 is just too small for a full game, and it also has the problem of being even teams…which means a lot of 2 on 2 matches…and at 4on4, you don’t have as much strategy). In the end, 5 on 5 just felt like it was the perfect spot for a team. 

Also, when you look at other competitive games, a lot of them already ask players to organize themselves in teams of 5, so we felt that 5 on 5 in our game would allow those established teams to easily transfer over to Guild Wars 2’s competitive scene.

 

In GW1 players were able to acquire emotes tied to the Hero and Zaishen titles to display /rank to other players. Will we see any emote-like thing of this sort in GW2?

Chap: This weekend we’ll be showing something new in this regard! As you rank up in PvP, you will be able to unlock different levels of Finishing Moves, based on your PvP rank. Every 10 ranks you will unlock a new type of Finishing Move and a new rank name. Once you have achieved a new rank, you’ll be able to use consumables that change your finishers!  This weekend we’ll be showing:

 - Ranks 1-9: Rabbit

- Ranks 10-19: Deer

- Ranks 20-29: Dolyak

- Cow – This is something for fun! J You can buy these in the Gem Store and finish people with a cow.  No, I’m not joking.

The rank-based finishing moves can be acquired through reward chests (by playing in tournaments or by ranking up), so have fun with them!

 

Since the randomness of PvP rewards can sometimes result in duplicate or unwanted gear, is there any plan to allow players to exchange, salvage, or create new items from their winnings?

Chap: Yep!  In the same way that we use the Mystic forge in PvE, we’ll be using a very similar system in PvP.  This means you can break down unwanted gear and turn it into stuff that you do want. This is accomplished by using a PvP Salvage Kit, which can be purchased at any Glory Vendor. Using them on an item breaks that item down into core components that can be used in the Mystic Forge to create new items. The system for these new components and items is fairly straightforward, so we think that will make is easy for players to figure it out and get what they want while still interacting with the chest system.

 

Unlike many MMOs where debuffs may sometimes last tens of seconds, how do you feel players familiar with PvP in other MMOs will respond to countering or dealing with conditions that often last 2-5 seconds?

Chap: The duration of a lot of our conditions changes with the class and skill. Some classes do cause very long conditions, while others like to stack multiple conditions that last for a shorter amount of time.  Our game plays at a quick speed, so we think that players will become acclimated to the speed of the game as well as the durations of conditions.  Condition duration averages are something that could change in the future too, if that’s something we think would help the game.

Also, we have trait lines for each class that increase the boon and condition durations for their classes.  We do this so that players can decide how to build their characters.  For example, if you want really long condition durations you have to trait into that.  This way you have to make a conscious decision to extend your condition durations, and must give up another strength.

 

What can you tell us about the new guild conquest map? How does game design/scoring differ from previous conquest maps? Will other maps, like Khylo, allow for guild conquest?

Chap: The new map, Legacy of the Foefire, will bring back memories for Guild Wars players!  Both teams have a base filled with NPCs and a key NPC they must protect.  If this NPC (currently called the “Lord”) dies, then the opposing team earns 100 points.  The NPC does not respawn, so this is a score can only be gained once. This can instantly win many close games, or push a team out to a very strong early lead, so protecting this NPC while applying pressure to your enemy’s base is crucial. 

 

Are there any specific tips or strategies you can give to those eager to give the new map a try?

Chap: I thought you’d never ask. ;)  Scouting and working with your team is crucial on this map.  You will need to maintain control over the capture points while applying pressure to your enemy’s Lord and keeping your own Lord safe.  Keep a close eye on the score as well – if your enemy is at 350 and they start to knock on your base doors, you better be sure you have someone back in your base ready to defend it. 

There are also two entrances into both bases.  You can coordinate with your team and try to attack both gates at once!  You can trick your enemy into thinking you’re going in one gate, and instead, send a second force in through the opposite gate.

 Make sure you balance your Lord pressure/defense with controlling the capture points!  Don’t become so single-minded on the Lords that you lose the game through lack of controlling the capture points!

 

Are there any plans to modify or tweak the rate in which players wanting to level through WvW acquire money, gain materials and earn skill points to craft gear and advance their characters? How will this system feel to players when it is polished?

Chap: According to our WvW expert Mike Ferguson, we are still adjusting reward rates in WvW, particularly for lower level play. We feel that right now lower level players (specifically under level 10) can experience more difficulty advancing in WvW than in PvE and that is something we will be investigating further and making adjustments as necessary.

Skill points will work the same as PVE.  WvW has skill points that can be obtained in each map, and players will continue to gain extra skill points once they reach level 80 like other PVE players.

Thanks for all the questions; we hope to see you in game!