Guild Wars 2 Interview Part 2: Competitive & Balance

Yesterday we published the first part of our interview with ArenaNet developers Devon Carver and Matt Wuerffel at this year’s gamescom. This first part covered questions about both the Living World aspect of the game, as well as the game in general. Today, we’re publishing the second part, in which we take a look at some of the competitive and balance-related questions that have been proposed by the Guild Wars 2 community. In this interview, we discuss the recently unveiled Siege Disabler, underwater content, plans for World versus World and last but not least, the new mode for structured PvP.

Interview Transcript

Siege Disabler

GuildMag: “We heard that in the Feature Patch, there would be some kind of grenade that would disable any and all siege weapons when thrown. How far is the reach of this new item, and will it do friendly fire as well?”

Devon Carver: “It will definitely not be friendly fire. I believe the range is 1200 units, so it’s a decent range. It’s not… it’s certainly not, say, across a whole map, but it’s something that… it will be strategic use, certainly to run out into a field and use it, you’d be putting yourself at risk but it may be worth the pay-off. I personally have thought of doing that instead of running out and dying, to try and do damage to a catapult that’s trying to take down a wall, so I’m excited about it, but we’ll also be showing more of that in the demo so you can see a little bit more of it.”

Underwater combat

GuildMag: “Will we be seeing underwater combat making a comeback to PvP, or in general to World versus World and PvE?”

Devon Carver: “Not really. The biggest issue is that underwater combat is something that requires a lot of skill, and the system… our system just requires a lot… you need to be very, very cognizant(?) of everything that’s going on with underwater combat. We felt like for PvP it just wasn’t…, for the majority of players it was just too confusing so that’s the reason that we pulled it out of PvP. For World v. World, it’s a little bit of a different story; that’s more of a question of, you know, if we were to say do additional maps or make any other changes to the maps that we have in place, I wouldn’t say that we would categorically say “no there won’t be underwater”, there’d be very much a case of “is this a map that it feels like underwater makes sense, is it a place where there’s a good reason to have water there?” So it’s definitely not, you know, completely off the table for World versus World, but we don’t right now have plans to say like “add a giant lake back”, or “turn everything into an ocean” or anything crazy like that.”

GuildMag: “And are we going to see more underwater combat come to PvE?”

Devon Carver: “It’s kind of the same answer. I mean honestly, it’s very much a map-by-map basis, so you know you look at Dry Top; not particularly well-suited to underwater combat, but that being said, you know, if future Living World updates took us into more of… like the asura territory, or even, you know, areas like Bloodtide Coast or some of that, then it’s absolutely possible that we would do more underwater combat. So it’s not a system that we’re saying like “no, no more underwater ever”, but you know, it’s very much what makes sense with the content that we’re building.”

World versus World

GuildMag: “What can we expect to see coming for World versus World in both the short and long run? We’ve seen that commanders will be adjusted with new colors and such, but will there be more?”

Devon Carver: “Yeah, so, I mean, that’s another thing we’ll be showing in the demo. So, we’re adding multiple colors to the commander system; the commander system is moving to an account-based system as opposed to a character-based system. There’s this trick, the siege disabling trick that we’re going to be showing, I think it is going to have… I think it is something that is going to have a lot of knock-on effects, so, you know, it is a small thing, it is one item that we’re introducing. But we expect it is going to introduce a really broad tactical shift to the game. So in terms of kind of making multiple changes, we want to… we’re more focused on making a change like that and seeing how things shake out before we make additional changes, because, you know, for example, people have asked about ‘Hey, can we make defending, and power-defenders more… find better ways to make defence stronger’, and we think that this trick is going to have that effect. So we don’t want to do too many things at once and have, you know, kind of unintended consequences. So… I mean, long-term we’re going to continue to evaluate the way that the tactics shift and make changes that we feel like are appropriate for the direction of the long-term of the game.”

New structured PvP mode

GuildMag: “Recently you’ve again pointed out that you’re working on different types of sPvP, next to the current Conquest system. Which systems are you currently trying out and what can you tell us about the process behind working on these new systems?”

Devon Carver: “So, I mean, I can’t give too many details on the specifics of the mode that we’re working on right now, but I can explain a little bit of the process, quickly. So basically what we do is, we start brainstorming an idea for the baseline of… ‘Okay, what are.., what sounds like a cool PvP mode, something that would be good for our game?’ And so, we get to a very basic level of a map and just start playing through with the barebones mechanics. And we play a few times and we say ‘Okay, does this feel like it is fun, does it feel like it is heading in the right direction, or does it feel like we are just coming up with something that is not working?’ So for the current mode, which is a lot of fun, we made a lot of progress on. You know, we’re been through multiple, multiple, multiple iterations of it. We’ve been through multiple versions of the map. We made very significant changes from the first version of what we thought was going to be fun, to the version we have now, which is a lot of fun. It’s a, it’s a constant…”

GuildMag: “Is it different than Conquest?”

Devon Carver: “Yeah, it is definitely different than Conquest. It is, it is not capture point based, it is different, and that’s… I mean, that’s really as far as I can go details wise. But the process is very heavy on the iteration side, you know, we talk about iteration a lot, but for PvP game modes, it is very, very important. Because, there are a number of kinds of changes that you can make, that can make it better or worse, so we just try and really rapidly move through those things, until we find that sweetspot.”

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