Thursday, November 4, 2010

Class differentiation in GW2

When it comes to class design the devs of Guild Wars have said that they want to move away from a strict holy trinity system, where the role of a class is often rigidly and narrowly defined. This post is taken from a discussion about the supposed BML (Blue Mace Lady - speculation based on a piece of concept art) profession, and what role that class might fill in terms of gameplay. The concept art and other bits of information suggest that the BML will be some sort of heavily armored defender capable of using magic. Something close to a Paladin. My post was in response to someone who claimed that classes in GW2 no longer have a "specific focus" when it comes to gameplay. Here's my take on that idea:

Even if classes are capable of doing a lot of things, I hope they still have one advantage that's unique to the class, or at least one area where they excel. It shouldn't be as simple as saying BML's heal and warriors do damage, but every class should kind of have a sliding scale of various things that they focus on. For example:

Warrior: melee damage > melee control > maneuverability > party buffs > survivability > ranged physical damage

BML: party protection > survivability > healing > melee damage > ranged magic damage > melee control

Now, each individual player would be able to modify this scale with weapon choice, utilities, traits etc., to the point where any one of those roles could be their area of expertise, but the chart shows where your class is the most versatile. You might be able to build 9 different viable variations on a melee damage warrior, but there's only 1 viable way to play a ranged damage warrior; or there are a lot of ways to play a prot BML, but if you want to play a melee control BML your options are narrowed down significantly.

That's kind of how I see GW2's system playing out. So to say BML is a defensive/support focused character doesn't mean that's the only thing it's capable of, it means that the player who knows they want to play a defensive/support role will find the most flexibility and freedom determining the specifics of how they carry out that role if they pick a BML. On the other hand, the player who picks a BML because they like the way it looks, or they just want to be a holy warrior or whatever, will still have the option to play whatever role he wants without feeling gimped.

If classes don't have any strengths or weaknesses, or specialties of any kind, then it kind of defeats the point of a class system as far as i'm concerned.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dodge roll? Parkour?

Several years ago I was fantasizing about what an MMO I designed would be like, and one of the big ideas I had was that every class would be given an ability that they could use to dodge out of the way of projectiles, and another ability that would allow players to parry melee attacks similar to the way parrying works in fighting games. Both would require precision timing and be limited by a cooldown or energy system to prevent spamming. This was something I was thinking about long before I knew anything about GW2, but I'm thrilled to see someone had the same idea and is making it a reality. The dodge roll system in GW2 is something I absolutely love.

What I'd like to see down the line, in addition to the parry idea, is the idea of parkour-ish (aka free running) abilities to make vertical movement and environments more dynamic and varied. It may be a bit ambitious for now, but it's something I'd like to see in the future. Each class could accomplish the same effect in different ways; an assassin might scurry up a wall, a necro might turn into a shadow and slide up, and a mage might blink etc. then make it a limited resource, similar to dodge rolling in GW2.

I see this feature being particularly well suited to a post-apocalyptic/near future MMO. A ruined city-scape with a lots of blasted out buildings of various levels could make for some really interesting engagements. I can just see a mage-ish class kiting an assassin-ish class, but instead of simply running away on flat ground he's now often running up or down as well: The mage runs up a stair case, turning to blast the assassin on his heels as he gets to the top. He blinks up to a ledge that constitutes what remains of the ruined 3rd floor of the building. The assassin adeptly runs up the wall, grabs onto the ledge and pulls himself up as the mage continues to flee. The mage blinks across the alleyway separating two nearby buildings, and the assassin makes a flying leap over the dizzying gap in hot pursuit. The mage uses an ability that allows him to safely fall several stories (ex. slow fall) while the assassin jumps and times a roll as he hits the ground to avoid taking damage. etc etc.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cross profession ability combos.

GW2 skills from different professions that will combo with each other, granting one or both skills additional effects when used in combination. The biggest example we've seen is Elementalists or Rangers can plant fire on the ground, which will then give friendly arrows that pass through the flames additional fire damage. Here are some of my own ideas for spell 'combos', using the known list of GW2 skills.

  • Combo name: Flock's Feast
  • Component A: Hunter's Call (Ranger)
  • Component B: Deathly Swarm (Necromancer)
  • Effect: When a Necromancer casts Deathly Swarm on a target afflicted by Hunter's Call the birds will follow the insects to a secondary target as they bounce, refreshing the duration timer on Hunter's Call.

  • Combo name: Magnetize
  • Component A: Lightning Bolt (Elementalist)
  • Component B: Spread Shot/Splitblade (Ranger)
  • Effect: After being hit by Lightning Bolt a target will become magnetized for a short time. A ranger that casts Spread Shot or Splitblade in a direction that would hit a magnetized target will find that the projectiles arch towards the magnetized target, hitting it with each projectile, doing max damage to a single target, and then continuing to fly in their spread pattern away from the ranger, with their point of origin at the magnetized target, hitting anything standing behind it.

  • Combo name: Lightning Rod
  • Component A: Devastating Hammer/Stomp (Warrior)
  • Component B: Lightning Bolt (Elementalist)
  • Effect: Devastating Hammer and Stomp launch a target into the air. While the target is in the air Lightning Bolt is guaranteed to crit (and have a bigger meaner animation).

  • Combo name: Sandstorm
  • Component A: Dust Trap (Ranger)
  • Component B: Tornado (Elementalist)
  • Effect: An Elementalist in Tornado form that passes over a friendly Dust Trap will change color to be more yellow/brown, and now blinds in addition to knocking enemies back.

  • Combo name: Blood Frenzy
  • Component A: Blood Fiend (Necromancer)
  • Component B: Any bleed effect
  • Effect: The more bleeds stacked on a target, the faster the Blood Fiend will attack that target.