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Counterplay- Does GW2 fail or succeed in delivering this design concept?


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#1 Featherman

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 02:17 AM

I recently watched great and informative video from the good folks at Extracreditz, and I feel the concepts discussed within are more relevant to this game now than ever since GW2's PvP is in such a delicate state. By delicate I don't mean that PvP is dying but it's certainly not like it was when it was still hyped, and there are certainly many that are voicing their disapointment about it.


Key Points of the video's idea of counterplay:
  • Abilities/mechanics should be exciting for the players using it and the players on the receiving end.
  • This is achieved by increasing the number of options for players using certain abilities and players fighting against them, resulting in both players feeling clever.
  • Good counterplay increases longevity of a game and allows players to evolve. It creates a clear division between what would be considered "pros" and "newbs."
Solutions provided by the video:
  • Abilities and mechanics should engage both the players using them and the ones their being used against.
  • Abilities and mechanics should broaden options rather than diminish them.
  • Players need to be able to pick up on counterplay options in order for them to work.
  • Abilities should be designed with repsect to the group experience.
What are your guys' thoughts on this? What are some areas in which the gameplay modes and class mechanics succeed? What are the areas in which they fail the most? What can be done, with respect to counterplay, to make the metagame more enjoyable. Feel free to discuss with respect to both sPvP and WvW since they're two different types of meta that these ideas can applied to.

Also, a bit of a disclaimer. I know class mechanics are touchy subject, and many players haven't the time to play all classes in order to fully understand every mechanics, but debates about them are inevitable. So please, when bringing them up discuss them with respect to each other class and their mechanics and how it affects the entire group experience. In other words, focus more on explaining than arguing. Also no "learn2play" comments." I will personally report any that I see.

Edited by Featherman, 07 December 2012 - 09:50 AM.


#2 Sizmo

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:27 PM

For the most part, in my opinion, counters are readily available.  There are dmg specs and condi specs and bunker/condiwipers that deal with them accordingly.  There are pet/clone classes but there are also AE classes to make quick work of those extra 'adds'.  The only mechanic i can think of that doesnt really have a counter, is stealth.

Increased Run speeds have cripples and chills.  Teleports have gap closers.  Regens have poison/bleeds and boon stripping.  Generally speaking boons and conditions are opposite one another and have removals for both.   But what counters stealth?  I was completely flabbergasted when i learned that thieves didn't reveal when taking dmg while stealthed in GW2 beta.  That seemed like such a logical thing to me to have in game.

Like you say, counters are meant to give both parties a sense of control and cleverness.  but when it comes to stealth, the ball is completely in 1 persons hands while the other is left to wait and see what happens.

#3 Featherman

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:32 PM

It seems that the stealth mechanic is hard to balance in general. In HoN, the last competitive multiplayer game I've play and a DotA clone, there's a hero called Night Hound that can permastealth once he's aquired his ultimate ability. Although widely considered a noob stomper and a noob hero himself, his mechanic is largely reviled because it forces opponents to spend money on items that reveal stealthed players. I think a similar case can be made about stealth mechanics in GW2.

I've heard many thieves and non-thieves argue that the hard counter to stealth is AoE, but after playing five different classes I find this idea to be a bit dubious. AoE does in fact increase your chances of hitting a stealthed thief, but consider the method itself and the distribution of skills. Taking shadowsteps/returns and evades into consideration, a good thief can easily avoid random AoE spamming, in which case the ones spamming aoes will hurt themselves by putting their skills on cooldown. The price of the counter is far too costly, and the fact that you don't know whether or not you've succeeded in hitting the stealthed opponent is salt on open wounds.

Edited by Featherman, 07 December 2012 - 11:41 PM.


#4 FoxBat

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:18 PM

View PostFeatherman, on 07 December 2012 - 11:32 PM, said:

and the fact that you don't know whether or not you've succeeded in hitting the stealthed opponent is salt on open wounds.

I find this aspect completely ridiculous and it was not always this way in the early BWEs. It was probably changed due to some culling concerns or something but it's absolutely terrible.

#5 Skyro

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 09:34 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it comes down to the game mode that ANet is pushing, which is 3-point conquest that encourages a lot of splitting and less on team fights. If new game modes or perhaps even new maps which encouraged team fights there would be much more counterplay and evolution of the metagame as it relates to actually team fighting. Right now the metagame is more focused around holding points obviously since that is what is going to win you the match.

Now I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing overall, it's just different, as ANet took a lot of inspiration from TF2 where you can just jump in with whatever class and be effective making it much more PUG friendly (combat-wise, not system-wise of course) so in that aspect I think they succeeded. But the people who enjoyed build-making and countering the current metagame/popular builds, that aspect is all but gone.

#6 Featherman

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 10:57 PM

View PostSkyro, on 09 December 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

I've said it before and I'll say it again, it comes down to the game mode that ANet is pushing, which is 3-point conquest that encourages a lot of splitting and less on team fights. If new game modes or perhaps even new maps which encouraged team fights there would be much more counterplay and evolution of the metagame as it relates to actually team fighting. Right now the metagame is more focused around holding points obviously since that is what is going to win you the match.

Now I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing overall, it's just different, as ANet took a lot of inspiration from TF2 where you can just jump in with whatever class and be effective making it much more PUG friendly (combat-wise, not system-wise of course) so in that aspect I think they succeeded. But the people who enjoyed build-making and countering the current metagame/popular builds, that aspect is all but gone.

I would say conquest mode itself isn't the problem, but the maps the Anet provides. The current trounament maps don't really provide many ways for professions to have meaningful interactions with anything but class vs class matchups. To cite an example from TF2, the Sawmill is one of interactive point capture maps I have ever played. The map provides rooftops which provide perfect point control spots for Engineer turrets, but still don't make them invulnerable to Demomen or Spies. Houses often provide ammo and health pack, but they also function as ambush spots for Spies and Scouts. GW2's attempts to do something similar with Khylo, but the interactions with the map are not profession specific (or at least not anymore) so the strategies executed just aren't that interesting or engaging.

#7 Skyro

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:42 AM

View PostFeatherman, on 09 December 2012 - 10:57 PM, said:

I would say conquest mode itself isn't the problem, but the maps the Anet provides. The current trounament maps don't really provide many ways for professions to have meaningful interactions with anything but class vs class matchups. To cite an example from TF2, the Sawmill is one of interactive point capture maps I have ever played. The map provides rooftops which provide perfect point control spots for Engineer turrets, but still don't make them invulnerable to Demomen or Spies. Houses often provide ammo and health pack, but they also function as ambush spots for Spies and Scouts. GW2's attempts to do something similar with Khylo, but the interactions with the map are not profession specific (or at least not anymore) so the strategies executed just aren't that interesting or engaging.

Yes I agree but I was talking more about build counters, rather than strategic counters which is what you are talking about. Build counters were a huge part of GW1 metagame (and other games like SC2) because everything was focused on the team fight at the flag stand. But GW2 is what it is, and I like it (just like I liked TF2), but I totally understand people who miss the old build-centric gameplay of GW1.

Talking about maps however the Legacy of the Foefire is just an absolutely horrible map. The new sPvP map actually seems pretty interesting as well, but I haven't played it all that much since I don't really play hot join. I think a lot of it has to do with finding/defining roles and balance as well. I was discussing this in another thread but there needs to be a long-range sniper (and anti-roamer) type class, which will introduce alot more strategic depth. BoK would be a sniper's heaven but there are no long range skills. The ranger would be the perfect fit for this role if they balanced out long bow to be effective (which will receive some buffs next patch it looks like). Then have Hammer Warriors be a line-backer/shut down type class and you start to have some fleshed out roles to create more strategic play. The current bunker/support and dps/roamer metagame is very shallow at the moment from a strategy point of view, though actual combat in this game is quite fun IMO.

#8 Featherman

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:51 AM

View PostSkyro, on 10 December 2012 - 02:42 AM, said:

Yes I agree but I was talking more about build counters, rather than strategic counters which is what you are talking about. Build counters were a huge part of GW1 metagame (and other games like SC2) because everything was focused on the team fight at the flag stand. But GW2 is what it is, and I like it (just like I liked TF2), but I totally understand people who miss the old build-centric gameplay of GW1.

Talking about maps however the Legacy of the Foefire is just an absolutely horrible map. The new sPvP map actually seems pretty interesting as well, but I haven't played it all that much since I don't really play hot join. I think a lot of it has to do with finding/defining roles and balance as well. I was discussing this in another thread but there needs to be a long-range sniper (and anti-roamer) type class, which will introduce alot more strategic depth. BoK would be a sniper's heaven but there are no long range skills. The ranger would be the perfect fit for this role if they balanced out long bow to be effective (which will receive some buffs next patch it looks like). Then have Hammer Warriors be a line-backer/shut down type class and you start to have some fleshed out roles to create more strategic play. The current bunker/support and dps/roamer metagame is very shallow at the moment from a strategy point of view, though actual combat in this game is quite fun IMO.
That's really what I'm talking about when I mention the maps. They simply don't allow for any other type of play, and I think this is in part due to the overemphasis on class matchups rather than class to map interactions. I think TF2 does this wonderfully with their point capture maps since they're progressional and the combat naturally has a large terrain element, which changes as the matches progress.

I think map design could be used to better facilitate roles in GW2's sPvP. For your idea of the sniper-type ranger build to work, ANet will need to give them advantageous places in the map to trap and snipe players.

Edited by Featherman, 10 December 2012 - 03:30 AM.


#9 Skyro

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:22 AM

View PostFeatherman, on 10 December 2012 - 02:51 AM, said:

That's really what I'm talking about when I mention the maps. They simply don't allow for any other type of play, and I think this is in part due to the overemphasis on class matchups rather than class to map interactions. I think TF2 does this wonderfully with their point capture maps since they're progressional and the combat naturally has a large terrain element, which changes as the matches progress.

I think map design could be used to better facilitate roles in GW2's sPvP. For you're idea of the sniper-type ranger build to work, ANet will need to give them advantageous places in the map to trap and snipe players.

Yeah man I'm totally with you on that. That seems to be what the developers were going for in terms of game design/style, which as I said is what it is (some will like it, some won't). There's a lot of talk about custom servers and MMR and Obs modes and what needs to come first and all that jazz, but honestly there needs to be more content and for this type of game design and that is primary going to be new maps, along with the further balancing and defining of roles for the classes.

Custom servers, MMR, Obs mode, those all things that tournaments need, but no playerbase = no potential revenue = no big money tournaments. It is as simple as that. GW2 stream viewer counts are anemic because the sPvP playerbase is tiny. You can add these things to your game AFTER you have a healthy playerbase. I'm a big proponent of giving power to the playerbase and letting them make the game they want to play. For this type of game that would be map making tools. This would be the single biggest thing ANet could do to boost their playerbase, but there doesn't seem to be any indication of this happening anytime soon.

Edited by Skyro, 10 December 2012 - 03:23 AM.


#10 Featherman

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:35 PM

View PostSkyro, on 10 December 2012 - 03:22 AM, said:

Yeah man I'm totally with you on that. That seems to be what the developers were going for in terms of game design/style, which as I said is what it is (some will like it, some won't). There's a lot of talk about custom servers and MMR and Obs modes and what needs to come first and all that jazz, but honestly there needs to be more content and for this type of game design and that is primary going to be new maps, along with the further balancing and defining of roles for the classes.

Custom servers, MMR, Obs mode, those all things that tournaments need, but no playerbase = no potential revenue = no big money tournaments. It is as simple as that. GW2 stream viewer counts are anemic because the sPvP playerbase is tiny. You can add these things to your game AFTER you have a healthy playerbase. I'm a big proponent of giving power to the playerbase and letting them make the game they want to play. For this type of game that would be map making tools. This would be the single biggest thing ANet could do to boost their playerbase, but there doesn't seem to be any indication of this happening anytime soon.
I think arena style maps would have better suited their intentions then. If they want their current conquest system to work I think should take some pointers from games that have done it successfully, and of course build them to be more interactive. The current maps just aren't working well enough to keep players interested.

I think the idea of map editors is generally amazing. It adds replay value, creates subcommunities within the game and there is potential for some amazing creations. Dota was created from a Warcraft 3 map editor and look how that turned out.

Edited by Featherman, 10 December 2012 - 04:57 PM.


#11 raspberry jam

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:51 PM

IMO, GW1 had this built in from the start, on multiple levels... From individual skill usage (Warriors can use Frenzy to hit harder, but that makes him vulnerable to attack, meaning that when playing midline, you should monitor enemy warriors not just to avoid them but also to see when they become vulnerable), all the way up to the "build wars" meta where you try to guess what build the opposing team will use and bring something to counter that.

As mentioned ITT the game type is largely to blame. Simply running around capping points and maybe, if map allows, killing some NPC, pretty much makes sure that there are no teamwide tactics, at least not those that stretch for more than a small skirmish. Also the strategic level don't have much going for it... other team captured a point, your strategic decisions are limited to 1) taking it back or 2) losing.

#12 Skyro

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 06:00 PM

View PostFeatherman, on 10 December 2012 - 04:35 PM, said:

I think arena style maps would have better suited their intentions then. If they want their current conquest system to work I think should take some pointers from games that have done it successfully, and of course build them to be more interactive. The current maps just aren't working well enough to keep players interested.

I think the idea of map editors is generally amazing. It adds replay value, creates subcommunities within the game and there is potential for some amazing creations. Dota was created from a Warcraft 3 map editor and look how that turned out.

There are ways to promote team fights without resorting to the lowest common denominator of arena battles. GvG (guild vs guild) was a game mode that was more or less loved by the community. It promoted big team fights in the middle of the map where there was a flag stand that would buff your team periodically if you held it, which then allowed you to push into their keep and kill the lord which ended the game. There were secondary map mechanics as well as a back alley path that allowed you to sneak in their keep or intercept people who just respawned and were and running back into the fray. It had a "tug-o-war" feeling to it, a nice ebb and flow to combat. While the end goal was technically was to kill their guild lord, the emphasis was undoubtably big team fights.

The reason they stated they went away from GvG was because it was deemed too "hardcore," e.g. the whole "build wars" concept. I get that, they want it to be more casual-friendly. But they could still promote more team fights and team strategy even with conquest mode but as both of us have said the maps don't allow that currently. I think one of the bigger issues of the maps in general are that they are simply too small. Bigger maps will make pushing the far point harder, which would promote more team fights, and will also allow more strategy in terms of slowing reinforcements in chokes or whatever. Like on Legacy of the Foefire you can be at your opponent's "far" point in like 5s from your spawn.

#13 Mitch

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 11:49 AM

View PostSkyro, on 10 December 2012 - 06:00 PM, said:

The reason they stated they went away from GvG was because it was deemed too "hardcore," e.g. the whole "build wars" concept. I get that, they want it to be more casual-friendly. But they could still promote more team fights and team strategy even with conquest mode but as both of us have said the maps don't allow that currently. I think one of the bigger issues of the maps in general are that they are simply too small. Bigger maps will make pushing the far point harder, which would promote more team fights, and will also allow more strategy in terms of slowing reinforcements in chokes or whatever. Like on Legacy of the Foefire you can be at your opponent's "far" point in like 5s from your spawn.

I think the main reason they moved away from GvG as it was in GW1 is because they failed to find a meaningful game decider which was needed because of the time limit that came with Automated Tournaments.

Both VoD and Lord damage tiebreakers were very poor ways to try and remedy this and it seems like Anet realized this and shied away from such a format in favor of the current capture points, which may lack some tactical depth (although I think this can be changed by tweaking maps and/or adding new maps with some new/different secondary objectives) but deliver in terms of a statisfactory way to track progress and decide which team is victorious.

#14 scaur

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 02:47 PM

View PostFeatherman, on 09 December 2012 - 10:57 PM, said:

I would say conquest mode itself isn't the problem, but the maps the Anet provides. The current trounament maps don't really provide many ways for professions to have meaningful interactions with anything but class vs class matchups. To cite an example from TF2, the Sawmill is one of interactive point capture maps I have ever played. The map provides rooftops which provide perfect point control spots for Engineer turrets, but still don't make them invulnerable to Demomen or Spies. Houses often provide ammo and health pack, but they also function as ambush spots for Spies and Scouts. GW2's attempts to do something similar with Khylo, but the interactions with the map are not profession specific (or at least not anymore) so the strategies executed just aren't that interesting or engaging.

i agree.  the map design need to changed.

Edited by scaur, 19 December 2012 - 02:49 PM.


#15 DLeague

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 10:46 AM

I don't see much counterplay at all tbh, Aanet messed up by trying to be too different from succusful MMO's.
There is no counter to stealth and a steal>backstab combo in this game, in Wow stealth was countered by AOE and damage and their damage was backloaded with alot of stuns which could be countered by stun breakers. Most of the burst in this game is frontloaded which there is no counterplay for.
There is also no counterplay for bunkers in the current meta game. I think the gamemode is the culprit for that, this point holding gamemode puts way too much emphasis on bunkers which there are no real counter for, again if they analyzed the most succesfull mmo they would have realised  that arena and CTF are actually alot more versatile and balanced game modes which players actually enjoy more which don't put too much emphasis on classes which can stand in a circle all day and not die. (other than needing 1 bunker in CTF)

#16 SharadSun

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:33 AM

The game, to be honest, punishes players with any form of backloaded burst. It's definitely there (certain Ranger/Warrior/Ele AoE builds), but as of now, only Elementalists are capable of using it properly (given their insane buffs and invulnerabilities which can only be countered by Necromancers, which are bugged/broke atm), as well as Rangers to an extent.

I'd actually go so far as to say the Ranger is the best-balanced class in the game because of its ability to provide almost any form of burst, with just enough survivability. The other classes need reworking to fall along a better axis of balance.

I actually posted a Thief revision request not too long ago, on the guildwars2 main forums. Classes need ways of expressing themselves in unique ways. I want to see a VIABLE Warrior Sniper build, a VIABLE thief Crit/Conditions hybrid build, which are clearly things that were designed to exist but have been eliminated from the metagame due to poor class expression.




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