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Q&A with Colin Johanson, Part IV


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#1 Khalija

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:53 PM

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Hey everybody! If you're wondering how many more parts this Q&A is going to be, well, this is the last one! In case you've missed the other ones, here you go: Do you think you'll ever go down the PvE only skill route again?
Colin: Well we kinda have that with racial skills, or they're the closest thing to that. How much we'll expand on those, I don't know. I'm not sure that that's really that compelling. [...] I would be shocked if we did. A stronger split between competitive PvP and the rest of the game is possible.

Have you ever considered trying to spread players out across the WvW map instead of sticking with the zerg?
Colin: One of the things I've noticed while playing World Vs World is when I get a group together to go take a keep, every time there are more than (say) five players a little orange marker shows up on the map. One thing I miss about playing [...] is that there were scouts that would find out where people went and they would report back to different people. The little orange swords just ruin all of that. It's basically everybody knows where you're all the time.

Our February release will change that. The little swords won't pop up unless there's, I wanna say, 25 people present. We're looking for more ways to spread out the players on the map.

Are you able to make a bigger WvW map?
Colin: No, bigger we can't do. With our existing tech those are the largest maps we can make (engine limitation). We're currently looking several different ways to spread players out, and that's been a big focus of the World Vs World team right now.

What's the deal with the PvE elements in World vs World, such as exploration or the jumping puzzle?
Colin: For the jumping puzzle, I   would prefer that it would not be in the WvW map and have it be a separate thing. I think it takes up the queue space and disconnects players trying to get in. How we answer that is going to be interesting, but in the long run it's very likely it's going to stay as it is. World complete is an interesting one though, because what we've seen from our data measures is that people go to World Vs World for map completion then stay because they end up enjoying it so much. I'm really nervous about removing it because I think it's a great recruiting tool. Though it kinda sucks for people who don't want to have anything to do with it and have to wait for certain areas to open up.

Comment about how the fights are condensed in the center of the maps. Question about spreading things out more so that the fights aren't always in the center.
Colin: All of those things are on the table. Spreading players out and trying to make better use of the space we've got. The WvW team, right now, is really looking at all those options. That's a big part of what their focus is, is trying to answer those questions. That's certainly one of the options that we talk about.

What's your view on the PvE components in WvW such as world exploration, the jumping puzzles and things like that?
Colin: I think for the jumping puzzle, I would prefer that it not be in the WvW map and it's a separate thing that. Especially when there's a queue like that and people are trying to get in. I think it disconnects players from the content they're trying to play. How we answer that is going to be interesting. There's a lot of different ways that we can separate them now, but I think in the long run it's very unlikely that it will stay in the WvW map where it's eating up population queue. It will go somewhere else. We'll have to figure out the best way to do that.

World complete is an interesting one. We've seen from our data metrics, because it's on world complete, there's a bunch of people that play WvW. Because it takes them there to actually get to do it and they end up having so much fun that stay. I've talked to countless people who've said, "I only went there for that, and I ended up running around and I got so addicted to it that I can't stop playing it." One of my best friends actually got into it because of world complete and literally he's on four hours a day now and he doesn't play anything but WvW. World Complete was the only thing that got him into that. So I'm really nervous about moving it because I think that it's a great recruiting thing. It also kinda sucks for people that don't want anything to do with it and have to wait for those areas to get opened up. It's a tough one and I don't really know a great answer for it.

Question about WvW ranks and matchmaking and how you end up fighting the same worlds each week.
Colin: Matchingmaking has the same problem as everything else I just said. It's basically the same couple of people who have to fix that also because it's all server work. But yeah, certainly matchmaking is another thing that we'll be looking at at some point when resources are available. I think matchmaking works right now. It obviously gets stale if you fight the same people over and over again. And that's less than ideal. I think our major goal is how do we make the existing game more fun first before we deal with matchmaking. Because if it's so much fun it doesn't matter if you're fighting the same opponent. I think that's okay. So I would say that it's higher on the priority list, but at some point we're going to have to look at matchmaking and try to find ways to make that more exciting. Personally, I'm a fan of the English, or I guess the European football relegation system. You fight your way up to a tier and you get knocked out of a tier and you're fighting your way through it. I don't know how we adopt exactly that but it'd be awesome if we could do that. I wish American sports had that. It's a way better system in the long run.

Comment on how it's hard to keep going if your server is really losing, or always loses. Would hiding the score help?
Colin: It's a really interesting idea. I've actually never heard anybody at the office throw that out there. I'll go back and throw that at the WvW team and see what they think. [We] definitely want to solve that problem. We want to create incentive for you to login every day - on Thursday your server's getting destroyed and there's a reason why you still want to play. Surprising people with the score is an interesting way to accomplish that. Very, very different that the stuff that we've been talking about. That's a very simple thing we can do.

Comment about Jade Quarry and if they have a 50k point lead that no one feels the need to login to WvW and that it's a really big demotivator. That there are guilds that are falling apart because of it. Question on if that could be addressed somehow.
Colin: I think they're really the same problem. It's like, if you're getting killed or if you're winning by a lot, in both cases there's no reason for you to login. We need to fix both of those. I think it can be the same answer for both pretty easily. Because it really is the same issue, which is "why do I play every day," as opposed to "why do I want my server to win this week?" So that's really high on our list of stuff we're trying to address.

Was there a reason why you went with servers in WvW and not teams, for example?
Colin: The biggest reason that I'm aware of - and a lot of this, just to provide context to isome of these answers - I was only on the content team when a lot of this stuff was decided so it's hard for me to say 100% for sure what the decision making process was four years ago when I wasn't in the room. But I would guess that the reason that was made was to try to make worlds feel more important to players and feel like the people that you play with on your world is your community and that teams would be a subset of that and it wouldn't feel as compelling. It's interesting to see if that still stands up. Now that the game's out, is it still the case. Do people really feel a bond with their world or.. actually, that's a question for you guys. Do you feel attached to your world at all? Do you really feel like your guild, or the people that you play with in your guild, are more...

Comment about how he feels the bond but that the people that jumped servers a lot might not feel the bond/feel as attached.

There's a link between the server you play on and the server you represent in WvW. My question is why have them linked? Why not choose a server to WvW on, and the actual server that you choose to play on the rest of the time be independent of that.
Colin: The reason for that is that we want to build a sense of community. The people that are out in PvE, when you go back out from WvW, or you're out in the PvE world - you're trying to recruit them. You see these people and you have the capacity to say, "you're a part of my world, come represent us in WvW. Come help us out." I think Guild Wars 1 had some really compelling parts of this. It's like the Hall of Heroes, right? When the message went out in the game that our world now controls something. That was sort of the sense that everybody that was on that side felt tied to it, they felt like they were a part of that win. I would hope in time we could get that type of messaging for WvW to a certain degree as well. So that everybody who's on that world feels an even greater tie to it. But the biggest reason is just so that you recognize and get to know the same people in every part of the game. There are a huge percentage of our playerbase that plays WvW that also plays PvE on a regular basis so we want to create that tie between the two of them so that you really get to know people and have that community.

Where's Final Rest?
Colin: Someday you will all discover it and everybody will be really excited.

Comment and question about how conditions only stack to 25 and if you have more than one condition stacker that it becomes useless and if anything is being done to address it.
Colin: Currently, no. Interesting statistic for you - every condition in the game costs server bandwidth. We have to track how often the condition is running, what the duration of that condition is, and what the stack is at. So the more stacks we allow, the more expensive it gets because we're tracking every additional stack on there. So, we could say that you could have infinite stacks. Number one, that becomes really imbalanced. But number two, it's really expensive for us on a performance basis. That's one of those weird, kind of backend server issues that can help make game design decisions regardless of what you want to do with it.

Comment and question on how if everyone has their own individual stack on a mob instead.
Colin: Yeah, it's tough. It's certainly something that we can look at. It does drastically change the way the professions play. It does say that you can no longer stack all of one type of condition. It might change the skills on each weapons if we were to do that. It would encourage more group play to a certain extent. It's not really something that we're talking about, but it's an interesting idea.

Are there any plans to add any further content to Southsun Cove?
Colin: Yes! There are guild missions that happen in Southsun Cove. There is content coming.

I really like the landscape but it's a bit quiet at the moment.
Colin: Yeah, we definitely are going to continue to expand on that.

The guild missions is how many times can you run past a champion Karka and pick up the orichalcum.
Colin: And pick up the node and run back. <random banter>

A little while ago it was also mentioned that there was going to be different ways of getting precursors.
Colin: Some day, yes.

.. like scavenge hunts.. so no immediate plans for that?
Colin: We've thrown in a few more RNG ways to get them, like random chances for places they can go in the game recently. But that's no the real solution, that's just a "hey, let's just increase it a few more point so people can earn them at this point." The fixes for qualifying for loot that'll go in the February release will also increase the chances of getting precursors because it means you have a higher chance of rolling for loot on every creature you kill which means you have a higher chance of getting a precursor. So that will help as well. But long term we'd like to do something a little bit more epic where there is a clear path of, "here is everything you need to do and when you complete it you'll automatically get a precursor." We're not working on that right now, we're really trying to decide what that will be. But yeah, certainly at some point we will add a system that lets you do that.

Are there any plans to make legendaries account bound, so they're not getting sold on the Trading Post?
Colin: I think they only concern with that would be retroactively changing it, since they're already out that way.

You could stop them being added, couldn't you, and then when they go..
Colin: No, we can't. The way the items work is if we were to do that we affect all the existing items. So I don't really know what's going to happen there, that's really more up to our commerce team on how they'll want to handle that. But it's certainly something where there's been a lot of discussion about it.

Yeah, I keep getting mails from gold sellers that want to sell them for 1200 euros and stuff like that so there's an immense amount of money involved for gold farmers to sell those.

With regards to legendaries, obviously with Twilight and Sunrise you can combine them to make Eternity. Are you planning on doing that with any other legendaries?
Colin: Yeah, we will at some point expand on the legendaries. There might be new types of weapons, more combinations. Certainly there will be more legendaries at some point. Certainly weapons, maybe even other types of legendaries. We'll see. We're not done with those but what we don't want to do is roll a whole bunch of those out when we don't have a better system for getting precursors.

Is there going to be a fix for female Asura tier 3 shoulders? Because it's pretty demoralizing to buy the shoulders for the silly amount of gold it is to quickly find out that they don't work on female Asuras.
Colin: I would hope so. I don't know where that is in the pipeline.

<laughter, banter>
Colin: And when you dance on their corpse you've got to have shoulderpads. It's very important.

Question about the customization of weapons.
Colin: It's an interesting idea, I know our art team would like us to do it. It's not currently something that we have anybody working on but it is possible in our system to do that.

What about making dyes account bound? Can we please have dyes account bound?
Colin: I think at this point it won't happen. It's gone too far down that path. I don't think the commerce team will swap that back. That would be my guess.

As someone who ran lots of big events in Guild Wars 1, one of the things I'm slightly disappointed in Guild Wars 2 is the itemization. Things like account bound tonics because it's great to have little prizes you can give out for things and there seems to be a lack of little fun prizes to give out and stuff like that.
Colin: We've tried to do as many of those as we can and certainly we'll keep doing more of them. I think the holiday festivals were loaded with a bunch of that stuff and we'd like to do a lot more of those. They're just fun for social events, right? To get together.

Comment about how they should unbind the quaggan tonics so that they can give them to everybody.

<more banter about tonics, dyes - how there's a lack of stuff to give away for events: "first prize is a dye!" wow, you know>

Activities, like for example bar brawl, things like that, are there any other ones in the pipeline in the future?
Colin: Bar brawl is coming eventually. There are other ones we've prototyped. They'll need a lot more work before they're going to get added. But at some point we'd like to have them all over the game. One of the nice things about the new rotating achievement system is that you can pick... I want to say keg brawl is almost every day of the week. There's different things you can do in keg brawl to contribute towards your daily. My hope would be as we add more mini-games like that. We can create a little rotation, so like Monday is keg brawl day and everybody goes to keg brawl for a day as it's on your daily achievement list. And Tuesday is bar brawl day and everybody goes there, and then Wednesday is shooting gallery or whatever.

Polymock?
Colin: Yes, maybe that one.

It'll be really nice to encourage people to go back to the cities to do that.

I love the new daily system, it's so good.
Colin: The one in February is so much better. There's so many things we wanted to do that we can't do because we don't want to force people to do a specific game type. You know when you open it up a give them a choice, "hey, pick five of these ten and do the things you want to do," suddenly jumping puzzles can go on there, keg brawl can go on there, and we're not forcing you to do that game type and then it becomes a choice.

One of the things about Star Wars daily and monthly system, is it didn't actually have a month to do it. It didn't just chop off at the end of the month. You could take two months to do you monthly but it would then roll over. You see what I mean? As we've got in US and also UK, a multi-national guild, having the daily cut-off at midnight or whatever, when you're right in the middle of a team it can disrupt the flow.. "gotta get this done, gotta get this done!"

That's happened to us a few times, especially when there's been a new build or something like that. You're trying to do the daily and you've got like one more creature or dodge or something...

One more salvage to go!

It's amazing how so many people don't actually know how to dodge.
Colin: That's why we put that in. It's incredible how few people actually regularly dodge.

Somebody wanted to ask how you manicure your beard.
Colin: It's different.. some days it's kind of crooked because I'm half awake when I do it.

In regards to guilds, would it be possible to have a little bit more management for guild leaders in a raid instance. For instance having guild dots on the minimap or the main map would be even better. Because one of the things we find quite often is literally you've got a commander tag up and you find people tend to get a little bit lost and stray off. It'd be nice to, when raid leading, I stopped doing it because it's so tough, is being able to see whose running away from the guild.
Colin: We were actually talking about that earlier. It's certainly something we'd look at. Right now nobody's working on that but over the course of the year... Every community building tool that we can do that makes it easier to play with other players gives you more reasons to play with them and better rewards, those are all stuff that we're focused on. The guild missions system is definitely a huge part of that and we want to keep building stuff like that.

Anything you'd like to ask us quickly?
Colin: What is your guys' favorite part of the game? What's the thing that's most compelling to you?

I like the jumping puzzles.

I think for me it's all the little areas, the hidden areas, the hidden gems.

I'm still trying to get into the kitten room.

That's what makes me go back and do more exploring. It's what's over there? The detail that you put in the world and how vibrant it is.

I like all of the easter eggs from Guild Wars 1.

Did you have a mission to destroy everything in Guild Wars 1? Apart from the Granite Citadel, is there anything left standing?
Colin: The ruins of many things are there.

Any plans for storage of town clothes, and dungeon tokens?
Colin: Yeah, dungeon tokens probably earlier than town clothes, but it would be nice to do things to allow you to store any of that stuff.

Did you say the dungeons tokens before, that we are gonna have another use for them?
Colin: Well, I think that we would like to expand the reasons to use them. If nothing else, just new items on the vendors down the road is something that we'll be looking at for sure. As we add new types of reward systems to the game we'd like to layer those across everything we've got, so my hope eventually we'll add more types of rewards on laurel vendors, on merchants, on karma merchants, they'll go on dungeon guys. So we can kind of go on Fractal NPCs and we can layer it all across the game and make it more rewarding.


Whew! So that's done. And unfortunately it looks like our recordings got cut off from time to time so if you see some answers on other fansites (personally, I'm not sure who all else was invited) that we haven't had on any of our Q&A posts, please feel free to highlight and link them in this thread!

Again, big thanks to ArenaNet for including us in this Q&A session and a big thank you to Colin for answering all of the questions we, as a community, had! If this Q&A spurs on more questions for you, leave them in this thread and we'll see if we can get enough good questions for something else down the road.

Cheers!

#2 Xenigma

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 06:23 PM

That was one heck of a Q&A!  Not sure there's much in the way of new information here, but it's been a fun read across all four parts, so hopefully this will not be the last lunch with Colin.

#3 Khrushchev

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

Precursors already 100% RNG.
Developer 1: How to fix this...........
Developer 2: MORE RNG!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!1!one!!!!!!!eleven111!!

#4 Featherman

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 06:56 PM

I don't dodge often because the game either doesn't require me to or doesn't telegraph enemy attacks well enough to warn me to dodge :/

Get your metrics right, mang.

Edit: Skimmed over this part, but people who WvW have to be intrinsically interested in WvW. PvE players are not going to like WvW more by being forced to do for map completion. It'll only frustrate them.

Edited by Featherman, 25 February 2013 - 09:08 PM.


#5 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 07:08 PM

[quote]There's a link between the server you play on and the server you represent in WvW. My question is why have them linked? Why not choose a server to WvW on, and the actual server that you choose to play on the rest of the time be independent of that.
Colin: The reason for that is that we want to build a sense of community. The people that are out in PvE, when you go back out from WvW, or you're out in the PvE world - you're trying to recruit them. You see these people and you have the capacity to say, "you're a part of my world, come represent us in WvW. Come help us out." I think Guild Wars 1 had some really compelling parts of this. It's like the Hall of Heroes, right? When the message went out in the game that our world now controls something. That was sort of the sense that everybody that was on that side felt tied to it, they felt like they were a part of that win. I would hope in time we could get that type of messaging for WvW to a certain degree as well. So that everybody who's on that world feels an even greater tie to it. But the biggest reason is just so that you recognize and get to know the same people in every part of the game. There are a huge percentage of our playerbase that plays WvW that also plays PvE on a regular basis so we want to create that tie between the two of them so that you really get to know people and have that community[/quote]

Yeah, let's incorporate more dumb-ass GW1 ideas.

The best thing about online games is that they are able to bring the world together. That's what I adored so much about GW1 - the community was the world. Here, the community is once again an arbitrarily created regional group.
Such a step backwards.

#6 Coren

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 07:43 PM

So conditions stacking is limited in part by bandwidth? Am I supposed to be shocked by this or is that normal for the initiated?

#7 Khalija

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 08:00 PM

[quote name='Coren' timestamp='1361821386' post='2170382']
So conditions stacking is limited in part by bandwidth? Am I supposed to be shocked by this or is that normal for the initiated?
[/quote]

There's a thread about it now on the official forums, though I haven't read it. I just noticed that Jon Peters has piped in a bit about it: [url="http://www.guildwars2guru.com/arenanet-tracker/topic/255123-comfirmed-nothing-being-done-re-conditions/"]http://www.guildwars...-re-conditions/[/url]

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#8 Doctor Overlord

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:20 PM

[quote]What about making dyes account bound? Can we please have dyes account bound?
Colin: I think at this point it won't happen. It's gone too far down that path. I don't think the commerce team will swap that back. That would be my guess[/quote]
That makes quaggen sad :(  

Still an interesting interview.  I never cared much for the zone completion elements in WvW but if that actually is getting people to do WvW then that's a decent reason to put them in there.

And it seems the reason for the Dodge Daily really was an effort to teach people to simply use dodge.  I still say a decent tutorial at the start would have greatly helped with that, but if they needed a post-launch bandage that daily probably served that purpose.

Edited by Doctor Overlord, 25 February 2013 - 10:21 PM.


#9 Lordkrall

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 10:22 PM

Finally confirmation that having World completion in WvW actually gets people to WvW. I hope that will put an end to all those people whining about having to do WvW for no reason in order to do World Completeion.

#10 Khalija

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:01 AM

Just wanted to post this quote from Colin from the official forums about the condition stacking issue:
[quote]Yeah that one is my fault, I’m out of the office doing a tour meeting with press and fans across Europe to discuss the game. While gone, this was something a team started designing a solution for, no one told me that while in Europe, so I said only what I knew at the time. The joys of no one being awake at the same hours.

Sorry about the confusing information, I had this on my list to bring up after the trip, but the good news is it’s already being covered and all of this could have easily been avoided with that answer. In the future, I’ll try and avoid trips this long, this is the joy of game development, feature work can begin very quickly! =)

Locking since the issue is being actively worked on, thanks for all the great suggestions all! [[url="http://www.guildwars2guru.com/arenanet-tracker/topic/255123-comfirmed-nothing-being-done-re-conditions/"]Source[/url]][/quote]

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#11 Bloggi

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 01:54 AM

[quote]
[b]Is there going to be a fix for female Asura tier 3 shoulders? Because it's pretty demoralizing to buy the shoulders for the silly amount of gold it is to quickly find out that they don't work on female Asuras.[/b]
[u]Colin:[/u] I would hope so. I don't know where that is in the pipeline.

<laughter, banter>
[u]Colin:[/u] And when you dance on their corpse you've got to have shoulderpads. It's very important.

[/quote]

One of the little things I noted (previewed the shoulders and it didn't seem to show no matter what I did) and wrote to Support regarding the issue. Good to see a public answer about it even if it doesn't hint at whether it will be resolved. It could be a conscious decision on design.

Regardless, there's a preview function in-game, and the safest thing to do is 'try before you buy'. Don't drop 20G on the T3 shoulders before previewing what it's going to look like, or if it will look like anything at all.

Edited by Bloggi, 26 February 2013 - 01:55 AM.


#12 Jentari

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:44 AM

Not sure where they are getting their figures, but I don't know 1 person who is a pve person that went to wvw for 100% completion that stayed wvw because they liked it.  Think that was his way of saying, we know you don't like it and to bad its there deal with it.

#13 Darkobra

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 10:33 AM

"[b]Do you think you'll ever go down the PvE only skill route again?[/b]
[u]Colin:[/u] Well we kinda have that with racial skills"

No. No you don't.

For those that don't know, PvE got hammered and skills made completely useless because of nerfs in PvP. It eventually got to the stage where they split the skills with a PvE and PvP version of the same skill. Our racial skills are actually weaker than their class counter-part. This solves nothing as even if they nerfed the class counter-part we'd just use the nerfed skill over the racial!

#14 Featherman

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:13 PM

[quote name='Doctor Overlord' timestamp='1361830836' post='2170555']
That makes quaggen sad :(  

Still an interesting interview.  I never cared much for the zone completion elements in WvW but if that actually is getting people to do WvW then that's a decent reason to put them in there.

And it seems the reason for the Dodge Daily really was an effort to teach people to simply use dodge.  I still say a decent tutorial at the start would have greatly helped with that, but if they needed a post-launch bandage that daily probably served that purpose.
[/quote]
I find that dodging lacks intuitiveness outside of a PvP and dungeon scenario, and even in dungeons you don't really dodge that often because attacks are so poorly telegraphed. If ANet wants people to dodge they need to build their enemies to force players to evade more often. I wouldn't even call this dodge daily "putting band-aid on the problem." It's more like sticking a band-aid in an arbitrary place and then hoping that it'd fix the problem. Many people exploit specific enemy mechanics to get it done quickly anyway.

[quote name='Darkobra' timestamp='1361874809' post='2170803']
"[b]Do you think you'll ever go down the PvE only skill route again?[/b]
[u]Colin:[/u] Well we kinda have that with racial skills"

No. No you don't.

For those that don't know, PvE got hammered and skills made completely useless because of nerfs in PvP. It eventually got to the stage where they split the skills with a PvE and PvP version of the same skill. Our racial skills are actually weaker than their class counter-part. This solves nothing as even if they nerfed the class counter-part we'd just use the nerfed skill over the racial!
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Couldn't agree more. There's little intricacy to PvE balance anyway. Even fractals are mostly execution puzzles with bits of combat. What's the harm in giving players actual variety in a PvE setting?

Edited by Featherman, 26 February 2013 - 12:18 PM.





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