Personally, I'm inclined to think they're both essential as well... But when push comes to shove, how it plays is more important than how it looks and the lore behind it (and I'm saying this as a lore junkie). Part of this is because it's easy to come up with new aesthetics - if I spent ten minutes I could probably come up with over a dozen, possibly without overlapping the existing ones more than they already do with one another (so no storm wizard, much as I love the archetype, since that's basically a specialist elementalist). Coming up with new playstyles, though, is hard.
ArenaNet's policy was to attempt to fit in every playstyle that was compatible with the overall philosophy of Guild Wars 2. Even attempting to cover all bases aesthetically, though, was not on the agenda. A profession proposal is thus much more likely to be taken seriously if it can clearly identify a playstyle that's currently missing and that is compatible with GW2.
However, people shouldn't get too attached to their own ideas - ArenaNet showed in GW2 that they were more inclined to take the core playstyle concept and do their own thing with it. That's why we got the Paragon instead of the Bard. Which is why I always roll my eyes when someone posts a concept with full skill and sometimes even trait lists.
Ritualist was another such conversion. Aesthetically, they may be different, but almost as much as is possible given the philosophy (more active play as opposed to shepherding AI allies like the SoS rit and MM necro) and engine differences of the two games, they're the same in playstyle. Now, those differences in engine and philosophy are pretty different, but if you try to translate one into the other's game, you'll get something pretty similar to the other. (Engineer into GW1 would have the bigger difference, as it would be a physical rather than spellcasting profession and in GW1 this would mean they'd be countered in different ways. GW2, of course, does not care about this distinction mechanically-speaking.)
Then we're pretty much in agreement - there's a reason I switched to talking about 'aesthetic' rather than 'theme'.
Still, in the context of your claim a couple of pages ago that the ritualist is more like the engineer than the necromancer - this is an aesthetic versus playstyle thing. Aesthetically, this is true. Playstyle wise, the ritualist is DEFINITELY more engineer. As I've said before, most of the ritualist's key features would basically translate into GW2 as an engineer with weapon conjures (and, tbh, I was surprised when engineers didn't get any 'create a weapon for another player to use' skills beyond the mortar).
meltor13, on 09 August 2014 - 06:23 AM, said:
^ yeah, I guess that's where I'm going. Which - I understand that melee needs to be more damaging because you're putting yourself in greater danger. But. Dammit. yeah. It always comes back to the 'MOAR DPS' argument. Oh well.
Would still like to see some new stuff - whether it be new weaponsets/races/skills/whatever. Given the current meta, I feel like we, as players in the community, have tapped out the potential for optimization, and there's no reason to try new/different things (unless you just want to run around by yourself).
That's the theory. I'm not convinced it actually works in practise - in PvE stacking means that area heals and protection effects affect everyone and anyone who goes down can often be quickly ressed, while in PvP higher availability of control and mobility skills usually means the melee builds win the kiting war.
As for new stuff - definitely. I'm not sure how much new races would shake up the meta if at all, but in a few weeks it'll be two years already, and all we've had is a new healing skill each and a few trait reshuffles. Now, the trait reshuffles can lead to new builds, but there's no real 'new skill feeling' apart from free trait rebuilding allowing testing of builds that you hadn't tried before because of the cost of retraiting.
And you need an idea on how to combine them to get that playstyle. That is why the theme is so important. It is like putting together a puzzle, and not having a picture of the completed puzzle or even seeing the design on the pieces. you go in blind, you may as well not do it at all. Same thing for all the professions, as each one was more defined, they added abilities that fit what they wanted from that idea, reason a guardian has defensive magics rather than offensive ones.
A playstyle exists because the profession exists. Without the profession, there is no playstyle, which is literally a style of play.
Ehhh... yes and no.
Coming up with the aesthetic first can guide a playstyle, but it isn't a necessary first step. It's just as possible to start with a playstyle and then find an aesthetic from that. You could look at it as a question of form and function - which comes first?
The ritualist is an interesting case of both applying, when you think about it. The original aesthetic was engineer, and previous games had established a playstyle for engineer that ArenaNet wanted to introduce into GW1 - however, that original playstyle was probably a case of function following form. Because the engineer aesthetic didn't fit in GW1's overall aesthetic, ArenaNet came up with a new aesthetic to fit the playstyle - here, form followed function. Most ritualist skills in GW1 are recognisably engineer mechanics with their serial numbers filed off and replaced with a ghostly aesthetic - there are some unique things in there that were probably added after the aesthetic was decided on, but unfortunately few of those translate well into GW2.
The knight to guardian transition was probably also a case of form following function - at some point, ArenaNet probably came to the realisation that the style they wanted would work best with access to fields (particularly walls and bubbles) and that effectively meant that the aesthetic had to include magic or technology... and they went with the former. The aesthetic was built to serve the playstyle.
Conversely, the mesmer is an interesting case where you have two very different playstyles on the same aesthetic - there are nods to the GW1 mesmer in GW2, but they're pretty tokenistic when you get down to it. Mind you, both are fairly natural evolutions of the concept within the mechanical framework of each game - but on the gripping hand, if there wasn't the precedent of the GW1 mesmer, the GW2 mesmer's short-term summoning playstyle would probably have been implemented in another way and possibly with a different aesthetic. The GW2 mesmer style, for instance, could largely be replicated in a profession with a ritualist-like aesthetic - summoning spirits that haunt a target (clones and phantasms), invoking poltergiests to throw enemy projectiles back at them (reflect effects), invoking a spirit to have it cast a spell a couple of times on their behalf (mantras) and so on.
At the bottom line, though, to make a viable profession, you need both. Aesthetic alone - with ArenaNet's philosophy (other games have different philosophies and don't mind classes that play the same but have a different aesthetic) - won't make a profession, it needs to clearly have a playstyle that differs from the existing professions (although it may be possible that extreme builds of professions might overlap).
meltor13, on 08 August 2014 - 08:40 PM, said:
I guess I didn't account for Necro daggers, which are actual physical attacks according to the description.
My point was, there is a very limited set of profession builds that attack without an actual physical blow occuring with some form of weaponry, and in many cases those specific class/weaponset builds are not the 'main' part of the build, just a swap set for specific niche purposes. So I think it would be good to add another profession to help fill the area of 'damage inflicted without coming to actual blows with an enemy'.
Not trying to stir anything up, was just an idea that crossed my mind. I think something akin to a Force Mage (if anyone is familiar with Dragon Age 2 - sorry!) would be really cool. Just a focus on pure raw magical energy.
EDIT: Which, thinking about the current storylines and how Dragons manipulate and feed on raw magical energy, this could be a cool entrypoint for something like this. Again, just, thinking out loud. It's Friday.
Well, mesmers have three 'caster' weapons to one melee one - which, unless I've forgotten one, is the same balance the necromancer has (just swap axe for greatsword). Technically speaking, you could make a guardian as a full caster if you use staff and sceptre/offhand as your sets. What you're talking about isn't really a problem with the professions, it's that the meta tends to favour melee weapons with high DPS, particularly in dungeons where stacking is the main strategy.
'Pure magic' has generally been established as being part of the mesmer's expertise, possibly with a little in the elementalist in arcane skills. Force is generally more a guardian trick, but a 'force mage' would probably end up being like a guardian with more ranged options or a mesmer without the illusion reliance - on a quick glance at the DA2 wiki, many and possibly all of the force spells already have counterparts in the mesmer, guardian, or both.
Sure, to really have a new profession you'd need to have a new aesthetic as well as a new playstyle. The aesthetic is the easy part, though. To have a new profession, we'd need either a new playstyle element or a new combination of said elements.
I'm curious as to what constitutes a 'true caster' too. Particular since necromancers are just as inclined towards cutting someone up with a magically enhanced melee weapon as mesmers are.