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Games. Tech. Musings.

Games offline and online. Technology. Random stuff.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guild Wars: Izzy Interview

I finally got round to listening to Izzy's interview on Weapon of Choice. Here are some choice tidbits:
  • ArenaNet made a conscious decision not to prioritize PvP balance testing in Alpha because it wasn't working well for them. The most competitive players didn't have a big enough incentive to play Alpha regularly to really bring out the issues.
  • Balance changes don't happen overnight - it takes a lot of people and time (translations to a zillion languages, etc).
  • Yes, Jade Isle needs some love.
  • Right now they're planning on the Automated Tournament system having daily, weekly and monthly tournaments with prizes for different levels of play and support for different time zones. Izzy seemed pretty sad they didn't have the system from the start.
  • The PvP priority from their point of view is building a larger PvP base and that's the point of the AT system - to energize the PvP community.
It's an interesting interview, and recommended if you're interested in the PvP game. I invariably agree with Izzy - I think he does a good job of moving the game in the right direction. Even though he has my fish.

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Blogger Sausaletus Rex said...

Hey! Only a week between updates this time. Baby steps, eh?

Listening to WoC reminds me why I hate podcasts. Painful production value and all. Lots of interesting information as always, though. The most interesting part to me, though, was when Izzy was talking about the changes to the Ritualist and Paragon - how their static defense is somewhat of a mistake and they've been trying to shift away from that. For me, it's not only how they break down the game's positionality (Which is also the problem I'd have with Assassins thanks to the teleporting) but it's also that they have tons of area of effect defense. It's that kind of blanket protection, like Aegis, that hits everyone in the party while there's no real good counter to which tends to be deformative.

ArenaNet made a conscious decision not to prioritize PvP balance testing in Alpha because it wasn't working well for them.

Since I had some first hand experience with the test, especially on the PvP side, let me tell you that the developers pretty much had no choice but to put aside any rigorous testing. It was awful. The test was always a small base of players and not all of them were interested in PvP in the first place to say nothing of the quality level of those who remained (Somewhere, someone's ears are burning. That person is named Stinger.). It was virtually impossible to get a game in Tombs. And guild battles were by appointment only. Even the Arena was set to 2 person teams because that was the only way to have battles.

It was the same problem you have when there' regularly 4 or 5 people sitting around waiting to play - there just aren't enough people to game and so no one's getting better and, eventually, people lose interest in even trying and you've got 3 or 4 people standing around twiddling their thumbs. There were some attempts made to correct this by getting new guilds and more competitive guilds into the test (And I was involved in some of that through TGH.) but it was something of a crapshoot. GW isn't the easiest game to pick up, and teams that had success in other games weren't necessarily able to make the transition and that's even if you had a surefire PvP centered guild make it through the vetting process, which didn't always happen or happen quickly before they fell apart or got interested in something else or whatever.

That was before release. By that time I'd left the test but I can tell you that if I had a choice between playing the game on the live servers and playing the game on the test servers, it's no question at all. There's just going to be more people and more games available on live and the only reason to use the test servers would be to play around with skills and changes before they get released. I took part in some discussions along these lines in the test and before release and, from what I gathered, the idea was that beyond the basics, a lot of the testing for the PvP side of things would be done through the general populace on the live servers. Seemed pretty reasonable to me, but I'm still surprised it's taken two years to get to the current point.

3/14/2007 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Clamatius said...

Hey! Only a week between updates this time. Baby steps, eh?
Get a real job and a kid and then we'll talk. ;)

GW isn't the easiest game to pick up
In my mind, this is the biggest problem for GW PvP. The PvP game is excellent but the amount of knowledge/experience required to play make for a formidable barrier to entry. It's like tennis - no fun if you can't at least hit the ball back over the net.

3/15/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Sausaletus Rex said...

(non-)verbal spike ftw!

In my mind, this is the biggest problem for GW PvP.

It's a good point. And one I'd tend to agree with although I think the largest problem is more that the high barrier of entry makes it harder to replenish the PvP scene - you can't simply replace each player that grows disinterested. And the ones that remain are the more dedicated ones, raising the bar even further.

But that 's why I think that introductory formats of PvP are so important. Everyone grumbles about the RA but it's places like that which should be serving as a gateway into richer formats. Formats that require more time to learn but which are more rewarding because of that complexity. A place like the Dragon Arena - where you strip away all build considerations - or the Snowball Fights - where you boil down character selection to its bare minimum - where the rules are simplified, where the complexity can be reduced, and players can concentrate on the little things, need to be fostered and protected. The botting and such just drags them down but, for whatever reason, these formats aren't high on priority list. When, if you ask me, it's an important part in drawing new players in. You can't build a larger base without them.

It's like Izzy mentioned in the WoC. That rebalance during a tournament pretty much cost the game KOR. And KOR was, at the time, as good as you could get (I played against them a few times with Fianna or the Alphas in the test. Just insane.). They innovated a lot of the things we take for granted today. It's not just Korean guilds, either, as you could tell a similar story about LoTD and others. But is the game poorer because they're not around anymore? I'd argue it's not or at least not much because with them out of the picture, other teams with their own innovations rose to the forefront and the game was young enough that it didn't take them long. Today, though, could QQ or iQ or someone drop out of the game only to have someone else rise up to take their place? I'd like to think so but before too long the playerbase gets exhausted. And then where's everyone at?

3/15/2007 05:50:00 PM  

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