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Guild Wars 2 Interviews: Exclusive: Jon Peters Interview

By William Murphy on November 05, 2011

MMORPG.com:

The new tool belt changes sound incredibly versatile.  You've given some great examples in the blog, but are you worried at all about balancing each of these tool belt abilities and how all 23 interact with one another?

Jon Peters:

We balance everything in Guild Wars 2 around opportunity cost. For instance, using a skill at one point in combat prevents you from using it at another time, and selecting certain weapons or utilities require you to give up another weapon. We can do this by making our skills very versatile, or just by making them very good at the one thing they do. So I’m not really concerned about balancing that particular aspect of gameplay as opposed to anything else in the game. Of course Isaiah and Jonathan—the other guys heavily involved in game balance—will tell you that I’m never worried about anything because they worry about it for me!

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MMORPG.com:

Is there a tool belt skill to go along with the net players could fire during the PAX Prime demo?

Jon Peters:

Each heal and each utility skill gets a corresponding tool belt skill when you equip them. So no, Net Shot on the rifle doesn’t have a tool belt skill, but since you asked so nicely here is another tool belt example. There is a utility skill where you can launch enemies through the air with a hidden device that pops out of your chest. The tool belt skill associated with this utility skill shoots the hidden device out as a projectile to knock someone back.

MMORPG.com:

I love the fact that you guys decided to make the pet system so fluid and easy to use, by having pets downed and swappable even in that state.  Exactly how long is the cool down when swapping out a downed pet, so a player can't just keep swapping their pets at will without penalty?

Jon Peters:

Numbers are always in flux, but I think we’ll eventually settle on something that is in between “this feels excruciatingly long” and “this is laughably easy.” Which is to say more than 0 and less than 100.

MMORPG.com:

I was a bit confused by the species and family part of the pets system. It's basically this: you charm a species and that species gets added to the running list of pets you have available?  And each species in a family has their own special skills to make them worthwhile? Man that seems like a beast (pun intended) to balance for PVP.

Jon Peters:

Yes, a ranger can charm a specific species of animal to “unlock” it. Each animal family has 3 family skills that define their basic behavior, and then each species has a unique activated skill that does something cool. For example, a Brown Bear might have a roar that removes conditions from allies, but a Polar Bear might have a roar that freezes enemies.

MMORPG.com:

It seems like these changes to the pet system are just one more way in which the team is making sure the hassle of MMOs is gone in GW2. Is there one specific part of the pet system your most proud of?

Jon Peters:

It’s true, we had a lot of ideas about how the pet stuff could go, but this is the one approach that felt the most Guild Wars 2. We picked this pet system because it fit with our goals of making versatile characters and fluid combat.

MMORPG.com:

The cross-profession combos seem absolutely nuts.  With all the skills across all the classes, the options are limitless.  Will there be some skills that don't do anything together, or will every combination potentially create at least some effect?

Jon Peters:

Yes, there are many skills that don’t “play well” together. The idea behind the system was to use these initial fields and these finishing physical moves to create a subset of manageable shared outcomes, so that combos aren’t happening all of the time and still feel special, but also aren’t such a tangled mess that you can never tell what is going to happen.

MMORPG.com:

Aside from giving a heads up on what players did to make a combo as it happens, will there be a catalog in the game that tracks the combos you perform so that you can refer back to it when coordinating attacks and working with others?

Jon Peters:

Hmm, sounds cool! That is designer speak for, “Let me go talk to a programmer about that and watch them cringe.” There is a lot of cool stuff we do track and want to track in Guild Wars 2. Whether we decide combos are worth tracking will depend on a number of factors that I can’t really judge right now, but I wouldn’t rule it out.

MMORPG.com:

You gave some crazy examples in the blog, but what's been your favorite one that you personally have stumbled upon just while playing the game without knowing it existed?

Jon Peters:

Luckily, I am a part of the team that designs the combo stuff so I don’t have to stumble upon it. If there is something wacky or cool you do in the game, chances are that me or one of the other combat designers thought of it in a meeting. That being said, we do love to leave some things open for emergent gameplay, because we believe this is what gives good games their longevity.

MMORPG.com:

Thanks so much for your time and for the killer update! Any final words to leave us with, as we await that darned beta testing phase?

Jon Peters:

Thanks! Hang in there— as excited as you guys might be we are just as excited to share the game. I was up at 5:30 AM checking my email this morning waiting for the blog to go out so I could read people’s responses. We want to share Guild Wars 2 with people, but it has to be polished and worthy of your deservedly high expectations, so just give us the time we need to get there.

 
MMORPG.com:

Thanks again Jon!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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