The Guild Wars 2 Panel at PAX provided the audience a glimpse into the design process by having the team do a dry run on suggestions from the floor of a skill and an event. Making a skill, the example being an enhancement for the Elementalist, actually starts with the idea on a sticky note that gets moved around while the team discusses it. Will the skill be a utility skill? Will it be something that goes on a weapon or piece of equipment? Will it be a Glyph or perhaps a buff? It doesn’t move further until they decide where exactly it goes. From there on, it gets developed further and expanded on, and goes through many iterations and balancing before it ever gets to the art department where the icon, animation and effects are created.
For events, ArenaNet actually has a template on their proprietary software that allows them to rough in an event. Depending on how complex the event is, the rough draft can be playable in as few as six hours to two days. From then on, it’s a cycle of play-testing, receiving feedback and iterating. ArenaNet actually have QA testers on the various teams so the cycle is very quick. An event gets iterated 10 to 15 times by the time it gets through the QA loop.
There was some joking around, especially about place-holder art and sounds while everything went into place before actual NPCs were designed for events and the audience appreciated being given a glimpse into the daily workings of a games studio.
The team also spoke on how the AI worked for dynamic events. It’s not only the number of players in the event, for many may be just rubber necking. What counts is the number of players that are actively attacking or supporting and the amount of damage being done. The mob’s skills will change dynamically in reaction to the number of players for example, its AOE skill now activates, or it calls minions to help.
A question was asked about the seemingly few activate-able skills on a character’s hot-bar, but the team reminded the audience that skills were tied to weapons and a player could equip two and swap them out as the situation called for, during battle.
There was much talk about the ability to shoot through a wall of fire and for it to pick up the characteristic and become a fiery arrow. The team confirmed that any sort of projectile going through a persistent effect will pick up that effect, as another example, a thrown weapon through a cloud of poison. They would not elaborate further as this is a system currently being worked on and not yet in a final state.
In terms of equipment, unlike the original Guild Wars, anything that an NPC wears or carries will probably be available to players at some point in time, unless it’s a unique such as raid bosses. As for PvP, ArenaNet is designing some sort of uniform to simple recognition of your side. Currently, the red vs blue teams are placeholder defaults. Further, events reward players with Karma points which are used to purchase equipment and weapons. No more waiting for a specific event, then not having the piece you want drop, or losing the roll for it, they announced to applause and cheers from the audience.
Guild halls will not be at release, however, the team is planning a robust player housing system and at the time that is introduced into the game, so will guild halls. Guild halls will also be more than just a place for showing off trophies but also a place for players to rest and recover, for guild storage as well as crafting, and there was talk of gathering for specific events and traveling, but no details were forthcoming.
The notion of crafting stations in Guild halls segued nicely to crafting in game. Guild Wars style salvage will be in the game, but there’s gathering out in the world as exploring will be part of the game, and a career in crafting will be feasible in Guild Wars2. The team noted that gathering is a skill and players not having a high level skill will not be able to gather high level items from high level nodes. So high level players will not automatically be able to gather the best crafting materials just because they have access to high level zones. However, this doesn’t mean that players with high level gathering skills will only gather high-level materials from nodes. Nodes are still level specific to zones. That is to say, low level zone nodes will yield low level materials.
The final player question had to do with “side-kicking.” Yes, that system will be in the game and players will scale down to their lower level buddy, but again, the team was not speaking of specifics at this point in the game.
All in all, it was an interesting panel with player questions that yielding even better answers for the myriad questions players have for the upcoming game. There seems to be an ever-increasing amount of novelties in Guild Wars 2, and we can’t wait to see how it all comes together.