Guild Wars 2 Developer Takes Notes From the Pros

Jonathan Sharp is one of the designers for Guild Wars 2 on the team in charge of the balance between the classes and of the overall game system for the game's PvP. He takes an hour to talk to some of the players from the top teams currently playing about issues of balance, what they think is too strong, how the meta has been affected by recent changes, and giving a bit of information on the mindset Arenanet takes with its balance patching.

Jonathan Sharp is one of the designers for Arenanet.  Most relevantly, he is one of the system designers for Guild Wars 2 on the team in charge of the balance between the classes and of the overall game system for the game’s PvP.  He takes a few moments here (more than a few, it’s an hour-long open discussion) to talk to some of the players from the top teams currently playing about issues of balance.

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The Players’ Concerns (High-Tier qq)

Rez Timers

They start by talking about the changes to rez timers, specifically how making them individual rather than wave-based has changed how people behave in regards to doing things they know will get them killed.  With the wave-based timer you saw a lot of players who would stay on a point fighting a hopeless battle to try and delay that point being taken because they knew the wave timer was about to go off and they’d be back in the game (with their then-dead allies) soon.  With individual timers that player would be dead for the same amount of time from a hopeless fight as from a close one, so a player is now more likely to back off from a hopeless battle so that they aren’t forcing their team to fight with one less player for the time it takes them to resurrect.

Resurrect Skills

That discussion naturally moves into talk about the skills in Guild Wars 2’s PvP that resurrect downed comrades and how very they are in the current meta since a player can get ganged up on and not get help from a resurrecting teammate for fifteen seconds, which is generally far too long.  The classes that have access to these skills bring abilities to their team that can instantly win fights more readily than most, with the examples of Mesmer and Necromancer being able to walk up to a fight that may have been a close battle, with people downed on both sides, throw one ability (Illusion of Life and Signet of Undeath, respectively) and suddenly not simply being one extra player arriving for their side but being three or four players on their side.

A comparison follows between the different class downed states, with most of their focus being on how strong the Elementalist downed state is and a bit of talk about how strong AoEs are when someone is downed since they can hit the downed person and anyone manually rezzing them.

Jonathan’s Answers (Don’t Knock The New Guy)

It’s all about balance

Jonathan takes a moment after this to explain the problem of trying to balance a PvP game for both high and low level players, using examples from both League of Legends and Starcraft II.  He also addresses how PvP games in general need a good community to help educate newer players, once again using League of Legends as an example with people being able to look up specific roles or champions to learn to make it easier to learn the game itself in small pieces.

Team Composition

They all agree that Guild Wars 2 needs a way of categorizing games based on the relative skills of the teams and splitting up the queues for full teams and for solo players, Jonathan explains why he and Arenanet in general don’t often give specific dates to avoid disappointment due to technical issues or random circumstance, and then explains how excited they are about the real possibility of the game becoming a recognized e-sport but that they don’t want to rush into it at the expense of the game.

Total Recall

The rest of the video is mostly Jonathan answering questions about game development in general and about trying to incentivize players who’ve left to return to Guild Wars 2.

Good Signs

One thing that I noticed about this video was that there are several moments over the course of it when you can hear Jonathan typing while someone else is talking despite obviously paying attention to their words given the focus on his features.  He was taking notes on what the players had to say about the game balance, and that single fact is what I’d call the single most hopeful thing in the entire video.


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Wokendreamer
Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.