ArenaNet:Developer updates/Archive April-Jun 2008

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[Dev Update] Upcoming Changes to the Hall of Monuments - 24 June 2008

Since the release of Eye of the North there has been a lot of discussion about how the Hall of Monuments works. We intend to address a few of the larger concerns raised by players. We are not able to announce a specific date at which these changes will be released, but we're explaining them now so that players can choose their play patterns accordingly.

1. In the Hall of Monuments, you will be able to choose to view your accomplishments by character or by account. This is a setting you’ll be able to switch back and forth.

2. Hall of Monuments accomplishments will be sent to Guild Wars 2 by account. All Hall of Monuments accomplishments for any Guild Wars character on your account will be available to every Guild Wars 2 character on your account.

3. We will be adding support for Tormented weapons to the Hall of Monuments.

Account-based Accomplishments

Because the Hall of Monuments displays accomplishments on a character-by-character basis, many players have felt strongly discouraged from playing multiple characters. To allow greater freedom in play style, we are changing the design for the Hall of Monuments. Accomplishments will be transferred to Guild Wars 2 on an account-by-account basis, and players will have the option of displaying their accomplishments by account or by character in the Hall of Monuments. (Please note that the armor statues in the Monument to Resilience will reflect the appearance of the character currently in the Hall of Monuments, not the character that originally displayed that armor set.)

Tormented Weapons

Currently, the Monument to Valor only allows the display of Destroyer weapons. Adding support for Tormented weapons will allow us to give players more options for what they want to display (and unlock for Guild Wars 2) without diminishing the exclusivity currently associated with this monument.

Guild Wars 2 Unlocks

Aside from the switch to account-based accomplishments, this has not changed. You will be able to add to the Hall of Monuments in the original Guild Wars even after the release of Guild Wars 2, and any newly unlocked accomplishments will then be visible in Guild Wars 2. We will provide more information about the exact rewards for each Hall of Monuments accomplishment as we get closer to the release of Guild Wars 2.


[Dev Update] Skill Balance Changes - 18 June 2008

The primary goals of the balance updates made on June 12 were to round out PvE-targeted changes we made in the last update, to improve a few underpowered skills, and to address PvP play balance issues.

Some players have objected to changes in the last update to Ether Renewal and Shadow Form. We have not seen any actual negative impact from the Ether Renewal change, but we are still evaluating the high efficiency of Shadow Form farming builds. We will continue to monitor this issue and may make adjustments in the near future. Similarly, we know that the powerful Ursan Blessing is always the subject of much discussion. Some players feel it makes the game too easy while others think it is fun. We have not chosen to make any changes to Ursan Blessing at this time, but we will consider the matter as we move forward. Finally, we know there are continuing concerns about Wounding Strike from some PvP players, but we do not believe that changes to this skill are warranted at this time. We have, in this update, altered several other skills that are commonly used in conjunction with Wounding Strike in GvG. We will observe the consequences of these changes before revisiting the Wounding Strike issue.

PvE and PvP

Most of these changes improve existing skills. A few are power reductions that are not expected to be detrimental to PvE play. Three skills (Soul Bind, Rust, and Lightning Touch) are having their core function changed to make them more useful outside of niche circumstances. The following skills will change in both PvE and PvP:

Mesmer

The goal in changing Drain Enchantment and Drain Delusions was to provide better Energy management options for Mesmers without giving defensive characters a significant boost in Energy management options. Wastrel’s Worry is interesting in that it provides psychological pressure while also giving recastable, non-spike damage to Mesmers. The numbers before made it a bit weak, so we've increased its power to make it more attractive.

Necromancer

  • Fetid Ground Fetid Ground: decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • Suffering Suffering: increased Health degeneration to -1..3.
  • Vile Miasma Vile Miasma: increased Health degeneration to -1..5.
  • Soul Bind Soul Bind: decreased casting time to 1 second; functionality changed to: "For 30 seconds, every time target foe is healed, the healer takes 20..80 damage. This hex ends if target is suffering from a Smiting Prayers hex."

In recent months, we've seen a trend toward GvG teams with more consistent offensive power. Unfortunately, teams that rely on physical damage seem to be outshining others. To allow for more diversity, we've improved Suffering and Vile Miasma to increase the damage output of hexes. We've also tried to improve Fetid Ground as an option for dealing damage and spreading Poison. Because Health degeneration can be countered with strong party-wide healing, we've altered Soul Bind so that it can be used to reduce the efficiency of party-wide healing.

Elementalist

  • Rust Rust: increased Energy cost to 10; decreased casting time to 1 second; functionality changed to: "Deals 10..70 cold damage. For 5..20 seconds, target foe and all adjacent foes take twice as long to activate signets."
  • Lightning Touch Lightning Touch: functionality changed to: "Target touched foe and all adjacent foes are struck for 10..60 lightning damage. Foes suffering from a Water Magic hex are Blinded for 3..8 seconds. This skill has 25% armor penetration."
  • Arc Lightning Arc Lightning: increased conditional damage to 15..75.

The prevalence of signet Mesmers in PvP caused us to review signet counters. We looked for opportunities to improve these skills without creating absolute counters that would completely eliminate the viability of signet Mesmers. With that in mind, Rust now does damage (making it generally more useful) but its effect on signet activation times is also reduced. Lightning Touch and Arc Lightning were improved to be more viable options for Elementalists using more than one attribute line.

Monk

Strength of Honor and Holy Wrath have seen more and more competitive play. With no recharge time, they were too easy to recast after removal, effectively eliminating the enchantment removal as a way to combat these skills. Adding some recharge time should address this issue. Aura of Stability and Balthazar’s Pendulum were too effective at stopping knockdowns; we reduced their durations to encourage more active use.

Warrior

Recently, there has been a strong trend against sword use in GvG. Swords have always been a unique weapon in Guild Wars because they can do lethal damage without an elite skill. By improving Warrior elites with unique abilities (area-of-effect speed boost, and speed boost with knockdown, respectively), we hope to make swords a more viable choice again. Symbolic Strike has been improved to give players more options for dealing sword damage and to encourage synergy with Warrior signets.

Ranger

  • Antidote Signet Antidote Signet: functionality changed to: "Cleanse yourself of Poison, Disease, Blindness, and one additional condition."
  • Barbed Arrows Barbed Arrows: increased duration to 24 seconds; removed easily interruptible; you now have -40 armor while activating this skill.

Antidote Signet's specific condition removal has traditionally limited its appeal. To improve its versatility and overall effectiveness, we've added the ability to remove an additional condition of any type. This should also ease the pressure to take Monk as a secondary profession just for Mending Touch. Bleeding has always been intended as a secondary condition for Rangers, not as easy to spread as Poison and Crippling. The drawbacks on Barbed Arrows were far too severe for the skill to receive serious consideration, so it is now easier to use.

Paragon

Bleeding is typically a condition with a longer duration, but the Bleeding inflicted by Barbed Spear was too short to easily spread it around. We've remedied this by increasing the Bleeding duration. "Can't Touch This!" is a very specific counter which did not warrant its higher Energy cost. We've reduced that cost to compensate.

PvE Changes

The improvements here are appropriate for PvE but would not benefit PvP play balance. The following skills will change in PvE:

Mesmer

  • Energy Drain Energy Drain: increased multiplier for Energy gained to 3.

Energy denial is not typically a good strategy in PvE, so our recent changes to Energy Drain have been aimed at providing better Energy management for the caster. The previous change did not go far enough in this regard. This change should more clearly accomplish our goals.

Dervish

  • Mystic Regeneration Mystic Regeneration: decreased recharge to 5 seconds; increased the maximum number of enchantments counted to 8.

The past changes for Mystic Regeneration were based on PvP play balance needs. Because those changes were neither necessary nor beneficial for PvE, we are reverting this skill to its older, more powerful state.

PvP Changes

The significant power reductions here are important to address current PvP play balance but are not necessary for PvE. The following skills will change in PvP:

Mesmer

We've altered this skill to slow down damage, Signet of Humility usage, and knockdowns coming from signet Mesmers in GvG.

Warrior

  • "For Great Justice!" (PvP) "For Great Justice!" (PvP): functionality changed to: "For 20 seconds, when you hit with an attack, you gain 1 additional strike of adrenaline."

When used with other adrenaline-gaining skills, “For Great Justice!” provided enough adrenaline for excessively long knockdown chains. By adding a fixed amount of adrenaline, this skill should now add to a Warrior's efficiency without enabling degenerate combinations.

Ritualist

  • Ancestors' Rage (PvP) Ancestors' Rage (PvP): increased duration to 2 seconds; decreased damage to 5..50; functionality changed to: "For 2 seconds all foes adjacent to target ally are struck for 5..50 lightning damage each second."
  • Splinter Weapon (PvP) Splinter Weapon (PvP): decreased damage to 5..30.

For some time now, Ancestors' Rage and Splinter Weapons have been key skills for the Ritualist. These changes are intended to temper these skills without removing them from play. Dividing the damage from Ancestors' Rage into two hits should make it less effective at delivering a sudden spike of damage while still maintaining its role as an efficient source of overall damage. In GvG, Splinter Weapon has continued to enable teams to slaughter NPCs during Victory or Death. Reducing its damage should help mitigate this.


[Dev Update] PvP/PvE Skill Balancing – 21 May 2008

With this week’s update we will introduce a new system to split certain skills into separate PvE and PvP versions. With this system we can update skills for one game type without affecting the other. To prepare players for the changes, we have decided to post this Dev Update as a preview. The skill changes will go live on May 22.

With the new system, we can restore skills to their original forms, so they are no longer impacted by PvP balance changes. For example:

  • "Incoming!" "Incoming!": increased duration to 1..5 seconds; added PvP version with previous stats.

Where balance changes were required for PvP, but not PvE, the skill has been split and the changes will apply to the PvP version. For example:

We will be reintroducing the PvP balance changes that we tested from April 17 – May 1, but now these balance changes will apply only to PvP.

Skills that differ in PvP play will have (PvP) listed at the end of their names when viewed in PvP outposts and matches. These skills will automatically be adjusted within PvP outposts and matches. Players can equip their skills as normal, and the game will use the PvP version where appropriate.

We recognize that this is a new system, with different stats possible for the same skill in PvE and PvP. We intend to use this system to the benefit of all players, and maintain our dedication to careful evaluation of each skill that we balance. Since this is the initial roll-out for the new system, we altered more skills than we would expect to in future updates.

List of Skills Affected

Restoration of Skill Effectiveness in PvE

In this update, we will be restoring a number of skills so that they work similar to how they used to before various PvP-related game balances. Each of the following skills restored in this way will also have a PvP version:

Assassin
Mesmer
  • Energy Drain Energy Drain: decreased recharge to 20 seconds.
  • Energy Tap Energy Tap: decreased recharge to 20 seconds; decreased casting time to 2 seconds.
Necromancer
  • Discord Discord: decreased casting time to 1 second.
Elementalist
  • Ether Renewal Ether Renewal: increased duration to 5..20 seconds; increased Energy gain to 1..4.
Monk
Warrior
Ritualist
  • Ritual Lord Ritual Lord: increased Spirit recharge reduction to 15..75%.
Ranger
Paragon

Restoration of April Balance Changes (PvP)

We will also reintroduce the PvP balance changes that we tested from April 17 – May 1, along with a few other tweaks to skills. These balance changes will apply only to PvP.

Assassin
Necromancer
  • Enfeeble Enfeeble (PvP): increased recharge to 10 seconds.
Elementalist
  • Blinding Surge Blinding Surge (PvP): decreased recharge to 3 seconds; decreased Blind duration to 1..5 seconds.
  • Ward Against Melee Ward Against Melee (PvP): decreased duration to 1..18 seconds.
  • Lightning Orb Lightning Orb (PvP): this skill no longer causes Cracked Armor.
Monk
  • Aegis Aegis (PvP): increased Energy cost to 15.
Ritualist
Dervish
Paragon

Restoration of April Balance Changes (PvE and PvP)

These skills were part of the the April Balance change and needed to be restored for PvP balance but didn't warrant splitting the skills into separate PvE and PvP versions. Some are skill improvements we wanted to apply to both PvE and PvP; others are power reductions we felt would have minimal impact on PvE balance. The one exception is Steelfang Slash, which was not a part of the April Balance update. It was added to this list to deal with particular multi-weapon skill combinations that allowed a player to repeatedly chain knockdowns on an opponent.

Mesmer
Elementalist
Warrior
  • Disarm Disarm: decreased skill disable time to 0..3 seconds; increased recharge to 20 seconds.
  • Steelfang Slash Steelfang Slash: increased recharge to 1 second.


[Dev Update] Skill Balancing - 09 May 2008

Rather than introducing another skill update this week, we're finishing a new system to balance key skills separately for PvP and PvE. Within the next few weeks, we'll introduce PvP versions for a handful of skills. These skills will work the same way as normal skills, but have different number values (damage, healing, cost, recharge, and so on). We will do this as sparingly as possible and start with very few skills. So that we don't confuse players, we intend to keep as many skills unchanged as we can.

PvP versions are designed to target only specific skills. With such a system we can revert high-impact nerfs, such as Light of Deliverance and Defensive Anthem, to make them strong again in PvE. When we see something becoming severely imbalanced in PvP, we'd like to avoid harsh PvE nerfs without creating different versions of a large number of skills.

Skills that differ in PvP will have (PvP) at the end of their names when in PvP outposts and matches. These skills will automatically be adjusted within PvP outposts and matches. All players have to do is equip the skill as normal, and it will use the PvP version where appropriate.

We've decided to release our next skill balance update simultaneously with these changes. We can take full advantage of the new skill balancing mechanism and avoid multiple balances over a short time frame.


[Dev Update] Game Update Notes - 17 April 2008

This month's update is unique. It is a "temporary tournament update" targeted at the final cash-prize tournament, which will take place at the end of April. The skill changes are temporary and will be in effect for only two weeks. They are all geared toward addressing the most immediate issues with Guild Battles.

In order to reduce the possible negative impact on PvE play, we will be reverting the changes on May 1st. For future tournaments, we aim to focus on changes that will not impact PvE play at all.

Guild vs. Guild

  • Warrior's Isle: Adjusted the location of NPCs in red base.
  • Druid's Isle: Removed two archers from both bases.
  • Burning Isle: Removed two archers from both bases.
  • Updated Automated Tournament map rotations.

Some map changes accompany this week's balance update, mostly NPC locations. We removed the additional NPCs in Burning Isle and Druid's Isle that somewhat limited skirmish and split potential. On Warrior's Isle, the away team's NPCs were much more susceptible to trebuchet fire than the home team's, so we've moved them to balance the bases. Finally, Nomad's Isle has been a sub-par map for a monthly tournament, while Isle of Weeping Stone has repeatedly proven its quality in a competitive environment. We've replaced Nomad's Isle with Weeping Stone for the tournament.

Assassin

Blind is a staple prevention method against Shadow Stepping spikes, but Assassin's Remedy passively bypasses that counter. The condition is removed before the attack even hits, which nullifies well-timed Blindness in a self-sufficient, "fire-and-forget" manner. The higher Energy cost will add a little Energy pressure, especially to Assassin/Dervish combinations, and limit the frequency of their spikes.

Mesmer

  • Hex Breaker Hex Breaker: changed skill type back to stance.
  • Fragility Fragility: decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • Fevered Dreams Fevered Dreams: decreased recharge to 8 seconds.
  • Chaos Storm Chaos Storm: decreased Energy cost to 5.
  • Energy Surge Energy Surge: increased Energy drained to 1..10; decreased damage per Energy to 9.
  • Energy Burn Energy Burn: increased Energy drained to 1..10; decreased damage per Energy to 9.

To support additional Energy attrition (and allow teams to break down overwhelming defenses), Energy Surge and Energy Burn both get increases to the amount of Energy they drain, and Chaos Storm gets a significant cost decrease. We've also improved condition spreading, especially from Necromancers, so we wanted to support out-of-profession skills that combo particularly well with conditions. Fevered Dreams' recharge comes down and Fragility's cost is reduced to make these hexes more easily spreadable. Finally, Hex Breaker and Mantra of Concentration were too powerful when used together, so we've changed Hex Breaker back to a stance.

Necromancer:

Dark Pact's damage was not worth its cost. We've raised that damage by more than 20 at the high end, hopefully making this skill a viable way to inflict damage at a Health cost.

Elementalist:

Wards, when used during Victory or Death, gave teams too much irremovable defense for their NPCs. The positional play of these skills also matters much less in the final standoff at the flag stand (because everything clumps together), so we've disabled their effect on Guild Battle NPCs. Lightning Orb's Cracked Armor component made it too easy to compress skill bars, which made other options like Shell Shock obsolete. In response, we removed the Cracked Armor component of Lightning Orb. Teleporting Elementalists using Shockwave could quickly annihilate targets on a spike in an undetectable way, which made them very difficult to deal with. We've increased the casting time here to prevent that particular combination. Finally, Glyph of Concentration enabled caster spikes too efficiently, so it now prevents interruption on just a single spell.

Monk:

  • Aegis Aegis: increased Energy cost to 15.

Aegis, despite all of its drawbacks, continues to be a very powerful defensive skill that helps draw games out to Victory or Death. We've added additional Energy pressure here, aiming to bring it more in balance.

Warrior:

  • Disarm Disarm: decreased time that attack skills are disabled to 0..3 seconds; increased recharge to 20.

Disarm's ability to lock out adrenaline, essentially preventing a character from doing much of anything, was both overpowered and frustrating. We've limited how frequently this skill can be used. When properly timed, it can still be effective without completely removing an opponent from the game.

Ritualist:

Flesh of my Flesh and Death Pact Signet's downsides were not harsh enough for their effect. These fast-casting, fast-recharging resurrections could be seamlessly integrated into a defensive build, with the Health sacrifice and possibility of caster death easily mitigated, making these skills too powerful. The additional recharge limits how fast a team can recover from multiple deaths. Ancestors' Rage and Splinter Weapon have trivialized pre-VoD NPC advantage by making it easy to slaughter NPCs at the stand during VoD. To limit their impact, we've increased the casting time of Ancestors' Rage and increased the recharge of Splinter Weapon. Defensive Spirits and bundle items, like Elementalist wards, were too effective at providing irremovable defense for NPCs at VoD, so they no longer protect NPCs in Guild Battles.

Dervish:

The most deadly Dervish spikes revolve around fast-activation attack skills combined with Assassin teleportation skills. We've normalized the activations on Mystic Sweep and Eremite's Attack to decrease overall scythe spike potential.

Paragon:

Song of Restoration and Ballad of Restoration continue to provide too much healing overall, especially coming from a high-armor profession. Harrier's Toss allowed Paragons to participate in the spike (thus allowing them to fit more defense on their skill bar) as well as maximize Splinter Weapon's already-powerful effect, so we've reduced the activation speed to limit these issues.

Discussion

To discuss these changes, please go to the appropriate section on Isaiah Cartwright's talk page on this wiki.


[Dev Update] Taiwan Service Migration - 8 April 2008

Because of recent changes to Taiwanese law that restrict our ability to maintain a quality game experience for players and maintain the in-game economy, ArenaNet and NC Taiwan have agreed to close Guild Wars servers in Taiwan. In order to continue to provide service to NC Taiwan players, all Taiwanese accounts that were paid up and in good standing as of April 1, 2008 will be migrated to the North American servers on April 10, 2008.

Retail accounts will continue to function as normal. Monthly accounts that were paid up and in good standing as of April 1, 2008 will be upgraded to retail accounts at no charge. All account restrictions, such as trading restrictions, which were applied on March 31 will be lifted. As a condition of their migration and being able to play Guild Wars from the North American servers, players will need to accept NC Interactive’s Guild Wars User Agreement for North America.


[Dev Update] RMT Policies Details – 3 April 2008

Guild Wars players have expressed interest in learning how our actions in support of the recently expanded Real-Money Trading Policy have affected the game. We’d like to provide you with some facts and figures following the first two weeks of the new policy’s implementation.

During the first two weeks, we did the following:

  • Halted online distribution of demo accounts to combat spamming
  • Noted a significant reduction in RMT spamming
  • Blocked 391 abused IP addresses
  • Terminated 4,876 accounts associated with RMT networks
  • Removed 190,200,000 purchased gold from 771 players
  • Witnessed a substantial reduction in botting activity in the game
  • Witnessed a substantial drop in RMT account creation and RMT transactions

We will continue to monitor the outcomes of enforcing the new policies, and we greatly appreciate the solid support of the community in dealing with this important issue.