ArenaNet:Developer updates/Archive Feb-April 2007

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Announcement: Guild Wars Second Birthday Celebration Extended! -- 29 April 2007

We are pleased to announce that the current mini-event -- the Guild Wars birthday party now going on in Lion's Arch, Shing Jea Monastery, and Kamadan -- will be extended one more day. You will have another 24 hours to gather cupcakes, enjoy the Boardwalk, and smite a few opponents in the Dragon Arena. The event, originally scheduled to end on Sunday night will now end at 11:59 PM Pacific on Monday, April 30. (That translates to 6:59 GMT on May 1.) April 28th is the actual birthday for Guild Wars Prophecies and Guild Wars Factions, and in honor of that dual occasion, firework shows will take place at 6:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific, with the final show at 11:59 PM Pacific tonight.


[Dev Update] Farming and Loot Scaling -- 20 April 2007

Some players have been concerned about the loot scaling aspect of this week's update. They wonder whether the fact that drops are scaled according to party size will substantially affect their gameplay experience and whether it will impact upon their ability to acquire wealth in the game. We asked the design team for some insight into the design of and the intent behind loot scaling, and found out a lot of interesting reasons for its implementation, including how the changes that have been a point of concern are readily addressed within the very system itself.

The bottom line is that ArenaNet's goal is to make it easier for normal players to make money while redirecting the efforts of the expert farmers to a way to continue to reap rich rewards without having a harmful effect on the overall game economy. The loot has not been scaled across the board. Instead, the loot scaling is selective, and it preserves a means for the high-end farmer to make money.

But let's hear it from the design team itself, with this latest Dev Update:

Why would ArenaNet make changes that impact solo farming?

ArenaNet understands that people enjoy playing Guild Wars in many different ways, and our goal is to make each of those ways fun and rewarding. Solo farming sometimes becomes a controversial issue because it can damage the game for other people. In those cases, ArenaNet tries to keep the game fun for everyone while still providing fun and rewarding play for solo farmers.

A major theme of our most recent update is that the game should be friendlier and more rewarding for casual players, including casual solo farmers, and that the most advanced farmers should differentiate themselves from the crowd not through the amount of gold and common loot that they farm directly from monsters, but instead through the amount of gold that they can get from selling rare items to other players (directly or through traders).

That's a very important distinction. Advanced farmers are always going to earn more money than their more casual counterparts. There's nothing wrong with that. When farmers earn their money by finding valuable items and selling them to other players, they're making the game more enjoyable for everyone. They're facilitating trade, and the gold they acquire from doing so is gold that was already in the game. It's only when solo farming introduces a huge influx of new gold into the economy that it becomes a problem.

Because of the way that Guild Wars loot system worked, solo farming traditionally generated at least eight times as much new gold per participant as playing in a party did. And because solo farmers were motivated to farm only certain specific groups of easily exploitable monsters, they could often generate not just eight times as much, but 10, 20, or 30 times as much loot per hour as everyone else. Even more problematic was that the activity that they were performing was easy for professional gold farmers to automate, so if a single solo farmer could generate 20 times as much loot as the average player, then a network of ten computers running bots could generate 200 times as much loot. This huge influx of new gold caused inflation and made it harder for casual players to afford the items they wanted. In order to contain this problem, ArenaNet periodically added code to prevent monsters from being exploited, for example by adding complexity to the monster AI. But these types of changes made the game less fun for other players.

With the introduction of Hard Mode, we took a look a fresh look at normal mode to see how we could make the game friendlier for normal players. One thing we really wanted to do was to remove some of the advanced AI from normal mode -- things like monsters scattering from AoE, refusing to gather around individual characters, and fleeing or kiting players -- that we had originally introduced to contain botting. But in removing them, we needed to be sure that we weren't reintroducing exploits that would allow professional farmers to destroy the game's economy.

The answer to these problems was to somewhat scale loot according to party size, to bring the direct gold rewards from solo farming more into line with the rewards from other ways of playing the game. But we still wanted solo farmers to have an edge, since solo farming can be a fun way to play and a major reason why people engage in solo farming is to make more money. So we kept the direct gold rewards somewhat better for solo farmer than for people in parties, and then we added new loot which is very valuable to other players and which is exempt from loot scaling, so that solo farmers can farm this loot more effectively than other players and earn money by selling or trading it. Thus, our goal is that solo farmers can still earn as much money as they did before, but they'll have to earn it in different ways. Instead of looking for things to sell to merchants, solo farmers should now be looking for things to sell to traders or other players.

How does loot scaling work?

Without loot scaling, solo farmers received every loot drop, whereas people who played in a party received only a fraction of loot drops. Thus, solo farmers received up to eight times as much loot for killing the same group of monsters. With loot scaling in place, solo farmers still get more loot than people who play in parties, but the gap is less severe than it was before. It is impossible to quantify precisely how much less because it depends on the type of loot farmed and involves some randomness, but here are some rough guidelines:

  • People who play in normal size parties, including parties of heroes and henchman, will see no difference at all from loot scaling. At the same time, they will notice that normal mode is now much easier to farm, and that the introduction of Hard Mode provides a place they can play where the loot is better than ever before. Thus, people who play the game primarily in parties will simply make more money than they previously did.
  • People who periodically enjoy farming solo (with no heroes or henchmen) but are casual about it are also likely to see an improvement. They'll find that solo farming is much easier than it was before, because monsters don't have the anti-farming AI that they used to have, and because the game no longer prevents players from repeatedly farming the same monsters over and over. Many types of builds that didn't work in the past, or that haven't been effective since the earliest days of Guild Wars, can now be used for solo farming. Thus, casual farmers will find the game much easier to farm than it was before, and that they can earn more money than before even with loot scaling in place.
  • People who were advanced solo farmers and who were earning vastly more money through solo farming than through playing the game normally will see the full effect of loot scaling. They will earn less gold and common loot from solo farming than they did in the past. The loot scaling for gold and common loot is not linear with the number of players in the party, and it includes an element of randomness, so while the difference is not easy to quantify, it is by no means a factor of eight. Advanced solo farmers may now earn about twice as much gold and common loot from farming solo as they would if they farmed in a party. While gold and common loot are thus reduced for these players by loot scaling, certain other types of loot are completely unaffected. For example, Skill Tomes are completely unaffected by loot scaling, so they still drop eight times as frequently for solo farmers than they do for people who play in parties. Thus, advanced solo farmers will find that certain types of farming are still extremely productive for them, but they may have to change what and where they farm if they want to earn as much money as they did before.

If ArenaNet makes it harder for players to farm, doesn't that drive players to purchase gold for cash from the professional farmers?

ArenaNet's goal is to make it easier for normal players to make money, so that they can buy the things they need without having to purchase gold for cash, and then to redirect the farming activities of the most advanced players so that the way they make money is by selling things to other players rather than by introducing a flood of new gold into the economy.

Here's how we've made it easier for normal players to make money: we removed the advanced AI behaviors from normal mode that slowed down the rate at which people could kill monsters there, we removed artificial barriers to casual farming such as certain farming builds not working or the game penalizing repeated farming of the same groups, we provided somewhat more gold and triple the number of uncommons and rares in Hard Mode, and we introduced entirely new types of loot.

Here's how we've protected the economy from a flood of new gold: advanced farmers and professionals who choose to farm for new gold (as opposed to things they can sell to other players) will only make perhaps two or three times as much gold per hour as normal players, whereas in the past they made at least eight times as much, and by finding specific exploits they sometimes made 10, 20, or 30 times as much gold per hour as normal players.

Here's how we've provided a new way for advanced players to make as much money as they did before: by introducing new items which will have a high demand from other players and thus high trade value, and then by making those items completely unaffected by loot scaling, so that solo farmers still have very effective ways to make a lot of money, but so that they make their money without hurting the game's economy.

Will ArenaNet make additional changes to the loot scaling system?

We constantly monitor the game to ensure that people are able to make good rewards for playing. Originally the list of items that were exempt from loot scaling was limited to newly introduced Hard Mode items. However, after reviewing player feedback and analyzing play logs from the past 12 hours, we've decided to make a broader range of items exempt. We want players who enjoy solo farming to have a wide variety of things that they can enjoy farming. Thus, with today's build, all of the following types of items will now be exempt from loot scaling:


[Dev Update] Soul Reaping and Mesmer Issues – 18 April 2007

In this Dev Update, you can read details about changes to two professions: Necromancers and Mesmers. In the first case, changes to the Necromancer attribute Soul Reaping have raised a few specific player concerns, and we would like to share further information on that subject. In the second case, you'll find preliminary details about how the designers are looking at the Mesmer, with some early thoughts on potential changes to the profession that will be directed towards Mesmer players in PvE mode.

Necromancers and Soul Reaping

In a nutshell, Soul Reaping was working too powerfully in the past. After all, all professions save the Necromancer have had to keep a careful eye on energy management, because managing that resource is intended to be a significant part of the gameplay experience. No profession should be in a position to have a nearly-limitless supply or energy, and frankly, Soul Reaping was just too powerful in the overall scope of things. Some have suggested that the recent changes were put in place to rebalance PvP, but in fact, both PvP and PvE were affected by the overly generous way in which Soul Reaping worked. This was highlighted for the team in recent months during their Hard Mode playbalance tests.

The goal of the change to Soul Reaping is to bring the Necromancer's energy pool to a more reasonable level in a way that affects extreme cases more than normal cases. The existing change does successfully place an upper limit on energy from Soul Reaping, but the designers are concerned that the five second rule is inelegant, being a little random in its effects when triggering Soul Reaping through quick kills. They are going to continue to investigate a better way to accomplish the same energy-related "reality check" while being a bit more lenient in how it is applied. If this is done, some of the recent energy cost changes to skills may be reverted.

Those who have contributed forum posts with detailed builds have helped immeasurably. You should know that every single build you've posted is being reproduced at ArenaNet, and not only that, it is being tested with both the former SR rules and the current ones. This allows the designers to acquire a "before and after" view, which will help the designers get a realistic appraisal of where the Nec was and where it is now. With that information, they can look at the best means to accomplish their intended goal. So while Soul Reaping will not be adjusted back to the way it was, the designers will continue to look at ways to achieve the desired outcomes in the best way possible.

Mesmers and PvE

As mentioned a few weeks ago, the designers are going to be taking a look at Mesmers, particularly Mesmers in PvE situations. (We all know they do just fine in PvP. :) ) ArenaNet has noted that players who choose Mesmer as a profession feel that they are not invited into parties as often as other professions, and the design team feels that this impression is probably correct. Here are three reasons that this might happen:

Scope: Some professions are better at dealing with a large group, where the Mesmer is a more focused profession and the contribution they're making to a party may not be as easily seen. While they can do what they do very well indeed, they are not as likely to have a pile of bodies at their feet, which means that some of their party members may not realize how much the Mesmer is actually contributing to the battle. Of course, whether the swath is fine or broad, it all requires…
Skill: The Mesmer profession requires a high level of skill to play well. That's not to say that other professions do not also require skill, but the Mesmer is rather more complex, and it's possible that across the board, there is a wider range of skill in the Mesmer player group as a whole. Because of this, the Mesmer can be faced with …
Skepticism: When people form a party, particularly a pick-up group, they don't really know for certain if they are choosing a highly skilled Mesmer or someone who's less likely to make a major contribution. When faced with the choice of partners, they may take the easier road, even if they're missing the opportunity to have a more fun and more successful adventure by including a Mesmer.

The word from Lead Designer James Phinney on Mesmers is that the designers are going to take a look at potentially broadening the scope of the Mesmers and, perhaps, adding more damage to the mix in a “Mesmer-themed way.” The Mesmer will never become a pure damage-dealer, not at all! But the team wants to look at an increase in both scope and damage while considering how to improve the lot of Mesmers in PvE.


[Dev Update] GW:EN Release Information -- 12 April 2007

As you may know, the original press release for Guild Wars: Eye of the North stated that GW:EN was "due to hit store shelves during the 2007 holiday season." However, we've learned that there is confusion about this statement. Guild Wars fans have asked what specific holiday this statement refers to, and they've wondered how far in advance of the actual holiday the game would be available.

In order to ease the confusion, and to give more factual information, we want to state that Guild Wars: Eye of the North will be on sale during the Third Quarter of 2007.


[Dev Update] Skill Balances for Early April -- 04 April 2007

Following our continued observation of the Guild Wars ladder and tournament play, we intend our April skill balance updates to resolve current game issues and increase the usefulness of some underpowered skills. These changes will remain in place for the week, and if they are successful, they will remain in the game permanently. We will continue to monitor the state of the game and make adjustments as needed. In our next update, we hope to add additional PvE-only skills to allow more attractive options for cooperative play, as well as begin adjusting some skills to make them more viable in cooperative play.

The skills below will be changed with this week's game update.

Assassin:

These changes are part of larger movement to make the Assassin's lead-to-off-hand attack combination a more attractive option. If these changes are successful, future balance updates will continue to improve upon these types of skills. Recall was a balance concern because it was difficult to recognize (there was no actual Enchantment on the teleporting player), and because those facing Recall could do nothing to prevent it. Now it can be removed in order to send the Assassin back prematurely to where he started.

Dervish:

We're attempting to further equalize elite power in the Dervish line, starting with longer durations on the lesser-used avatars. Avatar of Melandru has become a bit harder to kill than we'd like while transformed. To counter this, we've decreased the amount of its Health bonus slightly. Onslaught and the Vow series of skills were underpowered elites in comparison, so we've boosted its power slightly to see if that makes them more viable. Rending Sweep proved an extremely powerful, non-elite alternative to Avatar of Grenth and received a significant increase to its recharge time. Natural Healing was improved to add a self-sufficiency option into Wind Prayers, Pious Haste received a slight duration increase to make it more manageable, and Grenth's Grasp was changed to bring it up to something more worthy of an elite skill.

Elementalist:

While Glyph of Lesser Energy has been very successful in diversifying elite selection on Elementalists and bringing more high-cost skills into play, it has also enabled a few overpowered skill combinations for secondary Elementalists. We believe this change will address these overpowered combinations without removing Glyph of Lesser Energy as a viable option. Mind Blast was adjusted to bring it line with other low-recharging damage skills. We felt that damage-addition skills didn't add enough to be a viable option, so we raised their damage amounts. Finally, Armor of Mist should now give a good speed boost to Water Magic characters, particularly flag runners.

Mesmer:

  • Auspicious Incantation: changed to "For 20 seconds, the next spell you cast is disabled for an additional 10..5 seconds, and you gain 110..200% of that spell's Energy cost."
  • Diversion: increased recharge time to 12 seconds.
  • Ether Signet: decreased recharge time to 45 seconds.
  • Keystone Signet: decreased recharge time to 20 seconds.
  • Guilt: duration changed to 6 seconds, decreased recharge time to 25 seconds.
  • Mistrust: duration changed to 6 seconds.
  • Shame: duration changed to 6 seconds.
  • Shared Burden: decreased Energy cost to 10.
  • Signet of Clumsiness: increased damage to 15..60.
  • Spirit of Failure: Decreased Energy gain to 1..3, increased recharge time to 20.
The Diversion/Mantra of Recovery combination was proving to be slightly overpowered, so we changed Diversion's recharge time to compensate. One-time effect Hexes such as Shame, Mistrust, and Guilt have similar issues, so their duration has been changed to a flat 6 seconds. We simplified the description for Auspicious Incantation, and Signet of Clumsiness received a small damage boost to improve viability of the anti-melee and PvE varieties of Mesmer. Spirit of Failure received an increase to its recharge time and a decrease to its Energy gain, making it a little more difficult and less rewarding to spread this Hex everywhere. Keystone and Ether Signet's recharge time have been reduced to encourage the use of these lesser-used Signets, and Shared Burden has been reduced in cost to make a more attractive, elite alternative to Imagined Burden.

Monk:

Zealous Benediction is simply too powerful, so we've reduced the amount of Energy gain it supplies. This, combined with the change to Glyph of Lesser Energy, should help to diversify Monk elites. We wanted to improve a few of the less attractive Hex-removal options without increasing the pacing of Hex removal overall. Reverse Hex adds a quick-casting 10 Energy option, and the improved casting time for Convert Hexes makes it more usable for multiple removals. Smite Hex was improved to match the pacing of Holy Veil, and Deny Hexes was moved to the Divine Favor attribute to give it a guaranteed removal and better synergy. We added additional healing to Signet of Rejuvenation, making it a better zero-Energy option for Healing Prayers. In a similar vein, Reversal of Damage received an improved recharge time to give Smiting Prayers a more usable, low-recast skill.

Necromancer:

Soul Reaping's synergy with Spirits and minions opened up a lot of builds that simply never ran out of power. Spirits still provide half Energy, and with Soul Reaping's Energy gain limited, a player death will now provide more net Energy, which we believe will help Soul Reaping get closer to its intended function. Mark of Fury was strictly inferior to Dark Fury, so we reduced the cost of Mark of Fury in hopes that this improves its playability. Mark of Subversion was changed to match the duration of Diversion, Shame, Mistrust, and Guilt, which keeps these one-time Hexes consistent with one another. Reckless Haste had its cost increased, and Price of Failure received a duration decrease to make it more difficult to keep these powerful Hexes on a large number of people. Poisoned Heart became cheaper and now recharges faster for some fun, creative play, and Enfeebling Touch has been improved so that it's more in line with other applications of Weakness.

Paragon:

This small adjustment to the Paragon was made primarily to deal with Spirit/Chant issues. Since all Spirit attacks count as attack skills, these Chants were making offensive Spirits more powerful than they were intended. Anthem of Fury also received a slight recharge decrease to allow it to fuel Echoes more effectively, and Anthem of Envy's damage bonus was increased to reflect the difficulty of meeting the skill's condition.

Ranger:

  • Antidote Signet: decreased recharge time to 4 seconds.
  • Archer's Signet: decreased casting time to 2 seconds, skill disable time improved to 15..5.
  • Bestial Mauling: decreased Dazed duration to 4..10 seconds.
  • Disrupting Lunge: increased recharge time to 10 seconds.
  • Heal as One: decreased recharge time to 8 seconds.
  • Lightning Reflexes: decreased recharge time to 30 seconds.
  • Needling Shot: damage bonus increased to 10..30.
  • Otyugh's Cry: changed to "For 10..25 seconds, all allied animal companions gain +24 armor and cannot be blocked."
  • Pestilence: changed to "Create a level 1..10 Spirit. When any creature within its range dies, Conditions on that creature spread to any creature in the area already suffering from a Condition This Spirit dies after 30..90 second[s]."
  • Spike Trap: increased damage to 10..40.
  • Trapper's Focus: increased duration to 10..25 seconds.
  • Tripwire: increased damage to 5..20.
  • Viper's Nest: increased damage to 5..35.
While we've been pleased to find the Ranger seeing more play, we felt the skill diversity for this class was limited. The addition of the new pet controls caused us to scale back the interrupting pet skills, and allowed us to rework Otyugh's Cry into a much more useful skill. Antidote Signet was strictly inferior to the Paragon's Remedy Signet, so we reduced its recharge time to match. The trapper role is something we're looking to improve, so in this update we've improved the Condition duration or the damage of the least-used Trap skills. Heal as One now has an improved recharge time to put it more in line with other self-heals and add some additional options for the Beast Mastery line. Needling Shot's damage bonus was not quite good enough for its conditional effect, so we improved that to give Bow Rangers another damage option.

Ritualist:

We wanted to improve a few niche skills in the Ritualist line, and we think we've accomplished that with these changes. Consume Soul is very specific skill, so we reduced its recharge time to make it more effective at removing Spirits from play. The fact that Brutal Weapon cannot stack with Enchantments is a bigger drawback than we'd originally thought, so we gave this skill a slight damage boost and a significant duration increase. Spirit's Strength is a fun, niche skill for some builds, and we wanted to make it more rewarding for players who choose to try something creative and different.

Warrior:

"Shields Up!" was proving to be a frustrating form of passive defense, and since one of our overall goals has been to reduce passive defense and support active defense, we felt it important to reduce the raw power of this Shout. Barbarous Slice was an inferior sword attack that we wanted to improve, and we felt that increasing its damage was a way to make it a more likely option for causing Bleeding. Crippling Slash also now causes Bleeding in order to improve its versatility and to make it more likely for players to equip it. We decreased Savage Slash's recharge time to put it more in-line with other melee interrupts, and Dwarven Battle Stance was given a full 33% attack speed bonus both to take more advantage of the interrupt quality and so that it acts as a full-fledged attack speed increase skill. Because of Heavy Blow's conditional nature, we reduced its adrenaline cost slightly, and lastly, Mighty Blow was given improved damage to put it on par with the recently improved Strength attack skills.


[Dev Update] Become an ATS Tester! -- 03 April 2007

ArenaNet is moving into closed beta testing of the Automated Tournament System (ATS). We have a need for players who can help us stress test the system for a one-week period. While we cannot bring everyone who applies into the test, we will be inviting a few hundred to help out. Here are the details about how you can apply!

Who is Eligible?

Any Guild Wars player who owns a copy of the game is eligible to sign up to be randomly selected as an ATS Tester. There are no age limits, as long as you meet the age set by your local ratings board (e.g., 13+ in the U.S., 12+ in Europe, etc.)

What are the computer system requirements for testers?

We ask that only those who meet the Guild Wars Nightfall recommended system specifications apply for this test. You will be downloading a new dat file, and so your computer must have sufficient space to accommodate a new copy of Guild Wars.

When will we be testing?

Test Dates:
  • Friday, April 6
  • Saturday, April 7
  • Monday, April 9
  • Tuesday, April 10
  • Wednesday, April 11
  • Thursday, April 12
  • Friday, April 13
Test Times:
  • Noon until 3:00 PM Pacific Time (19:00 to 22:00 GMT) each day

What will we be testing?

You will be testing Hero Battles. This means you will be playing as your character with three Heroes of your choice versus another single player with his or her three Heroes. We need the maximum number of people testing at any given time, so please sign up only if you are available during the dates and hours posted. Note that this is mid-day in the United States (with our apologies -- it's when the test works best for the Dev Team). Please do not sign up unless you can make the majority of the test days and stay for the full three-hour period.

How do I sign up?

Please send an email to testaccounts@arena.net. You must use the subject line "ATS Testing Application" to be considered.
You Must Provide:
  • Your full name
  • Your full home address
  • Your fan forum handle(s)
  • Your age
  • A valid email address to use for the test account user name
  • Your current Guild Wars account user name (email address)

Who will be selected?

We will randomly select a group of a few hundred ATS testers. We will send you access information by return email within the next few days.

When will I hear back about whether I will be selected as a tester?

We will be setting up accounts through Friday of this week or perhaps Monday of next week. The acceptance email will come from ArenaNet Test Team (testaccounts@arena.net). We will send you instructions on obtaining the proper game client, along with your account password.

Important Notes:

Beyond what we request above, we will not ask for your Guild Wars password or other account-related information in relation to this test opportunity or any other. Be secure – do not provide that information to anyone, at any time!
Please do not write to follow up on your application; we will contact you if you are selected.

Thank You!

We appreciate your willingness to help out, and we look forward to the ATS Testing!


Alpha and Beta Testing Questions -- 31 March 2007

I have noted an increase in forum posts and emails asking about becoming a Guild Wars alpha or beta tester. This is perfectly natural, of course, given the recent news. :) Players are generously offering to help out with our alpha test. They're also expressing an interest in taking part in any beta testing or beta events that we may have for Guild Wars: Eye of the North or Guild Wars 2.

I want to let folks know that currently we do not have plans to increase our current very small alpha test group. Furthermore, we have not yet made a decision about testing for GW:EN. We'll have in-house testing, of course, and will likely involve our alpha testers. But beyond that, we do not have anything to announce yet about beta testing or beta events. And of course it's far too distant for us to be planning testing for Guild Wars 2. For while we've announced Guild Wars 2, the majority of our focus right now is firmly on the expansion pack, as I'm sure you'll agree it should be.

We'll be discussing testing internally over the next few months. We'll share information on our plans when it is finalized and ready for announcement. We are not building a list for the future, so there is no need to contact us at this time. Sincere thanks to everyone who has expressed a willingness and interest in helping. We'll be sure to share more information as it becomes available.


[Dev Update] Razah, Questing, & You -- 26 March 2007

In listening to players, the dev team knows that you have been concerned about the difficulty of acquiring the Ritualist Hero, Razah. In the near future, those who complete Nightfall will have a new way to acquire Razah. And those who already have acquired Razah will be in for a pleasant surprise.

What the designers have done is (1) add a quest to Guild Wars, and (2) change the existing "Finding a Purpose" quest (the "Get Razah" quest). There are four categories of players in this situation. Simply find which of the categories you belong to and you'll learn about your new options.

(1) I have not started the "Finding a Purpose" quest.

Proceed as you desire once you have beaten Nightfall, but note that there has been a significant change to the quest: you are no longer required to pay gemstones to complete it. You can get the "Finding a Purpose" quest from Chaplain Phyratyss in the Gate of Anguish and when you complete it, Razah will join your cadre of Heroes.

(2) I have completed the "Finding a Purpose" quest.

A new quest has been added for you. Take the "Money Back Guarantee" quest as offered by Keeper Shafoss in the Abaddon's Gate outpost. When you complete this quest, you will be rewarded with one of each type of gemstone.

(3) I am in the middle of the "Finding a Purpose" quest and I've already paid my gemstones to Keeper Milzesh.

Complete the "Finding a Purpose" quest, and then speak to Keeper Shafoss in the Abaddon's Gate outpost. When you complete the "Money Back Guarantee" quest you'll get one of each gemstone back. Special Note: If you already have paid the gemstone fee but have not completed the "Finding a Purpose" quest, do NOT abandon the quest. If you abandon the quest, you will not be offered the "Money Back Guarantee" quest and will not get a gemstone refund.

(4) I had "Finding a Purpose" on my quest log, but I had not paid the gemstones to Keeper Milzesh and the quest is not on my log any longer.

Due to the change in the gemstone requirement, the "Finding a Purpose" quest has been removed from your log. Simply talk to Chaplain Phyratyss in the Gate of Anguish again to add the revised quest back to your log. You can then complete it without the gemstone fee.

So, in a nutshell, players who have already paid the gemstones for Razah will be unaffected by the change to the "Finding a Purpose" quest, but will have the option to complete the new "Money Back Guarantee" quest. Upon completion they will receive a refund of their one each of the four gemstones. Players who have not paid gemstones simply need to accept the "Finding a Purpose" quest from Chaplain Phyratyss in the Gate of Anguish and complete the quest in order to gain Razah as a hero.

We believe this update will be live in a couple of weeks.


Player Polls -- as of 23 March 2007

The Guild Wars Development Team has a well-deserved reputation for listening to players. Many of your ideas have been incorporated into the game; we are grateful for your suggestions, both large and small! You are probably aware that many of us on the team visit the Guild Wars Wiki and a large number of the Guild Wars fansites on a daily basis. It helps us stay in touch; it keeps us keenly aware of what you'd like to see, and of any issues that you've been experiencing.

Often, we include player polls on our fansite forums to invite those who play our game to share their thoughts about various aspects of Guild Wars. You can usually spot these polls by their [Dev Poll] tag in the subject line, and often fansite operators are kind enough to "sticky" the posts to make them a bit more visible, allowing everyone a chance to participate.

Here is the list of polls we are currently tracking. We will keep this list updated as we add more or change focus to a different topic. This will help us formulate ideas for the future, so jump in there!

  • Weekend Events -- We want to hear your thoughts about the many weekend events that we have offered over the last many months.
  • Second Birthday Ideas -- While not strictly speaking a "poll," these threads are designed to gather your own ideas about how Guild Wars might reward players when a character reaches his or her second birthday.


[Dev Update] Hard Mode and Sunspear & Lightbringer Titles -- 20 March 2007

We have a note today from the team about two subjects that have been on many minds--Hard Mode and those high-level Sunspear and Lightbringer titles. Here's what they have to say:

We know that, in essence, it is currently not possible to get the maximum ranks of the Sunspear and Lightbringer titles. When we released Nightfall, our plan was to not allow players to max out these titles until the implementation of Hard Mode. We originally thought this feature would be ready shortly after release, but during testing we found more and more features we wanted to include in the Hard Mode update. The core idea was simple: Give players the option to take on a more challenging version of Guild Wars and reward their characters with better drops and titles than they could achieve in Normal Mode.

The basics haven't changed, but to borrow a phrase from Tolkien, "The tale grew in the telling."

Rather than simply staying with the general set of changes and rules we'd originally intended, we're also adjusting creature Skill Bars throughout the game to make the fights more interesting. Contrary to our original intentions, we're also including Hard Mode in all areas of the game (except pre-Searing Ascalon). So, if you've ever wanted to explore a version of the Flame Temple Corridor with level 20+ creatures, you'll be able to do that with Hard Mode. This, of course, is requiring us to adjust some rules about how loot is generated.

We're adding a few new items we think you'll like that drop only in Hard Mode. In addition, we're altering the way locked chests work in Hard Mode, including the addition of lock picks that can be used on any locked chest. Unlike keys, which disappear after you use them once, with a lock pick, you will have a chance of using it on more than one chest, and that chance will increase based on your Lucky/Treasure Hunting titles. We're also adding new titles, Guardian and Vanquisher, which have required extensive testing and balancing of all the missions in Hard Mode. (This meant doing such things as making sure a human Hard Mode team paired with an NPC team in the Vizunah Square mission could still achieve Master's level completion.)

Beyond all of that, we've also realized during the course of development that these changes give us the ability to rebalance several things in Normal Mode that players have found too challenging or unpleasant. For example, we're altering the death explosions of the Afflicted creatures in Factions, creature distribution in particularly difficult areas, monsters scattering away from area of effect spells, and healer creatures running from melee attackers indefinitely. We've also decided to add a number of PvE-only Sunspear skills, which will be available to players through both Normal and Hard Mode.

In short, we've taken this extra time as an opportunity to make many aspects of the game better, and because of that, the Hard Mode release is taking longer than originally anticipated. We currently believe it will be ready within a month, if not sooner. We hope you'll find it was worth the wait.


European Connectivity Issues -- 12 March 2007

Some European players have been experiencing connectivity difficulties lately where they have been disconnected and have received an Error 013 message. Players have noted that the number of such incidents seems to rise on the weekend, and that this issue seems to have been taking place for a few weeks, now. (Please note: Issues of lag would best be referred to your individual Support Team through the website support interface, for those issues often require individual assessment.)

Here is some information that helpful individuals on the IT and Network Teams provided this Sunday evening: The connectivity issue was caused, the teams believe, by a failing piece of hardware--a server--that was only intermittently stalling, thereby making the identification of the problem more difficult. Tonight the team was able to specifically identify the machine responsible. They then ordered, received, and brought online a replacement server (all within a matter of a few hours). We'll leave the message on the current Network News page for a day or two, but it appears that the issue with connectivity may be resolved. Thanks to the European players for their patience.


[Dev Update] Skill Updates and Hero Battles -- 06 March 2007

It's time for another official Dev Update, straight from the Guild Wars Design Team. This week, we'll be making some changes, including a modest number of skill balances and an alteration to Hero Battles. So here's the latest news, with an outline of the upcoming changes and a note about the why's and wherefore's of each.


Upon reviewing the first half of the Celestial Tournament, we’ve decided to balance some skills to improve the competitive environment. These changes will take effect after 12:01 PM PST on Wednesday, March 7 to allow completion of Round 4 of the tournament.

This permanent update addresses critical balance issues within the tournament and is not a temporary weekend implementation. We are still working on a larger play balance review in preparation for next weekend’s event.

Ritualist

The following skills have changed:

When these skills were first implemented, they required the caster to be very close to a Spirit in order to use them effectively. We recently changed all such skills to work at a much greater distance, though they became too powerful. Our intention is for these skills to remain effective but not be out of scope with other damage-dealing options.

Necromancer

The following skill has changed:

  • Discord: increased casting time to 2 seconds.
We have been pleased to see Discord useful in a variety of PvP and RP situations, but its rate of sustained damage output is excessive. Increasing the casting time lowers the damage output to a reasonable amount while giving opponents an opportunity to use general purpose counters such as interruption and Condition/Hex removal.

Assassin

The following skills have changed:

Shadow Prison was simply too powerful for its cost, thus the increase to its Energy cost. The damage from Blades of Steel was out of scale with that of other dual-attack skills. We hope that these skill changes will encourage build diversity for Assassins and Warrior/Assassins, and we believe both of these skills will remain viable but not superior to other options.

Mesmer

The following skill has changed:

With a ¼ second casting time, this skill was too fast and powerful as a source of follow-up damage.

Hero Battles

We’re taking this opportunity to make a change to Hero Battles. Currently, very defensive builds are capable of holding the center shrine, needlessly slowing down games and homogenizing strategies. As a result, we’ve made the following change:

  • Capturing and holding any or all shrines on the map now contributes to your morale. The center shrine now grants twice the amount of positive “pip” arrows on the morale meter than other capture points. The secondary benefits associated with these shrines will remain unchanged.
We feel this change will impact movement, tactics, and build creation in a positive manner and will generally make battles more competitive and interesting. With the upcoming Hero Battles ladder on the horizon, we felt a need to improve this format before the ladder is put into place. We will continue to monitor this venue and adjust this mechanic as needed.


So that's it! As I mentioned, this update will be streamed into Guild Wars sometime tomorrow afternoon. As always, your thoughts are welcome, and we invite your feedback on these changes after you've had a chance to try them out and see how they function in the game. We'll be reading the fansite forums and gleaning your input. --Gaile Gray 20:58, 6 March 2007 (EST)


[Dev Update] Game Additions, Feature Improvements, Skill Balances -- 13 February 2007

Until I can figure out a better place for the updates that I post from time to time, I'm going to place the newest one right here. Obviously, the place to post your response -- feedback, questions, and other comments -- is in one of the fansite forums. For your elucidation, here's the content of today's Dev Update! :)

First, I'd like to share some upcoming changes to the game:

  • A new Challenge Missions Ladder is opening today (Tuesday). There will be a news post about this in a few hours, but we think you'll enjoy the special recognition and the means to see who's the best of the best on these missions.
  • Up to 20 players per town will be able to show off their miniatures in town. I frankly didn't see this one coming, and I know it'll be really fun to be able to take your miniature for a walk through Ascalon City or Droknar's Forge. And can you say "Miniature Racing," anyone? :)
  • You can now log out to the character selection screen, instead of the log-in screen. No need to enter a password every time you change characters. (I know a few people are going to cheer for the added convenience of this change. ;) )
  • Several changes have been made to the Skills and Attributes panel to offer you more customization options. Even little things like being able to swap the order of the skills in your skill bar will make things a bit easier, and there are several other functionality improvements beyond that.
  • Two hero quests have been updated, Gain Olias and Gain Zenmai. Now, if you've done these quests, you'll not be able to redo them, but all character who have not completed these quests will find them new and improved.
  • Cantha New Year's Event – Details have already been posted, of course, but there has been a change that doubled the reward in the Roller Beetle Arena. Now, rather than the top 50 players getting a special prize in the rollerbeetle racing events, the top 100 will receive prizes.

Now, secondly, I have a message from the Design Team about skill changes. Here's what they have to say:

After reviewing the play balance changes last week and looking over how players responded both in game and in forums, we've made a few adjustments:
  • We've reduced the effectiveness of some Paragon defensive skills. In conjunction with the Paragon’s high armor, these skills were encouraging degenerate team builds.
  • We've reduced the effectiveness of Paragon skills that inflict Deep Wound. Outside of these skills, we have not decreased the Paragon's damage output.
  • We've reduced the effectiveness of the Dervish form Avatar of Grenth. Even with our previous changes, this skill was overpowered compared to other Dervish elite skills and other Enchantment removal options.
We know that not everyone will agree with every change that we make, and more importantly, we know that every change we make risks hurting character builds that players enjoy using. Even so, it has become clear that the Guild Wars community as a whole has voiced support for us making changes more often than we have in the past and for having a game that supports diversity and encourages creative, active and intelligent play. With that in mind, we are beginning our next round of internal testing. Some of the things we’ll be looking at include:
  • Paragon diversity and balance. Once we’ve had more time to see the most recent changes in effect, we’ll see if further changes are needed.
  • Good PvE options for Mesmers.
  • Bow skills for rangers.
  • Ranger pet adjustments. We're pleased to say we have a rudimentary version of pet controls up-and-running on our test servers. We’re looking forward getting those into the live game as soon as we’ve examined all of the play balance issues this might introduce.
Depending on how things go, some or all of these might receive changes in the next play balance update. Let us know if there are other issues you’d like us to focus on in the next few months. We won’t always be able to make all the changes you ask for, but we always look into the suggestions and complaints we see on fan forums.

So, there's some news and... some more news! Hope you find this of interest, and naturally your comments and questions are more than welcome in the fan forum of your choice!

[Dev Update] Game Update Tomorrow -- 13 February 2007

I just got word that I am passing along to all the Community Team members: We're going to postpone the build until tomorrow. It turns out that as dev team members were polishing the content of the update, they discovered a glitch that they had to fix today. That required the postponement of the update, which means a postponement of the opening of the Guild Wars Challenge Mission Ladder, too. The team has resolved the glitch, but is undertaking a small amount of final testing before updating the game.

So, that means we'll be rolling out the update tomorrow morning instead of tonight, and the Challenge Mission Ladder will go live at around the same time. As I know you already fully understand, it is our commitment to offer the best, most tested, and most polished game updates possible. So while it's disappointing that we won't have the update live tonight, the update is only about a half a day away. We ask for your understanding about the matter. You can be sure we'll be here, and in all the fan forums, reading your feedback now and thoughout the coming days, as always.