[Title says brawling, but what I meant are "contact actions" & "combat interactions" - brawling seems like the type of term that fits in with them on a general bases.]
 Overview: The Starting Issue
The PVE lacks a sense of "epicness" from the combat mechanics. That's the most simple way to start off with this suggestion post I guess. Personally I think the reason is that there is a lack of engagement in the combat style & mechanics with the way "physical collision" between 1) the players skill & the mob and 2) the mob's action and a player itself,don't really have a "realistic physical feel".
Let's be clear, currently mobs do - "throw its body" (not literally) at players, but it's the fact that when it does so, there is rarely enough "contact actions", enough mechanics that makes you excitedly engaged in the fight. Occasionally during a dynamic event encounters between players and bosses, players can get really close to the boss or stand stationary from a far away range distance. Then when there's an overflow of players ganking on one min-boss/mob, it makes combat extremely boring (same in PVP where there is a 6 on 1 situation. The corner player knows already that this probably means 'death', and similarly it is the same for mob gankers - they know that all they have to do is stun,snare, and slow, get a few guys to be the meatshield, and then stand in the back spamming auto-attacsk & skill shots at the poor creature, and easily the fight goes about without evidently any "contact action" involved, no epicness.
In PVE, these are the summarized reasons that I find make combat seem "not action-packed", repetitive with the same mechanics, and boring - or simply, they bring no "epicness" to 'the brawl':
1) overflow of players ganking a melee mob/bosses makes combat simply about spamming (....different as for bosses/mobs with range AOE that one hits a player, because it means having to watch out constantly for 'the fearful red-circle of death!' - this is an example of something that makes combat epic :D. Sadly, that's about the only mechanics that I would say a boss has that makes a fight "epic" in GW2 right now.
2) Lack of combat interaction. Fighting a melee range mini-boss with 20 other people is extremely boring (so far before level 30), because I've got this time freedom for up to around 10 seconds between each boss auto-attacks, & maybe 40sec - 1min before he uses a big AOE - that forces everyone to have to switch positions (ie. the boss charging animation - everyone sleeping in the front line there better wake up now). I mean, the "learning/tutorial stage of the dynamic events" is cool, but by around level 15-20 (about a quarter of all the total levels in GW2), the combat itself in dynamic events didn't seem to change a whole lot - my head was often not in it while spamming the boss with skills for a whole 2 mins and killing it. Like, against small mobs I often don't bother use my hammer or sword on my guardian, and just kite with my scepter 24-7 (like the only real effective tactic in PVE guardian combat). It does take longer, however - I would never get damaged that way. [Anyways back to PVE boss fight] - it honestly felt like I was "not in the fight" most the time (because it was auto-target, so how do you really miss anything, as well as you auto-face the target so you can't miss stuns, snares, and etc.) I'm an RTS & FPS player for all these years, simply because I find the combat in MMOs not very interactive or "contact-action" filled. It is always a "passive style" of combat, which I often have to convince myself that it's fun rather than I get all "excited" after the fight - like 'wow, I was really into that fight', lost track of time. I actually bought this game because I heard GW2 is going "away from the typical MMO style of gameplay', and also cuz the art itself is pretty "epic" (How can an art be epic you ask? xD I dunno, that's just how awesome it is I guess. In addition, GW2 reminds me of "Monster Hunter". In the past I use to enjoy playing that game everyday afterschool with my buddies, linking our PSPs. GW2 seem to grasp me with that "epicness" feel in how its combat looks. No offence, the art does edge the gameplay xD I'm a big fan of the art!
3) bosses are usually stationary than mobile (which is... ok, sure), but when they come close to you and you simply walk away, from the corner of my screen I would see it attack where I was - and then I would be down somewhere else and I would be like " what da -...". This lag might be hard to fix, but it bothers me a lot in dynamic events, it makes it seem unreal - and unepic, because it destroys that sense of the "contact action" which kills it for me.
 Mob to Player Interaction Suggestions
- Correct the hit registration error on mobs. (Exmaple: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBngJ87M6lw - 2:00 to 2:10)
- Increase the scale of the overall "madness" or "I-want-to-kill-you-ness", of small-melee bosses and mobs based on either the number of players "hitting it" OR the damage it is taking (ie. if you got 20 players hitting it, it's going crazy and just running people down. That would be "epic" fun!! [I imagine :D]) - you guys have already done a superb job in scaling the difficulties of the big-bosses based on the # players in the area. The scaling there is very well done IMO.
- Add more "combat skills" to the mob, such as if a centaur raises it's two front legs you will get knocked back, or if the centaur swipe its sword in a half moon shape, it does a small aoe knock back or knock down. This will make dynamic events so much more fun, because - there is ALOT of centaurs in the human race maps - a lot (ie. level 1-27 areas). It does get boring quicker seeing the same mechanics over and over again.
- Big bosses should start throwing people across the map. It's not fun if a boss just simply walks over to you, and then stomp 99999 damage on you when your dodge is on CD.
This is what I'm imagining: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcRdVQBgdfs.
 Player to Mob Interaction Suggestion
Ok. But to make the process of fighting fun, there also could be more "contact actions" imitated by the player himself/herself. (like in the video I showed you). The bosses themselves already all look "epic", like this one:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orwa-lr8ECU [Skip to 3mins+]
This poor awesome-looking golem could use a lot more range AOE skills. It's got all those minions in front of him, but it itself is not doing anything destructive (that would make players feel like it's so epic to kill this boss)! Everyone in this video is mostly kiting, which to me is not exactly quite epic. Effective and smart, but it's quite boring - doing this same thing from the start of a fight to the end.
[Adding More Epic Mechanics]
Currently in GW2, the main interaction that a melee player has with a melee mob is just "damage inflictions", where in a melee fight the player is simply HP watching through the whole fight (ie. that is usually the case in typical MMO. It's not like the worse thing, but very one-dimensional and boring). GW2, however, did implement dodge which I think is great. However, especially in PVP, this mechanics does not seem to be the at all, part of the core in combat - and so I was sort of disappointed, but at the same time curious to find out why.
The current positioning mechanics in GW2 is heavily relied on either weapon skills or auto-attacking while moving commonly forward/sideways like in the case of kiting with a range weapon. Moving backward is rarely a good idea for kiting, because I guess you guys designed it that way so that a player can't just dodge by walking backwards. Therefore, as much as I personally am not a fan of kiting, it seems to be purposely designed to be part of the mechanics in PVP afterall:
[Example of Kiting - Guardian sceptor] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGvK8pRyEoA [3:28+]
It is really similar to the sword combat mechanics in a game called Gunz. This video is an example of that:
Notice (sorry if I'm getting off topic here), even though the two games looks completely different, the strategies in melee auto-attacks are somewhat similar- you're always trying to keep the guy in front of you, to move and hit your opponents from the side, and to avoid ( a good player would) straight up trading hits since this would result in massive health lost for both players.
That is the case in PVP, but in PVE you can't kite with a melee weapon. This makes the option of range weapon more dominate than melee in PVE, so what happens is you would see 2-3 guys tanking in the front while 5-10 guys just spamming auto-attacks & random skills from the back. It is simple meat shield + spam, and not very fun. Call it any other things, but to me the word is like "not fun, boring, etc". I'm sure many others will begin to realize that once they repetitively do dynamic quests - the combat simply lacks the element of real epicness. GW2 can do better.
Of course, I've thought about it and there is really no "best scenario" solution for this issue. There needs to be a pretty creative mechanics here in to balancing range weapon kiting with melee weapon normal-attacks. ie. the consideration factors here is extremely more complex, because it isn't like unbalanced skills where a large part of the problem can be solved by simply working around just stats and keep the action mechanics the way it is.
I don't have any real solid suggestions that I consider would work, then again it's because I have no knowledge of the technology part of the implementations. I would give you my "naive" suggestions that I myself could see them as possible 'starting ideas' for the solution: (again to summarize, the problem here is an unbalance mechanical-advantage of kiting between melee weapons & range weapons)
- Implement a second dodge designed only for melee purposes (ie.a weapon block or evasion against auto-attacks from mob(s)).
- Implement 'short leap' which allows melee players to hit while moving to the side of a mob the moment it attacks.
- In the game I posted "Gunz", after you block a blow you receive a stun massive which you can use back at the enemy. This might screw up PVP quite a bit, but it's a great idea for PVE IMO.
I think probably the most 'ideal' & 'least complicated' way of making the PVE battles more epic is to - improve mob mechanics of melee mobs/min-bosses by giving them more AOEs. This is probably the simplest way to make a battle "epic" IMO. To clarify though, when I refer to AOE, I mean for any attack that hits more than 1 person at "a wide range". Such as, when a mob swings its arm, there should be more "contact actions" involved, such as players are thrown back from the mob. Another 'epic but simple' idea for a mob AOE is some kind of slow imcoming projectiles which players have to dodge. This would also increase the involvement between mob & player. The casual mobs in a jungle are fine being simply just casual fights - but the mobs in dynamic events should be more action filled so to get players more 'engaged'. Ranking difficulties for dynamic events would be another good modification, because players who want to be more engage (like me) would then have a choice to do so. Or else, it's 24-7 meatshield + spam = no fun & no "epicness", + the sad face.
Anyways", I hope you enjoyed the videos, & even more I hope the feedbacks & suggestions in this post were useful to you, sir/m'am. Hoping I would see a lot of great modifications in the next in GW2 BWE. & Good luck with the upcoming stress-test!
20 June 2012