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Better Energy System: Negative Energy
The system described below is intended for replacing the current potion based contingency management of energy.
The required changes to the current (Gamescom demo) energy system are the following: Eliminate energy potions, keep the current size and regeneration rate of the energy pool. Allow the use of energy regardless of how much there is left but increase skill recharge when used while having less than zero energy.
Let's say that the energy pool size is 1000 and there are 50 points left. Using a skill that requires 100 energy puts the energy 50 points on the negative side. The character is now overexerting him/herself. Then, using another 100 energy skill drops the energy to -150 points and causes the used skill to recharge longer. The additional recharge time increases with negative energy. At -1000 points of energy all skills take twice as long to recharge, at -2000 points four times as long and so on (exact numbers to be determined according to game balance). The energy regeneration rate remains the same regardless of whether the energy is on the negative or positive side. The character will always retain some amount of tactical capability but the penalty for overexerting is twofold - the deeper one goes into negative the more the average efficiency drops and the longer it takes to restore full efficiency.
Visually, going on the negative can be shown by changing the color of the bar and adding a small recharge multiplier indicator on the left side. 2x for energy between -1000 and 0, 4x between -2000 and -1000 and so on.
The system is very simple to implement and understand, keeps energy as a long term resource and provides deep gameplay. A good player will mostly stay on the positive but may temporarily plunge into the negative to gain a short term advantage. An unskilled player will not hit the brick wall of zero energy but will notice that his/her efficiency is gradually decreasing, giving enough time to back off or change tactics. Since the power curve tapers off smoothly on the negative side, the system provides a perfect solution to the 'binary encounters' problem. Also worth noticing is the fact that it is not possible to go arbitrarily deep on the negative side because the ability to use energy goes down at the same time.
The system doesn't require any additional buttons, skills or other game mechanics. The current amount of energy is a direct indicator of the strategic and tactical potential of the character.
The system can be explained to new players the first time their energy drops below zero.
The system works equally well in PvE and PvP.
The system fits well into the basic design philosophy by making zero energy an opportunity instead of a catastrophe, just like the downed system does with health.
It was already possible to get on the negative side in GW1 through weapon swapping, this solution just enables it by default.
The system works well in conjunction with defensive skills that have a short recharge time but high cost.