ArenaNet:Developer updates/20070418

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[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.