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June 18, 2013 - 3:58pm -- Lewis B
Guild Wars 2 Professions

Having launched in 2012, Guild Wars 2 has seen too few changes to professions. Perhaps that is a bold statement, but one I hope to justify. Professions are the cornerstone of any MMOG and yet why do they continually seem at the back of the queue for improvements and fixes?

There have been some changes to Guild Wars 2 since its release; that is unquestionable. Some fixes, some balance tweaks and some minor changes to skills. Yet I and unquestionably many others (you only have to raise the subject of improvements to professions in Lion's Arch or any numerous forums) would see this as far below what needs to be the 'norm'. 

Without professions and the passion players have for them, I wouldn't be satisfied a massively multiplayer game could get very far. Unquestionably the professions or classes we align ourselves to are extensions of ourselves; an effigy to carry out our role play. Why is it then that ArenaNet and countless other developers within this crowded genre, place so little emphasis on the lengthy lists of faults they all exhibit. 

In many ways I don't envy ArenaNet's position, for were they to only concentrate on professions as much as they currently do content, there would be uproar from corners of the community that demonstrate insatiable appetites for 'more'. Despite this, the balance easily tips in favor of this new content 80/20, with the 80% covering all PvE and extending out to bug fixes and the Black Lion Trading Post. 

While this might seem sensible (inevitably it 'is' what Guild Wars 2 is) without professions functioning at their peak, a players enjoyment of that very content and future content is limited by the annoyances of the profession they've chosen. A prime example of this is the ranger and having been playing Guild Wars 2 almost a year before it launched (if not more) the glaring problems surrounding pets and their survivability (notably in high end PvE dungeon content) as well as a myriad of other flaws was glaring and yet it's taken almost two years to see any discernable improvements, if a fraction of what there should have been. 


The list of flaws and continued gripes with each profession is vast and although it's difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff in regards to player feed back, if it's one thing the Guild Wars 2 community are good at is analysing data, picking out faults and reporting them publicly. Why then, are ArenaNet not reacting? 

Why are traits that have been broken for almost a year still broken?; Why are trait lines for almost every profession a confusing jumble of scattered uses?; Why are countless skills still absolutely garbage?; Why are whole weapon sets (in spite of countless public data being presented) still in need of a miracle? 

These are only several questions and all are appropriate, as all are - unfortunately, true. The frustrating issue in all of this is how minor many of the problems are and yet how fixing them would bring such a big difference to the quality of life to the professions we play. A prime example is the Engineer and how a bug where you are stuck in permanent immobilize after switching kits still isn't fixed (it's been prevalent for as long as I can remember) or the Ranger longbow which remains too slow, too inaccurate because of its lack of speed and too weak that all remains well documented. Or the Necromancer and the fact it is so in need of TLC in almost every department it needs a divine intervention.

Perhaps some of you reading this might be thinking "Necromancers are amazing because of X, Y, Z!" or "Rangers longbow is awesome, I melt face with it every day!". This is true- I've met my fair share. This however is a plaster on a gaping wound. If it's one thing MMOG players are good at, it's adapting and accepting the flaws in the professions we play. That, in many respects, is part of the problem; we need to accepting second best.

ArenaNet aren't unique in their dismissal of fixing professions, or staff allocation to do it. I've yet to encounter a single MMOG that has ever placed them at the forefront of the to-do list. If I've ever learned anything from well over ten years of playing MMOG's, it's the fact that patch notes and more specifically patch notes on professions are the most sought after- everything else is secondary. If that isn't a testimony to where they should be putting resources (or greater than the skeleton crew they undoubtedly have at the moment) I don't know what is.



Hunter's picture
Submitted by Hunter (not verified) on

While I disagree with the urgency you place on some of these problems (miracles, gaping wounds, etc) I admit it's pretty annoying at this point.  Would have loved to see bugs fixed, useless skills and traits improved, and other improvements within the first few months.  Not to mention making some of the weaker professions able to compete with a greatsword warrior.

Maarius's picture
Submitted by Maarius (not verified) on

they have a team for profession balance and other teams for other stuff like content. You can't say: work only on balance, since this is something most developers have nothing to do with.

Maarius's picture
Submitted by Maarius (not verified) on

I haven't read a post from Jon Peters which has nothing to do with profession balance, yet. The devs who are responsible for balance are at it 24/7, it's just: they are few. (I think they said that 2 people are working on it) and it wouldn't mean that more = faster/better.

Geoffrey Hughes (ledhead900)'s picture
Submitted by Geoffrey Hughes... (not verified) on

World of Warcraft put its class updates at the for front a lot of the time when new content came out so did about 15 changes to class powers and traits and or bug fixes or even new ability's.

kichwas's picture
Submitted by kichwas on

The policy they seem to be aiming for is small increments to the class changes. But that should come with a 'frequent' as well that does not always seem to be there.

That said it looks like any day now we will be getting a massive across the board change to every class in the game:

The scale of which is so massive it is already causing 'system shock' to many who have read it.

I would argue its not enough, even though I think the small increments plan is the better one... In my opinion every weekly patch should come with something... even if just one little tweak... I've worked in analytics and I know the data is there, if they read it, to make the judgment calls frequently, and for which small but near daily adjustments are the ideal manner of tweaking.

Large patches like the incoming one make changes so big you do see them, but lose comparative context. You lose the value of having analytics data when the hit is massive you cannot isolate the pieces.


So if they do have a team for this, lets see their workproduct more often, and get some of those quality of life things happening. But on a scale where they can put good analysis behind each isolated adjustment to be sure it was the right one.