Boons and Conditions

Hey, everyone, this is Jon Peters. I’m a game designer working primarily on our combat systems.

Boons and conditions are positive and negative states that can be manipulated by player skills. This is an important system in Guild Wars 2 for a variety of reasons. It helps us keep things simple by limiting the number of states in the game that need to be displayed and understood. It also helps us maintain a balanced system by making sure that when you grant regeneration to an ally, for example, it is the same regeneration available to other professions.

We’ve spoken about this system in the past, so why am I writing about it again now? Well, we had designed this system to have a lot of power and flexibility, but quite frankly, it just wasn’t interesting enough. We found that players didn’t know—and often didn’t care—when a particular condition or boon was affecting them.

This late in the development process, it can be hard to make the call to revamp something like this, but we felt that the current list didn’t live up to our expectations. We knew that we had to be very careful with how we revamped the system; we couldn’t just scrap it all and start over. With that in mind, we took a long, hard look at each boon and condition and tried to modify them into something more interesting that wouldn’t undo all of the skill design work we had done to this point.

Before the change, we had the following conditions with the following effects. (All boons and conditions stack duration unless otherwise noted.)

Old Conditions

Bleed: Inflicts X damage per second. (Stacks intensity.)

Poison: Inflicts X damage per second. (Stacks intensity.)

Burning: Inflicts X damage per second. (Stacks intensity.)

Cripple: 50% movement-speed reduction.

Chill: 66% movement-speed reduction. 66% skill cooldown increase.

Immobilize: 100% movement-speed reduction.

Weakness: 20% damage reduction.

Vulnerable: X armor reduction.

Blind: Your next attack misses.

Fear: You flee from your opponent.

Some of these felt good, but some felt, for lack of a better term, “mathy.” What I mean is they were effective, but you would never notice it. Math has a lot of great uses, but generally speaking, making you feel awesome isn’t one of them. We tried to put a twist on a number of these conditions to make them feel cooler.

Here is what we ended up with:

Updated Conditions

Bleed: Inflicts X damage per second. (Stacks intensity.)

Poison: Inflicts X damage per second. Reduces outgoing heals by 33%. (Stacks duration now.)

Burning: Inflicts X damage per second. (Stacks duration now.)

Cripple: 50% movement-speed reduction.

Chill: 66% movement-speed reduction. 66% skill cooldown increase.

Immobilize: 100% movement-speed reduction.

Weakness: Attacks result in a glancing blow 50% of the time and endurance regeneration is slowed.

Vulnerable: Lowered the amount of armor it reduces, but allowed it to stack so that it creates moments of super-high vulnerability for damage spiking.

Blind: Your next hit misses.

Fear: You flee from your opponent.

Confusion: Inflicts X damage each time a foe attacks. (New condition; stacks intensity.)

Some of the damage conditions went from stacking intensity to stacking duration, so we had to change how much damage a single stack did, as well as the skills that could apply them. Ultimately, this makes condition damage more pressure based instead of spike based, which is good because we wanted our damage over time to fulfill this role. It’s also good for creating variation in condition removal. It makes some conditions, such as poison and burning, ones that you can react to and remove, while making other conditions, like bleeding and confusion, ones that you only want to deal with when the stack becomes overwhelming.

We did a similar revamp for the boons in Guild Wars 2. This is what they used to look like:

Old Boons

Aegis: Blocks the next attack.

Protection: X armor increase.

Regeneration: Regenerates X health per second.

Fury: 20% Critical Chance increase.

Might: X damage per attack increase.

Vigor: X maximum health increase.

Swiftness: 25% movement speed increase.


Many of these already did what we wanted them to do, but again, they were very “mathy” and lacked impact. We tried to bump up their effectiveness while also clarifying what they do. For example, protection increases armor, but most people don’t want to do the math to figure out what that means. Instead, a 33% reduction in damage is easier to understand. With that in mind, we made the following changes:

Updated Boons

Aegis: Block the next attack

Protection: 33% damage reduction.

Regeneration: Regenerates X health per second.

Fury: 20% Critical Chance increase.

Might: X damage per attack increase. (Stacks intensity now.)

Vigor: Faster endurance regeneration.

Swiftness: 33% movement speed increase.

Retaliation: Does X damage to an opponent each time they hit you. (New boon.)


In addition to updating the functionality of boons and conditions, we’re also working on improving their visibility. For instance, since vigor and weakness manipulate endurance, the endurance bar UI should reflect this. And because poison affects heals, your healing skill should look different when you are poisoned.

Finally, we’re also working to make each boon and condition display a noticeable effect on your character; this way, you’ll be able to devote more time to watching the combat and less time looking at the UI.


"Guild Wars 2 Is The MMO Revolution That Star Wars: The Old Republic Promised"
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