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[Originally posted on Talk Tyria]

Iteration, or the iterative process, is something ANet has discussed many times. It accounts for changes between versions of their games. Each GW update involves iteration and iteration accounts for the content and mechanic changes we see between GW2 status updates. Put simply, the iterative process is simultaneously responsible for what makes the Guild Wars franchise worth playing and what is delaying the release of GW2. Over the past years and coming months (I refuse to think of GW2 as over a year away) we have enjoyed teasers, concept art, videos, updates, interviews, profession reveals, and demos of GW2. One thing has remained constant about the information we receive about GW2: nothing is set in stone.

Isaiah “Izzy” Cartwright (left) and Martin Kerstein (right) at Gamescom in 2010 (from ANet’s Flickr)

Iteration in Guild Wars 2

Case in point, Izzy, that is Isaiah Cartwright from ANet, not our own personal Izzie here on Talk Tyria, posted an article today talking about changes to the attribute system and some of the skills we’ve seen in profession reveals and gameplay from PAX Prime. For details of those changes, give the article a read. Izzy was primarily responsible for balancing skills and other systems in Guild Wars, but now plays a larger role in the development of Guild Wars 2. He has talked a number of times about changes made to yet-to-be-released GW2 content and the above article talks about some of the content from GW2 that we are already familiar with, including some of the necromancer and warrior skills, that have changed since we last saw them. A quick example is the necromancer skill Grasping Dead which was changed from a line effect to an AoE. The skill video on the GW2 necromancer profession page is therefore outdated and incorrect–a constant reminder that everything is subject to change until, and after, the game is in the box and on shelves.

The aforementioned article focuses primarily on changes to the attribute system in GW2. The short version is that ANet is interested in simplicity and versatility regarding attributes. This is explained in detail in Izzy’s article. Here is a quick visual of the old and new attribute systems:

Attributes as we saw them at Gamescom and PAX
Attributes as we will see them at PAX East

Iteration in Guild Wars

The iterative process still plays a big part of the original Guild Wars game. A recent major update added lots of new features to GW and changed many others. It is under constant debate even here on Talk Tyria. The update can be boiled down into three major changes: 1) Parties/Grouping, 2) Pre-Searing, and 3) Titles. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Parties and Grouping

Embark Beach is a location that functions simultaneously as a guildless guild hall for the purposes of venders and a hub for Pick Up Groups (PUGs). It is accessible from the map like the major ports of each campaign (i.e., Lion’s Arch, Kamadan, Kaineng Center, and Great Temple of Balthazar) and allows every character to join groups who are interested in completing any/all missions across any/all campaigns. Of course, you can’t participate in mission you haven’t yet accessed in the game. The major purpose of Embark Beach is to help people group together more efficiently and cut down on group splitting (moving from larger to smaller areas and having to split the party up to enter the area because it only allows parties of 6 or 4 instead of 8). This will ideally save people time when working to complete missions and progress the game.

Seven (7) hero parties and Mercenary Heroes are another change for groups. This is primarily a change that will affect solo players, but is also a perk for people who want their alternative characters (alts) to be heroes. Seven heroes allows a player to make whatever party they want/need for pretty much any situation. Mercenary Heroes allow for people to have additional control over the heroes in their party and allows for truly unique parties of 4+ heroes of the same profession. It puts a whole new spin on Discordway for sure. Again, the benefit of additional heroes is to streamline the PvE process. For people playing GW once GW2 goes live, this will be almost a necessity considering GW will likely be a ghost town for sometime for anyone not seeking titles.

Pre-Searing

Pre-Searing got a nice shot in the arm. ANet provided an alternative to death leveling with daily quests. Now people can get Legendary Defender of Ascalon in a slightly more appropriate, if completely non-epic, way. Props to all of the death levelers out there with LDoA. Now I can go for the title because it doesn’t take hundreds of hours at the screen that I just don’t have. Additionally, now perma-pres (people who keep their characters in Pre-Searing permanently) can put titles in the HoM and have access to barred secondary skills from a vendor. Things are looking up for the past.

Titles

Changes were made to the Survivor and Drunkard titles. Everyone now has a second chance for Survivor based on the time span between the last time you died and reaching the XP requirement. This means that all of us old school GWers who made characters back in the day before Survivor can earn that title on those characters (FINALLY!). Also, there was a minor change to the Drunkard title that made it the same as Sweet Tooth and Party Animal. Essentially, use the item and get a point for it. The old way (the way I did it) was maintaining a “level of drunkenness” for one minute per point. That amounts to a minimum of 10,000 minutes sitting at the computer. Most people I know did this by playing the game regularly and occasionally clicking on the booze. I did it by watching season after season of Scrubs and clicking the button every three minutes on a timer while sitting in my guild hall. To each his/her own I guess. I’d personally love to have that time back. Additionally, there was the addition of Zaishen Vanquishes that encourage vanquishing. Despite the title and the minuscule rewards of XP and gold following a successful vanquish, this daily update allows for more significant rewards for killing all the baddies in a given zone. Incentive and reward: they’re what make the world go around.

Summary

Iteration, however, is what makes the GW world go around. Without it, the game would stagnate and become very unbalanced. Though we balk at game balance updates and skill nerfs, they are there for a reason. I wasn’t happy when they added a minion cap based on Death Magic and I was very outspoken with all of the changes to Soul Reaping, but in the end it made the necromancer more manageable and less of an overpowered energy and minion factory. We all have fond memories of the “good ol’ days” and times pre-nerf or pre-updates. They bring us together as a gaming community and give us something to talk about on the forums. Ultimately, however, the iterative process and subsequent changes make GW and GW2 better, more efficient, and more fun to play. And really, who doesn’t want to have more fun?

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