By Emily Diehl July 13th, 2010 Last week we unveiled details about how healing and death will work in Guild Wars 2, and many of you had questions. To help you get answers, we scanned a variety of forums and other sites for a sample of what folks were the most curious about. Then we sat down with designer Jon Peters, the author of our healing and death article, to pick his brain about these topics. Due to the large number of questions we’re fielding, we’ve decided to split this Q&A session into two parts. Read on to learn the answers to our first batch of questions! Q: What is the difference between a rally point and a waypoint? Jon: There is no difference. Early in development we called them rally points and got used to the name. We recently changed the name to waypoints to better communicate their function. Unfortunately, we didn’t catch all the references to rally points. So, when you hear someone refer to a rally point, it is the same as them saying waypoint. Q: Can enemies revive each other, too? Jon: While it is true that some enemies can resurrect themselves, enemies do not have a downed state or revival, except in PvP. Q: Your main argument for the removal of the healing class seems to be countering the message “LF Monk” in MMOs. Is this a situation that you have carefully studied in-game, or is it an impression created by reading forums and articles? Jon: This is not the main argument for removing healing classes; it is just one of the added benefits. That being said, we have studied class distribution in games and used that—as well as hands on experience—to know that there is indeed a lot of LF(Healer) in games that do have dedicated healers. Q: Does everyone always have a set amount of time to get back up? If it’s a set amount of time, it seems like you’d have to treat every dead body like a land mine to avoid, so they don’t get their vengeance. Jon: Because creatures do not have a downed state, this is not really an issue in PvE. The amount of time between when a player is downed and when they are defeated is based on the level of their consciousness bar. This is a while-downed equivalent of a health bar; it takes damage from attacks and also slowly decreases on its own. In PvP, the will be a bit of what you described. A downed player is a tactical combat element that you have to take into account. We do give PvP players a way to deal with downed opponents: a powerful finishing move that they can use to send downed opponents straight to defeated mode. This ability takes a few seconds to activate and is melee only, so using it has some risk, but also some strong rewards. Q: What happens if you have no money and aren’t revived? Do we wait to be killed, and respawn at a waypoint? Do we have to lie on the ground, begging people passing by to come and revive us? It seems like this could suck. Jon: If you have no money and are defeated, you can still revive yourself at a waypoint. If you have money in your account bank, it will pull from there; if not, you can enjoy a free trip. The cost of revival is small enough that, if you are playing the game normally, you will not run into this. Q: Can you choose to go back to a waypoint when you are downed, or can you only do this when you are defeated? Jon: At any point while downed or defeated, you can bring up your map and go back to a waypoint. Q: Let me get this straight: you really can’t die in Guild Wars 2? Jon: That is correct; you can only be defeated. When we made the decision to allow everyone to revive a fallen comrade, we didn’t want to explain why everyone suddenly had the magical ability to bring people back from the dead. Instead, we thought it would be cooler to say that people were defeated instead of dead, so that we could justify them being brought out of it by any ally who happened to be passing by. This also helps us lorewise in that we can now kill off NPCs and don’t need to deal with the question of why someone didn’t just rez them. From a game-mechanics standpoint, there is no real difference between dead and defeated. Either way, you’ve just lost and incurred whatever penalty is associated with losing. Q: Many people enjoyed playing a healer/support class in Guild Wars. Many people who played Monks are really disappointed by the news that there will be no healing or protection class in Guild Wars 2. In what way will Guild Wars 2 fulfill a former Monk’s desire to have those same roles in the sequel? Jon: We think that monk and healer players don’t really care about the exact mechanics of their profession, but rather care about how that profession feels. Is it more important that the monk sit in the backline and watch health bars go up and down? Or is it more important that they feel like they are supporting their teammates and can occasionally save the day through judicious application of their skills and abilities? We wanted Guild Wars 2 to be a more active game, and therefore we made the support characters in the game a lot more active as well. This really goes beyond healers. Everyone in Guild Wars 2 takes a more active role in combat, and this goes a long way towards providing memorable combat experiences to everyone, as often as we can. Tactics are determined by choices you make in combat, not choices you make at character creation. Q: Is the Guild Wars 2 skill system open enough that someone could put a bunch of support skills in their skill bar and therefore focus solely on that? Would it even be possible to have a ‘full support’ bar with 8 to 10 skills slots used for support? Jon: It is open enough that you could focus on support. A character can certainly fill their bar so that more than half of their skills have some sort of support function. Many skills have multiple uses, so a skill might hurt enemies and help allies at the same time, which opens up more space for support while still contributing to damage. For example, elementalists have access to skills like Geyser, which causes a fountain of water to erupt in an area, knocking enemies away and healing allies. Q: I’m concerned about how the healing and death system will work in PvP. It seems like this is going to seriously mess with how PvP works. Not having a dedicated healer makes it seem like PvP will be very unbalanced. Jon: We actually feel that dedicated healers hurt PvP balance by becoming a required element of any and all strategies. We would prefer that PvP builds be a lot less restrictive to our players. Think about our PvP combat as having a variety of roles that each approach a situation differently, instead of each profession being one in a set of necessary components for the situation. You may bring two professions that both inflict damage, but how they inflict that damage is very different and affects how you approach the fight. In Guild Wars 2, this applies to our professions, weapon selection, and skill selection. It is important that each of these combinations provide the player with a toolbox, where each tool operates in its own unique way. Rather than trying to balance a spreadsheet of damage vs. healing, we balance the skills by making them more unique and letting players figure out the best way to use them in any given situation. As an aside, we’ve been playing PvP a lot recently, and even at an early stage, it is incredibly fun. I say this only because I want to assure all of our fans that PvP is extremely important to us, and we wouldn’t take the game in a direction that didn’t allow for fun and exciting play in both PvE and PvP. Q: Death penalties in MMO games provide incentive to players to learn their class and work better in groups. With no death penalty, won’t this lead to less incentive to learn how to play their class and group properly? Jon: In most games—both single and multiplayer—the penalty for failure is to simply return to a saved position or state. The penalty, in this case, is simply time. MMOs can’t return someone to a saved position, and so they have developed many other penalties over the years to simulate this. We penalize the player by taking a small amount of money, but more importantly, by setting him back to the waypoint of his choosing. Death penalties—even simple return to save systems—can, of course, vary in their harshness. When deciding on the degree of severity, you need to look at what you are trying to accomplish overall with the game. Is your game a hardcore simulation, meant to test the skill of the player under extreme stress? In this case, a more severe death penalty would be warranted. With Guild Wars 2, however, one of our main goals is to encourage experimentation and risk-taking on the part of the player. Because of this, we firmly believe that a milder penalty upon defeat is in order. We have found that our emphasis on risk-taking, along with this milder penalty, has resulted in a game where players try daring and heroic things, where they will go into grave situations to help out a stranger, and that overall increases the number of epic and heroic moments that the average player encounters. We have found that this ability to experiment with your character and throw yourself into more dangerous experiences has resulted in players gaining more opportunity to really test the limits of what their characters can do. Players consequently learn how to play their professions just as quickly (if not more so) than they do in many other games. Q: We really like the art that’s used on the healing and death homepage. Will you release this as a wallpaper? Jon: Hmm. Oh, OK. But only because you asked so nicely! We’d like to thank Jon for taking the time to answer these questions! Enjoy your new wallpaper and stay tuned for the second batch of questions and answers, which we’ll post later in the week.