Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Niche Traits

Today, I want to address a seemingly simple question, do niche traits have a place in Guild Wars 2?  Let me place a definition on what I mean by a “niche trait” to start out this discussion.  To me (and I believe most people), the term simply means a trait that is activated by a very specific condition, and occasionally out of the ordinary situation.

The invariable problem that these traits create is that they are either too conditional and thus are useless for 99% of players, or they are too strong/overpowered in specific builds/playstyles.  However, on the other hand, these traits can create and foster the development of  diverse, interesting builds in the community.  Furthermore, ArenaNet in the last two betas have shown some experimentation and desire for niche traits.

Question:  How many professions have these niche traits, for example specific fall damage traits or 50% increased damage while downed?

 Answer: Nearly all of them. 

The community seems split on the usefulness of these traits. There are some who sit firmly on the side that they are useful and expand diversity, where others would rather have a new trait designed that is more accessible and directly useful to a larger percentage of the profession.

Unless you are hugging high cliffs in WvW and using them to escape and outmaneuver pursuing enemies, I’m not sure how useful a fall damage trait is for you.  Would the game as a whole benefit more from having a trait that may be more useful to a wider range of players?

Delving into my own personal opinion, the “increased damage while downed” traits just seem strange.  To activate these traits, you need to have a condition that you are actively trying to avoid the entire time.  I can just see in a year or two, a video of some thief etc. that relies on being downed to increase damage output in some competitive environment.   It’s almost silly, and I can’t imagine these traits being widely used.

On a completely separate note, can they be balanced well?  ArenaNet has been extremely outspoken in the desire for Guild Wars 2 to become a e-sport.  Are niche abilities commonplace in other e-sports?  I’m not sure, mostly because I do not play or watch competitive gaming. I’m rather bad at League of Legends, and I have blatantly ignored the StarCraft series.  The furthest I have ever gotten in the competitive arena is Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, and that’s because my friends and I poured hundreds of hours into both of those games, and we would have to increasingly learn advanced techniques to outmatch each other.  <Insert shameless Diddy Kong plug here.  Yes, bananas are that awesome.>

So, the biggest questions:  Are they too conditional?  Will they be used by a large enough minority to warrant the creation of them?  Can they be balanced?  The first two questions seem debatable while the third seems unanswerable at this point.  So thus, my cop out answer is I don’t know, what do you think?


  1. I used to turn my nose up to any skill that was triggered by being at 25% or downed but ultimately chalked my attitude up to arrogance. In PvP and WvW especially, it's going to happen - even to exceptional players because they will be going up against other exceptional players. Those traits are almost like elite skills - they can turn the tide of a fight. They add another layer of unpredictability.

    The fall traits have some amusing potential. That, and they may end up popular among jumping puzzle fans if a missed step lands you into a nest of enemies, you have a head start. I've kind of noticed there really are a lot of opportunities for falling in this game, and it doesn't have to be an especially high fall to sustain damage.

    They could have simply designed the game with fewer traits straight out the gate. Would people have complained there weren't enough? Or would they have accepted the number outright? I'm thinking they would have because when people debate the value of the traits, I often see them asking for one replaced rather than one added.

    Also, the variety of traits is already pretty diverse. I don't think there's any particular skill type or weapon getting the shaft in the trait department (at least in amount of traits - the skills, traits or weapons themselves may need a boost in some cases.)

    There's not a lack of generally useful traits. There's just a few novel traits to keep things interesting.

  2. Hello!

    I’m Ethereal, the lead recruiter and an admin from project Foundation. You’ve probably heard of a website known as GuildWars2Guru – essentially a big group of us have decided to create a website that will feature various fanfiction and fanart from authors and artists of the Guild Wars community. At this point in time we have a lot of writers and artists recruited as well as a solid staff. However, at present we are trying to look for other GW fansites to partner up with. Our attempt is to provide more exposure to artists and authors whose work sometimes does not get the recognition it deserves. We think the same philosophy should be shared among the partnered websites so that we can all make a mutual effort to unite the creative community. And I believe what makes us different from other websites is that our goal is not to restrict the creative works of our members to fit our domain but rather to encourage our members to help the overall GW fanfiction and fanart community thrive. And I think that goal can only be accomplished with a collaborative mindset and combined effort with partnered websites. And the high quality of works featured on this website and others is simply a testament to the ambition and hard work of the community. And we would really like to help cultivate this creativity by encouraging cross-promotion. So I was wanting to ask if you would be interested in partnering with us (the link to your website will be featured on the side bar under partners). We admire your website and would really like to be in collaboration with you. If you have any questions or concerns, I urge you to contact me at my e-mail – ethereal.midnight@live.com. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing your reply!

    - Ethereal
    Lead Recruiter/Admin
    Foundation Project

    1. Ethereal,

      The Foundation project sounds great, and I completely agree with your philosophy of cultivating creativity in the community. I would love to become a partner to the site, and hopefully provide more exposure to artists and authors featured on your site by referencing/featuring them here on Divinity's Reach. Our email here is, divinitysreachauthors@gmail.com, and I ask that you contact us with any questions or concerns in the future. I'll also forward this reply to your email, thank you very much. I look forward to seeing this project develop!