Devon Carver on the Future of World vs. World

by Devon Carver on June 5, 2013

Greetings! My name is Devon Carver and I’m a designer and the coordinator for the World vs. World team. Over the past few months, we’ve started implementing a series of new mechanics and updates to WvW. Some of these have been small changes, some big. For example, you might have noticed that you can now see all of the people rolling over you in a tide of death.

We’ve been shifting our focus from major new features to solidifying WvW as it currently exists because while we all love the heck out of it, we know that it still has room for improvement, and we want to continue striving towards making it as good as it can be. To that end, I wanted to provide some insight into what we think about the game and how we hope to continue to make it better.

Current State

If you’ve logged in to play WvW lately, you’ve seen a game that can be exhilarating and frustrating by turns. Holding a tower against all odds with some smart siege placement and a bit of luck may be one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in a video game. At the same time, feeling overwhelmed by superior numbers with no way to stop them from stomping me into the ground has caused me to turtle up in my keep and weep on more than one occasion.

Large groups usually rule the field, and if that large group is rapidly building arrow carts, I’d suggest you get your affairs in order and send a note to your loved ones. World Abilities is a great feature, but it is one that takes a pretty dedicated player to take full advantage of due to the sheer amount of time required to gain significant rank. Support play is vital to victory but unevenly rewarded in terms of World XP, XP, gold, karma, badges, and other tangibles. While those players rebuilding your walls may be performing a vital service, theirs is usually thankless work.

Some of the major systems in place currently are not nearly as robust as they could be. Commanders are a major part of the battle, but right now their tools for commanding are few. Guilds are an important part of strategic gameplay as well, but they aren’t rewarded much for taking an active, positive role. These are things we want to improve on because we feel that not only can they increase player investment in the outcome of any particular play session or match, but they simply make the game better for everyone.

Finally, we’ve seen that matchups have not been as dynamic as we would like them to be. While it is important to have matchups that don’t feel wildly unbalanced, it’s also good to have some variety in the servers that are matched up against one another so they all get a chance to test their mettle against multiple opponents. That is why we are continuing to evaluate and change the way we create those matchups to inject much-needed variety to the system.

Future Plans

All of that may be well and good, but addressing all of those issues is a tremendous undertaking — one that won’t happen overnight. To explain where we are heading, I want to also explain what we want WvW to be.

Player Roles:

Something that has developed naturally over time and that we would like to encourage is the definition of roles within WvW. Everyone has likely seen a commander laying out battle plans and then subsequently seen that one thief mucking up those plans. It’s our goal to introduce more systems that encourage play within a wide variety of roles, not just those two. Scouts, siege masters, and defenders are only a sampling of the roles we intend to add to. We think that these are all a vital part of the success of any server in WvW, so we want to reward players who do these tasks so that they feel like their time is properly valued.

Zergs:

Everyone who plays WvW has encountered the zerg, either as a member or as a victim. The zerg is an important part of the game, but it shouldn’t be the best strategy for victory.

An important distinction should be made between large, organized groups of players making strategic strikes and mindless groups of players running around in a mob. The former are deadly and effective. The latter can be deadly at times but tend to be sorely lacking in strategy. Our goal is to continue to encourage organized large groups while giving small, tactical groups the necessary tools to put a dent into larger mobs of less-skilled players. We think that it can be fun to run around in a zerg — but we also think that the game should be about tactical acumen and skill more than sheer numbers.

In order to achieve that, we will continue to make tweaks to the scoring system to properly reward smart play and to make it possible for a server to prevail over superior numbers with superior tactics. We will also continue to make changes to siege weapons and introduce new siege weaponry to throw the balance in favor of well-organized groups while retaining the joy of jumping right into things for more casual WvW players.

Variety:

One of the things that makes WvW great is the variety of things you experience when you play. Every session has a different story and while your team’ls ultimate objective is the same, the goals of single play sessions can vary greatly. That being said, there is much that can be done to make WvW a much more diverse experience. This starts with the matchups. We are making many changes to not only the way we create the matchups, but to the way we score those matchups.

Right now our game rewards you for holding an objective, not necessarily for taking it, and overwhelmingly favors the last server to log out for the day. We have some ideas in the pipeline to try to increase scoring when people are playing the game and to make it much more difficult to keep your territory without actively guarding it.

We’ve also been tossing around some ideas to introduce variety into the matches on a weekly basis. Just imagine the possibility of rule changes that come in for a week and then disappear into the Mists. We’ll go into more detail about this in the future, but we think it will be a big boost to players who want to see some more variety.

Siege:

Siege weapons are an integral part of WvW. Not only are they the primary way of capturing and defending objectives, but a well-placed siege weapon can turn the tide of a battle in a heartbeat. Our World Abilities have started adding more to the existing siege weapons, and we’ve made adjustments to the overall balance of siege weapons.

We are going to take a much closer look at all of the siege in the game to bring it in line with where we want it to be. Arrow carts should be deadly for players who get caught beneath their hail of arrows, but there should be a viable way to counter them with other siege — we don’t think that “MOAR arrow carts!” should be the answer to every situation. WvW is a mix of players fighting other players and players fighting against the various weapons of war, so we’ll be introducing balance changes that will give you a reason to use every piece of siege at the proper time.

And More…?

This is only a sampling of what we intend to add to WvW. We have a lot of ideas (some crazy, some not) that we hope to release to make WvW an even more vibrant game; a game that will continue to grow and evolve for years to come.