One Step From Death: This Should Not Be the End

As the recent specializations update and subsequent balancing pass have shown, the necromancer still needs a lot of help. Over the course of May, I released six posts that comprehensively looked at the necromancer.

The Necromancer’s Curse

Part 1 of the series took an overview of what makes the necromancer the necromancer, and the various ways that they’re quite frankly underperforming compared to every other profession.

And at its core, the necromancer is currently identified by three things:

  1. Attrition
  2. A Tank Tendency
  3. Afflicted, but Not Crippled

Shrouded in Black and White

Part 2 turned its attention to the unique profession mechanic of the necromancer: death shroud. More specifically, the binary, extremely limiting choice that death shroud forces necromancers into.

Worse still, this is a choice that by construction the balance team has to force on necromancers, because death shroud lacks counterplay. The entire mechanic needs a redesign to give enemy players counterplay, and necromancers options.

The Dwarf and the Demon

Part 3 surprised me. I sought to draw parallels to the upcoming revenant, but ended up in a different direction. Revenant has focus, self-synergy, and a concept I’ve termed burst attrition. They hit hard, but only ever so often.

All things that the necromancer lacks, but should have. And it’s a core identity issue. Necromancer as it is implemented cannot have these positive characteristics.  It needs a redesign from the ground up.

The Dance of (Self-Countering) Death

Part 4 began my look at each of the three game modes that necromancers see play, starting with structured PvP. Because of the various woes of the profession’s structure, necromancers lack both skillful play and counterplay.

Ironically, this is a result of design decisions meant to reinforce the necromancer’s core identity. Design decisions that in practice mean that necromancers must completely outclass their enemies to win.

To offer a way around these decisions, I suggested recrafting death shroud around the break bar mechanic to reinforce the necromancer identity as a tanky opponent who must be either locked down, or burst down, but actually has the tools to still be effective in the face of competent players.

Designed Inefficiency

Part 5 is a look at the clear loser for necromancers: PvE. Everything unique a necromancer brings to the fight isn’t needed, and what they have in common they do worse than every other profession.

But unlike the core balance problems in PvP, the solution does not lie in recrafting their mechanics (though that would doubtless help). Necromancers (and all other professions) need unique mechanical encounters that require more than simply damage.

At Home in War

Part 6 should be a triumphant win for the necromancer, because they are gods in WvW. Necromancers are the staple of zergs and single roaming everywhere.

But that staple status is very tenuous because either the weaknesses of the profession need to be built around by the team (almost to the exception of all else), or the dynamic way fights develop across the borderlands can null their advantage immediately.

Even in their best mode, necromancers are on the edge of irrelevance.

This Should Not Be The End

In the process of writing these posts, I came to several conclusions, stated above. But to conclude further on them (Concluception), here’s my condensed list of what the necromancer needs:

  1. Recrafting design decisions to retain the core identity of the profession, but built better
  2. Death Shroud needs more options, and more counterplay
  3. A from-scratch approach to skills and traits
  4. Creating skillful play and counterplay for the profession as a whole (e.g., adding a break bar to Death Shroud)
  5. Crafting more varied encounters that can play to a necromancer’s unique strengths (and also other professions’)
  6. Not using the profession’s position in the WvW meta as a reason that other changes aren’t necessary

Having one profession condemned to irrelevance purely because of a broken foundation is not okay. If it can’t be fixed with the current setup of the profession, then Question Everything should go into full effect and a foundation that can be fixed should be put in place.

This should not be the end of the necromancer, where it is stuck being crud forever. It’s time to look critically at all of the problems, and generate a solution that in time can bring it up to the same standard as the other 7 (soon to be 8).

Advertisements

Applying Emergence: A Case Study

To conclude this short series on emergence, and the potential it has to keep theme park MMOs from an unsustainable treadmill of content creation, consumption, and complaints, I’m going to look deeper at how emergence can apply in Guild Wars 2, particularly with its brand new shiny dynamic AI system.

Previous posts in this series:

  1. A Theme Park MMO’s Bane: The Trifold Curse
  2. Dumping Sand on the Theme Park: Emergence

Emergence can apply everywhere, even if a dynamic AI system isn’t readily extensible to events, the environment, and the like. To show this, I’m going to overview the phrases of the emergence definition, and how they can apply to enemies, events, and the environment.

As a quick refresher, here is my definition of emergence:

Emergence is the use of simple, but layered mechanics to create a complex, nuanced, and ultimately unpredictable encounter, while retaining the ability to be comprehended.

Continue reading Applying Emergence: A Case Study