Fox takes a critical look

donderdag 12 april 2012

Fan made video

Since i'm trying to get the hang of editing programs for GW2 beta events to tape some stuff, i've made a GW2 video with material from other GW2 videos. Cheers.

dinsdag 27 maart 2012

The science of selling yourself short

In great anticipation of Arenanet's upcoming mmorpg Guildwars 2 there have been countless discussions around the mircotransaction system, and i have already shared my own opinion on this topic in a previous blogpost. However, it has become clear to me, by joining the discussion around this particular topic that some of the major complaints are completely based around the wrong idea's of being competetive. These people are selling themself short, and it has nothing to do with the system.

The different roads to fun.
The goal of gaming: fun for young and old
To begin with, let's step back and take a look at the core reason we play games, fun. However not all people are the same and while one game appeals to a certain crowd, another game may be totally different. (a mistake people sometimes make is to generalise games) When we look beyond the general interest in the topic of the game, wich can be something like sports, science fiction or reality, we can divide the way games provide fun into 2 categories:
-Pve: player versus elements: facing the challenges the game provides.
-Pvp: player versus player: facing other players.

A history of Pve and Pvp
Early Pve evolved from the puzzle and book/movie experience. The focus was set on bringing a story trough some challenges, wich involved solving riddles and defeating enemies in basic calculated combat. (wich basicly ment it was another riddle, to be solved with numbercrunching.)The first ever single player game was just a simple tic-tac-toe (in some places better know as OXO) against the computer. Early Pvp in games was much easier to do, since you could just take input from 2 sides and do something like hitting a ball to eachother on the screen. "Tennis for Two" was soon followed by it's popular succesor "Pong", and the world was first introduced to using a game computer.
Tennis for Two, one of the first games.
From here both genre's evolved and as Pvp games followed it's early route towards sports and competing, pve continued down the riddle and story path. Of course both sides never lost sight of eachother and as pvp took over some elements of storytelling and generated more fantasy like settings, pve started introducing more complex enemy systems and AI to mimic pvp, and started using coöperative components in it's gameplay, wich could be experienced with your friends on a slot machine or a console. However both sides never lost eye of their clear goal, competition for pvp, challenge and/or immersion for pve. That said, pvp games started to experiment with AI for simple practice purposes. The evolution of the internet evolved pvp to a new level, as  more players could face eachother, first on networks, like the PLATO time-sharing system, a network first ment to allow students to acces data anywhere on campus created by the University of Illinois and Control Data Corporation wich evolced to a sort of mini-web, and later online. As expected coöperative play also went trough an evolution because of this.

The rise of the mmo
The mmo changed pve-game completely
Once the internet started to flourish a new magnitude of coöperative play surfaced: Massive Multiplayer Online games. While mostly following the traditional model for pvp, the pve aspect of these games, where a massive amount of people could play in the same world, realy changed the whole concept of pve, even to an extend where we need to consider the mmo pve a complete new category. While being a multiplayer game, mmo's now had a new problem to face, and while some games required players to do everything together, it was quickly clear that players didn't want this, and that instead they enjoyed and experience where they could go off on their own and explore the massive worlds created for them, only to be required to group for certain "hard" content. The questing system as we know it in most Mmorpgs today was born, and trough this the genre of the mmorpg started to take form. The format further evolved into the games like Everquest, and later the game that would lift the genre to a new level, World of Warcraft. However, this evolution towards massive multiplayer had a some side effect. Aditional costs started to rise, as companies needed to support more and more servers to be able to support the massive online crowd. Therefor suscribtions were introduced. This system, wich was started for maintenance purposes, of course soon proved to be an excellent source of income to support future development. There was one catch tough, in order for a suscribtion to work, people needed to stay suscribed to the game, and with the normal pve-questing content, they would just finish the game and move on. So something was needed for keeping  players interested in these games after they had finished the content. There was pvp, but a large number of players showed no interest to play other people. At this point the current endgame system was introduced. By upping one aspect of the game, challenge, drasticly group content was created wich required coördination and good gear. Trough this content you could get even better gear, that was then used to fight even harder content wich got released at a steady pace to keep people playing. The gear threadmill was born, and trough the years of doing content over and over, the immersion factor in mmo's sort of died, and the challenge reduced the more you played.
Rewards to get more rewards
At this point the mmo had lost the 2 big aspects of pve that were important to most players, story and challenge. So what kept people interested? There was of course the fact that you need certain loot from a certain boss, and getting the reward you want is like a winning the lotery. Next to that there were achievements and all kind of unique mounts and pets or just plain achievement points, in order for players to be able to show what they had done in the game. The rewards became the only reward and pve became competitive, as your only goal was to get more rewards then others, just to have a goal.

A rewarding experience
The outcry for a new kind of mmo, wich somehow got rid of this system was loud and hard. And many games have tried to answer. Rift, ToR, and now Terra and GW2 have all tried to innovate the genre. I feel GW2 is the only one that is going to be succesfull because it's fundamently trying to change the basic systems. The questing system has been changed into the event system, and there simply is no gear grind. Rewards are cosmetic and do not affect players in any way. Guildwars 2 has clearly chosen for a route where the actual experience of the game is a reward on itself. In this way, GW2 bends it's experience more towards what makes pve games in general, and not just mmorpgs, popular: the actual game experience and challenge.

Selling yourself short
Guildwars 2: a rewarding experience on it's own.
There has been a boatload of discussion around the microtransactions in GW2 and some arguments against the system are that it's pay to win (wich it isn't) or that it helps players achieve the same thing but faster, and that people can buy gold to get more stuff. It is said that this system doesn't value your time spent in the game, as other people get rewards faster then you. Now there is one thing we need to understand here, the thought that time spent in a game should matter is one of the remains of a system where reward and achievements were the most important things in a game. This system is gone. There is no reason to go for rewards in GW2 other then affecting your character. It is time to let go of a system where pve competition is the goal, just to have a goal. Pve is going to be about working together, having fun getting involved in the world and being challenged by the content again. Stop caring about everyone else and start enjoying yourself, because if you are going into GW2 with the mindset to beat everyone in pve, and if you are gonna look to everyone with more stuff then you as a gold-buyer, then you are going to disappoint yourself. This has nothing to do with the game, but rather with you blocking your own fun. And have you forgot that dungeon tokens can't be traded? Or that achievements will set you appart? So in fact the only way you are affected is leveling.

A few examples, mmo and RL
-If a new player in wow would be able to pay for heirloom items, instead of having to earn them with a higher character, this would give him better stats and experience for his entire lvl experience. (wich he will get with a new character anyway) This is pay to win? Does it affect you in any way?
-If an older person takes viagra to enjoy the same experience in bed as you have, is it pay to win? (young people take viagra also, because they are stupid, about the same as players with loads of time buying xp boosts) Clearly he wants to just enjoy himself like you do. Will you enjoy yourself less because of it?
-If you go snowboarding with your friend, and he has a longer vacation then you, but you take lessons in snowboarding to keep up with him, is it pay to win? Would you still buy lessons if you know you had the same time to learn it?

The only way the microtransactions can hurt you is if you get into the mindset they can. Not buying microtransactions doesn't mean you miss anything, in fact it means the opposite. On the other hand they do help people that are affected by time, and let them play the game just like you.

Don't sell yourself short.

dinsdag 20 maart 2012

Shining some light on a gemstone

The day has come. In a new blogpost Arenanet's President and Co-Founder Mike O'Brian takes a look at the system that will be used in the Micro-Transaction store of the upcoming game Guildwars 2. Since GW2 is a Buy-To-Play game, wich means you buy the box and then play for free, it fully depends on the box sales and on what is sold in this store. Before starting on the actual system the blogpost first takes us back to Arenanet's original design philosophy.
We think players should have the opportunity to spend money on items that provide visual distinction and offer more ways to express themselves. They should also be able to spend money on account services and on time-saving convenience items. But it’s never OK for players to buy a game and not be able to enjoy what they paid for without additional purchases, and it’s never OK for players who spend money to have an unfair advantage over players who don’t. Mike O'Brian, President and Co-Founder of Arenanet
When we continue down the blog we learn that next to the 2 currencies we already know, gold and karma, there will be another currency: gems. Gold is of course the normal tradeable ingame currency, karma is a non-tradeable currency that players have to earn themselves. Gems will be the currency that you can buy for real money and wich can be used to purchase items in the micro-transaction store. As we continue we come across the next statement.
We have a new player-driven market that allows players to trade gold for gems and gems for gold. If you want something, whether it’s an in-game item or a microtransaction, you ultimately have two ways to get it: you can play to earn gold or you can use money to buy gems. We think that’s important, because it lets more players participate on a level playing field, whether they use their free time or their disposable income to do it. Mike O'Brian, President and Co-Founder of Arenanet
Now this is probably the part where quite a few people got shocked. This effectively means that players can buy ingame gold. Important to note is that players can't buy gold for gems directly from an npc, but must buy this gold from other players in exchange for some of their tradeable gems. The upside for the player selling the gold is that he can buy things from the cash shop with the gems he just recieved. The major concern of this system is of course the enormous fear that Guildwars 2 will become a game where you can "Pay to win." This basicly means that you can buy items that have superiour stats, power or efficiency that in any way make your character more powerfull then a character from a player who hasn't payed any money. After reading trough the blogpost a few times, something i advise everyone to do before reacting to anything, i am convinced that Arenanet has done exactly what i was expecting and that, as stated by Mike O'Brian in the first quote, they have not and never will cross the line where players that spend money will have an unfair advantage. I am also convinced that this system will have no effect on the economy of the game in any way. Let me explain why.

I would like to start with the economy part, because it is fairly important for the rest of the topic. The reason i'm saying it won't be effected is simple, you buy the gold from other players. This means that the gold and gems will have player-set exchange rates and that everything depends on what amounts of ingame gold players will want to sacrifice to gain things that are sold in the Micro-Transaction store for free. Is it worth to trow away half of your ingame gold for a character slot that only costs 5 dollars? That is something everyone will need to decide on their own. This also means that their is no infinite amount of gold to buy and that the more people that actually buy gold, the more expensive it will become, as the demand would be high in that case, and you still need people who can supply it. In the same way if there are more people offering gold, the rate will change the other way around and gold will become cheap. Eventually it will balance itself somewhat in the center. Now when we look at who controls these rates, we see it's the community itself. Because of this player-set exchange rate item price will not be affected by gold buying, and insainly high prices so that only gold-buyers can get the item will be out of the question.
A second effect of the fact that players buy gold from players is that there will be no extra money added by this system, the money just in ownership. There is still the same capacity to buy stuff.
The last thing to consider is that there is only so much players will want from the Micro-Transaction shop. Even if new things are added to the shop constantly one must wonder if they are relevant to players and if they find them worth to farm for. If the shop doesn't contain anything a player wants anymore, due to not being interested in other things or simply owning all the stuff (these players will excist believe me), he/she won't be willing to spend his/her ingame gold for gems. So in a way this system is even encouraging A-net to provide things players (not just people with money) want to have.

Alright, with that out of the way let's see if we can bring some clarification into that other subject, pay to win. When we ask ourselves if you can pay to win in this game it is very important to look at the "win" part, since due to the gem/gold trade system you can effectively pay for ingame items that are not soulbound. It is thus logical that the question should be "Can you win?" or better formulated "Can you get an advantage by buying items?"
To get a better look let me break it down in some categories. The first one being gear. The only real effect gear is going to have is in leveling in Pve or WvW, since at max lvl the characters will have the oppertunity to get really cheap max lvl gear, and from that point stats are maxed and only skin can be changed. In structured pvp everyone is given max gear as soon as they enter, as this statement shows.
While inside the organized PvP area, all characters will be the same power level and will have access to the same equipment. GW2 FAQ
So does it matter in leveling, both in PvE or PvP? I personally don't think it will matter al that much, since lvling is set on a flat curve, and going a few levels up won't take that much time. Buying an armorset for a certain level will only help you for a few levels and will quite frankly not be worth to spend your real life money on. Getting this small advantage each few levels will take time to go buy stuff and a rediculous amount of money.
Next to gear there are possible boosts in glory, influence and experience. I am saying possible because nothing has been confirmed yet (except for what the collectors and digital deluxe edition have, but that's still a 1-time only purchase). The only thing we do know can again be found in my first quote of the blogpost: "on time-saving convenience items." When we look at experience boosts it is important to remember the Guildwars philosophy "endgame begins at lvl 1" wich is why i think this won't even be available. If they do include them are aimed at people with low time who want to actually get to certain things faster in the game, be it to keep up or for their own sense of achievement, if you have a decent amount of playtime and you are buying these i feel you miss the concept of the entire game. Glory boosts are fine because glory rewards only affect cosmetic appearance. Influence affects your guild, and buying influence points (if available) will allow guilds to unlock rewards faster. Some people say that it could affect WvWvW. 
Since i've mentioned it, i want to take WvWvW apart and look at how it could be affected. Guilds could in fact upgrade faster and could maybe get one little more upgrade. People have also been saying that buying gold will give you more siege weapons. Xp-boosts would also matter since a server would have more full 80-players, who are a bit more powerfull then players scaled to 80 because of gear/skills unlocked in WvWvW. I don't want to deny these arguments at all, but i do want to say that this is kind of rediculously small of an advantage are kind of redundant in "massive unbalanced pvp" Pay to win arguments in WvWvW are in my opinion entirely useless concerning WvWvW since your character won't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Spending money on this makes no sense to me.

Now that i've gone over the potential problems i would like to bring up something that is at least as important. The accesability of GW2 towards all kinds of players. If you are a student with a good amount of time but a lower income you can still get most items you want, even if from the shop. If on the other hand you are working with little time available but a good income you can also, if you want, get more invested into the game. 

The biggest question of them all is how do you want to enjoy the game? And what do you need to enjoy yourself? Do you care about someone leveling faster in a game where leveling is an experience? Do you care about someone being higher level then you in WvWvW if the difference is so small in stats, while skill is the most important thing in the game, especially when fighting other players? 
The Micro-Transaction store has been clearly designed not to affect the game eperience, and that is fine by me. 
Whether or not you are affected by it personally is entirely up to you.

zondag 11 maart 2012

To mount or not to mount, that is the question.

Guildwars 2 must be one of the most anticipated games of the year. Now that the press beta weekend is a few weeks in the past and new closed betas are coming, starting at the end of march, we can really start to countdown towards a release this year. The more information that gets out, the more we get the complete picture of what GW2 is going to be like. And for some people, something is missing. Mounts.So should mounts be added in GW2? An mmo without mounts seems to be kind of strange at first glance, but let's take a deeper look. Starting with the origin of mounts. Many online games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, Lotro, SWToR have implemented this system into their gameplay, but this is not the start of things. Mounts are originally a single player game mechanic to make moving around in the game world less time consuming. One could even consider the bicycle in Pokemon games a mount. It however is all about one thing, movement. World of Warcraft does have a mount that can serve as a repair and general goods merchant, but in the end that is just a feature wich does not change the main fact that movement speed is the mount's primairy intended function. This does not change the fact that for many people mounts have gone beyond movement speed to something far more important to them, they are a way to look more awesome.

Flying effectively destroyed Orgimmar for me.

The sky is the limit so for starting off i would like to adress flying mounts. It seems very mythical to ride off into the sunset on your very own dragon or mythical bird creature. However there is a very big catch. Flying on mounts effectively allows you to acces areas without content. It disconnects you from the world below. This may sound like a good thing, after all, why would you want to encounter other content then the one you are going for. The question should rather be, why would you not want to encounter other content in a supposedly living, breathing world? Flying mounts are a sollution to a problem that has sprouted in current mmorpg design. The second downside of flyers is far worse however, as they do not only disconnect you from the world, they also make the world much less majestic and daunting. If you play an mmorpg you want to be drawn into a very awesome giant and at some times scary world. It's what gives you a feel for the story and what gives you immersion. I personally remember the first time i visited Orgrimmar in Wow, it was a huge city, a bastion of the orcs that stood tall into the bare lands of Durotar. And then all of a sudden, even tough the scenery became even more awesome with cataclysm, it lost it's value to me. I don't want something like this in GW2, for the simple reason that it takes away the feeling of being part of this awesome world.

Now let's get down to earth again. Mounts equal movement speed, and why would you want things to go faster? While i don't like flyers, i will say that World of Warcraft, like many other mmo's of the Wow-type, needs mounts. The way the game i structured in terms of questing and travel simply demands it.
While builds like this GW1 Droknar runner aren't really
possible in GW2, the game does allow characters to boost
their own movement speed just enough for the space
between waypoints not to be a hassle.

When we are looking at GW2, there's an entirely different picture. Questing, or in this case eventing occurs all around the world, and you basicly stumble into it. You don't get rewarded for completing a quest, but you get rewarded for contributing in an event, even if it's just a little bit. This basicly means that almost no content is obsolete. So what about travel? We all need to visit the merch sometimes to sell our junk and stock up on any supplies we need. The waypoint system is a great help in that regard. It basicly works as a save point. Once you've unlocked it, you can fast travel to a waypoint at any time. So you can fast travel to town and back. However, GW2 also contains a personal storyline, wich consists of more of a standard quest-like experience that tells the story of your character. To acces this content you need to talk to several npc's around the game world. They probally will not always be in the direct area of a waypoint, and so you will need to walk. In world versus world, the same thing is required, while you can teleport to the closest waypoint of where you need to be, you'll have to stretch your legs. So are mounts needed for this? I'd say no. GW2's character design assures that every class has several movement speed increases/leaps and other ways of moving faster in between waypoints. And while not even being close to the GW1 runner style builds, it's just enough to make the trip convenient. So are mounts needed for the basic core mechanic they were intented for? For me the answer is no.

One of the rarest mounts in Wow,
does it add to your character?
In my opinion it doesn't.
Character progression is of course an important aspect of any role-playing game. So we have to take a look and see if mounts add to this system. Many people have stated that having mounts adds to customisation of your character. They'll say that it's another piece of customisation like armor and weapons with wich you can make your character more unique. I don't agree. In my opinion mounts, while adding a whole lot of awesomeness on the screen, do not add to your character in any way. They do the opposite. A giant beast you are riding that is 2-3 times the size of your character does not add value to that specific character. In fact if someone looks at you while mounted they will see nothing but the mount. World of warcraft had a problem with customisation for many years, and only recently realised that people value unique armor and weapons allot more then mounts. The transmogrification system is the first good decision i've seen from Blizzard in a long time, and it has really added to a sense of real character progression to wow, wich before didn't excists at all, because people all had the same top tier armor. I understand the concerns people are bringing in this aspect, as many of them come from a game that, until recently, had no real visual character progression except for mounts.
Some examples of GW2 medium armor customisation.
It is the reason why they are so important to some people, and why they are brought up as suggestions again and again. Guildwars 2 will not need this kind of character progression because it will feature even more progression then GW1 on the actual character. And isn't that exactly what character progression is supposed to be? I would want the choices i make for my looks and creation of my char, as well as the things i achieve within the game to have an inpact on my character. I'm absolutely certain that character progression in Guildwars 2 will be more then enough to compensate for the lack of mounts, and that in fact you will feel more connected to your character then ever, just because of this. I feel not having mounts fits perfectly into Arenanet's character progression system, along with the extensive personal story and the focus on who you are in the gameworld.

The knight in armor, charging into
battle, for the moment i think it will
just stay a dream.
Since this game has such a different and diverse combat system, some people even suggested mounted combat. Mounts being another sort of weapon that swapped out the first few skills for mounted skills. While this all sounds very nice and exciting, and i could see warriors and guardians as mounted knights and  thiefs or engineers as some weird cowboys, you can't do this effectively without destroying the experience for players next to you who chose not to do mounted combat. A mount always gives the feeling that said character is stronger, even if there really is no difference at all. At close combat, there is even the possibility that your character will disappear under the mounted players, wich isn't really what you would want. It would also require enemy npc's to be mounted from time to time, it wouldn't be very believeable if players could do mounted combat, while enemies couldn't.
You can "mount" a trebuchet and use it to fire on enemy
troops or fortifications.
The simple fact is, mounted combat hasn't been done right by any rpg games in my opinion, so putting such an experience into an mmorpg just to be able to have it as a feature would be a bad call, as GW2 already is taking many risks and doesn't need this to make a good game. However, this doesn't mean that GW2 will totally forbid you to mount anything to fight, there are many objects we can mount to fight, like canons, turrets, lasers, asura golems, siege weapons and probally many more. So why these obects and not mounts? Because you can controll where you allow these things to be used, they aren't an extension to the player but more an oppertunity for the player to use the game environment.
That's a very good thing, for using your environment makes you feel part of it, and increases immersion.

Where's my character again?
This brings me to the next thing i would like to bring up, immersion and lore. I want to be drawn into a game when i play it, feel part of the world and being dragged along the story and events that occur, seeing strange and unlogical things doesn't add to this experience. One of those things for me, while you may find this silly, is things appearing out of thin air. While WoW is a much more cartoony and lighthearted game it even bothered me there. Another one of those things is characters on mounts they don't belong to be in, and i can't see a Charr or Norn fit into an asura mount, or an Asura riding things that are way to big. I still remember Gnomes on Mamoths in WoW, uugh. Lore wise i don't even see Norn and Charr wanting to mount anything but turrets and cannons. And when looking at lore, we can't get around looking at the original games, and i can only think of one enemy, Dragnar Stoneplate, to use a drake mount, maybe there are a few more. But the point is, most tame animals were only beasts of burden for merchants or ranger pets. To now have everyone suddenly mounted would be weird. I'm also gonna repeat here what i said in the mounted combat part, if a world has mounts, you need some npc's friend and foe, to be mounted for immersion sake. And that's a whole lot of extra work.

Thank this guy for flying in Kalimdor
and Eastern Kingdoms. At the same
time it shows how much work is
needed to implement mounts into an
environment not made for them.
This is something we really need to consider, the amount of work needed to implement mounts. While mounts may seem a simple feature they affect everything, from lore to map design and even character animation. Most games that are have mounts had them from the very beginning, and there's a reason for that. The descission to have mounts is a design choice that needs to be made early on in the process of a game. It affects the way you devellop levels and the way the general game mechanics work. It's a huge amount of work to redo something that wasn't meant to have mounts to something that does. The people wanting mounts can only hope that Arenanet develloped with the possibility of mounts in mind, otherwise i don't see it happening. When we look at world of warcraft, for a long time you weren't able to use flying mounts in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms because it wasn't optimised for flyers. The cataclysm expension maskes that they really had to redo all the zones to be able to fly in them. It is the reason that the Draenei starting zone and the Blood Elf starting zone are still offlimits for flying, they weren't included in the rehash from cataclysm. This is why i think mounts, at least at launch, are impossible.

So to mount or not to mount, this is my conclussion.
I feel that mounts, while being a technical difficulty and an immersion-breaker in some parts do not add value to your character and aren't needed for speed increase either. The waypoint system together with some speed skills is the perfect way to increase the importance of your character and to keep this amazing world very impressive and even daunting where needed.


woensdag 29 februari 2012

Attributes and traits in GW2, my thoughts and suggestions

Arenanet has just released a new blog post called "Play your way" wich covers how the new Attribute and Trait system will work in their upcoming title Guildwars 2. The entire blogpost can be found at:

Attributes have been changed in a very significant way, and i must say, i'm a big fan of the new system. Attributes that are proffesion-specific are really awsome. The effects that those attributes have however aren't that wonderfull with every class.
The warrior and guardian specific attributes deliver exactly what i need, more power for the warrior and more significant use of virtues for the guardian.The thief has it's steal mechanic boosted. While this is definitly possitive i still have my doubts about steal itself, so i will have to wait and see to know if i like this. For the ranger we see the specific attribute let's you boost your pet's attributes. A logical choice since the basic ranger needs are covered in offense and defense, and pets are, and should be considered quite important for rangers. Engineers have been blessed with recharge on all toolbelt skills. While this is awesome, i will express a bit of concern here, i'm hoping these effects aren't to great, since i can imagine some of these skills leaning towards overpowered when they become near-spammable.
Death shroud. OP?
Talking about OP, watch out with the necromancer Arenanet, the life-force increase scares the crap out of me, as a non-necromancer i can see Death Shroud becoming the most irritating thing to deal with in pvp. The elementalist has been given a class attribute that let's attunements recharge faster. While this may sound awesome i have some doubts. If you can make it so attunements switch instantly or almost instantly on the fly then this will be something an ele can't do without. I'm not sure if thats a bad thing, but for the moment i'm doubtfull. My biggest concern however, is the mesmer. Al shatter cooldowns are decreased. While this mechanic on itself does not have such a dramatic effect it confirms concerns that i had for the mesmer. I think it's leaning to much towards a minion momber class, and i really don't like that evolution. I would suggest that mesmer attributes instead make clones a bit more durable, since they are super-squishy, and to make phantasms damage increase a bit.
Overall the attributes system has been designed very well and is a huge improvement to what we had seen before.

Now we've come to the second part of the Arenanet blog, Traits.
I must say i'm delighted with how the general system works, but i do have some concerns.

You will first experience triats around lvl 11, recieving 1 point per lvl up to lvl 80. This means you will have 70 trait points at max lvl. Every proffesion has 5 trait lines. I'm guessing most people will be speccing into 2/3 of these lines. The A-net blog contains a list with wich traits are supported by wich attributes, it's very clear to see. I would encourage Arenanet to not only list these combinations in their blogs however, it would be very nice to see when you've specced into Strenght for example, that it would suggest Power and Expertise as a matching attribute ingame. People should not be breaking their experience and going online to look up how to things match up with eachother.

The GW2 trait system, showcasing the 5 lines for Elementalists
Minor traits are exactly what i expect them to be, a bonus for going into a certain line.

Major traits are rewards that can be slotted into a major trait slot wich unlocks as soon as you get 10, 20 and 30 points into a certain line. The awsome thing about this system, wich has really never been done in an mmo before, is that there are no skills locked away only to be used by people who fully spec into a certain line. The only thing that is affected is how many major traits are available in that line. I can't do anything else then state that this system is really awesome and exactly the system i've been looking for in an mmorpg.
The training manual system is a good way to introduce people into the trait system without allowing them, for their own good, to fully choose one way. It encourages to experiment with their proffesion and it shows you how to play, something other mmo's have lacked for ages.

Rounding up traits, Jon Peters mentioned Re-Specializing, and the following statement has made a mess on various sites and forums.
After a character has spent their trait points, they can visit a trainer to reset their traits and refund their previously spent points for a small fee.
We realized that an important part of building a character is some sense of permanence. With this new system, you are flexible enough to change if you really want to, but you should still feel like the choices you made matter while you are out adventuring or slogging your way through a dungeon. In competitive PvP, you have a separately saved trait build and can respec free of charge.

Who else is still hoping for a
 "Blinded by the light" trait for
guardians? I love my bling bling.
While i do understand the reason behind this, like many people i simply can't agree on everything in that statement. I understand that it is by no means gamebreaking and that this is just a small thing, but it's an important one in my honest opinion.
Let's make one thing clear, swapping traits on the fly is not an option. It indeed harms that sense of permanence that people are building around their character, and not only that. It would create an insane elitist community that would require you to switch traits before each boss. For this reason i understand that switching is needed in town.

I do not agree that a fee is needed for switching tough, even if it is just small. Collecting money of a player, no matter how little it is, will trigger a reaction. This may be looking up good traits on google or to copy stuff from guildies or friends. And yes, i really believe this is a bad thing. Players should be able to experiment whenever and wherever they like, for no fee at all. I know the pvp loby will be a place where you can freely experiment with skills and traits, no cost, but i think this is way to sepperate from the pve-world, especially for pve-only players, and it can never offer you real combat situation.

Altough i understand the need for trait-switching to be based in towns, it brings another concern to mind: underwater combat.
Will underwater play be influenced by the traits you choose
on land? 
Underwater combat is a completely different experience, and while you may love certain traits above water, for example a necromancer choosing traits that focus on his minions, it might not be your favorite setup underwater, for several reasons. Being under the surface changes combat drasticly. Since Arenanet has stated multiple times that the underwater content is a really big part of the game, i'm hoping they won't force people to play underwater with their land traits. The experience is so different. I would suggest that people get different traits for underwater, but only if they want it. (a tab that can be activated/deactivated?)

My last minor concern is weapons, will this system support and boost different weapons.
Since the warrior is the main weapon user i'm gonna take his example.
Does a warrior wielding a bow and hammer get boosted in these 2 sets? Or will weapons like a bow have damage increased depending on other attributes and traits then the hammer? (i'm talking mostly about minor traits here, since you can choose major) I wouldn't want this warrior to have to choose between bow and hammer to spec into.

Overall i think the system is pretty well designed, and while i have some concerns i really believe in Arenanet to take the feedback from the Beta's and design the best game they can make.
The major traits have blown me away, that system is just brilliant.

My name is Fox, i'm a Norn Guildwars player (i'm 2 meters tall) hoping to work at a company like A-Net one day.
This is my opinion on your build.