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Six Suggestions from a Fellow Coder to Anet Devs for Build Templates

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I have some suggestions for the Anet devs regarding the new build templates.

==== Intro Stuff ====If I purchase an additional build template slot, will that slot be attached to only one character or will it unlock an additional template for all my characters? That is, the preview shows three locked character build templates, if I purchase an unlock, does that 4th slot only unlock on one toon or all my toons? If it's attached to a specific character, can I chose to move it to a different toon later on if I decide to shelve the first toon after a nerf? For the remainder of this discussion I'm assuming the answer is that it only unlocks on one character and that I cannot move them.

==== Suggestion 1 ====Anet ABSOLUTELY needs to keep ArcDPS's template functions active for at least a couple weeks so people can load their templates from there and save them into the new ingame templates. There are going to be a lot of irate players if they can't get their current templates out of Arc and they have to rebuild them all from memory. I'm getting old. I don't remember anything. Please be kind. A couple weeks' grace period won't affect the company's ultimate bottom line.

==== s2 ====Speaking of irate... I do hope that while deciding how much this is going to cost us per slot y'all take into account the fact that certain professions like Warriors have viable condi and power builds and also play multiple roles. That confluence creates lots of builds. For instance, I have both a condi and power build for Fractal banner slave, then a condi and power build for Fractal DPS (for when another Warrior is banner slaving), then a similar 4 builds for raids, then an additional variation of both that includes tactics [now defunct], then a power build for Fractal Spellbreaker. Then there's a condi and power DPS for Open World play. And that's just PvE. Beyond that is a WvW commander Spellbreaker, a WvW zerg support Spellbreaker, a WvW zerg DPS, a WvW solo roaming DPS. And then there's PvP which I don't really do. That's 17+ builds for my Warrior alone.

ArcDPS is free. I'm sure Anet will be making them take down their loadout support to protect their profits, so when the powers that be at Anet decide how much to charge I hope they keep in mind exactly how many builds some people run on each toon and that right now everyone is used to having all this functionality COMPLETELY free. The potential for people rage quitting over "yet another microtransaction-happy money-grubbing game company" that already charges a fixed purchase price is quite high on this one. I don't mind throwing y'all a few bucks here and there, but do consider the sheer number of slots some of us are looking at with this. Disallowing a free version of the same (possibly better?) thing (I'm not trying to be mean here but I'm really thinking ArcDPS's method was probably more convenient - see s3 below) and forcing us to pay exorbitant fees to replace it feels a bit like we're having our current hassle-free gameplay taken hostage.

My suggestion is to heavily discount tabs right off the bat and give us current players a good chunk of free ones to begin with (free character tabs, not just free account tabs). Three tabs isn't even enough for the professions I don't play much (I think I have at least five builds on each toon). It's nowhere near enough for the ones I do play all the time. I'm facing having to buy tons of these things, and like I said, I'm used to all this functionality being completely free. I'm not rich. I better not have to spend all the gold I've saved from the past year just to get set back up again to where I currently stand with ArcDPS. I'm really not kidding here. This is precisely the sort of thing that makes me stop giving a company any money ever again on general principle... especially considering I recently spent a lot of gems buying bag slots to hold all my gear whose sale in the gemstore I was anticipating all year and whose slots are now being rendered superfluous.

So let's take a conservative (for me anyway) average of 9 builds per toon times 9 professions less the 3 automatically unlocked character tabs per toon. 9 9 - 3 9 = 54 tabs I have to buy. (Let's also ignore the need for a few more equipment build tabs for various toons.) Even at just 200 gems that's 10,800 gems, more than 4000 gold at current exchange rates. Or, alternately, well over $100 USD. Let's say you bump the initial tabs to 6 instead of 3. 9 9 - 6 9 = 27 tabs. That's still 2000 gold. I have maybe 1000 gold if I liquidate a lot of stuff and abandon all my goals for future advancement. How much gold do you plan on sucking out of my meager savings? How far back do you think it's reasonable to set my progress which I finally achieved after a year and a half of play? All for something that is essentially a standard quality of life improvement stored in a simple text/xml save file on the client side or single database entry server-side that I currently enjoy for free already.

I hope that puts into perspective people's fears that your company might have turned horribly cynical in terms of cash grabbing. I fully understand that the suits want to charge for convenience options like this, but I suggest they provide a good number of free slots from the start and heavily discount additional ones for several weeks. Let the big profits from this come later as new people join the game and old players slowly add more slots to their accounts. Don't make all the current users of ArcDPS hate you.

==== s3 ====Currently ArcDPS is (usually) smart enough to handle conflicts between weapons and trait lines. For instance, a specialization like Chrono can hold a shield, so you cannot equip a shield unless you have already set the trait line to Chrono. Arc would handle the weapon swap and trait swap seamlessly. With a system that separates gear loadouts from build loadouts there are going to be problems. I know you've coded to gray out an equipped weapon's skills that have been rendered unusable, which is fine, but the issue leads to what I think is a better and much more useful suggestion.

I'd suggest that a drop down box be added to the trait/utility build tab which, if the user so chooses, allows them to select an equipment build to attach to the trait/utility build. That way when the user selects their trait build it will automatically handle the equipment/weapon/rune/sigil swap as well. Separating the equipment from the build seems like it allows more functionality, but I think it's going to cause a much greater headache for people with many specialized builds. This also solves the problem of separation between item-based loadouts and freely changeable trait/utility loadouts mentioned in the stream. Devs would simply add a field to the build database entry that a bit of code can check and then also load the attached equipment loadout. It also removes the need for an additional set of keybinds.

Put simply, I really like having the whole thing taken care of with one click, not having to figure out which equipment build is supposed to go with which traitlines, and still possibly having to personally deal with weapon choices. For example, I have two very similar Scourge builds for WvW: one for scepter and one for staff. The build change is entirely focused on the difference between those two weapons. Separating the equipment from the trait line defeats the purpose of having a single loadout. As it stands it seems I'm still going to have to keep my weapons in my bag and hand swap them. It's really only 2 traits and a weapon or two. I might as well just swap it all by hand if I'm having to load 2 different tabs in the UI anyway. That example is certainly trivial, but think of the difference in gear swaps that are attached to open world versus boss fighting environments? It's the difference between wanting expertise gear and similar traits versus pure condi damage, and the equipment and trait builds will naturally always be swapped together.

==== s4 ====Make the maximum number of tabs in all cases really huge. Six per toon is ridiculously low. Laughably. Seriously. Let the user choose how they want to use this new interface. Either a ton of account-bound slots, a ton of character-bound, or a mixture of both. Let us choose what we think works best for us. In the case of my previous suggestion with attaching equipment to a build, lots of character-bound slots with attached gear slots makes the most sense to me, but I only really use one character of each profession. On the other hand, I suspect people who have many toons of the same profession will prefer more account-bound slots. Give the user the choice and don't lock us into any one method.

From what I gather from the preview here is what will happen. I will fill 5 slots on my Warrior with my most frequently used builds. The other 12+ will have to go into the account-bound slots. Whenever I want to use those I will have to load it into the sixth character slot and activate it. After I'm done I'll delete it from the character slot to make space for the next time I need something different. This is going to be a pain.

Ideally, make each tab slot unlock we buy in the store a generic unlock that can be applied to any of the character build, account build, or character equipment build types. Then allow us to freely move free/empty slots between any build type we like. This way people don't get screwed with a bunch of empty unlocks on a toon that got nerfed and they no longer play. They could just drag-drop the slots to make them account builds, switch toons, then drag-drop to whichever build slot on the new toon they like. Preventing this might seem like a good way to make more gemstore bucks, but the plainly obvious effect on players' gameplay will be to stifle willingness to try new toons and new builds. People already quit games when nerfs disable their favorite professions, you don't want to add another incentive for people to go play other games rather than change things up. Beyond that, the fact that GW2 is so cheap to set up a new toon compared to many other games has been one of its biggest selling points to me, and no doubt to many other players. You really don't want to hinder this. Options, options, options. That's how you keep people playing your game for years on end - and spending real dollars over the long term.

==== s5 ====As of now we have equipment only handled on a single character at a time. I understand the reason for this choice on the devs' part from a coding standpoint. The problem, unfortunately, is that it is horrible from a user-friendliness standpoint. This has always stuck out to me as GW2's one major flaw. Currently, if a player wants a legendary weapon or armor on 2 toons they have to unequip -> move items to shared inventory assuming they have enough free spaces, which is highly unlikely with a whole set of armor plus trinkets plus weapons plus runes/sigils... so really we're talking about the user traveling their toon to a bank -> deposit -> switch toons -> also travel the receiving toon to a bank -> withdraw -> equip -> set the build -> then travel their toon to wherever it needs to be to actually do something fun in the game. And it usually entails other people waiting around impatiently twiddling their thumbs while the player does all this.

This is horribly clunky and burdensome, and with the cost and time needed to create legendary weapons and armor it is unlikely that players will create multiples of the same type of legendary gear, one for each toon, so we all have to do this moving process. Even sets of ascended Minstrel/Viper's gear is too cost-prohibitive to have multiple sets from the same armor class. Now that the devs are creating a separate inventory-unspecific storage I think y'all really need to take some time while the code is still fresh in your minds to find a way to make this storage account-bound instead of character-bound.

Consider this: is it really reasonable to expect us, the players, to create 9 sets of legendary armor (1 for each profession) just so we can easily switch characters and gear without wasting 5-10 minutes between every fractal? It took me over a year to get my first legendary armor set. It'll be at least another 1.5 years to have one of each armor class. Assuming no more professions get added, how many years until I have a set for all 9 professions? It's not really feasible until someone has been playing for many years and is working towards all possible legendary sets simultaneously. And that's not even bringing into account the limited availability of legendary trinkets, or the high cost of legendary weapons.

Having 9 sets of legendaries is an insane expectation that can be fixed by simply making the new equipment templates take gear from an account-wide storage space/armory - say something like a new gear-only bank space with 200+ slots (probably via a separate database table or perhaps by new fields attached to the current account entry). All gear/trinkets/weapons/runes/sigils/infusions would be stored here. Thus, a player would only have 1 set of medium ascended Minstrel's, 1 of Viper's, 1 Zerker, etc. And they would have 1 set of such trinkets as well. (Or perhaps a couple sets with different infusions for WvW vs fractal AR.) When a user loads into a toon, the game looks for the last used gear template, grabs the gear from the armory, and equips it automatically. When they log out of a toon it returns the gear to the armory so the next toon can use them. (Honestly, a dynamic linking system would make more sense rather than an unnecessary removal/replacement method unless the coder really wanted to reuse the old code instead of rewriting, but that's a question of efficiency I can't really guess about.) Legendaries would be handled the same way with obvious advantages to the user. Same story with harvester tools (this is important! stop making us swap these every character change! get the damn things out of our shared inventory already!).

This game is great for making so many things account bound, that this is a blaringly obvious weak spot that stands out to anyone who has been playing for even a short while. It's a huge waste of time that takes away from actual fun gameplay, the sort of fun that keeps people coming back. A standard rule of user interface design, particularly regarding games, is that if a coder can spend a few dozen man-hours to remove a burden from the users that causes them to waste hundreds or thousands of man-hours in tedious repetitiveness, it is worth the cost on quality of life grounds alone. Consider: 5-10 minutes several times an hour between fractals/raids/WvW situations/PvE situations/et al., multiplied by thousands of users per hour, multiplied by 24 hours in a day, multiplied by however many days this game has been active... versus how many man-hours to code and debug this? The devs said the inventory handling coding is messy, but the value added of templates with an account-bound armory like I suggest is enormous. Please give it some thought.

==== s6 ====I'm really not sure why the devs don't want people to be able to change builds on the fly in WvW and PvP. Getting out of combat and changing to a different build, then returning to the fight and attacking a foe with a more effective counterbuild is precisely the sort of surprise tactical advantage whose well-timed use WvW thrives upon. Does entering combat with someone and being forced to run away to break combat long enough to change loadouts somehow assign your opponent the right to kill you in the same method until you get to a keep? They tag you a bit and now they own the right to re-engage and finish you with exactly the same tactics if they chase you across the map and finally catch up to you? All this really does is delay the ability of people to adapt to their situation. Quick adaptation is often the hallmark of good players. I feel like all this does is allow gank artists to more easily kill zerg build players running back from respawn, which is already a real annoyance for every zerg fighter (I'll digress a second to say that this new Warclaw Lance ability is the same nonsense; please stop catering to the PvP whiners who complain about not being able to gank WvW zergers with their specialized 1v1 builds, this is already far from a level playing field; there is a place where it's fair, it's called PvP, let them go there). The person who can adapt the best to a rapidly changing situation should be rewarded, not doomed. Same thing with entire zergs switching builds quickly to perfectly adapt to an opponent zerg. I really don't see the purpose of this limitation, and its effect seems to dumb down gameplay rather than improve it. I'd say just make the rule that if a player can exit combat and change their build before getting jumped again, they should be able to do so, just like is currently the situation with swapping weapons/traits/et al. by hand. If someone is chasing you, you break combat, change builds, and they jump on you again without a bit of caution then they get what they deserve.

==== Complements (aka Blatant Brown Nosing) ====I really like a lot of what you've done. I know this post might appear pretty negative, but really it's meant to suggest ways to improve and explain why. I do really like the build linking and I LOVE the build inspection window. Good idea including the build sorting options. Great job with the copy/delete/etc. options. It looks like you've anticipated a lot of situations, like for instance the need for an 'Unequip From All Equipment Templates' option. And seriously big props for including keybinds. The whole interface looks pretty smooth and intuitive. I really mean this when I say that after coming from other games, Anet's programmers clearly have their heads screwed on straight. You pretty much always see the big picture and account for all the edge cases well before going live. Sometimes you avoid the major reworks, but nowhere near to the degree of half-assed solutions I so often see in other games. The fact that rather than do things the easy way you usually do things right the first time is one of the reasons I'm still playing this game after a year and a half. Thanks for that, and keep up the great work.

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I watched the live stream. Firstly people complaining about the slot limits or price. They are looking to price similarly as bag slots or bank tabs. The number of slots you see is the limit for now but they are not against expanding the limit at a later date.

The only real issue that might get cumbersome is due to builds and templates having separate keybinding that's a lot of key binds.

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@Kodokuna Akuma.9570 said:I watched the live stream. Firstly people complaining about the slot limits or price. They are looking to price similarly as bag slots or bank tabs.

Yes. So, 4x to 8x higher than the (already high enough) OP's assumptions. basically, as pessimistic OP was, he wasn't even a quarter as pessimistic as he should be.I mean, the very same calculation OP made is not going to end up at 100 USD, but at 400-800 USD. I'm sure, that someone is going to tell me how that is perfectly fine, though.

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@Vavume.8065 said:

@"Caelin.9167" said:Six Suggestions from a Fellow Coder

What does monetization of templates have to do with coding... a used car salesman would be more qualified...

Ask Anet the same question.Let's see ... Game design + Marketing = $I think the OP is bring this to a more technical light, rather than "Just give me what I want, Anet". It's refreshing to see someone putting some thought into the issue and not just bashing.

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@Astralporing.1957 said:

@kratan.4619 said:Most of what was discussed really has nothing to do with the coders, they just code what they are told to code, this is coming from a fellow coder.Considering that up to yesterday the one at the top was a coder, this isn't completely true.

As a. Coder (I've never actually met a developer that refers to themeself as a coder) you should have a good idea how development works, the costs involved and the choices and sacrifices that have to happen.

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@phokus.8934 said:

@phokus.8934 said:If you’re not thrilled with the overall direction with official build templates then create your own.

you wont be allowed to.........Umm lol what?

You realize you can create your own add on and not tell the world, right?But that addon, unlike arc was up till now,
be allowed, and you might get banned.
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@"Trise.2865" said:You think you can do better? Go right ahead: https://www.arena.net/en/careers

A better solution already exists but will be discontinued. Would happily build my own System but would get banned for it.Their System fails the one thing it should do. Allowing fast swap between different gear load outs and TRIPLE monetization is just unacceptable. I can get multiple new AAA games for what i have to spend on their system

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That is a lot of text, no headlines and it is not written very clearly.

The forum profile does look like troll, but it is just a veteran who decided to write on the forums recently. The AP count is 15-20k.

TL&DR:1.) Keep ArcDPS build-function active, so people have time to convert them into the new system2.) Heavily discount build-tabs at the beginning OR give us everything for free, because ArcDPS is also for free3.) Add a feature to prevent gear-issues when equipping builds with elite-specializations which use unique weapons4.) Increase the maximum number of tabs, let us move the tabs across all characters5.) Make gear use account wide with a shared pool (e.g. let us access gathering-tools with all characters quickly)6.) Enable Build-Templates in WvW

The professional point of view claims that the build-templates are inferior compared to the ArcDPS system. No one of us has truly seen or tested the feature so far, so it is nothing but a bold guess.

Further he claims that the developers neglected the fact that our Elite Specializations use unique weapons. So the build-templates are optimized for core-builds only and will break/cause-errors when we try to switch to builds which uses Elite Specializations with those unique weapons. Do coders have a moral-code which allows them to insult the intellect of colleagues, blaming them not knowing their own product?

A tl&dr would have really helped. It is not as professional as the title claims, would not mind merging it with the other topics.

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