ArenaNet's iconic Mesmer profession returns in Guild Wars 2, but the unique character type isn't easy to build.
Because there isn't a set of tropes to draw on, ArenaNet can be more creative with the Mesmer - which is sometimes daunting.
"I think that Mesmer was a bit more difficult to develop than the other professions," game designer Eric Flannum told Massively.
"For example, when we're developing the Warrior skills or how the Warrior should feel, we end up referencing the warrior archetype as it appears in other media. Fans are also exposed to all of these things, and so their expectations and definition of what a Warrior is tends to be pretty broad.
"For the Mesmer, we're talking about a much more specific archetype that was developed for the first Guild Wars. There are obviously fewer influences to draw from when developing such a profession, and while this means it may take more time to hit exactly the right notes (no Minstrel pun intended), it ends up being very rewarding when you do get it right."
Another factor which cranks up the difficulty is that the original Mesmer class capitalised on several quirks of Guild Wars' mechanics which have been overhauled or removed for the sequel.
"Things like energy denial and hexing weren't going to make it into the game, so we needed to find ways of replicating the style of play Mesmer players were used to in the original game," Flannum explained.
In some cases, substitutes have been found.
"We knew that the Mesmers had to have the ability to interrupt their opponents. Since we were removing explicit interrupts as part of the game, this meant that the Mesmer needed good access to the other things in the game that function as interrupts, such as stuns and dazes. One of the shatter abilities is Stun, so that every Mesmer has a way to disrupt foes no matter what else she brings with her," the designer explained.
In others, treasured abilities just had to be cut - including the Wastrel skill tree.
"We tried a few different variations on this theme in Guild Wars 2, but with how active our combat is, these skills tended to either be very ineffective or seem a bit random in what they were doing," Flannum said.
The magical duelist does come armed with a new set of tricks, though.
"Illusion magic was one of the Guild Wars Mesmers' attribute lines, but we were never able to fully realize the Mesmer as an illusionist in the first game," Flannum said, implying this oversight has been rectified.
Guild Wars 2 is expected in 2012, exclusively for PC.