[WS] Opening Up on a Closed Beta

The Wildstar is now in full-on closed beta. I am not part of this lucky/unlucky group who are seeing the upcoming MMO in true beta form. Hopefully I can sneak my way in to a more open beta with a rogue email or a pre-order pass.

To be honest, I guess I kind of exhausted my thoughts on the game coming from Arkship. I just now realized in writing this post that my Wildstar feed did not seem to make my transition away from Google Reader. I have Wildstar Radio… and that’s it. Weird, I wonder what else didn’t make the jump. Seems I have a lot to catch up on. Continue reading [WS] Opening Up on a Closed Beta

[WS] Warplot Whispers

At ArkShip 2013 I talked with devs about warplots more than any other thing. I mentioned previously about making sure to sit with Jen Gordy, Carbine’s PvP Lead, who has had a lot of experience developing Warhammer Online’s RvR and Lord of the Rings Online PvP . The substance of those conversations are unfortunately under NDA.

“Well, stakes not high enough for you? Then some of you and your most bloodthirsty friends should double-down and buy a warplot. Then outfit with enough firepower to blow a hole in the space-time continuum. When your death fortress is complete, go to war against your enemies, and earn rewards so epic your head will explode like a supernova. Boom.”

(Source: What is WildStar?) Continue reading [WS] Warplot Whispers

[WS] Overview Trailer

Carbine just published their newest trailer for WildStar. The announcer ping pongs in my head back and forth between epic and annoying, but for the most part I like it. The information is light, especially to fans that have been following the game. The important part, for me, is how much of the trailer is made using in-game footage. From bosses to in-game housing, things and mechanics are shown. Oh yeah, and warplots… I need to talk about those.

There are splashes of gameplay, but unlike some other upcoming MMOs, Carbine has not been coy about how WildStar plays. There are already official videos covering that aspect.

Cutting back to brass tacks, I feel like Carbine seems on a pretty good track to launching this year. They show snippits of a lot of systems in that trailer. Obviously they still have to face the tried and true Jacobs’ Rule of MMO Betas (better link here). Hopefully they can push forward with confidence in that regard.


Revolution, Evolution, Variation, Recombination

Before Arkship started, I needed food. I walked until I found a restaurant we did not have back home, which happened to be Fatburger. We do have hamburgers in Michigan, but not that chain, and friends had gushed about the place. It was indeed a quality sandwich and my first time having a hamburger with relish on it. I have had hamburgers and relish before, but not together, and the combination of ingredients was unexpectedly good.

Relatively few restaurants offer anything new. They can offer something new to you, Continue reading Revolution, Evolution, Variation, Recombination

[WS] Arkship 2013 Demo Telegraph’d Combat

Continuing my thoughts on my play experience at WildStar’s 2013 Arkship, I also want to discuss the thing that is most core to most MMO’s: combat. The most prevalent MMO combat style is the stand-and-deliver style found in World of Warcraft et al.  The other extreme is something along the lines of Vindictus, with button-mashing, arcade-style combat. WildStar is neither of those, but it takes elements from both. Like its content design it appears to place itself comfortably in a middle.

From a high level view, the easiest thing to discuss in WildStar’s combat system are combat telegraphs. In WildStar’s system enemies have normal, attrition-ish attacks, and they have the big attacks that should be avoided. When an enemy winds up a big attack the ground becomes shaded where the attack would affect players. Honestly I was skeptical at how much the “don’t stand in the poop”-mechanic could really make combat interesting. Continue reading [WS] Arkship 2013 Demo Telegraph’d Combat

[WS] Arkship 2013 Demo Content Design

We were allowed to write about our play experience amidst the NDA of WildStar’s 2013 Arkship. The demo was kept to the Deradune zone, which is the open-world starting area for the draken and another race, an Exile I believe. I feel that there is so much more to learn about the quest and combat design in WildStar, but I also feel, given my play experience with many, many MMOs that I have a pretty good feeling where WildStar is heading. This post will be about my thoughts on WildStar’s quest and content design, with another following on the combat design later this week.

WildStar is going to have quests. It will be a “quest-oriented” MMO similar to World of Warcraft or Lord of the Rings Online, but it plays more like Guild Wars 2, the “questless” MMO. Last year’s Guild Wars 2 focused on iterating on the social aspect of open world PvE and Star Wars The Old Republic and The Secret World focused on the story aspects. WildStar is iterating on the basics of quests. Like the name of the game implies, Carbine wants quests to be free in form. Continue reading [WS] Arkship 2013 Demo Content Design

[WS] Arkship 2013 Non-Disclosed Feedback

I flew in to WildStar’s Arkship 2013 with a preconceived notion that had been implemented by Guild Wars 2 Fan Day. Fan Day was an event where there was no NDA, and we were asked to discuss/ Tweet/ blog/ soapbox-on-an-NYC-street-corner just about everything we had seen. Arkship was different. We weren’t there to advertise anything to the community. We were there because Carbine wanted to get to know us, they wanted us to network with each other, and they wanted our constructive, helpful, and brutal feedback on systems that might not be ready for public consumption. It took me most of Friday night to realize this. Continue reading [WS] Arkship 2013 Non-Disclosed Feedback

[WS] Arkship 2013

We have visited Carbine Studios and chatted with pleasant folks. The build we saw was a few milestones old, most of what was said was already covered in their recent info dump, and things said after a few drinks are under NDA, so I am mostly going to be working from links here. They have started releasing their “personality videos” (trailers/previews), and I am hoping they release some of the “making of” footage they have, because it’s fun; we saw the voice actor mugging through the Dominion video and met the winsome lass who acted out the Exiles video for the animators.

The surprise hit of the event? The prop room. That is the shared office space for the artists working on “everything that doesn’t breathe or move,” all the items and buildings. There was great enthusiasm from and about the half-dozen artists who came in to show their stuff. When meeting zone designers, there was at least as much oohing and ahing about their (proprietary) design software as the zones being worked on.

Over the weekend, two of our favorite sites independently cited some major challenges for WildStar, so I will give them the floor. Keen recommends finding your niche because competing head-on with WoW, Rift, EQ(s), FF(s), GW2, LotRO, SW:TOR, and all the smaller games already in that design space is very red ocean thinking. A game would do well to have 1% of WoW’s peak playerbase, but there is a big fight for that scrap, and are you budgeted for that? It is a crowded design space, and so far the big selling point for WildStar is “layering,” which you could somewhat cynically cash out as “stack as many systems and implementations as you can and bank on emergent gameplay.” New combinations of existing elements is in a strict sense what we are all doing, but it may not be the strongest selling point. Spinks calls it a smorgasbord approach, give the players everything and let them pick their own paths. She specifically cites the oddity that WildStar has a game design element explicitly called “paths” but restricts characters to picking one of four, so not all the layers are always available (although you could group to share in path content).

My summary view of their challenge in designing and selling the game is “don’t be ‘Rift in space,'” especially if you multiply the relative subscription numbers of WoW:Rift and WoW:WoW with lightsabers. The available details do not put a lot of daylight between them and the competition unless that layering leads to some awesome emergent gameplay. We did see a bit of that, the build we saw was months old, and what they were allowed to hint at has some prospects, so this has promise. Surprisingly, given my preferences, the combat and PvP panel was the one I found most interesting, informative, and innovative. They have found new areas in both design spaces (warplots have already been mentioned, and you get a combat hint in the “demolition” section of the Soldier video).

They are taking a more recent version of what we saw to PAX East, so attendees can preview it there.

: Zubon

[WS] “D”ominion Bags

WildStar is going to be two-factioned. That’s a discussion I want to have with Carbine, and the merits and flaws are better saved for another post. Regardless, the limelight has fallen on the evil empire, and they are turds. World of Warcraft had vanilla versus monsters. Rift had religion versus technology. Star Wars The Old Republic had yin versus yang. WildStar appears to have rag-tag rebel hippies versus a pretentious, self-loathing evil empire. And right now, the Dominion is who I would choose to play. Continue reading [WS] “D”ominion Bags

[WS] Ark Questions

Like I said last week, Zubon and I are heading off to sunny California to participate in Arkship 2013. Arkship 2013 is going to be a pretty big gathering (30-40 people) where we will get to play the upcoming MMO, WildStar, and participate in dev panels on specific topics. There will be an NDA, but after the event, we will be able to talk about a lot of our experiences.

There was a crush of press feedback last week, and since today is WildStar Wednesday there might be another one today. I highly recommend checking out some of the links compiled by WildStar Central. If you just read one, I recommend Ten Ton Hammer’s write up From Beak to Butt.

Anyway, if you have questions regarding anything about the game. We will do our best to get them answered. Or let us know if there is an aspect of the game that has your attention. I think we are going to get a good amount of play time so we could try and focus in on that aspect. Either way, I am sure next week, and following, we will have plenty to say about WildStar.