Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wednesday Weigh In - Character Creation

I think it's safe to say we will not have a substantive Wildstar Wednesday this week, probably next week too. As is the thing, there are plenty of streams going on across the internet among the community if you need your fix of information. I am going to take the opportunity to talk about something I haven't had a chance to in a long while. I had not seen a really good look at the character creator since PAX East, fortunately Richie Procopio aka Bogotter has put up a series of videos on his YouTube Channel covering every race.

The art style of Wildstar is distinct. There is a certain thin limbs and big hands/feet thing going on that is a part of that. There are no body sliders in the Wildstar creation tool, something the team has discussed in panels and interviews as part of the design. They want there to be racial silhouettes. The size of the female boobies is striking in the character creator, but it's not something I had noticed in gameplay footage. Perhaps it's a (un)flattering camera angle or the starting outfit that creates this massive boobage. Still, if I were to seek a single slider, a boob slider would be top priority with the current level as the top.

Most of your individuality comes in your face, and I'm cool with that. Height sliders ect can have negative effects on armor design and negatively impact performance. The effect on diversity is minimal at best. A slightly shorter Aurin is still an Aurin. As a trade off I think having the majority of options in the head and skin to be good.

Alright, how to rein this in...

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Myth of Subscriptions

The market cries out for relief from this oppressive $15 a month prison. Countless games have abandoned this failed practice for a remade free to play paradise where fortunes are made and no one has to pay for anything...well some people...alright, the people who were already paying, but now they just pay more...but no one else has to pay...I mean, unless they want to have access to the parts of the game designed for the long tail...or anything new...or hats.

I have long disliked the Free to Play model, especially as a conversion from an existing subscription design. I played City of Heroes for a very long time, it was never my primary game, I would resubscribe from time to time and experience new content for a couple of months and I would buy the retail expansions. I was not an active subscriber when the game switched to Free to Play, and it did get me to log back into the game...but it didn't get me to spend anymore money. Free to Play models are not about offering alternatives to players seeking to purchase parts of the game for a reduced fee. Free to Play is about getting players who want to experience everything and tricking them into paying more than $15 a month.

The Hybrid model is the most egregious offender. $15 a month + all the cosmetic and/or fun items are now premium. Oh...and also new content. What? Did we say that if you subscribed you got that stuff for free? That must have been an unfortunate error on our website. We apologize. ..but you'll still have to pay $5 if you want access to that new character class/race and/or leveling zone.

Only two games that I actively played underwent this transition: City of Heroes and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Since their conversion the amount of money I have given them is $0. My desire to play them occasionally rises...obviously I can't play City of Heroes anymore, but with SWTOR I am reminded of all the limitations on a free account...and then all the restrictions on a subscription account...and I resubscribe to WoW for a couple of months instead, because I get to play all the current raids, access all the new patch content, and freely play all existing content as much as I want until I get bored.

There is more than my personal outrage at free to play exploitation, the market has recently spoken on the subject of a subscription based game - Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Here is a game that launched a couple of years ago in a disastrously unfinished state. The game continued to be so mismanaged that players were not charged a subscription for over a year, and the president of Square had to apologize for damaging the final fantasy brand as a whole before resigning his position. Yet a fully rebuilt game was launched this year in a finished (mostly) state with a subscription...and is doing pretty well for itself.

Wildstar and also The Elder Scrolls Online are due out over the next 6 months and both are releasing with a subscription model. How can these games succeed in this market of free to play titles? The short answer is simple: Be fun. Simple to say at least; the market will decide what is fun and it will pay for it. If the market isn't having fun it can go not have fun for free in any myriad of mediocre games.

Bring on the subscription. It's how I want to pay for my primary MMO experience.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday Weigh In - Vines

Didn't quite make it over the hump this week, sitting at 220.2 pounds.

Wildstar Wednesday was the collection of winners from the Vine contest last week. You can see the winners over on the Wildstar Page, and if you know how to use Vine you can see all the entries by searching #Wildstar

Not the most exciting week for official news. Lots and lots of fan activity with the limited NDA drop. I'm in a spot because it doesn't affect me, so I'll just go for an extra hour on the treadmill or something since I have nothing to write about. Have a good week. :D

Monday, December 16, 2013

System Changes - Dungeons and Others?

The classes ultra drop has concluded. No live stream for the next couple of weekends due to Christmas and New Years, but they do owe us a Stalker stream. Suddenly I see the wisdom in the 1-15 NDA drop for select fan sites and news outlets. They can keep the coals warm while the devs sip hot cider.

The focus of this blog is to talk about mostly official news, so don't expect too much stream analysis from me. I will occasionally retweet stream announcements that I catch in the window of relevance. @itsboats is my social twitter, so you can follow that if you'd like. In the blog you can probably expect me to talk a bit more about my daily workout efforts in order to fill 500 words while the Carbine team packs it in for the holidays, but it's not all dreary, still plenty to talk about. Today I'd like to chat about Dungeons and other instanced content.

I am going to start with a very scary number: 4. That is the number of dungeons that Carbine has confirmed will be available at launch. the Dungeons will be placed at level 20, level 30 and level 40. Level 20 will feature a faction divide with Stormtalon's Lair for the Exiles and Ruins of Kel Voreth for the Dominion. Skullcano and Sanctuary of the Shieldmaiden will be available to both factions. At 50 expert versions of these 4 dungeons will be available to both factions. It is unknown if these will be World of Warcraft style (where it is mostly the same content just harder) or if it will evolve the story like Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV have been doing with their dungeons.

As someone who mostly focuses on small group content this kind of worries me, but there are positive things.

They have been showing the first two dungeons off in the official live streams and they look great! The boss encounters are slick and intelligent with real mechanics. But will it be enough fun to carry each dungeon through 10 levels?

We've been told about Adventures, but we've not had a chance to see them yet. In some reports they've been described as simple dungeons. In other reports they've been described as complex dungeons with branching story paths. If these are "dungeons" in everything but in name then I guess I'm pretty cool with that.

The next type of instanced content they've presented us with is Shiphand missions. These involve the player meeting a pilot on Nexus and flying to his ship for some sort of short adventure. From the context I've picked up from streams and interviews, these are scaling instanced content that are designed for groups of 1-3 players. You can solo them, but if you go in as a group it will up the challenge, something that open world content does not do.

Finally they have mentioned the mini dungeons you can get for your housing plots, which they showed off a little at PAX Prime.

There are still a lot of questions to be addressed about small group content, and hopefully we'll start getting some answers early next year. It does seem the extra non-dungeon small group content is going to fill the gap in what a typical MMO player expects the amount of end game dungeons to be, but it would be nice to know a number on how much of these will exist in a level 50 edition, and how long will they remain relevant content. Mostly I am curious why no new dungeons at 50. I have a suspicion that it's a story thing. I think they will be giving us more dungeons as patches happen and the story unfolds.

I am really looking forward to hearing more about the end game. As much fun as the leveling process looks in Wildstar and as deep and varied as they've made the zones...that's all just going to fly by in a blur. It's the daily activities that will make or break long term interest in the game. I want to have that information so I can start painting the full picture to my friends.

Did I talk about all this stuff before? Listen. I'm all out of classes. I am going to flounder a bit until they give us some end game stuff to chomp on.

Weekend Without Wildstar - Streams!

Screw playing other games, I just watched Wildstar streams all weekend.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday Catch Up

My productivity was interrupted by an invitation to dinner, which was followed by an equally delicious nap, but let's pretend it's Friday. The Medic AMA and Live Stream snuck by me, and the Engineer AMA happened while all the 1-15 press stuff was going on . So I will attempt to summarize the interesting stuff following the cut.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Press NDA Drop levels 1-15

This came as a shock this morning.

Since I am not press and summarizing other people's summaries seems silly, I'll just give some links to good articles or videos.

Added Friday - Zap Robo Live Stream - Dominion
Added Friday - Arawulf Live Stream [Part 1] [Part 2] - Exiles
The trust Carbine has placed in these guys is amazing. These are Twitch broadcast links, so they may disappear after a couple of days if not correctly archived.

Wildstar Core - AMA Forum Thread : Tons of info here and you can ask questions if you want.
Gamebreaker Article - Justin Kennedy wrote a great article.
Gamebreaker Interview with Frost - Justin Kennedy also gives us an interview with the voice of Dev Speak.
ZAM Article
ZAM Interview with Mike Donatelli

Finally I'll end with a video from MMO-RPG featuring Ripper X, it shows some of the Exiles tutorial and is listed as Part 1, unsure how far it will go.

If you know if any other authorized video content with gameplay footage from this event please let me know. I'll update this post with any that I find.

Part 2 : Added Friday

Please have been enjoyed