Sunday, March 17, 2013

Combat and PVP AMAA

The Wildstar combat and PVP teams held an AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything) on Reddit earlier this week, and there was a fair amount of activity. As an old man, this Reddit thing is confusing to me, with it's arbitrary ordering of things and such - so I went in and pulled out all the developer responses and the posts they were responding to. I think I got everything. I think I have it formatted in a way that is coherant and easy to read. If you think adding some formatting to the Carbine responses would help let me know in the comments.

The item that drew the most interest was the confirmation that there will be a cross server group finder for both PVE and PVP at launch. This is one of those very sticky issues.

On one side of the argument there is this high minded ideal of building a community on your server and being a part of that. with friendships and enmities. Recognizing key players on your server both in your faction and against is cool. It makes the server feel a bit like a small community, like a high school in a lot of ways. What these players think a cross server matchmaking system does is create a anonymous environment where you are thrown together with strangers, say nothing social, go through the dungeon or battleground collect your spoils and move on. The only time you ever get group interaction is when one group member is angry at another for a perceived lack of skill or some sort of greed.

On the other side of the argument is statistics and a desire to play the game. On the Statistics side a larger player base has a much better possibility of matching appropriate groups of players together for content. For PVP this means a smaller skill gap between the lowest and highest player in the group and on the PVE side it means an easier time filling all group roles. The desire to play the game refers to the idea that sitting in town hitting a LFG general chat macro is not engaging game play and while someone may want to run a dungeon they may not want to stand around in town for 30 minutes waiting for the opportunity. They would like to get out in the world and do things like questing or resource collection, or work on their house, or who knows what else. That is efficiency.

I may do a longer post on this subject in the future, for now, here is the AMAA, hit up the subreddit if you want to see the whole thing including non-developer responses to the developer responses - follow this link to the post in the Wildstar Subreddit. My edited version follows after the cut.

[–] Gempulse
On the official website, in the classes section, it states that there is only one weapon type per-class. Is this going to be the case at launch? If so, why was it the decision to confine each class to only one weapon type?
[–] CRB_Clynch
[–] gnollcandy
[–] CRB_Hugh Combat Lead
[–] moneda
Is the ESPers' "golden armor" buff one of those? :D
[–] CRB_Hugh Combat Lead
That's Phantasmal Armor, it gives both Interrupt Armor and an Absorption Shield. ;D
[–] bramhendriks
The problem I have with cross-servers tools is the negative effect it has on the community as a whole due to the anonymity that those tools create.
Are you aware of this problem and if so, how do you think you can solve this problem?
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager 8 points ago
This is an interesting issue, and we're talking about this on a philosophical level right now.
As I understand your question, you are looking for ways to build relationships with the people you engage with using cross-server tools, right?
Honestly, I think this is an answer best tackled by the social team, and I'm getting up from my chair right now to see if I can get someone on that team to drop a note in this thread.
Hang tight.
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager
Ok, so the Social Team is working on some beta critical tasks right now, but I managed to interrupt them long enough to get some insight into our plans:
Cross-Server friends lists and other social connectivity features are built into the Social Team's feature plan. The current discussions revolve around available Engineering cycles and priority based on feedback we get from our beta process.
So, I hate to answer you with what amounts to a "Yeah, we want that!" kind of statement, but that's what I've got to share.
That, and social connections are crucial to us as MMO developers, a commitment that crosses every feature team and department. We won't forget how important this is.
[–] Gempulse
It would be nice to just build relationships with people on your chosen server. I am apart of my chosen servers' community, not another servers' community.
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager
Yeah, we agree with that sentiment as well, though our question to you is the following: Does dungeon finder need to be the tool for building relationships on your own server?
We tend to think that providing a useful set of social tools for you to engage and connect with people on your server may be a more important investment of development time.
The goal with cross-server tools is to get you to the action faster than your server population may allow.
I'm really interested in your thoughts on this.
[–] PoundInclude
This is going to be a rant and I apologize up front but this is what killed WOW for me. I disagree with getting in to the action fast is important. This isn't a FPS game - this is a game trying to build a community. On paper it sounds great to "get in the action fast" but after awhile it just feels like a grind. Nothing feels different. You know no one from the opposite faction and you're left just to do the objective in the battleground.
The most fun I had in WOW was the original rank 14 pvp system. All the grinding and how the gear worked aside - joining a battleground with only people from my server was amazing. Seeing people my guild fought before and having rivalries on the other faction created a living breathing community. It doesn't feel like a world anymore when you know you'll probably never see that person from the opposing faction again.
Also the forum trash talk and drama that occurs when you're only fighting people on your server again builds a community. You stated above that you want to have people use the forums and are offering rewards ... this is the best way to get people active on the forums. Look at vanilla wow as an example. The forums were always busy.
The last thing I want to bring up on this is when you have a community it's much harder to put down the game. If you're looking to keep retention of subscriptions (or just people playing because we don't know the payment model) it's much harder to leave a game if you feel invested in and more importantly apart of. I have a much easier time leaving a wow now a days because I don't feel like it's a world. Even if it's just a few "isolated" servers I would be very surprised if they have "unsub rates" were even closed to the average of the rest of the servers.
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager
You bring up an interesting counter-argument (and for the record, we don't mind the rants- we like hearing from passionate people. We just don't like it when our mom is somehow forced to be involved in unseemly ways).
I think you are right when you talk about the friction people have on forums. Contrary to what it might look like to people outside the business of building community, when the friction and interactions are high, it means people are active (within reason, of course. Again, when people start being abusive, that's a different issue to tackle).
Honestly, this discussion is as much an education for our team as it is an opportunity to educate, which is why we are asking questions.
My question to you: If we agree that a good portion of players utilize cross-realm tools, how do we provide for a group that wants that feature, while preserving the sanctity of groups that do not like that feature? 
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager
I've got some good news: Our Combat and Social teams are in deep discussions about how to address this issue. We are going to begin by discussing this issue with our beta testers, try some different approaches, then let you know where we are heading (before we get there).
The team is really engrossed in the discussion, and they are being really sensitive to the concerns everyone has mentioned in this thread.
Did I mention that I love this team? 
[–] Joukehainen
How about just a simple tickbox in the LFG tool like so:
  • Match me only with players from my home server
Then you can attach a "Note: This may result in longer waiting times!" warning if you want.
Perhaps even better would be if the LFG tool had a(n optional?) chat like in traditional lobby games, so players could talk to one another, inspect one another, and coordinate before joining a dungeon. Getting dumped into one all of a sudden with complete strangers is part of the problem, bc you can often learn a lot from a player just from a few seconds of chat (are they rude/insulting, are they knowledgeable, friendly...). I actually prefer LFG chat bc it allows you to do the above which most LFG tools in mmos do not allow for. Just having a global LFG channel in the chat might be enough to help those of us who want to do it the 'traditional' way.
[–] CRB_Aether Community Manager
While I don't want to get into details this early in our discussions (you know how things change), I will say that after reading your post, I'm sweeping my office for bugs.

[–] kashemia
I believe they have already said there will be no perma-stealth/cloak somewhere, but rather shorter bursts, though I don't quite remember where.
[–] ObliviousPrime
I hope it isn't perma stealth and more along the lines of the thief in GW2
[–] CRB_Hugh Combat Lead
I just wanted to chime in about comments we have made in the past about stealth... We have received a lot of player feedback on this topic, and going into beta the Stalker WILL have permanent stealth.
It may change in beta, but for now stealth is not limited by any resource (you will still get broken out of stealth when dealing or taking damage).
Also, we have given the Stalker the ability to activate stealth while in combat to give them “Partial Stealth” and access to their “from stealth” ability perks. This can only be used every 25 seconds but being able to use those stealth perks (such as disarm, bonus damage, etc) can be the difference maker in longer fights.
[–] nuvix
  1. What will you be doing in regards to PvP and leveling? I'd personally like to see XP come out of all forms of PvP (open world and instanced). Additionally, I'd like to see the xp gained from PvP to be on par with PvE XP rate gain.
  2. What will you do to keep PvP fresh? I have played so many MMOs where the pvp was great but it eventually just became stale due to lack of content or slow balancing.
  3. Whats are some of the inspiriations behind your PvP design?
[–] CRB_Bardic PvP Lead
For question #1:
To add to what I've said earlier about leveling through PvP:
  • You will be able to earn experience from player kills in open world PvP.
  • In Battleground matches, you'll earn experience from player kills and objective completion.
We definitely want you to be able to enjoy leveling to cap through PvP play!
[–] CRB_Bardic PvP Lead
For #2:
We definitely plan on continuing to support it post launch! We have lots of plans for adding content! The non-static nature of Warplots will also extend PvP replayability!

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