Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Self Editing

Self editing is by far my weakest point as a writer. (One of many weak points, but the weakest.)

I bring this up because yesterday's post was kind of a mess. I had all sorts of information I wanted out of me and I just didn't bother spend any time crafting something with it. I just turned the pot upside down and banged on it with a spoon. To be fair, that is what I do most days, there was just a lot more "stuff" in the pot yesterday so it overflowed some and now I have to clean the floor.

Sometimes Twitter is a lifesaver for good ideas that need editing. Sometimes it's a lifesaver because panic turns into comedy. For this 2nd tweet I was legitimately concerned that my intention would be misconstrued.

I got out of the office today during one of my 15's and went around the office park. There is a few interesting things about real walking that those of us who do most of our movement within games or those of us who use treadmills to avoid "outside". (Ironic punctuation does not follow the same rules. Look it up.) Did you know that actually propelling your body forward uses totally different muscles!? Also, if you get 8 minutes into a 15 minute walk around something and decide you aren't sure if you can keep up the pace you don't have the option to stop. There are also things like hills and stuff in the real world that require different applications of force to navigate. But it was fun, interesting game play, I think I'll keep doing it now that there isn't slicks of ice across the sidewalks.

On to Wildstar! Today was Wednesday...which explains why there was no Wildstar Wednesday yesterday. Today they are giving us a recap of PAX East day one. A well written post from Troy Hewitt, my favorite line is "That’s when it struck me: That damned theater was the size of a football field. Or at least, what I understand a football field to be." You can read the rest here. You'll also find a short video recap including some valuable information about in game toilets.

The Star of PAX East day one was, without a doubt, the Dev Speaks video on housing. After the cut I'm going to talk more about what I learned about housing and my hopes for the feature.

There was a call on Twitter for a closed door fan presentation Sunday morning. They gave us a live housing demo and Q&A. That is where most of this information comes from.

What they showed us was that houses are racial, and they are specific to character. You can have multiple houses per account, but they are not connected. You will not be able to visit your alternate character houses. (Kind of defeats the purpose if you are reaping social benefits for tending your own alternate garden.) There was no discussion about shared storage. That I hope is a thing, it's very convenient.

They did some live demoing of some of the ways you interact with your house. He added some light posts and changed a window, he showed how the interface lets you arrange things.

When you are outside your house there are "hooks" that you can "hang" items on. This includes spots on the walls of the house and the yard. For example the light posts had to go in specific grids and took up a certain amount of space, very similar to building a base in a RTS. Once the item was placed you could rotate it, but it didn't look like you could adjust the size or fine tune the rotation, just 90 degree flips.

Inside the house it's a totally different story. You can create objects and place them wherever you want, alter their sizes, free orientate them. This is a good free form furnishing system. It is not as open ended as Rift's housing, but it's also not as intimidating to non-artists.

Beyond the "fun" of decorating your house there is the practical side of your land. You can install plugs on your land that take up a socket. They did not go into any details on how many sockets you have, how you acquire plugs, or if you can have duplicates of desirable plugs. They did explain that certain plugs generate daily quests that can create events on your land, some of which may require assistance from friends to deal with. One example that Jeremy Gaffney gave was the Mine initially has kobolds in it that you need to clear out before you can start harvesting from it.

We had some good questions.

The area you can around your house, other houses and the ground below it. One of the fans wanted to know if that was part of the world. They explained that it was only a skybox which is fancy designer talk for a .jpg (I kid!) We talked about integrating the friends list or guild list so the houses in your cluster reflected other people's real houses, maybe not in real time, but pulled from the system storage. Someone suggested options for your skybox so you could be floating over your favorite zone. The general impression I got was that they would love to make the houses really there, but there are technical and game play hurdles that must be addressed. Certainly not a launch feature.

Another fan asked about Weapon and armor displays. They said yes, but couldn't provide us with details. I hope to see like dummies you can set up, and not the creepy Final Fantasy 11 dummies that looked like a frozen player model. More like the Target Dummies they show in the video that you can put in a room and use as a display for all the neat armor and weapons you've used over your career displayed on wall racks, stands and whatever else.

We actually ran out of time before too many housing questions could be asked, tomorrow I will explain why when I cover some of the odds and ends that I learned, but I'm not quite done with housing yet.

I tracked down a Carbine Developer on the floor, I'm pretty sure I got Mike Donatelli, but I didn't double check and all I remember is "tall bald white guy" which describes every 2nd developer on the Wildstar team. I asked two questions about housing.

Will there be punitive measures on your resource nodes at your house? Will your crops die, will someone steal your ore, ect. I was told that they couldn't give any specifics but they want the social system to have meaning and they want you to be invested in your home. Implied answer -- Yes. I fully support this. It means more if I am not just "missing today's harvest" but if I'm possibly going to have to clear out dead plants and reseed if I don't play for a week. 

Can we have exclusive items for our house, and I'm not talking 1% of the population uber achievement items, I mean items that we have in exclusion of other items. For example if you get an achievement for killing 100 of a certain monster and it comes with a trophy for your wall, what if instead it comes with an item that you bring to a crafter to make into a piece of furniture and you have to choose what type you want. Do you want a rug, a mounted head for your wall, a full taxidermy statue, or maybe a plushie of the creature. This could extend to quest rewards, or holiday events. Giving you a choice of what item you get to have and what item you don't get to have is, I think, more impactful than putting some idealistic item out of reach to 90% of the player base. (sure do some of that too.)  The response I got was -- Hmm, I'm not an art guy and that sounds like a lot of work, but I'll pass along the feedback.

I'd personally love to hear some feedback on that last item. How do you feel about having to choose which decor you can't have? How do you feel about special items that go away and never return? Do you think the right option is to bring them back years later for the people that never had a chance to get them in the first place or is it better to instead make new things that have limited availability?

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