Saturday, March 16, 2013

The View From Beta Mountain

Starting to hit the mother load of information. While I do love consuming multiple weeks of news at once, it is very time consuming. I am starting to wonder if my two objectives are interfering with each other. Well still holding steady and I have a busy day tomorrow so hopefully that will burn some calories.

Today I am looking at 4 posts about the Friends and Family Beta. The first two posts are questions asked by the community that the unidentified tester(s) was allowed to answer. Then there is an uplink analysis on Beta Feedback and finally an explanation from Carbine about what a Core Tester is, what they do, and how you could become one.

These two Wildstar Wednesday posts are actually an extended uplink analysis. The community team asked for questions that fans would have for the current beta testers, these are the questions that were selected to be answered. I'm going to identify ones that I found most interesting.

There is a mention of ability limitations here, something I also caught in the recent AMAA that I will do a separate post about later this weekend. This quote calls attention to the fact there are limits without defining them.
The nice thing about the mechanics is the fact that you can change out your abilities at any time (outside of combat) as long as you own the ability. This makes how you play a Warrior completely different than the Warrior next to you. So it not just different between classes, you'll also see different mechanics within the class.
This answer about combat is interesting to see. As I have said about Wildstar's combat system frequently, it's going to be really hard for me to judge until I actually use it and for a long time. Some systems I gel with, and some I do not. It doesn't mean the system is bad or good, just that it is or is not for me.
Combat is very dynamic with a lot of movement. Controlling that movement is very easy to manage while fighting. Free-form targeting is a great way to fight and works very well; however there is still room for improvement in some of the abilities that can’t be used without a defined target. The flow between the free form abilities and the targeted abilities is my main concern with combat at this time.
There is also an interesting answer about gearing and abilities.
While Strength and Technology may be the main stat most warriors take, some may wish to buff Magic-dependent abilities and use them instead, as an example.
It seems Wildstar will offer a stat diverse gearing system and depending on the Deck (or Limited Action Set as they call it in the AMAA) of abilities you choose certain stats may be more valuable to you than others, so two warriors in a group may not be competing for the same gear, even if they are both DPS. Hopefully this can be a deliberate and functional choice. Say having two DPS warriors in your raid and one of them focuses on Technology abilities and the other on Magic abilities results in a better distribution of warrior loot for your group over time and both of these players remain competitive in their damage abilities. It would be unfortunate if a system of choice were baked in but one was clearly in the lead in most situations.

This was a great series of entries, there is a lot more available over at the Wildstar Blog, in Part 1 and Part 2.

The next item was a normal form Uplink Analysis where the question was What does "good feedback" mean to you during a beta? What does "bad feedback" include?

I participated in this particular Uplink, so we can see my answer right there on the site:
cecilandblues: good feedback includes reasons and details. It shows effort and will be taken more seriously
I think I also offered what I thought was bad feed back, which was essentially the opposite. Bad feedback would be unquantified complaints or compliments. "This is fun." or "this is hard" or "weak!" are not valuable in a small test environment. You, as a player, need to be willing to analyze things critically, including your own ability and your own likes and dislikes. Explain why a quest was hard, or what aspects of your class you are enjoying most. If you are speaking about quest/zone challenge make sure you identify your struggles and how they impact a player with your style or skill. Beyond that all the details are crucial. What quest, what zone, what monster, how many, what map location, what time of day, how many other players were around. Remember you aren't just playing a game, you are trying to find problems that real humans encounter, things that are not being caught by machine scripts. So play, and critically think about your surroundings and your mood so you are ready to give a complete answer when a question is asked.

There is a whole list of responses from the community about what they think is good and bad feedback. The conversation actually branched off into the territory of what kind of feedback the development team should be giving back to players. There is a closing statement from the community team about how they are moving forward with Beta plans and the kind of feed back they find most helpful. Check out the entry on the Wildstar Blog.

The last entry is titled What is a Core Tester? and it answers that question with pretty solid detail. Words fall out of Troy Hewitt's fingers at an alarming rate, but these are quality words and I strongly suggest you read them, especially if you think you are interested in beta testing. This entry follows that same structure of a YouTube Streamer addressing his community about the nature of "making money playing video games." And after 10 minutes you realize that it involves a ton of work outside of playing those games, you may end up playing less games in some cases. And you may not be able to play the games you most enjoy because the viewership isn't there. This is very similar, except for one important key - you don't get paid and you'll never get paid. (ok, true enough, if you really excel there may be a job at the community team waiting for you in the future, once all the original pod casters and webmasters are hired.) This is a major time commitment and will include doing things you don't always like doing, and all your hard work will frequently get wiped out. The standard reward structures that entertain us as MMO players are not present since there is no permanence. Your reward for your time and dedication should be a game that is the best it can be and hopefully after you've put in 6-12 months of time into all the most frustrating parts you'll still want to be a part of the community that is playing the game bolstered by your blood pressure

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