Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scanbot Sunday - Pre Release Communities

One of the great things that comes up because of the long development time of an MMORPG is the well established community that precedes release. The most passionate players make up this community and it interacts differently with the developer than the post release community does.

Last week I had considered writing about the way that Carbine engages the community through the Wildstar Uplink feeds on Twitter (#WSUplink) and the recent Design an Item Slot thread on Wildstar Central. My original feelings on this interaction was that it was a dangerous gambit, but the events of this week have entirely recolored my opinion. The way Carbine and its staff interact with their fans is well calculated and also amazingly "for real" and passionate. The "realness" of this outreach is what the community appreciates the most and they show it each day in the flurry of re-tweets and community events - there is a game night going on as I type that you can watch on Twitch just to chill out and play games or hang out in chat with other gamers who are excited about and waiting patiently (well kind of patiently) for the release of Wildstar.

While I was researching for my Friday post this week I encountered many examples of the great community hovering over Wildstar's release. In the thread Jeremy Gaffney created to answer questions about the M30 path notes the community was there in force, as you would expect, but in addition to asking questions they were also answering questions for other players as best they could. For example, I had a question about how the Right Click bind would effect mouse look. Community member 'moneda' reminded me that World of Warcraft has a very similar key bind, though their right click just starts the auto attack process.

In another thread connected to the patch notes an argument broke out about the limited action set and how it would interact with a fully modifiable UI. Two users had different understandings of the system and were bouncing what essentially was the same posts at each other back and forth for a page. A mod stepped in and asked everyone to take a breath and conversation moved on.

This sort of stuff goes on in the Wildstar sub Reddit too. The general tone there is positive and the complaints and arguments are almost imperceptible to someone who is accustomed to the general internet and the vile hate that flows through it.

Finally I wanted to touch on the unabashed creativity that I saw come out in the Design and Item Slot thread on Wildstar Central. The request from the team was pretty simple in scope. They need to increase the number of item slots on your character to allow for more stat diversity as well as allowing for larger upgrade steps between items during the leveling game. These are non-visible item slots and they can't involve new back end system technology. When I read this it was clear to me that what they wanted was to rename standard MMO equipment slots from "ring

" and "necklace" or "trinket" to something more in line with the Wildstar theme. What the community came up with over a 13 page thread was nothing short of amazing. Some players had some really deeply thought out ideas with deep systems and mechanics. The most amazing thing about this to me is that while these answers were way outside of the scope of the request it caused the development team to give it more thought. If everyone had approached the request like I had we'd have our new item slot with a name that the community influenced, but now we may have something more, an item slot with a unique function related to something the community was passionate about.

Who knows how this community will develop over the next 6 to 8 months leading up to release, or where it will go afterwards, but for now it is pretty dapper.

Here are a few sites to check out if you want to get involved with the Wildstar Community.

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