Sunday, April 7, 2013

Scanbot Sunday - What I'm Looking For

Welcome to the first in my Sunday series where I will take a subject related to Wildstar and take a closer look at it, filling in the galactic archive if you will. This week I am going to talk a bit about what my hopes are for Wildstar in a broad sense.

Before I get started on that, check out the update I made to my banner.
How's it look?
 Alright, on with the show.

From the mission statement of this blog it's clear that MMORPG's have been a part of my life for a long time and they have had a noticeable effect. I've always been a gamer, but until recently I've always stayed active. In high school I did Karate; Shotokan if you are curious. In college I did a lot of walking and rollerblading around campus. Post college I was very into the local rhythm gaming community. Somewhere along the line MMO's took over. Two key factors played into this: Time and Money.

As part of their design MMO's take time. If you are invested in one it's quite easy to spend 4 hours a night playing and log off knowing exactly what you need to do tomorrow and the next day that will also take your entire evening. This can be a burden, but it can also be a fiscal blessing for someone who otherwise would buy a brand new game every week to fill the void. That was me, especially when I worked as a game store manager. It would be difficult to calculate the money MMO's have saved me over the last decade, but the fact that I finally picked up the original Bioshock in a Steam Sale last summer should give a baseline on the quality games I was overlooking in order to keep current in my virtual world.

I made the jump to Star Wars the Old Republic at launch. I'd followed it through development and I was very excited for what it could bring to the MMO space with a focus on story and choice. I gave it 6 months, and I enjoyed it, definitely worth the money I spent -- ok, I wish I hadn't bought the collector's edition. The direction SWTOR went did not match my expectations and led to a game I was no longer interested in playing. Since then I've been searching for that next game. Something to play for 5+ years while I save up for a house. In the interim it has been costly.

Last year's Steam Summer Sale was the start of my decent, half of those games remain unfinished or uninstalled. Since then I've bought new releases, games on sale, independent games, console systems, Expansions, and new MMO's alike. I seem to have difficulty understanding the word free because I've even thrown money at upcoming Free to Play games like Marvel Heroes and Firefall. In truth I have enjoyed almost all of my purchases, but none of them will stop me from purchasing the next game, and that's what I'm looking for.

I see that potential in Wildstar.
  • The ascetic is uniquely keen to my interests. Anime, Sci Fi, Western, if one of the final classes is a martial artist who fights with telekinetics and lightning I'll have to assume a future me has traveled back in time to create this game.
  • Housing is deep and simple. Rift's housing is awesome, but artistic design is not something I am good at. I need limitations otherwise I just get frustrated. I have never played Minecraft and I have no desire, but I've put dozens of hours into Don't Starve. Wildstar has that balance in their housing system. Tons of options, but lots of fair limitations. I'm sure creative types will come up with amazing ways to subvert the tools but I'm going to be happy hanging things on hooks and designing effective plug layouts.
  • Limited Action Sets are the way to go. Having a rich set of options that must be placed into a limited space creates interesting meta game. If this works out correctly the evolution of this meta game will help keep the game fresh.
  • I don't get much into competitive PVP, but Warplots seems really neat and something I'd like to try. If it doesn't turn out to be my thing it still serves a purpose in the game world. The upkeep of Warplots will be a major driving force the in game based on what has been said about them. Having important things in the game that are constructed by crafters that, by their nature, will be destroyed can create a dynamic economy.
  • Action Combat, the Holy Trinity and a group finder. All these elements combined should make for enjoyable "dungeon" content at level cap. Clear group roles combined with engaging fight mechanics have a potential to keep this small group content interesting and worth coming back to daily.
  • Carbine has not said much on "Adventures" but a combination of what they have said and what they have not said paints a blurry picture that I can make some guesses on if I squint. At level cap there will be some sort of story based solo content that moves the story forward. This is exciting and I am interested to see how this solo content is made compelling. Will it simply be held up on the merits of story, accessible to everyone. or will it be challenging designed for skilled players to complete. Will there be options to tighten the difficulty for some sort of prestige reward? I am excited for the potential.
  • Paths and alternate characters. I am an alt sort of guy. Most of my Gem purchases in Guild Wars 2 have gone to unlocking extra character slots and expanding my bank to support their storage needs. In the end though, it's still the same game with the same content. Wildstar has potential to make that second, third and forth playthrough feel very different by experimenting with a different path while also trying a different class and a different faction.
  • I stopped raiding a few years ago, perhaps this is part of my restlessness. What Wildstar has said about raids is interesting. Managing a 40 man team sounds like a headache, but it has the potential to develop a strong community of raiders that will elevate the discourse about the game and push the meta game forward.

In the end only time will tell if Wildstar can be "that game" for me, but there are a lot of positive signs that five years from now I could own a house instead hundreds of PS4 and Xbox whatever games.

What are your hopes for Wildstar? What are you looking for? Please record them for the Scanbot.

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