Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wednesday Weigh In - Beta Phase 2

This last week has been all kinds of hassle. Another busy week at work with some enforced OT, nice every once and awhile to have some enforced paycheck padding, but makes it hard to keep up on all these leisure activities. I am pretty sure I mentioned that I pulled a quad last week, so I've been off the sauce a bit. I think the most exercise I got this weekend was putting together my new giant cast iron bed frame. I included it in my tracking chart! Don't look at me like that, it was a lot of work. I managed to come up positive this week with a weigh in of 217.8. I got out for a walk around the complex today and everything feels fine, I'm planning to bike in tomorrow assuming the weather holds. One thing I am going to stop is the "down the stairs" thing I'd been doing. I don't know how much benefit it was providing, but I'm pretty sure that bounding downward was the cause of my injury.

Lets talk about 20 pages of patch notes! (Briefly)

This week Closed Beta Phase 2 has started for Wildstar. As reported by Jeremy Gaffney the original test included about 2000 players and they have approximately doubled that for this next phase. He also reported that the upcoming stress test would include around 15k invites intended to destroy the beta servers...I think they want to start fires, I can't find a quote to back that up, but I've met Jeremy Gaffney in person, he seems like the type who'd want to start fires.

The meat of this announcement is another set of Patch Notes released publicly to avoid letting unscrupulous beta testers get their moment in the sun as a Reddit hero. You can head over to the Wildstar website and read all the patch notes, I'm going to highlight a few notes that I think are important.
The old Attribute names (Strength, Dexterity, Technology , Magic, Wisdom, Stamina) have been renamed for more WildStar-ian flair: Brutality, Finesse, Tech, Moxie, Insight, and Grit.
My reflex reaction to this kind of thing is not positive. If the stats still mean the same things that stats have always meant then shouldn't we just call them what we've always called them? Maybe it'll grow on me, but at first glance, it just feels like they are trying too hard to show that they are "different" while still being exactly the same.
New Feature: Mentoring!
New Feature: Rallying!
This is great to see, but hardly comes as a surprise since Carbine's Executive Producer worked on City of Heroes and lays claim to the Sidekick system as his major contribution to the development. Sidekicking was a great feature for City of Heroes, it allowed you to play with your friends or help them with a challenging mission in a way that didn't trivialize it. When I can't get something done in an MMO and I ask a guild member for help and they swoop in on their max level character and clear out the area for me I am grateful that it's done, but how much more fun if we could have teamed up and fought our way to the quest objective? I'm happy to see that this is part of the Dungeon system as well as the open world and PVP systems.
Attribute Spending has been removed. While we do want to retain the design of allowing players to customize their stats, we think having two systems (Attribute spending and gear modification) that accomplish the same end-result was redundant.

Milestones are no longer slotted, instead they are automatically unlocked and applied by reaching certain Attribute Thresholds (as described within the Character Panel UI by clicking on a Primary Attribute) 
I am not surprised to see attribute spending go. Very few games get this kind of character customization through beta. It always sounds like a good idea until you see what players do with it. The short answer is there are only two choices with permanent player selected stat growth: The right choice and the wrong choice. At max level someone will figure out which individual primary stat is the most value for any given spec and either you put 100% of your points in that stat and are getting the most benefit, or you are an idiot and should re-roll.

It sounds like Milestones used to work like talents and now they work like stat bonuses? This could be interesting depending on how many of them their are, and how many you were previously able to slot. It could create an interesting gearing meta game in order to unlock certain bonuses, or it could just be as I outlined above, all effort focused on one primary attribute and anything else is stupid. I am hoping it creates a more overt "threshold" gearing design. In Warcraft, particularly with haste, there were certain thresholds that you'd hit and then that stat would be suboptimal unless you could get a very large amount of it to reach the next threshold. in between those times other stats would become a priority. And if each stat has its own unique bonuses or talent effects there could be an interesting level of choice that a player could make after they topped a threshold on their primary stat.
Charge and Release: On initial press, the ability will now charge up (without needing to be held), and on the second press of the same button will fire. If you wait until the ability has been fully charged, it will automatically fire after a few seconds.

Press and Hold: Press once to turn the ability on, press again to deactivate it.

Those who liked the old way these abilities worked can switch it back in the Combat Options menu.
What makes this note valuable to me is the last line. It shows that the Carbine team understands providing choice when it comes to interacting with the UI. I hope they provide these types of choices to anything of that nature.
For those Stalkers who enjoy hiding in permanent stealth during matches… Now after two minutes of remaining stealthed in Arenas, Stalkers get hit with a beer can which will force them out of stealth, and prevents them from stealthing for 15 seconds.

That's about it. There are some crafting related notes that are just speculation bait at this point. You can find a ton of class specific changes, but these are so in flux and context sensitive I don't feel like it's worth digging into. Same with the housing stuff. I'm just going to have to trust the beta testers to beat on these systems until they are polished enough for the devs to gives us the full scoop.

Speaking of devs scooping, here is a list of links to all the places you can find Jeremy Gaffney doing Q&A on these patch notes.
One quote the Gaffer pulled out a couple of times referenses that hardcore players hate dice games because there's no skill involved. Tell that to Chow Yun Fat.

I'm hoping to be back tomorrow to talk about some of the great audio podcasts out there.

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