Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Healing Is Hard (but it gets better...) REPOST

EDIT: Not sure why this post disappeared.  Here it is again.

  I was pretty excited that the Beta weekend was extending an extra day. With the holidays, bike riding, and the wonderful weather we didn't get in much playing time this weekend. However, last night we were unable to get a group together to run instances and the group finder was no help. We ended up messing around with housing stuff and Virika did a some cooking. She rather enjoys the way Wildstar handles crafting and I'm sure she'll write more about this later.

   The most obvious thing to talk about is the incredible new UI. It's more sleek than the original, taking up much less space on field of play. It highlights important information more prominently where players are likely to be looking. It needs a bit of polish still. Certain tooltips for UI elements are cut off and some are completely unreadable. I had several option boxes pop up obviously asking if I was sure I wanted to do the current action but all I could read was Yes and No. On my Esper, focus was just a percentage without a graphic bar or anything. And the white percentage text was hard to see on the colored background. Addons will obviously help further customization and I'm sure many more will be available after launch.

   Also added were body type options for character creation. I'm sure a lot of people will love it. For me, it's not the most important feature of the game. When we couldn't get an instance going early Saturday morning, we made some Granok toons. I went with warrior and Virika made a medic. Good times!

   And about healing... it can't feel very daunting at first. We had run through the last 12 levels or so without any instances beyond shiphand missions just racing to 50. This weekend, I was eager to jump back in. The first attempt we made was with Swordmaiden. At first I was failing very, very hard. We ran with a stalker tank that was jumping all over the screen like a jack rabbit. I don't know about stalker mechanics yet but he said he needed to move to keep his power up. And he moved and moved out of my aimed healing spell's telegraph most of the time. He was also moving so far that I believe he was often out of the range of my Mental Boon, a pulsing AOE heal over time spell. I realized as we got into it, that I was relying on the builder spell Soothe a bit too much.  It's disadvantage is that it has to be aimed but I believe it costs no focus and it can build up PSI points rather quickly. As of the latest patch, the Esper can move after the first charge is going, which certainly helps. But I was still missing probably half the time. It went especially bad when we pulled to many groups. As I started to rely more on spells like Mind Over Body and Warden to single target heal the tank and generate PSI points things got a little better . The tank still seemed to take a ton of damage and I did start to run into lack of focus issues on big pulls and boss fights. I improved as things went on but I'd like to get in some more practice before launch. At the end of the day, I'm glad the game feels challenging and I'm not feeling bored ever.

   I've been reading Medicating Nexus and I'm eager to see some more Esper specific healing from other sources. I plan to crunch some numbers myself but I lack the know-how to make a model like the one MN uses. But I do believe numbers are only part of the equation in Wildstar. The combat is much more active than other MMOs I have played. I think strategy of movement combined with quick reflexes and knowing what spells you can cast before you have to move again will play a major part in theorycrafting for Wildstar.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Couple of Thorns

   I have one nagging worry about Wildstar. There was something slightly off. As I mentioned before we hit level 50 just before the last beta weekend came to a close. While Virika and I both enjoyed leveling, I kept thinking about what will make Wildstar a great and successful game. So what makes a great MMO? I've been thinking a lot about this and here is the list I came up with:
  1. The experience of leveling and exploring the game world must be fun and feel rewarding.
  2. End game must be filled with enough content that is challenging and rewarding enough to keep the players interested.
  3. The game must be fun to replay. Leveling an alt character must be a unique experience that is just as fun as the experience a player had with their main.
   Obviously, there are certainly other factors behind successful games, like player base, community and several other factors. For now, I want to focus on the three above. 

   To the first item, Wildstar definitely has a great leveling experience. Nexus is a richly designed game world with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. The lore is fantastic and players log out wanting to experience more. At least to me, Wildstar has enough comedy to keep the player laughing and doesn't take itself too seriously. On the flip side, the conflict between the two factions is believable and the player feels heroic taking part in the struggle. A great sense of adventure dominated every zone I played through and I don't think it could have been much better.  

   As far as end game, I don't know yet. In terms of adventures and instances, Wildstar delivered heaps on the way up. Hopefully this upcoming beta weekend I can try out the level 50 veteran instances and cut my teeth on some serious PvP. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to experience the raiding situation before launch, but we'll see about that.  I am optimistic that Wildstar will deliver a fairly decent endgame with the launch.

   Replay. Alt characters... about this I am nervous. Although the leveling process was great, the zones were very linear.  I did the missions on the ship. I had a choice of two starting areas which were pretty good. I got to the main city and went to the next zone appropriate to my level. When I finished that one up or got to a point where the xp rewards were trivial I moved onto the next zone.  So on and so forth. There weren't options. My fear is that playing another character of the same faction will be an arduous chore on the way up to the end game. Everyone will be doing the same quests they did the first time through. That's just grind and not very fun.

   As I see it, there are two things a player can do to keep it interesting.  The first is make a toon on the other faction. While most long time players will want to do this anyway just for the experience, many will want their alt character to help support their main. Also, players want to keep playing with their friends. The other thing a player can do is choose a different path. This will provide some different content along the way. I don't know that it's enough though.

   Overall, Paths are a great idea. If you haven't seen it yet, check out this post by Tobold. He discusses some of the appeal of the paths system and why it works for players. Personally, I had fun doing the soldier missions and all that but I couldn't help but feel a little let down. I feel Carbine missed an opportunity with paths. Each path could have been a lead in to another unique story line. The objectives and rewards could have been a lot more thrilling. Some of those soldiers holdouts were difficult but most of them weren't. Throughout the game, doing path missions felt a lot like doing chores. Especially, the settler I played. There was way too much stuff to collect and it seemed never ending. The rewards for settler seemed a little better but at the end of the day I'm not good at doing chores at home and I don't really want to do them in the game. If a player could raise their character level by doing path missions, they could at least change up the leveling grind a bit.
   Obviously, I am still really excited about Wildstar. However, the linear questing model, I think is a serious flaw. It probably won't break the game but I hope that the designers think about this in the future.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

UI 2.0 PATCH NOTES (4/8/14) review

New patch notes were released yesterday, you can find them here: UI 2.0 PATCH NOTES (4/8/14)With only 2 more Beta Weekends scheduled before the launch, here are some big fixes to the game. This is a huge laundry list of changes, so if you really want to know it all, make yourself some popcorn and maybe some coffee, and just read it all for yourself.

This patch balanced a lot of class abilities and mechanics.  We haven't done nearly enough PvP or instances yet to fully understand the impact.  Mostly we were interested in changes related to quality of game play and player convenience.  Here are a few of our FAVORITE CHANGES for those of you who scrolled down hoping for a TL;DR.
  • New UI is out!
  • Fixed lots of mechanics so that they work as intended!
  • New character customization options have been added such as more hair options and body type. One can only assume this means that Nexus will be graced by lots of heavy set characters and females with larger boobs.
  • Many items such as potions, food, item specials, rune sets, and gadgets and AMPs have received a balance pass. We assume this means they have been balanced, but of course we shall have to wait and see.
  • Look to buy new AMPs at reputation vendors
  • "Completing the Thayd or Illium introductory tour quest now rewards the Player with a new recall spell to the capital city." This may seem trivial but it is a nice convenience. Anything that allows players to spend more time actually playing and less time getting ready to play is very good for the game.
  • Mailboxes have been added near Auctioneers in Capital Cities.  YES!!!
  • Telegraphs no longer get stuck being displayed after combat. When this happened it was very distracting especially when larger telegraphs overlapped with smaller ones and a player could not tell if an ability was going to hit.
  • The Group XP bonus has been increased for open world groups. Ungrouped players should no longer earn more per kill than players that are grouped. WTF? Were we getting jipped the whole way up to 50? Well, glad it's fixed.
  • Players in a Taxi will no longer hear someone else's Taxi Driver while on route. THANK YOU LORDS OF NEXUS. While I really enjoy the Taxi banter, it's very nice that Wildstar entertains you on those flights you have to take and are usually boring... but hearing overlapping voices telling different stories hurt my brain.
  • The player's cursor should now be visible on the zone map while mounted.We were constantly getting frustrated when we could not see each other on the map while questing together.
  • When we started reading about crowd control changes we were glad to see they are keeping the breakout mechanics. Basically, things like tether and disarm players have to do the mechanic to escape ill effects. Debuffs like blind, disorient without a breakout mechanic will be dispellable.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Players can now enter the outhouse and sit on the toilet. Thank goodness the developers are concentrating on what's important.   I can hear the death narrator telling them, "Good job guys, we wouldn't want your player base having to go boom boom in the middle of a quest, now would we?"
Maybe we piqued your interest to read the whole post? Let us of know if you think there are any other must know points that we missed?

Unfortunately they announced on Twitter that there will not be another "bonus" Beta Weekend this weekend. The Wildstar Team will be at PAX East.  Have fun if you are going.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Congratulations, Have A Cupcake

   Ding! Virika and I managed to hit level 50 before we signed out last night. Though we played quite a bit this weekend, we didn't devote as much time to Wildstar as we had planned. We decided to focus on leveling up the rest of the way to 50 and bypassed any adventures or dungeons this time. There was another awesome shiphand mission that I recorded (maybe I will upload that later). It had had us battling in a deadly game show and endorsing silly products. Nor did I get into any PvP like I had planned. Oh well, at least we have a plan for next Beta weekend. 
   Our toons had already quested their way though the Wilderrun zone before this weekend began.  Although it wasn't as novel as Farside, the lore and story was excellent. The major story line follows Tresayne Toria and her Torine sisterhood. These girls are the amazon warriors of Nexus and they would give Xena a run for her money. Completing the quests in this zone rewards the player with heaps of lore about the Eldan and how the Torine came to be. Toss in a couple of cut scenes and some gruesome monsters twisted by dangerous Eldan technology, Wildstar delivers several hours of immensely entertaining questing. Really, I am actually enjoying questing... a lot! And I only ever dabbled in RP very briefly on a WoW realm and I probably won't in Wildstar. But when I encounter a character like Tresayne Toria with such a rich back story, I feel like RP will be really amazing in the Wildstar setting.  We rushed through Malgrave.  Though this zone had it's merits, it was more bland than the zones that preceded and followed it. Grimvault came next and it was another truly epic zone. The southern portion of the zone was actually a bit buggy. There were lots of places where we'd freeze and get killed by mobs and certain mechanics seem to boot us from the game. After a rather frustrating hour or so, we made it to the north and all was right with the world. The zone had a truly epic quest line with a very satisfying conclusion. I found it challenging.

   Within Grimvault is a crashed Dominion ship called the Aziron that provides the setting for some of my favorite quests in the game. Players start out stumbling through the dark barely able see 10 meters in front of them. After some exploring and combat there is a short puzzle quest that upon completion, turns the power and lights back. It was quite a wow moment when I turned my toon around and looked over at the huge space I'd been running around in... there was so much more to go. The details and the vastness of it really blew me away.

  After completing Grimvault, we were both just a few bubbles from 50.  We headed to the Badlands but didn't take it in. We hit 50 and pretty much called it a night. Having made the journey all the way from wee level one, overall the leveling experience was much more fun than I thought it could be. Wildstar at it's heart is an MMO. In the end, players who like this type of game will find a lot that is familiar and expected.  However, the nuances of gameplay, the sci-fi comical setting, and the level and quality of detail provide a fresh experience. I do see one major flaw that could hurt the Wildstar's longevity, which I will discuss in my next post.  For now here is some video of my levelups.  I love the narrator!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Addons To Make This Beta Weekend Better For You!

Here are some addons that we reccomend you try this upcoming beta weekend. These should help you have a better game experience.

  • Radar: We've already mentioned this one. I think it's great. It is easy to use. It will point out the direction of all lore objects once the player gets close (a range of about 300 meters I think). It points the way to all books, datacubes and Tales From Beyond the Fringe keys.  It will also show you to gathering nodes but I turned that feature off.
  • JunkIt: The most useful feature of this addon is that it sells off the players grey items automatically. It can be set to also sell other items like weapons and armor below a certain quality threshold or always keep items that can be salvaged.
  • Ern's Junk Repair: CORRECTION-this is the junk selling addon I currently use.
  • NavMate: This is one we have not tried yet, but I installed it and plan on using it this weekend. It has several features but we are mostly interested in the coordinates display, in game clock, and the icons to MARK THE EVER ELUSIVE MAILBOX ON THE MINIMAP! 
  • AuraMastery: This is another new one for us that I am very excited about. For former WoW players it seems to work a lot like PowerAuras did. What it does is put icons on your display to monitor things like cooldowns (awesome!), buffs, debuffs etc.

We hope you find this helpful.  Also, we'll be mostly trying to power our Dominion toons up to 50 this weekend but say hi in game.  On Nexus server: [Dominion] Dissko, VanessaRose.  Alizar server: [Exile] Gubjub, BettyKat

UPDATE: You can see the full list of addons Curse is hosting here:  Heal Buddy sounds incredible for healers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Ultimate Cross Game PvP

Carbine and Blizzard today announced an event bigger than any ever attempted between two rival gaming companies...

Cross Game PvP Battlegrounds
World of Warcraft vs Wildstar

This promises to be huge! Apparently, the Horde joins up with the Dominion to help pound some sense into those Exile scum. But the Alliance answers the call and brings their forces to help defend their sister faction. The fate of two worlds, Azeroth and Nexus are in the players hands. Beta testing will begin before Wildstar is even released! I can't wait! My spellslinger is gonna eat mages for breakfast. How awesome will it be to see a Granok and Orc warriors go head to head.  This is nothing short of fantastic!

On a serious note, Virika added her Quickstart Guide to Wildstar in the pages section to the right to the tabs above. We welcome any comments or suggestions. She'll put up a more advanced intro to the dungeons, adventures and PvP later.

Happy April Fools Day!