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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

[Wildstar] GED: Ideas worth stealing

With the release hulbaloo surrounding Wildstar calming down I feel like I am at a point where I can discuss some of the elements I really appreciate. I decided to forgo a full review because there are plenty of well written ones out there. Plus there are some things I've not yet had the time to try out, such as adventures and instances, mainly due to my sporadic playtime that often requires sudden breaks. Still I have reached as high as level 28 and have gone through 3 of 4 starting zones.

GED posts are an idea I've stewed on for a long time. Poking fun at TED talks, I wanted to take a literary opportunity to brush away the rough of a game and look for the diamonds within because I think most games, successful or not, had a few good ideas in them. For example, I may have panned ESO back during its launch, but I think it too had some interesting ideas. However, that is a topic for another day. I'm starting with Wildstar, which after consuming 95% of my free time this week, has earned that distinction. A final note, just because I did not mention a certain mechanic or system here does not mean it is not also worth copying. If I mentioned every single thing I liked, we'd end up with the mother of all walls of text.


You knew this was coming, housing is a huge time sink. While Wildstar does not give you the sheer level of complexity that a game like The Sims does, it has a very robust system that gives the player a surprising amount of freedom. For the creative most any idea will be possible. Exploring public plots I've found a tree jumping puzzle, spooky graveyard (expanded from the graveyard plot), and what I think was supposed to be an open-air hotel.

My cozy corner of Nexus
Housing decor drops EVERYWHERE; you can get it from your path, from challenges, quest rewards, reputation rewards, and random drops from enemies. Even dungeon and raid bosses will drop decor. While the ubiquity does make acquisition interesting, I suspect some more casual feathers might be ruffled if key decor pieces are shielded behind certain PvP or raid requirements.

I suspect any MMO going forward that does implement housing will be held to the Wildstar standard. They even had the insight to allow visitors, making the house public, or even sharing challenges/resource nodes.

Telegraphs: What hath Carbine wrought?

For a long time developers have talked about informational problems; read Riot's recent post about League of Legend's update to its classic Summoner's Rift map and you'll find dozens of references to transparency and information. What it all boils down to is giving the player information about what is going to happen without them having to go and look it up online. Frankly, despite the beliefs of us in the blogosphere, the average player doesn't spend all their time hunting down more information online and typically gets it all in game. So when the big monster rears its head back, do I run away? Forward? To the side? Is it something I even need to be afraid of or is it just an animation? To say Wildstar nailed this would be to understate the success of their system.

Without seeing it used, I understood this to mean; he is going to go to the circle and deal damage in that area when the shaded bars fill
Each telegraph is intuitively designed so that just by looking at it you learn a great deal of information. You'll see its area-of-effect, but also its duration presented as a shaded area crossing the field. Some even differentiate between whether it's a field of constant damage that is sustained for a time, or if it is an affect that will trigger in an area after a given charging period. The information is all visually there and I find that even with a passing glance at a telegraph I can generally guess what is likely to happen. In other games you get "red circle" that is something mysterious. Is it a circle I should avoid completely? Do I need to stand it in sometimes for some reason? How long does it last? How does it deal its damage? In Wildstar most of those questions are answered by the circle itself.

So these are two of my favorites, what are some of the diamonds you've found in Wildstar's design, or for other games?

1 comment:

  1. I'd love housing to be in every mmo, housing with a certian amount of customisation and HEAPS of stuff to collect. I love having those extra collectibles

    Telegraphs.... hmm. I kind of prefer having the specific monster tell animations. Enough hat you need to pay attention but know what's coming. All those animations just gets too much sometimes

    I think breaking up the questing elements was kind of important too.. having the paths and challenges separate... and even many quests you really don't have to complete. Makes it feel like there are more options there even if it is kind of the same in a new package