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Developer Appreciation: NCSoft and Carbine Studios

Developer Appreciation: NCSoft and Carbine Studios

This was originally posted on MMO Games on 27 April 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

This week is Developer Appreciation Week—a blogging event that began in 2010 with the intention to simply shed positive light on the gaming industry, and appreciate the game development teams that have done so much for the MMO genre. You can read more in detail about this years’ event at Tales of the Aggronaut.

Belghast puts it succinctly in the introductory blog post.

“The good folks in the games industry enter it because they love video games, and often times have a life long goal of ending up there. The industry itself is a really rough one, and we can all see how caustic the communities can be when they turn against a game or an individual.”

Today, I want to share some appreciation for NCSoft and the Carbine Studios team.

Carbine Studios Developer Appreciation

Carbine Studios was founded in 2005 by seventeen former members of the World of Warcraft team. Carbine Studios was acquired by NCSOFT in 2007, and now functions as a subsidiary of them focusing on their own game, WildStar, as well as providing a great outlet for community interaction.

I want to give a shout-out and a big “developer appreciation hug” to all of the developers that reside at Carbine Studios, both currently and formerly. While I will be focusing on some more current members to thank, specifically for their work and dedication, it should be noted that overall neither of these games would be around if it wasn’t for everyone involved throughout their time at NCSoft. So, to the development and community team working at NCSoft, whether it be on Blade & Soul, WildStar, or any titles that comes our way, thank you for all your hard work and dedication!

Blade & Soul Developer Appreciation

Akli “Youmukon” Amichi – Youmukon is one of the Community Managers for Blade & Soul, focusing on the French community for the game. His main role is to be the link between the Community of Blade & Souland NCSOFT’s different teams scattered around the world. Prior to working on Blade & Soul, Youmukon was the French Community Manager for WildStar. Outside of Blade & Soul, Youmukon enjoys various interests, and is always interacting with the community—in both English and French. That’s dedication, folks. Thank you, Youmukon, for all your hard work on both titles and being front-and-center for the games you love.

Jonathan Lien – Jonathan is the Assistant Producer for Blade & Soul, and does a little bit of everything—gathering and analyzing feedback, building test plans, and planning strategies. He has worked hard to adapt Blade & Soul to a Western audience while preserving the integrity and core experience of the original game. He goes out of his way to listen carefully to feedback of the fans and takes care to make the game the best experience for the players. He is extremely active on Twitter, engaging with fans and listening to them. Thank you, Jonathan, for your hard work and dedication to keeping Blade & Soul’s heart.

Julianne Harty – Julianne is the Brand Manager for Blade & Soul. She is one of the experts on the team, and the hub from which the information comes through, including trailers, art assets, and even obscure lore. She believes that the community is the most valuable asset to the game and tries to engage them as much as possible. She works hard to incorporate feedback and suggestions, and she pays attention to the community voice in order to make Blade & Soul the best it can be. Thank you, Julianne, for always taking the time to value the community.

Nicolas Coutant – Nicolas is the Producer (NCSOFT West) for Blade & Soul and also serves as a communication hub for the game. He helps coordinate the team internally and has worked hard to help remove the stigma associated with Korean MMOs. He has helped to provide an experience to players that helps to shatter their prejudices and initial conceptions of Eastern MMOs. He hopes to always provide the best to the community. Thank you, Nicolas, for your constant dedication to the genre and the game.

WildStar Developer Appreciation

Chad “Pappy” Moore – Pappy is the Creative Director for WildStar, but he is best known as one of “the lore guys” for the game. His dedication to the game is second to none, and his passion for making the game better always shines through. He has recently implemented “DevConnects,” a series to engage the community to better understand what the players want from the game, and he has been following through on these suggestions to the best of his ability. Thank you, Pappy, for your constant consideration and interaction with the playerbase of  the game.

Kristen “Caydiem” DeMeza – Caydiem is the Senior Content Designer for WildStar, and has dabbled in almost everything the game offers players. She is one of the developers who goes out of her way to encourage community interactions, and is always available to answer questions and concerns, even if she has to answer with, “I don’t know, but I’ll pass the information along.” Thank you, Caydiem, for always being one to interact with the community and address their concerns as soon as possible.

Deirdre “DD” Hollis – DD is the Community Manager for WildStar. She started as a part of the community team and has worked her way into the role of Community Manager. As her handle (Sunshine) suggests, she is a ray of sunshine to players by always being the most positive she can be on both social media and live streams. She is always available to answer questions, or shoot the breeze, and makes it a point to be as knowledgeable on player concerns as she is able. Thank you, DD, for always being there when players need a pick-me-up and an ear to listen to with concerns for the game.

Gary Astleford – Gary is the Senior Story Designer for WildStar, who goes out of his way to interact with the community for any of their lore and story related questions or concerns. He spends time weekly carving out hours in which he answers questions and thoughts related to obscure WildStar lore via long Twitter threads with players, and he is always excited to share new tidbits of lore that are coming. Thank you, Gary, for being “the story guy” we get excited to converse with.

As I mentioned before, there are so many Developers and Community Relations members that deserve recognition at Carbine Studios for their work, dedication, passion, and love they’ve put into these games and their fan communities. Show your developer appreciation today by thanking your favorite Carbine developers for all the hard work they put in day-to-day to make our lives a little more fun.

August 2019 Note: This post is (27/31) of the Blaugust 2019 event! You can find out more about Blaugust over at Belghast’s blog. I (Chestnut) created a Twitter list of all participants. UltrViolet created an OPML file of all the bloggers to import into your feed reader.
Gaming Goals Review: February

Gaming Goals Review: February

I started this back in June 2015, and have been keeping up with it this past month. I’ve kept reducing my goals due to real life, and I think I hit a stride heading into December, and have kept it up for the most part.

For the sake of comparison

WildStar

  • Finish Celestion achievements
  • Get Bauxyte to level 40 Completed!
  • Cycle through toons to burn rested EXP Completed!
  • Upload completed Yardcore 10

Final Fantasy XIV

  • WAR 50
  • FSH 30
  • BOT 30
  • MIN 30
  • Start working on crafting professions to clean out retainers

The Secret World

  • Try to finish out Egypt
  • Upload completed Let’s Play 3 and 4

Blade & Soul

  • Reach level 20
  • Run at least one dungeon (preferably with friends)

Steam, etc.

  • Finish Men of Yoshiwara
  • Pick up Cat Goes Fishing and play some
  • Get up to Chapter 5 in Code: Realize Completed!
  • Play some more Torchlight
So it’s not hard to see based on both the chart and the goals I obtained that real life pretty much kicked my butt this past month. Work has been super busy, and with a friends’ wedding coming up in a few weeks, Chaide and I have both been slogged with obligations related to that (especially since Chaide is in the wedding).
For comparison between January and February…
  • 29 less hours of WildStar
  • 9 less hours of Final Fantasy
  • 32 less hours of The Secret World
  • 16 less hours of Men of Yoshiwara
  • No Paladins (down 14 hours)
  • No Animal Jam (down 15 hours)
  • No Pirate 101 (down 12 hours)
  • Added 10 hours of Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
  • Added 2 hours of Blade & Soul
  • Added 3 hours of Black Desert Online
  • 189 total hours in January
  • 77 total hours in February
  • Overall down 112 hours of game-time
I wish the Achievement Granted crap didn’t show up on top… I wonder if I hide UI if the Level Up will go away?
I had started on the Celestion achievements, and am only a few short, but got distracted by swapping out to burn some rested EXP on the toons, and I took advantage of the Bonus XP Weekend (and a lot of flasks) to get Bauxyte to 50! I even did Crimson Badlands once, and am half-way to her key. I have some gear it’s worth tossing non-set runes into for now, and I’d love to start getting her attuned for some variety.
We ended up hitting 49 in Final Fantasy, and I’m hoping we finally hit 50 in March. We shall see, though. My work from home days haven’t been conducive to lunches where I plop in front of my personal computer (instead of the work ones) for an hour with Netflix running, food in hand, and farm-time. So again, hoping to carry over a lot of those goals. Especially the gathering ones, as I’ll either need to purchase a new retainer (which was a plan at some point anyway, just not quite… now), or really get started on those crafting professions.
We didn’t get out of Egypt in TSW, but we’re getting close. I think we only have a few missions left in the first town, and then we can go see Saiid. I’m so excited! From what little I’ve seen of him (so far) I’m super-duper excited to see more of him. His attitude comes across in spades! As for the Let’s Play… I did get the third one up, and the fourth one partially completed. I’m anxiously awaiting some down-time to be able to work more on those videos.
I barely got any Blade & Soul time in, so those will probably carry over as well. I’m none-too-thrilled so far with the game, and my friends are starting to fall off as well. So we’ll see if I even get to it. I really would like to try to give it the good old “20 hours/20 levels” trial. 
I’m super close to finishing Men of Yoshiwara, and am hoping to finish it in March so I can move onto Amnesai: Memories for my PC otome. I never picked up Cat Goes Fishing, though I’m still hoping to one day, because it looks adorkable. I didn’t get into Torchlight due to time.
I’ve been playing a bunch of Code Realize for multiple reasons. One, it’s what I do at lunch time. When I tried watching stuff on Prime at work, people would constantly interrupt my lunch break, despite having a sign up saying I was at lunch. With my head buried in my Vita, people leave me alone. Also, with everything else that’s going on, it’s been a nice way to get in fifteen minutes here before an event, or ten minutes there before bedtime. I’ve been pursuing Impey as the first guy, mainly because I thought I liked him the least, but he’s grown on me a lot. Granted, I like Lupin least of all so far, and don’t know how I’ll feel when I get to him as the “True Game Ending” (he’s locked behind the four other guys).
I’m Too Sexy For Your Party

I’m Too Sexy For Your Party

The Bunny Leotard

Let’s put on a little mood music to start us off.


On Thursday, Chaide and I hopped into The Secret World for some alt shenanigans. We’ve been playing Castanea and Hellviss together when we can’t have the four of the core group together for leveling purposes. Sometimes Cam will join us on a toon, and sometimes Sheae will join us on a toon. Regardless, we were playing our alts on Thursday because Sheae had some prior obligations and was unable to play.

It worked out in our benefit, though. Usually when we’re playing, we’re recording for the Let’s Play videos so I can’t listen to Beyond the Veil live very often. Since we weren’t recording because we were alt-ing, I was able to listen to the stream, and we headed over to the bank to get in on (what we thought) was going to be one or two Valentine’s bags.

Much to our surprise, Beyond the Veil, and the folks of Otterdown just kept opening bags and had a huge bag party right on the steps of the bank. Antida also happened to have a Bunny Leotard she was giving away to the first person to whisper her, and I happened to be the first! Since I got it on Castanea, I made Chaide trade it to me on my main so that I could have it on Vina (Vin4, but I pronounce it Vina, so there). Chaide also ended up getting a red and white Elvis outfit on Hellviss, and he is super pumped.

But, isn’t this outfit sexy as all get out? I’m super excited to have this. So thank you so very much, Antida! Like, so excited that I figured out how to use Fashionista (which I apparently already had downloaded…) so I could save my Egypt outfit to put this one on (and thusly saved it as well).

Jizzle Physics

First: no, that’s not a typo. Second: I finally caved and downloaded Blade and Soul to try it out. Some of my friends (Fitch and Sheae to be exact) have been pestering me for weeks to download the game and play it. And while I don’t particularly have the desire, I did so to humor them. I’m going to give the game a solid 20 hours/20 levels before making a final decision, but so far it’s “meh”. It did take me close to an hour and a half to create a character alone, so there’s that. I won’t be counting that in the overall play time, though.

Why did it take me that long to make a character? Well, the art style is not something I’m fond of. Water balloons on my chest, and so much shine that it looks like I’m a barbie doll are not turning me onto the game at all. Add on the legs twice the size of my torso, and proportions that wouldn’t allow any woman to stand… I spent that much time trying to make myself look, well, human. Or at least as close to it as I could. Her eyes are still a bit big, but they looked weird if I went any smaller.

Like I said, I’m going to give it the 20 hours/20 levels routine, but man that’ll be a miracle if I don’t kill myself before then thanks to the screenshot voice over…

@jaedia @ggchestnut Your screenshot has been saved.. Your scr.. Your screenshot has.. Your screenshot has been saved.. ??

— Himouto Rin-chan (@ladyrinike) February 12, 2016

It took forever to get rid of the point at the end of her chin and round it out and give her a full face.
Gaming Goals: February

Gaming Goals: February

I started these Gaming Goals posts back in June 2015 as a way to try to organize my gaming time around freelance obligations as well as my day-job and general life obligations. You can view the backlog of goals and reviews here.

Love is in the air! And fortunes too, apparently.

I think January had a good length list with both some easy and not-so-easy goals to work toward. I’m going to try to continue that flow this month.

WildStar

  • Finish Celestion achievements
  • Get Bauxyte to level 40
  • Cycle through toons to burn rested EXP
  • Upload completed Yardcore 10

Final Fantasy XIV

  • WAR 50
  • FSH 30
  • BOT 30
  • MIN 30
  • Start working on crafting professions to clean out retainers

The Secret World

  • Try to finish out Egypt
  • Upload completed Let’s Play 3 and 4

Blade & Soul

  • Reach level 20
  • Run at least one dungeon (preferably with friends)

Steam, etc.

  • Finish Men of Yoshiwara
  • Pick up Cat Goes Fishing and play some
  • Get up to Chapter 5 in Code: Realize
  • Play some more Torchlight
Blade & Soul Internal Build: Impressions

Blade & Soul Internal Build: Impressions

So, the big news at the moment is that NCSoft has finally released a date for Blade & Soul to come to the West. The game will release here in December and there will be a closed beta in the fall sometime.

I decided that the game sounded interesting, so I thought I’d watch the livestream over on Twitch (which is now over on YouTube) on Thursday talking about the game, and I wanted to share my impressions.

First of all, if you’re interested, these are the accounts to check out. Some of the folks working on Blade & Soul are also folks working on WildStar, for instance: Omeed, Tony, Mark, Jan, Akli, and Buster were all in the chat and helping out. So, because I think these folks are awesome and supportive of the WildStar community, I wanted to check out the game. The

Blade & Soul is a martial arts MMO that will be completely F2P. The game itself won’t be a direct port from the Korean version, but will be customized and designed specifically for EU/NA regions. What this seemed to mean based on their explanation was that the game would stay in its entirety for story, but some things would be re-written for more explanation (and to be more appropriate to a multi-cultural audience with certain names so they weren’t bad words), and that the game would not go P2W as supposedly the current Korean version has.

The build they showed was deemed the “Pre-pre-pre-Alpha (or Internal) build”, that Omeed commented (multiple times), “we really shouldn’t even show this.” The build shown in the stream was dubbed EN1 and was the straight translation from Korean to English. It was a literal translation with no changes, but they have a huge team of writers working on edits and changes, so what they showed is definitely not necessarily final.

When the game comes out there will be four races: Jin, Gon, Lyn, and Yun (formerly Kun, changed for “bad language” reasons). There will also be six classes upon release: Assassin, Blademaster, Kungfu Master, Destroyer, Summoner, and Forcemaster (formerly Elementalist).

On the left side of the character creation, you will see Stars under Difficulty. This was described as how difficult it is to master the class so players make a choice that is right for them. The web chart next to the Difficulty level shows what kinds of areas the class fills, such as CC, Defense, etc.

The character creation is extremely customizable and led to some pretty funny combinations using the Random button. There are a bunch of sliders for each part of customization you could think of–face, body shape, height, etc. It was made clear that there will be nothing about customization taken away, but they may add in some things such as hair styles.

They showed the trailer, and it looked to be a decent story. Very anime, if that is your thing. Personally, the trailer didn’t grab me like I thought it would. This is where I really started to think: Why the hype?

The game itself looks gorgeous, I won’t fault it that. For a game designed in 2012, it still looks pretty good. But, honestly, I don’t feel it’s any prettier than FFXIV is.

They talked a little bit about starter levels. At level 1, you’ll earn a skill called Windwalking which is, well, flying. But you have it from the get-go. From what they showed, I’m not sure if there are even mounts. Being able to water-sprint looks neat, though I didn’t really feel like it was my thing.

There are also things called Dragonstreams, where, as I understand it, you can get back up from when you fall down instead of having to use Windwalking to get all the way back up. It’s also sort of a mini-cutscene where you get some pretty scenery.

I found the combat to be kind of… meh. It looks to be tab target, and it’s another Limited Action Set sort of layout, however, depending on what your character does, the buttons change. It seemed like you have a lot less control over your spells and combinations, and almost seems a little bit RNG-based. Granted, these are all impressions from what they showed, and they didn’t go into details. (Admittedly, I also had to walk AFK soon after they started discussing combat.)

Itemization and costumes are kind of neat–there’s a “wardrobe” system which is cool, and you always keep the same weapon, however, you can upgrade it by feeding it other weapons you pick up to increase it’s power. The same thing will happen with accessories such as necks and rings.

What little of PvP we saw seemed confusing. It’s almost like it will work in ways that I’ve heard Star Wars Galaxies World PvP talked about. But it’s based upon costumes you pick up? Really, the bit they talked about confused me.

Blade & Soul will be released in three languages when it comes out: English, French, and German. It will not be region-blocked (at least, there are currently no plans to do so), and there are currently no Oceanic server plans. However, the panel in-stream did say to keep putting it in as a request if you were interested in Oceanic servers. If you’re interested in a chance at a beta key this fall, you can go to their website and sign up for the newsletter.

I myself, was not impressed and probably won’t pick up the title, but I do wish the utmost success to the team! There’s a great group that’s focused on the community working on it.