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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.
What Wildstar Can Learn From The Secret World: Part 1

What Wildstar Can Learn From The Secret World: Part 1

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 4 March 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Two of my favorite games are The Secret World and WildStar, in no particular order. The Secret World has been Buy to Play since December 2012, and has a large chunk of time riding the “free to play” wave under its belt. By comparison, WildStar went Free to Play in September 2015. The Secret World recently reworked their membership benefits, and there are quite a few things Carbine could learn from Funcom in this regard.

An Aside on RNG Boxes

First, I’d like to cover something outside of membership benefits that WildStar can take a note on. One of the big things in WildStar right now is the unhappiness with RNG boxes. The Secret World capitalizes on RNG bags and boxes as part of their holidays, and has added a feature, recently, that WildStar would be wise to look into if they plan to keep using these RNG boxes. In The Secret World, when a player purchases a RNG bag with real-life money (via Funcom points, or bonus points), the bag drops a Lucky Coin.

These coins can be turned in at a vendor to purchase some dropped items from these RNG bags if the desired item wasn’t obtained, assuming the player has enough coins. Generally the vendors contain the rarest of the drops, as well as a few recolors of some items. Also of note is the fact that RNG bag drops are not character bound, allowing players to buy or trade the items despite being cash shop items. Many players feel this is a fair system, and utilize the vendor a fair bit. If WildStar would implement something similar, I think it would help to quell some of the anger associated with RNG boxes.

Now, let’s get to the Meat and Potatoes. The Secret World and WildStar are two different games with two different systems. For the sake of comparison, I’m going to be summarizing what each benefit of membership provides to players to try to better form a base for said comparison.

Member Benefits in The Secret World

Membership in The Secret World costs 15 USD monthly, unless you are a Grand Master (someone who purchased the Lifetime Subscription while it was available), and provides the following benefits over buy to play players.

Increase to all experience gained

Experience (EXP) in The Secret World works differently than in other MMOs. EXP is used to give you Ability Points (AP) and Skill Points (SP). These are used to fill in your Ability Wheel, or in layman’s terms, to purchase your weapon spells and proficiencies. Once a player has filled their Ability Wheel to their liking, AP and SP can be applied to purchase and work towards other forms of progression for their character, including: auxiliary weapon skills (a third weapon type, including items such as rocket launchers and whips), Augments (which attach special effects to weapon spells), and AEGIS (a mechanic to penetrate mobs’ shields with specific damage types, and purchased from EXP gained specifically from quests in Tokyo). There are wheels for all of these, and players will always need EXP to fill these in, making EXP extremely important for continued character progression.

Token capacity increase

The cap on tokens members are able to gain have been increased by 20%. Marks of the Pantheon (MoP), an end-game token used to purchase gear, Augments, etc., had the cap raised weekly, and both Black Bullion (BB) and MoP had their total capacity increased by 20% as well.

Reduction to mission cooldowns

Quests in The Secret World are called Missions. Having a reduction from 18 hours to 8 hours makes it easier to pick-and-choose to complete daily instead of running missions that may not be a favorite (stealth and sabotage missions, anybody?). It is even more important when players enter the “endgame” missions in Transylvania and Tokyo which have a default cooldown of close to three days, making the cooldown reduction an extreme benefit for those pursuing endgame.

Reduction to Raid lockouts

Raids used to have a three-day lockout, and have now been reduced to 18 hours. Most games have a week-long lockout, so The Secret World was shorter to begin with. However, this will benefit progression-focused guilds working on Nightmare Kills of the newest raids, as well as gearing up alts and new raiders.

Free Anima Leaps

Anima Wells are spawn points throughout the world used to either fast-travel in a zone, or somewhere your anima spirit releases so you can run back to your corpse (or, interestingly enough, complete various missions in this form).

Increase to all Black Bullion gained

Black Bullion (BB) is one of the currencies in The Secret World gained via completing quests (from the very first quest you complete and every one after) and various objectives in PvP as well as through weekly challenges. It can be used to purchase Quality Level (QL) 10 gear, which is equivalent to end-game starter-blues in other games, as well as upgrade these QL 10 gear and glyphs (slotted bonus stats). It can also be used for fun cosmetic things—such as costumes and titles. Black Bullion is also used to upgrade AEGIS and Augments.

Item Store Discount

Members receive a 10% store discount, while Grand Masters receive a 20% store discount. I think almost anybody would agree that a store discount is a good thing. Especially when…

Bonus Points every 30 days

Members and Grand Masters receive 1200 Bonus Points (a $10 Funcom Point equivalent) every 30 days, which are valid for six months. This is a nice chunk of change to spend monthly just for paying your monthly subscription, especially with the store discount in place.

Two Lockout Timer Reset items every 30 days

These items completely reset the cooldowns on all missions, raids, and scenarios (dungeons). Some people may not use these items at all, whereas other people may use them for progression reasons, or just to be able to help friends run content.

Loyalty Rewards

The way The Secret World handles Loyalty Rewards is unique. Rewards are provided at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, and every 180 days after that. However, the rewards are handed out based upon how much subscription time has been paid for upfront. Grand Masters receive all the rewards immediately. If someone purchases a 90 day subscription up front, they will receive up through the 90 day rewards. The rewards also never go away if a subscription is canceled, and when re-subbing, members pick up where they left off for rewards and subscription time towards them.

All in all, The Secret World’s system is competitive, fair, and has lots of benefits to all types of players, whether they be focused on end-game content, are new players, like to play casually, enjoy various competitive levels of PvP, or are hardcore raiders. Next time, we’ll take a look at what WildStar offers, and how they stack up.

August 2019 Note: This post is (24/31) 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.
WildStar Casual Friday with Chad Moore

WildStar Casual Friday with Chad Moore

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 12 October 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

Lore is the foundation of every awesome game experience that you ever have. If you ain’t got lore, you ain’t got nothin’. – Chad “Pappy” Moore, October 9, 2015

On Friday October 9th, the Wildstar Casual Friday stream focused on Chad “Pappy” Moore going around and playing a bit on his Dominion toon, with Micah Whipple asking him questions about lore, and questions posed in the Twitch chat. Before this, however, Chris Thomas (@CRB_Buiden on Twitter), Lead Software Engineer, came on for a short time to give an update on the server stability issues that were plaguing the game at launch.

Chris said that while the game is getting more people, the additional servers have been helping a great deal. There have been no real queues since Wednesday, and the reports of lag are decreasing significantly. The extra realms are still just temporary relief for queues, lag, and helping to squash any bugs currently being found, and are helping the Developers get close to the stability and play experience that they want everybody to have.

Chris could only stay for a few minutes as he is still very busy trying to keep everything up and running well, but Pappy wanted to give a big “hats off” to the engineering team, “who’s really stepped up and gotten it done in the past week”.

Micah asked Chris when he planned on merging the servers. Chris replied that they definitely still plan to do so, but they don’t want to put a timer on it, yet. The goal at the moment is to provide a great play experience for everybody in the stability department, and make sure that this stability does not change when the servers merge together. As such, once they feel they reach this point, the servers will merge back together.

An FAQ was also launched recently on the WildStar Knowledge Base on how to remove Two Factor Authentication without Customer Service. While the article was mentioned on the stream, it was not mentioned that if you do remove the authenticator from your account, you will lose the bonuses attached to it (the free mount and XP bonus). Before leaving, Chris let everyone know that if you have lag, or are running into other bugs, it’s important for you to report these so things so they can be taken care of ASAP.

After Chris left, Pappy transitioned to the Casual Stream by stating that he was, “going to show you what an actual player does!”, picking on Micah for having only a low-level toon. Pappy was playing a female Mechari Stalker who was currently level 23 out in Auroria. He was about to jump into war with the Osun at the Fort Glory quest hub. Pappy had decided to roll up a Dominion toon because it was finally time to, “go out and take care of business”.

Micah posed various questions from the chat to Pappy throughout the stream, including the following exchange regarding his Vindball shirt:
Micah: Can we buy your t-shirt?
Pappy: This t-shirt is actually a limited edition 2009 Whitevale Walatusks Special Vindball Champions shirt from back in the day.
Micah: What is Vindball?
Pappy: A sport played on Nexus that may or may not actually become a reality at some point in the future.
Micah: By reality you mean…?
Pappy: I don’t know what I mean but that’s all I’m going to say about it!

Since Pappy was questing in the Osun area, Micah asked Pappy a bit about the lore of the Osun themselves. As you’re questing, you will find that the Osun were a creation of the Eldan, and something catastrophic happened to their civilization long ago. However, now that people are showing up on Nexus, they are coming out of hiding and trying to reclaim their civilization and their ancient secrets. Which we, the players, will need to stop or else things could get bad.

A viewer asked if it was possible to cure soulrot. Pappy answered that soulrot can be cured, although it is extremely difficult to do so, and most of the time it’s not something you can come back from. For those that didn’t know what soulrot was, Pappy explained it as an elixir created by the Osun Dark Witches to enslave the people they conquer, which you will run across multiple times throughout the course of the game.

In the spirit of banter (and probably just to give Pappy a hard time) Micah pointed out at this time Pappy had failed his challenge and “didn’t even get Bronze”, and Pappy argued that he was distracted by answering questions and talking about lore.

Other questions in the stream included the following.

Q: Are there any plans on future content?
A: They can’t announce that on stream, but they do have some planned events coming up. There is the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational coming up on October 21st, which may or may not line up with a date from a film intentionally. Pappy exclaimed, “It was just a coincidence that it just happens to be the same time!” There is no Thanksgiving event this year, and no current plans to do so, however any holiday could be turned into a game personification if there was enough interest in it. Micah also mentioned that Shade’s Eve is coming up starting on October 19th, and there were other events going on that you could find at the article on their website.

Q: When can I play as a Lopp?
A: Pappy said that he honestly never thought that the Lopp would have become as popular as they have been. He wants to personally have a Kurg mount so that he can hardcore RP his own Lopp Fur Trader vibe. Pappy also encouraged viewers to start a #KurgMount movement on social media, because he knows some people that might be able to, “make it happen”.

Q: Are there Aurin scratching posts?
A: Pappy wanted to know if the viewer was asking because “you’re an Aurin, or because you’re Dominion and trying to put the Aurin down?”

Q: Are you playing on a PvP or PvE server?
A: Pappy replied, “I don’t want that PvP stuff to get in the way of my story!”

Q: Which Lore is cooler–Exile or Dominion?
A: Pappy admitted that he thought Dominion lore is cooler, if he had to choose between just the two factions. “It’s super deep, if you really dig into it, it ties the story of Nexus together.”

Q: Are male Aurins the flashier of the sexes to attract mates?
A: Pappy said that Aurin males are the more hot-headed of the genders. The female Aurin are more of the, “Hey, let’s chill out and hang and have fun and be positive” while the males are more “OCD”. Male Aurins like to puff up their chests a little bit. He concluded that, “yeah, they might be a little bit like that”. Pappy himself has never played an Aurin male, though he does have an Aurin female Esper he got to about level 3. He mainly plays Granok Males for “obvious reasons”.

Some more banter ensued between Micah and Pappy, and various notes popped up during this banter.

  • They have new plans to feature the Cryoplex Arena SOON™. The arena itself is currently out, however they’ve made some changes to it, and the new “actual” version will be ready in a future patch.
  • Pappy feels that Kurtenacker is the most talented composer “maybe in the entire world, but definitely in the business”. There are more than nine hours of original music in WildStar, and you hear it all the time. Lots of players have mentioned that WildStar is the only game where they “leave the music on” because it’s just so inspiring, and every zone is so different.
  • Pappy explained what Tales Keys were as he picked one up. They are pieces of lore for in-game “pulp novels” called Tales From Beyond the Fringe that are all about the “cool stories that have taken place in the WildStar universe”. You can collect these throughout the world, and they all have custom covers done by the “super-awesome-super-talented concept team”. They also unlock posters in your housing decor.

Jeff Kurtenacker happened to be in-house, so he was brought onto the stream. He talked about how he loved writing and continuing the write music for the game, because it was such a diverse universe. “Where else can you write quirky user salesman car music versus epic space themes?” Jeff asked.

Pappy and Micah both had questions for Jeff, and Jeff provided some pretty interesting answers.

Q: What are some of the musical inspirations of Auroria and the Osun?
A: Jeff described the Osun theme as a lot of big, low brass. It’s slow and lumbering with lots of trombones and tubas, and meant to be powerful and dark when you encounter the Osun for the first time.

Q: When you’re creating music, are there any other ways to layer it depending on the situation?
A: Jeff explained there will be times when the Osun and Eldan themes get merged together that kind of depends on what’s happening based on the lore. The Eldan theme does appear in the Osun theme because they were created by the Eldan. Using crossover themes and weaving themes together from a lore standpoint is important to tell the stories musically. To tell where they came from. Jeff joked he also does this, “just to make sure I don’t get fired!” He also mentioned that the Mechari have Eldan themes woven into their music.

Q: Tell us about the Shade’s Eve music?
A: Jeff admitted that the Shade’s Eve music was one of the most fun things he’s ever worked on, especially since he got to express his “Inner Danny Elfman”, because The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of this favorite movies. He was able to take the Dominion and Exile themes and make them sort of “Halloween-i-fied”, which was a “real, fun challenge”. He was also able to give Shade’s Eve its own theme, so that the capital cities get their own music, and the actual Shade’s Eve Instance gets its own music. Jeff explained that it was fun to do something “different, creepy, and quirky” which isn’t something he gets to do very often.

The stream wrapped up with one final question for Jeff on what he’s been working on lately. He mentioned “Donatelli’s leaky tweet” where he posted a screenshot of “something he shouldn’t have”. He’s been creating some music for that that’s “mysteriously beautiful with dissonant tones,” and mentioned that “if you like the music from Farside”, which he described as spacey and ambinet, that you are “going to like this, because it’s like [Farside] but with a little more adventure.”

August 2019 Note: This post is (19/31) 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.
WildStar Launch Update DevStream

WildStar Launch Update DevStream

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 2 October 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

On October 2, 2015 WildStar’s afternoon stream went from the Casual Friday layout they’ve been exploring recently into a WildStar Launch Update DevStream with Chad “Pappy” Moore, Omeed Dariani, and Chris Thomas, Lead Software Engineer (who was excited to participate in his first stream). Chris is responsible for all the game systems (outside of combat) that the designers use to make neat things for the players, as well as all the server structure involved in the back-end.

The three of them wanted to do a stream today to make sure that the players knew what was going on behind the scenes with the issues they have been encountering. It was noted that the big issues of the past few days, lag and queue times specifically, have been due to a specific part of the megaservers’ process being extremely taxed with the high demand of players.

With no time for excessive banter, the team launched right into the biggest announcement from last night: the spin up of new servers. The developers didn’t want to add extra different servers, but instead wanted to add in new ones with the intent to merge them back together easily and quickly later-on. There is no current ETA on when the servers will be merged together because they want to make sure it works correctly the first time, and prevent any further bugs. It was briefly mentioned that there are Realm First achievements available on the -2 servers, because it was easier to leave them on than trying to turn them off, and creating characters on a -2 server will give you free extra character slots (which will go away when you delete these extra characters).

Players who have already logged in will be defaulted to the last server they logged in on, and new players will be defaulted to the lowest population PvE server, so double-check the server you’re on before playing to ensure you’re with friends.

These new servers are being implemented as a short-term goal to address the lag and queue issues players are experiencing as a whole, giving developers extra time to get megaservers up to speed (and size) for the player demand. The demand for the game is “unbelievably huge”, and Pappy exclaimed being, “blown away by how many new players want to play”, noting that the coding team is “working around the clock”. Omeed added in that they have everyone working in shifts, as the downtime is necessary for people to recharge and get some much-needed sleep.

Another issue that cropped up with the implementation of these new servers was an issue with the limited time free-transfers. There is currently a fix for this in testing. While transfers are something that has been detailed as a part of the business model for the game, Carbine is opening up free realm transfers in the interim to allow people to get on and play on the -2 servers as they would like. There is a comprehensive FAQ available on WildStar’s website for those interested in how to prepare their toons for transfer. It was also noted that there is a seven-day cooldown between transfers.

The “Character Loop Bug” was also discussed a few times throughout the stream for people joining late. There is a fix in the work for this bug. The reason it happens is there is some sort of issue on a players’ character when loading in (items not appearing, LAS issues, etc.) and instead of throwing the character into game with an error, they are being kicked back out onto the character-selection screen. During high times of demand this bug is more likely to happen, especially as it continues to happen to a larger number of people. Their best advice for now, until they are able to implement a fix, is to just keep trying, and keep in mind that the more people trying to bypass the bug can make the issue worse.

A few questions were addressed during the stream, including both the positivity and negativity of the community. First, the three on-stream Devs thanked the people in the community promoting positivity about the game, and being patient with the time it will take to fix some of these issues. The negativity was addressed by asking players to keep in mind that while a corporation can sometimes be a faceless entity, they themselves are people, too, and are working their hardest for everyone to get into the game.

Pappy discussed that the other teams who don’t work on coding are offering as much support as they can both internally and externally. They are volunteering to talk to people with frustrations; they are trying to respond individually as much as possible; and they are trying to be open, transparent, and as communicative as possible. If you hit up one of the social media channels for WildStar, someone will be in touch ASAP.

Developers are looking for specific feedback on two matters. First, if you are having issues filing a Customer Service ticket, and if you are having any Launcher crash issues. Omeed said to put in a CS ticket (if you are able), or get in touch with them via the @WildStarOps twitter, through Reddit, or on the forums.

Omeed stressed that while things are currently intense, MMOs themselves are a long-term investment, and that WildStar isn’t just a week-long game. The development team as a whole is trying to get the game to a state they want as soon as possible, but it may take a little bit of time to iron out specific issues.

August 2019 Note: This post is (18/31) 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.
WildStar Stat Changes: What We Know

WildStar Stat Changes: What We Know

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 2 July 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

After the “Road to Free-to-Play II” Live Stream on Wednesday, July 1st, Steven Engle (aka Meerkat), sat down for a Reddit AMA about the WildStar stat changes that have been discussed. While the information given to us is not the final word, nor the end-all-be-all on what will be implemented, it gave us, the players, a more detailed idea of what will be happening prior to Deep Dive articles.

You can find the original Reddit AMA here, but I will be summarizing questions and answers below. There were some questions answered in the AMA not related to stat changes that may be of interest to you, so don’t write-off the thread completely.

So, why is Carbine revamping the stat system? According to Steven, the current stat system is not intuitive, and has been considered a barrier of entry to many entry-level players. Aside from the unconventional naming conventions (Moxie), stats weren’t relative to the players from class to class. The team working with Steven had initially thought to just rename things to your typical Intelligence, Dexterity, etc., however they would then still have to change the relationships each stat had to each class. (For instance, again, Moxie.)

When asked why they couldn’t just tweak current diminishing returns (DR) and make Critical Severity worth taking instead of completely overhauling, Steven replied that tweaking DR would still allowing for Primary stats that affect balancing the classes overall, which is one of the other main issues they are looking to address with these changes.

The new stats we can look forward to seeing include: Multi-Hit, Glance, Critical Mitigation, Reflect, Intensity, and Vigor. Engle described them as the following:
Multi-Hit: The chance to deal an additional damage or heal hit at a percentage of the ability damage dealt or healing given.
Glance: The chance to reduce the hit by X% (No information on how X is determined provided). This is a tank-specific stat.
Critical Mitigation: Reduces the amount of bonus damage from incoming Critical Hits. This is coupled with a change to the combat formula and Deflect Critical, which will be discussed at a later date in a Deep Dive. This is a tank-specific stat.
Reflect: Return a percentage of the damage received to the target that dealt it.
Intensity: Increases outgoing healing, but also increases focus cost. For this reason, it will be primarily offered on gear at level 50.
Vigor: Increases outgoing damage that scales based on your current Health percentage. The scaling of Vigor is still to be determined, as the team will be looking for feedback once this goes to Beta.

There is no official word yet which stats currently in the game are making the cut and which aren’t. There is mention to stats like strikethrough and critical hit that may not be going away.

Those already runed at the time of the changes will be receiving tokens in the mail to purchase new runes through a vendor in the capital city. Engle mentioned that there will be a Deep Dive regarding this in the future.

There were also questions regarding “power creep”, which makes parts of the content trivial with the differences between gear of a fresh fifty versus someone in orange-quality raid gear. The team has been working to smooth out the power creep, and has been working with Timetravel to make sure that end-game content feels good, and that the curve doesn’t trivialize previous raid content as quickly. There will, however, be a tad of power creep for those in Datascape (DS) gear that seems inescapable for the current tier of content.

If you’re one of those heavy-armor wearers currently wearing some lighter armor based on the stats, you’re no longer going to be able to do this. Armor types are now going to be restricted to their respective classes (Heavy can only wear heavy, medium only medium, etc.), as the current stat changes will more than likely lead to increased gear competition, and the team didn’t want to leave any sort of imbalance or start extra competition. It was mentioned that for those currently wearing lower-armor tiers, the pieces will be converted into an appropriate raid-level item useable by the class. What this means in the fine print, however, has not been specified.

They are, however, giving “avenues” to some classes that will play well with some of the new stat abilities and AMPs, so that some classes may favor multi-hit, while others may want strikethrough or critical as a stat instead.

As for PvP gear, more information will be given when the team sends out other updates regarding itemization, crafting, runecrafting, etc.

Just starting a new toon, or having fun with an alt at the time of these changes? You’ll be happy to know that all items in the game will be transitioning over to the new stat system, so to coincide with the changes, the team has spent a great deal of time revising all of the gear offerings from quests, instances, vendors, and more to better cater to all of the class/role combinations there are.

So while we got a bunch of specifics, there are still a bunch of things up in the air, it seems. What’s the best way to deal with this? By constructively giving your feedback to Carbine as we follow the road to free-to-play, and participating in the Beta.

August 2019 Note: This post is (16/31) 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.
WildStar: Bay of Betrayal Walkthrough

WildStar: Bay of Betrayal Walkthrough

This was originally posted on QueueTimes on 5 May 2015. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.

So, are you excited about Drop 5, and ready to try out the new Adventure, Bay of Betrayal?

You’ve come to the right place! I spent a bunch of time on the PTR focusing on just the Bay of Betrayal with some amazing guild members, and wanted to share my findings/strategies to make it easier for those trying the Adventure for the first time.

Before an information dump, however, it is very useful to note that you will need to be in a group you are comfortable communicating with. This is a very quick Adventure, and you can fail in as little as fifteen to twenty minutes if people aren’t communicating.

Also, don’t get discouraged if things don’t go right the first few times. Even in full raid-gear on the PTR playing classes/specs/roles we main on Live, it took us at least ten hours to get to the point we were in the video below. It is for sure a challenging place, but it feels highly rewarding to get through each challenge.

A disclaimer: We were so involved in things that we didn’t pay attention to spell names. It is that hectic-feeling of an Adventure, especially when you don’t have it on “farm”. I try my best to describe abilities and items. I will gladly edit this with correct spell names if people happen to have them.

First “Hallway”
Kill the mob attacking Herald Anku’mar (hur hur Carbine!) to start up the event, and talk to him to begin after his little spiel.

Keep your DPS (and if you’re feeling confident, your tank and healer) fully charged using the battery rods the entire time (your charge will diminish over time if you do not use it). You want to avoid as many mobs as you can to beat the two other “groups” to the next room. If you do happen to run into mobs, you want charged people (in turns) to activate the various items in the area. Jump spells are also useful to keep moving quickly after killing mobs.

Bombs – These look like a relic node. They will one-shot anybody, including a tank (unless they have a defensive cooldown running). They’re the most effective way to kill mobs.
Tether – There are rods that emit a tether. Most of the time the tether will aggro mobs once it is activated so you should be able to run away from them and leave them there.
Sentry – A folded-up robot that will activate and patrol, aggroing mobs to the best of its ability and smashing them. The second most effective way to kill mobs, as it will help you smash mobs if you have aggro.
Opportunity – There are other rods that emit a circle that provides an elongated Moment of Opportunity (MOO). If you are not fully charged, and you stand in the circle, you will not be able to attack. The best option is to have the tank drag the mobs into the circle, and then stand on the edge. Melee DPS will have to also stand on the edge unless charged.

First “Room” – The Augmented
This is an AoE heavy room. While you can use the Charge to mind-control the adds in the room, we found that just straight burning them down yielded better, and faster, results. This might change depending upon group makeup, gear level, communication, etc.

Mini Boss: Team Alpha
At this point, you have the opportunity to attack one of the two teams if you were fast enough in the first room. Avoid mobs getting to the team, and burn down the healer. We found that one of the teams had an Aurin Esper named Shan Barkheart, and encountered that team as the first group to kill both times we had this opportunity. We don’t know if this is the case every time or not. These are AI mobs, so try to focus down what is doing the most damage/healing like you would in War of the Wilds, or even PvP. The burn order depends on your group makeup, but we found that burning the healer down first made things ultimately easier.

Second “Hallway”
After burning down the team, you encounter more mobs while heading to your next objective. The birds put a debuff on that slows you, so make the most of all the bombs in the vicinity and destroy stuff and run.

Second “Room” – Varmintron and Gopherzoid
There is a battery in the center of the room. Designate two people to be the battery drainer/mind controller–one per boss. We obviously found that marking them and designating symbols was easier for communication purposes.

The object of this boss is to burn down both of them simultaneously, and then mind-control them simultaneously to have them dig a hole to the next area. It sounds simple, but the coordination took a while to establish, especially since the battery regenerates so slowly. This is why we designated two folks as the drainers. The bosses themselves are fairly tank-and-spank.

The battery will fill up three quadrants of the room, and you need to get into the fourth quadrant to stay safe. Once the battery has been drained, this will stop, but it is suggested to wait to drain the battery until the bosses are very low on health so the Charge isn’t wasted (remember, it goes down if it’s not being used).

Varminton casts The Canimid Express every so often where he burrows underground, comes back up, and then shoots a line of dirt and rocks out in front of him. Fairly easy to dodge. He will also cast Eldan Excavationand the group will get a warning that says, “Varmintron is tearing apart the terrain!”. These are huge circles that appear, and are a little more difficult to get out of, but didn’t seem to do too much damage so long as you got out in a reasonable amount of time.

Gopherzoid casts Whirlwind and you will get a warning that says “Gopherzoid is creating a whirlwind!”. He will focus on one member and slowly walk towards them. Easy to run out of the group so long as the person being chased keeps to the edges of the open quadrant. Gopherzoid also seemed to send out lines every-so-often, but it didn’t feel as frequent as Varmintron.

DPS them down until you get the group warning that they’re able to be controlled, and control them simultaneously to dig a hole to the next “hallway”.

Mini Boss: Team Beta
As before, you will have another opportunity to run upstairs and kill the second team if you completed the boss fast enough. Killing teams gets you more time to complete the Adventure, however, it makes the final boss stronger. This is an AI team, like before, so focus down as you see fit. We had a difficult time discerning who the healer was, so we ended up choosing to burn down Lia Zalkadec. From there, things seemed much easier to burn, so we assume she is the healer.

Third “Hallway”
This hallway is completely different than the first two. It requires a lot of communication with your team. Everyone should Charge up and have a jump spell just in case. One person will need to control the first thumper. A second person will need to control the second thumper, and a third person will need to re-control the first thumper just before the first person’s Charge dies. Having a fourth person control the second thumper before the second person’s Charge dies is also useful.

Congratulations, you’ve passed the first part of the hallway. Rinse and repeat all the way through the thumpers! As you can see in the video, we had a more difficult time on the second set of thumpers, but a few tank cooldowns and jump got us past them instead of having to do both sets again.

After the thumpers, rinse and repeat as you had before in the first two hallways–use the bombs and rods to your advantage. Especially since the Shamans do some wicked crazy telegraphs. You can take the third hallway slower than the others assuming you have beaten the other two teams, as it is no longer a race against time.

Third “Room” – The Elder Vault
This is more communication-heavy. We had a difficult time with this because of how short the timer is for selecting items. There are tether balls at the top of the room that you will use to jump to get the first panel. However, you will need to have someone control the middle pillar so one person can use the tether and turn off the Security Control Panel. From here, we had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to get through the red, and resorted to using a jump spell, cooldowns, heals, and a Scientist summon. Of course, we figured out it was much the same as the thumper hallway once we had gotten across. Go up the hallway and turn off the last panels.

Fourth “Room” – The Trial of Endurance
This is essentially a gauntlet. You want to burn down the mobs ASAP, because more come out constantly, and they can get a bit overwhelming with all the red on the floor. We didn’t try mind-controlling the robots, but think it is possible because of the batteries in the middle of the floor. However, you also need to drain the batteries to destroy the panel with the Charge.

Fifth “Room” – Security Hub Sigma
This is the final boss, Calidor Antevian. He’s a tad difficult at first, but we soon realized a pattern in his spells. There are four batteries around the outside of the room, and you will want to assign four people to them to drain for a specific phase of Calidor when he drains them to heal himself. You’ll also need six interrupts for this fight for a specific spell.

Variance Protocol – This centers upon one person. They will need to run out of it and other people will need to avoid the tendrils. Don’t waste your interrupts on this.
Point of Division – This needs to be interrupted with those six IA spells. This gives you a nice MOO to burn him down. If it’s not interrupted it will send very large lines out from him constantly until the spell has finished its channel.
Fractured Symmetry – We called this “Medic!” whenever he cast it. Because it looks like a medic spell. This was the most difficult part of the pattern to figure out. If you watch the video, you see it goes in a “waltz” pattern, almost. Run towards the side ramps for three beats, then back in for three beats. It’s a little difficult to describe, but once you see it (and practice it) it makes a bit more sense. If you get hit by this, it disarms you and does a fair bit of damage.
Siphoning Power – This is when Calidor drains the batteries. Send your designated folks out to drain them and then continue whacking on him. I suggest having the tank and healer as some of the drainers, and keep a DPS on him to help burn through the shield he gets while he casts this to make things easier afterwards.

August 2019 Note: This post is (15/31) 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.
30 Video Game Answers, Part 3

30 Video Game Answers, Part 3

This post is (8/31) 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.

The other day I decided to turn a post from 2017 into some prompts for folks. Part two’s prompts can be found here. It comes to an end with this post, part three of three!

(Unrelated: I know I’m “behind” on posts, and while depression may have gotten the best of me for the past few days, I’m going to try to post an extra post or two every so often to try and catch up on the 31 posts. I may not hit 31, but I very much want to try.)

Favorite Protagonist

Just like with the antagonist question in part 2, I’m not particularly sure how to answer this one. There’s lots of characters I like, but there’s no real single protagonist I can pull out and say, “Yes! This is my favorite!”. I attribute this to playing mostly MMOs. I think I’d have a better answer to this if I had played more RPGs when I first started gaming, or if I played more now.

Game You Think Had the Best Graphics/Art Style

WildStar. I know it’s still not everybody’s cup of tea with the art style, but how can you go wrong? I loved it so much. It made me so happy with how unique it was.

Favorite Classic Game

What defines something as a “classic” game? To be fair, I really only played a few handheld games until we got an N64 in the house, but I never really had any other consoles until I purchased a PS2 in college. So I never really played a lot of “classic” games (if I’m thinking of what might actually classify as “classics”).

A Game You Plan on Playing

As I mentioned last week, Them’s Fightin’ Herds is on my most recent to play list!

Best Voice Acting

I unashamedly adore the voice acting in Secret World. It helps that I love that Jeff Combs and Armin Shimerman do various voices throughout the game. But overall, the voice acting and character development are what make me keep going back even if the combat makes me twitch.

Most Epic Scene Ever

What defines a “scene”? A cutscene? I think one of the ones that has stuck with me the most is the reveal of Drusera’s connection to the Entity we saw in Blighthaven in WildStar.

Favorite Game Developer

I’m going to leave details for Developer Appreciation Week, but I really dig Aksys Games. I’m sure it helps that they’ve pushed to localize a lot of otome. By extension, I suppose Idea Factory (and their Otomate brand) is probably one I adore, since those are the games getting localized. Though favorite… I don’t know if I could claim a favorite. I loved Carbine for WildStar. I love Funcom for Secret World… This would be like picking your favorite child.

A Game You Thought You Wouldn’t Like, but Ended Up Loving

To be brutally honest? WildStar. “What, Chestnut? YOU? Not like WILDSTAR?!” I know, I know. But when I played in the beta, while I was intrigued, it didn’t quite grab me. And I thought come launch that I just… wouldn’t like it. But I’d play it because that’s what my Ex and his friend wanted to play. In the end, I loved the game more than they did, and it still makes me sad that it’s gone (even if I wasn’t playing much at the end).

Your Favorite Game of All Time

This isn’t a fair question. This is, once again, like asking to pick a favorite child. Of all time? This could change the moment I play another game, and something gets replaced. Does it require that it is something I could pick up and play again at a moment’s notice and have fun with it? Is it something I can leave as one-and-done? Could I count an MMO for this? I honestly just don’t know. There are so many games that I could list for this as an answer (WildStar, Secret World, EVE, Hatoful Boyfriend, Skyrim, Code Realize), but none of them feel completely “right” as the most favored.

30 Video Game Answers, Part 2

30 Video Game Answers, Part 2

This post is (7/31) 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.

The other day I decided to turn a post from 2017 into some prompts for folks. I’m continuing it with this post, part two of three!

Gaming System of Choice

I know it’s cliche, but it really is the computer. When it comes down to it, I do love my handhelds and PS4, but I just have a larger collection on the computer than anything else.

A Game Everyone Should Play

My top four suggestions are not everybody’s cup of tea, but they include: Secret World Legends (for the story), The Park, Hatoful Boyfriend, and Code: Realize.

A Game You’ve Played More Than Five Times

Pretty much any of the dating sims I’ve played could fall into this category. I have to (aka like to) 100% the game for all the CGs and story!

Current or Most Recent Gaming Wallpaper

Uh, so it’s one of the CGs from Code: Realize of Saint Germain, but I don’t feel right posting it on this blog because it could very much be construed as if it were NSFW, even though he’s pretty much trying to murder the MC.

Post a Screenshot from the Game You’re Playing Right Now

Game with the Best Cutscenes

I honestly don’t know if I could choose. Especially since some games, like Detroit: Become Human, are changing the way that cutscenes work.

Favorite Antagonist

Another one that I honestly don’t know the answer to. I don’t play many games that have memorable antagonists, or ones I’ve connected with on any particular level.

Picture of a Game Setting You Wished You Lived In

Favorite Genre

I could say “visual novels”, or “dating sims”, or in particular, “otome”. But it really just comes down to a game with a story that I find captivating.

Game with the Best Story

Right now I’d really have to say it’s a toss up between Elder Scrolls Online and Secret World Legends for me.

A Game Sequel Which Disappointed You

I don’t do many sequels. The only game sequel I even own is the second Code: Realize, and I have yet to play it, so I don’t have an answer to this one, I suppose.

30 Video Game Answers, Part 1

30 Video Game Answers, Part 1

This post is (6/31) 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.

Brain Weasels

This is a post that has been sitting in my backlog since 2017. It’s one of those evergreen pieces I mentioned it is a good practice to have around for bad days. And today was a bad head day. It wasn’t as difficult to get out of bed this morning as it has been the past few weeks, which is a plus, but it has been a very difficult day for concentration, focus, and parsing of feelings and thoughts (not exceptionally brain weasely, per se, but they’re there in the background). I even took a nap when I got home from work because I didn’t feel like I could reasonably function for the remainder of the day if I didn’t.

I really didn’t want to miss a day of Blaugust, but figuring out what to write about, despite plenty of half-written posts and ideas was difficult. I went through seven or eight different posts now in various states of done-ness, and nothing felt exactly… right. There was lots of over-thinking and self-doubt. So I figured something a little more light-hearted and fun was a good idea. Plus, I figured I’d split it into 3 parts, and people could also use it for prompts since it is Topic Brainstorming Week this week for Blaugust!

The Questions

I pulled this idea from Wolfy back in 2017. At the time there was one of those, “here’s a picture with questions, I’ll answer a question for every like!” things going around the gaming/blogging Twitter. I’m terrible at keeping up with those, the majority of the time, but had really wanted to participate in it. I saw that Wolfy had co-opted in a blog post format and thought it would be much more fun to do it that way as well… since you were still limited to 140 characters at the time!

Your First Video Game

I honestly can’t remember. I think it was something like Megaman or the Mario Bros. game where you jump around dodging stuff Kong throws at you to try and rescue Peach. I know it was something handheld that was on the original Gameboy. The first real one I remember is playing Paperboy after our grandmother gave my brother and me a Nintendo 64. That game was terrible but also so much fun.

Your Favorite Character

For those that know me well, this comes as no surprise. (I always end up loving the [SPOILER] murder-husbandos in dating sims, somehow…)

A Game That is Underrated

There’s a lot of games that could fit this, and choosing one out of all of them is a difficult task. But honestly, I think it’s going to have to be The Park. A lot of people don’t think they’d be interested in it because it’s, “just a walking sim”, but the depth of the story was pretty incredible for a few hours of gameplay. I do think it seems to resonate more with folks that live with mental illness compared with those that don’t, as well. Regardless, it’s a game I wish more folks would try (if horror is your thing). It’s also made by Funcom, and considered canon to Secret World, so that also works a little bit in its favor for me.

Your Guilty Pleasure Game

I could swear I’ve written about how much I love this game previously (but can’t find the post), but it is Monster Rancher Advance (1 and 2), hands down.

Game Character You Feel You Are Most Like

I don’t ever particuarly identify with video game characters. I suppose the closest would be any MC in an otome. While they’re their own characters, I always end up picking what I would want or do rather than what I think the character would want or do.

Most Annoying Character

SUN-IN-FREAKING-SHADOW.

Favorite Game Couple

This is a difficult one for me. The only games I’ve truly played that had a focus on a love story of some sort have been dating sims, and while I have favorite pairings there, I don’t feel they fully apply, because it’s the fact that I like the character I pick as the MC, rather than the MC as a couple with the chosen character.

Best Soundtrack

Bless Jeff Kurtenacker. He’s also looking for questions any of you fellow WildStar fans may have about the music for the game to bolster his YouTube channel, so be sure to reply to him on Twitter!!

Saddest Game Scene

I’m honestly not sure. I have cried at a handful of video games, but I couldn’t, off the top of my head, tell you which one has been the saddest for me. Or even remember which ones I specifically cried over. So I’m going to tweak this prompt: Most Memorable Time a Game Made You Sad/Cry. And that, honestly, would have to be when WildStar shut down.

Best Gameplay

Heck, I honestly don’t know. I don’t really pay attention to gameplay within a game unless it annoys me or truly makes the game unplayable for me. I do have to admit that I enjoy telegraphs and slightly more active combat, especially in MMOs. So as far as MMOs go, I’d list WildStar, and ESO. Secret World could almost make it on the list if certain aspects of movement weren’t so dang clunky.

October Goals Review

October Goals Review

This post is a part of #IntPiPoMo 2016. You can find more information and sign up to participate here.

I cut down on my gaming goals list fairly extensively for October.

Feyd, Ender, and Try helped me get attuned for Kara, too!

WildStar

  • Purchase Service Tokens
  • Re-rune DPS set
  • Buy new unlocked tank gear
  • Re-rune tank set
  • Keep pimping Lifestyles of Nexus V for folks to sign up!
  • Make plans for guild/alliance Shade’s Eve Shindig (Never did.)
  • Put up the last Yardcore I recorded ages ago
WoW
  • Complete the Stormheim storylines
  • Unlock Suramar world quests
  • Get Archaeology to 100
  • Get Fishing to 300
  • Get Cooking to 600
  • Get First Aid to 400
  • Get Blacksmithing to 775
  • Get Mining to 750
Other
  • Finish Asagiri’s route in Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya
  • Finish one of the routes in Sweet Fuse

Thoughts

Life has been hectic in ways that I didn’t even plan for it to be, both emotionally and with work. I still got a decent amount of things finished, all things considered, though.

WildStar stuff that isn’t related to the community-at-large, or Wildcast (which I suppose is the community-at-large) have taken a bit of a wayside to everything else. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I do feel kind of bad about it. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff related to WildStar, just most of it outside of the game, which is a weird contrast.

I finally finished out Stormheim, which I think is my least favorite out of all the zones in the Broken Isles. Which stinks, even as a Warrior. I think that might be why it was my least favorite. That you’ve done all this Warrior stuff, and it doesn’t seem to mesh with Stormheim well. I’ve been trying to work my way through more of Suramar, and have slowly gotten through it (I think I hate it more than Stormheim), so I’ve unlocked more quests, but I really need to just finish the stupid zone.

I got farther in professions than I thought I would. I’m stuck at 765 Blacksmithing, and all of my patterns are grey. So that stinks. Archaeology feels more grindy than I remember, granted, I never got it very high on Chestnut, so that’s something to aim towards on Naught. Fishing is something I’ve been doing to kill time, plus I really want the Legendary fishing pole! First aid is getting there, slowly. I’m hoping as I get a higher level skill that my bandages will heal for more. I’ve hit a rut in mining, as well. Both of my Leystone and Felstone nodes are stuck at 1 star, despite lots of farming for the quest items. I really love professions, but WoW has really screwed the pooch with them, this expansion.

As for my otomes, I haven’t really gotten much done in either of them with work. I usually play them on my lunch breaks, but October didn’t leave me with many of those that weren’t thirty minute “hurry up and eat” breaks.