Soapbox

Be like Lifty

Okay, we’ve all had the weekend to digest the news, make our emotional rants, and spend a few minutes thinking about awful worst case scenarios.

So… what’s next?

At some point this week, we’ll hear from Chad Moore about the studio’s plans going forward.  Hopefully, this will be sooner, rather than later.  We don’t need to wait for Pappy though… we can start taking our own steps to move forward..

First… be like Lifty!

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  • Lifty never stops… and neither should we!  Get in there, keep playing.. get your friends to keep playing.  If we keep player concurrency counts from dropping significantly (or, even better.. get them to increase), it shows Carbine and NCSoft that we still want the game, and we’re still playing it.
  • Buy something… yes, I know in my rant I said NCSoft/Carbine needed to give us a reason to spend the money.  The reason we should still spend money, is because we want the game to stay around.  Carbine is a business, NCSoft is a business.. so, they both need to make money to continue existing.  I’m not asking people to blow their entire paycheck on the store (and, please.. don’t buy RNGBoxes… It’s okay by me if those things die), but.. zPrix will be back this week.. skip your Starbucks for one day, and buy something during the event instead.
  • If someone asks if they should still play the game after Friday’s news… tell them “Yes”.  The doom and gloom crowd is going strong (and Friday’s news does give them a little justification).. we need to counter that.  Do it by being positive, helping people in game, and basically.. keep doing what you were doing before Friday.
  • Be active socially.. if you stream, stream WildStar..keep the game visible.  Talk about the good stuff on social media, Twitch, at the water cooler at work.. wherever you can.
  • Content producer?  Keep producing WildStar content.. do streams, do YouTube videos, artwork, stories, whatever your content is…keep doing it.

I realize that a lot of good people were let go, but, there are still good people working at Carbine who deserve our support as much today, as they did on Thursday.  At some point, everyone that left Carbine was someone’s favorite.. whether it was Bitwise, Frost, Scooter, TimeTravel, Jophent, Downtown, or anyone else who’s name I can’t remember right now.. The game survived those folks leaving, and it can survive this.

The games industry is fickle, mass layoffs are not uncommon (in fact, you could say they’re too common), and they don’t always herald the end of the world (of Nexus).

Now is the time for the WildStar community to come together, be like Lifty…and keep the game going.  It’s going to take work from us, Carbine, and NCSoft to ensure there is a happy ending.  So, it’s time to stop blaming (especially stop blaming Omeed.. he got verbally beat up a lot over the weekend, because he was the ‘voice’ of NCSoft through this… he didn’t make the decision to let anyone go, so don’t blame him), get back to being positive and enjoying the game.

If you were having fun playing the game on Thursday… you can continue to have fun playing the game.. the game hasn’t changed it’s still the WildStar we all love.

If you are contemplating quitting because of the news.. I’d ask that you wait till after Pappy makes his announcement this week before making any decisions.. Regardless of what comes.. I’m here till they turn Lifty (and the servers) off..and since Nexus is a big place.. there’s room for the rest of you until then too.

 

The doom and gloomers have been saying “dead game” since Launch.. the rest of us have been able to prove them wrong for this long, let’s keep that trend going for another few years!

Preface:

I love WildStar, I love the Devs, and I’m playing until they turn the servers off for good.  For the people who are no longer at Carbine.. Thank you for your contribution to making the game, to the people still left… Thank you for sticking through what has to be a very rough time for you guys too.. friends/co-workers being let go isn’t easy in any industry.  The gaming industry sucks, and treats people way too poorly.

 

Soapbox

 

Rant:

In case you haven’t heard the news yet yesterday (Friday March 11th), NCSoft laid off approximately 40% of Carbine’s staff.. roughly 70 people.  Downtown, Hildogen, Hotspur, JarNod, Jophent, Kristytacular, and many others (including TimeTravel last week) are all gone now.  Here’s the official PR statement Omeed released:

Hi Folks,

Earlier this morning, Carbine Studios completed a reorganization of its operating structure. Moving forward, the studio will focus on operating and updating WildStar as a live game in the US and Europe. As part of this change, the studio has canceled its plans to bring WildStar to China.

Unfortunately, as a result of these changes, we’ve had to reduce staff. These cuts are directly tied to WildStar’s evolution from a product in development to a live title, to the cancellation of work to bring WildStar to China, and to the overall performance of WildStar since launch in 2014.

These kinds of decisions are exceptionally difficult. The talented and passionate professionals who are impacted by these cuts have been valuable team members and respected colleagues. We wish everyone well for the future and will be providing severance and employment search assistance.

As for WildStar, we remain committed to the game. Over the next few weeks and months we will deliver a significant update to the game, kick off a variety of community events, and continue our work on new content that we will talk more about in the near future.

 

 

There’s so much PR speak in there, that I don’t think Omeed left out any of the must have buzzwords.. unfortunately, Mr “There’s no bugs in F2P release” Omeed’s words.. aren’t worth the pixels they were written with.

You don’t show your commitment to the game by firing the majority of your raid designers, system engineers, QA, artists, sound people, and others. You don’t show your commitment to the game… by not mentioning in your PR speak.. that the previously committed to release on Steam is still going to occur.  You don’t show your commitment by reducing staff that produce content at an already too slow pace (sorry CRB folks, I love you..but it’s been too long since we got a drop with new content), and expect the community to believe your “everything is fine” PR Speak.

NCSoft also appears to have put a gag order on the remaining Carbine folks, because all anyone has said is “still here”… Pappy is saying via Twitter that he’ll reach out to the community ‘next week’, and then have more information ‘soon’.  Unfortunately, if ‘next week’ isn’t first thing Monday morning.. I’m afraid NCSoft will have accomplished their goal.

 

You see.. when the Publisher cuts 40% of the Developers staff..and takes no action to re-assure the community that things are still okay and the game will be around for awhile… the community doesn’t trust the publisher enough to spend money on the game… and if the community doesn’t spend money on the game.. the publisher closes the game.. which is what NCSoft seems to be doing here.  When asked to confirm NCSoft’s commitment to WildStar on Twitter, and provide something to reassure the community, Omeed’s response was:

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Super confidence inspiring right?  “We said we’re committed, so we’re committed”, when I asked Omeed to explain the difference between “committed to the game” and “committed to launch in China”…After all, until this morning, NCSoft was committed to launching in China.. so, clearly.. Omeed saying NCSoft is committed…isn’t any kind of reassurance.  In fact, it has pretty much the opposite affect.  His response to my question?  Silence.

NCSoft needs to remove the gag order from Carbine, let them talk to the community sooner rather than later.. so they can reassure us that the game will be around for the long haul, so that we’ll have the confidence to spend money on the game.. because if the rumors reported via Polygon are true.. the game is essentially being put into maintenance mode after this morning:

However, reports Polygon has received from sources close to the studio paint a grimmer picture. While NCSoft’s statement didn’t provide exact numbers, we were told that more than 70 people have been let go from Carbine, as much as 40 percent of the studio’s total workforce. Furthermore, sources tell us it was made clear to remaining employees that they should expect additional layoffs in the coming months.

If that rumor is true and there are only months left in WildStar’s life (due to NCSoft gutting the development team)… why should I spend additional money?  Yes, I want to support the Carbine folks that are still there.. but, if NCSoft is pulling the plug (as they appear to be laying the ground work to do).. I’d be better off sending money to individual developers via Paypal.

 

Here’s a few quick steps that I think would help get some of the Community’s trust and confidence back (which, in turn, gets us to spend our money).

  • Carbine people talking with us, remove NCSoft’s folks from the equation.. they don’t care about the WildStar community, just our wallets.
  • Tell us which Devs are currently in charge of which content, put them on a stream talking about short term, and longer term plans for that content.
  • Steam? Yes/No, still happening?  A Yes, would indicate longer term viability is still believed to be an option.. Steam launch being cancelled, would be NCSoft twisting that knife even further.
  • Detailed road map… when is drop 7 hitting?  RMT?  What raid is planned after RMT?  What content cadence can the 40% smaller team commit to, and  more importantly, what content cadence can the team meet?
  • Give us something to reassure us that the game is going to last for years still.. my signature time is paid up through like June or so of 2017… give me some reassurance that there will still be something for me to play come that time frame.  We know that NCSoft and Carbine had a contract for X number of years (I’ve heard 3)… what is the plan when that contract runs out? Is that when the Death Certificate that NCSoft signed today gets it’s ‘date of death’ entry filled in?
  • With the bulk of the raid team being released… are more raids in the pipeline?
  • Can Carbine pull an Arena Net, and buy WildStar’s publishing rights back from NCSoft, thus removing them from the picture even further?

 

Yes, I realize calling Omeed & NCSoft out like this, is guaranteeing I’ll be added to the NCSoft “PR Blacklist” and be ignored going forward… but, you know what?  I support WildStar and Carbine in spite of NCSoft.. not because of them.  If NCSoft pulls the plug on WildStar… NCSoft is pulling the plug on them getting anymore of my money…ever.

 

 

Your turn Carbine/NCSoft.. give us something to encourage the community to stick around, and more importantly, to keep spending money.

 

 

P.S.  Since I’ll be persona non grata around official events after this… anyone know where I can get my hands on one of those Rowsdower plushies?

 

 

 

It’s the time of year where it’s really cool to make lists.. so.. perfect time to make a list of what I’d like to see added to WildStar this year… right?

  1. Good news from NCSoft’s 4Q Earnings call, so that we can get #2
  2. An end to the “WildStar is dead”, “Servers empty”, “No one plays” posts on the Official Forums, Reddit, and everywhere else.
  3. New Raid Content (Though, pretty sure most people haven’t finished all the current raid content).
  4. New Small Group Content (Dungeons, Adventures, Expeditions, new PvP Battle Ground – Maybe bring Warplots down to 10 man content?).
  5. New Solo Content (Expeditions, Challenges, Housing, etc.)
  6. New Types of Housing plugs – Let me display my mounts, mini pets, etc.. on the plot!
  7. New Zone – zones are everyone content!
  8. Incentives for higher level characters to rerun lower level content (Dungeons/Expeditions mainly).  So that they can help new players see it, and learn the fights, so that someone isn’t seeing content for the first time on Veteran mode..and then getting yelled at for not knowing the fights.
  9. Another couple of Tiers of Cosmic Rewards.. some of us are sitting at Tier 6, and our counters won’t go any higher.
  10. Better dye preview capability in the NStore.  Hard to spend the money, if you’re not sure how the dye will actually look (for example, Winterfest’s white being… blue).
  11. As long as we’re listing crazy ideas.. I’d like my Aurin Engineer please..or even Aurin Medic.. We know additional class/race unlocks is on the ‘would like to do list’..can we bump it up to the ‘doing it this year’ list? Pretty please, with Rowsdowers on top?
  12. Crafting re-revamp.  It got more streamlined with the F2P conversion.. but there’s still lots of room for improvement.  Why can’t tailors make bags? Why can’t Survivalists (or Tailors), turn Herbs into cloth anymore?  Either drop rates for the blue/purple quality crafting mats needs to be WAY increased, or an alternate means of reliably acquiring them needs to happen.  My Outfitter can’t make gear anywhere near her level, because she can’t get Dense bones to drop anywhere!
  13. Soundtrack release.. I need my Kurten-Tunes!
  14. WildStar merchandise store.. let us buy things like the T-Shirts, mouse pads, etc..
  15. Vague Road Map.. tell us what you’ve got planned to be added over the next 3, 6, 9, 12 months!  Let’s see if what you’re bringing matches up with what we want to see!
  16. More Events!  Shade’s Eve, zPrix, and Winterfest were insanely fun.. more please!
  17. More Alt-Friendliness.

That last one needs a lot more room to explain what I’m hoping for…  on Entity, my character selection screen shows 18/12 character slots used.. I would have 24/12 due to the Sister servers.. but, I ran out of names that I could think of to use..  Clearly, I have an Alt problem…

Here’s specifics on what I’d like to see to improve WildStar’s Alt-Friendliness:

  • More Character Slots.  We know the servers can do 24 per account (and, more based on pre-mega server merges).. sell me more than 2 additional slots, let me buy up to the full 24 people could have if they maxed out both Mega Servers during the Sister server days post F2P launch.
  • Account Boundedness.  For, pretty much everything.. Mounts, pets, toys, everything!  I’d even be mostly okay with a SWTOR style “Collections” interface, where you pay a bit of NCoin to unlock account boundedness for items individually (just.. don’t get all carried away with the pricing.. if I pay $8.00 for an item on the NStore, it shouldn’t cost me more than another $1 or $2 at most to unlock it for all my alts).
  • Related to previous one.. Dyes.. Dyes need to be part of the holo wardrobe.. so I learn dye on character X, I know it on my newly created alt, so I can look shiny at level 1.  Also.. I know the cost of applying dyes was reduced earlier.. still way to high at higher levels.. bring it back down closer to pre-F2P levels.
  • Toy Box – Even if Toys get full Account Bound goodness.. they’re taking up my precious bag space!  Just in the last couple months I’ve picked up a bunch of toys from the events! You can’t summon Jack Shade, if you don’t have The Angel there to talk smack back…and everyone needs the snowball toy from Winterfest!  Like Oxygen on Farside, bag space is precious.. don’t waste it.
  • Allow all my same faction alts to live together..more so than the ‘roommate’ option..let me have just one plot, for all of them (Aurin PJ Party!).
  • Probably easier to implement than the last one… let me share my crate between alts (or, unlock decor learned by character A, in character B’s crate).. This way I don’t have to worry about which alt needs decoration X more! they can both have it!
  • Reputation bonuses for alts.. I’m not going to suggest fully shared reputations..but, if Character A hits beloved with a faction, let us buy an item to be used by our alts, that increases reputation gains by X% with that faction..  We still have to do some grinding, but nowhere near as much.
  • Let us buy account bank space. Doesn’t need to be huge, but a quick way to move a few items and or Plat between characters.
  • Let us unlock Guild Features with service tokens or NCoin.  Specifically, if I’ve got a guild full of my alts, let me be able to buy things like the Guild Bank without having to do the influence grind (because… I can’t group with myself to earn influence).  This would also address the ‘account bank space’ concern.. since it’s so easy to setup a guild for your alts (no need to bribe people to sign charters..etc..).

 

Uhhh… guess that’s not really a top 10 list.. it got a bit longer than I was anticipating.. but, I think it covers the bulk of what I’d like to see added to the game, as well as what I can recall seeing others in the community ask for recently.

Oh yeah, one more thing… I want more chances to win a Rowsdower plushy!  I keep trying, and I keep losing (this one is my selfish wish list.. just for me!)Kaywinnit_Kerensky.151230.233203

 

And maybe some actual Rowsdower slippers on the above requested WildStar merchandise store? Maybe….

 

Rant time!

Soapbox

Like lots of people, I started a new character to go with the WildStar F2P Launch…and I’ve been trying to experience the game like a brand new person would (mostly, I’m not giving up my Hoverboards!)…including using the content finder to find groups for Expeditions and Dungeons (so far, because I’m indecisive about my character…I’ve done a lot of Fragment Zero, and Protogames Academy).

It’s been an eye opening experience…and not in a good way.

One of WildStar’s strengths since launch, has been its Community, but I gotta be honest…some of us…are being jerks to new players.

I’ve had runs through the content finder where no one talked! I’d say hello…and get complete silence for the rest of the run…that’s not helpful, or encouraging to new players (I’m not even going to touch some of the jerk-ery that I’ve seen in /zone).

If you’re a veteran player, yes, I know you know the content and you’ve done it a million times, but if you want to keep the new players playing so we have a growing community (and more importantly…a game to play…no players = no game!)…TALK TO PEOPLE!  BE NICE!

We need to build this community up, not tear it down.  Yes, you may want to just blow through the content as fast as you can while wearing your GA gear, but not everyone has overpowered the content…some are experiencing it for the first time.  If they have a bad experience, WHY would they keep playing?  Would you keep playing a game where everyone you encountered either ignored you or was flat out rude to you?

The key to building this Community up, and continuing to help it be one of (if not the) best MMO Community is Communication (combined with a very health dose of manners and friendliness).  EVERYONE was new to a game at one point, yes…even the most hardcore of raiders.  We need to remember that, and work as a Community, to try and improve the experience of people new to our Community…which will have the side-effect of improving the Community for ALL players!  It’s what is referred to as a win-win situation!

Because I’m a firm believer of ‘practice what you preach’ here’s a list of Dos and Don’ts that I plan on following, and would ask you to follow as well, especially in Instanced content.

DO:

  • Say Hi.
  • Check to see if everyone is familiar with the content.
  • Explain the content if they’re not.
  • Be nice.
  • Answer questions.
  • Help players stuck on a quest.
  • Be Polite.

DON’T:

  • Vote to disband because someone is new.
  • Vote to disband because someone hasn’t done the content before (or may not have done it in that ROLE – DPS/Tank/Heals).
  • Insult new players for not knowing the content.
  • Vote to disband after the first wipe.
  • Complete instanced content without saying a word.
  • Make fun of new players for asking questions that seem obvious to you.
  • Feed the Trolls.

 

I know a frequent answer to “I had a poor experience in Group Finder” is “Join a guild!” but, it shouldn’t be a requirement to be in a guild to get a non-silent run through leveling content!  I’d turn that around, and say “If you don’t want to help other players, only run content with your guild”.  Let’s try and friendly-up Content Finder (and maybe zone chat…but that could be a Herculean challenge some days)…

I’m fully aware that by writing this, I’ll upset the negative portion of the Community that I’m ranting about…I don’t care.  Yes, they’ll say I don’t have the right to tell them how to play, but they also don’t have the right to ruin someone else’s experience by being jerks.  It’s up to the positive parts of the Community to do what we can to counterbalance the negativity.  Is the game perfect?  No.  Are the Developers?  No.  Are the Players?  No.  But, we’re all in this together, so we might as well make it as enjoyable an experience as possible!

Do your part! Be Friendly!

 

BandT