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All posts for the month February, 2016

NCSoft 4Q Results

I’ll start with the important bit.. All the doom and gloomers who were convinced the Daewoo analyst who predicted zero 4Q growth was right… are wrong.  WildStar is up Quarter over Quarter.  Go Team Carbine!

 

Now, for the details. While WildStar’s numbers improved, the numbers aren’t near where they were at their highpoint:

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 18.55.05

Going from 1.7 Billion Korean WON (roughly 1.4 million US dollars if the conversion on Google is accurate) to 2.6 Billion WON.. isn’t horrible.  As quarters go, from a pure money perspective, this puts the 2015 4Q squarely in the middle of numbers reported for WildStar since launch:

2Q 2014 – 28,048 Million KW

3Q 2014 – 16,007 Million KW

4Q 2014 – 5,491 Million KW

1Q 2015 – 2,593 Million KW

2Q 2015 – 2,075 Million KW

3Q 2015 – 1,727 Million KW

4Q 2015 – 2,668 Million KW

Realistically, 1 quarter of good news isn’t enough to stop the doom and gloom crowd (heck, it didn’t even silence them for a day on Reddit).. it is however, an encouraging sight.

The telling information will be how 1Q 2016’s numbers look.  WildStar needs sustainability, not a roller coaster on their financials.  If we see a significant drop between 4Q and 1Q, that’s probably not a good sign.  If WildStar’s numbers stay the same, or (more ideally), continue the upward trend… that is a good sign.

In a perfect world, WildStar’s future revenues will continue to climb up, and then stabilize at a point that (hopefully) NCSoft considers ‘good enough’.  Unfortunately… no one knows that that ‘good enough’ point is.. is it 2.5 Million WON?  5 Million? 1 Million?  We don’t know..and, because of how these things work.. we won’t find out until WildStar stays below that magic number for long enough that NCSoft decides to pull the plug.

I think the improvements Carbine has made to WildStar’s Cash Shop, will lead to a good performing 1Q.  Things like adding an account wide option to things, lowering the price point on some items.. plus the upcoming new content (Arcterra, Redmoon Terror, Halon Ring later this year, release on that unknown gaming platform Steam).. will help.  Pappy has stated they’re continuing to look at monetization strategies, and changing them as needed.  I’m hoping this means less RNGBoxes, and more reasonably priced items on the store with account bound goodness.

I know I plan on making purchases to support the Developers – when the price/value ratio on an item is good.. I love the Developers, but I only have so much disposable income and can’t spend all of it on $30 single character mounts (yes, DeLorean hoverboard, I’m talking about you).

If you want to support the WildStar team.. buy stuff from the cash shop occasionally.. and if there is a reason why you don’t want to spend money on the store (or buy a subscription).. politely tell the Developers what you think they could change to encourage you to spend some money.

You know Carbine…if you really wanted to start rolling in the money… you’d let us buy the soundtrack, and Rowsdower plushies (and/or, slippers after seeing them for Winterfest), and other physical goodies too..

2016 State of the Game

First… a giant Congratulations is in order for Chad “Pappy” Moore.. everyone’s favorite Loremeister is now the Game Director for WildStar!

Congratulations

Well deserved, and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of stuff this brings to WildStar!

 

Now..in addition to announcing his promotion.. Pappy has provided a ‘State of the Game’ news post over on the WildStar site.

I’m not going to copy/paste the whole thing here..but you should go read the whole thing.  I’m going to touch on what I think are the more important bits, and provide some reaction/comments to them.

And what does the future look like? Two words: more content!

Sadly, we don’t really get a hint of that new content.. most of the new content that Pappy talks about for the roadmap.. is covered in the Arcterra announcement (Arcterra, VoA, gear upgrades, RMT, etc..).  The only thing not covered in the Arcterra information, is that upcoming content this year will include a trip to the Halon Ring:

Later this year players will find themselves in the Halon Ring, an asteroid belt around planet Nexus that is home to outlaws, marauders, and other unsavory individuals. Anything can happen in the Halon Ring, and it probably will. And speaking of marauders, we just announced that the next major raid in WildStar will be the Redmoon Terror.

Now, to me, this means that RMT is coming in the same drop as the Halon Ring content (which makes sense.. Redmoon is probably actually a ‘moon’ (queue inevitable “that’s not a moon, it’s a space station”), or small planetoid in the Halon Ring.  While I’m sad that we didn’t get hints about much that hasn’t already been announced, the hint of Halon Ring content is good.. because it means that Carbine has confidence that they’ll still be here later this year, making content for this great game.  There is also brief mention of an upcoming new Expedition (Caydiem is apparently hard at work to entertain us).. which is good, because that means that the planning/design portion of the game isn’t just focused on adding new Raid content.. they’re including content that can be solo’d or done in a small group.

There’s even some good news on the NStore side of the house.. Pappy states that they’re working to expand the catalog to have both character and account-bound options.. More alt-friendliness via account boundedness is a good thing.. encouraging people to play alts, keeps them playing the game more.

Overall, it sounds like Pappy’s roadmap.. mostly only covers the next two drops (Arcterra, and RMT/Halon Ring).  Which is good, but could potentially leave us with a lot of ’empty’ time over the year (if we assume Arcterra during 1Q, and RMT/Halon Ring during 2Q).  It would have been nice to have some hints at what is planned beyond that.. if for nothing else than to show the ‘doom and gloom’ crowd that content is planned that far out, and being worked on.

Pappy also hints at some PvP love coming our way:

Lastly we’re taking a close look at PvP, and are working on a number of initiatives to improve the overall experience for our players, along with incenting more participation in both instanced and open-world PvP.

 

I’m not a big PvP’er.. but from what I’ve heard, the PvP realms are not doing as well as the PvE realms from a population stand point.  If Carbine can do something to give PvP a long lasting shot in the arm, it’ll do a lot to quiet some of the nay-sayers.  Plus, it gets more people in the game, and more people is always good.

 

Re-reading this, I realize it sounds a bit negative.. And, while I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a lot of ‘new’ information, I’m encouraged that Carbine/NCSoft are promoting people inside the studio.. it means they’re planning on being around for awhile.. and I’m encouraged that we got a road map.. it’s communication, and as Pappy says:

For me, making great games has always been about the dialogue between devs and players. Personally, I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation.

As a player, it’s way easier for me to support a game where the Developers communicate with us (not talk TO us, but actually communicate WITH us.. meaning they listen to what we have to say and act on that feedback).  Carbine’s communication has been on the light side lately (partly due to the embargo on Arcterra content announcement).. so, it’ll be interesting to see if they keep up some of the ‘pre-patch hype’ levels of communication when we hit that lull between announcements.

So, yes, I would have liked more ‘meat’ in the roadmap, but, I think the fact that we got any hints that weren’t about already announced content, is good.. so overall, I’m pleased with the roadmap.. and I love that Pappy is the Game Director now..

 

Now, we just need to figure out how to get him to leak stuff like Donatelli used to do regularly..

As announced on Friday’s stream… Dungeon Chase starts this week!  It’s just like the Sim/Space chase events from previously, only.. in Dungeons (which is good, because otherwise Dungeon chase would be a bad name for it).  As in previous events, you’ll collect token A (Small Game Scraps), which are tradable (based on the other events), and exchange them for token B (Big Game Bucks), at a vendor.

Carbine…can we talk about this totally unnecessary step?  Why not just have the actual event drops be the currency used by the reward vendor? What’s the logic on exchanging one currency for another?  Leave “Token A” as the drop (and tradable), and have that be what the reward vendor accepts.

Here’s the News Announcement that covers rewards and such.

Like the other chase events, it looks like some of the most wanted items will be locked in the RNGBoxes purchasable from the NStore.  We’ve got 3 different cases (all available individually, and then all 3 on the store at the end of the event):

Forge Case:

Each opened Forge Case has a chance to drop one of the following:

  • 1 of 7 pieces from the Osun décor set
  • Osun Juggernaut  NPC
  • Osun Hatewitch NPC
  • 1 random Dungeon Crawler NPC from a large grab bag
  • “The Fortress” Music Track
  • Forgemaster’s Delight Skybox
  • Torine Swordcat Mount
  • Torine Swordkitten Pet

 

Swordmaiden Case:

Each opened Swordmaiden Case has a chance to drop one of the following:

  • 1 of 7 pieces from the Torine décor set
  • Swordmaiden NPC
  • Life Elemental NPC
  • 1 random Dungeon Crawler NPC from a large grab bag
  • “Oath of the Swordmaiden” Music Track
  • Torine Twilight Skybox
  • Torine Swordcat Mount
  • Torine Swordkitten Pet

 

And, lastly, Proto Case:

  • 1 of 7 pieces from the Protostar décor set
  • Housing Supervisor NPC
  • Protostar Drillbot NPC
  • 1 random Dungeon Crawler NPC from a large grab bag
  • “ProtoSwing Dance Time” Music Track
  • Proto Pleasant Skybox
  • Torine Swordcat Mount
  • Torine Swordkitten Pet

 

Based on the mount and pet being in all 3 cases, they are probably only available that way, which is a bummer.. I won’t do RNGBoxes, and I know a lot of others that don’t.  Hopefully, the items out of the cases are not soul bound, and someone will put them up on the AH for a reasonable amount.dungeon-chase-torine-pumera-pet

 

I’m hopeful that people will queue for lower level, and non-veteran mode dungeons as well, to help give new players (or people playing alts) the chance to participate.. especially since, even at 50, a lot of people may not feel they’re well geared enough to do the veteran modes.  The Dungeon Chase article doesn’t talk about it..but, Carbine did mention on the stream that there will be a play with the Devs portion of Dungeon Chase, so keep an eye out for Devs to show up in your dungeon queues.

 

 

Friday brought us the return of the Casual Friday WildStar Weekly stream with DD and crew!

If you want to watch the replay, it’s available here.  Here’s the notes I took when viewing:

DD is joined by Pappy,Gary, and Downtown Morgan Brown to discuss Arcterra news
4 Giveaways of the Triton costume/weapon set.

PTR “very soon”
Max Level zone
Uses new lighting system(added to starter zones previously)
Vault of the Archon (not getting shown on stream)

VoA is why players head to Arcterra in the first place.. VoA is Multiplayer (like Expeditions)
WildStar China is now in closed beta – getting great feedback, will go live later this year.
WildStar coming to Steam – roughly around the same time Arcterra/VoA go live.

DD clarifies that they’ll be around the same time, but might not happen at the same time (since no dates have been announced)

Redmoon Terror will be going to PTR with Arcterra (early version of RMT)

Live events!  Dungeon chase coming next week.
Torine stuff!

Dev Play event coming with Dungeon chase!  Devs will be running the dungeons with us, helping (maybe hindering) players.

Gary (Senior Story Designer) is up to drop some lore bombs about Arcterra:
Caretaker’s probes found previously undiscovered continent in the north (Arcterra!)
Caretaker than contacted the Exiles and Dominon to come help locate VoA.

Stressing that Arcterra is cold..like cold, cold, cold.

Shiverpoint Tower will be central point in the zone, Caretake, Deadeye, and others will be there.

Sneak Peak of Arctic Shredder.

ArcticShredder2

Kill 2 man bosses, if countdown expires, and ‘kill bar’ is past 5 man on the scale, 2 man bosses are all replaced with 5 man.. up to the 20 man bosses spawning

New System – Reward track.. resets at 100% completion, but you get loot at 100%.. everything you do in zone will move the progress bar.

Class specific costumes, pets, gear, all possible from reward track.

Possibly future content that ties into where the creatures that created the huge skeletons scattered around came from!

Collect Soulfrost as part of killing the 2/5 man bosses..Soulfrost is distilled Primal Echos.

Morgan is cheating to kill the 2 man bosses.. doesn’t want to spoil any of the encounters.

Arcterra is really designed to push group content..

Q: What ilvl drops?
A: Downtown can’t tell us, itemization has put a lot of work into..more info soon (AMAs, etc..)

No roads.. crsytalized river acts as road, gives a 20% run buff/40% mounted speed buff

5 Bosses tied to the Blizzard event.. each boss drops a key fragment.  Use key fragments to form key, to access dungeon that isn’t a dungeon.

5 Bosses tied together in lore, part of an elite force ‘coven guard’.  Not your normal Osun fights.. different mechanics for each one.

Can kill bosses that the other faction needs first to sabotage them.

Bor Milug – Is the ‘special’ event located beneath Shiverskull Tower for the duration of the blizzard.  This is the dungeon that isn’t a dungeon (scaling group content instance)..but will be restricted to the faction that wins the key collection during the blizzard event.

Q:  How is it being balanced for low population
A:  System isn’t biased towards one faction or the other.

DD fesses up that most of Carbine is Dominion scum! (Err.. I mean.. a lot of them play Dominion)

Blizzard comes up every 2.5-3 hours.

They showed off a couple of mini-events that are available.

Giant Robo Squirg?!?!

robosquirg

3-4 Randomized dailies (pool of 14)
7 Episode Quests
1 Weekly Quest
33 Dynamic events always going on

Ultrabot back, and Downtown failed the holdout in front of it…

Looping public event tied to lore of Vault of the Archon

Gary says zone is very lore heavy..candy store for lore hounds.

New Contracts tied to Arcterra content,
New Path content, challenges,

Q:  More Drusera story?
A:  VoA is the continuation, but you need to survive Arcterra

Q:  Plans to help people take part in lower level dungeons?
A:  Dungeon chase, Protogames academy was designed to help introduce people to dungeons who might be worried about doing group content.

Q:  Will Arcterra have special open world pvp incentives?
A:  Working on some global initiatives for world pvp

Q:  Is Arcterra it’s own continent or added to another one?
A:  Arcterra is it’s own continent

Dungeon Chase coming, another hoverboard event coming, lots of stuff and info coming!  Chases will repeat periodically, could overlap with other events.

 

I’ve been excited for the VoA stuff since they announced Arcterra.. this stream has also got me looking forward to the rest of the Arcterra content too.  It’ll be interesting to see if they add any ‘cold weather’ mechanic, since they’ve made such a big deal about how cold Arcterra is.

Raid of Deradune

My 12 year old son has taken to writing short stories starring his WildStar character..and because, they’re pretty entertaining.. I’m going to share them with you..  His first one, is “Raid of Deradune”… Enjoy! (just ignore the in no way appropriate for WildStar “Darth” title he carries 😛 )

 

The Raid of Deradune

Book one of the Adventures of Darth Kail

 

It was a warm day when they called him in.  One of the heroes of the Exiles, they thought he was well-suited for the job.  FCON was planning an attack, and they thought they couldn’t win without him.  Kail Kasparoff, known to his friends as Darth Kail, and to most as Agent Kasparoff.  When he got the call on his comlink, he went as fast as he could.  

When he arrived, they were waiting for him.  “There you are,” said General Stonebreaker.  

“And wondering what the rush is,” replied Kail.  

“We’re planning an attack,” answered Deadeye Brightland.  “It’ll give us a foothold against the Dominion.”

“And where will this attack be?”
“Deradune,” repled Stonebreaker.  

“The desert?”

“The very same.”

“I know of this place.  Draken territory, practically owned by Clanlord Makaza.”  

“Well…  We want you to help in the attack.”

“I gathered.”

“You’ll be leading about 150 men.”

“When do we start?”  

 

Two weeks later

“Alright, men,” says Kail, yelling to be heard over the fighters.  “You know your mission.  Secure a foothold in Deradune, and hold the position until FCON sends more men to claim it for the Exiles.  From there, we move until we can secure Deradune and kill Clanlord Makaza.  When you are ready, board the fighters.  And one more thing…  There won’t be any holo-crypts…  So try not to die.”

 

Deradune

“Anyone dead?”  

“No, sir.”

“Good,” Kail answers.  “Listen up!” he says, yelling now to be heard, “Looks like we’re about 3 kilometers from the Feralplain Collective.  If you read the brief, you know that is where the Chua work.  We will attack there, and when FCON drops the reinforcements, move south to Bloodfire Village.  We will take the route to the southwest, as they will not expect that.”  

They walk until they can see the Collective, and Kail calls “Stop!”.  No one knows why.  “We will rest, for 30 minutes.  Check your armor, weapons.  Get some food.  We leave when I say.”  

“Yes, sir!”

 

Thirty Minutes Later

“Let us go.”  They walk across the desert.  When they are within 5 minutes of the Collective, someone yells “Snipers!” and soldiers start falling.  “Where are our snipers?” asks Kail.  “If they are not dead, get to cover and fight back!”  About 25 men run to cover behind rocks, trees, Granoks, anything they can find.  The rest of them run into battle.  Kail’s Bruiserbot jumps onto a guard, and, using its legs as claws, rips him to pieces.  Then, Kail follows his Bruiserbot, making a bigger trail of Dominion bodies.  

“TANKS!” calls a soldier.  He’s not wrong, and from around the corner, come three tanks.  Almost all soldiers ignore the Dominion men and start firing at the tanks.  “No!  Attack the infantry!” commands Kail.  “Stone, Karavax, Johnson, start firing on those tanks!  The rest of you, when they stop shooting at you, help us!”  The commands are executed to the letter.  “Karavax is down!” calls Stone.  “Take cover!” commands Kail.  Something flies through the air, and there is a cacophonous explosion.  A tank’s cockpit goes flying into the air, and lands about 50 feet away from its original position.  Another is so badly damaged that after a few shots from the remaining soldiers, it too is destroyed, though without a tremendous explosion.  The third is damaged, but not enough to not be a threat.  “Divert all fire to the tank!” yells Kail.  “I want it destroyed!”  Within five minutes, the Exiles have taken control of the Feralplain Collective.  “Nice work.  Check your weapons, repair your armor, heal the wounded, and eat.  We leave as soon as FCON secures this place.”  As Kail is going around, ensuring that the orders are being followed, he notices something.  A spark, coming out of his Repairbot.  It was shot by a Chua.  “Come, R3, I will repair you.”  

 

“Look!” calls a soldier.  “Drop pods!”  

“Good.  I will meet them.  Barkfield, with me.”  

 

The drop pods are indeed Exiles, and when they open, Durek Stonebreaker is in the first one.

“General,” says Kail, saluting.  “I assume your presence means that I am relieved of command?”

“Nope,” says Stonebreaker.  “I’m leading a different attack.  We will head east, to the gates of Illium.  You’ll still take the Village, though.”

 

While they are talking, they see about 30 soldiers coming.  “There they are!  They’ll hold this position so you can move on.”  

“Understood.  We will leave now.”

 

They walk until dusk.  After that, they stop to eat and rest.  They set up camp, and after a while, Kail and a few other soldiers go out to scout while there is still daylight.  After a while, they come to a huge cage.  “What the [BLEEP] is that?” asks one of the soldiers.  The cage starts opening, and they don’t have time to run.  Out comes a giant beast, with metal covering it.  “Is it a robot?” asks an Aurin.  “No, it is augmented,” answers Kail.  “Cover me.  I can deactivate it.”  He pulls out a device, and opens it.  He hears the beast roar, and gunfire.  He flips open the circuits, and connects some wires.  “Hurry up!” yells a soldier.  “We can’t hold him much longer!”  

“Is it the red switch or the blue one…?”  

“NOW!” yells a soldier.

“Forget it,” says Kail, flipping the red switch and throwing the device.  It lands under Metal Maw, as the soldiers have started calling it, and electricity zaps out of the device, into the beast.  It gives a terrible roar, and the augmentations seem to absorb the electricity, effectively supercharging the beast.  “I suppose it was the blue switch,” he mumbles.  “RETREAT!” he yells.  The soldiers run, the beast chasing them the whole way.  They abandon the Collective, and run for the original landing point, only to find it overrun with Chua.  They turn to each other, and call for Durek on the comms.  “Through no fault of my own, there is a supercharged beast running through Deradune.  We will try and get it back in the cage, but you had best call for extraction.”  They all run back to the cage, and herd it in.  Then they start firing at the cage door, and just as the beast is about to get out, the door falls on it.  They return to Feralplain Collective, where Exile fighters are waiting to extract them.  They climb in, and return to Thayd.  

 

Back in Thayd

The news of the attack spreads quickly.  Exiles all over Nexus are wondering about the beast that has been officially dubbed Metal Maw.  Kail’s official report says that he expects that 20 well-armed soldiers could bring it down, and that 10 might be able to if they flip the blue switch, though he will not explain that part.  

 

The End

Apparently, the Embargo date for the January 13 NCSoft press event was January first at ‘oh man, it’s early’.. because when I woke up this morning… the internets was awash in news regarding Drop 7, which we now know is going to be called “Destination Arcterra”.

All the hints and teases point us at the new zone “Arcterra” which is a nice snowy visit, so, equip your warm costume before heading out.  According to Team WildStar’s official news release on the drop we’re also getting some interesting new mechanics:

  • “Snowballing” Boss Encounters: As players defeat bosses across the frozen wastes of Arcterra, even more powerful bosses appear—offering greater challenges and awesome rewards!

  • Heavy Weather: During this blizzard event, players will compete to collect keys from epic bosses—opening up exclusive access to a secret dungeon for their faction.

  • Loot, Loot and More Loot: Arcterra has its own reward track, offering dedicated players cool loot like new costume pieces, a unique mount, and more.

 

The Snowballing bosses sound neat.. it sounds like every time we kill a two player boss, a meter will fill, and at various points along that meter 5 and 20 person bosses will spawn to.. that should keep people going through the zone pretty consistently.  The Heavy Weather ‘dynamic event’ sounds a lot to me like Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft.. beat the ‘event’ (Wintergrasp was beating the other faction in PvP), get access to the loot dungeon (oddly, enough, I think that the Wintergrasp dungeon was called Vault of the Archon too.. nice throwback there).

 

Like all WildStar zones… this one looks gorgeous!

Arcterra-announce-07

 

The official announcement hints at a new way to upgrade gear:

 

Keep your eyes open for further updates on even more exciting things happening during Destination Arcterra and beyond—including information about everyone’s favorite Lopp fortune teller, tidbits about undead zombie pirates, and protips about how to make your most awesome gear even awesomer. Stay tuned!

 

We’re also getting… Vault of the Archon as part of Drop 7… the continuation of the Drusera World Story… this time, the instance can be ran solo, or as a group.  Now, if Carbine would just make the Drusera instances repeatable… so I can run them over, and over again to get my Dru fix.

The gear upgrade system (based on how the folks over at MMORPG are describing it, since it’s not in the official news yet). Sounds good.. but, it also sounds like the death of crafting.. Here’s the blurb from MMORPG:

Another big addition with the expansion is the item upgrade system. It accompanies a huge change to the salvaging system where players can now choose what component you get to keep. The item upgrades will allow you to boost by up to five items levels higher on your gear. These upgrades will apply to weapons, armor, and runes. You’ll also be able to combine lower quality components to make higher quality items. Yes it can even be used on artifact weapons. They did not go too deeply into the details but, this pretty much tells any veteran MMO player what they can expect.

I think I’m going to stop leveling my armor/weaponsmiths till we get some more news on this from Carbine, because.. if players get weapon 1, and upgrade it endlessly, if the upgrade components don’t come from crafting… we’ll never need to craft again, unless someone wants a crafted piece for the cosmetic appearance alone.  Hopefully, Carbine took that into account when designing their new upgrade system.. guess we’ll need to wait for some more details on that to find out for sure.

 

Sounds like Redmoon (the next raid tier) will also be hitting the PTR at the same time as drop 7 (I just checked, PTR client isn’t patching yet), no clear indication if Redmoon will be in Drop 7, or if it’s just going to start undergoing testing at the same time.

 

One rather large item not mentioned in the Official release… is that WildStar will be coming to Steam in 2016 (“First Half”), presumably as part of Drop 7, but since it’s not specified anywhere I can find, it could be happening at a different time.

 

I’m not in the ‘Steam is the answer’ group, unless the question is “What distribution method requires Developers to split up to 30% of their revenue?” So, I’m less excited about the Steam news than others are..  I doubt we’ll ever find out, but it’d be neat to find out what the split is between Valve and Carbine/NCSoft for revenue through steam.  Hopefully, Steam will bring in some more players, because, more players are always good.

 

I’ll post more as I find some additional coverage, if there’s any new tidbits that aren’t already mentioned..  Looking forward to a log of new info from Carbine on the new systems, so hopefully they’ll start their Deep Dive articles back up soon.