Arcterra is coming!

Like super soon… in fact, as you’re reading this.. you’re less than 24 hours away from the maintenance that will bring us Arcterra!  Finish those last minute contracts, clear your quest log, dig out your thermal underwear… and get ready for the trip!

Team WildStar announced the release with a new flick… this one starring the Dominion:

 

What secrets will be uncovered in the Vault of the Archon? What treasures are hidden in Bor Milug?  How does the Caretaker stay warm? Some of these questions will be answered tomorrow… others.. we may never know! 😛

 

Weekly Recap

Since RL continues to conspire to prevent super frequent updates, I’m going to instead attempt to do a weekly recap each week.. The goal is going to be to get it out on Saturday or Sunday (the whole Easter thing with the kids prevented that this week).  I’m hoping to give people that ‘one stop’ overview of what’s happening in the world of WildStar.

First up, in case you missed it on Twitter, the winner of the “Positively WildStar” giveaway I ran last week was @Crafticus, so Congrats again!

We had the 6th month anniversary of WildStar going F2P this week.. and what a roller coaster of good and bad we’ve had over that 6 months!  If you’ve been logging in every day since F2P hit.. you got your Reptillian Warpig mount:

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I know there’s been some rough spots over the course of the last 6 months.. but I’m excited to see what the next 6 months (and beyond) bring us.  Arcterra looks good, RMT seems to be coming along nicely, and there seems to always be people around in Housing, Capitals, and out in the world.  With all the upcoming content, and the Steam release still to come.. things are looking up.

We also got the Focus test of Arcterra.  Caydiem and Tyrius lead groups (both Exile and Dominion) through to kill the 20 man public event bosses.. and the Covenguard.  Allowing the Exiles (and, on the second run through, the Dominion) to assemble the key, and open Bor Milug.  The boss fights in Bor Milug were quite the challenge.

I happened to get ‘lucky’ and have to work overnight the night before, so I got to tag along.. it was a ton of fun.. There were a few bugs (Tower-Engineer Renhakul’s effects didn’t damage anyone, for example).. but overall things went pretty smoothly.  Carbine has said they’ve already identified the cause of a few of the bugs people ran into and are working on fixes.  You can read some of Tyrius’ responses to the feedback here.

Apparently, Carbine got the data they wanted, because the next day…they turned off the PTR.  There’s been no indication if it’s coming back or not (my guess is no, because Pappy said Arcterra should be out within ‘the next three weeks’ back on the 14th).

Storewise.. the Lopprechaun, pot o’ Shinies, and the Jumpstart pack (from the humble bundle) were all added to the store (along with other goodies).  Our good Mayor Das Moose threw a quick video together covering the update.  Check it out here.

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We got a couple of different sales (Chrome N Cowboy, Service Tokens, Mini-pets) over the course of the week.. all of which did cause me to blow all my omnibits, and all the NCoin I’d already purchased..

The zPrix has left us.. and the player ran Leaderboards shows that the top submitted time, was 50 seconds on Celestion, 49 seconds on Whitevale, and 57 seconds on Deradune.  Considering all my times were roughly 20ish seconds slower than that… I’m impressed.  Congrats to Gorak Spinekill for setting those times.. given us all a goal to shoot for next time around!

The DevConnect on faction barrier collected 16 pages of feedback!  I read a bunch, but couldn’t keep up.  Pappy and Sunshine have their reading cut out for them (If you want the quick version of my thoughts.. the post is here).  I’m looking forward to seeing what the next DevConnect is on (and, what the outcome of this week’s DevConnect is).

No weekly stream this week, so hopefully that’ll be back next week.

Senior Story Design CRB_Spellchecker (@carbinegary) ran some giveaways last week for Shade’s Eve goodies (and, some more Fancy Pants Jacket codes).   Some of the giveaways were done via WildStar Trivia on Friday (which was good stuff!), the rest were just because Gary wanted to throw codes at people.  In addition to giving the Community a bunch of goodies.. Gary has been doing mini-Loremageddon’s via twitter every Wednesday, where he’s been answering pretty much any lore related question thrown his way.. very informative stuff if you’re a lorehound!

Pappy teased again about something big coming for the WildStar OST (all the music by the ever awesome Jeff Kurtenacker):

 

I’m really, really, hoping that this means we’ll be able to buy the Soundtrack.. it’s great that Jeff has most of the songs up on his SoundCloud..but I’d love to pick up a copy to add to my iTunes library.

This weekend was the Double Prestige weekend, so hopefully you jumped into a few BGs to get your prestige (for Amp unlocks, skill points, costumes, or whatever else you feel like spending it on).  Also, hopefully, you had fun doing so..and that you’ll keep queueing, to keep the queues popping for the people that enjoy PvP.

On the Community front, the fun folk in the Black Dagger Society are revving up for Thaydfest 4!  So clear your calendar for May 22nd so you can attend.  Make sure you hit Chestnut up if you want to assist, or have goodies to donate to use as prizes.

Speaking of Chestnut, the gang at WildCast (Chestnut, Behalter, and Avid Guru) have released episode 84.. where they discuss the layoffs, and all the news around that time.

Sunshine asked for any WildStar fan fiction people had laying around (that falls in the “safe for children” category):

 


She got linked a few pieces, including this one on cross faction merges, by Galex, and this one, by my son (yes, shameless parenting promotion is in effect).  If you’ve got others.. hit her up (or leave a link in the comments to it, and I’ll make sure she sees it, if you don’t have Twitter).

iDestinia released a WildStar machinima, recreating some of his favorite scenes from “Breaking Bad”, so if you liked “Breaking Bad”..head over and give it a viewing!

 

Okay, that’s all I’ve got for the past week.  If I missed something, or you’d like to make sure I include something in the next weekly review.. hit me up and let me know.

Now, I know I said I want to start doing this weekly.. but I’m probably going to miss next week.  I’m out of town (part for fun, part for work…) for a week and a half starting Thursday..and won’t have access to my gaming machine..which will make it challenging to stay updated on everything.

Carbine is trying some additional Community Outreach…Today, Pappy introduced a new Forum Feedback request… “DevConnect“.

Here’s the post:

Hey all!

One of the things that we have always appreciated about the WildStar community is your passion for the game. And specifically on the forums there’s a ton of insightful feedback on many different aspects of the game. Reading through them gave us an idea to better improve our ability to effectively communicate. To do that we’re going to start a new initiative called DevConnect—an ongoing series that captures all of your thoughts and feedback on certain subjects in one place.

DevConnect will take place in a forum thread that will stay pinned in General Discussion for everyone to see. If this becomes a bigger deal over time, we’ll consider making a new forums section for the series. Each thread will be open for a certain timeframe, maybe one or two weeks (we’ll see how this first one goes), and then we’ll lock it and introduce a new topic. This brings everyone together in a discussion over a coordinated topic—and we’ll take cues from you to help determine future ones—to focus feedback, and allow us to jump in too to offer our own thoughts.

The first topic that we’d like us all to discuss is faction barrier.

Dropping the faction barrier is certainly something that we’ve talked about internally, but we see that you lots of you have been talking about it as well. Here are some possible discussion topics for the thread:

  • What are your thoughts on dropping the faction barrier? And why?
  • What are your thoughts on keeping the faction barrier? And why?
  • If you were a developer for a day, what would your vision for what faction barriers be?
  • How should PvP flags factor into faction barriers, if at all?

This DevConnect thread will be open from now until March 30, so hop in and tell us your thoughts! Remember, this is a place for everyone to discuss awesome ideas, so let’s make each other feel welcome.

Looking forward to the discussion!

Pappy

Now, I know not everyone frequents the forums..which is why I’m reposting this here for some additional visibility… but this is worth a trip to the forums for.

Here’s my thoughts (and yes, I’ll be posting them on the forums shortly too)…but this would be a super short post if I didn’t add my opinion too it!  😛

First.. I need to state that I firmly believe the “faction imbalance” is no where near as Loppsided (HA!) as some folks do.. My guess is that the factions are sitting at 60% Exile, 40% Dominion scum.  Because I don’t think the imbalance is a big issue.. the ‘main’ argument I see for removing the faction barrier (“faster queues”) doesn’t justify dropping the barrier, in my opinion.

PvE – Keeping the faction barrier presents the opportunity to tell more than one story..which also covers another frequent request of players – Alt friendliness, and reasons to play alts.  If there was a unique Dominion story added (and, we all know that most of the zones across Nexus have the same basic story between the two factions), I’d be inclined to play a Dominion alt.  Even if the content comes in an expansion as an escalation of the conflict between the noble Exiles and the Dominion scum…maybe escalating conflict over who gets to control whatever the Caretaker is looking for in Arcterra??

PvP – With the merger of the PvE/PvP servers, having the faction barrier encourages people to turn on that PvP flag..and queue for BGs/Warplots.  If the state of the world encourages faction tension (you know, as payback for those Dominion scum torching Arboria).. people are more likely to at least try PvP.  Right now.. PvP is such a low priority.. that I’ve seen Dominion players flagged for PvP..and just dancing around Thayd… I may stink at PvP.. but I’d prefer not to see that.  Maybe add some PvP objectives to the Capital cities, to encourage PvP if the other faction’s players show up.. something like in WoW where players will raid the other faction cities to kill the leaders.  Ultimately, if people don’t want to PvP (especially open world) a faction barrier (or none) won’t change that.  Keeping the barrier at least provides a reason for the PvP.. if we’re one big dysfunctional family.. why PvP against the folks on “our side”?

Housing – Okay.. I admit.. this is one area where ignoring the faction barrier wouldn’t be bad.. it’d be neat to be able to flip through Dominion houses, especially for the Holiday Events that have quests requiring you to visit housing.  Maybe make Housing instances a “sanctuary” zone, like the quest hub in Arcterra?

 

In the meantime:

Feedbacktrain

 

Head over to the forums, and join the feedback train!

Pappy made his statement on the future of the game Monday afternoon:

Last Friday was an extremely difficult day for Carbine. As many of you know, WildStar has not been performing as well as we had hoped, and because of that it was necessary to reduce the size of our team. Events like this are never easy. To be completely clear, this does not at all reflect on the talent, dedication, or passion of the individuals who were affected. Each and every one of them worked hard to improve and enhance the game, bringing their creative energy to work each day despite the challenges we were facing. It has been my privilege to work with them on this team, and I hope the best for them in the future.

That being said, I wanted to make sure that everyone understands that this is not the end for WildStar. The team here at Carbine is still dedicated to the game and its community, and we will be continuing on the path that I outlined in my last state of the game update. Destination Arcterra will launch within the next three weeks. WildStar’s Steam release will come this spring, and those updates will be followed by a succession of game improvements, new content, new systems and live events.

Work is continuing on Redmoon Terror, Halon Ring, and Evil from the Ether (our next expedition). The Item Upgrades system is still also in development, as well as new systems—such as multi-queuing—which are focused on expanding WildStar and bringing its players together in new and exciting ways. We will also continue to bring live events to our players—like the upcoming return of the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational—many of which will include improvements that further encourage and reward player participation. We will be talking in more detail about all of these initiatives, as well as many others, in the coming weeks and months. There are still exciting days ahead for WildStar.

It’s important for everyone to realize that the next few months will be a transitional period for Carbine. We still have a passionate group of core developers here who are focused on improving the game and creating new content, but transitions like this take time, and I’d like to thank all of you for being patient as the team gets settled and our development timelines get solidified. We’ll continue to communicate with you every step of the way.

Lastly, I would like to thank the WildStar community that has supported us through this difficult time. I understand fully that events like this affect all of you as well, and we appreciate those of you who continue to play the game and engage with us. As I have said many times, WildStar was created for you, and I’m looking forward to working together to make it even better.

Pappy

Which, in my opinion was good timing for it.. I said during my rant, that if Carbine waited too long to update the Community, it’d be a bad thing (the Doom and Gloom crowd would take the extended silence as further ‘game is dead’ proof).

While I would have preferred set dates for things like the Arcterra drop, and Steam release… the confirmation that Arcterra is in the next ‘three weeks’, and Steam is still this Spring… are good.. I do understand that providing dates is a double edged sword.. because if Carbine misses the date.. they get accused of lying.  If they make the date, and the content has gamebreaking bugs.. they get accused of rushing just to hit the date.

We get teased with new content (the teased new Expedition now has a name “Evil From the Ether”), as well as confirmation that the reduced staff is still working on said new content and systems (RMT, gear upgrades, etc.).  While the announcement wasn’t as in depth as some may have liked.  Considering it was released essentially one business day after the layoffs.. I think it hits the high points needed to calm the community.

Which means, as mentioned here, it’s time for the Community to step in, and help.

WildStar is our game, it’s up to us to make sure the in, and out of game, Community remains positive, and welcoming as new players try it out (especially with the Steam launch this Spring).  I’m not saying to ignore the bad things when they happen.. but, we don’t need to sensationalize them.  Focus on the good stuff that is in the game currently (zPrix is back today!), and what’s coming.  Don’t stress about how many more years we’ve got with the game.. enjoy playing the game because it’s fun.

We’re down to one Mega-Server per region (as of today, the PvP realms have been merged into the PvE ones).. which means there should always be folks on and playing.  Queue for dungones, BGs, Veteran content.. help people get attuned, give away housing decorations… whatever your thing in game is.. try and share it with other players.If yo

If you see people asking questions in game, on the forums, on twitter, on reddit.. or wherever… try and answer them.  The more positivity we can keep going in the community.. the less impact the voices of the “Doom and Gloom” crowd will have.

If you were paying attention on Twitter over the weekend, you know I found a few box copies of WildStar, that have yet to be redeemed… to “practice what I preach” and help keep the positivity going… I’m giving one away.

The code will get you 30 days of signature time, and one of the three ‘mystery box’ promo items.  Glitter Kitty Cruiser, Marauder Costume, or Snarfelynx mount (mounts are character bound.. FYI).  You’ll also get like 12,000 cosmic reward points too.

The Box codes are officially NA key codes.. so I don’t know if they’ll work on EU accounts.. post F2P conversion a lot of codes are both.. but I honestly don’t know about these.. I do know they’re still redeemable..because I redeemed one over the weekend (obviously, not the one I’m giving away… that’d just be mean).

Use the handy little widget below to enter:
Positively WildStar

 

Good Luck.. and stay #PositivelyWildStar

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?