Editor's Note: A long series of Reddit posts have been made by people alleged to be former employees of Carbine Studios. We asked our own Gareth Harmer to comb through them for the most relevant information. Here is his report.
The bad news for WildStar keeps piling in. Following on from news of an atrocious financial forecast from Korean investment firm KDB Daewoo Securities, alleged former employees of Carbine Studios have been recounting their own experiences in a NeoGAF thread, including accusations of inexperienced management and significantly flawed development procedures.
Two users on the popular industry forum, going by the names ScatheZombie and GrandiaX, claimed to have worked on the MMO, at least up until the free-to-play switch in September last year, with the former also claiming to have worked on other online titles including RIFT. Both cited staff difficulties, alleging a lack of experience among senior management, or a difficulty with egos.
By far the most distressing practice, however, is the description of how development was managed at the studio. As part of modern software development, code is typically managed in various branches – main being the current (and stable) deployment, with additional branches for bug fixes and new features. From the sound of things, that’s not what’s been happening at the studio.
“Right up until content lock for a patch, everything would be going into the main branch - including stuff for the patch and stuff that people were working on 3, 6, 9, 12 months out. Which meant that the patch branch would end up a giant clusterf--k for weeks, if not months, and one of the reasons that content would get locked 3 months prior to release.”
“The reason this is bad, is that you can't respond to player feedback when nothing but critical bugs make it to the live environment for minimum of 3 months, sometimes 6 months. It absolutely killed our community to have to constantly tell them we're aware of an issue and there's a fix coming, but not for half a f--king year.”
“The end result is an absolute disaster where you can't release updates fast enough to appease your customer base…”
The accusations levelled at Carbine line up with our own experiences. Despite WildStar being a fun game, the studio’s pace of updates has slowed substantially from monthly to less than quarterly, with bugs taking a significant amount of time to be fixed.
After the thread was relayed on the WildStar subreddit, former Community Manager David Bass responded to corroborate the alleged reports. “Most of this is in line with my experiences. They killed every desire I had to work in the industry anymore.”
While it’s possible that Carbine Studios might have turned things around since the free-to-play launch last September, the delays to Drop 7 would would seem to indicate otherwise, even though the community is hungry for new content.