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Star Player

Musings and ramblings on MMO design philosophy and mechanics. Allstar - BOON Control - @AllstarMMO

Author: Allstar_MMO

WildStar interview with Lead Combat Designer Chris Lynch - Part 1

Posted by Allstar_MMO Thursday August 29 2013 at 7:24AM
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This week I was fortunate enough to be given the chance to sit down with Chris Lynch, Lead Combat Designer on WildStar to talk Combat, Telegraphs, Crowd Control and more.


We've seen a lot more information on housing plots this week with a lot of new cosmetic features, are there any non-cosmetic features planned that might give players an edge in Raiding and PvP?

Definitely, a couple of things. First off, as you're levelling you're probably going to want to decorate your house so that you get the rested EXP stuff, additionally there are tradeskill mines and machines that give you benefits as opposed to the tools you have planet-side.

As far as raiding, one of the things we have show is a raid portal that will take you straight to the raid and give you a buff.

One of the ways I like to see housing personally is like my little station. When I'm done adventuring after I've saved money and saved stuff to sell, when it's time to go sell it and adjust myself I don't go back to town I go back to my house and sell it to my own vendors.

One other thing is Adventures, these are where you're building a micro instance on your plot that you can go into alone or with other players.

There will be more perks, we're still investigating what the perks are and what other perks could be but there are going to be real-world benefits.



Earlier this month, you announced the closure of CBT3 and it seems that CBT4 will not return until October. Can you explain the reasoning behind this hiatus?

Over the first 3 CBTs we collected a lot of great feedback and some of that dictates that we make some large changes, we didn't want to be releasing CBT phases in the middle of these changes because this would mean releasing half-implemented stuff so we just wanted to buy ourselves a little time to make sure that we could implement these new systems, polish them and get them ready without any bugs and then get back into beta.

Otherwise beta testers would have been testing half-implemented, half-broken, half-buggy stuff which wouldn't have been a good use of their time or our time so we're going to make sure we get it all right and then release it back out there.



What has been the biggest change from original concepts through beta?

Was there something you were absolutely convinced about that changed based on feedback?

I have a whole list! Right now, I would say Time To Kill on creatures is coming down. Our Time To Kill was a little long, and testers didn't like that so there are a couple of things we're doing to fix that.

First of all, we're bringing the Time To Kill down and second off we're making it so that DPS classes do more damage so those two things are multiplicative.

That, and also one of the things we're doing is we're actually going to leverage one of our strengths; telegraphs.

So we have auto-attacks and telegraphs, one of the main pieces of beta feedback that we had was that players didn't enjoy the frequency of telegraphs because most of the creature behaviour in combat was auto-attacks with occasional telegraphs. This meant that most of the damage came from auto-attacks which you couldn’t avoid, even when a telegraph was dodged it was such a small portion of the overall damage that it didn't feel like skill came into play.

One of the things that we're doing is increasing the frequency of telegraphs so it feels even more like an action game now because creatures are telegraphing much more frequently, which also means that you're dodging more and player skill comes more into play as to how much health you have left at the end of a fight and it feels a lot better this way.

There are tons of changes we're making based on feedback, but those are the top ones for me.



Staying on telegraphs for a moment, how do you feel players are responding to telegraphs when scaled up to a 40man content environment?

I think “excitement” is how they respond to it because one of the things we have been able to do is evolve the telegraph system in the last 2 years and it has come to a great point at which we can do a lot with it and you don't really see a lot of this until you get to the end-game content.

Once our testers start getting there, the shock, surprise and excitement on their faces when they start to experience some of that stuff is pretty great for me.

It starts off with a static telegraph, very static, doesn't move and then we slowly start introducing moving telegraphs around level 20 and then as you start heading toward the 30s, 40s and 50 you're going to start seeing telegraphs that require very fast reaction time, some moving towards you so there is a sense of anticipation as you see a telegraph actually moving at a certain rate towards your character and you're running as fast as you can to get out of it.

Excitement is the best word I can use to describe it, because I enjoy it. I enjoy watching it, I enjoy playing it and just having the communication and messaging of it because we've been training you for 50 levels to do this, it becomes instinct, but then we're trying to scale up how hard it is, especially in the dungeons and it's lots of fun.

I'm trying to think of some of the fights we do at level 50, there's one called “Raina” (sic, apologies if the name is inaccurate, I declined to ask for a precise spelling) and she does this thing, imagine a wall of fire coming at you where there is only one small opening and the walls of fire keep coming so you're trying to squeeze through these openings and finally you get to her and interrupt her, lots of fun!



Action oriented combat naturally raises the entry level for skill, Do you feel like the telegraph system could prevent some people from enjoying the game versus a traditional model, particularly those with slower reaction times?

I would say that is a fear, but I'm hoping that it's fun enough that they actually want to play it.

In the over-world zones, I don't think that the telegraphs are too hard, as long as they have the reaction time to manoeuvre out of the way then they should be good.

We try to make the over-world zones a little more friendly to casual players. Where it starts to get difficult is if these players want to participate in hardcore group content such as dungeons and raids, or even PvP, but if they enjoy the over-world stuff whilst being immersed in a great world then I think the balance should be good enough that they shouldn't have too many issues.



That's all for part 1, come back later this week for part 2 where Chris and I discuss Crowd Control and Elder Game combat!


@AllstarMMO writes:
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