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Carbine | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 06/03/14)  | Pub:NCSoft
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Interviews: The Gaffer Speaks - Part 1

By Jean Prior on April 17, 2014

The Gaffer Speaks - Part 1

MMORPG.com:  What's one system or feature that you want to see in the game that isn't, it's so far out there it's not even on a wall of crazy?

Gaffer:  Here's one thing I would like.  I would probably argue about this because I don't think our raid teams would like it.  I don't care how people do it, I just think it would be fun and I think it addresses a need.  I would like to have Million Newbie Weekends, where we take the raids and the hardcore content and we bump up the caps on them and so we say 'this weekend, 40-man raid? Eh.  Attunement pre-reqs?  Nope, don't exist this weekend!  300-person cap, just go in there.'  One of the tricks with newbies and casuals is that they may never actually see that raiding content.  In vanilla WoW, I played up to 50 with my Rogue at launch, or 60, I forget, and no one needed Rogues because DPS for Rogue wasn't as good as Mage at the time, and nobody needed me in raids.  I never got to see the raiding stuff.  I had to make a whole other character and go up and eventually do a few in the Burning Crusade timeframe. 

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And so, giving people an experience, I personally think it would be hysterical watching 300 n00bs flailing around trying to zerg whatever the first boss is.  And they'd die in droves, it takes so much coordination in raids, they probably wouldn't even be able to beat it, raids are harder actually with more people, but they'd get in and get to experience it.  And they get to see a shot of it, and god forbid they actually manage to zerg rush a mob and they get one drop and then like one of these n00bs here is going to roll against 300 other people to see if they get that deep purple that dropped.  I think personally that would be awesome.  It's possible that the hardcore will be 'dammit, want these newbies in our stuff at all', it's possible our raiding team will be like 'no', or there may be technical reasons, but honestly, it's something I'd love to add at some point for a special occasion.  Not all the time, but every now and again, just be like 'okay, try it out!'  And it's a good teaser, it's the aspirational stuff, it makes people get hardcore enough to try themselves because they've seen 'oh my god, it's cool!'

MMORPG.com:  Everyone always asks which faction, Exile or Dominion, but I'm going to turn that question around a little bit.  When you play the game, which race is your favorite and can you tell us why?

Gaffer:  Actually, I choose my faction based on race, because my favorite races are Chua and Granok, because Chua are just so full of personality.  Their questlines are always so amusing, and I just like psychopathic hamsters looking to blow everything up.  It just appeals to me innately.  The Granok's one of the first races we added to the game and so I've been a fan of them from old school.  I actually don't usually stress about Exile or Dominion, you want to choose a race, in my mind, often more than the faction might appeal.   I think new players coming into the game, you don't know enough about Exile or Dominion to make a choice, you'll choose your race based probably on what it looks like.  I don't think people read enough of the text.  I think we need to do a better job with Paths, explaining what they are, they're kind of a new system. We probably need more than a little blurb leading you into what's such an important choice for you.  [Because you can't change it later. - Jean]  Right, or make it so you can change it later, but if your path is about what kind of player you are, is it valid if you've leveled up to level 5 as an Explorer and then switch over, is that exploitable in the endgame?  Is it something that is relatively easy to level up with and then do whatever you think is best for your guild or raid that you're doing?  It seems less cool to me, but 'less cool' is a tough thing to design around.  

MMORPG.com:  Now it's time for that question... when the patch went in that altered the female characters, there was a massive outcry. Many fans (to be fair, mostly guys) were upset at the reduction, while a number of lady gamers applauded the decision. Where did that decision come from within Carbine? Was it simply an artistic decision or was there some component of the famous 'the devs are listening' that prompted a look at the issue?

Gaffer:  So, here's my take on it, and it's only my take, because everyone has their own set of opinions, and I have a different view on it than many.  Where that decision Came from is, I was part of it, I talked to [Matt] Mocarski, who's our art director, I talked to the designers.  We talked to the technical side, because some of that would have been nice to be able to do body sliders, because at the end of the day, our game is not really about... I mean, we're about psychopathic hamsters running around in Chua balls, we're not really about 'let's over-sexualize everything'.  We're not really about... but we're also not staying away from it, play it however the hell you want to play it. 

So, sliders would have been the best answer.  Unfortunately, they were technically impossible, and I posted that.  Literally later that day, Mocarski comes over and says 'hey, you know that thing I told you was impossible?  I think I just figured it out...'  I'm like 'Dammit!  I could have used this information about four hours ago.'  So, it's me, it's talking to Mocarski, it's talking to David as part of the community team to sort of gauge what the community reaction was because you have to be a little careful.  You want to be reactive, you don't want to be overreactive.  It's tough because if you change something every time any group doesn't like something, you'll shave off all ends of your game.  You can't be a game with no rough edges, you end up being nothing.  My guesstimate on it is this:  We had a series of changes not too far before, we'd never really heard feedback like that before, it very much surprised me when I heard it. 

We changed the starting outfit, we changed the camera angle of character creation, a few other things I'm blanking on.  We made those changes over a patch or two before, but it all added up that there was too much skin on the newbie outfit, you couldn't change your newbie outfit.  We don't mind having outfits with skin on them, but it shouldn't be the outfit when you don't have a choice.  That's dumb.  If we gave you five options, and one of them has skin on it, then sweet, go nuts.  It's not fair of us though to be like 'hey, here, take a body suit with this', and the camera angles kind of changed to be this top-down thing that was probably more boob-focused than we really thought about one way or the other.  It added up to something that didn't feel was really our intent, so the changes that we made are actually fairly subtle, it's just putting her in a more neutral outfit, the other outfit still exists, it's just an option now, but it's not forced on you.  It's making sure that the whole thing doesn't feel like... the goal of the thing shouldn't be a form of sexuality that you may or may not want. 

And the real answer on that is sliders.  The fact that they were able to solve the technical issue of it is, rigid stuff like armor and breathing stuff, you want your chest to breathe, you want your stomach to breathe, you want all that.  That combination of rigid and breathing and then being able to map that across all the races is technically difficult.  Clipping is a wonderful thing, and then doing all body types with all armors with all hair styles with all emotes?  Nobody ever gets that 100% right.  We do a pretty good job of that.  We're not perfect either, I'm sure you've put your sword through your midsection if you put your mind to it. 

MMORPG.com:  Fan Tiberio had a question similar to one you've answered before about servers, but he was specifically asking about Oceanic servers.  Are there going to be any?

Gaffer:  We're not planning for them for launch.  I've got to admit, we'd love to.  There is a healthy Australian gaming community, and New Zealand, and the real question there is the same one everyone faces and Australians are sick of hearing about it, and is there enough critical mass to not just be able to have the server cost but also the support costs, because you'd like that to be local too.  Back at Origin, there was an outcry for Oceanic servers for a long time, but the supporting of it is hard.  What you don't want to do is go there and then pull out, because then you've pissed off people even more.  It's non-non-non-trivial.  We'll take a look at the sales data and see what it looks like out of those territories and see what we can do that's close or can we combine with Asia as we move into Asia.  That's a good opportunity because at least you're in the same timezones, and so you're providing support and all of that stuff.  There's more opportunities for that in the future, but apologies to Australian players, and bless those who've played at ridiculous, it's ridonkulus lag to the data center in Dallas they've been putting up with.  It'll get a little better in Europe, but it's not as good as it needs to be.  

That's it for today's deluge of The Gaffer!  There's SO much more so be sure to come back tomorrow for Part 2!

Jean Prior / Jean has been writing about MMOs on her blog and via fansites for several years now, taking over the MMORPG duty of writing the SWTOR column in 2014, as well as reviewing other games from time to time. She got into MMOs because of a song. Follow her on twitter @druidsfire. Watch out for horrible puns.