Today’s segment of a Visit to Carbine details the interviews I conducted with developers who focus on Itemization, Housing, and the in-game economy. We went over some basics of the systems and discussed new ideas coming down the pike for improvements. The first part of this series is available here.
My next stop was the triple threat interviews of Lead Systems Designer Joe Piepiora, Game System Engineer Aaron Chard, and Systems Designer Evan Graziano. We started off with the new décor items that came in with the drop this past week, and Piepiora was quick to point out that they had only added approximately 20 to 30 new items, not the 200 figure that had been floating around the internet. Naturally, with the new Defile areas, items based on that style were now going to be available, such as exonite building blocks, some activatable items going in, some chairs to sit in, and lamps to activate. They also said there was a Black Focus item that will be available. When queried about new craftable décor items, Piepiora said there weren't any new schematics for Architects to craft in this drop, but they had some new things coming for that tradeskill down the pipe. We also discussed that there is a unique décor item that players can acquire by completing the epic story, basically a lore trophy, and it was pointed out that players who complete various Tales from the Fringe pieces will get a poster to hang in their home of that story's cover. In this most recent drop, new trophies were included for killing bosses, so players can plunk the head of a boss in their house if they managed to loot the trophy. Piepiora also hinted at some surprises coming up as well.
One of the more common questions about housing, directed at Aaron Chard, was the notion of guild and neighborhood housing, an expanded version of the current communities available in the game. Right now, approximately 5 people can already do so, and they can make pretty substantial structures, but there wasn't any discussion of making that any larger. I also asked about racial styles and décor available, such as for the Mechari or Mordesh. Dark skies were already in there, but something like full-blown houses was a way off due to needing art resources. Chard also stated that there will be more décor options, music, and items coming up. They are also working on adding more sky options for the various races.
Back in September, Graziano had posted a roadmap on the forums for itemization improvements that included gear progression and endgame crafting materials obtained from group content, and I asked him how that was going. He said there are gear progression changes for the drop coming in the first quarter of next year, but there weren't plans for crafting drop changes. However, Joe Piepiora said it was a massive undertaking with the gear progression changes. Graziano clarified his statements on a previous livestream about crafting gear, how they were discussing getting more powerful gear for crafters to be able to make, but they wanted it to be a challenge. While not in this most recent drop, they're looking into adding schematics and materials into raid drops.
We discussed gear tiers and how they were planning out more transitional gear between the various group options at endgame between Veteran dungeons and Adventures, and looking to smooth out some of the roadblocks to players gearing up and tackling harder content. Joe Piepiora added they did add a few new schematics to rare drops in Genetic Archives, not full sets of gear, but pieces that will help the overall problem.
A gear overhaul was discussed, including replacing certain pieces of gear that were not statted correctly and not being as useful to various classes, and I asked what the latest news was on that particular matter. Graziano explained that they intend to completely change the loot tables for group content so that items will drop that will better fit the classes intended, and the old items wouldn't be available any more. They plan on adding a sell price to those old pieces of gear so that players can trade their way to the new ones without being penalized. It won't be a straight trade, but players with the old gear won't have to start all over again in order to gain the new items. Graziano added that there will be a separate currency for this and otherwise trading out gear that didn't have the best fit in terms of stats. He said they also wanted to enable players who had run dungeon and raid content repeatedly but had poor luck in drops to be able to earn their way into buying the correctly-statted gear straight up from a specific vendor.
We also went over actual raid tokens that will be introduced in the next quarterly drop. They can be looted from bosses in Genetic Archives and Datascape and cover all three primary kinds of armor, heavy, medium, and light for every gear slot. The goal here is to ensure fewer wasted drops and Graziano stated that these would also grant the most powerful gear for their level and would have a guaranteed Omni slot which would make them even more powerful.
Shifting to the in-game economy, I asked Joe Piepiora how the conversion to Megaservers had impacted the economy. He said that they'd had a couple of strong markets before, but the transition had naturally increased the number of transactions going on. He then added that they'd seen the price of CREDD go up since the merge [author's note: this was before the big exploit that severely impacted the global economy that abnormally drove CREDD prices up until there was a mass banning of accounts that used the exploit]. He said he was satisfied with how the economy was behaving, and that included CREDD, so they had no changes planned for it at this time.
I also got a definitive answer regarding Boom Boxes. We'd heard about the notion of Boom Boxes 2.0, and people were concerned that if they were sitting on a stack of the existing ones, whether they'd be automatically converted to the 2.0 loot table or if they'd still be able to keep opening them in the hopes of the Equivar or Warpig mounts. I was told unequivocally that the existing Boom Boxes remain exactly the same with the same loot tables, but there will be other Boom Boxes in the future with completely new rare items. However, they're looking into the notion of being able to trade a 1.0 Boom Box for a 2.0 version. Joe Piepiora said that they were taking in all the feedback from players regarding the 1.0 loot tables, particularly about the items that dropped that were less than well-received, and looking to improve the quality of the 2.0 loot table.
We then turned our attention to guilds and systems to increase guild recruitment or incentivize smaller guilds to be able to manage the larger-end content such as raids and Warplots. Piepiora said they were working on a guild recruitment system that would hopefully be coming in soon. They have no system planned for formal merges, but Circles and alliances are being looked at. However, he said they need more player feedback to find out what the playerbase is wanting. He added that a shared calendar service is being internally discussed and that mercenaries were definitely helping with Warplots.
Our next subject was the Mentoring and Rallying systems, and I'd noted that hardly anyone I knew used the systems because they didn't feel like they got anything out of them. Piepiora mentioned the increased Renown players got for Mentoring down to run with their lower-level friends, but added that they were planning on expanding the Renown system to have more items available for purchase at the vendors, including an entry-level set of raid gear for brand new level 50s sometime down the pipeline. He added that this was all part of the overall conversation they were having internally about encouraging players to group up more often.
Turning back to guild recruiting, Joe Piepiora said that he thought automated guild recruitment tools were a disservice to players. He's looking at building a system where a guild would need to have a recruiter online to accept players, so that a player seeking a guild has some kind of human interaction before he or she accepts an offer to join that guild. He then said he wanted to added a calendar, they know what they want to do with it. It's not currently being worked on but it's the next thing on their docket in this regard. Beyond that, they're interested in getting feedback from players, suggestions for tools and methods to help increase these sorts of social interactions. He added that Circles are working, allowing for shared groups across guilds. Piepiora noted that most of them were used for crafting, a few for PVP, and some housing networks. On the other hand, he observed that he hasn't gotten a lot of feedback on the Rival system, and he suspected that most players might not be fully aware of what it entailed or how it worked. More feedback on that from the playerbase would be helpful.
That wraps up the second part of my visit to Carbine. Check back soon for the third and final article detailing my last two interviews with the WildStar developers.