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State of the Game Interview - Part 1

Gareth Harmer Posted:
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MMORPG.Com: How do you personally feel now that WildStar is out there as a living, breathing thing?

Roth: Developing an MMO, it’s your baby, you’ve been working on it for so long and it’s so isolated. And then you send it out into the world, and you’re just like [look of anxious fear]. And we’ve been really pleased with the reaction so far. I play the game a ton myself, I just got attuned to raids a week or so ago, and I got my first foray into Genetic Archives, and I had a blast with the group I’m playing with. So yeah, it’s a little terrifying when you hit the button and the game goes live, but it’s an exhilarating terror.

It’s funny because there’s this kind of dual persona that we take on as developers. There’s me the developer, and then there’s me the player. And when I’m playing the game I’m like ‘Oh no, we need to change that, we need to fix this, but this is awesome!’ And then there’s me coming into work in the morning, and being like ‘me the designer has to evaluate my previous concerns,’ and ‘what was the root of what I was saying?’

We have a much more analytical approach than just, in the heat of the moment ‘I’m playing the game and this is what I’m thinking right now’. And it’s something that the players have – the moment-to-moment experience is not something you want to ignore. Whether it meets the top-down view of the developer looking at the whole game, the moment-to-moment experience of the boots-on-the-ground players is most important.

MMORPG.Com: One of the things that Carbine chose to do was court the hardcore market. But when you have classes with issues, is it still fair to say that it’s a hardcore game?

Roth: The way that I like to think about WildStar is that there’s something for everybody, but not everything is for everybody. You’ve got your solo content that is more bite-size, and then you’ve got your dungeons that are a considerable step up in difficulty, and then raids that are super challenging. It’s a balancing game for where we focus our development on, but we want to make sure we don’t forsake anybody, because they are all valid players that we want to have something to enjoy. Continuing to develop more of everything is the mantra and focusing on making those polished releases.

MMORPG.Com: Jon, you were on a livestream once with a Vindball t-shirt?

Jon Wiesman: Yeah, I have it with me – I should have worn it today. From before it was even called WildStar, before the planet was called Nexus, the planet was Meridia at that time.

Roth: Yeah, you can see it actually says Meridia on the shirt.

MMORPG.Com: I like the PvP instances, but it’s all very much Serious Business. Will we actually see some of that Vindball creep into WildStar?

Sparks: I know that at various times we have prototyped versions of Vindball. I don’t know if it’s actually still on the schedule. I think it’s something that we always want to do, but when we have free time and are able to. Right now, we’re focusing on polishing up what’s in the game, that players are currently playing, but then any time we get free time I think it’s just one of those things that we always wanted to do.

Roth: There is some sort of casual, goofy gameplay that players may see in some upcoming content.


MMORPG.Com: One of the things Gaffney used to bang on about was the importance of having a UI that was extensible and modifiable. How do you feel that’s actually gone?

Wiesman: I’ve been really pleased. It’s a very good thing to see the enthusiasm from the addon developers, and all the different crazy ideas that they’ve put out there. Some of the addons, I load them up and they just make me laugh, not because they’re bad but because they’re so original. It’s a very satisfying feeling to know that I was able to facilitate that, because that’s what I see my main role as – someone who facilitates all the creative people to do their creative things. For me it’s been very satisfying.

The only thing I wish was better, was just failures on our part, where I wish we had more documentation and more tutorials, which are coming online but they’re behind where I’d like them to be. As far as the response from the community, it’s exceeded my expectations. I always knew there’d be cool things – I used to give a spiel where I’d say I know that right after we launch, there’s going to be some crazy UIs, and people are going to look at it and say ‘Oh my gosh, is that WildStar?’ But I’m ready for that, I’m embracing that craziness. It’s just been so neat seeing some of the things that people have come up with; it’s really awesome.

MMORPG.Com: What’s been the most frustrating thing about it?

Wiesman: The most frustrating thing is Lua is a 1-based indexing language, which is my own personal pet peeve. Actually for me, the most frustrating thing is not having the resources at the end to do all the tutorials. I don’t know if you saw that one video – we actually shot a video a year ago that was supposed to be the first in a series of tutorials that we were going to do, and soon after that the WildStar flicks became the their own phenomenon with Frosty doing his Frosty thing, understandably that whole team was doing that, so UI addons - ‘We don’t have time for that.’

But when it comes down to it, with limited resources, if you have to choose between supporting addon developers or making sure the game is as polished as possible, you’re always going to, because that can be done later. I understand it, I wish I could have cloned myself so I could have done more work, but we’re getting it done now.

MMORPG.Com: Have you ever been cheesed off at player ingenuity?

Wiesman: No. No. No way. No.

One of the addons that got created in beta was made by Scelestic. It was an addon that, in beta, purported to let you inspect another player. But what it really did was, any time you went near a mailbox, and you were using this addon, it would mail all your things to him. So as soon as you went near a mailbox and opened up your bags everything was gone. And it was the funniest thing.

Obviously we can’t let something like that go live, so actually we made API changes because of it. That’s why there are protected buttons in the game – you can blame Scelestic for the buttons where you hover over and then they fill up. Protected buttons are a result of that, because my philosophy – I think we’ve talked about it before – is there’s no difference between an external addon and a Carbine addon.

So I was like ‘how are we going to protect the player from an addon that wants to send mail? We could have this button which, when you hover over it, shows this tooltip that that’s not moddable, which says exactly what that buttons’ going to do, and you have to hover over it a certain amount of time so that you see the tooltip, and that’s how we solved that problem.

He actually put it on the forums and said ‘Hey everybody, I’m trying to do something here.’ It wasn’t like he was trying to get away with anything; it was just hilarious.

My feeling on things like that is if we make the API in such a way that it exposes an exploit, then that’s on us, that’s something that we have to fix. I’m not going to blame a player for using the tools that I’ve given them in order to make his game experience better. So no, I never get frustrated with player ingenuity, it’s challenging, but it’s fun.

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Gareth Harmer

Gareth Harmer / Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.