WildStar: State of the Beta

While I’m glad to see the WildStar dev team seriously addressing major gameplay issues (that have been leaked by closed beta testers for months now), it’s a bit concerning that for all their “next gen action combat”, they ignored some of the fundamental group, XP earning, questing, and overall gameplay issues. It also sounds like the betas are on hold for further fixes and will resume “sometime later this year”. Given they’re expecting to launch in 2013, me thinks they need to investigate whether that can even stay on track with how many other issues are still affecting gameplay. Most players want a release pushed back if the game’s not ready for primetime.



During each phase of beta, I try to make a big post to the testers about the feedback we’ve received and the things we were doing to address it. Based off the feedback we’ve seen in CBT2 and CBT3, we’ve decided to make some big changes to address the hottest topics we’ve been seeing, both from our beta testers as well as from outside sources (Yes, that means you, guy who comments on all the leaks). We wanted to take some time to communicate those changes to our wider community as well, to bring you into our plans a little earlier than usual to give an idea of how we react to feedback. There are two main areas we are working on updating:

There’s no “player choice” involved in character progression

We’ve gone through two iterations of the Milestone system so far, but we never really spoke about it publicly because it wasn’t in a place we were happy with. The first version allowed you to slot passive abilities alongside your active abilities, but were tied to hitting certain stat thresholds to unlock them. The second version removed the “slotting” and simply unlocked more milestones as your stats increased. Long story short, the system was purely gear-based, and players didn’t like that their character had no progression on its own.

The Combat team has been working on a design of a new player progression system which allows you to customize your character’s development as you level through the game. It’s a little early to reveal any details about the new system, but the design of it has been completed and is moving on to the implementation stages.

Mob tagging and shared quest credit are not emblematic of a modern MMO.

Our solution to this hotly debated topic is by far the biggest change we’ve got planned, and it will fundamentally change the entire quest system in our game. After taking a step back and evaluating our current questing system, we’ve come up with a redesign that we believe addresses the concerns our players have expressed about the current quest/tagging system while remaining true to the vision of WildStar.

So, what is this change? Well, it comprises two major shifts in design:

  1. We are going to remove numerical quest objectives from the game (i.e. “Kill X Vinds” and “Collect X Sentient Veggies”) and instead introduce a “quest completion bar.” For kill quests, this bar will increment the player’s quest progress in relation to the amount of XP earned. For other quests, this bar will simply increment in set amounts for each completed interaction. This helps improve the system in the following ways:
    • By basing quest completion off XP gains, players can now choose to go after larger targets or smaller targets and earn quest progress appropriate for those choices. While killing harder things is slower, you will earn more quest progress for it. Those who prefer to fight easy things will kill faster, but progress more slowly for it.
    • This approach also helps groups stay on target for leveling progression. Even though groups will destroy creatures much faster, they will need to kill more in order for each player to earn the credit needed to complete the quest objective.
  2. By making this change, we have the opportunity to remove mob tagging, with regards to XP, from the game. XP gained per mob death will generally be based on the amount of damage a player contributes to that kill. This will still encourage players to group (where they would get full XP credit for the kill rather than a percentage), but also encourages players to help out a passerby in the open world in order to receive a comparable XP reward.
  3. One of the concerns that came up repeatedly from the beta community was how we would account for pure-support characters with this new system? The simple answer is that we expect players will group with other players, as they do in the current system. The longer answer is that by speccing your character to play a pure-support role, to the exclusion of all damage-dealing abilities, you are building a role meant to work in conjunction with other players. Grouping will remain the primary method for this. That being said, we are investigating ways to make grouping much easier to do. We want grouping to be useful enough to our players that they not avoid it out of convenience, so anything we introduce to simplify the act of grouping will build on that intention.
  4. Another concern that’s come up is the question of “in-group” rewards. That is, once your support character joins a group, he’ll still get less XP than his DPS brethren. This is not the case now, and it will not be the case in the future. XP distribution in a group is already based on the amount of damage the group does to a target, and is shared among all members of the group. Your class and spec do not matter.
  5. Our current plan is to have some minimum threshold of damage that needs to be done before credit can be earned. This is an example of a design challenge for us, because we have to find the right damage threshold, where we catch most of the people who are using cherry-tapping to take advantage of other players, while catching as few legitimate players as possible.

Wow, that was a lot to go through, and that’s only a few of the major things we’ve been tracking from our beta test. As you can see, we’re making some complex system changes to the game based on the huge amount of feedback we received during the first three phases of beta. Now the teams are going to be putting their heads down and work on implementing the changes we talked about above as well as lots of other changes in preparation for the next phase of beta, which will start later this year.

We want to extend a huge thanks to the beta testers from CBT1 through 3, as well as all the Stress Testers who’ve helped push our servers to their limit so far. We’ll be starting back up later this year, and will make sure we both invite our old testers back to see the changes as well as bring new testers into the fold to get us some great new first impressions. We’ll be back before you know it!

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