wildstar

When it comes to max level content the Carbine team has been relatively quiet except to say there will be things for everyone to do. Some of these things are raids, events, PvP, dailies & events; and yes it’s called Elder Game not endgame. However, many of the specifics with these systems have been left undisclosed aside from superficial information (like the size of raids). Thankfully the Wildstar panel at PAX East was all about Elder Game content and I was able to talk with Stephan Frost, design producer, for a bit on Saturday and gleaned even more details from him.

Raids Are Hard

No really Carbine’s design philosophy when it comes to raiding is, raiding should be some of the most challenging content in the game. I have seen a number of people claim telegraphs make avoiding damage too easy. Unfortunately this perspective seems based on low level content which is easier because leveling is designed to teach players to deal with these mechanics throughout the process. When it comes to raiding Carbine is taking full advantage of the telegraphs to really challenge players.

Not only are there some pretty wickedly shaped telegraphs used, but when combined with other mechanics (like the floor dropping away) there is little room for error. With a limited amount of dodging allowed reacting at the wrong moment or in the wrong direction can seriously ruin a boss attempt.

One of the examples shown during the panel is a rotating weirdly shaped telegraph. Which doesn’t sound horrible, but with the rate the telegraph is rotating dodges have to be used. If a player happens to misjudge which direction they should go… well it’ll hurt a whole bunch. Or in Frost’s words “these telegraphs will melt your face.”

One of my favorite mechanics shown during the panel was a raid group fighting a boss on a bunch of interlocking platforms. There’s a mechanic where a player gets targeted with a “bomb” type effect. The way it seemed to be meant to work, is the player should jump off the platform… which in general is the last thing most people would think of doing. If done wrong however, well the guys in the stream wiped half their raid in one hit. Though it looked like there is potential if it’s done really wrong, a player could take out their entire raid team at once.

In addition the Carbine team is redefining trash mobs as “base population” and it’s not just a name change. Trash mobs will actually drop real loot and will have real mechanics to defeating them. As someone who generally hates trash mobs I am actually happy about this change. Most of the reason I hate trash, is because trash always seems pointless and just there to slow the group down. If the trash actually has some real mechanics and real loot it’ll be a huge improvement on the current state of things!

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder Game

Imbuements

One thing I hadn’t heard the Carbine team talk about much before is some items will have an imbuement which is basically a quest or task the player will have to accomplish to unlock more power on a item. Examples of tasks are killing a particular boss, collecting a certain number of items, max reputation with some faction, and other things along these lines. The items will be pretty good without unlocking these imbuements, but for players who really want to get the full power out of their gear tackling any and all imbuement quests will be something they’ll want to do.

Now personally I love the concept of imbuements. For me it reminds me (and yes I realize it’s not a direct correlation) of  forging Quel’Serrar back in Vanilla WoW. For anyone who was a warrior back then obtaining that sword was an accomplishment, and one where players not only had to kill a specific boss but had to do specific things during the boss fight… clearly it’s a memory I have held on to. As soon as Joe Piepiora mentioned imbuements and started explaining the reasoning behind them, I knew we were getting the type of content which will spawn stories and memories for years to come.

Piepiora also mentioned artifact weapons, which is the top most tier weapons only obtainable from doing the hardest content in Wildstar. Pretty cool. The Artifact Sword he showed off had SIX imbuements on it. As an example of how crazy it does get, at the end of the line on the artifact weapons to unlock the the last power players will have to summon two special bosses (which the group will never have fought before because they only exist for this imbuement) and defeat them at the same time (this is the 80 man raid some people have been mentioning). Talk about having a story to share afterwards.

Additionally… say I get this nice shiny artifact sword, great and stuff but then a new raid tier comes out. Well time to toss the old sword in the bank right (or relegate it to only being a costume skin)? Nope. Because of how imbuements work there is the potential to keep adding new imbuements on so I could keep powering that sword up and use it for a long long time. Not only is this prospect exciting, it’s also a great motivation to do some of these super hard requirements.

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder Game

Story Instances

Story Instances are instances designed for a solo player to really delve into the deeper lore behind Wildstar. The player is guided through these encounters by A NPC everyone meets during the standard leveling quests named Drusera. Starting at level 35 the story instances will guide players to a deeper understanding of the history of the planet Nexus and what is currently going on.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve seen this content because you’ve met Drusera. Story Instances have not made it into beta, and might not be there at all until launch. Which makes me sad, though I understand testing group content in beta is a higher priority for a multitude of reasons. Also, if these were already in beta some jerk probably would have written about it and spoiled all the mysteries for everyone else. /whistles innocently

Another aspect I really like about Story Instances is they can be leveraged to propel the story forward in the future. While there undoubtedly will be some story in the raids, most of the story will be told in these instances instead. As someone who is always unhappy to have to skip cut scenes because I don’t want to get left behind, I really appreciate this separation.

One part of Story Instances I am curious about, and unfortunately forgot to ask Stephan Frost about, is if Story Instances can be done in a group at all. I have friends who enjoy the story and lore in games as much as I do and it is nice to be able to go through the story parts with them when we can. Sure we can, and will, talk about what happened after but it’s not the same as experiencing it for the first time together.

wildstar mmorpg features 2 featured     Lets Talk About Wildstars Elder Game

The Takeaway

One thing Frost emphasized when I was talking with him is the Carbine team is focused like a laser on making sure there is plenty of Elder Game available not only at launch but also in the months following launch. As someone who watched SWTOR implode firsthand, knowing Wildstar isn’t just planning for the launch itself but what will happen immediately afterwards is reassuring. It’s also good to know they are planning for more than just raid content updates.

Now if I could just find out how exactly a group captures a raid boss to use on their Warplot…

GET 20% OFF YOUR WILDSTAR PRE-ORDER!

With the Wildstar NDA gone, the community has been discussing the ins and outs of the game. This editorial will weigh in on how the combat can teach us the importance of attack and response animation synchronization.

I have had the chance to play during two different beta weekends and I really enjoyed the game, but something bothered me about the combat. At the time of playing, I couldn’t figure out what it was. Something just didn’t feel like it was connecting and, as a result, the combat felt very floaty and weak.

With the NDA lifted, I have been thinking about it more often as to create an opportunity to write about it. Although I’m not in the beta proper, I have been watching video after video trying to figure out what about the combat didn’t sit well with me. Even when watching footage of the game, instead of playing it, I observed the same lack of weight and power in the combat.

Eventually, I realized what it was; when hit, the enemy and player avatar do not have a consistent response animation. Now, you might be thinking, “Hang on a minute, that’s standard in MMOs,” and you’d be right. Most developers do not bother with a consistent response animation attached to being hit with an attack. However, most of those MMOs don’t have action combat like Wildstar’s.

Why the Combat Feels Off

Wildstar’s combat is very involved and engaging. It was so much fun that I completely forgot how mundane the questing experience was (although I didn’t mind that so much as I was reading and appreciating the lore). Yet, it is that very engagement that highlights the lacking animations so much.

When I’m playing World of Warcraft, the attack and response animations are very inconsistent and even sometimes nonexistent. I can use mutilate on my rogue and the target won’t even flinch from being gutted by two daggers. Even so, the combat feels fluid and seems to have an appropriate weight because of the lack of involvement. I don’t need to aim nor do I even have to be particularly close to the enemy for the attack to connect. Not to mention, I have a constant auto-attack and I don’t need to worry about the enemy moving out of the way of my ability – mutilate will simply hit the target, no questions asked.

With Wildstar, however, that engagement is there. I need to pay attention not only to where the enemy is, but where the enemy will be. I’m not looking at the numbers to see I’m doing damage, I’m looking at the enemy itself and that makes all the difference in the world. On one hand, this is a really good thing. It means that Carbine has successfully created a combat system that shifts the focus from the hot and health bars to the action on the screen. On the other hand, it makes the combat feel floaty and light. I can swing a giant sword at an enemy and it’ll pass through their skull as if it were incorporeal.

This really makes the combat feel off for me. It’s like something is missing from the equation and the error is blazingly obvious at all times. I’m sure the more I play it, the less I’ll notice it, but it’s incredibly obvious right now.

How Can it be Fixed?

First of all, I don’t think this is something they should be focusing on right now. There are much more important issues to correct before the June 3rd launch date, such as optimization… Seriously, Carbine, please work on that optimization.

However, there is one simple thing they could do to make it feel better (even though it is probably FAR more complicated than I’m making it seem). They could simply add the occasional collision animation. It doesn’t have to happen all the time, but seeing it every once in a while would really make the combat feel heavier than it already does.

I’m actually reminded of Neverwinter’s combat and animation. It’s no secret that I consider Neverwinter to be the epitome of action combat (now if only the rest of the game could be that good). It feels heavy, has impact, and is unmatched by other MMO combat. It doesn’t even have a consistent response animation, the enemies often just freeze when hit, but even that gives a far more visceral feeling to the combat than usual. If Carbine could implement something similar, it would go a long way in emulating that viscerality.

Wrap-Up and Questions

Wildstar’s combat is, arguably, the best part of the game. It’s fairly innovative and actually requires attention and focus to execute. However, it’s plagued by lacking animations that are making it feel lightweight, when in reality it is quite a heavy and involved combat system. Regardless, the combat is so much fun that, whether they fix the problem or I just get used to it, the game will still consume many hours of my life.

So, what do you think of Wildstar’s combat? Have you noticed that same feeling as I have or am I just going crazy? Do you have any idea what class you’re going to play? (It’ll be Medic for me!) Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured Image Credit: Carbine Studios

This week on TWIMMO: Elder Scrolls Online controversy, WildStar release date and more!

First off, we’ll let’s you guys know that WildStar finally has a release date of June 3rd and for Warlord’s of Draenor there’s the “on or before” december 20th. No Collector’s Edition for WildStar by the way. Zenimax has gotten a little flack recent with the cash shop and also defends their subscription model.

A Little Cash Shop Controversy

Studio General Manager, Matt Firor answered some questions to ZAM.com about ESO. Firor confirmed that at launch there will be a horse in the cash shop. Of course, seeing that the game has a subscription fee, some players are a bit upset about this. I can’t blame them. Ideally, your subscription fee should allow you to get everything. However, with the addition of a cash shop, these type of things in the cash shop was expected. Check out the show for the hosts’ opinions.

Defending The Subscription Fee

Bethesda’s Vice President of PR Pete Hines defended the subscription fee over at Gamespot:

We feel pretty strongly about the support we’re going to have for the game and what you’re going to get for those dollars, – We’re also very confident in our ability to support it with content. And not content of the magnitude of, it’s a new month, here’s a new sword or here’s a funny hat–but content that is real and significant and it feels like regular and consistent DLC releases.

Well, I have to admit, it’s a decent answer. If they pull it off well, then I can’t really see any huge complaints.

We have a lot more content to look forward to on future TWIMMO episodes with the highly anticipated MMO games getting closer to release. So be sure to return next week for your weekly dose of MMO news.

The MMO community has been in debate over non-disclosure agreements the past couple weeks, particularly when they should and should not be lifted. The big question seems to be “when does a game’s NDA start being destructive to its image?”

Between the overnight-NDA-drop of EverQuest Next: Landmark and the barely cracked open press-NDA-drop of The Elder Scrolls Online, non-disclosure agreements have been the talk of the town for the past few weeks. At the moment, there are high-profile examples of each level of NDA philosophy that help illuminate the helpfulness and harmfulness of the policy.

On one extreme, we have Landmark which held an NDA for less than twenty-four hours regardless of its many crashes, bugs, and all-around alpha state. This is an extreme that isn’t seen much, especially in major, triple-A MMORPGs.

In the middle, we have Wildstar which does not have a release date, nor are you able to pre-order, and has lifted the NDA for the first fifteen levels. In general, this seems to be your industry standard NDA.

On the other extreme, we have ESO which is launching in less than two months and has made the NDA only slightly ajar for select press members, regardless of the fact that you can pre-order the standard, digital, and collector’s edition of the game. The general community consensus, especially after the largely negative first impressions of the press lift, is that the NDA has become very destructive to the game.

Each formula has benefits and drawbacks which can be easily illuminated by a familial simile. This editorial will take a look at the state of each NDA and will estimate when an NDA becomes destructive to its respective game.

mmorpg     What Can We Learn From Non Disclosure Agreements?

Image Credit: Sony Online Entertainment

EverQuest Next: Landmark

When John Smedley tweeted out about the lifted NDA from the Landmark alpha, the internet was surprised, to say the least. SOE’s NDA philosophy frankly seems insane. Not only are they allowing anyone to stream, create videos on, and write about Landmark, they’re offering refunds for anyone who isn’t happy with the alpha.

On one hand, it’s incredibly consumer-friendly. Everyone gets to follow the game’s development and see its problems and progress. On the other hand, it’s very dangerous for the game because, regardless of the fact that it’s in alpha, some people will see the current state and instantly disregard the game for not being complete, never to look at it again.

Naturally, this risky strategy has provided Landmark with a massive amount of publicity, most of which has been very positive, regardless of the many problems the game has. The biggest complaint I have seen is how often the servers are down, which is to be expected. There is barely any “this game is so broken, SOE shouldn’t be charging for it” (the lack of this complaint is definitely to be attributed to the refund service). Players of the alpha and spectators alike seem to have nothing but confidence.

However, that doesn’t mean immediately dropping the NDA is a universally good thing. In fact, it’s pretty much nonsensical. The fact of the matter is first impressions are REALLY IMPORTANT (just look at ESO, but we’ll get to that) and, for many, the first impression of Landmark was a crashed server and tons of lost progress. So, how is SOE getting away with it? To be honest, I think it’s because Landmark is a creative tool. The gameplay itself looks very boring and tedious, right now, but the stuff players have created look incredible! Just take a look a Smedley’s and David Georgeson’s twitters for proof of that. This is a game rooted in creativity and that’s why even the alpha can be fascinating and fun. Its lack of an NDA is not as destructive because the content is so fluid and dynamic.

Landmark is like the hyperactive and cheery youngest child in the MMO family. It loves to show off everything it makes and is very vocal about all of its problems. Everyone thinks its adorable, but it can still be very annoying at times.

mmorpg     What Can We Learn From Non Disclosure Agreements?

Image Credit: Carbine Studios

Wildstar

Carbine seems to have their NDA in a near-perfect spot. They’ve lifted what they feel comfortable with and that’s all there is to it. I have a feeling that more will be lifted soon, but even what we have seen has had a decent amount of substance.

Wildstar is at a point of calm before the storm. If they’re still looking at a spring launch window, it can’t be long until we see a pre-order option pop up and that’s when, at least in my opinion, they will completely lift the NDA (or at least lift a significant amount more of it). According to a recent Reddit post, not even Carbine knows exactly when the game will launch, so nobody can be sure when this is going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, Wildstar has neither succeeded nor failed yet. It has been handling its NDA well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t screw it up from this point forward. In fact, considering the current recurring opinion on NDAs, even Wildstar’s could quickly become destructive.

For now, Wildstar appears to be the sensible and responsible middle child of the MMO family. It’s quiet and reserved, but still has a lot to say when it wants to. It shows off only what it feels is great and holds the rest for a later date. Everyone has high expectations for its future (and it looks bright), but are simultaneously worried it could become a massive disappointment.

mmorpg     What Can We Learn From Non Disclosure Agreements?

Image Credit: Zenimax Online Studios

The Elder Scrolls Online

ESO is clearly in a rough spot. Its NDA is closed up tight, with only a tiny amount of the press allowed to report on the game… and those reports have been largely negative. Before the press-NDA lift, I was cautiously optimistic about the game (emphasis on “cautiously”). After seeing the many first impressions, I’m flat out pessimistic.

Now, I understand that there is more to the game, but as was stated earlier, first impressions are REALLY IMPORTANT! There are many who are in the beta and enjoying the game, but everyone not in beta have only what the press has provided as reference for the game’s quality. With the full NDA still in place for the general population, the amount they have lifted has been very destructive to the game’s image.

People have pre-ordered the game, spending anywhere from $60-$100, and it doesn’t look very good! I don’t like to use this term because developers work very hard on their games, but ESO seems more and more like a cash-grab every day. That doesn’t mean the game won’t be good, but confidence is very low right now and I’m not the only one who feels that way.

So, what do Bethesda and Zenimax need to do? It’s really simple, actually. Just as was stated on TWIMMO, they need to drop the NDA. At this point, it can’t possibly hurt them more than the NDA already has. There have been whispers that the game gets better as the player progresses, which is a commonality in MMOs, but the general populace has not seen any of it at all. It is impossible to deny that the NDA has not been incredibly destructive to ESO’s image.

ESO is like the oldest child in the MMO family. It spends massive amounts of time holed-up in its room and we’re never really sure what it’s doing. All we do know is it isn’t doing very well in school and everyone is nervous around it. Occasionally, it’ll leave its room and show something to the rest of the family, but even that is disappointing. It really needs to take a break from its seclusion, clean up, and spend some time with its family and friends before it’s wisped away to college where it could either be incredibly successful or crash and burn, only to find itself in a dead-end job selling hats and experience boosts through an online store.

Wrap-Up and Questions

Non-disclosure agreements are important. They protect a product’s image and quality when it is in development, while providing a veil of mystery and excitement to the community. Yet, an NDA left unchecked can become very destructive to the product. At this point, I would argue that Wildstar’s NDA is perfect, but is could quickly become problematic. ESO’s NDA is out of control and has been extremely detrimental to its image. Landmark’s, on the other hand, is an anomaly and wouldn’t – ney, shouldn’t –  work as well as it is.

So, what do you think? Do you think Landmark’s NDA is in a good position? What do you think of Wildstar‘s? How about ESO‘s? Let us know in the comments section below!

Featured Image Credit: Zenimax Online Studios

I outline some of my predictions for some of the biggest games and expansions slated for 2014.

This past year has been a great one for gamers everywhere, but 2014 looks to be even greater. I’ve compiled and articulated my thoughts on some of the biggest upcoming games and expansions. The criteria used to determine what games to talk about are (A) the games need to be online, (B) they need multiplayer functionality, and (C) that multiplayer needs to have a cooperative nature. So, without further adieu, here are five of my predictions for 2014.

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg diablo 3 destiny mmorpg     Lucas Gaming Predictions For 2014

The Elder Scrolls Online

I’m excited for ESO, but I don’t think I’m as optimistic as most people. The game looks like a lot of fun, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to shake the MMORPG subgenre to its core. The only thing about the game that seems like it could really engage me is how in-depth the character progression system appears to be. Yet, that’s to be expected from any Elder Scrolls game. This concept is at the core of my predictions for ESO. I think it will be a great Elder Scrolls game, but a lackluster MMORPG. I’m not saying I think it’s going to fail, no. The game is going to do just fine, but I don’t think it’s going to be an amazing massively multiplayer online experience. Solo content will likely be excellent, and small group content will probably be great, but I feel large group content will feel awkward and clustered (that includes PVP). I’m looking forward to ESO, but it has yet to convince me it will be a good MMORPG.

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg diablo 3 destiny mmorpg     Lucas Gaming Predictions For 2014

Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls

Diablo III was a disappointment. It’s pretty hard to argue against that, but Reaper of Souls actually seems like it can revitalize the game. The elimination of the auction houses and the additions to the endgame look to create a much more enjoyable experience. The dungeon diving, loot hoarding, hack n’ slashing fun of the action RPG genre seems to encompass design decisions for the upcoming expansion. Admittedly, I’m beyond cautiously optimistic for Reaper of Souls and have entered the realm of hopeful optimism. We’ll just have to see if the feeling is justified.

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg diablo 3 destiny mmorpg     Lucas Gaming Predictions For 2014

Wildstar

This game looks great, but I’m not convinced it will become the monster of an MMORPG people seem to think. I do not believe the game will succeed World of Warcraft as the biggest MMORPG on the market, even further down the line. On the contrary, I predict Wildstar will remain moderately successful with a smaller, sustainable, and most importantly dedicated playerbase. In order to achieve this, Carbine Studios need to stick to their guns on two things: (1) 40 man raids, and (2) the business model. With the hardcore community in mind, along with many things to do outside of the hardcore scene, this could very well become my MMORPG of choice. 

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg diablo 3 destiny mmorpg     Lucas Gaming Predictions For 2014

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor is shaping up to be the best expansion of all time, at least in my opinion. With a slew of new features and much needed changes to the game’s itemization and mechanics, the quality of the upcoming expansion is bursting at the seams. Not everything about the expansion looks to be golden, but in general it shines. However, that doesn’t mean WoW will suddenly stop declining. The cold, hard fact of the matter is the game is old. I do believe there will be a significant rise of subscribers at expansion launch, possibly even surpassing the Mists of Pandaria launch, but not for long. The game will likely return to its steady decline, but it will still be the top MMORPG on the market for years and years to come. 

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg elder scrolls online mmorpg diablo 3 destiny mmorpg     Lucas Gaming Predictions For 2014

Destiny

Destiny looks absolutely amazing. Knowing Bungie, the gameplay will be a lot of fun and the world will be mysterious and wonderful to explore. With the semi-online nature, co-op will be more fun than it ever was in Halo (and that’s saying a lot) and will make the world seem alive. I can’t wait to play it with my friends, new and old. Destiny will obviously be wildly successful, but the launch may be pretty rocky. I really only have one complaint about what I’ve seen (or rather what I haven’t seen)…

They need to announce this game for PC… Seriously. That being said, assuming they don’t announce it for PC before it releases, this is the game I’m waiting for to pick up a PS4.

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a great 2014 in gaming!

world of warcraft vs wildstar

World of Warcraft vs WildStar! Begin!

Every MMORPG has certain things that another MMORPG does not. So we decided to embrace that theory and provide you with six things World of Warcraft has that WildStar does not. You might want to sit down for this.

 

[hero heading="1) 7 Million Subscribers"]This is quite a huge number! No really, it is 7x larger than 1 million players. WildStar on the other hand has 0 subscribers right now and this obviously means… It must be dead. geek culture 2 entertainment     6 Things World of Warcraft Has That WildStar Does Not![/hero]

 

[hero heading="2) Mac Client"]

geek culture 2 entertainment     6 Things World of Warcraft Has That WildStar Does Not!

Subscription players have money; why else would they be paying a subscription? So it is only natural to think that all these subscription game players own a Mac, one of the most expensive PCs out there. World of Warcraft recognized this and has their game on the Mac, providing all their fans justification for their money well spent.

[/hero]

 [hero heading="3) Elves"]

geek culture 2 entertainment     6 Things World of Warcraft Has That WildStar Does Not!Pointy ears, beautiful faces, wood dwellers…or something like that. If you are a fan of elves then you will need to choose World of Warcraft over WildStar.

Elves are also perhaps one of the only races that a guy can create a male elf and admit they do not mind staring at him from behind. [/hero]

 

 

 

 

[hero heading="4) A Crab As Lead Developer"]

geek culture 2 entertainment     6 Things World of Warcraft Has That WildStar Does Not!If there is one thing I learned in Football it is that going forward never helps, so always go sideways…or maybe it was the other way around.

Either way, World of Warcraft had a crab as a lead developer for years. Not only did this crab advance sideways, but he was a ghost…a blue ghost at that.

WildStar on the other hand only has the cousin of Jack Frost, but he is not as “cool” if you get my drift.[/hero]

 

[hero heading="5) A CM With Epic Hair."]

Just watch the video already!

[/hero]

[hero heading="6) Tab Target Combat"]

geek culture 2 entertainment     6 Things World of Warcraft Has That WildStar Does Not!We are a civilization of advancement always looking for the best way to make things easier so that we can focus on other things such as drinking coffee or eating pizza.

World of Warcraft has one of the best systems to allow for this through the innovation of tab target combat. Simply click the one button to cycle through your enemies and then press 1,2,3,4 and repeat until your enemy is dead.

However, in WildStar you have to still aim with your mouse and it is too easy to slip up and miss something.

Think about it really. In the future do you want to manually control your car or simply tab to your target location and click go?[/hero]

What can we learn from the functionality of mounts and how does Wildstar have a way for them to become more engaging?

Everyone loves obtaining a shiny, new mount. They’re flashy, fun, and very often epic. In most games, however, mounts only serve the purpose of increasing speed or letting the player fly, and many games are designed with mounts in mind (flying or not). At one time, mounts were difficult to obtain and it was a great achievement to gain them. Now, mounts basically grow on trees, at least in most games. Carbine Studios have decided to greatly iterate on mount-functionality and provide specific mechanics for specific mounts. This editorial will first explore the current functionality of mounts and then will delve into how Wildstar is making them more engaging. Finally, I will explain why I believe Wildstar does not need flying mounts.

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     What Can We Learn From MMO Mounts?

Ground Mount Functionality

Ground mounts have an obvious gameplay functionality. They simply provide faster movement speed for the player and serve the purpose of reducing travel time. Ground mount functionality is more varied than most people realize, however. In MMOs without flying mounts or even with no-fly zones, increased speed also means increased leap length. Reaching certain areas may require the additional speed and leap length a ground mount provides. This can also be true for areas that players are not supposed to have access to.

Mounts also seem to justify less built-in fast-travel. Consider Guild Wars 2 for a moment. ArenaNet opted to leave mounts out of the game, but instead provided instant fast-travel all throughout the world. Unless a waypoint is contested, the player can teleport anywhere in the world instantly for a small fee, as long as they have unlocked the waypoint they wish to travel too. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with this, it simply illustrates one of the purposes of mounts in-game.

Ground mounts have obvious purposes, but when flying mounts are implemented into a game, the system gets more complicated. There are virtually no drawbacks to ground mounts, but definite arguments can be made for problems caused by flying mounts.

Flying Mount Functionality

Flying mounts serve all the same purposes as ground mounts, but allow for much faster movement speed, eliminate the need to go around obstacles, and make any above ground area accessible unless specifically blocked off by developers. Because of this, they fundamentally change the purpose of the in-game world and also dramatically shrink the world’s perceived size.

If the player can fly anywhere in the game’s overworld, then what is the purpose of the overworld in the first place? Let’s consider World of Warcraft for this question as it is the most obvious and relatable case. Before flying mounts were implemented, grouping together to do specific content had an added level of effort: getting to the instance or zone. With summoning stones, not all group or raid members had to make their way to the instance, but at least two needed to. At that point, the world still felt massive and immersive. With the introduction of flying mounts, and especially once Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms were included, the difficulty of reaching these places was entirely removed. In the game’s current state, the world feels much smaller than it actually is because everyone has a flying mount that lets them move at almost 400% speed or even higher. Nobody has to deal with obstacles because you can simply fly over or around them.

This may seem overly critical of flying mounts, and I do miss the immersive feeling of having to run everywhere, but at the same time they serve a very important purpose in the current game. The cold, hard fact of the matter is that most players do not play for the game’s world, but for the instanced PVE or PVP content. When looking at the topic from this point of view, flying mounts make a lot of sense. They accelerate the leveling process (which is essentially irrelevant now) and make farming and grinding easier. Flying mounts definitely serve an important purpose in World of Warcraft and I’m very interested to see how not having flying until 6.1, in Warlords of Draenor, is received by the playerbase. But that is a topic for another day.

I do believe flying mounts were not implemented well in World of Warcraft. I’m not saying I dislike them, though. I actually love flying around and collecting epic flying mounts. I just believe it hurts the game’s immersion and exploration too critically. It’s important to note that there are many games that implement flying (whether via mounts or otherwise) quite well. A few of these games would be Aion (which may be a boring game, but has a wonderfully fun flight system), Age of Wushu, and almost any superhero game. Another game that is really pulling out the stops, in regards to mounts, is Wildstar.

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     What Can We Learn From MMO Mounts?

Mount Iteration in Wildstar

We haven’t heard much about mounts in Wildstar, but what we have heard and seen has me very excited. From the sounds of it, Carbine is creating mounts with specific mechanics attached to them. In an interview with our very own Wildstar TV, Stephan Frost speaks on different mount mechanics.

[blockquote]So if you look at our hover boards, those are just fun to go around on. You can shift sprint on those and you can’t on other mounts. Other mounts we have are just fast all the time. That one you can shift sprint and do it that way so it is not quite as fast as the other ones, but on that one you can double jump and can’t on other mounts.[/blockquote]

To go even further, Carbine is planning to add customization, durability, and upgrades for their mounts. In Wildstar, it’s very clear that mounts will be more than just cool looking tools for movement speed improvement and flying ability. In the quote, Frost mentions hoverboards. They are the object of this editorial’s final discussion.

Why Wildstar doesn’t Need Flying Mounts

If you’ve been following Wildstar news, you’ll probably remember the hoverboard video from a while ago. If you haven’t been following the game’s news, click this link and take a minute a watch it. Go ahead, I’ll wait… That footage shows why Wildstar doesn’t need flying mounts, even though it will have mounts that can fly. Or maybe a better phrase would be mounts that are falling with style. Well, that would be gliding, so more like jumping with style. Whichever phrase you prefer, Wildstar hoverboards could provide the function of flying mounts while still allowing the game world to seem massive and still providing relevance for exploration. Not to mention it just looks insanely fun.

So, what makes the difference? Why are these hoverboards the key to the flying-mount puzzle (at least, in my opinion)? The answer is simple: momentum. Wildstar’s mounts (or at least the hoverboard) will simulate somewhat realistic momentum which will not only allow for players to get places quickly, whether vertically or horizontally, but will also allow for some insane fun in the process. This is not to say that Carbine won’t be adding flying mounts, but based off of what they’ve shown us, if they do add flying mounts, they’ll be unique and fun to pilot. We’ll just have to wait and see. Whether they have flying mounts or not, I’m very excited!

Recap and Questions

Mounts are an important part of the games they’re part of. They cut down on travel time and allow for better navigation of the game’s world. Flying mounts may complicate things, but they also serve a very important purpose in the games in which they’re used. Carbine Studios plans to iterate on the current mount norm and add unique and fun mechanics to their mounts. In fact, because of the momentum-based movement of the hoverboard, I’m convinced that Wildstar does not need flying mounts. So, what can we learn from all this? I think we can learn that mounts no longer need to solely provide movement speed increases or flying capability. In fact, aside for technical reasons, I don’t think they’ve ever needed to be just that. But, what do you think? How do mounts function for you? Do you prefer games with or without mounts? How about with or without flying mounts? Do you think Wildstar’s mount mechanics will provide improvements to the current paradigm or will they simply seem gimmicky? Let us know in the comments section below!

world of warcraft mmorpg wildstar mmorpg guild wars 2 mmorpg     What Can We Learn From MMO Mounts?

 

 

 

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