28 November 2018

Goodbye, WildStar!

"Greetings Sapient beings."

~Caretaker from WildStar
is a quote that I took from WildStar. It's one of many quotes that I enjoyed in WildStar.

Good Bye, WildStar

Since today, November the 28th 2018, the WildStar servers were stopped. They've been running since the 3rd of June 2014.[1] That's a total of 26 days 5 months and 4 years. I've been playing it since the head starts with only one big pause and I don't want it to be nothing. WildStar might not have been a perfect game, no game is perfected. There also might have been a lot of mistakes Carbine did, but WildStar did things right too and I want to tell you the reason I played it, why I think it has some aspects that are really great and what we can learn from it.

Why Did I Play WildStar? 

At first, I didn't want to play WildStar. I'm not a fan of Sci-fi or Science fiction games in comparison to medieval games. That's the reason why I play Guild Wars 2 instead of WildStar, why I play Terraria instead of Starbound or why I play Minecraft instead of Space Engineers, etc.. Well, I don't hate Sci-fi or science fiction. Empire Earth is a game that starts in the medieval and goes through the epochs into the future. I enjoy that, but space itself... meh. Yet, WildStar plays almost completely on a planet with a few space missions here and there. With this barrier removed there was nothing in the way for me. "But you're playing Guild Wars 2. Why switch?", is a good question. Something was missing in Guild Wars 2. At the time I was playing triple trouble was the second hardcore boss they added. Fractals of the Mists has gotten boring over time and raids didn't exist. I am one of the players who yearn for difficulty. Even now I might complain and get angry at my fails, still, the reward is greater than the anger if the difficulty is implemented correctly. This is exactly what WildStar promised. It promised to be a difficult game for hardcore raiders. I'm not a raider, but I get the basic idea behind it and difficult? Yeah, I'm in!

WildStar's Approach to Difficulty

I'm fascinated at the idea of this and at the same time a little disappointed they didn't go through more with it to the end. WildStar uses a telegraph system. This means each and every attack that is not target based uses a telegraph. This allows you to mark the area in which enemies or bosses attack. You know exactly - before - where the damage or area of effect will be. This allows you to perfectly avoid damage as long as you don't have the enemies aggro since the auto attacks can't necessarily be avoided. Furthermore, the first boss of the first dungeon I've seen makes me notice something. The number of telegraphs, the number of safe spots, most of the arena was covered. This really reminded me of bullet hell games. That's actually really awesome. How many 3D games actually implement the idea of bullet hells? Even though WildStar's punishment was hard. You either stand right or you're as good as dead, but you know what you died on. "Don't stand in the red!", is a famous quote you might hear very often in games that use telegraph systems - completely or partially.

So Where Did It Fail?

There are probably many reasons why WildStar ultimately failed, which was revealed over time. Promises that weren't kept from the game developer, complete rework before release, mistakes in the stat system and complete reworks after release, weekly server maintenances, requiring high amount of players for raiding (starting with 40 decreased to 20 everywhere), organizational issues of Carbine and the publish NCSoft, etc.. One of the issues I wanna talk about is something that could be a negative precedent case. 

Difficult Can Work Though

WildStar had its goal to be a difficult hardcore game. Over multiple years, especially triple-A companies avoided developing difficult games. The reason for this is that difficult games don't sell as well as games that work kinda like "everyone wins". Additionally, for an MMORPG, the hardcore community may not be big enough to keep an MMORPG running. Especially since you can't suit every taste there is out there. Does that mean there will never be a difficult or hardcore MMORPG? Yes and no. While I don't think an MMORPG that only focuses on hard and difficult content works, I do believe that it's possible to create an MMORPG that has a casual base and expands with difficult content on top of that. Even better when they implement a difficulty curve that raises the player bases skill level.

WildStar Is No Example For MMORPGs Not Being Worth It

You might, or might not have realized it. The amount of released MMORPGs is rather scarce in the past years. The giant World of Warcraft is still alive and many MMORPGs were stopped. Resulting in a decrease in published MMORPGs. However, WildStar is not an example of there not being the possibility of having a successful MMORPG. As I already mentioned, there were a lot of mistakes done in WildStar that ultimately resulted in its death. That has nothing to do with it being an MMORPG aside from the MMO part. That's similar to making a Dark Souls MMO. It doesn't work as the community is not big enough. MMOs are one of the games that actually need to cater to different audiences and speak to as many people as possible.

With this being said. If you plan to make an MMORPG, don't make another World of Warcraft clone and don't repeat the mistakes that were done. Learn from the mistakes and build on top of them. 

Remember WildStar

I want people to remember WildStar as an example of the good and bad points it had so that we as game developers can learn from the mistakes and apply the improvements or good aspects. I don't know about you but my goal is to improve MMORPGs for players to have an even better experience.
Also, don't forget that WildStar is one of the games that didn't go with the "Ranger" and "Mage" classes. Breaking from the standard.

With all that being said. Thanks to Carbine and NCSoft for making this experience possible despite the bad things that happened. I really enjoyed all the years and it was an awesome experience. Now I can only hope for another MMORPG that learns from the mistakes and improves on it or that Guild Wars 2 expands their content into the direction of more difficult content further. We'll see what the future holds. 

Goodbye, WildStar! May your work be found as an inspiration for further games!

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=wildstar%20release%20date

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I'm a B.Sc. Games Engineer and I created this blog to share my ideas, theorycrafting, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.