September: The Month of WildStar

Buckle up and hold on, ’cause WildStar is hitting the ignition on free-to-play later this month.

We heard this morning that Carbine’s MMO has set a date for the F2P conversion for September 29th, which fortunately gets out ahead of the craziness that is October (Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR expansions) and November (BlizzCon). September is a great month for something like this — historically, lots of MMOs have released this month and rolled out major updates/expansions for the beginning of the fall.

Although, Carbine, WildStar: Reloaded? Seriously? Did no one in the studio raise their hand and go, “Um, do we really want to be drawing comparisons to the second Matrix movie that let everyone down?”

While I’m already in the game, F2P will be a welcome moment for me. I’ll be dropping my subscription at that time (bringing it down to just SWTOR), enjoying whatever cosmic point rewards I’ve accrued, plunder the cash shop, expand my housing plot, and reveling in what will hopefully be the start of a brighter era for WildStar. I’m really, truly excited about it — it’s a great game that deserves another chance with a better business model.

Plus, we have a couple of events coming soon after — Hoverboard zPrix Invitational and Shade’s Eve.

I’m really curious what the next content update post-F2P will be focused on and when it will be. But in the meanwhile, I rolled up a new Medic last night and had a great time with her, so I’m going to see how far I can get her between now and the 29th.

Need an MMO character name? Steal these!

zzzI rolled up a new WildStar Medic last night and spent some time deliberating over her last name. In games with dual names, I try to keep the first name constant for friends’/guildies’ easy recognition, so the last name becomes a catch-all for creative expression. I decided to go with Elysian, which has a pretty ring to it.

Names are important. Oh so important. They’re often the one aspect of a character that is utterly unchangable after a character is born (although not always — some MMOs will let you pay or petition to rename). My wife and I recently concluded a multi-month quest to pick a name for our fourth child, a process that is difficult when the bottom-line rule is “something we both have to agree upon” and we have very different tastes in names. We were acutely aware of how vital it was to pick a name that would fit for all ages, a name that was flexible (nicknames, etc.), and a name that wasn’t too bland, too weird, or too common.

I used to employ a lot more naming variety in my characters in MMOs back before I blogged and settled down into a singular naming convention. “Ghostfire” was a name that I plucked from a Magic: The Gathering card that I particularly liked. “Platypus” was an animal that I always found amusing, including its name. “Twisty” had a short, fun ring to it. I liked “Trixie” for its old-timey sass. “Echoes” was my WoW druid, and I had a good run with that name. I also had a “Snappi” for a long time as another character.

I think I first employed “Yeti Yesterday” as a superhero character in City of Heroes — I loved the unusual alliteration that went with it, and I’ve carried on the Yeti legacy through both Guild Wars and The Secret World.

As I’ve said before, “Syp” was created in 2006 for a new World of Warcraft character after I deduced that people only typed three letters of your name when they were addressing you in-game anyway. There are derivatives of this: Syppi, Sypster, and (my least favorite) Sype.

Here are some other names that I wrote down in a file that I never ended up using — feel free to steal them! Mostly they were words that I went, “Yeah, that has a good sound to it” and wrote down.

  • Willow
  • Jubilee
  • Cobwebs
  • Jinx
  • Asterisk
  • Sneeze
  • Shivers
  • Spark
  • Lurk
  • Opaque
  • Zod
  • Flea
  • Maroon
  • Slinky
  • Scuttlebutt
  • Popcorn
  • Inkling
  • Songstorm
  • Flux
  • Slip
  • Cinder
  • Mercury
  • Dew
  • Ember
  • Door
  • Jot
  • Wan
  • Threshold
  • Swanky
  • Elucid
  • Glum
  • Peep
  • Honu
  • Kit
  • Kip
  • Pez
  • Bingo
  • Flotsam
  • Jetsam
  • Flapjack
  • Tinkerhell
  • Gloom
  • Walkabout
  • Hunkymunky
  • Jammer
  • Tahoe
  • Mist
  • Fiddyment
  • Iceberg
  • Banjo

WildStar: Making post-50 plans

wildstar plans

I don’t think I mentioned it here on the blog, but the other night I finally crossed the level 50 mark with my engie — my first level 50 to date. It caught me off-guard, so I wasn’t able to take a screenshot, but believe me that it did happen.

Uh huh. Sure it did, Syp.

I’ve been chewing on what to do next, really. It’s not that I’m out of content or ways to advance, and off the top of my head I can think of the following:

  • Finish up the Grimvault zones and Crimson Badlands
  • Grind out elder gems and buy more amp/ability points
  • Get more money and work on housing
  • Take on contracts and work my way up those reward tiers
  • Dip my toes into dungeons and veteran adventures
  • Hunt down challenges for specific rewards

What I won’t be doing is any sort of raid attunement or PvPing. Not my thing at all and I’m not going to let peer pressure or this game convince me that I need to change up what I’m doing in the endgame.

However, I’m heavily leaning toward parking my engie for a while and taking another class up through the leveling process. Possibly, probably a Medic. I have a few goals that I would like to do better in a second run-through, including:

  • Snagging as many costume pieces as possible
  • Hunting down all of the Tales from the Fringe copies in each zone
  • Fully leveling up the settler path
  • Taking the time to level up architect crafting and pouring those items into an awesome house

Plus, we’re getting closer now to free-to-play and Shade’s Eve, so there’s going to be a lot to check out and enjoy this fall whether I’m on my high-level character or not.

Just thinking out loud here.

Grappling with combat mechanics

combatWhile one might chalk this up to middle age, the truth is that my dislike for fancy combat mechanics in video games has been pretty much a running theme for my entire career. I appreciate that game designers want to keep shaking things up with new combat systems and styles, but thank you but no thank you for me.

I don’t really like combo systems nor mechanics that require me to build up certain resources to expend them. Usually this comes down to UI frustrations. In combat, my eyes are on the action and not on my hotbar or anywhere toward the bottom or the edge of the screen. I want to be able to attack with the keyboard from muscle memory, relying mostly on a tried and true rotation with the occasional special thrown in depending on the circumstances.

What I don’t want to have to do is to keep flicking my eyes down to see if I have enough go-juice to power an ability or if I’ve proc’d a certain skill or if I’ve built up sixteen tiny buffs that can now be spent. Yet if the game works with me, I’m willing to meet it halfway.

For example, my SWTOR Operative has combat abilities that rely on a two-stacking buff called tactical advantage. There are certain skills that will always trigger a TA and throw a buff up on the screen informing me of the fact, but better yet, my agent does this little audio chuckle to let me know that one is good to go. It might be silly, but that audio cue makes fighting with this mechanic silky smooth — I don’t have to look down to see the buff, I just know it’s there from the sound. Really, any audio or visual cue that the devs can arrange around my character is a great help when it comes to fiddly mechanics.

Classes that require a lot of high maintenance to get fighting properly usually turn me off. I’ve been struggling with Psylocke in Marvel Heroes due to her style, and there are a LOT of other characters in that game that are built on quirky mechanics that are more trouble than they’re worth.

I’m a traditionalist — I like having an energy or mana bar that skills draw power from, or better yet, skills that simply have cooldowns of varying times depending on their power.

This is why I’m struggling with my Engineer in WildStar; I hate the volatility mechanic, which runs through most skills. There’s one skill that I can set up to be insta-fired if my volatility is between 30 and 70, but in the thick of combat I don’t have time to be looking down to see if I’m in the sweet zone. Thank goodness I’ve found at least one rotation that’s pretty much frustration-free.

What combat playstyle mechanics do you like and which do you hate?

Pointless Poll: What’s the most overused MMO faction/species?

Check out this amazing WildStar house!

w1

First things first: My friend Larry grabbed me one of the fancy dress coat codes from PAX, so now my Engineer has a dapper suit-and-gas-mask ensemble. I’m loving it.

w2

Anyway, so last night one of our guild officers, Celeste, was holding a dance party at her pad. I jetted over there and hung out for a bit, utterly amazed at what she had managed to do with her housing island. Here is her sweet DJ booth.

w3

She turned her spaceship house into this incredible tri-level masterpiece that felt downright huge. Plus, clickable doors! I need clickable doors.

Here’s one of the food displays she built. So nifty!

w4

And of course she built a bathroom. I’m looking at pictures like this and breaking down how it was built. The details on the cabinet are impressive.

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She built an arcade cabinet…

w6

…and a homemade fooseball table. Best use for plushies that I’ve seen yet.

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There’s lots of creative use of glass, which is something that I haven’t experimented much with.

w8

She had an outdoor tiki shack, which is exactly what I’ve been wanting to build. I wandered around taking notes and wondering what some of these pieces are.

w9

This was stunning: In the back she’d built a huge church-like house with statues and stained glass windows. It was downright amazing.

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My favorite room of the church house. The lighting just amazed me here. I really need to learn how to work with glass and build structures from scratch.

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I really liked how she took ordinary building elements like wood and made roofs like these.

I came away from her house thinking two things. One, I need to do some research and learn some of the tricks of building in this game. And two, I really need a lot more money to afford all of the stuff I want to build.

Bio Break site news: Blogroll updated!

As Blaugust comes to a close, I’ve made it a point of updating my blogroll over to the right there. As you may recall, I have three simple qualifications to being part of the Bio Break blogroll:

(1) Being a blog or podcast that talks about MMOs

(2) Not being a raging jerk, especially to other bloggers

(3) Having written at least one post in the past month

So I’ve added several new blogs over the year (and especially for Blaugust), but I hadn’t culled the list until today. Thus, what’s over there are all blogs that are more or less currently in operation. Ones that have gone dark or offline have been removed.

As always, please let me know if I’ve overlooked your blog (that meets the above qualifications) or if you’ve started writing again and I had previously taken your blog off of the list.