WildStar: Drusera needs pants

dru3Drusera, honey, I know that you’re supposed to be a… what? Some sort of techno-god? Fine, we’ll go with that. But even all of the powers of randomly appearing, being vague and mysterious, and floating some three feet off of the ground aren’t a good substitute for a sturdy pair of pants.

Seriously, I feel a little bad for you. The draft situation in your undercarriage has to be terrible. And all of those boy players who are getting a free looky-loo must not be encouraging, especially as you’re trying to deliver crucial mission information. If you want, you can have one of my pants. I have plenty. They have tons of pockets too!

dru1Me dead, but this time it’s not my fault. Mostly.

Since last I talked about my return-to-WildStar adventures, I reconnected with my level 36 Engineer in a big way. I kind of missed her huge gun and bots, and so I logged in to say hi. Before I knew it, I had finished up Farside’s missions and scientist path missions, pushing further in the game than I have ever been before.

The last bit on Farside was neat, all dark and squirgy. I’ll tell you what, I’m going to miss that zone with its low gravity — it made for some awesome hang time while hoverboarding. Plus, if nothing else it wasn’t visually cluttered, which isn’t something I can say for Wilderrun (I am not the biggest fan of jungle zones).

I have been working on my skill build, tweaking my combat rotation to unload a lot of alpha strike damage and conditions. Last night I fooled around with Thresher as a resource consumer and ended up liking it an awful lot — strong AoE damage with a buff that lowers the cost of subsequent casts.

dru2I can’t believe that I had left the game several months ago right when I was on the verge of starting the world story arc. I don’t think I realized it at the time, but when I came back this past week I was informed that I could begin sorting out the secrets of Genesis Prime.

So far I’ve done two solo instances in this arc, one surrounding Drusera (which was slightly but not fully revealing) and one concerting the Strain. I love the Strain aesthetic, kind of like The Secret World’s filth just more purple and with more eyeball accessories. Even though it’s supposed to be super-deadly and all that, it’s so stylized and cute that I can’t muster up the proper fear for what it represents.

I did subscribe for a month following my free trial, because I really want to see the patch and I’m enjoying questing through these new areas. However, I hope we hear something official about the business model change within the month!

RIFT shows MMOs how cosmetic wardrobes are done

wardroberightYesterday RIFT launched Update 3.2, making it the first of three MMOs that are recently revamping their wardrobe systems (the other two being WildStar and SWTOR). I hate to call it before the other two get to show off their stuff, but I have to say that RIFT did it right. Seriously, I can hardly think of a way that this new system can be improved.

It’s not as though the old wardrobe was horrible, just a little inconvenient in that you had to handle actual pieces of gear. But there was plenty of room for costume slots and it served its purpose well. However, I’m not complaining at this new wardrobe, because it’s a giant step up from what we used to have.

It seems that RIFT took a look at other popular systems and combined them to make the most accessible, painless wardrobe possible. The biggest change is that the new wardrobe no longer requires any physical gear; cosmetic variants are saved the second a player loots a new art template (much like Guild Wars 2’s newer wardrobe). Once obtained, a player can go into the wardrobe interface and simply click on the gear slot to choose a piece to wear.

Oh, did I mention that characters can use any type of gear — cloth, leather, chain, or plate — as cosmetics? I love that there are no restrictions on this, so if you wanted to make a heavily armored mage, you can make that happen.

The new wardrobe also allows you to dye pieces (in two tones per piece) on the go, which is something that LOTRO doesn’t do. You have a selection of unlocked dyes and can add more that you either acquire or purchase from the store.

It’s better than Guild Wars 2’s system by far: RIFT lets you save multiple outfits and doesn’t limit you with a microtransactiony token cost. Really, the only downside is that I am not a fan of 80% of RIFT’s armor art style, but at least now I have a lot more from which to choose.

It will be neat going forward in the game, since any piece of loot has the potential now to expand the wardrobe selection automatically. Good job, RIFT. The ball’s in your court now, other MMOs. I dare you to do better.

(Don’t miss Belghast’s take on the 3.2 wardrobe as well!)

It’s high time for a WildStar business model shift

Signs and portents are starting to swirl around a shift in business model for WildStar. Over the night we heard that Australian retailers were told to pull the boxes off of the shelves, a move very similar to what happened to ESO a couple of months ago before ZeniMax announced the buy-to-play change.

I’ve been musing to guildies that I think there’s another sign, albeit one more subtle, with the upcoming patch. The focus on character customization and the addition of vanity pets feels like a path leading in and out of a cash shop.

No matter what these might indicate, it is time that WildStar ditches the sub-only (plus CREDD) model. Heck, it’s been time since about the second month of beta when many reasonable people were worried that this new IP title was going to have a heck of a time sticking to subscription guns against ESO, WoW, and a huge field of F2P/B2P titles. I honestly don’t know why NCsoft allowed it, nor that the publisher allowed the subscription-only model to go on as long as it has after WildStar started tanking in numbers.

There’s a core of players that have and will continue to hold on to the sub-only model as the only way that WildStar can remain “pure” and be the game that it needs to be. That mindset does not get a lot of sympathy from me these days, especially in light of a vastly diminished population and the abandonment of the monthly update schedule after a whopping two months. Like it or not, remaining sub-only will almost certainly doom WildStar to either extreme niche status or outright death (again, this is NCsoft we’re talking about — a studio that isn’t particularly attached to Western titles and has few compunctions against shutting down what it views as underperforming games).

And the “subscription is good, all else is bad” is a black-and-white argument that dismisses any possibility that business models can be mismatched with games, all business models have examples of games that have implimented them well and poorly, and that there are legitimate criticisms of the sub-only model (such as it repulsing players who don’t want to be locked down with a monthly payment). For those who continue to shout, “Well, we don’t want those players anyway!” I have to respond, yes you do. You do want those players if you want more revenue to come into your game, if you want your game’s potential lifespan to lengthen, and if you want to generate buzz and cultivate a larger community.

Anyway, back-and-forth with the sub-only crowd aside, I’m very excited about a business model shift, especially if the studio does it right (i.e., not SWTOR) by keeping the core content free and making money on optional subs, cosmetics, vanity pets, and housing purchases. Seriously, WildStar has one of the absolute best housing systems on the market that is ripe for monetizing.

Plus, as a gamer who’s recently returned to WildStar, I very much would welcome a drop of the subscription. I shuttle back and forth between several titles and won’t always be playing WildStar enough to justify the cost.

We’ll see. It could well be that Carbine is still a ways out from any such announcement, but the studio has the official go-ahead from me if nobody else. Let’s do it, WildStar.

The Secret Adventures: Sasquatches are nature’s quitters (Blue Mountain #2)

(You can follow my complete playthrough of The Secret World on Bio Break’s projects page! WARNING: Spoilers and stories ahead!)

cartreeWar of the Totems (action mission)

  • The lack of both dialogue and general helpfulness of the Sasquatch chief puts him in my short list of most unlikable NPC quest givers in the game… and yet I have two missions to go. Be strong, Syp. Eat that frog. Get ‘er done.
  • Another reason I have developed a strong aversion to bigfoot friendship is that their quests busy me with YET MORE AK’ABS. Every time I fight these annoying insects in low murky light, I envision several scenarios in which the developers brainstormed to make the most annoying enemy in all of the MMOs.
  • And yet ANOTHER reason why this mission is dumb is that there’s absolutely no context given before, during, or after the mission. It’s seriously click on the mission accept, shown the way to ak’abs, and told to start killing. I gather from the title that the sasquatches are offended that there are ak’ab totems, but… no context. No explanation. SO DUMB.
  • It’s a rather boring mission full of insect killing, with the sole highlight of me being moderately amused when I saw a car — with its headlights on — wrapped up in a tree cocoon. What are the logistics behind that? Did the car take a weird offramp somewhere? Are the ak’abs pledging a frat? Do the ak’abs expect to eat the car?

Know Thy Enemy (side mission)

  • There’s an abandoned CDC tablet by the ak’abs, and because a third of this game could be summarized as “cleaning up other people’s messes,” I start cleaning up the CDC’s mess. Which means more killing ak’abs. It’s a rather nondescript mission.
  • Random thought: What astounds me when I think about it is not how insane a variety of bad guy groups there are on this island, but that they aren’t at each other’s throats. Maybe they all got together for a secret pact meeting beforehand.
  • I would have like to have seen the minutes from that meeting.

hangingScavengers (action mission)

  • Now the sasquatches want weapons and armor, but not the kind loading down my backpack. No, the Goonies kind fashioned from random scraps. Pity, I would have enjoyed seeing a sasquatch running around with a kevlar vest and a machine gun.
  • So… if they want to be warriors so much, why aren’t they out fighting the mobs for the gear? This ain’t no training wheels army, son!
  • I’m given this drum to summon a scavenger sasquatch that retrieves the metal needed, which is all well and good until we get to the factory. Then the sasquatch runs away in fear and refuses to answer the drum any more. This is because — say it with me, class — sasquatches are nature’s quitters.
  • The abandoned factory where this mission takes place is another lightly used locale that’s a bit claustrophobic and even creepy. One of the buildings has several hanged corpses dangling over a rather nasty revenant.
  • I made a mistake of rounding a corner too fast and plowed into about 25 mobs in this tiny little space. Zombies 1, Syp 0.
  • While I’m dead, I notice that there’s a volcano-like plume of smoke coming out of the ground somewhere near the mine. Huh, never noticed that before.
  • At least the mission allows me to take out my pent-up frustration on an infected sasquatch. I guess that’s the only treatment this game even dares to suggest for the filth: elimination with extreme prejudice.

scoutThe Scout (side mission)

  • Near the exit for the Scavenger mission (the layout of which does feel like an actual theme park ride) is an undead army scout. To the devs’ credit, they give this zombie a unique look, which is that extra attention to detail that TSW often contributes.
  • As I said before, this is another “clean up someone else’s mess” — in this case, finishing up a recon patrol. Run to an area, kill three guys, rinse and repeat.
  • What’s nice here is that the last step of the mission asks me to report back to Sarge to complete, which is great because that’s where I wanted to go anywhere. It’s the circle of filth!

Picture of the Day: My SWTOR Stalker

stalker1stalker2With little else to spend my SWTOR money on these days, I decided to upgrade my outfit by puchasing cartel market packs for the Stalker outfit. Again, no idea whether it’s one of those “everyone has it” or “people think it’s dorky because it has a big circle right on the butt, seriously, what was BioWare thinking,” but I kind of like it. It fits the commando-esque vibe of my Operative, and I used a black-and-yellow dye pack I had lying around to give it a cool wasp color scheme.

Battle Bards Episode 49: RIFT

riftposterFrom the mind of Inon Zur to the ears of the Battle Bards comes the soundtrack to RIFT. And while the Bards may have a positive past with the game, their reaction to the score is a rocky ride indeed. What treasures and traps will they pull out of this music? Find out as they welcome Steff back into the fold after her long absence!

Episode 49 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Defiant Theme” and “Iron Pine Peak”)
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Moonshade Highlands”
  • “Scarlet Gorge”
  • “Silverwood”
  • “Shimmersand”
  • “Atagarian Well”
  • “Stonefield”
  • What did we like best?
  • Mail from Josh
  • Outro (featuring “Siren Song”)

Listen to episode 49 now!