Before I get started, I wanted to say I will likely be adding to this list the more I discover about Wildstar; and I will gladly add my opinion to any questions people have on Wildstar. To begin, who am I? Why do I matter (/w I don’t )? My name for as long as I can recall in gaming has been Crucifer. If there was anything I could be described as from birth to now would be a gamer, a 1%er. Finding online gaming changed my life when I got involved in Quake. I became very competitive and had to be the best. This carried through till I was one of the top CTF players in Quake 3, one of the top counter-strike players in the US, the number one Twink PvP player in WoW for 3 years straight (I will get more into this later), was a part of Carnage Gaming for many years ranked top 100 WoW PvE guild, and with Carnage was also the #2 ranked guild in the world to achieve 60/60 in SWTOR’s release raid content. I was also a very hardcore streamer prior to streaming becoming monetized. I was one of JTV’s first producers and many people might know me for being a WoW streamer from those days. Why am I writing this? Because I am bored of gaming, and that scares me...there has been something lost over these past few years that no one can seem to get right anymore. MMOs feel bland, stale, and lack in my opinion love/passion. They fall to compromises and timelines, they think day 1 updates are ok, and that conforming is the only way of innovating. I am going to take some time with this post and I am going to go through a lot of things I believe the next great MMO needs to do and not do. From everything I have seen from Wildstar I feel it’s got the juice...but does it have the balls to follow through. Can it avoid being blinded by the same things that have caused the failures of so many others these past few years? I will say right now that these are my OPINIONS they may not be everyone’s opinions, you may not agree with me, but I hope to just help. If anything comes of these suggestions I personally think it’d be for the better, not for me, but for everyone looking for one more great MMO experience. So, let me begin with the one thing I feel should be the first and foremost thing to avoid and will be a staple throughout this post of things not to do: - Do NOT cater to casuals – This has got to be the biggest mistake every MMO company makes, it is the #1 mistake WoW has made and continues to make. And it all begins with %’s, numbers, with a big old $ in front of them. If 99% of your player base is casuals, and you want the most $ then you should listen to them. This has been the mindset of almost every MMO for the last 4 years; and it is right here where you’ve already dug your grave. Casuals do not play MMOs to aspire to nothing, they play the game for the same reasons everyone does...to dare to dream of bigger more epic adventures. When you take the bigger and more epic adventures out of their line of sight because you are just handing them the epicness without any effort then they lose their passion. Yet the 1%ers are the ones who really pay the price because what is left for them? Nothing...why try hard to be the best if anyone can be the best? I dare you to try to name the last MMO that you truly felt, EPIC!...The last time you walked into a village or city and a guy walked past you in the most badass raid gear and you stopped in your tracks in awe. You wide eyed and drooling over gear that maybe 3-4 people in the entire country might have. That you felt so lucky just to see someone of that caliber walk by you. When these feelings happen to casuals, to new players, and to players of old...what it does is radiates inspiration. “I can be that guy!”, “I want to be his level!”, “OMFG How do I get that!” I have shown a picture for years to friends of the last time I can whole-heartedly remember in an MMO where I was stargazed at a player in an MMO (I will share the picture below this paragraph.) These feelings only come from a game where casuals may never get to feel appreciated, where the game feels DAMN HARD (Vanilla Vael), and where NO GEAR is bought for gold from vendors. These things make a game have a sense of achievement, and I don’t mean by giving you achievements...I mean by actually making you feel rewarded for being awesome. With that brings me to point #2: - Make a game you LOVE – This seems so ridiculous, telling developers to make a game they LOVE. Why would they be making it otherwise? For one money, two someone’s telling them too (papa bear publisher), and three because they have dreams of grandeur. Developers and publishers alike need to stop chasing $$$’s and focus on the players. Stop worrying so much about payment models, what to charge people, how to best the Titan that is WoW (oh the puns). Make a game that if you weren’t ever going to get paid a dime for you’d still want to play day in and day out till you died; because there is NO replacing that passion! Don’t expect to be rich, expect to have fans, expect to have fun, and expect that your work will be appreciate not in dollars...but in compliments. Gamers will follow...because we talk to each other A LOT; more now than ever before! Remember IIRC days of old...now go log on reddit/twitter/twitch...insanity. Let’s take a look at some recent games where the developers didn’t care at all about the bottom line. Didn’t expect to make a dime at their games, but pushed on anyway because they loved what they were making if not for other people but for themselves...Minecraft, Super Meat Boy, Braid, Bastion, LIMBO, League of Legends and in my eyes the most important of them all DayZ. No other game will ever show you the power of the gaming community’s voice than DayZ. You take a game where a single guy was just having fun messing around in an engine for his own pleasure never expecting a single thing to come of it. Using a very old platform, and only showing it to friends and family. Then all the sudden, it spread one word by one word...and then exploded. Never before has a game with that much passion and care taken a game that not many people played let alone was not a blockbuster (Arma 2) and propelled it straight into the atmosphere YEARS after its release. Even when you look at WoW people forget WoW’s humble beginning. When EverQuest players laughed at the Alpha, thought it was horrible and the UI...oh god the UI. However, the developers were determined to make a great game...not for money, but to play themselves. I remember well before blizzard had a community team control the WoW forums when developers were replying to almost every single post, when you’d put a ticket in for a bug report or issue and you didn’t get a customer support representative, but you got a game developer asking how it could be improved. How intertwined the developers were into making WoW perfect. They wanted to listen to their players, anyone interested in their game they respected and wanted to hear from. This has gotten lost over the years as the money started to steampile in and just take a look at WoW now. This obviously leads into point #3: - Listen to your players not their wallets – I won’t make a huge rant about this it’s more to mention. Don’t worry about my money so much, I’ll throw it at you like crazy if you just listen to the real concerns we have. Gordon Ramsey has been one of my inspirations for a long time and he has a great saying: “Great chefs, great food, great decor, but they seem to forget the first 3 rules of running a restaurant – customers, customers, customers.” This is a saying that means don’t forget who your market is it’s great to have all the best fluff in the world, but if your ignoring the players and just throwing money at DLCs, Expansions, Content updates...you are going to lose people FAST! We will be here to support you, if you are here listening to us! Now let me talk a bit about how to be profitable, and not fall into the death trap that is “What payment model should we use!?!?!” This has been the MOST PERPLEXING and baffling thing I’ve seen in MMOs for YEARS!!!! - Don't launch with 200 servers – Another massive mistake many in the industry make when their game begins to hit the hype train is they over-prepare for their launches. Everyone wants these silky smooth launches and think that the launch itself is everything. When it literally means nothing compared to game play. No one gets launch day right. Not even the mighty Blizzard, cough Diablo 3 cough. You don’t lose people over the first day you lose them by crappy game play / horrible story, and no end game. So start small no more than 10 servers at launch, and only upgrade to 12-15 servers if they start breaking at the seams. Expect dissipation after the first 2 weeks so don’t get overzealous and start ordering servers in 20 packs, because your first 10 servers exploded. This is a profitable disaster. Let people come and try the game before knowing what the final numbers will be. Stop adding servers once you start seeing 1-2 new servers only reach Medium populations. DO NOT ADD MORE AT THIS POINT! You want your servers to feel packed, the more people the server has the more ALIVE the game feels. The more ALIVE the game feels and the more people bustling about the more you feel connected to the world and that the game is doing well. If you took those numbers are spread it over 200 servers your game will feel dead, abandoned, empty. (SWTOR) Then you have to localize and admit to server merges, or closing of servers completely to downsize to make the world feel larger. Look at a game like TERA who launched with a mere 10 servers. They’ve even subtracted that number down to 3! This consolidation is to keep the game feeling ALIVE. Don’t overshoot on servers, this is a major cost savings, it’s a smart business model to grow into more than have to downgrade into less. Keep this in mind and you will be golden! Speaking of servers let’s talk about shards... - Do NOT shard off zones, no instanced areas, phasing... – I am just going to call this the SWTOR mistake. Do not shard off zones, phase game play, or instance off zones from the world. This is an MMO I don’t want reasons NOT to play with other people in the game...I want reasons to run into as many people as possible. Nothing makes a game feel deader than to run into a giant zone that has me in a shard with 5 people because 75 people filled up shard zone 1. Let me get this off my chest right now...if you can’t hold 75 people in a zone you have no business calling yourself an MMO. Want the experience I am talking about load up SWTOR run to Hoth and fly around in anything other than shard 1...hell you can do it in shard 1....and tell me how desolate, empty, bland, boring, and a waste of time the game feels. I play MMOs to play with OTHER PEOPLE. Don’t find reasons to take that feeling away from the game. Whomever, thought this was a good idea in the first place should be removed from the industry. This brings me to the next point of making a game zone feel dead and empty: - No Flying Mounts / No Instant Mounting (TERA) / No Portals to zones. (Including Raid Portals at player housing / main cities) – Whoa, whoa, whoa! This is a SCI-FI MMO...you mean no space ships! That is absolutely correct. One of the worst inventions to any game ever was the moment WoW added flying mounts to the game. It took everyone out of the world and killed it, and the largest problem is once you take this terrible step it can NEVER EVER be undone and WoW has dealt with that for a long long time about how to get people “back into the world.” You can’t have people just fly over the world and then expect them to stop and enjoy it. You as developers should feel INSULTED to have flying mounts in your games. You spend years, hours, hard work building these environments and then let every single person just skip right over them because it’s “casual, and convenient”. This is a mistake, and goes back to point #1 do not cater to the cry babies who don’t want to ride out to their quests, or dungeons, or raid portals. These little moments make the world feel alive...and if you are a TRUE Vanilla 40 man raider then you know that feeling when you see 40-50 people ride out from Kargath / Thorium Point towards their raid objective...and it’s even better when you see both factions #1 raiding guilds collide at the entrance and the ensuing PvP that breaks out to get the upper hand of the night. These interactions are completely lost when you just fly by and land right inside the portal to the raid zone. One of the largest concerns I have so far is the portals at player housing / homes; or in major cities if they plan on being there too. These are CANCEROUS! A MISTAKE! Avoid these at all costs. Do not let people have any reason to avoid going into the world. Don’t give them a way to teleport from their home, to a raid/battleground/dungeon then right back home again. You will KILL your game with this! Its effects are disastrous! I will talk a little more about this soon when I speak on Dungeon and Raid finders. It also ruins any semblance of World PvP, another long lost enjoying factor to MMOs that gets consumed by flying mounts/portals taking its experience right out of the game. Now with that said do not make the same mistake TERA has done concerning this where you can just instant ground mount out of combat. That is too easy of an escape. Mounts need a (long) cast timer you should not be able to just freely get to run away from World PvP. You are at WAR, stand and fight or die with honor on the field of battle. - Dungeon Finder / Raid Finder ok – no free teleports - On the same note as above, I am ok with a Dungeon Finder / Raid Finder in MMOs, but it should be used as a PARTY FINDER ONLY. Do not teleport the party/raid to the actual zone. Make them run there like the old days...get people out into the world. FORCE them to live in the world. Don’t let them just idle in a city and teleport to everything they want to do. This goes the same with Battlegrounds. Don’t let people sit inside a city and just teleport to and from battlegrounds. Make them run to the Battleground. Make them have to be a part of the world. Don’t make the game so convenient its mind numbing. MMOs like this put people to sleep they are so boring. If the only reason you have to go out in the world is to do dailies then your game is going to die. Remember convenience is casual’s mindset, and casuals kill games. - Don't have more than 1 capital city per faction – This is another pet peeve of mine, having way to many major cities, leaves many cities feeling empty and not lively. Then there’s one that is packed. When there should just be one that is busy and bustling. However, this does not mean that people never leave. This should be a pit stop shop to get materials crafted and hit up the bank and auction house. Not a place you live, breathe and die in. There should be no portals here, no teleports, and no easy routes to places. It’s just a city...I drive into Atlanta everyday in a car and I drive right back out of it in the same car. I don’t teleport back home once I’m at Atlanta. I don’t live my life in the city; I go back out into the world to hit the mall, theater, and baseball games. I got things in the real world to do and I can’t do them from a city. This should be the same in MMOs. Don’t mistake this for 1 centralized city for both factions...this was also a mistake in WoW. Factions should not co-exist. They should be Lore driven to hate each other to be at constant war. One of the biggest gripes every year at Blizzcon that never gets followed up on EVER is that they are putting the WAR back in Warcraft. It’s been too long since factions have felt like rivalries. Keep your faction cities separate and have them meet in the field to battle. - Don't separate PvE and PvP – I will go over this a lot more below when I get to PvP and Battlegrounds; however I wanted to touch on this a bit here as well. Ever since The Burning Crusade MMOs separated out their player base into PvEer’s and PvPer’s, and in that moment they doubled their work, doubled the frustrations, and segregated their players from each other. This is another extension of the no instances, no phasing, and no shards complaint. You never want a reason to make people feel less involved with each other. Back in Vanilla WoW great PvPer’s started as great PvEer’s, they had to interact together. They had to get the gear to be stronger than the next guy in the arena. They had to play the story and be a part of the grind. They didn’t get to go in a zone, kill people, come out and get to buy all their gear from a vendor with gold for little to no real work. And you may say how can you say PvP and Arena’s isn’t work or a grind...it used to be. But now you hit 5 games a night and wait for reset, you get handed gear or you get carried to gear. PvEer’s don’t have such a luxury...months of work may have gotten you 2-3 drops back in Vanilla WoW. You were busting your ass 3-6 hours a night 3-4 days a week in raids. This is work, and this work feels rewarding when the rewards come. PvPer’s had a tougher time of it back then as well, getting to actual PvP gear at end game was hard work and demanding. Getting the title along with it felt rewarding and special. Getting that same title now feels like a joke. PvP should be treated as a side game of the main story / game. You should do it for fun, but remember that the real work and rewards are in PvE and in the world. NO PVP GEAR SHOULD COME FROM VENDORS! I will go over that more soon below when I discuss PvP in-depth. - NO WELFARE!!!!! No Tokens, Bosses drop GEAR/LOOT!– I mean it! Make getting awesome gear F#@! HARD to get...don't give it to everyone...the biggest thing lost in MMOs is the feeling that your character has achieved greatness. I went over this earlier, remembering the last time anything felt epic in any MMO. It’s because nothing is hard to obtain, nothing takes work anymore. Gear isn’t even given as drops anymore you get crappy tokens from bosses that you then have to go give to vendors. If I could just remove vendors from MMOs completely god I would. Remember when killing a raid boss dropped actual gear, that instant satisfaction of putting on that piece of gear 5 seconds after killing a boss, not having to fly across god greens earth to a vendor to get it. That moment of epicness is lost in that transport. And once the epicness is gone for you it’s gone for others around you. PvP reward vendors should not even exist...PERIOD! Battlegrounds should reward you with titles, just like military in the real world. You get a rank, that rank increases with your rise in the field of battle. If you want a better gun, build it, craft it, or obtain it from thy enemies. You want PvP gear you should have to go craft, mine, or kill a raid boss like everyone else. Something out in the world that you have to do not something instanced just for yourself. PvPer’s should not be able to hide in a mini-game and never co-exist with others in the game itself. They need to be a part of the world too. Give nothing for free. Everything requires work for the reward. - No DAILIES – Just say no! These are mundane menial tasks that no one likes doing. We’ve passed the WoW days of old and have created dynamic events in MMOs; there should be enough dynamic world content outside of the world that is ever changing that has me gaining reputation or stature with people that is not the same every single day. I don’t even want there to be quests...just let me roam the world exploring and if I happen to kill a dynamic world even and it gives me honor with a faction great! Don’t tell me to go do the dynamic event as it is not dynamic at that point. Let me explore the world and adventure; don’t make my in-game life as trivial as my real life day’s work. - +/- weapon systems are awesome! – What an Asian MMO feature in my Western MMO! Absolutely! This has got to be one of my favorite features from Asian MMO’s. What am I talking about? I’m talking about weapon upgrading like in TERA. Where your gear can be upgraded +1, +2, etc. This keeps HARDCORE players trapped chasing perfection. “I must get +12 on ALL my gear!” This eats 1%er’s alive nom nom nom! It’s nothing short of just making them more enticed to keep playing your MMO. So even after they have all the best raid content gear they still haven’t perfected the gear itself! This will drive them insane, and is an amazing way to keep them in the game, playing the game. This one simple addition should be in every MMO, forever forward. This adds so much longevity to the core elder game. Like player housing and obtaining all that can be had for your house for casuals this is the meat and bread to what drives 1%er’s. The quest for perfection, to be #1, to have everything maxed out! This is the feeling of Epicness! - Lore – Don't make the story about how great everyone’s character will aspire to be; that they are the chosen one; that they are the only savior of the world. Many games make this mistake where you get told a lot that you are "the only champion / the greatest warrior" news flash...in games like WoW the "champions/warriors" are the Faction Leaders which players never get to aspire too. You are always beneath these NPCs never passing them in power or greatness. This makes everything even if you don't see it blatantly feel wrong. There has never been an MMO where someone has the ability to become an Elite General or Faction Leader. And while this would be groundbreaking and amazing...it can never happen logically without a lot of risk vs. reward for developers. - Telegraphing – This has got to be one of my primary complaints about Wildstar’s game play so far. Telegraphing to me screams “kiddy pool” How difficult is the game going to be if like a GPS system is telling you when and where to move. I want to learn these mechanics myself not have bright lights showing me not to stand here. You might as well add in sound bites every telegraph that says “MOVE OUT OF THE BIG GLOWING CIRCLE” as it has the same effect. This is a casuals dream feature, and a 1%er’s eyebrow raiser. If you want to build a challenging game make it challenging, don’t give us the answers right up front make us work to figure them out. Nothing was as great as the first Vael Bomb wipe in Vanilla and being like “WTF JUST KILLED US?” .......”Oh so we need to tank swap that !@$!” ....”Alright, get back let’s do this again!” Games need to be harder; gamers are getting better at games and faster at picking them up. If you kiddy pool your game from the start no one’s going to find the game appealing. I play and love TERA for what it is and I can see the telegraphs without a giant circle on the ground blinking to move. I don’t think anyone is going to need one in Wildstar! -40 man Raids – So after listening to Total Biscuit’s Wildstar videos and the mentioning of the aim for 40 man raids, I was taken aback. This is a MASSIVE RISK, and possibly a great reward or a terrible death mark, especially with recent news like Exodus / Vodka falling apart. When the 1%er’s of the world are having trouble even manning 25 hardcore players anymore, because the 1%er’s have grown up over 8-12 years, have lives, jobs, kids and other worries you can’t expect them to fill 40 man raids. The new age of MMOer’s have been bread and buttered to be brought up as casuals, which means your core 1%ers are gone. Games got to easy and no one’s replacing the old guys from the days of UO, EQ and Vanilla WoW. Back then the 1%er’s were 14-16 years old grinding MC/BWL. Eight years later those same people are still your core 1%er’s but they’re not 14-16 years old anymore. The new age 14-16 year old kids are raised in Minecraft and Call of Duty. They don’t know the grinds and hardships of UO, EQ, or Vanilla WoW. They are not bred to be 1%er’s. They expect welfare and Raid Finder to be easy and quick rewarded. They DO NOT know the hardships of what it takes to run a 40 man raid. The type of guild leader it takes to control 40 people at once! This could be disastrous for your Elder Game. The opposite and possible rewarding part of this is would be that there is FAR FAR less raiding guilds; and in turn far far less raiders. This ironically adds a sense of community to servers. Everyone knows the top 2 raiding guilds on their old Vanilla WoW server even today because they were likely the only 2 raiding guilds on your server. Those badass guys in the badass armor which belonged to a group of 80 guys in a server with 6,000 people. You likely knew all 80 of their names; you knew you were in for a good time if one of them was in your dungeon runs or battlegrounds. They were EPIC! They were your inspiration and your drive. This is a good thing to have. This is gets lost if there is too many 1%er’s and too many raiding guilds and too many raiders you end up with a situation like this: Everyone begins to look exactly the same, no diversity, no one stands out, and no one is epic. This is dreary and boring. What would the world be without the 1% who people see as role models, people to strive towards. Is it odd to say we need fewer raiders in harder raids? The sacrifice there is having hard worked content seen by the 1% and not the 99%. This has been WoW’s struggle for many years...if the 99% are paying the same as the 1% but they’re not getting to see the content the other people are paying for is that fair? This is the conundrum. - Twinking, Battlegrounds at max level ONLY, No PvP Gear Vendors, Tarren Mill vs. Southshore – I saved this one for last, as to me it is the most important. The core to what all MMOs lack / lost. And part of me cries inside that I am about to recommend that Twinking not exist in an MMO; because I loved every minute of having the greatest Twink to walk through the world of Azerorth. Yet I know the truth now and I know that the right direction to save MMOs from the hardship that is early game battlegrounds is to not have them at all! That is right no battlegrounds or arena’s until max level is my biggest recommendation. It has never been done and or attempted. This would be a first in any MMO ever. To void instanced PvP until the top level. Why? What benefit does that add? How do you not lose PvPer’s who need PvP in their MMO to get to the max level? How do you keep them entertained in the leveling system without early game battlegrounds? Let me take a minute and explain it: I want to address why battlegrounds is a waste of time prior to max level. The prime reason is because developer’s in any MMO don’t give two !@#!’s about it. They put it in as a means to appease PvPer’s, but they don’t take the time to care about balancing it. Many try gimmicks to make it work but they all fail. Twinks run rampant in old school systems like 10-19. WoW tried to limit it to 5 levels instead of 9 levels but then the player pools so small that queue’s are too long. SWTOR tried a scaled up gimmick but level 50 40 characters with masteries and skills stomp on level 11’s with neither. Hunter’s run rampant with explosive shot at level 19 in WoW and yet Blizzard couldn’t care less. These are just examples of the situation. It’s a waste of time to try to manage battlegrounds before max level. No one finds them balanced and or exciting they are just a time sync for PvPer’s to do while leveling. Having battlegrounds only at max level means you can spend more time focusing on making those battlegrounds very balanced around what max level has to offer for the characters and skills. This gives you more room to get as much of PvP right as possible; and is easily focused on by a small team at the office to handle. Same goes for having arena only be a max cap level system. This is less of a headache for everyone involved the players and the developers. Now as developers you are probably like “No, there is no way we can risk losing the PvP community during leveling.” Well there’s a work around for that too. You need Tarren Mill vs. Southshore scenarios OFTEN during leveling. This revives what little of World PvP still exists in MMOs and gives PvPers the feasting they need to keep them going while leveling. For our few and far between friends who do not know what this metaphor is: Tarren Mill vs. Southshore is a metaphor to Vanilla WoW’s zone that was one of the first early level meeting points for both factions. They were similarly leveled in a very small confined space where quests overlapped. On a PvP server this was your first experience of war with the opposing faction. The place was always a battleground, and people were constantly fighting each other it was unavoidable. Absolutely no one from Vanilla WoW forgets their experiences in these areas. There has to be zones in Wildstar where players of similar level meet and cross paths in confined areas (close quarters) where quests overlap that cause disturbances in the day to day grind. This will result in “natural” PvP which is the best kind of PvP. Similar zones would be like Stranglethorn Vale and Nesingwary’s Camp. These will keep players alive, awake and PvPer’s grinning from ear to ear. Then once they reach max level they can go begin their PvP in Warplots and Battlegrounds. -Conclusion – I apologize for the length, but the final point to make here is to save the world you are creating. Force people to live in your universe not to sulk in a town. Get people motivated to be out and about and interacting with each other in as many ways as possible. DO NOT CATER TO CASUALS. Do not make the game easy. And by god make the game you’d want to play for the next 10 years with the passion and love that you’d expect anyone to make for you. People will come and pay reasonable costs to be a part of something EPIC. We just have to put EPIC back in MMOs. I appreciate anyone who took the time to read all of this and hope to see you on Nexus soon.