The Daily Grind: How could WildStar have succeeded?

    
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Let me tell you, the upcoming demise of WildStar has me really and truly heartsick. Flawed as it was, this was a tremendous MMO with so many great things going for it, and this shutdown seems infuriatingly unfair.

While it’s far too late to change this outcome — an outcome that we all saw coming a couple of years back — I can’t stop thinking about how it might have been avoided. How could WildStar have succeeded? I believe that it has a great product on hand, but that bad decisions were made in and outside of the game. For starters, a more casual-friendly endgame experience would have done nothing but helped its longevity and popularity outside of the hardcore crowd. And kicking off as a free-to-play title would have been preferable.

But I’m sure that there are many more factors that could have influenced WildStar’s continued operation. What do you think those would be?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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rafael12104

As Gingen points out below, the real issue was Cliffy B Syndrome. By the time they figured it out, it was too deep a hole and many players would not return.

justkasp
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justkasp

This is easy, by creating new content while fixing the issues at launch. They started firing people and everything went downhill, even simple fixes took way too long and a major update never arrived. They should focus a bit more on casuals too. Maybe add a lower tier of difficulty in pve content with less loot and provide a skill rating algorithm for pvp that doesn’t have to be perfect but doesn’t equal to battleground farm/gear rating.

Dantos
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Dantos

Few things for me,
– FAR FAR too many little quests, roll some of those into fewer, multi-stage quests, it just helps perspective
– The combat was just exhausting for the hp enemies had, cut that down to make individual fights quicker
– No challenges, seriously I started to hate those things real quick
– No dungeon medals, maybe for achievements, but not for regular dungeon loot, and the constant quitting after 1 mistake didnt help people’s completion rate.
– 10 man raids and easier 20+ pug raids (I like what FF14 does here)

Really scrap the whole ‘telegraph’ system, I spent more time looking at the ground than anything else in game.

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Crowe

For me, the success at launch would have been to have 10-person content. For 20-person raids, there’s a lot less room for making jokes, etc… making a raid feel more like a job than anything fun. But 10-person is still relatively small enough that everyone can get a say in discussion if tactics/role changes are needed or the like. So shortly after launch, I levelled two characters to cap and then uninstalled the game because there wasn’t anything at end cap I was interested in doing.

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Alex Malone

This game, in my opinion, died from 1000 cuts, rather than having one predominant flaw.

Every single part of the game was flawed, not majorly, but enough to be irritating. Whether it be the spammy nature of the combat, the cluttered UI, the dodgy zoning, the poor performance for AMD chips for the first year, the linear world design, the hardcode endgame, the boring quests……

I personally tried the game twice: at launch and after F2P. I liked the humour, and actually the PvE questing was the most fun I’d had in an MMO (though, still boring).

It was the combat that drove me away. First, not enough skills. I have a high IQ and so any combat system that is too simple results in boredom very quickly and that is exactly what happened in Wildstar. Second, it was too spammy. If you tried to avoid enemy telegraphs then you spent too much timing dodging, otherwise you just spammed your rotations (which were basic). I felt like my brain was asleep during combat.

Now, ESO’s combat system was even worse that Wildstar (ie too basic) but at least with ESO you felt some sense of impact, some sense of connection to what was happening. In Wildstar you had to be so zoomed out to see all the telegraphs that you felt disconnected, all you were doing was watching the UI.

Talking of which, the UI was shockingly bad! Just sooooo much going on, all placed in weird places on the screen. I’m sure you could get addons to give you a better UI but the one out of the box was awful, a really terrible experience if you’re trying to get new players to stay with your game.

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Matthew Riddle

Release in 2013 instead of right after ESO.

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Roger Melly

I thought it would be a title that would convert to buy to play in the way ESO had just done at the time . Maybe it would have done better under a similar business model to ESO . I did level a character to maximum level in it when it did go free to play and I must admit I really enjoyed it because it reminded me of WoW in its glory days . However once I hit the endgame I realized how lacking in players it was an even though I wanted to keep playing I just got bored because there was no one about .

Among people I know it became the game they liked but didn’t play because it lacked a decent population and I think that was the problem . Rift seems to be starting to get a similar rep .

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Bango on Laurelin

Not even casual endgame – just having a lvl 15
dungeon that did not take wipe after wipe to complete would have been enough for me to keep me interested.

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socontrariwise

We felt that the quests are mostly mind numbingly boring. The combat system was nice and I think the telegraph system invention awesome. But killing mobs was not enough fun on its own and the quests felt like “kill x mobs and don’t pay much attention to the story because it is just generic blubber mostly, go kill mobs”.
In ESO I feel the combat is less fun but the quests and the rewards matter for the world. The only time I cared about a Wildstar quest was early on for the Exile side when I delivered the food to the indigenous for peace talks – to then learn it was poisoned and everyone including all the kids I had just played this soccer-ish game with were dead. WTH?!? Now of course no other tribe mentioned this atrocity or cared about my side doing this, just “Do more quests, kill more stuff”. That disconnect drove us away, why spend our spare time doing mindless work for someone that isn’t forming any cohesive world or experience?
Of course then there was the grind for crafting, the grind for housing “games” – everything felt like a job you take on to get some pixel stuff (maybe) but … for what really?

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thirtymil

As someone who prefers soloable overland content to dungeons/raiding, these thing would have got me to stick around a lot longer:

– A shorter time-to-kill in combat, or at least not having to dodge multiple times per combat (I played Stalker, mostly, and every combat became a grind)
– Quest text that was a decent font size and actually said ‘read me’, rather than ‘here’s some stuff some character is saying that we can’t be bothered to place any importance on’
– Removing the forced in-your-face challenges that demanded to be completed straight away.
– More work on the interface (the UI got changed from something even more horrendous late on in development but really needed more polish)

It was simple quality-of-life stuff for me, really. Loved the hoverboards, loved the housing, got used to the art style fairly quickly. Found the crafting to be painful and the main city (Exile) to be a bit of a maze but could live with that. In my opinion (and endgame notwithstanding) it just needed six months more polish to take off all the irritations and rough edges and I would have subbed for an awful lot longer.

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Tobasco da Gama

Nothing will get me to drop an MMO faster than too long of a TTK. With how many trash mobs they all throw at you, taking 30-60 seconds for a single fight is just too much wasted time.