The Nexus Times: How Carbine Stole Christmas

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This year it turns out Carbine is going to be the Grinch. Earlier this month it was announced that there would be no holiday events for WildStar this year, as they’ve already cancelled Shade’s Eve (Halloween) and Winterfest (Christmas). This has come as a big shock, well maybe not so big, to fans and has many a bit downtrodden as festivities in MMOs are almost always something that people look forward to. They usually include fun events, holiday crafting recipes, costumes, pets, and new dungeons or at least entertaining boss fights. The biggest reason that these events are so important, however, is that they keep people logging into the game on a daily basis to complete everything the event has to offer. This is something that WildStar desperately needs right now because players are running out of things to do.

Now WildStar content designer Kristen “Caydiem” DeMeza took the time to explain Carbine’s rational on their public forums. Basically the content for Shade’s Eve was nearly completely and Winterfest had some development, but neither was expected to get through quality assurance testing before their respective holidays. Members of the WildStar community seem to be torn right now between appreciating that Carbine is working on core game fixes, but others believe that holiday events are instrumental to the MMORPG experience.

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PRESENTS FULL OF BUGS

No one likes shitty presents, especially if all you’re getting is socks and underwear, but even bad presents are usually better than no presents at all. The main reason that WildStar players aren’t getting Shade’s Eve is because there isn’t enough time to properly test all of the content and weed out the bugs. Although Carbine hasn’t stopped buggy content from being release in the past. Obviously some people are willing to tolerate bugs here and there, but players have left in droves due to incompetency in game design so far. It’s likely that Carbine was so worried about further disappointing players with broken content that it was simply easier to nuke it and work on current problems.

DeMeza explained: “When it came to Drop 3, Shade’s Eve was more or less done, but it still needed a lot of proper, rigorous testing. With limited-time events, it’s even more imperative that your content work and work well, because if there’s a show-stopping bug that happens, every hour you spend fixing it is an hour players miss of that content for the year. QA time was vital, therefore — particularly with some new bits of tech we received. But QA had Drop 3 on their plate, and Drop 3 — full of many bug fixes and content that would be around all year — was rightly deemed more important for QA to focus on. Would we have liked to get Shade’s Eve in? Of course! But with finite resources, we picked giving Drop 3 the most thorough testing it could get, and it was the right call.”

The issue, however, is that we were supposed to have the Defile content by now and the delays keep stacking up, which are hurting customers in the end. Generally in MMOs new content is released and then if any major issues arise they’re taken care of. Carbine is instead putting all of their eggs in one basket with Drop 3, instead of periodically fixing bugs as they arise they’re waiting to release them with major content patches. WildStar is bleeding players due to bugs and server issues that are a problem right now. It’s great that megaservers are coming online, but it’s been a very slow process for something that’s been apparent for months.

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WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Carbine’s problems seem to stem from either a shortage of developers or mismanaged time. Shade’s Eve and Winterfest were already in the development stages when they were cancelled, but while Shade’s Eve was essentially completed, Winterfest still needed a lot of work. This clearly means that they were planned to be implemented this year so something had to cause the cancellation. It should be pretty obvious at this point that Carbine is in dire need of new direction. The game has been riddled with bugs since the start and the developers are always playing catch up. In today’s game market you can’t expect the players to wait for companies to fix their mistakes; they’re going to move onto something different, better or newer.

The problems that are being fixed, and inadvertently overriding the holidays, have been around since the game launched. The idea behind megaservers has been around for a while, issues with rune RNG was problematic during the beta testing and new zones quickly become forgotten. Excuses that there wasn’t enough time to fix the problems or quality test before release isn’t good enough because it shouldn’t be the customers’ problem that things were mismanaged.

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It was clear upon hitting level 50 that the crafted gear had to potential to be way more powerful than veteran dungeon equipment, but multiple patches later and the problem still hasn’t been fixed. New zones are fairly insignificant at this point as Blighthaven content became stale within weeks and the zone is now a barren wasteland. After they made the events more difficult there were less people enticed to actually complete them because the rewards weren’t worth the time and effort; I logout every week in Grimvault and still haven’t visited the new zone in months. Having only two or three repeatable quests in an entire zone isn’t going to make people want to go back there. A day’s worth of new content and a few hours’ worth of repeatable quests aren’t going to fix WildStar. Also, how many people have seen Warplots? I still haven’t and that was one of the things that sold me on the game.

Maybe not getting holidays this year won’t be a big deal, and just maybe content drop 3 will fix everything that’s wrong with WildStar. Unfortunately by now I’ve learned not to count on anything until it happens, but if we’re lucky the game breaking bugs will be taken care of and we’ll start to see some festivities by next year.

I’ll end with this response from DeMeza: “I get it, folks. I understand you’re disappointed, and I sympathize. I love holiday content and I’ve worked on this kind of thing for many years. The team and I are really proud of what we designed and we can’t wait to share it with you. We’re just going to have to wait a little longer. It’s not an ideal situation, but releasing the holidays this year isn’t practical. Thank you for hanging in there with us.”

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About Nick Shively

Nick is an eSports and RPG enthusiast. He can normally be found in the deepest parts of a dungeon or in the arena slaying opponents. Nick has been a gamer since an early age and involved in the industry since 2011. He obtained a degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2015.