WildStar Cancels Christmas, Hallowe’en, No Word On Pancake Day

This took me like three seconds, Carbine should have asked me to help

Can you imagine having to tell all the players of an MMO that Christmas is cancelled? That there will be no twinkly lights in pine trees or fine dustings of snow offering the chance to feel festive while simultaneously escaping your nearest and dearest? That actually you’re not only cancelling Christmas but Hallowe’en as well? That’s what WildStar developers Carbine have had to do.

The logical lore explanation for all this would have been, like, “Some Mordesh dude in a pinstripe suit tried to alleviate his festive ennui by poaching Christmas* and doing it himself. Everything went tits up, no-one could find the Aurin rag doll lady who fixes this kind of thing and thus the holidays are off and it’s probably Tim Burton’s fault, not ours”. Alas, they didn’t go with that explanation.

Instead, they’re all:

“We did have Shade’s Eve [that’s WildStar Hallowe’en] ready to go… It was going for October. We ended up pushing the Drop into its window and we just didn’t feel like it was going to get the amount of testing we – Carbine Studios – wants the content to get. We don’t want to put out content that’s buggy. Players have said stop putting out buggy content so we’re not going to but that’s also going to impact the amount of content and how fast we can get it out. Shade’s Eve could have gone out but I would have worried about the quality of it.”

That was Carbine’s product director Mike Donatelli explaining the situation on The Nexus Report (a weekly WildStar show). The cause for the delay, as Carbine puts it, is that a massive patch is going to drop later than originally intended – late October or early November. As such, they don’t have the resources to do the final rounds of testing for a limited-time event.

Posting on the official forums, Kristen ‘Caydium’ DeMeza, a content designer and zone lead at Carbine added:

Now, holidays are great, but they’re not as important as making sure the live game is working well. We took the time we needed to fix things players were already experiencing — all of the departments — and that meant that the schedule changed to account for it. But Halloween and Christmas weren’t interested in our bug fixes and didn’t change their schedules for us.

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.

But it doesn’t sound like the content is lost forever. Instead it seems the studio is going to keep Shade’s Eve back for next year instead. DeMeza finished her post saying, “I’ve been doing holiday content in this industry a long time, and I really want to show you folks what we cooked up, because I’m very proud of it. I hope you’ll enjoy it next year.”

*Recipe for “Poached Christmas”: take the fruit bits out of mulled wine, eat.

22 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Players have said stop putting out buggy content

    Ouch, must be painful to have to say that …

    so we’re not going to but that’s also going to impact the amount of content and how fast we can get it out.

    … but they probably should’ve just ended the sentence after “so we’re not going to”.

    I understand they’re saying “we need more time to test things, that’s gonna slow us down”, but boy does that make it sound more like “our release schedule was based on the assumption that we’d be releasing buggy content” and/or “you don’t want buggy content? fine, you don’t get as much” rather than just “we’ll try harder”.

    • Ranger6six says:

      As someone who played a Paladin in vanilla WoW when she was a community manager, let’s just say that it’s not unsurprising that it seems like she lacks tact and likes to be passive aggressive.

      • Person of Interest says:

        Jumping the gun a bit, aren’t we? The quotes are from Mike ‘Passive-Aggressive’ Donatelli the product director, not Kristen ‘Caydium’ DeMeza the content designer.

    • Crafter says:

      I work on software as well, as a mobile dev, not in the gaming industry.
      Still, a product director explaining that it is time to stop pushing shitty products and focus a little bit on quality makes me very happy.
      Too often, technical debt just piles up with each development cycle and quality is an afterthought.

    • KevinLew says:

      I didn’t interpret his words that way. It’s mostly because his comments are terse so you can read into them as much as you’d like. I read his message as: “Players have made it clear that the most important thing in Wildstar is releasing content that isn’t broken. In other words, brand new content is worthless if it’s buggy. As a result, we are not putting out holiday events because we don’t have enough time to get them perfect. We have more content planned for the future, but not for the next two months.”

  2. AlienMind says:

    Stephan Frost
    Pre-Release:
    “We are one of the most feature-complete MMOs to be coming out in the past 10 years.”
    link to gamespot.com

    Post-Release (8 days ago):
    “this will be my .. last week at Carbine”
    link to massively.joystiq.com

    So, basically… fuck it?

    • Flopper says:

      If he quit I’d say yes. But he got offered a better job and he took it. Welcome to the adult employment world…

  3. PopeRatzo says:

    “We are one of the most feature-complete MMOs to be coming out in the past 10 years.”

    And, with a $60 purchase price PLUS monthly payments, it’s one of the most expensive.

    The expensive part is true. The “feature-complete” part is not. And what does that even mean, “feature complete”? Does that mean that unlike most games on the market today, they actually mostly finished the game before they started selling it?

    You cannot convince me that game developers (AAA and indie) are not for the most part totally hostile to their customers. How many times will gamers (and the game media) try to explain it away by, “Oh, he didn’t mean it” and, “I provoked him” or “I ran into a door”?

    • Bull0 says:

      It’s got a mechanism to buy game time using ingame currency, so theoretically at least the monthly fee can be bypassed (I don’t know how practical that is; I only played for a week or two, lost interest fairly quickly, not looked back. Pretty sure the ingame method involves buying an item off other players, who have bought it for cash, and if the game’s dying I imagine there’s not a lot of people doing that – just speculation).

      • dinwitt says:

        At level 50, your experience is instead converted into Elder Gems, that are used to purchase various items. Once you’ve hit the Elder Gem cap, your experience is instead converted to gold. Depending on the server, CREDD has typically sold for less than 10 platinum, and thanks to the xp to gold conversion you can obtain that amount in a month fairly easily. Personally, I have CREDD through the end of this month, and 90 plat in the bank. I’m waiting to see if the price drops when the megaservers go online in a week or two before I buy another for next month.

  4. ubik says:

    It’s pretty clear that WildStar is chasing an old-school MMO renaissance that will never happen. “The next WoW” doesn’t exist, and maybe, eventually, people will stop trying for it. Carbine vastly overestimated the interest in a back-to-basics WoW-like – there’s a reason that Blizzard has streamlined so much of their gameplay. The attunement process in WildStar reads like a parody of the worst of WoW’s evils.

    I figure the next big thing (involving the “massive” part of MMO, so not MOBAs) might come in a few years with the potential for wide-spread VR adoption. Maybe we can get the future Cyberspace that SciFi has been promising us for years.

    • Faxanadu says:

      Dat attunement.

      No, the next “big MMO” is gonna be MMORPGFPS with player control. :) Trust me, I’ve been playing an MMO FPS where players control factions and ranks and war against other factions, it’s only a fan-made thing, but it is AMAZING. Problem is, it’s hard to pull off a good FPS game, it’s harder to pull off a good MMO, it’s insanely hard to pull off a player driven game since nobody has done it yet – PULLING ALL OF THESE OFF now that’s a legendary feat.

      So yeah you’re probably right, VR is gonna be the next big thing because there simply isn’t talent enough for another WoW.

    • Jenks says:

      I actually quite enjoy MMORPGs that don’t hand everything over without effort, and that attunement graphic seems somewhat interesting. Unfortunately the looney tunes setting is a complete turn off so there was no chance I’d ever buy the game, and I’m guessing I was the target audience (hardcore Everquest player). Achievement and slapstick comedy don’t mix for me.

      • Rizlar says:

        Yeah, I clicked on the attunement graphic expecting to be all ‘no, this is what was great about vanilla WoW’. But no, you are right, it seems like all the worst grindy elements (paying gold, getting medals in dungeon runs, maxing faction rep, really?) with little cool stuff (apart from the one or two special missions perhaps?).

        Like, the Scholomance key quest was cool. The Blackwing Lair attunement quest was sooo coool. The whole of Blackrock Mountain was so fucking cool. Possibly because they felt like a part of the world and WoW’s world was more fully realised and believable than Wildstar’s. I don’t know. The cool thing about attunement quests wasn’t grinding rep so much as getting into the fabric of the world and following a thread through it that you never knew existed.

        • LexW1 says:

          That’s the key – it’s got to make in-world sense.

          Attunements that are all about meta-game stuff like dungeon medals, or non-in-world-achievements, or “gear scores”, event completion, etc. feel very artificial and pretty crummy. Similarly purchases using stuff that feels meta-game-y (certain tokens/badges etc.) can really seem artificial in a bad, obvious way. This stuff destroys the vague, unspoken but still emotionally important role-playing element to proceedings. If you are going to make people do stuff, you need to give in-game reasons – they need the magic crystal of zok’nar or whatever. Not just to put a check in a box.

          Grindy stuff is also not going to work in the modern era of games. I’ve played MMOs since EQ, and experienced many deeply grindy grinds, and whilst some of them kind of worked, back then, when you’d never really seen an alternative, in 2014, that’s just no good. It’s not so much that we have less time (though, we, the people who actually played classic EQ, DAoC, etc., do have less time than we used to, because we’re pretty much all 30+ with real jobs, SOs, and often kids, so designers need to remember that if trying to appeal to the “old skool” crowd), but that we do now understand what a waste of our time looks like, and how one can perhaps only try to collect 10,000 skeleton fragments or max multiple grindy reps so many times in one’s life.

          Anyway, the key with attunement is to keep it in-game, in-lore, and involving. It can be hard. It can be time-consuming (though it’d better engaging), but it has to feel right.

        • dinwitt says:

          Paying gold? What are you even talking about?

          That graphic is a quick summary of the attunement process, and as such it doesn’t actually go into any detail. The actual details do attempt to give a lore based reason for what you are doing (something with corruption and gathering primal patterns from various sources to analyze said corruption which leads you to the Genetic Archives for reasons). And the actual questline is basically the intended gear progression route (reputation gear -> veteteran adventure gear -> veteran dungeon gear -> raid gear). Only two parts could be considered grindy, the faction reputation and the world bosses. The faction reputation gain is almost complete if you leveled through questing, and is quickly completed at cap if you are doing daily quests. And the world boss step can be frustrating because of limited availability and dependence on some random spawns.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Yeah, give us Cyberpolis or The World and I’m in. Until then I’ve basically been treating MMOs as if they never existed.

  5. caff says:

    This game is one of my biggest pre-order hype-driven regrets. I just found it bewilderingly uninteresting from the minute I got into the game.

  6. Arglebargle says:

    Just another checkmark in the box of ‘What sounded great five years ago might not do so well now’. And the trailers were so nicely done.

    Wasn’t going to get me playing in any case, as I don’t give NCSoft any money any more.

    • Archipelagos says:

      The trailers were fantastic. I just hope that the animators/designers involved in them go on to bigger and better things.

  7. aircool says:

    It’s a great game until you realise it’s not.