WildStar Giveaway!

By Lewis Burnell -
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To celebrate the upcoming launch of WildStars first content update (Strain!) we're giving away 5 copies of the game. These 5 digital copies are for the United States only (sorry to our European readers!) and can be redeemed through the official website. As far as the competition is concerned we wanted to keep it super simple:

"What Do You Love About WildStar?" 

It doesn't matter whether you write us a poem, give us a lengthy story, or simply point out the reasons why: just let us know in the comments below and we'll pick the five that we love the most! 

The Small Print

  1. You must provide your entry in the comments below
  2. You can make as many entries as you like
  3. There's no restriction on how you answer the question!
  4. You can only win one digital copy of WildStar
  5. The closing date is the July 4th, 2014

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Welcome to the New Ten Ton Hammer

By Reuben Waters -
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Game developers often note that embarking on the years-long journey of creating a game on the scale of an MMOG is nothing short of a labor of love. That it takes a dedicated and passionate team to achieve something truly special, and the willingness to see it through.

Smart developers will also note that the launch of an MMOG is really just the beginning of the journey. No matter how much blood, sweat, and tears have gone into that launch day product, the true joy comes in building for the future, and doing so right alongside your fans.

Our journey began back in the spring of 2004 with the original launch of Ten Ton Hammer. We've witnessed countless titles reach for greatness, some of them exceeding anyone's wildest expectations. We've also witnessed some of the harsher realities involved as the stakes of game development continue to rise and some titles didn’t stand the test of time.

We’ve traveled to countless industry events, and even hosted a few of our own, all the while driven by that same combination of dedication, passion, and oftentimes reckless abandon as we continued to wonder what sustenance the MMORPG industry would offer our gamer brains to chew on next.

As Chief Operations Officer and founder of Ten Ton Hammer John Hoskin would put it, when it comes to MMOG’s we’re like hobos on a ham sandwich.

As much as we love consuming what our developer friends in the industry cook up, we have an equal passion for sharing our knowledge, expertise, and opinions with our fellow gamers. Running a successful gaming network for ten years can definitely be a lot of work, but it’s really doesn’t feel like work even at the nuttiest of times when you're doing something you love.

Bigger and Better Things

Today our journey continues in a bold, new direction with the relaunch of Ten Ton Hammer. We could have simply reskinned the old site and called it a day, but knew we could produce something so much better than that for our industry and fans. Hopefully you enjoy the results as much as we’ve enjoyed the process of making this bold new take on the classic Ten Ton Hammer formula a reality.

Just like the MMO games we consider our bread and butter when it comes to gaming industry coverage, we’re looking at this launch as a beginning. It’s been a wild ride to get to where we stand today, but our technical team deserves a lot of credit for taking my wacky ideas, mock-ups, and iterative thinking and translating it into a pretty damn awesome MMOG website.

We’ll be rolling out major patches and updates through the rest of the year and beyond, and can’t wait to continue our journey right alongside the best gaming community on the planet. Take a look around as we get settled into our new home, and be sure to invite your friends to our kick-ass virtual housewarming party.

On behalf of the team from Master Games Intl., welcome to the new Ten Ton Hammer!

- Reuben Waters, editor-in-chief

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WildStar Interview: Stephan Frost

By Lewis Burnell -
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At the WildStar community event last week in London, I had the chance to have a ten minute chat with Stephan Frost. Having only spoken once before over an email interview, there's two things that I took away from our meeting:

  1. My wife's assertion that he is tall, dark and handsome is correct.
  2. He know's this industry and his passion for WildStar is very real. 

With pint in hand, stood outside Meltdown at 11:15pm, here's how we got on. 

Ten Ton Hammer: How are you finding the WildStar media tour?

Frost: I’m finding it well. It’s interesting finally being able to speak about the end game experience. We’ve been doing a big tour through Amsterdam, France and England, so its been cool talking about Warplots, raids and other end-game content.

Ten Ton Hammer: In terms of competition it’s pretty tough out there at the moment. You’ve got Elder Scrolls Online and Guild Wars 2 just having launched their content pack: do you think you’re prepared for that?

Frost: Certainly I think we’re prepared for it. We’re pretty different from those titles, Elder Scrolls especially. We’re a lot different to that kind of MMOG. With Guild Wars 2 they have their own user base and I don’t think we’re going to be robbing from anybody. I don’t think we’ll be losing anyone to them either. They have their own set of individuals so I think we’re coming out at a great time. People can kind of see what the landscape is and make decisions for themselves, to also come and check out the game early.

Ten Ton Hammer: We published an article recently about WildStar potentially being the last AAA title. Do you agree with that, based on how little there is on the horizon?

Frost: Let’s be fair, I think EverQuest Next could be the next triple-A. That question and that comment was also made on a panel at PAX East. I think it was the guy from Goblin Works that basically said that WildStar would be the last and I smiled to myself. He said triple-A for a reason and I think that’s because we are a triple-A quality subscription MMOG that’s going to be coming out. In that same panel that I had mentioned was funding and I think that’s going to be the thing that’s very difficult to grasp and attain in the coming weeks. I also made a point again in that panel where I said, “besides EverQuest Next, can you name another which is going to be the next triple-A MMOG?”. I certainly think there are going to be fewer and fewer of those because when World of Warcraft came out, people thought, "there has got to be a way for us to make that kind of money!", but the problem was that they didn’t make a deep enough game to maintain what World of Warcraft had. What we’re hoping to do and we’re not looking to steal from World of Warcraft or anything like that, we’re just trying to make a solid MMOG for players that really want a deep, rich MMOG experience with lots of end game content - lots of fun leveling content - and various communities within the genre (housing and dungeons) to ensure we’ve got something solid for them. I think what we’re putting out is a fully featured MMOG.

Ten Ton Hammer: Its always frustrated me when people claim the subscription model is dead when World of Warcraft is still housing so many players who are more than happy to pay $15 a month. You’ve obviously mixed it up a little bit with C.R.E.D.D to balance out free to play versus subscription…  

Frost: I think we’re probably the most fair subscription that’s out on the market right now. With the C.R.E.D.D system it allows you to purchase a subscription with in game money. It means you could be playing for free once you’ve bought the box. Especially with the fact that the first month is free, that means within that time you could earn enough to buy some C.R.E.D.D. I don’t think that the subscription model is dead if you look at things like Final Fantasy XIV and we’ll see what happens with Elder Scrolls Online. I hope they do well and a lot of people say that they’re our competition or if we’re worried about them but really it comes down to the fact I want them to do well because it means more MMOG’s will be developed if they do well. I certainly hope they do well because they’re subscription.

I’d like to think that because there’s been this resurgence in subscriptions that it’s in response to the free to play rush. I think there are some great free to play MMOG’s - DDO did a great job of coming out and saying, “we’re going to do this model!”. I think they were revolutionary in thinking of that idea. It’s the same with Lord of the Rings Online and a bunch of other MMOG’s that have gone that route. But I also think it isn’t for everybody. Certainly when we made the game our thought was: we’re a triple-A product. It’s like HBO - people don’t seem to bat an eye when they want to get quality content from HBO. It is more a month and it is something that people are used to and when you get Game of Thrones it’s well worth it. What we’re trying to make is something that people play and think, “damn, this is a good game”. With our monthly content drops where we’re going to put in dungeons, PvP battlegrounds, raids and PvE zones. I think people will find month after month we’ve a lot of content coming online. It’s well worth it.

Ten Ton Hammer: From WildStar’s conception to now you’ve been caught up in the landscape shift of subscription being seen as the “norm” followed by “free to play” taking up that mantle. I’ve heard many people say “if it was free to play I’d play it”. Looking back, do you think Carbine would have chosen a different payment path?

Frost: There’s never going to be a payment model where everyone is going to be happy. period. The way that we picked our side was the most fair when it came to subscription. You can effectively play for free once you’ve bought the box but that’s on you to earn that money and decide, “well, I’ll put a lot of time into this and earn this myself”. There are certainly players out there willing and capable of doing this, so for those people who’ve asked about us about  going free to play, I’m not really concerned about it. We have lots of people that are willing to play subscriptions and check us out. We have a quality product on our hands and ultimately we need to pay our bills. We’ve 270-odd people in our building and this isn’t a cash grab for us by trying to screw over consumers. Videogames are very expensive to make and MMOG’s are the most risky and expensive so we need to make sure we’re consistently bringing in funds to ensure that we’ve people continuing to make the content.

Ten Ton Hammer: Coming back to competition, Guild Wars 2 has defined itself by the Living World model of releasing content every few weeks. Without such a quick release model, do you think there’s enough to hold the attention of modern players?

Frost: When I look at games such as World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV, they seem to be doing pretty well. I think we are up there alongside these triple-AAA MMOG’s and I think we’ve created something that people seem to be reacting quite positively to. People are willing to pay that subscription fee but there’s always going to be vocal players that say it’s a terrible idea to not go free to play. We’re going to make something and if at some point we go free to play, hurray you’ve won - you get to go free to play. But right now we’re trying out this model and we think it’s pretty damn good and also worth it.

I’m not too concerned about that other competition because if anything, I think we’ve seen this resurgence because players are over the fact they’ve got to go through these paywall's to enjoy their experience. You’ll notice we aren’t launching with a cash shop and every single month we’ll be providing new content with your subscription. We’re trying to retain people and putting in content that has elder game potential and things to do for a long period of time. Really, it’s on us anyway because if we put something in that people don’t want to play, well, we’re going to lose their subscription because they’ll feel like they’ve conquered it and can move on. I think the stuff we’re developing is perfect for those 1%ers that want to do stuff and even for the casual gamers we have elder game content for them to.     

Ten Ton Hammer: When WildStar lands in our hands as a “finished” product, what do you think will be its weakest point?

Frost: There are certainly things we could go back and change or look at differently. I don’t know whether there’s anything that is horrendous about what we’re doing. We’re releasing the game when we wanted to release the game. NCSoft didn’t force a gun down our throat and say, “you’re releasing a game at this point in time.” We just basically said that we’ll release it when it’s ready. I think we’re in a good enough spot and I don’t think there’s anything that I’m hardcore against or regret in any way. The reason I say that is because we’ve been listening pretty well to what people have had to say about things we’re adding. Body types this late into the game was not an easy feat, the UI 2.0 before launching was something we have taken seriously. We’re still working on getting those things optimised. Key for us right now is optimisation and future content and that’s what we’re currently working on at Carbine Studios. We’ll continue to do that and I think people notice that patch after patch things get better.

We'd like to thank Stephan for taking the time out to chat to us during a jam-packed community event.

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Why Reviewers Shouldn't Review Destiny Like They Do

By David Piner -
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A site that starts with a K and rhymes with “yeah right” has proclaimed Destiny as dead. Huh? How does this work? Oh, game journalist flip their proverbial shift keys over this idea that Destiny is some mainstream game that appeals to no one and is boring because there is in total 7 enemies, meanwhile the rest of collective society shakes their head that the disconnect between review scores and reality is so deep.

Right now on Metacritic, the user score on some of the consoles is good, as in the 6s, which is unheard of on Metacritic the home where every game is a 1. Right now, very few games in the user score area pull more than a 6 and the vast majority of them are games like Shovel Knight and Marvel Heroes for some reason. Not that Shovel Knight isn’t pretty much the epitome of a great game.

I think there is some problem we have and it’s a scary problem. We’re no longer satisfied I supposed with the status quo. No one is angry that Destiny is just Halo with some RPG elements. No one is angry that the amount of time spent hiding from enemies outweighs the time you’re shooting. Nah, they’re mad it’s literally a shooter and doesn’t give you some crazy off the wall game on the side.

Until we have a revolution in controllers, you’re not going to get a different game. WiiU is literally the best console on the market and is still sold out everywhere that I go to, the local GameStop doesn’t have a very big WiiU section because well, all of the WiiU stuff is sold out all of the time, so they can’t keep enough stock to keep the display wider. You know why the WiiU is awesome? It has a controller that increases the depth of available control schemes, which increases the available types of games that can be made.

Look guys, there is only so much you can do with a controller. Sure, games like Shovel Knight nail side scrolls like Gordon Ramsay nailing a Beef Wellington, but unless it’s perfect, a reproduction doesn’t cut it, and that’s just the reality we have to accept. Until a new control scheme comes along, like the Oculus, or the Wii Gamepad actually being sustainable and brought into the next-next-next-next gen of consoles here in about 20 years when the PS4 becomes dated, there isn’t much to do.

So people need to just settle down and be happy pointing their trigger at something and shooting. Reading these Destiny reviews is reading a really drawn out “yeah this is all good but, it’s a shooter and it’s made by Bungie, which isn’t an indie studio, so yeah 6.0!”

Maybe we need to standardize reviews. Maybe take on an idea like food blogging, where there are several key components that every dish has like smell and taste, and just focus on what makes a game fun, versus what makes a game trendy. I think a review should be about how much fun is had in the game, how much you lose yourself, how much you want to keep playing versus if it’s the next Shakespeare or if it’s going to revolutionize gaming or some arbitrary bullshit.

That’s all for today, tomorrow I’ll talk about bacon or some other pop culture thing.

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Goat Simulator Comes to Mobile Devices

By Patsy Anderson -
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It's the moment we've all been waiting for. Okay, maybe it's just the moment I've been waiting for. Goat Simulator is now available in the Google Play store for Android devices and the Applie iTunes store for iOS devices. Now you can be a goat, no matter your location, and nearly no matter your device (sorry, Reuben, who knows if this is available on Windows Phone yet). Now I finally have something to spend my hard earned Google Rewards money on! I've been racking up one dime at a time telling Google that I have no idea about the companies they have surveys for, which means I can throw all those dimes down the internet tubes in return for playing as a sweet ass goat. Y'all just don't know.

In case you haven't heard about Goat Simulator, it launched on April 1st in the Steam store, which meant that a lot of people thought was some weird joke by Steam, not the work of Coffee Stain Studios. Even if you're not into a game with bugs intentionally left in for hilarity, I highly recommend at least reading Coffee Stain's patch notes, since they truly are the best thing ever. Studios big and small, please take note from these guys and gals. No more boring patch notes, no more boring life.

So, why would I highly praise what Coffee Stain dubs “a small, broken and stupid game”? I mean, do you really need a reason beyond being able to play as a goat? Yes, it's $10 for Linux, Mac and Windows. Yes, it's $5 for iOS and Android. I own it through Steam, and even if I didn't have Google Play credit, I would, without hesitation, spend $5 on this game again. Goat Simulator is, without a doubt, the best broken game probably ever. Coffee Stain makes no illusions here. They're not trying to sell a buggy, broken game as the next best AAA title. The bugs left in the game are ones that are dumb and add to the hilarity of Goat Simulator, rather than shitty bugs that break everything. Lower your gaming expectations, spend a few bucks and have a great time.

I'm still hoping that one day we'll see a Goat Simulator multiplayer game. Could you imagine it as a MOBA, where goats bleat and beat each other up in an all out brawl? Laning as a goat would be a whole new level of hilarity. Not to mention that, because the material we're working with here is a goat, King of the Hill would be built in. Some sort of tongue-licking capture-the-flag would be awesome, too. Don't get me started on how I envision a Goat Simulator MMORPG. Not that it would necessarily need quests, but if the game had them, they'd practically write themselves. Until then, we have local split-screen multiplayer, so go on. Be a goat.

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Goat Simulator


Goat Simulator is a dumb, broken game put out by Coffee Stain Studios. Created in a few weeks, the game is full of intentional bugs, left in for added hilarity. You don't play Goat Simulator because it has polished gameplay. You play Goat Simulator to play a goat. Be a goat.


Aion Celebrates 5th Anniversary

By Patsy Anderson -
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Starting today, NC Soft is celebrating Aion's fifth year and players logging in can immediately begin reaping the benefits. From buffs to increased drop rates and GM events, players will have all sorts of opportunities to collect Daevanion armor, a special level 10 set available during the event, and win other prizes. Players can expect contests and other giveaways in game and through Aion's social media channels. While players can begin celebrating now, September 22 is the actual anniversary date, which means GMs will be out in full force, handing out buffs and other fun stuff. Also, cake. Expect giant cakes! Their new video for the anniversary contains hints of what is to come.

The Wheel of Fortunerk is also returning, which runs through October 1's maintenance. Players can spin the wheel in hopes of winning everything from pets to palaces. The downside is, clicking on “Click here to spin” off of NC Soft's announcement, it looks like spins cost NCOINS, which doesn't feel very celebratory charging your community to participate in these events. The Daevanion armor set also costs one NCOIN. While one coin isn't steep (400 coins cost $5 USD), requiring players to have coins in their wallet in order to participate in the first place sucks any of the enjoyment out of a community event for me. I stopped playing Aion a few years back because I stopped finding the game to be fun for me, but seeing this coin requirement would keep me from wanting to participate in this anniversary.

While I don't mind cash shops having items for sale that do not offer a leg up in the actual game (I am willing to admit that I would often spend $35 a paycheck for gems in Guild Wars 2, just so I could buy dyes), requiring your community to buy into your cash shop just so they can participate in your anniversary is low, no matter the cost. It doesn't matter how cheap one coin costs, it's the fact that spinning the wheel or getting the set of anniversary armor costs anything at all, in the first place. If you want to throw a party for your community thanking them for supporting your game for five years and then charge them to take part in the celebration, you're not thanking your community for anything.

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Going Rogue in Marvel Heroes 2015

By Reuben Waters -
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Lifetap Volume 1, Issue 12 – Going Rogue in Marvel Heroes 2015

In just about every MMO I’ve ever played – even during that funky period when questionable free-to-play titles began to flood the market – there tends to be at least one feature or system that I fully expect will be absorbed into other games. We saw quite a bit of this following the launch of World of Warcraft, as everyone scrambled to add some version of quest markers over NPCs heads. We saw this again with the Public Quest system from Warhammer Online a few years later (though I still credit Tabula Rasa as the origin point within the MMO timeline).

There was a time when one of my most played online games was the original Guild Wars. What fascinates me is just how long some of the brilliance behind the core design of that game is only now beginning to seep into the MMO design ocean. One of the more interesting and unique features for its time was the elite skill capturing mechanic.

The basic premise is this. Elite skills are more powerful than common abilities, so you have to work a bit to obtain them. Each boss or named mob in the game would have a specific unique skill, so obtaining their elite skill for your current primary or secondary profession to a bit of exploration and patience.

Not only does that system give players reasons to go out into maps they might not otherwise venture through, but it’s very practical in the sense that you should only be able to learn the most powerful skills from the most powerful NPCs. Call me nuts, but I loathe the notion of walking up to some random vendor or trainer in town to purchase new skills for my class.

Think about it this way. If there is some omnipresent threat beating down the gates that serves as the entire premise as to why you’ve become an adventuring hero in the first place, why the heck aren’t these trainers out there on the front lines? I mean, they know every damn skill for your class better than you do, right? The capitalist bastards need to get of their asses and contribute to the fight, not stand around until the blisters on their feet burst to make a fast buck off of my character.

Getting back to the elite skill thing, it’s one of those systems that I’ve been hoping would turn up in other titles for a long time now. I suspect that one of the reasons it hasn’t is due to the current climate of instant gratification in MMOs over depth of gameplay.

Then along came the latest addition to the Marvel Heroes 2015 roster – Rogue – and my faith in the MMO industry’s ability to continue pushing the envelope in class design was instantly renewed. How’s that for some instant gratification?

Rogue as a playable character takes that simple premise from elite skills in GW, and seamlessly integrates it into her skill system while also expanding upon it in some noteworthy ways. In particular, one path allows you to borrow skills from allies, so your pool of available skills to capture is greatly expanded. This implementation also fits the lore of the character as snugly as the gloves Rogue is usually sporting.

Similar to elites in GW, each boss or playable character in Marvel Heroes 2015 will have one ability that Rogue can absorb. While you have a finite number of enemy or ally skills you can absorb at any given time, you can always free up slots with a simple right click in the skill tree.

The entire system is brilliant, elegant, and will hopefully help inform other MMO developers on new ways that skills can be obtained, or ways you can even handle multi-classing systems. It incorporates a number of worthy element in one neat package, even before you factor in the lore of the character involved. Here are a just a few of the big ones:

  • It gives you a valid reason to go out and fight bosses beyond the usual loot grind
  • It opens up meaningful choice above and beyond the typical limited action set or talent point setup
  • The skill system becomes dynamic, rather than static
  • Each new boss or character added to the game will continue expanding the potential skills available for use

It goes a lot deeper than that even, but those are some of the key points.

Due to time limitations, I’ve only gotten to play Rogue through the main normal mode storyline, but as with all characters in Marvel Heroes 2015, she continues to evolve and become more interesting to play the further I advance. The drop also came on the same day as the combat review for Jean Grey (my primary character from day one) so I’ve been digging those changes quite a bit as well.

Even if you aren’t necessarily a massive comic book or Marvel fan, I would encourage you to dive into Marvel Heroes 2015 to check out Rogue for the excellent class design if nothing else. Of course, the game is absolutely worth playing either way, and has remained a staple for me for the past year plus.

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Fighting The Raid Roster With Immortalis Noctis

By Lewis Burnell -
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Immortalis Noctis are unquestionably one of the best European guilds in WildStar (other notable guilds include Codex, Side Effect and Eugenic). We interviewed them prior to the launch of WildStar and as was expected, they’ve triumphed in a game that offers notoriously difficult content. What I find surprising however having spoken to them in the last few days is the greatest challenge they’ve encountered: filling their Raid roster.

You might envisage that a guild which has comfortably cleared Genetic Archives (WildStar’s first Raid instance that requires 20 people) would be inundated with offers from players to fall into their ranks in order to participate in the 40 man Datascape. Unfortunately, that isn’t strictly true and like many guilds in WildStar they’ve struggled to locate enough players, of the right classes and skill, to guarantee a full Raid roster.

Part of the problem, as you might expect, is that like all massively multiplayer games WildStar saw its fair share of players leave after the first month. Once bulging rosters pre-launch were slashed and as a result, forming 20 players for Genetic Archives proved impossible for many guilds while 40 seemed a near impossible task.

You might consider that having only 40 players online at anyone time sounds a small task but it’s surprisingly difficult when you factor in peoples working patterns and play times. I’ve been part of guilds that have over 125 members and yet seen fewer than 30 online of an evening. It’s even worse when those players aren’t necessarily the classes compositions you require in order to Raid effectively. It’s no use have even 50 people online if all of those are made of Stalker Tanks and DPS Spellslingers: it has to be an equal spread according to the encounter.

While it’s easy to point a finger at WildStar’s population decline as the main cause of guilds lacking player numbers, I really don’t believe it’s the cause and instead, the issue is twofold:

There Are Too Many Raiding Guilds

I fully appreciate that guilds want to carve their own niche in a massively multiplayer game and that many guilds who moved to WildStar have been together for a long time. However, what I often struggle to understand is how guilds who, despite all that, lack the infrastructure of the high end Raiding guilds don’t pursue mergers or alliances. I’ve been part of small and medium sized guilds in WildStar who wish to Raid and from the very moment they entered Genetic Archives it was evident they would fail. Whether it was from a lack of organisation in constructing groups, their loot system or a lack of players, the whole package was often missing because the approach was too casual for hardcore content. I’m not suggesting small guilds shouldn’t try, nor am I suggesting that small guilds can’t have success. What I am suggesting however is that small guilds with big ambitions, who are struggling to fill their Raid roster every week, should seek out others to merge with.

Every day in Illium I see the same Raiding guilds looking for additional members in order to fill their Raid for Genetic Archives. It’s clear, then, that these guilds have fewer than 20 players of the right composition that they can count on week in, week out. Considering we are all here to play WildStar and its highest level content, is it not sensible for these guilds to merge in order to strengthen their numbers. Even if it means benching some players during Raid nights or forging a second Raid group, at least the content is being played instead of guild members constantly stressing over whether or not they have enough of the right players.

Immortalis Noctis have recently done just this and although they’ve retained their guild name and website, they’ve absorbed 18 Raid Attuned players from Nosta - one of many skilled EU guilds that didn’t quite have enough players every evening. What I love so much about this willingness to merge is the fact that the game is taking precedence over guild pride. Two guilds have been strengthened and the likelihood of Datascape being played has significantly increased. Its also given rise to a second Raid group for Genetic Archives which although presents its own set of challenges, it means that despite the guild having already cleared GA, there’s a renewed difficulty in taking fresh blood through.

Raids Are Seen As Too Hardcore

I may sounds as if I’m contradicting myself now, but Raids - the content themselves - are relatively easy. It’s an exercise in mechanical learning rather than the enemy AI truly surprising you and if you have eyes, ears and a brain, it’s highly likely you’ll be more than capable in a short period of time of progressing through the content. Where the difficulty arises, as you might predict from my previous reasoning, is in organising 20 to 40 players of the right composition and worse, across multiple days of the week. It requires a very organised infrastructure and one that take a great deal of personal time outside of the game, in order to coordinate. Having had the tour of Immortalis Noctis’ guild this week for the purpose of this column, I have to say it’s one of the slickest operations I’ve seen. From its website to Raid enrolment it’s all incredibly easy and most importantly, accessible for all the members. What I found so refreshing about Immortalis Noctis’ approach to raiding is the fact that it isn’t allconsuming. You don’t have to sell your soul to be part of the guild and nor are you required to attend 6 days a week and be shouted at by some power hungry Raid leader (this type of guild genuinely exists in WildStar, though I won’t name and shame). That's a good thing in this genre.

So if you are Attuned and looking to be challenged by WildStar’s content or are simply looking for something more to do, I’d highly recommend that you check out Immortalis Noctis. If you aren’t looking for a guild but are struggling for members, it might be worth talking to them with a view to merging. More than anything, I think it’s important for the WildStar community to work together in this way in order to continue to play through the content that Carbine have produced. Raiding is an important part of the game and it'd be a real shame to see guilds continue to struggle just because of a lack of players. 

If you want to join Immortalis Noctis, head on over to their website. 

Have a WildStar Guild you'd like to talk about? Is your Guild undertaking something unique? Let me know by emailing me at [email protected]

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Skyforge PvP System Preview

By Reuben Waters -
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Being a major fan of PvP systems in MMOs, I’ve been eager to learn more about how it will factor into Skyforge. From all we know about the game so far, it’s shaping up to be one of the titles at the very top of our list of most anticipated MMOs, but how will PvP factor into that mix?

The folks from Obsidian Entertainment and Allods team are offering up some answers to that question this week on the official Skyforge website. We also had the opportunity to sit in on an interesting roundtable discussion with Obsidian Development Director, Eric DeMilt to learn more details about their approach to adding a meaningful but fair PvP system.

Right off the top, I got the sense that Eric understands what makes competitive gamers tick on a deeper level. While newer titles might have a certain degree of influence on how PvP will play out in Skyforge, Eric made numerous references to a somewhat bygone era of classic online multiplayer games such as Quake.

As a major fan of even playing fields for competitive play, my interest was definitely piqued. If you’re familiar with how the god form system in Skyforge works, it essentially adds an interesting new layer of choice to the mix that in some ways isn’t necessarily present in other MMO PvP systems. Perhaps the closest thing in recent years would be some of the more powerful elite skills in Guild Wars 2, or on a much smaller scale, the liberal use of ultimates in the MOBA genre.

Throughout the roundtable, Eric made sure to mention that the traditional notion of levels in MMOs has been dropped in Skyforge in favor of the Prestige system. You’ll essentially earn Prestige for successfully completing various types of content in the game, and then use it to unlock things like new skills for your character. You can almost think about it like the classic Alternate Advancement system from EverQuest, minus the associated level grind before you can begin really digging into the deeper layers of the AA system.

Skyforge PvP Maps and Game Modes

What that means in terms of Skyforge PvP is that players can – should they choose to do so – advance or refine their character wholly through PvP gameplay modes. Given that this is commonly a major request from competitive communities, this was certainly welcome news.

Another way that Prestige factors into PvP is that it will be used to unlock additional game modes over time. To start off with, all players will have access to the free-for-all arena immediately upon completion of the tutorial. This first map is the Lugran Research Base which is an open FFA mode for 6 players. Over time, additional maps and game modes will be unlocked including:

  • Kingezi Arena
    • Number of players: 6
    • Number of players in team: 3
    • Game mode: Team Deathmatch
  • Ring of Immortals
    • Number of players: 16
    • Number of players in team: 8
    • Game Mode: Control Points
  • Alcedon Facility
    • Number of players: 16
    • Number of players in team: 8
    • Game mode: Payload
  • Esten Quarry
    • Number of players: 24
    • Number of players in team: 24
    • Game mode: Capture the Flag

Having always been a big fan of CTF maps, I was glad to learn that this will be among the mix of available options in Skyforge. Likewise, it seems that Obsidian and Allods team have learned that options can be a good thing, unlike the single game mode approach found in games like GW2.

Speaking of GW2, Eric did actually mention the franchise when attempting to describe how PvP in Skyforge will play out. As Eric described it, PvP will be somewhere between the WildStar disco with the floor lighting up all over the place, and Guild Wars. All told, things will probably play a bit more like WildStar, however, given the very flashy and active combat system used in Skyforge.

Another thing worth noting about PvP in Skyforge is that players will have access to some pretty sweet gear via PvP. This naturally lead me to ask Eric how this might factor into game balance, as I’ve seen far too many times how the PvP gear treadmill will ultimately help insure the most active players are always at the top of the curve thanks to an inherent “haves versus have-nots” situation gear can invoke.

The answer in Skyforge is that matchmaking will factor in multiple things to help insure more even matches. For example, Players with a higher Prestige rating will be placed in matches together, as will those who choose to climb the competitive ladder system. So players just starting out in Skyforge PvP shouldn’t worry about being overwhelmed by more veteran or hardcore player who can one-shot them simply due to a gear or power disparity.

The goal seems to be to keep the playing field as even as possible; a notion that I’m fully in support of. The game is also being designed from the ground up to factor in PvP as an optional gameplay activity, so this also carries over into things like available skills. Given the freedom of choice present in the Skyforge class system, it sets the stage for players to really begin working out interesting character or team builds rather than the typical “mages cast fireballs, warriors hit you in the face with swords” scenario. So the system should support that integral combination of player skill and meaningful choice being the dominant factors into high level play.

All told, it sounds like Obsidian and Allods team are heading in the right direction for PvP in Skyforge. To learn more details on how the system works and the currently known maps and match types, be sure to visit the official Skyforge website!

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