Carbine Studios’ WildStar may be part of a decidedly dying breed of massively multiplayer online titles – namely those that require a paid, monthly subscription – but there’s been a ton of enthusiasm from gamers regarding the same. Part of the reason could be WildStar’s approach to combat and its distinctly intriguing personality. The other part could be NCSoft’s experience with MMOs like Guild Wars 2 and Carbine’s insistence on giving you your money’s worth every month. To that end, it will be implementing several features like Adventures, WarPlots and Raids to make WildStar all the more wholesome.
The Raids are especially intriguing since they’re meant for the top-tier players and involve between 20 to 40 people navigating insanely hard dungeons in order to amass awesome loot. How will Raids work and what do they have in store for players in the future? GamingBolt took part in a round-table conference with Carbine’s Brett Shiner, the lead dungeon and raid designer for WildStar, and Mike Donatelli, the game’s product director, to learn more about the experience.
"We have a 20 person raid and a 40 person raid. We built them both to be very big instances. They have a ton of bosses and events, they’re both very challenging and they both have distinct items tiers..."
Q: We knew there are 40-man raids. Are there raids for groups of 20 people as well?
Brett Shiner: Yes, we have two raid instances. We have a 20 person raid and a 40 person raid. We built them both to be very big instances. They have a ton of bosses and events, they’re both very challenging and they both have distinct items tiers in that from Genetic Archives, the 20 person raid, you’ll get purple gear epics and then from the 40 person raid, Datascape, you’ll get orange legendary gear, so that even the gear feels distinct as you go from one raid tier to the next.
Q: Now is that actually gear that you can kind of carry back into the world so that people can see it?
Brett Shiner: Yes, and I believe that we start revealing runes at like level 15, I think?
Mike Donatelli: So you also have a lot of options with customization and really kind of making your set your set by customizing the runes. Different armor pieces will have different sets of runes, different slots for runes so that you can really tweak in to your play style.
Brett Shiner: If an item drops, it’s going to be relatively close – like if the same item, like the Chestpiece of Awesome, drops three times, it’s going to be pretty close, but the actual runes that are on the item vary from drop to drop, so getting the best in slot as its defined is kind of a nebulous idea because that same chestplate can have different numbers of runes, different types of runes, and maybe for your class you think that fire runes are better or something like that, so that you can get the same item multiple items in order to make it incrementally better and better.
Q: Are the raids strictly guild-based, you know, in the sense where we have War Plots, where you can hire out mercenaries to fill out your party? Is this strictly a guild-based feature at this point?
Brett Shiner: I think that primarily guilds will be running the raids, but that is not a function of “You have to be in a guild to run it.” It’s more of with the difficulty and the group organization that’s required, of “These people go here, these tanks and healers pair up like this,” stuff like that, guilds that are already working together will naturally be more successful because the content is so challenges.
Mike Donatelli: You mentioned the mercenary system. With War Plots, if you have a 20-man war party and you want to fill the rest of your slots with mercenaries, that’s fine, but be prepared for the fact that your twenty guys, in War Plots, at least, are going to be the ones that know what to do, where to hit, and where to go, and these other guys are just going to be a mob. They’re just gonna run around. In raids, we have no intention of doing a Looking for Raid tool, like “Oh, hey, I want to mercenary for a raid.” The point is raids are for raiders. We built this content. It was expensive, but we wanted to make sure it was focusing on those people and giving them a new challenge, not the same old same old, not just taking something that was already average and lowering the cost of entry to 4 person raids. We wanted to make sure that the raids were potent, that they gave out the best gear and that they were tactically difficult, and you can’t just get 40 dudes together and slap them into a raid group and put them into this raid dungeon and not expect them to wipe on the first boss.
Brett Shiner: The first pull, not the first boss.
"When you fight a boss and the fight goes wrong and people start dying, or whatever awful thing that boss does to the raid, there’s no conversations after the fight that are like, “Well, why did I die? I don’t know what’s going on. I was just there and then I was dead.”"
Q: At the expense of sounding somewhat ignorant, these are designed to be highly, highly coordinated slices of content, right? You really have to have your stuff together.
Brett Shiner: You have to work together, but at the end of the day, I think one of the biggest wins the telegraph system has given us is that the messaging it gives to players intuitively is super clear. One of the things we found going through the beta process is that even with the challenging dungeon content and the raids and all of that, we can make the content really challenging but it’s still fun because players are not confused as to what’s going on.
When you fight a boss and the fight goes wrong and people start dying, or whatever awful thing that boss does to the raid, there’s no conversations after the fight that are like, “Well, why did I die? I don’t know what’s going on. I was just there and then I was dead.” People can clearly understand, “Oh, there’s this giant red telegraph, I was standing in it, and it killed me.” That makes sense, and that is something that has really allowed us to make these encounters really challenging, yet still maintain the fact that they’re fun and players feel challenged because they can see what they needed to do almost intuitively because of the way that the telegraph system works.
Mike Donatelli: I’ll take it a step further. I like what we’ve done in Datascape, in the 40-man raid. Let’s just pick a room. For instance, the one where all the plates fall out from underneath the creature.
Brett Shiner: The Quantum Maelstrom.
Mike Donatelli: So you go into an area. You have a boss that is attacking you with telegraphs and whatnot, and is also interacting with a party member and giving them a bomb. The bomb, when it goes off, will take out the floor underneath of you. So the whole idea is you’re fighting a boss, you’re trying to dodge his regular telegraph attacks, and somebody has a telegraph around them that is growing and if they don’t leap off and do some rappelling off the platform, you’re going to kill everyone on the platform. It depends on who gets it, and which way they go, and even the same fight can feel completely different every time because of terrain that will fall away, environmental hazards. We use all of these things in this potent cocktail that you just don’t see anywhere else.
Q: So the environment is just as much your enemy as the bosses and the mobs are?
Brett Shiner: To some extent. We wanted to build the different rooms to almost feel like event rooms, rather than a room that was full of mobs to kill because they are in the way of you and the next boss. We tried to set those rooms up so they had interesting hazards and stuff like that. One of the rooms in Datascape is a fire elementally theme room. It’s called the Obsidian Wastes and it’s very molten and fiery and stuff like that, and there’s a hazard that covers the entire room, and as you stand in the room, it ticks up.
It’s called Molten Heat, and if it gets to one hundred percent, you die. But the way we set the room up, every time you kill any base pop pull, they drop a spherical shield that protects you from the hazard. So while working through that room, which has four different mini-bosses in it, players are rewarded for fighting a pull in a sphere or near a sphere so that they’re safe, and then right before they kill it, running forward and positioning it so that when it dies, it drops the next sphere in the right location so that they can leapfrog their way through the room and build their own safe path through it. Those are the sorts of things that are kind of minor, but they make those rooms that otherwise might be kind of a drag still interesting and fun.
Q: Are the raids for 20 and 40-man different, or is it the same for both versions?
Brett Shiner: They are completely different instances. Genetic Archives is our 20 person instance and Datascape is the 40. There’s no normal or veteran or anything like that. They’re just hard, and they’re separate instances.
"I liked that there was something that I could aspire to and I think that is something that we have in PVE 40-mans, the War Plots stuff, which is just as badass as the raid stuff in a different way and for PVPers, and so I just like the idea of having that."
Q: From a business standpoint, what do you have to sacrifice when you have to focus on this one percent of players?
Mike Donatelli: I can tell you that, and it was money. (Laughs) Lots and lots of money. We almost doubled the size of the team in the last year. The whole idea here is we’re in it for the long haul. I understand that an MMO is about value. We’re asking you to pay a sub so we need to make sure that you have stuff to do, and I’m not lying when I say that we have multiple dungeons and raids in production as we speak, for post-launch. This isn’t going to end. We expect people to attack it, blow through the content and keep on trucking, and we’re going to keep providing more so people can do that. We had to inflate the team. We have a team that concentrates on the one percenter stuff for PVE, so we blew up the dungeon team. We wanted War Plots, which was this gigantic insane raid for PVPers, so we inflated the PVP team. We’re just keeping everyone working. We just spend a lot of money.
Q: What’s the advantage of targeting the one percenters, as you call them?
Mike Donatelli: Honestly, I’m just going to speak from my own personal experience. I like PVP. I’m going to be doing War Plots more than I am going to be doing raiding, but I’ve done some raids in WoW and there was just something really, really awesome about having some aspirational content that I could look forward to doing if I wanted to.
Having people run around in that awesome raid gear that you’re like, “Holy crap, where did you get that?” and then not seeing everyone in the city in the same stuff because you dumbed the raids down so any schmuck could do it. I liked that there was something that I could aspire to and I think that is something that we have in PVE 40-mans, the War Plots stuff, which is just as badass as the raid stuff in a different way and for PVPers, and so I just like the idea of having that.
Hell, if you want to go down that route, housing has that same kind of crazy, elitist stuff if you’re just going to totally pimp out your house 24/7. So that’s it for me. What do you think, Brett?
Brett Shiner: It’s not like all of this content is only for the one percent. The goal of setting this stuff up was that we wanted challenges for each style of player. I’m terrible with the housing system. I’m one of those people that got décor items while I was leveling my beta character and they all ended up in a pile in the middle of my house because they gave me rested XP bonuses. But at the same time, some of the other players in the beta have made absolutely ludicrous stuff and started posting YouTube videos about it and stuff. Somebody built a piano…
Mike Donatelli: My favorite was the hover board track.
Brett Shiner: The skate park.
Mike Donatelli: You saw it? The skate park was so cool that I sat down with the design director, Chris Barrens, and we were talking about how we could add place-able décor buffs so you could put décor buffs in the little race track you build so you could get extra speed and extra air. We don’t have it ready for launch, but we’re definitely going to put it in.
"We made all new places, and the idea of putting out all new PCPs, you know, aggressively throughout the year so the solo player will also have an item chase and all that great stuff. So we’ve spent a lot of time and money on concentrating on getting everyone their elder game fix, as it were."
Brett Shiner: So we have that for housing. We have arenas and battlegrounds and War Plots for PVP, but at the same time with the PVE content that my team has been working on, we have adventures, we have dungeons that are challenging even on normal, but then you go to veteran and they get a little more challenging. We have the 20-man raid and then we have the 40-man raid.
Basically, we wanted to make sure that as players leveled and progressed and got better and better at the game, that we always had a new challenge ready for them. The stuff for Datascape, at launch, might only be one percent of the guilds do Datascape at launch, because they’re the only ones who want to play the game and sleep and that’s it, but at the same time, that sort of challenge will be ready for them, and as the game matures and other players get better and better and form bonds within the game and make their guilds, the content will be there and ready for them to work on and go through as well.
Mike Donatelli: I think it’s interesting. You talked about PVE, and yeah we have adventures and dungeons and the veteran dungeons and all that great stuff, and that’s PVE content, but that’s really PVE group content.
Brett Shiner: Yes.
Mike Donatelli: Our content team is four times the size of the dungeon team and the PVP team, and those guys have made – because we’re going into open beta, that’s my challenge. I challenge people to go and play the content we have – it’s open! It’s free! Go in there and try it! – I mean, it’s nuts.
And those guys made what we call PCPS, post-cap play spaces, and those are just giant zones that you travel to and they’re filled with public events and some daily quests and weekly quests and rep grinds and all these interesting things, all kinds of cool things that in other games they send you back to the same old content and you just kind of do the same old quest that you did and just grind it for rep. We made all new places, and the idea of putting out all new PCPs, you know, aggressively throughout the year so the solo player will also have an item chase and all that great stuff. So we’ve spent a lot of time and money on concentrating on getting everyone their elder game fix, as it were.
Q: Have you thought about flexible raids in the future? For the more casual raider?
Brett Shiner: Not at this time, no.
Mike Donatelli: Not for raiders, not for casual raiding. For dungeons…
Brett Shiner: Flex raiding requires a lot of gymnastics on the side of creating encounters, and it results in much more interesting encounters when we can say “This is how many people it takes. This is what you have to do to do this fight.” One of the things we are going to be looking at, that I think was successful in the paces it shows up in our current raids, is to have multiple levels of challenge in a single encounter.
Something like “Here’s this boss. This boss is hard, but once you’ve learned this boss and you feel like you can beat the crap out of him, we’ve got challenges where you can try to do that same encounter in a way that is much more difficult or requires higher execution or even better gear in order to pull off.” In that way, we can have ways to keep pushing the same difficulty of the same encounter that’s not like flipping a switch for the whole instance or anything like that.
Mike Donatelli: One of the things I want to say is, and Brett and I were talking about this last night, is one of the first bosses in the Datascape – I can talk details, right?
Brett Shiner: Mm-hmm. System Demons.
Mike Donatelli: What I want to make sure that everyone realizes is that it’s not old school 40-man raids. It’s not putting 40 people in the middle of a room and having them beat on a guy. The first boss in the Datascape is actually two bosses and you have to send off squads of your own 40-man raid to separate locations using a teleporter system that has a finite number of teleports to subdue alternate bosses while trying to tank and kill the first boss. That level of coordination is something I want to see us hitting post-launch as much as we can.
Q: You guys are sick.
Mike Donatelli: Well, it’s something that existed. It’s not just “Hey, we’re standing in fire” or there’s a bunch of fire that moves around. We have all that crazy stuff.
"We have a general progression as far as the itemization and stuff goes. There’s level 50 group content and then there’s the veteran content and from there that gear leads you into the 20-man and from there into the 40-man."
Q: Are you able to get raid ready so that you’re ready to do raids when you’re only doing solo zones?
Brett Shiner: No. We have a general progression as far as the itemization and stuff goes. There’s level 50 group content and then there’s the veteran content and from there that gear leads you into the 20-man and from there into the 40-man. It’s sort of linear progression at launch.
Mike Donatelli: However, though, there is a slight fallback mechanism to that. The idea is that when you hit the cap of XP, your bar flips over and it turns into what we call Elder Points. So everything that you’ve ever done in the game that you like to do – if you like to PVP, if you like to dungeon run, whatever you like to do, you are now gaining Elder Points. Elder Points can be spent on Elder Gems, and Elder Gems allow you to buy sub-raid equivalent gear.
Brett Shiner: You can buy a bunch of stuff with Elder Gems. Additional Ability Points, ability tiers, additional AMPs, there’s gear, housing stuff, PVP stuff…It allows you to supplement whatever part of the game you really enjoy by playing the game. You don’t get those items for free. A lot of them are locked behind achievements. Like, “Oh, well, you’ve killed this boss. Now, here’s an item, if you want to spend Elder Gems on it, that you can also purchase.”
Mike Donatelli: It’s not as good as the stuff you’re going to get in the raid, but if it helps you get in there, if it helps part of your raid gear up to get in earlier, then it’s there for you to do. And like Brett said, we’ve put them behind achievements because the idea here is that we wanted to make sure that you’re not just some PVP guy or you’re not some PVE solo guy that just like “Oh, I’ve got all these Elder Gems, now I’m just going to buy raid gear.” You have to have raided. If you’re not a raider, you can’t just go and buy the gear and be like, “Yay, now I can do it just like you!” Plus, say your raid group isn’t on, and you’re like, “Well, I’m just gonna go hit some PCPs and do some of the new content they put out in the new patch, and I’ll be earning gems the entire time, that way when they do get on, we can go for it.” So that’s a way for you to do things other than raid and progress your solo experience.
Q: How is loot distributed among players after a raid is finished? Is it based on their performance or it is equal among all of the participating players?
Brett Shiner: So for the raids, the bosses, the challenges, the mini-bosses, those all have loot tables, and when they die the loot drops, and it is distributed like you’ve seen in a lot of other games. The bosses in Genetic Archives tend to drop three to four items each that you can then need vs. greed, master loot, etc. It’s up to the raid how they want to distribute the items. In Datascape, most of the bosses tend to drop six items, and then if you complete challenges you get additional loot and stuff like that. But it’s up to the players to distribute the items. That’s just for the raids.
Mike Donatelli: In adventures, which is our other group content that’s kind of sprinkled throughout the leveling process, you actually get scored at the end about you how you did, how many things you killed, how many times you died, how fast you went, and you get a bronze, silver or gold medal for which level you’ve done, and there’s additional loot for that, but you get XP and money and stuff while you do it.
Q: How big are the raids? How much time will they take?
Brett Shiner: Once a guild knows the encounters and can clear them, so basically “farm status” or whatever they want to call it, Genetic Archives would take three to five hours and Datascape would take six. That’s once you know the instance. It’s hopefully going to take them a very long time to learn the encounters and get through.
"I think I can honestly say that I’ve never seen an MMO that has a post-launch schedule like we have. I worked on Warhammer, I’ve seen a lot of games put them out, you know, there’s a questline here, there’s a questline there. We have entire zones that we’re going to be dropping."
Q: Is there a lockout timer?
Brett Shiner: There’s a one week lockout for both raids. On Tuesdays it resets and you can start over again. There are no lockouts for dungeons or adventures.
Mike Donatelli: You can run those as much as you want.
Q: What is the largest number of bosses and mini-bosses players will encounter in raids?
Brett Shiner: The Genetic Archives has six bosses, ten mini-bosses and five event rooms. Datascape has eight bosses, sixteen mini-bosses and a couple of event rooms.
Mike Donatelli: And some of that is random.
Brett Shiner: That’s not all consistent from week to week. You’ll generally see all of the big bosses, but we try to work in ways so that they change a little bit from week to week so that it feels fresh and we keep players on their toes.
Q: So we know there will be more raids in future updates, but will there be more content o keep veteran players invested in the game?
Brett Shiner: There will be additional dungeons and adventures and that sort of content as well.
Mike Donatelli: I think I can honestly say that I’ve never seen an MMO that has a post-launch schedule like we have. I worked on Warhammer, I’ve seen a lot of games put them out, you know, there’s a questline here, there’s a questline there. We have entire zones that we’re going to be dropping.
Q: How big will the gear difference be? When someone in orange gear runs into a solo zone, will he kill everything easily or is it a bit balanced?
Brett Shiner: Pretty much. The raid gear in PVE content will give you a huge advantage, and that’s sort of intended, but we do have PVP offensive and defensive stats, so the PVP gear is not the best for raids, and vice versa.
Q: So people with good raid gear can boost other players through veteran dungeons?
Brett Shiner: Oh, yeah.
Mike Donatelli: We also have a system of rallying and mentoring, so if you want to take your crazy orange gear and go help your level 12 buddy run an adventure, you get mentored down to his level, but your gear actually keeps its badassness.
Brett Shiner: It’s still that color, so you would be the only level 15 player with orange gear. That’s normally not available, so, you know, you feel like Mighty Mouse.
"The War Plot bosses are set up more to be disruptive weapons rather than an organized raid encounter. So when they spawn, they’re going to lay waste to a bunch of people, but at the same time, there’s 40 other people trying to kill you."
Q: There’s been some talk about leaderboards for guilds and raids and such. How is this going to work exactly?
Mike Donatelli: So we have a design, we’re working on it now. It won’t be in the game the day the game launches, but we’re shooting for the next patch. Patch 1 is 28 days post-launch, so we’re shooting for that. The way we have it, it’s pretty much everything you could possibly think of. It’s going to be on a website, but we’re playing with the idea of bringing it into the UI so you can also look at it in the game. It’s a work in progress.
Brett Shiner: That way we can track stuff, guilds can see leaderboards, we can maybe do challenges to see who can do this the best or the fastest or something like that just to have additional competitive things that we can add to the game because raiders get really excited about these world first things, and I think having additional stuff for them to compete with each other over would be a big win.
Q: Do you plan some kind of PVP/PVE raiding content to mix things up?
Mike Donatelli: For launch, no, but post-launch we talked about having a – I don’t know if you remember a thing called Darkness Falls, but a Dark Age of Camelot/Darkness Falls style where it’s a giant dungeon where both sides can capture the entrance and go in and run it while the other team is trying to recapture the entrance and have this big tug of war PVP thing inside, but that’s post-launch and I don’t know where that falls in the post-launch schedule.
Brett Shiner: Also, as part of War Plots, whenever you defeat the final boss in any of the dungeons or either of the raids, they actually have a chance to drop a token that will let you summon that boss for the War Plot.
Mike Donatelli: So raiders can capture them. It’s a slim chance but they can capture them and put them up on the auction house for PVP guys to buy and put on their thing and if you’re in a War Plot and you have a match against someone who has one and you destroy it, they actually lose it because our PVP War Plot stuff is a permanent loss, so… It’s pretty badass.
Q: Will the bosses in the War Plots be as hard as the real thing?
Mike Donatelli: No, only because we want to make it challenging but not… How about this? I’ve never actually seen someone get by one.
Brett Shiner: The War Plot bosses are set up more to be disruptive weapons rather than an organized raid encounter. So when they spawn, they’re going to lay waste to a bunch of people, but at the same time, there’s 40 other people trying to kill you. It’s a lot more of the boss shows up and starts laying waste to anything with a red name in his vicinity rather than “Oh, these are the number of tanks and healers and the strategies and the phases of the encounter” and stuff like that.
Mike Donatelli: In War Plots you have a lot of other offensive weapons like orbital strikes and 39 friends.
"We made a sickening amount of content. More content that any MMO I’ve ever worked on, more content than any MMO I’ve ever been involved with. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of content if you do all of the adventures and challenges and all of the crazy stuff we have littered throughout the game."
Q: Do we get tokens for the War Plots in dungeons as well or only from raids?
Brett Shiner: Yes, the bosses are from all four dungeons and both raids. Only veteran versions, though.
Mike Donatelli: The idea is that the other things you put on your War Plots besides bosses, you find them in the world, you earn them through Elder Gems, War Plot money, crafting. There’s a ton of different kind of things you put on your War Plot.
Brett Shiner: There are also War Plot bosses that are not only from the dungeons and stuff. Architects can make one, there’s a couple default ones you can buy, stuff like that.
Q: If raiding is only for the hardcore, non-casual players, don’t you think all the other players will be disappointed that they’re missing an interesting part of the game?
Brett Shiner: Well, they don’t have to miss it!
Mike Donatelli: It’s up to them to miss it. We made a sickening amount of content. More content that any MMO I’ve ever worked on, more content than any MMO I’ve ever been involved with. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours of content if you do all of the adventures and challenges and all of the crazy stuff we have littered throughout the game.
Again, if that’s not enough for a guy who wants to solo play, then we added PCPs at 50, so there’s new stuff to hit, and new zones post-launch that we’re going to keep pounding out so that the solo player will be disgusted with the stuff that is all there and he can’t hit. We hope that we have a lot of interesting things.
You have a housing plot that has a housing buff and every day it gives you some crazy bonus – ten percent, let’s say – to XP earned. Now if you’re 50, you still get the ten percent bonus to Elder Gems, so that’s awesome, too. That’s important. The thing is, the buff on your housing plot says, “You know what? You get ten percent today if you run adventures.” So you’re like, “Ah, man, I don’t really run adventures, but this is too good to pass up. So I’ll LFG for an adventure, or I’ll LFG for a dungeon.”
I’m hoping that once you LFG for an adventure or dungeon, once you dip your toe in it, we try to incentivize people to do it all the time throughout the game, I’m hoping that once you do that, that you’ll be like “You know, I kind do like dungeons,” or “Oh, yeah, I can take on a raid!” even though our raids are punishing. But I hope that we can lure people into PVP and PVE group content because we put a lot of things, a lot of buffs, a lot of benefits, a lot of cross-over.
Brett Shiner: I think in addition we have lots of content for whatever your play style is. If you like to raid, there is raid content there to do. If you don’t like to raid, you don’t have to and there will still be plenty of content for you to do and have fun. Additionally, though, I think with the way combat and our content for the group PVE side of things escalates as you go up in levels and in skill, there is an excellent learning process to say, “Oh, I’m in the overworld and I’m fighting a creature and he does one little telegraph, and now I stun him, and I have a moment of opportunity, and I do bonus damage.”
And from there you can do adventures and dungeons and learn “Oh, if we work as a group and we interrupt things and stay out of the telegraphs” and stuff like that, the players begin to teach themselves to get better and better at that content. We have the raids there that, maybe for the casual players, they’re not the ones trying to run raids a week after launch, but three months down the line, the raid will still be there, and they’ll have taken their time and gotten the gear and if they want to try it then they might have a much better chance of success because they’ve taken the time to really gear up doing other parts of the game.
Mike Donatelli: Words to live by: if everything is easy, there’s no challenge, and if there’s no challenge, I don’t want to play. That’s just my personal thing, so as long as there’s something to challenge me, I’m always going to want to try to do better, and I hope that our players do the same.
"Our goal is value. You’re paying $15 a month. You could play any other MMO out there. We have to make sure that we are the best bang for your buck, and to do that, to keep these casual players interested, we’re going to launch an expansion’s worth of content over the next year for free, because you’re paying."
Brett Shiner: There’s nothing preventing anyone, aside from the attunement process, who wants to try and run the raid content. You do the attunement process; you can zone in and give it a try. I think the difference is, at launch and after the first few months of launch, I think the people that will be banging against those zones are the people who really like hardcore raiding. That is the content in an MMO that they are looking for, and as the game matures and as players get better and get more gear and more content and zones and dungeons come out, the more players will begin to trickle into that content as well and see it once they get to that level.
Mike Donatelli: Our goal is value. You’re paying $15 a month. You could play any other MMO out there. We have to make sure that we are the best bang for your buck, and to do that, to keep these casual players interested, we’re going to launch an expansion’s worth of content over the next year for free, because you’re paying. And as long as you’re paying, we can afford to keep people making this stuff. It’s a win-win for everybody, so I hope that the casual players really glom on to that idea.
Q: Can you tell us more about raid tools for guilds like calendars, and invite systems for hardcore guilds and casual guilds?
Brett Shiner: That stuff is in-progress right now. At the same time, though, our UI is one hundred percent modable. If you look on Curse and our forums, players have already created a phenomenal number of add-ons and stuff to help with guilds, a bunch of stuff to manage groups, and show buffs, and view nameplates, and…
Mike Donatelli: We deliberately built the UI so anyone could do pretty much anything with it. It’s all LUA-based so everything’s open.
Brett Shiner: No matter what we do, the players are gonna say, “No, no, no, no, I want my raid frames to be exactly like this” or something like that, and they are going to change it. So we set up the UI so they can do that and create those additional tools, but we are also looking to improve the tools as we go forward as well.
Mike Donatelli: And we have the things you’re talking about in progress, but they’re not going to be in the game at launch. Not from us, at least.