So Long Wildstar

More like the energizer bunny.

As reported on Kotaku yesterday, Carbine and Wildstar are closing shop.  This should come as a surprise to no one, given we’re 2+ years from their crash at launch.  It’s still sad that people are losing their jobs, and sadder still that something with Wildstar’s charm is going under.

I’m sure over the next year or so, we’ll get more insight into what went wrong behind closed doors.  There are already enough rumors about the original management teams’ way of thinking… and that the hoverboard was done under the table by a separate coder.  Hindsight here will be worth a lot to any developer.


World Quest – just amazing art

When Wildstar launched, I joined a guild of fellow bloggers – led by Liore.  I rather enjoyed the first few weeks, and the trip to max level.  I more than enjoyed the art style (squid head), and the controls were good enough to keep you engaged.  The world felt cohesive, and the story made sense.  The player housing was some of the best I’d ever had a chance to play with – and seeing how other players managed theirs was a lot of fun.  There is a LOT in Wildstar that worked.  Hell, I still have guides on this site for playing it.

But it launched too early and too aggressively.  Core functions that make an MMO work just didn’t exist.  Guild tools were rudimentary.  Finding other people was a mess.  Skill/item balance at max level was nearly non-existent.  Dungeons were dramatically over tuned.  Incentives were applied to speed, even for starting dungeons.  Raids (when it did come) were just meat grinders.  Open world bosses were zerg-fests, and open-world events were designed for organized raid groups – not pugs.  They built these lovely islands of content to consume, and rope bridges to get there.

The first month went by and the guild dropped by a solid 80%.  The stuff to do at max level… well it just wasn’t doable.  There are some stats somewhere…but I do recall that only 1000 people ever set FOOT in the first raid zone, let alone completed it.  Attunement quests anyone?

Months of player base crashing, a F2P conversion that was not accompanied by any game changes but a money shop (TESO was smart enough to do better), and infrastructure that couldn’t even bother to scale to the demand influx.  It took the worst parts of MMOs, because those are easy to replicate, and didn’t include the best, because those are so hard to make.

It survived for so long due to a passionate player base, despite the lack of new content for nearly 2 years.  It brought an interesting vision to the table, but failed to pull off the execution.  It seriously misjudged the available playerbase as frothing at the bit for extra hardcore MMO, which history has pointed to being the exact opposite on multiple occasions.

MMOs launch and attract players with features – the stickyness factor will always be other players.  Putting up roadblocks for those players to assemble, and find some nominal success is a recipe for disaster.  There are just too many solid alternatives that have a working model.

So long Wildstar.

Other posts:

Headless Horseman is Back


Headless Horseman – with head

Hallowe’en is one of my favorite times of the year.  You get way more candy than at Easter and you don’t get guilted for it.  (If you avoid stepping on the scale for a while that is).  Every game seems to have some sort of theme going on and WoW is not exception.

For my money though, Wildstar has the best event.  Shade’s Eve fits really well in the game theme, and the mini-instance is fun to rerun.  Last year I must’ve done it about 50 times across all my toons.  I have a serious itch to try it again!

Back to WoW though.  This year, there’s a new daily quest in Val’shara, near Bradensbrook.  You drink from a cauldron, kill a wraith and get a loot bag, maybe get a witch’s hat.  Yay?  The Headless Horseman is back again, same loot as always, just ilvl 835 now.  Which should be pretty meaningless for anyone who’s been at 110 for a couple weeks.  But it’s better than Brewfest’s ilvl 810 gear. Which, to me, seems like an odd choice given that it’s not like you can kit out a player in event-based gear…

Hallowe’en in WoW is more of an achievement hunt than anything else.  Go collect candy in buckets, use wands to transform people and collect masks.  Run the daily horseman event and cross your fingers on the mount.  Considering that it’s the only real-life event that Blizzard actually endorses (pumpkin content anyone), it’s still strikes me as odd that this event doesn’t have more to it.  Heck, Brewfest had a pile of things to do, with plenty of toy-based rewards.

I still like the event, if only for the theme.  Just could use a bit more to it.

Rogue Update

Bugger hit 110.  I did it much faster this time than I had expected, largely to a very interesting mod – ConsLegion.   It works a little weird at max level, and can be very distracting, but for leveling, it is really hard to beat.  It works by selecting the optimum route in a zone for both accepting and turning in quests.  It avoids sending you across large swathes of land, and instead focuses on the core quest line.  There’s a TomTom-like arrow and a few other bells and whistles that make the entire process super fast.  I cut my leveling time by a quarter, if not more.  So much so, that I had not even finished my first 8hr class hall quest from the one offered at 105.

I haven’t really played a DPS role at 110 – instead focusing on tank for solo play, and healer for some groups.  I will admit that a leather wearing rogue in ilvl 775 gear isn’t very powerful, so from this point after unlocking world quests, I think I’m going to park him until gearing drastically improves.  That’s likely a week or so, as even the emissary quests give decent upgrades.  Then we’ll see where he ends up.

World Bosses

Final thought here.  Blizzard needs to change the display options on world bosses, especially those out in the open.  Nithogg was surrounded by mountains and J’im was in a cave, so that wasn’t the end of the world.  Levantus and Calamir are in the wide open, with massive AE.  A 40 person raid just destroys my experience, which works fine in all other cases.

It would be great to have a toggle… maybe there’s a mod for that.  Or you know, Blizz can stop making PC-melting events.

When the Shark Got Jumped

I really like Wildstar.  My guides generate consistent page views.  I played a fair chunk of the game but it dropped off my play list just as most games do.  I am not a raider, certainly not one that can raid at the level that Wildstar demands.  I much prefer the casual approach and after a couple months, you’ve just seen and done it all.  I like dungeons too, but the queues, last time I played, were hours long with no goals.

When Wildstar went F2P (a near year later than most people thought it would), it brought in the bane of all games – lockboxes.  I have a general hatred for lockboxes as I do with most gambling.  It preys on the mathematically challenged.  It’s worse when there are lockbox-only items.  Most games start off innocuous enough, with cosmetics in those boxes.  Eventually they creep up to low level gear, or mounts.

Wildstar recently announced that they are going to offer lockboxes for raid content.  I am struggling to think of a western MMO that does this (many eastern ones do).  So while you can’t buy them directly from the store (yet) they will drop from raid instances and be tradeable.  So you’ll be able to get the rewards from a raid without running a raid.


And I find that rather sad but perhaps at the same time, to the point.  Why bother with actually playing the game when you can just bypass it all with a couple dollars?  I mean, who wants to actually play the game when you can just bypass all that crud, stand in the middle of the crowd and sit down cause there really isn’t anything left do do anymore.  And then the stop playing, which means more money lost.

And what’s the escalation point after this?  Lockboxes will now contain all the items from the game, regardless of where they come from.  What exactly will people be buying after this?  What could be better?  I don’t see any carrots left.

This brings back to mind the whole Allods fiasco, where the game was great, but with a horrible business model.

I really hoped that Wildstar would be able to find a footing. I still do.  I’m of the unfortunate opinion that they, like the dwarves before them, dug too deep with greed.

Demon Hunter Alt

My monk is over ilvl 330, so Mythic dungeons are what’s left.  I still do dailies when I can, slowly working on the Pathfinder achievement.  I have alt-itis though, and picking #2 is challenging when you have 5 characters waiting at level 100.

The purpose of an alt is to provide a different experience and playstyle.  My monk has done nearly all the quests available, and that experience will be the same next time.  What’s left is the Class Halls and the minute to minute gameplay.  I like dungeons, but the DPS queue is around 40 minutes, so that more or less rules out pure DPS for an alt (Hunter, Rogue are out).  My druid (boosted in WoD) is ok, but always feels like a dumbed down version of a real class – it just doesn’t stick with me.  Plus, there’s only so much bear-butt and cat-butt I can stand.  The Shaman is woefully underpowered as Elemental, but plays great.  That leaves the Demon Hunter.

Considering that this entire expansion is focused around demon hunters, I think the story portion will play somewhat differently.  And the playstyle, while closest to the monk, is certainly different than any other class.  You fly around all over the place, and that free glide ability… that will make my life a whole lot easier.

The class hall itself requires gliding to get to.  The story is interesting enough, and the 2 weapon quests are good.  It feels a bit weird to be playing as the bad guys from BC, but at the same time, the lore behind it all is quite entertaining.  I’m not a fan of the hall layout, but the NPCs within seem more alive than in the other halls (druids excepted).

And I’m alternating between both the tank (vengeance) and DPS (havoc) roles, to see which fits better.  Tank is really hard to kill but doesn’t have the dash skill which makes movement a breeze, and somewhat low damage.  The DPS moves like a kite in the wind, but is made of tissue paper.  More tweaking required…

Finances Are Important

Cottage Time

After having run countless budget exercises, having met our financial advisor and talked to our broker, it looks like we’ll be moving ahead with the cottage purchase.  My wife can attest that my level of anxiety this week has been through the roof, though the last 12 hours or so have been much better.  As is clear with all of my posts, I’m a numbers guy, and I love analytics.  So when a large purchase like this comes around, not only do I get excited, I start going all over the place in terms of options/scenarios.

I remember on Sunday talking with my wife about the absolute need to take those three steps (budget, advisor, broker) in order to come to a conclusion.  I’m not buying a damn coat here, I’m buying property that I need to pay for the next 20+ years.  She isn’t as well versed in all this financial stuff as I am, which to be honest, ignorance is clearly bliss in this case.  Still, she knew it meant a lot to me and suffered through my protestations to get this going.  After it all being complete (well, the paperwork is next) she’s certainly more appreciative of the nuances within.  We spent more than a few hours looking over the budget spreadsheet, so I’m slowly converting her!

Which brings up an interesting topic, one that the advisor brings up from time to time – people do not know how to budget.  I don’t mean worry about every penny but I do mean understanding where the heck your money is going.  I don’t get how budgeting 101 isn’t mandatory in high school.  I remember helping out my brother a few years ago with his budget.  What he thought he was spending was actually less than half of what he actually was spending – and that was just fixed costs.  Brining those numbers to the front really shocks people into action.

Not everyone needs an official financial advisor, but everyone should have a friend who’s really good at accounting.  Everyone needs a budget.  There are plenty of sites for it too.  And evaluating your spending based on your budget is super important, so that you modify it as need be.  Heck, most banks will offer the service for free, then set up extra bank accounts and automated transfers between them.  As an aside, no one should ever pay banking fees – if you are, change banks.

All of that to say that a solid budget makes life so much easier, since you’d then have the basic tools to manage your money.  Heck, you might even realize that you have way more freedom than you thought.

Tablet Woes

The tablet fix still isn’t working.  I can read the device through USB but the screen (not the digitizer) will simply not work.  Next step is to try a HDMI output and see which component is faulty.  I was really hoping it was just a loose cable, but it wasn’t any of the obvious ones.  The sort of good news is that I’m realizing that I don’t need the tablet to get work done.  It’s incredibly practical, but not essential.

Wildstar Runes

By far the #1 page on my site these last few days has been my rune guide.  I’ve updated it with an example near the bottom, on an ilvl90 weapon for my engineer.  I used service tokens to re-roll the slot (all the tokens were from the daily login bonus) and it’s in pretty good shape.  It went from 315 secondary stats to 1115, plus set bonuses that come out to an extra 150 points or so.

It’s a very noticeable boost, though there’s more tweaking I need to do on other pieces.  I took my engineer to the Badlands and the 2man bosses within (bone dog and spider queen) dropped down much faster.  Even the regular enemies now fall down with a single electrocute channel.

I am surprised/disappointed as to how much runes are a major factor in end game now and as to how little NCsoft explains this to the player base.  It would be an easy argument to make that someone in fully runed ilvl60 gear would be more powerful than someone in un-runed pre-raid gear.  It’s why gating content behind ilvl is so tricky, you can’t really measure rune power with it.  And even some runes are very expensive for little benefit.  The raid level runes (ilvl 100) are cheaper than the dungeon runes (ilvl80), and by a wide margin.

I guess that’s why the guide is so popular.  People are starting to figure out how important runes are.

Rare Isn’t Always Good

About a month ago, my youngest dropped my tablet and the screen cracked.  Then she did it again.  Truth be told, she’s dropped it more times than I could count… oddly uncoordinated child.  Anyhow, that made the device mostly unusable, since it detected touches all the time.  I did what any self-respecting IT guy would do – I went a-googling.

First hurdle, I have a TF701.  This is one of those Asus transformer tablets that works with android.  It’s a great tablet, quite powerful, good disk space, came with a keyboard that physically connected… all great.  But it was also one of those limited edition doohickeys, or at least you’d think so based on the google results.  I had replaced my wife’s Samsung screen (digitizer) a few years ago, so I knew that it was possible.  Sadly, there are no screens for sale in North America, so eBay it is!

80$ later (free shipping) and 30 days later, I received the digitizer.  No instructions, no tools.  Back to google.  I crap you not, there is 1 single video on how it’s done and it’s in Russian.  There are T700t videos, but they are not the same form factor passed step 1.  There are hidden screws (the extra tiny ones that require special tools), extra tape and removing the digitizer is a massive pain.

2 hours later, many 4 letter words later, I had the digitizer off and was ready to rebuild.  That part was faster but much less fun.  The power is back but the screen doesn’t display anything, so more troubleshooting is needed.  I know the thing works though, since the alarm went off this morning and I was unable to do anything but snooze it.  Ugh.

After 30 minutes of fiddling, I had to stop it.  I was ready to just throw it in the trash at that point.  Deep breath.  It’s going to be ok.


My engineer has a fair bit less plat than my esper.  An order of magnitude in fact, so, time to see what I can do about that.

Making money typically comes in three main forms.  First is maxing out experience for the week, then completing quests for cash.  Each daily hub generally awards 10-15% of the bar.   So if you’re only running dailies, it’s 2-3 days’ worth to cap out.

Second is repeatedly running an expedition like M-13.  You usually end up with 1-2 purples, ok gold rewards and a token for more cash.  It takes a bit over 10 minutes to run the easy ones, so you can make a few plat an hour.  PvP is an option too, about 20g per win, though you really should be in a pre-made to make this work faster than expeditions.

Lastly is working the AH.  I have a post about that!  The real flips occur on the commodity exchange, as you can set buy and sell orders.  The problem with that system is that it’s even more based on volume than a more standard AH (buy/sell only), meaning massive price fluctuations.  I’ve had to install a mod to keep track of all the various price points and I’ll be waiting a few days to find some trends.  I think my main focus will be on Runes.  Not only the base price points but also in terms of selling completed high quality Runes as well.  There’s a noticeable markup in that field, if I can get superb components at a low enough price.

Aside from that, I’m re-learning the limitations of the engineer.  I find action combat very key heavy, almost a button masher.  Engineers don’t have much of that, what with Electrocute being a channelled ability and the rest being mostly based on cooldowns.  There’s a whole lot of waiting, then a frantic smash of many buttons, then waiting again.  It’s an odd pace and really hard to find the right rhythm.  It’ll come though.

#Wildstar – PvE Gearing Guide

So you’re a fresh 50.   Problem is that the level 50 content is using you as a treadmill.  Wildstar is an MMORPG like the others, and getting better gear makes a world of difference.  This guide is based on the following reddit post, with my own additions.

First off, you need to know that items are clearly marked in power level, called item level (or ilvl for short).  For the most part, an increase in ilvl is an increase in power.  There are slight variations mind you, in that you want assault power for DPS and support power for Heals/Tank.  Mixing them is a bad call.

In terms of item power level, it generally goes like this (items with an * require a group to complete):

Quest Gear –> Challenge Gear  –> Expedition Gear –>  PvP Gear –> Contract Gear –> Adventure Gear –> *Dungeon Gear –> *Raid Gear

Finally, items have rune slots.  You can buy a bunch from the AH for pretty cheap.  I personally wouldn’t spend more than 10g per rune until you reach Expedition level gear. These have a dramatic impact on item power.  A fully runed item can double in power, and it doesn’t have to be expensive runes either!  See my rune guide for more info.  The general rule of thumb is “rune for groups”.

First Things First

I suggest you visit the Auction House and scan for gear upgrades.  You want to buy anything under 10g that’s also an upgrade.  This is likely to replace most of your quest gear.  Filter by item level, and sort Buy Now: Low to High.  *as of this posting, the default AH only filters up to ilvl 60.  Download the following fix to address this.  You want to filter for items above ilvl 61.

Challenge Gear (ilvl 50)

When you complete challenges in a level 50 zone, you get points that fill a progress bar (press “L” and look at the challenges tab).  The reward for completing the bar is a random item.  This should be done fairly naturally during your play.  I wouldn’t chase this gear, simply keep it in mind when playing.

Expeditions (ilvl 60)

Press N, look at the expeditions tab.  You can solo all of these at 50, though some are a bit harder than others.  There are item drops within, but what you’re looking for is 2 things.  Completing an expedition rewards Renown, used to buy PvE gear.  Getting a gold rating on each (completing all optional objectives) unlocks the ability to purchase an AMP upgrade.  Expeditions are the best way to generate money in PvE – M-13 and Infestation are my favorites.

PvP Gear (ilvl65)

Find the PvP season 2 vendor and buy whatever is an upgrade.  The PvP stat isn’t great mind you, but it’s likely better than the other gear you have so far, excepting AH gear.  Yes, this means you can skip all the gear before this.

Contracts (ilvl 57 to 80)

In the capital city you can find the contract board.  The level 2 contracts are easy enough to solo, regardless of your gear level.  The level 3 contracts are a pain, unless you find someone advertising in general (exception is the Star Comm Basin event, which is every 2 hours).  Getting to rank 5 of the contract rewards gives an ilvl80 item.  The rest are randomly selected and of lower quality.  It’ll take a couple weeks to complete a single pass through to rank 5 rewards.

Adventures (ilvl 68)

Press N, look at the adventures tab.  It takes 5 folk to complete, takes 20-45 minutes per and the loot rewards are decent enough.  Use the Glory you get as a reward to buy even more pieces from the vendor in the capital city.  Gold on everyone gets an Ability Point unlock.

Dungeons (ilvl 78)

Press N, look at the dungeons tab.  All dungeons are not created equal.  You want to be around ilvl 60 to do the basic ones.  Do not enter a dungeon unless you have put in runes inside your existing gear.  You should leave here with ilvl 80 gear on average, allowing you to enter raids.  The general consensus on difficulty is Stormtalon’s Lair (STL) –> Kel Vorath (KV) –> Skullcano –> Shield of the Sword Maiden (SSM).  Though in truth, if KV isn’t a rather easy pass, the last 2 are going to eat you up.

AMPs and Ability Point Unlocks

When you hit 50, you’re given 41 Ability Points and 47 AMPs to spread around.  Through various items, you can unlock an additional 7 Ability Points (48 total) and 10 AMPs (57 total).  There are quite a few ways to do this:

  • Complete your Path quests to the maximum level.  You’ll get 1 of each. One time only.
  • Complete every Expedition to Gold, that gives an AMP. One time only.
  • Complete every Adventure to Gold, that gives an Ability. One time only.
  • Each Dungeon has a chance to drop one or the other.
  • Complete Blighthaven or Defile to maximum rep gives 1 Ability each.  Takes about a week or so to max. One time only.
  • Complete Crimson Badlands, Malgrave, Northern Wastes or StarComm Basin for an extra AMP each, but that will take a few weeks. One time only.
  • PvP sells Ability and AMPs for Prestige.  4/5K for the first one, then 8/10K for every additional one.
  • Elder Gems sell Ability and AMPs for 300-450 each.  Unlimited.
  • Open World combat and PvP sometimes reward them as loot, though this is pretty rare
  • You can buy them on the AH, though unlikely to be cheap enough for a fresh 50.

I’d suggest you focus on Ability points first, since the tier unlocks are generally more powerful than an AMP upgrade.  Having 3 skills at T8 is a pretty big deal.

It’s So Quiet…

This weekend was the first in some time where we didn’t have some engagement, so it was quite relaxing.  Still had some errands to do, but there’s certainly something to be said about enjoying the simple things.  The slight blip to our bliss was an unexpected offer to purchase a cottage.  My wife and I are cottage people, so by ancient rites, our children must be as well, or be cast out forever.  We knew the offer was in the works but not for a few more years.  After crunching some numbers, it looks like it’s workable today and will slack off in a couple years.  I get quite antsy when it comes to finance, and it’s not like you buy real estate on regular basis.

Oh, and Star Wars.  If you didn’t have a chance to watch the recent trailer because that cave-in kept you busy, here you go:

A few notes about the trailer:

  • Contrary to most trailers, there’s no plot given away
  • I have no idea what relation exists between the characters as there’s next to no dialogue
  • I dislike JJ’s scores but this one is Williams 100%. The tugs.
  • Han and Leia deliver some awesome lines. You realize that the characters in this movie know less about Star Wars than the audience.
  • Only 1 lens flare (red lasers)! Lots of saturation though
  • Fingers crossed on no stupid steamy sexy scenes that are jammed in for no reason. (Super 8 the exception to the JJ rule)
  • $50 bet that Chewie dies. Too bad cause he’s badass in the EU (though still dead there too).

Bang, Bang, Flop

I’ve been playing my Esper a fair chunk lately, focusing almost entirely on the Quiet Downs instance.  I think I can do it blindfolded now, with an average run time of 13:30 for gold.  I’m sitting on slightly over 2000 currency, and already have the hoverboard mount.  Not so lucky in the costume drops though…  I’ve re-runed a few things, knowing that some pieces of gear will never be updated unless I start raiding.  Quite a difference to be honest, giving me a fair chunk more power and survivability. It’s had an impact on my plat making mind you, since Quiet Downs provides no loot, outside of a bag with mostly decorations inside.  Stretching a little thing on that class, I decided to get back to my Engineer tank.

First to note, he has 5 pieces at ilvl90, so arguably better than the Esper, if you ignore the crap gear in the other slots.  Both are holding great weapons, so that certainly helps.  I’ve runed him for damage and it’s been ok so far.  His output is certainly higher than the Esper’s but his survival is in the pits.  Engineer’s are the only class that cannot self heal (outside of a T8 skill), which makes some content surprisingly difficult.

Expeditions with my Esper are usually cake walks.  Gauntlet is a good example, in particular the middle portion where you need to avoid exploding rats.  I can put on a passive heal that allows me to make mistakes during that 90s portion.  The engineer has to take that T8 skill PDU, that heals for around 4000 damage every 30 seconds.  The hits taken are between 5000 and 6000, so not exactly useful.  I missed completing Fragment Zero on gold due to 2 deaths due to combat sessions that lasted 2 minutes, since the entire zone is littered with tiny critters (quite a litteral Zerg fest).

Typical solo work isn’t bad.  The damage output is good, the defenses aren’t crippling.  The issue as I see it is that with my current ilvl, I’m just at the edge of reasonable.  I can’t see how a fresh 50 would have fun, when compared to other classes’ solo-viability. I know that giving Engineer’s a self-heal would homogenize the classes, but it would also increase the “fun” aspect of the class at lower ilevels.  And let’s be clear, a support-specced Engineer is a beast.  They hit like a mouse but take it on the chin like a champ.

So I think that’s where I’m going to end up, turning this Engineer into a tank-only monster for group content.  It’ll be a pretty big hit to his solo-ability but it’ll be a different content package than my Esper is running, which should help avoid any burnout.

Cash Stops Can Be Confusing

Conversions of business models seem to be a complicated matter.  SWTORs hot bars, EQ2’s well, everything, LOTROs descent into madness – all show that it’s a hard thing to figure out how to make a buck.  I’ll give Rift and TSW a thumb’s up mind you, those were pretty good at the start.  Wildstar, while probably one of the most forgiving F2P games out there, is a true headscratcher in terms of trying to make money.  The devs are learning though, so that’s good – the Shade’s Eve fabkit is no longer single use, flair is dropping in game, so there’s some progress.

Aside from costumes, items in the cash stop are nearly all single use, single character – mounts, pets, consumables and service tokens (I’ll get to these in a minute).  I don’t mind that so much, since you want repeat purchases.  What I do mind is the price point against repeat purchases.  See, Wildstar allows you to create a lot of alts.  I think my account, since I bought a box a while back, allows for 14 characters.  Mounts and pets don’t cross the character line, so if I want the same mount I need to buy it multiple times.  At $15-$20 a purchase, I don’t see how this makes any lick of sense.  I’d gladly pay it for the entire account, for sure!  A month’s subscription cost for a mount ain’t a bad deal at all.  There are plenty of posts on reddit and on the official forums about this topic alone, I’d expect some movement eventually.  I’m in a pickle mind you, since there are limited time mounts (for Shade’s Eve and zPrix) that will go poof soon, and they are neato.

Service tokens are the solution to the game’s gold sink.  Sure, they let you teleport a 2nd time across the world but aside from leveling, I don’t know anyone who would actually use them for that purpose.   They are really meant to bypass RNGsus when re-rolling runes.  When that starts costing a plat or so per re-roll, service tokens are looking pretty tempting.  They are decently priced but nearly directly tied to power increases.  For at most 35 tokens, you can get the best rune slot setup possible, with a further max of 5 for every new piece of gear.  You still need the runes to insert, and those can’t be bought from the store, so there’s some fancy wall there.

The game also has a variant on lockboxes, with some fortune coins to gamble with.  There is so little push on this, I’m curious if people are even aware that it exists.  It’s quite different that other F2P games.

The real kicker for me though is the subscription option.  There are benefits, sure, but they are so weak I don’t see why anyone would be subbed more than a month.  Getting MORE rep or cash/credits just means you hit the cap faster.  I hit the elder gem and omnibits cap weekly already, so there isn’t exactly an incentive there.  For those that don’t, even that isn’t really motivating.  You don’t get a discount in the shop, you don’t get any NCoin either.  You actually seem to get more benefit from buying directly from the shop, in terms of that progress bar at the top, than you do from subscribing.  So, I’m not quite sure why it’s even an option.  I’d be curious as to what the beancounters are saying though.

EDIT: Syp has a post similar in tone.

I’m kinda hoping they tweak it a bit more, because the stuff in that store is making me feel like



Yesterday’s patch added the zPrix event to the game.  It’s a set of 3 hoverboard races, with 4 options for rewards each.  There’s also a hoverboard mount in the store (with the above issues) and it looks super cool.  That’s right, super.  The races themselves come with a teleport button to the starting line.  Each one is just around a minute, minute-and-a-half long.  You win by finishing, not by getting an amazing time.  Rewards are a title, costume pieces and housing items.  I ran all 3 on 2 characters, so the costume is fully unlocked and I have a burning wall of fire on my housing plot as well.

The races themselves are quite a lot of fun.  Trying them the 2nd time had me looking for shortcuts, or better lines through to make better time.  Quick, easy, fun.  Nothing wrong with that!

The patch also applied some changes to the Quiet Downs instance for Shade’s Eve, or at least did so for me. The starting point is random now, though the map is the same.  (For those struggling to get through the maze in time, the end goal is the ? in the middle of the map.  Just south of that is the graveyard, which is really quite easy to spot from a distance.  In that graveyard are two tombs with a wall at the back – the wall has a fence on top – the goal is behind that fence.  I’ve been unable to jump that fence so I instead take the a different path.  The right most tomb is surrounded by a gate.  One of the corner posts of that gate allows you to jump to the higher wall (east side).  I jump up there, and head north to the end point.  I can clear with about 90 seconds to spare.  Also, you can miss 2 objectives and still get a gold medal for 50 Shades, it that matters to you.)

Jack Shade has also been tweaked.  He has many more attacks, summons jabbits, has pretty nasty AE and is actually a fight I need to move around in now.  I’m hoping this was just me hitting a simple bug, but the previous fights were just DPS runs, with an interrupt every so often.  Every run ends with a loot bag, so I’m stocking up on housing decorations.

Two events at once, both are quite fun.

The Benefits of Gating

I’ve long said that gearscore is one of the worst methods of determining a player’s value.  It just happens to be the easiest.  Playing in Wildstar after having done a fair chunk of FF14 sure does make you think.

When the family went to the zoo this summer, there was a section that had a height limitation, 48 inches.  My 5 year old was just under that.  She’s a giant (both are) but it still was’t tall enough.  Which is good, since the section had a clear strength requirement as well – I’d guess 7-8 year olds were the target demo.  What kind of test do they use then?  Pull ups and push ups?

Gaming isn’t much different.  Activities require 2 things, in varying amounts – skill and power.  FF14 takes a relaxed approach to this, with a 2.5s global timer in combat.  This slows everything down and the skill bar therefore drops down a lot in turn.  It then turns into a power game, where it’s slightly easier to balance.  FF14’s LFG system has a gear level requirement for some content – in order that you apply some meaningful benefit to random groups.

The question is always, what if I’m 1ilvl below?  Am I really that bad?  No, since in FF14 the gear level is so easily acquired.  You could certainly try the content at a lower level but a tank/healer that’s undergeared is a risk.  DPS… well that can be managed.

WoW has a gearscore requirement, that’s really more of a joke right now.  The only thing it prevents is alts joining top tier LFR 3 patches late.  Gear is like candy in WoW.  WoD forced people to go through proving grounds, which is great.  Probably #2 in my quality of life changes the game has applied after flex raids.

TSW has gear and skills, though only a single gate.  The Gatekeeper battles are what keeps you from top-tier content – ensuring that not only do you have the gear but also the skills and understanding to use them.  A fresh player will have a lot of trouble the first time in, though it does get better.

Wildstar though, that’s a different one.  Combat is extremely hectic, what with telegraphs all over the place.  The skill level is quite high, compared to what players learn while leveling.  What’s the last MMO you played where you needed to stun an enemy?  I mean to complete the content, not to get some sort of achievement.  Where did you need to coordinate interrupts in 5 group content? Most fresh level 50s don’t even have an interrupt slotted.  That means that skill level is super important.  Aside from raid attunement, there’s no content gating aside from level.

Some folks are pushing for an ilvl gate for dungeons.  While PvP gear can get you to ilvl70 for just a few gold, it’s not like ilvl alone allows you to complete content.  People still stand in the red.  People don’t slot runes, or amps, or use a mixture of support and assault gear.  There’s just a whole pack of variables well beyond ilvl that impact play.  And it’s those variables that are causing some frustration in the game today.  People are simply not used to the mechanics and admittedly, they are quite a bit more complicated that other games out on the market.

So my suggestion to Wildstar is the following:

  • A veteran dungeon has a pre-requisite that the Protostar dungeons be completed first
    • This ensures that the player has an understanding of group mechanics
  • A veteran dungeon has an ilvl requirement of 70 and that half the runes have to be filled
    • 70 is actually quite low, PvP gear can be bought at that level.
    • People need to rune their gear.  Not all slots are equal though and to save rerolls, only half need them.  That gives about 7 runes, which is about 1000 stat points or so.
    • Even at this ilvl, it’s should only be Stormtalon to start.
    • This ilvl requires a good amount of skill.

Anecdote quickly.  When my Esper was a fresh 50, I had a really, really hard time with the daily quest hubs, especially the 2man missions (spider queen is a good example).  It required a specific build to complete.  Now, with an ilvl in the mid 80s, it’s actually quite simple.  As if I had an additional 10 levels to the character.  The ilvl power curve in Wildstar is significant.

If the skill level in Wildstar was lower, then the ilvl itself could drop a fair chunk too.  It’s not, and unless there’s some sort of mandatory training (which any veteran player could do with ease), it’s a massive wall of hurt for new players.  The Protostar dungeons are a quick and easy way for people to learn the group mechanics, test out builds and ensure they can do group content.  It would be even better if they could be soloed (like proving grounds and the gatekeeper) in order to save time in a queue.  Keeping people playing is important and continual failure without feedback/practice does the opposite.

#Wildstar – How It Works – Rune Guide

One of the neat, and at the same time complicated, aspects of Wildstar are runes.  For those who played WoW, think of gems, combined with enchantments.  When you really start to pay attention, you can get easily overwhelmed.  This Rune Guide aims to help people understand how to Rune.

The first and most basic question – is it worth it?  Yes.

Even without sets, a runed item nearly doubles in power.  It’s less noticeable while leveling, but once you start elder content at level 50, it makes a world of difference and is essentially mandatory.

Rune Overview

You’ll notice that some items have rune slots, linked to an element (air, earth, etc…).  In each of these slots, you can insert a rune.  Rune names can get really complex, but they generally break down into the following:


So you might have an Earth – Divine Rune of Critical Hit Severity.

  • Elements are rather straightforward. Air, Earth, Fire, Life, Logic, and Water are the basic types.
  • Helmets, Chests, Gloves and Weapons can also have a specific type of Fusion rune, which provides a unique buff similar to AMPs, and can’t be found in other item slots.
    • Fusion runes can go into ANY rune type slot.   There’s no need to roll one!
  • You can re-roll a rune slot to a random element for a gold cost, which depends on the item level.  This can get quite expensive.  You can also use cash-stop currency…so I suggest you don’t start re-rolling until ilvl 80/100.
  • The number of rune slots on an item is linked to the quality.  Lower quality gear (blue) can only have 3 slots, while the highest quality will give you 5 slots.  This gives you a total best of 35 runes TOTAL per character, across 7 pieces of gear.
  • You can add a new rune slot for gold as well, though this depends on the item quality for the maximum number of rune slots. The cost depends on the item level.
  • Rune quality comes in quite a few flavors. The quality decides if you can equip it or not, based on a combination of your level and the ilvl of the gear you are using.
    • Lesser – ilvl10
    • Normal – ilvl 20
    • Greater – ilvl 30
    • Refined – ilvl 40
    • High – ilvl 50
    • Superb – ilvl 80 (dungeon level)
    • Pure – ilvl100 (raid 1 level)
    • Divine – ilvl120 (raid 2 level)
  • You cannot slot 2 identical runes on the same piece of gear. So no 2 Divine runes of Critical Hit.  You can put a Divine and a Pure though, which is often better than putting in a stat you don’t need.
  • Rune types come in 3 main flavors (See LINK)
    • Basic runes add an amount to a basic stat – strikethrough, crit, etc…
    • Set Runes can stack to add a cumulative bonus to some basic stats. 2 points is strikethrough, 3 points is crit chance, etc…  The set cap is 6.  Any class can equip these.
    • Class Set Runes are specific to your class and impact specific skills, adding a cumulative bonus. The bonuses to skills are at 4 and 8 points.  They are very powerful.
  • The rune quality can add more than 1 power per rune. A fresh level 50 can only slot runes that give 1 power.  With raid gear, you can slot items with 2 power runes- the only way to reach the 8 point bonus.
  • Rune set bonuses are limited to a single item. This means, that to get the 8 point set bonus, you need at least 4 rune slots (2 power each – called Exceptional runes).  This means you can get multiple rune set bonuses instead of just one for the character.
  • Set Runes are limited by the ilvl (Devastation required ilvl 80, Onslaught is ilvl 50)
  • The effect of a rune is linked to the element. You can only have 1 effect per rune.
    • Earth – Critical Severity, Armor, CC resilience
    • Fire – Critical Hit, Reflect
    • Water – Multi-hit, Glance
    • Logic – Vigor, Intensity, Critical Mitigation
    • Life – Life Steal, Health, Focus Pool
    • Air – Strikethrough, Focus Recovery, Deflect

Inserting Runes for Beginners

Given all of the above, it takes a bit of work to figure out what is the best way to slot items.  This guide assumes that you are wearing ilvl 50 gear.  If you have dungeon gear, then there are more/better options available.

Let’s say that you’re a DPS Esper and have a set of blue ilvl 50 Pants, with 3 rune slots.  You can buy a 4th slot for 14 gold, which is a good idea.  You’re given an Earth, Air, and 2 Fire rune slots.  Given the item level of the pants, you can’t use Class Set Runes but you can use the general kind.  Given that you’re a new level 50, you likely aren’t running around full of plat, so you won’t be re-rolling the rune slots.   What’s available given those slots and at that ilvl?  You can use this link to get an idea: googledocs

  • Onslaught – Life/Earth/Air
  • Striker – Life/Water/Air
  • Havoc – Water/Air/Fire

The closest one, without re-rolling, is Havoc (3 points, Air/Fire/Fire).  So let’s craft/buy the runes needed!

  • 1 High Rune of Strikethrough (Air)
  • 1 High Rune of Critical Hit (Fire)
  • 1 Refined Rune of Critical Hit (Fire)
  • 1 High Rune of Critical Hit Severity (Earth) – not part of the set but a good stat to have

You’re now at a 3 power Havoc set, plus some additional Critical Hit Severity.  That gives +200 Strikethrough, +370 Critical Hit Chance and +200 Critical Hit Severity, plus the 0.17% Health and 0.2% Critical Hit Chance.  That is a massive increase in power.  You can repeat as you want on each piece of gear you get.

I do not recommend re-rolling for Fusion runes until ilvl80.  Class set runes start at ilvl80 for PvP, ilvl100 for PvE.

Optimizing at Maximum Level

At the best gear levels, you want to aim for 2 class rune sets, then 6/6 of the basic rune sets on the other pieces of gear.  Be aware, that getting the best runes is very expensive (re-rolling + the actual cost of the runes).

The general idea is the same as before, it’s just that you’re going to be re-rolling rune slots and going broke doing so (pray to RNGsus):

  • Buy any additional rune slots.
  • Find your class stat weights for priority.
    • You don’t want to stack Intensity as a healer for example
  • Find the your optimum class sets (2 of them)
    • Find 2 pieces of gear that match the closest and re-roll the runes to match your class set (4 rune slots needed to get the 8 pt bonus).
    • Slot each with Divine Runes (use Pure runes to avoid duplicates)
  • Look at Helmets, Chests, Gloves and Weapons to ensure you have 1 free rune slot
    • Apply the appropriate Fusion rune to that item
  • Find your best regular set (or sets)
    • Reroll the slots to match the set requirements.
    • The best is using +2 power runes in 3 slots (giving the 6 total), then the extra 2 slots for another set (giving 4 total).
    • For example with a 5 rune slot item, for a Devastation(6) and Onslaught(4) build, you’d be looking for Earth x2, Fire x1 and Logic x2 for the best of best stats (Crit Severity, Crit Hit and Vigor, respectively)
  • Super-mega-optimal-dream-world-RNGsus-loves-you has something like:
    • Weapon: Fusion + Class Set
    • Head: Fusion + Class Set
    • Shoulder: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • Chest: Fusion + 6/6 Set + 1 Rune
    • Pants: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • Gloves: Fusion + 6/6 Set + 1 Rune
    • Feet: 6/6 Set + 4/6 Set
    • For a total of 4 Fusion, 2 Class Sets, 5x 6/6 Sets, 3x 4/6 Sets and 2 extra runes.  Which is around 12,000 extra stat points, without set bonuses applied.

Runing Example

The following is an example of me actually applying runes to my engineer’s main weapon.  You’ll see that it’s ilvl 90, meaning that the only upgrades are going to be from raids.  So might as well make this one as good as I can!

Empty Gun - bad rolls

Empty Gun – bad rolls

You can see here that while the itself is pretty good, the actual rune rolls don’t help me.  I can have up to 4 rune slots.  I can’t use a Class set but I can use the Striker set, so I’ll aim for that.  Based on the runes needed (Life, Water and Air), the actual stats I need are Multi-Hit and Strikethrough. Since I can’t use the same rune twice, I will use 1 exceptional rune and 1 regular rune for Multi-Hit and then 1 exception rune for Strikethrough.  That means I need 2 Water runes and 1 Air rune.  The last one is going to be a Fusion rune, which can be any type.

So let’s start re-rolling.

Re-rolling for service tokens

Re-rolling for service tokens

With the F2P change, you get omnibits from time to time.  The absolute best use is to transform them into service tokens, and then use those on runes.  To re-roll a rune slot costs 12 tokens, to add a new one of a specific type costs 25.  I need 2 Water and 1 Air, so I’ll re-roll 2 of them and then add one.  Total cost = 12 + 12 + 25 = 48 tokens.

Can't have two of the same!

Can’t have two of the same!

You’ll see here the limitations of of stacking runes, you can’t have 2 identical ones.  You can see that one of them will add 2 points to the set (the purple one) and one will add 1 point (the blue one).  I could have added a lower ilvl rune for 2 points, but the Multi-Hit value on the rune is worth more.

After adding all the runes, this is the end result.  Notice also the set bonus.

Super power.

Super power.

Cherry on top.

Cherry on top.

This is what it looks like when it’s all done.  I went from 100 strike, 100 multi and 115 crit at the start and now I’m at 370 strike, 600 multi, 115 crit and Siphon.   Then there’s the set bonus to it all, which comes out to about 150 extra points or so.

I won’t go over how much it cost for the runes, but it was about 1.5p per on my server to buy them.  I was lucky enough to have most of the materials on hand, so it ended up a decent price for an item I won’t be replacing.

So if you think about it, for the total cost included, I easily doubled the item’s power potential.