Who knew that R&D could make geek dreams come true?
During a discussion with two of WildStar's developers earlier this week at New York Comic Con, we touched on an interesting aspect of the game's development process: a community-based R&D weekend that the Carbine team has called Archships. Archships are community events that Carbine has held several times over WildStar's eight-year development period, in which vocal members of the community are invited to Carbine Studios. These individuals get to see behind the curtain, and take a closer look at what WildStar has to offer. They also provide feedback on things that they like and dislike about the development effort.
Contrary to my potentially misleading (but devilishly clever) title, Carbine didn't simply pick 20 people who were in love with the game. Instead, they searched for 20 fans of varying opinions who could clearly and articulately express their insights on the strengths and weaknesses of each of the systems that Carbine is implementing into WildStar. After being placed under a strict NDA, these lucky 20 were shown what the current iteration of WildStar had to offer, allowing the developers to present their ideas to a fresh audience, and receive feedback to help tweak and improve the game's systems.
Each group within the development team presented a panel to the players, and they were allowed to play through the current build of the game as a whole. After seeing what WildStar was all about, these individuals offered their comments and criticism of what was good, bad, or ugly with the current version of the game. Several mechanics that were directly influenced by Archships include the updated quest system and the updated AMPS and character customization systems.
Game developers often suffer from being too close to their own projects, and the fresh and honest opinions of the game's followers has given them a lot of helpful direction in seeing the greatest shortcomings and pitfalls of the quirky MMO.
WildStar is currently available to test at New York Comic Con this weekend, so if you're going to be there, you can get some hands on time yourself. While you're there, be sure to check out the WarCry booth, which is at lot 576. Stay tuned to WarCry for the full text of the interview, which includes insight into the design philosophy of WildStar, previews of some of the changes in the latest build, and the developer's responses to my not-so-wild speculation on the soon to be revealed classes.