Friday, June 21, 2013's not just for dinner

     I seriously want to say one thing first before going ahead with this post.Nothing I say here is based on hard cold facts or anything gleamed from official sources.Call it conspiracy theory, tinfoil hat speculation, or simply insanity but when these seemingly random things pull together it looks like something so valid and wrong it had to be brought up.
OK so we all in the Wildstar community know how above and beyond Carbine Devs and others employed 
to work on Wildstar have interacted and such. This part is old news and there's plenty of more quality articles on that online. So the thing I wanna discuss is the fact that it has become a very increasing situation running across the Internet and bouncing off various MMO companies in recent weeks of something possibly (theory remember)scaring them. I'm not going to sit here and say "You so scared of Wildstar and Carbine!) No...well not directly that is.
    Lets go back a few weeks to Guildwars 2. Those unaware of this game it's from Arenanet and it 
is a very fine game with bits of issues but it can be fun,now they've never been interactive really, at beta they tried but after launch outside of a couple dev diary videos and a post occasionally all REAL interacting stopped. This is standard I'm sure but should it be? That would be the end of that BUT this few weeks back business showed a strange thing, things in a lull from people a bit wore out of WvW and farming for whatever they were farming and out of the kindness of their hearts suddenly content updates went from 1 month apart to 2 weeks. Nice huh? Sure it's nice even if odd and a bit suspicious...I'll touch more on that later.
     Most of the other camps, basically the lower level MMO's stayed the same but suddenly in about a week's time both Tera and The Secret World went free to play, there was speculation on the why's and woes of such a thing but nothing was accurately detailed, they fairly have faded off to their fans and such and that's fine if it was for the right reasons.
     About this time there was tons of odd posts on facebook, twitter, and forums from various MMO's
making it sound like they were interested in players feedback, not just the typical "We'll tell you what we're doing with little feedback." stuff but occasional if not hollow answers. This part is intentionally vague because as long as this post will be if I started naming every single evidence of this I'd be here all day. Suffice it to say in some cases these games around from 1 to 8 years began "acting" like they were not the same people as had been around.
     So you say well this is a good thing for those communities. I'm not pointing fingers and saying "Bad guy" but I do question if the motivation behind these things are Altruistic or marketing, PR/HP, and simply bad practices to give a false sense of security for their players. Go ahead another few weeks and Rift went Free to Play with the stance "This is what our players wanted." Um...Bravo? Now I'm not going to say I'm some super awesome reporter and I can't say I've asked ALOT but on my server and a couple others I checked out the buzz the week before Free to play were loudly against it or indifferent. Was the community loudly chanting FREE TO PLAY! FREE TO PLAY!...? The company behind Rift is Trion and while they may be a tad....just a tad more interactive, leading up to F2P suddenly their twitch channel became over active with footage and shows where a random Dev (who I had no clue was to be honest) would pop in and give vague info. 
     MMO's suddenly began apologizing for maintenance and login /connection issues...for a free game in beta! Three times I witnessed betas and full games have some way too long issues then suddenly you have some prize in the in-game mail 'for your trouble.' One tip I can give is Beta will be filled with issues as will new launched games and even some long standing games so it should NOT be expected to receive some sorta i'm sorry prize, it's technically a polite gesture but it just suddenly began being the chic thing to do.
     Perhaps another thing to slightly add to this is beta access, I do not have an issue with companies trying to fill their beta servers but this too started a weird "Let all in" or we're giving out WAY too many keys wherever so sure it's exposure to the right crowd but the wrong as well, having restrictions on how and how many makes for a more stable and pleasant beta test where things are actually tested and not full of trolls and critics. Finally this last part will in no part surprise a way to wrap this up. Most who know me are aware I was a long time Warcraft player, if your seriously unaware of the game World of Warcraft from Blizzard Entertainment is the Largest MMO out there, in size perhaps and subs somewhere at 8 million.
     Warcraft fits into this whole weird situation stemming a few months back perfectly. In a short history lesson WoW has notoriously been known to release patches/ expansions/ or new features very close to the launch of other games. It's a good business practice business, now in let's call it Public relations, not so much. So why is that relevant? Well I was pretty active in the "community" for 5 years and outside of forum moderation type posts or the occasional event they attended it's safe to say the devs didn't act like they cared or at least showed they cared I should say, so what you may ask has the big B been up to in the last couple months?
     For one it all started small, devs who barely tweeted or facebook posted beyond cliff notes of patches began answering direct questions, or deflecting them sometimes. Some did make comments on their own but it wasn't active still. Then some interviews happened, after 8 years they get on cam via satellite or whatever and actually answered a few things. Then an interesting move was made a long time "internet" personality was hired as a cm, this is fine and I don't dispute he deserves it I'm finding its a small cog but a cog in timing perhaps. After this things blew up in a cacophony of ama's interviews stories maybe a little more telling then usual.
     Blizzard after 8 years seemingly was restructuring policies or standards or making it look like that for some reason?E3 was looming and rumors of Diablo 3 going console was Mentioned and then suddenly a long long rumored new project of theirs codenamed Titan to be released this year was pushed back. Some say scraped and it was pushed 3 years to 2016 but scraped, you decide. Now this is factoring into  what all I'm trying to point at, in Titan I personally believe there were other factors as well not only  TESO (The elder scrolls online) but a console MMO called Destiny from Bungie  also release later this year and is a Shooter sci-fi MMO. If it fits in with the rest and there's that and Blizzard felt it was not as good at Destiny or too similar it explains that. 
     E3...beyond the Bull x-box and Ps4 stuff was the announcement of yes Diablo on console with other unannounced Blizzard projects tied to console. On  a side note but minor fitting in with this situation TESO went multi platform and pushed it's release until Spring 2014 which is telling as well. Finally 2 more things in recent weeks with Blizzard are what made me finally recall all this and theorize a bit. After Blizzard's new acquire got started  something funny happened, the cm's (somewhat instigated) began tweeting things back and forth..alot..a really lot. They tweet cutesy things and seem generally light hearted compared to 8 years of bare bones structured posts. The final thing and I'm sure EVERYONE seen it was the recent Jimmy Fallon We are the world of warcraft video where "special" individuals were selected from around the world,in some cases maybe less random then you'd think but even the cm's were involved and sprinkle in a couple pseudo celebrities(who may play or not who knows) and they sang about it being their community and they're in it together and whatever.
     This video and all the other items I've compiled leads to one of two things, on the happy go lucky path of good and happy things these companies all suddenly in a tiny amount of time totally came out of a fog and decided "This isn't right we need to do whats right for the players of our games." Then we have a darker path, one where business as usual means exactly that. I surmise all of this, every single one has either been boldly and directly influenced or indirectly and subconsciously driven from one single reason, one reason we all know and love, and that one reason in the sense that literally "The Devs are listening" That's never been a joke tagline or something for a chuckle, it's a way of life for these guys at Carbine, at no time do any of them make us feel stupid, lower, or like all we are to them are consumers. This community is so getting tight knit this early and more so everyday and then you have the devs tweeting all the time, joining in podcasts in new sites, giving exclusive interviews, personal messages about community members kids or issues going on, a composer that(and ive never seen or heard from a MMO composer at all) is allowed and does show music early and hangs out with everyone and just chit chats, top that with solid campaign slogans, having community dinners, and just being Darn fine human beings,yes I said human beings because to me they are fine people that happen to be working on a fun game for us to play, they involve people in jokes and rp type scenarios and they truly do "listen". 
     To wrap up (finally and I apologize for the length) once again this is speculation at best. I just reiterate that these things all these MMO companies have done are unusual practices, after being one way for years and years and never budging to suddenly change all kinds of things at the same time when they could easily see what was happening in the Wildstar Community points to this answer over and over that all of these games know something is different here. It's not a sleepy dulled senses group of the same old complacent players. We are pulling together and getting actual help from Carbine to be cohesive  and make this game and the people who play it the most we can get out of it. Would I be intimidated on the outside looking in? Sure I would! In the end if they are pulling things from a magic hat it's still smoke and mirrors and not because they care. They care that Wildstar is a big deal and getting bigger every day, they care that others will hear about Carbine's closeness to the players and eventually maybe find real community is what they want and deserve. So yes its alot of stretching all over but what do you think? Hope you enjoyed my rambling and  found some interest in it, take care and see you on Nexus everyone!      

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


     Deception, we all know what it means and how it feels to be deceived I would think. The crushing vise-like grip that can overwhelm you when something not only hurts you but shocks you in realizing how oblivious you really are to the world. Yea kinda a downer huh? Seriously though this can apply to many things and yes even the game industry as well. We got an interesting case of "This has to be done like this." and then "We will not be doing this now." with Microsoft and the X-box One. I'm not getting into a long spiel on this subject because it's not a thing I really care about to be honest. It's just an example of how you can be lied to hate the idea and then have someone say "Oh you don't like that well we don't HAVE to do it?" 
     This has happened alot  over the years in video games and the industry as a whole, people are becoming jaded and desensitized to practices perhaps not  warranted. Console games have long had issues with setting a specific release date way in advance and then at the last minute (in some cases within a week) changing the release date with little to no explanation. When this first started I saw such a outcry it was crazy, now I'm calm and level headed so I've never freaked out in this instance but know many who have and it truly would bother them. Flash forward a few years and the same people were like. "Oh it's likely not coming out even close to that date." You think being calm and realistic about this is OK but it is not, it gives more and more fuel for people to string people along for random reasons. In the sense of MMO's I've found this to be highly commonplace over the past 7 years. Things mentioned, in patch notes, on forums, articles, at cons, and least of which printed on the actual box in bold print "We have this feature." 
     So I understand mistakes happen and everyone is allowed some mistakes sure but a repeat  of destructive behavior is..well...destructive. I'm not talking about the minority who lives and dies by MMO's and that's fine guys have your fun too but everyone is affected when a lie is put forth and while they often will say "This feature is not ready." or "We felt it was not right at this time." those are NOT apologies. It's rare if ever a mistake-deception is acknowledge in a way that makes the community feel better or like the company actually cared. I want to make something clear here as well handing me a shiny little do-dad or a couple potions is not the same as saying "Hey guys we screwed up we know we should have did this different but this and this happened." 
     So being this is Wildstar related why bring this up..besides the Xbox drama...well this falls in line with how I've stated that Carbine continually impresses me in communication, information distributing, and community interaction. I am in no way stating in my opinion I'm expecting mistakes, flubs, typos, or misrepresentations to occur with the game but and this is a hope only that if say something truly is not ready and I mean there's NO way it'll end up in that phase of the game just say it, no string alongs, no "we're working on it" if it's not ready, anticipation can be a mental killer and sometimes people live and breath these games. Take away things like hope, confidence, and trust and what your left with are shells of good people , gamers, and community that can devolve into a deep dark place full of things that live under bridges and eat a Rowsdower with honesty!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You got game. So then why do you play it?

     It's me again Exiles and Dominion alike bringing some more Protostartopia goodness into your life just because I care. (It's definitely NOT because i'm being told to by you know who, NO!) This time around I want to talk about "Why Wildstar" and what drives us to play certain games in general. Once again  these are MY opinions, please no one read my sillyness and go "OMG that's not how I feel! Get the pitchforks!" No no no do not do this, i'm not a monster! Anywho so as I was saying I'll explain why I feel this is the game I wanna play and why i've played other things as well.
     So we all play for a few various reasons i've come to observe over the years. Some are serious deep pvpers, striving to not only get that glory of winning but in some cases it's a strive to be better then even your allies. Cannot miss mentioning the Roleplayers (The ones that matter not the "other" ones) who go out of their way to accurately do what they do and have fun doing it! You have the raiders who min/max and theorycraft and do things in raids that sometimes astound me as they try and be the best they can. Finally is the pve player who can be anything from a quest completionist, to a world map completionist, to the collectors, and the lorists who strive to know everything  story driven in existance.
     Where do I fit in? Well i'd say a bit of everything really. I've never labeled myself since I don't go hardcore on raiding or pvp though I don't mind doing them for fun. In some games I have been quite the collector/achiever for sure, maybe not on a competing to be better level but because I wanted the mounts/ pets/ achieves personally. In my case you can go ahead and call me a casual sure if you want but the reality is I play games to have fun, enjoy the game, and sometimes just to kill time or relax after a  stress filled day in reality to go somewhere completely opposite and distracting. Those that enjoy roleplaying or hardcore gaming enjoy it, find it relaxing, and that's "their" ideal part of the game and just like I enjoy reading quest text and finding out new aspects and getting that rare mount it's all ok ways to play the game your into.
    There's always argumentative people in the world. There's going to be those that come into Wildstar with some sort of issue in their personal life that feels they need to make life miserable for others, whether it's griefing in some way, harrasing, or trolling these things WILL happen. Now here's a conundrum you might say "But Zil what if it makes them happy to grief-harrase-and troll, shouldn't that be their ideal form of gameplay?" Instantly the ideal and happy terms argues yes, but these things cause pain to people on the recieving end and that's not acceptable. As the days go on and we get closer to launch I hope beyond hope we can put it out there we want something different, something strengthening, and something appropriate for everyone. 
     I see potential amongst the core community to achieve these things and more. If each one of us can make sure to stand up for the game and it's developers and let people know it's ok to play how you want but cross the line of intentionally hurting someone just because you can is not how things should be and maybe Wildstar isn't for them. I hope the moral majority exists in the game, everyday I see wonderful, smart, and strong people in the community who may vary in their favorite activities but all agree this is up to us to carry what Carbine has intended in-game and make it the best it can be. If you like this article feel free to comment below, give me your specific reasons why you game or why wildstar and i'll leave you with a quote i've always liked from a funny guy in Canada. "We're all in this together, keep your stick on the ice."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dem Feels....

     Hey Folks, this topic I don't write about much or have alot of interactive conversations about really but it's things that pop up in side chats and joked and not fully explored. What i'm talking about is Emotions in gaming and a gaming community. Ok whoa whoa whoa don't run off calling me Stuart Smally (yes horrible reference but only silly one I can think of atm) or a carebear or whatever negative word you wanna use. it's not about being "in touch with your feminine side" or a wuss but if your a gamer there's always something that invokes a reaction in you. Now i'm not saying "All gamers have had a tear up or deep emotional moment in some game or another" Maybe your one of those cold people who goes through life reacting to nothing who knows? For the rest of you gaming can sometimes encapsulate you, shielding you in a bubble of warmth and happiness not many things can. We tend to dive into a world, begin caring about characters, and waiting on edge to see what happens when we down a boss. 
     There's been many moments i've had I could share like the first time I found out about warp zones in Super mario(accidently on my own)and even though I was admittingly like 7 it was so cool to find something on my own. On a deeper notes are games like Final Fantasy, 7 and 10 in particular had moments that made me feel actual sympathy for the characters, kinda strange but it happens. As for music there's many but kingdom hearts music to me was so well done it was the only time up to that point I wanted the soundtrack, the music was vibrant and full and seemed to resonate something in me. Flash forward to MMO's and as I said things like personal accomplishments and downing bosses after working so hard of course causes emotion highs as do in some cases failing at something over and over can be a bit of a low. So what's this pertain to Wildstar, well my answer is two-fold really. 
      On the one hand the community has already invoked those emotions i've spoken of to some degree. The people doing things like art and sites and blogs and theorycrafting and rp and podcasts are great and wonderful an I say never stop doing what your doing but it's the polite shimmer through the social media, forums, and chats that highlight it for me. People are welcoming, helpful, supportive when they do not have to be. I;m not naming names here at least because there's so many and I don't necessarily value one over another,we're all the Wildstar Community, big and small feats may be different but we're all wanting the same thing. On the second handis the game itself. Now the vids have been great i'm going to say some of the best put together and funny vids from any mmo, Carbine your amazing as usual. As for the game itself will it invoke that feeling of immersion, caring what happens to npcs, looking carefully around corners for that little extra thing that makes your jaw drop? I hope so, I can't say "YES" but all i've seen and the world that's been created seems more living then any other mmo, things sound like they flow better and with the community of real core Wildstar fans we can build on what Carbine's done (Settlers get ready!)and fully enjoy, feel, and get the richest experience we can! If you have a game emotions moment and want to comment below feel free otherwise see you in Nexus!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

To Infinity and...Back! (Almost knew what i was gonna say there didn't you?)

     For the first of many posts here at Protostartopia I would be remiss if I didn't talk a bit about the fine people working on this game. I have been a gamer a really long time and an MMO gamer for close to 7 years and one thing I am if nothing else is a researcher. When I started playing my first MMO (WoW) I 
maybe did something not many ever have, I began reading about the developers and trying to find who was making the game I was enjoying. Flash forward a few years and while limited interviews and such shed a little light it seemed still closed off a bit and stuffy. The same could be said for many MMO's since. A year or so ago I came across Wildstar, at that time a video and beta sign up was all there was but I did find where the core people came from that formed carbine and it intrigued me so I made sure to sign up and bookmark the site, I popped in occasionally to see if there was any changes. Then a  few months ago and BOOM as a wise man likes to say they opened the floodgates. With each and every video and interview and interaction I came across I began seeing how not only do these developers care about there game(which always matters) but they know how to interact with their fans. Doing more interviews then i've ever seen, using social media not just as internal conversation but talking to everyone about everything, and even appearing on fansite podcasts has made me appreciate and admire these folks each and every day. It's no secret to anyone who knows me from forums and chats and twitter(maybe too much twitter) i'm unabashedly in for this game and  while the game will be amazing it's the Carbine folks who have sealed the deal for this gamer. Thanks guys and always keep being who you are!

Protostartopia, where we examine the Planet Nexus...and try not to blow it up!

     Hello Dominion and Exile alike, welcome to Protostartopia my humble examination of the Planet Nexus, which is based in the upcoming MMO Wildstar by Carbine Studios. On this site i'll take some of the topics popular in the community and relay them, recycle them, and sometimes maybe put an amusing spin on things that may or may not induce a chuckle. I'll be trying to be informative but also entertaining because if you can't have fun with all things Wildstar you aren't doing it right! So sit back, grab yourself a nice Nexus themed snack or drink (I hear there's a few out there already) and let's see what my Insanity can bring to the table or a floating table even I don't mind!