Out of the entire panel, the biggest reveal was the fact that the game does have a dye system, plus the roundabout mention of experience earned at the level cap converting into a form of currency. (Along with more use of the term "elder game," which I increasingly dislike.) Both of these are interesting tidbits, but the former isn't all that surprising and the latter is of interest only to those invested in the game as it stands. This was not a panel stuffed with information.
In fairness to the team, when WildStar developers get into a room, they make a show out of it. The presentation featured plenty of humor and lots of tidbits we didn't know before. You can customize the sky outside your house and the lighting within. Freeform object placement is now allowed outside as well as inside. Not to mention more examples of what we can place outside of our houses -- a training course for avoiding telegraphs, a ferris wheel, a bank vault, a tower defense game, and a crafting station were all on display.
One of the viewers asked if there would still be reason to go to cities, and we were told that the outside of your house has a set amount of space, so you have to give up some functionality outdoors. I think that could use a bit more elaboration, as some of the items in question seem sort of light on functionality as a whole. If you have six slots and seven vital functions, you have to leave something out, but if you have five vital functions and lots of fun roleplaying items, you're just encouraging roleplayers to cripple themselves.
And let's face it, we roleplayers don't need encouragement.
We also learned a little bit about the Osun, engineered by the Eldan as a warrior race but rejected for being too militaristic. (This plays into some of my own suspicions about the Eldan and their purpose with the Dominion, but more on that another time.) And we know that there are housing dungeons which scale based on how many players are involved, which is nice.
Then... that was about it for new information. If you're kind of wondering how the team managed to fill up an hour at that point, I can't blame you.
In short, I was disappointed. But I suppose I shouldn't have been because at this point WildStar has established a habit of not liking to drop new information at conventions. Most of the game's big reveals occur independent of big gatherings, with seemingly random dates chosen as the moment that you get to learn new things about the game.
This does have an advantage insofar as the game doesn't have to split its audience with anything. Your average conventiongoer isn't going to appreciate the reveal of two new classes in a game he or she has never heard of prior to today. By targeting convention presentations to people who know less, you can comfortably bring more people into the fold.
On the other hand, I also think back to the convention appearances that Paragon Studios used to make. If you had never heard of City of Heroes, you would learn about the game, and if you had been playing it for years, you would learn something new. A convention appearance involved revelations and welcoming, and existing fans were not waved along with an air of dismissal.
An unfair comparison between a game that ran for several years and one that's yet to launch? Possibly. But that game that ran for several years amassed quite a following, and part of that was because the developers got better and better at listening to both fans and new players, providing something of interest to both. These lessons are already lying thick upon the ground; it would make sense to pay attention to them rather than re-learn them from scratch.
Of course, I had speculated that we'd learn about the last two classes at this presentation, which seemed like a logical assumption from my perspective. Placing those front and center at a convention would also be a great opportunity for new players to see the game, giving everyone a chance at seeing what's playable right out of the gate.
The fact that these classes weren't there makes me wonder why. There are two possibilities. The first and obvious one is that the reveal is being saved for a time when Carbine Studios can have the stage to itself. While it doesn't quite have the same general impact as letting all sorts of people sit down and try these classes, it does help focus attention. It's a reasonable approach.
On the other hand, it could mean that the team isn't comfortable with the last two classes of the game hitting prime time just yet, which doesn't bode well for the game's readiness, since we're not looking at a release date that's all that distant. If a third of the available classes still fall under the header of "we don't want to show this off," what does that imply?
But maybe it's all a result of watching the panel via stream instead of sitting there. They could have handed out more of those USB bracelets filled with information. I don't know.
Feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, comics!
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.