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The Nexus Telegraph

The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Chua of WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I swear that if you find what you think is a short joke in this article, it's unintentional.
Last week I proposed a theory about two of the game's races, one of them being the Mordesh. That theory, in case you didn't catch it (and it wasn't stated outright anyway) proposed that WildStar's dirty little secret races are that way in part because they say something about their home fashion. The Mordesh serve as a reminder that the Exiles are not, in fact, purely heroic figures struggling against insurmountable oppression. They're just as culpable as the Dominion in places, and they do not like thinking about that.

So what about the Chua? What do they remind the Dominion of, aside from the ironclad law that every single MMO has to have one token short race? The Chua hit that button pretty hard. Just like Gnomes or Asura or Lalafells or countless other races that fall into the same role, they're a short and smart race known to be full of energy with an affection for technology, magic, and the usual assortment of things smart people like. The biggest difference is that WildStar's short race is both furry and insane.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Surprise! WildStar!

Betas, Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Or maybe you did expect it, they've shown this off for a while.
You might have noticed that there was an omission in last week's installment of The Nexus Telegraph. Every week I let you lovely people know what I'm going to be writing about next week, and when I can, the week after that. Last week I completely omitted what I'd be discussing in my next WildStar column, leaving you with no idea what I'd talk about today.

Surprise! Yes, that was the thematic link. It seemed clever to me.

One of the big elements that WildStar is embracing thus far is that trick of surprising the player. It's a tricky thing to pull off in an MMO because the entire genre is built around understanding and minimizing surprises as much as you can. So let's take a look at some of the game's approaches to surprise and how the game manages to create more surprises by giving you fewer surprises in some areas. Yeah, it's that sort of thing.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Mordesh of WildStar

Sci-Fi, Lore, Opinion, Races, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

She was... how would you describe her?  Right, scary beyond all reason.
No single race in WildStar has less to lose than the Mordesh. And no one has more to lose, at that.

The simplest way of explaining the Mordesh is that they are the dirty little secret of the Exiles as a whole. They're the assassins, the pressure, the people who don't worry about doing something awful when it absolutely needs to be done. For all that the Exiles want to think of themselves as the good guys unfairly set upon by the Dominion, the Mordesh are the subtle reminder that there are no good guys -- there are just people.

But that's not the whole of it. Unlike when I discussed the Granok, the Mordesh aren't just in this to bloody the Dominion's nose as much as possible. No, they've got all of their chips in this part of the game. And to understand why, we're going to need to zoom out a little bit and take a look at what got the Mordesh to their current position first.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Winter in WildStar

Betas, Sci-Fi, Classes, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Had it up to there.
Another round of beta testing is almost here for WildStar, after what seems to have been forever and a day. And that's with the promise of upcoming class reveals after a several-month-long information drought on the game, something that I suspect all of us felt pretty acutely. No more waiting! There's information that will be coming fast and furious, even if the developers are going to start off with a refresher of the information we already have.

Thus far, there's not a whole lot to react to. We have a clearer picture of the Warrior, we have a peek at a new build from the livestream, and we've seen some hoverboard footage. It's not what I would call a coherent picture just yet. But we can suss out a few new bits here and there, as well as some things that might not be worth getting all that excited about just yet. Yes, I'm saying it might not be worth getting excited about something. You read that right.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Draken of WildStar

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If they'd just give the lady Draken some shirts it'd be great.
Let me open this third column about the racial lore behind WildStar with a simple statement: The Draken are relentless hunters, stalkers, and combat monsters. Unlike the last two columns, this one will not suggest in any way that this is not what they are. I know the past two have raised some questions regarding the nature of the races compared to how they are presented, but the Draken are exactly what they suggest they are collectively.

That doesn't mean there's nothing more to be said or understood. The Draken are an old acquisition of the Dominion, one of the first member races afforded some degree of respect by the Cassians. And however cut-and-dried that might seem, I think there's a lot more going on beneath the surface.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Why WildStar's housing matters

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Thank you, beta housing contests, for all the larfs.
A while back, I got a wonderful letter from a reader whom I'll simply call L for these purposes. L was curious why, exactly, I cared about housing in WildStar, not out of a desire to belittle but out of a genuine curiosity. From his standpoint, housing adds nothing to the game and takes development time away from features that do add to the overall experience. His question was an attempt to see if he was missing some crucial point, something that made housing more important than, say, another raid at launch.

Partway through typing a response, I realized that this was a response that deserved more than just a letter; it deserved center stage because L is both right and wrong.

In the strictest sense, housing does take away from development time that could go toward other features. For some players it's just not that interesting or relevant. But at the same time it also opens up avenues of design and play that just don't exist without housing in place, which winds up making the game as a whole better even if you don't want to play housekeeper.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Granok of WildStar

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I promise that the article is not filled with rock-based puns.  Yes, that's a fair thing to worry about with me.
The Granok are the polar opposite of the Mechari. Where the latter are covered in mysteries and elements that don't make a whole lot of sense without invoking conspiracies, the former is a race that you can pretty much understand as soon as you see a trailer involving the race. They're rock people who like to fight things and probably blow stuff up, and they don't really need a whole lot in the way of subtlety. Discussion over. Enjoy WildStar's boisterous bruisers.

Heck, the Granok are more Exiles by practice than anything. The Granok that we know aren't lending their support to the Exiles for nothing; these are mercenaries by trade, first and foremost. At a glance, you could easily see these men and women fighting alongside whichever of the two factions paid better. They certainly don't care about Nexus in particular. But they do care about a lot more than beer and a good scrap, and when you understand the race a bit more, that punch-drunk attitude starts to look a little thin.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar reveals; we analyze

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Size doesn't matter.  Unless you're talking about someone who can crush you underfoot, that sort of matters.
We've gotten some substantial updates about WildStar over the last two weeks. Not as substantial as we might necessarily want, but I don't think anyone realistically expected this much news. Frankly, after an extended drought of worthwhile information, I'm happy to get as much as we have. Some of it has been hinted at before, some of it's completely new, and some of it is both unexpected and highly welcome.

And then we've gotten some hints worth speculating upon, even if we haven't been told what's happening outright. So in the grand tradition of this column guessing at things only to be proven wrong not long thereafter, it's time to analyze and speculate a whole mess of things, starting with the biggest element that I didn't expect from WildStar at all, and that's all the cross-realm features. That's way more intriguing than mere class speculation.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Examining the Mechari of WildStar

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I'm not saying they're villains, but I am saying these guys would rather be Decepticons.
Who's afraid of the big bad Mechari? As it turns out, a lot of people. Possibly for good reason.

Of all the races in WildStar, the Mechari represent the biggest question mark. Part of that is by design; when you have a race of sapient machines controlling the information flow of an entire empire, you aren't supposed to know everything there is to be known about them. But there are a lot of questions that pose themselves based on what we do know. Starting with the fact that they don't exactly make sense.

I've touched on this briefly before, but the fact is that the stated purpose of the Mechari is at odds with what we know of their creation and behavior. They're intelligence gatherers that don't actually have obvious tools for that role. They're left in the dark in ways that don't make sense, and they are altogether a race of contradictions if you accept everything at face value.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Still looking forward to WildStar

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Kinda want to play nodule-head over there.
One of the analogies I keep coming back to is that choosing an MMO is a lot like being in a long-term relationship. That's also true of sticking with one for the long term. Some weeks, your MMO of choice just seems to do everything wrong, and sometimes you go through a period of time when you're just not sure if the relationship works any longer.

WildStar and I are in a bit of a long-distance relationship at the moment, what with me steadfastly existing in the present and her not technically having launched just yet. And sometimes she finds ways to make me upset, with clueless design or business decisions that leave me wondering what in the hell went on in the background. But then there are things that get me excited, things that remind me of why I've been waiting for this game for a while. So let's talk about some of the stuff that still gets me excited.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's big missed (business) opportunity

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

And now the column wherein I make more people annoyed at my stances.
We've known of WildStar's business model for about a month. I wrote about it when it was first revealed, and at the time I thought there wasn't much more left to say. The model is what it is, people are going to be unhappy about it (as they have been with every single MMO business model announced to date), and the world will keep turning. Nothing more to say.

In this case, I was wrong. Nothing specifically has changed, but I've had more time to think about the model as a whole and see what people are saying about it, especially when contrasted with other utterly archaic models on display elsewhere. (Not that I'm naming names.) So let's give this business model a second glance. I still think it's got some interesting potential, but I'm increasingly of the mind that it's a missed opportunity that's going to come back in a bad way.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Inspirational paths for WildStar

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Which is defined by whether or not you like it.
I've gone on record as frequently saying that I think WildStar's paths are pretty awesome in concept. The idea that you can have two characters with identical classes and races but two separate paths who explore totally different sections of the game is really compelling to me, especially when I expect that I'll have approximately nine million alts anyhow.

Unfortunately, it's also a concept that winds up feeling kind of amorphous. American readers who try to convert to the metric system know that sense. You grow up with a certain basis of comparison, and trying to wrap your head around a completely new one without any foundation is a bit tricky.

But I want to help. See, I come from video games. I play a lot of video games. And I think there are parallels to be drawn between existing games with certain mechanical structures and what each of the paths is trying to accomplish. So let's see if we can't fit WildStar's paths into more familiar frameworks before smashing them all into one game.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar Comix

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If there isn't an X in the title above, someone has lost an argument.
I am a really big fan of comics.

If this comes as a shock, possibly one that invites shock and horror, I apologize. But I love comics. We have bookshelves filled with comics in my house, I spend a lot of my free time reading comics, and I know a fair bit about comics. Not even close to everything, though, which is half the fun of comics in general. There's always more to learn, always something great that you've never heard of.

The point I'm slowly getting to here is that I was pretty excited when WildStar started up a comic. I think this is something that more games should do because comics lend themselves to MMOs pretty naturally. So what's good, what's mediocre, and what's bad in the comics that are running thus far? Even with just two weeks of comics I've already formed some pretty strong opinions about this stuff.

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The Nexus Telegraph: No WildStar reveals at PAX Prime panel

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Some neat pictures to see, thought, that was cool.
The title up there is kind of glib, I admit it. We certainly heard more about WildStar during the game's presentation at PAX Prime. But most of what we heard was filling in blanks and elaborating slightly upon what we hard already learned, sort of an extended postscript to the presentation offered at PAX East. I sat down and watched through the whole panel as it streamed, and after it was over I was left with a distinct sense of confusion about how little new information was actually included.

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.

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The Nexus Telegraph: The impact of WildStar's new release window

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I don't know why I thought this wouldn't look good as a header image.  I know that I thought it, but I don't know why I did.
It merited only a footnote when the business model was announced, and it was easy to miss for all of the screaming between players who refused to listen to the other sorts of players, but WildStar isn't aiming for a 2013 release any longer. Not that this is exactly a shock, of course; I said about a month ago that I would prefer to just be told that the game wouldn't release until 2014, which already looked to be the case.

But there's something interesting to be unpacked with that almost offhand mention of the game's targeted release date, especially when you consider how many huge holes there are in our present knowledge of the game. We'll learn more at the end of the week as PAX Prime starts up, but I find myself filling in some blanks both in terms of upcoming revelations and what we've not been told yet.

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