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WildStar Wednesday: Metal Maw, action!

Written by Loic "Atreid" Claveau on May 16, 2012
WildStar Wednesday: Metal Maw, action!

Hello folks!

It's time for more Metal Maw, this time, with more video! Check it out below, and then we'll talk more about how he came to life, and what's next!

Now that you've watched the video of Metal Maw in action, let's take a look at the process that brought him to this phase of his development.

A couple of weeks back Metal Maw was passed to the Combat Team for some work. So we sat down and started asking some of the basic questions we'd need answers to before we began our work:

Q: Who is our audience?
A: Players!

Q: How familiar are they with the game?
A: This will potentially be their first time experiencing WildStar. They will have had time to watch other players while standing in line and possibly 10-20 minutes of playing before they encounter Metal Maw.

Q: What level will their characters be?
A: Level 6
This is important for a variety of reasons. It lets us know what tools the players have at their disposal and also gives us a rough estimate of what their health and attributes should be at with the gear at that level.

Q: How many players will be fighting Metal Maw?

A: Up to 15 Players
It's important to note that while Metal Maw can handle up to 15 players, we think it fitting, based the way metal maw came to life, that he be experienced as a public event. That's the kind of information that helps us design the fight. This tells us how many people we need to keep occupied and entertained. The abilities that keep 5 people entertained can be very different from abilities that keep 25 people entertained.

Q: How long is the fight supposed to be?
A: 3 Minutes
This combined with the amount of players that will be fighting Metal Maw help us figure out how much health, armor, and various other attributes Metal Maw will need to survive this long. It also helps us establish a timeline, which lets us ensure the players will not get bored because they are doing the same thing for too long.

Q: How organized do we expect them to be?
A: This will be a bit chaotic and unorganized.
This answer is derived from several of the previous questions and answers. Players will be new to our game, at level 6, with very little experience on their class. There will be 15 players, who probably do not know each other and have had little to no experience cooperating in our game. Due to this we expect a very chaotic and unorganized attack.

Once we had all of this information, we gathered a few members of our combat team and moved onto phase two; designing a Metal Maw that would fit the answers listed above.

These team members began spitting out random ability ideas they thought would be cool. These abilities were culled down to a list of ideas that we currently had the tech for. They were then further culled down to a list of abilities we felt would keep 15 players (both melee and ranged) entertained for at least 3 minutes.

Once we had the abilities the designers and animators worked together to implement 'blocked in' versions of each. Just because we had good ideas on paper didn't mean they'd turn out well in game.

"Blocking In" the abilities means we do the least amount of work possible to get it into the game so we can play test it. Good games only come from play testing your work over and over in the actual game!

With the abilities blocked in, we began gathering the Combat Team into groups of 15 people and threw them to the mercy of Metal Maw. We played against him over and over, each time learning new valuable information.

One of the things we learned early on was that the time we give level 6 players to react to a telegraph was much too high for a boss like Metal Maw. Many players did not feel like they were in danger while fighting Metal Maw. Once we lowered the reaction window for his telegraphs, the threat of dying became real and people had much more fun fighting him.

Over the course of many play tests we were able to find and tweak lots of issues. Abilities that were lackluster or didn't work well with the fight were removed. Abilities that became too punishing were toned back. The fight was eventually organized into phases, so that players were experiencing something new at key intervals in the 3 minute timeline.

Now that we are pretty happy with the progress we have made on Metal Maw, we have opened play testing to the entire company and the feedback has been great so far. With a whole new set of eyes on him we have identified additional ways to improve the quality of his fight and are working to implement those.

Metal Maw now makes his way into the animation and effects team, where he will experience the polish needed for his animations and actions within the game. We'll see you then!

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