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Uplink Analysis: Machinima

Written by David "Scooter" Bass on October 29, 2012

WildStar Uplink is a weekly conversation we hold with our fans about MMO design, philosophy, and news. The main goal of these conversations is to gauge how important certain issues are to the WildStar community. More than just a simple conversation, we ask questions about topics that are important, and we share your responses with the development team directly. Want to participate? Follow @Team_WildStar on Twitter for the weekly question, participate using #WSuplink, and keep an eye on the community team (CRB_Atreid, CRB_Aether, and CRB_Scooter) to interact with us throughout the discussions.

This week, we had a question for anyone who's ever watched, created, or participated in making Machinima:

What are your favorite examples of machinima today? What do you think makes a good piece of machinima?

A few of you offered some specific thoughts as to what defines "good" machinima:

mmo_pinion: What makes machinima good? I think it's a matter of somehow "surprising" the viewer who is otherwise very familiar with the game.
Ragemeharder: I think that inside jokes are what make Machinima the best. Taking an element from a game and pointing out the ridiculousness

We followed up pretty with a question directly to content creators:

Here's a question for Machinima creators: What in-game tools would you love to have that would make content creation easier?

AgentNardz: Some sort of ability for camera free flight is a big one, via consumable or something else is fine.
swn140: internal vid capture along with external asset viewer/builder. or look at Garry mod for Half Life/Source
Gazimoff: I don't make full machinima, but when I do game coverage, being able to fly and control lighting helps. That said, I would love a remote camera drone that I could program with a camera path
KurikLein: I'm not a creator but as a viewer I would love the ability to share and watch Wildstar Machinimas in-game.
Gazimoff: In-game vidcapture is good if it's high quality and high performance. Otherwise, I'll just swap to Fraps/PVR
Samuraiko: Demorecord. In a heartbeat.
lethality_mmo: One last thing to add, because I think they can be related! The ability to "replay" raid battles - just like a Madden replay :) tuxication something like Source Filmmaker. Maybe not as much features, but you get the idea : custom scene layouts, anims, cameras, ...

And finally, here are some links to your favorite machinima content:

mmo_pinion: Without a doubt, best example of MMO machinima to this day - Craft of War: Blind: http://vimeo.com/5241163
WolfpackCasey: These 3: http://youtu.be/TR7FC-h0Fb8 , http://youtu.be/rYQeJQ8KJyY , and http://youtu.be/oOZBU257ERE
AgentNardz: I'll second BLIND, but have to add this for an runner up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7hrRJkrMfI
KurikLein: A few of my favorites: http://youtu.be/fRVTl2ii8BM , http://youtu.be/7RYeKYj4vEY , http://youtu.be/XVjIcSSTyrI

When we brought this topic up to our Cinematics team, we actually learned a lot more about the challenges involved in bringing cinematic tools to the players. We asked them to open up a discussion about it with the community, and they were more than happy to oblige:

Greetings from the Cinematics Team!

While our main responsibilities revolve around content creation, we spend a good amount of time working closely with engineers to improve our toolset and increase the potential for what we can produce. Whether we're scripting events to happen in an in-game cutscene, or capturing gameplay footage to show off to the world, producing machinima is never easy, even when you're on the development team! We have a fantastic art department and we want to do our best to show off their hard work. If you're someone who enjoys producing machinima, we hope you have that same feeling as you step into the world of Nexus.

On the subject of resources available to players, I've had hands-on experience with many of the choices built to support MMO's and non-MMO's alike. Even with the long list of options, it can still be a frustrating experience. The vast majority of these tools are produced for free by fans without the help of the developer - and while the skill and devotion of these fans are without question, it's still an uphill battle to keep up with changes to the game, on top of already having to reverse-engineer game assets and databases - sometimes against the wishes of game companies - in order to make these tools useful.

With that in mind, we're constantly looking at how we might be able to support content creation by offering our own suite of resources, ensuring that players are always capable of making content featuring the latest updates and without technical headaches. Some of the things we've developed internally would be game-breaking if offered to players - imagine directing a group of performers and being able to reset their position for another take - but that doesn't mean that everything is necessarily off the table. An external model viewer? Camera controls capable of movement smoother than what mouse-look can provide? Having a way to fly a camera where your character can't, so you can get that perfect shot? What features we'd offer, and how they'd effect gameplay for those around you, are questions that we'll certainly be kicking around for the foreseeable future.

As development on our end continues, think about how we could best help with your work process, and what features would offer the biggest boost to your machinima content. We'll be watching for your input!

-Chris Hanel, Cinematics Designer

Got any thoughts and suggestions for Chris and the Cinematics team? Let us know on Twitter at @Team_WildStar and keep an eye on the #WSuplink hashtag for a heads up when we begin a new topic on Monday. Thanks to everyone who participated in this week's discussion, and have a great weekend!

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