For the past few weeks I have had a bit of trouble coming up with topics to write about. For an individual who hopes to play a class completely based on brain-power, mine was hitting a proverbial wall. Throw in a hefty-helping of holiday hustle and bustle and you have a recipe for a rather boring blog (I'll try to cut back on the alliteration from this point forward).
However, upon opening up Microsoft Word in preparation for some sort of post, I locked in on one thing that always amuses me around this time of year: MMO holidays. I want to take a look at how WildStar may handle holidays, and how other games use them as a way of breaking up the usual ho-hum content schedule and kicking my sense of immersion square in the nads.
I have a real love-hate relationship with MMO's when it comes to holidays. On one hand, I loathe the fact that we often see the most blatant Santa Clause rip-offs ever crop up this time of year. It's totally ridiculous and often times doesn't fit with the flow of the game in even the slightest way. There's no better way to say "Hey, our world is being threatened by monsters/demi-gods/masterminded villains!" than throwing up a bunch of trees in a capitol city and giving us a bunch of random fetch-quests. It's dumb. That said, I love doing holiday events, and they tend to get me in the spirit of the holidays just as much as putting a random tree inside my house and eating cookies until I vomit. There's something sort of wonderful about seeing snow on the ground in-game, and I even get little twinges of excitement when games give me presents to open. It calls me back to my youth.
So how can I be satisfied with what WildStar does? After spending some time (see: a few minutes) thinking about it, I decided it came down to a few different things.
1.) Give me cool goodies. Equipment, house items, gifts, and buffs all help to make the season bright (thanks, Bing Crosby). I want to feel as excited logging in around Christmas as I do when I step out into my living room in the morning, knowing I get to engage in a vicious package-opening extravaganza. Additionally, a lot of games offer various little food buffs, such as cookies and milk, that increase a stat. However, I think goodies that increase XP gain or gifts that give a chance for a rare item would be even more exciting.
2.) Give me some fun mini-games. I'm not sure how many of my readers (all seven of you, by my estimation) played City of Heroes back in the day, but they used to have a little snow ramp you could slide down. It was very simple, yet very effective at being an absolute blast. Seeing how much speed your hero could gather before being launched off was crazy fun. I may be mistaken, but there may have even been a little course that you could slide down, which would be even more awesome. The reveal of hoverboards makes me hopeful that WildStar could implement a similar system, or even a limited-time snowball fight that (in keeping with the idea of not breaking immersion) takes place inner-faction. So instead of Dominion vs. Exiles in an all out blood-bath, have Dom vs. Dom in a little snowball fight. A guy can dream, can't he?
3.) Don't break immersion. The above two points are good and fine, but don't just force the holiday into the game if it is going to make no sense whatsoever. These two factions hate each other, and it doesn't make much sense for a Chua to walk over and hand a chunk of fruitcake to an Aurin, even if he is holding a snowball behind his back. The greater likelihood is that fruitcake would be filled with razorblades and grenades (which I still think would taste better than actual fruitcake). If you're going to stick Christmas in my game, at least make it make sense; that might mean that both factions have a different idea of what the holiday means, and if that's the case, then so be it. It's better than half-assing it, in my opinion.
So there you have it, the three points that would really make holidays in WildStar stand out for me. There are some other things I would like to see, such as great holiday quests and some cool seasonal decorations, but I can't stress enough that if it doesn't make sense in the story, the whole thing is lost on me.