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WildStar Column: ‘Tis the Season

By Gareth Harmer on December 26, 2013

The end of December is a strange time of year. Some choose to spend it with family, celebrating the season with a sumptuous Yuletide feast. Others travel the globe to reconnect with absent friends or remote relatives. A few use the time charitably, like Carbine Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney, who is heading to Nepal.

Yet there’s always a few of us (me included) who find the time to get online and wish a happy holiday to in-game friends. MMOs have long been catering for real-world holidays, with special events to enjoy and gifts to collect. WildStar’s likely to be no different, with the Protostar Gala Winterfest Extravaganza already in the pipeline for winter 2014.

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Besides Winterfest, speculation was rife in this Reddit Thread about what other holiday events WildStar might include. While we already know of a couple that tie closely to real-world celebrations, I’m also hoping that the studio manages to sneak in a couple of completely lore-based festivals. After all, what better to help strengthen that sense of a unique game-world?

The Holiday Calendar

Over the past year, Carbine’s lore and narrative teams have already revealed three in-game events. The most widely known is Shade’s Eve, a holiday that’s rooted in Cassian culture but since spread to many parts of the known galaxy. Legend has it that the ancient Human settlers contracted a lethal plague shortly after landing on Cassus. The few remaining survivors were able to synthesize a vaccine from a young girl who possessed a remarkable natural immunity, without which they would have likely perished.

Since then, both sickness and savior have been personified in myth as Jack Shade and The Angel. The week-long festival celebrates the ghoulish and macabre, even though thousands of years have passed since those pioneering days. Still, Carbine has pointed out the similarities between the ancient planetfall on Cassus and the more recent one on Nexus. Perhaps the virulent spacer sickness will return?

In the Dominion calendar, there’s probably no date more important than the double-celebration of Foundation Day. It marks the occasion of the first Dominion flag being firmly planted in Nexian soil, and coincides with the founding of the Empire some 1600 years earlier. The Emperor further signified the event by declaring Nexus the new Dominion homeworld, supplanting Cassus’ favored status. Apparently, the Empire are known to throw quite the celebration.

Not to be outdone, the Exiles celebrate Starfall on the same date. It recognizes the moment when famed explorer Dorian Walker first discovered Nexus, rekindling hope in a bruised and battered faction. It was a significant point in time for the fledgling nation, as it spurred the signing of the Exile Accords. But instead of pomp and ceremony, the loose alliance celebrates by remembering heroes and hard-won victories, and sharing a good tale or two.

Unfilled Dates

Outside of the holiday events that we already know about, WildStar’s lore already contains opportunities for in-game festivals that don’t have to be tied to the real-world calendar. Possibly the most obvious of this is the defeat of Draken High Warlord Zhur at the hand of Dominion Emperor Azrion, at the end of a long and bloody duel, and resulted in the Draken instantly swearing alliegence to the Empire. Perhaps it could be called the Bloodfeast of Kazor, and be celebrated with a brutal PvP tournament that attracts the mightiest fighters from across the galaxy. After all, life is about more than sticking an apple in a pig.

For something more bittersweet and subdued, there’s the possibility of a Granok event in the in-game calendar. In a single moment, mercenary leader Durek Stonebreaker freed himself from the grip of the Dominion and forced himself and his followers into exile. It could be a private Granok affair, or a moment when all Exiles remember their origins, those they left behind, and what they gave up to secure freedom.  Although somber, it would be a great way to inject some emotional texture into the world.

Likewise, there’s also the day of Brightland’s Rebellion. While the Dominion aren’t likely to celebrate this one, it’s the point in time when a group of Cassians drew a line in the sand, embarking on civil war and eventually breaking free as fugitives and exiles. As the earliest origins of the Exile movement, there’s plenty of symbolism available as a continued reminder of defiance against the Dominion. And, if a real-world link is needed, how about a day of thanks?

Holiday events are great at giving us something to look forward to, and I’m definitely interested in how they take shape in WildStar. But they also bring the world to life in a unique way that’s part reflection, part isolation from our own reality. Whatever the final calendar looks like, I’m eager to find out.

Gareth Harmer / Gareth Harmer has been blasting and fireballing his way through MMOs for over ten years. When he's not exploring an online world, he can usually be found enthusiastically dissecting and debating them. Follow him on Twitter at @Gazimoff.

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