MMORPG.com: Are there any subtle hints or foreshadowing in game for what’s to come?
Moore: There’s a very specific story point, and I won’t get into it just to avoid spoilers, but there’s a very specific story point about the way that Drusera was created, and you learn a lot about that through Datacubes, and through the Drusera instances as you play through. There’s a big mystery that’s involved in what it actually took to make the Genesis Prime, and so for players that have been paying attention, and it’s awesome because you go to the forums and you see people that are catching on to this, and they say ‘wait a minute, we don’t actually know this vital piece of information that could become important. How is this going to affect what happens from this point on?’ And so those are the kinds of things that yes, absolutely get addressed in the Nexus saga, and will take players to new and exciting places that will pull back a little bit more of the curtain on some of the bigger mysteries that they’ve learned along the way.
MMORPG.com: Has there been any change in the feedback you’re getting on WildStar’s story now that the game is live?
Moore: Yes, there’s definitely been a change. The good side of that is once we got to the end, as players started to get to level cap and they were experiencing the content, finding datacubes, reading journals - for the people that were really invested in the story, it was awesome to see them begin to put the pieces together. Some of them had almost the whole story, and they made some intuitive jumps and got their piece of yarn out, and tacked it on a board and had scribbled notes, and they got really close to what actually took place.
As a designer, and I think there’s varying opinions on this, my philosophy in terms of mysteries and revels, is that I think it’s way more satisfying to players if they are given all of the information required to make an educated guess as to what happened. For me personally, I think we did a pretty good job of putting just enough out there for the most dedicated players that wanted to dig into the story, that they could figure it out. I like the fact that people dug into the nitty gritty and just about figured the whole thing out. That was the whole plan from the beginning, and that part has been great.
I think now, what has been super interesting, is that some of that information is up on the PTR now, and so for those people that don’t mind spoilers they do know a lot of what’s going on. It has been great to hear what they think is coming next. ‘Now that we know these things, what does that mean? It must mean something like this.’
To be honest, there are a lot of great ideas out there that have definitely influenced what we’re going to be doing either in the future, either because it’s a great point, ‘hey we need to talk about that,’ or ‘hey that’s a really good idea, maybe we should take that into account as we move forward.’ I really like the fact that we have such involvement with our player base, and they are so bought in and invested in the WildStar universe, that they’re beginning to be on the same page as we are in the kinds of stories we want to tell. It’s a really cool dynamic.
MMORPG.com: The mood at the moment feels like there’s less tension between the factions. Is the conflict on pause?
Moore: I think it would be fair to say that right now, probably the number one priority in terms of their attention is dealing with the large threat of the Entity, and how they plan to deal with that moving forward. That being said, I think there is definitely, on either side, there is always the realization that ‘Hey, our bitter enemy is just around the corner,’ and there will be stories in the post-launch environment that continue to tell the story of the conflict between the two factions. I still think that conflict is important and it will still play a big part. But at least right now, where we are in the overarching story, the primary focus is how are we going to deal with this Entity situation and how is that going to play out.
MMORPG.com Are there any plans to further reward players that dig into to the story, through titles, housing items or costume?
Moore: The answer to that question is yes on almost all of those fronts. Even just in the Omnicore 1 content there’s going to be a special edition of Tales from Beyond the Fringe, with it’s own custom cover and a new take on how we do the content in it, so players should be on the lookout for that. There will be lots of different lore-specific rewards that are going to come out of Journey into Omnicore 1 that are exclusive to that content, so players should forward to having those rewards as they play through the Nexus Saga.
MMORPG.com: Lead Composer Jeff Kutenacker said that he’s inspired by the stories of WildStar. Has the reverse ever happened?
Moore: Let me give a good example: Protostar has its theme. When we were first developing some Protostar content for WildStar, one of the first things that Jeff did was create this little jingle for what Protostar music might sound like. I think it was basically the musical manifestation about what Protostar was all about, and I can definitely say that music has now really influenced how we’ve done content, with the feeling of the content. It has now shown up in our marketing videos and stuff. I think that was a great example of Jeff just looking at something like Protostar without any real specific content around it, and really getting into the essence of what it was about, which then I think then inspired us to do different kinds of content around that music.
I don’t know if he talked at all about this. We were towards the end of one phase of our development and Jeff was working on a lot of different kinds of music, and he played some music that wasn’t for the main theme, it was just some other piece of piece of music that he was working. A number of us heard it and were just like ‘Dude, that is the essence of WildStar, that is the actual theme of our game,’ and I think it was before we had really solidified the overall direction. Just hearing that music and playing it for the team, I think it just galvanized everyone around the idea of what it was that we had been working so hard on. What Jeff does for the IP and being part of the creative process, he’s just completely vital. It’s not always that he comes in at the end and just represents things that we have done, he will often inspire an overall feeling and inspiration for the things that we do. He’s really just a unique individual and we’re lucky to have him.
MMORPG.com: In terms of your own inspirations, what have you in particular looked to for this phase of the Nexus Saga?
Moore: One of the things that I can say we are really focusing on, and something that inspires me, and I don’t think it’s any secret – it inspires anyone that gets into stories, whether in games or movies or anything – is we’re starting to really focus on the characters that are part of this adventure. Whether it’s delving into the motivations of Drusera herself or the Entity, or the iconic heroes that are part of your adventure in Omnicore 1, we’re really trying to devolve into how all of these monumental, epic, galactic events, how are they effecting the characters that are involved in it.
For me, the essence of any good story and the motivation for creating a good story, I think it all starts with characters, with individuals, and the effects of these things on them, their motivations, their mood. As we delve deeper into the Nexus Saga, not only will we learn more about the meta-story of WildStar, but we will actually begin to get more windows into the souls of some of these iconic characters that you’ve come to know and love as you’ve played through the game. That kind of storytelling really motivates and inspires me, and it’s something that we’re going to focus on a lot as we make more content for the game.
MMORPG.com: A long time ago you showed some character sheets for Dorian Walker. Are those notes helping now?
Moore: Something we did really early on as we were developing the iconic characters - personalities, motivations, how they talk - but one of the big things was ‘what are the events that led to where the NPC is today?’ In the case of Dorian Walker, in the case of very iconic, as he is the discoverer of Nexus, but there are things in his backstory, things about how he discovered Nexus and his overall personality and worldview that, now that they’re coming into play, are very helpful.
‘How do we create content around someone like Dorian Walker? How do we stay true to all of these things that we have developed about his story? How can those things get reflected into content that we’re creating now?’ Same with Belle Walker and Axis Pheydra. Knowing those things in advance and being very clear to both the designers and ourselves on the narrative team, doing that hard work at the beginning and really fleshing it out has definitely paid dividends, and I think has resulted overall in more consistent content through the game. Now that we’re into the Nexus Saga, it will lead into more compelling and ultimately believable and accessible stories about these characters and some of the trials and tribulations that they’re going to experience.
MMORPG.com: On a tangent, do you have anything planned for the Torine?
Moore: Yes. There are very cool and concrete plans for the Torine, and for Tresayne Toria in particular. Who of course, if I haven’t said it before, is my all-time favorite NPC in the entire game. I have the biggest lore crush on Tresayne Toria, I just think she is awesome.
With Tresayne Toria, you’ve got this legendary Cassian hero who basically gets involved in this civilization-transforming event, and gets taken from her homeworld by an advanced alien race, and then goes to this planet that nobody knows where it is, is the most legendary planet in the universe, and then that’s when her real adventure begins. If you dig into her story, what took place once she got to Nexus, the establishment of the Torine Sisterhood, and all of the things that they believe in.
I really think when it comes right down to it, there are very few characters on either side – any of the characters we have – who are so ingrained into the events that have taken place. She has just been witness to the most epic events, and continues to be at the center of some of those. I just think she’s a super-interesting character, and any time that we do content around her, I get kinda giddy.
MMORPG.com: Finally, is there anything you’d like to add for players looking forward to Omnicore 1?
Moore: The only other thing I’ll say is that again, we want to continue to reiterate that the Nexus Saga: Journey into Omnicore 1 is the realization of a promise that we gave to our players that the most epic story moments in the game are going to be accessible to the widest group of people. Anyone who wants to get into the story does not have to get 20 or 40 people together. They can experience that content on their own, and their own pace, and it is specifically designed to tell them the best story about what is taking place on nexus. From a design philosophy standpoint we’re very happy about how this has turned out. I think it’s also another example of our commitment to endgame content that is not for groups, it is replayable, it has its own rewards, and is another piece of the tapestry of the things that players can do once they reach endgame. This is the kind of thing that they should continue to expect as we move forward.