Going Down the Jabbit-hole
One of the ways that WildStar offers story content is through dedicated single-player dungeons known as Drusera Instances, after the ghostly figure that leads you through them. It’s an aspect of the game that’s been largely hidden from view, with Moore keeping them from beta testers. But, rather than being content that’s exclusively for lore-hounds, Moore hopes that they’ll encourage players to try out more of what WildStar has to offer. “The very reason we created those instances was so players that did enjoy it had the best possible environment to enjoy it in.”
“What we tried to do is develop those things story-wise in parallel, so for example we have the Datascape, it’s not as if it’s devoid of story, and in fact, it’s very specifically tied into the world story and the problem with the Eldan disappearing, and the resolution of that problem. The Datascape is an extremely vital component to that story. That being said, it is not required for the people who want to follow the thread – they do no need to play that.”
“My hope is this: if you have raiders, even if they haven’t paid a lot of attention, if they’ve just soaked in a little bit of knowledge and then they play the Datascape, they may say ‘Oh, I kinda like this story, this boss is sort-of interesting and scary. Why does he exist, what’s the problem here?’ And maybe the say ‘You know what, normally those world story instances aren’t going to be my cup of tea, but since I really liked the experience in here, and I’m kind of interested in this bad guy that I just defeated, maybe I should go to the world story and get the other piece of the puzzle, get the other side of the coin.’ And maybe it works the other way to, with the people that are playing though the world story, they might normally be people that don’t raid, but maybe they just needed that little push. ‘Maybe I’ll get involved with a guild and try to see this content.’”
Drusera aside, there were huge numbers of stories – both large and small – that were accessible during WildStar’s beta. Out of them all, I asked Moore which ones got the most surprising reaction. Thinking about it, he began to laugh, before telling me about two particular creations. “I think one of the surprise characters – it’s good that people like him as much as we did – we have this NPC called Crag Studrock who’s in whitevale and… he’s just a moron, in the worst sense of the word. He’s going around, trying to pick up on Aurin females, and throwing out the worst pickup lines. He shows up in Wigwali Village, trying to pick up on Kezia from Deradune. He’s just a character that’s so ridiculous that people have glommed on to.”
“One of the other parts that was pretty cool - we have a number of these easter egg interactions - there’s a couple of highwayman from the Darkspur cartel, so we put these little vignettes throughout the world. There’s one, these two guys are having a conversation about ‘how many carbs have you been eating, have you lost weight?’ Right between them is this victim who’s tied up and obviously is about to be executed, and these guys are just having this everyday conversation. The next time you see them, in a later zone, they’re standing over this mound of dirt, and continuing that conversation they were having before. Eventually you find them in Deadrock Prison in Whitevale.
“They don’t have any relevance at all to the story, but they were put there for the very reason that we knew people would if they found them, they would appreciate this little off-kilter content, and there were a lot of threads about those guys in the actual beta. I think for me, it’s those little touches that I appreciated in seeing what players were responding to, and just helping us keep in mind that it’s those little details that players appreciate the most. They expect there to be quests and all of these things, but when they run across these things that are really just content developers saying ‘hey, we know that this kind of thing, you’re not going to see all the time, but we’re going to spend the time and put it in, I think those are the types of content that I enjoyed hearing people talk about and compliment.”
Having a diverse tapestry of characters, even inconsequential ones, is all part of building a wide world full of discovery. It’s also very Carbine – when players asked for more choices in how their own characters looked, the studio’s animation team worked out a way to offer a number of different body type choices. I asked Moore how important this diversity was when creating content for WildStar.
“I think it’s super important. It’s funny, when you’re in the middle of developing your game, you don’t always think about how these characters will be represented, visually, and especially in a game like ours that is full of alien races that are all different types and personalities. You tend to lose focus on the reality of it, which is that sure, all of these other races are different, unique, and they all have different personalities, but really, it’s the humans that are what people will look at. Over time, we have begun to really take a close look at that. And so, we try to be as diverse as possible, in terms of the genders. We obviously have male heroes and female heroes, iconic characters on both sides.”
“But, as we’ve continued to develop content - some that hasn’t yet been released, but which people will experience when we launch - there’s just been a heightened perspective and focus on that. It’s important, especially in a game that’s about a big galaxy full of aliens and humans, everybody shouldn’t necessarily look, talk or think the same, and so we’ve been, where ever it makes sense, and wherever the opportunity arises, we’ve been trying to make sure we continue to diversify our cast of characters.”
“If you’re not writing your stuff so that it has that diversity, you’re probably not really thinking about the way the world really is. “