What exactly is WildStar, you ask? This is the first MMO by Carbine Studios, a developer made up of ex-WoW employees. We got the chance to sit down with the studio's lead content designer Michael Donatelli to find out more about its upcoming game, from secret plotlines to expansions and PvP.
Q: Could you explain how this MMO differs from others?
Michael Donatelli: We're kind of going for a Firefly wrapped up with Indiana Jones kind of feel. We have this kind of sci-fi, fantasy western kind of thing.
Our goal was to create what we call the Momentum System. Pretty much any system by itself is fine, a lot of MMOs have zone content that tie in with quests and stuff. That works for some people but there's not a lot of depth to that so we've added other content. So we have these challenges that are in the game. In straight up normal combat players will stand and target someone until they die, everybody does their attacks. And it works fine for some people, or for the casual gamer who can just jump in and play, but if I want something more complex as well.
We talk about letting players play how they want to play and it's not just some bullshit buzzword. It's literally saying hey, if you just want to stand there and shoot then you can. But if you want to attack you can look at all these different threat meters around, you can evade attacks and become more lethal and you can attack in a more efficient manner, you can get XP that gives a bonus for evades.
So a regular player might quest to kill ten monsters, they'll just go down the hill and kill ten monsters, the same old path, and 200 XP and it's all over. But the player who wants to dig a little deeper can chain things together, kill two monsters and get in-game advancements. It's called momentum so you gain momentum and you're moving faster and doing more damage. So in a quest to kill 10 monsters, you've chained [your attacks] together and you've come out with 500 XP.
Q: Can you talk about the plotline?
MD: You play Exiles. There are two factions, the Exiles and the Dominion. The Exiles have all these reasons to join together. The Exiles come here looking for a new home and the Dominion have come here hoping to exploit this planet, the planet that was home to the most advance alien creatures in the galaxy, who have disappeared, so everybody is kind of coming here, sort of 1800s gold rush style – but all the stuff [of the original inhabitants] is still here. Through the story, through the game we'll let you uncover bits and pieces but the twist is we're not even really going to start telling the real story until the end of the game. That will be through patches and episodic content.
Q: So you're already thinking of expansions?
MD: Well, we don't look at it as expansions. We just look at it as in-game content. One of the things we've followed all along is that the design of stories needs to be supported way past the max level.
Q: Do you have a team testing the possibility of bringing it to console yet? Does the idea of console MMOs have legs overall?
MD: Well, I personally think [console MMOs] should be concentrated on. I don't know if we're going to go cross-platform though. Although I've seen a couple people try it and they're successful to a degree but an MMO at its base is meant to be played on a large scale with lots of people so communication [on console] is difficult.