WildStar Lore Interview: Chad Moore
Today Carbine release their latest installment of the WildStar story page. Following on from Voyage of the Nomad, Rise of the Cassians will hopefully give an even greater insight into Dominus the Half-Blood, a human-Eldan hybrid. We managed to snag just a few minutes of Chad Moore's time to chat about WildStar's lore and these new entries. Here's how we got on.
Ten Ton Hammer: There seems a real push at the moment to market WildStar as a highly lore centric game. Was this always planned post launch or has something changed?
Chad: For anyone that has followed us from the beginning, I think it's obvious that lore has always played a central role in our game. When you have a brand new IP like WildStar, it is really important that you get people invested into your game universe before the game launches, and lore is best vehicle for making that happen.
In terms of the interactive timeline that we just released, it's really just our way of continuing to get people excited about WildStar - whether they be new players or old. Some of these stories will be familiar to our existing fans, and some will be completely new - such as the Voyage of the Nomad. Expanding your IP both inside and out of the game is important for building and maintaining your community, and we are going to continue focusing on it in the future.
Ten Ton Hammer: Pushing lore to the forefront of your product isn’t something you see in many massively multiplayer games. Lore and the consumption of it is often on the fringes of what many players want. Why do you think this is?
Chad: It has always been my opinion that strong lore is vital to the success of an MMO. Even for those players who don't necessarily consider themselves lorehounds, there is an intangible value to having compelling lore in your game, because it serves as the foundation for everything from environment design to visual effects to class mechanics. If your lore is clear and consistent, then the experience for your players, whatever their gameplay interests, will also be clear and consistent.
This is also one of the reasons why a lot of our lore is what I consider "opt-in". If you are the kind of player that doesn't like lore, then you aren't forced to experience it or consume it. But if you are the kind of person who wants to dig deep into the lore of our game, you have multiple ways to do so - through content such as Datacubes, Journals, Galactic Archives, and Tales From Beyond The Fringe.
Ten Ton Hammer: Before I get onto the subject of Voyage of the Nomad, Loremageddon seems to have gone down really well. How did these come about and how do they feed into Voyage of the Nomad?
Loremageddon was extremely successful, resulting in brand new web content where players can go and consume the answers to the burning questions that they asked at the beginning of the initiative. This was an awesome example of the collaboration that can happen between passionate members of the community and the devs who are creating the game. This is the kind of thing that personally gets me excited. When those two groups are in synch and working on things together, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
Ten Ton Hammer: When you’re dreaming up lore for a videogame have you often found that you’ve had to, for want of a better word, crowbar your ideas into a pre-existing design, or have you always pushed for lore first and then design decisions after? How did it work out with WildStar?
Chad: From a consistency standpoint, I think that the best design always starts with lore. Before we went into full production for the game, the Narrative Design team did a lot of work to define the lore for our player races, iconic characters, world groups and planet Nexus itself. We also developed a number of primary story arcs that players would experience as they played through the game. Armed with this information, the content teams were able to create content that resonated with the universe that we had established, along with being really fun and engaging. In my opinion, it's the combination of those two things that makes content great.
In many cases, when you crowbar content into your game that wasn't developed according to the themes established in your lore, players will feel it and they will call you on it. Or you get into a situation where you are retconning your existing lore to fit the content in question. Neither of those situations are good, so we do our best to avoid them.
Ten Ton Hammer: Voyage of the Nomad is the latest addition to WildStar’s lore catalogue. Can you tell us an overview of what its primary purpose is and who it’s aimed at?
As I talked about earlier, Voyage of the Nomad and the subsequent stories that will follow are aimed at both existing players and brand new players that don't know anything about our game. Voyage of the Nomad is a completely new story that can be enjoyed by both groups. Its ultimate purpose is to get people excited about the WildStar universe. If they can read about the epic and unforgettable events that lead up to the time when the game begins, then my hope is it will encourage them to play in order to see how it all turns out.
Ten Ton Hammer: The first entry in this series discusses follows Captain Sonoda as the Cassian civilization's first space travelers. Why did you to start here?
Chad: That is kind of a loaded question. Let's just say that the Voyage of the Nomad represents one of the most important moments in galactic history. But the true impact of that event is something that still has yet to be revealed.
Ten Ton Hammer: It’s clever how in Noble Ambitions you tidily summarized the Cassian history behind how they got to take part in space travel. Can we expect this to be expanded on in the future?
(Chad thinks long and hard about this before responding)
Ten Ton Hammer: There’s a great deal of entries to be made across this Lore Timeline that I’m hoping will piece together many of the mysteries surrounding the discovery of Nexus. Are we in for any particular surprises?
Chad: There is going to be a lot of new information concerning the events that led up to the discovery of Nexus. We are going to be digging really deep into these events, revealing details that have never been talked about. For our existing fans, there may be some surprises along the way. I'm looking forward to seeing how the community reacts as we release them over the coming weeks, and I'm hoping they inspire further (spirited!) discussions about WildStar's lore.
Ten Ton Hammer: What do you think makes WildStar’s lore unique and why tell it in this way, outside of the game?
Chad: WildStar's lore is unique for a few different reasons - but I think the most important one is that we are a brand new IP, and our lore was developed specifically for the game that our players are experiencing right now. If you look at all of the lore that has been revealed so far - whether it relates to the Eldan, the formation of the Dominion, or the mysteries of planet Nexus itself - it all represents a cohesive whole that sets up what takes place once the game begins. We did not have to contend with the challenges of making an MMO out an existing IP - we were able to write lore that resonates perfectly with the game that we developed.
In terms of the second part of your question: generally when we release information outside of the game, it is to enhance existing content, or to set up things that could be important later. Take that answer as you will.
Ten Ton Hammer: Lastly, is there any intention of implementing this lore into the game or will it always remain online?
Chad: I have always been of the opinion that if lore is not going to serve a purpose in the game, then there's no reason to write it. In most cases, the lore that we have released has tangible importance to the content that we have created and are in the process of developing. Written lore has its place, but I feel that it is always the most memorable and visceral when you can experience its impact in the game itself.
Ten Ton Hammer would like to thank Chad Moore for taking a few minutes out of his very busy schedule to answer our questions. Rise of Cassians will go live today.