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Exclusive Wildstar Interview: Carbine's Stephan Frost

Updated Sat, Nov 09, 2013 by Lewis B

After playing WildStar at Eurogamer only a few months ago and in desperate need to know more, I invited the WildStar Reddit community to submit their questions to Carbine, alongside our own, in the hope of answers. Luckily for us we managed to bag Stephan Frost who was more than willing to chat about the game. Here's how we got on.

Ten Ton Hammer: Having played WildStar for the first time at Eurogamer, the game is incredibly polished. I did have two primary concerns, though, the first being quests. You’ve gone some lengths in talking about the revised quest system. Why do you feel the old one no longer worked? What’s your perception on a modern quest system? The nearest comparison would be Guild Wars 2 and its hearts, which are technically quests, with the exception that ArenaNet removed the NPC. How do you feel your new system and theirs differs?

Carbine: Thanks for the kind words, the Carbine Dev Team has been working extremely hard to ensure players will be jumping into a fun and polished experience with Wildstar.

One of the things we strive to accomplish in Wildstar, is to evolve MMO systems and content to make them more engaging. We’ve changed the “kill 0/15” mechanic to be an xp bar that fills up as you kill mobs. Simply put, the more dangerous the target mobs you kill, the faster the bar fills up. We also tie in other content, (like Challenge and Path systems) to reward players that effectively multitask. All three systems have the same target, so if you play it smart, you can level faster and receive better rewards for all three systems. We call it “Layered Content,” and it feels supremely gratifying for players that are paying attention to all these systems. We also have quest objective arrows that point to the player in the proper direction. Don’t know where to go? Just click on the quest objective and an arrow will point you to your destination.

WildStar screenshot

Regarding the GW2 quest system, there are a few differences. Their system auto-populates the public events for their content delivery (the hearts). We also focus on more than just quests, we focus on Content that players will encounter in the PVE experience. In our system, there are a few ways the player can find Content. We have the following Content Types:

Communicator Call Quests – An NPC calls the player via a communicator and says they need something. (One example is a Chua calls from the stomach of a giant creature, asking you to find and rescue him.) You can also turn these in over Comm. Call, meaning you don’t have to run back to town.

Public Events – A scaling objective that needs to be completed out in the world, which usually involves larger amounts of people. This could be to bring down a massive boss creature, or could be setting drills to mine for loftite and kill the rabid creatures in the surrounding area. These scale so you won’t be blocked if you don’t have enough people in the area to help with the content, but it’s certainly easier with more friends. (This is similar to the Guild Wars system in its delivery.)

Traditional Quest Giver – A homie with a Quest Bang over his head will give you stuff to do in the area.

Path Missions – Path content is given via the Datachron, and appears when you wander into certain areas in the world. These are all different depending on your Path type, and content within each Path varies from zone to zone. (Soldier, Scientist, Settler or Explorer.) Don’t know what Paths are? Check this video out.

Shiphand Missions – Content that allows you to go into space and land on asteroid belts, board rival ships, decimate invading factions, protect precious cargo, etc. This uses the public event system, so these objectives scale depending on how many people are in the group.
Challenges - These are usually time restricted pieces of content that fire off when the player engages unknowingly with Challenges. An example would be jumping up to the top of a mountain within a certain amount of time, or disarming a certain amount of mines in less than two minutes.

Ten Ton Hammer: The second issue I had was combat feedback. While the skills classes use was punchy and fantastically animated, there was no “oomph”. There felt very little in the way of impact with a lack of on screen effects or chunky sounds. Is this something you’re working to improve as you continue through Beta?

Carbine: Most certainly. In fact, this is one of the first things we addressed when we went beta dark. Impact is one of the things you need to feel as a gamer, as combat is the thing you do most often. High impact is something we focused on, and that comes with a few things:

  1. When you attack an enemy, he has to react like he’s actually being hit. Our animations team went in and made some modifications so that when you hit an enemy, they’ll react by turning their head around, left or right, depending on how you hit them.
  2. We also added some additional visual effects so players can see that the enemy gets hit.
  3. We also enhanced the sound effects so that whether a Warrior swings his sword or a Spellslinger fires a shot with his pistols those things feel more cohesive and impactful when combined with the improved visuals and animations.
WildStar screenshot

Ten Ton Hammer: The newly presented “Leveling Up” panel that provides you with a run down of what you can now do at X level is a great idea. Do you think this level roadmap is sufficient to instil a sense of value in level progression or do you think people will still jump straight to what skill they get next and what new armour they can wear? Do you have anything else planned to reward players for their progress?

Carbine: There are a myriad number of rewards we’re planning to provide players with as they progress through content. One thing we look at when we’re working on progression is to check out other games and see where players have gone out of the levelling progression, where have they stopped playing. With that analysis, we’re making sure that things are being added to make the progression more interesting to the player. As you’re playing through you’re getting more cool stuff for playing continuously. So besides mounts and other cool items, you’ll get access to things like Housing, PvP areas and different dungeon types, etc. If there’s something cool coming online, you’ll know about it through this levelling system. We want the levelling experience to be more a matter of constantly having something to look forward to, and not just a grind. We want players to not just feel powerful as they progress, but we want them to have all of the sweet trappings that go with that to show off in the world.

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