WildStar: February State of the Game

From the desk of Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney:

As we kick off the Year of WildStar, we’re starting to reveal a ton of things – new features, new content, new races, new classes.  This is the time when we really stake our claim about what’s important to us – what we think WildStar can do better than any other game.  Here is what we think is so important that we want to try to raise the bar over everything that’s been done before.

Really specifically, we are setting out to solve some things that have dissatisfied us as gamers with many MMOs at release.

Leveling:   First off, leveling can get very tedious.  You’ve killed a lot of goblins before – what can make it interesting again?  This made us set the goal that during leveling, we want to have a more fun, more varied experience than anyone else.   We do this in a few ways.

Content has to be varied up.  We try to mix up every area with different interesting things beyond kill and Fed-ex quests – unique parts of the environment like low-gravity or giant robots blasting the ground you walk on, or dealing with dropships full of powerful monsters and rewards flying by.  We layer in different quests, challenges, discoveries, and path content so that skilled players can be juggling different bonuses, temp powers, objectives, and rewards at their own pace.

That means making epic environments that don’t just look awesome and different, but also making environments that vary up your gameplay with different hazards and challenges – and things that help you, too (if you’re clever).

Beyond that, combat is something you do all the time, and we wanted to take this to the next level.  We have aimed to have a combat system that rewards you for playing skillfully, not repetitively. We are making creatures that don’t feel like differently-hit-pointed clones.  Each type should not just look unique, but actually have different attacks and interactions with the environment, providing a new set of tricks you can learn when you come up against a new creature.

In summary, we want you to not feel like you are on a rail, mesmerized by repetition, through level after level. We feel like if you’re getting bored while you’re working your way to the top tier of the game, we’re not doing our jobs.  We want to raise that bar.

The other critical (and frankly, often ignored) stage of MMO games is what happens once you hit the level cap – the Elder Game. Once you’re done leveling a character, there needs to be an interesting set of innovative content there for you to play, and some radical systems that incent long-term replayability.

Honestly, it’s about the most important thing in the game, and it’s often neglected.  We can do better. You can’t rush these things in the month before launch, because when you do, it shows. Players play in different ways:

For players who like playing cooperatively:  We want epically hard raids, which reward you not only for managing to complete them – but that allow you to compete for truly epic rewards if you can prove that you are better than everyone else on the planet.

To this end, we’ve built some cool tech – it lets us change our world and modify the terrain very easily,  in some cases dynamically.  This lets us mix up our raids and dungeons on a weekly basis to provide new challenges, but it goes beyond this.

For instance, this tech lets you not just build a house, but modify the land around it in ways that truly matter.

But housing’s been done before – so what’s the next step? We’ve used this to hand you the power to band together and build a full-on battlefield (your Warplot, we call it) – so that the best in the world at PvP have a way to build, invest, and show their dominance not just through cool armor or glowy swords, but by creating truly epic persistent fortresses to take to war.

And solo players are tragically underserved in most MMOs – something like 65% of players tend to play largely solo (Massively Single-player, as it were).  So we can use that same tech to give them frequent updates of new solo story content for the cap frequently – advancing our world story and giving you more to do than daily quests or reputation grinds.

Combat has to kick ass in all these environments – it turns out the telegraphs we use to let you know when monsters are about to unleash an ass-whooping have even more power when we let the players use the same system.

Faster than using text or voice, it turns out that you can strategically communicate your upcoming actions to your group or raid via the freeform combat telegraphs – the ground you fight on becomes a tapestry of potential attacks. Those of your enemies are there to avoid and counter, but as importantly: the buffs, healing, and damage unleashed by your friends are there for you to react to as well.

It’s not like anything else we’ve played before in MMOs. We’d argue that it’s better.

But it’s getting close to the time to let you decide for yourselves – and to get your help in continuing to tune, innovate, and improve our work towards becoming the Next Big MMO.  As our beta testing nears, we need your help and your expertise for the next steps.

Our game has always been fueled by player feedback – the only way we know to make it work is to keep getting better, keep getting feedback, keep scrutinizing data – and to keep iterating towards something special.

So the next step for us is a test-run of all these goals: we’ve invited select fans and critics to come to the first Arkship event being held at Carbine. We not only want them to try out the current state of the game and help get it ready for closed beta in the upcoming months – but also lend their opinions, feedback, and criticisms to our team here in California.

And after those folks have given us their hopes and dreams for WildStar, we want to fold their ideas and feedback into the game, and then roll right into a closed beta that knocks your socks off. But what about those of you who aren’t immediately invited into beta? How much longer will you have to wait to play?

We’ll be at PAX East in Boston this March, and we’re bringing the latest and greatest version of WildStar for anyone to get their hands on. After that, well…

We’ve always been focused on launching WildStar when it’s ready, but we think that time’s approaching fast. And so today, I’m very freakin’ excited to share with you that our schedules are pointing towards WildStar hitting “It’s Ready” this year: 2013. We meant it when we said that this was going to be The Year of WildStar, and that begins right now.

You’ll see metric boatloads of coverage from the press starting today, and continuing throughout the next few weeks. You’ll finally get to learn about the members of the Dominion, as well as the reveal of a new class, new zone, and some more of those awesome videos you all enjoyed so much. And that’s just the start of The Year of WildStar. We’re pretty damn excited for it, and we hope you are too.

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