Wildstar’s Settler Class An interview with Jeremy Gaffney
In a world full of potential and chaos, WildStar’s factions will succeed on the planet Nexus on the backs of the Settlers. The Settlers don’t just build bonfires for sappy Explorers to sing around; these titans of construction will save you time in dungeons, establish bigger outposts, and open up new realms of quests for everyone.
At a recent media event, Carbine Studios executive producer Jeremy Gaffney was only too happy to explain how the Settler path opens up the world, intersects with housing, and even plays a part in PvP.
Massively: So tell us, what type of player should select the Settler path?
Jeremy Gaffney: Settlers are for socializers. We usually talk about the Settlers primarily socializing, but they are also about building. It’s an achievement type that is under-served. It feels good to actually improve and make your mark on the world.
How does a Settler contribute socially/mechanically to the community and the game world?
When you go into a town, you see a couple of different things. You’ll see some things that need maintenance, like a farmer’s fence that has been destroyed; now his cows are escaping and you need to repair it. These types of interactions are separate from questing. You just find them and use the object or one of your path abilities. The internal name for that, which probably won’t be used in the game, is a “minfrastructure” (mini-infrastructure). There is also true infrastructure like building a new shop, building a new vendor, or building a bus station. These are the major things you do in town. Usually, you’ll do the smaller projects to gather resources for these bigger projects.
Entirely separate from that is unlocking Settler powers that allow you to free-farm anywhere. It isn’t all “go and see the only five things I can do.” You have a goal. You’re either trying to raise a town’s values or you’re working to utilize your abilities. The more people use them, the more benefit you get from them.
Can you explain these “town values”?
We haven’t talked about this yet. A town has economy, quality of life, and security. Usually anything you do in town raises the values of these bars. When you increase the value to certain points, special things happen, like getting bigger rewards. It will take multiple Settlers to reach these goals, which is why we call them the socializers.
Are these maintenance values? Will players have to maintain them to prevent the town value from degrading?
That’s basically right. We try to make it so that a single Settler can do a lot of the lower-tier stuff. For Second-tier stuff, a single Settler might be able to maintain one or two things, but in general you’ll need groups working together to maintain the values. You need a ton of Settlers to eventually hit the tier 3 values and maintain them. There are some big things in tier 3, from quest givers to vendors that hold rare loot or powerful buffs. We try to ensure that if you’re playing on an underpopulated server or in the middle of nowhere, there will still be stuff for you to do.
What if you’re a slow player starting later than the bell curve of players? How do you get the experience of building some of the bigger structures that other players already accomplished?
If player’s don’t maintain a structure, it will eventually decay. Some things are longer-lasting than others. We want lots of players to experience building stuff up and maintaining it. It’s probably more fun to kick it off than it is to maintain something already built. The other part of that is if you are the only Settler around, you’ll get a lot of path XP by running around and building everything by yourself, but you’ll get less XP from the social tools like the campfires Settlers lay down to give players bonuses. It’s kind of a balancing act to make sure people have a great experience depending on the conditions of the zone.
Will you utilize phasing at all to give players the experience of putting their mark on the world so that they aren’t just running into the structures others have built?
We experimented with that in the beginning, but it’s a tough balancing act. We want you to feel like you made your mark, but with phasing, you didn’t really make your mark. We just pretended you did. So almost everything the Settlers now do is unphased. I can’t think of a single mission of the Settlers that’s phased. There are very few instances of phasing in the game. We think players see through the fakery of it.
So what is the Settler’s function in a dungeon setting?
Settlers who have gone through the content enough times will gather materials that helps them build extra things in the dungeon. Like, hey, here’s a resurrection station right next to the final boss. You can choose to invest your materials into that kind of stuff. Or maybe you’re lucky and got a rare spawn that gave you the materials your first time through.
One of the things Settlers do separate from building towns is building outposts next to dangerous chunks of content out in the world. We purposely made certain areas more dangerous than others. Settlers can build up next to those areas. There will, of course, be stuff you can freely place around the world too. The campfires are an example of that.
What sort of perks will Settlers bring to player housing?
Settlers are all about housing. Lots of their rewards come in the form of FABkits, which can be decor items for you home or buffs to existing decor — for example, if you had a garden, you would get a better garden because you have a FABkit. All the paths receive these kits, but the Settler tends to get them more often.
We also had this cool idea to make dungeons for your house. We wanted to ship the game sometime in our lives, though. We weren’t sure we’d have time to do it. A branch of our team thought they were too cool not to have and decided, when all the managers were out, to make housing dungeons. So they put together eight housing dungeons so that we couldn’t cut it. We haven’t talked about it much because we don’t like to promise features we can’t finish.
You mentioned PvP and War Plots. How does the Settler fit in there?
We’re going to have open-world PvP and arenas, and then there’s War Plots. They’re not just a house but an entire big-chunk of land. They are up in the air, literally, like player housing, but the idea is that you can set these chunks down and fight other chunks. So you basically build a fortress with your buddies. Then you can do stuff like go on a raid, capture a raid boss, bring it back to your plot, and send it to fight the enemy’s fortress. You’ll be able to make Mech factories that will put you in a Mech with super powers. We’ll talk more about this more as it still needs lots of testing, but the idea is destructible fortress vs. destructible fortress.