Jeremy Gaffney was kind enough to answer several of our questions about WildStar, giving us a look at the time Carbine Studios has spent on developing the game and what sort of gameplay we can expect when the game is available for everyone. Even beyond the already-previewed Path system, there's a great deal of interest for excited fans to see, so take a look past the break for our questions and Mr. Gaffney's answers.
Massively: How long has WildStar been in development?
Jeremy Gaffney: Carbine originally started back in 2004 but was really in R&D mode for the first several years: laying out tools and client technology, working toward our eventual art style, etc. WildStar in its current form has been in development for roughly four years.
Is the gameplay going to veer toward a more action-based setup or a somewhat more traditional scheme?
As with many things, we're a blend. Our combat is a bit more action-based, but there's a core framework there that is pretty traditional. We try to build our combat around a cycle we call "Recognize, React, and Reward" -- we present you with a series of events during combat that you must realize are happening and figure out a correct way to handle, and if you do, we make sure there's a reward (extra damage, extra XP, etc.). We then build more complex events in over time and add more simultaneous events to handle at once; this makes combat pretty engaging and lets us handle things so that a new player might survive each battle, but a skilled player can really maximize the rewards out of each battle, with his skill rewarded even in low-level combat. Is it more action-based? Partly -- but really it's a combination of player skill and character skill.
Any ideas for how many races/factions will be available for players to choose between?
Two factions, each with generally different races (humans are on both sides). We've only revealed three races so far: the humans, the big rock-skinned Granok, and the fierce and animal-y Aurin. More to come!
Is WildStar aimed at being a more open sandbox environment or more of a directed game?
It's a directed sandbox. We layer all sorts of content in an area and then give a main storyline so that you have a direction if and when you want it. It's that whole let-players-play-how-they-like thing. In particular, we seed in AI ecology (monsters feeding on each other, seeking shade under the trees, etc.) and dynamic events (usually in the form of player-made discoveries) in most areas to keep it varied and interesting.
How will players interact with other players who've made distinct and different choices? Will choices be reflected in the larger world or along each player's individual storyline?
Well, first off, players will love to team up with characters of different Paths so that they can collectively experience more interesting layers of Path-specific content as a team. On an individual level, when we're telling a story, we'll often phase or instance it (i.e., give you an area of the world just for you). However, we don't like doing this too often; load screens or random phasing is annoying, frankly. So as often as possible, we let you affect the real world. We have a cool technology that lets us change the world dynamically -- terrain, textures, structures, spawns, weather, you name it. And we can do that on a per-person basis or change the world as a whole.
When can we start to see more information on the setting?
We'll be streaming out a pretty regular flow of info down the road! No exact dates yet, but man it's nice to be able to talk about stuff at all after being in stealth mode for so long.
How large is the game world? (Or worlds, as seems to be implied.)
We're still working on it! No final word. Since we're in alpha, it is just too soon to say.
With the game's heavily stylized graphics, how much customization do you expect to offer players?
Bunches. We actually turned off our ugly programmer-graphics character customization for letting players get hands-on at Gamescom and PAX, but it'll be reasonably extensive. We'll talk more later...
Any current plans regarding the game's business model?
Nope! Well, nothing we'll be talking about yet. We want to provide a great player experience, and we'll make sure that our business model supports that.
Lastly, is there anything else you'd like to add to those already excited by the game?
We're excited too! It's great having the game be fun in a pretty early state; we've been enjoying playing ourselves. Seeing the fan responses after playing (and people sitting in line for two or more hours at times and then coming back for repeat plays) was fantastic! So we're going to work our butts off to keep making things better, add more and more content and features, and get more feedback from players.
We'd like to thank Mr. Gaffney for his answers and his time.