Chatting with Team WildStar

Massively returned to the WildStar demos at E3 on Thursday to chat one last time with the team from Carbine. As we noted in yesterday’s Q&A article, Carbine had already declared it wasn’t making any big announcements at E3. It always intended a low-key presence, sharing a booth hosted by Alienware and offering the same demo gamers are at PAX East, just brought to the west coast.
WildStar
Why Alienware? WildStar runs really great on a laptop.

Good news, though: Carbine plans to have a big WildStar presence at Gamescom and PAX, and the team is working on demos that will show new content, new races, and new classes.

Now, for me personally, the paths were what caught my attention with WildStar. A themepark game with some sandbox elements is cool; it seems like the other side of ArcheAge, which looks to be a sandbox game with some themepark elements. But maybe that comparison isn’t fair. When I asked why path gameplay couldn’t just be combined with regular leveling, Carbine reps explained that paths are supposed to complement the game’s combat, not supplant it. We’re not supposed to be leveling just by exploring or gathering lore. The option for that sort of gameplay is there, but it’s supposed to be only an option, kind of like crafting. Still, 25-33% of a zone’s content being devoted to paths isn’t too bad, especially if you have friends following other paths to help you experience what those other paths have to offer. But if you were hoping to level up by making potions or exploring, WildStar might not be your game, unless things change dramatically in beta. The closed beta feedback is taken very seriously, so if people don’t like something about the paths, Carbine freely admits it is willing to change the system.

Carbine also doesn’t want a single player to be able to do everything; it wants to encourage socialization with interdependencies. Consider classic Darkfall, in which players were just mastering every skill, which really made it obvious who had been playing the game for a while and who was new. In fact, Darkfall dropped its completely open skill system when it launched Unholy Wars to prevent players from becoming an all-powerful wizard while also shooting a bow. The game does still allow players to level up through content like exploring and gathering. While I was told this sort of system was technically feasible, it’s just not what Carbine wants to do. The WildStar devs say they are “trying to force people to make choices” so that each path is as unique as possible and so that players feel that each fresh character has a fresh experience, which is good for replay value.

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