Settling scientific differences in WildStar’s paths system with narrative lead Chad Moore
When the WildStar developers aren’t making awesomely hilarious videos or Rick Rolling me, they are, you know, developing an MMO. I had the opportunity to talk to Carbine’s lead in narrative design, Chad Moore, in a conference call about the game's ‘paths’ system.
What’s key to understand is that a path is just as much part of your character as class and race. Think of it as your third critical option. Another key concept of paths is that you choose a path based off your preferred gameplay style. Let’s get more into that.
At Carbine Studios, there is a simple and highly effective philosophy, “play how you want to.” Sure, that sounds simple, but when it’s all boiled down, it means that their games adapt to the player, not vice versa. For example, if you’re that guy/gal in Guild Wars 2 who demands to stay in a region until every single vista has been explored, you’re an explorer. These players seek out the hard-to-get-to, out-of-the-way locations that take a certain type of determination to reach.
Take the soldier as a second example. What you do is kill things. You kill lots and lots of things. Your purpose is to get critters out of regions, defend settlements, test out prototype weapons, and, yes, kill things. If you’re the type of player that just loves combat above all else and lives for bloodshed, you’re going to want to pick the soldier path.
As you do path type quests, you will gain path XP and level it separately. Like all things gaming, the higher your level, the more is unlocked and harder the challenges become. These missions can be done solo, with players of the same paths, and even with players of different paths. For example, two settlers can create building together. There is even more content for players of different paths. Say a scientist follows an explorer to the top of a mountain. Once at the top of the mountain, there could be a scientist-specific finding that could open an entire new region for you both to explore. Participating in other path quests, also gets YOU path XP.
Enough with explorers and soldiers, though; they are old news. This conference call was all about the scientist and settler paths. The scientist path is for completionist players. If the explorer isn’t leaving until all those vistas are reached, the scientist doesn’t leave until no rock goes unturned – sometimes literally. Strapped with your handy-dandy scan bot, you travel the world for interesting findings and alien doodads on Nexus.
The scientist will discover unique lore only they can access. As you make discoveries, you add that information to the ‘Galactic Achieves.’ Think of these as a WildStar Wikipedia entry. Folks want knowledge, and you’re the one to add it. For more practical workings, how about access to unique examinations? Not sure what will happen you mix weird thing A with gross thing B? It’s your job to find out. These items can even be given to friends for friendly buffs or possible diarrhea (I kid – I think).
So far, we’ve covered the paths for people who like to find, murder, and research… but what about build? The settler is the path for those who like to boost the whole social experience. Not just for hardcore role-players, the settler takes passion in seeing great works rise from the ground to aid those around you. You’ll scour Nexus looking for all sorts of materials to build with. When you come across locations called depots, you can use those materials to build things: buff stations, camp fires, repair stations, etc. Each depot has multiple possible uses - it's up to the settler to develop them.
Small buildings aren’t your thing? I get that. That’s why settlers can also build ‘infrastructures.” These take more materials and often more than one settler to build. The example used in the call was a field hospital that would spawn multiple healer types to run around and help players in the region with those useful green numbers we all know and like. On top of all that, when you build a structure, it is tagged with your name; when other players use those buffs, camps, healers, etc. – YOU get path XP. It’s almost like Star Wars Galaxies all over!
If you’re wondering if the path system will give certain PvP or PvE bonuses to specific characters – the answer is most likely it will. Soldiers will be running around with powerful prototype weapons, explorers may have armors that help mobility and movement, and scientists will unlock the mysterious of Nexus through experimentation. Settlers are just full of buffs and freakin' buildings. So what will you play?