WildStar Interview: The present and future of housing

If you’re like me and my group of friends, the leveling experience in WildStar slowed down quite a bit at level 14 – because of housing. The housing system in WildStar is one of the best and deepest to ever grace an MMORPG – or any video game, for that matter. An integral part of the game, housing gives you access to a variety of things, among them being rest XP when you log out there. It’s  a fantastic system, so we had plenty of questions to ask the dev team about it.

We spoke with Joseph Piepiora, Lead Systems Designer, and Victoria Dollbaum, Social Systems Feature Lead, about the design of housing and what the future may hold.

GameZone: Have you thought about increasing the size of the Granok house?

We’ve gotten some feedback on the Granok house. What kind of happened with the way they’re sized right now, there actually are some art limitations as to whether or not we can make them much larger currently. If we make them larger, they’d stretch beyond the bounds of the area underneath the map where the house exists. That could cause problems. We do, in the future, want to introduce a larger Granok house. We’re not gonna say when that’s gonna come online, but that’s a thing we’re looking towards in the future. Eventually we do want to have other versions of these houses available.

Are there plans for more tools to build structures outside of your house?

Right now we have given players some basic floor items and some basic wall items, some pillars, and some simple building blocks. We are going to slowly increase the number of those things over time. One of the things I like about WildStar housing is the way the players use the objects we give them to make things you wouldn’t expect. I’ve seen a person make a really great looking stove by using a particular glowing blue table as the front of the stove; it looks like it’s on and it looks really cool.

We want to make sure that we’re providing enough base options for players to create the things they’re excited about. What we don’t want to do is create a full three-dimensional tool that lets you mold things exactly how you want. You have to piece things together like a fort almost.

Then what are your thoughts on bringing player-created or designed items into WildStar?

We’ve been looking at the opportunities presented by players creating their own stuff. At this time we are not pursuing it – there’s a variety of reasons for doing so. Part of our pipeline is one of those reasons. But it is something we’re keeping our eye on in the future; if it gets a huge public outcry I’m sure we’ll talk about it some more. But at this time we’re not looking at going in that direction.

However, we are looking at actively increasing the number of these things we provide in-game. There’s always new décor coming out with every patch. There’s always lots of new stuff to collect and find.

Whenever there’s a big themed content drop, will we see housing items with that theme?

We try to make décor items and plugs related to the releases of content when we can, and also for things like holidays. We’ll try to generally theme it towards what’s available, but we’ll also have one-off plugs that are just fun things you can do that are not related to the content.

Strain Housing

In case your house wasn't looking quite 'Infected' enough, this Strain themed house should do the trick

Speaking of holidays, the 4th of July is this Friday. Are you planning an event or items for that?

We don’t have an event for the 4th of July. 4th of July isn’t exactly a WildStar Holiday. In the future, we do have an event called Starfall [Editor’s Note: I looked up Starfall. It’s an Exile event. Dominion celebrates Foundation Day at the same time. Starfall represents a new beginning, celebrated on the same day that Dorian Walker discovered the legendary Eldan homeworld. Exiles see Starfall as the start of a new age of luck and prosperity. More than anything, the Exiles celebrate Starfall to remember that they have finally found a place to call home. And yes, fireworks are involved.], which will eventually come online and have players participate in, but certainly not this early. We don’t want to have a holiday occur immediately after launch. When that happens, there will be themed holiday items and events happening. Look forward to hearing more about that in the future.

Is there any reason the plot is designed the way it is with the sockets where they are? Why aren’t we able to rearrange it and put sockets where we want?

The amount of space we have we’ve picked for a very specific purpose that players will see more about in the future – that I don’t want to say too much about right now. In terms of the layout of sockets, those are laid out to maximize the amount of space players have both to decorate and also to provide a set number of these objects that you could put things into.

The reason that we don’t allow players to move the sockets around – there are technical limitations there. A socket basically brings in, think of it as an entire level, comes in with a plug to your map. So when you build that crafting station, that’s like its own level elsewhere in the game, and we’re shipping it into your housing property. Those sockets have to be in a specific location for us to do that.

Now, why aren’t you able to rotate these things… this is tech that we are working on at this time and that you will see sometime in the future.

Strain Decor

Nothing says 'Menacing' like putting this little number in your front yard

What about landscape manipulation if you want to add a river, beach or pond?

The way that we’re doing that right now is by providing lots of options for landscaping for players to change the way their property looks and feels. In the future we want to have some larger changes you can make to your property. Right now everyone has a grassy field. It would be cool if people could change things up and make it into a snowy plain.

When it comes to the full-level terrain manipulation I think you’re asking about, like to create hills and stuff, we want to leave that in the domain of the plugs – thinks you slot into your sockets to change stuff. Again, there are reasons we don’t let you make too many changes to the base property. Those are things that you’ll see in the future.

Any details you can give us on guild housing? Is it only for guilds or will you have housing for circles?

Guild housing will be coming in the future. It’ll be very large scale and very customizable. You’ll be able to have a lot of guild members and do lots of things. They are only for guilds, but we will have something for smaller groups of players.

One of the main draws of housing in a game like Star Wars Galaxies was being able to set up a shop with vendors to sell items I’ve created. Any chance of vendors coming to your housing plot to sell your own stuff?

This is a conversation we have on the dev team occasionally. There are reasons why we like putting a lot of the traffic in capital cities when it comes to marketplace transactions and such. That said, the idea of having a vendor that might sell a few things on your property is enticing. It’s enough that it keeps resurfacing with the dev team. We’re still talking about it and don’t want to commit to anything just yet, but we recognize there is a desire there for that feature.

Will there ever be a chance to place chests to store stuff in and open/interact with?

At this time the only option we have for players along that route are mannequins. Mannequins can store pieces of armor and a weapon, and then you can pose it however you like. We want to keep your inventory storage space tied to your bank. It’s more convenient for players in a lot of ways, like your bank is accessible whether you’re using a bank in the capital city, or using a storage unit on your housing property. What we don’t want to do is create one-off pocket chests. If there’s a lot of excitement about that we’ll consider it, but we are pretty happy with the way it’s set up.

What about if I wanted to display weapons and items from my inventory on a shelf in my house?

This is an interesting idea. This is something the art team has been interested in for a long time. I can’t say whether or not we’ll be bringing that online any time soon, but it is an interesting possibility for the future.

You can follow Senior Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ. Or you can email him at [email protected].