WildStar devs endeavored to do WoW "right this time"
The WildStar IP has only been around for three years, but Carbine has been thinking about an MMO for much longer.
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Having been founded by a number of former World of Warcraft developers, WildStar developer Carbine Studios knows a lot about building the foundation of a successful MMO. As the studio sets out to compete with WoW and the other MMOs on the market next month, Carbine says what it hoped to do when it came together was "do [WoW] right this time."
Speaking with CVG, Carbine executive producer Jeremy Gaffney explained, "Carbine Studios started not too long after World of Warcraft shipped. That was back in 2005-ish. It was about 20 or so of the senior leads off of WoW basically saying, 'Hey, we want to take that game but do it right this time.'"
That's not to say WildStar as it now exists has been in development for almost a decade. Gaffney continued, "So they worked on some of the early tools and that kind of stuff back in the day. But Wildstar as an IP has only existed for about three years, that's how long it's been on the current course. The team experimented with a couple different IP treatments, and then finalized on moving this into production mode around 2011."
Gaffney explained that those who came away from working on WoW, which had been in development for seven years, fell into one of two camps: Some wanted to tweak WoW based on what they had learned, while others wanted to do something much different. According to Gaffney, "[Y]ou can see both of those visions show up" in WildStar.
"From the team that wants to do just brand new stuff, it's things like Warplots, those giant 40v40 death fortresses, it's super-extensive housing, it's doing the monthly updates instead of updates that happen every year or six months, building everything around that kind of dynamism, it's having the Path system where the settlers are building up the world and making new structures all throughout the world," he said.
"From the team that wanted to take the core of that WoW experience but maybe ramp it up just a notch and do it better, it's things like bringing back a lot of what was popular in vanilla WoW but has been abandoned since then. Taking 20-man, 40-man raids, but combining that with the crazy combat system so it's more dynamic and more movement based and actually about playing the game in real time."
Carbine is well aware that the trend in MMOs has been to move away from the larger raids that were present in WoW when it launched, and Gaffney doesn't necessarily think that was a mistake in WoW's case. But he says that when an MMO is new, that sort of content is desirable--and he also points to WildStar's combat as something that "allows you a lot of avenues to open up things."
As WildStar approaches its launch on June 3, Carbine has been talking up the game's merits, claiming that it's "one of the most feature-complete MMOs" of the past decade. The game will have an uphill battle to climb, not just because it'll be competing with WoW and the recently launched Elder Scrolls Online, but also because it carries a $15 monthly subscription fee in an age when free-to-play is the increasingly popular option for MMOs.
Gaffney points to WoW and EVE Online as examples of games that prove it is possible to increase your subscriber base over time, rather than immediately drop off in the months after launch as many MMOs have done. "The only way to do that is game quality," he said, "and it's having credibility as a developer that people trust your game's going to get better over time and not worse over time, or stagnate."