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WildStar Wednesday: The Story Of An Epic World

Written by Loic "Atreid" Claveau on February 08, 2012

Hey there,

I'm Chad Moore, the Lead Narrative Designer at Carbine Studios. Today I'm going to talk to you guys about the things we do in our department and how they translate into the exciting new game WildStar that we've been talking about for the last few months.

So, you might ask, what exactly does a narrative designer do? Well, simply put, narrative is about story. It's about creating a compelling setting in which your game takes place, and then developing a robust cast of races and characters through which talented content designers can tell stories. At the same time, the setting needs to inspire the imaginations of our talented art team, allowing them to flex their considerable creative muscles in order to represent the world and the characters that reside within it. And, most importantly, the setting needs to excite players from around the world, drawing them into the game that we are developing for them.

Sounds easy, right? Sure! No problem! As I'm sure you can imagine, it's easier said than done. Obviously, there are a lot of awesome games out there, and a lot of really interesting game worlds. Because of this, the narrative design team knew we had to create a setting with an exciting and compelling premise that would resonate with the best parts of playing an MMO - exploration, discovery and epic combat - while at the same presenting players with a world where they can't wait to start adventuring.

The result? The planet Nexus! This legendary world at the edge of known space was once inhabited by the Eldan - a technologically advanced race that mysteriously disappeared more than a thousand years ago. Now Nexus has been discovered, and players will travel across the stars to explore this wild frontier, fight for their new home, and reveal the planet's many secrets.

Once we'd established this basic premise, the really hard work of narrative design began. Who were the races and factions coming to planet Nexus, and what's their interest in this new and exciting world? What conflicts exist before the game begins, and how do those conflicts shape the stories taking place on Nexus right now? What kind of exotic environments and interesting characters will players experience as they adventure through our game, and what will they teach the player about the fate of the Eldan and the growing dangers that threaten everyone on the planet?

Answering these questions resulted in a rich tapestry of characters, races and environments that serve to tell the epic story of WildStar. You have already heard about some of our factions and races, and met a few of our characters. For us in narrative design, it is very important that all of the threads in the tapestry exist for a reason, and that each one will teach you, the player, something about our world and the stories taking place within it.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the job of Narrative Design is to help define our game's personality. At Carbine, this is an extremely vital aspect of development, and plays an important role in many parts of our game - whether in art, content design, story creation or writing. In Narrative Design, we do a lot of work in developing interesting personalities for our races and characters, including the creation of comprehensive style guides that define naming conventions, interests, and patterns of speech. For those of you who have seen our trailer or the interviews with some of our characters (Sarge, Liara and Buck), the unique personality of WildStar really shines through: a special blend of humor, adventure and mystery that infuses every aspect of our game.

Like I said, it ain't always easy. It takes a lot of late nights, bad food, and gallons of coffee. Pulling of hair (if you have any) and gnashing of teeth are usually involved. Good thing we've got years of playing games, reading books, and watching movies to help us through. You know all of those things that your parents thought were a waste of time when you were growing up? For narrative designers, those things are essential. When you're creating a whole new world, it helps to have a vast archive of awesome stuff from which to draw inspiration.

So! There is a quick overview about what we do in narrative design. We look forward to revealing more to you in the coming weeks and months, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions about what you feel is important for telling stories on planet Nexus!

Talk to you soon!

Chad "Pappy" Moore

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