Deep Dive: Early Game Improvements

Written by Brianna Schneider on August 25, 2015

Hi everyone, I’m Brianna Schneider, a Lead Game Designer on WildStar. One of the things I’ve been working on recently is revisiting the early game to create a more accessible, streamlined experience, and I want to tell you what some of those improvements are.

Rerollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

In WildStar’s first year we received a lot of feedback about how difficult it can be for new players to get into the game. For example, we asked players to make some very important choices during character creation without giving them much information about how those choices would impact their gameplay experience down the line. Another common concern was that we tried to teach you everything you might ever want to know about WildStar while sending you through the very early arkship levels. It was a lot to take in, and many of you told us it was long, confusing, and easy to get lost.

We brought together people from our design, engineering, user interface (UI), cinematics, and environment art teams to create a list of intro experience changes for WildStar free-to-play. From that meeting we came away with these core improvements:

  • Make character creation easier and more intuitive with a new look and flow.
  • Offer three starting options based on your level of experience with WildStar so you only play as much of the tutorial as you need.
  • Make changes to arkship layout and content to reduce the risk of getting lost and keep you moving in the right direction.
  • Revisit the rollout of tutorials in the first ten levels so you’re getting the most important lessons at the right times.
  • Add new effects and animation to draw attention to tutorials players were easily missing.

A Newer, Jumpier You

We’ve improved character creation by breaking it into a few focused steps, and you'll have all the information you need to make each major decision as you go. The new faction selection screen lets you view members of each species and declare your allegiance. Then decide on your class and path using brief introduction videos to see each play style in action. Finally, customize your character’s appearance to add any finishing touches. You can review your decisions at any time, or skip ahead to the final step if you already know the exact character you want to make.

Are You Experienced?

The UI team leveled up WildStar’s character creation with a new look, and more accessible interface, but before defining your character we’ll ask you to select one of the new tutorial options.

  • Novice – You're new at this, so enjoy a short refresher of basic MMO controls and concepts in a new virtual environment before heading to your arkship.
  • New to WildStar – You're familiar with the MMO basics, so head straight to the arkship for an introduction to WildStar’s unique combat and setting.
  • Veteran – You’ve played WildStar before, and are ready to start on the surface of Nexus at level 3.

When we started talking about an update to the tutorial, we knew we had to solve a few problems. We realized that we were overloading players with too many lessons in the arkships. It could take a long time to complete the tutorial content, and it was kind of easy to get lost. We decided to break the tutorial into two pieces to focus each on a few core concepts.

If you choose the Novice option at character creation, we’ve created the new Cryo Awakening Protocol—a short experience for players who want to learn basic MMO controls and concepts. If you choose the Novice option at character creation, an AI will guide your character through a set of virtual exercises before you wake from cryosleep on your arkship. The tutorial in this new area covers movement, camera control, questing, and the ability bar.

When it came time to revisit the arkships, we aimed to make them focus on introducing you to WildStar’s unique combat system and setting. Designers set out to condense and clarify quests, while the environment art team made revisions to the interior and visuals of the arkships themselves. Their work strengthened visual guidance, reduced backtracking, and blocked off unused areas. Choosing the New to WildStar option at character creation starts your character on the arkship. With these improvements you’ll spend less time traveling, and more time taking the fight to the enemy!

To the Next Level

Focusing the arkships on a few aspects of the game meant we had to look beyond just the tutorial zones. There wasn’t space for some of the topics we used to cover in arkships, so we moved some tutorials to the next tier of zones (levels 3-6). You’ll encounter Path content, equipment, and loot for the first time on the surface of Nexus. You’ll see revised, level-appropriate tutorials throughout WildStar, many sporting new text and images. We’ve also added new quests in level-6 hubs to encourage you to give your class's support role (tank or healer) and abilities a try.

Whether you’re a new player or a WildStar veteran, it’s going to be easier than ever - and a lot more fun - to make your next character and customize your starting experience. Be sure to also check out our recent Deep Dive article on Discoveries, and an overview of the upcoming Cosmic Rewards program. We’re excited to bring you the largest update to the early game in WildStar’s history, and we hope to see you in the WildStar Free-to-Play beta!

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