The lead narrative designer for WS talks with us about the Dominion, its races, and landing on Nexus in our interview
Last month I went down to San Francisco to meet with Carbine Studios and check out its current build of WildStar. In-between presentations and actually playing the game, I had the chance to sit down with Lead Narrative Designer Chad "Pappy" Moore and ask him about some of the game's lore. Most of the questions were about the Dominion and its newly revealed races, but we also touched on the Exiles, the new Stalker class, as well as the player's arrival on Nexus.
You guys just showed off the Dominion this week, in addition to cinematics and a bunch of other stuff. In the presentation, I think Jeremy quickly noted that the Dominion isn’t quite the straight-up evil faction. What exactly is it supposed to be: is it more of a nobility versus the common people/rebels kind of deal where they think they earned this planet by birthright?
Yeah, so at a high level, the Dominion consider Nexus to be sort of their birthright, their inheritance, their legacy. And the reason that is it was actually the Eldan who established the Dominion through the Cassians who are actually the Humans that play on the side of the Dominion - we have Humans on both sides. And so because they consider Nexus sort of their rightful kingdom, there’re a lot of things like nobility or legacy – those are the sorts of concepts that we talk about when we talk about them coming here and the reasons that they want to control this place. Now each of the different races individually all have different reasons why they consider Nexus special, and so what we try to say is that it’s not just about the fact that they’re an evil powerful empire and so if there’s something to conquest, they’re going to conquest it. We didn’t want them to have that sort of simple, black-and-white motivation. So I for sure would say they’re not just evil, you know, for evil’s sake – I would say that they’re definitely determined and there’s very little they won’t do to make sure that the planet of their Eldan forbearers is solely and completely under their control.
Okay, besides showing off the Dominion and as you said there’re Humans on both sides – the Cassians for the Dominion. What can you tell me about the Mechari? It said they were creations of the Eldan in the video, so are they just a robot race? Is it a cyborg kind of deal? I noticed that there were male and female versions.
Right, so if you delve deeper into the Mechari’s lore, what you learn is that they were created by the Eldan long ago as sort of a client race that was meant to communicate with the rest of the races of the galaxy.
C3PO with guns.
Yeah, exactly. So they would go out and do the Eldan’s bidding and interact and observe and collect data. No one ever saw the Eldan, but they always sort of knew that the Mechari were out there kind of watching and then transmitting back to the Eldan. So at some point the Humans of planet Cassus, or the Cassians, they caught the attention of the Mechari because they had developed space travel and they were beginning to sort of fly around the galaxy and visit other planets and that was the first time that had ever happened in this particular region. What happened was that the Eldan sent the Mechari there and they basically chose the Cassians to establish what was known as the Dominion.
Since that point, under the guidance of the Mechari who before the Eldan disappeared were keeping in contact with them, the Mechari sort of oversaw, masterminded, and kind of architected the entire empire. Since the time of the Eldan’s disappearance, they have basically made it their business to kind of watch over and protect the empire and make sure that it continues to thrive. They run the spy network, they take care of traitors or anyone who threatens to bring about the demise of the empire, and they’re pretty serious about that – they’ve been doing it for the last couple thousand years. That’s sort of the story of the Mechari.
And the third one – well technically there’s a fourth one, but that’s “We won’t go into it” – was the Draken?
Right, and you want to know their story?
Yeah, I mean so far I get they’re kind of Klingon-y, but I’m just curious how they fit in. Was it just that they saw the Dominion as conquerors and like-minded people or…
So after the establishment of the Dominion, the Mechari under the Eldan’s leadership and guidance, they determined that the Dominion needed some new blood in terms of their military - they needed to add some strength and ferocity to their military. They went out and they studied thousands of species throughout the galaxy, but the one that kept coming back to them that they pinpointed as the best to fill this particular role were the Draken of planet Mikros.
Mikros is this terrible, horrendous, fiery wasteland of a planet where only the strongest and most vicious organisms actually survive.
A tourist trap?
Yeah exactly. One of those organisms being the Draken, this sort of warlike tribal race. So there’s this interesting story in their lore where the reigning Emperor of the Dominion goes and challenges the High Clan Lord of the Draken to single combat for all the marbles – whoever won would basically be in charge of both peoples. The Emperor won that battle and so the Draken swore eternal loyalty to the Dominion and they’ve been in the Dominion ever since. Now they make up a big portion of the military. The Supreme Leader of the Dominion Legions is actually a Draken, someone that you’ll meet at some point in the game. So that’s kind of their vibe and story of how they got into the Dominion.
From what I’ve played and looked at the Stalker seems like something the Draken would have come up with. Is that something that originated with them or is it just someone came up with the tech and everybody used it?
I think that, as a race, Draken are very well-suited to being Stalkers – we often talk about the Draken being predators, sort of predatorial. And so going into stealth mode, sneaking up on people, and then slicing and dicing once they come out of stealth –
That might be why it feels like they came up with it.
Yeah, but in terms of Stalker lore, one of the things we talk about when we talk about the Dominion and why the Cassians so heartily embraced the Mechari and the Eldan who were commanding them was because they were promised technology that no one had ever seen in the galaxy. That’s how they became such a powerful empire. That technology – that sort of stealth technology – whether it’s for the Stalker or other technologies that you may see in the Dominion, a lot of that storywise came from the Eldan. The Stalker technology, we kind of push it as nanotech that they inject and then they can control these things to make themselves invisible or give themselves different abilities. That came from the original deal the Cassians made with the Eldan.
Well, since you’re not going to tell me the fourth race, let’s go to the flipside with the Exiles. I think that Dorian Walker was the guy who found Nexus. He was just off by himself while the rest of the Exile fleet was trying to outrun the Dominion. Did the Dominion just follow the Exile Arkship on the way back to Nexus or did they intercept communications?
So yeah we’ve, um… we haven’t really talked a whole lot about that, but I’ll talk about it here. It’s not a huge secret. We’ve always sort of said that the Mechari being the Mechari…
They have spies everywhere?
Spies everywhere, eyes everywhere, even though the Exiles were trying to keep it a secret because obviously this is kind of their last hope for a new world. There’s very little that goes unnoticed by the spy network of the Mechari. So they found out and then showed up soon afterwards.
You guys have already gone over why the Granok are angry at the Dominion. Can’t imagine why… And then same with the Aurin and Brightland’s Rebellion and then the “fourth race to be named”. So they landed on Nexus; they had a little bit of time before the Dominion got there. When we start WildStar, about how long is it since the Dominion and the Exiles got to Nexus before we show up?
So… I can’t answer that specifically, but I can say that it was important for us for the player to feel like they weren’t necessarily late to the party. And so sure there have been people here, building towns and developing things, but not very long.
You still want some frontier.
Yeah, I mean when we very first started talking about the IP and the story for WildStar, that feeling of sort of an unexplored frontier where you as a player could get to discover these things - these mysterious or mythical or magical things - we wanted that to be a big part of the experience. I think conceptually the bigger that the cities are and the more it feels like people have been out here forever, the less it feels like “wait I’m the first person who’s come across some of this stuff”. And so I can say for sure that like your experience as you go through the game, you will come across places where there are small settlements, but there’s just a lot of Nexus that’s wild and unexplored and undeveloped. Without getting too specific, I will say that the people who have been here before you get here have not been there very long.
All right, we’ve established new races, a bit about the – well I guess we can talk a little about the class. I can type stuff, but it might come better from you since you know some of the lore behind it - or all of it since you wrote it.
Right. You talking about the Stalker?
Yeah. What exactly differentiates a Stalker from just your traditional rogue? You mentioned nanotech, but is the Stalker all about gear or is he more just a traditional rogue that augments through some tech?
I don’t generally talk a whole ton of specifics about the classes and mechanics, but what I can tell you is there are two things when we talk about a Stalker that are kind of the pillars of the Stalker. One is stealth obviously, right? That’s a big one. But the other one is just a sort of suite of abilities that allows the Stalker to strategically control the battlefield. There are going to be abilities that they have – technological abilities, right? – that will sort of cross that traditional rogue line and become something a little bit different. We’re gonna be revealing a lot more information about abilities that come beyond what you played today. I will say that when they developed the class, it was very important to them that it wasn’t just a standard rogue that people have gotten used to in other games. You know, and that’s a philosophy that sort of applies to any of our classes. We really embrace the idea of multi-role classes. So you’re not just a healer, right? You actually have some offensive abilities, so if you like healing and doing damage, you can play an Esper that has a little bit of both. I think that doesn’t necessarily specifically answer your question, but it may give you an idea of where we’re coming from.
While I try to think of another part, what’s some lore you think that I didn’t touch on?
Hmm… Well, I mean, you literally probably got the deepest dive of the lore that we’ve talked about. We released to you guys more detailed lore that goes into a bit more information about what I said and some of those stories. I mean, the lore about each of the races and the factions themselves – that’s really the big reveal for us on this side, at least for this round of content reveal. You’ve gotten most of the important stuff, but there’s a lot more stuff coming, so keep checking back with us.
That's all the questions we had for Chad this time. Be sure to read the rest of our WildStar coverage from today, including a hands-on report from Gazimoff, videos the two of us took while playing the game, as well as the new personality trailer for the Dominion faction. If you're new to WildStar, there's also this summary post that will take you to all of the info that came out during last week's big reveal.
Michael "Ragar" Branham