Hi, I’m Morgan “CRB_Downtown” Brown, and I’m a Senior Game Designer on WildStar.
We’re celebrating hoverboards (and the people who love them) on the anniversary of their invention—October 21—with the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational! It’s an event that brings hoverboard-centric gameplay and lore to you over a five-day period. I won’t do you the disservice of digging too much into the lore in this format, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least namedrop the man of the hour: Galian “Doc” Zemmet, famed Cassian engineer, inventor of the hoverboard, and zemTech’s visionary founder.
Doc’s company zemTech created the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational event for Nexus. Its courses—or “zTracks,” as they’re known—are for hoverboard riders to explore the limits of their beloved gravity-defying planks with like-minded individuals across faction lines. You can ride the various zTrack courses as much as you want during the celebration, but you’ll really want to focus on the daily quests to complete each respective race for the celebration-exclusive loot.
Some Serious… Stuff
Let’s back up a bit and get everyone who is just joining us and/or unfamiliar with hoverboards up to speed. Imagine a skateboard with the wheels and trucks replaced with devices that allow it to hover a few inches off the ground—common problems like uneven sidewalks and small debris would no longer be a concern. What’s more, WildStar’s hoverboards are a unique category of mounts in the game. Unlike other mounts they can hover over water (and otherliquids), allowing you to cross, say, a pond without having to wade or swim. On the other hand, their top speed is a little slower than a typical mount. There’s a bit of a tradeoff, so I always recommend trying out lots of different types of mounts and see what you like best. For this event you’ll of course want to stay high-and-dry on a hoverboard of your choice.
Ride or Die
The three inaugural zTracks on Nexus are installed in three disparate zones: lush, forested Celestion, dry, rocky Deradune, and the icy slopes of snowy Whitevale. Each zTrack has a daily quest associated with it, which offers its own set of rewards—but there will be some overlap to make collecting the whole caboodle a little easier. The dailies can be obtained by interacting with the Doc Zemmet hologram simulations close to where you get contracts in your capital city, as well as the starting and finish lines for each zTrack. Before you begin a given zTrack, the associated daily quest will provide you with the ability to teleport to its starting line, helping you get to the action faster and safer.
That last part is important–Deradune is deep within Dominion territory, Celestion has been claimed by the Exiles, and Whitevale is notoriously contested. While the invitational itself knows no faction loyalty, you still have the war for Nexus to consider, and let’s not mention how other denizens and invaders of Nexus might feel about rampant gaggles of bojos, buttheads, and slackers hovering to and fro!
By the way, the holorings, jump pads, and speed boosts for each zTrack will remain installed until the end of the event, regardless of daily quest availability – just in case you want to get in some practice runs before the next day’s race.
Do It with Some Style
All right, let’s talk turkey: The Hoverboard zPrix Invitational brings with it some new and most excellent zemTech products. One is exclusive to the in-game store, but the rest are daily quest rewards, so make sure you hit the zTracks early to scoop up all the loot you can.
- Costume Pieces : zemTech’s partnered with some of Nexus’ next-level action-fashion designers to launch a limited run of an outfit that will make your Holo-Wardrobe holo-burst: the zHat! The zJacket! zPants! And, zKicks!
- Toys : The new 88-Proof Boardwax and 1.21 Gigazaps toys will make even the most face-challenged Mordesh smile. The former makes your hoverboard move even faster (with some potential, unintended side effects), and the latter can make you move faster—just consider warning companions following you around that your increased speed could be a little… shocking.
- Housing Décor : No holiday would be complete without new housing décor. We went more sparkly with this one: The Burning Track, which is a trail of continuous fire, and the 10:04 Lightning Bolt, which is a lightning bolt that repeatedly strikes the place of your choosing.
- Titles : Hoverboarder slang used across the galaxy is the basis of three new title rewards – so if you fancy yourself a Slacker, a Butthead, or Bojo, then it’s your lucky long weekend.
- Hoverboard and Flair : Last, but certainly not least, we’ll see the release of a limited-edition hoverboard and flair bundle: The zBoard 88 with optional LeDorian accessories! zemTech proves they’re the supreme ruler of hoverboards yet again!
If You’re Not First, You’re Last
Now that I have your full attention, let’s talk about some zTrack mechanics:
- Checkpoints : The objective of the zTrack daily quests is to ride your hoverboard from the starting line to the finish line, going through the four checkpoints along the way in the correct order. If you miss a checkpoint, you’ll have to go back for it to keep progressing.
- Holorings : Blue holorings will guide you through the zTrack, and provide a speed buff that stacks up to five times when you ride a hoverboard through them. The buff is temporary, but refreshes every time you ride your hoverboard through a holoring. Note: hitting every ring is not required! But, if you start missing holorings, make sure you go through one before the buff runs out, or all of the stacks will clear and your hoverboard speed will revert to its normal speed.
- Speed Boosts : The glowing arrows along the terrain are speed boosts that give your hoverboard a burst of speed in addition to all of your other speed buffs.
- Jump Pads : Orange jump pads cause hoverboards to surge up into the air, so if you have somewhere to be, make sure you bring the forward motion with you. Some jumps are required to reach places where there are no roads, so stay sharp!
- Teleports to Previous Checkpoints : Should you go wildly off-course, that zTrack’s daily quest gives you the ability to teleport back to its most recently completed objective.
- zTrack Completion Times : Finally, when you finish a zTrack daily quest without leaving its zone, logging off, or teleporting, you’re given a completion time in seconds. If you’re a competitive hoverboard rider, get screen caps or videos of your fastest rides, and put them on the WildStar forum or tweet them and tag @WildStar to compete with other Nexus racer – or use them to settle disputes with other players you’re racing with.
- Hot Tip : You’re given your zTrack completion time before you actually turn in your daily quest. So, if you’re not satisfied with your time, or you just want to keep using the teleportation abilities provided by that daily quest, you can abandon that daily and re-acquire it from a Doc simulation at that zTrack’s starting or finish line—we did this a lot during our internal developer contest. Just don’t forget to turn the daily in before the event concludes so you can get claim your rewards!
Let’s Make It a Good One
The idea to make the Hoverboard zPrix Invitational happened as two totally separate ideas merged into one, but the resulting idea was so compelling that we couldn’t help but put in some extra hours to get it done.
Justin Bartlett (CRB_Sonny) was mulling over how to integrate hoverboards further into the game’s universe—from an immersion standpoint—and I was prototyping racing game-inspired tracks for hoverboards. We were both chewing on how to get more varied live events into the game, from holiday celebrations to widespread factions-wars, and lo and behold our separate projects complemented each other incredibly well! Other game designers and artists got pulled in by the gravity of the thing, and the idea turned into the event content, items, quests, UI, and everything else.
Was it coincidence? Were we guided by the unseen hand of October 21, 2015? Or, was it just plain density destiny?
As the zTracks neared completion, we held a studio-wide contest (for feedback-gathering purposes, of course). Over those two weeks, Carbine devs sent the Live Event Team (who were ineligible to win because we made the thing) screenshots and videos of their races, competing for the fastest zTrack daily quest completion times and some real-life prizes. It got fairly ridiculous, and at times a little heated, but everyone had a blast.
For the record, the winners and times on our internal servers were:
- Celestial River Rush : Brett Scheinert (Lead Designer, CRB_Timetravel) in 59 seconds.
- Savanah Speedway : Matt Malley (Lead Artist) and Brett Scheinert tied for 60 seconds, and Matt won in the tie-breaker.
- Whitevale Wipeout : Matt Malley and David Smith (Game Designer, CRB_Aurelian) tied for 56 seconds, and Matt won another tie-breaker.
Later, when QA could get their hands on it, they showed us how it’s done:
- Celestial River Rush : Cory Refshauge-Jones in 54 seconds.
- Savanah Speedway : Rob Flusk and Cory Refshauge-Jones tied with 58 seconds.
- Whitevale Wipeout : Cory Refshauge-Jones in 52 seconds.
Now, we give it to you, because we made it for you, and we hope you like it!
The Future is What You Make It
While October 21, 2015 just feels right as a date to start the event, we’re not sure yet if it’ll come back again next year. If you do enjoy it and want more, or have ideas for what we could add in the future, let us know!
So have fun, and let us know what you think. The future has yet to be written.