With Game Update 2.0 now on the Test Server, the players of Star Wars: The Old Republic have a lot of Makeb and the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion on their minds. As comes with thinking, arrives questions that require answering about the expansion, the game, and Star Wars canon. Every player has different wants and needs out of their gaming experience, and roleplayers are no different. Which is why we went to BioWare with our own set of questions about the upcoming expansion to find out some answers.
We were not disappointed. Lead Writer Charles Boyd and Senior Designer Damion Schubert came back with some incredible information all about the new expansion, current content, and even some questions about upcoming additions beyond Rise of the Hutt Cartel. Read on below to find out about new playable species, customization options beyond character creation, and information about Makeb and its unique seat in Star Wars canon.
SWTOR-RP: The story in SWTOR has been great to follow, with the climactic end of the final flashpoint of The False Emperor, to the continuing stories in Operations. Does the Rise of the Hutt Cartel Expansion stem off of any of the current content, say--maybe--the Karagga's Palace Operation?
Charles Boyd (Lead Writer): Yes, the current Operations have been building up the reputation of the Hutt Cartel, which will act as the center point of the conflict on Makeb, as well as tie directly into the new Operation we are releasing with Rise of the Hutt Cartel. I’m sure you’ll hear about more of this soon enough.
SWTOR-RP: Is the planet Makeb a pre-existing planet in Star Wars canon, or is this a completely new planet in lore to be uncovered by players as they travel through it for the first time?
Charles Boyd: Makeb is a completely new invention of the Star Wars: The Old Republic team, and personally as a writer, I can’t tell you what an honor it is to have a chance to add something to the Star Wars canon. Like most of you, I grew up on Star Wars, and this is a lifelong dream for any sufficiently geeky writer.
SWTOR-RP: Roleplayers are always excited to expand their storytelling horizons with new challenges, and we look forward to new ways to do that with such additions to the species like the Cathar. Will there ever be a chance to add other species with the Cartel Market or other means?
Damion Schubert: The answer to this is pretty astonishingly simple – if the Cathar do well, more species will be high on our priority list. If not, this will be a lower priority for us. We definitely have other species that we would like to do, and we’re well aware of the ones the fans consider the most desired. That being said, creating a new player species is a huge amount of work – just because you see NPCs in the game of your favored species, that doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near ready to go. Player species needs art created in a certain way to be customizable, and all of those customization options need to be built to work together. Some races have unique problems in terms of how the art interacts with their worn gear. All that being said, we want to do more, and we are very hopeful that the Cathar proves that there is an appetite for the content that justifies the work.
SWTOR-RP: Will we be hearing our favourite companions' voices return in Rise of the Hutt Cartel? Or will there be some changes in the voice acting line-up?
Damion Schubert: The companions will not be silent through the Makeb experience, but they will not have the level of plotlines or interjections to be found in the Level 1 to 50 experience. We are looking at ways to allow for further interactions with your companions with max affection sometime post-RotC – your girlfriend shouldn’t go silent when she becomes your wife!
SWTOR-RP: Player-created characters are altered and changed in different ways, and sometimes this means cosmetically. Will we be seeing a 'barber shop' in the upcoming expansion?
Damion Schubert: A feature which scratches this itch is in active development right now, but will not be part of Rise of the Hutt Cartel. But this should get to you sooner than you think!
SWTOR-RP: Have you ever felt that there was a class storyline that could use some retooling or re-visioning?
Charles Boyd: We’re extremely proud of the stories that have been told and how we told them, but there are certainly areas where we wish we could have done better. Part of being part of any creative field is that everything you do could always be just a little bit better. But as a general rule, our class stories are among some of the best BioWare story content ever created, and as a general rule we are very proud of how we, as writers, took advantage of the opportunity to play around in the Star Wars universe.
SWTOR-RP: As a developer, I am sure you have a lot of things you enjoy doing as part of your work, as well as a lot of things you enjoy seeing come into fruition as your work become "Live" as it were. What are you most excited about seeing in a player's experience? And to follow that up, what would you change first, if you could, about a player's experience?
Damion Schubert: I get asked this question a lot, and I’m not sure I’ve ever given the same answer twice, largely because I tend to be most excited about whatever the design team’s latest achievement is. I can say that, right now, I’m hugely excited about the Reputation system that is coming in Game Update 1.7, because it will allow designers to do some very cool things. I am even more excited about the major new system that we are adding in the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion – one that all players will get access to – but we’re not quite ready to give more than oblique hints at this time.
And there you have it. Although Game Update 1.7 is already here, let's hope that it's offering everything Damion Schubert wanted out of what he was aiming for. So now, we roleplayers wait and sit ever-so-impatiently on our hands for the fun-inducing chaos of a new expansion to begin.