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Forums : Behind the Scenes > SWG: Chapter 8 Preview with Lead Designer Thomas "Blixtev" Blair
Guppy (SuperAdmin) 12/10/2007 9:31 AM EST : SWG: Chapter 8 Preview with Lead Designer Thomas "Bli...
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Lead Designer Thomas "Blixtev" Blair recently shared a first look at what's coming to Star Wars Galaxies in the next major update.

Visit SWG WarCry now to get a sneak peek of the new heroic encounter and more coming in Chapter 8.

By Robert "Sabrehawk" Cox

Space is big. Really big. And, at least in the Star Wars: Galaxies universe, it just got a bit bigger.

Fresh on the heels of one of the largest updates since the NGE, theSWG development team is in the final testing stages on Chapter 8, whichwas scheduled to be added to the Test Center servers today.

"It's been a crazy, busyperiod," said SWG Lead Designer Thomas "Blixtev" Blair. "As one(update) is ending, we start spooling up for the next one."

In Chapter 7, SWG players were presented with a laundry list of newcontent, including revitalized areas, new epic quests and an entirelyintegrated collection system that lets players earn badges for variousaccomplishments from ridding Tatooine of womp rats to building aweapons collection to rival any museum. Chapter 8 is centered aroundthe space game.

"We haven't seen any major issues with 7," Blair said, "so we've been able to concentrate more on 8."

That bit of extra attention turned out to be almost necessary. TheJump to Lightspeed expansion, which introduced the space game, wasreleased nearly two years ago. Since that time, it's remained mostlyuntouched. Additionally, changes to the development team also posedproblems.

"No one here really worked on space," Blair said, "so we had to gotalk to the pilots. The pilot community has been great, a big help."

Of course, once the team learned what needed to be fixed and whatthe players would like to see, they then had to figure out how to makechanges. Blair likened the update to working on a European car withoutany metric tools.

"On top of that, no one's tried to start the car in a couple years,"Blair said. "I'd have to guess (Chapter 8) has been one of our mostdifficult updates. A lot of our tools didn't work."

Once the team adapted, adjusted or created new tools, the work came easier.

"We've added a bunch of things and a lot of long-standing bugs have been knocked out," Blair said.

At the top is the list is the expansion of the collections system into space, opening new avenues for players to earn badges.

"We also added a new spacezone," Blair said. "Ord Mantell comes with a new, landable spacestation, Nova Orion, where players can land their ships and hang out.We also made it a quest hub for some very difficult, master-levelquests."

Along that line, the team added a new Heroic Encounter players canaccess in Aurilia. Like the others, groups of players will face aseries of challenges leading to a final epic battle with a powerfulenemy. Unlike the others, players may have to find their own transport.This encounter takes place on an Imperial Star Destroyer.

According to Blair, while the Heroic Encounter itself is based onthe ground-game, players may have to hire a pilot, or make sure theirgroup includes one, to "smuggle" them to the Star Destroyer.

"We're hoping the way we've incentivized everything, we'll get a lotof people who haven't been up to give it a try," Blair said.

One of those incentives will be the chapter gift.While Blair declined to describe it, he did say that like Chapter 7'scommlink, it will give players a reason to check out the new content.

"We think the chapter gift is pretty nice," Blair said. "It's based around the space game.

"That's something we decided to do, give players something thatbrings you into the new content rather than just some random item wethrow in your inventory."

Aside from expandingcollections, adding new territory and quests, the development team hasalso been enjoying themselves, experimenting with the new gunboat POBships - one for each of the three pilot factions, Rebel Neutral andImperial, along with a new single-seat fighter.

"We've spent a lot of time playing around in the new gunboats,"Blair said. "These thing are huge. My favorite is the neutral one, byfar."

Being gunboats, the new ships have more weapon stations, prompting the team to take a closer look at turret controls.

"We've adjusted the gimballing in the turrets, making them easier touse," Blair said. "Fighting in a turret is a much more pleasurableexperience."

And these ships won't have the troublesome blind spots that are the bane of their NPC brethren.

"That's one of the major failings of the AI," Blair said. "You canget in a blind spot and stay there. You can't do that with these."

Players can log into the Test Center servers and check things outfor themselves. Just remember to check the hyperdrive. It's a long walkback.

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