Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
A few weeks back, I was nostalgically asked, "Remember those days when talking about Star Wars: The Old Republic was all about speculation?" Those days might be long gone now, but the beginning of a new year always prompts a resurgence of dreams of the year to come. And although I still love playing SWTOR, I believe there are many areas that could use some touching up.

I attended a fantastic roleplay event this past Saturday on The Ebon Hawk server. It was just a social event, but there were added touches like prizes and an in-character scavenger hunt. As a member of the planning crew, I took a look back at what could make an event like this better. The execution of the event could be tightened up, but there are several potential additions to the game itself that would have improved the festivities. This prompted me to think about what improvements could make roleplay better in general.

So here it is: my top five wishes for roleplay in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
The event this weekend was a formal event celebrating the anniversary of Darth Nox's ascension to the Dark Council. The majority of attendees were upper-class Sith and other nobility. Of course, they had to wear their best clothing or armor. Even if the Sith wore helmets, they still attempted to make the rest of the armor fancy. But just as in a real-life highbrow party, it's embarrassing if someone is wearing the exact same outfit as you. Unfortunately, the variety of clothing available to us is still limited.

The fix for this is rather simple, and it can also make BioWare some actual money in the end. The Cartel Market (the SWTOR cash shop) should be flooded with adaptive armor designs. Just take a look around the game sometime at the different armor and clothing sets the NPCs are wearing. BioWare has already set the precedent that it will not have color dyes for chest pieces. The design team should take advantage of that. We should see Cartel Market armor sets ranging the hundreds, not a few dozen. The resources already exist, and new sets can easily be added by just changing the color palette. I know I would buy multiple sets; I'm sure that other roleplayers would do the same. And we would all be saved embarrassment at the next party.

Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
It's kind of a running joke that when the notes for the next update comes out, friends tease me that chat bubbles aren't in that update. And it's true that I look for chat bubbles in every major update. It is also true that we are no closer to getting chat bubbles than we were at launch. In fact, I would say that we have taken a step or two back because back in beta, we used to be able to adjust an ini file to grant us the default Hero Engine chat bubbles.

I understand that for some people, chat bubbles seem trivial, that chat bubbles do not enhance their gameplay. To a roleplayer, however, they can make the difference between a successful and failed event. Do you remember when the game did not have a group finder? Sure, you could find a group to run an instance with, but it was extremely difficult and actually turned people off from running flashpoints -- just as not having chat bubbles turns people away from roleplay events. It's hampering the community's progress. There have been players who have left events because they could not keep up with chat or because they felt ignored because someone else couldn't keep up with chat.

Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
I know there are issues with open-world PvP. The fact that it pretty much doesn't exist anymore is probably the biggest one. I think that BioWare designers should work on a system that allows one group to fight another group regardless of the faction -- group on group dueling. I don't think the faction split is enough.

As the storylines in TOR show us, there is as much intra-faction fighting as there is inter-faction fighting. And as roleplayers, we would like to show this by having groups duke it out in the open-world. Currently, all fighting is one-on-one dueling unless you magically transport yourself to Outlaw's Den, and that is just not realistic. The closest we've been able to get to being able to simulate a group fight is to duel one person and then immediately fight the next person without healing up. It's just not very practical.

Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
OK, so you're not going to give us sitting-in-chairs, but the emote exists in the code. In fact, there are multiple sit animations. Just give us those, BioWare. Let us do those sit animations anywhere in the game. Sure, it will look funny to see people sitting in the middle of the air, but that's not a strong argument when we have an emote called superflex.

While we're at it, give us other existing emotes, too. Crossing arms, leaning on walls, and actual nodding are not abilities our characters have, yet NPCs do it all over the place. It would be super-nice if we could have those, too. Then the party we had last weekend wouldn't just be a bunch of people just standing around staring at each other.

Hyperspace Beacon My top five wishes for SWTOR roleplay
Lastly, venues are an incredibly important part of any roleplay event, and unfortunately, over 10% of each building is taken up by some class-quest instance or impenetrable red door. Why can't we access those areas? There are some huge areas that would make for great RP event areas.

I have just finished the Inquisitor storyline again. At the end, you are sitting in your office, then you have a meeting in a large meditation chamber. Why wouldn't you be able to access that room anytime you like? It's your office, after all. Technically, you own it, yet once you finish that cutscene, you can no longer access that area.

Everything that would make roleplay a touch better already exists in the game. In fact, I have found that most MMOs already have all the items roleplayers would love to have; designers just have to open them up. What would you like to see to enhance your immersive roleplay?

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.