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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!