Massively Interview SWTOR's Jeff Hickman reveals more about the Cartel expansion
The Massively Bothan spy network is at it again; there are just too many unanswered questions about the new Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion. We know the primary focus of Rise of the Hutt Cartel is on the contested world of Makeb, but what about these rumors of additional content? Does this expansion have more to offer? We cornered Executive Producer Jeff Hickman and interrogated him until he spilled the beans. And since our IT-O droid was feeling frisky and our Bavo Six supply was ample, we asked Hickman a couple of question regarding the state of the game blog he posted on the SWTOR website as well.

Fortunately, he answered our questions before we were forced to test the firepower of the Massively battlestation on his home planet of Alderaan. Now we can reveal his answers to the whole galaxy.

Massively Interview SWTOR's Jeff Hickman reveals more about the Cartel expansion
Massively: A quick clarification: Leveling continues to 55 with or without the purchase of Rise of the Hutt Cartel, correct? Besides that, is there anything else new that is not exclusive to the expansion?

Jeff Hickman: The expansion from level 51-55 is available only with the purchase of RotHC Digital Expansion. If you do not buy the expansion, you get re-balanced character classes to level 50 and access to our new Legacy Achievement system.

Rise of the Hutt Cartel focuses a lot on the planet of Makeb, but those of us on the test server know there is quite a bit that happens off planet as well. What can you tell us about the other additions to the game, and what is the mystery surrounding the Shroud?

Macrobinocular and Seeker Droid missions take place all over the galaxy with new types of gameplay and several environmental puzzles to solve -- and new foes to face! As for the Shroud, you will have to participate in these new quest lines to uncover his insidious plans...

As I understand it, environmental puzzles are raised to a new level with the expansion. What was your inspiration to continue these types of challenges?

Correct! We find that different people like to play the game in different ways. These new quest lines and environmental puzzles are designed for people who enjoy something a little different. We have gotten really positive feedback about these new quests.


"I think that the new planet, new storylines, and the raising of the level cap will draw people the most. I think they will stay when they see all of the other improvements to the elder game and our clear and proven commitment to our eight-week update frequency."

In the state-of-the-game, you mentioned lowering the barrier of entry with free-to-play and that you have four million brand-new characters created in the game since November. Are there any plans to continue to lower that barrier? What does future hold in that regard?

Definitely. We are constantly evaluating the things that cause our players any sort of concern with entering our game. Specifically we look at the gameplay restrictions -- which we have loosened up in many ways since launch -- and also at the sign up and download of our game. We have some specific, but unannounced, plans to improve both of these also.

Some free and preferred players have mentioned to me that they feel they are holding back the leveling process of their subscribing friends because of the restrictions. What plans do you have in place to lower this barrier?

We are constantly evaluating all restrictions that F2P players have while playing our game. My suggestion would be to take a look at the Cartel Market and buy one of our XP boosts. They are inexpensive and very effective in boosting level progress. Another option is to look for these same type of items on the GTN.

Players come and go from MMOs all the time. What do you think are the biggest things that will draw players back when the Rise of the Hutt Cartel launches?

I think that the new planet, new storylines, and the raising of the level cap will draw people the most. I think they will stay when they see all of the other improvements to the elder game and our clear and proven commitment to our eight-week update frequency.

Rise of the Hutt Cartel launches on April 14th. We will continue to have our Massively spy network out in full force, bring you the latest developments regarding this expansion.

When readers want the scoop on a launch or a patch (or even a brewing fiasco), Massively goes right to the source to interview the developers themselves. Be they John Smedley or Chris Roberts or anyone in between, we ask the devs the hard questions. Of course, whether they tell us the truth or not is up to them!

This article was originally published on Massively.