Heroic Encounters are instanced content that makes up much of the endgame experience for Star Wars Galaxies players. They noted that the purpose of instancing that content is to ensure that everyone has a great, story-grounded experience. Making sure that only the people who are 'supposed' to be interacting with the content are doing so is a challenge in an open-world setting. CSR events are an example of where they do that sort of 'massed experience' on purpose; they drop a boss into a crowd of players and everyone can go nuts. As the developers put it, "In a Heroic Encounter it's a little more fair for the NPCs ... The point of a Heroic Encounter is to give players a specific, story-heavy experience that you couldn't have in the open world."
Aurilia is the hub for accessing Heroic Encounters, and the developers designed it to be that way very specifically. The town was originally a component of the old at-launch Jedi system; the tiny village could only be reached by force-sensitives, and all of their training took place n that remote locale. They leveraged that in-game story element to recreate the village for the Heroic Encounters system back in Chapter 7. They wanted to offer players an evocative space to gather and prepare for their Heroic experiences. The Battle for Hoth entrance will be located in Aurilia as well.
The IG-88 encounter
took about two weeks to create, and was the first encounter they put together. Because systems and tools were still comparatively rudimentary, it's the most basic of all the encounters and involves a lot of 'cheating' on the part of the developers. They still enjoy it – a lot of fun to make, and they have a better version of the IG-88 art floating around somewhere that they might use someday.Axkva Mi
n was put in as a Heroic Encounter to tie into the player's notorious hatred of the Nightsisters. She herself wasn't that notorious an NPC, but she had a few pieces of good loot and only spawned once per server restart. The result was that she was an NPC with some in-game lore, and they thought she was a good fit for a Heroic Encounter. Their goal for "Axkva and her friends" was to require everyone to think on their toes, deal with a few different types of encounters all-in-one experience.
These first encounters were created without a real sense of what the player power was. These encounters really helped them to understand what post-NGE max-level characters could do. They ultimately lead to the 'rez nerf' when the designers realized it was impossible to lose to some of these encounters because of a Medic's sheer utility.