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Hyperspace Beacon: Examining SWTOR's producer letter

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At the community cantina that Star Wars: The Old Republic held this past weekend at PAX South, community manager Eric Musco said that the community team was going to do something different in 2015 during the cantinas. He said that he wanted to reveal some tidbit at each and every event. And this cantina yielded us an early look at Producer Bruce Maclean's roadmap letter to the community.

In the letter, he talks about where the SWTOR story will take us, what's on the horizon for flashpoints, personal stories, planets, and the outfit designer. But what is all this new stuff, and should it get people excited about the coming year? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for that. If you play for similar reasons as I do, then there is plenty to be excited about. However, there are certain players, like PvPers, who might be a little frustrated by what they are seeing and not seeing in the letter.



The mysterious outfitter
I believe everyone has pretty much the same speculation about the part in the letter that mentions the outfit designer. Everyone I talked to at PAX believes that its going to be an appearance armor kind of thing or transmog system. First, I don't think that's exactly what it's going to be. Secondly, I would not be on board with that.

I know that we all joke that SWTOR is a World of Warcraft clone with lightsabers. And admittedly, in a very broad sense, it is, just like Call of Duty is like Battlefield. SWTOR does try to separate itself just enough to be considered a different game, so I don't think that the outfit designer will be like the transmog system, and I really hope that BioWare doesn't copy other games' costume armor models because the way we are costuming our characters now isn't broken. I've argued before that I think that current system works really well. It makes people think about what they are wearing. The current design gives people flexibility, but not infinite flexibility. Too much flexibility removes challenge. Removing challenge leads to complacency. (Complacency leads to hate; hate leads to suffering... )

That being said, what I think -- hope -- we are looking at is an actual costume designer. It will give you a base model armor, and you are allowed to create your own additions. For instance, maybe you like the Darth Marr type armor that we've seen for Sith Warriors as PvP sets, but you don't like the spiky shoulders. Done. Spiky shoulders are gone. Want the hood up? Boom. Wait, you want a hood down, too, so that you can toggle between them? You got it. Although these pieces will have set colors, maybe the outfitter will allow you to assign which is the primary and secondary color so that you can add dyes the way that you want.

I'm probably dreaming, but something like that would mean more to me than some silly appearance armor thing.

PvP silence
Bruce did mention that we will see season four and season five this year. They will both start one right after another, but he didn't mention any details. First, are the seasons still going to be arena, the type of ranked PvP that causes a large number of PvPers to leave? Are we going to be able to going to see any other kind of PvP this year -- open-world events? I didn't see a mention of the Gree event. Lastly, what about a new 8v8 map? The cantina crowd might have said that they want more huttball, but I'm not sure that's the consensus of the community as a whole. Lastly, what is this thing that is "better than cross-server queuing" that was mentioned at the last cantina tour?

The more I think about PvP in this game, the more I get frustrated. For certain, the developers at BioWare understand the frustration, but it never seems like they have a grasp on what would make PvPers more happy. (Would anything actually make PvPers happy?)

That being said, I do think that BioWare is working on another map, and I do think we will see it this year. It's likely not going to be Huttball. That said, another Huttball map would not be exactly bad in addition to another non-Huttball map. At this point in time, I have zero guesses as to what the type of map the new warzone will be, but I'm fairly certain that it's an 8v8 objective map. I just wish they would tell us something other than, "Hey, we are going to give you two more seasons of something you didn't ask for!"

The continuing story
I remember talking to Eric Musco, before he was employed at BioWare, on TOROCast, I believe. And the question on the table was, "Which planet do you think we will see next?" The others answered things like Naboo or some other planet we'd seen in the movies, and I said, "Ziost." Musco said, "And out of left field, it's Larry Everett with Ziost." But for me it's wasn't out of left field because I know what Ziost is and what it means to the Empire.

(I've heard Ziost pronounced two ways "ZEE-ost" and "ZEYE-ost." I say it the second way, but the first way is probably the more correct.)

Ziost was the former capital world of the Sith Empire back when Marka Ragnos ruled. I know that many people thought that Korriban was the Sith capital during the Sith Empire. At one time, it was, but that was during the height of the Infinite Empire when the Rakata attacked the Sith. Sometime after that, the capital moved to Ziost, a frost world, still in the Stygian Caldera, a nebulous cloud that surrounds most Sith worlds, but it's far deeper into the cloud's protection.

As of right now, I don't have any real speculation about what we will see there, save for one thing: The Ministry of Logistics is supposed to be on Ziost. A prominent figure in the Sith Warrior storyline, Darth Vowrawn, is the overseer of that Sphere of Influence. I'm guessing that the Sith Warrior story will be very interesting when we get to that planet.

That's all I have right now. I'll see you again soon. May the Force ever serve you.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your biweekly guide to the vast galaxy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. 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!

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