Star Wars: The Old Republic Exclusive Q&A - The Smuggler Profession and E3 2009
We get the exclusive details on the smuggler profession, as well as an E3 update for this upcoming massively multiplayer online game based in the <i>Star Wars</i> universe.
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While massively multiplayer online games started off being little more than virtual drudgery--requiring you to fight the same monsters over and over again until your character got strong enough to fight the next level of monsters--Star Wars: The Old Republic is looking to go in an entirely new direction. The game will be more or less entirely story-driven, and your story experience will be based on your selection of character class, as well as the choices you make along the way. We have the exclusive first details on the smuggler profession, as well as what's planned for the game at E3, thanks to some inside information from senior content producer Dallas Dickinson, principal lead writer Daniel Erickson, and lead systems designer Damion Schubert.
GS: We can't wait to see The Old Republic at this year's E3. Give us a rundown of what's planned for the show for this massively multiplayer online game.
Dallas Dickinson:We are showing a lot of "MMO Firsts" at E3, the biggest of which is the fact that we are the first-ever fully voiced MMO (both players and non-player characters have full voice throughout the game). This is one of the largest voice-over projects in the history of games--we're taking storytelling in MMOs to the next level, with real cinematic conversation. We're also giving the first in-game look at a couple of classes (the bounty hunter and the smuggler) and a few planets (Hutta and Ord Mantell). The smuggler class utilizes a dynamic cover system in combat, which is also a first for the MMO space. Finally, we're going to show one of our "flashpoints" to demonstrate the amount of real-player choice that we offer in The Old Republic.
GS: We're pleased to be able to reveal the smuggler class in this E3 story. Give us an overview of this profession.
DD:The smuggler class is meant to evoke the Han Solo fantasy. The story, appearance, character, and the way the class plays in combat are all based on Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and other great smugglers of the Star Wars universe. As a smuggler, you'll need to get by on quick thinking, charm, luck, and your ability to outsmart others. Instead of being a heavily armed tough guy (like the trooper), the smuggler has to be one step ahead of his opponents in combat, which is why we have implemented a "cover" system for the class. To succeed, the smuggler has to stun opponents, shoot from around corners, and, yes, shoot first.
GS: Despite the politically charged world of The Old Republic, it sounds like smugglers don't usually care to get involved in politics, though they'll prefer to side with the Republic when push comes to shove. What does this mean for the smuggler class in practice?
Daniel Erickson: The smuggler is his own man, going where his instincts lead and making alliances as he sees fit. When playing a smuggler, you can avoid getting involved in the war longer than any other class, but eventually war touches everyone. Even then, the smuggler chooses how he steps into the galactic conflict and whether he does so for patriotism or simple profiteering.
GS: We understand that the smuggler's usual daily business doesn't involve throwing lightsabers so much as sneaking contraband from point A to point B. Can you give us some examples of the kind of missions your average smuggler will be busy with in The Old Republic?
DE: Smugglers are after one thing: credits. Whether it's contraband, people, lost treasures, or some exotic snarling beast from the far side of the galaxy; if it's worth credits and you can get it on a starship, the smuggler is interested.
GS: Given that smugglers are most concerned with wealth, what will successful smugglers do with all the piles of credits they bring in from their illicit operations?
DE: Fine clothes, new weapons, upgrades that makes it easier to get even more credits. It's all up to the player. Credits are for spending--after all, a smuggler is chasing the good life, not saving for retirement.
GS: We understand that one of the most important skills for a smuggler will be...personal charm? How does this work in practice?
DE: The "social character" has always been a huge role in BioWare games, and the smuggler gives us a chance to have the perfect protagonist for it. For boys who want to chat up the princess while the other nobles look on aghast, for girls who want to bat their eyelashes at their rivals just before shooting them in the knee then laugh [at how gullible he was], for everyone that feels as much triumph from a good con job as a shoot-out and loves being the scoundrel, the smuggler is a dream come true. Of course, The Old Republic is about choices, and if you want to spec your smuggler out to be a scruffy-looking nerfherder with a gun, a bad attitude, and a propensity to shoot first and ask questions later, that route is always there. Just don't expect that "flirt" line you just picked to work nearly as well.
GS: We also understand that this profession will be highly skilled at reconnaissance. What are some of the scouting skills and abilities that smugglers will have at their disposal?
Damion Schubert: In the battlefield, the smuggler's skills allow him to find cover spots overlooked by others. The smuggler is also very good at moving around unseen and can use the element of surprise to deadly effects.
GS: We also understand that smugglers generally don't travel the galaxy wearing heavy Stormtrooper-like armor and tend to rely on their fast reflexes, rather than on heavy weapons. What kind of gear will the average smuggler carry when the going gets rough?
DS: When it comes to weaponry, the smugglers know that hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at their side. Now, in terms of armor, smugglers like to stay lightly equipped--as much to complement their combat techniques as to not cramp their style. You see, many smugglers are real charmers and like a little class with their appearance--think Lando in Cloud City. In fact, when discussing gear, we affectionately refer to one of the high-end smuggler player-versus-player reward sets as the "Bling" outfit.
GS: When the time comes to fight, how will the smuggler do battle? Any chance of an "Always Shoots First" skill, for instance?
DS: Not having the force powers of a Jedi or the heavy weaponry of troopers, the smuggler must often rely on underhanded battle techniques. The smuggler is definitely not above shooting his enemies first, shooting them in the back, or shooting them from behind heavy cover. He's also a bit of an escape artist; when the odds aren't in his favor, the smuggler has the tools to get away and reestablish more favorable terms of combat.
GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about the smuggler, or about Star Wars: The Old Republic?
DE: From a story perspective, the smuggler is all about crazy adventures, colorful characters, whirlwind romances, and living life by the seat of your pants. For everyone who ever wanted to live the Han Solo lifestyle, this is their class.