Star Wars Galaxies: Exclusive: Entertainer Upgrades Interview

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Star Wars Galaxies lead designer Thomas “Blixtev” Blair from SOE took some time to answer a few quick questions we had about some upcoming entertainer upgrades to Star Wars Galaxies.

First, here is the video, then the Q&A:

WarCry Q&A: Star Wars Galaxies
Answers by Thomas “Blixtev” Blair
Questions by Dana Massey

WarCry: Star Wars Galaxies has always been slightly different in that you have classes dedicated to entertainment. For those who don’t play, can you explain how traditionally entertaining classes have worked?

Thomas Blair: We have always strived to offer a different style of game-play for those players who didn’t want to go around killing giant Rancors or who prefer an alternative to combat. We created a series of tools for the player who wants to log in and role-play as an entertainer or just chat with friends while hanging out in a social environment. The cantina, already popularized in the movies, became a nexus for these types of players. We also created a series of hooks giving the combatants a reason to visit these places, see what was going on, and offer those social players an audience. To that end, entertainers can bestow on players a variety of beneficial buffs, as well remove certain harmful de-buffs.

The basic tool that enables entertainers to have so much fun is at the core of how they build their songs or dances. The more entertainers there are in a group or band, the better these tools perform. Hence the addition of our most recent feature, the “Holographic Band.”

WarCry: Why did the development team believe it was a good idea to add holographic band-mates and what do they add to the game from a more practical point of view?

Thomas Blair: “We’re putting the band back together.” This famous line underlies many people’s assumptions of what a group of entertainers would be doing. The band or dance troupe enables multiple players to perform special flourishes (these are the more exotic or unique moves and musical notes) for any performance. This feature gives a single player a way to perform with a band and experience the fun of singing or dancing with a set of backup singers or dancers playing with them. As to the practicality, it is one more way to give the entertainers another opportunity to do what they do best, entertain!

WarCry: You mention new instruments. Can you go through some of the options now and how much freedom players have when crafting music and dance routines?

Thomas Blair: In Chapter 5, we have added a new instrument, the Xantha, to the already existing suite of musical instruments. It is a combo of a wind instrument and a guitar. Used just like the other instruments, the musician can insert sound flourishes into an already existing sound track. We supply the basic sound track and then offer players smaller pieces (the flourishes) that they can insert into the song as they play. This is very similar to our dances, as we provide a base dance and then allow small animations to be inserted by the players. This gives them a huge amount of flexibility to play their music and dance in a fully customizable manner. It also adds a lot of fun to the entire experience.

WarCry: How much control do players have over the holograms who join them in their band and what they look like?

Thomas Blair: Whatever the main character does, the hologram will also do. They are pretty much carbon-copies of the player, and will do the same movements at the same time, including playing instruments and dancing. The Holograms will be an identical copy of the player who created it, including what the player is wearing and carrying at the time. This will allow the player to create holograms with multiple different outfits and instruments.

WarCry: Do you ever envision a day where you guys play host to a music festival in Star Wars Galaxies? Is there truly enough customization available to make this feasible?

Thomas Blair: We do see a variety of fun and unique player get-togethers in-game all the time (initiated by the players themselves), so I’m sure that this new feature will spark some really creative events. Our goal is to give the players numerous tools in-game to create large and entertaining events, and we plan on adding even more of these tools in an upcoming Chapter update…so stay tuned!

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