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Interview with Julio Torres

Jon Wood Posted:
Interviews 0

The Producer from LucasArts talks about his game

The latest expansion to Star Wars Galaxies is now available for early pre-orders. In a few weeks, the latest expansions will be available to all users. At this juncture, we take a chance to catch up to people.

MMORPG.com: A number of the SWG players who visit our site have expressed the feeling that a good portion of your content is geared toward Jedi characters, and that non-Jedi characters are often left by the wayside. How do you respond to this?
Julio Torres:

This is more of an issue of perception. What often causes this impression is that the Jedi are one of the most iconic and popular type of Star Wars characters for fans and as result many players take on the Jedi profession. Additionally, the Star Wars fiction and canon hold the Jedi to be some of the deepest and most intricate characters in the universe, so in order to remain consistent with this the Jedi require proportionally more depth than some of the other characters and professions, especially when you involve the mysterious nature of The Force. As with any game of this type, the more players you have of a certain class or profession, the greater the challenge of delivering fresh content for said players. Despite this we still maintain that Galaxies has an equal, if not more, amount of content for non-Jedi professions.

MMORPG.com: The August 19th, 2005 press release in which you announced Trials of Obi-Wan made mention of a “lava-like” light saber. We’ve obviously seen red light sabers in the past so we are assuming that there is something more to this. Can you give us slightly more detail on this?
Julio Torres:

This is one of our exciting new weapon loot items that players will be able to earn after finishing a series of high-level quests. However, how players acquire the item will remain a mystery until our players discover it for themselves.

This question actually brings to mind another new feature we have introduced with Trials of Obi-Wan. That feature being a cyclical loot and rewards system which allows players to earn different loot and rewards each time they complete a quest, even if they have completed the quest(s) already. We are confident this will bring great replay value to Galaxies as well as reward players with some great new items.

MMORPG.com: Some of our readers claim that the choice of Mustafar as a new planet for this expansion is simply an attempt to cash in on the upcoming DVD release of Episode III. How do you respond to this?
Julio Torres:

Mustafar was a natural choice for our next planet as it allowed for us to make fun and compelling content as well as gave us an opportunity to make some technological advances in the game, such as the new bursting lava flows and damage from environmental effects – a first for any of the Galaxies games and expansions. Mustafar is by far our most immersive environment yet. Additionally, with our introduction of the iconic Obi-Wan ghost, the fact that Mustafar was the location of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s “final” battle allowed us to tie these two great elements together while remaining consistent with Star Wars fiction and canon.

Are there plans in the works to include popular worlds like Dagobah or Hoth in a future expansion?
Julio Torres:

Unfortunately, I can’t comment on anything regarding future Galaxies projects at this time.

MMORPG.com: A number of readers have complained that using Obi-Wan in this way goes against Star Wars continuity and is simply an attempt to use the popular character to sell the expansion. While name recognition is obviously a part of doing a franchise game like Star Wars, how do you respond to critics who would say that Obi-Wan is being used simply as a marketing tool and not in a logical story progression?
Julio Torres:

The design team actually came-up with a really creative role and story for Obi-Wan in terms of continuity which stays true to the Star Wars fiction and canon. One of the overarching goals of completing the quests given by Obi-Wan is to aid him in his quest for redemption for failing to keep Anakin from turning to the Dark Side. Fans will recognize the Shore of Remorse (a location where Obi-Wan appears) as the location where Obi-Wan struck down Anakin in their “final” battle. From a design perspective he plays a crucial role in tying together the stories and quests of Trials, going far beyond the typical “marketing icon.”

MMORPG.com: Why is SOE releasing expansion after expansion and asking players to pay for them time and time again while other companies are offering new content at no cost to players?
Julio Torres:

In addition to releasing the expansions, LucasArts and SOE continue to offer an abundant amount of new downloadable content included in the monthly subscriptions. We are confident that Galaxies continues to offer just as much, if not more, in terms of content included with the monthly subscription. One thing to keep in mind is that for any subscription-based game, the amount of new content that is delivered regularly with the subscription decreases over time, but never completely goes away.

MMORPG.com: Do you feel that players have given this game unfair negative criticism because of the Star Wars title?
Julio Torres:

Not at all as we like to hear all forms of feedback from our player base, it is not only listened to by us but very appreciated. We are always working on improving our game for the players, so their feedback is essential for this to happen. If anything, the Star Wars brand helps the game because of its easy recognition and die-hard fans.

MMORPG.com: With a brand as popular as Star Wars, what, in your opinion, are the special responsibilities of the developers in charge of producing such a game as opposed to a title with less of a cult following?
Julio Torres:

At the end of the day and above all else, we are responsible for creating fun and compelling game content that immerses players in the Star Wars fantasy. Though the Star Wars brand does add a bit to this challenge, I would also say that it gives us an exciting and endless supply of inspiration and content to work with when designing game elements, mechanics, and stories.

MMORPG.com: Our message boards seem to be full of players who left SWG early on after its release, citing any number of technical or rules issues as their reason for leaving. What, if anything would you say to these players to convince them to come back?
Julio Torres:

Well, for starters the game has been vastly improved since its launch two years ago and players seem to agree as the game continues to sell really well (we recently surpassed the 1 million units sold mark), growing the size of the Galaxies player base. I guess when it comes down to it, I would remind some of the former players that Galaxies is the only game in existence that truly allows you to completely and totally immerse yourselves in the Star Wars universe, fiction, and experience. In addition to this, it is a great game that continually improves and that we are very proud of.

MMORPG.com: What is your personal favorite part of Galaxies? What makes it a good game?
Julio Torres:

My favorite part of Galaxies is that it allows me to immerse myself in the Star Wars universe like nothing else can at any time, all the time. In addition to that aspect, I would say the amount of depth Galaxies offers in terms of the game itself is simply amazing and provides near-endless gameplay and fun experiences.

MMORPG.com: With a couple of expansions now under your belts, how does Galaxies appeal to the “new player” without having them feel lost or somehow behind other players?
Julio Torres:

This has definitely been a challenge for our game in the past, but has come a long way, especially in terms of directing the player to what they need to be doing early-on. The first experience a player has with a game is incredibly important in terms of design because it is within this initial time frame that a player decides whether they will continue playing the game or move-on to something else. Knowing how important it is to put your best foot forward as early as possible, we are constantly looking for ways to make the game more accessible to more players and improve the overall experience. That being said, we actually have some very exciting things in the works right now to help accomplish this. Stay tuned.

MMORPG.com: With Trials of Obi-Wan now nearly on the shelves, what is next for Galaxies?
Julio Torres:

Though I can’t go into any detail regarding future products, I can tell you that Trials of Obi-Wan will not be the last expansion to Star Wars Galaxies. We are constantly conceptualizing, designing, and thinking about the future for this great game that despite being out for over two years, continues to be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of players.

MMORPG.com: Players who pre-ordered Trials of Obi-Wan have access to the expansion on the 25th of October. Any word yet on how many players this will be?
Julio Torres:

Sorry, not at liberty to share this kind of information.

MMORPG.com: I play a Jedi, I would never play anything other than a Jedi. Why should I buy this expansion?
Julio Torres:

Even though Mustafar has plenty of content, quests, items, etc. for non-Jedi, there is GREAT content specifically for Jedi, especially when you consider we have robust quests and missions given by one of the greatest Jedi ever.

MMORPG.com: I don’t play a Jedi. I have no interest in playing a Jedi. Why should I buy this expansion?
Julio Torres:

As I mentioned before, with all content we make sure that there is something that appeals to all professions, Jedi and non- Jedi alike. Trials of Obi-Wan is no exception. We are confident all high-level Galaxies players will find enjoyment in what we are bringing to them on Mustafar.

Thank you to LucasArts for doing this interview. If you have any opinions on what you've read, post them here.


Jon Wood