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Jump To Lightspeed Interview

Richard Cox Posted:
Interviews 0

Our own Richard Duffek (Kunou) had a chance to sit down with Julio Torres, the Associate Producer and Kurt Stangl, the SOE Community Manager about the newly released Jump To Lightspeed expansion for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.

MMORPG.com: The starships in your expansion look pretty nice. Did LucasArts have any doing in the designs of the ships or were they completely the idea of your development team?
Julio & Kurt

The ships were all fully concepted and designed by the immensely talented SOE artists. We're really happy about the positive response we've received on the new ships!

MMORPG.com: Back to the starships: Did you get any response or feedback from George Lucas about the starships used in Jump to Lightspeed?
Julio & Kurt We work closely with Lucasfilm Licensing on everything new we introduce to Star Wars canon. They have a group of extremely knowledgeable folks who review and approve materials from every licensee. We get plenty of feedback from them on some designs, but on others, like the Ithorian species, for instance, they really give us a lot of freedom on design and look.
MMORPG.COM: While testing the game, I had come to notice that many people were in space only to never return to the surface for the exception of talking to a shipwright or a space mission giver. Do you have any plans to make the planet surface a more "involved" aspect of space missions?
Julio & Kurt We have made it part of the over all design that Space and land are one game. There are many mechanisms in space that encourage players to return to the ground. For example many loot items found in space will be needed in different planets for trade and or sale. Ships in space will need repairs and upgrades the ground game is ideal for these kind of adjustments.
MMORPG.COM: Stumbling upon the wreckage of the Death Star after jumping into the Yavin system was a very nice touch. Do you plan on making the space zones bigger and adding more "deep space" zones for other unique space experiences?
Julio & Kurt That's always a possibility. We think we've given folks a fair amount of space to explore and missions to take on. Just like with the ground game, we'll be making regular additions to the content and missions that are available, but since we're still pre-launch, none of those details are available yet.
MMORPG.COM: How long has the development team been working on this expansion?
Julio & Kurt The initial design of Star Wars Galaxies always had a space component in mind, so you could say since the beginning of the development of An Empire Divided. It's something that had been in concept from the start and uses the same engine as all of the ground base game. The expansion itself has taken 10 months to complete.
MMORPG.COM: During Beta, we did not have any Jedi in game so it was hard to test this theory out: we all know that a Jedi will pretty much be overt for a good duration of his/her gaming time while on the planet's surface. Will the Jedi be overt in space? If not, do you foresee problems of Jedi staying in space for long periods of time to avoid the bounty hunter's prize?
Julio & Kurt The Jedi do not have any effect in space at this time. There are currently no specific design ideas we are ready to share. In the mean time if you are a Jedi in space you will not be penalized if you die, your Jedi experience stays intact.
MMORPG.COM: The combat system is great. Twitch base fighting style is a unique and very welcomed touch to the MMORPGs scene. Was this concept originally planned from the very beginning or did your team have other theories of combat before settling down with this style?
Julio & Kurt A few different styles of gameplay were considered for Jump to Lightspeed to start with - there are always many different angles to consider when creating a new type of gameplay experience. In the end, we decided to go with twitch-based gameplay because it was the only type that actually gave you the edge-of-your-seat thrill that people expect from a space battle in the Star Wars Universe.
MMORPG.COM: While designing the YT-1300, did you receive any personal consultation from Lucas or did you all design the ship based upon the movies and your own imagination? The interior designs are very believable.
Julio & Kurt The ship was designed based on the movies to a point... but if you look at the movies carefully, the ship always looks tremendously more spacious in the interior shots than it does in the exterior shots. In fact, the two perspectives do not match up at all. This was an exciting art and design challenge during the creation of the expansion and we're glad you like it!
MMORPG.COM: The Development team for Star Wars Galaxies must have been very busy for a few years now! Are you all taking a breather now or do you guys have more ideas for Star Wars Galaxies?
Julio & Kurt Many people have been on this same development team since the initial planning stages of Star Wars Galaxies - some have up to five years dedicated to this project! After Jump to Lightspeed launches and the dust settles for a moment, some of the team will be taking a well-earned vacation, but there will always be a solid group of devs working on the Combat Upgrade plans and implementation and on future content. Work on an MMO never stops!
MMORPG.COM: How many additional servers were needed to add on this expansion set?
Julio & Kurt Jump to Lightspeed is fully integrated with the ground game servers, so both the ground game and the space component are running on the same integrated code. We've added multiple boxes to each server cluster to support the space zones.
MMORPG.COM: Are there any unique features about the individual spacecraft that we should know about? Are they customizable? Can you add different paint colors, trim, etc?
Julio & Kurt Almost every craft in Jump to Lightspeed is highly customizable. High-end component that shape the performance and durability can be crafted by and swapped in by your friendly shipwright. And paint kits will be available too, so you can customize the look of many ships as well. There are some pretty killer looking highly modified ships out there.
MMORPG.COM: During beta and right after launch it was often mentioned about adding planets with the first expansion. Many of us who don't care for spaceship twitch-based battles were very disappointed that JTL had no new worlds. What happened and when can we expect to see more planets added?
Julio & Kurt

I am not sure that we ever talked about adding new planets with our very first expansion, which was always slated to be the "space" expansion. We were always pretty clear what content would come with the addition of Jump to Lightspeed.

After the launch of Jump to Lightspeed we'll be focusing on the Combat Upgrade, making every aspect of combat more engaging for potentially everyone playing the game. And we'll definitely be considering new content additions, but there are no details to share as of yet.

MMORPG.COM: Judging from the forums and from a lot of player's very vocal opinions, it seemed that most people wanted the promised revamps (combat revamp in particular) to be done before the expansion, what was the reasoning behind doing the expansion before the revamps?
Julio & Kurt Since the very beginning, Space has always been intended to be the first expansion and to truly make the in-game changes players want to see, we need the element of Space to re-create the experience of Star Wars for players. Jump to Lightspeed shouldn't be seen as being done instead of the profession enhancements, but rather, part of the ongoing process. With specific regards to the Combat Upgrade, it was a matter of how long it actually was going to take us to complete the combat revamp to the scale we wanted. We've had guys who have been dedicated to the combat revamp throughout the entire development process of Jump to Lightspeed. The size of revamp that we're talking about here takes a considerable amount of time to plan, spec out and implement. We have rolled out some smaller fixes and changes over the couple of months leading into the launch of Jump to Lightspeed, but even without such a major expansion coming in this fall, the combat rebalance probably would not have come in much earlier.
MMORPG.COM: Can we expect new ship designs to be added to the game just in regular patches or will they be kinda like Player Races and only added through expansions?
Julio & Kurt That hasn't been completely hammered out, but I would suspect that new ship designs will be added both ways in the future just like with the ground game. Ship modifications and maybe one-off news ships could be added in regular updates and maybe whole new types like the Hutt fighters being added with expansions.
MMORPG.COM: With outer space now added to the game, do you have any ideas what the main focus of the next expansion might be?
Julio & Kurt Nothing to talk about just yet! We need to get Jump to Lightspeed out the door and settled in! We have a lot of things under consideration for the future, but will be working on the details of the wide-sweeping Combat Upgrade first before revealing any details about new expansions.


Richard Cox