BioWare’s dedication to storytelling in Star Wars: The Old Republic added a new wrinkle last week with the release of Episode 10 of the Knights of the Fallen Empire story, Anarchy in Paradise. We got the chance to pose a few questions to Lead Designers Charles Boyd and Michael Backus about the exciting new stuff, and how they’re taking care of some older concerns.
But as we were waiting for the answers to those questions, BioWare hit us with news of KotFE’s next installment! Chapter 11: Disavowed isn’t about bankruptcy but instead adds a familiar face — at least if you played through the Trooper storyline — in Major Aric Jorgan of Havoc Squad, who joins the Outlander in this new chapter. Jorgan will lead the Outlander and his elite soldiers on a quest behind enemy lines and it’ll be up to the Outlander to decide just how far they go in their attempt to stop the Eternal Empire.
As with previous chapters of Knights of the Fallen Empire, Disavowed will be included with a current SWTOR subscription. Players who are subbed as of March 1 will get to play the story on March 8, two days before the March 10 general release, and will also receive an HK-55-inspired in-game helm.
Now, time to turn back the clock a little bit and talk about Chapter 10:
MMOBomb: Tell us a little bit about Firebrand and how she impacts the Outlander and his/her story. But, you know, without major spoilers!
BioWare: Firebrand is a skilled and dangerous anarchist who’s operating in the heart of enemy territory, the capital city of the Eternal Empire. She clearly has the same enemies as the Outlander, but her methods can be rather extreme and… explosive. The Outlander is going to have to decide how best to handle someone so unpredictable, and decide how far he or she is willing to go themselves when it comes to defeating the Eternal Empire.
MMOBomb: Was there any inspiration you drew from – either from the Star Wars universe or outside it – when coming up with Firebrand?
BioWare: Alexander Freed originally created the character as part of the Imperial Agent storyline in the original game, as a kind of 50-50 mix between a “femme fatale” and “enthusiastic thug” – someone shrewd and deceptive who also really loves just getting out there and blowing some stuff up. Since the Imperial Agent is a government operative, he wanted to introduce a character early on who could act as a dramatic foil, someone to challenge the viewpoints they might take for granted, so a staunch anarchist was the perfect fit.
MMOBomb: How long does it take to come up with just a single chapter of story like this? Not asking for exact timelines of everything, but just a sense of the (probably long and convoluted) process requiring conception, art, story, programming, voice recording, etc.
BioWare: You’ve guessed correctly – quite a bit of work goes into each story chapter! Writing for a piece like this takes place many months before release, so that we have time to get voiceover recording in English, French, and German. In the meantime, work starts on art and design for the chapter; once the voice recordings come back, we can begin cinematics work. Each of these aspects have different production needs from one chapter to the next, depending on the setting of the chapter, the type of story being told, etc., so as you can imagine, each chapter is its own unique labor of love 🙂
MMOBomb: There was a lot of attention to crafting and crew skills in this update. There’s a whole new tier, going up to skill level 550, as well as a lot of streamlining. What was the reason for this streamlining process?
BioWare: We have a very extensive crafting system that we’ve built up over the years. This can become daunting to new or returning players. We felt that crafting had grown so much that it began to feel cluttered, and in some cases, we felt there were some imbalances in terms of which skills were more or less useful to players.
Our goal is always to take a critical look at our own work, and along with player feedback, look for ways we can improve. This was a great opportunity to streamline and improve the crafting system by making it more fun and accessible. We want as many of our players as possible to participate in crafting and have an opportunity to create something that ultimately becomes part of the fabric of the game.
MMOBomb: Right after KotFE came out, there were some major adjustments to companion characters’ strengths – and then shortly thereafter, another major change. Where are companions at right now, and do you anticipate having to make any other significant changes to their power levels?
BioWare: We’re very happy with the power levels of companions currently. Right now, it feels like the companion role a player chooses compliments your character very well and has meaning. That being said, we’re constantly keeping an eye on how players are enjoying companions to make sure that they are in line with our expectations.