Ships And Speculations

June 15, 2010

An IGN preview yesterday confirmed that yes, we will be getting player ships in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Like everyone else, I got pretty excited about this and the “robust customization package” that will allow me make my personal starship unique. But I gotta say, another part of me already expected all of this. After all, you can’t expect anyone to make a Star Wars MMO in this day and age and not provide spaceships and a ton of customization options in it, especially not after an announcement that you’re EA’s “largest ever” project in the history of the company.

That said, I also speculate that player ships will have a much larger role in SWTOR than simply being pieces of eye candy that we can ogle and show off to other players.

Space travel? This  is probably a given, seeing how it’s such a huge part of the Star Wars experience, not to mention there’s also more than a dozen planets we can travel to and explore. I mean, it’s entirely possible that it might all just boil down to a few cut scenes and atmospheric space flight, but I strive to be a positive thinker — I think there’s actually going to be a much bigger space component involved.

Player housing? I’m thinking Knights of the Old Republic here, where the Ebon Hawk served as a hotspot to interact with and choose your companions before a mission. Still, I think player housing should be more than just a place to stash your junk and companions. Now I’m thinking Star Trek Online, where my bridge was nothing more than a non-functional space where I would sit in the captain’s chair and watch as my bridge officers went about their tasks while completely ignoring me. That’s just not true “player housing” to me, not without the functionality and ways to customize and interact with the ship interior.

Nothing in the IGN article says anything about interiors, but I’m optimistic here as well. Star Wars Galaxies is purported to have one of the best player housing systems out there, and we know for a fact there are former SWG devs working on the SWTOR team, so at least someone over there should know how to do it right. Also, when it comes to the matter of functionality, I have to wonder if we’ll be getting areas used for crafting on our ships. I’m thinking about KOTOR again, of course, where we were given a workbench aboard the Ebon Hawk to modify our weapons and equipment.

Space combat? Well, that’s the million dollar question now, isn’t it? I’ve made a friendly wager with Hunter over the topic, and I’m just going to reiterate my predictions here. My guess? There’s going to be some form of space combat. Again, this kinda goes back to the whole “you don’t make a 100 million dollar game without planning for this sort of thing” thought that I had (and especially not if you’re going to take on an IP like Star Wars) so the only question that remains for me, really, is: If there is going to be space combat, how well will they pull it off?

Will it be minimal? A KOTOR type activity where you spend a few minutes with a gun blasting at other ships behind a view port? Or will there be more elaborate space encounters that will actually involve ship maneuvering and complex strategies? My guess is that we’ll probably see something between these two extremes. All I know is, if space combat’s going to make it into the game, it probably won’t be trivial. I would expect it to be on par with the rest of the content, even if they’re just going to be heavily scripted space fights in instanced areas, but I’m certainly not expecting a full-blown simulator-type experience either.

This quote in the IGN preview also piqued my interest when I read it:

While the E3 demo didn’t let us go off-world, obviously a smuggler will have some advantages aboard a ship that a Sith Inquisitor will not.

This along with the details in the article that there will be ship classes (such as “Vanguard” and “Fury”) in-game are just a couple of other things that make me suspect there will be space combat in SWTOR. After all, if there was no combat, what would be the point of considering advantages and disadvantages when choosing a particular ship with which to traverse a galaxy that’s “ripe for exploration”? Granted, it’s possible this could all  just be wishful thinking on the author’s part, a sentiment I can certainly relate to right now as I’m sitting here poring over the available information and over-thinking things.

Anyway, just my thoughts. Of course, I’m well aware that I may be completely off-base here, in which case, I’ll owe Hunter 10 credits.


  1. So do you think they’ll out-STO STO? By that, I mean that was and is STO’s big draw for most players: the space combat. The weapon types aren’t as varied in the Star Wars Universe unless I am mistaken. But of course Bioware could do whatever they want on that front I’d think.

    So we’re hoping for a WoW- or AoC-type ground experience and a STO-or-better space combat?

    And how functional is your house in LOTRO? I often think of houses as a bit of vanity fluff, which is one reason the STO bridges are such a disappointment. The interactivity of the Ebon Hawk in KOTOR would be a big plus, it seems to me. A player would have an actual reason to be in that ship environment.

    • No, I personally don’t think they’ll out-do STO. I know a lot of naysayers dislike the space combat in STO, but I actually think it’s very well done. However, like you said, the main selling point of STO was the space combat, but it’s not for SWTOR. If they are indeed going to have space combat, I can’t see them investing as much as Cryptic did, but of course, I can be wrong. Bioware is always full of surprises! 😛

      As for player housing, I’ll be happy enough with some degree of customization (like in LOTRO). Any functionality if they so choose to implement it will be a bonus. 😀

      To be perfectly honest though, how they will handle player housing or whether or not they’ll have it at all will have no bearing on how much I’ll like the game. Like you said, it’s all fluff, just something to enhance the experience, but not make or break it. Anything else they choose to give us will just be extra goodness in my eyes 🙂

  2. Space combat and ship crafting along with the outstanding player housing are really things that SWG did very well 6 years ago. So well in fact that they are still the best in any mmo to date. This has made me very hopeful about SWTOR and the much depth, richness of detail and complexity they will be adding for us with all sorts of features.

    I still sometimes buy a month of SWG to go and check on my house and friends. If SWTOR comes anywhere close to SWG with these features it will become a must buy for me …. except i think it already has.

    • I’m with you there. I’m very hopeful as well, and I never did get to experience for myself the richness of the SWG housing and ship crafting system. Reading about other people’s experiences though, it seems if SWTOR has even the fraction of what was available in SWG then a lot of people will be very happy.

  3. I meant to say that the STO bridges are a disappaointment because they are not even customizable. Heck I even noticed on one bridge that the okudagrams were backwards, like a mirror.

    Totally off-topic: Did you know there is a tiny smiley emoticon 🙂 in the lower left corner of your blog page?

    • That was my biggest disappointment with STO. I like my bridge for what it was, a place I can go to chill and admire my BOffs, but I’d always wished we could do something more to decorate, or display trophies, holograms, etc. 😛

      And yes, one of my friends pointed the smiley face out to me a few weeks ago. He had to send me a screenshot of it to make me see what he was talking about…I didn’t see it at first because I thought it was a smudge on my screen 😛

      • I read about those smiley faces in a WordPress FAQ – WP needs some sort of artifact on the page as an anchor for their stat gathering tools, and so they use a smiley face.

  4. Come release I will become an hermit and play this game 24/7 until I die of hunger and exhaustion. Better start pilling up food!

    • My future wife may file for divorce when this comes out.

    • Yeah, come the first few months after release, I’m sure all my friends will think I’ve dropped off the face of the earth. 😀

      • Yeah, this is probably going to be bad for me, too…

  5. My intention is to not hold my breath in this case. If there is actual space flight and not just a ship instance with a hyperspace skybox, then I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • The way I see it, I’m already quite pleased with what has been revealed/announced. Whether or not space combat will be present is on my mind but in the end will matter very little as everything else right now is just gravy 😀

  6. Everytime i think of SWTOR, i have visual dreams of melding SWG’s crafting, houses, and space combat with the elegant beauty of choice, and combat of KOTOR. That would be the ultimate bastard mmo love child.

    Because SWG was like crack to me. There was something to be said about invading rebel bases with my AT-ST stomping behind me, my commando KABOOMING every second of his life, Jedi filing out of the base to mow us down :(. Afterwards, going to see my image designer and dancer friends in the cantina where my Zabrak alt was dancing the night away giving out mind buffs with that “Group me if you want me to blow your mind.” macro, doctor’s using her to heal and get xp, and less than savory characters crowding around ehre and filling my pms with nasty messages :(.

    Bahaha, cantina fights breaking out because i’m still flagged and don’t care, BRING IT… *sigh* I always get depressed thinging about it because i still loooonnng for that awesome rigmarole with added content. Because that’s what SWG lacked to the heart. It did everything else so right and had so many hot spots and iconic locations, it just never had honest to goodness quests and content.

    • Haha, I admit, reading your reminiscing made me want to try SWG again too. I just wish these days it wasn’t such a ghost town in-game.

  7. I took the choice in classes of ship to mean just different kinds of housing, different designs for your personal space. a sith imperial spy ship would probably look different than a jedi consulars ship.

    That cryptic statement about smugglers having advantages (shielded deck plating for secret compartments?) sort of makes me curious, but, I’ll wait for more info before drawing any further conclusions.

    • Yeah, the author could have been misinformed or it’s just wishful thinking. It does make me wonder though, and at the same time the devs have said other things that make me think there might be a space component.

      With the ship classes, it seems that our choices will be restricted based on our faction, but I wonder if there will be character class restrictions too.

  8. I’m pretty excited by the PvP that they announced at the same time. It’s going to be instanced, which already has some commentators whining. However, if they can make the PvP instances as fun and rewarding as the Battlegrounds in WAR we will be in for a treat imo.

    • Yeah, the news of PvP “warzones” are causing quite a stir…I’ve always been more of a PvE centric player though, so I didn’t find myself too affected 🙂

  9. I must be one of the few people who isn’t a fan of space combat or space mechanics and don’t think they have any place in a ground-based MMO. It’s always my worry that when developers try to do it, they inevitably end up creating two separate games with a fractured focus. Better to concentrate on one mechanic and do it right 🙂

    • If it was any other game, I would agree with you 😛 But this is Star Wars, I have to believe that the “ideal” game for this IP should include space combat. At the same time, if it turns out there’s no space combat in SWTOR I wouldn’t be too torn up about it either. I’m realistic enough to recognize that sometimes what’s “ideal” isn’t always what can be done or what’s best for the game 😀

  10. […] Player Ships – “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.” Han Solo was clearly a man who had his priorities straight! Customization options are a cause to rejoice in my books, but I’m also looking forward to see if player ships mean more than just eye candy. […]

  11. […] Do You Good Space Combat In SWTOR Confirmed July 23, 2010 Whoa, wait, wait, wait. So I predicted something…and was right for once? Sweet. And you know what else this means? Hunter, I love ya, but you owe me 10 […]

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