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Tag Archive 'game design'

A Captured Moment with Arlon and Jurie

Published by under Role Play on Jun. 28. 2013.

((The RP XP with MJ #36))



I’m introducing a new segment to the RPXP inspired by the great living atmosphere of SWTOR’s set design and NPC placement.


Have you ever stopped to smell the roses? There are a lot of awesome little mini “scenes of drama” (or comedy) playing out throughout the SWTOR universe. Around every corner or thoroughfare there are NPCs going about their daily lives, arguing, laughing, crying, throwing up into fountains. There are even Easter eggs and inside jokes for Star Wars diehards (have you found the “Darth Vader bounty hunter briefing” aboard the Imperial fleet’s Ziost Shadow as a nod to the scene in EpV, or the wookiee who pulled the droid’s arms out of its sockets per Han Solo’s warning in EpIV?)




Did you ever wonder what the BioWare designers had in mind when they set these scenes up? That has to be one of the most fun things about working on an MMO like SWTOR, the little inside jokes or captured moments they don’t expect you to actually “see” unless—like me—you stop to smell the roses.


So, I thought it would be fun to take a tour through BioWare’s Old Republic and make up stories for those captured moments found throughout the galaxy.





A young dark haired male human apparently upset about something near a seated blond female human.


(-946, 1441) “Garden of Justice”, SenatePlaza, Coruscant



Let’s call them Arlon and Jurie. That’s not what BioWare calls them, as far as I know, but let’s extend the RP beyond ourselves for a moment and see what we can come up with for these two.


Arlon and Jurie live in one of the sky-scraping behemoths that line the horizon of Coruscant. He’s a loadlift operator at the nearby spaceport, and she works the diner on sublevel 141 at the Senate Plaza.


One day Arlon comes home to a hastily tapped note on a datapad that reads, “My Dearest Arlon. I’m sorry to tell you this, but I’ve decided that I love Wokum more than you. I can’t go on living this lie and I have to follow my heart. The times we shared together walking in the Garden of Justice were memorable, but I need something more. Love always, Jurie. PS – Please don’t be weird about this just because Wokum is Trandoshan.”


So, what does Arlon do? He tracks down his lady friend at their favorite walking path and finds her sitting wistfully staring out into space, happy about her decision and waiting for her the taxi that will take her to Dosha. As for Arlon? He’s obviously at a loss for words.


Of course the scene could be more serious than what I’ve depicted here, or it could even be more lighthearted. How would you paint this picture?



If you have a favorite “captured moment” scene, screenshot it and send it to me (swtorliferp(at) If you’ve got a story to go along with it, let’s hear it; or if you want to see what I can make up, we can do that too. ((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively on You can contact MJ directly by writing to swtorliferp(at)gmail, leave a comment, or follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.

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Game Testing Versus Game Design

Published by under Editorial on Aug. 03. 2011.

I knew a couple of guys that were part of a game development team. The game was made by a small team of dedicated enthusiasts and most of them were programmers at heart. It was a strategy game set in space, not unlike Homeworld (if any of you still remember that great game). They slaved at it for 3 years for a small wage hoping to make it big once the game is released. They even got a worldwide publisher, which meant they had a sellable product. When the game came out many tried playing it but found it unnecessarily complex at times and hard even when it didn’t need to be. It had a small following of dedicated fans but it never made it big because it asked too much of players to be widely accepted.
The problem with that game was that the programmers made a game for themselves. There was a lot of math involved and complex systems that would make an analytic mind very happy. The problem is that gamers are not analytic machines. They are gamers of various personalities and mindsets and if you are a game maker you better make sure you are pleasing a larger variety of people than just programmers, unless, of course, you were making the game for three years just to play it yourself.
What brings games closer to gamers is game testing. Involvement of gamers into the game making process introduces another set of minds, other than that of game designers themselves. This brings fresh perspectives and usually changes the game significantly. We saw a glimpse of this process during Q&A sessions at San Diego Comic Con this year. We found out that some systems designed long ago by game designers have been changed based on game testers’ input. There were even some changes so significant (in terms of time needed to develop the system again) that I was rather surprised they decided to do this so late in the game.
Click here to read how game testing influenced SWTOR and if it’s a good thing

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