((The RP XP with MJ #55))
One issue facing RolePlayers in any MMO is where to find a good place to RP. For an RP location to be “perfect,” it needs to fit three criteria: 1) It’s free of trolls and “noisemakers” who have nothing better to do than disturb your RP session while they wait for the PvP queue to pop, 2) It matches the specifics of the location you have in mind for your story, and 3) You can get to it with minimal difficulty (You don’t want to limit your RP possibilities by establishing a setting on the other side of a field of Level 50 mobs unless all of your RP partners are Level 50 or above. Even then, it can be annoying if conflict is not part of your story at the time).
This week I thought I’d start a new segment on the RP XP where I scout out locations for RP and give you some ideas to play with. Most of the locations I give you will be easily accessible for any character with a starship (Level 15+ depending on class story and how much you have to grind to get there). They’re also fairly open. In fact, my first example is one you probably pass through every day. As far as the first of my criteria for location scouting, /shrug you’ll find trolls everywhere, but anyone you’re going to see in today’s subject are on their way from point A to point B. They don’t have time to stop and AOE into your chit-chat.
For this example I’m taking a look at the Anchorhead Spaceport with a Republic Smuggler, but the examples are the same (or close) no matter your class or faction.
One of the earliest beefs about SWTOR was targeted at the spaceports; specifically, the spaceport design (singular) and how they all look alike. While this is true, the beef quickly became moot as players discovered that the ports weren’t necessarily meant to be social hubs. They’re transit points, and anyone playing the game since launch probably rockets through them on a speeder without giving them a second glance. That’s said, I think it’s sad that more people don’t put the spaceports to better use. I’m talking to you, my fellow RPers.
So let’s take a look at a spaceport located on one of the most iconic planets in the Star Wars universe, and let’s see if there’s any RP that can be done here…
Every spaceport in the game is MASSIVE. Sure, they only have two “rooms,” the main body of the map and your hangar (with one exception that I know of: there’s a lift to a hidden hangar on Dromund Kaas. Datacron hunters know the one I’m talking about). However, “rooms” do not make the space, and there’s a lot you can do with the spaceports in SWTOR. The game architects worked wonders creating the illusion of multiple rooms and levels through subtle placement of stairs, platforms, obstacles and furniture. I’m reminded of BioWare’s Mass Effect game and the layout of the Citadel. It was meant to be a massive space station, but the map itself is rather small. “Unnecessary” corners, bridges, alleys and long or winding ramps gave you the impression that you were in a huge location without actually having to stretch the map out in all directions. Many of the smaller locations in SWTOR are the same. Don’t believe that you can fit something big inside something small? The next time you’re on Vaiken Station’s hangar ring, take a look at the map and note how small the bounty hunter’s ship looks. Doesn’t feel that way inside, though, does it? That’s because it has multiple levels. In many cases, building “up” instead of “out” can create more space to play with.
A quick tour of the Anchorhead Spaceport reveals a central “lobby” and two “wings.” The wings, like the one pictured above, are usually festooned with small lounge-like areas, sculptures, potted plants, customs droids, and usually a good smattering of artifacts that let you know what planet you’re on. The spaceport on the Republic side of Taris, for example, features a hologram of Governor Saresh inviting you to her “lovely” planet and warning you to watch out for the nasty things outside the established safe zones.
Each spaceport features a centralized lounge area. Some, like the Anchorhead spaceport pictured above, include comfy-looking sunken lounge spaces with subdued lighting. These are perfect for clandestine meetings or conducting “business” between a Smuggler and his spice-dealing contact, or a Jedi and her new Padawan. Other ports may fill these spaces with statues or pieces of art. Either way, they’re open for your RP.
There are some great gems planted throughout the spaceports in SWTOR that remind you of modern airports or transportation depots. As far as RP is concerned, note the sparse NPC placement in the terminal pictured above. How easy would it be to establish a scene here? You’ve probably seen characters hop behind the bar on your local space station to serve drinks and act as your friendly neighborhood bartender. How about hopping behind this counter and acting as your not-so-friendly neighborhood DMV employee?
(No offense to DMV employees intended. I’m sure many are sunny and thrilled to do what they do.)
Now let’s take a look inside the hangar. One of the greatest aspects of RPing in the hangar space of a spaceport is also its only drawback: it’s private. If you want to RP with someone else in the hangar, you have to invite them into a group (and don’t forget to check your preferences to allow same instance access for same classes).
Hangar interiors are nearly as big as the rest of the spaceport. There are lounge areas, loading platforms and control centers, many with unmanned computer terminals and sweet locations to stage an RP sequence.
The control center rooms in each hangar are spacious and detailed. It only takes a small amount of imagination to transform these locations into something else. Imagine them as factory control centers, training centers, control towers, commerce centers, hidden bases, etc.
There are a surprising number of unmanned computer terminals and machines inside the hangars. The new sitting emotes could come in handy here as many of the computer terminals are designed so they can be accessed by a character standing in front of them or sitting. Your choice if you have one of the “/chair” emotes.
And let’s not forget the hangar itself: a huge factory-sized space with workers and droids, manned and unmanned machines, computers and load lifters, fuel lines, magnetic loaders and repulsorlift crates.
The trick to RPing in locations like this is to use your imagination. Say you’re setting up a scene where your trooper (and two members of his unit) have been assigned to guard a freighter. Just imagine your own BT-7 Thunderclap as that beat up old Corellian freighter and utilize the hangar space accordingly.
That goes for exterior locations as well. Feel free to draw upon your Star Wars lore and create new locations inside existing ones. Coruscant isn’t the only planet-sized city, especially during the time of the Old Republic. Use the slimy pools and forests of Taris as the swamps of Mimban. Use the sandy caves of Tatooine as the sandy caves of Geonosis. Use the bases on Illum as a hidden Jedi enclave on Rhen Var.
There’s no denying that the world maps in SWTOR are gigantic. Even players who beef about the game have spoken favorably about the immense landscapes compared to other MMOs. The bottom line is this: If you’re an RPer, step away from the bar. Take your RP on the road and forge your own adventure in the galaxy far, far away. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is once you get started.
((The RP XP with MJ)) appears exclusively at swtor-life.com almost every Friday. If you want to contact MJ about a story idea, questions about RP, or comment, feel free to reply below, follow him on Twitter @MJswtor, or write to him at swtorliferp(at)gmail.com. He answers every email, message and post. 😉 ))