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Go behind the scenes of SWG development with letters from the team and in-depth articles.
03.17.03


A few weeks ago, Kevin asked if I would be willing to write one of these developer letters and I said “Sure, no problem. I’ve done a bunch of these before, so it’ll be easy to pound one out.” Kevin replied, “Oh in that case, just CTRL C, CTRL V”. Now, I’m sure he was just kidding and, of course, I had no intention of performing such an indolent act. “After all”, I thought, “it is more than three weeks before the February 24th dead line. That’s more than enough time to write a good letter.” Well, now it’s February 23rd and I haven’t written a word (actually, I guess I’ve already written about 100 words, but you get the point). The last three weeks have gone by so quickly that the whole matter just slipped my mind. O.K., I guess it didn’t exactly slip my mind—I just didn’t feel like doing it! Although in all fairness, it has been a very busy last few weeks. So what have I been doing these last few weeks (or my entire time on the project, for that matter)? I’m glad you asked!

I am one of the latecomers to the SWG team. I started back in September as a game systems designer. My job has been to take existing designs, tweak them for playability and ease of implementation, and then to help get them coded and working within the game. So far, I have offered my assistance on a number of systems such as player housing, healing, and battlefields. It’s always a daunting task to jump onto a project that is well on it’s way to completion, but I’ve been working on MMP games long enough to maintain some semblance of sanity during this trying period (“some” being the key word here). In fact, I began my game developer career back in the early 90’s during a time when most people didn’t understand on-line, let alone on-line games. I spent a number of years with one of the original commercial on-line game companies, Simutronics, as well as some time with Origin, ArenaNet, and most recently with the good folks over at Digital Anvil.

Now that you know a little about me, I can explain to you why I have been so busy over the last few weeks that I haven’t had time to write this letter. With many of our game systems already up and running, I’ve been helping with the “profession pass”. Simply put, the profession pass is playing through the profession skill trees and then designing/implementing any additional features in order to make them as fun as possible. I’ve been working mostly on the medical disciplines. I must say, that I am quite pleased with how they are progressing. If you are the type of player that likes to “hold down the fort”, staying behind the lines to heal the serious wounds of those too hurt to continue as well as provide them with attribute enhancements to help turn the tide in future battles, we’ve got the medical skills for you. Along the same lines, if you like to see front line action, quickly tending to combatants’ health, removing nasty combat effects, and even lending your blaster prowess to the fray, we’ve got you covered. Perhaps you prefer to be the one that constructs powerful medicines for others (or even for your own use). You can do that as well. Of course, you can also dabble in each of these areas as you like creating your own unique take on the medical professions. I must admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the “healer-types” in other MMP games. In this case of SWG, however, don’t be surprised if you see me playing as a Combat Medic or Doctor!

I hope I’ve convinced you that I really do have a good reason for waiting to the last minute in order to write this letter. It was going to be a great letter, but as you can see, I simply didn’t have the time to do it. So instead, I bring you the copy and paste of something I’ve previously written. My apologies in advance to those that have already read this…

I have been a big fan of online games ever since the first time I played them. In those days high-speed access was a 300bps modem connection to Genie. Massively multiplayer was 20 simultaneous users and subscription fees were paid hourly, not monthly. Those were the days that I spent far too much time (and money) playing games like GemStone II, Stellar Warrior, Island of Kesmai, and OrbWars. While single-player games were fun, it was these online wonders that captured my imagination…

Actually, this old letter is quite a bit more dull and pedantic than I remembered. I think I’m just going to leave it at that. Besides, I still need to dig up a picture of myself and I think my digital camera is out of batteries. :P

Ben Hanson
Designer


 

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