Several months ago, we featured an op-ed on guild implementation in Star Wars: The Old Republic. In that article, we mentioned BioWare's interest in guild capital ships, while noting that such a unique feature would be unlikely to make it into the game by the launch date. Since then, we saw the addition of a guild page to the HoloNet, and received additional confirmation of developer interest in the idea of guild capital ships. This month, we are taking a closer look at the idea of guild capital ships and how they could be implemented in SWTOR.
Capital ships are an important part of the Star Wars universe, perhaps even more than starfighters or freighters. Immediately after the opening crawl of A New Hope, the darkness of space is broken by a Corellian Corvette being chased down by an Imperial Star Destroyer. While Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place over three thousand years before the events of A New Hope, we constantly see BioWare drawing inspiration from the films and incorporating the most iconic elements into the Old Republic setting. Luckily, several designs already exist that evoke the iconic imagery of the films. If BioWare is looking for inspiration, these ships would be good places to start.
Hammerhead-Class Cruiser: This heavy cruiser was used during the time of the Old Republic, and bears a striking resemblance to the Corellian Corvettes of the original trilogy. BioWare is already familiar with the design of this ship; the tutorial mission of Knights of the Old Republic takes place on a Hammerhead cruiser known as the Endar Spire.
Centurion-Class Battlecruiser: An obvious early forerunner to the Imperial Star Destroyers of the films, this capital ship has a familiar wedge-shape that would be perfect for Sith-aligned guilds.
Sith Interdictor-Class Cruiser: Another vessel from the original Knights of the Old Republic game, this ship features more curved lines and offers a different artistic approach than we're used to seeing from Sith designs. This is a solid alternative to the Centurion-class if BioWare is looking to take a page from Knights of the Old Republic.
Foray-Class Blockade Runner: Similar in design to the Hammerhead-class, the Foray-class is a smaller ship that might be better suited to a small to medium sized guild. If BioWare is looking for a more realistic scale for an organization of (at most) several hundred members, the Foray might make more sense than the more iconic Hammerhead cruiser.
Core Galaxy Systems Dreadnaught: The Dreadnaught was originally featured in the Knights of the Old Republic comic, and lacks some of the elegance normally seen in Imperial vessels. It makes up for this in firepower, making it perfect for Bounty Hunter or military-themed Imperial guilds. With a passenger capacity of 50, the Dreadnaught would be appropriate for smaller guilds.
Praetorian-Class Frigate: Another smaller capital ship, the Praetorian-class frigate departs from the Corellian Corvette style imagery of the Foray and Hammerhead vessels. This unique visual style would fit in well with the personal ships of the player characters. While not as "sleek as the other ships, it would work well for Trooper or Smuggler-centric guilds.
While the idea of physical player housing for each of the hundreds of guilds on the server sounds like a fun idea, the logistics of it are somewhat impractical. BioWare would be better off keeping capital ships as an instanced experience in space, rather than pouring resources into creating a spaceport massive enough to hold hundreds of star destroyers. To reach the capital ships, players could fly their personal ships to the docking bay of their guild capital ship, marked on their galaxy map in the same way as a planet or space station.
Once BioWare creates their guild capital ships, the issue of functionality comes into play. We know that player ships will function as crafting stations and housing areas, so capital ships would presumably offer similar functionality. Beyond that, it's unclear what function guild ships would serve, particularly concerning space combat. If BioWare decides to follow the recent trend in MMOs of treating guilds as a living entity that gains experience, bringing with it perks and prestige, there are a number of possibilities.
If guild experience is implemented, the guild ship could grow with the guild. Such augmentation would be similar to what BioWare already implemented in Mass Effect 2. For those who are not familiar, many of the rooms on the Normandy are unavailable to the player when the game begins. Over time, rooms such as the tech lab, artificial intelligence core, and cargo hold are unlocked. These rooms could easily translate into many vital MMO features.
- Cargo Hold - Guild Bank
- Tech Lab - Guild Crafting Station
- Captain's Quarters - Officers Only Area
- Comm Room - Mailbox
- Briefing Room - Class Trainers
- Landing Bay - Flight Paths
The decision to place features like these in an instanced guild zone would be a controversial one, since it would theoretically pull players out of capital cities, potentially leaving them feeling "empty". If they wish to keep most of the vital services on planetary surfaces, there are still plenty of ways for guild capital ships to give players a sense of accomplishment. To borrow from Mass Effect 2 once again, visual indicators of achievement - trophies, essentially - would be a welcome sight for guilds that take down raid bosses or win a certain number of warzone victories as a guild group. After all, what would Jabba's Palace be without the carbonite statue of Han Solo?
By far the most controversial aspect of player ships is the space combat system. We know that BioWare chose to implement space combat as a tunnel shooter. This concept could work great for small fighters, but is considerably less entertaining when crawling along at a snail's pace in your Sith battlecruiser. However, if BioWare wants to include capital ships in space combat, there is still some room for creativity. Here are a couple possibilities:
Co-Op Tunnel Shooter: If they can do it for one ship at a time, it's possible they could do it for four or more ships at a time. Imagine launching a group of fighters from your capital ship and taking down key targets alongside your guildmates. All the major space battles in the original trilogy involved squadrons of fighters, so it's not a huge stretch to imagine this happening. Every trench run needs a Wedge and Biggs to tank the damage.
Turret Minigame: Another option is to bring back a turret-style minigame. One of the most memorable moments of A New Hope is the escape from the Death Star, when Han and Luke take control of the quad-laser batteries to fend off TIE fighters. BioWare already paid homage to this scene in the original Knights of the Old Republic with random space encounters, but it is equally appropriate for a capital ship with mounted laser batteries. If implemented properly, guild members could even compete against each other for the high score.
Regardless of what direction BioWare decides to take with guild capital ships, chances are we'll have to wait until after the game launches to see what they are planning. Until then, all we can do is speculate and hope that BioWare continues listening to the feedback of the community regarding this topic. Don't forget to sound off in the comments section with your thoughts and suggestions.