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 Happiness is a Warm Gun

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Master Jedi Consular
Master Jedi Consular

Character sheet
75/150  (75/150)
Class: Jedi

PostSubject: Happiness is a Warm Gun   Sat Jun 06, 2009 7:25 am

Principal Lead Combat Designer Damion Schubert talks about creating the Trooper class.

It was a tense day in the combat design pit. We had completed the first pass of our new character class, the Republic Trooper, and had made it available for the team to play. As part of the process of class development, we run internal playtests and gather feedback from volunteers who offer their time. After our first such playtest with the Trooper, we anxiously gathered around a computer, watching survey results trickle in. We were somewhat nervous. The Trooper is a true design challenge. He has no Force powers to lean on; he doesn’t have a wide array of sexy lightsaber moves. While heavily armored, we didn’t want that armor to provide the Swiss army knife flexibility built into the Bounty Hunter’s power suit. The Trooper is simpler–he has a really big gun and a variety of ways to wreak havoc with it. How would people respond?

They responded well–far better than we imagined, in fact. The scores that day were the highest we had seen to date. It turns out there are a lot of people who like to blow things up. And that’s what the Trooper does best.

When we start designing classes, we want to start with the experience–what should it feel like to play– what should it feel like to play as a Jedi or a Bounty Hunter? When doing so, we often touch upon character archetypes seen in the films: what would it be like to play the Han Solo experience, the Boba Fett experience or the Darth Vader experience? We were still concerned about how these classes would fit into an RPG advancement system and fulfill certain MMO needs, but first and foremost, our top concern as we were designing the Trooper was “Will playing this make me feel like I’m a Trooper?”

With the Trooper, we took a lot of inspiration from Stormtroopers and Clone Troopers from the movies. We knew we had an archetype that inspired a lot of fans, but, to say the least, the classic movie depictions are not exactly heroic roles–heck, Episode IV Stormtroopers probably couldn’t hit the wall in a 10x10 room. This is improved to some degree by the new Clone Wars animated series that has come out, but you’re still not talking about fantasies on par with playing as Obi-Wan.

And while we didn’t want to bog ourselves down too early with MMO details, we couldn’t ignore balance and fairness, especially in PvP, which raises a central question: How does a Trooper hold his own against a Sith? Sure, the Trooper can be at a pretty severe disadvantage if he finds himself within melee range of a lightsaber-wielding maniac, but if a Trooper engages any other class on his own terms, he should have better-than-even odds.

It turns out that a Trooper facing off against a Force user isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance. Lest we forget, it was the Clone Troopers who established that Jedi were mortal during Order 66.

The writers were more than happy to help us out here–story-wise, you’re not playing just any Trooper, but rather a rising star of the Republic Special Forces unit known as Havoc Squad. The fact that the Trooper was not a faceless red-shirt, but rather the crème de la crème of the Republic Army, gave us a lot of leeway to create a compelling and visceral fantasy for the Player to experience.

The Trooper has evolved over time since that first playtest, but at the core he remains the same: a dedicated soldier who believes in military precision, tactical superiority and above all, a whole lot of firepower. With his impressive arsenal of assault rifles and grenades, the Trooper is the best ranged damage dealer the Republic has to offer.

That’s not all the Trooper is about, though. He’s got the ability to adjust his combat capabilities to meet different challenges. He’s got an array of morale-themed party buffs designed to strengthen himself and his party. He’s got just enough control to be able to maintain range and keep the fight on his own terms.

But really, what’s the Trooper about? A simple philosophy: “Happiness is a warm gun.”

The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved. -Confucius
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