Aug 17, 2010

Posted by in News, The Smuggler's Blues | 5 Comments

Hall Hood Interview – Star Wars Celebration

Ask A Jedi spent all last weekend at Star Wars Celebration V, right here in sunny Orlando, Florida. There were all sorts of “Star Warsy” things to do and see, but it goes without saying that the highlights for us revolved around everyone’s favorite upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

For our first interview, we wanted to give you the discussion we had with Hall Hood, Senior Writer with BioWare. He’s a veteran writer who brings a lot of experience to the BioWare writing team. He’s also the main man behind the Smuggler class. To top it off, he really couldn’t have been a nicer guy.

So, we hope you enjoy the interview, and don’t forget to watch the video clip of Ask A Jedi team member Professor Walsh clearing up one of the great forum debates with Hall. Priceless!

Ask A Jedi: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, and maybe some things you’ve worked on before?

Hall Hood: I am a mysterious man who came from the shadows to work on the greatest MMO ever created! Haha. No, actually, I started out as the staff screenwriter for an independent producer, and I spent numerous years developing feature films and television pilots, things like that. I managed to earn a living doing this, yet saw none of those projects ever make it to film. It became a little disheartening after a while. I dabbled in video games from time to time, I got to work a little bit on Ultima Online 2… right before it got canceled. So that was very exciting. I am determined to not crush this game, so this game is coming out even if I have to ship it myself!  I went to film school at the University of Texas at Austin, so it worked out. I managed to stay in Austin long enough to get a job here doing something that I love.

AAJ: How early were you involved in the TOR development project?

HH: I was involved very early on, and got to see it unfold from the beginning. I have many great stories to tell, none of which I can tell right now. Haha.

AAJ: Since you’re the Smuggler guy, could you give us a description of the Smuggler class in your own words?

HH:  The Smuggler is a wise-cracking scoundrel who never takes anything too seriously. He’s always on the lookout for the next great opportunity to get rich – but is also the best shot in the galaxy. And the ultimate survivor. Smugglers are awesome. I grew up wanting to be Han Solo…

Romance is a big thing. Fly around the galaxy, walk into the cantina, see the very attractive patron… that kind of thing. It’s humor, it’s romance, and it’s a lot of high-octane action.

AAJ: Other than for game mechanics and balance, how is it that the Smuggler aligns with the Republic when they’re an independent sort?

HH: Right, so stop and think about it for a second. You are an independent business person. You own your own ship, flying around the galaxy taking jobs from whoever you wanna take them from. Where would you want to do business? In the free enterprise, peace-loving, freedom-loving Republic? Or in the oppressive totalitarian Empire that controls everything that you not only can do, but also how you do it. So its kind of a natural fit for Smugglers to operate in Republic space. Which is not to say that you can’t occasionally work with the Empire. If you’re a particularly evil Smuggler, you’re gonna be looking for that opportunity to take jobs from anybody, and you’re not particular about who they serve. For me the evil Smuggler’s attitude is basically faction-shmaction as long as I get rich!

AAJ: Is there a Smuggler other than Han Solo that maybe served as inspiration for the Smuggler character?

HH: Well of course… there is a long tradition of the charming rogue in any kind of popular fiction, and I adore all of those characters. I’m a big fan of Firefly, Captain Mal… also a fan of Big Trouble in Little China. I love Kurt Russell’s character in that. He’s really fun. He’s more of a comedic fool character, who sort of blunders his way to victory. My Smuggler is slightly more competent than that. Here’s another one, it’s sort of esoteric so don’t go too far with it but Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit…

AAJ: We’ve heard statements in the past that as a Smuggler, you’re the best in the galaxy… as a Bounty Hunter, you’re the best in the galaxy. But in an E3 interview with Dallas Dickinson, we also heard that the Jedi will just be average Jedi; thousands of them running around out there. Can you clarify this?

HH: You’re not going to be average anything in our game. Where’s the fun in that? Why would you play the Jedi Knight if you weren’t going to be able to get the Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker experience? It has to be huge and epic! And as someone who has written for the Jedi Knight, I can tell you it’s huge… it’s epic… it’s amazing. You’re gonna get to places in the plot where you say “wait a minute, I get to do what? My quest is to do what?!” And that’s true of the Sith classes as well. The Sith classes are incredible. The Sith Warrior story is Vader plus a million. The Inquisitor – everything you like about Palpatine is there, and then some. Our idea has always been to start from what is great about the characters from the movies, and then add as much on to that as we possibly can.

AAJ: So, whatever class you play, are you the best of your breed in the galaxy?

HH: Absolutely. As an Imperial Agent, you’re the super best. As a Sith Warrior, the Emperor calls you personally. As a Jedi Knight, you are the last hope in the galaxy!

AAJ: Will you be able to communicate with members of the other faction?

HH: If by communicate you mean shoot at them, then yes! There are many forms of communication. Are you asking if its like WoW, where you can’t understand what the other faction is saying? I don’t think we would want to go in that sort of direction. I can’t really speak to exactly how the communication would happen between factions, but I think you’re on the right track.

AAJ: Will there be a common enemy or foe that represents a greater threat than each other?

HH: Occasionally, sure. I think that would be a really exciting story to have that opportunity to unite against a much more dangerous foe. I can’t answer wether or not we actually have that type of content, but I like the idea and I think its cool.

AAJ: Will we get to explore a story written about our species and our origin background?

HH: Well it’s always been a staple of BioWare stories to acknowledge players choices about who they are. We acknowledge gender. We acknowledge alien species. So it is important, and it does impact gameplay. It matters.

AAJ: Hall, thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer our questions and allowing yourself to be subjected to Professor Walsh!

HH: Glad to do it, any time at all!

  1. So other than the very cool interview here, How was the convention as a whole Lethality and Walsh?

    • Lethality says:

      I gotta say, kind of a letdown. For an official Lucasfilm event, I thought it was less than impressive. I mean, you can’t beat the celebrities that were there, but I’m not into that sort of thing. The people/traffic/queuing management for the events was pretty horrible as well. Just IMO. :)

  2. Oh BTW ProfessorWalsh is da mang lol. Good interview mang.

  3. Well the debate on the forum you refer to about average jedi and ace smugglers was not about there story line but about there combat strength.


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