We often interview game developers, publishers and other industry insiders, but they aren’t the only ones that contribute to build our hobby. Often the best moments of being a gamer come from the interaction with other gamers, especially those that go out of their way to work for the sake of the community: Modders, Community coordinators, forum moderators, guild leaders. There are many that act behind the scenes to make the gaming community a better place. That’s why this new “Community Spotlight” feature on DualShockers will place some of those often unsung heroes of gaming under the titular spotlight, letting them tell us what they do and what drives them.
We start with Miranda Quillen, known as Sebaya Keto in the Star Wars: The Old Republic community. Miranda has emerged as a figurehead of the Roleplaying community that is preparing to land on the game at launch. Coordinating a community is often a difficult and thankless Job, and Miranda dedicates a large part of her free time to it.
Considering that the early access of the game will start in just two days, I see no better moment to hand the mic to her and let her tell us about herself, her work and the colorful RolePlaying community that we’ll meet in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Giuseppe: Please Introduce yourself and give us some details on what you do for the roleplay community of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Miranda: I’m known as Sebaya Keto and I’ve been writing and working on the RP community for The Old Republic for about two years now. Mostly I work out of SWTOR-RP where I write my weekly column, The Darker Side of Life and manage our Guide program.
Lately I’ve been focusing on trying to build a server RP community. I hosted a meeting recently for North American RP-PvE guild leaders along with Baraslan from TOR Syndicate. I really want to try and help build a community that will stand the test of time.
I spent eight years Roleplaying in Star Wars Galaxies and despite Sony’s efforts to kill the game, roleplayers managed to keep the lights on, and still have one hell of a time playing in the sandbox.
Supposedly RPers make up 20% of the TOR community. That has me really excited, and I’ve been trying to do what I can to foster roleplay pre-launch and get people talking about it. The Guide program I’ve been running for the past few months takes experienced roleplayers from the community and gets them to work with new players to not only help them learn how to RP, but where to find it as well.
G: What is SWTOR-RP? Tell us more about it, and about the reasons why you decided to work on the site.
M: SWTOR-RP.com is a roleplaying resource. It started out as a new project from the staff of StarsiderGalaxy.com along with some new blood. StarsiderGalaxy.com was a single-server RP site that did a lot to keep roleplay alive in SWG.
The idea for SWTOR-RP was to create a resource for all of TOR’s RP servers as well as building up the pre-launch RP community. I went to work for SWTOR-RP as soon as it got started because I’ve seen the good that a site by RPers and for RPers can do for the community.
RP sections on official forums are nice but often full of trolls. SWTOR-RP is a safe and mostly drama-free environment where people can connect and share. Once TOR gets going it’ll also be a great place to find people on your server and advertise events.
I’m really looking forward to our in-character reporting, where we’ll send reporters to ingame RP events and post up news stories about them.
M: Working for SWTOR-RP takes up almost all of my working time for the RP community but it’s a labor of love. On any given day I’m writing up news articles, editing our wiki where people post their character bios, helping out new players through the Guide program, spreading news on Twitter, or doing flash work for the site.
There are a lot of people like me that put in a great deal of time to keep things running smoothly. It’s going to be a lot different after launch though with much less focus on game mechanics and more on roleplay. I really can’t wait to see all the things people come up with.
G: What are your expectations, as a roleplayer, for the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic? What drew you to the game?
M: I was originally drawn to the game because I’m a huge Star Wars fan. When The Old Republic was announced Star Wars Galaxies had been on the decline for years and most everyone there knew it was going to be a SWG-killer, even if it wasn’t a WoW-killer.
I miss the sandbox element of Star Wars Galaxies but I think The Old Republic is catering to the RP crowd as well. The recent announcement that color matching will be coming back was a big boost for us. While I’m slightly disappointed in the lack of choices for character creation I do hope that BioWare will work on that over time as well as adding a barber shop like feature that will allow us to change our appearance later on.
I’m expecting a lot from the RP community as well. TOR has enough tools that we can make it a successful RP environment, with launch coming up fast it’s going to be up to us to put in the work and make it happen.
M: The Old Republic isn’t a sandbox. A lot of RPers are still getting over that. While it will never be as friendly as a sandbox game that doesn’t mean it won’t be good for roleplay.
TOR is a massive step up from WoW for instance with cross-faction chat. The simple ability to communicate with the other faction adds a lot to the game for roleplayers. I mean, when you look at the Star Wars films the heroes and villains don’t just jump into combat: there’s time for dramatic monologues and the like.
There are a lot of features that we as RPers could wish for, but if you look at the features most MMOs launch with, TOR has done amazingly well so far.
Star Wars Galaxies for instance launched with a broken player housing system, no vehicles and no spaceships. BioWare has done a fantastic job of working on what they promised. I’m a patient person and willing to wait while they square away the things that everyone needs, like guild banks, before working on stuff more specific to roleplayers.
G: What features that weren’t in the beta would you like BioWare to implement, in order to make the game more RP-friendly?
M: The big one would be player housing or guild halls. Everquest II would be the perfect example of how to do this, with instanced homes inside cities. Player ships are nice, but I want something I can customize and use for different RP environments.
Several BioWare devs have also talked about guild starships. If you think about it, they already have two at the spacedocks that could work nicely, just make an instanced third and allow us to customize it a bit. I think that sort of thing would appeal to a large portion of the playerbase, but take a long time. Many games add player housing down the road like Aion did recently. Its the same thing with the additional races like Togruta and Nalutolan players are clamoring for. I think it’ll all get added in the coming years with expansion packs.
G: What class will you play at release? How do you plan to play your character, RP-wise?
M: Sith Inqusitor with the Sorcerer Advanced Class, and the Corruption healing specialty. Sebaya is a Krath witch, she fights with lightning and confusion more then her lightsaber, which fits Sorcerer like a glove.
I’ve been working with the Yocola Tonka cantina as well and I’m planning to spend much of her time there at the start to help it get off the ground. Sebaya is an investor in the hutt-run cantina on Nar Shaddaa.
After that I plan to get involved in different aspects of the community. I love the in-character political intrigue between RP groups so who knows, maybe she’ll be selling information and sticking her nose into other people’s business. Its the sort of things like that which make can make a RP community feel like a real world.
G: What’s your favorite feature in SWTOR, and what is the feature you like the least?
M: I’d have to say Huttball. I know that’s surprising coming from a RPer and I usually hate PvP (Editor’s Note: Player vs Player).
In TOR however I’ve really come to like it and Huttball seems like it could be a lot of fun in-character as well. Once they allow us to set up our own matches we could even have RP Huttball leagues.
I would love to be able to set something like that up and then characters could bet on their favorite teams, or even spectate on the games if its possible. It just goes to show you that well thought out features can be used for more then their original intent.
I have to say I dislike the Legacy system as it currently stands. I was hoping to RP Sebaya as part of a family but since last names have to be unique that kind of takes away from it.
Also, my alts won’t be related to Sebaya, so now they can’t have last names of their own unless I put them on another account. Overall it was a big dissapointment, I hope they do something to change it.
G: Funny, Huttball is one of my favorites as well. It might be because I’ve always been a huge Blood Bowl fan. Anyway, what were your favorite moments linked to your role in the SWTOR RP community? Any hardships you’re willing to talk about?
M: My favorite moment has to be US RP-PvE guild leader meeting we just did. I don’t think anyone expected us to all be able to get along, much less agree on how we would pick a server but thanks to everyone being mature and some moderation help by Vaanthe of SWTOR-RP we got through it and managed to make a lot of new friends.
We even had a guild leader show up who had some people interested in RP but had never done it before. Everyone’s welcoming attitude towards him was a big morale booster, and I think it says a lot about our commuinity.
We’ve had our share of drama, as every RP community does, but for the most part everyone seems to be very kind and positive.
G: That meeting was a really interesting idea, quite a gamble too, considering how this sort of things often go. Tell us more about it.
M: It went very well. Kyte, one of the roleplay Guides, also organized one for EU RP-PvErs that worked out nicely as well.
Mine stared with a meet and greet between about 60 guild leaders. It sucked down a lot of time but after it people there had a great idea of what everyone else was doing and at least a few found new RP allies and adversaries they didn’t know about before.
After that we spent close to an hour deciding how we could get on one server, but still be fair to everyone and get the word out in time. We decided to wait for the guild deployment mails Monday then all go to the server that the most of the guilds participating are sent to by the Guild HQ system.
The EU meeting followed the same format, but they decided to go with the first RP-PvE server on the list alphabetically. Hopefully through this we’ll have created two strong RP communities that can build on the organization we’ve started to build something lasting.
G: Roleplaying in a MMORPG isn’t always easy. Any advice you’d like to give, as an expert roleplayer, to those that might want to give it a try for the first time in SWTOR?
M: Remember that there’s another person controlling that character, and don’t take things personally if it doesn’t go well. It seems simple but a lot of people, especially newer roleplayers can get upset if their character ends up on the loosing end of some RP.
It takes time to build up that IC/OOC (Editor’s note: In Character/Out Of Character) filter that more experienced RPers have.
What I would do is join a guild with experienced roleplayers, they’ll usually be more then happy to help you, and take you places to meet other RPers. Once you’ve met some people you can strike out on your own if you want, but generally finding RP is much easier in a guild.
G: Thanks a lot for your time! Any parting thoughts?
M: Thats it really! I always love helping people so don’t hesitate to contact me if you ever have any questions.
Thanks for doing this interview, it was nice to take a moment and reflect on everything with all the chaos that has been going on the last few days getting ready for TOR‘s pre-launch.
The artwork featured in this interview was created by Sarah H Longley (the digital painting with a purple background) and Avionetca (the marker art with the city in the background) for Miranda’s character.