SWTOR Bounty Hunters in theory

I want to be just like you!
I want to be just like you!

I read the Bioware dev blog about SWTOR’s Bounty Hunters three days ago and I finally have the opportunity (time) to comment.  Bioware devs have a very clear view of what they want the Bounty Hunter class to be in their game.  The language they use to describe what could be very, very basic gameplay is bubbling with verbiage that romanticizes the gameplay of a Bounty Hunter – or is it being literal?  The way that they are describing this class can be taken and manipulated by the jadiest of jaded players and reduced to nothing in a second.  I’m going to take a different approach though.  I’m going to take the highlights from their dev blog and try to expound upon how I feel they could take their theory and really turn it into a thrilling experience for anyone who plays a Bounty Hunter.

The bold text is straight from Bioware’s dev blog.  My replies follow each point.

“They work for the bad guys, but they’re not necessarily bad guys themselves.”
Moral ambiguity is the key to potentially rich gameplay for this class. Allowing the Bounty Hunter to make decisions like they mentioned (“Will you take a bribe to fake a kill you didn’t make—will you switch sides when it’s clear the person you’re hunting has more honor and justification for his actions than the one who sent you?”) could really offer a fun twist to any standard “quest”-like content. Take it a step further though. Allow the Bounty Hunter to work his way towards eventually being able to take missions from the opposite faction. It’s clear that there is a good vs. evil motif going on here. If the BH makes enough “good” decisions then why not let them eventually take missions from someone offering missions behind the scenes – in a dark alley – who represents the republic or something.

“They specialize in the hunt, the small scale assault, the personal touch. You don’t call the Bounty Hunter when you need to take out an army; you call the Bounty Hunter when there is a very particular person whose death or capture could mean the difference between large scale victory and defeat.”
In SWG we went up to terminals and picked up missions to go to such and such a waypoint to kill some NPC standing around. Spice it up a bit! If we’re playing Bounty Hunters then I want to feel challenged. I want the hunt to require that “personal touch” and I want it to be an involved experience. It can still be NPC’s that we hunt. Make it like a game of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”. If you ever played the older harder games meant for older kids/adults then you’ll know that it required you to have a bit of knowledge about the world or to look it up. You could talk to people on the streets who were in an area you suspect the mark visited. I would rather it take a few days to finally find someone, and the reward match it, than go kill 10 bothans for 30 credits / rinse and repeat.

Take it a step further. Allow other players to hire Bounty Hunters through an in-game system. Allow them to post a request for a kill that BH’s can accept from a terminal. The game would place it into the BH’s log like a mission and the first BH to kill the mark would receive credit for the quest. The player posting the hit would already have placed his offer of credits into the game’s system and those credits are then transfered directly to the BH. Take it a step even further! Let the BH kill other players by being directly hired. Provide the ability to form contracts so that someone can hire me, in person, for -my- fee and let me go kill that person. The game will provide the proof of the deed and I can earn a reputation.

“You get the distinct feeling they’re doing a job.”
Good! I want to feel like I have a constant motivation or fire lit beneath me to keep me actively engaged in the game. However, I don’t want it to be that distinct feeling that I get when the game itself starts to feel like a job. I don’t want the quests to be redundant, tedious, or job-like in the negative sense of the word. I think it’s fair to say that this feeling of a job (or purpose, which I like better) can be obtained from my suggestions above.

“The Bounty Hunter story is the hunt itself. Smugglers, Jedi, Sith, rebel leaders, rogue droids, assassins, entire gangs or embezzling underlings, the Bounty Hunter takes them all down. Each hunt has its own flavor and each hunt brings with it a unique set of challenges and choices… Core to the entire Bounty Hunter fantasy is this sense of independence. As a Bounty Hunter you are, and always will be, your own person.”
If you advertise each hunt as unique and make it sound like the hunt will be dynamic, engaging, challenging, etc… then it better be that way. This class sounds like the ultimate soloer’s dream because it allows him/her to go off and do their own thing but be apart of the bigger picture and interact with the community. It’s really, really not that hard to work out how to implement the above systems. I honestly feel that it’s the only way to really make this class fit the picture Bioware is painting.

Quick points:

  • BH’s need to be more than questers.
  • Getting missions to kill actual players will bring the entire class full circle.
  • Provide professional and functional in-game systems to accommodate a class that requires professionalism.
  • Make the game’s hyped story-driven content provide the BH with a constant sense of immersion in the role of a BH (Job, if you will)
  • Do not, under any circumstances, turn this into a class that can only kill Womprats and NPCs for bounty.  What a waste of potential that would be.

I have myself all excited now. I’ve come to understand that when something sounds like it can be this cool it usually never happens that way(why?!).  However, I want to be optimistic about this and continue to explore how this came become a reality. The great potential here lies in Bioware’s opportunity to make every class as neat as this one sounds.

  • Aye, very much agreed on…well, more or less everything.

    This is one of the reasons why I think it’s so sad that the bounty system in EVE isn’t really working as intended. Making a living from chasing down bounties would be awesome, especially when we’re talking about other players and not NPCs.

    Can’t wait to see the other classes in SW:TOR and how they are supposed to work together.

  • They’ve said each class has a story… so bounty hunter will likely be no different. Much of what you want is more for a sandbox game. Your marks here will likely be one time quests that advance the story.

    On the plus side, those missions should be high quality.

  • You’ve got me all excited too.. Keen why do you do this to yourself, and us? Well Hopefully some of this actually occurs 😉

  • The thing with choices is, in the end the choice should matter.

    If I just get to chose kill the guy or not, it does not matter that much, quest done. They do not want neutrals, they said “Star Wars, not Star Neutrals”. This is why I somehow doubt that our quest solution choices matter at all.

    The most severe drawback of the class will be the audience that it will attract. I can already tell you before release that the bounty hunter class will be 3x more popular than the least popular class, and I would not wonder if it would become the most played class. Giving the Dark Side more “force” than a few Sith Lords. 🙂

  • I think I need to clarify: Our alignment is fixed – “Evil” side. So I guess there is no chance we can work for the Republic, even if we pick supposedly good options, or just want to work for the Republic because it pays better.

  • It would be amusing if players could subcontract out their quest NPC kills to bounty hunters. You deposit the cash, go do whatever, and somewhere down the line you get a quest complete note (exp for the quest, though not the fighting obviously) when someone takes you up on it. It’s no different than paying a level 80 to come to a level 40 dungeon and slaughter everything for quest rewards, if you think about it.

  • @Long: Perhaps there could be a way to betray your side. You might not be a bounty hunter anymore, but you could have a mirrored class like in EQ2 or Warhammer.

  • @Werit: What a horrible, horrible state of affairs that would be. I don’t think it’s sandbox to ask for the ability to be hired by other players or to be able to search out NPC marks through a more complex and “challenging” system (as they say) than a quest log “go here” style.

    Having hits be nothing but progressing a story would make this a single player game. If I wanted to play a single player game then I wouldn’t be paying a monthly fee for it. There are far better single player experiences than a multiplayer game providing single player content can provide.

    I think, or at least I hope, Bioware is not so removed from reality that they can’t see the simple truth to this.

    @Longasc: I agree that there won’t be any true cross-over to the Republic, but at least they can allow the BH class to work towards being able to take missions from a “more good” contact than Darth Vader types.

  • @Keen: My impression, which could be wrong, of the game is that it is mostly on rails. With their emphasis on story it seems to be a likely result.

    As far as I know, they have given out no information on what actually makes this game multiplayer.

  • @Keen: Has Bioware actually stated that they’re charging a monthly fee? The impression I’ve gotten of the game was that it would have episodic content, something akin to the Guild Wars model – if I recall, one of the producers actually said in an interview that they were targeting players who are waiting for the next content patch in their other games of choice. One could imagine an episodic primarily-single player game with a high quality plot (something that Bioware has shown they can deliver), some multiplayer aspects (including PVP) and no fee doing reasonably well.

  • @Werit: It would be a heinous act for Bioware to release their first MMORPG and have it be a KOTOR single player experience. Rails? My god, how horrific would that be?!

    @Green Armadillo: I’m still holding out hope that it’s not a single player episodic disaster. I can not believe that anyone intelligent enough to work for EA/Bioware would be taking a mmorpg in that direction.

    If it ends up being a single-player game that you can meet up with your friends in an online lobby to jump in to together… then someone has gone insane at the highest level.

    If Bioware messes this one up then I beg for someone else to pick up the Star Wars IP. No other Sci-Fi IP can reach the potential of Star Wars for a MMORPG. There are times I wish I was a millionaire capable of funding a project like this.

  • Player bounties will never work without perma-death. The whole mystique of being a Bounty Hunter is evaporated by respawn and the ability for their targets to simply /logout.

  • I played SWG as a Bounty Hunter and I collected missions from a terminal for other players not NPCs. It was very exciting but the world was overrun with Jedi. The problem with the system was, you could get a bounty of a Jedi in your own guild or a Jedi logged out. A lot of times I hunted Jedi that weren’t there.

  • Most developers, I’d think you’re dreaming. But Bioware; I’ve seen what they can do. Mass Effect was a masterpiece. It truly did feel fun, and I certainly think there were many of the aspects you discussed in that game.

  • I’m so tired of what the Star Wars franchise has become that if Bioware, Blizzard, Squaresoft, and Disney all were making this game together for a holodeck I would still be skeptical.

    The Star Wars galaxy seems to limit creativity more than encourage. I skeptically wait.

  • @heartless_: Yet we happily go along killing the same mobs in dungeons over and over? I’ve killed the same dragons in dungeons hundreds and hundreds of times. I’ve even killed the same players in PvP (RvR or traditional) multiple times and I still derive the same pleasure from the first kill as I do the second.

    Why would a bounty being placed on someone be any different? Sure, the person ordering the hit would have to be truly motivated to put up money, but don’t think it beyond someone to nerdrage bad enough. Perhaps a trophy for the rumored player housing of someone’s ear (or you get the idea) to hang on the wall. Maybe if you kill a jedi you can get their lightsaber. It could work.

    Don’t dismiss something so quickly.

  • There is nothing they can write that would get me excited. This game is going to be a mainstream MMORPG designed to compete with WOW and there is no way that they would implement the elements necessary to make this actually fun.

    It will be watered down to the hilt to accommodate the inexperienced player. The concepts sound great but for a Bounty Hunter Class to work – the death penalty alone would have to be substantial for any of this to be meaningful – it won’t be. The environment will simply not be harsh enough to really get the good v. evil struggle to the forefront.

    Besides that – I still don’t believe in the co-existence of Jedi’s and other classes. If you balance all of the classes to be equally fun and powerful – then what is the point of being this all mighty Jedi? If you make Jedi’s appropriately more powerful (as they should be) – then what is the point of the other classes (good luck facing the S-storm of complaints by players of the other classes). If they solve this conundrum…then they found the Holy Grail of game design…

    This game can be fun if you go into it with the right expectations (no serious PvP, RvR etc.) but it will fall short of what it could be.

  • There won’t be any player bounties. The devs have stated that BH are Sith exclusive and they have also said that you won’t be able to switch sides(IE You pick at the start and play that side until the end).

    The only way that player bounties could be done is if Both sides can do it, which would mean it isn’t BH exclusive detracting from the BH; or BH can switch sides, which doesn’t seem to be in the works.

    So unless the devs change their mind about switching sides or BH being sith exclusive it won’t happen.

  • “Getting missions to kill actual players will bring the entire class full circle.”


  • “Allow other players to hire Bounty Hunters through an in-game system”

    If this was implemented that would be one of the greatest draws to the game. I would love to see a system where different careers get completely different quests and style of playing – BH getting a series of hunting missions where you progress from planet to planet hunting a mark would be cool.

    Shame it won’t happen if they are Sith exclusive

  • WOW!!!!!! 1st off to start Bounty Hunter is my fave class.2nd of all i had ideas similar to the ones you wrote in this article but i didnt know how to clearly express them. Its clear that you,ve thought deeply and time consumingly about this and its good that you have and i agree with you more than 100% im somewhere around 115% on agreement with your ideals, each char should have dramatic differences that are enclosed only to there class espically the Bounty Hunter.It may be possible that if they make enough $$$ to wipe there asses with $100 bill’s that they may even give this wonderful idea of yours as well as many others a chance.

    Sadly although your idea’s are great i dont think they would implement any of them because this is just another mainstream game to get as much $$$ from all the 9-13 yr olds and the 40-100 yr olds who love this franchise a bit to much and have devoted there life around it.

  • @heartless_ its easy to see that you have a limited mind/imagination. If these ideals were to be realized it would be more than simple to add the effect that once a Bounty is placed on another Non-NPC target and the job is accepted an said Bounty Hunter launches an accurate Blast/shot/ or Rocket… That the non npc char is unable to logout. An if they manualy logout/quit game/or shut of there computer your hunt is sucessful and they re enter the game in a dead state awaiting respawning.