The Alderaan Noble Estate Part 2: Functionality
Welcome to the second part of our two-part interview discussing the Alderaan Noble Estate Stronghold, recently released with Game Update 6.1, ‘Pinnacles of Power’! Following last week's interview featuring Mark and Emily, today we follow up with two other members of our team: Skott Bechara and Ben Brzowski. They’ll touch on what it was like taking the stage, built by Mark, Emily, and other members of the team, and transforming it into a fully fleshed out Stronghold.
Since this is the first time either of you have done an interview like this, let’s do a quick introduction. Who are you, and what do you do on the SWTOR team?
Skott: I’m Skott Bechara, and I’m a Narrative Systems Designer—on SWTOR, that primarily translates to world and quest design.
Ben: Hello! I’m Ben Brzowski, and I’m a World Designer with the team. I’ll be working alongside familiar faces like Dave Shramek and newer faces like Skott here to bring Star Wars worlds to life in SWTOR.
When you two started working on the Stronghold, what aspects did you take charge of?
Skott: I was primarily responsible for decoration hook layouts, the Killik cave functionality, and design troubleshooting. It was important to me that Alderaan gave players some unusual options for decorations in terms of placement and density. Beyond placing hook layouts, I made sure the rooms were versatile and had satisfying options for decorations, adjusted spawners, and balanced hooks available with decoration caps for performance.
Ben: My earliest tasks with the Stronghold were the area setup basics, essentially making sure everything functions as you would expect for an area in our game. This included elements like being able to travel to it, making sure it was mapped properly, making sure rooms were accessible, and more. That transitioned into designing for things like decoration hooks and overall area ambiance (little things that make a place feel more alive).
With the last Stronghold, Rishi, there was a secret achievement involving a certain little turtle, is there anything like that on Alderaan?
Ben: As far as secret achievements go, I’d just like to say [REDACTED].
Is there anything else that makes this Stronghold unique?
Skott: Though the Killik cave is novel and a unique feature of a Stronghold, I think what sets Alderaan apart from the other Strongholds is the number of options available to players to create the things they feel reflect their characters’ personalities. Strongholds are a fun way to tell your own story by way of the environments players can create, so flexibility was key—even to the point of allowing the placement of decorations that might intersect with the Stronghold’s innate geometry. We didn’t want to worry about making sure every decoration could fit in every spot, especially if that meant players could create something special and unique.
To wrap things up, what were each of your favorite parts or aspects of this Stronghold?
Skott: As a roleplayer, a peaceful, solitary, mountainside fortress is exactly the kind of thing my Force-sensitive characters need to catch a break and refocus. I like that the Stronghold can range from imposing and powerful to serene and picturesque. I think the environment team did an incredible job, and I personally love seeing the screenshots roll in.
Ben: I think one of my favorite parts of working with the Alderaan Stronghold specifically is getting to work in the setting. I personally love the highlands and alpine forests we see in Alderaan. Getting to work with Skott and go through the gamut of our process of brainstorming ideas for the space, and then figuring out what we could accomplish from that vision was a great time. I also really enjoyed getting to work on something our players have been really wishing for. Other than that, I definitely loved [REDACTED].
Thank you for your time Skott and Ben! If you haven’t purchased your Alderaan Noble Estate yet, visit the Fleet to buy it now!