Meet the Developers: Hall Hood
Welcome to Meet the Developers. This week, we interviewed Hall Hood, Lead Writer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. In each “Meet the Developers,” we introduce a developer and ask them questions about their background, what they’re working on, and what they do for the team. After the interview, we will set up a thread on the forums so you can ask our featured developer further questions. Here’s our interview with Hall:
What is your favorite class storyline?
I will always have a soft spot for the Jedi Knight and Smuggler class stories since I wrote a lot of the content in both of them, but I honestly love all of our stories. Each one explores a different aspect of the Star Wars™ mythology, and I rotate through them depending on whatever mood I’m in at the time.
Who is your favorite companion? Why?
Risha, hands-down. She’s so much fun to write, and Tara Strong’s voice acting blows me away every time.
Do you have a favorite story moment in the game?
I think the Jedi Knight’s first meeting with the Sith Emperor ranks right up there alongside the Smuggler’s final meeting with Skavak as among my favorite SWTOR story moments, but that list is pretty crowded. Our designers created a lot of fantastic story moments throughout the game.
What has been the most enjoyable thing to write for SWTOR?
I’m a big fan of our companion characters, especially the ones players can romance. The romantic subplots with Risha, Doc, and Kira were tremendous fun to create.
What are some unique challenges you face in writing for an MMO?
The hardest things to write in SWTOR are the epic multiplayer story arcs. I need to provide a satisfying story experience for extremely diverse classes that bring unique sensibilities to each of their individual narratives. Multiplayer storylines need to feel equally compelling to a Jedi, Trooper, Smuggler, Sith, Agent, or Bounty Hunter. Everyone should believe the galaxy’s fate rests on their decisions, and that they have an important destiny to fulfill in the unfolding drama—even if the Smuggler’s destiny is just to get paid for a job well done.
How did you get into writing for games?
When I first heard that my favorite game studio was opening a new branch in my hometown, I contacted BioWare immediately about joining the team. I went through a lengthy testing and interview process, submitting multiple samples of interactive dialogue and quest designs before earning my spot in the fabled Writers Pit. It’s been a thrilling rollercoaster ride ever since.
What does a typical day look like for you at the BioWare office?
From the moment I walk into the office until I reluctantly leave the building at night, my job is to play with my favorite characters and stories to create fun game content for people who love Star Wars as much as I do. I work with artists, animators, level designers, voice actors, cinematics teams and many other incredibly talented and passionate people. Every once in a while, I think about pinching myself to make sure this is real—but then I stop myself, because who would want to wake up from a dream like this one?
Players are really excited about HK-51 – can you give us any tidbits or teasers about his story?
HK-51 was programmed with certain failsafe protocols to prevent his model from turning rogue like the fabled HK-47. The means of deactivating these protocols is unique to say the least, but perfectly appropriate to HK-51’s function.
What Star Wars stories or characters inspire you the most?
I’m a big fan of the original trilogy. At different times in my life and while working on SWTOR, all of the major characters from those first three films have served as inspirations. Han and Leia are among my favorites, as anyone who has played the Smuggler will know. When I was writing the Jedi Knight, my main inspirations were Luke, Obi-Wan, and my favorite character from the prequels, Qui-Gon Jinn. When I’m writing something truly epic, I always put on the John Williams soundtrack music to get in the proper mood.
What advice would you have for anyone who wants to break into writing for games?
The best advice I can give to any creative person, regardless if they’re a writer, artist, actor, musician, game designer, or anything else, is simply this: DON’T QUIT. Being a writer is an especially hard career path. You’ll face a lot of rejection and be tempted often by opportunities to give up on your dreams and do something safer and more financially rewarding with your life. You have to resist those moments, persevere, and keep getting better at your craft. It’s worth it.
Do you have any hobbies outside of gaming?
I love movies, live music, TV, theater, reading, visiting art museums, going on long vacations to do absolutely nothing in beautiful places… whatever feeds my creative spirit, that’s where you’ll find me.
Thanks for checking out our Meet the Developers blog. If you have any questions for Hall, please post them in this forum thread. We’ll choose questions that relate directly to Hall and his responsibilities. In the near future, we’ll have some answers from Hall to your questions!