SWTOR Parody: Baby Got Bubble

Some serious work has gone into this SWTOR Parody by Jason Barnett. Based on this little ditty by Sir Mix-A-Lot from the 1990s, Sith Sorcerers are the subject and whether you play one or not, you’ll be likely to find this funny:

Great work Jason!

SWTOR Community Q&A 10th August: Last Regular Edition

BioWare have released their latest community Q&A, with the surprise announcement that it’s the last regular one:

We’ve been listening to your feedback, and as of today, we’ll be discontinuing the Community Q&A blog as a weekly feature. However, this means that going forward, we will be focusing on bringing you more frequent and consistent developer responses in the forums to your questions and concerns. Make sure to watch the dev tracker to make sure you don’t miss anything!

We’ll definitely do a Q&A like this whenever we have big announcements in the future, but again, we won’t be doing a weekly Q&A blog post.

Seems yet another retrograde step in communication with the playing community – you’ll now have to regularly check the Dev Tracker, trawl the forums for info, or even better, check in here for the key info! There just seems to be constant chopping and changing in approach to community info given the Community Q&A only changes formats a couple of months back.

Anyway, onto the Q&A itself, it’s devoted to answering questions on the Free-To-Play move. There’s lots of interesting info in there. My take is that given F2P’ers look like they’ll be able to buy most content subscribers have, and can keep any gear earned as subscribers if they move to F2P, there’s going to be a big cohort not bothering to renew their subscription. Sure, easier levelling / bigger inventory etc is convenient, but I’m not convinced there’s enough differentiation to make subscribing that attractive.

Oh – and as you’ll read, Damion Schubert’s word of the week is cadence.

The full Q&A for you:

ButeoRegalis: Are subscriptions the only way to gain Cartel Coins (CCs) in the future, meaning, aside from the bonus coins we’re getting until the Free-to-Play option goes live? Can you purchase them without a subscription?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): All players will be able to purchase Cartel Coins by purchasing them on our website and eventually in-game. These coins are used to buy various virtual items from the Cartel Market. Free-to-Play members can also use Cartel Coins to unlock certain game restrictions.

Samohnat: Will Cartel Coins be available via in-game mechanics?

Damion Schubert: Not initially. We may expand this in the future, but it’s not a goal for launch of the system.

Several players asked: Can you give us more detail about the restrictions on Free-to-Play members? If not, when can we expect more details?

Damion Schubert: Giving more information about these limitations is a core part of our communication efforts over the next few weeks. Our goal is to allow Free-to-Play members to play the game from levels 1 to 50 and encounter most of the class and world content along the way. However, it is equally important to us that the subscription members will have access to a significant number of convenience features that make the game easier to play – leveling speed, bank access, inventory size are all good examples. Once these details are published, I think that most players familiar with the game as it is now will agree that while Free-to-Play members will be getting a good experience andthe subscription members will be getting a substantially improved gameplay experience.

Alahnah: I am interested in more detailed comments about future content releases and how the Free-to-Play option will impact on current bug fixing efforts and the level 50 Operations / 50+ content expansion time frames.

Damion Schubert: We still have a significant portion of the development team focused on creating new content (Operations, Flashpoints, Warzones) – and we have plans to increase the cadence that we deliver new content. One of the nice things about this approach is that it should also speed up the cadence that bug fixes get out to you as well.

Tatile: It’s said that content will continue to come, but will it be like the content we’ve already seen (Operations and Flashpoints in patches with class balancing and new gear) or will the content only be fluffy happy stuff, like speeders and mini-pets?

Damion Schubert: We definitely have plans in the works for more Flashpoints, Operations, Space Missions, and Warzones. Generally, we will have more frequent updates for the game.

Thorvath: So if I cancel/switch to the Free-to-Play option are you going to automatically delete all my Rakata/War Hero gear?

Damion Schubert: You will retain your gear.

LOWTHOR: What happens if all the characters I have already created while subscribed (before Free-to-Play announcement) are now restricted species?

Damion Schubert: Your characters will not be deleted and you CAN still use those characters in the active slots you have as a Free-to-Play member.

VulcanLogic: I have all 8 character slots used up. If I choose the Free-to-Play option, do I get to decide which character slots will be active?

Damion Schubert: Once we institute these limitations, players will absolutely be able to choose which characters are their active characters.

ChazDoit: I’m not much interested in Flashpoints and Operations but will I be able to purchase other features like full access to Warzones, purchase extra character slots, bank slots, and travel features?

Damion Schubert: Yes! When the Free-to-Play option goes live, players will be able to purchase key upgrades to their game experience allowing them to bypass some restrictions, and this list will expand as time goes on. We will have more information about some of these in coming weeks.

 

Over to you: do you like what you read here about the F2P arrangements?

SWTOR Community Q&A: 27th July 2012

A short few days after the delayed Q&A from last week, BioWare have covered off answers to another handful of questions. This week, there’s even some lore thrown in for good measure!

The Q&A in full for you:

Skendra: Question about Legacy! Under Character Perks -> Travel, at 1.2 there was buff for Sprint Speed but locked and now in 1.3 it was changed to Priority Transport. Why?

Will Wallace (Senior Designer): There were both internal and external balance concerns about allowing players to purchase upgrades to Sprint speed, especially as it related to advantages in Warzones. We don’t want someone to feel like they have to have an optional purchase to be competitive in PvP. The Priority Transport perks were created as a replacement since they are beneficial for all players without upsetting the balance of the game.

Char_Ell: What is the backstory of the seven pillars on Corellia commemorating the heroes of The Jedi Civil War in BTC 303 (Revan, Bastila, Carth, Canderous, Juhani, Mission, Zaalbar)? How did the people of Corellia arrive at the decision to build the pillars?

Hall Hood (Lead Writer): Monuments to these great heroes who saved the entire Republic were constructed on multiple Core Worlds after the war’s end. The motivations behind these memorials differed from planet to planet. Some were built by politicians cynically displaying their patriotism, while others were created by artists and refugees seeking to honor their saviors. Corellia’s pillars, like its many museums, were built as much for tourism as a sincere display of Republic solidarity. Trivia note: a beautiful monument to the heroes stood outside Coruscant’s Galactic Senate building for nearly three centuries, but was destroyed by Sith Empire forces during the planet’s sacking.

Republicmeat: When the in-game event of the Rise of the Rakghoul plague was taking place, there was that vendor in Tatooine who you could sell DNA samples to. Will we ever get to sell our remaining DNA samples if we still have some or are they obsolete from now on since the vendor was removed?

Rick Burton (World Designer): I’ll give the nebulous answer of “It is certainly possible that the DNA samples will be spendable again” with the caveat of “We have no plans at this time to reuse the DNA samples.” While this does not help you decide what you should do with your left over DNA samples, it is the most honestly accurate answer to the question. I’ll throw in one slightly less vague bit of relevant information. For future events, we have made tweaks to the design based on player feedback that should lower the odds players are unexpectedly stuck with “no longer spendable” event currency.

LNSSnorkle: We know players that don’t migrate by themselves will have their chars automatically moved. The thing is, how can we know where they will end up?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): Once we do automatic transfers, we will be doing everything possible in order to maintain the basics of the current ruleset as possible – PvE vs PvP, regional choice, language (for Europe); so in many cases, you should have a good idea of which populations you are likely to end up with. Another top concern is trying to help the populations that result have a good factional balance. We will give out a specific list once we are closer to implementation of this plan – watch for more info soon!

MayoJar: Lately you have been implementing “Server stability” fixes. Can you explain what exactly that is? I keep visualizing some intern sliding napkin shims under a corner of the server. Is this to fix lag issues, log in times, or transition screen load times?

Damion: I can see how this might be confusing to some players – SW:TOR servers, since launch, have enjoyed a reliability of greater than 99%, and since 1.3 went live, we’ve actually improved that to be greater than 99.97%, which means our servers pretty much never crash. However, Game Update 1.3 introduced a server bug that resulted in some players disconnecting randomly from the game, and the server team worked diligently after 1.3 went live to find this issue and stamp it out. This patch note refers (in vague terms, admittedly) to those fixes.

Games Developer Choice Award Nominees: SWTOR A Winner

The Game Developers Choice Awards are into their third year, and the nominees for this years awards, being announced in October, have been revealed. A big winner on the nomination front has been SWTOR, nominated for six awards:

1. Best Online Game Design
2. Best Online Visual Arts
3. Best Online Technology
4. Best Audio for an Online Game
5. Best New Online Game
6. Online Innovation Award

These are industry awards and it shows the level of esteem the game has managed to engender. It’s easy to be critical of any MMO, and SWTOR certainly has its share of flaws, but awards like these do help reality check the haters writing it off totally. It’s also good to see both veterans like World of Warcraft and relative newcomers like Tera and the DayZ mod getting some attention.

Yes, any awards can be nothing more than fluff pieces, but at the very least this shows that broadly the industry sees SWTOR as having made a big impression in the past year. The announcement of winners will show just how big that impression was.

A big thanks to our own writer and podcaster Simon for the heads-up!

SWTOR Community Q&A 23rd July 2012

The delayed Community Q&A from last Saturday has been released by BioWare, fully reproduced for you below. There’s a bit of everything as always, including a brief but interesting statement on class balance changes. Have a browse:

Chimerashot: The way Campaign gear is set up, some DPS classes have the Armoring with more Endurance instead of their main stat. Can we expect this to change /what was the reasoning behind this?

David Hunt (Systems Designer): It’s an undesired interaction between the distribution of the mods and the move to set bonuses on the armoring. Future gear provides set mods will use the primary stat over Endurance for all DPS classes.

Achyllis: Why don’t cool downs all reset on death in PvP?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Doing this would encourage a couple of things that, so far, we don’t necessarily want to encourage. When you take a position from another player or group of players in a Warzone, holding that position is harder when your group’s abilities are still cooling down and that isn’t the case for the incoming wave of attackers. We entertain this idea every now and then, but we keep arriving at the notion that it would create too much turnover and death zerging, which have historically proven to not be fun.

We also like the tension in the decision of blowing everything to finish someone off in a clutch moment versus acknowledging defeat and coming back in full force. The decision of “going all out” should be a strategic and tactical one rather than a no-brainer that you squeeze in before each death.

Sang: Several months ago class balance changes were made at a smaller and more frequent rate, however, since 1.2 all class balance changes have been made within or around the major game updates (1.2 and 1.3). Will this pattern of class balance changes occurring every few months within the major game updates continue or will we see a return to some more frequent, albeit smaller, changes?

Austin: In the weeks immediately following launch, we had planned and scheduled for as much bug fixing and emergent balancing as possible, and faster class/balance updates were more feasible as a result. Smaller, more frequent class changes proved to have an overall positive impact on the game, so yes, we hope to get back into that kind of rhythm soon.

Esendis: Can we expect some kind of change to the current pve relics? As it stands now the BIS pve relics for many advanced classes are the pvp ones.

Jason Attard (Senior Game Balance Designer): In the long run our intent is to make sure PvP gear is never competitive in end-game PvE situations. Unfortunately, it’s still too early in the design process for us to give an ETA or release any details on what we’re planning for PvP gear.

We currently have no plans to change the PvE relics. In theory the active abilities on the PvE relics do not provide quite as much sustained damage-per-second as a passive relic at the same item level. In practice, when used at the correct time they can deliver a huge amount of damage when you actually need it, and can make you much more effective overall. This is especially true when the relic is paired with powerful cooldowns or burst damage attacks. This is the primary reason we changed the PvP relics into passive relics, as skilled players could wipe out their opponents much more quickly than intended, and nobody likes to be killed before they get a chance to fight back. On the PvE side we decided to keep that extra bit of gameplay, since it helps break up rotations and adds a extra little optimization element to damage dealing in boss fights.

DyronisAre there any plans on making Purple, Cyan, White crystals craftable by Artifice?

Jason: We don’t currently have any plans to make those colors craft-able. This might change in the future, but even if we introduce crafting schematics for them we intend for those lightsaber colors (especially White) to remain relatively rare.

SWTOR Community Q&A: 13th July 2012

There’s everything from new planet design to PVP in this week’s Q&A. There’s even some news on credit sinks that should bring a smile to most people’s faces.

It’s laid out in full as usual for you below:

Anzel: Credit Sinks appear to be one of the hot topics in the community right now. Are there any chances of severely lowering or possibly removing some of these at this early stage in the game?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): Now that 1.3 has been out and legacy perks have been in the system for a while now, we will be looking at our credits sinks, particularly the perks, to see how they are performing. It is quite likely we will make some adjustments based on what we’ve learned.

BobertColeCould you elaborate please on what role you see deception Assassins playing? Are they close to operating in the way that was envisioned?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): First, as to whether or not they’re operating close to what we envision, the answer is “depends who the operator is.” From the videos, logs, and anecdotes players provide us, it’s really very much the answer for all specs – some people “get it” and play it to its potential, and some people don’t. Frequently, the ones who “don’t” are hitting brick walls because their expectations for what a spec should be like or should be capable of are different than what the spec is designed for.

In the case of Deception Assassins, we see and hear about a lot of players expecting to go toe-to-toe with tough enemies. They expect that since they’re a melee spec, they should have the survivability they need to withstand the frontlines. That’s true for some melee specs, but that’s not what Deception Assassins were designed for. Deception should epitomize “hit-and-run” and “lone wolf” gameplay. Obviously that’s less the case in Operations boss encounters, but if this is a question of sustained DPS, the short answer is that they hit within the same 5% “grace window” targeted by every DPS spec in the game.

In solo and PvP environments, Deception is meant to be a high burst, high mobility, shutdown spec. When played properly, they provide some of the highest burst and highest pressure in the game. However, Deception is not a great partner. He can’t take hits, his shutdown requires that he set the pace of the fight, and his escapes leave allies open and vulnerable to counterattacks. I say that, but I’ve seen players dash my expectations and turn Deception into a spectacular teammate. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many more players try to facetank and fail. Assassins have a great team support role – Darkness; they also have a great well-rounded, high utility role – Madness. We left Deception to take the opportunity to do something fun and very different, but that comes with the risk of missing player expectation. If you like Deception and you want to pull it off, my suggestion is that you pick your fights and plan ahead, but I’d also warn that Deception is a spec of extremes – I would not describe it as “well-rounded.”

Coldin: Every class who fights primarily in melee range (Assassins, Warriors, Powertechs) gets some kind of ability they can use to close the distance outside of 30 meters. That is except for Operatives. What’s the reasoning behind the Operative’s apparent lack of ability to quickly get within range to deal their most powerful attacks?

Austin: In PvP, the short answer is a combination of stealth (including Cloaking Screen), the ability to self-cleanse, and the ability to self-heal. Operatives also benefit from a good deal of control with snares, Sleep Dart, Debilitate, and Flash Bang, with additional roots, snares, and knockdowns available in skill trees. However, those things don’t offer much benefit in boss fights that demand a high level of mobility and target switching. The question for us becomes one of how to best introduce a “fix” for a few encounters without dramatically impacting gameplay in other game modes or environments. That’s a much longer answer, and something of an ongoing discussion. High mobility fights and encounters with a lot of target switching are proving to be fun ways for our Operations designers to challenge players. So with that theme keeping up, this issue is quickly floating to the top of our priority list.

SindorinWhen you’re discussing a new planet, what sort of criteria do you guys lay out for the design process? How do you determine what’s in or out, and what sort of backstory or lore goes into it?

Alex Freed (Lead Writer): Any new world needs to feel different from the worlds around it (in game terms, the worlds with level ranges just above or below its own), and it needs to push the overall themes of the story forward. So we might start with basic requirements like “We want to show the Republic going on the offensive,” and “We want a wilderness world, since we’ve done a lot of urbanized planets lately.” Defining these basic requirements isn’t too difficult–they can usually be determined with an hour or two of group discussion.
After that, it gets more difficult. Figuring out the details of the world (including whether we want a canon planet to fill the role, or if we want to create a new planet altogether) takes much longer, but the basic criteria stay the same: Does the backstory fit the requirements outlined? Does the planet sound fun to play through? Is it practical? (If the art department can’t build a planet full of, say, 90-foot-tall giants who use buildings as melee weapons, then that idea isn’t practical, no matter what writing may want). Elements that contribute to the overall goals of the planet are retained; elements that don’t get put to one side.

Writing, art and world design work together closely during this process, and if all goes well, we get a planet that has a clear purpose while being broad enough to support a wide variety of interesting missions.

Talius-LHIs there any plan in place for either re-implementing the removed codex entries and titles or removing them entirely from the codex?

Damion: The codex will get a clean-up pass in the not-too-distant future, and at that time, we’ll be either removing the entries that are no longer obtainable or re-enabling some those removed entries if it makes sense to do so.

Anything of particular excitement for you above? Let us know in comments!

Community Q&A: 6th July 2012

The latest community Q&A answers are now available. The first answer on future playable species was interesting, as was insight into the different class story lines.

You can read them all in full below, so get to it!

CelCawdro: If Cathar are successful, what kinds of species can we expect to see? May we see anything beyond the current selection of near-humans? What is the process behind selecting new species and gauging community interest?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): We’d like to open the selection of future species to the community as a whole with clear positives and negatives provided for each selection. That way we can go a bit further afield in our species selection.

 

Lurtzello: Are the various stories ordered? Meaning, when does the storyline of each Republic planet takes place compared to the Imperial storyline and the storylines of the other planets?

Alex Freed (Lead Writer): The short, unsatisfying answer: it depends!

The longer answer: The class stories tend to weave in and out of one another–they all happen (nothing’s “out of continuity”), and they all happen roughly at the same time (chapter 3 is chapter 3 for everyone, for example), but there’s not a set correspondence that runs all the way through. For example, you couldn’t say “the Jedi Knight is always half a planet ahead of the Imperial Agent.” But you could say “the Bounty Hunter chapter 3 finale takes place before the Trooper chapter 3 finale.”

For the world stories, it’s a little more complicated. In some cases, only one of the world stories can happen–the Republic and Empire can’t both defeat King Ulgo on Alderaan, or the villain of the False Emperor Flashpoint. For story purposes, we know these characters were defeated… but we don’t know by whom.

In other cases, different factions’ world stories happen roughly at the same time–aside from the final defeat of Ulgo, the rest of the Alderaan missions can be contemporaneous. Other world stories are, as you suggest, time-separated–Republic Taris takes place significantly before Imperial Taris, and Imperial Balmorra takes place significantly before Republic Balmorra.

For the most part, it’s best not to worry too much about ordering individual world events unless they actively reference one another–and if they contradict one another, you can assume that we won’t be writing future stories that depend on one faction’s participation at the exclusion of the other. (For example, you’ll note that the Corellia “Black Hole” storyline reconciles the events of the Imperial and Republic Corellia storylines so that going forward, we know roughly the state Corellia is in!).

 

caravaggio: The last few major patches have seen significant changes to the Sniper/Gunslinger Marksman/Sharpshooter tree. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys envision the class and what was not working that caused you to decide changes needed to be made? Do you think that 1.3 brought you closer to where you want to be or do you still see areas in the tree that need improvement?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Marksmanship and Sharpshooter have been a challenge to “get right” to be sure. Apart from cover and cover gameplay in general, Marksmanship and Sharpshooter have had a few specific hurdles for us to overcome. Thematically, these guys are high weapon damage specs, and that means that they can be easily countered (or even shut down) with a cooldown like Deflection. On the other hand, when their target is defenseless, their high weapon damage can actually become a little overwhelming.

These specs are also highly cover-dependent, and it has been a difficult task to communicate to players that in most cases they’re better off holding their ground than kiting like a Sorcerer or Sage would. Of course, even that depends on having chosen a good cover spot to begin with. We face the issue of rewarding clean shots from cover while not making extended stays overpowered.

To answer you more directly, our vision for these specs hasn’t changed, but I think we’re striking much closer to that target than we have in the past. I’m really quite happy with Marksmanship and Sharpshooter in Game Update 1.3. Prior to this update, these skill trees fell apart at the top tiers, so we really wanted to address that and reward the full-spec Marksmanship and Sharpshooter. They now have the tools to stand their ground when they need to, they have better energy management than ever before, and their gameplay is smoother, simpler, and more rewarding. That’s not to suggest there aren’t issues, but I expect most issues can be addressed with minor tweaks in the future.

 

Clymene: Are there any plans to buff companion tanks? Currently they are barely any better at survivability than dps companions, especially poor Xalek, and don’t hold aggro very well.

Austin: I’ll bring up the issue with the rest of the team and see if increased survivability and threat is something we can afford to give them. Without me revisiting our goals for what tank companions should do, off the top of my head, it certainly sounds like they could use some adjustments. Thanks for raising this issue.

 

Taitsuo: Would you guys consider adding root effects to the Resolve bar? At the moment, 3 well-coordinated Gunslingers could permaroot someone (5secs duration, 15 secs cooldown). With ranked warzones, that could mean a lot…

Austin: Resolve is meant to put a lid on effects that take control away from you, the player. It’s meant to limit the effectiveness of chain stuns, sleeps, and knockbacks. However, it is not meant to impact the ranged and melee (kiting and anti-kiting) balance of the game. This was a very deliberate measure taken to separate these two different aspects of control. I won’t say that we won’t limit the “chainability” of roots in the future, but given the amount of skills and abilities that break and cleanse roots and snares at the moment, it’s not something we’re very concerned about. Of course, we will be keeping an eye on how ranked warzone teams use the tools they have.

Community Q&A 30th June 2012: Beyond Cathar

Another week, another Community Q&A!

BioWare continue their promised shorter and sweeter format with a handful of questions, including the issue of playable races into the future.

Read the full kahuna below:

Lesai: When it comes to planning content and game direction, how much of it is based on the developers’ plan for the game, and how much of it is based on community suggestion and feedback?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): As we come to the end of our big must-have features (like Group Finder), updates are driven more and more by the community. Expect to see far more of the smaller quality of life requested features (color matching for companions, chat bubbles, etc.) start to get real traction under them in the near future.

 

CelCawdro: What are your long-term plans for implementing playable species? Are Cathar merely the first of semi-regular species additions?

Daniel: Like all of our ongoing content updates, we’ll release Cathar into the wild and see how they perform. If new species are clearly popular we’ll keep them coming!

 

Nyrdbyrd: People are always disappointed when they lose the tie breaker in a Voidstar match, as though it was incorrectly judged. Any chance you could clarify the tiebreaker rules for us?

Rob Hinkle (Senior PvP Designer): Excellent question! We’ve actually gone through a series of adjustments to improve this very system. As of 1.3, here is how a winner is determined in Voidstar: There are 6 checkpoints inside the Warzone – the 3 sets of blast doors, the bridge in the reactor room, the forcefields in the cargo room, and the datacore itself. The team that gets the furthest wins the Warzone. If both teams get to the same checkpoint, then whichever team gets to that point the quickest wins.

When the Warzone figures out that one team has already won the match (since they are the 2nd team on the attack and have exceeded their opponents’ progress, or have gotten to the same spot faster), the match will end immediately instead of playing out the rest of the game to a known ending.

Unrelated to the tiebreaker changes (but also exciting), we’ve made a change to the Hangar inside Voidstar to help prevent stalemates inside the first room. We’ve added a broken fence down a portion of the middle of the room, which obstructs movement but not vision. The intended result is that the defenders have to commit to defend one side or the other, and can’t float between both doors quite so easily.

 

Tomisu: How does Expertise affect healing in PvE environments, like Operations for instance? If all players are flagged for PvP, will the heals they receive get the Expertise bonus? If not, what prevents it?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Expertise counters the negative effects of “PVP Trauma,” the debuff applied when engaging in combat with enemy players. It is not in any way associated with flag status.

 

Kiper: My question is are you still considering some sort of dual talent option, and if so is there an ETA?

Austin: This is definitely a feature we hope to provide in the future, but we don’t have any details to share at this time (including an ETA).

Into The Vault

As you know. we love a good piece of community-created machinima, particularly one that involves an ensemble cast of voice actors/singers. That’s exactly what you get with Into The Vault.

The video’s creator, Kaisa, had this to say:

I just completed a parody video set within the Star Wars: The Old Republic universe…It uses music from Into the Woods and tells the story of Soa from the Eternity Vault operation zone.

Musical performances by Brian Cimmet, Mariclare Hoffman, Stefan Johnston, Kathleen Regan, and Kassie Bracken. Lyrics by Henry Chang. The footage was all taken using members of my guild, Pandamonium, on the Corellian Run server.

Enough talk, enjoy it for yourself:

Over to you: did you like it?

Community Q&A June 15th 2012: Lotsa Bits

A belated posting of this week’s Community Q&A from BioWare.

It’s a decent sized one covering a range of things, although BioWare have given the heads-up that future instalments are likely to feature fewer answers on average.

Have a read for yourself:

 

GarrickBlackSun: I understand he is a long way off, but could you please possibly give us any sort of clearer or better insight to the unlocking of HK-51?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): The only thing we’re saying today is its going to take a serious amount of work, involves a galaxy-wide mission, introduces some different ways of playing the game and most people will need to have a 50 of one faction and at least a mid-level character from the other faction. Get working on those Legacy characters!

Zoheb: It looks like the LFG Tool will limit the FP’s we can queue for to those within our level range. This may handicap those who have skipped a large number of FP’s and have effectively outlevelled that FP’s range. Will they be able to queue for FP’s below their level range and if not, why not?

Antonia Phillips (Development Director): Not at this time. The reason we did not include this option with the launch of the feature is essentially balance. We did not want to penalize some players by matching them with players far above their level. In addition, we want players to feel that they are contributing to content and not being carried through by higher level players. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we won’t implement a version of this option with a future release. We’ve heard the feedback on the forums and we recognize that this is important, just as long as we implement it correctly.

SAtaarcoeny: Is there any chance of you guys making the PvP win/loss stats viewable by everyone?

Rob Hinkle (Senior PvP Designer): We currently do display a player’s rating via inspection and the /who list, as long as that rating is above a particular threshold (currently set to 1200). We really would like to encourage the competitive aspect of Ranked Warzones by allowing players to compare themselves against each other, so this is suggestion is definitely something we will talk about.

Cycao: Can I please get a response on this issue I have for Ranked Warzones and how you will deal with a disconnect? People disconnect from Warzones; it happens and sometimes it’s the game, others it’s a client issue, but it happens. To go down one man in a ranked warzone will be detrimental to the team.

Rob: We are aware that a Warzone team suddenly losing a player is a great disadvantage to that team, and we are investigating ways we can better mitigate that loss to the team.  One of the things that we currently have implemented is that the team that loses a team member will have that factor taken into consideration when the system makes adjustments to ELO ratings at the end of the match.

Skondy: Can one of the Developers give a detailed breakdown on how threat is generated? I have heard that it is generated more by how many times a player can land blows on the boss than by how much damage is dealt. So that a tank can hold aggro better by using his basic attack (rapid shots, saber strike, etc) in combination with his high threat moves, rather than trying to do as much damage as possible to a boss.

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Threat is equal to damage inflicted at a “one damage equals one threat” ratio. Passive threat modifiers then adjust that amount by a percentage, while active threat dumps adjust current threat levels by a percentage. I wouldn’t suggest using your basic attack to try and generate high threat.

Elfindreams: What does the “cover fire” keybind do? The keybind, not passive skill and not “take cover” or “take cover in place” – specifically “cover fire”. It does not have any function in advanced class cover mechanics that anyone has been able to detect.

Austin: This is actually a Dev function that was never cut from the retail build. You are correct that it serves no function to players. I’ll investigate why this option yet remains.

Theworldends: With the implementation of “smart” aoe attacks for tanks, why are there still no smart aoe heals that only target the lowest health group members?

Austin: So far, this hasn’t fallen into the category of gameplay we want to change. All AOEs prioritize targets closer to the center of that AOE, so a better aimed Revivification or Kolto Bomb will yield better results. It’s not hard to imagine a world with “smart” AOE heals though, so I’ll end with saying that it’s certainly something we’re still considering.

VexedLucifer: How do armor debuffs work? Do they allow for more damage from other players besides the one who put the debuff on the target? If two characters of the same class put an armor debuff on do they both allow for more damage or does only one take effect while calculating damage? For example, would a raid do more damage to a boss if it had 3 unique armor debuffs opposed to no armor debuffs?

Austin: Game Update 1.3 introduces a new system to regulate the stacking of buffs and debuffs, such that only the highest of any same-effect applies. There are some exceptions to this, but by and large (and in the case of armor reduction), only the highest of any same-effect will apply. You will still benefit from the presence of your own debuff (for example, your 5 stacks of Armor Reduction will enable your Guardian Slash to strike nearby enemies), but only the biggest debuff will affect the target’s stats. And yes, armor debuffs do benefit all attackers.

 

Jtsd: Will you release Power/Crit and Defence/Absorption enhancements? Currently the only way to get Crit Rating is to directly swap out Power, which is only slightly behind our Primary Stat in value. The only way to get Absorption is to take a larger amount of Accuracy or Shield Rating.

Jason Attard (Senior Game Designer): We currently have our late-game stats split into two groups: Power, Defense, Crit, and Absorb in one, and Accuracy, Alacrity, Surge, and Shield in the other. Modifications have a stat from the first group, and Enhancements have one stat from each group. This was done to prevent players from stacking a single stat to the exclusion of all others, and to help keep the number of Modifications and Enhancements in the game to a reasonable number. Every time we introduce a new set of gear we refine our item design, and we have considered loosening up the restraints on those stats in various ways, but we do not have an ETA for it yet.

 

Kingofthebritons: In last weeks’ announcement, we learned that the level cap will be increased later this year. With this change in mind, will any changes be made to the current PvE endgame? For example, will the difficulties for Hard Mode Flashpoints and Operations be increased to match the new level? If not, could you explain why?

Daniel: We’re keeping a tight wrap on details about the level increase later this year until we’ve done far more testing. Right now we have plans and theories but no empirical numbers for what, if any adjustments will need to be made to PvE endgame content.

SWTOR Video News: PTR wrap and more

Asher once again jumps into the breach with a look back at the SWTOR news that was:

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—– THIS WEEKS NEWS —–
SWTOR News PTR Coverage
Dev Q&A
Next weeks Q&A
Character Transfers
PTR Patch Notes
Setup PTR access
1.2.6 Patch Notes
E3 New Content Video
Class Changes
Character Transfers
Fan Art

SWTOR Video News: 1.3 PTR Coverage

Asher’s back with some nice video commentary of the 1.3 Patch Notes (here’s the full patch notes in text form if you haven’t seen them). Enjoy this trio of vids!