Hyperspace Beacon: The summer of SWTOR

Hyperspace Beacon Summer of TOR
Every time I listen to the BioWare developers talk about Star Wars: The Old Republic, I am impressed with how passionate they are about the game. When Producer Bruce Maclean, Executive Producer Jeff Hickman, and Community Manager Eric Musco spoke to us yesterday, they sat on the edge of their seats because of how excited they were about telling us about the next updates coming to their game. Despite the game being a year and a half old, these three appeared to be riding the same hype-train the game launched with.

Although these three BioWare employees suggested that the majority of the conversation on the livestream would feature discussion about Game Update 2.2, they ended up highlighting features and events taking place beyond the next patch. The questions they answered, filtered from the forum, Twitter, Facebook and the chatroom, jumped all over the place, but I believe they can be narrowed down to three major categories of concern: events, PvP changes, and the valued subscriber.
Hyperspace Beacon Summer of TOR
Hickman was most excited about the Cantina Tour events. He explained that future events will include more than meet-and-greets with SWTOR developers; they will have exclusive reveals about upcoming content. For instance, he explained that the Los Angeles event this Thursday will reveal information about Game Update 2.3. Perhaps instead of showing up directly at E3, the team decided it was more beneficial (or cost-effective) to throw a small party in the LA area instead, hoping the press would show up there, too. Even though LA and San Diego are the only events listed on the Facebook page as of right now, Musco revealed more are coming, and the team hopes to visit every major area in the United States very soon.

Apparently, sarcasm is completely lost on some of the audience of the livestream. Over and over again, the trio emphasized that there would be no way for the Rakghoul plague to escape again, that it was completely contained. Even though Musco let slip that it only takes one person to cause it to spread, a thread declaring that the "Rakghoul Event is NOT Returning" appeared on the official forums shortly after the livestream aired. Maclean had to jump in the thread to set the record straight. "We suggested that it couldn't possibly return because the plague has been contained. What are the odds, right?" He clarified, "Truth is, we were all dripping with sarcasm, and just trying to have a bit of fun! Sorry for any resulting confusion." The Rakghoul event will return, just not in the immediate future.

Hyperspace Beacon Summer of TOR
In an attempt to fix the stunlock issue in SWTOR PvP, the developers intended to introduce a feature that would reset the stun-break ability upon character defeat. As the PvP community was quick to point out, this "fix" would actually emphasize an already existing problem in the PvP community.

Some players, especially in Huttball and the Alderaan warzones, would use the command "/stuck" to purposely kill their characters so that they could travel to specific points on the map faster. For instance, if you are defeated (or in this case, if you defeat yourself) in Huttball, you pop back just behind your goal line. This could easily allow you to stop the opponent from scoring if you happen to be on the other side of the map. On Alderaan, if you type /stuck, you instantly appear in your drop ship. In the drop ship, of course, are speeders that take you to the nodes your team owns. If you are on the other side of the map or even in the middle, it could potentially be faster for you to kill yourself and take one of those speeders to defend your other node from enemy players. Adding a feature that would reset a stun break on character defeat would only encourage this type of "creative use of game mechanics." The devs listened and pulled this feature before its release.

During the presentation, Maclean revealed that thanks to direct player feedback, the development team will introduce a mechanic that will hopefully discourage players from taking advantage of the /stuck command. When a player uses the command in a warzone, he will be slapped with a 20-second cooldown on returning to the spawn point. That should be enough time to make it more worthwhile to follow the intended mechanic of running to the other side of the map, but it won't be too penalizing if you happen to actually be stuck on the warzone terrain.

The second piece of PvP information revealed will likely cause a bit of QQing in the comments of this article. Although the devs say PvPers are going to love Update 2.4, cross-server queuing is not on the table for that update. Maclean said that cross-server queuing "is very challenging" and not something the team is currently working on. But it's not completely off the table for an update after 2.4. I will admit, even though Maclean and Musco assured us that we will like Update 2.4 and that it will address queue times, I am more than concerned about the update. Please, don't just be a new Huttball map. Give us a new Huttball map, but not just that!

Hyperspace Beacon Summer of TOR
Hickman explained that Cathar species sold well and that the team is currently debating between three different possibilities to add to the list of future player species. However, he also said that we should not expect another species any time soon. Not only are there lore concerns that have to be approved by the dark council at Lucasfilm, but the amount of time involved in actually animating and designing a player species is far more extensive than it would appear on the surface. A developer friend of mine, whom I happened to be talking to at the time of this announcement, gave an exasperated sigh and completely agreed with Hickman's statement.

Lastly, I'd like to address one more item Hickman mentioned. Although Hickman used buzzwords like "valued subscriber" and "super important," I believe he understood the disappointment subscribers felt about the last couple of updates. He revealed that around the fourth of July, subscribers will receive a benefit exclusive to them, and then another at the end of July. He didn't reveal what that benefit would be, but at least he didn't use the buzzword "edgy." I can't say that I'm champing at the bit to find out what this "benefit" is, but I am pleased that the producers recognize the subscribers' concerns and are exploring options.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
This article was originally published on Massively.