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Hyperspace Beacon: Wonderful, we are now part of the tribe!


Last week, we mentioned that multiple fan sites took a trip to BioWare to tour the Austin studio, play Star Wars: The Old Republic, and interview the developers. It is a daunting task to sift through all that information to find the golden nuggets, but I've done my best to pull the most useful (or least-covered) quotes from different developers. This is by no means an exhaustive list! If you are someone who gobbles up every last bit of SWTOR news, then none of this will be new, but for everyone else: This is for you.

Before I begin, let me send my thanks to great fans of the following sites for putting this incredible information together. I cannot wait to read and hear about your PvP experiences when you release them a bit later this week: Ask A Jedi, Corellian Run Radio, Darth Hater, Fureur, Gamona, InGame, Mos Eisley Radio, SWTOR.EU, SWTOR-FR, SWTOR Life, SWTOR-UK, TOROCast, TOR-Talk, TORSyndicate, and TORWars.

Daniel Erickson is the lead writer for SWTOR. He has been writing for BioWare since Baldur's Gate, and he has really been one of the most vocal members of the SWTOR development team. He in intricately involved with nearly every aspect of the game from a storytelling perspective. Since each element of The Old Republic revolves around story, there is not much that he does not know about.

"The only time that a +1 in aim is ever going to make a difference to anybody is endgame. And at endgame, you are going to be so massively powerful that if you want to run back through the game and get every datacron you missed, it really should not be much of an issue. Outside of that, we never take anything that's going to represent balance outside of core game. The space game has upgrades and cool stuff for the space game. PvP has upgrades and cool stuff for PvP. You're never going to have to go outside of the core game to get upgrades that are going to affect your basic stat."

"Your dark side/light side points will actually open up paths and close down paths and titles and whole places in your [story arc] you'll never see [otherwise]."

"We want to have [an ESRB] rating that is appropriate for Star Wars. Star Wars has always been for everybody."

"[Companions] are getting very close to full party members."

"There is as much or more variation in every class story as there is in all of KOTOR."

"There is no fourth-wall-breaking in TOR. None."

"The factions mingle, and they mingle early."

"You are not going to team up -- superhero with supervillain -- and go kill somebody together."

Damion Schubert handles the systems design for TOR. He would explain his role as being in charge of every game system that does not involve combat. The hot topic that he's been covering lately is Crew Skills (TOR's crafting system). However, his white board, which he calls his wall of crazy, is filled with a plethora of systems that he would like to see implemented into the game someday.

"We want the casual crafter crafting for himself and his companion characters. The dedicated crafters have access (through special means we haven't talked about yet) to pursue recipes that are very rare on their entire server."

"We wanted to make it so you would break your guild boundaries in order to get what you wanted from time to time."

"We have plans at some point to also bring in rewards for being gray, but it will be pretty strictly gray."

"[Companion affection] affects your chance of getting a critical success [for Crew Skill missions]."

"Everything you just said [Pazaak, Sabaac, and swoop racing] is on the wall of crazy. We have definite interest in getting those in. None of those things [is] in the game today."

"We all want to get pazaak in at some point. I don't know when that is right now."

"As long as you play your class quests, you're going to have a good backbone set of gear."

"We have some things -- mostly ones we haven't talked about yet -- that will make crafters special, but it's not about resources."

"We will probably not have [a guild advancement system] on day one."

"The mission system is designed to be more highly variable in its reward system."

Lastly, we have Georg Zoeller, whose first name no podcaster can seem to pronounce. (It's pronounced like this -- who knew that dropping the e from George would totally change everything?) Zoeller focuses on combat systems for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This is the guy hard-core raiders and min-maxers want to listen to. His job is about metrics and combat balance. Besides being probably one of the most mathematically intelligent people on the development team, he is also very well-spoken and constantly contributes to the official forums in both English and his native German.

"We are using metrics as a way to understand player feedback. We don't use it as a way of fishing around for problems."

"We don't want to be on the easy side, but there is something to be said about not kicking the player in the face for the first couple of hours while [he learns his role]."

"We believe it is good for the game to have certain level of hybridization in the level-up gameplay."

"We know that only 7% of our testers find [the looking-for-group function]. That's not great, so the new UI will improve on that. We're not just optimizing the gameplay elements. We're optimizing based on what is our expectation for the user and what the users are doing."

"We are looking at your standard rotation to be in four or five skills instead of the two or three skills, because [a] more diverse game -- more interesting gameplay -- is generally more fun."

"We are giving each character, each class, equal love, but we don't expect players to do that."

"A companion AI-wise can replace about 60% of a standard player. They won't replace a really good player ever anyway. If you micromanage and juggle aggro, you can make up the difference in a Flashpoint, even though it is designed for 4 players."

"We don't want everyone to go away with 'Everyone is a pet class'."

"If you are a Juggernaut, you get abilities from your Advanced Class that you don't pick through the skill trees."

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 Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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