Interview after the jump.
Dover: Earlier today we were able to see some gameplay of the Imperial Agent. It was pretty impressive, if I do say so. There has been a big focus on the marketing coming out of BioWare and LucasArts regarding story in The Old Republic. However, today we were able to get a much big view of how combat is approached, specifically combat with the Imperial Agent, could you go into that some?
Jake Neri: Sure. At the top, actually, it's interesting because when we first started talking about this, we didn't really talk about the fact that we have been talking about story for a long time and we've been hearing people say, "that's really cool, and we'd like to know more about combat." So that's what I think we are here today to start to deliver people. There is a lot of details that you're not getting right now. There's a lot more details that will come. But the bottom line is, we're heard that and we understand that people want, you guys, want it all. You want it all right now. We appreciate your patience as we unroll this stuff, so lets talk about the Agent, that's what you are asking about.
So we showed the Agent today. The Agent is definitely a more tactical class. The demo that we showed you today was just a quick look at a few encounters. The Agent is a class that would probably prefer to use cover and set up their attacks. They've got a wide variety of really cool gadgets and things to use once they are in cover and then out of cover as well. We've got to deliver an experience that is useful and fun and hopefully you saw some of that with the stealth the agent can do, as well as the "shiv", which I'm not sure you guys saw.
That "Shiv" is probably my favorite ability in the game right now. Because, whatever that is that comes out of his hand, I can't really say cause the ESRB might get mad, it stays in the body as the body falls forward.
Dover: We noticed that is actually disappeared with the body.
Jake Neri: Yeah, it's less a function of it being a weapon at the point, and more about an ability that you always have. It's on a cooldown and boom, you pop it into somebody and it takes the guy down. If you had a video of that, I know you guys would be studying it right now.
Dover: Down to the pixel.
Sado: We are eagerly awaiting for the video to come out.
Dover: By the time people are listening to this, the holonet should be up for the Imperial Agent, and that's something we are antsy to get our hands on, and pull every tiny pixel out to see what we can see.
Jake Neri: Excellent. Well every time we go in and start reviewing these things, we're like, "oh what did we leave, what else are we putting in here. What do we need to make sure we aren't putting in there?"
Dover: Well it's good to know we have an effect, for better or worse I guess I should say. You mentioned taking the Imperial Agent in a tactical direction in regards to combat. One of the abilities that we saw was "Toxic Dart", which is interesting, from an MMO standpoint, because it appears to be an attack that damages an opponent and causes a damage-over-time, but the opponent doesn't know that it's happened. That along with a probe of some sort. What other tactical abilities are we going to see coming out of this?
Jake Neri: One of the core goals with all our classes is to be able to be heroic and take on a number of enemies at any one time. What you saw was the Agent digging into the bag of tricks and using a variety of things, like the dart you mentioned. That an opportunity to neutralize opponents. We've got "Sleep Darts", we've got things you can put on people so you can start to control an encounter. Then use things like your "Laze Target" which puts a multiplier to your core damage, then boom, you hit that guy.
If you put a probe droid out there, that probe droid is not going to explode. I think it's an "Explosive Probe Droid." That won't explode until you shoot the guy, so again, you can do a lot of tactical burst damage up front, and then you might be in a position where you have to watch out at that point. All classes have to have their pluses and their minuses right, so there are some vulnerabilities. If you got a Jedi that's got up close, you as an agent, might be in some trouble, but then we'll give you tools to deal with that as well.
I don't remember every ability up to level 8 that we showed you today, but there are things that you might be able to call in, strikes from above. There's a lot of really cool stuff there. Some of the stuff you guys are talking about, the videos that are coming out shortly with highlight some of the stuff to, so I shouldn't give it all away.
Dover: One interesting thing that I'm sure everyone who is listening to this is really sinking their teeth in that you mentioned earlier was the fact that the Imperial Agent can go stealth. Stealth has always been a difficult concept for some MMOers to handle, but it seems you tackling it with the "Stealth Belt" you guys called it?
Jake Neri: Yeah, there is a lot of lore and fiction in Star Wars about the "Stealth Belt" mechanics and things like that. We are looking to grab from there. That is one of the things about working with Star Wars, most every permutation of everything related to any combat, sneaking, or fighting, war, battles, or anything, it's there for us to draw upon, and that's just a perfect example of that. It's not necessarily something you have to go buy, or get, but something as a class you have inherently. It's one of your abilities. And we fictionalize it through the fact that you have a belt.
Dover: One other thing that goes along with that, we did see the stealth field generator in Knights of the Old Republic that was on a timer. It didn't appear that this was on a timer, it seemed like it was a "turn on", "turn off" ability. It stays on as long as you have it on?
Jake Neri: I think some of the things on how that will actually end up are probably going to be tweaked with some caveats there. I think the main thing is that you can't make a class that can do everything; insane burst damage and stealth all the time and fade in and out. So there is some balance going on there, and I think you'll see over time that how that works specifically may change, may not. But we still got a ways to go with what happens when I'm playing against you and what happens when there is 50 other people around, how does stealth effect that? We're continuing to work on all that and balance it against every possible situation. We'll see how that nets out.
Dover: Fantastic, thank you very much for giving us sometime to talk about the Imperial Agent. I know when I saw the sniper rifle I switched. I was trooper and then I saw the sniper rifle and then I'm an agent. So thanks for giving us a little insight on that today.
Jake Neri: It's interesting, one note for you guys because I know always like the little blurbs. Our licensing guys, Lucas licensing, the holy grail right over in that building, and the folks over there, particularly my buddy, Leland Chee, who is master of the holocron, his title is Continuity Master or Holocron Master, his favorite is the Imperial Agent. And I always thought that was pretty weird because, out of all of the classes we have, you look at the various Jedi and the Bounty Hunters and the Smugglers and it's easy to say, "Bounty Hunter that's Boba Fett." There is not that immediate perfect tie to the Agent.
He's a hybrid of a lot of different things that you've seen in Star Wars. So I always figured that those guys would be like, "Oh it's not a Jedi." But they love it because it is unique, because it is cool, because it is offering something a little bit new to the canon. A little tid-bit for ya.
Dover: That's awesome, I think a lot of people are really excited. Justin (Sado) and I both switched coins instantly. We were like, "Oh, yup, Imperial Agent. There we go, that's our class."
Dover: Thank you very much for being with us today.
Jake Neri: Yeah, absolutely, appreciate it guys.
Stay tuned to this week's podcast for the unfiltered audio.