Not to go into the details of what advancement systems we will have or not have inside the game but... this doesn't always work out this rosily, without great designer care. I worked on Meridian 59, which was a wholly skill-based game, and learned a lot about the strengths and pitfalls of systems like it. One of my great pet peeves of pure skill-based systems is that they claim that they are more realistic, but they in fact can create extremely unrealistic situations inside the world.
In the original Everquest, it was not uncommon to see a player throwing himself off a cliff over and over again to improve his safe falling skill, or to see a person macroing some random text gibberish in order to improve his languages. In Meridian 59, players used to park themselves in front of low level monsters and leave the keyboard - they were unlikely to die, and could accumulate defense points in a slow, steady and totally risk-free manor. In Oblivion, the best way to build an assassin character is to hop through fields picking flowers. Jumping improves your Acrobatics (I believe), and the player needs enough flowers to grind up his Poisoning skill.
Sure, each of these could be destupidified with enough designer/programmer time and focus, but then you're coding, QAing and exploit-proofing a different advancement mechanism for every skill in the game. And you'll probably still end up with some silliness somewhere.
I know some people are offended by the idea of do stuff->gain experience->gain level->somehow get better at something completely unrelated. - I know I was too, young in my career when I designed M59. But one of the most important thing for advancement systems is that you get the behavior you incentivize. In a classic XP/Level based system, you are incentivizing your XP-granting behaviors (which in SWTOR is tilted strongly towards questing). In skill-based systems, it is trivially easy to accidentally incentivize really stupid and boring behaviors.
More from BioWare's Randy Begel, Charles Boyd, and Brian Arndt after the jump.
BioWare writer Randy Begel posted a poll to see what the motivations are behind people's Star Wars: The Old Republic class choices:
There are a lot of class polls on the forums. Most touch on what people's favorite (or least favorite) classes are, but I'd like to take the question a step further and ask why. For instance, is it a desire to stand defiantly against tyranny (story) that draws you to being a Jedi Knight, is it the appeal of flashy lightsaber combat and force acrobatics (gameplay), or perhaps just the aesthetics of being the space knight in shining armor (appearance/vanity)?
Obviously, the number of motivations aside from these basic three are legion, but I think these cover the most likely reasons certain classes appeal to certain people (and I can't have more that 25 options in my already convoluted poll, so blame it on technical limitations if you must!)
So let's hear it, which class will you play and why?
Brian Arndt cleared up some controversy regarding a distant figure in a screenshot:
Originally Posted by Altyrell
in this picture? http://www.thegalacticstruggle.com/w.../may2010/1.jpg
It's hard to tell, as the person is too far in the background to tell
It's actually a human player character that wandered into my screenshot :)
And Charles Boyd consoled those who mourn the lack of a Sith Trooper class:
Never underestimate the opposition, soldier!
The Sith Empire has an extensive military with all of the divisions and operational groups that one would expect. You might not hear much about them currently since there isn't a Player class representing them, but they're out there. ;)