E3: Interview with Daniel EricksonWe had the pleasure to interview Daniel Erickson of BioWare about companions, warzones, player ships, party dynamics, and more.
The video portion is above, and the transcription is after the jump. Enjoy.
Today focused on player interactions and how group play works. Earlier, we were able to see the first live demo of group play against NPC targets. Would you like to go into a little bit kind of the system and the design? There are a lot of questions about the trinity system and healing, tanking, and things like that.
Erickson: Yeah. When we first started, we really wanted to make sure that we included the things that made parties work strongly together, but we didn't want to wind up locked into a hard trinity system. One of the big reasons we went for the advanced classes, and allowed people to take very different routes with each of the character classes, was to give a broader range than just the straight healer, tank. You know, "I'm going to be the DPS guy."
Today showed the core dynamics are still there, and you guys actually got to see them saying that this guy is playing tank, this guy is playing this. What you didn't get to see were companion characters coming into the mix, and companion characters can be used to amplify or soften what role you're taking. So if you're going to play your tank guy, but you're going to bring your healing companion character, it is much, much different than going to play tank and bringing another tank with you. Or if you were going to play super DPS guy, bring your DPS companion as well and to just be the massive, massive damage dealing team. Same way, I tend to be the guy that plays a lot of priests; I tend to be the guy that plays a lot of healing roles and I very much like the, "I'm going to be the healer and I'm going to go through and make myself the super healer, and I am going to bring my healing companion and were just going to be a medical ward."
In regards to what we saw with four players on a single team, one of each of the Republic classes, you're mentioning companion characters integrate into groups. Will we be able to see a one to one ratio? If there is a party of four PCs, will there be four PCs and four companions or do companions take up player slots?
Erickson: No, everyone will be bringing their companions with them.
An optimal team would be four players and four companions?
That would lead into a lot of dynamics in regards to what you are talking about.
Erickson: Absolutely. A lot of discussions of "hey, we thought we were going to have a group that stacked like this," but we didn't. Maybe we don't have our healer that night, so instead, "hey, why doesn't everybody grab their healing companion. And you know what? We are probably still going to be able to run this thing."
Right, so supplementing the group composition through the companions.
Erickson: Absolutely. In what you want to do personally or what your group is missing and you guys decide as a group what you're going to do.
Sticking with the multiplayer combat that we saw in the demo, just a second ago, one thing that is a little bit more class specific. You had the Smuggler being in a cover position doing a lot of covering fire and assisting. In addition, he used one of his Advanced Class abilities to heal.
Three of the characters in the group, including the Smuggler, were Level 8. Is this purely for demo purposes?
Erickson: Purely for demo purposes. Not indicative at all of where you will get your Advanced Classes or the powers you would have at that ability.
One of the things covered were the players ships. We learned a lot about how they are designed towards a meeting place and a gathering place for you and your friends and your companions. Can you go a little bit more in-depth on how it works into the game?
Erickson: Sure. Well, basically we have just shown the first couple. So, we know there is a ship for every type of class; you guys got to see the Sith ship; you guys got to see the Jedi ship. There is a Trooper ship, there is a Smuggler ship, and they are all different and they are all unique inside. Very, very cool. They work very much in the Ebon Hawk model from KoTOR. Your companion characters live there. You have personal space. Obviously it is an MMO, so there needs to be an environment that you can socialize in. That is as far as we have gone so far. There have been a whole lot of other things lighting up the boards right now and a few people that have made some rather facetious announcements. Everything beyond that, at this point, is pure speculation.
Since it is a ship, it would travel with you from planet to planet?
Erickson: Absolutely. This is your means of getting around. Once you've got a ship, then you've got the galaxy and you can say, "I can go anywhere I want."
You mentioned customization, and that it is a huge part of all the marketing that we see with The Old Republic. You mentioned that each class will get their own ship, and you actually mentioned it in the demo that all the ships will be customizable, so that one Smuggler ship is not identical to another Smuggler ship, in regards to the things that go with it?
Erickson: No. Actually, I think that is where some of speculation got thrown out there, because we did two demos back to back. We did the demo on the ships and then we did the demo on the class customization and people merged them in their brains.
Good to know, interesting clarification.
Erickson: We have made no announcements or no discussion about ship customization.
Another focus was mentioned during the EA press conference yesterday; that Alderaan is going to be the first Warzone for PvP combat. Could you go a little bit more into depth how the setup is going to be integrated into the game, like the ships were?
Erickson: Unfortunately, we can't. There are a lot of different ways to get someone to a WarZone. Do you want to do it through physical space? Are we going to let people teleport in? Are we going to do all that? Those are all game design decisions that we have to have a population in there and pushing. We obviously have some ideas, but the answer that no one ever likes is we're going to go the way that works best with our game.
Of course. But then you can state that it is an independent instanced zone, like it is a separate distinct zone?
Erickson: Correct. It is a distinct place that you can play this controlled experience with multiple people.
And in the same theme that goes along with that, how it is a specific instanced zone, are we going to be seeing specific game types linked to the zone? Like objective-based combat or death match or capture the flag. Or do we know if the zones are going to be focused on a single objective type game play or is it just broad PvP?
We actually do not know at this point, because again we are playing with a whole bunch of different ideas. Obviously there is a lot out there to draw from and so it is got to be a base between: how many of these are we going to have and what side of stuff works the best? And the big one is the one we are just getting into: just doing all our multiplayer testing and multiplayer fun and that is going to determine what we choose to do with our multiplayer combat.
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