On a philosophical level, can you explain the combat design challenges or benefits you encountered after deciding to separate the eight classes into 16 advanced classes?
James: Well, one of the things we wanted to do is give more diversity to the classes, and we felt that advanced classes was the best way to do that. We could not have 16 different classes at the very beginning because that would just be way too expensive; doing eight separate classes and eight separate story lines is immensely expensive as it is. However, we felt that eight classes was not really enough so we wanted to give the equivalent of 16. We accomplished this through the advanced class system where you, partway through the game, get to essentially branch out into one of two different paths within your own class. That way, a class like the Sith Inquisitor can come across as very different depending on what path he goes down: whether it be, what I call, the Palpatine route where he is using a lot more lightning and dark force powers or the more Darth Maul route where he is using the dual saber and lots of acrobatic moves.
Can you explain the philosophy behind how the skill sets in each advanced class work? Is it to give you further options to extend the ways you play one role in groups, does it open up additional roles, or is it best described as a combination?
James: Each of the advanced classes does allow you to modify the role you play as a group. For example, if you are a Sith Warrior and you decide to go down the Juggernaut path then you will be wearing heavy armor and wielding a single lightsaber. You are much more of a tank character. However, if you decide to go with the Marauder path, then you get to wield two lightsabers and you are dealing a lot of damage. You are much more of a dps character; you are gonna be the guy dealing the damage instead of taking it. So those are two very different classes, but you are still a Sith Warrior; you are just playing a different role in the group.
In addition to the information learned about advanced classes today, we also got to see the very first in-game footage of space combat. We read the press' observations of what they thought Space Combat looked like, and now the community is giving their feedback on what they saw. In your own words, can you explain the rationale for including Space Combat in TOR?
James: Because we are making a Star Wars game, we have to have space combat. The way we decided to implement it was to give each player his own starship, because that is a big fantasy - owning your own Millennium Falcon. We also wanted to give the player the ability to travel the galaxy. So, when he gets on his starship, he can choose which planets he wants to go to using a beautiful galaxy map that allows him to travel from star system to star system. Then, once you have your own starship, you are going to want to get involved in battles so we decided to add a combat portion to it.
Keep in mind, our game is all about cinematic storytelling and taking the best cinematic moments from the movies and recreating them. When we decided to add space combat to the game, we wanted to maintain this cinematic quality. To do this, we thought of the most exciting moments in the movies: The Return of the Jedi final battle, the original battle in Episode IV on the Death Star, Han Solo escaping the Imperial fleet in The Empire Strikes Back, Obi Wan battling against Jango Fett in the asteroid field in Episode II. Those are the kind of moments we decided we want to recreate. That is why we chose to go the route we did and to build the game the way we did. We built more of a crafted experience for the player, so that he doesn't have to go looking for the excitement in space combat. We did not want to create a game where you had to fly around in 3D space and try to find your excitement; you go directly into the space fighter game and the excitement is right there. It's like a moment from the Star Wars movies.
This should get many people who are not interested in space simulations trying out the space combat portion of the game. Can you explain how you are designing the warzones to give those who normally do not like to participate in group PvP an incentive to participate?
James: Well, the thing is, if you are not into group PvP, there are a lot of different elements in the game that you can play. You have the core game story, your class story, you have flashpoints which are going to be repeatable, you have the space game which we just announced, you have crafting. We have a whole bunch of different things that you can do. When we built the PvP warzones, we really wanted to appeal to people who love PvP. So, if you are not into PvP, I don't think were going to make you suddenly become a PvP fan, but you're going to have so many other parts of the game that you will be into. Because of that, I think it will be okay.
Space combat appears to be single player at the moment, but we have previously heard that groups will be able to travel together. Will players need to split up to participate?
James: Well, we can say that the space combat system is an optional gameplay event where you are able to go to "Hotspots" on the galaxy map and engage in combat. You can really do this whenever you want to. So, if you are adventuring with your friends, you do not have to go and do space combat. As you said, it is single player, so when you are adventuring in a group, you probably do not all want to go off and do your own individual space combat. You will most likely want to go through a flashpoint or adventure through some content on a world. The space game is really just an extra activity within the game for you to enjoy.
Thank you very much for talking to us, hope to see you in the game.
James: Alright, cool. Nice talking to you.