Interview: Daniel Erickson on Crew Skills
We caught up with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Lead Writer Daniel Erickson after last week's EA Winter Showcase and asked him to explain in his own words what the Crew Skills system is. He was gracious enough to provide us with expanded insight regarding the unique crafting system that BioWare Austin's Lead System Designer, Damion Schubert, hinted at during our interview in October.
Update: Part 2 is now available.
The crafting system in Star Wars: The Old Republic we call Crew Skills is something we worked on literally for years trying to solve some of the big puzzles. There are a lot of us who are big crafting fans, including myself, but we really wanted to make sure we preserved some of the core concepts around SWTOR such as you play a hero of Star Wars. You are doing big, heroic, and exciting things. You are not sewing. You are not making shoes. You are not hanging out trying to get some thread together.
We went through a lot of versions of how we work with this, and one of the things we kept coming back to was companion characters. One of the issues with companion characters in past BioWare games has always been that you have a limited set of who you can bring in your party at one time. For most people, they pick the couple of companions they really like, and everybody else ends up back on the ship. These came together into a great kind of synergy for us and became the Crew Skills system, which is a combination of wanting crafting, but we don't want to make your character mundane and we need something for your crew to be doing. So alright, we have a perfect match.
The Crew Skills system is three sections. Gathering is going out and grabbing stuff from the environment and your typical harvesting skills, but with a Star Wars flavor. You're doing bio analysis, actually scanning things, getting DNA sequencing from things, etc. One of the interesting things when we talk about missions is that there are also missions for gathering. I can gather in three ways: I can be right there physically, and I can see something and pick it up. Or I can say, "Hey Vette -- you pick that up and I'm going to do something else" while I keep fighting.
One thing that is really fun is when you're in a combat area that is pretty dangerous, and you're able to distract someone. Let's say there is someone in the area that you couldn't normally kill; you could throw yourself into combat and fight with them to keep them off your companion character while they harvest something you wouldn't normally be able to get... and then run!
And the third way of gathering is... actually, every gathering skill comes with a mission skill for gathering. Let's say I don't have Vette and I have someone else with me; I can actually call back to my ship and say, "Hey Vette! Why don't you go find me some of this material? I don't care where you get it -- just go." So that is gathering. The second part of the Crew Skills is crafting and that is really the traditional crafting system. You have a crafting table which is on your ship. Up to five of your companions can work on it at once. You say to yourself, "I have all the components I need. I now want to make something. But I'm not going to make it -- my companions are going to make it."
- Page 1 of 2
- Crew Skills Part 2