With most of BioWare down at San Diego this past weekend for Comic-Con 2011, Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller was left to brave the forums in this week's DevTracker Highlights. Georg talks about player housing, class population, changing Advanced Classes, and companion death. He also covers group sizes, testing, how bosses can react to players in cover, and his absence at this year's Gamescom. Hit the jump to see all the highlights.
Georg Zoeller reinforces that early-game access is not intended to be a stress test.
We're conducting stress tests well in advance of the early access phase of the game. The early access phase will allow players to create characters on the real launch servers before the game has officially launched. If anything, the servers will be less stressed at that time since only those with early access will have access.
Georg Zoeller emphasizes that personal starships will serve as player homes.
I searched and could not find a definitive answer as to whether or not there would be in-game housing, instanced housing or either. Part of the draw of STAR WARS GALAXIES was the ability to adorn your home with things from the game and to have that home actually exist in-game.The answer is that in Star Wars: The Old Republic, players gain access to a personal starship which serves as a place to relax, travel, and to keep those unruly companions working on the latest crafting creations.
All the playing in the world.. you'll need a place to relax and show off your trophies.. So what about housing, anything as of yet?
I know Alderaan is a real place here.. but can I LIVE THERE?
Georg Zoeller comments on the number of Smugglers trailing behind more popular classes such as the Jedi Knight.
Halloa,EN: You are correct. There will always be fewer Smugglers than Jedi Knights. Based on our test servers, more than 20% of players create a Jedi Knight for their first character, only between 6-8% a Smuggler. That's players who never touched the game before.
dieser Thread ist reine Spekulation und ich will eigentlich nur einen Meinungsaustausch damit starten
Im letzten Cinematic Trailer auf der E3 sieht man einen relative coolen Schmuggler, doch trotzdem kam es fr mich immer so rber als ob diese Character eher eine Auenseiter-Rolle spielt!
Ich mein logisch sind Jedis und alles was ein Lichtschwert trgt viel beliebter, als alle nicht-Lichtschwert-Trger.
Trotzdem find ich unter allen anderen Klassen nimmt der Schmuggler dennoch eine Auenseiterrolle ein! Nimmt man einmal die Umfragen zur Klassenwahl, landet er doch recht weit hinten (bzw. sogar auf dem letzten Platz).
Ich wei nicht was ihm fehlt, aber irgendwie fehlt ihm was!
Was meint ihr dazu?
Kann den Thread leider nicht mehr lschen, hab aber grad eine fast identische Diskussion hier gefuden :/...
After a few days, the balance usually shifts to a more reasonable distribution, but Knights always stay more popular than Smugglers or Troopers.
But ... this is ok. We knew this would happen before the game was even playable. Something about Star Wars fantasies, lightsabers and the force. That's what Star Wars is about.
The game and it's class structure are designed with this in mind.
Just to make this clear as well: There are no second class classes in SWTOR. Each class is getting an equal amount of attention from us in all aspects of design.
Georg Zoeller talks about player crowding in game launches and ways to side-step the queuing result.
It's a pretty easy choice and in line with our launch goal: Players that start the game should have a smooth experience. MMOs have crazy launch situations where everyone starts in a few locations and then spread out naturally very quickly. You end up having to develop solutions to handle this one-time use case and there are quite a few different options for doing so.
This solution means that many of the situations where you could end up with a queue can be mitigated by temporarily allowing additional capacity when needed.
Georg Zoeller discusses the reasoning behind allowing players to change their Advanced Class.
The design goal and reason why we settled on this method is as follows.
People make mistakes. Quite a lot actually, surprisingly. The line 'omg, I picked the wrong AC' shows up more than you might expect in our chatlogs.
We do want your AC choice to matter, but we also don't want to punish simple mistakes. So, the current design is that changing your advanced class initially is cheap (e.g. changing it right at level 10 is almost free).
As you gain levels, the price increases dramatically, and quickly. At level 20, it might just be out of reach for almost everyone. The exact pricing curve is still being tweaked based on testing, of course.
We definitely know this is a controversial topic in the community, but we feel that this solution gives us the best of both worlds.
Short: We allow for mistakes and short term buyer's remorse, but don't realistically allow for changing your advanced class like pants.
Georg Zoeller clears up confusion regarding the Collector's Edition exclusive store.
Are they making items with stats easy to get from these stores???As said by James already, no advantage, which rules out Pay to Win (tm).
O couldn't care less about vanity items but I Hate Pay to win or pay to make it easier stuff.
Georg Zoeller sheds light on the stance change of allowing players kill their companions.
A number of things happened:
Companions, since that feature was created, have become even more integral to the game: They run your crafting missions. They are vital to your PVE combat performance. They allow you to substitute for missing roles in flashpoints. They are at your side are in Open World PvP.
All these functions are on top of their function within the story and losing a companion puts you at a permanent competitive disadvantage in the game. Yes, you made a choice, and yes, we might even warn you about it ... still: Bad choices happen when the long term consequences are not clear and the impact of this choice is like cutting off one of your limbs in our game. Ultimately, the choice you want to make for story reasons should not come at a permanent gameplay disadvantage.
Finally, our experience in testing for several months revealed significant complaints about the feature.
While it is great in concept, it did not sit well with a lot of players. We extrapolated the complaints and number of customer support incidents dealing with this issue based on the amount of testing support requests (It's amazing how many variations of "Guys, I accidentally killed my healer companion. Totally by accident. Now I am gimped. Can I haz back?" there are) to the launch population and that made clear that this feature was not a winner.
So, in short: We've tested it. It wasn't great. We cut it. We're sorry if some of you liked the design, it just turned out that with all the other changes we made to companions over time, this one had to go. You can see that as us selling out, but the way we see is 'phew, a bullet successfully dodged through the testing program. Thanks testers.'
Georg Zoeller connects the allowance of changing Advanced Classes to forbidding companion character death.
Honestly, who didn't see this coming after them giving in to the ability to change your AC? Very disappointing.In fact, the same thinking and experience underlies the changes. People made honest mistakes about their AC. We want you to be able to correct mistakes, so for a brief window of levels after choosing your AC, you can have buyer's remorse and switch. It'll cost you a bit (and a bit more for changing your equipment), but you can do it.
A few levels later, the cost for this feature will be prohibitively high and you won't want to do it anymore. There's not going to be rampant or dynamic switching of ACs in the game. The impact to the long-term game is extremely low. The short-term impact is reduced customer service incidents - which means less unhappy players that made a wrong choice that affects the entire career of their character.
Georg Zoeller lists several reasons why they chose a group size of four.
So, why is our group size 4?
Because we are Star Wars: The Old Republic, and we are our own game
- Our game is designed from the ground up around the group size of four.
- We have a higher level of hybridization in all classes.
- We have companions that are capable of substituting a missing role in a flashpoint group.
- Everyone can revive other players, not just healers.
- We have a higher percentage of tanks in the overall population.
- All our classes can fill at least two roles.
- Most of our advanced classes can fill two roles.
- We're very gradually introducing roles in the game.
- We always have 4 members in a group, even if there are only two players (although I doubt most players would be able to do a flashpoint that way).
- There are 4 classes (on each side), which makes for a perfect iconic party.
- AT-ATs have 4 legs!
So, while everyone knows [insert 50 facts about a very different game], we know that 4 was the perfect number for our game and we didn't think much about 5.
Georg Zoeller points out that while you may not be able to kill your companions, nothing is stopping you from not taking them with you on your adventures.
Just wanted to point out that bathing your companion in liquid carbonite or permanently detaining them in your cargo hold is pretty evil as well, so prospective dark side players shouldn't be too concerned that this somehow removed the potential to be themselves.
Georg Zoeller asserts that, with extensive testing, features can and will change if shown to be the wrong direction.
I thought Bioware said that everything that they show us and tell us about is set in stone for the game and for that reason there is stuff we can't see because they don't want us to assume what is in game; that is an invalid excuse now. It disturbs me that they wait until after preorders to inform us of this "small" change, I hope they don't make any other "small" changes that affect our freedom to choose.Actually, we never said that.
If we did have that attitude, why would we even run testing?
What we've said is that we want to be as sure as we can before sharing details. Why? Ironically, the current heated reaction to some of the changes highlight perfectly why we do that.
The bottom line is: If you are looking for infallibility, you'll have to look for it elsewhere. We are running an extensive testing program to validate everything we do, and nothing is sacred, regardless how much we like it. If our testers give us enough indication that we made a mistake, we WILL correct it.
Georg Zoeller explains how it's possible to have the same story vibe without killing companion characters.
Let's give a hypothetical (to avoid spoilers) example for how this can work.
A companion might have betrayed you. In the past, one of the options for our character to react to it was to kill him. For many players, that would make total sense, but it would fight with the fact that they rely on that character for certain crafting missions, or even for combat prowess.
If we are successful with story and presentation, you will experience emotions like anger or disbelief in those situations and they will lead to passionate short term reactions, like selecting that 'I don't forgive traitors [kill him]' option.
Popping a warning window up at that point isn't great, it really interrupts the story. Just letting the player kill the companion isn't great, because most players do not read Forums and they do expect games to be fair to them. The game in this case wouldn't be fair. In order to make the emotional choice you wanted, you'd have to forget about the permanent disadvantage your character would have to endure.
Instead, now, you might get a different option, maybe 'I cannot risk letting a traitor go free [carbonize]', maybe 'You can think about what you've done while you rot in the brig [imprison]'. Those options would obviously have an extreme hit on affection.
I do think it's possible to retain the integrity of the story that is important to BioWare story fans this way without having the large scale customer support issues when the feature meets traditional MMO players not used to such things.
We totally realize some of you still would have liked the old system, but there is a 0% chance of that coming back.
Georg Zoeller points out that the number of testers is large enough to fairly represent the community as a whole.
In other words, your betatesters, and your targetting playerbase have about the same intelligence as a doorknob. This is such a sellout, all because a few kids cant live with the choices they make, jeez.Due to the fairly large sample size we have at this point, it is correct to say that our testers, selected randomly from all invites, are statistically representative of the composition of this community, you and me included. There is nothing more to say about that
Georg Zoeller corrects Creative Director James Ohlen that more powerful bosses can actually push players out of cover.
cosmasterkiller asks: Will boss mechanics be immune to Barriers? - If a "boss" has an AOE mechanic, will all Cover classes be immune to the AOE or will the AOE be immune to the barrier?Way ahead of you, James. Stronger bosses have the ability to push you out of cover after a few hits in cover.
James Ohlen: If your not doing anything and just taking cover, then you'll be in full cover. With melee weapons he'll be able to damage you. With ranged weapons currently I think that they might not. That might be an exploit we might have to look into. *laughs*
Georg Zoeller maintains that Star Wars: The Old Republic will not run on single-core CPUs as specified in the system minimum requirements.
TOR does not run on single core environments (not that there are many of those left these days). The required minimum spec is at least a dual core machine.
Georg Zoeller goes into further detail about how upgrading weapons and armor can extend their usefulness.
I see. Sad but true.There's more to this:
It seems it is not even mentioned to be on the wall of crazy. I guess we have to take decisions in consequence. Thanks anyway.
The mod system in our game is extremely extensive. You can already keep weapons and armor that you like up to date, stats, wise, for long stretches of the game.
For most items, most, in some cases all, stats on an item come from it's mods, which can be replaced throughout the game.
Georg Zoeller explains why companion kits were removed.
What is meant by "no companion kits"?It means we removed them because they are no longer needed. They've been replaced with a more comprehensive mechanic of customizing companions.
This is a good example though of why we generally avoid announcing features before they are done. Everyone goes crazy if we then make changes. Of course, you still have to make changes if testing tells you people want something deeper, different or if you find something doesn't work, so you can't avoid some of it, no way how you approach it.
Georg Zoeller uses an example to illustrate how cross-faction communication can work.
[COLOR="RoyalBlue" if my Inquisitor is standing in front of a Jedi, can I /say or /emote custom text to him?Yes, currently this is the plan.
Georg Zoeller informs us he will not be at Gamescom due to his busy schedule. The post below is roughly translated.
I'm sorry can not personally go to Gamescom this year, too do too much (why only).
Let's see, perhaps by video feed.