You don't need an invite to read this week's DevTracker Highlights. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller discusses planet instancing, Imperial Agents, and low-level ganking. Senior Community Manager Stephen Reid covers same-gender romances and possibly harmful websites claiming to give away access to Game Testing. Hit the jump to see all the highlights.
Georg Zoeller breaks down how BioWare plans to handle large server loads on Origin worlds during launch.
Launch is a pretty unique situation in many regards. It creates loads on part of the game (the Origin Worlds) that are never seen again after that point.
There are several ways to handle this:
A) Phase (or instance) these areas to handle the temporarily highly inflated load.
B) Design the areas as if they were always under full load. That would lead to large, empty areas after the initial rush in which the normal player population gets lost. You create a large desert - fine if the planet is called Tatooine, but generally large areas with duplicated content suck in MMOs.
C) Put out tons of additional servers for a few days to handle the temporarily inflated load, then consolidate them later. Players generally don't like that, as it destroys communities.
D) Put up long, multi-hour queues. Players hate that and you really don't want to be exposed to:
'My lord, permission to land on Korriban has been denied. They say the planet is full and that the Sith Environmental Protection Council has decided to protect the native population of K'lor' slugs from being overharvested by denying entry to new visitors.'
E) Don't do anything, after all it's temporary and tell players to 'deal with it'. This leads to people 'waiting for respawns'.
We opted to go with (A) since it's a native, well tested feature of our game engine (we work in different phases/instances on our development servers), it can be activated on the fly and deactivated as population levels normalize and since it has the least impact on players.
We definitely plan to minimize the use of this mechanic, but as with our decision to limit the launch supply of the game to a manageable number of players, we are making these choices in order to guarantee satisfaction for the paying customers that will flood our service at launch day.
Georg Zoeller expands on Origin world instancing for PvP.
Does instancing hurt PvP?
No, it doesn't.
You can't switch instances while in combat and you won't be able to switch them constantly at will (there are various limitations on the switching we are actively testing to find the right balance between convenience and prevention of abusive behavior).
It doesn't affect Warzones, since those are already instanced.
What it might affect is someone's ability to continuously gank the same player in the same spot. Frankly, we've taken other steps already to make this scenario not very likely. The player can just quick travel, revive in stealth or revive at a medical center outside of your reach if he decides he has had enough.
Georg Zoeller maintains that Star Wars: The Old Republic allows more creative opportunities after launch than there are prior to launch.
Just saying: completely unrestrained creativity is the first and foremost reason why games fail. BioWare has been around for a long time partially because we've learned when to stop being creative and get down to polishing what is there.
This being an MMO means there's plenty of time for additional creativity past launch
Georg Zoeller details how players will be able to switch instances on a planet.
Would you be able to silence those that are worried that they won't be able to go from Korriban 6 to Korriban 3 where their Friends are at? [Using Korriban # as an example]You will be able switch instances unless they are completely full, which is unlikely as people logout, leave the planet and so on all the time. In any case if the instance was full, your friends would be able to switch to you instead. We are very mindful to ensure this has minimum impact on player's ability to group with their friends.
Georg Zoeller notes that instancing only kicks in when the number of players on a given planet goes into the red zone.
I love how people get ahead of themselves and spell doom and gloom here.
As discussed, we instance planets when the number of players on them goes into the 'red zone' where players would experience severe degradation of their game experience (long wait times on spawns, etc.). By definition, the likelihood of this happening is extremely likely early on when all players are concentrated on the smaller origin planets.
The 'red zone' for each planet is defined individually based on how many people it can sustain before problems become intolerable. The exact number for each planet is determined through testing such as the testing weekends we run. In any case, several hundred is true, even for the smallest origin world.
Do we want to instance PvP planets? Not if we can help it, but if the load on the planet exceeds what we define as acceptable based on testing, we will instance them rather than make the experience miserable for everyone on the planet.
Georg Zoeller confirms a new Smuggler ability.
Smugglers have an threat drop skill called Surrender. Sort of like the priest's Fade ability in WoW. I suspect that's what it was, although I've never seen the animation, just the tooltip.This is in fact an ability
Georg Zoeller gets into character and informs future Imperial Agents they are not forgotten.
Even though you are so capable at disguising yourself, lurking in stealth, the Keeper has not not forgotten you. He is watching your every move. He's even indicated that member of the Dark Council has expressed interest in your progress.
Intelligence reports on the activities of BioWare, said to be a secret subdivision of division of CErkA Corporation, have indicated that while you may feel to successfully escaped their attention, you were not successful. The company clearly is aware of your presence and your attempts to undermine detection by hiding your true numbers have failed.
As to why such attention has not yet led to the expected electronic dossier on your latest fashion choices (likely to also spill the guts on the latest of Imperial Intelligence's secret gadgetry and tactical training) has not yet leaked to the galactic information network is unclear, but data indicates that this is a matter of so called 'integer sequencing', a theory that suggests that given a number of discreet entities and a rule of not highlighting each entity more than one time, there will always be one entity that is highlighted last.
While highly theoretical, potentially even heretic concepts like this are unlikely to lessen the displeasure of the Dark Council should such information leak, we are certain that even after the expected punishment (which, of course, in time honored tradition will only affect lower rank and file members of Imperial Intelligence), there will be enough Agents available at to deploy to the field once operation 'Beta' has concluded.
Your's truly (... or so)
Georg Zoeller gives an estimate on how many players planets can support.
Wait... will it be like Guild Wars 1? O_O where you only see other people at the wilderness if grouped with them?No it will not.
No... NO!... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Even the smallest planet instance in The Old Republic can hold several hundred users at once and cities in the game are part of the planet, not separate zones.
Georg Zoeller reaffirms Star Wars: The Old Republic does not support ambushing low-level players on starter planets.
Georg Zoeller thinks that world pvp is what killed UO, his opinion on world pvp is, uneducated at best.Soulstitch,
You're really not doing your cause any favor. Last time I checked, BioWare Mythic was still running UO and it's not killed. So please don't put words in my mouth that I didn't say. If you want to make a point with something I have said, quote it precisely without commentary.
And while we're at it, don't assume to know what I think or what my education is. Ad hominem attacks on participants in this forum, developer or not, will not make your personal opinion about any topic more or less important to us.
As for this particular topic - there will be no ganking of newbie players in The Old Republic as all Origin Worlds are sanctuaries that can not be invaded by the other faction. We have no interest in allowing high level players to choke off the supply of new players into the game by ganking them over and over before they have learned the ropes of their class.
To put it bluntly: If that is your fantasy, you will have to find another game, because The Old Republic will not cater to that. For every player who enjoys that particular fantasy, there are a lot of players that don't enjoy being on the receiving end of it. That's a fact, a business lesson learned from existing, still running MMOs.
We think we have plenty of great options for PvP in our game, from Warzones, to Open PvP Objective Areas to Open World PvP on Contested Planets, which will be dangerous territory outside the protective reach of guards and fair game for conflicts.
But if you are expecting something akin to the original Ultima Online or DAoC's Mordred server, you need to look elsewhere.
Stephen Reid announces that same-gender romances will be coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic as a post-launch feature.
Official statement follows:
Due to the design constraints of a fully voiced MMO of this scale and size, many choices had to be made as to the launch and post-launch feature set. Same gender romances with companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a post-launch feature. Because The Old Republic is an MMO, the game will live on through content expansions which allow us to include content and features that could not be included at launch, including the addition of more companion characters who will have additional romance options.
Georg Zoeller reveals the name of the Smuggler's version of Entrench, Hunker Down.
bloody nerf herders...always getting the snuggles...We've mentioned this one on the Agent before, it's called Hunker Down, which is a mirror of the Operative's Entrench ability. It boosts the output of the shield generator to bestow an array of protections onto the Smuggler for a period of time. Moving to a attack a Smuggler while this ability is active is usually a very bad idea (tm).
so, since you seem to be in a revealing mood....what is the name of the ability that gives teh smuggler the extra-interesting sheilds at the end of the vid?
Stephen Reid warns of potentially fraudulent websites claiming to give away Game Testing invites.
At this time, there are no websites, anywhere, who are officially partnered with EA or BioWare to 'give away' Game Testing invites or 'Beta Keys'. Any site suggesting otherwise is mistaken.
The only way to get a Game Testing invite (of any kind) at this time is to be signed up to test and to be officially invited by BioWare, via email. As always, to check if you have been invited to test, login to swtor.com/tester/
Please be aware that some sites may ask you to download software in exchange for promised 'Beta Keys'. This software may be malicious and may damage your PC. You are never required to download anything to be invited to Game Testing - you will only need to download the game client after you are invited, which is only available from SWTOR.com.