Darth Hater spoke with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Stephen Reid shortly after the doors opened to Eurogamer Expo in London, UK. We gleaned valuable intel during our interrogation of BioWare's Senior Online Community Manager regarding the status of future testing weekends, the team's current focus, and details on what BioWare has in store for fans at the expo.
Hit the jump for the interview in full.
Darth Hater is in London at the Eurogamer Expo, and we're here with Stephen Reid. The queue here is moving quickly, and many people already had a chance to play the game here at Eurogamer. What are the actual stats? What are you showing? How long are people able to play?
Stephen Reid: Pretty standard for a show for us. We give 20 minutes of playtime; we're showing origin worlds and then we are alternating onto PvP as well. We have 16 machines here at the show, and we are swapping them out wholesale to do PvP so that we get the full 16 machines running with two teams of eight. Then people can play whatever they want to play for origin worlds.
Every single computer has all eight different classes on it, and you can sit down at one and choose whichever origin world/class?
Yes, usual thing for us.
What is the response so far from the people that talked to you?
It was really good from the people I spoke to. A lot of them haven't played the game before, so it is great that they are able to get their hands on it for the first time. They are seeing lots of little things that you do not necessarily see unless you play the game; little quality of life touches and stuff like loot colors were some things that I heard people remarking on. Along with few other things that they noticed and were rather surprised to see. It is always great to see people laughing at dialogue as well and enjoying the choices that they get to make, especially if they are Dark side. So yeah, generally looks like a pretty good response, and PvP was well received as well, so that was good.
Testing weekends are a focus for BioWare lately. You had the first one go through, and then you held off to take some time to go through the testing feedback and making sure the new build was good to go for the weekends in the future. How soon can people look forward to new testing weekends? Additionally, what is BioWare looking forward to with those weekends?
Strictly speaking -- and I have been good about this is because I don't want to be mean to anyone -- but we never really promised an entire September. People will say that we did, but what you are basing that off of is Blaine's excited commentary at PAX. We intended to start in September and that is what we did. That was not a guarantee that we were going to do a testing weekend every weekend in September. But I know people like to ascribe things to us when we don't actually say them.
However, to be fair, we are trying to get them up and running again as fast as we can. We have been moving through a new build that has to go through internal testing and then goes out to external tests as well. We are engaged in that process, it is still ongoing, and we will push it out to external testers pretty soon, which means re-inviting people that are already part of the game testing program. As soon as we can after that, we will roll out the first testing weekend. I do not want to commit to a date right now, because you know dates change. In the same way that we are not going to commit to a release date until we feel 100% confident that we are going to hit that date, we do not want to commit to the same thing. They are coming and there will be more of them before launch.
You mentioned just how much those dates change because of how much testing you are doing, and how meticulous you are about getting the product the way you want it. How much data -- not just necessarily in volume, but quality or content -- did BioWare actually pull out of the weekend compared to your regular testing? Did the team get a great boon of information out of there that you are working with?
Well, the first weekend was very much a stress test launch simulation for us; a lot smaller numbers than we will be hitting at launch, but a good simulation for us internally. I mean that in the sense of our processes and everything else, and on the servers to make sure nothing fell over. And nothing fell over. The issues we had with some of the invites was actually unrelated to the servers. In terms of the actual performance of the test itself and the game itself, it was really good from our point of view. We were really happy, we are running through that and it gives us confidence to increase the number of testers that we will move through the weekends in the future.
In regards to those new or additional testers, should everyone keep an eye on their email whether or not they were already invited?
Well, we said that our current plan is to invite new people and if someone received an invite before, we are not planning to invite them back. That is not a guarantee that people will never get back into the game. We obviously did plan to re-invite over time the people from the first weekend because we had some issues with those early invites. We have enough people signed up to test that we are trying to get as many of them through as possible. We figure everyone waited a long time, so we want to make sure that we get in as many of those people as possible, and reach out to as wide an audience as possible. That is going to happen through a gradual increase in the number of people that we admit to each test. I am not going to guarantee you that everyone will get in, as that would be a foolish guarantee to make since we are still taking applications for testing, but we are going to get as many through as we can.
One last thing before we let you go back to the booth and get on with the show. We are always happy to see what you have to throw out whenever we get a chance to talk to you at conventions. Any comments or anything you haven't had a chance to say that you would like to say?
Anyone who follows what I say on the forums is not going to be surprised. We really appreciate everybody's patience. Try to be patient with us. The sky is not falling. The game is not falling to pieces and we are not having problems. We are proceeding as we planned, and we are heading towards launch. That is the ultimate goal. Everyone is really heads down, the studio is very focused on ironing out and polishing and getting the final bugs out of the system, and squeezing in maybe the occasional last minute feature. Small stuff.
We mentioned a couple of things already; Damion had a couple of things that he mentioned in an interview recently. They are very small things right now; we are not squeezing in a new combat system or something before launch. Everybody is really focused on getting to the finish line. It was a long, long process and it is going to take a little longer, but it is a lot closer than it ever was.
Thank you very much, and have a good show.