We are back from Los Angeles and E3 2011, but while we had some hands-on time with the game, BioWare was still hard at work posting on the official forums in this weeks DevTracker Highlights. Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert discusses leveling outside the game's story, inventory expansion, and the Jedi Knights lightsaber restrictions. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller talks about players starting combat ready, the Trooper's energy cells, implementation of the medical probe ability, and hints at something coming for companions. Associate Lead Designer Emmanuel Lusinchi explains how certain lightsaber crystal colors are usable depending upon faction and character alignment. Hit the jump to see all the highlights.
Georg Zoeller reinforces the notion that players will begin combat-ready, and not have to wait several levels before experiencing heroic combat.
I also think 360 degree defense is something that should be spec'd for, not something that comes for free.That's not our design. For this game, we specifically do not want the player to start off as an 'untrained newb' when they create their character.
If you start as a Smuggler, you know how to use a blaster quite well, you're the captain of a ship with a reputation, etc.
If you start as a Jedi Padawan, you've had weapon training already and are trained in the offensive and non offensive use of the Force. In conversations, you can 'persuade' weak minded individuals about the droids they are not looking for right off the start, and in combat you are trained to deflect blaster bolts and parry attacks coming from all directions. Think Luke Skywalker in Episode VI, not IV.
We're definitely shooting for a different experience from your standard MMO game start where you barely can hold a weapon and have to 'earn' pretty much any mundane ability by slaughtering peaceful animals of ever increasing size.
This is part of the whole 'heroic' thing we talk about all the time.
Damion Schubert notes that while it may be possible to level outside of a class's story quests, there is more incentive to participate in them than just experience and gear.
I know that if you could only use one single word to describe TOR, most would pick "Story". But, to me, a long story arc filled with linear quests is literally the last thing I ever want to play in a game, especially in an MMO. So I have a question for anyone who may be able to answer.Short form: your class story unlocks certain ... perks, that you will almost certainly want access to, and so for the most part, you will certainly want to do at least that quest line (and by the way, our class quests tend to be the content we spend the most time on). However, by playing savvily, you probably could sidestep a fair amount of the other story content if you so desired by levelling by other means.
Q: While leveling my character to the cap, my priorities will be, in order: Speed, Multiplayer experience, Crew Skills, Exploration, Gear. Story isn't even on the map. This may mean it would make sense for me to run flashpoints several times with a friend, then move to the next zone. If I want to completely ignore my character's main quest line, assuming it is a slower form of leveling than constantly running instances/killings mobs, is this even an option?
Essentially, how much of the class story line is forced or required, and can you jump in and out of it? Say I wanted to powerlevel from 25-30 in a flashpoint (hypothetically), the wanted to return to my main questline. Would it advance me? Would I need to pick up where I left off?
Thanks in advance for any info.
That being said, we strongly feel that story is our secret sauce, and tilt the XP curve in that direction.
Georg Zoeller points out the ammo mechanic remains in game, but is simply renamed to energy cells.
On the AC page the Chain Reaction ability refers to "energy cells" so ammo is gone and the reloading system has had a major change. There is an article about the new system on TORT from before the confirmation. The fact that Troopers had Ammo as their combat mechanic was what finally made me make up my mind and choose the Trooper as my main. I'm sad to see it go.Well, no ... ammo got renamed to the more precise term of 'energy cell', because that's what blaster weapons generally use
You still have the reload ability.
Georg Zoeller explains the reason for the introduction of the medical probe, as seen in the Gameplay Demo and Q&A with Daniel Erickson.
Let's give you some details, since it's E3 and we're being generous
The reason we added this system is that the worlds in The Old Republic are huge and a travel death penalty turned out to be much more punishing than initially planned. Our testers were quite vocal about that.
Our testers also commented that they liked the more challenging content compared to other MMOs (no, Daniel's demo wasn't showing that, since running harder content and talking and answering interview questions is a bit much to ask of a writer).
Since we wanted to retain the latter, but also fix the death issue, we decided to go with this solution.This system was just added. Currently, in testing, it works like this:
The first time you die, you have the option to summon the probe almost immediately or return to a med center. If a friend tries to restore you instead, the probe option is replaced by the 'accept help' button.
The second time you die (within 30 minutes), the timer to call the probe is 20 seconds.
From there on, the time increases so you'll probably want to go to a medical center instead (which will restore the initial timer).
As said, we just added this system and there's quite a bit of tuning left. We may decide to attach a service fee to the droids. We may make it so you have to purchase insurance in order to call the droids. We may take them out completely. Details like how it works in World PvP are still being tuned as well.
Georg Zoeller notes the medical probe ability will most likely have some exceptions.
We will likely put a limit on this ability when you are killed in PvP / by another player, even disallow it completely.
Georg Zoeller addresses a concern about floating combat text, explaining how customizable the UI is in terms of text and visual options.
While I hate the 'it's killing immersion' line as much as the next designer, because it's really just a translation of 'I don't like it', I can still put your worries to rest.
There are very detailed options to enable/disable almost every element of text output in the game.
Georg Zoeller describes how finding creative uses of mechanics can bring extra fun to players on heroic quests.
Amazing how all the insta-rez proponents fail to recognize how the top writer for the game is talking on the film about using 2 people to take on a 4 person instance. Running around dieing (over and over) and kiting MOB's to basically cheat his way through it.Hehe, Daniel will be disappointed when those holes he's exploiting are gradually shut down. As mentioned, we just added this system in testing, so there some rough edges.
That said, we're also not terribly concerned with people being creative about some of the heroic content. We're pretty pragmatic about it - if people have fun doing a one off heroic quest in a very creative way (like, let's say luring a bunch of enemies to a cliff and then pushing them over with a force push) and they're having fun, that's something we're potentially fine with. In fact, we find that a lot of the 'creative' ways people find around more challenging content seems to take more time than doing it the planned way anyway.
As long as there's a reasonable effort vs. reward ratio here, who am I to say that you and your friend can't have fun figuring out a way to get past that 4 man heroic?
This obviously doesn't apply to Operations or Flashpoints (Did I mention that you can't order a probe in instanced content like a Flashpoint or Warzone?), but for world heroics, we're definitely taking a relaxed view on these things.
Georg Zoeller illustrates how content should be challenging from the start, and not from repetitive death penalties.
And the response from Georg is ridiculous as well. You took away corpse runs because beat testers didn't like it? Of course the beta testers didn't like corpse running... nobody does. That's why it's called a PENALTY for death.No. I'm a bit amazed (just kidding, this is the internet) that you think we would operate like that. But yes - if 95% of testers tell you that you have a problem, you listen. You don't shut your ears and sing to yourself 'they're carebears, they hate any penalty'.
Honestly, they may as well rename this game Carebears in Space if they plan on caving to every players request.
We added this option because the impact of the 'walk back from medcenter' penalty, in our game, is huge - worse than in comparable MMOs. Here's why:
The distances in a world that is built to scale, on planets like Tatooine, are vast.
A lot of the content is not instanced and is open world and you don't enjoy fighting your way back deep into the objective areas when you die. We're not talking about 1-3 minutes of walking. In some cases, we're talking about 10-15 minutes of repeating content. That's not fun.
As Daniel explained, we're not shy of making challenging content that is interesting to overcome.
But content does not get more challenging by giving it a harsh, repetitive death penalty - penalties just happen after the fact and do not, in any way or form, make the content more challenging, fun or even difficult.
The only challenge a really harsh death penalty adds is to player's patience or tolerance to repeating the same content over and over. Most people don't find that fun, and we don't either.
By adding this system, we are able to create content that kills the player once or twice until they figure out how to overcome it. We can create challenges and players are given a chance to overcome them. They can afford to fail, regroup and try again instead of spending 15 minutes sitting around while some player tries to make his way back to the group.
If you are looking for hardcore and punishing death penalties that weed out the weak players (e.g. the ones that don't have infinite patience and time), The Old Republic will not be your game. That does not mean we're attempting to make an extremely easy game with no challenge.
Georg Zoeller notes that, in terms of medical probes, he was talking using in game credits, not microtransactions.
Query: Could someone explain what is meant by "We may decide to attach a service fee to the droids. We may make it so you have to purchase insurance in order to call the droids."? Does that mean we'd have to pay extra real $ for this feature, or in-game $? If it's real $ could or would it cost a bunch extra?Interjection: Do not give bad ideas to the wrong people
Clarification: Obviously I meant in game credits, not your $$$.
Georg Zoeller also points out that medical probes are not usable in instanced combat.
Except that the medical probe isn't available in instances. So there's that.
Georg Zoeller talks about the delay before the medical probe or medical center becomes available.
My suggestion is first time is 10 second wait time or whatever. Every time after that is 1 minute, 3 minutes, 6 minutes, 9 minutes, 10 minutes cap. Much more giving system that can't be exploited by groups easily.Well, the first time is 10 seconds for all options, including return to medical center.
We found that necessary to prevent people from quickly clicking something they later regret (e.g. go to med-center). A 10 second grace period allows players to cool down, assess the situation and gives their allies time to run over and offer a revival before people hit the button.
Having some 'think about what you've just done' time built into the system isn't bad either, it avoids adrenaline rushing a medical probe without taking a good look at the surroundings and where you want to go - the time you have to move while in stealth isn't a lot, so you need to have a pretty good idea where a safe spot is when you press that button.
Georg Zoeller expands on the reasoning behind the medical probe, and its application to Flashpoints, Operations, and Warzones.
I've said this before on this topic.
The harshness of a death penalty has little impact on how challenging contents. The penalty kicks in AFTER the content has challenged the player and all it does is challenge the player's patience, the available spare time in their life to spend on repeating the same content and their repetition tolerance at that point.
Our goal is to provide challenging content that allows players to fail, adjust and hopefully overcome the challenge. We want players to try and fail, not fail and stop trying.
The system we're using still forces you to take a break if you continue failing (due to equipment damage and quickly increasing medical probe timers) and it does not work in instanced content (where defeated enemies generally don't respawn and don't have to be killed over and over again). But punishing the player for trying? Nope.
It's generally accepted as outdated design to provide badly placed 'checkpoints' in games. Single player games get marked down if they place auto-saves badly (e.g. in a way where you have to clean an entire dungeon just to die at a boss fight and then redo the entire dungeon).
Why should MMO's be exempted from that rule? Why should people rerun large swath of mundane content because they died at a boss battle? Just because other MMOs did it?
Well, SWTOR is not other MMOs. I know some people want death to be super punishing, but short of creating a meta game where you strip your character naked and taser yourself when you die, this game won't provide a punishing death experience for you.
Georg Zoeller hints at possible ways to differentiate companions between players.
Not that I'm into RP very much, but with TOR giving us very specific companions won't it seem strange to enter an area only to see 2 or more of the same character tagging along behind someone else?I don't think that two identical looking Jawas are a problem
My apologies if this was answered, but my search on the word companion returned quite a few results.
With other companions ... maybe, but who knows what might happen....
Emmanuel Lusinchi sheds light on the crystal colors available for lightsabers, adding that cross-faction colors are only available by the character's alignment.
Quote from Emmanuel Lusinchi"Les classes sensibles la Force pourront apparemment choisir la couleur de leur sabre-laser librement. Il y a du vert, du bleu, du jaune, du rouge et mme du violet (le nombre de couleurs n'est pas dfinitif, c'est en dveloppement). Apparemment, le choix sera tellement ouvert que mme les joueurs Jedi pourront avoir un sabre rouge s'ils le veulent."This is correct, but not complete. It is true that the color depends on the crystal and that each faction has an unlimited access to its traditional colors (for example, blue and green crystals for the Republic). But for the opposite colors, access is for now limited by the character's alignment. So, you have to follow the Dark Side to have a Jedi with a red blade. Of course, like all our systems, we are testing all this and it is always possible that the details will change a little before the game is out.
EDIT: Et juste une ligne en dessous, "Georg Zoeller confirme : la couleur du sabre-laser n'est pas li la classe, mais au crystal que l'on implante dedans."
Emmanuel Lusinchi adds that players can find any color crystal, but using it is limited.
Quote from Emmanuel LusinchiBonsoir,
Donc le taux de loot d'un cristal rouge pour un jedi se fera par rapport a son alignement ou cela influencera uniquement la possibilit de l'quiper ?
"Only the possibility of using it. Instead of access, I should rather say "usage.
So, it is possible for a Jedi to find a red crystal, but that crystal is only usable with a given Dark Side rank.
Damion Schubert explains how inventory expansion works in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Glad I could show you this information thenYou start with 40 slots. You can pay to expand your inventory 10 slots at a time, capped at 80. The price of each row of slots gets progressively more expensive. That being said, any exact values (in terms of price and size) that you might see/hear about are prone to change as we make adjustments to the economy.
I think Erikson also said that it expands infinitely instead of using backs.
This could change however.
You can also pay to expand your ship's cargo hold, where you can store significantly more items.
We do not use the 'bag' paradigm that some other MMOs use - it's all one GUI.
Damion Schubert maintains that Jedi Knights cannot use double-bladed lightsabers.
None of you can say this is not possible!I can.
Jedi Knights can't wield double-bladed lightsabers. We have good reasons for making that decision. Sure, someday we might change our minds, but it's not an insignificant cost - the highly tailored animations each class has would have to be adjusted for the possibilities. Which is to say, it's unlikely to be something we try to 'sneak in', especially given our priority in getting this game out to you.