It’s been a week since launch, and though BioWare is still addressing launch issues as needed, they found time to provide feedback to players in this week’s DevTracker Highlights. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller covers skill respecs, the number of low-level abilities, and the thought behind Trauma. Community Coordinator Allison Berryman expands on the possibility of new forum sections in the future. BioWare co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk assures players that the BioWare Live team is working hard to reduce queue times to allow more people to play, and thanks the already over one million registered players for a successful launch. Senior Writer Alexander Freed shares glimpse into the process for creating new content with such a heavy focus on voice acting. European Community Manager Chris Collins affirms that shared maintenance times for both US and EU servers will create less downtime as the lifespan of the game grows. Hit the jump to dig in and see all the highlights.
Georg Zoeller takes his position regarding skill respecs and their proliferation in the game.
Been a while since I posted, as you can imagine, we're a bit busy right now.
However, we're still actively monitoring the forums and venues of player feedback, collecting information helpful to prioritize the feature development, issues, etc.
On the topic of skill respecs, we are aware that it is a popular request to have more versatility in how and when to respec (which includes questions of cost) and we've already decided to pursue the idea of more readily available respecs for players. Pricing changes are also very much under consideration.
Just so you understand my position on the topic: I don't think skill respec should be rare or handled very restrictively. I'm actually all for players experimenting with different skill sets once they have a good grip of their character.
I don't want people to respec in the middle of combat or in between defeats in a Warzone or Operation, but other than that, I think respec is a positive thing for the game. If we find that the current pricing is too prohibitive for somewhat experienced players, we'll make adjustments.
Allison Berryman discusses the new forum layout and the possible addition of more forums in the future.
Quote from Allison Berryman
Hey everyone, just for clarification: we are definitely open to making changes to the Forums that we currently have depending on community needs. The interview with TOR-Talk linked in this article mentions:
"There is room for this to change in the future depending on demands and our capability to provide good moderation coverage. We need to balance the amount of demand from the community against our ability to provide the level of service we’re committed to maintaining, and as the craziness of launch starts to subside, we may look at some different options or implementations if it becomes clear there’s a need to in order to serve the community."
The current forum listing is by no means set in stone forever, and we're always open to feedback and suggestions. If it becomes clear that something is needed by the community, we'll absolutely work on ways to implement a solution that meets those needs. We encourage you to (constructively!) express what you want from the Forums in the Community section, where a thread about Server Forums already exists.
Also, the search feature is currently disabled, but we do plan on restoring it as soon as possible and know that it is definitely an inconvenience when trying to use the forums. We apologize for that inconvenience and thank you for your patience in the meantime.
Dr. Greg Zeschuk addresses concerns about queue times and server performance.
Quote from Dr. Greg Zeschuk
Hey folks, as you may likely have seen in the last 24 hours, we've been redoubling our efforts in optimally managing the time it takes to get into Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The BioWare Live Team has been carefully watching the influx of players into the game and is addressing with surgical precision the longer wait times on the small number of servers that were having longer wait times previously. We've also being doing our best to get every little bit of possible performance on our servers to increase capacity: we’ve “turned them up to 11” to do our very best to get you in and playing as quickly as possible. As a result - you should now be seeing significant improvement versus waiting times at the end of last week.
We're also addressing the concerns about losing your place in line if you happen to disconnect for some reason before getting into the game. We've been working very hard on this and are performing final testing on potential solutions.
Thanks for your patience and we really appreciate your enthusiasm for Star Wars: The Old Republic. We’re absolutely dedicated to ensuring you have a great experience both inside and outside the game.
Dr. Greg Zeschuk also expresses his and Dr. Ray Muzyka’s gratitude for the milestone of over one million registered players of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Quote from Dr. Greg Zeschuk
Yesterday was quite a day here in Austin. We likely had the largest one-day subscription account registration process in MMO history – over one million people are now registered players of the game, and the number is growing rapidly.
As you might imagine, this presented a huge strain on our infrastructure and systems, but the good news is that we seem to be through the worst of it now thanks to folks working hard all day to serve our community. And as Greg mentioned in his earlier note, we've also been working hard on resolving queues – those being another side effect of the huge demand for Star Wars: The Old Republic over the past week. We were definitely anticipating a very high load but if anything the demand for the game has only exceeded our expectations!
We're very appreciative of your support and we look forward to surprising and delighting you throughout the journey ahead. To that end, we plan on letting you know soon about some cool upcoming content planned over the next few months.
On behalf of the SWTOR team, Greg and I want to thank you very much for your support, and also your patience yesterday as the team worked hard to process through the huge volume of players trying to register.
Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk
Alexander Freed gives a hint on how future content will be implemented in regards to voice actors and the characters they voice.
Quote from Alexander Freed
For obvious reasons, I can't give out details of our contracts with the voice actors! However, I can offer a few assurances:
We've known since the start that we would need to have major characters (Players, companions, certain NPCs) returning to record new content for many, many years. From a business end, yes, this is planned for. We have no desire to change voice actors for existing characters, nor any intention of "writing out" a character because the actor becomes unavailable.
From a practical standpoint, of course, unexpected occurrences do happen. This is where a bit of foresight helps--we're writing dialogue long before that dialogue ever shows up in-game, so we've usually got a pretty good window during which we can do VO recording. In other words, if a voice actor is unavailable for six months due to an emergency (or something planned!), well... if we're ahead far enough, we can still make that work. We'll adjust the schedule, record everything else we need and bring that actor in toward the end.
It's also worth noting that voice recording doesn't necessarily add much time to the content creation process. Recording is done in parallel with other tasks--while artists are art-ing and designers are building quests, we've got voice actors simultaneously coming into recording studios.
Hope that helps!
Georg Zoeller sheds some light on the reason behind the staggering influx of abilities at low-level play.
Quote from Flotsam
Simple Truth is Savage Kick and Pommel are for non-elites...
When I look at a group of mobs.. I look for the non elites. Then I Force Charge them followed with a Smash then a Pummel... Kills one mobs right off the bat.
The key to group massacre is taking the weak out first and these skills help accomplish that.
Would I like them useful in PVP ... sure.
That's pretty much it. These abilities exist to inject some variety into pve gameplay at that level. Nothing more, nothing less.
Georg Zoeller explains the reason why Trauma exists in PvP combat.
Quote from ScelerantTrauma is there to prevent healers from being overly powerful. They could just nerf all healing by 30% but that means it affects PvE healing where they have obviously deemed healing balanced. A healer should make someone live longer, not forever.
Chris Collins clears up confusion about why maintenance occurs simultaneously for both US and EU servers.
Quote from Chris Collins
While today is still classed as a holiday in many parts of Europe and many of you may still be off work or school, this downtime slot was chosen for a number of reasons.
Firstly, in the past, we've talked on a number of occasions about how we will run a global service. Many players raised concerns that patches/updates would land later in the EU than in the US. We stated that as we're running a global service, we'll do everything we can to make sure the updates go live in both regions as close together as possible. For this to be achievable, we need to run maintenance at the same time.
Secondly, although many of you are able to play at this time, this is actually one of the times in the day (and the week) when we have the lowest number of players in game. It's certainly far from peak. Given that many of you are still on holiday, today's maintenance may feel a bit more out of place than usual, but in the future, the number of users impacted will be even smaller.
Finally it's also worth noting that today's downtime was a little longer than usual and in the future, shouldn't be the case.
So hopefully that's gone some way in shedding a light on the reasons as to why we've chosen this slot.