During day one of PAX East 2012, we attended and recorded the Star Wars: The Old Republic 3PM Q&A with Stephen Reid, Cory Butler, James Ohlen and Cameron Winston. In order to bring you the audio in a timely manner, we uploaded it to our Youtube channel which is available as an embed below.
If you would like to listen to it at another location, the mp3 version is available here (right click > save as). If you would like to see text highlights of the Q&A, hit the jump.
DB: Hey everybody, how’s PAX going so far? Having a good time? Tired? Enjoying taking a load off? So we’re going to start a Q&A here in a couple of minutes. And by a couple of minutes I mean right now because apparently everybody’s here. So we’ve got a couple of developers here to answer any questions you have. If you’ve had a chance to play game update 1.2 feel free to ask questions about it. If you saw the legacy presentation before and thought of questions while you were wandering around, now’s a great time to ask. Anything on your mind, feel free to ask these guys. I’m going to be wandering through the crowd so you guys can ask your questions. Let me go ahead and introduce who we have here. My name is David Bass. I’m on the community team and I also have Stephen Reid, our community manager. I’ve got Cory Butler, one of our live producers. He makes sure the servers don’t break. That’s all he does. James Ohlen, game director freshly off a plane. He does not know what time it is right now, but it’s all right. And Cameron Winston, who’s one of our combat designers.
So I’m going to wander through the crowd. If you guys have questions, just catch my eye or slip me a dollar. Let’s start right up front here.
Why are the smuggler missions not very smugglerly?
I did not hear that question.
As a smuggler, you don’t do anything that is actually counts as a smuggler. You don’t transport goods for the Hutts from one side of the galaxy to the other and try to avoid being caught. Is that coming out soon? To give characters a little bit more in terms of what they can do besides basically running up to somebody and going, “What can I do for you? What can I do for you? What can I do for you?”
JO: So did everybody hear that question? I’ll just repeat it. He’s just asking if the smugglers right now don’t get to smuggler in SWTOR so, when are they going to have some type of smuggler minigame. That’s something we have been discussing. I can’t give you a timeline. We have a design for it. It’s definitely not coming out in the next couple of updates, but it is something that is obviously a big part of that class and you can expect something.
Q: I love the game. Before playing SWTOR, I was a big SWG fan and part of that game that I enjoyed the most was space combat. Right now space combat in TOR is kind of on a track. Which is interesting. It gives that Starfox kind of feel. And I was wondering if you guys were going to expand upon that make it more dynamic and more controllable type of play.
JO: So the question is are we going to expand the space game? So I can give you my answer that I’ve given several times which is we do have a secret project in the works right now involving expanding the space game that I actually got to try out a week ago. It’s really cool, but I can’t say anything. I’ve said that before. Don’t worry, I haven’t revealed anything I haven’t said before.
Q: Which planet in TOR did you most enjoy designing…
JO: The question is which planet do we most enjoy designing in SWTOR. If you talk to the writers and the world designers it would be Voss. And that’s because Voss is the only world in SWTOR that’s brand new that hasn’t appeared in any other SW fiction so the designers got a lot of creative freedom with that world. That’s why they like it.
Q: Hello. This one’s going to be kind of a long one. So the way the game’s now …if you were to take a character from level 1 to level 50 all the gear that you get for questing is sufficient enough to progress you all the way to the end. However there’s still like greens, blues, and purples that still drop and there’s really no point having to grind those out. So I was wondering if you were planning on re-purposing all that stuff? Because what ends up happening is it’s either vendored or it’s thrown up on the GTN.
JO: So are you talking about green blues purples in the level up game?
JO: But don’t you use them as you’re leveling up?
Q: Well if it’s an upgrade, I’ll take it, but usually I end up just throwing it out because I have not use for it.
JO: so it’s not better than your current equipment. Right now if you can’t use the equipment then yeah, you put it on the auction house and you sell it for extra cash so you can buy something else from the auction house that you can use. In addition once legacy system’s out which is coming in 1.2 you going to hopefully going to have a bunch of legacy characters that you can start sharing equipment with. We also have legacy equipment that’s going to be equipment that binds on legacy, which will be really cool. Therefore, that’ll make it a little more interesting.
Q: I know you guys are coming out with legacy abilities where my Sentinel can get the “junk-kick” for smugglers. I play a Dark Side sentinel and force stasis; I don’t really feel dark- side. Are you going to be able to skin your Force Stasis for force choke or skin your Telekinetic throw to Force Lightning so I can kind of customize my look a little bit more to show I’m dark side on the Republic?
JO: So what you want to have happen is for your consular to be able to go to the Dark Side and start using your powers but still look Dark Side?
Q: Yeah, have the same exact ability, but just skin it differently. So with Force Stasis I can look more sinister and actually chock him out.
JO: That’s a really cool idea and I will take that under advisement and bring it back to the team, so thanks for the idea.
I was also a big fan of SW galaxies and I was wondering if eventually we’ll have player bounties?
JO: So the question is about player bounties. So in the game we have some ideas about player bounties. When are we going to introduce them is still up in the air. There’s a lot of complexities to player bounties because once you start encouraging player vs. player killing in the open world it can get really dangerous. It can get out of control so we have to make sure the system is well designed and doesn’t cause PvP issues. As you’re probably aware, we don’t want any more PvP explosions in our game at this point.
Q: Hi. Actually I have a question. My favorite element of the game is probably the single player campaign; the story. That’s like the original KOTOR: single player based or whatever. I know you guys have made it clear that you’re going to come out with new flashpoints, but is there any thought into the future of actually expanding the story? New stories because I love seeing a scene with some guy who double-crossed you and you hear John Williams soundtrack. That’s so awesome.
JO: The question is are we going to continue to add new stories to SWTOR. I guess in the same vein as what you were used to in class stories from levels 1 to 50. And the answer is yes! Very much so. We have a whole bunch of people working on that. I can’t talk about when you’re going to be seeing that, but maybe soon. We did say that we’re going to see some stuff this year and we’re going to see a lot more next year as well.
Q: My guild was placed on a server. And it’s basically without transfers right now our server is fairly low pop and basically we’ve lost several people and it’s very hard to replace on a small server when you’re a hardcore raiding guild because the pool is so little. Are transfers coming soon because right now it’s very difficult to do raiding when we lose people?
JO: The question is are server transfers coming soon? Character transfers? And the answer is that is one of our number one priorities. I think I walk into the programmers’ office every other day and go, “can we get this out faster?” So yeah, it’s coming soon. It’s a difficult problem. We need to make sure that when you transfer over your character it deals with all kinds of things like legacy and guild and all that stuff so it’s not as easy as it might seem.
Q: I was wondering if you could explain the ancient pylons spotted and what the working-as-intended way to beat them probably was?
JO: Are you talking about the ancient pylons in the eternity vault?
Q: Yeah. What was the original intention design raid to beat that? Because we’ve only beat that with complete randomness.
JO: Well, that was the plan. Just complete randomness. We have been working on it. We know it’s not very popular. Actually we did some testing and that was the least popular element of every operation and flashpoint so. We know it’s not the greatest thing in our game and so we’re really looking at it. We actually have some adjustments to it in update 1.2
Q: Me again. So you guys are doing a great job with game. I love it. It’s my favorite MMO in a long time. I do have a question though with the art. What’s with the republic side armor? I mean it doesn’t really feel Jedi. Like the Consular headgear. The new Sentinel PvP set kind of looks weird. Where do you guys get that design because I see a level 10 Marauder and I think my god this guy’s got crazy gear and he’s a level 10? I’m level 50 and I’m wearing junk. Right now I have my orange set ready for 1.2 and it’s a level 10 because I think that looks the best. Do you guys have any plans to kind of revamp where the art direction is going with the republic armor? Because right now even Kira Carsen says, “Did all the fashion designers go over to the Empire?”
JO: So the answer to that is I play on the empire. The Sith Warrior is my favorite class so I pretty well put all the concept guys on the empire! <Laughter> I’m just kidding. No. It’s everyone has a different opinion on looks. Our concept guys they concept a whole bunch of different things. Sometimes our armor looks cool. Sometimes not so much. We’re trying to experiment. We took all the feed back we got on the from our public test on some of the republic armor--specially the Jedi knight and Jedi Consular--very seriously and the concept guys are actually doing some really good stuff for the next tier gear we’re going to be doing in future updates. The stuff you saw, we know that’s not popular, but we can’t adjust that quickly. It’s just sometimes we’re going to have really cool armor. Sometimes we’ll miss a little bit. Sometimes the concept guys will come up with something that people connect to. It’s just you have to give it concept guys the freedom to experiment.
Q: Illum. At release Illum was sort of an import part in PvP and then there were sort of a lot of problems. I’m sure your aware. And now it almost seems like you’re sort of fazing it out; you’ve just given up on it basically. So is that the plan? First of all, what happened really and secondly, is the plan in the future to phase it out completely?
JO: So the question is what are we going to do with Illum. The plan is not to faze out open world PvP and the style of gameplay that Illum introduced. It’s just that we want to phase out Illum until we have a new version that’s much better. Because the current version of Illum has a lot of issues because we haven’t solved the faction imbalance. In addition, until we solve that we don’t want to continue to struggle with something that you can’t really. You can’t really fix it until you solve that major problem and that requires technology that we currently don’t have. So that’s why we’re kind of fazing it out.
Q: Hi. I’ve got a question about color crystals. I play a bounty hunter. As opposed to lightsaber-weilding class, color crystal for like bounty hunter doesn’t seem to be as prominent as skills you would actually use with a blaster. Is there any plan to add something like that for non-lightsaber classes?
JO: So the question is when you get a color crystal and you put it on some of the classes--for example the bounty hunter and you feel the bounty hunter that doesn’t use the blaster very much--you don’t actually see the impact of that color crystal as much as you’d like to. And are we going to do anything to address that issue? Currently we have no plans for that.
Q. Hi. I was wondering: is cross-faction transfers ever going to be available for characters who possibly go to the dark side, or dark side go to the light side?
JO: So the question is can you switch from imperial to republic? So actually that was part of our original design back in 2007 we were going to do that, but then it turned out to be way too expensive and crazy. So we’ve been looking it. You never know though. We keep on bringing it up. It is something that would be really, really cool and really fits the kind of light side/dark side feel of the game. But currently, not this year.
Q: What’s the word on the gay/lesbian companion relationships topic that was brought up
JO: So the question is what are we doing about the gay romances in SWTOR. We do have plans for that, but we’re not talking about it until we’ve actually finished it. So we’ll have more information on that in the future. Though it is a popular topic in the news. That’s for sure.
Q: I’m currently 400 Cybertech. I make a lot of money off of earpieces. Especially if I crit. I was trying to figure out what I’m going to make money on in 1.2 and if I’m going to have to grind dailies to earn all the gear to pull out all the mods and if it’s going to cost me like 14 billion credits to get that stuff out to reverse engineer or if I can just do it without pulling it out to try and reverse engineer the mods.
JO: I can’t give you specific answers to that. I can say we’ve got a lot of rebalancing in 1.2 for the crafting game and for the end economic game so as a crafter I think you’re going to be really happy with what we’ve done in 1.2 to make all the crafting skills much more equal and more fun to be a crafter and more economically viable at the top level.
Q: I’m brioche and you guys have said that reusables are going away, but we’re going to be able to keep the ones we have now, but any future ones will not be reusable anymore.
JO: So the question is once we take reusables away and change them into usables are you sill going to have your reusables available to you.
Q: Well, you said that you’re not going to be able to reuse any future ones. So like the next level, reusables won’t be there. So if Biochem doesn’t have the reusables anymore it kind of loses the luster of the crew skill. I mean because if you have one you can sell there’s only a 10-point difference on the one that’s exclusive to Biochem. Do you think maybe in the future since mudpacks are going down to once per fight maybe Biochems can get like a special passive ability that lets them use more than one per fight this way to actually keep Biochem?
JO: I don’t think we’re planning for that right now, but we are planning to make sure that even though change through, Biochem is still going to be a viable crew skill. I think we know it’s popular and we had to make some adjustments for power reasons, but I don’t think we’re nerfing it really.
Q: I’m not a min/maxer, but I mean the draw of Biochem is the reusable so I’m not dropping 60,000credit a night on med packs and stems and stuff. I can buy one on the auction house and they only get 10 points less. I’ll take that 10 points less or 10 points more if I can just reuse it. I think the biggest problem is getting rid of reusables guts-out brioche for the most part.
CW?: Generally speaking with crafting it’s really hard to say exactly what the reason one goes to [a particular skill]. Are you Cybertech you love grenades or are you a Cybertech because you love mods? Do you think it’s better to be an Armstech because you always want to have the best weapon or do you thing it’s best to be Armomech because you always want to be in the best armor. And what each player gets out of each craft is going to be really subjective to that and you might think without the reusable stim packs that there’s no reason to be a Biochem. Or someone else going, “wow if I couldn’t craft my own implants I don’t know how I could play this game.” Or “man if I didn’t have that stim that doesn’t wear off I don’t know what I would do.” So there’s a lot of different components to these and we’re always looking to try to make the most balanced and fun crafting experience we can for you where each craft brings something unique to your personal character and play style. I just overall know that the goal from my standpoint is to give each craft something unique and fun about it that is appealing to different players and different play styles.
Q: I see that there are auction house, I’m sorry GTN, UI improvements, which I’m very excited about. However I’ve noticed you still don’t have the feature like where if I were to say throw 99 Bondar crystals into the little slot and say okay I want to split it to 10 stacks of 10 at such a price. So I was just wondering if that eventually will be coming.
JO: So we’re going to continue to improve the auction house and every game system in SWTOR as we go on. That’s a known issue. It’s kind of a quality of life feature, because it’s not a huge feature. It’s on our backlog. So you will see it at some point. Maybe this year hopefully. I’m not making any promises though.
Q: Hello again. Sorry. So 2 quick questions. 1: are you going to fix /who To show guild or a little bit more detail because right now it’s just a little bit random. And 2: What is your intent for social points. As it is right not it just seems like an endless grind to get some Tusken Raider gear and that’s it. Is there anything else you would want to do with them?
JO: In response to social points questions. Yes, social points wasn’t as balanced as well as we wanted it to be. So you got to the end game and you didn’t have quite the social level that we thought you were going to have. So we’re looking at that. Unfortunately who characters that are already at level 50 if we make changes to the level up game, that’s not going to help you out there. So we’ve been discussing all sorts of different plans like how to make social points more relevant for level 50s so that players don’t have to do the grind. Because that’s one of the elements of the game we try to avoid. The social points are really there to allow you to get really cool uniforms and once you start using the mods you can be the guy who looks like a sandperson playing through eternity Vault or the girl who has the Princess Leia gold bikini on playing through the Eternity Vault or some other ridiculous uniform. So that’s kind of the point of social points. It’s just a social game system. And your other question was? Oh, /who. We don’t have any plans on that currently, but I will remember your comment.
Q: You talked about at the guild panel the crafting gear being able to crit and augment slots on it but raiding gear that drops won’t have that. As a min/maxer am I going to be required to pull out my mods out of my raiding gear to put it in an orange crafting crit? Or is there going to be a way to still have the same look of armor to the new tier gear but with the same augment slot so it can have the same stats.
JO: So the question is when you get your operation gear are you going to be able to look that way and still be at the top level in terms of power level? Yes.
Part 2 coming soon.