This week's Q&A Session from BioWare is live, offering some information on game Update 1.3. The bulk of questions focus on the upcoming patch and are expected to tie in to upcoming blog posts. Again, the community moderators have requested questions that particularly focus on existing features, rather than those in development.
Please note, next week's Q&A forum thread will close a day early. If you have a question for BioWare, make sure to post it in the official thread by 2pm CDT on May 28th, 2012 (12pm PDT/3pm EDT/8pm BST/9pm CEST/5am AEST).
llesna: Can you please tell us why the upcoming Legacy additions for Game Update 1.3 are character-specific rather than Legacy-wide?
Ixum: Daniel Erickson said in his interview that there will be no new gear sets in Game Update 1.3. Does this mean there will not be any new orange gear as well?
Mindspore: Any update on Ranked Warzones in 1.3?
Mallorik: What is your philosophy on cross server LFG tools? Are we getting a same server tool just to hold us over while you work on cross server tech or is this just a test to see if a same server tool will do the job?
CompassRose: Many players are concerned about the upcoming character transfer feature. One question frequently being voiced in the forums is that of retaining their legacy surname. Is there a mechanic in the transfer feature that will notify a player if the destination server they choose already has their surname locked by another player?
BlazingShadow: Will we see the return of our favorite droid HK in some form?
Asturias: Are you guys looking to let players incorporate a Bio for each character so others can read it. I always loved how some MMOs had this option for others to read a quick Bio of my character that I created and I could read theirs.
Ximix: Are there any plans to revisit ability animation issues between mirror classes? For example, several "instant" Sage abilities actually have 1-2 second activations while Sorcerer abilities activate and deal damage instantly. Just like the Commando vs Bounty Hunter animations, in PvP these discrepancies can be huge.
There are some notable exceptions to this that are real delays and real discrepancies that we're aware of and are addressing. In the case of Shock and Project, there is a real delay (on the server) before Project deals its damage, and that's something we're fixing in 1.3. The other real delays that we're aware of are in Smash and Force Sweep, but we don't yet have a fix for those.
If you believe additional abilities have delays or are not mirrored, you'd have to point them out specifically. With the exception of the abilities I've already mentioned, so far our investigations have shown that the discrepancies being reported are the intentional ones that make the game look good and feel right and, to reiterate, do not impact timing or balance.
gabarooni: As a long time tank (nearly 10 years), I’ve come to the conclusion that holding Aggro is not fun. Tanks already have to watch their survivability, cooldowns, position mobs, watch their groups position and health, and fight the mobs—all of which I enjoy. Are there any plans in Game Update 1.3 to increase threat generation for tanks? Especially for Guardians and Juggernauts?
Hargan: Will the Commando Gunnery spec be rebalanced after the changes in Game Update 1.2 so that we are back on par with the DPS output of similarly geared Sages/Gunslingers/Sentinels in Operations?
Brutalos: What class balances can we expect from Game Update 1.3 and will it undo some of the changes done in 1.2?
Supaaq: I am extremely excited to see a Group Finder being added to SWTOR in Game Update 1.3. I would say of all the features I wish the game could have ASAP, that definitely tops my list. What else can you tell us about the specific implementation of this most welcome improvement? Will it automatically teleport group members to the entrance when the group forms?
Quote from Damion SchubertWe are very, very close to releasing the full design of the feature in an imminent blog post written by yours truly. That being said, highlights do include that it can be used for flashpoints, heroic flashpoints, ops and planetary content. For the instanced combat, it will give you a free teleport to the content location once all group members agree to the group.
Gangawolf: I am curious about the cost of repairing gear, particularly in the end-game. When I die, I find that the cost to repair my Bounty Hunter's gear is just under half what if costs my Jedi Consular (and they are similarly geared in terms of level of gear). Likewise, my Smuggler falls somewhere in between the two. Again, not a scientific sampling, but it seems like heavy armor sets are cheaper to repair than medium armor sets which in turn are cheaper than light armor sets. Why wouldn't repair costs be the same across the board for similar level gear?
Quote from Jason AttardRepair costs are tied to the percentage of durability your items have lost (in addition to item level and quality). Currently heavy armor has a higher durability score than medium or light armor, so it degrades more slowly in combat and it is thus cheaper to repair over time. This was put in place fairly early in development to give tanks a bit of a break on their repair costs (back before we had lightly-armored Shadow/Assassin tanks). With the introduction of Adaptive Armor in Game Update 1.3 this design decision is definitely getting dated, so there’s a good chance we will normalize the durability of all armor types in a future update.
tkinnunzero: In Game Update 1.3, can you briefly summarize what is the endgame Operation gear progression, i.e. what is the path a fresh level 50 is intended to be following that will see him/her eventually conquer the highest difficulties and end up fully decked in Best-in-Slot gear in every slot?
Quote from Jason AttardWe expect a fresh level 50 character to start with a mixture of high level Premium and Prototype gear from missions, crafting and planetary commendations. For players interested in Group PvE end-game content the first step would be to use Group Finder to go through the Normal Mode Flashpoints until you acquire a full set of Prototype gear, probably mixed with several Artifact/Tionese items or mods. Next up would be hard mode Flashpoints (starting with tier 1 then moving on to the harder tier 2 Rakghoul Flashpoints) and story-mode Operations (starting with Eternity Vault then moving on to Karraga’s Palace) where you pick up your Columi/Energized gear. Finally you’d get into story mode Explosive Conflict to pick up your Rakata gear, and use the Black Hole commendations to start picking up Black Hole gear. To progress past this point you’ll need a guild at your back capable of doing Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode Operations. Starting into hard modes immediately after story mode Eternity Vault will let your dramatically accelerate your Columi and Rakata gearing, and Hard Mode Explosive Conflict lets you rapidly pick up Black Hole gear and is the only way to pick up the top-of-the-line Campaign gear set.
Once you have good gear that you feel you’re going to hold on to for a while you can improve it by adding Augments through crafting and Item Modification Tables. You can also optimize it by extracting mods from duplicate pieces of Operation gear to get the perfect balance of stats for your character build. Crafting also has a role to play, especially if your guild has a lot of extra Operation gear they can reverse engineer. It allows you to augment your gear more quickly and cheaply, customize the look of your gear, and help gear up your new guild-mates with powerful crafted mods and items.
If you enjoy solo content playing the daily mission hubs on Ilum, Belsavis and Corellia can help rack up the credits and accelerate your early end-game gear progression. The Galactic Trade Network provides opportunities to buy powerful mods and items with all those credits, while providing a decent income for the end-game crafters.
Our plan for future Operation game updates is to have Group Finder players to progress from Story mode to Story mode, while Operation guilds move into Hard Mode of the new operation (possibly dropping back into Story Mode to learn fight mechanics or gear up new players) then progress into Nightmare Mode. We intend to introduce Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode in the same update (Nightmare Explosive Conflict was delayed to allow us get some exciting new Nightmare Mode tech into the game which we should have more details on soon). We’re also planning on having Hard Mode Flashpoint rewards continue to progress as we introduce new tiers of content, allowing new players to skip past some of the earlier Operations (if their guild has already completed them and doesn’t wish to go back, for example).
Next week's Q&A will be held on June 1st. As always, you can post your comments or questions for the next developer Q&A here.