While at the MCM Expo in London, BioWare held a presentation on Game Update 1.3: Allies for fans in attendance. Luckily for us, Gamespot streamed the talk and we were able to compile all of the details mentioned during the event. While there wasn't much in the way of new information, it offers a great look at the content in the upcoming patch.
For the details and the slides from the presentation, hit the jump.
- Free Server Transfers
- Free Trial, simplified, will be able to join your friends up to a certain level and can start subscribing past that point.
- Better tutorials
- Performance optimizations for low end machines
- Same vs same faction Alderaan Warzones
- Mission hyperlinks in Chat (mentioned in our 1.3 interview)
- Keep original group after Warzone
- Per-character legacy perks
- Adaptive Gear
- Adding Augment Slots to any items, 30% reduction on mod extraction costs
- Significant improvements to level 50 Flashpoint rewards
- Social Points in hard-mode Flashpoints
- Weekly missions to defeat World Bosses
- Bonus daily rewards for random selection
- Vote kick option, other players will have to vote
- Role icon, can define roles manually
- System automatically groups players and teleports them to the entrance
- Protect the players
Legacy Character Perks
- Purchased with credits
- Perks have a required Legacy level
- Some perks require another perk
- Not meant for first-time players, requires legacy levels and experience with game systems
Some examples given:
- Increased experience from Flashpoints, Warzones, Space Missions, Class Missions, and Exploration
- Increased companion affection gains from gifts and conversations.
- Perks that make crafting better
- Increased chance for a companion to craft exceptional gear
- Reduce the time it takes for a companion to sell junk items
- Summon a Droid in the field to repair gear and buy and sell items, first level of it requires Legacy Level 5
- Reset your skill point specialization in the field
- Unlock the ability to use some speeders at lower levels
- Fast transit to a number of destinations
- Augmentation slots on all armor pieces
- Premium items and better
- Variable cost
- Crafting centric system
- Exceptional crafted items will now get a bonus augment slot, item in theory will become best in slot for classes and sought out on the market because of it.
- For the augmentation tables to work, you will need a kit from a crafter, kits will be able to go on the market
- New armor type, unlock by social level
- Always best possible rating of class wearing it (Light, Medium, Heavy)
- Can be augmented
- Easy to compare
- For social outfits
- Changes for companions
Q. Is the (update) coming out this summer? Can you be any more specific than this summer?
A. I could but then I would get in trouble. So basically, we are testing it. We want to have it be as bug free release as possible. We are all about quality. We’re doing a lot of extensive testing in the studio and it should hit the test servers soon but I won’t go into more detail than that.
Q. Hi, my name is Don. Is there going to be a Macintosh version of this coming out any time soon?
A. I am going to be honest. We’re not working on one. We know that it works quite well in Bootcamp but it has not been a priority up until now. But we always listen to our customers or to would be customers. It does not come up as a priority but we are expanding the market for the game, we are releasing in new markets in new territories. It would make some sense to release on a new platform but I am not aware of development at this time.
Q. Hi, I’m Lena. Coming from a previous big MMO, I quite like numbers and I have found it quite hard with The Old Republic that for example, with your famously “not having addon support” i.e. Damage Meters aren’t visible so I don’t actually know how well I am doing. It’s very hard to diagnose if you’re failing in a group setting where the problem is without that kind of thing. Are you planning on either letting addons into the field or implementing damage or healing meters?
A. Good question, not an easy one. We released in 1.2 a way for players to build those damage meters. It’s not instantaneous, it’s not something you see as you play but basically we introduced a kind of format where all the combat log is being outputted to the hard-drive. Within days the community created really good tools to analyze not only your own damage but if you’re in a guild you can share this file and so on. I know that right now, there are already fan made applications that you add a damage meter as an overlay on top of the game. You guys are kind of doing our work for us, which is always nice but seriously the players are going to be able to define what they want much better than we could and as far as addons, it has always been our plan to do that and that’s something we keep plugging at. It’s quite complicated. It’s not a small update and there’s a lot of security and fairness issues in the sense if someone makes an addon that is so good that it gives you a huge advantage then everyone has to play with it. So it’s not an easy thing but it’s something we have always wanted to do because the players always know what they want much better than we do.
Q. Hi, my name is Thomas. I was wondering when we’ll see an HK-51 droid?
A. Yes, we’re not talking about that but I know that there have been a few leaks on various websites kind of hinting at it. I am going to hint at it as well and that will be all. Sorry.
Q. Hi, I’m Louie. You said there would be new races in the game. What races can we expect to see and what traits will they bring over?
A. So we call them species and yes, this is something that has been requested by players since beta. We have something we are thinking about, not going to tell you unfortunately because the marketing person here will get very upset with me. So let me first explain why we don’t have them in the game already. People tell us “Hey look, you have Cathar in the game, the Voss and all of those guys, I see them in the game on the NPC, why can’t I play one?” We’ll it’s because we have like three heads for them and two different skin types. If we gave that to you, you would say “Awesome, I can play a voss!” And then you would say “Wait a second! There’s two different skin and I want twenty like the Twi’Lek has.” So it’s not just a question of grabbing and existing model and giving it to the player, although we certainly could do that. There’s quite a lot of work that goes into making them into different body types and we have a good level of customization that people would immediately expect. So it’s quite a lot of work and it gets prioritized and we know it’s something that players are excited about. We’re working on it but I can’t tell you what we’re going to release unfortunately.
Q. You’re adding a lot of new content to the gameplay and stuff like that. Will there ever be a point where you consider the game finished and you just can’t add any more content to the game itself?
A. No, that would be a terrible thing. It’s a service, it needs to never be finished otherwise players would be like “ why am I paying for service if you guys are not doing anything, just collecting a paycheck?” It’s part of the deal. The deal is you pay your subscription every month and we give you stuff as much as we can and that’s what we are doing.
Q. Hi, I’m Tom. Are there any plans for customization of companions?
A. Right. Funny story, we planned to have customization of companions from the very beginning and then we changed our mind and then we changed our mind again. And then the players told us “Why don’t you have customization?” And we were like “Yes, you’re right.” We are going to continue to introduce new skins but it’s not a great system, it’s an ok system that we can introduced into the game very quickly. Actually, I implemented it so I can brag a little bit about it but it’s not great. I can complain because I made it. We’re working on a much better system. It’s not the highest priority in the world but it’s important. There is a kind of cognitive dissonance when you meet another Sith Warrior and two identical Vettes look at eachother. So it’s important and it’s something that needs to be moved to something more fully featured and we’re also working on something in that direction.
Q. Hi, I’m Simon. What’s happening with Ranked Warzones? They were supposed to be in 1.3 but they’re not.
A. So we had them in 1.2. We had them in the public test of 1.2. This is a good example of when I mentioned that you can have a good design on paper, and it’s kind of a good design when you prototype it and when you put it with the rest of the game and you realize it’s not that good. The problem with Ranked Warzones we found just before release of 1.2 was letting people queue by themselves for Ranked Warzone. Because, when you have a Ranked Warzone the important thing is that your rank goes up and down based on winning or losing and something that is very person like your rank, was in the hand of complete strangers that you had no control over. So you would have a situation where you start a Warzone and you notice that guy is terrible and I lost the three previous times and I’m just going to leave which creates quite a mess. It’s one thing to be really upset at the end of a match at your teammate you’ve been training with and on Ventirlo with and it’s a very different thing being upset and matched with complete strangers.
So we realized it was something that just would not work and rather than releasing something that was not great, we chose to disable it. It was in the game, it just was not enabled. We went back to the drawing board to create a good experience where you queue up for a team Warzone as a complete team, not as a group of four but a team of eight and of course we had to make sure as I mentioned in the presentation that once the Warzone is over, your team is not dissolved because then it would be very painful you would have to go back and create your group again. So when we made this decision, we realized we had to fix a lot of these little things to give you a good experience and it’s going to be on in 1.3 but whether it’s enabled or disabled will depend on all of the testing we are doing right now internally and during the Public Test. Again, we wanted a good experience. It would be very disappointing for me and you guys if it’s not on but again we reserve the right to postpone it if It’s not to the quality we want.
Q. You mentioned the free server transfers. Are these limited and if not how are you going to stop people from exploiting it?
A. We are testing the transfers. Of course we tested it in a big way when we opened the Asia Pacific servers. What we are trying to make here is a much better interface for it. We have not decided on all of the details whether we say “Hey, go wherever you want.” Which is what we would prefer because there’s a lot of use case where the player may have thought about it and we would be “Oh, you can’t do that.” Now the exploitable part about it is where someone is really rich on one server, he takes all his money with him, and he goes to another server and dominates the market there. That’s an example. We are taking some steps to avoid that but it would be to punish players who have been exploiting with the bugs. Some players exploited for one day and made this huge amount of money, we tried to catch them, we have very good tools but the server transfers are a good time where we can really catch them. We’re not planning to penalize people who have been playing the right way. If you’ve cornered the market and made a fortune for yourself, good for you. We’re not planning to limit you in one way or another in that way.
Q. Hi, I’m Tom. Will it ever be possible to have more than one link in the legacy system?
A. I designed that part of the legacy feature so I apologize if you don’t like it. There are other things I would like to add before so that is not a priority. One thing I would like to add are relationship types like master and apprentice which makes a lot of sense but we kind of forgot about that. Now defining who is the child of who can get really complicated so I don’t think we’re going to do that but I can take a look at it for sure.
Q. Hi, I’m Robin. Will you ever add rewards for players that stay on the neutral side of the force?
A. Well, I hope so. Again, in the original design of the game we thought it would be cool if we had neutral guys, grey Jedi. It’s coming, it’s definitely coming in fact, we announced it during the guild summit and then we were like “Where is that?” So it’s an important feature, it’s not the most important but that’s something that I can’t believe it’s not in the game yet. It’s going to be progressive, there’s a lot of reward for being light side and dark side and we are going to add rewards for being neutral. If it’s not in this update then I don’t know where it is but It should be there. I have to check exactly where it is. Whether it’s this update or the next one, it’s definitely one that is on the way.
Q. We play on a very low population server. We actually originally joined our guildmates from another game to come play in SWTOR and most of them have quit. At any given time of the day there’s no one really on the server to group with and I understand the group finder tool will help with that to a degree but are there any plans to merge servers or move them into clusters of some sort?
A. Server transfer is the first step. It will allow you to go to a place where you think you will be happy or any other reason. These kind of games, the MMOs, are a social phenomenon like Facebook or any other sort of thing. The more people you have you can play with, the better the experience. It’s kind of an exponential thing. If there’s not a lot of people, it’s not a great experience. So server transfer is the first step. Now I know Daniel Erickson has been mentioning things he probably shouldn't have about maybe the concept of mega-servers. It’s a great concept because if you can have the server population that can accommodate a lot more people then you are much more likely to be with your friends and you don’t have to transfer servers. Secondly, everything is just all of a sudden better. If you like PVP, the Warzone queue pops all of the time, if you like the group finder it will find a group night or day for you to do things. So this is something we take very seriously. It’s probably the most important thing in game, making sure there’s always players. It’s the most important thing to us, server transfer is just the beginning.