Earlier today, Lead Flashpoints and Operations Designer Jesse Sky answered questions from the community in response to the recent Meet the Developers post. Included in the topics answered are Flashpoints, Operations, and more.
Quote from BioWare
Hello everyone! Here are answers to some of the questions you had for Jesse! Thanks for participating in our first Meet the Developers feature - you can expect to see more of these in the future!
Q: With an Art History degree, how did you get into the role of a gaming developer? Do you have an additional qualification which enabled you to get into that position or was it purely from interest?
Jesse: When we interview a design candidate, college degrees are footnotes compared to your gaming pedigree, especially published games, mods, and independent projects that you've worked on. Looking around the studio, I can tell you that I work with many of the most talented people I've ever met, but I'd be hard-pressed to remember what they studied in college. I can, however, tell you what games they worked on, and which games vacuum up their free time. Knowledge, passion, and professionalism usually shine through pretty clearly during conversation, and everyone has a unique story about how they broke into the industry.
In my case, I was selected for an interview after winning a module-building contest for Neverwinter Nights, and I happened to have thousands of hours logged in MMOs going back to the 90s. That got me a junior design position. I've been playing and building games since before I can remember – it's about the only consistent hobby I've had, since my interests range pretty widely. Game scripting is what got me into web development, game artwork is what got me into art history, and I even worked in a high-energy physics lab after being inspired by a certain crowbar-wielding physicist. If you're interested in game design, a degree can help you, but your qualifications are only really proven once you're in the door. Every development project is a learning experience, so the real test is how willing you are to learn and grow.
Q: Have you been surprised by the shortcuts and tricks and such that allow groups to skip large amounts of trash and/or bosses? Is skipping trash mobs something you agree with and go along in groups?
Jesse: In my experience, skipping trash carries a risk of making wipe recovery a lot more painful, so I don't really have a strong opinion about whether we should take strict measures to prevent it. It only really annoys me when groups go to ridiculous lengths to avoid a few seconds of combat, because at some point it becomes self-defeating. When I see a group doing that, I just start pulling encounters to save us the headache.
My preference would be to provide more incentives to engage trash. For example, in Terror From Beyond, all the trash has a chance of dropping Artifact-quality crafting mats, and one specific encounter drops a hefty amount of credits. So that's the sort of thing we're looking to do more often, but philosophically we've also gravitated toward tighter play-spaces and less trash overall.
Q: Are you ever worried that by constantly trying to challenge the top tier of players with Operations and Nightmare Mode that you are excluding the more casual players from some of the content you feel most proud of?
Jesse: I don't think the two things are at odds, but I can understand the frustration. Obviously we have story mode, but I'm not yet happy with where it fits into our itemization scheme. There are incentives, but they're not immediately obvious. As we move forward, we're going to be doing a lot of work toward expanding and clarifying our endgame so that the progression feels more logical. We're planning a lot of improvements to go along with the level cap increase, both for casual players and the top tier guilds. That includes more diversity in the content and the rewards offered by the endgame.
Q: Any update on plans to convert the non-HM Flashpoints to HM versions? Will there be more Tier 2 Flashpoints?
Jesse: We will be creating Hard Modes for all of the Flashpoints that do not have Hard Modes yet. That's something that I'm personally very excited about. As for Tier 2, the Group Finder categories will be reconfigured with the level cap increase so as not to split the Flashpoint queue into two populations. I think the challenge posed by Lost Island has offered a lot of entertainment, but it's also a PUG-killer that doesn't fit into a random mix very well. The newer Hard Modes will be balanced for a more consistent experience, both in terms of difficulty and length, and that should help keep queue times in check.
For the thread in full, hit the official forum.