With Game Update 1.5 live, BioWare held another of their Livestream Q&A sessions earlier today starting at 3pm CST.
For those unable to watch the stream live, full notes can be found after the jump. Video of the stream is available above.
Update: Livestream over, notes from the Q&A are available after the jump. Video embed is available above.
- Damion Schubert (Lead Designer), Jeff Hickman (Producer), and Joveth Gonzalez (Community) are present for the Q&A.
- Damion takes credit and blame for the F2P and Cartel Market implementation.
- Q: How is the transition to F2P going? Seems like more players? What do the numbers look like? Hickman: I can't give specific numbers, but our numbers are definitely looking good. They are on the rise. Schubert: Almost every conceivable metric is better. The numbers have blown away our expectations, which means good things for the players and the game.
- Q: Are there plans to open up F2P more? I've read complaints that it's way too restrictive. Hickman: From a business standpoint, the number of players we're getting into the game is great. If you're a brand new player, it doesn't feel too limited because you don't know what it feels like to not be restricted. But we're definitely listening to feedback and could make changes. Schubert: We need to strike a design balance. We need the F2P to feel like they can play and enjoy the game. But we also need to make it feel like subscribers are getting their money's worth. We're watching it, we're making adjustments. We're allowing 6 character slots instead of 2. We're also giving out more quickbars based on player feedback.
- Q: What new things can we expect for PvP after the launch of 1.6? Hickman: We love PvP. We have lots of interesting plans for PvP. We haven't forgotten about it. There's that one thing we can't really talk about coming in February or March. Can't say any more.
- Q: Any plans to reboot Ilum or introduce more open world PvP? Schubert: It's something we want to do. It's going to be different from the original Ilum because, well, that didn't work too well. We think people will like it. It won't just be a PvP thing.
- Q: How will itemization and scaling work? Will there be less gap between tiers? Schubert: We're working on it. Gear progression and the gap is something we're aware of and have to balance carefully. The Makeb patch will change how itemization and progression works a bit.
- Q: Any plans to have separate Warzones for non-elite level 50 players? Hickman: I don't think so. Schubert: Not a true separation, but we hope to improve the match making system in the future. We also want to improve the bootstrap gear a new max level players receives so skill becomes more important than gear. Right now, gear is very important in PvP.
- Q: What is the status of Makeb and when can we expect it? Schubert: We just did a playthrough of the Imperial story this week. We're far enough along that we are playing through it, reviewing it, making sure it's up to our standards. Hickman: We can't give a timeframe yet. We want to make sure it's good. You should be hearing more about it very soon.
- Q: Can you please reassure us about the current team working on the game? Seems like there are more bugs and longer downtime these days. Hickman: We have a very dedicated studio. Yes, there have been some changes. It's a large team. There's still a lot of support within the studio and from EA with regards to the game. As far as bugs go, every major publish has had issues and extended downtime and bugfixes. If you look at the data, 1.4 and 1.5 have been better overall. But we're seeing some heinous bugs that make it look bad. It's not the number of bugs, it's the nature of the ones that are getting through. We take our bugs and quality seriously. We have a large QA team and want to make sure we provide a quality experience. We will keep improving. Schubert: The emergency patch notes show that we're getting better at finding the bugs and shipping solid patches. But it's the in your face bugs that are annoying.
- Q: How is the super space project doing? Does it exist? Schubert: Oh, it exists. Hickman: I was actually playing what you're talking about yesterday, running through the prototype demo. I wish I could give you details. It's great. It's a departure from our current space game. We have a team dedicated to working on it. But it is far out in the future. You won't hear anything about it any time soon. Schubert: It is under wraps. It is a lot of fun. It's definitely not anything we've shipped in the original product.
- Q: How often will new gear become available on the Cartel Market? Hickman: Our intent is to update it weekly. Add one or two new things, changes some prices. There will be an update next week. There will be a big update before the holidays. Schubert: We have a new cartel pack with super rare items planned for each month for the next several months. Hickman: New Life Day items coming soon. Life Day robes, orbs, tinsel bomb, and the Czerka LD-1 Celebrator - something red, festive, and you can ride it. Schubert: We'll be adding new stuff regularly. We want to add archetypal armor, stuff that looks like a traditional Jedi Knight and the iconic classes.
- Q: Some things discussed during the Guild Summit? Where are we on them? Guild ships, guild advancement, chat bubbles, etc. Hickman: Those are all really great things. Some of those things are still on the list as future enhancements, we haven't forgotten about them. But they're also not coming next week. Changes to the studio have caused most of these things to be pushed a little further out. Schubert: All of these features are on the famous Wall of Crazy, but it's a prioritized list. Some of the smaller things could happen sooner. For example, inventory sorting is coming soon.
- Q: Will we see a method of copying live characters to the PTS? Hickman: Yes. Schubert: This is super important to us. Hickman: You should see this before we launch Makeb. We want people to be able to test Makeb. Character copies in the past were done manually and not easy. We're working on the automated system and it will be in sooner than later, before Makeb.
- Q: Could some of the Legacy perks be made cheaper? And could some of the character perks be made account wide? Schubert: I hadn't really thought of that lately. Legacy does need a revisit at some point. It will go on the list of things to be prioritized.
- Q: When will we see mini-games? Schubert: Makeb has some entirely new gameplay mechanics. I wouldn't call them mini-games, but new ways to explore the world. Hickman: Playing cards and things like that are still on the Wall of Crazy for the future. No timeframe.
- Q: Could the CE vendor see new stuff at some point? Hickman: We discussed this recently. We will discuss it again internally in January.
- Q: When is Cathar coming? Will we see other species soon? Schubert: The timeframe for Cathar is in months, not years. I want to get it out there soon to see how it does. If it does well on the market place, we will do more. It is expensive to make new species available, so how the Cathar does on the Cartel Market will help decide our future plans for additional species.
- Q: How is the 6-8 week timeframe for new content going? Hickman: It's difficult, but it's going well. We'll probably have a 9 week period between the next update and the one after that just so our team can enjoy the holidays a bit. They were all in the office last year during the holidays for the launch, so we want to give them some time off this year. But after that, we should be going back to the 6-8 week turnaround time.
- End of livestream.