The second part of our interview with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Daniel Erickson on Crew Skills delves a bit deeper into companion integration and recipe mechanics. We also gained insight into how the system deals with avoiding intense grinding. We also include a video of Erickson's overview of the unique Crew Skills system after the jump.
At a recent press event we caught up with Stephen Reid, BioWare Austin's brand new Online Community Manager, and asked him a few questions about his past, present, and future. We invite everyone to welcome Mr. Reid to the community. Hit the jump for the full video interview.
We caught up with Star Wars: The Old Republic's Lead Writer Daniel Erickson after last week's EA Winter Showcase and asked him to explain in his own words what the Crew Skills system is. He was gracious enough to provide us with expanded insight regarding the unique crafting system that BioWare Austin's Lead System Designer, Damion Schubert, hinted at during our interview in October.
Yesterday, Electronic Arts presented its annual Winter Showcase in London, and Darth Hater was there to watch for news on Star Wars: The Old Republic. BioWare revealed the Imperial Agent at last year's showcase, so our expectation bar raised a few notches. With information on both PvP Warzones and the eagerly anticipated crafting system, this European event did not disappoint.
During our time in Austin, we had the opportunity to speak with Damion Schubert, Star Wars: The Old Republic Lead System Designer. The name should be familiar with those heavily following the game's development, as he frequently authors guest columns for Game Developer Magazine, and we watch his blog like hawks for possible clues about potential game systems. One of his past presentations to game developers inspired us to start specific forums to allow the Darth Hater community to discuss the implications to endgame design. Since Schubert is extremely busy working on the lucrative game systems we'll see in action soon, we are grateful he took the time to have his first casual conversation in over a year with us.
Damion Schubert: I am an achiever/explorer first and foremost. The interesting thing is -- and there is probably good research on this -- that every time I took the test in my life, it moved a bit so I am fairly well-centered. When I was running my own company, Killer actually spiked to the top. Now it is back in last place again which I think means I am in a relatively healthy place again.
Can you describe for us what you do and what you specifically work on in Star Wars: The Old Republic?
I am the Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This means I am in charge of pretty much all of the systems in the game that don't relate to combat, the RPG, or story. That includes guilds, crafting, and some of the other systems that are coming down the pipe. Those are in my domain; imagine character creation, etc. My daily job is to interface with the gameplay programmers to get those features into the game, then iterating on them so they get to the point where they are fun, interesting, and balanced. And the team that I manage does the itemization for the game as well as creating the maps for the game. That is pretty much what my crew does.
How big is this crew?
I have a four person team under me. Most of our job is design documentation, itemization, and maps.
Are these some of the people we saw in the Developer Dispatches?
Not yet. Emanuel is currently the Associate Lead Designer. He works on basically whatever is our hottest topic is at the time, "hey, this needs to be fixed and focused on." And then Georg is Lead Combat Designer and is pretty much my equal inside the structure. He is worried about the RPG as well as the class balance and the class structure. That is what he spends all of his time focusing on, and he has four or five people under him. My team and his team sit in the same office together, so we have a lot of interaction with this because it is pretty important. The itemization speaks to the balance, and we want to be sure that crafting is important in the game. It is really important to us that crafters are a viable and important part of the economy so we need to make sure they fit into the balance there. There is a lot of back and forth between the two groups.
Of the systems that you work on, which one is your favorite?
We're really proud of the crafting system. We can't wait to talk to you about it, and it is going to be really soon.
To kick off our time at PAX and tide us over until tomorrow's presentation, BioWare's Blaine Christine spoke with us for a bit about the differences and similarities of Advanced Classes, plus the various multi-player aspects of questing, companions, and exploration. Of course, we couldn't resist asking about a few other controversial things such as their view of the community uproar over the naming of the Jedi Wizard, or what drove the decision to implement class trainers.
It appears that August is interview season for those of us following Star Wars: The Old Republic. We recently had some excellent face time during Celebration V, and this trend continues in Germany with James Ohlen. In our first interview from Gamescom, James gives us insight into why there are advanced classes, who they are designing PVP for, and what we can expect from space combat.
Celebration V supplied us with a great deal of insight into the creative minds behind Star Wars: The Old Republic. We talked with writers Drew Karpyshyn and Hall Hood about creating stories and concept artists Clint Young and Arnie Jorgensen about crafting visuals, adding a great deal to our understanding of the minds behind the game. As our final interview from Florida, we sat down with marketing specialists Leo Olebe from BioWare and Rob Cowles from LucasArts to learn a little more about Friday updates, media assets, community input, and herding cats.
Star Wars Celebration V allowed us to talk with multiple members of the LucasArts and Bioware teams; many of which, such as Clint Young and Hall Hood, joined us for their first official Darth Hater interview. Now we add to that list with BioWare's Lead Concept Artist Arnie Jorgensen. Read on to learn about concept art, as well as the loot and levels in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The Star Wars: The Old Republic development team was out in full force at Celebration V, and Darth Hater was there to hear what they had to say. Over the weekend we learned a great deal from writers Drew Karpyshyn and Hall Hood, and now our interview blitz continues with BioWare concept artist Clint Young. Hit the jump to learn just what it takes to craft art for The Old Republic.
We sat down with BioWare writer Hall Hood to get a behind-the-scenes look at the motivations behind the Smuggler class. Read on to get a peek at how factions are designed, and what goes into creating world stories arcs on the various planets.
As an addendum to yesterday's reveal of the Jedi Sentinel and Jedi Guardian, we were about to wrangle some additional details about the Jedi Knight class from Drew Karpyshyn, BioWare's Lead Writer.
Read on for the follow up to our Comic-Con interview with him to find out his take on what went into creating the Jedi Knight, and debunking the perceived Sith bias in BioWare and LucasArts' marketing efforts.
Star Wars authors were out in force at the San Diego Comic-Con, and we were on hand to pry as much information from them as we could. In addition to Sean Williams, we sat down with BioWare staple Drew Karpyshyn to learn more about crafting stories for Star Wars: The Old Republic.
GameSpot added to today's musical theme with a video focusing on composing the music for Star Wars: The Old Republic. This video focuses on the nuts and bolts of creating the themes players will see in game and offers a great deal of insight into the minds behind the music. Although the video does not contain any gameplay footage, there are plenty of interesting comments for any audiophiles in the community. When you combine this series of interviews with today's update, anyone who loves the sounds of Star Wars may want to consider today an official holiday. For those of you that are looking for more information on the audio of The Old Republic, be sure to read our own interview with the LucasArts audio team.
We were honored to gain more insight regarding class design, group sizes, character progression, and other topics from James Ohlen, Creative Director and Lead Designer of Star Wars: The Old Republic. As the game is still under development, we must warn you that some specifics mentioned about particular systems are subject to change after undergoing significant testing. An example of this is the combat systems for the Trooper changing to become something more fitting to the class in almost three months between our hands-on game play sessions, and the mysterious disappearance of double bladed lightsabers in the Sith Warrior HoloNet outfitting screenshots.
For the reason behind the latter and more, read on.
As BioWare's Sean Dahlberg said about Star Wars: The Old Republic activities for E3:
If you mean our updates, yes. We'll be updating the website each day with something new from E3. The daily updates (meaning a new update each day) won't be starting until June 14th (in the afternoon). In fact, if you watch the count-down banner on the homepage, you'll know exactly when we'll first update the news article.
...the Darth Hater team will have coverage from on-site at E3, and in-depth looks at the official updates every day.
Monday, June 21 at 6p PST / 9p EST - Live Q&A with the Darth Hater team on our Vent server to answer all of your questions. Set your Ventrilo client to vent.darthhater.com with port 26166 in order to participate.
No true Hater would be without proper attire, so we decided to make available for purchase to the general public four of the eight shirt designs the team is wearing at E3. Click on your favorite Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG pillar to purchase.
Head over to IGN for a preview of tomorrow's Star Wars: The Old Republic update and an interview with BioWare's James Ohlen on Companions.
IGNPC: Can you give us a few specific examples of how companions might impact a particular player's experience?
James Ohlen: Companion characters have a significant impact on the player's experience. They are integral to the player's storyline. They interject during conversation to give the player their view on things. They give commentary as the player explores the world. They are an important part of combat, providing extra DPS, healing, tanking abilities or even crowd control.
IGNPC: Companions play an important part in the story, but they also impact the player's gameplay options. What types of tactical contributions will companions be able to make?
James Ohlen: Companions add a lot to a player's combat capabilities. Each companion has a specific role, whether it be additional DPS, tanking, healing or crowd control. Companions also have special abilities that can be activated to significantly change what's going on during a battle. One companion might lay down suppressing fire, giving the player some breathing room to escape or turn the tide of the battle. Another companion might trap a tough enemy in an energy bubble, allowing the player to use a divide and conquer strategy in a battle. Players can also equip items to his companion character. This includes standard gear such as armor and weapons. Additionally, what a player equips to his companion can change the companion's behavior.
The screenshots included in the article feature a Trandoshan paired with what appears to be a Jedi Consular and a Jedi Knight paired with a Republic T-7 Astromech.
UPDATE: Earlier today Gamespot published another quick look at the Sith Warrior. The video included in the article reveals minor story spoilers and also shows multiple Sith Warrior abilities in action, all while enjoying the classic "Duel of Fates" music. We also appear to see the Sith Warrior operating a speeder bike at 1:14.
In addition to the new video, the article appears to reveal a few game play facts including a companion character name Vette who is a Twi'lek pirate, and possibly that Nar Shaddaa will be an included location. Highlights below.
One of the Sith Warrior's companions will be Vette, a wisecracking pirate of the Twi'lek race (the humanoids with those crazy tentacles growing out of their heads, like Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi) with a dark past.
...the young pirate found a new lease on life on the smuggler planet of Nar Shaddaa, where she meets your character and comes across as a character who has both a cynical side as well as a lighter side that comes out when people around her take themselves too seriously...
Sean Dahlberg on all of the 'Sith Love': Both the Allegiance and Class polls have shown things to be pretty even at this point. Granted, this is only a segment of the community but it's a good sampling.
We also plan on giving the Republic their moment to shine. I can't get into the exact reasons as to why some things are released before others (and there is a variety of reasons for different assets) but we also have a lot of "Republic" people on the team, too.
So, while the proof will be in the pudding (an expression, we're not actually giving out pudding. Sorry.), the Republic will definitely get their due. And Soon(TM)
Last week, LucasArts & BioWare extended an invitation to Darth Hater for another round of Star Wars: The Old Republic hands-on game play at the beautiful Presidio campus in San Francisco. Eager to take another look, Meg and I left GDC and made our way to Lucasfilm where we were treated to playing Level 6 Troopers on Ord Mantell, and also spoke in depth with Jake Neri of LucasArts and Daniel Erickson of BioWare.