This week’s DevTracker highlights are all about bugs. Writer Charles Boyd helps a player who inadvertently woke up in bed next to Aric Jorgan. Writer Randy Begel explains how context-sensitive dialogue doesn’t always line up. Designer Austin Peckenpaugh helps a player test out his combat formulas. Senior Online Community Manager Stephen Reid assists James Ohlen collect ideas on what planet Star Wars: The Old Republic should visit next. Hit the jump to see all the highlights.
We’re back from the Guild Summit and BioWare is ready to follow-up with a few clarifications and answers in this week’s DevTracker highlights. Senior Online Community Manager Stephen Reid covers the possibility of eight-man groups in ranked Warzones, and the value of Ilum after patch 1.2. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller talks about balance changes, reusable items, reverse engineering, legacy unlocks, new additions in patch 1.2, and much more. Hit the jump to see all the highlights.
We have many topics to cover in this week's DevTracker Highlights so let us get right to it. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller talks about swimming, finding Datacrons, and the combat styles for pure damage Advanced Classes. Senior Writer Alexander Freed explores the viewpoint of the average Imperial citizen. Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert discusses the design philosophy of swimming in MMOs and it compares to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Writer Randy Begel points out that both the dark and light path can lead to romances. All of this and more after the break.
This week's DevTracker Highlights are slim in number, but heavy on content. Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert sheds some light on friendly fire, appropriate planet sizes, and player convenience features. Writer Randy Begel answers the question if pizza will be in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Check out the full highlights after the jump.
The big Star Wars: The Old Republic buzz last week was Advanced Classes, Skill Sets, and a Developer Blog from Daniel Erickson, but we did get a real interesting opinion about skill-based leveling systems from BioWare's Damion Schubert that we all should pay attention to:
Not to go into the details of what advancement systems we will have or not have inside the game but... this doesn't always work out this rosily, without great designer care. I worked on Meridian 59, which was a wholly skill-based game, and learned a lot about the strengths and pitfalls of systems like it. One of my great pet peeves of pure skill-based systems is that they claim that they are more realistic, but they in fact can create extremely unrealistic situations inside the world.
In the original Everquest, it was not uncommon to see a player throwing himself off a cliff over and over again to improve his safe falling skill, or to see a person macroing some random text gibberish in order to improve his languages. In Meridian 59, players used to park themselves in front of low level monsters and leave the keyboard - they were unlikely to die, and could accumulate defense points in a slow, steady and totally risk-free manor. In Oblivion, the best way to build an assassin character is to hop through fields picking flowers. Jumping improves your Acrobatics (I believe), and the player needs enough flowers to grind up his Poisoning skill.
Sure, each of these could be destupidified with enough designer/programmer time and focus, but then you're coding, QAing and exploit-proofing a different advancement mechanism for every skill in the game. And you'll probably still end up with some silliness somewhere.
I know some people are offended by the idea of do stuff->gain experience->gain level->somehow get better at something completely unrelated. - I know I was too, young in my career when I designed M59. But one of the most important thing for advancement systems is that you get the behavior you incentivize. In a classic XP/Level based system, you are incentivizing your XP-granting behaviors (which in SWTOR is tilted strongly towards questing). In skill-based systems, it is trivially easy to accidentally incentivize really stupid and boring behaviors.
More from BioWare's Randy Begel, Charles Boyd, and Brian Arndt after the jump.
Who doesn't love yellow text from Star Wars: The Old Republic developers throughout the week? First up is a lovely insight into the Sith Empire potentially looking down their noses at rare species from BioWare's Daniel Erickson:
Interesting thread. Yes, racism (speciesism?) is out there in TOR. It rears it head rarely in the multicultural Republic but being exotic in the Empire is an uphill battle to be sure.
So much for sharing a drink with a Elomin. More from BioWare writers after the jump.
BioWare writers are commenting a bit more often on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic forums lately. Writer Randy Begel added his observations to a thread discussing alignment decisions yesterday:
I agree wholeheartedly with intentions being the measure of moral alignment under normal circumstances, but incorporating it into a video game complicates matters greatly.
Since a game is finite we have to narrow down what would normally be a near infinite number of approaches to any given situation to only a few. Within these limits it's our job to pick a range of options that gives the player enough diversity to role-play and we have to communicate as clearly as possible what those options are so the player isn't unpleasantly surprised because a choice isn't quite what they thought it would be. In that sense we have to assume that when the player selects an option they are doing so "in earnest," playing at face value, because it's impossible for a designer to know the player's intention for selecting any given option.
The tricky part is trying to then add additional layers of intent onto the same choice. For example, if I accost the player with a group of thugs working for a local crimeboss, and those thugs indicate that the player can avoid an unpleasant demise if the player agrees to poison a close associate. A player might agree to the task only as lip service to get out of a fight, without ever intending to follow through on it. It's up to me to either make it 100% clear that by choosing that option you fully intend to poison your friend, or I need to account for your deception and present other options later.
Because choices can be ambiguous it's best to try and assign points on the alignment scale based on action rather than intent. In the above example, the player shouldn't get darkside points until they reach the point of no return, in this case going through with the poisoning.
This obviously, doesn't address everyone's concerns, but I hope it'll reassure everyone that we're doing our best to avoid hanging you out to dry with a bad decision.
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