Community Q&A: May 25th, 2012 – Special Edition: Game Update 1.3
This week’s Q&A, as promised, is focused on questions about Game Update 1.3. You’re going to be seeing several detailed blogs regarding Game Update 1.3 soon, but in the meantime, we’ve asked our developers to answer any of your questions about the update.
Please note that in some cases we’ve combined multiple questions into one, and we have edited some questions for brevity and clarity.
For the next Q&A, we’ve previously suggested a shift in focus in your questions. As development plans are always subject to change, questions about future features will often get vague answers which can be repetitive and sometimes annoying. With that in mind, the development team is more interested in questions about current in-game features or systems, or questions about why development decisions were made. You’re still welcome to ask questions about future features and we’ll continue to answer them where appropriate – just expect the occasional ‘soon.’
We have now opened an official thread for next week’s Q&A, which will stay open until 2pm CDT on May 28th, 2012 (12pm PDT/3pm EDT/8pm BST/9pm CEST/5am AEST). Please note that this is a day earlier than our standard Tuesday deadline. We welcome your questions in that thread and hope you enjoy the answers below.
If you want to discuss any of the answers given, please use this Forum thread!
Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): Legacy Perks have a different purpose than global unlocks and are specifically designed to enable players to customize each individual character. Since you may not care about Space XP or running the Bonus Series missions on one character it is important that you’re not paying a premium that is calculated at the expense of 8 or more characters all gaining this benefit. This also means the Legacy Perks will, as a rule, be more affordable than the global unlocks.
Daniel: Although there are no new gear sets, the addition of Adaptive Gear opens up a range of new options for characters, especially those wearing medium and heavy armor. Now any of the social gear sets can be used by any class and they will automatically change stats to be the correct armor level. With the addition of the Augment Tables, players can additionally take that social gear and get Augment slots added that will make it competitive with any gear in the game—once the right mods and augments are gathered, of course.
Daniel: Ranked Warzones is on track for 1.3. All the heavy lifting (ratings, group persistence exiting warzones, etc) is done and right now we are working through some emergent conflicts with Group Finder and the process of queuing for multiple activities at once with multiple temporary groups.
Mallorik: What is your philosophy on cross server LFG tools? Are we getting a same server tool just to hold us over while you work on cross server tech or is this just a test to see if a same server tool will do the job?
Daniel: Although we’re certainly willing to entertain the idea of cross-server LFG tools if the need arises, it’s a last resort for us. We firmly believe for cooperative play it is important to have a community and social responsibility that you simply can’t have with players appearing and disappearing from your reality. Instead we are pushing hard on servers that are massive compared to the ones we launched with. Early tests show we’ll be able to raise the peak concurrent user cap above what it was at launch. Combining that with server transfers to enable players to move to these new servers and fill them to the brim, we should see some fantastic, vibrant communities develop where Group Finder will always be able to find someone for your content.
CompassRose: Many players are concerned about the upcoming character transfer feature. One question frequently being voiced in the forums is that of retaining their legacy surname. Is there a mechanic in the transfer feature that will notify a player if the destination server they choose already has their surname locked by another player?
Daniel: We’re not quite (almost!) ready to talk about the specifics but rest assured we are doing everything we can to make the process as easy and low-impact to the greatest majority of players as possible. We should have better specifics soon.
Daniel: The great thing about droids is that they can be rebuilt. Of course, HK-47 wasn’t the only HK model ever built…
Asturias: Are you guys looking to let players incorporate a Bio for each character so others can read it. I always loved how some MMOs had this option for others to read a quick Bio of my character that I created and I could read theirs.
Daniel: Unfortunately because of our intricate mission systems we are carrying a massive amount of variables for each character already so we are forced to be a bit stingy with things like customizable text. That said, we’re already researching solutions for making this content lighter to drag around with each character and I’d love to see it. Nothing soon, though.
Ximix: Are there any plans to revisit ability animation issues between mirror classes? For example, several "instant" Sage abilities actually have 1-2 second activations while Sorcerer abilities activate and deal damage instantly. Just like the Commando vs Bounty Hunter animations, in PvP these discrepancies can be huge.
Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Whenever you use an "instant" ability, the server receives and process that action without any animation dependency (read: instantly), but the impact VFX and flytext are synced to the attack animation on your client. This is done to make the game look good and give attacks a sense of weight and impact without affecting timing or balance.
There are some notable exceptions to this that are real delays and real discrepancies that we're aware of and are addressing. In the case of Shock and Project, there is a real delay (on the server) before Project deals its damage, and that's something we're fixing in 1.3. The other real delays that we're aware of are in Smash and Force Sweep, but we don't yet have a fix for those.
If you believe additional abilities have delays or are not mirrored, you'd have to point them out specifically. With the exception of the abilities I've already mentioned, so far our investigations have shown that the discrepancies being reported are the intentional ones that make the game look good and feel right and, to reiterate, do not impact timing or balance.
gabarooni: As a long time tank (nearly 10 years), I’ve come to the conclusion that holding Aggro is not fun. Tanks already have to watch their survivability, cooldowns, position mobs, watch their groups position and health, and fight the mobs—all of which I enjoy. Are there any plans in Game Update 1.3 to increase threat generation for tanks? Especially for Guardians and Juggernauts?
Austin: Actually, yes. We'll have more detailed information for you soon, but you can expect some improvements in threat generation, AOE threat, and quality of life.
Austin: I think I'll confirm a lot of suspicions with this answer, but the bugfix that addressed Demolition Round scaling had a large enough impact on Gunnery DPS that it surprised us, too. Although Gunnery and Arsenal had been hitting our targets, it became harder to do so than we were comfortable with. Another way to say that is that the "low end" of our test results was hit too frequently by too many people. The changes you're going to see are mostly in resource management and usability, which will make it easier for you to deliver the considerable damage you already wield. We'll have more detailed information for you soon.
Austin: Game Update 1.2 brought damage dealing and healing roles closer to target than they had previously been. If for you and your class that meant a reduction in performance, that can be a hard thing for me to justify to you. I think it's fair to say that some of those changes were made by reducing usability instead of just reducing numbers, and it's these usability issues that we want to correct and negative changes to usability that we don't want to repeat in the future. Like I said before, we'll have more detailed information for you soon, but if I had to identify a motif for class changes in future updates, it'd be "improved usability."
Supaaq: I am extremely excited to see a Group Finder being added to SWTOR in Game Update 1.3. I would say of all the features I wish the game could have ASAP, that definitely tops my list. What else can you tell us about the specific implementation of this most welcome improvement? Will it automatically teleport group members to the entrance when the group forms?
Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): We are very, very close to releasing the full design of the feature in an imminent blog post written by yours truly. That being said, highlights do include that it can be used for flashpoints, heroic flashpoints, ops and planetary content. For the instanced combat, it will give you a free teleport to the content location once all group members agree to the group.
Gangawolf: I am curious about the cost of repairing gear, particularly in the end-game. When I die, I find that the cost to repair my Bounty Hunter's gear is just under half what if costs my Jedi Consular (and they are similarly geared in terms of level of gear). Likewise, my Smuggler falls somewhere in between the two. Again, not a scientific sampling, but it seems like heavy armor sets are cheaper to repair than medium armor sets which in turn are cheaper than light armor sets. Why wouldn't repair costs be the same across the board for similar level gear?
Jason Attard (Senior Game Balance Designer): Repair costs are tied to the percentage of durability your items have lost (in addition to item level and quality). Currently heavy armor has a higher durability score than medium or light armor, so it degrades more slowly in combat and it is thus cheaper to repair over time. This was put in place fairly early in development to give tanks a bit of a break on their repair costs (back before we had lightly-armored Shadow/Assassin tanks). With the introduction of Adaptive Armor in Game Update 1.3 this design decision is definitely getting dated, so there’s a good chance we will normalize the durability of all armor types in a future update.
tkinnunzero: In Game Update 1.3, can you briefly summarize what is the endgame Operation gear progression, i.e. what is the path a fresh level 50 is intended to be following that will see him/her eventually conquer the highest difficulties and end up fully decked in Best-in-Slot gear in every slot?
Jason: We expect a fresh level 50 character to start with a mixture of high level Premium and Prototype gear from missions, crafting and planetary commendations. For players interested in Group PvE end-game content the first step would be to use Group Finder to go through the Normal Mode Flashpoints until you acquire a full set of Prototype gear, probably mixed with several Artifact/Tionese items or mods. Next up would be hard mode Flashpoints (starting with tier 1 then moving on to the harder tier 2 Rakghoul Flashpoints) and story-mode Operations (starting with Eternity Vault then moving on to Karraga’s Palace) where you pick up your Columi/Energized gear. Finally you’d get into story mode Explosive Conflict to pick up your Rakata gear, and use the Black Hole commendations to start picking up Black Hole gear. To progress past this point you’ll need a guild at your back capable of doing Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode Operations. Starting into hard modes immediately after story mode Eternity Vault will let your dramatically accelerate your Columi and Rakata gearing, and Hard Mode Explosive Conflict lets you rapidly pick up Black Hole gear and is the only way to pick up the top-of-the-line Campaign gear set.
Once you have good gear that you feel you’re going to hold on to for a while you can improve it by adding Augments through crafting and Item Modification Tables. You can also optimize it by extracting mods from duplicate pieces of Operation gear to get the perfect balance of stats for your character build. Crafting also has a role to play, especially if your guild has a lot of extra Operation gear they can reverse engineer. It allows you to augment your gear more quickly and cheaply, customize the look of your gear, and help gear up your new guild-mates with powerful crafted mods and items.
If you enjoy solo content playing the daily mission hubs on Ilum, Belsavis and Corellia can help rack up the credits and accelerate your early end-game gear progression. The Galactic Trade Network provides opportunities to buy powerful mods and items with all those credits, while providing a decent income for the end-game crafters.
Our plan for future Operation game updates is to have Group Finder players to progress from Story mode to Story mode, while Operation guilds move into Hard Mode of the new operation (possibly dropping back into Story Mode to learn fight mechanics or gear up new players) then progress into Nightmare Mode. We intend to introduce Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode in the same update (Nightmare Explosive Conflict was delayed to allow us get some exciting new Nightmare Mode tech into the game which we should have more details on soon). We’re also planning on having Hard Mode Flashpoint rewards continue to progress as we introduce new tiers of content, allowing new players to skip past some of the earlier Operations (if their guild has already completed them and doesn’t wish to go back, for example).
Thanks for all of your questions, and thanks to the team for answering them. If you’d like to put forward a question for the next Q&A, please visit this Forum thread!