Community News

12.02.2013

Galactic Starfighter Development, Introduction: Part II

Greetings Starfighters,

In the last Developer Diary I wrote, we talked a little bit about the history of Galactic Starfighter and how it came to be. I also hinted at getting into some of the details about the game itself. Well, today, we start to get down and dirty into the different aspects of the game as a whole, and then we’ll start to focus on more of the specifics as more Diaries are written by members of the team.

So, let’s get started.

The Cost, or, as the Internet likes to phrase it: “Is it really free? No, seriously, how much is it?”

Let me start by saying this: Yes, it really is free to download. And both F2P players and Subscribers have similar access to all of Galactic Starfighter’s content.

And now that that’s out of the way, if you bear with me, I’ll explain in more detail our philosophy on this aspect of the expansion while also explaining how progression works in Galactic Starfighter.

When I sat down with the leaders of our studio to talk about the business plan I felt strongly that a few things had to be true:

  • The game had to be as accessible as possible, to both new and older players
  • Restrictions on how powerful you could become should be nonexistent (specifically between Subscribers and Free-to-Play players)
  • We had to avoid Pay-to-Win

So, what do those points mean to Galactic Starfighter and how do they impact our design?

Accessibility

I’m happy to tell you that you will be able to access to Galactic Starfighter starting at level 1. The only barriers you’ll encounter are 1) downloading Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ and 2) to create a character. Once you’ve created your character, you can continue on and partake in all of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s story content or jump into Galactic Starfighter immediately. To do the latter, you need only open your Hangar and queue for battle. It’s that simple.

We literally wanted to make the pool of players as large as possible, so everyone from level 1 to level 55 will queue together, taking into consideration how developed your ships are (yes, our matchmaking system will attempt to put beginning players with beginners, and more advanced players with each other—that’s the simple version).

Restrictions on Power & Pay-to-Win

I put these two points together because to me they feel very similar in their impact. I think it’s self-evident as to why they’re bad for a community of players, especially in a F2P game. Both create a sort of caste system based on the “haves” and the “have nots.” Both create jealousy. And moreover, both create resentment towards us, the developers.

What this game should be about is pitting your dogfighting skills against your enemies; how you strategize and use the environments to overcome the enemy; how you learn to use your abilities at the right time. Asking you to give us money in order to be more powerful and to gain an unfair advantage over an enemy undermines that desire.

How the game works

This brings us back to the questions that started this portion of our developer diary: how does the game work? How do you level up? How do you upgrade your ships? “Tell me now!” you’re probably shouting.

As you complete battles, you will be rewarded with Requisition. Requisition serves not only as your experience points in Galactic Starfighter, but also as your currency. You use it to unlock new roles, upgrade ships you already own, unlock new weapons and components for your ships, as well as adding more Crew Members.

Here’s where we add some complexity: There are two types of Requisition, Ship and Fleet. Ship Requisition is specific to the ship you earn it on, while Fleet Requisition is neutral and can be used on anything that has a Requisition cost.

This obviously makes Fleet Requisition much more valuable. Players can use Cartel Coins to convert Ship Requisition they’ve earned on their ships into Fleet Requisition, effectively using their more powerful ships to twink their less powerful ships. It’s important to note here that players will also get a small portion of their Ship Requisition converted to Fleet Requisition for free at the end of each battle, helping create a pool of Fleet Requisition for them to use.

Our philosophy here is that if a player puts in the time, it’s up to them how they use that time. If you want to spend Cartel Coins to upgrade one of your other ships, or to keep upgrading the ship you earned that Requisition on that’s your choice. Ultimately, it’s a question of time and we’re confident Galactic Starfighter is a fun, satisfying experience from the very start.

There are other factors involved here as well. For instance, Subscribers and Galactic Starfighter Pass Holders will earn Requisition on their ships faster than Free-to-Play players. This is obviously allowing Subscribers to “level up” faster than F2P players, but this is nothing new to our game and many others like ours.

I hope that gives some insight into our thoughts and plans for this expansion, and I look forward to hearing all of your feedback as we get closer to launch. You’ll be seeing more of these diaries soon, which will give us an opportunity to talk more about the game, the roles and ships, as well as level design, crew, and the artwork used to create what turned out to be hundreds of hours of gameplay for you, the fans.

May the Force be with you.

Michael Backus
Lead Designer