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05.08.2012

Star Wars: The Old Republic Official Podcast Episode I

Hello everyone! My name is Eric Musco and I, along with Brooks Guthrie are happy to bring you episode one of the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ podcast, “Rocket Boots”. You can listen by using the embedded player, by downloading and listening on your preferred MP3 player, or check it out on our YouTube channel.

In this episode, we sit down with Daniel Erickson and Damion Schubert to talk about what we saw in Game Update 1.2 and what we can expect as we look forward to Game Update 1.3. Also, David Bass stops by to tell us about how things went at PAX East and share some of our convention plans for the rest of the year. If you have any questions or comments about the show, feel free to let us know in this forum thread.

Thanks for listening!

Download the MP3 of this podcast by right-clicking this link and saving.

 


Brooks: Hello everyone. Welcome to the official Star Wars™: the Old Republic™ Podcast. I'm Brooks Guthrie

Eric: And I am Eric Musco and on today's episode we sit down with Damion Schubert and Daniel Erickson to talk about Game Update 1.2 and some of the exciting things coming Game Update 1.3 and we also talked to David Bass about PAX East and all the exciting conventions we are going to be going to later this year.

All right and we are joined today by two awesome gentlemen right here at BioWare, Austin. I am just going to let you guys introduce yourself and what your title is and if you could tell us a little bit about what you do here at the studio.

Damion: I'm Damion Schubert a Dark Warlord Systems Design.

Daniel: This is Daniel Erickson coming at you at Lead Designer and I'm dedicated to doing radio voice for the whole interview

Brooks: Excellent.

Eric: I am going to be really impressed if you pull that off

Daniel: I will be too

Eric: Because I have no radio voice. We often talk about this. I just speak normally and Brooks goes into his radio voice and it is really impressive and I am just like I can talk into a microphone.

Daniel: I was actually told numerous times when I was doing theatre in the university that I had a great voice for cartoons or radio and I believe the implication was a face for radio as well.

Brooks: And that remains today.

Eric: Yeah, so as you know 1.2 came out a little bit ago. Why don't you guys talk about some of the big changes that came in 1.2? What is some of your philosophies were going into making some of those big changes?

Damion: Well the cool thing about how we did this particular patch 1.2 is that we really experimented more with letting the teams own the features a lot more and not being as top down and like for example the GUI customization team take that ball and run with it and I think there you see an excellent example how that philosophy came to life and they did way more than we expected. They thought of lots of things that weren't in the original design document. I think the quality of that feature really speaks for itself and you know that is a philosophy we really want to sort of spread out through all of the teams in the future so all of the features are just taken to the hilt and are as good as they possibly can be.

Daniel: One of the things about 1.2 sorry no, I probably can't hold that up for 15 minutes. The Legacy was obviously the big piece for 1.2 that we are excited about and Legacy had been in the works forever. I went back and looked at original design docs, you know, when we had 8 pages with the entire really high level design pitch and it has got my really, really bad little family tree. One of the things that was already hard for us was that it involved so many of our systems coming together and working together and playing nicely that it took a lot more work we thought in the very last minute to pull it all together but it was beautiful to see it actually come out.

Eric: So one of the things you actually said Damion I think is really interesting is that you know in 1.2 you ended up with some maybe additions to features but maybe new features but additions to features that weren't originally planned. Can you give me an example of what that might have looked like?

Damion: A good example is the guild banks where we started with a fairly cut and dry implementation of guild banks going to the system and when we looked at it, for example, we looked at it and realized, "Hey, you know what logging all of the cash events at separate log entries just really sucks for a lot of reasons." It pushes out all of the events of somebody looting your guild bank because we can restore so many messages.

Eric: Right.

Damion: It is also impossible for you to tell how much people are actually contributing because you can't get every possible log message and so the team took it upon themselves to add the guild ledger, which is a simple idea but also you know one of the small ideas that just makes the whole system so much easier and so much better to use and it is so much easier for guild masters to observe what is going on inside of the guild and to figure out who the dead beats are and so, you know, it is little things like that that you see-

Daniel: Some good things to know, yeah.

Damion: It is little things like that that you see throughout the systems that were implementing in 1.2, where they got a lot of love.

Daniel: Yeah I think the one that I got the whole time was so we had a Legacy strike team and we are working really hard on that stuff and they just added a bunch of stuff that basically if you heard giggling from over there, especially if you heard some very distinctly William Wallace giggling then you know you would go over there and you go, "Hey what have you got going on?” “Look, look, rocket boots!"

Damion: Ah, the rocket boots.

Daniel: I am like, "What are you doing with rocket boots?" "We’re going to put in rocket boots!" and I am like, "I don't remember anything in the design-” and they’re like, "Rocket boots!" And I’m like, “Alright, alright.”

Brooks: Oh my god.

Eric: That was a William Wallace special?

Daniel: Yeah the rocket boots.

Eric: We would like to personally thank William Wallace then for the rocket boots because they are awesome.

Daniel: Well I am not sure, hold on - that is the great thing about strike teams. I'm not sure where that originated on that team, but that definitely came out of Will's team as did the unarmed brawling game, which was another one that I showed up one day and they said, "Look what we can do?" and I am like, "Okay, are we doing it?" And they’re like, "Yeah!" Alright, we are going to brawl.

And once I actually sat down and played with it I was like, "Okay, this is pretty fun." And then the role playing stuff literally I'd asked, "Just go through the whole game and just try to find everything that you could find for emotes that we don't have access to." And yeah, just watching stuff develop there, where it's really people's passion going out and saying, "Hey, this is what I'd like to add to this feature."

Damion: Design is most fun when people are building stuff that they like and people are building features that they could love and put a bit of themselves into and so we started to design documents that are very level and have a charter but again you know really what we want to do is most of our team plays the game, most of our team loves the game, and they have ideas of how to make the game better and some extent being me and Daniel our job is to keep them in between the lines. Make sure they don't go off reservation.

Eric: Rocket boots, rocket boots.

Daniel: Damion and I having different lines.

Damion: Well, you know, I personally liked the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Speeder Bike but-

Daniel: I didn't like it. I know, I know.

There will be no Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Speeder Bike.

Brooks: So obviously 1.2 is out and, you know, people are enjoying at this point, but we still have a lot of stuff coming up next. One of the things that we pulled from 1.2 was ranked warzones and expect those to be coming in soon again. Can you guys talk a little bit about that decision and, you know, what the process is going to be for getting that back in to players?

Damion: That is pretty easy I mean we have very high standards for how good the feature needs to be and it was clear that this feature in that implementation wasn't good enough to be in a BioWare game. Right? And it is important to people because it’s how people interact with each other. We want to be sure that people weren't doing cheesy things that made other people feel like the system wasn't capturing it properly. It needs a little bit more time to cook and so we put the feature and we would do it again. We have a pretty high commitment to making sure you guys get the best as soon as possible.

Daniel: Yeah and one of the things about PTS, the public test server that is incredibly important to understand is we put stuff up there because we want fan feedback. We want the players to get in there and play with it and they did get to play the ranked warzones and they looked at the way stuff worked especially some of the stuff, the queuing system and they are very subtly and in a very polite way said, "You're dumb. This is dumb." And at that point, deciding that it is more important to have a date, deciding that you are going to put stuff up, tell the communities to test it and then ignore their feedback and push it out anyway. It is just not doing good service. All it lets you to do is check a box and say, "Hey, we have this feature." But it is not something that we can be proud off.

Ranked Warzones are coming back and they are coming back soon and they are coming back in a design that has been vetted and tested and that we feel really good about it.

Damion: One of the things about systems like ranked warzones, there is a certain category of systems that is really hard for us to test internally and we could test the mechanics of how they work, but, you know, we really need to get them in front of a lot of people playing naturally to be able to see whether or not they are actually good, fair, balanced and all that stuff. All of the operations testing we can sort of test how good an operation is internally, but it is not until people get in to their real characters and what not they get genuine feedback in terms of-

Daniel: Well a lot of that testing, a lot of that playing naturally is playing in ways that there is no way to predict because you have got some crazy idea of what are you going to try to accomplish, right? It is very had to put a tester in front of something and say, "Try to really cheat." "Well what, cheat how?" "I don't know be creative and just try to break all of this."

Damion: Especially when a system like ranked warzones requires dozens or hundreds of people to test and an operation takes 8 or 16 people in order to do one iteration of fight. I mean really the PTS is there and it is where we get most of our valuable qualitative feedback about systems like that and it is really valuable for us to get people on to that server so we can get that feedback.

Daniel: Right our primary job when you are talking about really big systems like that is to make sure that it gets to PTS without bugs.

Damion: Yeah.

Daniel: Right so it gets in there without big obvious things that are breaking in there. That it is working as designed, but now we actually have to vet the design. One of those things that I know sometimes designers don't like to admit is-

Damion: We’re full of it about half the time?

Daniel: I was going to say it’s a very iterative process. There’s a lot of times-

Eric: You can see where those lines are drawn right now.

Brooks: That would be a very nice way of saying it.

Daniel: There is a lot of times that you have got a great theory especially if you are trying to do anything new, if you trying to do anything that is not exactly pulled from somewhere else then you are just doing guess work until humans take a look at what you have built and say, "Hah, you have developed something well" or "Hmmm."

Damion: I think, if you look at the long view this project over the entire time we’ve developed it, I think that there are certainly some things in the background or the history of this project that people would be astonished that we tried to get in and we looked at - said, "Yeah that is not going to fly." There are a lot of ideas that are good in your head or good on paper then you put it in and it is like, "Oh wait this is too simple, this is too complicated, this is not a right fit for the systems in the game.” It actually happens an awful lot and one of the things that we have tried to focus on doing is try to get the systems to a point where we can iterate on them as fast as possible.

Eric: Speaking of systems that we are going to be able to iterate on, why don’t we talk a little about 1.3? 1.3 is our next content patch that is coming out, why don’t you guys talk a little bit about what players can expect to see in 1.3?

Damion: 1.3 is, well, it is the group finder patch. That’s not the official name, but really that is our top priority. We have some other features that we are going to go and put inside of it but really this is us really getting a group finder to you guys as fast as humanly possible.

Brooks: I am super excited about group finder because that is one of the biggest things that I have run into in lower game is finding groups and actually being able to run those flashpoints that I get. For players who have maybe never used a group finder before, and I know we have plenty of those, what is that actually going to look like in the game?

Damion: It is fairly simple and basically what we want to do is to give you a really simple front end that you can use as well as those give you the ability to fine tune your choices a little more so the really simple approach is you open a group finder you choose what role - tank, heal or DPS - that you are willing to fulfill and you can choose multiple if your class can fill multiple and then you choose what kind of content that you want to do and that content is going to be flashpoints, heroic flashpoints, operations although story mode operations only for now and then world content, the planetary content where you basically say I want a quest on Belsavis.

Then if you hit select from there, then it will try to find people who want to do that stuff. Now if there is a particular dungeon or particular planet that you want to do by default what it does it gets you to the level of appropriate flashpoints for you. If you really want to the quest in the Mandalorian Raiders flashpoint for example you can go and unselect everything else and just say, "Hey, I just want to sign up for that." And the group finder will try to find other people who are looking for that content as well so that is a great way for you to target certain quests that you want to accomplish. We felt that was important in our game because of where the game is right now where people are trying to clear out their quest logs and accomplish certain goals in certain places.

However, if you play the random game, especially for flashpoints and heroic flashpoints, and you just set yourself purely random then like yeah we are going to throw a cookie at you. We are going to give you, I forgot what the itemization guys ended up offering, but you are going to want to try to do a random dungeon day I believe. The patch is also mostly going to be a features patch. It’s going to have a slightly shorter development time than the last patch and it is going to be content light, but it is going to have a heavy focus on a couple of key features that we felt were really important to be giving to you guys.

Daniel: You are also getting the next part of Legacy, which we had a little in-game advert going for that beforehand, which are your character perks, which is that is all about the uniqueness of your character how you want to play each individual character. Hey, you know what I want to actually get my speeder early. I want to get more XP from PvP. I want to really sort of shape how I am going to play this guy. I have already played another character maybe I want to see different content but I want to be able to just mostly do that content and still get my character up at the same rate which brings a lot of exciting stuff and although Legacy will keep going after that and we will continue to expand it, those are really the two biggest thematic concepts that will be there for the players.

Damion: And then we have two key itemization features that are coming to you guys that I think will be really good for the end game players in particular. The first is augment tables and what this is going to allow you to do is to allow you to add an augment slot which is the slot that crafters get for free whenever they get a critical hit crafting item. It will allow you to use item modification table anywhere in the game to add an augment slot to any piece of wearable gear armor and get that augment slot so that will pretty much allow all of our gear at the end game to be equivalent to each other, which will solve a lot of the itemization problems that we have had in the past.

The other thing that personally I am excited about is adaptive gear. Adaptive gear is the ability for some gear, in particular social gear, to morph its armor rating based on the skill of the wearer the short form is that, yes, you can now tank in a bikini. I know that is important to some people. It also means that things like the - was it the pilot outfit - the sand trooper, the sand person outfit all of those things in particular on the social vendors as well as the armor on the collector's edition vendors and the security vendors all that stuff will be able to be worn at end game, especially when you combine it with the augment table technology.

Brooks: So how does one exactly role play a body type four Sith Warrior Juggernaut tanking in explosive content? Anyone know how that goes?

Eric: I think he just explained it.

Daniel: Did you just refer to the bikini as explosive content?

Brooks: I may have! And I think that I how he explained it.

Eric: I think it is self-explanatory.

Brooks: Yeah.

Eric: So basically it seems like you are making the changes towards basically allowing a player to look however they want to accomplish any goal they want to, I mean, if someone wants to tank in a bikini. You know, some people want to tank and look like they are Darth Vader fantasy have just being in tons of armor and being able to take a lot of hits. Whereas other people, for some reason, want to tank in bikini.

Daniel: Well a lot of it is about giving people goals and a lot of those goals tend to be being able to make yourself an individual. Being able to do something that is a little above and beyond so it is never going to be as easy as it is to just go get your end game gear cause you are still going to need your mods, you are going to have to do that stuff, right, but if you want to take the extra step to say, "Hey, I am not just going to be the guy who got this stuff. I am going to be the guy who is going to go in and show off in the raid" or "I am going to be the guy who is going to go in and punk you in the warzone wearing this ridiculous outfit." There is definitely a player base that is a great goal to set up for.

Damion: And it has always been the goal of the itemization team that the mod system eventually become the ability for you to preserve and keep whatever appearance you wanted really and these two pieces of technology are really the two largest remaining steps that we needed to get to that place or I think there are still a couple of more things they want to do but I think with this piece of technology they are pretty much almost there.

Eric: So if you are that guy who has an entire bank bay filled with orange gear… like me. 1.3 is made for you?

Damion: Correct.

Eric: Awesome, awesome, well do you guys have anything else to add before we wrap it up.

Damion: Not yet, not yet. 1.4 is shaping up to be quite an impressive patch as well. I can't wait to talk about it, but that is not this particular podcast so…

Daniel: No, I would say I had a ton and ton of fun playing with all of you as Rakghouls and I can't wait for more of that.

Eric: That was a really, really awesome event, for sure. Damion, Daniel, thanks for joining us on today's podcast.

Daniel: Thank you.

Eric: And then we are going to take a quick break and then we will be back to talk with David Bass about Star Wars: the Old Republic's presence at PAX East.

[Break]

Eric: And we are back and joined by Senior Tauntaun Manager David Bass. I am kidding. That is the title he wanted, so David introduce yourself.

David: We had a Junior Tauntaun Manager, but unfortunately we ran into some complications on Hoth.

Eric: So why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about what you actually do?

David: I’m one of the senior community coordinators here mostly I focus on what we call external community so fan sites, guilds, any websites that really cover our stuff is mostly where you will find me typically and then I also run a lot of the events that we do around the world each year.

Eric: And that is a perfect transition as to why you are here today. Tell us a little bit about what we brought to PAX East this year?

David: PAX East was actually a lot of fun. This was our first show post-launch. What was our last show? New York Comic Con last year right? So it has been a long time since we did a show. This was our first convention since we launched and there is a big, big difference between a launched event at a convention versus a pre-launch event. I think you both are at PAX East last year before you worked for us right?

Brooks: That is correct.

David: And PAX East last year was absolutely insane.

Brooks: Nuts.

Eric: That was what? 9 hours lines to play the game?

Brooks: Yeah.

David: Yeah, last year within the first 30 seconds of the show…

Brooks: Exactly, yeah it was crazy.

David: We were showing off Taral V so we had like a nice, long 40 minute demo with like tutorial before that and everything. Big, big epic experience lots of people excited. Now that the game is launched it calms down a little bit more. We still get a lot of foot traffic at the booth, we still get a ton of people coming, but now these guys are actually players. They are not people who are like, "Oh man I am so excited I can't wait till this game comes out." It is like, "Oh man the game is out I am having a great time here I got tons of questions. I got like a lot of things to say about the game and I want to come and hang out." So the booth kind of shifted this year for more of like a presentation crazy like, "Oh man we are awesome epic thing" to like, "Hey let's have a community style booth. Let's have everyone come hangout. Let's have everyone just chill out with us."

We basically had a part of the booth that was showing off game update 1.2 because it was about a week before the update came out so people could just walk up and play, but the other half of the booth we call the community lounge, which was basically a bunch of chairs and sofas where anyone could just come and hang out, plop down, drop their stuff, sit and talk. And then we had a lot of developers just hanging out there the whole weekend. So at any one point you can just come on the booth and Damion Schubert will be sitting there and just go talk to him or Cameron, one of our combat designers, people will just approach and be like, "Yo, you nerf my class" and then he would be happy to explain that why exactly, why he nerfed your class or why in fact that nerf was actually a buff.

Eric: Right and so one of the big appeals of course, Senior Tauntaun Manager, this year was our Taun Fawn Pet we were giving out at the booth. Why don't you tell everybody about the Taun Fawn and if they’ll be able to get it anywhere else this year?

David: A Taun Fawn is a event exclusive item. It is a special baby Tauntaun. There is a couple other baby Tauntauns in the game right now that you can get through a variety of different methods, but he is a little black and white speckled Tauntaun.

Eric: Who is adorable.

Brooks: He is adorable.

David: And we gave out a bunch of codes at PAX for anyone who stops by the booth to grab one, but we will also have that Taun Fawn with us at all the other events this year so you can just any show anywhere check our events page.

Brooks: I mean speaking of events. Go to the website, but obviously David I am sure you know exactly where we are going to be this year. What is coming up next in terms of big events for Star Wars™?

David: We announced a couple of the events for the year so far. I don't know if that is all of them for the year but we will be at E3 in June. We will have more details on that when the time comes. After that our next public show is going to be San Diego Comic Con which is in San Diego if you weren't aware. But we will be there like we were like last year and then after that is GamesCom which is in Cologne, Germany and then after that is Star Wars Celebration, which I am so excited about.

Brooks: Star Wars Celebration is going to be awesome, for sure.

David: I have never been. Most of us haven't been I don't think. It is a convention that happens once every 2 years and it is just all things Star Wars. It is an actual Lucas Film convention and just Star Wars fans from around the world come together in Orlando to just hang out and talk about their love of Star Wars for a couple of days so we are really excited and we are planning to do some really cool stuff there.

Brooks: I am actually looking at a board of ideas right now. It is pretty awesome.

David: Oh yeah. I forgot to erase that. Yeah, but we got a lot of cool ideas in mind for things we want to do at Celebration. I know they still have tickets left so if anyone wants to go you should definitely drop by the Celebration website and pick up some tickets because we are going to be really doing some real fun stuff there.

Eric: Sure. And I know a lot of people have had a ton of questions about the Taun Fawn post PAX East about it there is there any other ways to get it. Now you know, just stop by any of our shows we will be all over the country in various places and make sure to stop by the booth and we will happily hand you your very own Taun Fawn.

David: Yeah we got codes and just find a BioWare employee and we will have codes for you.

Brooks: Now I heard a rumor at PAX East that there was some kind of dance contest that occurred.

David: Okay that was true. Well once you kind of run on a very little sleep after a couple of days you start trying to entertain yourselves by making people do silly things for rewards. I think Alyson Bridge… was it the first day or the second day?

Eric: Every day, actually.

David: It was every day?

Eric: Yeah.

David: She just decided we were going to do a baby Tauntaun dance off party so we scheduled it a couple of times a day and we had people get up on stage and show us their best Tauntaun dance and then we give them prizes based on who won each time and it was amazing.

Brooks: I think that should be a tradition this year.

Eric: But by far the best was I think there was a 7 year old… I think his name was Zack if I remember. But it was like a 7-year-old that did it on the last day and he just tore it up the whole crowd just went crazy.

David: And as soon as a 7 year old walks up on stage, you are like well I know who is going to win this one.

Eric: Right.

David: Yeah, but he just went all out crazy with the Tuantaun dance.

Brooks: So moral of the story if you are planning on coming to an event for us this year make sure to practice your Tauntaun dance.

David: Don't be surprised if we make you do things for a code.

Brooks: Yeah.

David: Yes.

Eric: All right David thank you for joining us. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

David: We are just really excited to see all the players in all these events this year so come on out to any of the cities like I said check the events page and we will be happy to meet up with you and chat and buy you a drink.

Eric: And hand you a Tauntuan.

David: And hand you a Tauntaun or three.

Eric: All right thank you David.

David: Thank you.

Brooks: All right so big thanks to Damion, Daniel and David for taking time out for the work day to join us. I am really excited about what is coming up and the game and one thing what Daniel mentioned very quickly that we didn't spend a lot of time on was the Rakghoul event.

Eric: Yeah the Rakghoul event was just an absolute giant pile of fun. What did you love most about the event?

Brooks: My favorite thing is just seeing disease spread and I know like is like really dark and gloomy to say, but it was just so cool to be just like in a warzone be it Alderaan or whatever and everyone is duking it out the middle someone dies and then just like the plague explodes everywhere and coats everyone.

Eric: Yeah it was pretty amusing. I loved when I was doing the scavenger hunt quest to work on getting the little red Rakghoul and it was just me and three of my friends and I am on a PvP server and it was amusing just seeing four level 50's roaming around on Tatooine and all of a sudden you would come across level 20 and I am like, "Uh their name is in red I have to hit them," but it was just I really, really enjoyed the world PvP that kind of just spawned from the other band ,and I spent a lot of time in my Tatooine during the event. It was a lot of fun.

Brooks: Yeah, yeah and I mean who doesn't love a little crimson rakling like that is the most adorable thing.

Eric: It is strangely adorable. I mean you wouldn't think that a little tiny Rakghoul will be a cute pet but man that thing is cute.

Brooks: You would think so and completely unique. So yeah, I think that is going to be it for episode 1 and I really enjoyed this first episode. If you missed our pilot episode you can go back and listen to that we talked to Cameron and Austin from the combat team about combat things naturally. Musco, why don't you tell everyone how they can get the show?

Eric: All right so as you already know you might be listening to the show right now on StarWarstheOldRepublic.com so you can listen to it there. Just like our pilot we will have this available on YouTube as well so make sure you subscribe to our channel. Unfortunately, it is taking a little bit longer than we expected so we don't have the RSS available yet for this episode so you won't be able to get it on iTunes quite yet but we hope to have that very, very soon along with our own Podcast page right here on StarWarstheOldRepublic.com. So make sure as always just stay tuned to the website for updates and as always you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter and you can find us through all of those and we will give you announcements there when our next Podcast is available as well.

Brooks: Yeah, yeah and feel free to give us feedback you know I really enjoyed reading through the thread last time and you know obviously the biggest thing was RSS feed for the show and it is coming but until next time.

Eric: Yup and fun fact for the episode, Brooks.

Brooks: Oh yeah.

Eric: Everyone who is on this show aside from you and I their name starts with "D."

Brooks: Wow! How about that.

Eric: I think like the next we should get Dallas Dickenson on here or something else just to continue that trend.

Brooks: Yes, all the D's, all the D's.

Eric: Or maybe we should move to E next time so we continue along on the alphabet and then I will win.

Brooks: You will win.

Eric: Yeah we skipped to B unfortunately.

Brooks: Yeah we are screwed there.

Eric: All right guys thanks for joining us.

Brooks: May the force be with you.

 


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