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An Interview with Jesse Sky, Lead Operations & Flashpoint Designer

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Flashpoints, Operations, and Heroic Missions
An Interview with Jesse Sky, Lead Operations & Flashpoint Designer

antonmb's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 11:40 AM | #1
Hi Everyone,

Methodical recently had the chance to meet with Jesse Sky, Lead Flashpoints and Operations Designer. We were able to gain some great insight into the details and thought-process that goes into designing the content that we enjoy so much.

"Thanks for talking with us Jesse. Can you talk about what you learned from each of the three Operations currently out? How has that influenced future Operations?"

Our first two Operations, Eternity Vault and Karaggaís Palace, were built without a lot of player data or feedback to use as a frame of reference. By 1.2, we had a lot more data to work with, and a much-improved picture of how our player abilities differentiate SW:TORís end game from other MMOs.

Out of all the Operations, Denova had the longest QA / iteration cycle, and thatís become a core part of our development process. I think it really shows. When a mechanic doesnít work, we do what we can to adjust it, but weíre not afraid to scrap it altogether.

"Can you discuss your design philosophy regarding the relative difficulty of bosses within the same Operation? For example, is it a design goal that each boss in an Operation be tougher than the previous ones? Do you intend for the last boss of an Operation be a large step up from all the other bosses, or do you prefer a more gradual difficulty curve?"

We generally balance bosses to be progressively more difficult over the course of a single Operation. However, our balance sheets are not always the best indicator of difficulty, especially as we increase our focus on mechanics. Some bosses require strict coordination checks, and that may pose a greater challenge to certain players than gear checks. We were surprised, for example, at how long it took players to down Toth and Zorn on PTS.

That said, we do want the final boss in a hard mode Operation to pose a greater challenge than the rest Ė we want to give progression guilds something to chew on for a while. Itís a delicate balance, because you donít want ham-fisted gear checks artificially slowing your progression, but on the other hand, any pure coordination check can be overcome with enough practice.

"So far, all of the Operations have been linear in that you have to kill all of the bosses in a precise order. Do you have any plans for Operations with multiple branching paths or "wings" to allow players more control over the order in which they tackle bosses?"

Itís definitely something weíre interested in. Thus far, our Operations have been structured like traditional dungeon crawls in the interest of storytelling and communicating progression. Itís worked well, but at some point, weíll have to change things up to keep it fresh.

You can read the FULL interview & article (with pretty pictures!) at

pure_laced's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 12:40 PM | #2
...and the torch has been passed. 8(
Cali Killed Nox
Genshen 50: Powertech | Guardian | Assassin | Sniper | Sage
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ADPowah's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 01:13 PM | #3
Thanks, the full read was great.
What I want: 1) Dual spec for me and my comps 2) missions where I fight with all of my comps at once, we are a team 3) playable comp-only missions 4) Free flight PVE and PVP Space combat (i.e. X-Wing multiplayer) 5) Instanced areas that change based on our story, sand-box areas that are open.

VulcanLogic's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 02:06 PM | #4
This part made me chuckle:

Sure, I think the main thing we want to encourage is a healthy variety of roles in raid composition. We balance things pretty tightly for the expected configuration, but tanks provide solid enough DPS that I could see an extra being viable, at least in 16-man. I donít think we would want to punish that.
Tanks do not provide solid DPS. They're doing a third the damage of top DPS, and still less than half come the 1.3 armor debuff stacking nerf. That said, it does open up other options, particularly with regard to an extra tank or hybrid heals (which would add more DPS than an extra tank while also adding extra healing ability for stress phases).
Yo. Droid companions need an operations vendor, too. My extra coms have to go somewhere, and I'd prefer SCORPIO to Kaliyo.

Wugan's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 02:29 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by VulcanLogic View Post
This part made me chuckle:

Tanks do not provide solid DPS. They're doing a third the damage of top DPS, and still less than half come the 1.3 armor debuff stacking nerf. That said, it does open up other options, particularly with regard to an extra tank or hybrid heals (which would add more DPS than an extra tank while also adding extra healing ability for stress phases).
Well, the quote was "solid enough" DPS and what that really means is, you can usually beat the enrage timer just fine with an extra tank. From what we have seen, a competitive tank is usually closer to half the DPS of our average DPS players, and depending on the encounter, can give you a lot more control or flexibility.

Of course, you only want another tank when there is something for them to do, and that's usually the kind of fight where raw DPS is less important. You bring them to pick up adds, add another player in a taunt rotation, etc. If they ever came out with a tightly-tuned DPS check encounter (like Patchwerk or Baleroc) then yeah, you would definitely take the bare minimum numbers of tanks needed to meet the enrage. While I like those kind of fights, I think it's a good sign that most encounters we have seen so far have more interesting mechanics that support multiple strategies and group compositions.
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Wugan --- Sage

antonmb's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 02:51 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by ADPowah View Post
Thanks, the full read was great.
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for checking it out!

alifaraaz's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 03:23 PM | #7
Good interview, nice to see some insight on their design etc. It does sound like multi wing Ops are a long way away, and they're something I always liked in WoW:BC raids, where we often struggled against one boss that most guilds killed, but found the other boss that others struggled on to be rather easy.

Although many are anxious to see Nightmare, its true that the majority are still working on HM EC like.myself. I just wonder what kind of changes they will bring besides the extra gear etc, because they're making it sound like there will be some relatively significant changes/differences. Can't wait to see what the future Ops will be like ^^ EC isn't perfect, with some very questionable design (T&Z and over dps), but overall it is really fun and shows some promise for the future
Kazar - Powertech, [Tomb of Freedom Nadd EU]

TheRealCandyMan's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 04:06 PM | #8
Great read. Thanks for the interview Methodical.

pureeffinmetal's Avatar

06.20.2012 , 11:33 PM | #9
As usual Methodical continues to lead the SWTOR Community in all things Endgame PVE.

Thanks. Keep it up.
Lightning Sorcerer
The Shadowlands (Formerly Shadow Hand)

NasherUK's Avatar

06.21.2012 , 04:14 AM | #10
Hmm not sure tanks do solid DPS, at least not since they started nerfing them :P

But I quite like the design of Ops and FPs so far. Unlike wow the instances are not mindless AOE spamfests and raids are actually challenging.