Episode II du podcast officiel de Star Wars: The Old Republic
Bonjour à tous ! Je suis Eric Musco et, avec Brooks Guthrie, nous sommes heureux de vous présenter l’épisode deux du podcast officiel de Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ : « Nightmare Mode ». Vous pouvez l’écouter en utilisant le lecteur intégré, en le téléchargeant et en l’écoutant sur votre lecteur MP3 préféré, en vous inscrivant au podcast puis en l’écoutant sur iTunes, ou encore en le visionnant sur notre chaîne YouTube.
Dans l’épisode deux, nous parlons avec Jesse Sky et George Smith de la philosophie du design de nos opérations existantes, ainsi que de ce à quoi ressembleront nos opérations et zones litigieuses futures (y compris le mode Cauchemar). Nous parlons également avec William Wallace de certains des nouveaux avantages de personnages que vous pouvez désormais déverrouiller grâce au système d’Héritage dans la 1.3. Comme toujours, si vous souhaitez poser une question ou simplement soumettre un commentaire concernant le podcast, n’hésitez pas à passer sur ce sujet du forum.
Merci de nous écouter !
Veuillez noter que ce podcast est uniquement disponible en anglais.
Brooks Guthrie: Hello everyone and welcome to the official Star Wars: The Old Republic podcast. I’m Brooks Guthrie.
Eric Musco: And I’m Eric Musco. And on today’s episode we sit down with Jesse Sky and George Smith to talk about designing Operations and Flashpoints. And we sit down with William Wallace to talk about some of the great changes to Legacy following Game Update 1.3.
Alright and we are joined today by two gentlemen from the Operations and Flashpoints team. So I’ll go ahead and let you introduce yourself and tell us what your title is and what you do on the team. So we’ll start with you Jesse.
Jesse Sky: I’m Jesse Sky. I’m the Lead Flashpoints and Operations Designer.
George Smith: I’m George Smith. I’m a Senior Designer. I lead a group of other designers on the Flashpoint and Operation team.
Eric: Your team name is so simple. We’ve had way more complicated team names in the past.
Eric: So we’ll just start with a really basic question is: what is a day in the life look like for you guys? What do you guys do when you come in and what fills your day?
George: I’d say a lot of it depends on where we are in the process of building an Operation or a Flashpoint. If it’s early on, I think we talk more. We’ll go to various places, brainstorm, and have meetings. Or we’ll go out to coffee.
Jesse: Yeah we do a lot of paper planning early on. And as we get deeper into it and we start playtests on a weekly cadence we’ll, depending on what time of week it is, if it’s early in the week we’ll do iteration work and if it’s later in the week we’ll be preparing for playtests.
George: And it depends. Sometimes we’re really quiet. And sometimes we can talk about nonsense for probably too long. But it’s pretty fun.
Eric: Do you guys argue a lot? ‘Cause I remember we had Austin and Cameron on and they said that basically seventy percent of their day was spent arguing with each other. I don’t imagine you guys have those battles.
Jesse: Those guys are jerks.
George: We’re pretty nice. Our pod’s pretty chill as far as that goes.
Jesse: Yeah, they’re actually really nice. I don’t mean to say that.
George: No, no. That’s not what I meant! But no, as far as work, we don’t have heated work discussions. I think we’re all on the same page.
Eric: Right. So what does the design look like when you go into designing a new Operation or a new Flashpoint? What does it look like from start to finish? How does it begin, and where does it go from there?
Jesse: Early on the writers give us a concept. Sort of a general theme. We develop it from there. Kind of come up with some cool boss fights, try to look at some things that we haven’t done before. And then I sort of hand it off to the boss designers.
George: So yeah, we basically don’t start with much. Other than the setting and the look and what kind of creatures it’s going to be. And possibly the theme from Jesse for like, “This is going to be a ‘gross’ monster or something like that. It needs to portray this feeling.”
George: And then we go off and we come up with gameplay mechanics that sell that. And are fun.
Jesse: We often get the artists involved as well early on. And they have a lot of good ideas as well.
Brooks: Do you guys just kind of sit down and come up with things from scratch? Like, throw out every single idea you could think of? Or do you look at previous designs and iterate on stuff that’s been in previous Flashpoints or Operations?
George: I think because we’ve doing it for a while now, we know a lot of things that don’t work. Either because it’s not fun or players don’t like it or we just can’t do it. And so we kind of cut all that out. So, I think now the ideas, our initial ideas, are usually pretty solid. We know we can do them. We think they’ll be fun.
Jesse: Yeah we often just start with the theme, develop from there. One of the big things we try to do is differentiate the combat from the rest of the game. You’re dealing with 8 or 16 players at once, it’s got a very different feel from most of the Star Wars™-type combat in the game. You often fight humanoids in the rest of the game, we’re often fighting big creatures and droids. And so a lot of the development centers around making that fun.
Eric: One of the questions I know someone is immediately going to as is, “What are one of those bad ideas that you’re not going to reiterate on?”
George: Well I think probably, famously, would be Soa. Not that he was a bad idea. It was just very ambitious. And it looks neat, and it’s cool –
Jesse: I think people like the complexity of the fight and the length of the fight. Maybe, eventually, we’ll ramp back up to that, sort of, complexity again. But for now, it’s generally considered, tabled.
Eric: So what are some of the lessons that you guys have learned? Because since we’ve launched our game we’ve added, if you count Karagga’s, we’ve added two Operations into our game. We’ve added new Flashpoints. What are some of the lessons you guys have learned from pre-launch to a couple months out from launch, with designing Flashpoints and Operations?
Jesse: I think a large part is we have more player data to work with. We have a lot of metrics showing how players play the content. You know, what they find was difficult or most fun. And we’ve used that to shape the design of the Operations going forward. We didn’t have a lot of that data at launch, so we were kind of working blind in some sense.
Brooks: Has there been a lot that’s surprised you from how players approach a Flashpoint or an Operation? Like, they go into Denova or something for the first time and try to do something completely different than you ever thought they would.
George: Oh yeah. It’s really neat having access to, we’ve had players come in here and play it before it was launched. And even when it’s on Public Test, we like to watch the live streams of people playing. So it’s really neat to get to see how they do it, and hear their voice chat and hear how they reason through things.
Brooks: Yeah I remember watching a live stream of, I think, people trying the twin bosses in Denova for the first time. And I think I watched them fail for like, four hours straight. That must have been pretty interesting for you guys to see something along those lines.
Jesse: Coming at it knowing the design and having a strategy, we didn’t think it would be that difficult. And so watching people struggle with it was pretty intresting.
Brooks: So I imagine that helps a lot with your guys’ iteration from Public Test to whenever we ship a major update. You guys look at a lot of that data?
Jesse: Oh, absolutely. That’s the most critical time for us, actually. It’s when we iterate the most, is watching play on PTS.
Eric: So just to reiterate then, in case you didn’t get it, make sure to play on PTS. And I can attest that we all love watching people do our Operations and Flashpoints on PTS. So make sure you test it.
George: Oh yeah, if someone’s on PTS and they stream it, it’s almost guaranteed that one of us is going to watch it.
Jesse: Oh yeah, we’re all watching.
Eric: So get in there and fail for us. Or succeed! Or succeed.
Eric: So one of the new things that’s going to be coming soon is Nightmare Mode. A lot of people have been asking about it for a while. Can you explain a little bit about what Nightmare Mode is going to be for Explosive Conflict, and how that’s going to affect Operations in general in our game going forward.
Jesse: So the main thing we want to do with Nightmare mode is bring it into the progression. Make it a legitimate difficulty mode, actually give it its own rewards. Previously Nightmare Mode has been a challenge mode that you do just for social recognition. And we actually want to bring it in, add new mechanics, and make it a legitimate part of the progression each time we release a new update.
George: Cause like the original Nightmare Mode was just a flat buff of health and damage on all the monsters in the Operation. Where now we have more ability to tweak it per individual monster, or NPC encounter, and add more mechanics and things like that. So it should be, it’s going to be a lot more interesting for players.
Jesse: It also allows us to react to how people play the encounters. So we can watch strategies that are used and create mechanics that counter those strategies or make them more interesting. So that’s part of the reason why there’s a delay between the release of Hard More and Nightmare.
George: Yeah, and that goes into the streams and the YouTubes. We’ve watched all that. So now it’s like, “This is how they do it. So what if we do this?” And see how they react.
Brooks: Can you guys maybe tease a little bit about what would be a different fight between Explosive Conflict in Hard More versus Nightmare Mode.
Jesse: The only thing I would really say is people were able to get a little bit sloppy on Kephess, and that’s not going to be —
George: Yeah you’re not going to be able to do that any more.
Eric: So it’s going to be “hard” is what you’re saying.
Brooks: It’s going to be a nightmare?
Eric: Ohhh. Really?
Brooks: Yep, puns.
Jesse: It’ll definitely be harder. We’re actually hoping it’s still accessible to most hardcore guilds. We want to give something for the more elite guilds to chew on, but we want to make sure it can be played by more than just those guilds as well. So it just may be that you need to get more gear before you’re able to really cope with the mechanics.
Eric: That’s fair.
Eric: So one of the things that people have asked a lot about is what our progression actually looks like once you get to the endgame. So once you hit the level cap, what did you guys have in mind with the design on where people go basically. Do they go right into regular Flashpoints, do they go into Hard Mode Flashpoints? How did you guys view the progression of how things will work with the content at the endgame.
George: Well the initial plan was that you would need to do Hard Mode Flashpoints before you could do Eternity Vault, but it didn’t work out that way. Players were able to go straight into —
Jesse: Story Mode.
George: Story Mode Eternity Vault. Yeah.
Jesse: Yeah, Story Mode Eternity Vault was able to get you the gear that you would have gotten otherwise in the Hard Mode Flashpoints. You know, a lot of players who really wanted to move through the progression quickly did do Hard Mode Flashpoints for a few weeks. But after that point that sort of fell off. What we’re looking at now is bringing more players into that progression. We felt that, especially without Group Finder in the past, that the Hard Mode Flashpoints haven’t been as accessible as we wanted them to be. So we’re now looking at bringing that to the table for casual players as well. And hopefully we’ll also kind of, get them into the Operations in Story Mode, at least, once Group Finder goes live, as well.
George: Yeah the plan going forward is to make Story Mode much more accessible, forgiving, probably easier so that you can experience the raid content without feeling that you need to spend hours and hours on a boss.
Jesse: Yeah, and that’s offset by having Nightmare Mode be a legitimate difficulty mode now. Now that it’s actually part of the progression, now that you really do want to do it, I think that we’re better off moving Story Mode into a casual space.
George: We can have more of a spread between Story Mode and Nightmare Mode.
Brooks: And I would imagine Group Finder’s been kind of a godsend for you guys, being able to very specifically say, “Here’s what we want our progression to be. And we can very easily group players up to do that as they progress.”
Jesse: Yeah, we’re definitely looking it as a way to communicate our progression to players. Maybe not in 1.3 when it goes out, but later on we’ll be incorporating some more elements that will help it along.
George: I think if we were able to make Story Modes more accessible before Group Finder, it would still require getting the people together. There would still be a lot of work that would go into it before you could even try it. But with Group Finder you just can log in one night, be like, “I just want to try this.” Hit a button, and you’re doing it. I think a lot more people will do it for sure.
Jesse: It should also help backfilling when you lose your healer, or whatever. You can use Group Finder to bring in some extra players and round out your group.
Eric: Well a lot of people will often say that one of the biggest hurdles with playing Operations is usually getting the people together to coordinate for the Operation. Not necessarily even the Operation itself.
Jesse: Yeah, absolutely.
Brooks: Alright, so we teased a new Operation at E3, Terror From Beyond. Which, I believe, takes place on the planet of Asation. Can you share a little bit about what players are going to find there?
Jesse: So it’s continuing the story of the Dread Masters which we started with Karagga’s Palace and continued in Denova. It’s sort of a dark, almost Lovecraft-inspired thematically, Operation. We were really going for stuff that’s other-worldly and strange and horrible. And that’s something we haven’t really had a chance to get into before.
George: Visually, I think it’s the best looking zone in the game.
Brooks: It’s amazing.
George: It really doesn’t look like anything else. I think players are really going to like it. Are really going to dig it. There’s going to be lots of creatures you’ve never seen before. I think it’s going to be really neat.
Jesse: Yeah, there’s some really ambitious stuff in there. We’re really proud of it, as well.
George: But not ambitious like Soa, right?
Jesse: Not ambitious like Soa.
Brooks: You guys talked earlier about how art style sometimes influences your encounter design. How does Asation, being so vastly different, influence the way you guys go about things.
George: Because some of the encounters aren’t the standard Jedi or a battledroid, so it really lets us kind of expand our imaginations a bit. And really do things that, I don’t want to say have never been done before, but definitely not the types of things that have been done previously in Star Wars.
Jesse: It’s definitely more alien than stuff you’re used to in Star Wars. We’re still keeping it thematically consistent with Star Wars, but we’re kind of pushing the boundaries in some ways. And I think a lot of players will be excited about it.
Eric: I’m excited about it!
Brooks: Yeah. And as with Explosive Conflict, we’re going to wait on Nightmare Mode for that, right? So you guys can keep developing it?
Jesse: That’s right. So play Hard Mode on PTS. We can watch your strategies, and defeat them in Nightmare Mode.
George: Yeah, I can see why that may be considered frustrating for players. But I think that this Hard Mode will be harder than Denova Hard Mode. And then —
Eric: And Denova Hard Mode is not easy either.
George: It’s not easy, no. And then, Nightmare mode will be better because of the delay. I think the players who want to do Nightmare Mode will appreciate it.
Jesse: And in fact, looking at our metrics for Denova, we see a lot of people are actually still chewing on Hard Mode Denova. It’s actually about where we want it to be for Hard Modes. People are actually still breaking into Story Mode Denova. So, you know, although it’s played pretty consistently at this point. A lot of guilds do have Hard Mode on farm. But it’s definitely had a good lifespan for an Operation.
Eric: So with developing all these Flashpoints and Operations, I’m going to ask you the question of “pick your favorite child”. But, what’s been your favorite boss encounter so far that’s in any of our Operations or Flashpoints?
George: Visually, I really like the G4-B3 Fabricator, yeah. I think that that came together really neat with the sound effects and everything. It really sells the idea of, “Hey, this is a factory” and that there’s some kind of arcane, mechanical process going on that you can interface with. But it’s still obvious what the gameplay is. I personally designed the Kephess fight at the end of Denova. So, I’m kind of partial to it. I still enjoy watching YouTubes of it. Like, “That’s so neat! They’re doing what I did.”
Jesse: For me it’s the hover tanks Firebrand and Stormcaller. I just think, it’s something we always we wanted to do with Star Wars, is have you fight actual heavy-armored machinery. And so having two tanks, that was pretty ambitious to begin with. But then I think it turned out really well. It’s heavy hitting and visceral.
Eric: We see a lot of feedback that people seem to, have really liked Explosive Conflict as an Operation. People said it was a really big achievement. And you eluded to the Fabricator fight with puzzle fights. Puzzle fights are definitely something that have made us stand out, as we’ve had puzzle fights in many of our Operations that are definitely way different mechanics than people are used to. Are we going to see that moving forward as well?
George: I think that because of the success of that we’ve made a point to put one in, obviously, Explosive Conflict has one. Asastion’s going to have one.
Jesse: It’s something that comes up every time we talk to players. They’re always bringing up that they love the puzzle fights. I think they can be frustrating, occasionally, depending on how their implemented. You know, early on there were a couple of RNG issues with the Ancient Pylons encounter. But that’s something that we’re very, very guarded against now. We’ve worked very hard to avoid those kinds of problems. So they’re a lot of fun to design.
Eric: They have to be, cause they’re fun to play!
Brooks: Awesome! Well, Jesse, George, thank you guys so much for taking time out of your day to join us. Anything else you want to add about Operations and Flashpoints going forward?
Jesse: Just want to reiterate: play on PTS. We do really want to check it out and fix any bugs you find and address your feedback.
George: We can play it all day. And we do. But, to be perfectly frank, we’re not as good as the players.
Jesse: That’s kind of a joke, a recurring joke around the office is that —
George: Yeah, we’re pretty bad.
Jesse: We’re pretty bad.
Eric: And players will find ways to break things that we never even thought of.
George: So yeah. The more players play it, the better it is for them. We enjoy it, but please play it on PTS.
Brooks: You heard it here first, play PTS! Awesome, thank you guys very much for joining us!
Jesse: Thank you guys.
George: Thank you.
Eric: All right so we are joined by William Wallace who is going to tell us a little bit about some of the stuff coming in 1.3 to the Legacy System. So for those who don't know, Will, why don't you tell everyone a little bit about what you do at BioWare?
William Wallace: Hi, I’m Will. I’m a Senior Designer at BioWare and I’m currently heading up the design efforts for Legacy. Our team did the 1.2 Game Update Legacy and we are the team responsible for the 1.3 Legacy update.
Brooks: It looks like there’s a lot of awesome stuff for characters in 1.3. Why don't you give everybody kind of like the rundown of what is epic in Legacy.
Will: All right so first, to clarify something, in 1.2 all of the unlocks that you got for Legacy applied to your whole Legacy. It was sort of, you know, you would achieve these big gameplay moments. You finish your class story. You, achieve a certain level of valor and you get a reward for that and all of a sudden all of your characters have this.
Will: 1.3 is a departure from that in that now, 1.3 introduces Character Perks. And Character Perks are per character things that you purchase. They’re gated by Legacy level and then you buy them with credits. And they modify aspects of that character, the way he progresses. They give him new rewards. But you can choose which perks to buy for which characters, so you can kind of customize each character’s leveling experience or their convenience perks. One of the reasons we did this is, you know, unlocks were sort of more for content completion. Alternately you can spend a lot of money to bypass that content to buy these. With perks since it’s per character, we can actually make these a lot cheaper than unlocks so it’s sort of, it’s more like buying new skills. More on that price range than it’s like, paying a million credits for a species.
Eric: Could you give us some examples of what some of the character specific perks are that people could purchase?
Will: Yeah, so the first category and one of the ones we’re really excited about is XP modifiers. So everyone who plays The Old Republic has something they really like to do. You know, they are really big into Warzones and that’s all you really like to do are Warzones. Or maybe, you’ve been wanting to play an Agent but you don't want to go through all the same world content maybe, you know, the fourth or fifth time if you have played Imperial many times. So you can go into the Legacy character perk system and you can spend some credits from other characters maybe transfer some over and on that character buy up all the ranks of Class Mission XP Mods which gives you plus some percentage to your XP from Class Missions. It allows you to focus on just doing your story content and getting through that and it gives you a boost of that so that can be the prime activity for that character.
Alternately, if you want to raise up a new smuggler just for PvP you can give him a big boost to his Warzone XP. And so he can get a lot more XP just from playing Warzones and you can bypass a lot of the stuff, you know, on the side that you didn't want to do and you just focus on killing other people.
Eric: So basically it allows the player to tailor their experience to what they want The Old Republic to be.
Will: Yeah, the XP Mods. I mean if you are just over flowing with credits and you really want to get a new character you could buy all of them. You could go and drop a ton of coin and buy all of the XP Mods and your character will level faster. But you know, most people we expect will want to pick things they really enjoy doing and tailor those characters to those experiences. So that’s XP Mods. From there, there are several other categories of perks.
Besides that we can also customize your progression with your Companion Characters. So you can modify the rate at which they gain affection with your Companions through gifts, through conversation. You can modify their chance at critical crafting successes. You can even drop the amount of time it takes them to go to town and sell your junk items. So you know, 60 seconds -- that’s an eternity. You know, you don't want to wait for Qyzen Fess to come back a full minute later. So you can buy a little bit of that up and get him down to where you are not even sure he was gone.
Brooks: I’m one of those players who spends most of my time in PvP and, you know, the ability to add experience to that is just super convenient.
Will: Oh yeah, Warzone XP Mods Rank 5 for you.
Brooks: Awesome, yeah right away. So what else is coming across the board?
Will: A couple more interesting categories as far as perks go for 1.3. We’re introducing some new Quick Travel options that you can buy per character. And so you know, you currently have your Emergency Fleet Pass which is on a long cool down. And through unlocks so you can kind of spec that down a little bit and get that to where it was still a long cooldown at 9 hours, 12 hours or something like that. Priority Transports with perks: there’s four new ones. They share a cooldown between themselves and that cooldown is substantially shorter at 6 hours, currently. These numbers are subject to, you know, change during public test. Please get on Public Test and play this content.
Will: One of these Priority Transports takes you to your Capital World. One of them takes you to your Fleet's Vanguard Vessel so you can get right into Operations, and that’s separate from your Fleet Pass cooldown. And one of them takes you to the Black Hole Daily area. Another one takes you to the area on Tatooine, the Outlaw's Den. Those are, I think, fairly affordable for most players and you might not need all of them. Maybe you are not into the daily quests over on Corellia so you can just buy the one for the Vanguard Vessels so that you can go and meet up with your Operations group faster.
Eric: It sounds like 1.3, the Legacy system is really all about allowing a player to tailor their game experience to how they want to play.
Will: It is. And it’s also about, the other thing in that same travel category, is players on their second, third playthroughs can buy their speeder proficiencies earlier. So you can actually get your level 25 speeders at level 10.
Will: And the price for them, you actually buy this skills off the perks page so you just click it and instead of having to visit trainer, you get it right off of there and they are actually not even that much more expensive. They’re you know, maybe a couple of thousand credits more. They’re sort of a small premium charge for the convenience, but they are priced about the same as the skills you buy from the trainer. So you can get your level 25 speeders at 10, your level 40 speeders at 30, and your level 50 speeders at 40. So that’s, you know, you’re second character, your third character you can be cruising around on planets that you wouldn't have had a speeder on before. And it makes it a lot easier to get around.
So it’s about tailoring your experience and it’s also about moving some of these things and kind of creating incentives to go back and maybe see some stuff you haven't seen yet.
Eric: Right. Well Will we won't keep you all day. Thank you again for stopping by. Do you have anything else to add about Legacy for 1.3 before we let you go?
Will: Oh there’s a couple more cool things. Field Repair Droids -- you’re out with your operations group, drop a friendly droid in the field, rank him up, and he might even sell you some crafting materials or some stims or some adrenals. And Field Respec.
Brooks: Field Respec.
Will: Field Respec. There is the bomb I wanted to drop right at the end there.
Eric: I was gonna say just when I thought you were done.
Will: For the same price anywhere else in the world. You know for the same price that you would pay back in town to respec your character, you buy the perk, you have a button on your skill tree and can access that from anywhere in the world and immediately reset your skill tree.
Brooks: That’s awesome, super convenient.
Eric: So if all of a sudden your healer drops out of your Karagga’s Palace run and you’re like, “Well that operative has the field respec droid, won't be a problem.”
Will: Yeah, it’s mighty convenient.
Brooks: Awesome! Well thank you so much Will. For folks, we literally just grabbed him like 5 minutes ago and he dropped in here to share some Legacy stuff with you guys.
Will: Somewhere there is a meeting that wonders where I am.
Brooks: Awesome so thank you so much Will for taking time out of your day and I’m sure we will talk to you again soon some time.
Will: Thank you guys. We will see you on PTS!
Brooks: Alright so big thanks to Will, Jesse, and George for taking time out of there day to join us. I'm super excited what's coming next for Flashpoints and Operations and Group Finder! Oh my gosh, Group Finder.
Eric: Yeah, it's going to make things a lot simpler. So Brooks, what has been your favorite Flashpoint or Operation so far in our game?
Brooks: Hmmm. Playing through Kaon Under Siege was awesome. The first time I walked in there and, just the little droid thing over my head. That was like the coolest thing I had ever seen. And that screenshot that we sent out, which was actually a screenshot and not just a concept art, of that trooper. That was actually me being that Trooper! So it was awesome.
Eric: That's pretty sweet. I don't know that I'll speak to a specific place. And I didn't want to say this with George and Jesse here, even though they'll probably listen to this. But I love the Kepheess fight in Explosive Conflict because it is so unforgiving, and it's a really long fight. So you could be four, five minutes into the fight. You're on the last phase. The last part. And your tank misses a taunt, and you get to start all over again.
Eric: And I know that's cruel, but I love fights like that! Because when you finally beat it you get those moments where you have your enitre 8-man team on Vent or Teamspeak and everyone just goes crazy!
Brooks: At the same time.
Eric: It's when your ears begin to bleed because everyone's just screaming into their microphones. It's a lot of fun.
Brooks: Yeah it's amazing. I'm looking forward to what's coming up next. So yeah, I think that's going to do it for this episode of the official Star Wars: The Old Republic podcast. Musco, why don't you let everyone know where they can find us?
Eric: Sure. So I will tell you that you can find us on iTunes, as always you can subscribe to us and listen to us there. You can find us on the official website. And you can always find us on all forms of social media. Thanks for listening!
Brooks: And may the Force be with you.