Developer Blogs

02.25.2011

Living the Life of a Live Producer

Hey everybody! My name is Blaine Christine and I’m proud to say that I am the Live Producer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. I’ve been on the BioWare team for three and a half years now and I’m happy to report that all of the mental images you have of us working at a world class RPG development studio are true. Yes, we have rivers of chocolate running down the hallway, yes, a live animatronic ogre lives in the basement and of course, yes, we have LARPing parties from 5PM to midnight every weeknight. (I usually dress up as Queen Amidala and practice my diplomacy skills on Daniel Erickson, who pulls off a very convincing Gungan ambassador.)

Okay – at least two of those things are not really true. So what the heck does the "Live Producer" really do on a day-to-day basis?

As Live Producer, I work with the development team to ensure that anything released to our fans (read – you!) meets the quality standards that are so important to any BioWare product. That means any time a new build of the game makes it into our Game Testing Program, I need to ensure that any content or features that we specifically want to have tested meet the designers’ needs and don’t contain any major bugs. When that build is deployed for people to play, I need to ensure the design group is getting the feedback they need from Game Testing (AKA, real players) to balance and iterate on the game itself.

This probably raises a few questions for you, so let me attempt to answer a few of the things on your mind right now. First of all, yes, we officially started external Game Testing a while ago, as some of you are able to confirm by your participation. (Yes, you are allowed to say that you have been in testing, but NOTHING ELSE. I will find you…!) We have received valuable and actionable feedback from the players that have participated thus far. Much of this feedback has already been incorporated into the game and we’re going to continue testing to validate the changes that have been made.

What sort of feedback, you say? Rather than bore you with details of the bugs that were found and the fixes that were made, we guessed that you’d rather hear about what The Old Republic is like to play, right? So we asked our Game Testers to share a few of their thoughts with you. Please note, their names have been changed to protect their NDA compliance!

“The questing experience in TOR was amazing! The voiceovers and cinematics actually make me wonder how I ever survived the 'grind' without them.” – GP

“As one of those people who didn't really care about story in an MMO, after playing TOR I can't imagine playing another MMO unless it has as much focus on story as TOR does.” - PA

“I've been waiting years and years and years for an MMORPG experience like this. The combat is incredible and never gets old. The grind is gone. I am so happy the grind is gone (so, so very happy). The stories are fantastic, well written, well acted, well animated, incredibly immersive, and the inclusion of choice takes it into territory that other MMOs have only dreamed of. Lastly, this game makes you feel like a bad***. The entire time. And I love that.” – JA

“I suppose my only major complaint was that when I jumped into the sarlaac's belly on Tatooine, I did not find a new definition of pain and suffering from being slowly digested over a thousand years. It is still early though. I'm sure they will fix that before release.” - CL

“This is the Jedi game to end all Jedi games. If you're a gamer and you don't throw your hands up in triumph when you get your first lightsaber, you're not really alive. This game is, bar none, the best interactive Star Wars experience ever.” – VI

As you can see from the feedback, we’ve been encouraged by the widespread affirmation of our goal to bring BioWare storytelling to the MMO genre. We’ve also been running periodic focus testing groups, and the results have been exactly the same. We love to see consistency like this in testing because it allows the development team to have a clear understanding of the areas for improvement while validating the core principles that we’ve used to construct the foundation for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Beyond Game Testing, I work with the rest of the Live Services group to make sure that we have the proper team and technology in place to ensure a successful launch. I’m sure you are all aware how important the launch period is for an MMO, but beyond the obvious, we are committed to delivering a BioWare quality level of service and support. MMOs have the added layer of 24/7 service and we want to make sure we knock that aspect out of the park. Our customers are extremely important to us – you guys are the ones who made BioWare what it is today. Thank you!

I know you’re all extremely excited to get your hands on the game. All I can suggest is to make sure you’re signed up for testing at swtor.com/tester. As we get closer to launch, the number of players invited to our tests will continue to increase - so if you haven’t made it in yet, don’t lose hope!

Well, that’s about it. I’ve been in the industry for exactly 11 years now and I truly love my job. It’s an honor to work with the caliber of folks on our team and despite the fact that we Producers don’t have many real talents other than the “Gift of Gab”, it’s nice to know that intelligent and creative folks are still willing to put up with us when they’re forced to!

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in Game Testing!

Blaine Christine
Live Producer