Today’s BioWare Q&A for Star Wars: The Old Republic included the usual responses that we’ve heard before — to questions repeatedly asked — as well as new revelations that will please and possibly concern. What is becoming apparent is just how huge update 1.2 will be.
Aspects of the game that many players were expecting at launch may be nearing completion: raised or lowered appearance settings on hoods, a hide option for your companion’s headgear and the /roll command, to name a few.
A mobile app for crew skills was mentioned. However, the implied release timeline put it somewhere between “not very soon” and guild capital ships. Let’s hope the Mayans were wrong.
Big changes for Warzones were outlined — including a votekick command for those idling wasters who hide in corners with autorun. Personally, I’d like every hotbar ability to become “Throw the Huttball” if you carry it more than 10 seconds. Not that I’m bitter.
Most surprising are the upcoming changes to operations. In the past, larger populated raids were seen as the pinnacle in MMOs. However, according to Gabe Amatangelo:
It is intended that 16 player mode is slightly easier than 8 player mode due to the fact that getting and coordinating 16 players is a larger hurdle in and of itself.
This indicates that smaller raids will be the new benchmark for world firsts in SWTOR.
DarthBelkar: Can we look forward to server-wide special seasonal / short-term events?Daniel Erickson: Yes! Expect them to fit into the world and setting, involve a fair bit of discovery, and offer special rewards that will be there one day and then gone forever. And expect them soon.
Damion Schubert: Diceslingers of the world rejoice! /roll has already been implemented on our internal development servers and should be coming to you guys Real Soon Now (in an upcoming weekly patch).
Relayinabox: Are there any plans for a show/hide companion headgear option?
Damion Schubert: Yep, we have plans. It won’t be in Game Update 1.2, but is currently in the works.
NiklasWB: When will you make it possible for Force-using characters to pull up/down their hoods on their robes?
Damion Schubert: This is in the works now. It won’t be in Game Update 1.2, but should get done in the next major update after that. And yes, we will extend this functionality to your Force-slinging companions as well.
ehlnofey: Will there be any changes/improvements made to the Galactic Trade Network system, and when will it be implemented?”
Damion Schubert: We know that the GTN needs a lot of love, and work is currently underway to improve this. Watch this space for more news!
GnovaD: Are there any plans to introduce mobile apps to the game? Eg. Use smart phone/tablet to send companions on missions while offline.
Damion Schubert: Let’s just say that this has always been a dream of mine for crew skills – it’s almost as if this design was created specifically with this in mind, doesn’t it? Good news, sometimes dreams do come true! The bad news is that I have no ETA for you, though, as this is a significant technical endeavor.
Bobonar: Will we be able to take the modifications out of our endgame pvp-sets and put them into a set that we like better (design-wise) and keep the bonuses?
Emmanuel Lusinchi: Yes, the set bonus will be carried by Armoring mods that work just like regular mods except that they only fit into specific types of items, such as chest items or boots items. So, for example, the set bonus from a chest piece can be moved to another chest piece, and the set bonus from a helmet can be moved to another helmet.
HollowPoint: There has been a large push in the community for chat bubbles, especially with a toggle option for those who don’t want them. Is a chat bubble system in the works? If so, when can we expect it to be implemented?
Damion Schubert: They’re definitely on the list. We’ve got many active roleplayers in the dev team and chat bubbles have always been important to us. We actually had chat bubbles in beta, but there was unfortunately some serious performance issues that our implementation caused that, for example, made things really suck in warzones and the fleet. They’ll be coming soon, but in priority, the GUI team is focused first on GUI customization. I’ll have a better idea of timing once we get past that. And yes, for people who hate them, whenever we do them, they’ll be toggleable.
RuQu: Can you provide some details on Healer class design philosophy? Commando/Scoundrel AoE does not scale with group size due to player caps. Are they not intended to fill the raid-healer role? Scoundrels can be highly efficient, but have no tools for doing a short burst of healing.
In short, what is the design intention for each of the healers, and is it intended for them to be balanced so that any possible combination is competitive in Operations, or is a certain mix expected?
Georg Zoeller: Our stance is that all full healer specs should be viable for all type of content, which is the case, even for 16 man Operations. Our own players have no issues clearing any of the content in the game, on all difficulty levels, with any healer spec. Data from the Live game shows Operations, at all sizes, being successfully run with Commando and Scoundrel healers. It is expected for certain Operations bosses to create challenges for different healer archetypes (e.g. due to mobility requirements), but overall, every healer archetype is capable of successfully healing through any Operations and Flashpoint content in the game (currently and in the future).
With regards to your question about Commando/Scoundrel Area of Effect healing not scaling to group size, please understand that no heal, on any class, scales with group size. The most powerful Area of Effect heals in the game (Salvation/Revivification) affects up to 8 players, but does not scale with group size. These abilities are very costly, have an activation time requirement and require the targets to stand in a localized area for ten seconds to receive the full benefit. We plan on improving the overall Area of Effect healing performance of the Mercenary/Commando in the next major Game Update (1.2) by increasing the number of targets affected by Kolto Missile/Kolto Bomb.
As for Scoundrels having no tools for short burst healing, we don’t agree with that assessment. A scoundrel, for example, is capable of producing rather significant burst healing output by using Upper Hand gained from Underworld Medicine or Kolto Injection to trigger an instant Emergency Medpack or Surgical probe when needed. That said, we certainly think there’s room for improvements (and our upcoming Game Update 1.2 has a sizeable chunk of such improvements). For example, we are shifting the healing created by the Kolto Cloud ability to be front loaded in 1.2 to allow it to act as an emergency Area of Effect healing tool.
Finally, the perception of a specific class being not desirable can also be affected by the desirability of other classes. For example, Sage/Inquisitor healers are currently able to exceed our intended healing performance at times by affecting multiple heals with the same Conveyance/Force Bending buff. Game Update 1.2 will remove the ability to do so.
Fu-bear: Can you please confirm the exact mechanics behind Taunts? The tooltips purely state that it forces a mob to attack for X seconds, yet I’ve read reports that the skill appears to equalise threat like a traditional taunt. Can you clarify this?
Georg Zoeller: Taunts work in two ways. First, they instantly put you on top of the target’s threat list. Then, they place a short duration effect on the taunted target forcing them to attack you. Assuming that you then lose threat (say, you just stand there) the NPC will be forced to attack you for the duration of the Taunt. Afterwards, the AI will resume attacking targets based on threat order. If another Taunt is applied after yours, the most recently applied Taunt takes precedence.
Please note this is assuming regular threat rules – there are certain situations in the game, especially unique boss fights, which may cause NPCs to specifically ignore targets. In these cases, an ignored target will not be able to gain threat even with a taunt. In general, these situations are messaged to the player through effects on their buff bar – something we’re looking to make more visible in the future.
Gladoss, titdiscus, Leoran: What do you plan to against Warzones’ AFK, more particularly about players who leave Warzones ? Will there be sanctions for this type of behavior?
Gabe Amatangelo: It is not sanctioned behavior. In Game Update 1.2 we will be making changes to the Warzone rewards system, which will de-incentivize this type of behavior. This will include the removal of the interim bag/quest system, the introduction of the direct purchase of gear from Warzone and Ranked Warzone commendations, 14 new objective-based medals and participation scaling the rewards. Additionally, players will have the option to vote kick idlers. Kicked players will not be able to re-queue for several minutes.
Lexiekaboom: 16 man Operations are much harder than 8 man Operations (to the point where most guilds can easily clear hard mode 8 man before being able to clear 16 man easy mode) but there is no loot difference at all to doing them. It’s better to send your 16 man raid force to clear two 8 man instances .Is this oversight or design? What will be done to offset this in the future?
Gabe Amatangelo: This is not per design. The teams have been addressing this in the weekly patches to some degree and more so in Game Update 1.2. It is intended that 16 player mode is slightly easier than 8 player mode due to the fact that getting and coordinating 16 players is a larger hurdle in and of itself.