Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Random Dev Quotes

Over the last week or so a number of developer quotes have popped up across the Internet as well. They're all pretty minor things on their own, so I thought I'd collect them together in one post.

Kotaku notes that BioWare's general manager Ray Muzyka made some comments about the pricing plan for Star Wars: The Old Republic. According to them he said that the game's pricing plan will "be more of the traditional business model with maybe some twists as well."

He didn't specify what "twists" those might be, but he did note the following:
With Star Wars: The Old Republic, we haven't announced anything yet. But what we're striving to do, to clarify what I said earlier, is to make sure the fans and the audience that we're trying to reach feel they are getting something they understand and feel that it is a good value for their money — and feel that there is a way they actually want to engage in the experience, both in how they play it and how they pay for it. That's our high-level goal.
Ars Technica had a discussion with lead writer Daniel Erickson in which he gives some views on how the Sith might see themselves. As he notes it is, after all, unlikely that they'd see themselves as evil. There's quite a few good quotes through the link (and the article fairly short) so I recommend reading it. Here's one of those quotes:
You're training children to deal with this power, and then demanding them to be incorruptible, and holding them to a standard that we don't even ask from any of our own societies. We looked at these issues and said, 'We could come up with an entire thematic run with this.
Over on the official forums he explains even further:
An interesting thread. I always like to see what responses the philosophical discussions provoke. Hopefully people noticed that there were no quotes from me saying the Sith were good--even the interviewer ended on it being an excuse to unleash one’s hate. It was a clever title masking a more complex truth, which is that morality is shaped by culture and people. Genocide, slavery, human sacrifice and more horrific wars against people who have different beliefs than can be easily counted have all been part of the human experience and to my knowledge not one culture has ever stood up and said “We’re doing this because we’re terrible people.”

If you were raised in a culture that believed that an all-knowing god chose one man to rule over all others and passed that right through their bloodline, it would not seem odd, evil or tyrannical to you that there was, in fact, a king who fulfilled that role. Similarly if you were raised to think an entire group of people were marked as superior by their abilities (the Force in the case of the Empire) as to be above the law in the same way it would seem as natural as the aristocracy did for thousands of years of human history. If you were one of those privileged people and were taught to embrace your most base emotions, to take whatever you could grab by strength of arms or scheme and wit, that it was your ambition and lack of restraint that brought you freedom and purity…

You see where I’m going with this. It’s important to realize that while no amount of a dark side embracing Sith justifying himself to us (if for some reason you could get one to deign to do so) would convince us that he was a good person (he is after all pro-hate and pro-murder along with being anti-restraint), he does not see himself through our filter or he could not be who he is. Nor does the Empire as a whole see itself as the Republic sees it. If it did any stories told from that side would lack depth or compelling drama. “So, Darth Evil, it seems like we’re in the wrong here…” “Yes, Admiral. We are. We’re very bad people. My mother is extremely disappointed in me.”

Storytelling is about conflict and the conflict between ideologies and cultural perspective gives us some of the richest material to work from.
According to VG247 producer Jake Neri told them that they have no idea just how large the MMO could get. he said this as part of a larger interview; here's the bit about the game's size:
As far as planets in the game go, are more going to be added to the MMO map with more expansions, or chapters? Going back to the lore, with so much there to play with, just how big do you see the game getting?

Neri: I have no idea. I mean, I guess it really depends. We would love to imagine this game lasting for years and years and years, so I don’t know how big it could get. I know that at launch we plan on providing a substantial amount of content; stories, planets, adventures, zones, zones that are ripe for conflict and others that are safer for low level players. I am not exactly sure where we will net out by the time the history of the game is done, but we do have to continue to support new exploration and new planets.

One of the things that you hit on is the fact that there is all this rich lore and so there’s endless possibilities of what we can do, and endless planets that we can go to. I think it’s safe to say that we would love to continue tapping into that as time goes on. So, I don’t know if that gives you the number that you are looking for or not, but philosophically you’re right. We want to be exploring either the current stuff that’s going on or the extended universe stuff that’s going on. We want to be in the mix with all that and pull the really cool stuff out and give people what they want and expect from a Star Wars game.
And finally over on the official forums Damion Schubert made a comment about experience gain in groups:
We increase the XP pool for each group member in it, and then divide that pool. I don't have the number in front of me, but its something we'll be tweaking as we play anyway.

The general gist is that we want to reward grouping, but not so much that grouping is the only way to play the game (something that is very easy to do if you tilt the table too much, and then balance the levelling curve to that rate gain). That being said, as some have mentioned, grouping with another person increases your killing efficiency and reduces your risk of death substantially, to the degree that being in a group of two is vastly more efficient than 2X killing efficiency (this is like most MMOs). Still, you want to reward grouping enough to help ensure that you overcome the friction associated with grouping (finding groupmates, getting to them, tolerating idiots, etc).

Other notes:
  • Yes, we have anti-twink measures. Yes, high level players get shut out if they kill creatures too far below them. This is a fine line - you want to let high level players help their new friends, but you really don't want high level players hunting in low level areas, as that can be disruptive to the lowbies.
  • Yes, compared to other MMOs, we give you more XP for completing quests and less for killing creatures. These numbers will also likely be continually tweaked.
  • Yes, harder things give more experience.

Originally Posted by Xavior View Post

Group of 5 level 10's killing a level 10 mob: 100 xp each
Group of 3 level 10's killing a level 10 mob: 100 xp each
Solo person of level 10 killing a level 10 mob: 100 xp

no one gets screwed, no one is forced to group and everyone is happy.
Balancing it's not that easy. Instead, you need to look at XP gain per hour. A group of 3 can kill (let's say) 5X the creatures than a solo player can in an hour, which means that if you give everyone the full XP value, grouping is 5X(!) more efficient than soloing. If you balance the curve to that, the solo player gets screwed.

In our curve, we push that towards being closer to 2-3X. Still a significant advantage, but the grouper has to deal with all of the inertia of forming a group.
And that's it for now.

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