Monday, 20 February 2012

Community Q&A: Feb 17th 2012

Last Friday BioWare posted another Community Q&A. Here's one of the twelve questions that they answered:

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.

Though I understand that they've got a lot on their plate and UI customization is going to be enjoyed by more people, it's still somewhat disappointing that chat bubbles are taking so long for them to implement. Then again I've never really used them in other games either unless they were implemented really, really well.

For this one and the other eleven questions see the original post.

BioWare also, somewhat quietly (at least I nearly missed them), released a number of new videos last Friday. Those, the developer quotes, and a few other things after the break.

As said BioWare released a number of new videos last Friday. These include another quick start guide, telling new players about navigating the game, and two "Hear from the Players" videos:

It's somewhat surprising that they didn't bother to announce these videos in their news, on their blog, or, well, anywhere that I've seen (though they did mention the quick start video on the forums). I've got a feeling that a lot of people missed them. Not that they're missing much (don't get me wrong; they're nice videos and I enjoyed watching them, but there's not much to them information-wise). I don't think the navigation video says anything new for long time players of the game (and I maintain that such information should be communicated clearly to players inside the game and not through some video on their website that new players are very unlikely to see). I think I get the reason of the "Hear from the Players" videos (it's kind of a "see, there are players playing right now who are greatly enjoying the game" to counter some negativity that's often out there), but I doubt it'll sway people who have convinced themselves that the game sucks (even if they haven't tried it yet) and it's not doing much for current players either (who can see how much they like it very well themselves). And they seem just a tad too... marketing to me.

But at least BioWare is trying and I definitely get that not everything they release has to be of interest to me. Overall I do think that they help contribute to the sense that BioWare isn't sitting still and help to generate positive feelings around the game. I guess it's good to remember that the game is fun.

I said above that I nearly missed the videos. I actually saw them thanks to Darth Hater, who posted a link to the quick start guide. And when I investigated where they announced that video (if anywhere) noticed the other two in their media gallery. In that same post Darth Hater also pointed to the J!NX website where they're offering The Old Republic-themed t-shirts. They've got ones for every class, both factions and both alignments. And all of them in male and female cut.

The t-shirts look decent enough, based on the photos. And I like that they've got such a wide selection with ones for every class. I doubt that I'll pick one up though; they seem a tad expensive (then again I get pretty much all my t-shirts as giveaways from various promotions and such so what do I know of proper t-shirt pricing).

Finally, last week it was announced that lead writer Drew Karpyshyn is not just leaving BioWare, but the games industry in general. Here is the news from Gamasutra:

BioWare lead writer Drew Karpyshyn has left the company and the video games industry to focus on writing novels.

Karpyshyn was the lead writer on recently-released Star Wars: The Old Republic, and also co-wrote Mass Effect 2's story. He has also written novels based on the Mass Effect franchise.

While the writer said he is retiring from video games, he will continue to write novels based on video game franchises. He is currently writing a new Star Wars: The Old Republic novel.

On his personal blog, Karpyshyn explained that his parting from the company is "completely amicable, and 100 percent my decision."

"For the past twelve years I've had the privilege to work at one of the best companies in the video game industry, side by side with the most talented and incredible group of people I've ever had the good fortune to know. I’ve enjoyed my time at BioWare immensely, but it's time for me to move on."

He continued, "I'm leaving to focus more time and energy on my novels and other non-video game related projects."

Though I was, and still am, unhappy with the SWTOR novel that he wrote (namely the Revan novel), I still with him the best.

And that leaves the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Damion Schubert on need/greed.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on developer posts.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on comparing damage.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on premature Warzone leavers.
  • [link] to David Bass on Guild Summit Application Status.
  • [link] to David Bass on Guild Summit Application Status, part 2 (emails sent).
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on C2 Droids.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Artifice schematics.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on kicking Warzone afk-ers.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on animation adjustments.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on exploit patch notes.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on smuller items.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on orange gear in endgame.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on Asia/Pacific server location (Australia).
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on Asia/Pacific server tab.

I've picked out one developer post this time. This is one by Damion Schubert about the need/greed buttons:

Need vs. greed isn't as simple in our game because of companions, as well as Orange Gear and mod extraction.

We will probably limit the 'need' button to only people who match the primary class the gear is meant for, and add a new button in between need and greed for players to choose if they intend the gear for these purposes - this will allow CC users to roll against each other without competing with the guy who wants to sell the gear for credits.

I don't have a timeline on this for you guys right now, though - certainly not in the next major patch. In the meantime, I strongly recommend that players who care clearly decide the expected need/greed role behaviors ('no companion need rolling or you're out!') when a group is initially formed. In the meantime, I'll work on getting this feature in the works.

I must say that I haven't played much in groups, at least not enough to have a problem with it yet myself. But I do know that people have been saying that this (people rolling 'greed' on gear they only need for their companions) is a problem since beta. So I'm glad that they're working on a solution. It makes a lot of sense to me to have another button between 'need' and 'greed' for this. Though in the end what's probably even more important is proper communication within a group as people should put rules in place from the start (after all, it won't stop people from pressing 'need' when they don't really need it regardless).

And that's it for now. They'll probably post the dev tracker highlights later today, but I think I've already covered them above so I won't report on them again.

[link] to SWTOR t-shirts at J!NX.
[link] to Drew Karpyshyn leaves news at Gamasutra.

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