Monday, 27 February 2012

Community Q&A: Feb 24th 2012

Last Friday BioWare posted another Community Q&A, answering eleven questions. Here's one such question and answer:

Zennis: Has there been any discussion to streamlining the Space Port process? Perhaps allowing speeders in the Space Ports besides the Fleet?

Brian Audette (Senior Designer): We've absolutely heard what the fans are saying and have been exploring options to address these issues. While we are still investigating allowing speeder use in Space Ports, we've also been looking for other ways to get people from point A to point B with greater haste. One such feature will specifically affect planets that have Orbital Stations instead of Space Ports such as: Tython, Korriban, Hoth, and Belsavis. We'll be adding an option for players to go directly to their ships from the surface shuttles as opposed to having them run through the Orbital Station to their airlocks. This feature and some additional tweaks will start showing up in Game Update 1.2.

I'm noticing a bit of a recurring theme in these... "will be available in Game Update 1.2". At least over a third of the question pretty much boil down to that answer. And last week was similar. Sounds like 1.2 will truly be a massive update.

See all the questions and answers on the official homepage.

After the break a couple of links and the developer quotes.

Last week Kotaku reported that the average play sessions for The Old Republic are fairly long (they're reporting "between four and six hours per session", which is quite a lot as far as averages go). Here's an excerpt from their article:

The average player of the massively multiplayer game Star Wars: The Old Republic plays the game between four and six hours per session, according to one of the chief architects of the game.

"When they play, their sessions are absurd," Greg Zeschuk, head of BioWare Austin, the studio leading continued development of the game told me during a recent interview. "What it implies is that we've managed to pull off this 'just-one-more-quest, just-one-more-thing' feeling. I find myself doing that all the time. I just get sucked back in. The playing of the game is off the charts."

There are a few other bits in the article as well. It seems that Sunday is the most popular day to play, people post less on the forums when they're happy, a "small percentage" has reached the level cap, and development is just as busy as the month before launch.

Similarly Penny Arcade had a talk with the BioWare doctors. Though about half the article is about Mass Effect, the rest talks about The Old Republic. Here's an excerpt:

Still, Zeschuk pointed out that many in the industry were skeptical about the launch window. “Everyone was like, ‘You don’t launch then!’ There’s a traditional adage that you can’t do that, but ironically we launched December 21, 1998 with Baldur’s Gate. And that went really well. That sold a few copies,” he said. The Christmas launch was due to the timing of the game finally being ready for mass consumption, but Bioware was able to gain a large amount of mindshare due to the lack of other big-name games launching in the same time period.

It paid off. The average play session at launch was around six hours. By the time February rolled around players were still playing for an average of four hours per session. The game is a hit.

It's interesting to note that the launch window was so successful for them. Honestly I wasn't convinced that it would be; most people would've already bought their Christmas presents and for the rest I'd expect people to hold off buying anything more until after the holidays. But apparently that's not quite how it turned out. Good for them.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Amber Green on Test Server forum changes.
  • [link] to Amber Green on posting in Test Server forum.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on Voidstar ties.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on open communciation.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on open world PvP.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on legacy name change.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Take Cover vs Crouch.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Synthweaving update.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on billing summary email.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Artifice update.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on tradeable crafted items.

From the list above I've picked out two Georg Zoeller quotes. The first one mentions the possibility for a (future) Legacy name change ability:

We're definitely working on this (it's a much requested feature) but we have not made any statements regarding when this will be available.

I think part of the problem is that people aren't quite aware of what the Legacy name is and how permanent it really is when they choose it. It think that for a lot of people it comes across of just another feature for that character. So it's understandable that people want to change it and, as such, it's good to hear that BioWare is working on it.

The other quote is probably only of interest to Imperial Agents and Smugglers as it talks about the difference between Crouching and Taking Cover:

Take Cover is slightly slower than Crouch as it does several things in series

(1) Validate your selected hard cover spot with the server.
(2) Roll you into any selected spot / slide into selected spot if close if that fails
(3) Crouch

So, at the minimum, Take Cover will add client server latency on top of your personal reaction time and default ability activation latency.

Both abilities offer the same benefit: If an object interrupts line of sight between you and an enemy, you gain cover benefits against the enemy.

For PvP specifically, where you need precise control of your character, I really recommend using Crouch (default: shift-f) over Take Cover. There's definitely cases where Take Cover is very useful (you can bridge large distances by rolling into cover), but when faced with fast moving enemies that know how to play line of sight or obstacles like The Pit's fires, you're better off and faster using Crouch. It may take a little bit to get used to using both effectively, but it definitely helps.

I'm sure that it makes a difference in PvP, but honestly that difference seems a bit... mix-max-y. If I need to go into that level of detail ("I save a tenth of a second by doing a Crouch instead of a Take Cover") then that's way past the point where I've lost interest in the activity to begin with. If I can't just play and have fun then I'd rather not play at all (or, to be more precise, I'd rather play something else). And honestly I can't help but wonder if it's really good for the game where the obsessed can get into that level of detail as it makes those who do that much harder to beat, making it that less interesting for others to play with them. But I guess that's something that you can't really escape.

Anyway, that's it.

[link] to average play session news at Kotaku.
[link] to BioWare doctors talk at Penny Arcade.

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