Posts Tagged ‘Courtney Woods’

BioWare Austin Assistant Community Coordinator Opening

Courtney Woods and me at 2014 Las Vegas Community Cantina

Courtney Woods and me at 2014 Las Vegas Community Cantina

A few weeks ago when Courtney Woods was promoted to a Writer at BioWare Austin, her position became available, and an Assistant Community Coordinator position was listed on the EA Careers website.

I was extremely tempted to apply for it, since I thought I met the qualifications. To me, the job sounds like a dream and something very similar to what I am already doing in the SWTOR community. I love meeting and talking to players, spotlighting guilds and streamers and promoting community content contributors. I thought it would have been so much fun, and an absolute dream if I had that job, working for BioWare, and being in the gaming industry.

However, I did not apply, though I debated it for quite a few days. I think I have a spectacular resume and cover letter for the position but no one is going to see it! I realized that it would be extremely difficult to make such a huge life change considering what I currently have going on in Las Vegas (great job, new house). I am very happy with my life currently, but I wanted to tell you all that I didn’t apply, in case anyone wanted to ask or was speculating if I had.

I want to wish a huge amount of luck to a friend that applied, and I hope that we will get a great new Assistant Community Coordinator!

SWTOR 2015 Community Cantina Tour Schedule

Yesterday Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods e-mailed some of the SWTOR of BioWare’s plans for this year’s SWTOR Community Cantina Tour! If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I really enjoy attending these Community Cantinas, and I’m excited that we have a rough guide on when and where the events will be.

The next one will be at PAX East next month in Boston, MA on Saturday, March 7th at the Hyatt Grand Regency, which is where it was last year! I attended that one, and I’m glad I was able to meet lots of people from the Prophecy of the Five server. More details, like the exact room location in the hotel, about this year’s PAX East Community Cantina will be released soon.

For the rest of the year, we were provided approximate months and conventions that the Community Cantinas will be centered around. Keep in mind these plans are still subject to change, so don’t buy your plane tickets or convention passes yet! Here’s the list so far:


  • Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, CA


  • San Diego Comic-Con


  • Gamescom in Cologne, Germany


  • PAX Prime in Seattle, WA


  • New York Comic-Con

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to attend any of the Cantinas for the rest of the year! I’m buying a home and I need to put as much money as possible toward a down payment, and it is a little difficult and expensive to travel. I’m very glad I was able to go to the San Antonio Community Cantina though!

Based on the schedule do you think you will be attending any Community Cantinas this year? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @Heather_PLS!

SWTOR Community Cantina: PAX South – San Antonio 2015

Community Manager Eric Musco

Community Manager Eric Musco and Redna

On Friday night, I attended the SWTOR Community Cantina at the first annual PAX South in San Antonio! I can imagine what you’re thinking—the community cantina was three days ago, and I am behind on reporting! Actually, I have quite a lot to write about for the blog this week, but I wanted to put this post out first, since I know it’s what many people are waiting for.

Flash Drive Files

First, if you are interested in the contents of the flash drive provided at the cantina, I have them at the very end of this post! However, nothing new or groundbreaking was included in the flash drive but I did like the images that you can use for Facebook covers or Twitter banners. The other images were items that have already been released in existing Cartel Packs, so nothing new. (My guildie Sleeth said he had everything that was pictured already!)

Q&A Session

Second, here’s the important information about what was mentioned at the cantina. Honestly though, I didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do, because I was much more interested in having fun and meeting and talking to friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Anyway, here are some of the new things we can expect from BioWare Austin this year for Star Wars: The Old Republic:

  • New planet: Ziost
  • Outfit Designer
  • New playable race: Togruta (this was known about for quite a while, but they are finally “officially” announcing it)
  • New stronghold
  • Story Arc continuing cliffhanger that ended Shadow of Revan expansion

I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to the Q&A (I was probably one or two beers in at this point already, and loudly said “Oh my God,” when someone asked if Pazaak would ever be in the game), but there was one question in particular that I wanted to mention here on the blog. Someone asked about the Contraband Slot Machines and why they were nerfed so hard. Basically, the answer from Community Manager Eric Musco was that players were correct that the cost to reward ratio from using the slot machines was way out of balance and that it would have serious long-term effects on the game economy. They saw that players were simply not running crew skills anymore because using the slot machines was better, and they could not have a huge segment of the game ignored because of this item.

Meeting and Greeting the Attendees

Honestly, I should’ve said something about this on the blog prior to the cantina, but I simply wanted to attend and have fun without “working” so hard on keeping track of the Q&A and asking hard-hitting questions to the BioWare staff. I think I accomplished my goal of doing that, but if you watched my Twitter, you can see I slightly tried to pay attention to what was going on!

Me and Larry Everett eating sandwiches

Me and Larry Everett eating sandwiches

I arrived about an hour before the cantina started with my friends from The Republic on, Larry Everett (Hyperspace Beacon, Massively) and Redna (OotiniCast, Twitch). For some reason as we were walking, I turned around, saw Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods with some other BioWare folks, and started a conversation! We spoke with them for a few minutes before heading toward the line, which had lengthened quite a bit while we were chatting.

I met up with my Despair guildie Sleeth, who I had gone out to dinner with along with his wife the day before at Texas de Brazil (and who I’ve written prior blog posts about which you can read about here and here). He had just come from work, but he had enough time to check out the PAX South exhibition floor prior to the cantina.

Also in the line, I immediately spotted Michael (Death & Taxes), who is not only very tall, but was wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat! I’ve also mentioned him before on the blog when I attended the EA Press Event in Redwood City.

Additionally, I met quite a few readers of the blog and Corellian Run Radio listeners and watchers of The Republic! I was so excited to meet people that enjoyed my work, and I’m very thankful and flattered that people recognized me.

At this cantina, Eric Musco and Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods were there as usual, like I mentioned earlier, but this time I was able to meet Community Production Coordinator Tait Watson as well! Before the cantina started, Courtney said to keep an eye on him since he tends to sneak away from people. This is absolutely true! After I tracked Tait down and spoke to him for a bit, he snuck away from me as expected. I did feel slightly like a creepy stalker “tracking Tait.” Here’s a picture of us together:


Me and Community Production Coordinator Tait Watson

Other BioWare employees that were “officially” there were Ben Irving, Matt Pucevich, and Jesse Sky. Later in the evening (and probably three or four beers down), Ben Irving, who I’d met at the Las Vegas Community Cantina, asked for some feedback about the cantina events and which ones I liked the best. I said I liked the Las Vegas cantina the best because there were a lot more tables and chairs to sit at. Also, servers came around to serve hors d’oeuvres in Las Vegas too. There was a noticeable lack of chairs and tables at the San Antonio cantina, which is why you see many people sprawling on the ground in front of the stage.


There were quite a lot of other BioWare employees there, past and present, though I can’t remember everyone’s names! My friends and I ended up at a table in the corner with BioWare Austin General Manager Jeff Hickman, who I saw at EA Redwood City, but I was too nervous to say anything to him!

I met Luther, who worked on the game pre-launch and pointed out to me the man that worked on Ilum (“The PvE part!” he assured me.). I also met Lead Narrative Designer Paul Marino (“I follow you on Twitter!” he said when I introduced myself.), who works on the cinematics of the game! I told him my favorite cinematics in-game were the end of the Imperial Corellia planetary storyline and another one which I cannot remember.

Larry Everett and Lead Writer Charles Boyd

Larry Everett and Lead Writer Charles Boyd

Former Community Coordinator Hillary Nicole AKA Pokket was also there and spoke for quite a while to Michael and me at our table about streaming, gaming, and post-cantina plans! I was able to get a picture with both of them as well:

Hillary (Pokket), Michael, and me

Hillary (Pokket), Michael, and me

Throughout all this meeting and greeting, I obtained a lot of free drink tickets and had enough to get enough beer for myself and a few glasses of wine for Redna! I tipped the friendly bartender after a while because I kept going back! I also really liked the Amber I was drinking, which had a Texas logo on it. I don’t remember the name.

Finally, I wanted to mention that Redna got nachos, and I thought the “green stuff” was relish so I didn’t want to eat it. It turns out it was actually salsa verde, or “green salsa” in English, which I am actually extremely familiar with. I’m really not sure why the first thing I thought of was relish. It must’ve been the booze.

I would highly recommend attending a SWTOR Community Cantina if you are a fan of the game, because they are a lot of fun! You have a chance to personally make your voice heard to BioWare staff and meet those who are working on the game you play. I also think that the BioWare staff made a conscious effort to provide more information about upcoming plans for the game at the beginning of the Q&A, and I think in the future they will continue getting better at connecting with players at these in-person events.

Continue reading to see the files from the cantina flash drive!


SWTOR Las Vegas Community Cantina Tour 2014


Tonight I attended the SWTOR Community Cantina here in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center! I arrived a little over an hour early, and there weren’t a lot of people there yet. I sat down by GasGuy who I’ve met a few times at Ootini events, and also Terry, a reader of the blog. There was plenty of seating around where the ballroom was located, so most people hung out until Community Manager Eric Musco showed up and said we could get in line! I ended up towards the front, but unlike the Seattle Cantina from 2013, there was plenty of room for the attendees.


When we were finally let into the Cantina, I was excited to see that in addition to the pet code, flash drive, and free drink ticket, Lead Community Coordinator Courtney Woods was passing out thick black wristbands that read, “Star Wars The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan.” I was super giddy about this, since it was my third cantina and I had not previously gotten something like it before.  I used (perhaps wasted?) my drink ticket on a bottle of Bud Light, made my way to the front, and sat down with some players from WOOK, a great guild on the Shadowlands, who I was told were going to be there from Cyberelf!

WOOK Guildies!

WOOK Guildies!

I would like to preface that I went in with very good intentions, to record the Q&A session on video and audio for the developer interviews. That is not what happened. My phone ran out of space for videos about three minutes into the Cantina, and the first question was barely completed.

Producer Andrew Horowitz and me Andrew Horowitz and me[/caption]

I tracked him down once the Q&A was over, since he asked about my long list of questions, and I told him that I would be attending the EA press event next week. He said he would be there too (along with Eric Musco), and that he could answer all of the questions on my list at the Cantina, but they wouldn’t be “real” answers. He advised to hold them for the press event, and that’s what I’m going to do. So, stay tuned for some really good answers from me next week!

I did pay a bit of attention to what was going on around me concerning the other Q&A questions that were asked.

Is there a possibility of a crew skills app? – Unlikely, but they do want to create something for the website to engage the players, keep them thinking about the game, and able to do things in the game without actually being in the client.

Will there be more class stories? – I was a bit perturbed that someone asked this question because it’s “known” that Shadow of Revan will have individualized class stories. Obviously the answer was yes, there will be more class stories in 3.0, but since there is so much involved in class stories, any more in the future would be very small.

Is there a way that we could see some class demographics info? – Someone asked if we would be able to see some demographics information about what classes people were playing and how many, and the Bioware representatives said that this could definitely be released sometime in the future.

Will there be any more on-rail space missions? – By the dev’s answer, this seemed to be a big “NO.”

Can the guild ship key interface be fixed? – This was also unlikely, but they can try to make it a higher priority. The Bioware representatives said that anything we talked about that night becomes more important in their minds because we asked for it.

Will there be more classes in the future? – This was kind of a “Wall of Crazy” question, and I even think one of the developers joked that they will add 14 new classes.

My friends in WOOK asked one of my other questions during the Q&A session, which was,

“Can you elaborate on what you are developing that is “better than cross-server” for ranked PvP? What can we expect in the future regarding PvP?”

Musco immediately said that technically he did not say that! The answer, coming from Development Director Ben Irving, was that they were “working on something that will fix many of the queuing issues.” And that was all they could say. However, he did say that they will try to tell us more about it in the next two weeks. Musco was quick to correct him, to avoid definite deadlines, they will give us more information by the end of the year (maybe?).


There were also many prizes given out for answering SWTOR trivia questions, including four Revan books, one SWTOR encyclopedia, two t-shirts (one Republic and one Imperial), a Star Wars lego set, and a GSF poster signed by the developers! The poster  was the big prize since there are not a lot of people outside the studio that have the poster (maybe 150 I think they said), and even less that actually have it signed. I wanted to try to win it for my guild master, but I didn’t know what the answer was anyway.

Eric Musco and me

Eric Musco and me

Courtney Woods and me

Courtney Woods and me

A question I asked Andrew Horowitz after the Q&A was about being able to toggle the graphical effect lighting up an ability with gold trim when their relevant proc came up in 3.0. I personally found this distracting, and we have other similar preferences that we’re able to turn on and off. He said this wouldn’t be a problem at all, and should be something easy to implement. I also asked about whispering from the guild menu, and this is definitely on their priority list!

Another question that I asked was concerning legacy levels being increased to encourage people to keep playing, or to reward people that were already at level 50, such as having a 12x experience boost bonus option. He said it was unlikely that the legacy level (and crew skill levels) would increase, but the idea to reward people who achieve legacy level 50 is a good idea.

Again, I didn’t go hard on the questions because I knew they were going to give me better answers a few days from now, so I relaxed and had some fun! I don’t know if I should repeat what Musco said about what happened the night before when he and the other Bioware employees went out, but I can say that it was his first time in Las Vegas, and he said the city rocks!


Other random factoids:

Courtney Woods is from Georgia and the dress she was wearing is from Kate Spade.

Ben Irving is from Australia and his wife is also named Heather.

Eric Musco has not shaved his beard for 12 days. I asked if he minded people talking about his soul patch, and he said that in real life no one noticed he shaved it, but the internet sure did!

Finally, here are the flash drive contents from the cantina! I will absolutely get more exciting answers when I visit EA next week, but I’m glad I had a little fun tonight hanging out with SWTOR players and Bioware employees.












FAQ for Community Cantina Prospects

Las Vegas

Earlier this year posted approximate dates for the Las Vegas SWTOR Community Cantina, November 7-9, and one of my readers sent me an e-mail to ask some questions about attending! I thought my answers would be helpful to more people interested in going to a Cantina in the future since I’ve been to two of them so far. Here is a bit of what I sent back to Terry, who plays on the Harbinger server!

Question #1: How do I find out WHERE in Vegas it will be?

Answer: Usually SWTOR announces the exact date and location a few weeks before the actual event, however they did post something earlier this year that gave approximate dates, so that you could schedule your life/travel around it. We won’t know where in Vegas it will be for a few weeks to a month from now!

 Question #2: Will it really be taking place over 3 days?  Or will it just be for a few hours on one of the days?

Answer: The cantinas are only for a few hours on one of the three nights, and they usually have them at bars or hotels, somewhere they can serve food/alcohol and hold a lot of people.

Question #3: How much time will I actually get to ask questions?

There’s a Q&A session in which the devs and community team answer questions in front of everyone, but what you may want to do is talk to one of them after the Q&A is over. They go into the crowd and they are pretty easy to talk to! I spoke with [Eric] Musco and Courtney [Woods] when I went to Boston, and they’re very nice and approachable, but of course, many people want to talk to them. I think if you get a hold of one of them you will have plenty of time to ask questions.


The Las Vegas Community Cantina is coming up soon, so if you’d like to go I would start making some travel plans! I will definitely be there since I live here, and I hope to see some blog readers and listeners there as well!

And, if you are really interested in reading about my Community Cantina adventures, here are more blog posts by me about them:

SWTOR Community Cantina Guide

Why You Should Go To a SWTOR Community Cantina

SWTOR Community Cantina Boston: Q&A

SWTOR Community Cantina Boston: Bonus Questions


SWTOR Community Cantina: Bonus Questions


As you may know from reading yesterday’s post, I went to the SWTOR Community Cantina yesterday in Boston at the Hyatt Regency.

Bioware rented a ballroom, which was more than sufficient for the amount of people that attended. I befriended quite a few new people, including Ben, Eric, Noss, Rory, and Sean all from the Prophecy of the Five server, Daek from the Harbinger (who has played with my guildie Sleeth before), and various other folks who I didn’t talk to as much.

(I would just like to say that I’m impressed with the Pot5 PvP group on Facebook. Very large and interactive, and Eric posted a few videos from the Cantina on it. It’s invite-only though, so most of you guys probably can’t get into it.)

In addition to talking to other players, I also had a few conversations with the awesome Courtney Woods and Eric Musco of the community team. Here’s what I and some of the people I was with asked after the Q&A session.

Disclaimer: The answers are not verbatim of what they said but summaries of the main points.

I know PvP ranked is only for subscribers, but why? Why not make a purchaseable pass for Preferred and F2P players like there are for operations?

Eric Musco: When we talk about subscriber benefits, ranked PvP is one of the big perks. If we wanted to make the extra money, we would just do the pass, but ranked PvP makes being a subscriber special, which is important.
What’s up with Assassin/Shadow Deception/Infiltration AOE? Lacerate is very force-intensive, and not useful in a rotation. People dislike the class, and many times we get rejected from ops groups just for that reason.

Courtney Woods: The last thing we want is players to not be able to get into groups based on their class. That’s why we’ve been doing class balancing. We want to move away from people using AOE attacks in their regular rotations, which is why we nerfed abilities like Smash and Orbital Strike. We are trying to make the other class abilities closer to the level of the Assassin/Shadow when it comes to viability in using AOE attacks in regular rotations.

(What about Death Field for Madness? That’s really good AOE for an Assassin.)

CW: We’re still figuring everything out.
How are you identifying PvP cheaters when taking away ranked rewards?

Eric Musco: We look at a number of different factors. For security reasons I can’t tell you everything. For example, we look to see if someone that’s never won queues with the same person over and over again, but their friend always wins. Then again, they just might be a bad player. We look at what time they’re queuing, if it’s with the same people. This guy might work a really late shift, queues in the middle of the night, and is a really bad player. He gets stun locked, contributes zero to the group. He plays with same people because there are not a lot of people queuing at that time. How do we determine [if he’s cheating] that?!

We look at everyone at an individual basis, and we try to figure out circumstances to certain situations.

Me: Like a girlfriend who is really bad at PvP and always loses, but she queues with her boyfriend who is really good! And they do a hundred matches together. Not a cheater, just a bad player. Seems very labor intensive to screen that carefully.
How do I get a job with Bioware?!

Eric Musco: You have to keep checking the openings because they change frequently. The job may be open for only 2 weeks, but we may be in third stage interviews by then.

Network with players, developers, be active in the community. I was interviewed multiple times by Bioware before I was hired. Keep trying, and don’t give up. If you get to an interview, they are very interested in you. If you don’t get hired after that, it may be because there isn’t a position that you fit.

Apply to things you have experience in, and work on the things that you don’t if you want to be hired for that position. I work about 45 hours a week, but working in the video game industry is amazing.
So are you getting married in Disneyland or Disneyworld?

Courtney Woods: Disneyworld!!

What kind of wedding dress do you have?!

CW: A lot people think that because it’s a Disney wedding I would have a big, poofy Cinderella dress. That’s really hard to move in, and I wanted to wear something that I could move around easily in.

Thanks for reading everyone! Please everyone, ask useful questions during the short, precious Q&A time that benefits everyone, not something inconsequential. I’m sure more people would be interested in a well-thought question than something trivial during the Q&A session. Also, don’t leave these events early! Ask as much as you can when the Bioware team walks around to meet the players.

Tomorrow’s post will probably be about what I bought today at PAX East!