Posts Tagged ‘Electronic Arts’

Happy One Year Anniversary at Pretty Little Sith!

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Today marks one year after the first blog post I released on PrettyLittleSith.com! In the past year, I have made so many friends and met many people that play the game. It’s such a joy to see that what I have produced, either in written, audio, or video form has brought smiles to people’s faces. I am so happy to write this blog for everyone, and I’m thankful to so many different people!

Guild

Thank you to my guild Despair, who I’ve been with for a year and a half, and especially to my guildies Ben, Film, Sleeth, Drios, Bordeau, and everyone in my operations group! Thank you for being so supportive of my blog and my presence in the SWTOR community and continuing to treat me like a “normal” guildie, putting up with me when I don’t meet my conquest points, when I accidentally stand in reticles, my lackluster crafting attitude, and my Deception Assassin DPS!  I’m very happy to be in one of the greatest guilds together.

Readers

Thank you for being the best readers a blogger could have! I know some of my posts can get quite lengthy, and I’m so happy that my readers are amazing and intelligent people. I love reading and responding to your e-mails, and I look forward to more in the future!

Podcasts

Thank you to Carla and Jason, who thought I would be a good co-host on Corellian Run Radio, even though I originally asked if I could submit articles for the website! I’m very happy to continue the legacy that our podcast has and to take the podcast into new and exciting directions!

Thank you to Larry Everett for asking me to be on The Republic! It’s been an incredible experience so far for someone that does not produce her own videos or stream. I think it’s been a lot of fun to actually show my face when I talk about the game!

The Republic

Thank you to Teo, Chill, and Redna for interviewing and talking about me on OotiniCast early on, before anyone ever noticed me! It has been a pleasure to meet all of you in person. Thank you especially to Chill, for listening to my panicked messages about becoming a podcast host on CRR and living up to your name by being a cool, calm, and collected person that I can trust. Also thank you to Redna, for being one of my biggest blog fans!

Thank you Deltia for featuring me in one your interviews for gamers in the community! I felt like a guinea pig, but I’m so proud of your success with your site now! I promise I will try to play ESO when it’s free!

Thank you Chuck and Brian of the Bad Feeling Podcast! It’s like we’re celebrating our birthdays together! You have made me laugh so many times while driving. Brian especially, you have been so friendly and logical, and I’m glad you are a very open and easy person to talk to.

Thank you to Road for working so hard on so many podcasts and also inviting me to be on a few episodes of the SWTOR Galactic Gamer’s Coalition. It was so much fun to be able to talk and discuss SWTOR subjects with other podcasters.

Social Media

Thank you so much to Madmar for maintaining @SWTORFamily on Twitter and retweeting my work! Thank you for noticing when I try to bring a SWTOR player or community contributor under your nose so that they can be added to your lists. I’m very appreciative that you help to let others know about content that is being produced for the game.

Thank you Olib for creating SWTORNetwork.com! It’s such a beautiful website, and an amazing resource to access different sources of SWTOR content. Thank you for coding in the Pretty Little Sith image when I use the tag on submissions, and responding when my scatterbrain forgets my password!

Thank you to everyone that has “Liked” the Pretty Little Sith Facebook page and/or follows me on Twitter! I love interacting with people about all kinds of different topics, including the game, and I’m so happy that you appreciate what I do and give me feedback. Thank you for giving me ideas on what to write about. It’s also exciting to have met a few of my followers.

Ootini Knights

Ootini Knights

Thank you to my friends on the Prophecy of the Five server! If I hadn’t met some of you in person, the SWTOR Pot5 PvP Facebook group would’ve been a lot stranger, but it has been fun. I enjoy the different perspective on the game and even all the crazy things you guys post in the group. Thank you for helping me practice my anti-troll communication skills. Thank you also for being some of my first supporters when I’ve been on The Republic or have done any streaming. I’m sorry I’ve been too lazy to play a character to max level on your server, and that I’m still a bit of a “shitter.”

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BioWare/EA

Thank you to the BioWare community team for including me in your fansites and to EA for inviting me to the EA Redwood Shores studio. That was such an exciting experience I will never forget, and I’m happy I was able to befriend Victoria (SWTORista) and Michael at the event. Thank you Amber Green, though I’ve only met you once at the 2013 Seattle Cantina, for being so nice, funny, and approachable. Thank you to Eric Musco and Courtney Woods for remembering my name and communicating with me about the game! I don’t think I will see you in person much for the rest of this year, but I hope we can meet again.

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In the future I hope to self-host the blog once I become more savvy with HTML and web design. I also look forward to writing more, and I’m glad I’ve been able to scratch my writing itch after a long period of writing nothing much at all. Thank you so much to everyone reading, and I’m ready for another year of Pretty Little Sith.

EA Redwood Shores Press Event – Shadow of Revan Preview + Q&A Transcript/Audio Link

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On Wednesday of last week I visited Electronic Arts (EA) Redwood Shores in California for a preview of Star Wars: The Old Republic, Shadow of Revan expansion! If you are reading this then it is past the embargo time/date, and I’m so excited to talk about my experience and the information that we learned. I am glad that I prepared beforehand for this event by backing up my phone (for at least 12 hours?!), making sure there was enough room for pictures, notes, and recordings, because this was a very crucial opportunity.

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I arrived at EA about an hour early! I actually left two hours early because I was worried about traffic, but I was the first to arrive. I checked in and received an awesome visitor’s badge! In the lobby there was an area where you could demo some Xbox games, so I tried Thief for about five minutes. I am clearly not a console gamer, and I didn’t have patience to see where I was supposed to be shooting the rope. The game did look cool, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of effort getting into it, as I wanted to be alert if anyone important from EA was walking by!

A few more people arrived, and Lawrence Lacsamana from fortyseven communications and Melissa Ojeda (EA Public Relations Manager) came around to make sure he had everyone’s SWTOR account name and e-mail. This is when I met Victoria AKA Swtorista, and I was so excited! I wish we had known the other one was attending because we were in the same hotel, but I’m really glad she was there since I’ve heard so much about her. We hadn’t communicated much before then since we have different channels of communication to the SWTOR community.  I also met Michael, the guild master from the Death and Taxes guild, who I was supposed to hang out with the night before. Thank you Justin (@warlordkephess) for letting me know that he was going to be there! Unfortunately his hotel was a bit further from downtown San Francisco than mine, so he didn’t go out the night before when I did. The final person from the community at the event was Aracely AKA Lulaboo, a streamer who is also the girlfriend of the well-known streamer Towelliee.

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Me and Swtorista

We took a few pictures next to the large Shadow of Revan poster, and I even brought a banana from the breakfast buffet at my hotel “for scale!”

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They brought us into a room with about 16 computers, all showing the Shadow of Revan image as a wallpaper on the desktop. Lulaboo, Swtorista, Michael, and I had special seats in the back row, since we were actual players and fansites and not just press attendees. There was another large Shadow of Revan poster, and some snacks and drinks set up on the left side of the room. On the tables were also copies of the novel Revan and Shadow of Revan wristbands, like the ones I received from the Las Vegas Community Cantina.

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The presentation started with Debysue Wolfcale, Marketing Director, who went over the day’s agenda. She was very excited, after the presentation, to talk about how she played a Sith Assassin. It seems she’s currently playing a hybrid-spec, but for 3.0 she will have to focus on one discipline! I was happy to tell her that I really enjoyed playing Deception on my Assassin.

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The first presenter was Jeff Hickman, General Manager at BioWare Austin.  He talked about the game thriving with over one million players a month with 3 AAA quality expansions so far and the 3 year anniversary of the game coming up soon. Additionally, he said that next year will be a big year for Star Wars overall with the Episode VII coming out December 2015, and that they will be introducing new, bigger, and cooler things to the game!

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The next presenter was Bruce Mclean, Senior Producer. He reviewed the features of Shadow of Revan, such as the increased level cap, new flashpoints and two new planets, Rishi and Yavin 4. He also mentioned a new solo-mode for flashpoints, in which you can clear the flashpoints with NPCs helping you. The Forged Alliance flashpoints will also be getting solo-modes that will drop powerful gear that will help people get ready for the content in the expansion. The Ravaged operation ends on a ship flying on a cloud, which looks incredibly cool! Revan is a final boss, and he’s the toughest one yet.

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Charles Boyd, Lead Writer, was up next and he talked about his writing team planning stories for Revan since 2006! He was happy to finally be able to present this chapter in The Old Republic lore, and this is definitively the last chapter (that they’ve written for now, haha) about Revan!

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Producer Andrew Horowitz

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QA Erik Mulkey

We were then introduced to other members of the BioWare staff that was present: Andrew Horowitz (Producer), Eric Musco (Community Manager), Deb Shin (Marketing Manager), Hazel Kelly AKA HK-30 (Live Producer), and Erik Mulkey (QA). If you read my post about the Las Vegas Community Cantina, I had previously met Andrew, and I have also met Eric Musco quite a few times before.

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We did some hands-on gameplay of the expansion after that! We had a choice of 4 different characters, and each computer had a different variety of Republic advanced classes. (I asked why Republic, and the BioWare staff said because they were Imperial-biased, haha.) I traded computers with Michael once we figured out that my computer had a Jedi Guardian and his computer had a Jedi Shadow (character name Arrgemias, chosen beforehand by the BioWare staff using SWTOR’s “Random Name” button), because obviously I wanted to play the Shadow and he wanted to play the Guardian. As the staff was telling the rest of the non-players in the room about disciplines and utilities, I chose mine: Infiltration discipline with some PvE utilities. We also took some time to set up our UI and hotkeys, which didn’t take too long for me to do.

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They had everyone do a couple PvE missions, including one involving Theron Shan, and also completing the flashpoint Bloodhunt in solo-mode. It was quite easy for me to do both in 192-rating, set bonus gear. The “Jesus droid” that helps you in the solo-mode flashpoint made it super easy. They did recommend using HK-51 also, who I think had better gear on him. Obviously I was stubborn and wanted to use a tanking companion, so I brought Treek (probably with lower level gear) out, who died anyway.

New Stalker set bonuses

New Stalker set bonuses

In Bloodhunt, we do see Shae Visla at the end of the flashpoint! I really need to get caught up on my lore, because I think these stories would mean more to me. Perhaps I should finish OotiniCast’s spoilercast episode!

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As we finished the flashpoint, our reward was lunch! We were served some BBQ chicken, pulled pork, macaroni & cheese, steamed vegetables, and cornbread. There were also cookies as a dessert! The water bottles were also branded with EA, which I thought was super neat! I haven’t thrown away the bottle at all! I got too much food, as you can see from the picture, and the crumbs from the macaroni & cheese were getting all over my black tablecloth and the keyboard. Oops!

Michael from Death and Taxes

Michael from Death and Taxes

After lunch we did a round of 8v8 unranked PvP!  I switched my utilities to ones that were more useful in PvP.

We were supposed to do The Ancient Hypergate, but we ended up in Novare Coast instead. A few of the Bioware employees got onto computers so we would have enough players for two teams. The group makeup was random, so we weren’t sure which team the actual players would be on versus the press. We were also playing on a closed, dev server created specifically for the event. My team ended up having only seven, since Eric Musco’s warzone didn’t load or something, but we still won, which was nice! I had the most kills (28), but Michael from Death and Taxes was close behind with 27. He still ended up with a bit more damage output and medals than me though.

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I enjoyed playing the Infiltration (Deception) discipline in 3.0. I don’t remember ever using my basic attack, which means force sustainability has increased. Additionally, I used Whirling Blow (Lacerate), and I didn’t feel like it sucked up all my force. I also think they increased damage for it, but it could be because I was in better gear than what I have on right now. I actually don’t like Whirling Blow (Lacerate), but it’s the only AOE ability, aside from Force Wave/Overload, that Inflitration/Deception has. And Overload can be a pretty annoying knockback for other players, so I don’t use it that often when I do group content.

After the warzone, we had some time to do whatever we wanted in game and interact with some of the BioWare staff before our personal Q&A session with the devs, and then the time finally came!

They took us to a different room, the one that had the original Shadow of Revan poster that Swtorista and I took a picture in. We started up our recorders, and the Q&A began. Thankfully my recording survived and will be published on the latest episode of Corellian Run Radio that should be out today! (As soon as the episode is out in a few hours I will post the link here.) I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio version of this Q&A, because many answers are summarized here in the transcript, and you can hear tone and more detailed information in the audio version. 

http://corellianrun.com/2014/11/24/special-episode-ea-press-event-qa/

I have my own commentary that I wanted to post on here, and I also wanted to thank everyone that gave me a question they wanted to ask! I tried to ask questions that would produce the most answers and information from the devs. Additionally, I would like to emphasize that this Q&A is paraphrased and not direct quotes. To hear exactly how these questions were asked and answered, please listen to the latest episode of Corellian Run Radio about the event, which will be released today and linked here when it is.

Thank you so much to Swtorista for taking the time to transcribe the interview! Please visit her post to read her thoughts about the event as well!

EA Press Event Q&A Session

Dev: Whatever you guys want to talk about, instead of the formal 101s we did with the other folks. What do you guys want to talk about? What burning questions haven’t we answered yet?

GSF

Heather: What’s going on with GSF?

Dev: There’s nothing really going on right now. We are working on some stuff for it next year but we can’t talk about it yet.

Michael: [offers a suggestion to make the rewards more worth it, “credits aren’t enough” for incentives, as he’s mastered all his ships]

Dev: The reward scheme is definitely the target for us.

(My Thoughts: Clearly, I’m really pushing this for my guild Despair!)

Legacy Friends/Ignore

Heather: I heard that privacy issues are the reason that global ignore is due to a privacy issue that is meant to protect the harasser?

Michael: I don’t want someone to friend me on one character and be able to talk to me on another.

Heather: Can we make ignore happen, but friends not?

Dev: Anything you talk about account-wide anything, it’s always been a privacy issue. We had that one time where you whispered one character and it would go to another of their person’s – that was a huge privacy issue.

(My Thoughts: This was a question submitted to me, and I think it is absolutely important. No one wants to be harassed by someone that can follow them on an unlimited amount of characters that they can constantly create/delete in order to stalk you.)

Spam Ignore + Report

Swtorista: Related, one of the suggestions I have seen is an “ignore and report” button without a popup that disrupts gameplay.

Devs: [general agreement] Some other games have that functionality and it is GREAT.

(My Thoughts: I agree this would be awesome!)

Ability Proc Light-up

Heather: The thing where the abilities light up, can we have that as an option?

Dev: [Needs to speak to someone else, will probably happen.] That’s a good idea. [Also speaks about wanting more toggle choices, for example for 12x XP, they just ran out of time.]

(My Thoughts: I agree with Swtorista’s commentary that for a casual player or one just learning a discipline, this is very useful. For someone that already knows how to play, it can be distracting.)

Better than cross-server qing

Heather: Can you now talk about the thing you were referring to that was better than cross server for queue pops?

Dev: Still working on it. We are talking about what to talk about. Something was promised a couple weeks ago, but no promises other than that. We’ll try before the end of the year to announce something. At the very least we can give a date. To be clear, what you’re going to get is not “here’s what we’re gonna do”. What you’re gonna get is “we know there’s a problem, we know there is a concern from players about this” and we are actively working on a solution. We’re not trying to be coy – but we want to be able to explain it in full detail. It’s a highly technical issue.

Swtorista: Are you aware the most commonly guessed solution is to allow F2P to queue? For everything? Ranked?

Dev: We looked at those numbers, and it would be trivial. For example F2P players can do 5 warzones a week – the amount of players hitting that restriction are less than 2%, around 1.4% of players who have that restriction. And that’s from the pool of F2P players that play warzones at all. It would not even make a difference. We have better solutions – we’re working on it.

(My Thoughts: Here, I am referencing the question I had Bam from the WOOK guild ask at the Las Vegas Community Cantina for me, about what they have in mind that is better than cross-server queues.)

Resolution to Revan

Lulaboo: Will we see a resolution to Revan in this expansion? Will we see a resolution to his story, to his character?

Dev: Yes. This is the final chapter that we’ve been wanting to tell. There is some cool stuff there, but you will feel closure. [Kephess joke by Michael, Musco in]

(My Thoughts: I still need to read the Revan novel, do the Jedi Knight storyline in game….. and maybe the Revan story would be more exciting for me.)

Lack of Recent Operations

Michael: This has been the longest [operation] valley in the content cycle in the game’s history. Is this an anomaly?

Dev: Yes. The reason why is we took a break effectively to build Galactic Starfighter and Strongholds.

(My Thoughts: Excellent, I hope for more operations next year. However, I would like to stress that I am still interested in high quality, not just quantity.)

Minor Expansions

Heather: Is there going to be any other content-expansions before the next big expansion? Like Galactic Starfighter?

Dev: It’s safe to say that there is a finite number of core Star Wars fantasies. Piloting for GSF, being on the flagship and conquering planets is another. Those are very much filling the need that we are asked about at Community Cantinas. Fulfilling a need that we felt and our community felt. Unless you think of something… nothing to that scope. We’re doubling down on our BioWare cinematic storytelling.

(My Thoughts: They asked us for ideas for another minor expansion, so of course I thought of my next question….)

Minigames

Heather: What about minigames? Podracing? Gambling?

Dev: We are aware of these ideas. We love them.

Dev: We are all fans of gambling. [laughter]

Swtorista: It was mentioned on one of the podcasts that you couldn’t do podracing due to graphical issues because you’d see yourself as ahead of someone else.

Dev: It’s not so much graphical issues, it’s how the servers work. On your screen, you won, server says no, sorry, they won. That’s not very fun. It’s just a natural client-server problem. There are tricky little ways you can get around it, LOTRO has the horse racing, where it’s just you doing a timed race, but that’s not really the spirit of podracing.

Michael: Did you ever get collision to work out?

Dev: That’s another thing. Our collision is not built for a moving physical race, two moving parts. You would just go right through each other, takes some of the excitement out. Turns out we didn’t build a racing game… so… yeah.

Michael: In the movies there was no winner… everyone else just died.

Dev: We could do that – everybody else just dies. [laughter]

After Expansion

Lulaboo: Talking about next year… are you guys allowed to talk about what’s coming up after this expansion?

Dev: Not yet. Only that we are doubling-down on BioWare cinematics. You’ll probably have a few hints when you get to the end of this one.

MMOBOMB: When you’ve mentioned this before you’ve said you were working on it all the way back since 2006. Why now? Why Revan 3 years after launch?

Dev: The story just kind of had to develop to that place. It’s partly with new releases, which characters do we need to get into the story, and it’s not really “right now”. We created this story a year ago, starting with the Forged Alliances flashpoints. We didn’t sit down in 2006 and write everything, lots has changed.

Dev: Forged Alliances was really cool, but what I didn’t like is that it forced us into a spoiler-free silence. A very difficult year for us. We couldn’t talk about the next expansion ’til the last Forged Alliances flashpoint came out.

Dev: It’s a funny year for us. We had Galactic Strongholds come out in August, then BOOM we announce Shadow of Revan, a big expansion. We would normally not do that, but Galactic Strongholds was important and we wanted to reorganize everything.

End of Shadow of Revan (SoR)

Michael: [Michael asks a question about the end of SoR which he has seen, and that it’s been a long time coming.]

Dev: Yeah, it’s been building up. If anything I feel like it’s been a long time since we touched on that particular thing. It’s not gonna get wrapped up in the next patch or anything. Charles is not going to write us out of business.

Windows Mobile Authenticator

Heather: When will there be a mobile authenticator for Windows? (only one for IOS and Android right now)

Dev: Good question. Any time we add an authenticator to a phone we have to constantly keep it updated. There has to be a market. They cost us a lot of time and break with updates. I’ll talk to our platform guys.

(My Thoughts: As I said in the audio version, I use an iPhone so this doesn’t affect me, but it would be nice to have the option for players that do have Windows phones.)

New Character Customizations

Heather: Are there new character customizations in the works like hair, eyes? For beyond 3.0?

Dev: There are some in the works.

(My Thoughts: I suggested Theron and Lana’s hairs as options.)

Legacy Gear and NiM Content

Michael: [Soap box! Speaking about how players in endgame funnel gear back and forth between characters to subvert the weekly lockout. He thinks legacy gear and that ability is bad for the game. He acknowledges it is difficult and nuanced to argue.]

Dev: The problem is we have to be very careful in pulling it out [Note: Legacy gear was meant to originally be for fun sharing gear looks between characters, not to share statistical gear.]

Michael: I’m not saying pull it out – just for Nightmare gear. You already can’t craft it, ever. You still can’t craft Kell Dragon gear.

Dev: It’s a valid point. Jesse wants to overhaul how the legacy gear system works in general. I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing people use it for. It’s not really serving its purpose right now. It’s something we are looking at to alter but we don’t know how yet.

Token Gear

Michael: [Michael explains that token gear should never be badly optimized. He should never have to buy 14 pairs of boots to get optimized gear. It’s also a barrier to entry to the casual player who is poorly optimized and has no idea.] There’s a couple solutions – bosses could drop enhancements instead of full gear pieces, because the system’s already modular anyway. I don’t know if you want it to be that quick.

Dev: That’s definitely interesting; it’s something we will talk about for next year. [Devs ask if they can ask him for more info! Kidnap him a black van lol.]

Guild Functionality

Heather: Is there any way we can have more functionality to help organize guilds like officer message of the day, guild mail…

Dev: Yeah. We’ve been talking about guild functionality. We love guild mail. There are technical limitations we have to overcome. Anything can be overcome with enough time and resources, but it’s a question of it being worth it. With conquests and flagships, it’s more worth it now than it has ever been.

Dev: That’s something that is more commonly asked for. These tweaks.. overhauls… we realize it too. Now that we’ve “checked the box” with player housing, it won’t be asked for as much.

(My Thoughts: At the Las Vegas cantina I specifically asked for whispering within the guild menu also.)

Equal Classes

Heather: The combat system has changed significantly with 3.0. Can all players expect to produce equal damage regardless of what class they choose?

Dev: I would say we have been trying to, behind the scenes, invest time into our developer tools. When the game was first launched it was a massive undertaking, 500+ people working on it around launch, so we brute forced a lot of things. We don’t have ideal developer tools in some areas, and one of those areas is combat balance. I kid you not, and I hate to be recorded on this, but our measure of DPS a year ago is, we’d get the rotation we wanted to measure, we’d get a stopwatch, and we’d actually do damage against it. That’s what our developers did. Since then we’ve built automated testing tools that just do it. And measure the output. Our class designers are much more confident but are never perfect. If people are complaining about class balance, then that’s the only problem we got [laughter]. But we take it very seriously, and they have better tools now than they ever had before. That being said, we just raised the level cap, just released disciplines, there’s new abilities, so the target is “I want everyone to be within 5% assuming the perfect player”. Everyone should be within 5% of each other. That’s the goal. Whether we hit it or not, we’ll see. We’re ready to see how it plays out. Those guys, more than anybody else, have just been working their hearts out. Since we went to public test, they’ve been working every weekend, we didn’t say they needed to, they wanted to, every weekend work late nights, crawling the forums, and they think they got it. They set those +/- goals and last week they said “yep, we’re good”.

Dev: It’s one of the unspoken things we had when we were doing the Class Rep system that I couldn’t tell people unfortunately, what I couldn’t tell them at the time, was that a lot of the suggestions that people didn’t think we were listening to literally was injected directly into the changes for 3.0. Things like “Sorcs don’t have a defensive cooldown” – now they have 2 if you pick the right abilities in 3.0. I couldn’t tell you that a year ago – yeah, they’re working on a class expansion, we couldn’t get those changes in a year ago we couldn’t say that a year ago we were working on an expansion.

Dev: In Rise of the Hutt Cartel [last expansion] with the level cap going up and new abilities, we had to take the talent trees back to zero and rebuild them, and we’re faced with the prospect of having to do that – and that makes balancing difficult as well. One of the advantages to the disciplines system, including the player-facing advantages, you can’t mess up not having the right skills. We have data on what our players pick and it is surprising. You’d be surprised. Actually you wouldn’t. [laughter] It is much easier for our developers to work with balancing with the disciplines system. We know the core damage abilities that each person gets, there’s no magical spec, there’s no hybrids like scoundrels that can heal and make damage. Disciplines also helps them in their confidence in achieving better balance.

(Rob Hinkle replied via email afterwards with this additional information.)

Rob Hinkle: The answer is yes, mostly. We have a range of target DPS numbers that we want all of the DPS Disciplines to fall into. Where you fall in that range has to do with things like if you are a burst or sustained spec, or if you are a ranged vs melee spec. Our goal is that no class is more than about 5% off the middle of that range.

Testing Gear

Michael: When the Devs are testing specs, what gear are they wearing? If it’s stock, then you’re not going to get accurate numbers.

Dev: Absolutely. I can’t remember what they actually use. Whatever it is, it’s not what you want.

Michael: Is that the reason we do too much damage?

Dev: I can answer that. The way we measure DPS against bosses was scored incorrectly internally, it’s one of the reasons we are making the changes in 3.0. We were off by about 2%, that’s a HUGE deal.

(We have received further clarification on these two previous questions later from Rob Hinkle via e-mail.)

Rob Hinkle: It depends on what we are doing.  For pure DPS test runs (like against a dummy), we tend to wear the highest level gear available to the players, fully augmented, stimmed, and with all of the legacy/companion buffs.  We do our best to select the same stats players tend to wear, but that process isn’t as rock solid as it should be.

Legendary Gear

Heather: Legendary gear is a searchable option on the GTN and was mentioned at launch. Will we ever see legendary weapons and or armor?

Dev: I don’t think we can say anything about that yet. But talk has been happening about things that are related to that. We haven’t forgotten about it.

(My Thoughts: The way that they answered this question made it seem like there really was something going on for legendary gear, in my opinion.)

Legacy Credit Bank

Heather: What’s the status on legacy banks? All your credits pooled together on all your characters. Or at least having legacy bank access in the cargo hold.

Swtorista: GW2 added it and it works out really, really well.

Dev: I imagine something like that would potentially get rolled out if we alter collections.

Legacy Family Tree Decoration

Heather: Is there any chance of getting a Legacy family tree decoration? You can see the portraits in the tree.

Dev: We love that idea. Corey knows about that idea, we’ve been talking about ways to make that happen plus other cooler stuff that that would allow to happen without saying too much.

Achievement Decorations

Heather: I know a lot of achievement people would like more decorations for achievements.

Dev: We are going to continue to add decorations to the game for sure and across all content.

Expanded Mission Log

Heather: Since we have so many new daily areas, can we have an expanded mission log? Even 30 would be nice.

Dev: That’s tough. We’ve talked about that before. No one is against it philosophically – it’ll come up every once in a while and we’ll ask “Why do we have this cap?” and we’ll go to the engineering team and be like “oh right”.

(My Thoughts: I asked this question for my guildie, but I could honestly live without it. I clear up my mission log regularly and try not to hold on to too many missions.)

Game Engine

Dev: In combination with strongholds, we have a love-hate relationship with our engine, and in some ways it’s a bear.

Heather: Any plans on updating the engine?

Dev: [resounding No] It’s what we got.

Conquest Motivation

Michael: May I offer some criticism on conquests. It’s impossible to motivate my guild [Heather interrupts and informs everyone that she’s in Despair and has been at #1 for two months, laughter] – we have roughly 15 members who play actively. We are among the top PvE guilds but I can’t get them to care. We go up against guilds with 500 Republic characters, 500 Imperial characters AND reserve guilds. It’s impossible to compete.

Dev: [Suggest that they try different planets. Michael says that doesn’t work. Suggest they try Total Galactic War. Michaels says not even then.]

Michael: There are guilds with a lot more people who care more, and the harder objectives give little to no points. Example: There’s nothing for clearing nightmare. There’s nothing for hitting a threshold ranking in Ranked pvp.

Dev: We’ve only just begun to dip our toes into what’s possible with that system. We’ve been very careful to set it up and give ourselves powerful tools so we can do some different types of conquests.

Dev: That concern you brought up was in conversation for a while. We’re aware of it.

Michael: My members that care at all for achievements, what they do is they put an alt IN the big guild, and then they hit the conquest, and then they hit the achievement.

(My Thought: I agree that there should be conquest points given for players who complete Nightmare operations, but it shouldn’t overtake a large guild of people who do a variety of content to earn conquest points.)

New Operation Entry Barrier

Swtorista: Once we hit 60, will we be able to hop right into the new operations? Or will we have to go back and re-gear.

Dev: You will be able to hop right into them. The story modes of course. The storyline actually leads you into the Temple of Sacrifice operation. You can bypass it, you can do the solo option to get to the finale. The story modes are meant to be seen and done – they are meant to be seen. The hard modes are really, really hard.

Michael: They actually are. [laughter] I’m not so enthused by that – I’m concerned, I think the average hard mode guy is going to be pretty frustrated.

(My Thoughts: I hope whiners don’t complain about not being able to beat these bosses.)

Costumes

Swtorista: Someone at one of the cantinas was speaking to Gaddock Teeg of the Unnamed SWTOR Podcast and with a little bit of alcohol involved, happened to mention a costume system.  Is that anything you can talk about?

Dev: [intakes of breathe, partially mocking] Who did that!?!

Dev: [Bruce] That was not me. [laughter]

Heather: That was in New York.

Dev: Bruce!

Swtorista: [grinning and doing finger pistols at Bruce. Devs seem well aware of this leak already, much joking]

Dev: We are taking a look into that.

Swtorista: And have you looked at the GW2 costume system? Because I feel they are one of the ones doing it very well.

Dev: [Bruce, very enthusiastic] They have an outstanding costume system. We’re a whole studio full of serious MMO gamers. Every game we go “OOOOHHHHHHHH I want that!”

Dev: [enthusiastic, amused, good-humoured] Bruce literally went to the event in New York going “I’m just going to tell people everything. I’m going to tell them all kinds of stuff.” People have made the joke that Bruce was just drunk and revealing information [Andrew Horowitz interrupts and claims it was his fault Bruce got drunk] – but Bruce was literally quite frustrated that we were holding back and our communication was light and we were holding information back [due to the expansion].

Dev: [Bruce interrupting] I was sooooo frustrated this year with our – our whole approach has been “just tell them what we’re working on, tell them the dates we’re shooting for, tell them we missed the dates” says sorry when we missed them, but that’s the approach we wanted. So I had a catharsis moment in New York. [much laughter]

(My Thoughts: I really love this comment. I’m very happy that they want to be more transparent with the players, and this coming year we should see more information from the developers.)

Michael: If I may, I think that approach would be better. As a player, I’ve been frustrated with how opaque everything’s been.

Dev: Agreed. This year has been super tough for that. Mostly because of Strongholds and Shadow of Revan. We truly believe, and Bruce has shown over and over, if you think about it, in January, when Bruce wrote our “here’s what’s coming this year” he was like, we have an expansion, then another expansion, then another expansion, and then this is going to happen and we are all looking at him and saying “omg Bruce” and he was like “yeah”. So yeah he believes that and we will get back on that middle ground. [Bruce joking] “and that’s why I won’t be allowed to go to the cantinas anymore.” [laughter]

Dev: We created our own perfect storm where we really just worked in a vacuum. We’re totally a studio of “let’s be transparent”. My manager is like that, these guys are like that, we want to tell people everything. We just created this weird situation where we put ourselves in a vacuum of silence on accident. It just happened that way. And it was kind of a horrible situation we were in.

Dev: [Bruce] It was such a great crowd. Ughh just such a great group!

Dev: People were really excited. [when Bruce told them, laughter]

SWTOR.com APIs and Tools

Swtorista: Quite a few other MMOs have actual online – online on the internet, not online ingame – resources. APIs that can be sent to fansites, armoury’s like WoW’s where you can look up your character, places where you can share and advertise your guild online, things you can look up what you can buy form the Cartel Market. What are you guys doing with this, anything?

Dev: Yes. We are look at all of the things you just said. We are having a fresh look. We haven’t been doing anything for a long while, we haven’t pursued those things, literally within the last month, let’s have a re-assess.

Heather: Is that what you were touching on when someone asked about the crew skills offline on at the Cantina?

Dev: As we look at that stuff, that’s naturally one of the things we’d consider rolling into it. It’s one of the things we re-assess.

12x XP

Swtorista: A while back you guys said everything about 12X XP was a big experiment. Do people play more? Play less? Did it ruin the game because they don’t have any more characters to level? [laughter] Obviously we still have to wait a while and it will be a while till afterwards once they actually have all their characters, but what have you seen so far that has been interesting?

Dev: First of all, it’s been AWESOME. We love it. Everybody that we’ve talked to loves it. It’s great fun. It’s like we have 8 KOTORs in our game – right?  We found a way to kind of bring those up to the top. I think it’s gone perfect – it would have been great to toggle it off if you didn’t want to do that – we saw how much travel time was annoying where normally there would be other filler – gear which we’re gonna look into. Very good and we’re talking about several different possibilities. I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of it.

Dev: It’s a net positive.

MMOBomb: Would one of the possibilities be less filler, more cool stuff?

Dev: Yes. Shadow of Revan was designed in a different way from ROTHC and especially pre-launch. The quest focuses on the core story. The filler, as you might say, is pushed off, we put our time into the cool stuff. Put in a lot of time to make sure everything is meaningful, not just there to make you spend time.

Conquest Activity

Swtorista: Now that conquests has been out for a while, have you seen a noticeable decline in guilds participating? Or do you track those numbers?

Dev: We ABSOLUTELY track those numbers. We are obsessive data trackers. Seriously. We have a report that comes back with those numbers and plenty more every week. Actually, the percentage of guilds that own a flagship and are participating in conquests has gone up. We weren’t sure what was going to happen – but at least in the numbers – it is sticking around. But as I said we haven’t started to experiment with conquests. We built it in a very robust way that we could do some [stuff].

Heather: I have a suggestion for conquests. Maybe um a faction-based competition. Have all the Imps together against all the Republic? [acknowledges balance problems]

Dev: The population check-

Dev: [interrupting] Well you know war is not about fairness. So I don’t see a problem. [laughter]

Datamining

Swtorista: So there’s been a lot of talk about data mining. You might not want to talk about it at all. It’s brought some really positive things for example the conquest list on Dulfy’s site brought by swtor_miner that allowed guilds to talk about it before invasion day, there’s also been some really negative things where data mined items or perks have been found but weren’t actually released in the game. Even little things like seeing items on the PTS but not having them carry over makes people really upset. [hesitant] Do you feel that in any way data mining should be allowed in certain cases? Or not at all?

Dev: Well we can’t stop it. Our policy is: they’re gonna data mine. We tell everyone – this is going out. It’s gonna get data mined. Just know that.

Dev: The client’s in the player’s hands, and if the player wants to dig through the client, they can.

Dev: Makes Eric’s life miserable. [laughter] But I think overall I don’t think it’s a problem. If people get upset about it, all we can say is “you weren’t promised anything” – we make a lot of stuff we don’t put out.

Dev: [Eric] I can speak about the community – I think at least the last couple months data mining especially has been a thing. There was a really strange perspective in the community that we were waging a war against data mining, and I think that happened because we told TOROcast that I wouldn’t do an interview with them because they were talking about data mining and EXPLOITING.

Dev: That was actually the thing.

Dev: [Eric] What spun this all up is that they had a show where they were specifically talking about data mining – which I do need to say, although we know it’s going to happen it IS against our rules – but they were specifically talking about how to EXPLOIT content. And because of that, I just couldn’t draw attention to it. It spiraled into “we hate data mining”. You can look – we’ve never asked Reddit to take down data mining posts, even fan sites that post data mined content, we never ask anyone to take any of it down. It’s not that we’re against data mining – it’s just that we can’t be FOR it.

Dev: [multiple people speaking] remember, to Eric’s point, it’s technically against our ToS so we can’t go “Yeayyyyyy!” [positive excitement] on the other hand there’s nothing we can do about it. If you look at Dulfy’s site, I think that’s incredibly useful. That’s the kind of information we talked about before by extracting this kinda stuff out of the game and putting it on the web. We’d love to do that, it’s a lot of work, to make it right and make it useful and meaningful. We don’t have it yet, we like Dulfy, we like her site.

Dev: I also think what helped cause that problem is that we were in that silence vacuum. Normally we have this weird harmony with data miners – we talk about what’s coming, we make sure we get our announcements out, we’re well ahead of data miners; normally the stuff that’s in the game client is nothing new. Normal Bioware would be transparent, and would tell you what’s coming. This situation wasn’t that. So we didn’t have that thing where data mining happens, that’s fine, we normally are ahead of things. That created strain and friction that wasn’t helping. We’re not really sure how it happened, but it did.

Dev: It’s also a weird thing because as developers we can’t send the message to the data miners and be like “look guys we’re totally fine”. It’s weird because we’re not against it, but we can’t be FOR it. And so us being like “data mining is great guys, go out there and do it” we can’t do that at all.

Swtorista: As you’re being recorded. [laughter]

Dev: [tripped up a bit] I’m being genuinely honest – it’s one of those things that’s a weird situation because it created a problem that genuinely there was no way for us to solve.

Exar Kun/Yavin 4 Ghost [Spoilers]

Michael: If I may, ask a lore nerd question. On Yavin 4, there’s an elephant in the room, I’m pretty sure he’s not going to be addressed. There’s a ghost there, like a really powerful one, who’s not “the other one”, but it’s from… 400-500 years before the game? Exar Kun’s ghost is there, he should be zippin’ around doin’ stuff-

Dev: This is not our first Exar Kun question!

Michael: It is not actually.

Dev: Go on! Tell us! [interested]

Michael: Honestly I wouldn’t have put the expansion there. Considering that he’s there.

Dev: A ) that was partly, it was there because that was something we had wanted to be going towards for a long time. When I mention things from 2006, that was one of them. We wanted that part of the story to happen there for a variety of reasons. I don’t know if you’ve been on there recently, are if you were on the PTS? There’s a little bit of stuff touching on that. And it’s something I’d like to explore more, later. The trick is, all of that stuff, would take a whole other expansion to explain to people who don’t know about it. If you put Exar Kun into a major part of the story, – and you’re right, he deserves to have a major part – yeah, he ties into all that, and there’s other things that we’ve talked about, behind the scenes, things we haven’t really put out yet.

Michael: Well you can’t kill him, because he is supposed to show up in 3,500 years.

Dev: Right right, you can’t destroy him, there’s limitations to what you can do with him, there’s limitations on how much information we can convey in an expansion. An expansion is like a TV show, it’s 40 minutes, we have this amount of time. We have to decide, do we want to spend it on these characters, who are cool and we like, but a lot of people aren’t familiar with, and haven’t seen much of yet, or do we focus on Revan, the stuff we have been talking about, and find a way to wedge them in when we can.

Michael: It’s very self-contained, but you are going to get a ton of questions about that.

Cartel Decorations vs Other Decorations

Swtorista: Do you guys make a conscious effort to balance Cartel Decorations and ones you earn in game?

Dev: Absolutely. Constant struggle. It’s a negotiation between two parties. Yeah, we don’t wanna take all the cool stuff and throw it on the market. We want a balance.

Oricon Lessons

Swtorista: Oricon was received pretty well by the community; it was done differently with the daily areas leading into the operations. What are some things you learned from that planet and are taking forward into Shadow of Revan?

Dev: Great question. Shadow of Revan definitely draws on all of our learnings – it draws almost as much on RotHC as Oricon – RoTHC there were some opportunities for improvement there. So we learned a lot. Like… dense, mission-packed, make it worth the player’s time, like Oricon is very worth your time. And what we took into Shadow of Revan is to make sure “Is this worth the player’s time?” Make sure that it’s rewarding. One of the things that happened with RotHC is that many players leveled without ever going there. We spend so much time building these cool worlds and these cool stories, so we made a big effort to draw on the last expansion to make it very worth player’s time.

Dev: I think as well, doing a solo story leading to the operation, it had its pleasant ideas – we really wanted to get solo players more aware of how cool an operation can be, give them something that’s like “no, really!” Like you said, in the Dreadmaster story, there’s cool stuff happening here that maybe they weren’t familiar with or didn’t even realize existed. So you know. That’s what we’ve tried to do with SoR. Have the story lead into an operation. Downside to that was [in Oricon] you couldn’t see the very end of that story unless you played an operation and so I think learning from that was, we always need to try and make sure there’s a solo way to experience the coolness, the main parts of the story, the story of SoR.

Guild Crests

Swtorista: One of the cool questions my guildmates had is in GW2 and Wildstar we can have guild crests. Will we ever have these in TOR?

Dev: Possibly. Can’t tell you never. It’s one of the features we’ve talked about, on and off, forever. We love TOR, as long as people keep playing we’d love to add stuff to it. So that’s entirely possible. I can think of some more challenges there, it would have to fit into Star Wars lore, those aren’t challenges we can overcome [easily].

Kephess

Michael: If you ever do a Gree-centric thing I’m gonna expect Kephess to pop out of a hypergate. [laughter]

Dev: Done! I love the gree so much dude.

2014-11-21 11.04.49

From left to right: Michael, Aracely (Lulaboo), MMOBomb, Swtorista, Charles Boyd, Eric Musco, Bruce Mclean, me (Heather), Erik Mulkey, Andrew Horowitz

Again, I would HIGHLY recommend listening to the audio version for a complete version of this Q&A on Corellian Run Radio. 

I am so thankful that we were invited and that I was able to attend. I don’t think I will be invited to another, because I think they will want to give other fan sites a chance, but I would absolutely love the opportunity to do something like this again.

The Republic Episode 192, CRR News, and More

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The weather is finally cooling down here in Las Vegas! I’m actually wearing pants (normally I only wear dresses/skirts), and a scarf. Yesterday when I was dressing for a jewelry party, I realized I have the same sweater in at least half a dozen different colors, and they were all, inconveniently, thin and quarter-sleeved.  I will have to go shopping for more differently designed, warmer sweaters.

The display at the jewelry party I went to!

The display at the jewelry party I went to! I bought more than I probably should have…

I’m really excited to pack tonight for my trip (even though it will be very short) to San Francisco/Redwood City for the EA press event about the new SWTOR Shadow of Revan expansion while I represent Corellian Run Radio! I will be flying out tomorrow afternoon and coming back on Wednesday night. I cannot release much of the information that I learn at the event right away, but I will post something as soon as I’m able to.

Corellian Run Radio

Additionally, we have begun to livestream our Corellian Run Radio episodes! On Sunday we streamed our first episode on Twitch. The video/podcast won’t be out until tomorrow, so look out for another post with the video and links to the podcast. Our episodes are released every two weeks, so follow us at twitch.tv/corellianrunradio so that you’re ready for our next episode!

In other news, I was on another episode of The Republic last week for GAMEBREAKER.tv. I think I did better with the lighting this week, since I made a makeshift diffuser (more like me just taping a piece of paper over the lamp, LOL). Here’s the video of episode 192 of The Republic:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6-QZOW8WP4%5D

SWTOR Las Vegas Community Cantina Tour 2014

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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.

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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?).

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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!

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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.

SWTOR_RevanThemedGearConcept

SWTOR_LergoMountConcept

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SWTOR_ShadowofRevan_Screen_05

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SWTOR_ShadowofRevan_Screen_07

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SWTOR_ShadowofRevan_Screen_01

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Corellian Run Radio Visiting EA Corporate Headquarters to Preview SWTOR: Shadow of Revan

EA Redwood Shores
I have some fantastic news to tell everyone! Corellian Run Radio has been invited by Electronic Arts (EA) and Bioware to visit their corporate headquarters in Redwood City, California for a special hands-on preview event highlighting Shadow of Revan, the upcoming digital expansion to Star Wars: The Old Republic. I will be flying out next week to check out the game and also meet some of the development team!

Stay tuned for more information about this exciting opportunity for Corellian Run Radio!

Upcoming SWTOR Expansion 3.0 Info….?

Today I tweeted, “What should I write about on #prettylittlesith today?” A quick response came from @ColeBennett, who suggested, “why @SWTOR is so slow to release news about an expansion that is coming in 3 months or so. Kind of frustrating as a player..” I decided this would be a good topic.

I really have no idea why they haven’t released news about the new expansion yet. They’ve given us the twenty-second teaser of what looks like Revan (spoiler alert?), but that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure what they’re waiting for, especially if they have been working on its content for a while, and since deadlines have been getting pushed back this year.

Maybe they want to announce everything at once and they’re not sure if certain aspects that they want to include will be ready by the time the expansion comes out. I certainly would be more disappointed by a broken promise than lack of information. For example, if they promised a redesign of Ranked PvP, but then couldn’t have it ready by the time of the expansion.

Perhaps they are still evaluating everything to see if the developers can finish and not disappoint. I guess they could tell us something about the new expansion, but that goes back to my previous theory, that they want to announce everything at the same time.

Personally, I’m not stressed at all about it. Maybe I’m just a really patient and undemanding person. We were told two expansions this year, so I simply expect another expansion by the end of the year. I’m not itching for new information, and don’t really care. When I get it, I’ll get it, and I’ll probably be excited about it when it happens. If you expect nothing and get something, you will be much happier than to expect the world, and be disappointed when you don’t get it.

Additionally, I’m still really satisfied with the game. I haven’t cleared all of the NiM operations with my guild, and that is something that I do in the game. I haven’t gotten top-tier PvP gear yet, so that is something I will still happily work on. I haven’t maxed out my gunship in GSF. I’m really excited to be conquering planets (which is a new thing in the game), and having a purpose to doing older content. I haven’t even decorated my damn stronghold yet! There are lots of things for me to do in-game, and I’m still having fun with it.

FAQ for Community Cantina Prospects

Las Vegas

Earlier this year SWTOR.com 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.

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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

 

How Voice Comms Can Enhance Your Guild Experience

I read something the other day about how no one knows who you are in large guilds, that it’s not a welcoming environment or a place where you can develop and nurture friendships in game. My experience so far in Despair has not been this way.

A little story of when I first joined (pre-blogging!):  We were running some kind of group content, most likely a 16-man operation, with everyone in Mumble. My guild leader Filmadeus or some other officer decided to play a game and made everyone in the group introduce themselves to me, and I had to guess, by the short bio they provided and the sound of their voice, what their profession was. I will never forget this, because I had mistaken a helicopter pilot for a “banker,” which I think at the time was absolutely hilarious to them. The guild quickly embraced me, and not even a month after joining I met one of my new guildies at the Seattle Community Cantina.

I’ve been in the guild now for more than a year, and I’ve written quite a few pieces on what it is like being in the guild, including: My Guild As A Communist Society and How I Joined Despair. However, I would also like to say how important voice communications are. I believe this is how we are successful, for a couple reasons, including efficiency and effectiveness in group content, getting to know each other, and building comradery. (I would also check out: How To Find a Guild: It’s Like Dating).

Obviously, not everyone likes to be in voice communications, but if you are doing group content with the guild, we will always request that you connect to Mumble. Members don’t always have to speak, but it is necessary if you are going to be in an operations group, to at least be able to listen to the ops lead. I can live without hearing my guildies while we do a flashpoint, but most likely we are already chatting with each other in Mumble. Voice communications simply make gameplay more enjoyable; you don’t notice that you’ve had to run Hammer Station twice in a row when someone is cracking jokes in your ears. Additionally, it is so helpful to be speaking rather than typing to someone in the middle of a warzone or arena. No one has time to type out a sentence while they’re getting attacked.

Also, if you can hear someone talk, it’s easier to get to know them, know what they like to do in-game, and more easily be able to form groups for things. Thus, it’s easier to gather and motivate everyone to work towards a common planetary conquest objective. Personally, I keep the Mumble overlay on my game so I can memorize a voice and personality with a name I can see visually.

There are few exceptions to people that I’m extremely familiar with that don’t speak in Mumble (hello Zissou and Jurckad), but otherwise, if you aren’t in the channel, it’s really difficult to get to know who you are. This is fine, but I wouldn’t complain about your guildies not knowing who you are if you never familiarize yourself with the majority using Mumble. No one has complained about this as far as I know, but we have had a huge influx of new members since the advent of planetary conquests.

I highly recommend for guilds to use voice communications. Even if you are not actively running an operation, warzone, flashpoint, etc., it helps so much to get to know your guildies and to plan, strategize, and talk about things in and outside the game. I think you will find that the guild is strengthened, people are less flaky, and you will enjoy playing with your guildies more.

Playing The Sims 4: First Impressions

TS4_selfsimcomputer

The first gaming computer I ever had was built specifically for The Sims 3. This was back in 2008, and I was so excited to try out the game on my new computer! (I have replaced EVERYTHING in my gaming rig since then). Unfortunately, I did not actually enjoy The Sims 3 as much as The Sims 2. I did not like the open world and preferred loading into different lots, and I also thought it was very messy and not as mod-friendly as The Sims 2.

TS4_selfsimmourn

My self-Sim mourning her husband’s death.

One really, really horrible thing that happened: I didn’t realize that my print-screen button was not capturing screenshots until it was too late. The keybind for taking pictures in The Sims games is “C” which I completely forgot. I missed a lot of pictures where my self-Sim and her husband are younger, caring for the babies, and basically situations that I can’t reproduce once they are dead and the game is saved. Next post I do will have better pictures, but I’m a bit sad that I made this mistake.

TS4_bengrimreaper

The older son watching the Grim Reaper take his dad away!

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Time vs. Money: Why It’s OK Giving BioWare Money

Dromund Kaas decorating

With all the craziness going on for SWTOR’s release of Game Update 2.9: Galactic Strongholds, one particular topic struck me. Now there are furniture sets on the Cartel Market that you can buy for your stronghold. While the Cartel Market has been out for a long time, this definitely reminds me of The Sims Store, in which you can also use your real life money to buy hairstyles, outfits, and furniture for your sims. I admit, I have definitely bought a few things in both the Cartel Market and The Sims Store, and I don’t regret it.

As much as I play the game, I don’t feel like I have enough time or energy to spend trying to earn credits. I like to do operations, pay a bunch of credits for Nightmare repair bills, and maybe once in a while queue for flashpoints, GSF, or PvP. If I could’ve paid maybe $5.00 or $10.00 for the Xoxaan Armor Set instead of spending the majority of my credits (which I have yet to recoup after a few months), I probably would’ve. I don’t care that I’m spending real money. I could spend $10.00 on nachos I won’t finish at the bar, blow a fast $5.00 on an iced hazelnut latte or I could buy something I like in a game that takes more of my time.

Time is money, and I would honestly rather pay for something I like than spend time grinding in-game credits doing something I don’t like (dailies, crafting, what else do people do for credits?!). I certainly enjoy looking at this particular armor set on my character for hours and hours, and this is happiness that lasts much longer than poking around nachos or sipping a sweet latte, which is why I consider it to be worth the money.

Why do people complain about micro-transactions? Is it the philosophy that purchasable digital content should’ve been originally included in the game anyway? Perhaps. However, If purchasing digital content helps just a little bit to increase Bioware’s funds and allows them to hire more staff to improve the game (Bioware: please work on PvP because subscribers pay for Ranked), then why not? I like free things too, but Bioware is a business, and if they could charge for something that people will purchase, it would be foolish to not (especially since they are not requiring you to purchase the game.)

I do see the argument that no amount of income will fix all the issues in the game. Just like in government and taxes: it does no good to increase/decrease taxes if the money is not properly allocated or if it is spent unwisely.

I am not one to spend a huge amount of money on the Cartel Market. I buy the packs occasionally when we get our subscriber bonus every month. I purchased the rose-colored speeder when the Cartel Market was first released. I also bought some character slots on sale for when I finally have toons of every advanced class. I do not spend hundreds of dollars. I am not against spending a few dollars here and there if I want something (furniture/armor set), because this is digital content that I’m going to enjoy for a much longer amount of time than a silly piece of costume jewelry or coffee. I am a strong believer in getting value in what you spend your money on, and cost per use. “Wearing” an armor set in-game for an endless amount of gaming hours, and liking how my character looks, has a higher value to it than a bracelet I may wear in real life maybe a few times a month.