This is the full transcript for the PAXEast 2012 Q & A panel at 3 pm. The original audio and highlights can be seen on Darthhater here.
Present: Stephen Reid, Cory Buttler, James Ohlen, Cameron Winston
Q: Why are the smuggler missions not very smugglerly? I don’t get to transport stolen goods from one end of the galaxy to another. You don’t get to do anything that actually counts as a smuggler. All the quests are basically what can I do for you? What can I do for you? etc.. In other words: smugglers right now don’t get to smuggle in SWTOR. Is there a smuggling mini-gaming coming up?
A: That is something we have being discussing, I can’t give you a timeline. We have a design for it but it is definitely not coming out in the next couple updates. It is something that is a big part of that class and you can expect something in the future.
Q: I was a SWG fan, part of that game I enjoyed the most was Space Combat. Right now SWTOR space combat is on a track, which is interesting but I was wondering if you have got any plans to expand on that to make it more dynamic, more controllable gameplay. TLDR: Are you going to expand the space game
A: We actually have a secret project in the works right now involving expanding space game that I actually got to try out a week ago but I can’t say anything right now.
Q: Which planet in SWTOR you guys most enjoyed designing and why?
A: If you talk to the writers and world designers it would be Voss because Voss it’s the only world that is brand new in SWTOR and has not appeared in any other Star Wars series before. The designers got a lot of creative freedom with it and that is why they like it.
Q: The way the game is designed right now, if you were to take a character from level 1 to level 50, all the gear you get from questing is sufficient for progression all the way to the end. However, there is still all the green, blue, purple gear that still drops and there is really no point in grinding them. I was wondering if you were planning to re-purposing them cuz right now they are either vendored or thrown on the GTN.
A: You are talking about the green, blue, purple gear in the leveling game? You don’t use them as you level up? (I do but most of time I just throw them out). Ok well right now with the current system you just throw stuff you can’t use to the GTN but once our legacy system comes out (1.2), you will hopefully have a bunch of legacy chars you can share equipment with. We also have legacy equipment that is bind to legacy that is going to be really cool and make things interesting.
Q: I know you guys are coming out with legacy abilities but I play a dark side sentinel and my Force Stasis isn’t very dark sidey. Are we going to be able to skin Force Stasis to Force Choke or skin your Telekinetic Throw to Force Lightning for a dark side Republic character? TLDR: I want my consular to goto the dark side and be able to use dark side powers.
A: That is a really cool idea, I will take that idea back to the team.
Q: Are you going to put in any player bounties?
A: Right now we have some ideas about player bounties, when we are going to introduce them is still up in the air. There is a lot of complexity with player bounties because once you start to encourage PvP/PKing in the open world it can get out of control. We don’t want anymore PvP explosions in our game at this point.
Q: My favourite element of the game is the single player campaign/story – that is the original KNOTOR. Is there any plans in the future to expand the story? TL:DR are you going to expand on the class stories from 1-50
A: Yes, we have a whole bunch of people working on that, I can’t talk about when you are going to be seeing that but maybe soon (some stuff this year, a lot more next year).
Q: Without server transfers right now, my server is very low pop and in it very hard for my guild, which is a hardcore raiding guild, to replace people when they quit because the pool is very limited. Is transfer coming SOON?
A: That is one of our #1 priorities right now. I walk into our programmer’s office and ask them everyday if we can get that feature out faster. So yes, it is coming soon. We need to make sure when you xfer over that it comes with everything like legacy, guild and all that stuff. It is not as easy as it might seem.
Q: Can you explain the Ancient Pylons fight in Eternity Vault, what is working as intended? We only beat it with randomly smashing the console.
A: Well that was the plan – it is completely random (joking). We know it is not very popular – we did some testing and that was the least popular element of every operation/flashpoint. We actually have some adjustments to it in update 1.2
Q: What is with the Republic side armor? It doesn’t really feel Jedi like, the new Sentinel PvP set looks weird. I see a level 10 char with better looking gear than me (level 50). Any plans to change your art direction for Republic? You must realize that the Republic armor looks like *^%$%.
A: Well I play on the Empire side, I pretty much put all the concept guys on the Empire side (just kidding!). Everyone has different opinions on looks. We are trying to experiment, we took all the feedback we received on the PTS very seriously and our concept guys its working on some great stuff for the next tier of gear for future updates.
Q: At release, Ilum was an important part of PvP – now it seems like you have given up on it. Is that the plan? what happened really?
A: The plan is to not phase out open world PvP, it is just that we want phase out Ilum until we have a new version that is much better. The current Ilum has a lot of problems like faction balance. Fixing requires technology that we currently do not have.
Q: Color crystal for bounty hunter doesn’t seem to be as prominent as lightsaber. Any plans to make it more prominent for non lightsaber using class?
A: Currently we have no plans for that.
Q: Is cross faction transfer ever going to be available?
A: That was part of our original design back in 07 but it turned out to be too expensive and crazy. Currently not this year.
Q: What is the word on the gay/lesbian companion romance thingie?
A: We do have plans for that but we are not talking about it until we are finished with it. Although it is a very hot topic in the news that is for sure.
Q: I am a 400 cybertech and I make a lot of money from crit Columi ear pieces. I was trying to figure out what I am going to make money on in 1.2 and if I have to grind dailies to get enough credits to rip out the mods to RE them or can I RE them without pulling them out.
A: I can’t give you specific answer to that. We have done a lot of rebalancing to crew skills in 1.2 so I think as a crafter you will be very happy to what we have done in 1.2 to make all the crafting skills equal.
Q: I am Biochem, you guys said reuseable are going to be phase away. We can keep the reuseables now but the future tiers are not going to be reuseable? If biochem doesn’t have re-useable anymore, it kinda loses its luster as a crew skill? The one you can buy is only a 10 point difference to the one that is exclusive to biochem. Right now medpack is only one use per fight in 1.2, can you make biochem have it 2 use per fight or something?
A: No plans atm, we think Biochem will still be viable in 1.2. I don’t think we are nerfing it really.
Q: But I do! I am not a min-maxer but the draw of the biochem is reuseable –if the reuseable stuff is 10 point less than what you can buy, I will take that 10 point less if I can just reuse it.
A: What each player get from each crew skill is really subjective. You may think that without reuseable stim pack, there is no reason to be biochem or if I don’t know how to craft my own implants, I don’t know how to play this game etc. There is a lot of components in this and we always try to balance crew skill so that each crew skill bring something to your unique playstyle. The goal is to give each crew skill something unique and fun about it.
Q: I see that there are GTNs UI changes but I noticed that you still don’ have a feature where you can throw say like 99 stacks of something onto the GTN and split into stacks of 10 to sell. I am wondering if that feature is going to come soon?
A: We are going to continue to improve the SWTOR auction house (lol he said Auction house) as we go on. It is a known issue, a quality of life feature, it is on our backlog. Maybe this year, no promises.
Q: Are you fixing to fix /who to show guild or make it a bit more detailed? Cuz right now it is a bit random. What is your intent for social points? Cuz right now it is an endless grind to get some social gear.
A: Social points wasn’t as balanced as we want to be. Players didn’t have quite the social levels that we thought you would have when you got to the endgame. So we are looking that – we are looking at ways to make social points more relevant for level 50s and make it less of a grind. The point of social point is for cool uniforms/armors (i.e. sand people armor or slave girl outfit). No plans on /who.
Q: Crafting gear – able to crit and put augments on them but the new raiding gear won’t have that. As min-maxer am I required to pull out my mods from my raid gear to put in crit crafted gear or is there a way to keep my raid gear (and keep the looks) and get augment slots somehow. TLDR: Can I keep my cool looks and still be badass
A: Our item guy who is here tomorrow will give you more details.
Q: Can you ride animals? Tauntauns? Nexu?
A: That was our original plan but we ended up going with vehicle mounts. However now we are looking into adding more animal mounts into the game. You will see it eventually.
Q: What about flying mounts?
A: Free-form flying? That is the dream but you won’t be seeing it this year!
Q: I noticed in the Codex where there are several discrepancies in the titles, unattainable codex entries etc which is annoying for a completionist like myself who wants to do every single quest. Is that going to be fixed? (i..e Lore, stuf etc taken out of the game from Beta)
A: It is a known issue and we have a lot of fixes coming up but I am not able to say if it is going to be 1.2 as it is a small issue. There are going some codex fixes in 1.2
Q: Any plans to add in actual new races like Wookie bounty hunter or Jawa Yoda
A: Yes, we may have some new ones as soon as this year, definitely next year. Except for the Gungans. (Cheer from the audience)
Q: Can we expect char transfer? Not part of 1.2?
A: No but very soon after. We are going to be doing char transfers for Asian/Pacific players right after 1.2 – that is the first stage to get to a to a larger scale character transfer.
Q: I can’t get transferred to the PTS, I have to level up to test any stuff on the PTS . Are we able to transfer without asking to the PTS in the future?
A: Yes, you will be able to transfer to the PTS before you will get the full char transfer to other servers.
Q: Cybertech/Biochem reuseable – are the reuseable that exist right now still going to exist?
A: Yes, but they will become phase out soon (i.e. not as useful as the non reuseables).
Q: Can we get comma on the GTN so when we break 1000 credits, having a comma would make it easy. Its hard to see a million credits due to all the 0s.
A: There was a localization reason why we can’t have the commas – you can blame the French.
Q: Any additional classes in the future?
A: We discussed adding new classes in the game – we have a bunch of ideas in the far far future, like the ability to play as a droid class – oh ya there is the ship droid April fools prank.
Q: I know in MMOs class balance is always an ongoing thing, it is never perfected. Most of the changes in 1.2 I agree with but shadow/assassin tank hybrids – 400k damage and lots of protection. TLDR: there is a shadow/assassin tank hybrid spec I feel is overpowered- are the devs ok with this?
A: If there are hybrid specs that are outperforming the metrics we have set for them, we are certainly going to take a look at that. As of right now, we have not found hyrbid specs we have not addressed yet. As of right now, we don’t see it right now. You may see a flash of brillance from a particular spec in one particular situation/warzone but overall we consider all the specs are performing in line with each other.
Q: I am a RPer, I have a big legacy and there is a restriction of only 1 legacy name per server. Can I have two legacies per server?
A: Not in game update 1.2 or 1.3.
Q: I love Huttball, it is the greatest thing ever. My fear is that in the later patches with new warzones, Huttball is going to be a lower % of the warzones I get. Can we get another Huttball or another Stadium or something? You can never get enough of it.
A: Once we get cross-server warzones, that is going to allow us to do things such as choose what warzones you like to play.
Q: When will we expect to see Dual spec?
A: You can expect to see it this year, pretty soon actually.
Q: Plans to add certain animation styles to difference combat stances? A way to differentiate specs.
A: That was something we were experimenting but it became way too complicated. It could be something in the future.
Q: Top 3 things you couldn’t get in patch 1.2 but you want to get in patch 1.3.
A: Character transfer, group finder, those are our top 2 huge priorities atm.
Q: Ability to change your advanced class?
A: Not in 1.2 or 1.3 or anytime soon. We have some plans about that though.
I think this is where paraphrasing doesn’t help. James wasn’t suggesting that this was a feature in development.
AC changing has been debated back and forth within the studio. It’s been debated enough that if it was ever implemented, I think the team has a good idea how they want to do it. Right now it’s not being worked on in any active capacity that I’m aware of (Source: Reddit)
Q: Live events team?
A: Organic events, we are not going to announce them before hand, they are just going to happen. We want to make it a surprise.
Q: I play WoW right now cuz my friends are playing WoW. MMOs are fun when you can play with your friends. Any plans for stuff like scroll of resurrection or recruit a friend?
A: We do have the recruit-a friend feature right now and we have plans to make it in the better in the future. It is one of the bigger priorities for the marketing team.
Q: I know this is coming in 1.2-1.3 but I run a huge guild with 1000 members, when can we look forward to guild capital ships?
A: It is definitely coming soon, we want to do it right and it is linked to another game system that I can’t talk about right now.
Q: Any plan for operation level grouping for warzones? (i.e. more than 4 people)
A: That should be in 1.2
Q: I know in 1.2 the endgame mats (i.e. alien data cubes, rakata energy nodes) are going to change to BoE from BoP, will things that we already have that are bound to us – will they change to BoE? (i.e. alien data cube will still be bound to us or will they change to BoE)
A: They will still be bound to you.
Q: Any plans to do in-game character appearance changes? (i.e. barbershop)
A: That is another one of the features we want in the game but I can’t promise when that is coming.
Q: PvP exploits/cheating. Are you guys doing anything to curb it?
A: Exploits is our #1 priority right now – the only reason why you don’t see them all fixed its cuz a lot of them are complicated. Exit surverys show that exploits is one of the reasons why people leave the game. One thing you don’t see in the patch notes for 1.2 is the full notes – we just collapse all the bug fixes into a couple sentences.