Sep 6, 2010

Posted by in Featured, News | 25 Comments

PAX: Blaine Christine and Daniel Erickson Audio Q&A

Well, day 1 of PAX 2010 has come to an end! But we don’t want to let it go out too quietly… so we’re pleased to present our Audio Q&A with Blaine Christine and Daniel Erickson! Blaine and Daniel were nice enough to take some time out of what can only be described as total mayhem at the LucasArts booth and try to answer some questions for the Ask A Jedi readers, and fans of TOR everywhere.

The audio editing may be a little rough in places, but I think it’s fairly clear and listenable. It is in 2 parts due to YouTube’s 15 minute time limit. You can also find a text transcription below!

This is but a mere appetizer for tomorrow, where we’ll be treated to a special presentation by BioWare and LucasArts that promises to reveal some all-new information about Star Wars: The Old Republic!


Ask A Jedi: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what you do on the project?

Blaine Christine: Sure, I’m a Senior Producer at BioWare based out of Austin, and my primary duty is Live Producer, which basically means I am helping to make sure the game is ready for launch. So I’m in charge of testing efforts, basically anything customer-facing goes through me.

AAJ: First few questions are about Advanced Classes… They’re being billed as “classes”. Is there any more you can say that would give us perspective on the depth of that system? Is it basically a “spec?”

BC: Yeah, I would say it’s a little bit more than that. The reason for that is that as you choose these advanced classes, it literally does change the base abilities of your class. You may start out as a Jedi Knight and it feels like a melee tank, but then once you choose separate paths, say the Guardian, you’re more like Obi-Wan from the Clone Wars so you’re wearing heavier armor and are at the front of the battle so you actually become the true melee tank. Whereas if you take the other specialization which is the Sentinel, you can dual-wield light sabers, specialize in light saber combat, lighter armor, so you’re really more melee DPS. So it just sort of changes your overall ability set.. armor set… what kind of weapons you can wield, etc.

AAJ: So as a followup, does that Advanced Class choice dictate what role you will play? For example, if you choose Guardian, is the tanking role basically what you’re going to do? Could you fill another role in a group?

BC: That’s a great question… I think primarily the Advanced Classes are what we’re saying allow you to sort of mix and match. We haven’t gotten any details on how re-specs will work, but obviously you could potentially re-spec to get a different Advanced Class. But yeah, your Advanced Classes are the things that allow you to, for instance, as a Smuggler go into underworld healing and then become sort of a healer class.

AAJ: So just for clarification, will you be able to re-spec your Advanced Class, or re-spec within that Advanced Class?

BC: We haven’t revealed any more details on that… honestly it’s still in development. Any details I gave you would probably change between now and launch. The goal is we want people to find the people they want to make a group quickly and easily.

AAJ: The Advanced Class has been talked about being chosen at level 10. What was behind the decision to make this an in-game choice rather than something at character creation?

BC: So I think there are two answers there. One is a design answer. In terms of players experiencing the game, we want them to get into the game and have some time with the character before they really decide. They need to be able to see how the game plays before they make that kind of decision. And then I think from a story perspective, we begin as a padawan, and you’re training. You are a Jedi from the beginning, but you’re learning your powers, learning about your abilities from a story perspective.

AAJ: Speaking of the Jedi, what is behind the Jedi Wizard choice for one of the advanced classes?

BC: I don’t know the real answer as to where it came from. What I can say is that we’ve noticed the commotion and there may be announcements in the future regarding the Wizard. Which part of it is obviously, we’re creating our own universe, and we want to be original, and not feel necessarily tied to things that have come before. But it was interesting to watch the community’s reaction to that particular name.

AAJ: Jedi Knight has always been a rank, but in TOR it’s a role-based class, not a rank. Can you expand on that thinking?

BC: I think we did kind of reverse that, in that we are looking at it as a role like the Consular; it’s not a rank in our game. We haven’t announced anything about ranks in our game, I’m not even sure off-hand where the design team is headed with that. But yea, for us it is a role, not a rank.

AAJ: Ok, on to companions!  As we learn more about companion’s, it seems they might be more critical to your character’s combat output than initially thought… is that fair to say?

BC: It’s a fine balance. Our goal is always to make it so that people don’t feel like they have to have a companion out. That said, there are 2 big factors which you hit on. One, they definitely add to your story… they have their own quests you can go on, and discover more just like every other BioWare game. In terms of combat, they can augment your combat ability. It’s not a necessity but it’s another great way to help out with that grouping paradigm. If you need a healer, maybe several healing companions can be enough to get you through whatever you’re trying to do. So it’s an augmentation, not necessarily a necessity.

AAJ: So is there a way to specialize your character to make up for not playing with a companion?

BC: No, I think it comes down to a choice. You’re not going to be gimped if you play without the companion. Our hope is that we want them to be compelling enough that you enjoy having them out. They don’t get in the way, they do help out, they do provide comic relief, but also help out in combat.

AAJ: Along those same lines, at GamesCom it was mentioned that companions have “kits”. Can you equip any kind of kit on any companion?

BC: Honestly I probably better stay away from that, I don’t know the full details. It’s a better question for Daniel perhaps, who is here.  But yeah, as far as the kits, the idea there is if  you like a particular companion, we want to make sure you can tweak him a little bit. But because it’s still in development I don’t know if you can say “healer” vs “tank” and have changes that drastic. But it might be more like “I want him to deal more damage.”

AAJ: James Ohlen mentioned something about Flashpoints at GamesCom that your “last” decision counts. So it seems like you could repeat a Flashpoint and change your decision, that were supposed to really matter. Can you provide any clarification?

BC: The reason I’m smiling here is because I think we’ve given distinctly different answers on that question! It’s just another sign that it’s still in development. He had said the “last” choice, and before we had said the “first” choice… but the bottom line is we don’t know yet.

AAJ:  So, say you’re towards the end game… will there be a need and reason to go back to other planets you may have already been to? Will they still be relevant?

BC: Yes. The answer is yes. You can return to planets you’ve already been to, and there are reasons to do so.

AAJ: The Ord Mantell map looks large for a starter zone, but seemed small for a planet. Is there more to it?

BC: Yes and no. What I will say is that all we’ve shown so far are the origin worlds which are by far the smallest areas in our game.

AAJ: I guess everyone wants to feel like a planet is a real planet… that there’s be reason to go back.

BC: I think players will be pleased when they dig deeper into the game, and see the size and scope is definitely appropriate.

AAJ: So we noticed that there are only 6 ships on the Holonet but there are 8 classes! What’s the reason for that?

BC: I can’t reveal that since we haven’t revealed on the web site yet! Keen observation!

AAJ: At GamesCom, Sean Dahlberg mentioned something about faction cooperation, thug it wasn’t clear if it was through PvE or player-to-player. Anything more you can clarify with that?

BC: As with any BioWare game, there are difficult choices you have to make when you go on your story quests… for instance if you’re playing a Jedi and choose to play more dark side, in that sense you are cooperating to a certain extent in certain instances with Imperials. Beyond that I think there are probably some areas of certain planets where you’ll find that both sides are going after similar objectives?

AAJ: Is there anything you can say about UI customization or access to a game API?

BC: Nothing announced so far!

AAJ: There are a lot of Mac fans out there, but nothing has been announced for the Mac yet. Is there anything you can say about support for the Mac?

BC: At this point, we are a PC only game!

AAJ: I have a couple questions on the lore from Professor Walsh.

BC: Daniel! (summons Daniel Erickson!)

AAJ: At GamesCom, we got to see a Bounty Hunter purchasing his skills. Are there other methods for learning skills for other classes? It doesn’t make sense that, for example, Yoda would charge Luke for his knowledge.

Daniel Erickson: No, we’re using the standard training thing. There are many many places where you don’t want to over-think the story side compared to the gameplay. Story is hugely important, until it makes gameplay or economy worse. And then, gameplay and economy win. And we did play with a lot of different ideas for it. But we need to drain the economy… we need to have a system that everybody understands and is easy. So it’s a game mechanic.

AAJ: Another one from the Professor… In the lore, Jedi generally craft their saber when they become a Padawan. In TOR it is believed that we will not start with a light saber. So, two part question – will the Jedi Knight start with a light saber? If not, how is it being reconciled within the lore?

DE: The Jedi change a lot through the years. They are a martial order. Traditions change a huge amount. We don’t have braids that you cut off. You’re not allowed to get married or have kids in our time period. It’s loosening up a little bit. In the time period we’re in, the making of your light saber is not your entry into being a Padawan, it is your entry into being a Jedi after being a Padawan. As far as what form that will take, try to come to the show tomorrow!

AAJ: So as a followup, a Jedi generally makes one light saber in their lifetime, and looting them is not very Jedi-like. How are light saber “drops” reconciled in the lore?

DE: We haven’t talked about the advancement for them at all, but nobody so far has ever played the game and gotten a light saber drop

AAJ: Well there was that one Sith Flashpoint…

DE: That’s true! (Daniel has to run off at this point to another interview.)

AAJ: Is there anything at all you can tell us about crafting?

BC: What I can say is that we’re doing something different, and people are going to be very excited about it. I think people will be pleasantly surprised when we reveal details. It’s innovative and people are going to like it!

AAJ: There are a lot of things about the game that seem very single-player focused, such as solo space combat, or the use of companions. Can you extend a branch to MMO fans who are concerned there is too much focus on single-player elements?

BC: So that’s an interesting question, and one we’re keenly aware of. We game out of the gate last year about story, and I think everyone got that message loud and clear. This year, our mission has been to show people more of the MMO.  In the demo, you’re seeing people running around with other people like in any other MMO. And then the multiplayer combat demo. When you get down to it, its difficult to demo an MMO. If I’m given 10 minutes, it’s hard to show you how we have this massive list of things that make it an MMO. So as we do these shows, we hope people start to stitch all of that together into a bigger picture, and say oh yeah, I don’t need to be worried, they actually are making an MMO. So I totally get the concerns, but nobody needs to be worried!

AAJ: That’s about all we have Blaine. I appreciate the time today!

BC: Absolutely… happy to have you here, thank you!

  1. Excellent! Great coverage guys, and thanks for the transcript as well!

  2. I just noticed something and I think Walsh would understand this logic in terms of his own question. Sith have, even in the movies, taken the lightsabers of their enemies and fallen allies [murdered allies, same thing]. So maybe the way the Jedi work is that you have one and you can customize it through-out the game. While the Sith can obtain it from enemies, but have certain minor customizations to their own blade.

    Then again they could both be the same. Lightsabers aren’t all equally powerful in this game.

  3. By far the best Q&A I’ve seen online from pax, even better than Darth Hater! and definitely by far and away outclasses the panel q&a.

    Very well thought out questions in regards to detail and representation of the community, lots of variation and a clear direction. Doing that alone I think you guys got the best answers…and I’ve only listened to the first half of the interview so far:P but the quality stands out that much!

    Thank you guys:D

  4. Thanks for the great work here.

  5. cdstephens says:

    Summons Daniel Erickson: 2 mana.

  6. Just let it go about the Mac version… Asking that question every interview is a waste of time.

    • There are a large number of Mac users interested in this game, not just me… I’m going to continue to press the issue, because it’s not an “if”. It’s a “when”.

      Thanks for following the site.

      • Yeah, you’ll get it after release. It comes off as pure desperation each time you plead with them about it.

        • No more desperate than wanting to know about guilds or crafting or whatever. We ask those things all of the time, this is merely just another “feature” of interest to a segment of the community.

          I’m not a gambling man, and I have no inside info obviously… but I bet there is a non-bootcamp TOR client for the Mac on day 1.

          • I’ll take that bet. The loser has to post an in-game screenshot saying the winner was right.

          • Sounds good to me :)

          • cdstephens says:

            I’ll also take that bet. Winner gets to add a comment to the other person’s signature on the forums (can’t violate the terms of use of course).

          • I’ll take the bet as well. I bet there isn’t going to be a Linux port or even a work-around for it to work.

            See what I did there? Because if I loose there will be one and I won’t have to play on scrubby Macs or Windows. How bout that XD!

          • I can’t wait to post the screenshot gallery of all you guys looking silly ;)

          • cdstephens says:

            By silly you mean awesome.

          • Hopefully there’s a forum where intelligent and heated debate can take place before the game goes to launch. I’m so tired of dealing with the “hybrid retards” and the anti-trinity morons.

          • I say you create it Perkunas…. Or we can create it. we can call it Phirkunastephensality. Or Pherkitystephens. Or CDLethalPhireKunas. Or LethalDPhirkunastephens.

  7. Excellent questions and a lot of information! Good job.

  8. Well, damned, you didn’t ask about the appearance tab, like I wanted you to. :p

  9. Nice interview!

    AC respec? Hmm. Interesting.

  10. Not sure why he was unwilling to talk about why there is 6 ships on the Holonet, rather than 8, since it’s already been explained that the 2 Sith classes would share a ship, and the 2 Jedi Classes share a ship.

  11. Is it me, or does Daniel Erickson sound like Agent 24 from Venture Brothers.



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