Crew Skills Q&A With Damion Schubert
Crew Skills are BioWare’s implementation for harvesting and crafting in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, but they’re really much more than that. From off-line crafting to diplomacy missions – not to mention companions who can do most of the work for you – this system is unlike any that you’ve seen in other MMORPGs.
Recently, Damion Schubert, Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ was nice enough to take some time for a little Crew Skills Q&A with Ask A Jedi to help expand our understanding of the system!
Ask A Jedi: How and when is the player first introduced to Crew Skills? Is it via narrative, or visiting a trainer at a certain level?
Damion Schubert: The Crew Skills trainers all like to hang out on the capital worlds, where the player can encounter them. Each trainer will give the player a description of the Crew Skill they teach, along with the benefits they provide, so the player knows which Crew Skills may be most beneficial to their play style.
Ask A Jedi: How are the various Crew Skills Missions obtained? For example, are they auto-populated? Found in the wild? NPC Trainer? All of the above?
Damion Schubert: Most Crew Skills missions are drawn from a random pool for the player to choose from, and that pool refreshes from time to time. However, some missions are unlocked by rare objects you might find in the world. These missions are one-off, but tend to offer more substantial rewards.
Ask A Jedi: Artifice is one of the revealed Crafting skills, and is mentioned as the production of Jedi and Sith artifacts. Is this Crafting skill available only to Force users? Are any other Crew Skills limited to certain classes?
Damion Schubert: Nope! There are no limits in that regard. It is the player’s call as to whether they want to choose a skill that might not be directly beneficial to their character.
Ask A Jedi: Will companion Crew Skill bonuses be unique per companion?
Damion Schubert: Each Companion has Crew Skills that are unique to that companion, designed to help create a little flavor for what that companion is all about. However, these benefits are fairly minor – we don’t want you to leave a companion on the ship that you’d really like to take out, just because they have a crafting bonus.
Ask A Jedi: Is there a risk to your companions while on Missions? Can they die? In other words, what are the downsides of sending a companion on a mission?
Damion Schubert: They don’t die but they can fail, which means that the player will lose his initial capital investment (i.e. his credits and time spent). It is up to the player to decide if he wants to play it safe with his companion missions, or go for higher risk, higher reward missions. We have some ideas on how to expand this in the future.
Ask A Jedi: Are there mechanics in place that allow for crafting an item of better “quality” from the same recipe? For example, with additional or more rare materials?
Damion Schubert: Yes and at the same time, no – but we’re not ready to spill the beans yet on what that means, sorry! Trust me when I say we still have a few surprises to spring on the crafting community, once we prove the features are fun in the Game Testing Program.
Editor’s Note: We would like to help you prove those things in the Game Testing Program :)
Ask A Jedi: When gathering with your player character or with your active companion, do you physically need to take the resources back to your ship in order to use them in crafting? Does the ship have a “stock room” to hold these items for crafting?
Damion Schubert: Currently, items craft from and drop to your inventory. This may change based on feedback from Game Testing and as we iterate on the system, though.
Ask A Jedi: Another concern regarding missions that might award dark or light side points is that it trivializes the morality system, essentially allowing you to “grind morality.” How is this system intended to work?
Damion Schubert: The system is less designed to allow you to ‘grind’ morality than it is to allow you to correct some bad decisions – which is fairly vital in an MMORPG, where you have no reload button. It would take a pretty hefty time and cash investment to use this system to ‘grind’ morality.
Ask A Jedi: When sending companions out on missions, can you send them to locations you havenʼt been yet? Or bring back materials youʼve never found yourself before?
Damion Schubert: Yes and yes. In fact, one of the key benefits of the missions system is to find rare crafting materials that aren’t ‘drops’ elsewhere in the world, usually used for making very high quality items.
Ask A Jedi: In the context of master crafters, “dedication” is cited as the avenue to achieve this status. Is it “time” that will allow you to become this elite crafter, or will there be rare resources, quests, raids (pve or pvp) or other activities that you need to do in order to achieve this status?
Damion Schubert: We want our top crafters to progress and get to be the best in their field by doing things that crafters like to do: research, gather very rare materials, and interact with other players as customers or resource suppliers. We’re not a big fan of ‘you can be the best there is by staring at progress bars’, if for no other reason than then there is no way for great craftsmen to differentiate themselves from a casual craftsman with a lot of free time.
As for the other activities, we have some things we’ll be talking about eventually, but the general gist is that we want there to be a symbiotic relationship. We want top-end raiders and PvPers to need crafters, but we want the crafters to need them in return. And we’re trying to keep away from making anyone play a game they don’t want to play. We want crafters to be primarily playing a social game, not spending hours doing stuff they don’t want to do.
Ask A Jedi: Itʼs been stated (by you in fact, on the forums,) that Crew Skills will not be the method players use for creating light sabers. Will there be an equivalent non-crafting “weapon” system for non-Force users?
Damion Schubert: Guns and vibroblades are made via a Crew Skill. However, they are also ripe for… well, let’s just call it tinkering for now, and promise to tell you more at some point.
Ask A Jedi: With so much of this activity centralized on your ship, what is being done to assure that player hubs/cities are still filled with players, making them feel vibrant and alive?
Damion Schubert: Just because the activity is happening on your ship doesn’t mean that the player has to be there – he can direct his companion characters on his ship to craft while he is out adventuring, exploring, or socializing in the cities. We anticipate most of our hardcore crafters will actually spend most of their time in the cities, where they can reach their customer base, engage in person to person transactions, or put their items up for sale – but then that’s another feature discussion for another day.
We just wanted to say thanks again to Damion for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers, and we cannot wait to hear more about the Crew Skills system in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.