Jun 10, 2011

Posted by in Featured, News | 8 Comments

E3 2011 – Daniel Erickson Video Interview

During E3 this week, we had a chance to sit down (well, actually, we stood up) with Daniel Erickosn and talk about some of the new stuff that we were seeing at the show.

Specifically, we focused on Operations (raiding in The Old Republic) and player Vehicles. We think there are some gold nuggets of information here, but we’ll let you be the judge of that!

Here’s an overview, with the video below and a full transcript after the jump as well!

  • Operations overview
  • Operations narrative & story
  • Faction details for Operations
  • Party size & difficulty settings
  • Resistances & special mechanics
  • Progression tracking
  • When and how you obtain vehicles (including theft!)
  • Class-specific vehicles
  • Atmospheric vehicles (flying mounts)
  • Types of vehicles
  • Multi-player vehicles
  • Vehicle-based combat
  • Vehicle customization
  • … and more!

Ask A Jedi: What are you guys showing at E3 this year?

Daniel Erickson: Oh wow, a lot! We released the end of the trilogy for the Blur trailers, so very very cool. We had a nice big cinematic piece that went up on Friday I think that showed all the cool features of the game, and one of the things it did was teased out the Operations which are our take on raids. Behind closed doors we’ve been showing of the videos of those Operations themselves. We showed off personal Vehicles for the first time, our sort of take on mounts. We did a thing on Alderaan against King Ulgo which is the boss, you can see behind closed doors. Down here you can play origin worlds, or you can play Tattooine at level 26… get a speeder, get your companion characters. We’re showing off new companion characters. We’re just like you know, the last E3 – go big!


Ask A Jedi: One of the things you’re taking the wraps off of is raids, known in TOR as Operations. Can you tell us a bit more about SW:TOR’s Operations?

Daniel Erickson: Sure. One of the big things was trying to get the really big moments from the movies that you couldn’t do in smaller groups. So obviously we wanted to do the raid thing and the challenges. A lot of people love having to put that big group together and the challenge of how to coordinate a fight with all of these people.

At the same time, we want it to be contextual. We want people to do the raids to learn something that other people don’t know about the galaxy. About how it works. A little piece of history, whatever. So we try to bring out story in there as well. That doesn’t mean we’re going to have giant multi-player conversations, because that would be awful! But there is still a lot of cool story stuff in there.

Ask A Jedi: Where do they fit into the narrative, as for as story goes? Do they tie in with class stories, Flashpoints, etc?

Daniel Erickson: They very much fill questions you might have had. The first raid is the Eternity Vault and one of the things on Belsavis you go through this whole giant ancient prison and a lot of people never get the feel of like we know who made this place, but why? Why would they make an entire prison planet? What would you need to contain in there? And the Eternity Vault is the answer to that. Unfortunately the one vault than should ever have been opened is opened. The Republic needs to go down there to try to stop it, and the Empire says whoa, that’s a lot of power down there, we should go see if we can tap into that.

Ask A Jedi: So will it be the same raid for different factions?

Daniel Erickson: Yeah, originally we said maybe we should do different raids. And this is the place where the gameplay designers and the guys who know the raids, the hard-core raid guys, they always are gonna over-rule me on these things. They said if you do two different raids, no matter how you try to balance it somebody is always going to say “this one is easier” or “this one has better loot”. If they’re going to compete in the raid game, if we’re going to rank them, if you’re going to show who’s the better guilds, all that stuff, then they need to be doing the same pieces.

I said alright, but we need to change out the motivations on that stuff. So conversations, story pieces, all that – the wrapper changes but the core game and what you’re competing in stays the same.

Ask A Jedi: When you say multi-party, will there be “varying” sizes of Operations, or just one size?

Daniel Erickson: There are varying Operation sizes. There is definitely an 8-man, and there is definitely more than an 8-man. What it turns out to be at the end will be a combination of what the tech supports and what is fun. We have a lot of space we need for combat. Our blaster combat takes far more room, and if you notice, people fly through the air and get knocked back. We have to find something that works for ours.

It also brings us Operation groups, which are not just in Operations. So on Dromund Kaas in the latest build, I already formed an Operation group with 10 guys, went and found the world boss of the entire planet, who is 50 feet tall and can stomp you flat in a second… beat him and took a big picture with everyone in front of him. It’s a great fun moment of MMO stuff. Big groups are fun.

Ask A Jedi: Does that mean different size options for the same content?

Daniel Erickson: I don’t know right now, my impression is that yes there will be multiple sizes of the same one. You’ll have to hit Gabe on that one.

Ask A Jedi: Will we see the concept of “resistances” other than physical damage factor into the raid game?

Daniel Erickson: Again, well out of my realm. The one thing I’ll say is that our team is really, really into this sort of thing. The guys who are on the raid team are on the raid guys. If you are a hard-core raiding guy and there are things you love about raiding, they’re probably thinking a lot of the same things you’re thinking.

Ask A Jedi: Will see some sort of officially tracked/rated game-wide raid progression, possibly in-game or on an external “armory” type web site?

Daniel Erickson: Again, nothing we’ve announced so far. My guess is if there is not at launch, there will be very shortly afterwards. We’re playing the same games, we know what people are looking for.


Ask A Jedi: When are players able to obtain their first player-controlled vehicle?

Daniel Erickson: In the mid-20s… but again you know, things may change. Things may change from testing, none of these answers should be taken as launch!

Ask A Jedi: Is it received as a reward, or through some other system such as building it through Crew Skills or simply purchasing it?

Daniel Erickson: It’s purchased. You have to get a license. Then you can buy multiple speeders, there are different speeders that have different cool looks. Some are harder to find than others. It is also very possible, but very difficult, to steal one from the other faction.

Ask A Jedi: Are there “class specific” vehicles as there are for starships?

Daniel Erickson: There are “themed” ones as far as we can say right now.

Ask A Jedi: Will we see both ground-based and air-based (atmospheric) vehicles?

Daniel Erickson: There’s really not much tradition of atmosphere… we don’t really have jets in Star Wars. Even the Snow Speeders are just a little bit higher… and then after that you’re up in space. So, at least for launch we’re not going in that direction. Our worlds are definitely not built for flying mounts. There was never a thought for that.

Ask A Jedi: Will it be just mechanical mounts for now?

Daniel Erickson: Correct. We needed to do one to really roll it out. It works to have your speeder on Hoth. It doesn’t really work to have your Taun-Taun on Corellia.

Ask A Jedi: Will there be models that can be be ridden on by multiple players at a time?

Daniel Erickson: Definitely not at launch. Any time you grab multiple people and hold them into a forced state – huge amount of programming issues!

Ask A Jedi: Is there any sort of combat that can be accomplished on vehicles?

Daniel Erickson: Right now, they’re transportation only.

Ask A Jedi: How about customization of the vehicles?

Daniel Erickson: Right now it’s just buy another one. My guess is you’ll get ship customization for cosmetics before you get speeder customization.

We just wanted to thank Daniel for his time, and BioWare, Electronic Arts and LucasArts for their ongoing hospitality and support!

  1. And thank you, Ask a Jedi. Great interview, great format for presenting the questions, and some great questions that squeezed more clarity out of DE. I’m just glad we didn’t get any abs being flashed.

    • Lethality says:

      Thanks! We know you’d rather not see/hear us or even Daniel Erickson most of the time, but hopefully his answers sort of in context with the video shown is entertaining!

  2. Pashtun says:

    Great interview. Sounds like for those of us who enjoy multiple group content (operations, we are going to get some good stuff. Sounds like they will be designing a system that is fairly “hardcore” in the sense of design and progression. Yet will likely still have a more “casual” path for the less dedicated. good stuff!

  3. fedorov says:

    Interesting tidbits from DE. I did notice that his language has changed about what is in launch and what is in beta/test and that things like guild progression ranks and such would be available after launch and not in the release candidate. This would lead me to believe that they have all of what they need to get done…done, and that now they are de-bugging the system and making the smaller tweaks. VERY hopeful sign for a release in the next few months.

  4. Thank you, ask a Jedi for a great interview. A lot of the signs from this interview and other information out of E3 lead me to believe that they BioWare is entering final design stages and hopeful that SW:TOR ail be launched in the next 6 months!

    From the interviews and videos out of E3 it looks like the operations will be very immersive. As briefly hinted at in other interviews besides the typical combat system and coordinationof raids it sounds like there will be puzzles to solve in them which is seen a lot in BioWare games. I really would like to hear more information on what they are planning for this aspect of the operations.

  5. Nice interview! Interesting that there will be no flying mounts. Maybe they’ll make a swimming mount instead j/k.

  6. That was a great interview. You really hit on some of the questions that had not been asked. It was great to hear about some of the future custom options we might get in the game.

    Huge thanks!

  7. “Our worlds are definitely not built for flying mounts. There was never a thought for that.”

    Right. Because in Star Wars, Flying is like huh? What’s flying?

    Oh well, More World PvP opportunities?



  1. Rundown of Information Learned at E3 | Swtor Life - [...] Ask a Jedi grilled Daniel Erickson on Operations and Vehicles in their interview with the man. [...]

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