Mar 5, 2012

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PVP Panel Discussion and Q&A!

Lady R has again come through with some extensive notes for the PVP-minded out there.

  • Warzones are extremely popular. More than 50%of players play warzones daily.
  • Concerns about faction imbalance on servers
  • No ability to queue for specific warzones
  • Players going afk and leaving
  • New warzone in 1.2, Novare Coast, going to involve same faction vs same faction gameplay. Majority control-type objective. Need 2/3 shield control to be able to damage the objective. It’s been tested really well, we look forward to getting player feedback on it as well.
  • Ranked PvP – will be added in 1.2. We do know this is something people have wanted. Players will be able to queue up solo or as part of a group up to 8. Wins and losses will adjust their ranking.
  • 1.2 wil also introduce new warzone dailies. Daily missions will require winning a certain number of medals rather than wins. Winning and losing both award medals. Removes incentives to quit early. Going to be introducing a lot more medals – scoring in Huttball, catching the ball, being the first to do things.
  • 18 new medals – including objective based. We don’t want people to be farming medals. More medals for completing a warzone faster. Medal rewards will be capped to prevent farming. You will get cumulative medals – so for instance if there is a medal for completing a warzone in 10 minutes and 5 minutes and you complete in 5 minutes, you will earn both medals. Goal is to encourage people to win matches quickly rather than dragging them out.
  • Vote to Kick – players can vote inactive players out of a warzone. (Much applause.) We are working on ways to watch whether people are truly AFK and not being voted out based on levels, etc – measures to prevent abuse.
  • 1.2 – New tier of PVP gear, War Hero. Greater set difference from PvE gear, we want to reduce the amount of cross-over between PvP and PvE gear. More leaning on expertise, more stats that are PvP focused.

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Mar 5, 2012

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Flashpoint and Operations Panel Highlights and Q&A!

Lady R was kind enough to report in with the latest from the PVE-centric panel.

Afternoon Panel

• James Ohlen
• Daniel Erickson
• Gabe Amantangelo
• Georg Zoeller
• Damion Schubert
• Emmanuel Lusinchi

Operations and Flashpoint Panel

  • 38% of level 50 players have played an Operation
  • There are bugs, especially in Etenity Vault – more frustrating than other areas due to time invested, level of reward, and repeatable content
  • Putting a high priority on fixing Ops bugs
  • KP launched more smoothly – had the help of select guilds for testing and feedback, which really helped improve
  • Looting system in normal difficulty needs improvements. Only got part of what they had wanted into it – wanted to make the loot system PuG friendly, but with destined loot, you sometimes get repeats of what you already have. So in the next patch, it’s going to work more like normal loot rather than destined loot. Want to eventually make destined loot tradeable for the short term, but not there yet. So until they are – going back to the regular loot system
  • Existing operations are relatively easy. Hard and nightmare are much more challenging. Hard and nightmare modes give same loot, which is currently problematic. Currently, nightmare modes give achievements, but not different loot.
  • New Op, Explosive Conflict will be harder than current Operations, designed to require more coordination. Want to really focus on the coordination and execution between the players for the emphasis of EC. This will be considered the first of the Tier 2 operations.
  • Nightmare mode for EC will not launch in 1.2, mostly because it still needs serious testing and debugging before it is ready.
  • New ‘Story’ difficulty mode for all Operations. Story mode will replace normal difficulty mode – overarching story arcs should be experienced by everyone. Story mode can be played without having to gear up. To compensate, hard mode is being made more challenging.
  • Orange gear viability in end game – tiered modifications available from Operations. Can RE operation gear for appearances. You’ll be able to wear what you want in Opertions with the extraction of mods and set bonuses.
  • Pre-destined loot in normal mode going away in 1.2.
  • Future of Ops – bug fixing is the highest priority for Ops, longer time period to test and gather feedback for major content patches, goal is to have better end game testing.
  • Character copy to PTS is in progress, so there are more people on the public test server.
  • More operations coming – at least two more are currently in development.
  • Want players to fight the boss, not the game – more info given onscreen and through boss animations. Less given through buffs.
  • Flashpoints are enjoyable, need better endgame progression in flashpoint.
  • They are aware of the difficulties in finding groups and are working on a solution.
  • New Flashpoint – Lost Island, will finish the Kaon under Siege story.
  • Future of flashpoints – more flashpoints are coming.
  • Group Finder: They will be introducing Group Finder in 1.3. This will work for missions, flashpoints, and operations. It will be single server only. Community is very important, and they don’t want random pug dude who goes AFK And doesn’t care about his reputation – you avoid that when more people know each other.

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Mar 5, 2012

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Livestream Notes

  • Fast growing subscription game in North America
  • Sold through 2 million copies
  • Players average 5 hours per day in game
  • 3.8 million characters created
  • Game Update 1.1 introduced Rise of the Rakghouls
  • New Flashpoint and Operation less than a month after launch
  • March 1, opened servers in the Asia Pacific region
  • Weekly maintenance – focused on fixing bugs
What’s Next?

Friends of Star Wars: The Old Republic – launches March 6 – allows you to invite 3 of your friends to play for free for a week.

Game Update 1.2: Legacy

  • New Warzone – Novarre Coast
  • Operation – Explosive Conflict
  • FP: The Lost Island
  • Expanded Legacy system
  • Family tree
  • Legacy abilities
  • Legacy species unlock – chiss smugglers!
  • New Corellia dallies
  • Guild Banks
  • In game limited time events, created by a dedicated team – full team dedicated to making the SW universe feel like a living, breathing place
  • Guild Banks – coming in 1.2, shared bank guild members can use – can unlock up to 7 separate tabs, monetary based. Detailed controls for guild leaders – more on that to follow later today.
  • Timeline for 1.2 – legacy system is designed to help encourage you to play other characters
  • Exact date is “Soon”. J. Ohlen – exact dates are not given bc they want to make sure they’ve done all the appropriate testing so that all bugs are worked out. Aim is early April, but that’s as close as they can say for now.

Over 9,000 watching people on the live stream from the guild summit.

Join the conversation by Twitter, #SWTORSummit.

Livestream returns at 2pm Central!

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Feb 3, 2012

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Blasters, Beggars & Credits: The 10-49 Brackets Mean 10-49 Gear Is Back

Some players do it for glory. Some do it for infamy. Some like to accumulate the most points, or explore the far reaches of the worlds they inhabit. This, however, is not a column for those people. This is a column for those people who, quietly or not, enjoy making money so that their digital avatar can sleep on large piles of cash.

PvP has never been a great focus of mine – though currently I am playing it a lot more than I participated in previous MMO titles. I have found it fun without the awful side effects that so often plague it – though it’s far from a perfect system (see Bags, Champion).

However, many players have made it their main focus. Some of them are 50 and at the expertise cap, and some of them are still at low levels. And today, we are going to specifically zero in on the 10-49 bracket.

Recently level 50s were given their own PvP bracket, with all the other levels in their own. This segregation has, of course, come as a relief to the many lower-level players and alts who enjoyed pvp but found it frustrating to fight level 50s who were doing fantastic amounts of damage.

Now, however, they have their own non-expertise and non-50 bracket, where the higher levels have an advantage in abilities, but everyone is pretty close with the bolster mechanic. And there is a market to sell to these folks, provided you can make armor, mods, or weapons at the right points.

The first big one is level 49. Level 49 is where many of the PvP players will focus an entire level, both to farm valor and have enough commendations to purchase gear. However, that creates a market of people that could have a major advantage. As a Synthweaver I have lots of level 49 patterns that can easily translate into much higher pvp damage. Many of those remain viable into the end-game and are about as good as the tier 1 gear, which, of course, has created a nice market for me.

Mod-able gear is another possibility (sadly, I haven’t tried it). Selling a few cosmetic pieces could potentially net some money as well. In general the materials are quite simple to gather for them, such as the Jedi Initiates Vestments. There’s also a noticeable change around the 30s for leveling, and I would highly suggest selling anything in the 30-38 range if you can; 42-49 is also a nice range, but I would focus more on mods until the 49 gear.

Now, there are a few other levels (10 and 14 being rather big as well) that you could focus on as well. Some people will level alts to do the same. There are two level ranges to stay away from: level 20 and level 40. The gear that can be had from the pvp vendors at those levels is quite good, and competing against commendations is a losing battle. However, as a Cybertech you should look into selling mods that are 2 – 6 levels higher than that gear, especially the artifact-quality (if you have the time and resources to commit to getting it).

The twinks are coming; some are already there. Keep this in mind while leveling professions – anything with high endurance is a great bet to reverse engineer to get a better version.

Beggar’s Tip: I see a lot of people bemoaning Synthweaving and Armormech as being non-moneymakers. Yes, I can say our potential was behind a bit at level 50 initially; Cybertech, with all its toys and ship parts, made a few individuals incredibly wealthy. At least on Jung Ma Republic side, the spaceship business has gotten a little cut-throat and made it slightly less efficient as a money-maker (although my friend reports that his armorings and mods are selling quite well). However, if you didn’t guess right at the start of the game, don’t fret – you can still make money.

Now, competing against slotted gear doesn’t work so well – if you get lucky and get something with an augment slot, by all means run up the price and sell. But there are two slots where slotted items are rare to the point of being non-existent: waists and wrists. As a synthweaver, I have focus almost exclusively on wrist patterns for RE and do my best to maintain a stock. It’s especially helpful that a lot of those patterns are level 49, but they sell extremely well because, until someone gets into the end-game, there isn’t a better option.

Esseles/Black Talon hardmode drops the Columi token, as does Karagga’s Palace, but judging from the guilds on my server, not a ton of people are running them; similarly, the PVP bags don’t drop tokens in any pattern and are unpredictable. So yes, make wrists and waists and reap the profits (at least, until people come in here and read this column).

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Jan 13, 2012

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Game Update 1.1 Introduces BioChem And Cybertech Nerf – No More “Golden Ticket”

The most hardcore of PVP and PVE players will have noticed, by now, that BioChem and Cybertech were very good professions, largely because of a handful of items in each: the BioChem-only medpacs and the Cybertech grenades. However, they were too good in the eyes of BioWare, and were nerfed accordingly in 1.1 (this coming Tuesday).

It says, "You picked BioChem as your profession - you win until it gets nerfed!"

Georg Zoeller shared with us the thought process behind the nerf.

As some of you may have already noticed from our patch notes for Game Update 1.1, we’ve made adjustments to several high-end, purple, player crafted items on the BioChem and Cybertech professions. Simply put, we reduced their overall impact on gameplay and I wanted to explain why it was necessary.

BioChem crafted medical kits were too good. In fact, they were too good both in the amount of healing they provided (often more than half a character’s health) and the frequency they could be used (every 90 seconds!). This was negatively impacting the game for everyone else. We’ve seen significant chatter both in and out of game about how players not picking up the BioChem professions would be ‘stupid’ and ‘gimping themselves’. This indicates that a small number of competitive players have been denying access to high end content based on whether a player has the BioChem Crew Skill.

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