Here is this week’s Q&A Community Response, where we take some of last Friday’s questions and corresponding answers, and provide some of the feedback straight from the community. Make sure and check out the full Q&A posts for all of the questions, because we’re only going to be covering some of the highlights.
During June 22nd’s community Q&A we got some interesting behind-the-scenes answers, and one of BioWare’s famous Soon™ replies to a question often seen on the forums these days. Here is the community response thread on the official forums, where the community responses are taken from.
First off, the big news, of sorts, from the Q&A:
Fireblazer: “Any chance we will be able to get extra character slots for a server in the future. Maybe as part of the legacy system?”
Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): “There will definitely be more slots appearing in the near future. Stay tuned for details.”
As one player pointed out, this was already discussed in another week’s Q&A:
Daniel Erickson: “We are 100% committed to providing more character slots per server in the future but unfortunately we’re not ready to talk about how that will work.”
This week’s answer does seem a little more… concrete, however. Soon™-er. “Near future” Soon™. Something like that, anyway.
Next up– armor set design:
Pargon: “I’m curious about the development cycle for something like an armor set. Could you elaborate on the process you guys go through when designing and implementing that equipment?”
Ryan Dening (Lead Concept Artist) and David Hunt (Systems Designer): “This is a very good and timely question as we have recently been refining parts of our approach and inspiration in response to the feedback we have gotten from our players. The first thing we do when designing a new armor set is to look at which class it’s for and what level or tier it is going to be. For instance, if it’s for a Bounty Hunter we’ve established that Bounty Hunters wear heavy armor that should feel custom or at least modified (since he’s not a uniformed soldier). Our strongest influences are going to come from characters like Boba Fett, Boushh, Dengar etc. Level of the gear is going to determine how visually impressive the gear should look and where it fits in the progression. This is the real tricky part because in Star Wars, a lot of the costumes are quite simple or hit one note and we have to extrapolate to create a lot of different, unique looks that feel like they progress from low level to high.
With this as our background we’ll start sketching ideas to find and capture a look that is compelling. When the sketch is approved we make a model sheet which is a lot like schematics. Every piece of a set of gear needs to fit into the wearables system so that they can work with every other set of gear in the game independently. An outfit will also have different layers like a base (for a Bounty Hunter this would be his base armor) and attachments (the cool stuff like Boba Fett’s cape, rocket pack, Wookie braids). From here it goes to the character artists who bring the concept to life as a 3D model. They start with high poly models and custom sculpt each piece. Then they texture the models and make lower poly meshes that can be imported into the game. It’s a long process and takes a lot of hard, skilled work to make an armor set.
Once in the game, designers create a map between all the available art assets and the items that need to be distributed to cover the various roles. We utilize different attachment and color combinations provided by the artists to try to make as many armor sets as possible unique, even if they’re similar to others. Those sets are named and distributed along similar content channels, with the goal of giving players gear that makes them naturally look cool as they progress instead of making you look like a clown. The related content bands are setup with the intent of making characters look good in mixed sets of the same band, while still providing variety between them. There are too many combinations to guarantee that you’ll find the right items that look cool together, but we work to get you as close as possible so that it’s easy for you to complete the last steps.”
This is actually a pretty cool answer for players who like to grab a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes magic. It’s also good to see that BioWare is constantly refining processes like this, when previous methods led to, well, this:
“Have you seen the higher level consular sets? They make male characters look exactly like a clown, or a drag queen. Sorcerer gear isn’t much better, but at least the lower level stuff actually looks like something a Sith might wear.”
Pretty much. Refine, refine, refine. Please!
Finally, some insight on the Assassin/Shadow changes:
Daitenzin: “Does the team have any concerns about how the 1.3 changes will affect how Assassins/Shadows will perform as tanks compared to the other tanking options in an Operation situation?”
Austin: “No, not especially. I know a lot of players feel like this was a PvP fix that glossed over the idea of Operations survivability, but that just isn’t the case. In reality, Shadow/Assassin tanks were slightly over-performing prior to Game Update 1.3, but some of that is obfuscated in the current climate of boss encounters. What some players have correctly identified as an issue is that some Operations bosses deal significantly more Force/tech damage than weapon damage, which favors tanks with high mitigation over those with high shield/avoidance.
Therefore, it’d be more accurate to say that I’m more concerned that we’re currently overemphasizing armor and health pools (as the most valid channels of survivability) in Operations encounters. This may be the case because bosses aren’t using enough weapon damage or because too many tank defenses only work against weapon damage. Not all channels of survivability can be balanced for every boss encounter, which is why tank survivability is measured against a norm, and why we’re going to be pushing harder to hit that norm in the future – either through tweaks in boss damage or tweaks to the way shields work.”
Interesting. The fact that BioWare admitted to boss damage being fairly lopsided currently is a step in the right direction. Here is one player’s opinion:
“Glad you were finally able to come out and say it. So what are you going to do about it?”