Community Q&A 4th May: Duelling on the Fleet

This week’s Community Q&A from BioWare is a biggie – which is always welcome.

As per usual there’s a bunch of topics covered but the highlights for me were discussions on SWTOR’s economy and BioWare confirming they’re looking into the option of duelling on the Republic and Imperial Fleet.

That sounds like it could be a bit hectic but fun at the same time – so here’s hoping it’s an option soonish.

Read the full transcript below and post away in comments what interests you most!

DarthZaul: Other than the planned Hutt takeover of all GTNs (which will make them all neutral), do you have further plans to improve the economy? Below level 49 it is almost nonexistent. The crafting changes in 1.2 were supposed to improve it but instead they just gave people more incentive to RE everything they make instead of put it on the GTN. I had to make enough characters with different crew skills to create a self-sufficient Legacy economy, making all my own armor, mods, and stims/medpacks because there are none available to buy.

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): It sounds like there is a legitimate hole in the economy that someone who has a whole bunch of crew skills could be taking advantage of (hint hint). In all seriousness, a key part of selling your wares in any MMO is understanding supply and demand. In most MMOs, the economy flattens out because all the crafters take the 500 pairs of boots that they craft and plop them on the auction house, which drives the supply wildly way above demand, which pushes the prices down to be below the cost of materials and makes it so that selling stuff isn’t economically worthwhile – which kind of destroys the ‘I’m a successful shop owner’ vibe that aspiring crafters are hoping for. A huge part of the reverse-engineering feature is that it encourages players to remove these excess goods from the economy, which hopefully will bring supply and demand closer to what they actually should be, and should create more space in the GTN without lots of competition. That being said, we can always do better, and I’m sure this will be something we will tweak further in the future.

Dzkiller: I’ve been looking for purple-colored crystals for my Lightsaber for a while now. I want to know where and how we can get it because I’m tired of walking around with a red Lightsaber for my Sith Sorcerer while the Character Progression video for the Inquisitor showed a Sorcerer with a purple Lightsaber.

Damion: We really wanted purple Lightsabers to not be trivial for anyone to get — some things, a player should have to work for a little.  That being said, this seems like an excellent opportunity to use some of the awesome fansite resources on the internet.  The truth is out there!

Giand-Amazone: I´m a guild leader, and as a guild leader I want to be able to send out mails to my whole guild. Right now this is only possible by sending out mails one by one to all of my members, which is very tedious. Will there be an option to send out mails to the whole guild at once?

Damion: We have plans – it was one of the more requested features to come out of the Guild Summit, and we took feedback from the guild leaders very seriously.  So it’s in the works, but we have no ETA at this time.  When the feature comes, expect it to have constraints on the amount that it can be used to prevent it being used to spam and to keep data storage under control.  In the meantime, the MOTD (Message of the Day) remains the best way to communicate to players, and the guilds I run with use it to direct players to their own website.


Lorroc: Are there any plans to introduce a mentoring system in SWTOR? In some other MMOs, this mentoring system lowers the stats and armor of high level characters and grays out abilities that they didn’t have during lower levels so that they can help their lower level friends.

Damion: I’m a big fan of ‘down leveling,’ and I’ve been pushing to add something like this for a long, LONG time.  Plus, you just can’t ignore the master/apprentice relationship as being a core part of the Star Wars experience.  So yeah, this is coming — someday.  And, as always, it will have a couple of unique twists that I think people will enjoy. 

AbsoluteGrndZero: When we get adaptable social armor, will current social armor be changed, or will we be forced to rebuy social armor that is currently sitting in our bank unused on medium-heavy characters?

David Hunt (Systems Designer): Existing gear will be updated to use the adaptive gear weight. This will go live at the same time as augment tables, meaning the social gear you own now will be viable combat gear regardless of your primary armor weight.

DarkElvis: In the Q&A for April 27, you addressed a question about loot drops taking classes into account and how you added the bias into the endgame Flashpoints. Is there any way for this bias to check not just the base class but the advanced class as well? I would say this most affects Sith Warriors and Jedi Knights, who wear different classes of armor depending on their AC choice. Example: our normal Flashpoint group is a Powertech, Sniper, Marauder, and Sorcerer. It seems any time Sith Warrior gear drops, it’s heavy armor, so only a Juggernaut could use it. Our Marauder has actually gotten very little gear from the endgame Flashpoints because of this. So is there any way for it to bias to Advanced Class, mainly to benefit Sith Warriors / Jedi Knights? Thanks in advance!

David: The bias actually uses base class or advanced class as appropriate. For example:

Medium Strength Armor = Marauder / Sentinel
Heavy Strength Armor = Juggernaut / Guardian
Strength DPS trinkets = Sith Warrior / Jedi Knight
Strength Tank trinkets = Juggernaut / Guardian
Offhand only Lightsabers = Marauder / Sentinel

This could be due to a bug in the endgame Flashpoints drops that should have been fixed in patch 1.2.2. If you keep seeing this issue, please send a bug report with as many details as possible. Which bosses you killed, what items dropped, and what your group composition was: these would be the most useful data points. There’s some room for this to occur due to randomness, but it should be limited in endgame content.

Nyjin: Greetings, Ware of Bio! In a Dev Tracker for upcoming crew skill changes in 1.2, it was mentioned that new schematics were going to be put into the game in order to allow for more customization. These schematics were supposed to be of lower-level armor and be obtained through Underworld Trading and Investigation missions. So far, nobody on the forums, myself, or my server have seen any new schematics. Can we get a confirmation on whether or not these made it into the game?

David: We’ve been gradually adding more customization-related schematics to various places in the game. Most of these have been for Custom (orange) armor, but some of them have also been for color crystals. Underworld Trading provides several sets of orange armor – you have a chance to get one of these when you have a mission success. Those schematics already cover a substantial portion of the low level appearances we have available now, but we’re looking for places where we can put more. For the specific 1.2 schematics, the investigation schematics are for new Armstech weapons. There’s an empty orange version of every weapon type except for the Lightsabers. In both cases, there’s a level 20 version (“Custom-built”) and a level 50 version (“Elegant Modified”). Treasure Hunting has the Lightsaber versions of these schematics for use in Artificing.

There’s a major update to Underworld Trading schematics in 1.3 – it’s possible that the upcoming crew skill change was actually referring to that, the gradual introduction of more orange armor sets or other steps being taken to opening up more armor to be viable in 1.2 and 1.3. We’ve added a whole bunch of orange waist and wrist schematics to Underworld Trading in 1.3 We’ve wanted to open this up to players for awhile, especially because some outfits really need the belt in order to look right.

DannerSwa: What was the reason why “Unify” was strictly linked to chest and not designed to let the player choose which slot to unify to? I may like the color scheme of the gloves over the chest but would still like keep the current chest model. Was this an oversight, conscious design decision, or just too complicated to implement?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): Conscious design decision. The chest piece is by far the hardest to get in each outfit and the primary acquisition driver. It also “owns” the outfit’s color palette. It’s important to remember that “unify to chest style” does not solelymean “match color.” The design is to give good looking outfits that match the design and color layout of the set the chest piece came from—not to pick one color and make a monotone eyesore.

jalapena: Does BioWare think that item and money sharing between characters at least on the same faction is a bit cumbersome? My question really stems from my frustration of always having to email myself money and items. Here is an annoying scenario that drives this question. I log in to character A and start a companion to craft or go on a mission for materials for character B. I log over to character B to play while the mission or crafting takes place, it would be nice if the item just showed up in my ‘account bank’ and can get it without logging in and out three times to get the said resources to my second character. I think email might be a comfortable and familiar way, but with a game that clearly encourages alternate characters, maybe a new way of sharing resources like money and materials is needed.

Daniel: No argument here. The first steps towards this goal were loosening up the rules on moving items and credits between Legacy characters. Our long term goal is to make more of the progression systems Legacy-wide.

Blackholeskipper: Any chance of seeing alternating skins for PvP Warzones in a future update? For example, if you’re playing the Alderaan map, maybe it could show a summer setting or a night time setting instead of the original. This wouldn’t affect the gameplay or balance at all since it’s just a re-skin.

Daniel: Definite possibility. First we want to finish introducing some core Warzone gameplay types then we’ll look at refreshing some of the older Warzones.

cycao: I was wondering if there is any plan to implement dueling on the fleet. I feel if you remove the restriction on dueling on the fleet it will be a nice way to pass the time.

Daniel: This is a popular request and one we’re actively looking into. Right now we’re making sure performance will stay solid if the fleet breaks out in a duel-fest so it may be restricted to a certain area when/if it comes.

McGrizzly: Any plans to expand Legacy to be across servers (i.e. tied to your account not the server you are on)?

Daniel: This is something the Legacy team would love to do. It’s a huge amount of infrastructure work, however, so it won’t be coming soon.

Llloralei: You know all those color crystals that some specs get that they end up not using? How about using them for speeder slots for an underbody glow or a body trim color on your speeder?!

Daniel: Sold, it goes on the list!

SteppeMerc: I was wondering if you would be able to go into how the writers and devs decided which class got what companion, and when in the game. What went behind your thinking, and what sort of inspiration did you draw on? For instance, I assume that the inclusion of a Wookiee companion for a Smuggler was obvious, but how did you decide the others? For instance how did you decide that a Jedi Knight would get a force using follower before the Sith Warrior, etc? Thanks!

Alexander Freed (Lead Writer): Companions (and their distribution) was one of the very first subjects writing tackled on the game–we had a pool of “Star Wars companion concepts” written up before we’d even finalized our list of classes! As you mention, some of the choices were obvious–we wanted a Wookiee, and it was an easy choice to give him to the Smuggler. Some of the ideas, on the other hand, never did quite fit in–the idea for a Killik companion was dismissed, but became the later inspiration for Vector.

After the easy ones were out of the way, we looked at each individual class story and tried to introduce companions that would provide insight into or contrast the main storyline at the right time. Vette provides a lighter counterpart to the dark Sith Warrior story, but Quinn follows quickly to push the notion of the Sith Warrior as a military leader. Yuun is great fun, but he’s a little too weird to throw at the Trooper right away–the Trooper had to be grounded in the world first before Yuun could really make an impact.

LordAshuman: Would you be able to explain the thought process behind the recent damage boost to Snipers/Gunslingers and buff/nerf prioritization in general? (Not complaining about balance, just wanting to know why them over other classes that could possible use tweaks.)

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): The damage boosts to Snipers and Gunslingers that you’re referring to was actually a targeted weapon damage boost. We found an error in the assumptions we use for the mathematical interactions between weapon damage and defense chances. Without going into the boring specifics, we found that weapon damage (especially in abilities with high costs, high cooldowns, or high activation times) could be somewhat underappreciated. When we change our assumptions and come up with a new model like in this situation, we have two diametrically opposed goals: 1) to propagate all necessary changes to the game so that it’s using our most recent math, which opposes the second goal 2) maintaining balance without blindly following our math. We altered the abilities that would pick up a significant enough change to be worth making without having a negative effect on the balance of the game. The list you’re referring to is the result.

Class change prioritization is a bigger topic. Without getting too long-winded on the subject, what we’re aiming to do with any class change is get a class or spec as close to target as we can. These “targets” are objective math-based goals that apply identically to all like-roles. By that I mean that all DPS specs have the same target because they are all the same role: damage dealing. Tank roles have their own targets, and healing roles have their own targets. When someone is off target (too high or too low), we try to find non-invasive ways of bringing them closer to target. We don’t try to bring classes closer to target because we’re mean – we do it because the global game math assumes everyone hits their target. When someone doesn’t hit their target, it has an adverse effect on the game at large. And since rebalancing the entire game to accommodate an outlying spec is completely infeasible, we address the outlying performers with class changes, individually, as appropriate. It’s an ongoing experience that we’ll never be done with, so prioritization is based on what we feel is the most egregious in any given patch. How we identify outliers and how we determine which is the most egregious is… another bigger topic.

Lorrimar: With Game Update 1.2, Artifice patterns were added for +41 stat color crystals for blue & red off the daily vendor as well as blue & yellow off the PvP vendor. Many people are wondering what happened to the green and orange crystal patterns. Rumor is that the orange patterns are a random drop from high level mobs & chests, but I have yet to read or hear anything about anyone locating a pattern for the +41 stat green color crystals. Can you confirm that the orange patterns are now high level world drops & can it be confirmed that the green color patterns are in the game somewhere?

Patrick Malott (Systems Designer): Currently, there are no PvE green Lightsaber crystal schematics that provide +41 stat color crystals. Orange Lightsaber crystal schematics for +41 PvE stats drop off Primal Destroyer – the Rancor world boss on Belsavis. There are currently no PvP orange Lightsaber crystal schematics that provide +41 stat color crystals. The PvP green Lightsaber crystal is on the PvP items vendor for 500 Warzone commendations. It is not sold as a schematic. Players buy the crystal directly.

alricka: What’s the system behind the Gathering and the Missions crew skills? What I mean is this – how does the system decide what item I get? Is it random or is it dependable on something? For example, why some Underworld Trading Gift missions get me military gear while others get me courting items? What I want to know is what’s the logic behind it? Does it matter what the mission’s description says, does it matter which companion I send along with their affection and proficiency etc.

Patrick: When running a specific mission, like for companion gifts, it is random on what the mission returns as a reward. Rarer rewards tend to return less often than more common rewards. Critical mission success usually bumps up the quality of the item returned. Companions with higher affection and specific companion trait critical bonuses increase critical mission success.