Community Q&A 1st June: Augments, Downtime and PvP

BioWare are back with a bunch more answers to SWTOR community questions.

After last week’s 1.3-fest, it’s onto a more wider ranging discussion including an answer on what actually happens during that 4-hour downtime we experience each Tuesday.

The full Q&A is here for you below, enjoy:

Lymain: You announced that Ranked Warzones are still on track for Game Update 1.3 in the May 25th Q&A. Is the plan still to implement this feature incrementally, starting with only pre-made teams of eight? Will queues be cross-server initially? Or will cross-server queues be implemented at some point after the first stage of Ranked Warzones makes it live?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): That is correct. First implementation (pre-season) will be pre-made teams of eight and will not be cross-server.

JimG: For the new augment slots for Game Update 1.3, will the tier of augment slot raise the level required to equip the gear? For example, if I have a level 11 piece of orange gear and add the highest tier augment slot to it, can I still equip it at level 11 assuming I don’t put an augment in it that exceeds my level?

Daniel: You can still equip the item so long as you don’t put mods that exceed your level into the augment slot. In addition, the high tier augment slot can use any augment of a lower tier as well so you can steadily upgrade with level-appropriate augments without having to worry about upgrading the slot itself since you put the highest tier slot on to start.

Dzeiger: With the changes to make social gear “adaptive” and augmentable and thus more desirable, are there any plans to revise the social points system? For example, making it per-Legacy rather than per-character, and/or expanding options for social point gathering at endgame that doesn’t involve endless Esseles and Black Talon runs.

Daniel: Yes, the social point system will be getting a major revamp in the future and many of our systems will be going Legacy-wide, though whether social is one of them is still under discussion. In the meantime, Game Update 1.3 will bring social points to all Flashpoint and Operation boss kills, meaning far more social points just for being social and playing with friends.

Iracaelestis: Currently, crafting missions have a chance to drop schematics from the opposite faction. Given the uselessness of these schematics for the crafting player’s faction, combined with a cumbersome and intentionally difficult means of trading with the opposite faction that’s not being used, what is the justification for this and are there any planned changes for the future?

Daniel: They are an intended part of the system and are there to cause cross-faction interaction which will soon be much easier as we finish out the last few steps and the Hutts formally take over all of the GTN terminals in the galaxy.

Anastre: The Legacy system currently allows you to create ties with perks and unlocks using your own characters on the same server. The thought crossed my mind that it would be cool if you could add the characters of another player to a ‘joined’ Legacy. This way, you could gain Legacy levels a bit faster if you work together. It also gives you a reason to befriend other players. Did this idea cross the mind of the developers?

Daniel: It definitely has. People want to marry other players officially, build family groups, share histories and last names, and much more and it’s all in the queue for the future of Legacy.

LKaras: What will you be doing to keep guilds and server communities together once server transfer is implemented?

Joveth Gonzalez (Online Community Manager): Once server transfers are implemented, we will re-evaluate our server group forums and make any changes that are necessary. We also have Community Coordinator Eric Musco as the liaison to guilds and he has a lot of good ideas on how to work with them. Finally, we’re going to begin to highlight server community events on the Community Blog section of our site to make sure that they get proper attention. Rest assured that guilds and server communities are part of our overall focus within the community team.

Tuk-Teufti : Endgame crafted items are bind on pick up. It’s alright when they come from a drop, but when they come from crafting the system feels limited. What’s the point of crafting armor you can’t sell? Biochem seems once again the way to go for PvP players, along with a little of Cybertech for grenades. Are you going to give other crew skills exclusive features to rival Biochem?

David Hunt (Systems Designer): While the initial endgame schematics were all bound, that hasn’t carried over to some of the newer endgame crafted items. In Game Update 1.2, there are many reverse engineering schematics that are not bound. In general, we’re opening the restrictions on some of these kinds of distribution channels. There are some changes in Game Update 1.3 that impact the interactions between Biochem and PvP, and you can expect more general changes to level out crafting skill viability in future game updates.

Murshawursha: What was the logic behind choosing which Crew Skills get to craft Augment Kits? In Game Update 1.2 and before, if a player wanted, for example, an augmented Lightsaber, they HAD to buy it from an Artifice. Post-Game Update 1.3, if a player wants an augmented Lightsaber, they choose a Lightsaber that they already own (probably acquired through raiding or questing), and buy an Augment Kit from an Armstech, Armormech, or Synthweaver. This effectively cuts out the Artificer completely out of the market for augmented Lightsabers. Why was it done this way, rather than simply allowing Artificers to make Augment Kits that could only be applied to Lightsabers or Relics, Synthweavers to make Augment Kits that can only be used on force armor, Cybertech on earpieces, etc?

David: There are two primary reasons that Augment Kits are limited to Armstech, Armormech and Synthweaving: 1) They are the augment crafters, and Augment Kits extend that service. 2) Prior to crafted augments, they did not have a substantial input into the item mod game and we want to open that up to more players.

We did not want to have lots different Augment Kits, because that would make finding the right item and kit combination substantially more difficult. Augment tables are intended to make it relatively simple to get any item to the same power cap, and lots of kit variation introduces the possibility that it would be hard to get some items to hit the same potential. While this is how augment tables work now, all Crew Skills will continue to evolve based on player feedback and game data.

Insomniel: Is it possible to make tiny adjustments to crafting dialog? Namely, could you save schematics filter settings per character or even per account – I like my schematics sorted by level and it is rather irritating to sort them this way almost every time I open the dialog after changing locations or relogging. It would also be nice to start with collapsed schematics trees .

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer):  This is a good idea.  I will pass it on to the GUI team.

Monkgryphon: Can you break down the Random Flashpoint daily and explain how it will work and what sort of rewards it will grant?

Damion: With the Group Finder, we will be adding the concept of a Random Flashpoint. If you do the Random Flashpoint with a Group Finder assembled group, you will earn a reward. Currently, this reward is in the form of level-appropriate commendations which may be exchanged for equipment at a vendor. At level 50, there are there are separate daily rewards for normal and hard mode Flashpoints, as well as story mode Operations. These rewards escalate with the difficulty of the content.

Ashivauto: There are quite a few threads on wanting open world PvP and a lot of good ideas on open world PvP content. My question is: are there any plans to implement something that would encourage open world PvP such as faction points for factional items, or planetary control. Maybe even rewards or commendations for open world kills?

Gabe Amantangelo (PvP & Endgame Designer): Yes.  We have open world PvP content and incentive systems in the works.  We will update you as soon as we can.  They will likely come in parts, as opposed to all at once.  For example, a proper incentive system for defeating players in open world PvP may come in first.

Lord_Franklin: This may be a bit off-topic, but oh well: I have recently been wondering what actually happens during that 4 hour or so window once a week when you take the servers down for maintenance. What’s happening typically on your side when I’m sitting there refreshing the server status page?

Blaine Christine (Sr. Producer, Live Services): Many things happen in that precious four hour window and it varies from week to week.  Typically, we have a patch deployment for the game along with possible web, network, infrastructure, hardware, and/or platform maintenance, just to name a few possibilities.  Taking the game patch as an individual item, the full process takes several hours, beginning with that lovely in-game message that you all get fifteen minutes prior to the actual kick from the game.  At the T-15 mark, we start in-game messaging and put the servers in Maintenance Mode so that no one else can enter the game.  At 2:00 AM CDT, we kick everyone out and start the shutdown process for all of the servers which takes another ~15 minutes.  Then there are several steps to the actual deployment of the patch which can take an hour or more, depending on complexity.  After the deploy, we have to start the servers back up and have CS perform spot checks of the servers while they are in Maintenance Mode (so they still appear offline to the players).  In some cases, we may detect issues with the spot checks that need to be resolved or at least double-checked before we open to the public.  After all of that, we finally open the gates again and notify all of you via the Forums and Launcher that the game is once again ready for play.

We certainly strive very hard to ensure that we condense this process down as much as possible to reduce the impact on playtime for you, our customers.  Most of the time, we manage to get the game back up earlier than we projected, but occasionally an unforeseen issue with the maintenance causes us to go over the projected timing.  As we get closer to the end of the maintenance, there is a lot of hectic activity if things aren’t going well, because everyone here takes their responsibility seriously and wants to ensure the best possible experience for all of you.  If we go over time, it constitutes a hair on fire emergency that requires all hands on deck to resolve as quickly as possible.