Weekly Q&A: companion loot rolls and new emotes

BioWare have posted their latest community Q&A and there’s quite a bit of meat in there. All the detail is shown below but the standouts for me are acknowledgement of future improvements such as companion loot rolls, new emotes and my favourite: quicker travel options back to your ship.

Here’s the full list if questions and answers:


Chyp: Can we expect to see any animation/damage timing consistency changes between factions?

Georg Zoeller (Principal Lead Combat Designer): Yes. The animation team has been working on a new set of animations for abilities like the Trooper’s Mortar Volley to provide closer matching of animation timings and improved combat responsiveness. We expect to roll these changes out with Game Update 1.2.

Zennis: Has there been any discussion to streamlining the Space Port process? Perhaps allowing speeders in the Space Ports besides the Fleet?

Brian Audette (Senior Designer): We’ve absolutely heard what the fans are saying and have been exploring options to address these issues. While we are still investigating allowing speeder use in Space Ports, we’ve also been looking for other ways to get people from point A to point B with greater haste. One such feature will specifically affect planets that have Orbital Stations instead of Space Ports such as: Tython, Korriban, Hoth, and Belsavis. We’ll be adding an option for players to go directly to their ships from the surface shuttles as opposed to having them run through the Orbital Station to their airlocks. This feature and some additional tweaks will start showing up in Game Update 1.2.

deusBAAL: Will you be providing a LFG tool? What will be its features? How will it be intended to work and when can we expect it to go live?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Writer): We are hard at work on a much more robust LFG functionality that will quickly help put groups together while still offering the flexibility to decide how you group and what sort of people you want to be grouped with. We’ll release more details as we get closer to release.

LthalSavy: Will there be any way to implement a quick travel to your ship?

Georg Zoeller: Not in the short term, but it’s something we’ve been discussing on and off. Currently, given how easily available fleet travel passes are on the Security Vendor, we don’t think adding this is necessary.

IsACoolGuy: Will any new emotes be added to the game? The Jedi/Sith meditation thing that NPCs do looks pretty cool, will emotes of that nature become available to players?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): We do have some new emotes planned. Even cooler, we now have tech that allows us to grant emotes as rewards for various game systems. In Game Update 1.2, we have several emotes planned as unlocked rewards of the Legacy System. My favorite is the special dance that is so inspiring that your companion feels the urge to boogie down with you.

TrueDND: Currently, the incentive to choose other Crew Crafting Skills outside of Biochem is minimal due to the fact that, once you reach max level, all gear that is acquired through PvE and PvP is better than all crafted equipment and mods (mostly through the Commendation and token vendors). Is this being looked in to?

Georg Zoeller: Absolutely. With the upcoming Game Update 1.2, we are adding endgame crafting for all professions. This includes augment crafting, the ability to crit-craft custom (orange) gear with augment slots, new endgame schematics, new color crystals, expanded and improved research and reverse engineering and much more (we’re up to 4 pages of crew skill related patch notes in 1.2. alone)

Combined with new features such as the ability to extract base-mods from purple items (including the set bonus) and the improved color matching feature, crafters of all professions will find themselves in a lot of demand once the update hits.

Toxin_Polaris: Do you plan to have mini-games like swoop races or pazaak? And if so what is the priority for this? Can we expect them this year?

Damion Schubert: We love mini-games, especially the ones that speak to the heritage of KOTOR. When would something like pazaak make its way to you? Hard to say – it’s not on our immediate horizon, and we’d most likely do it at a point where we want to make a large splash.

Twaggy: I find it troublesome to compare mods/enhancements/armoring/hilts/crystals that are installed in my armor or lightsaber. Will you be implementing something that lets you see the stats of what you have (like the comparability you can do of the boots – boots or jacket – jacket)?

Georg Zoeller: This is a convenience feature on our list of things to look at once the higher priority UI features and community requests have been addressed. We definitely think it’s a good idea, but where it falls in terms of prioritization makes it impossible to give you an ETA at this point.

TheJestersHat: What is BioWare planning to do about performance issues that people get with Warzone, open world PVP, and general FPS issues?

Damion Schubert: We have an internal strike team that is fully devoted to ensuring that the game runs better and faster, especially on low end machines, and we consider this team’s work to be a crucial internal initiative. You should see evidence of this work as soon as Patch 1.1.5, when we will be introducing a new ‘very low’ setting to shader quality, which should drastically increase the number of mid-to-low machines the game can run well on, especially in Warzones and Operations.

Frung: Have you considered adding a “companion” loot roll option?

Damion Schubert: We’ve discussed it and have a design for it – when we do this, we will make it so you can only roll ‘need’ on items that your advanced class is meant to use in one of its specs. I do not currently have an ETA on this feature.

Belthazaar: I like my ships but, I was wondering if or when we will be able to purchase, make, or steal a new and different ship beyond the one that we currently get from our class quest?

Damion Schubert: Unfortunately, the nature of our ships as central story areas for all of our class content, and all of the associated triggers and cinematics that must therefore be done on the ships, means that giving players new ship models, particularly interiors, is very, very hard for us. We will probably look at addressing this instead by providing a greater sense of ship customization at some point well in the future. But it’s someplace we definitely want to go!


Is there anything in there that’s piqued your interest?

Slicing: no more Magic Money Machine

Bioware’s Damion Schubert has jumped into the debate over the Slicing skill and it’s financial returns. He’s pretty succinctly nailed the issue to the wall and unapologetically states things needed to change:

Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way – slicing was giving too much money, and this needed to be corrected. A bug snuck through launch that resulted in some lockboxes giving out far more cash than our magic spreadsheets said they were supposed to give. The end result was that our economy was getting flooded with credits, which risks causing massive inflation in the economy. Players were abandoning other crafting skills for slicing which was causing the problem to feed on itself. Economic issues are tricky – once you let the horse out of the barn, it’s pretty hard to coax it back in – and it’s important that the dev team jump on these issues as quickly as we can.

Once we corrected the issue, the math started to fall into line, which is to say the metrics of our economy started to match what we expected slicers to have. It’s important to note that, while slicing was always meant to be a little more casual, and less wedded to the other crafting skills than the other gathering skills, it was never meant to be a Magic Money Machine. Slicing is still profitable, I promise – the metrics are showing that slicers still do quite well – but it’s no longer profitable to the degree where you were a moron if you chose any other Crew Skill.

Are we done balancing? This being an MMO, you’re never done balancing, and we will continue to monitor Slicing and the other endgame skills to ensure they are fulfilling their stated purpose inside the game mechanics, useful to the players who choose them, and healthy contributors to the economy as a whole. It is not unlikely that all Crew Skills will get further adjustments once the game and economy has matured and metrics points out a strong need. Once this happens, I promise we’ll make a better effort to let players know the rationale of the changes we’re making as we’re making them.

It’s a bit hard to disagree with the approach if the data was showing an exodus to slicing as a skill. Do you agree?

You, Robot – Part 1

Love them or hate them, companions are a pivotal part of the SWTOR experience. Our resident companion guru, Simon, will be covering in-depth over three parts, everything you need to know about companions. If you’re looking for the full Companions Chart, here’s where you go, otherwise read on below.

Part 1 – NPCs that need NPCs are the luckiest NPCs in the world.

As I stared at my Twilek slave, pondering the merits of freeing her or bestowing another 20,000 volt love-tap, I noticed an irritating buzz in the back of my head. I should mention that I usually ignore most of the activity in there, but this time was different.

This time I realised what it was, before anyone had to accuse me of being insensitive, ripping the ethernet cable from the PC, storming from the room then skyping her mother for two hours whilst eating all the ice cream. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

Where was I? Oh, right -feelings. In this case guilt. And while your frontal lobe may know it doesn’t matter in any real sense how you treat a computer generated, scripted character, deep down in the squishy gray recesses of your brain are neurons that don’t differentiate bad behaviour towards one of your companions or a flesh-and-blood person. For me, that’s where the magic begins.

Bioware’s companion characters have always been deep and contrary with their own agendas. In SWTOR, as you should know by now, this tradition has developed further. With their deft facial animations and sometimes inscrutable likes and dislikes they slowly take on a more real nature then you’d expect. Granted we humans are great at finding patterns where none exist and filling in details that are only suggested. This is why people in Tallahassee occassionally see the image of Elvis on their toast.

But even knowing that, it’s sometimes hard to believe they don’t have a more profound opinion of you than ‘+15 affection’. All of the companions have their own quirks and it’s not always straightforward identifying their likes and dislikes. Having said that, if you’re looking for some insight into your companions or simply want to suck all the fun out of life, you’ll find some useful information in the linked tables accompanying this and the next two articles in this short series.

By now all of you have met several companions and how you feel about them will depend on how you choose to play the game. In some ways it’s easier to ignore them when they start prompting you for a cosy chat everytime you go into a cantina and just use them for the extra firepower, healing, crafting or running off to sell your accumulated junk. But if you do that you’ll miss all the other benefits of getting to know your new imagninary friends. Not only will they add depth through exposition and open up additional side missions, you also have the much discussed opportunity for romance. At this point there’s been little revealed about the depth of this feature, either in the current patch or future ones (barring the same-gender aspect).

There’s always the chance that giving gifts to a companion may be as exciting as giving your toaster the gift of bread – but Bioware isn’t just going to give us toast, as these romantic tangents will offer additional side quests. Even if they don’t ‘love’ you, some companions will offer opportunities for gear if they like you enough. Everyone hates you? No problem, just buy them gifts until they’re borderline co-dependent. Not sure whether they’d prefer ammo or flowers? Just check the table.

All that said – if Bioware adheres to canon, the exploration of love will necessitate flirting with the dangers of passion, although you could remain pure if you only participated in meaningless sex. But that wouldn’t appeal to most players… would it?. I should also mention that not all companions are romanceable, so if you are a smuggler hoping for a little wookie-lurve, you are out of luck. Bioware’s criteria of only having human-like playable races also extends to the races that you can flirt with. If you are curious about your chances for love, you could look up your horoscope or for more reliable information, try the table.

Of course, the best feature of your companion is that, unlike a real person, you can dismiss them when they start to get on your nerves, instead of having to sit smiling through Notting Hill for the hundreth time.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

In the second part of this brief guide we’ll be looking at combat, AI and the all-important ability to pimp your companion’s appearance.