SWTOR Community Q&A 10th August: Last Regular Edition

BioWare have released their latest community Q&A, with the surprise announcement that it’s the last regular one:

We’ve been listening to your feedback, and as of today, we’ll be discontinuing the Community Q&A blog as a weekly feature. However, this means that going forward, we will be focusing on bringing you more frequent and consistent developer responses in the forums to your questions and concerns. Make sure to watch the dev tracker to make sure you don’t miss anything!

We’ll definitely do a Q&A like this whenever we have big announcements in the future, but again, we won’t be doing a weekly Q&A blog post.

Seems yet another retrograde step in communication with the playing community – you’ll now have to regularly check the Dev Tracker, trawl the forums for info, or even better, check in here for the key info! There just seems to be constant chopping and changing in approach to community info given the Community Q&A only changes formats a couple of months back.

Anyway, onto the Q&A itself, it’s devoted to answering questions on the Free-To-Play move. There’s lots of interesting info in there. My take is that given F2P’ers look like they’ll be able to buy most content subscribers have, and can keep any gear earned as subscribers if they move to F2P, there’s going to be a big cohort not bothering to renew their subscription. Sure, easier levelling / bigger inventory etc is convenient, but I’m not convinced there’s enough differentiation to make subscribing that attractive.

Oh – and as you’ll read, Damion Schubert’s word of the week is cadence.

The full Q&A for you:

ButeoRegalis: Are subscriptions the only way to gain Cartel Coins (CCs) in the future, meaning, aside from the bonus coins we’re getting until the Free-to-Play option goes live? Can you purchase them without a subscription?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): All players will be able to purchase Cartel Coins by purchasing them on our website and eventually in-game. These coins are used to buy various virtual items from the Cartel Market. Free-to-Play members can also use Cartel Coins to unlock certain game restrictions.

Samohnat: Will Cartel Coins be available via in-game mechanics?

Damion Schubert: Not initially. We may expand this in the future, but it’s not a goal for launch of the system.

Several players asked: Can you give us more detail about the restrictions on Free-to-Play members? If not, when can we expect more details?

Damion Schubert: Giving more information about these limitations is a core part of our communication efforts over the next few weeks. Our goal is to allow Free-to-Play members to play the game from levels 1 to 50 and encounter most of the class and world content along the way. However, it is equally important to us that the subscription members will have access to a significant number of convenience features that make the game easier to play – leveling speed, bank access, inventory size are all good examples. Once these details are published, I think that most players familiar with the game as it is now will agree that while Free-to-Play members will be getting a good experience andthe subscription members will be getting a substantially improved gameplay experience.

Alahnah: I am interested in more detailed comments about future content releases and how the Free-to-Play option will impact on current bug fixing efforts and the level 50 Operations / 50+ content expansion time frames.

Damion Schubert: We still have a significant portion of the development team focused on creating new content (Operations, Flashpoints, Warzones) – and we have plans to increase the cadence that we deliver new content. One of the nice things about this approach is that it should also speed up the cadence that bug fixes get out to you as well.

Tatile: It’s said that content will continue to come, but will it be like the content we’ve already seen (Operations and Flashpoints in patches with class balancing and new gear) or will the content only be fluffy happy stuff, like speeders and mini-pets?

Damion Schubert: We definitely have plans in the works for more Flashpoints, Operations, Space Missions, and Warzones. Generally, we will have more frequent updates for the game.

Thorvath: So if I cancel/switch to the Free-to-Play option are you going to automatically delete all my Rakata/War Hero gear?

Damion Schubert: You will retain your gear.

LOWTHOR: What happens if all the characters I have already created while subscribed (before Free-to-Play announcement) are now restricted species?

Damion Schubert: Your characters will not be deleted and you CAN still use those characters in the active slots you have as a Free-to-Play member.

VulcanLogic: I have all 8 character slots used up. If I choose the Free-to-Play option, do I get to decide which character slots will be active?

Damion Schubert: Once we institute these limitations, players will absolutely be able to choose which characters are their active characters.

ChazDoit: I’m not much interested in Flashpoints and Operations but will I be able to purchase other features like full access to Warzones, purchase extra character slots, bank slots, and travel features?

Damion Schubert: Yes! When the Free-to-Play option goes live, players will be able to purchase key upgrades to their game experience allowing them to bypass some restrictions, and this list will expand as time goes on. We will have more information about some of these in coming weeks.


Over to you: do you like what you read here about the F2P arrangements?

SWTOR Community Q&A: 27th July 2012

A short few days after the delayed Q&A from last week, BioWare have covered off answers to another handful of questions. This week, there’s even some lore thrown in for good measure!

The Q&A in full for you:

Skendra: Question about Legacy! Under Character Perks -> Travel, at 1.2 there was buff for Sprint Speed but locked and now in 1.3 it was changed to Priority Transport. Why?

Will Wallace (Senior Designer): There were both internal and external balance concerns about allowing players to purchase upgrades to Sprint speed, especially as it related to advantages in Warzones. We don’t want someone to feel like they have to have an optional purchase to be competitive in PvP. The Priority Transport perks were created as a replacement since they are beneficial for all players without upsetting the balance of the game.

Char_Ell: What is the backstory of the seven pillars on Corellia commemorating the heroes of The Jedi Civil War in BTC 303 (Revan, Bastila, Carth, Canderous, Juhani, Mission, Zaalbar)? How did the people of Corellia arrive at the decision to build the pillars?

Hall Hood (Lead Writer): Monuments to these great heroes who saved the entire Republic were constructed on multiple Core Worlds after the war’s end. The motivations behind these memorials differed from planet to planet. Some were built by politicians cynically displaying their patriotism, while others were created by artists and refugees seeking to honor their saviors. Corellia’s pillars, like its many museums, were built as much for tourism as a sincere display of Republic solidarity. Trivia note: a beautiful monument to the heroes stood outside Coruscant’s Galactic Senate building for nearly three centuries, but was destroyed by Sith Empire forces during the planet’s sacking.

Republicmeat: When the in-game event of the Rise of the Rakghoul plague was taking place, there was that vendor in Tatooine who you could sell DNA samples to. Will we ever get to sell our remaining DNA samples if we still have some or are they obsolete from now on since the vendor was removed?

Rick Burton (World Designer): I’ll give the nebulous answer of “It is certainly possible that the DNA samples will be spendable again” with the caveat of “We have no plans at this time to reuse the DNA samples.” While this does not help you decide what you should do with your left over DNA samples, it is the most honestly accurate answer to the question. I’ll throw in one slightly less vague bit of relevant information. For future events, we have made tweaks to the design based on player feedback that should lower the odds players are unexpectedly stuck with “no longer spendable” event currency.

LNSSnorkle: We know players that don’t migrate by themselves will have their chars automatically moved. The thing is, how can we know where they will end up?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): Once we do automatic transfers, we will be doing everything possible in order to maintain the basics of the current ruleset as possible – PvE vs PvP, regional choice, language (for Europe); so in many cases, you should have a good idea of which populations you are likely to end up with. Another top concern is trying to help the populations that result have a good factional balance. We will give out a specific list once we are closer to implementation of this plan – watch for more info soon!

MayoJar: Lately you have been implementing “Server stability” fixes. Can you explain what exactly that is? I keep visualizing some intern sliding napkin shims under a corner of the server. Is this to fix lag issues, log in times, or transition screen load times?

Damion: I can see how this might be confusing to some players – SW:TOR servers, since launch, have enjoyed a reliability of greater than 99%, and since 1.3 went live, we’ve actually improved that to be greater than 99.97%, which means our servers pretty much never crash. However, Game Update 1.3 introduced a server bug that resulted in some players disconnecting randomly from the game, and the server team worked diligently after 1.3 went live to find this issue and stamp it out. This patch note refers (in vague terms, admittedly) to those fixes.

SWTOR Community Q&A 23rd July 2012

The delayed Community Q&A from last Saturday has been released by BioWare, fully reproduced for you below. There’s a bit of everything as always, including a brief but interesting statement on class balance changes. Have a browse:

Chimerashot: The way Campaign gear is set up, some DPS classes have the Armoring with more Endurance instead of their main stat. Can we expect this to change /what was the reasoning behind this?

David Hunt (Systems Designer): It’s an undesired interaction between the distribution of the mods and the move to set bonuses on the armoring. Future gear provides set mods will use the primary stat over Endurance for all DPS classes.

Achyllis: Why don’t cool downs all reset on death in PvP?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Doing this would encourage a couple of things that, so far, we don’t necessarily want to encourage. When you take a position from another player or group of players in a Warzone, holding that position is harder when your group’s abilities are still cooling down and that isn’t the case for the incoming wave of attackers. We entertain this idea every now and then, but we keep arriving at the notion that it would create too much turnover and death zerging, which have historically proven to not be fun.

We also like the tension in the decision of blowing everything to finish someone off in a clutch moment versus acknowledging defeat and coming back in full force. The decision of “going all out” should be a strategic and tactical one rather than a no-brainer that you squeeze in before each death.

Sang: Several months ago class balance changes were made at a smaller and more frequent rate, however, since 1.2 all class balance changes have been made within or around the major game updates (1.2 and 1.3). Will this pattern of class balance changes occurring every few months within the major game updates continue or will we see a return to some more frequent, albeit smaller, changes?

Austin: In the weeks immediately following launch, we had planned and scheduled for as much bug fixing and emergent balancing as possible, and faster class/balance updates were more feasible as a result. Smaller, more frequent class changes proved to have an overall positive impact on the game, so yes, we hope to get back into that kind of rhythm soon.

Esendis: Can we expect some kind of change to the current pve relics? As it stands now the BIS pve relics for many advanced classes are the pvp ones.

Jason Attard (Senior Game Balance Designer): In the long run our intent is to make sure PvP gear is never competitive in end-game PvE situations. Unfortunately, it’s still too early in the design process for us to give an ETA or release any details on what we’re planning for PvP gear.

We currently have no plans to change the PvE relics. In theory the active abilities on the PvE relics do not provide quite as much sustained damage-per-second as a passive relic at the same item level. In practice, when used at the correct time they can deliver a huge amount of damage when you actually need it, and can make you much more effective overall. This is especially true when the relic is paired with powerful cooldowns or burst damage attacks. This is the primary reason we changed the PvP relics into passive relics, as skilled players could wipe out their opponents much more quickly than intended, and nobody likes to be killed before they get a chance to fight back. On the PvE side we decided to keep that extra bit of gameplay, since it helps break up rotations and adds a extra little optimization element to damage dealing in boss fights.

DyronisAre there any plans on making Purple, Cyan, White crystals craftable by Artifice?

Jason: We don’t currently have any plans to make those colors craft-able. This might change in the future, but even if we introduce crafting schematics for them we intend for those lightsaber colors (especially White) to remain relatively rare.

SWTOR Community Q&A: 13th July 2012

There’s everything from new planet design to PVP in this week’s Q&A. There’s even some news on credit sinks that should bring a smile to most people’s faces.

It’s laid out in full as usual for you below:

Anzel: Credit Sinks appear to be one of the hot topics in the community right now. Are there any chances of severely lowering or possibly removing some of these at this early stage in the game?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): Now that 1.3 has been out and legacy perks have been in the system for a while now, we will be looking at our credits sinks, particularly the perks, to see how they are performing. It is quite likely we will make some adjustments based on what we’ve learned.

BobertColeCould you elaborate please on what role you see deception Assassins playing? Are they close to operating in the way that was envisioned?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): First, as to whether or not they’re operating close to what we envision, the answer is “depends who the operator is.” From the videos, logs, and anecdotes players provide us, it’s really very much the answer for all specs – some people “get it” and play it to its potential, and some people don’t. Frequently, the ones who “don’t” are hitting brick walls because their expectations for what a spec should be like or should be capable of are different than what the spec is designed for.

In the case of Deception Assassins, we see and hear about a lot of players expecting to go toe-to-toe with tough enemies. They expect that since they’re a melee spec, they should have the survivability they need to withstand the frontlines. That’s true for some melee specs, but that’s not what Deception Assassins were designed for. Deception should epitomize “hit-and-run” and “lone wolf” gameplay. Obviously that’s less the case in Operations boss encounters, but if this is a question of sustained DPS, the short answer is that they hit within the same 5% “grace window” targeted by every DPS spec in the game.

In solo and PvP environments, Deception is meant to be a high burst, high mobility, shutdown spec. When played properly, they provide some of the highest burst and highest pressure in the game. However, Deception is not a great partner. He can’t take hits, his shutdown requires that he set the pace of the fight, and his escapes leave allies open and vulnerable to counterattacks. I say that, but I’ve seen players dash my expectations and turn Deception into a spectacular teammate. Unfortunately, I’ve seen many more players try to facetank and fail. Assassins have a great team support role – Darkness; they also have a great well-rounded, high utility role – Madness. We left Deception to take the opportunity to do something fun and very different, but that comes with the risk of missing player expectation. If you like Deception and you want to pull it off, my suggestion is that you pick your fights and plan ahead, but I’d also warn that Deception is a spec of extremes – I would not describe it as “well-rounded.”

Coldin: Every class who fights primarily in melee range (Assassins, Warriors, Powertechs) gets some kind of ability they can use to close the distance outside of 30 meters. That is except for Operatives. What’s the reasoning behind the Operative’s apparent lack of ability to quickly get within range to deal their most powerful attacks?

Austin: In PvP, the short answer is a combination of stealth (including Cloaking Screen), the ability to self-cleanse, and the ability to self-heal. Operatives also benefit from a good deal of control with snares, Sleep Dart, Debilitate, and Flash Bang, with additional roots, snares, and knockdowns available in skill trees. However, those things don’t offer much benefit in boss fights that demand a high level of mobility and target switching. The question for us becomes one of how to best introduce a “fix” for a few encounters without dramatically impacting gameplay in other game modes or environments. That’s a much longer answer, and something of an ongoing discussion. High mobility fights and encounters with a lot of target switching are proving to be fun ways for our Operations designers to challenge players. So with that theme keeping up, this issue is quickly floating to the top of our priority list.

SindorinWhen you’re discussing a new planet, what sort of criteria do you guys lay out for the design process? How do you determine what’s in or out, and what sort of backstory or lore goes into it?

Alex Freed (Lead Writer): Any new world needs to feel different from the worlds around it (in game terms, the worlds with level ranges just above or below its own), and it needs to push the overall themes of the story forward. So we might start with basic requirements like “We want to show the Republic going on the offensive,” and “We want a wilderness world, since we’ve done a lot of urbanized planets lately.” Defining these basic requirements isn’t too difficult–they can usually be determined with an hour or two of group discussion.
After that, it gets more difficult. Figuring out the details of the world (including whether we want a canon planet to fill the role, or if we want to create a new planet altogether) takes much longer, but the basic criteria stay the same: Does the backstory fit the requirements outlined? Does the planet sound fun to play through? Is it practical? (If the art department can’t build a planet full of, say, 90-foot-tall giants who use buildings as melee weapons, then that idea isn’t practical, no matter what writing may want). Elements that contribute to the overall goals of the planet are retained; elements that don’t get put to one side.

Writing, art and world design work together closely during this process, and if all goes well, we get a planet that has a clear purpose while being broad enough to support a wide variety of interesting missions.

Talius-LHIs there any plan in place for either re-implementing the removed codex entries and titles or removing them entirely from the codex?

Damion: The codex will get a clean-up pass in the not-too-distant future, and at that time, we’ll be either removing the entries that are no longer obtainable or re-enabling some those removed entries if it makes sense to do so.

Anything of particular excitement for you above? Let us know in comments!

Community Q&A: 6th July 2012

The latest community Q&A answers are now available. The first answer on future playable species was interesting, as was insight into the different class story lines.

You can read them all in full below, so get to it!

CelCawdro: If Cathar are successful, what kinds of species can we expect to see? May we see anything beyond the current selection of near-humans? What is the process behind selecting new species and gauging community interest?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): We’d like to open the selection of future species to the community as a whole with clear positives and negatives provided for each selection. That way we can go a bit further afield in our species selection.


Lurtzello: Are the various stories ordered? Meaning, when does the storyline of each Republic planet takes place compared to the Imperial storyline and the storylines of the other planets?

Alex Freed (Lead Writer): The short, unsatisfying answer: it depends!

The longer answer: The class stories tend to weave in and out of one another–they all happen (nothing’s “out of continuity”), and they all happen roughly at the same time (chapter 3 is chapter 3 for everyone, for example), but there’s not a set correspondence that runs all the way through. For example, you couldn’t say “the Jedi Knight is always half a planet ahead of the Imperial Agent.” But you could say “the Bounty Hunter chapter 3 finale takes place before the Trooper chapter 3 finale.”

For the world stories, it’s a little more complicated. In some cases, only one of the world stories can happen–the Republic and Empire can’t both defeat King Ulgo on Alderaan, or the villain of the False Emperor Flashpoint. For story purposes, we know these characters were defeated… but we don’t know by whom.

In other cases, different factions’ world stories happen roughly at the same time–aside from the final defeat of Ulgo, the rest of the Alderaan missions can be contemporaneous. Other world stories are, as you suggest, time-separated–Republic Taris takes place significantly before Imperial Taris, and Imperial Balmorra takes place significantly before Republic Balmorra.

For the most part, it’s best not to worry too much about ordering individual world events unless they actively reference one another–and if they contradict one another, you can assume that we won’t be writing future stories that depend on one faction’s participation at the exclusion of the other. (For example, you’ll note that the Corellia “Black Hole” storyline reconciles the events of the Imperial and Republic Corellia storylines so that going forward, we know roughly the state Corellia is in!).


caravaggio: The last few major patches have seen significant changes to the Sniper/Gunslinger Marksman/Sharpshooter tree. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys envision the class and what was not working that caused you to decide changes needed to be made? Do you think that 1.3 brought you closer to where you want to be or do you still see areas in the tree that need improvement?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Marksmanship and Sharpshooter have been a challenge to “get right” to be sure. Apart from cover and cover gameplay in general, Marksmanship and Sharpshooter have had a few specific hurdles for us to overcome. Thematically, these guys are high weapon damage specs, and that means that they can be easily countered (or even shut down) with a cooldown like Deflection. On the other hand, when their target is defenseless, their high weapon damage can actually become a little overwhelming.

These specs are also highly cover-dependent, and it has been a difficult task to communicate to players that in most cases they’re better off holding their ground than kiting like a Sorcerer or Sage would. Of course, even that depends on having chosen a good cover spot to begin with. We face the issue of rewarding clean shots from cover while not making extended stays overpowered.

To answer you more directly, our vision for these specs hasn’t changed, but I think we’re striking much closer to that target than we have in the past. I’m really quite happy with Marksmanship and Sharpshooter in Game Update 1.3. Prior to this update, these skill trees fell apart at the top tiers, so we really wanted to address that and reward the full-spec Marksmanship and Sharpshooter. They now have the tools to stand their ground when they need to, they have better energy management than ever before, and their gameplay is smoother, simpler, and more rewarding. That’s not to suggest there aren’t issues, but I expect most issues can be addressed with minor tweaks in the future.


Clymene: Are there any plans to buff companion tanks? Currently they are barely any better at survivability than dps companions, especially poor Xalek, and don’t hold aggro very well.

Austin: I’ll bring up the issue with the rest of the team and see if increased survivability and threat is something we can afford to give them. Without me revisiting our goals for what tank companions should do, off the top of my head, it certainly sounds like they could use some adjustments. Thanks for raising this issue.


Taitsuo: Would you guys consider adding root effects to the Resolve bar? At the moment, 3 well-coordinated Gunslingers could permaroot someone (5secs duration, 15 secs cooldown). With ranked warzones, that could mean a lot…

Austin: Resolve is meant to put a lid on effects that take control away from you, the player. It’s meant to limit the effectiveness of chain stuns, sleeps, and knockbacks. However, it is not meant to impact the ranged and melee (kiting and anti-kiting) balance of the game. This was a very deliberate measure taken to separate these two different aspects of control. I won’t say that we won’t limit the “chainability” of roots in the future, but given the amount of skills and abilities that break and cleanse roots and snares at the moment, it’s not something we’re very concerned about. Of course, we will be keeping an eye on how ranked warzone teams use the tools they have.

Community Q&A 30th June 2012: Beyond Cathar

Another week, another Community Q&A!

BioWare continue their promised shorter and sweeter format with a handful of questions, including the issue of playable races into the future.

Read the full kahuna below:

Lesai: When it comes to planning content and game direction, how much of it is based on the developers’ plan for the game, and how much of it is based on community suggestion and feedback?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): As we come to the end of our big must-have features (like Group Finder), updates are driven more and more by the community. Expect to see far more of the smaller quality of life requested features (color matching for companions, chat bubbles, etc.) start to get real traction under them in the near future.


CelCawdro: What are your long-term plans for implementing playable species? Are Cathar merely the first of semi-regular species additions?

Daniel: Like all of our ongoing content updates, we’ll release Cathar into the wild and see how they perform. If new species are clearly popular we’ll keep them coming!


Nyrdbyrd: People are always disappointed when they lose the tie breaker in a Voidstar match, as though it was incorrectly judged. Any chance you could clarify the tiebreaker rules for us?

Rob Hinkle (Senior PvP Designer): Excellent question! We’ve actually gone through a series of adjustments to improve this very system. As of 1.3, here is how a winner is determined in Voidstar: There are 6 checkpoints inside the Warzone – the 3 sets of blast doors, the bridge in the reactor room, the forcefields in the cargo room, and the datacore itself. The team that gets the furthest wins the Warzone. If both teams get to the same checkpoint, then whichever team gets to that point the quickest wins.

When the Warzone figures out that one team has already won the match (since they are the 2nd team on the attack and have exceeded their opponents’ progress, or have gotten to the same spot faster), the match will end immediately instead of playing out the rest of the game to a known ending.

Unrelated to the tiebreaker changes (but also exciting), we’ve made a change to the Hangar inside Voidstar to help prevent stalemates inside the first room. We’ve added a broken fence down a portion of the middle of the room, which obstructs movement but not vision. The intended result is that the defenders have to commit to defend one side or the other, and can’t float between both doors quite so easily.


Tomisu: How does Expertise affect healing in PvE environments, like Operations for instance? If all players are flagged for PvP, will the heals they receive get the Expertise bonus? If not, what prevents it?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Expertise counters the negative effects of “PVP Trauma,” the debuff applied when engaging in combat with enemy players. It is not in any way associated with flag status.


Kiper: My question is are you still considering some sort of dual talent option, and if so is there an ETA?

Austin: This is definitely a feature we hope to provide in the future, but we don’t have any details to share at this time (including an ETA).

Community Q&A June 15th 2012: Lotsa Bits

A belated posting of this week’s Community Q&A from BioWare.

It’s a decent sized one covering a range of things, although BioWare have given the heads-up that future instalments are likely to feature fewer answers on average.

Have a read for yourself:


GarrickBlackSun: I understand he is a long way off, but could you please possibly give us any sort of clearer or better insight to the unlocking of HK-51?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): The only thing we’re saying today is its going to take a serious amount of work, involves a galaxy-wide mission, introduces some different ways of playing the game and most people will need to have a 50 of one faction and at least a mid-level character from the other faction. Get working on those Legacy characters!

Zoheb: It looks like the LFG Tool will limit the FP’s we can queue for to those within our level range. This may handicap those who have skipped a large number of FP’s and have effectively outlevelled that FP’s range. Will they be able to queue for FP’s below their level range and if not, why not?

Antonia Phillips (Development Director): Not at this time. The reason we did not include this option with the launch of the feature is essentially balance. We did not want to penalize some players by matching them with players far above their level. In addition, we want players to feel that they are contributing to content and not being carried through by higher level players. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we won’t implement a version of this option with a future release. We’ve heard the feedback on the forums and we recognize that this is important, just as long as we implement it correctly.

SAtaarcoeny: Is there any chance of you guys making the PvP win/loss stats viewable by everyone?

Rob Hinkle (Senior PvP Designer): We currently do display a player’s rating via inspection and the /who list, as long as that rating is above a particular threshold (currently set to 1200). We really would like to encourage the competitive aspect of Ranked Warzones by allowing players to compare themselves against each other, so this is suggestion is definitely something we will talk about.

Cycao: Can I please get a response on this issue I have for Ranked Warzones and how you will deal with a disconnect? People disconnect from Warzones; it happens and sometimes it’s the game, others it’s a client issue, but it happens. To go down one man in a ranked warzone will be detrimental to the team.

Rob: We are aware that a Warzone team suddenly losing a player is a great disadvantage to that team, and we are investigating ways we can better mitigate that loss to the team.  One of the things that we currently have implemented is that the team that loses a team member will have that factor taken into consideration when the system makes adjustments to ELO ratings at the end of the match.

Skondy: Can one of the Developers give a detailed breakdown on how threat is generated? I have heard that it is generated more by how many times a player can land blows on the boss than by how much damage is dealt. So that a tank can hold aggro better by using his basic attack (rapid shots, saber strike, etc) in combination with his high threat moves, rather than trying to do as much damage as possible to a boss.

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Threat is equal to damage inflicted at a “one damage equals one threat” ratio. Passive threat modifiers then adjust that amount by a percentage, while active threat dumps adjust current threat levels by a percentage. I wouldn’t suggest using your basic attack to try and generate high threat.

Elfindreams: What does the “cover fire” keybind do? The keybind, not passive skill and not “take cover” or “take cover in place” – specifically “cover fire”. It does not have any function in advanced class cover mechanics that anyone has been able to detect.

Austin: This is actually a Dev function that was never cut from the retail build. You are correct that it serves no function to players. I’ll investigate why this option yet remains.

Theworldends: With the implementation of “smart” aoe attacks for tanks, why are there still no smart aoe heals that only target the lowest health group members?

Austin: So far, this hasn’t fallen into the category of gameplay we want to change. All AOEs prioritize targets closer to the center of that AOE, so a better aimed Revivification or Kolto Bomb will yield better results. It’s not hard to imagine a world with “smart” AOE heals though, so I’ll end with saying that it’s certainly something we’re still considering.

VexedLucifer: How do armor debuffs work? Do they allow for more damage from other players besides the one who put the debuff on the target? If two characters of the same class put an armor debuff on do they both allow for more damage or does only one take effect while calculating damage? For example, would a raid do more damage to a boss if it had 3 unique armor debuffs opposed to no armor debuffs?

Austin: Game Update 1.3 introduces a new system to regulate the stacking of buffs and debuffs, such that only the highest of any same-effect applies. There are some exceptions to this, but by and large (and in the case of armor reduction), only the highest of any same-effect will apply. You will still benefit from the presence of your own debuff (for example, your 5 stacks of Armor Reduction will enable your Guardian Slash to strike nearby enemies), but only the biggest debuff will affect the target’s stats. And yes, armor debuffs do benefit all attackers.


Jtsd: Will you release Power/Crit and Defence/Absorption enhancements? Currently the only way to get Crit Rating is to directly swap out Power, which is only slightly behind our Primary Stat in value. The only way to get Absorption is to take a larger amount of Accuracy or Shield Rating.

Jason Attard (Senior Game Designer): We currently have our late-game stats split into two groups: Power, Defense, Crit, and Absorb in one, and Accuracy, Alacrity, Surge, and Shield in the other. Modifications have a stat from the first group, and Enhancements have one stat from each group. This was done to prevent players from stacking a single stat to the exclusion of all others, and to help keep the number of Modifications and Enhancements in the game to a reasonable number. Every time we introduce a new set of gear we refine our item design, and we have considered loosening up the restraints on those stats in various ways, but we do not have an ETA for it yet.


Kingofthebritons: In last weeks’ announcement, we learned that the level cap will be increased later this year. With this change in mind, will any changes be made to the current PvE endgame? For example, will the difficulties for Hard Mode Flashpoints and Operations be increased to match the new level? If not, could you explain why?

Daniel: We’re keeping a tight wrap on details about the level increase later this year until we’ve done far more testing. Right now we have plans and theories but no empirical numbers for what, if any adjustments will need to be made to PvE endgame content.

Community Q&A June 8th 2012: Group Finder and Crew Skills

This week’s Community Q&A is a mixed batch of answers covering everything from the group finder to augments. Read on below to see if some long-standing question has been answered for you:

Stubacca: Will the new Group Finder only work for solo players to find random group members, or will two or three friends that are already grouped together manually be able to still play together and fill the open spots in the group with random group members with it?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer):  The Group Finder has absolutely been designed to allow 2- or 3-person groups to find the missing players to complete that group. It also has functionality allowing players to easily backfill a group if, for example, you start running a Flashpoint and lose a player.

Elperzon: Will we ever be given the chance to ‘forget’ schematics we know? For example, I can make the base item, the 3 upgraded version (crit, power, def), and some of their upgraded versions (alacrity, surge, etc). That makes for a ton of schematics for a single item. I would love to be able to forget the base item schematic if I have the upgraded version I like/want.

Damion: This is, in fact, something that we’ve thought about and might implement at some point. However, it’s mostly a nice cleanup thing and is behind other priorities at the moment.

Goldenstar: Daniel Erickson mentioned in the last Q&A that social points will now be awarded for boss kills in HM FPs/OPs. What about PvPers? Are there any plans to add methods of acquiring social points to PvP?

Damion: At this time, players won’t be able to gain social points by participating in PvP. In the future, it’s possible that we’ll evaluate more ways to earn social points and how that system compares to other reward systems in the game.

CiKaidom: You mentioned “pre-made teams” in your answer to Lymain (link), but what did you mean exactly? Are you saying that to increase our ranking we’ll need to always be with the same group of 8, or will we be allowed to change one or more players? Is this ranking common to all team warzones fought or is it specific to a team, and changes whenever one or more members of this team change?

Rob Hinkle (Senior PvP Designer): Our apologies for the lack of clarity. A “pre-made team” in the context of Ranked Warzones simply means any full 8-man operation. You do not need to always queue with the same group of 8, just a full group of 8. Each individual player keeps his own ranking, and when a team is formed and queued we generate the team value based on all of the rankings of the members of that specific team.

Ghoppa: Can Force/tech attacks (for example a Scoundrel’s Back Blast) actually ever miss (excluding any special abilities players have)? Do Accuracy and Defense play any role with these attacks, or does Accuracy/Defense only affect melee/ranged attacks? Can Force/tech attacks be shielded?

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Yes, but the flytext you’ll see is “Resist” instead of “Miss.” Typically, Force/tech Accuracy is higher than melee/ranged Accuracy and melee/ranged Defense is higher than Force/tech Defense, but Accuracy and Defense work the same with all attack types. Currently Force/tech attacks cannot be shielded.


Alxandria: Can we get a detailed breakdown of the affect of Presence on our companions? I’m specifically targeting info that would explain if the bonuses are weighted or static.

Jason Attard (Senior Game Designer): Your companion gets a fixed amount of damage, healing, and health per point of Presence on your character, and that amount does not change as you level up. This is the exact same sort of scaling done for Endurance and Power. In fact, putting 100 points of Presence on your main character is equivalent to putting 50 points of Endurance and ~85 points of Power on your companion, so if you’re playing solo or 2-player content where you have your companion out it’s mathematically the most effective thing you can do. This is offset by the fact that it’s split between offense and defense (making your companion less role-specialized) and that you’re sacrificing your personal effectiveness to increase the effectiveness of an AI.

As for how it scales as you level up, characters get lots of Endurance and Power on their gear, but typically don’t get much Presence. This means that, early on, Presence tends to be a bigger proportion of your overall stat budget (and thus plays a bigger role in your companion’s effectiveness) than it does in the late game. In theory, you could make Presence more important by seeking it out for your gear, but in practice we found most players prefer to increase the power of their own character instead, so we made Presence have more of a niche role, and balanced the PvE game assuming players do not itemize towards it at all.


Shintorg: Can you explain the reasoning behind making the BIS consumables, Exotech Stims and Adrendals, drop so rarely and seemingly only on Hard Mod EV&KP? Why isn’t there a way to purchase these? Why don’t they drop in Explosive Conflict? Or off bosses?

David Hunt (Systems Designer): These schematics are split between the Black Hole and Daily Commendation vendors in Game Update 1.3. This isn’t in the version of Game Update 1.3 that’s currently on the public test server, but it will make it into Game Update 1.3 before it reaches live servers.

RCcarroll: I play characters of a multitude of levels regularly and haven’t gotten one Legacy Item drop. Would you mind saying how often these are supposed to drop and on what kind of enemies?

David Hunt: Legacy items do not have a specific drop location. Inheritance can drop from any random loot of level 34 or higher. That usually means killing NPCs at level 34 or above, but it’s possible for an NPC to drop loot slightly above its level. Birthright items drop from level 46+ (Inheritance can still drop from 46-50). It is difficult to state their precise drop rates because most random drop rates vary significantly depending on what you’re killing. Normal bosses throughout the world have a substantially higher chance of dropping these than regular NPCs.

These drops are included in the Artifact quality loot table. As with everything on that table, the best way to find it is through Artifact quality lockboxes anywhere in the level range. Tough bosses that drop random loot are another option. However, I would not recommend purchasing these boxes with the expectation of finding lots of Legacy gear – there are tons of competing items in those loot tables.

Whenever dealing with any drop rate that’s low and random from a large selection, the individual experience ends up varying wildly. The overall drop chance for these is increasing in an upcoming update, and we’re looking at other ways to normalize the acquisition rate of these items.

SNOperaghost: Which crafting skills will be able to make which specific types of augment kits?

David White (Systems Designer): Armormech, Synthweaving, & Armstech can all craft Augment Kits. The kits are the same regardless of Crew Skill.

StagehandMERC: Can you talk about efficiency bonuses for Crew Skills? Are they a percent reduction to the time it takes to complete tasks, or is there more to it than that? Also, is there an efficiency bonus granted by companion affection? How does it scale from 0 affection through to full?

David White: The efficiency bonus reduces the amount of time it takes to run Crew Skill missions and crafting. Certain companions have innate bonuses to the efficiency of specific Crew Skills but all companions will become more efficient as your Affection with them goes up. It is possible to get as much as a 15% efficiency bonus when you are at max Affection.

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.

Community Q&A 25th May: SWTOR 1.3 Special

This week’s Community Q&A from BioWare is dedicated to 1.3. For mine, 1.3 has been covered pretty extensively and there doesn’t seem anything ground-breakingly new here, but it’s a great summary of some key areas around ranked Warzones, the LFG tool (which won’t be cross-server) and gear. Read the full Q&A below:


llesna: Can you please tell us why the upcoming Legacy additions for Game Update 1.3 are character-specific rather than Legacy-wide?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): Legacy Perks have a different purpose than global unlocks and are specifically designed to enable players to customize each individual character. Since you may not care about Space XP or running the Bonus Series missions on one character it is important that you’re not paying a premium that is calculated at the expense of 8 or more characters all gaining this benefit. This also means the Legacy Perks will, as a rule, be more affordable than the global unlocks.

Ixum: Daniel Erickson said in his interview that there will be no new gear sets in Game Update 1.3. Does this mean there will not be any new orange gear as well?

Daniel: Although there are no new gear sets, the addition of Adaptive Gear opens up a range of new options for characters, especially those wearing medium and heavy armor. Now any of the social gear sets can be used by any class and they will automatically change stats to be the correct armor level. With the addition of the Augment Tables, players can additionally take that social gear and get Augment slots added that will make it competitive with any gear in the game—once the right mods and augments are gathered, of course.

Mindspore: Any update on Ranked Warzones in 1.3?

Daniel: Ranked Warzones is on track for 1.3. All the heavy lifting (ratings, group persistence exiting warzones, etc) is done and right now we are working through some emergent conflicts with Group Finder and the process of queuing for multiple activities at once with multiple temporary groups.

Mallorik: What is your philosophy on cross server LFG tools? Are we getting a same server tool just to hold us over while you work on cross server tech or is this just a test to see if a same server tool will do the job? 

Daniel: Although we’re certainly willing to entertain the idea of cross-server LFG tools if the need arises, it’s a last resort for us. We firmly believe for cooperative play it is important to have a community and social responsibility that you simply can’t have with players appearing and disappearing from your reality. Instead we are pushing hard on servers that are massive compared to the ones we launched with. Early tests show we’ll be able to raise the peak concurrent user cap above what it was at launch. Combining that with server transfers to enable players to move to these new servers and fill them to the brim, we should see some fantastic, vibrant communities develop where Group Finder will always be able to find someone for your content.

CompassRose: Many players are concerned about the upcoming character transfer feature. One question frequently being voiced in the forums is that of retaining their legacy surname. Is there a mechanic in the transfer feature that will notify a player if the destination server they choose already has their surname locked by another player?

Daniel: We’re not quite (almost!) ready to talk about the specifics but rest assured we are doing everything we can to make the process as easy and low-impact to the greatest majority of players as possible. We should have better specifics soon.

BlazingShadow: Will we see the return of our favorite droid HK in some form?

Daniel: The great thing about droids is that they can be rebuilt. Of course, HK-47 wasn’t the only HK model ever built…

Asturias: Are you guys looking to let players incorporate a Bio for each character so others can read it. I always loved how some MMOs had this option for others to read a quick Bio of my character that I created and I could read theirs.

Daniel: Unfortunately because of our intricate mission systems we are carrying a massive amount of variables for each character already so we are forced to be a bit stingy with things like customizable text. That said, we’re already researching solutions for making this content lighter to drag around with each character and I’d love to see it. Nothing soon, though.

Ximix: Are there any plans to revisit ability animation issues between mirror classes? For example, several “instant” Sage abilities actually have 1-2 second activations while Sorcerer abilities activate and deal damage instantly. Just like the Commando vs Bounty Hunter animations, in PvP these discrepancies can be huge.

Austin Peckenpaugh (Senior Designer): Whenever you use an “instant” ability, the server receives and process that action without any animation dependency (read: instantly), but the impact VFX and flytext are synced to the attack animation on your client. This is done to make the game look good and give attacks a sense of weight and impact without affecting timing or balance.

There are some notable exceptions to this that are real delays and real discrepancies that we’re aware of and are addressing. In the case of Shock and Project, there is a real delay (on the server) before Project deals its damage, and that’s something we’re fixing in 1.3. The other real delays that we’re aware of are in Smash and Force Sweep, but we don’t yet have a fix for those.

If you believe additional abilities have delays or are not mirrored, you’d have to point them out specifically. With the exception of the abilities I’ve already mentioned, so far our investigations have shown that the discrepancies being reported are the intentional ones that make the game look good and feel right and, to reiterate, do not impact timing or balance.

gabarooni: As a long time tank (nearly 10 years), I’ve come to the conclusion that holding Aggro is not fun. Tanks already have to watch their survivability, cooldowns, position mobs, watch their groups position and health, and fight the mobs—all of which I enjoy. Are there any plans in Game Update 1.3 to increase threat generation for tanks? Especially for Guardians and Juggernauts?

Austin: Actually, yes. We’ll have more detailed information for you soon, but you can expect some improvements in threat generation, AOE threat, and quality of life.

Hargan: Will the Commando Gunnery spec be rebalanced after the changes in Game Update 1.2 so that we are back on par with the DPS output of similarly geared Sages/Gunslingers/Sentinels in Operations?

Austin: I think I’ll confirm a lot of suspicions with this answer, but the bugfix that addressed Demolition Round scaling had a large enough impact on Gunnery DPS that it surprised us, too. Although Gunnery and Arsenal had been hitting our targets, it became harder to do so than we were comfortable with. Another way to say that is that the “low end” of our test results was hit too frequently by too many people. The changes you’re going to see are mostly in resource management and usability, which will make it easier for you to deliver the considerable damage you already wield. We’ll have more detailed information for you soon.

Brutalos: What class balances can we expect from Game Update 1.3 and will it undo some of the changes done in 1.2?

Austin: Game Update 1.2 brought damage dealing and healing roles closer to target than they had previously been. If for you and your class that meant a reduction in performance, that can be a hard thing for me to justify to you. I think it’s fair to say that some of those changes were made by reducing usability instead of just reducing numbers, and it’s these usability issues that we want to correct and negative changes to usability that we don’t want to repeat in the future. Like I said before, we’ll have more detailed information for you soon, but if I had to identify a motif for class changes in future updates, it’d be “improved usability.”


Supaaq: I am extremely excited to see a Group Finder being added to SWTOR in Game Update 1.3. I would say of all the features I wish the game could have ASAP, that definitely tops my list. What else can you tell us about the specific implementation of this most welcome improvement? Will it automatically teleport group members to the entrance when the group forms?

Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): We are very, very close to releasing the full design of the feature in an imminent blog post written by yours truly. That being said, highlights do include that it can be used for flashpoints, heroic flashpoints, ops and planetary content. For the instanced combat, it will give you a free teleport to the content location once all group members agree to the group.

Gangawolf: I am curious about the cost of repairing gear, particularly in the end-game. When I die, I find that the cost to repair my Bounty Hunter’s gear is just under half what if costs my Jedi Consular (and they are similarly geared in terms of level of gear). Likewise, my Smuggler falls somewhere in between the two. Again, not a scientific sampling, but it seems like heavy armor sets are cheaper to repair than medium armor sets which in turn are cheaper than light armor sets. Why wouldn’t repair costs be the same across the board for similar level gear?

Jason Attard (Senior Game Balance Designer): Repair costs are tied to the percentage of durability your items have lost (in addition to item level and quality). Currently heavy armor has a higher durability score than medium or light armor, so it degrades more slowly in combat and it is thus cheaper to repair over time. This was put in place fairly early in development to give tanks a bit of a break on their repair costs (back before we had lightly-armored Shadow/Assassin tanks). With the introduction of Adaptive Armor in Game Update 1.3 this design decision is definitely getting dated, so there’s a good chance we will normalize the durability of all armor types in a future update.

tkinnunzero: In Game Update 1.3, can you briefly summarize what is the endgame Operation gear progression, i.e. what is the path a fresh level 50 is intended to be following that will see him/her eventually conquer the highest difficulties and end up fully decked in Best-in-Slot gear in every slot?

Jason: We expect a fresh level 50 character to start with a mixture of high level Premium and Prototype gear from missions, crafting and planetary commendations. For players interested in Group PvE end-game content the first step would be to use Group Finder to go through the Normal Mode Flashpoints until you acquire a full set of Prototype gear, probably mixed with several Artifact/Tionese items or mods. Next up would be hard mode Flashpoints (starting with tier 1 then moving on to the harder tier 2 Rakghoul Flashpoints) and story-mode Operations (starting with Eternity Vault then moving on to Karraga’s Palace) where you pick up your Columi/Energized gear. Finally you’d get into story mode Explosive Conflict to pick up your Rakata gear, and use the Black Hole commendations to start picking up Black Hole gear. To progress past this point you’ll need a guild at your back capable of doing Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode Operations. Starting into hard modes immediately after story mode Eternity Vault will let your dramatically accelerate your Columi and Rakata gearing, and Hard Mode Explosive Conflict lets you rapidly pick up Black Hole gear and is the only way to pick up the top-of-the-line Campaign gear set.

Once you have good gear that you feel you’re going to hold on to for a while you can improve it by adding Augments through crafting and Item Modification Tables. You can also optimize it by extracting mods from duplicate pieces of Operation gear to get the perfect balance of stats for your character build. Crafting also has a role to play, especially if your guild has a lot of extra Operation gear they can reverse engineer. It allows you to augment your gear more quickly and cheaply, customize the look of your gear, and help gear up your new guild-mates with powerful crafted mods and items.

If you enjoy solo content playing the daily mission hubs on Ilum, Belsavis and Corellia can help rack up the credits and accelerate your early end-game gear progression. The Galactic Trade Network provides opportunities to buy powerful mods and items with all those credits, while providing a decent income for the end-game crafters.

Our plan for future Operation game updates is to have Group Finder players to progress from Story mode to Story mode, while Operation guilds move into Hard Mode of the new operation (possibly dropping back into Story Mode to learn fight mechanics or gear up new players) then progress into Nightmare Mode. We intend to introduce Hard Mode and Nightmare Mode in the same update (Nightmare Explosive Conflict was delayed to allow us get some exciting new Nightmare Mode tech into the game which we should have more details on soon). We’re also planning on having Hard Mode Flashpoint rewards continue to progress as we introduce new tiers of content, allowing new players to skip past some of the earlier Operations (if their guild has already completed them and doesn’t wish to go back, for example).

Over to you: any info in here that’s new for you or got you excited?

SWTOR Community Q&A summary

BioWare’s community team have done a nice summary post of all the community Q&A’s to date. We’ve reproduced it below and will update it regularly as well. Enjoy!

Welcome to the weekly Q&A Archive, a convenient place where we have collected all of the questions and answers from our Q&A blog series for your perusal.

Before posting a question for an upcoming Q&A, we urge you to check this archive to see if it has already been answered.

To read all Weekly Q&As, go here.


Crew Skills
Dailies, Missions
Flashpoints, Operations
Future Content
Mods, Augments, Crystals
Nuts & Bolts
Grab Bag




Advanced Classes

Smuggler/Imperial Agent

Trooper/Bounty Hunter




Schematics, Reverse Engineering






(See also Mods, Augments, Crystals)



Mods(See also Mods, Augments, Crystals)
























Population, Factions




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.