James Ohlen: All Your Bugs Are Belong To Us

A quick update from SWTOR’s Game Director James Ohlen on the regularity of bug fixes for the game:

Almost every week we will be releasing a new patch. These weekly patches are almost entirely focused on bug fixes, minor balance changes and fixing any exploits in the game. These issues are the highest priority items at the studio. They are reviewed by senior leadership on a daily basis. Bug fixes usually take longer than a week to get into the game because we need to fix the issue and then test the fix. Some bugs take longer than that because of the complexity of the issue.

There are issues that we will fix immediately. These are rare and not every issue can be fixed in this manner. We usually reserve these “emergency fixes” for bugs that are stopping players from playing the game or to exploits that could unbalance the entire game if not corrected.

Any game as big and as complex as The Old Republic will have bugs. We’re working as hard as we can to find, fix, test and patch the game to eliminate as many of them as possible.

Seems a very sane and expected approach to me – I like regular updates rather than skanking huge patches that mostly fix bugs. How about you? Are you experiencing bugs that are driving you insane?

(And if you don’t get the title of this post – here’s the background)

New Flashpoint and expanded Karagga’s Palace Operation announced

Talk about not resting on one’s laurels. Bioware’s James Ohlen has provided a sneak peek on some new content launching next month.

Not much is being given away about either but here’s Ohlen’s teaser:

Next month we’re going to be releasing a new Flashpoint and an expanded Operation. The new Flashpoint involves a plague that could have significant repercussions across the galaxy. It takes place on a brand new world and involves some pretty epic battles. I can’t go into much detail, but be prepared for something different. The expanded Operation takes the existing Karagga’s palace scenario and more than triples it in size. It includes three new boss monsters and some pretty epic set pieces.

The last boss of the Karagga Operation is pictured in this post. I haven’t checked out any of the current Operations yet, so talk about me needing to play catch-up!

On the SWTOR forums, there’s already some debate over releasing new content versus fixing bugs in current content. Stephen Reid has responded on that as well:

And so begins the eternal MMO battle between ‘more new stuff’ and ‘fix the bugs’.

The development team is large enough that essentially, we can do both. We have many people working on analysing, triaging, fixing, testing and deploying new fixes to ensure the game’s stability – and we also have many other developers expanding the game and creating new content.

How about you – are you keen on new content already?

SWTOR might have been a Game of Thrones MMO

PC Gamer has an interesting interview with Bioware’s James Ohlen on the early discussions at Bioware around developing an MMO.

I’d always thought it would have been a little like the United Nations meeting for the first time, but apparently it was a core of three people. And according to Ohlen, those three tossed around ideas, including options if the Star Wars franchise wasn’t used:

“We had backup plans,” said Ohlen. “In all the design team was like three of us at that point, in total. So we were looking at doing a Lord of the Rings MMO, a Silmarillion MMO, a kind of a Gunslinger-esque Dark Tower MMO, a Game of Thrones MMO.”

Now, is it too much to ask for Bioware to develop all of those options – I mean how hard could it be? I’m not 100% sure on the Dark Tower option, but I’d definitely play the other three. A LOTRO competitor would have thrown in one hell of a competition dynamic into the MMO field, that’s for sure.

Over to you: if it wasn’t Star Wars, what lore-base should Bioware have used? Any commenters suggesting a Gilligan’s Island or Twilight MMO will be banned – but I’d back a Happy Days game.

So what’s next with SWTOR?

We’re twelve hours into Day One of SWTOR’s early access period for those who pre-ordered, but that hasn’t stopped Bioware talking about future development plans for the game. James Ohlen has blogged on the broad areas for improvement that are already on the radar. There are some obvious ones like more game content and implementation of a guide bank, but there’s also some encouraging signs on other aspects. The ones that caught my attention in particular were:

PvP: Some strong hints are dropped about open world PvP as well as emphasising the team working on improving current content and developing new PvP content.

Space combat: I actually didn’t get a chance to check out space combat in beta but the hints on a wider role for this will be welcomed in a lot of quarters I would have thought.

UI Customisation: I’m a bit of a minimalist with UI tweaks but I know I’m in a minority and the more customisation the better I suppose. Tetris whilst in a Taxi anyone?

Any MMO lives and dies on its development cycle and its looking like Bioware are going out on the front foot to emphasise they have solid development plans. As I joked in a forum 30 minutes after starting early access: “I’m bored – when’s the next expansion coming out?”