eric musco

Hyperspace Beacon: Five things Star Wars The Old Republic still does well

I have been harping on so many things that BioWare is doing wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic that some have wondered why I still play the game. I will admit that I have been playing it less and less. Some of that has to do with the amount of free time I have, but if I’m honest with myself, my desire to play the game has dwindled. But I still enjoy it. I know that I don’t need to justify myself; if I like something, I like it, and if I don’t like it, I don’t.

But there are still reasons to like SWTOR, and that’s what I’d like to talk about today. I think it’s time to put a bit of a positive spin in my column, so in no particular order here are five things that SWTOR still does well.

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SWTOR teases its new expansion, Cartel Market updates, and more coming by year’s end

With all the April Fool’s updates and misinformation that were flying around this weekend, it was a little difficult to tell what was a prank and what was real, especially after developers saying they were not going to do “traditional expansions.” That said, during an interview with influencer SWTOR Central, Community Manager Eric Musco and Creative Director Charles Boyd confirmed that they are currently working on an expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, but not much more was said about that other than one quote from Boyd:

“We’ve got the story in 5.9 coming out in May, and that’s going to conclude the whole Theron traitor story arc and put a capper on the Eternal Throne-related activities, for the most part, in terms of being the focus of the story. And we’re definitely going to be getting back to a Republic-vs.-Empire-core storyline — getting back to that war — revitalizing it into the core original SWTOR conflict.”

However, it’s not quite time to jump up and down, yet. After Boyd said that during the interview, Musco inserted, “We’re still figuring out what the expansion really is,” hinting that most of the pieces aren’t really settled, yet.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR prank that revealed so much about the hungry fanbase

With April Fool’s Day falling on a Sunday, Passover, and Easter, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet watching the pranks and funny videos. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t have its normal joke videos or Cartel Market sales. However, the SWTOR influencers did have a little bit of fun. SWTORista, Kid Lee, and especially Vulkk participated in a little bit of fun on the prankster’s holiday by making videos about the game.

Sid Caeser is quoted as saying, “Comedy has to be based on truth.” And I was surprised how close to the truth Vulkk’s video was. But that’s not the only things that as hitting home with long-time SWTOR players and even the most loyal fans of the game. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Vulkk’s video and the recent changes to the Cartel Market.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Carving up the new SWTOR Conquests

The original Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic was a man named Damion Schubert. A friend of mine used to call him my nemesis because he seemed to be in charge of everything that I disliked about SWTOR. At community cantinas and other interaction with fans like the Guild Summit, he said that he is work on SWTOR would not be done until he was able to give guilds their own flagships. He was true to his word. On May 11th, 2014, BioWare launched Galactic Strongholds, and with it guild flagships. Shortly after, we found out that Shubert had moved onto a different project.

Now, Shubert isn’t really my nemesis, but Strongholds in many ways have been a point of love and contention for me, especially when it came coupled with Galactic Conquests, a system that never really lived up to its potential.

With Update 5.8, the BioWare team is looking to revamp Conquests. As promised in the 2018 roadmap, BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco gave us a more detailed update on Conquests on the forums. But the changes to Conquests won’t be as meaningful to you unless you understand where Conquests are currently.

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Star Wars The Old Republic devs tease February roadmap, call 2018 the year of returning companions

Ever since the Kotaku article quoting an anon BioWare dev saying that Star Wars The Old Republic’s future is “up in the air” – we covered that here – we’ve been inundated with still-unsubstantiated tips claiming that SWTOR is absolutely doomed and scheduled to be terminated.

But if you’re worried, maybe this will make you feel better: BioWare devs streamed for the community last night to tease some of the incoming content, calling 2018 the year of returning companions, including Jaesa and Kira. The studio has promised the updated roadmap in February (January is reportedly when they do annual planning), and solo-ranked cross faction play is still on the to-do list.

In other words, as Larry argued in this week’s Hyperspace Beacon, despite the rumors and slowed pace of development, it sure doesn’t look like the game’s going nowhere. You don’t build out a roadmap and bring on somebody like Timothy Zahn if you’re preparing to sunset. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time the devs were the last to know, and both Eric Musco and Charles Boyd seemed to pointedly ignore all chat discussions on that article during the stream. Guess we’ll see in February.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s cash shop is finally on the right track

Many of you will immediately turn to the free-to-play model of Star Wars: The Old Republic and reject my even thinking about the cash shop working the way it should, so let me allay your fears: I am not going to talk about the hybrid, F2P-trash model that SWTOR employs, the one that earned SWTOR our (and our readers’) worst business model of 2016 “award.” I am simply going to talk about the Cartel Market itself and the changes that BioWare has made to make it more player-centric – and how, if this trend continues, we could see more positive changes to this particular storefront.

If you haven’t heard, in the recent Update 5.5, BioWare changed not only the look of the Cartel Market but also its functionality and the number of items in it. On the Bad Feeling Podcast, Community Manager Eric Musco said that with some of the new functions, like the ability to search for specific items versus scrolling through menus, has allowed BioWare to add more direct-sell items to the market and also bring back some items that people enjoy.

I’m not an advocate of everything that BioWare has added or is doing with the Cartel Market, but I believe that great strides have been made in the right direction. Let me explain what I mean.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s 5.5 adds cringeworthy changes in the name of balance

Today, when I talk about the balance of a class, I hope you’ll understand that I come from the perspective of a PvEer and raider. I also have a tendency to favor classes that are a little bit more difficult to play. So when I say that I take issue with some of the changes that Star Wars: The Old Republic has made with Update 5.5, understand that I already believe that my favored class is starting from a disadvantage.

Update 5.5 was supposed to bring the classes into a kind of balance. To understand what balance is about in SWTOR, we will have to go back to a post that Eric Musco made back in June of this year. In it, he details the target markers for each of the different types of DPS without giving specific numbers as to what those targets are. Musco quotes the BioWare combat team: “The deeper reason for a ‘buff’ or a ‘nerf’ lies in a Discipline’s ability to perform at their target DPS.” I will be referring back to this post as I talk about the class that I favor the most: Marauder.

So let’s dive into the deep end.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The pros and cons of SWTOR’s United Forces server merges

First, if you’re hoping this is going to be an article hating on server merges and declaring them the ruination of an MMO community, then prepare for disappointment. I believe that server merges when done correctly are more beneficial to the health of a game than attempting to over segregate the playerbase. In fact, if I haven’t written about it here, I have mentioned multiple times in other forums that I think a single-server is probably one of the best things to happen to MMOs. EVE Online and Champions Online were a couple of the first MMOs to embrace this idea, and I know I’ve applauded them for it.

Although Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t going down to one single server for its whole game, it is greatly reducing the number of servers. On November 8th, BioWare will reduce the servers to one server for each of the major English-speaking regions: US West Coast, US East Coast, and Europe. Then one server for each of the other languages represented in the game: French and German.

Surprisingly, most of the community is reacting positively to the idea of combining the servers. While the studio hasn’t actually used the term “server merge,” it’s been clear that everyone’s being moved into combined servers once again. However, there is one hold-out community that takes issue with how the merges are being handled. There are pros and cons, and there is really no way to combine servers without someone losing something, but the hope is that the overall gain will outweigh the losses.

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Hyperspace Beacon: A happy accident in Star Wars The Old Republic gives us hope for the future of CXP

The last couple of weeks have been really rough week for Star Wars: The Old Republic from a technical standpoint. The Umbara update itself gave us a handful of bugs, including some that were very difficult to bypass. Then players also noticed a couple of extreme bugs that were deemed exploits. Community Manager Eric Musco acknowledged the exploits, and for one of them, he emphatically said do not do it. “Following the bug being fixed we will begin to investigate the impact of the exploit and what action is required,” he said on the forum. In the past, those actions have ranged from a slap on the wrist to a three-day suspension to revoking future access to that account. I don’t think things will get that harsh for this exploit, but I do foresee players losing the items gained. I’ll get to the specifics of that later.

What was most interesting was BioWare‘s handling of the second major bug. Under normal circumstances, if players circumvented the normal rate of character progression, the MMO developers would stop everything they were doing and fix the bug immediately, or at very least, they would tell players to stop lest they be punished. Instead, Musco said on the forum, “Until they are fixed next week, enjoy them. We tried to fix the bug, the bug didn’t want to be fixed.” He actually encouraged people to take advantage of the bug.

Let’s talk about that, why it happened, and why this happy accident is one of the best things that’s happened to SWTOR in a long time.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic explains how the developers listen to community feedback

Feedback is important for every MMO, and that includes Star Wars: The Old Republic. But where does feedback come from? If the developers never ask you about your opinion specifically, how will they actually collect your feedback? Community manager Eric Musco chimed in on the forums explaining where the development team looks for feedback and how his job involves filtering and synthesizing that feedback from multiple sources, all of which serves different purposes and offers different inputs.

The official forums and Reddit, for example, offer the feedback of particular narrows slices of the game with a big time investment; Twitter, meanwhile, has much more breadth of feedback but less depth on individual issues. There are also focus groups and specific influential players courted by the development team just for feedback and information. Check out the full rundown if you’re curious about how the melange of feedback gets passed along to developers; this isn’t necessarily how every game does it, but it is how it happens for SWTOR.

Source: Official Site via Dulfy

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SWTOR changes up producers, teases 2017 road map

Over at BioWare, the frisky employees have tagged in a new producer to handle the title. The result is that Ben Irving is out and Keith Kanneg is in as the new Star Wars: The Old Republic game producer.

Kanneg announced the changeover yesterday in his first producer’s letter, saying that Irving has moved to “a great new opportunity” in the company while Kanneg himself moved up from his previous job as director of live services.

SWTOR’s newest producer gave out his professional and gamer cred résumé: “I’ve been with BioWare/EA and SWTOR for the past six years, where I’ve held a variety of positions, and have always been a very active player with nearly 10,000 hours of gameplay, 28 plus characters and tons of achievements.”

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Star Wars: The Old Republic’s galaxy map gets a big do-over

Star Wars: The Old Republic is getting a new quality-of-life feature in the form of a revamped galaxy map, BioWare’s Eric Musco told forumgoers this earlier today — expect it in GU52.

“Aside from just being improved aesthetically, it also provides new functionality,” he writes. “We really wanted to improve players’ ability to travel around the galaxy.” You’re gonna need a ship, of course, and legacy perks will help:

“If you’ve acquired the Quick Travel perk, you can travel directly to your personal ship from the Galaxy Map. If you have a Priority Transport/Planetary perks, you will have a zero credit cost to travel to that location from the Galaxy Map. The Priority Transport perks function the same, but they no longer have a cooldown. Allowing you to travel quickly to different locations. You can now use Quick Travel while located inside ship hangers.”

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic will finally allow us to switch factions

Long-time players of Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the next update 5.2: The War for Iokath, you will finally be able to switch factions. Insert disco horn here.

That’s right: If you are a Republic character, you will finally be able to fight alongside the best people in the universe: the Sith Empire. And if you’re a traitor to the Empress, you can fight alongside the Galactic Republic.

I also wanted to amplify another announcement about a couple of long-awaited companions. Republic Troopers, you will finally get your love interest Elara Dorne back, and Sith Warriors, you will finally be able to Force choke Malavai Quinn again, just as you always wanted.

I’ll explain the details, my opinion, and show a teaser video on the matter below in this edition of Hyperspace Beacon.

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