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.
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.
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
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.”
Star Wars: The Old Republic
is getting a new quality-of-life feature in the form of a revamped galaxy map
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.”
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.
Players who logged in to Star Wars: The Old Republic
after patch 5.1 and jumped right into PvP probably noticed right away that their Bolster effects were working a bit differently. Specifically, Bolster wasn’t nearly
as strong as it had been before, going from bolstering players to level 250 to level 232. Community manager Eric Musco has taken to the forums to explain that this isn’t a glitch; it’s an intended change made with an eye toward long-term progression
that the developers just communicated poorly.
As it stands, the best gear available is at level 242. The developers realized belatedly that having bolster bring everyone up to 250 changed bolstering from “put players on an even starting plane with room for improvement” to “progression doesn’t matter,” which doesn’t exactly help matters. There’s a similar gap between the top end gear and the bolster effect as there was for the game’s previous expansion, but Musco apologizes for the poor communication; whether or not the change improves the sense of progression will require a bit of time to test.
Any MMO dungeon boss knows that it is only a matter of time before he, she, or it will be slaughtered by a pack of well-geared, highly trained adventurers. As inevitable as this may be, there is one NPC in Star Wars: The Old Republic
who has decided to take matters in his own hands and commit suicide before suffering the indignities of defeat.
According to the SWTOR team, this is both a bug and a potential exploit in one of the game’s new uprisings: “There is currently an issue with the first boss, Lord Anril, where in certain situations he will instantly kill himself.”
Obviously, by triggering the bug, players can progress through the uprising much faster than otherwise. The team isn’t prosecuting exploiters due to the possibility of this happening on its own and the sheer popularity of this particular uprising. The bug will be fixed in an update on January 24th.
Even if you are not subscribing for the impending Star Wars: The Old Republic
expansion, Knights of the Eternal Throne
, you will be subject to the class changes that come with the 5.0 update. Because characters can reach level 70 when 5.0 drops on November 29th, we will see a rebalance of every single advanced class. And as it is about many things with KOTET
, my opinion is very much on the fence when it comes to the upcoming adjustments.
Although Community Manager Eric Musco has repeatedly warned players that we should not take anything as final until the official patch notes are released, the series of posts he made on the official forums do give us the broad strokes and vision behind the changes to the classes. The one word that best describes the changes coming with 5.0 is “streamlined.” In the past, some expansions have attempted to make the characters seem more powerful, but this time around it’s more about refining your character’s role and playstyle and removing the extra junk.
With that in mind, I’d like to dive a little deeper into the upcoming changes to give you the five biggest class changes to watch out for.
As we step closer to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic
‘s next expansion, BioWare
spills more and more information about the content we will soon see on the live servers. We’ve talked about the Command Ranks
and new endgame gearing process, but there is certainly more to what Knights of the Eternal Throne
will offer, some of that being group-focused content. However, I question whether it is the content we are looking for. Is the addition of Uprisings too little too late, not what we are looking for at all, or just right?
I don’t know that I’m going to have the answers we’re looking for in this article today, but I do hope to post the right questions to give us food for thought. Despite the negative trend in public opinion toward SWTOR‘s upcoming content, I would like to pose some of the positives that they are bringing to the table and discuss how it’s possible the developers could swing the game around.
As I said, I don’t know that I have all the answers, but let’s dive into what we know.
If you didn’t watch the Star Wars: The Old Republic livestream on Monday, then you missed Creative Director Charles Boyd, Producer Ben Irving, and Community Manager Eric Musco give a brief overview of the new endgame content for SWTOR 5.0: Knights of the Eternal Throne. Although there are many components to the new max-level content, it can all be summed up under the Galactic Command interface.
As a general design concept, I’m on board with the Galactic Command. Most of the components touch on exactly what SWTOR was needing and make some of the endgame confusion for new players vanish. The Galactic Command takes all the elements of max-level content and ties them all together into a nifty little package. Repeatable Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne chapters, operations, dailies and heroics, flashpoints, galactic starfighter, warzones, and the new group content Uprisings all appear on the new interface, allowing players to see exactly what can be done at max level and also queue immediately for any or all of those activities.
And then? There’s Command Rank gear.
Lately, I have felt that BioWare has taken two steps back for one step forward. It has been losing players, especially endgame players, with every new activity that its designers release. However, Galactic Command might be the first time in a while that BioWare has taken two steps forward and only one step back. Let’s talk about the steps forward first, then we’ll get to the big one back.
Players will be able to start playing Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s
next expansion starting next month, but players have a fair number of unanswered questions. Some answers were offered during the game’s most recent meet-up around the New York City Comic-Con, but some of the statements there
were pretty vague. Community manager Eric Musco took to the forums to clarify a few questions
, including to confirm that the team is ‘refocusing on group content’ for Knights of the Eternal Throne
Unfortunately for those eager to learn more, players will have to wait until January for accompanying producer streams and revelations about more Operations. Musco also confirmed that nine chapters will be released on the expansions’ early access date, which coincides with the end of the Dark vs. Light event. So you can be sure that more group content is coming, but you can’t learn about the details just yet.
At approximately 5:15 p.m. EDT, players in Star Wars: The Old Republic
received a warning that the servers were coming down but didn’t learn why unless they turned to the forums. According to Community Manager Eric Musco
was “bringing all servers down as [it deploys] Game Update 4.7 and Chapter 16.”
Players logging in this afternoon were greeted by an announcement stating, “Error: Your current game version does not match the server’s, please restart the game.” After some investigation, the SWTOR team discovered the source of the issues, and according to Musco, decided that the best solution was to move the scheduled maintenance up a few hours.
The maintenance only lasted a couple of hours, coming back online at about 7:50 p.m. EDT. Players who are granted early access the final chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire can now see how everything ends, instead of waiting until tomorrow morning. And for all of those people without early access, you get… a brand-new experience opening cartel packs?
I don’t like to rant. I like my opinions to be measured and thoughtful. But sometimes I need to cut loose and let something off my chest. Last week, I said that I was not going to write about Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s Dark Vs. Light event in spite of the controversy surrounding it. Controversy always surrounds everything that BioWare does with SWTOR since it inception. I didn’t want to rehash the things that others in the SWTOR community were already saying, even though my opinion was probably a bit contrary to the loudest public opinion. I was even willing to defend BioWare over the event; I thought it had the potential to be challenging and frankly a lot of fun.
But after listening to the Producer’s Livestream, I’ve realized that BioWare has misunderstood precisely why people are so upset about the promotion.
I really wanted to talk today about the latest Knights of the Fallen Empire chapter because it was great, but unfortunately, I cannot shake my disappointment in the way that BioWare is handling its veteran and loyal players.