Chill interviews Damion Schubert, Lead Designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Damion started his career as a designer of text-based MUDs, which led to Meridian 59 (the first graphical MMO), and later to Origin to work on Ultima Online. He eventually joined BioWare to work on Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The topics discussed in the interview include:
- Striking the right level of difficulty for the Makeb content in the Rise of the Hutt Cartel digital expansion, to make it challenging for solo players while still allowing it to be doable by less combat-effective players (e.g., those spec’d as healers).
- The reasoning and method behind the combat team’s update to the skill trees in Game Update 2.0 and the selection of the new level 51 ability for all Advanced Classes.
- The philosophy of why crew skills have been altered so that the best operation gear cannot be reverse engineered, and a hint of what’s to come in the future.
- The state of character transfers, with some indication that they’re getting closer than ever.
- While Cathar as a playable species is not in the Rise of the Hutt Cartel, it seems they’re awfully close to being available (and are why the Cathar NPCs you’ll encounter in the Makeb content are particularly detailed!).
- Chill did his best, but Damion was unwilling to divulge any information about the Super Secret Space Project (though he did talk about his hopes and dreams for guild capital ships; if they ever happen, they’re going to be amazing).
- While multi-/dual-spec sounds like it’s further off than we’d like, Damion provided some fascinating insight into how features are prioritised, designed and finally implemented into the game.
- Because we know it’s an issue dear to Hyp’s heart, we asked about day/night cycles (have no fear, they’re far down the priority list behind other more desired features!).
- Damion explained why MMO designers typically don’t talk about upcoming features until they’re sure they going to be delivered; this led into an affirmation of their strategic direction for allowing us the maximum amount of customisability for our characters, with the dressing room/barbershop being the latest feature added to support that.
- Why the team has avoided any hint of pay-to-win as part of the free-to-play conversion, and why that’s not going to change.
- How free-to-play is going (hint: really, really well) and what that means for the game and the development team.
Thanks to Damion for taking the time to talk to us, and to Eric Musco (Community Manager) for arranging the interview!
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