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New Roadmap, Adjusted Timeline, PTS Goodies

Jean Prior Posted:
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Looking at the rest of Bruce Maclean's updated letter, he expands on some of the changes they're working on for 2.8.  He announced the game's first actual minigame, playing slot machines in the Nar Shaddaa Casino during a two-month event.  Gambling has long been an in-character feature of the Star Wars lore since A New Hope, and players have been clamoring for pazaak or dejarik since before the game launched.  Adding slot machines doesn't satisfy this particular need because it's not player vs NPC or full-on PVP, but it does include something of a credit sink for the economy. 

I had an interesting conversation on Twitter with SWTOR player Gaddock Teeg about the inclusion of a slot machine mechanic.  He had a worry that if this casino matched real life casinos, the odds were going to be heavily weighted in the house's favor.  He expressed a deep concern that this could easily turn into players spending real money to buy cartel coins (and thus packs), selling those packs or the gear within on the Galactic Trade Network for credits and then using those credits to buy tokens and play the slots.  I didn't see it very differently from how people do that now just to either luck into a super-rare mount from the cartel packs or sell other packs or gear for the credits to buy that super-rare.  However, I conceded the point that Gaddock's example did seem to be gambling on top of gambling.  When I looped Designer Chris Schmidt into the conversation, he of course would not elaborate upon the issue beyond suggesting that we shouldn't make assumptions yet and that there was more than one way to approach the matter.  Either way, it's not BioWare's responsibility if a player chooses to spend real money + cartel market + GTN versus using in-game playing to earn credits to subsidize this new system.

Other features promised with 2.8 include Double Requisition, Warzone Comms, and Credits from PVP matches.  So, from the launch of 2.8 through 2.8.1, Galactic Starfighter will be in double rewards, and from 2.8.1 to 2.8.2, ground Warzones get the same thing.  The bullet point also included the very important detail that the rewards only apply to the scorecard, not to the daily and weekly missions.  It was a very smart move to ensure these events don't overlap.  Some players only do ground PVP, some only do space, but there's plenty that do both, so forcing players to choose one or the other would have been a very bad move.  Either way, the rewards are enough to get me back into the pilot's seat for a bit, at least for the starfighter stuff.  I'm not a PVPer, but I did enjoy playing that back in the day. 

The next bullet point will no doubt cause controversy.  While the notion of overhauling the group finder is a great idea, I can already see how some people are going to be very upset that operations content in the group finder will not be gear-gated and that bolster will come into play.  Considering how much of a hot potato it is for PVP, that might generate some grouchiness amongst players.  However, given that bolster also is a factor when non-capped players do things like the Gree event, it's not like this is anything new to us.  Still, the highest-geared players tend to want similarly highest-geared players in their groups, and having an undergeared-but-bolstered newer level 55 is not going to make those folks very happy, even if it means the queues will pop faster.  Perhaps the promised improved rewards will alleviate some of that grump, but we'll see. 

Speaking of the Gree event, we were told that it, double XP weekend, and the Bounty Contract Week are coming back this summer.  The BCW was a gimme, because they promised when it originally launched that it was intended to be a monthly event.  The Gree event is more interesting this time around because it will be the first time since they made the Gray Helix drops legacy-bound, so I'm personally going to farm the dickens out of it.  They also put an asterisk in so they could troll us yet again about how the Rakghoul event wasn't coming back because the Rakghoul plague has been eradicated.  Pardon me while I yawn because the teasing has gotten a bit stale at this point.  It's not noted in the letter, but was answered elsewhere in the thread by Community Manager Eric Musco: despite player requests for its return, the Chevin event will not be doing so. 

So this is what SWTOR has for us for this summer based on their revised schedule.  The keen-eyed will note that the next chapter of the 'Forged Alliances' storyline that will kick off in Game Update 2.9, coinciding with the hard launch of Galactic Strongholds to the entire playerbase in October.  We still have no news on the also-delayed 'RotHC-style' expansion, but the numbering scheme pretty much pegs it as SWTOR 3.0, so I hope it will actually merit the designation and justify Bruce Maclean's statement that the team is 'working on something very big for later this year' that he hasn't told us about.  Whether it will come out this year or next has yet to be seen.  My money's on a January or February launch since that's been the trend the past three years, but I'd love to be proven wrong if it's sooner.  

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Jean Prior