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State of the Game Interview - Part One

Michael Bitton Posted:
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MMORPG.com: What issues have you seen so far, that need to be addressed in future updates?

Bruce Maclean: As is often the case, after the team has poured so much energy into the expansion and its gone live, we’ve found so many tweaks and additional bug fixes that we wanted to make. We’ve already been releasing beefy updates that are tweaks and adjustments that basically come out of having mass exposure. We have a lot more players than we even expected pour back in and play Star Wars, and so we’ve got mountains of feedback and tweaks to make. We also need to remember to take those tweaks into…to do them carefully. The team is excited about KotFE, they’re excited about Star Wars, they want to get these tweaks and fixes done, so we’re also working on a lot of things that we’re not ready to talk about today, and we’re working on a lot of other things that we need to get the team moving on.

Ben Irving: One thing that maybe isn’t so well known. When we started talking about Knights of the Fallen Empire the first time around, we put a lot of energy into consumer insight and surveys and player feedback and a lot of that is what guided us towards the cinematic storytelling and the return to BioWare storytelling in the first place. And now we’re going through that process again post-KotFE to collect all that feedback, so that as we move into the future we’re incorporating all the things players are saying, and making sure we do improve on the areas that need improvement.

MMORPG.com: Is there anything in the KOTFE story so far that you wish you handled differently? Where do you want to take things next?

Charles Boyd: A writer feeling self-conscious? Impossible! Yeah, I mean you’re always going to have a little bit of that in anything you make artistically; you’re always going to look back and go, “Oh. What about this? And what if I thought about this?” Honestly for us, even seeing the work come to life, we see it as dialogue when we’re just creating it, so it’s just words, it’s what we see in our heads. When we saw that come to life and saw players playing it and bringing it to life, and talking about, “I love how this character thinks about this character.” And how they interact. It’s just been so awesome, even the salty, depressed writers have to feel good about ourselves.

Bruce Maclean: I can think of one instance, and correct me if I’m wrong, Charles. One thing that players reacted strongly to, was (spoilers!) the death of HK-55. He was a really well received companion, lots of cool personality, and when he dies, it’s like, “Noo!” A lot of players were quite upset with that. And we’re going to have character deaths in our storyline. It’s part of drama, it’s part of what makes an exciting story. It’s not knowing who’s really going to survive. We love that players loved HK-55, and we’re very excited by the idea of bringing him back, which we just announced we’re going to do.

Charles Boyd: Everyone on the team really loved him. We were like, “Oh, you know. Players will probably like him all right, but he’s just another HK. They’ll probably think he’s cool.” But the response we got was just overwhelming. So many, I don’t even know how many tweets I got, with screenshots of their HK, or quotes from his lines. We love writing that character and having the chance to kind of, play off that feedback and reward loyal subscribers who really love that character in a way that also ties into the story and gives us a chance to do something really awesome that we’ve never gotten to do before. The whole if you saw the announcement the other week, actually releasing a bonus chapter where you can play as HK. It’s something we’ve never gotten to do before. It opens up a whole new world of storytelling opportunities and types of storylines that we’ve never been able to do before.

MMORPG.com: Should players expect future chapters to be about the same length as the chapters we’ve experienced so far?

Bruce Maclean: I’d say that’s a good baseline. We’ve had so many conversations about how long is a chapter and it really comes down to the story we’re telling. What we don’t want is any chapter to ever feel like it’s fluff or stretched out or that it doesn’t have compelling story beats to it. But yeah, that’s probably a good baseline. Consider the chapters that were releasing, consider KotFE a story arc, that we’re only half way through. The chapters we’ve seen will be continued in similar format. The only difference is the intensity, especially in certain chapters, because so many things have happened to build up, there are some really tense moments coming.

Charles Boyd: If you look at the one through nine chapters as a whole that even those chapters varied in length. Some are longer or shorter. It’s really just what we set for the story.

Check back tomorrow for part two of our interview to learn BioWare's plans for the alliance system,  the new subscriber rewards program, and more!

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Michael Bitton

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB