MMORPG: Of all the features and additions introduced to the game with Update 1.2, which ones have turned out to be the most popular with players? What are they saying?
Daniel Erickson: There are a ton of smaller features that players loved with 1.2 but by far, Legacy was the big hit. Players are making all sorts of new species-class combinations, rolling out their Legacy powers and flying around with their rocket boots. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
MMORPG: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from deploying Update 1.2: Legacy? How will you apply them to future Update releases?
Daniel Erickson: 1.2 was huge. It was almost like re-shipping the game but without the ability to wipe and start over. In the future we’re going to be trying to move features to the test servers as they come online so we can discreetly see the way each one impacts the game as focus our testing.
MMORPG: Are you satisfied with where Crew Skills are at now that 1.2 is live? Or do you feel there is more work to be done to make Crew Skills a viable and enjoyable activity?
Daniel Erickson: Crew Skills are definitely viable and enjoyable. They are one of our most popular innovations and have a huge playerbase. That said, they are far from perfect and the economy and demand of a living game constantly shifts which means we need to be ready to shift with it. We’ll never stop improving, innovating and adapting the Crew Skills system.
MMORPG: BioWare kicked off a promotion with the release of Update 1.2: Legacy that promised to reward the game’s most loyal players with a free month of in-game time. While this was a great gesture, many players felt left out (and understandably upset) by the initial eligibility criteria. Do you plan similar future promotions to be more inclusive from the get-go?
Daniel Erickson: Unfortunately, this was a situation where the phrasing for the promotion sent completely the wrong message and turned what we’d hoped would be a positive gesture into a slap in the face to some of our most dedicated players. Although we acted quickly to change the promotion, the biggest learning was how closely we needed to watch messaging to make sure we were explaining why we were doing something, not just what we were doing.
MMORPG: The Rakghoul Pandemic event was launched with little fanfare, giving players an awesome surprise. Can you talk about what you were looking to accomplish with this event and some of the feedback you’ve received from players?
Daniel Erickson: It’s incredibly important to us that the game feels alive and dynamic and that means the unexpected. We wanted to surprise players just as they felt like they had a handle on 1.2 and we feel that we did exactly that. Feedback has been amazing with people posting movies of their exploits, getting together in huge groups to figure out the mysteries of the events and PvP servers really coming alive.
MMORPG: How frequently do you plan on putting on new events? Can players expect a new event with each update?
Daniel Erickson: If they ever fall into a predictable cadence we’ll have lost the magic of what makes an event work. So don’t expect the same kind of event, the same timing or anything else.
MMORPG: Will these sorts of events be one-off deals? Or will events return at a future date?
Daniel Erickson: The Rakghoul Plague was designed as a one-off. We may see repeating events in the future but they will clearly be themed as such.
MMORPG: If there was one major criticism about the Rakghoul Pandemic event it was that it left almost as abruptly and quickly as it came. What plans, if any, do you have for improving the communication of event timetables or even extending the duration of events altogether?
Daniel Erickson: Things happen in the Galaxy and sometimes you may miss it. Some will be fast, some will stay around longer and you may not always hear the news if you’re not paying attention to it.
MMORPG: Where would you like to take the event system from here? Can you give us any hints as to what players may see in 2012?
Daniel Erickson: No hints!
MMORPG: What can you share with us about the upcoming Update 1.3?
Daniel Erickson: 1.3 is our “Allies” update and it’s a quick, focused update to celebrate ways to play with each other and respond to community requests. It’s led up by a robust Group Finder and the next stage of Legacy, Legacy Perks. Legacy Perks are per-character upgrades that enable a Player to customize their gameplay experience. Additionally Character Transfers will help get friends together and let people move to servers they think better fit their playstyle. Adaptive Gear will change social gear to the appropriate armor type of whoever is wearing it so we can finally see people tanking in that Sand Person outfit and Augment Kits will let crafters make the ability to add Augments to any outfit and sell kits on the Galactic Trade Network.
MMORPG: Guild banks were introduced with Update 1.2. What other guild related features can players expect to see in 2012?
Daniel Erickson: The overwhelming feedback from the Guild Summit we held earlier this year was the need for a way to have mirror-guilds across faction lines in a game that was so alt-friendly. So that’s the top of the list. We also have plans on the table for Guild Advertising, Guild Logos, better communication tools for guildmasters and much more. The order they come out will largely be a case of looking at how the community is developing and what tools they need the most.
MMORPG: How do you plan on expanding the Legacy System in 2012 beyond what is already listed as coming in 1.3? Can players expect to unlock new species or other fairly significant features?
Daniel Erickson: Definitely significant features. But we’ll have more on that later.
MMORPG: We haven’t seen much in regards to Space Combat since launch. What can you share with us about your plans for space in 2012?
Daniel Erickson: In the short term: New end game space missions and they’re hard. A bit further out: some entirely new ideas of what it means to have a space game.
MMORPG: The free-to-play business model is all the rage these days, with just about every new and upcoming release set to be free-to-play or some sort of hybrid. Is this something BioWare is open to or actively considering for Star Wars: The Old Republic? If not, why do you feel this model doesn’t fit the game?
Daniel Erickson: Right now we’re happy with the subscription business model and the amazing pace of updates and customer service it allows us to provide.