Last week, BioWare sent Star Wars: the Old Republic's Community Specialist Courtney Woods, Community Manager Eric Musco, Producer Andrew Horowitz, and Lead Engineer Johan Allanson to Atlanta with swag and drink tickets in hand for the latest Cantina Tour stop. The now-traditional flashdrive that was handed out contained a series of images from upcoming content, and as expected, there was a Q&A session with Courtney Woods moderating the party. Many thanks to Dulfy of for the flashdrive assets, and Youtube user Mike Goeppner for capturing video of the event from which I culled the basic questions and answers.
As is fairly standard at these things, players asked a lot of really good questions that we all want to know the answers to, but the BioWare folks weren't going to reveal anything before its time. New playable species were requested, with the questioner suggesting the Dathomir witches, recently made more famous by their appearances in the Clone Wars cartoon. Unsurprisingly, the answer to the question was that there were no promises for the witches specifically, but BioWare was considering new races.
Another guest of the event asked whether crafting would be updated to be useful at level 55, and the answer involved what one's definition of 'useful' was. Eric Musco made a point of noting that BioWare does a regular item review to see what's selling well, with the implication being that it would influence any decision on it. Other players wanted to know when we would be able to review another's offhand while Inspecting them, and the answer was that it's in the list to be looked at, but that might be a bug if it's not working as such. That tells me that the intention is to include things like shields and vibroknives in a review of another player.
A less serious question was asked, and that was why there were trees and fountains on the Republic Fleet, but not on Imp-side? Courtney jokingly responded that it was that the Pubs like life, and the Imperials do not. The serious answer was that it was just another feature to distinguish between the two fleets in terms of style and art direction. Another player asked whether we'd see more Knights of the Old Republic influence in the game. Judging by the fact some of the more recent cartel packs have contained gear from John Jackson Miller's comic series featuring Zayne Carrick, I'd agree with the BioWare representative who said that it was still influencing the game.
Out of all of the classes discussed during the event, the Operative seemed to get the most love, with a question regarding more animations to see the vibroknife being wielded (with a nod to the Scoundrel's shotgun), and the answer was that they'd love to do it but it's not a simple task, so no plans to update the animations in that regard in the near future. Later on, they were asked why Operatives can do a non-positional Backstab, but Assassins still have to be behind their target for Spike, and Eric Musco said that it was because Hidden Strike was changed from a knockdown, so Backstab works differently from the Assassin skill that proc'd into Spike. They made a point of teasing Musco about how they could all tell that he plays Operative the most, since he was most animated talking about the class.
Another joke surfaced when someone invariably asked about guild ships. Someone has asked about them at every single Cantina Tour stop, enough so that when I attended the one in Austin in November, it was used as the example of a question they weren't going to answer in the disclaimer before that Q&A session. Courtney Woods admitted to not doing the disclaimer this time just to see if someone would ask. Officially, BioWare is VERY aware that players want them, but of course, there's no news on that front.
Back on track, another player asked about the possibility of guild-wide achievements but was told that it has been the subject of internal discussion, no news to offer. A brand new player was cheerfully welcomed into the fold, and he asked about PVP, whether there would be any sort of tutorial for PVP maps to learn the basic mechanics, he was advised that Galactic Starfighter has one, but that it would be difficult to create similar tutorials for the ground-game warzones.
Naturally, since the latest news about the game involves the two digital expansions we heard about last month, players wanted more information. Eric Musco apologized and said they had nothing to reveal about them right now, but added that he was, and I quote, “Super goddamned excited about them.” He then answered the followup of when we would find out with 'later this year'. Considering my interview with BioWare last month, I'm still supposing we'll find out some hard details about the first of the two next month at the Colorado tour stop.
Then the community team members fielded a couple of questions about recent changes to certain class abilities. Players wanted to know why Snipers got a survivability buff. Eric said that when 2.7 goes to the Public Test Server [it is live on PTS now], he seriously wants people to jump in there and test it. He said the combat team thinks it might be too strong and that BioWare wants player feedback, noting that if they leave it in as is and people don't test it now, they didn't want to see folks griping about it later. They'll be reviewing the metrics they get out of PVP on the PTS to see how it performs to decide how to adjust it before it goes live. So if you want a chance to help decide if a buff is too powerful, now's the time!
Another player asked about Arsenal Mercenaries and Barrage procs, wondering why BioWare took the RNG out of it. Eric replied that it was intended to keep the Merc's DPS more in line with other abilities. They were also asked about green lightsaber crystals and how the glow doesn't match other crystals in live, and whether we'd see the graphics revert to how green lightsabers looked in beta. A number of people called out a solution of 'turn bloom off', but the BioWare folks said they'd ask. When the player said he'd pay cartel coins to get it back the old way, it started a gag that ran through the next few questions about whether people would pay coins for certain features, and there was one catcall of 'Enabler!' A couple of times, the BioWare team made comment that they wished they had their Monetization Producer, Cory Butler, present to help with those questions.
One player suggested the notion of using an Item Level feature or listing on the group finder to ensure that players wanting to find groups for things like Operations would have the gear to support being in that Operation. Not all Operations are equal, after all, and the devs said they'd look into it. Another player asked about getting a dual spec option. Eric said they know there's a huge desire for dual specs, but they had no information to announce at that time. When asked about the notion of a guild bank droid, Johan Allanson said he really liked the idea and would bring that to his team to discuss.
Once again, the team was asked about character transfers from the European servers to the North American ones. As always, the response was that there were some business issues on the backend that were preventing it, but despite the fact that BioWare was periodically revisiting the issue, the answer is 'probably never'. A new question was asked about whether there would ever be customizable guild titles that players could display on their nameplate, much like achievement-related ones such as 'Black Bisector'. Eric's answer of 'not likely' included an unprintable word that led a few attendees to start making Spaceballs jokes off to the side (you know which joke it is), so due to the fact that players would indeed troll the heck out of this, he couldn't see it ever happening. He added that it would also prevent BioWare from creating unique titles for things like exclusive PVP rewards.