Earlier today we had a great time throwing some questions from the oceanic SWTOR community at BioWare’s Stephen Reid. He answered them all with aplomb and quite a bit of detail overall.
You can listen to the whole shebang here, but if you want a rough summary of the answers to each question then read on. Note: the answers are NOT word for word answers from Stephen, they’re summaries I’ve jotted down on the run. You’re much better off listening to the podcast to get the fully accurate picture. A big thanks to all those who posted questions as well!
So here we go:
Jono from Sydney NSW – Was BioWare surprised at the level of organisation of Oceanic players in populating three specific servers?
SR: Not surprised – knew it was coming. Made sure they got out announcements about oceanic servers / regional launch as close to launch as possible. Humbling to see interest from oceanic players prior to US/EU launch. Ideally would have loved to have launched in all territories.
Glenn from Southland NZ – Were you surprised at the level of sales from the oceanic area even though excluded as a launch territory?
SR: Again, not surprised overall given interest in SWTOR but Amazon certainly seemed the go-to place for Oceanic people to order the game.
Multiple sources – Where will the oceanic servers be physically located?
SR: “The good news is, the servers are going to be physically located in Australia”. Likely to be Sydney or Melbourne but unsure at this stage. Understands big distances in oceanic area but Sydney or Melbourne the more realistic locations. Also super close to being able to announce Oceanic launch date. Expect announcement within the next few days to a week. No plans for a launch trip to Australia at this stage.
Milza from the Sunshine Coast QLD – Can you reveal any more about the legacy system? Will previously locked species become playable?
SR: Some species previously not available will be come unlocked. But no you won’t be able to play a Wookiee. Legacy aimed at benefitting both alts and mains. Abilities WILL benefit gameplay but not unbalance the game ie. single toon players won’t be disadavantaged significantly but SWTOR is a game always designed for mulptiple toons.
Josh from Victoria – Will there be a Collectors Edition for Australia and will it and the game have bonus content like the current collectors edition?
SR: TBA in next week’s oceanic launch announcement
Dave from Perth WA – Just wanted to ask what is Bioware’s take on the complaints from community groups about the upcoming change to allow toons to have same sex relations?
SR: No real further comment but not going to change stance in supporting the option.
Tim from Canberra ACT – Hoping to learn about specific upcoming PvP changes — will there be changes to game announcements so player names are credited for achieving objectives, medals for accomplishing objectives, etc?
SR: Haven’t heard about those two specific ideas, but a lot of PvP changes coming – new Warzone in update 1.2 which is popular at BioWare. Certainly not leaving the PvP systems alone.
Ken from Sunshine Coast QLD – What are your future plans for light side / dark side… will some pvp rounds be light vs dark (so you have jedi and sith fighting other jedi and sith)… will there be planets where the questing will be divided by light / dark
SR: Interesting idea! But not anything that SR has heard discussed. Encourage you to leave that feedback on the forums.
Aaron from Melbourne VIC – Will you be offering any services in the near future for things like character server transfers/faction changes/renaming and will some form of this be available for oceanic players to be able to move characters from from US servers they currently play on to the oceanic hosted servers when they are released?
SR: Part of Oceanic planning is allowing any current players wanting to shift to new servers to do so. More details on that next week. Character transfer will definitely be happening at some point. Unsure of how faction change would work i.e. you couldn’t become a Jedi on the Empire side etc without radically changing class story. Renaming a possibility but not high on priority list.
Rob from Auckland NZ – Will character transfers be paid or free?
SR: Too early to comment but Oceanic transfers likely to be free around launch of the local servers as courtesy to those wanting to move.
Rob from Auckland NZ – Any chance of a Cut Scene stress relief event where we eject C2-N2/2V-R8 out the ship’s airlock so we can watch them float away into space and burn up entering a nearby planet’s atmosphere?
SR: Much laughter. Discussions occurring on adding more dialogue for companions – much more commentary during gameplay. But opinions divided and Dev team still looking at the issue.
Tyler from East Gippsland Victoria – Please can “”Are you sure?”" buttons be placed on important choices, such as advance class choice? ( Having rolled a Bounty hunter I got to advance class choice only to miss click a button and become a powertech instead of mercenary)”
SR: Could happen but you do get a fair warning of the choice being made. Other dialog boxes coming so it may be an option for the future and should be elevated for discussion. Advanced class switching not coming any time soon.
Glenn from Southland, NZ – Are there any plans to introduce a localised call center or at least a center that routes calls from oceanic areas to your main call center after launch to avoid serious toll charges?
SR: There will be a local Australian number but don’t know if there will be a NZ number – to be confirmed.
Ken from Sunshine Coast QLD – Will physical security keys become available to oceanic players either through stores or through origin?
SR: Pretty sure they will but wait for launch announcement FAQ
Gail from Wollongong NSW – Is there any particular reason that SWTOR maintenance is at the same time as WoW maintenance? I could see a lot more WoW players coming to the light side on a Tuesday if SWTOR maintenance were a different day…
SR: Tuesday nights one of lowest levels of overall traffic – so purely a cooincidence.
Ben from Brisbane QLD – Are there any plans to add additional features to the mobile app? Eg armoury and guild chat. Or maybe a something for the tablet market to do such as space missions on an iPad (or equivalent) or to send companions on crafting missions via an app.
SR: Mobile apps have been talked about, no announcements yet. Might happen in the future though space missions might be a bit much. Pthers ‘possible’ and have been discussed but no timeline.
Jonathan from Wellington NZ – Given the massive upset caused by mishandling of the launch (flipflop on grace period, exclusion of red zone, length of time to get answers on issues like IP blocking) has BW/EA learned anything and can we expect, most importantly, more transparency and more sticking to what has been promised in the future?
SR: Not a lack of transparency, but more too much with the grace period example. Never going to lie intentionally to anyone. Because we know we’ll get caught in the lie. Learning lessons all the time. BioWare take reactions to announcements seriously, but doesn’t mean things will always change as may be impractical or can’t be done immediately.
Mark (TOROZ) – What brought Stephen from England to Texas, was it the Job ?
SR: Not this job specifically, having a US-born wife assisted in migrating.
David (TOROZ) – Are there any plans for a big SWTOR convention at some stage in the future?
SR: Doing the guild summit is a great practice for doing something like that. If fans want such an event, then make it known. Also very keen to see local fan-organised events to support.
David (TOROZ) – BioWare founders Ray and Greg have alluded to the fact they understand the desire for a Mac port of the game. Are there any significant technical obstacles to be overcome to achieve this that would prevent it occurring in the medium term?
SR: Nothing to add – don’t believe it’s a priority but more likely to occur than a console port. Would give an excuse to have a Mac at work.
David (TOROZ) – One thing I’ve noticed since launch is a distinct lack of creative SWTOR machinima being disseminated and I’ve had some comments that they assume it’ll be pulled. What is BioWare / LucasArts’ approach to fan-created machinima?
SR: Can’t speak for LucasArts but we like to see SWTOR machinima so get creative! To be fair too, machinima options are limited in that access to Hero engine not available to players.
David (TOROZ) – Most humourous and stressful moments you’ve had at work since launch?
SR: Humour and stress go hand in hand at work. Lots of fun memes that have popped up around the game. Always stressful when things are going wrong with the service but that’s what we’re supposed to deal with in our jobs.
David (TOROZ) – Is the level of patching more than what you would have liked?
SR: Yes, more than we would have liked. Weekly maintenance a necessity as a base. Done extra patches to help players but not taken lightly. Overall want to reduce level of patching. Upside is where possible weekly patches may have early access to larger patch content.
Ed – Any plans for guild capital ships?
SR: We have no current timeline for a feature like that but it never goes far away from anyone’s mind. Don’t want to do a feature like that by halves. Being discussed but no details yet.
Simon – Any plans for an LFG tool?
SR: Definitely being looked at including cross-server Flashpoint tool. Definitely wanting to do.
Simon – Any work being done on being able to transfer characters from Public Test Server or higher-level premades?
SR: Yes – most likely to be character transfers, not premades. No timeline but not on distant horizon – absolutely know it’s an important thing to get in place.
So it’s fair to say there’s a lot to digest there. The imminent oceanic launch announcement is a biggie, the oceanic server location is even bigger, but there’s lots of meat in there in regards to the game more widely. Which part interested you the most?