ZAM talks to Bruce Maclean, Producer of SWTOR about Update 2.0 and RotHC
Star Wars: The Old Republic is just a couple of weeks away from head start for Rise of the Hutt Cartel, its first expansion and most important update since going free-to-play in November. With those who qualify able to play the expansion from April 9 (April 14 is the release date for non-qualifying players), I sat down with Bruce Maclean, Producer of SWTOR, to talk about the new content as its launch approaches.
As we sat in the comfortable surroundings of the BioWare studio in Austin, Texas; I asked Bruce what the development team was currently working on as RotHC nears release.
"We are committed to our eight week cadence of game updates so we're actually working on things other than Rise of the Hutt Cartel. As far as RotHC itself, we're just looking for any last bugs, any last polish . Game Update 2.0 has already been on the public test server, available for everyone. RotHC components like planet Makeb, Macrobinoculars and Seeker Droid, we've tested on an internal, closed public test server and we've got a lot of great feedback there, so we're just making final tweaks and bug fixes at this point.”
You can read the details on what Macrobinoculars and Seeker Droid actually means in regard to new content in my hands-on preview here. I asked Bruce what he felt those additions brought to the game that the team felt was missing from SWTOR previously.
"What they bring to the game is a new way of doing quests; they aren't just kill things or collecting things, so they add some variety and flavor to our quest mechanics. Also, the content itself that is in the storylines that introduce Macrobinoculars and Seeker Droid is really good. It draws upon everything we've learned being live for over a year with SWTOR and really takes our content to the next level.
Also, it's a great opportunity to introduce new forms of daily missions. Daily missions are a good way to gain gear for the elder game or to gain experience while leveling up and you want your daily missions to have as much variety as possible. This is a great way for us to get that."
The use of Macrobinoculars within a puzzle was one fun aspect of the play session I had participated in earlier that day. I asked Bruce if we could expect to see more of that kind of content as the game moved forward, particularly as the team has been so adamant about releasing new additions to the game on such a regular basis.
"We've introduced some puzzle elements in our content over the past year; most especially played in our operations, there are puzzle boss fights. The community has responded really well to these, and they really love the challenge of a puzzle. As a live game our number one thing is to do as our players want and we're really engaged with the community. As long as it's as well received as we hope and as it was today, we will continue to do this.”
Speaking of the community, one of the areas to garner most intense scrutiny since November is the Cartel Market. With the CM so important for the game’s new revenue model, I asked Bruce how the team had responded to the feedback provided by the community for this particular feature.
"The Cartel Market is very much, even more so if possible, driven by community request. If someone on a Reddit thread says "Man, I really wish there was this..." our cartel market producer sees everything that is posted and he says "Let's make that, because I know people are interested in that." We do have some exciting plans for the Cartel Market, some new features and some new item types but we can't really talk about those today, they're coming soon."
With the recent news that there will be a post-Return of the Jedi, Star Wars movie released as soon as 2015, I couldn’t help but ask if the team was planning to utilize the intense attention on probably the world’s biggest intellectual property.
"Really, our core focus for RotHC, and for the year after, is on our player base. We are all Star Wars fans here and the things you are referring to we are very excited about all that, but it actually doesn't impact us or our strategy that much. Our strategy is to give our core what they want and to make our game experience the best it can be for what it is."