This Friday’s SW:TOR update is a treat. It’s a hefty entry in the developer blog that gives us two major takeaways: a peek into the game’s character-building/talent system, and a peek at a development method. (Go read the article now before I spoil it for you.)
The latter is what really impressed me this Friday: examining where the most frequent deaths occurred on area maps and adjusting the game in those areas accordingly (to reduce the difficulty and the number of deaths). They didn’t say precisely what changes they made, but a developer can guess. Deaths could be caused by any number of things which could have been adjusted, including (but not limited to):
- Mob crowding
- Agro radius
- Mob damage output
- Mob threat retention/”persistence”
- Lack of viable escape routes for overwhelmed and fleeing players
Again, they didn’t mention what they tweaked to fix this issue, but they did mention a host of other changes they made to the classes, virtually all of which were centered upon community testing and feedback.
This brings to mind one core reason I really enjoyed blogging about Warhammer Online in the months preceding its release: the sheer volume and quality of data regarding it’s design and development that Mythic released. It was unprecedented. For those of you who are old enough to remember the multiple delays of Diablo 2’s release, and then subsequent Blizzard releases being completely hidden from us for extreme lengths of time, this newly open approach was both refreshing and educating.
BioWare’s design team hasn’t been quite as – shall we say – evangelistic as Mythic was (remember the weekly developer video blogs?), but they have been open. Their representatives have participated in a lot of live Q&As and have been very forthcoming.
In further news, I make a cameo in BioWare’s official PAX East 2011 Highlight video. Now, if you don’t know what I look like, this probably means very little to you; however, if you do know what I look like (or want to hazard a guess for some creepy reason that I won’t hazard a guess at), you can find me at 2:41 and at 2:50. I am not kidding. When I saw the video had been posted, I knew I’d be in it at least for a second. Primarily because I was at that kiosk for roughly 60% of my time at PAX…and I did not stand in line to play the demo.
If you have no idea who I am and/or don’t care, the video is still worth the three minutes for two reasons: the music at the end of video is awesome, and you get to see a couple that explained they were at PAX on their honeymoon.