We chat with lead designer Daniel Erickson about what makes the recent Legacy update so significant.
Over the past month the biggest update to date launched for BioWare’s debut MMO and despite a few teething issues, one of which took down servers for an entire day, there was plenty for subscribers to get excited about with a new customisable UI, additional PvE missions and the often promoted legacy system which offers special bonuses between alts. We caught up with TOR’s main man Daniel Erickson to ask what were the reasons behind its inception and what that end of year launch was actually like for the team…
GamerZines: The Legacy update contains a fair set of features. How many man hours are behind its development?
Daniel Erickson: We do our updates throughout development, so we’re working on one while the other one is going out.The legacy system itself was in production long before TOR came out; there’s a lot of history in this update. This stuff has been in production since basically right after launch. What you got in game update one was what we were working on before launch, the thinking behind 1.2 was, ‘Right the game is out the door, let’s do something big’.
GamerZines: The inclusion which really caught our eye was the Tauntaun mini-pet and one month’s free game time for TOR’s most committed players. How important is it to reward existing subscribers?
Daniel Erickson: Loyalty is always something you want to reward and we have far more plans in the future for that. There is something fantastic about knowing that the community you love, loves you back. As a subscription service you need to be extremely aware of your subscribers; who are sticking with you and who are going to be around. We did stuff for the founders saying, ‘Hey we recognise that you guys were here right from the beginning, you took the risk of buying an MMO on launch day and we know what that’s like’. And this time we said, ‘Hey, we brought this out, here’s a little bit of something for everybody and something to look forward to while you’re downloading that giant patch.
GamerZines: We can’t fathom the challenges with launching an MMO, but from the outside at least the launch seemed fairly smooth. What do you think about the launch now? Were there things you could have done better?
Daniel Erickson: There were definitely things we could have done better, but I still would describe the launch as miraculous. We were all sitting as either players or developers who worked on MMOs. We all knew the dangers of those early days – day one, day two, and our rolling launch… To give you an idea of our rolling launch, people came in and played early to try and smooth things out a little, and we believe that we had more players per day during that time than had ever gone into any game anywhere before, so it was very scary.
Huge props to our server team who obviously were sweating bullets and held up an incredibly strong service during that time.
GamerZines: The fact that TOR is so story-centric as well, even people who weren’t hooked on traditional MMOs were interested. It seems like there’s a successful base to build upon…
Daniel Erickson: What’s really nice is that we’re starting to see who that base really is. We’ve learned some things and we talk about it, as in the beginning you build a game which you think is going to work well. What we’re now doing is responding to the part of your game that worked and we’re looking at what the community loves about our game and why they’re here.
GamerZines: That brings us nicely to the staggering amount of skills that have been nerfed in 1.2. Is that purely due to feedback?
Daniel Erickson: Feedback and balance. What players always say is that, ‘The class I’m playing is underpowered’, or if it’s overpowered they won’t mention it. If we catch wind of something either in internal testing, forums, looking at an anomaly or statistics then we get everybody down to look at it. We pool all the stats and the logs detailing what kind of damage players are doing, etc. And then the combat guys get in there and really pull it apart. The primary things are always balance, fairness and keeping the game pacing how we want it to.
Company of Heroes 2, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grand Theft Auto V, Watch_Dogs, Beyond: Two Souls and Night of the Rabbit previews.Download Now!