SWTOR State of the Game #3

Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Jeff Hickman | 0 comments

BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman posted a new state-of-the-game update for Star Wars: The Old Republic. In it, he talks about  many topics, including: upcoming features and the fact that SWTOR have  had over 2 million new accounts created and have thousands of new players jumping in every single day since free to play was launched.  Check  it here below! Hi everyone, With the launch of the Relics of the Gree event behind us, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about the general state of the game and the launch of our Free-to-Play option. Judging by the conversation in the forums and elsewhere, there appears to be a level of curiosity among many players to learn how things are going at the studio since the launch of the Free-to-Play option. Of course, that’s natural. We’re now about 120 days post-launch and more than 5 months into our new series of content updates, so we’re just starting to get a feel for it ourselves. In our commitment to improve the overall player experience, it’s important to reflect on all of the changes that we have made since last year. Last spring, there was some uncertainty surrounding Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ as we were starting to lose subscribers and players were growing frustrated. In fairness, many of the complaints and worries were justified. In an effort to try to address everything, we just weren’t sufficiently focused on improving the core experience. At the end of the summer, we announced that were going to make the game more enjoyable than ever before by working to improve three key aspects of the game: making it easier to find friends to play with (via Group Finder), increasing the cadence of our content updates (so players wouldn’t have to wait around for new stuff), and bringing back vitality to the game by reaching out to new players via a Free-to-Play option. In addition we introduced some cool new items for everyone to check out via the Cartel Market. So how did it go? Well, you can see for yourself when you log in to the game. Our new, high capacity servers are teeming with people. Since launch of the Free-to-Play option we have had over 2 million new accounts created and have thousands of new players jumping in every single day. This means more people to play with, more growth for your guilds, more Warzone matches, and more ways for players to continue to advance their characters. Even though there’s bound to be dissent about every aspect of MMOs on the internet these days, player feedback, in general, has been very positive about the new things in the game. We’re committed to continuing our 8-week new content cadence, and are looking forward to the launch of the first Digital Expansion: Rise of the Hutt Cartel this spring. And I’m happy to announce that we’ll be introducing several new features along the way, like a new customization feature, which will allow you to change your character’s hair style, eye color, body type, or even species (including the upcoming Cathar!) using Cartel Coins. Look for it in early summer. We know that there are still a lot of things we need to do to make playing Star Wars: The Old Republic the best experience it can be. We hear you on features such as hood toggle (as one example of many), Asia Pacific server populations (we are actively looking into solutions that make the most sense given our current tech and should have an announcement soon), continued improvement to the Cartel Market pricing and content, and the need to keep working on performance improvements and bugs. In fact, our major focus after Rise of the Hutt Cartel launches is going to be on “quality of life” improvements. We will keep at it, I promise. We’ll keep listening to your feedback and continue to dedicate ourselves to making the game the best it can be. Nothing is more important to us than getting it right. Thanks for your continued support and see you on...

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TORWars Interviews Jeff Hickman

Posted by on Dec 23, 2012 in interview, Jeff Hickman | 0 comments

The guys and girls over at TORWars got an Exclusive Interview with Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s, Jeff Hickman. In the interview mr. Hickman answers questions from the readers of TORWars and while he do dodge a few questions, he also answers some questions so well, that it get’s me very confident in the future of the game we all love so much. TW: The studio has seen some staffing changes over the past year. Do you feel you are at a good staffing level now? JH: Absolutely. The core of what makes the game and studio great are still here; quality in our game and in our workplace, people that are passionate about both, a camaraderie with each other that helps us support one another, and people who continue to help us carry the banner of BioWare and who are dedicated to help evolve and improve Star Wars: The Old Republic. TW: Many players don’t understand why you cant discuss certain things in development. Can you shed some light on what those reasons are? JH: The development process is a very complicated thing with several parts to it and it is in constant flux. One day, we could be discussing a huge feature that we want in the game and make several decisions based on that direction and the next, we could discover a huge road blocker that prevents us from going down that path. Because of this, we want to make sure that we have a solid plan in place for any future content. This gives our marketing and PR team enough time to develop a strategy for the announcement of the content and the months beyond. They’ll need to maximize the timing and distribution of the information and it’s important that the development team is in alignment with that. There are many gears that need to turn and work together and announcing things before they are ready can throw a wrench into our overall plans. So… When will guild capital ships bo live Check out the full interview...

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The Importance of Player Feedback with the New Free-to-Play Option

Posted by on Dec 5, 2012 in Free to play, Jeff Hickman | 0 comments

Jeff Hickman posted a news update yesterday regarding Free to Play restrictions. Looking at the Feedback BioWare got from the community with the New Free-to-Play Option, BioWare are making changes  starting yesterday: Starting today, Preferred Status Players will see an increase to their default Quickbars from two (2) to four (4). If you’ve already purchased additional Quickbars, don’t worry: we will be refunding your Cartel Coins for any Quickbar-related purchase. Additionally, in an upcoming patch (no exact date yet, but players won’t have to wait long), Preferred Status Players will be given four (4) additional character slots, which means that they will have a total of six character slots. As always, Free-to-Play Players can reach Preferred Status simply by purchasing anything from our online store or purchasing a physical copy of the game. Last but not least, I wanted to share the news that the 50 character limit on Global Active Characters for Subscribers will be removed and increased substantially in the same, aforementioned patch. If you wanted to, you can truly create your own army of Troopers or a legion of Sith Warriors. Your feedback is critical to the success of TOR, and of special interest to us. Please, keep posting on the forums, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit. Even if we can’t respond to every post, know that we’re listening and looking to enhance The Old Republic gameplay experience based on player feedback. Read the full post over at the official announcement...

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New Developer Blog: Jeff Hickman Discusses State of the Game

Posted by on Nov 7, 2012 in Developer Blog, Jeff Hickman | 0 comments

Executive Producer Jeff Hickman took the stage yesterday in a new developer blog titled: State of the Game.  In this, and future blog posts he will be discussing concerns the community has with SWTOR. In this first blog he addresses issues such as the turning from a subscription based game to free to play model, aswell as staff leaving the company and bugs in game. Check out his full post on the official site or as a copy paste below:   Jeff Hickman When we decided to go Free-to-Play earlier this year, we had weeks of discussion with everyone on the team about where we thought the game was going, what we thought was going right and what was going wrong. We uncovered a lot of issues, but three things really stood out: 1. Our game is awesome. People love it and want to play it. 2. The subscription requirement was driving away huge numbers of people who do not want to commit to paying monthly. 3. The frequency of our Game Updates was way too slow. People were leaving because we were not releasing new content fast enough to keep up with the pace at which it was being consumed. You are now seeing the results of these conversations. Free-to-Play goes live this Fall, and we are dedicated to getting Game Updates out to you every 6 weeks or so. Though each of these efforts is incredibly challenging for the team, they have accepted that challenge and have tackled them head on! But we know there is more we can do, more you want us to do. So today, I thought it might be more useful to dive into some more granular and “hot” topics. Topic #1: Staff: Why are some developers leaving The Old Republic™? How will the game be affected? Answer: People leave for a lot of reasons. Some have worked on the project for 6+ years and are simply tired and want to go work on something else. Others may not agree with the direction that the game is heading – Free-to-Play is not for everyone and requires a big shift in thinking and culture within the studio. Still others do not have the right skills for the roles that we have as the studio evolves and changes. When any single person leaves, whether we make the decision or they do, it is difficult, but the studio and game live on and thrive as we change, actually thrive because we change. The core of what makes the game and studio great are still here; quality in our game and in our workplace, people that are passionate about both, a camaraderie with each other that helps us support one another, and key people like James Ohlen (who was at BioWare from the very start) who continue to help us carry the banner of BioWare and who are dedicated to help evolve and improve Star Wars: The Old Republic. Topic #2: Bugs: How does testing work? Why do bugs get through? Why did Game Update 1.4 have so many of them? What are we doing to improve the process? Answer: MMOs are undoubtedly one of the most complex games on Earth. We employ hundreds of QA professionals to ensure that our game is high quality, but sometimes bugs get through. We test every step of the way as we develop the game or change to the game. We have many, many development environments that work in a sequence to push updates from initial construction, to code and content integration, to internal end-to-end testing, to player facing testing on Public Test Servers and then on to the Live servers. Sometimes (like in Game Update 1.4) we make changes that have unintended (and undiscovered) consequences on completely different parts of the game (the performance issues that showed up in the update are a great example of this). These unintended changes happen more often than you would think (or we would like), though we usually catch them before they go live. We have recently put new measures in place both on the development teams and in QA, as well on Public Test Server (where we should find many of these types of issues), to catch things like this in the future. I am not saying it will not happen again – bugs will always happen – but we will strive to give you the best, high quality, bug-free experience that we can. As a side note, we finally got a lock on the last of the major issues from Game Update 1.4 and appreciate your patience with that one. Topic #3: Oceanic populations. Are we doing anything about them? Answer: We are very aware of the concerns with the population levels on the Oceanic servers. The problem is pretty complex, as the solutions we have either split the populations further (like allowing Oceanic players to move to North American servers), or would force players to go to server types (PvP or RP, etc…) that they do not want to be on. Our current plan is to wait for Free-to-Play to launch and see what the influx of new players does to the populations of these servers. We will give it a little time and if we do not see significant improvement, then we will move ahead with the solution that offers the best playing experience for the Oceanic community. OK, that is it for now. Please keep your comments and questions coming and I will try to answer the biggest, unresolved questions in these “State-of-the-Game” posts. I want to thank you all for the opportunity to be involved with such an amazing game like Star Wars: The Old Republic. I will do everything in my power to take care of the game, and help guide it to a great future.    ...

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Bioware Executive Producer Jeff Hickman on SWTOR’s upcoming move to F2P

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in interview, Jeff Hickman, News, SWTOR | 0 comments

The team over at Zam spoke to BioWare’s Executive Producer for Live Services about introducing a free-to-play option, future updates and the impact of Hero Engine. In this interview, they talk about the upcoming f2p model for the game as well as how they will be attracting new players to the game with a premium experience.              They talk new updates, additional content brought to the game and more. It’s a good read while we await these changes. Here’s a snippet: I started off by asking about where the idea for SWTOR’s free-to-play option came from, and what influenced the team in deciding to offer it alongside the existing subscription. Hickman explained that, while they’ve been aware of what other MMOs were doing, it was player feedback that encouraged them to choose this route. “We knew that there were other models out there, and they’ve been successful, and it’s kind of been that question in our minds. And so, after we launched, we analyzed the data and watched what our player behavior was.  “It was obvious to us that there was a set of people who wanted subscription, not just were OK with it but actually wanted it. They want the convenience of it; they want to know that they’re locked in to the game and not worry about this whole thing. “And then there was another set of people, a pretty big set, mostly our younger gamers, who have a completely opposite opinion on this. They don’t look at it like many of us do, who came through the subscription MMO in the early days. They look at it and go: I don’t want to pay a single thing until I’ve tried it out, until I know that I like it, and even then I don’t want to have to pay for a giant package of stuff. I want to pay for the things that I want, and only the things that I want.” Read more at...

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