Not All Troopers Are the Same

By now there is a good chance you’ve seen the Trooper Armor Progression Video:

Over the weekend Furiel and I were talking about it as we both intend to play troopers. What struck me as amazing was they showed four different models of advanced class troopers in the 2:34 clip and Furiel and I were really excited about different ones. Furiel was really excited about the Trooper shown from 1:10-1:28 or so. A man with a large gun mowing down droids and blowing stuff up. Maybe not the cliche glass cannon so much as a cannon of cannons. For me the excitement really started at 1:30 and lasted the rest of the video while they showed two different kinds of Vanguards (Trooper Tanks).


The take away here for me is that Bioware is doing a really good job of signalling to players that there is diversity within a class. When you compare Furiel’s dream Trooper versus mine, they play very differently. Furiel’s is about big explosions and doing damage, while my dreamy Trooper is much more about securing location and maintaining control (key aspects of tanking), and to think both play styles originate with the same basic class is pretty cool.

We still have a long way until a launch date, but I will applaud Bioware for amping up the excitement and finding tidbits of information to tantalize the fanboy/fangirl in each of us.

Back to Basics

Waiting for a game is sometimes really hard. Star Wars the Old Republic was announced two and half years ago, and we still don’t have a release date. The best estimates say this fall, but we shall see. In the meantime I decided to do something I haven’t done since high school, play a pen and paper game. Well it is worse than that I decided to be the Game Master for an Alvian Campaign set in the Old Republic Era using the WotC Star Wars Saga Edition ruleset.

The Joy of Pen and Paper

On the above chart I was nicely in the Video Gamers/Science Fiction TV Fan boxes dipping my toes into the Trekkies box every now and then. But this latest decision is putting me squarely in the Roleplaying Gamers box. I know some people might protest “But Blackferne you play WoW and that is a roleplaying game” to which I’ll gladly respond “On a recent Lore Quiz our GM gave I knew surprisingly little about who we kill and what we get for it in WoW.” So if there is roleplaying in WoW I don’t see it.

But when you play pen and paper there is a certain aspect of role play. There has to be for it to work well. Pen and Paper isn’t just moving miniatures around a board, rolling die for damage. A good role playing game is in a sense collaborative story telling.

But the greatest fun I’ve had since this experiment started is the creative construction. I’ve decided to place the Alvians in a long mystery trying to rescue Jounville Blackferne who was kidnapped shortly before the campaign started. I used to GM games with some friends in high school, so some of it is coming back. But there is also a lot I have forgotten. For example I forgot that the biggest challenge for a GM isn’t necessarily coming up with interesting stories or cool adversaries, but rather the biggest challange is dealing with players acting in ways you didn’t expect.

For example the WotC rule set has rules for gambling. And I said there was a casino in Mos Eisley so a few of our players decided to go gamble. However this happened at a point in the game when I was trying to get the players to pay for a ship, and I was giving them choices on how to finance through taking jobs to earn money. Each job plotted a point on a risk/reward payoff. Well Arrican’s scoundrel because of the flawed WotC rules had enough to buy a ship in just a few hours, Now that can be chalked up to me agreeing to a game rule set without fully thinking through the implications, but it also served as a strong reminder that the GM has to be able to react to the things the players do, that you didn’t expect.

Overall it has been fun for me, and I hope for the players. The best thing about Pen and Paper is that it has a tendency to create memories and stories you don’t often see replicated in video games. An example we’ve seen in the game is Bulwark made fun of Wailer (Gandolfini’s Gungan Jedi), and being a bit mischievous, Wailer used a Jedi mind trick to give Bulwark a subconscious attachment to a small rock. Another involves a dimwitted service robot who’s actions led to one Alvian shooting another.

Final Thoughts and Hopes

One side effect of the pen and paper game is it has increased forum traffic as the players, and a few viewers have been checking in regularly to see if anything new has happened. But it is also a great way for us to rebuild the bonds we had back in SWG. This, if nothing else, also allows us to make new bonds with people who didn’t play SWG with us very much. I hope the game continues to be a nice distraction until SWTOR launches, at which point we will focus down on some serious MMOing.

Guild Systems: A speculative post

Recently I was directed to David Bass, Senior Community Coordinator at Bioware for the SW:TOR team. His job is largely based on trying to assist guilds looking to form up for SWTOR and asked me the following question.

We haven’t quite begun talking about guilds in an official manner yet, though that’s coming fairly soon. Right now, I’ve been getting in touch with guilds mostly to gather some initial feedback. What sorts of features do you and your guild feel are an absolute necessity at launch? What features are those that you consider “nice to have”?

Well this got me thinking about what are the core game features that a guild needs, expects, and in my case what I would like to see based on known aspects of the game we are all anticipating.

This was my response.


I’ve been putting a lot of thought into guild management having run a guild twice (The Church in SWG and an unrelated guild in WoW), and the prospect of what a guild needs and wants can be daunting. Considering my experience and upcoming responsibilities I have to say the way the guild system will work is of particular interest to me, though I realize that while nearly everyone joins a guild, a minority are probably concerned with their mechanics. Here are some of my thoughts divided into needs/wants/wish lists.


Formation: I’d consider the ability to form a guild quickly and inexpensively to be a need, especially for a launch guild before anyone has any credits. The prospect of a “guild charter” being either prohibitively expensive (forcing players to forgo spending credits on other things like training or gear) or the charter requiring unusual effort (I heard Conan required players to all be present in some far off location to form up) seems like an undue burden to place. Something akin to the WoW play 10silver/1G and have 4-5 charter signatures now seems reasonable. I would prefer that the ability to sign a guild charter (should you have such a system) be able to be done remotely so I could use the “holonet” to secure any necessary player commitments if such a system is what you guys intend.

Communication: I think it is expected and standard to have an intuitive guild chat channel members have access to immediately upon joining the guild.

Access Levels: The ability to set ranks, and permissions to those ranks (ie ability to invite, gkick, promote/demote)

At its core this is all that is really absolutely necessary for a guild to exist in any MMO. Everything else just enhances, strengthens or flourishes those core aspects.


Shared Resources: Ideally there will be some kind of guild vault/storage locker. I don’t really mind if it starts small and grows with costs associated with it as a money sink. Ideally we would be able to have members who are operating in a cooperative crafting arrangement, or helping to gear the guild in craftables, could use the
guild storage space as a safe no hassle transfer point for hard goods. And in a manner which doesn’t affect personal storage space (ie self bank/mailbox quotas)

Titles: The ability to set intra guild titles. These don’t have to be seen by those out of guild, but when I walk by a guildmate and see in front of his name above his head “Bishop Furiel” that would be really cool. If you could also have a vanity title which would be applied to one person and not require a rank like Arrican the Sith Slayer or
Dentist Cuspar that would be awesome. Allows for community building if somebody did something really memorable in the guild and you wanted to immortalize it.

Taxes: I don’t know how it would play and effect the overall gameplay, but if a guild could set some nominal tax rate to go towards the guild bank account. “Maybe set a max rate allowed of 7-10% to prevent officers interfering woo much with their members money making”. And ideally this would be something that would happen automatically off credits received via missions/quests/looting. Within my guild specifically it would just be called a tithe, but the basic principle is taxation. The real decision is how you’d implement this. Option (a) you get paid unguilded 100cr for a mission, but in a guild with a tax you get paid 90cr and 10cr go to the bank. Option (b) you still get paid the 100, but the guild gets “bonus” money like the current WoW guild perks system. Lore justifications could be, especially if you have a guild level system, that NPCs are paying a “premium” because your group of heroes has a reputation for being so good at their jobs, and as we all know if you want “Havoc Squad” you have to pay what Havoc Squad is worth.

Security: I don’t know if Bioware is going to take a cue from Blizzard, but authenticators (either keyfob, or as an app for smart phones), and the ability to set restrictions on shared resources based on whether an account has one is a huge feature I personally would like. My wife’s WoW account got hacked while I was GM and I was really
worried about the amount of damage that could have been done.

Guild Perks/Levels: I don’t know if you guys are thinking about it, but I think that these type of systems help keep people from guild hopping as much, and can help build community. I’ve been pretty impressed with the WoW guild levels/perks they have implemented in Cataclysm, and would love to see similar things in SWTOR.

In Game Calendar: Having the ability to have a group calendar in game I have found very useful in games. Especially if that calendar can be used to send event invites to people. Features like the ability send event invites based on rank, or some other division would be useful.

Alt Linking: In a game with the anticipated replay of SWTOR I forsee many players including myself playing multiple characters. If there was a way that when a player joined a guild on his alt that it would have a note field or something just listing “Oh hey Arillius is the alt of Jounville” it would be very nice. I would say the default would
whichever toon linked has the longest standing membership in the guild. The ability for an officer to break that link (ie mom and kid share an account and play at different times) would probably be necessary.

In Game Want Ads: This isn’t something I’ve seen in another game, but probably wouldn’t be hard to implement on a player’s guild menu UI. A place to put in guild in game ads for in game products or service. For example a guildmate could put an ad up “Want to run Flashpoint XYZ, hoping to get the blaster from third boss” and if people see it they may do it, or decide to plan it. Or maybe “WTS: surplus scrap metal. I have 100 units of titanium. If anyone in guild wants it let me know before friday or I’ll just AH it” Basically it serves as a concise short in game BBS to get guild interaction where the guild calendar would be inappropriate. And would be useful for guilds that have a player base where some players frequent the guild forums, and other people don’t and instead just log in and play.

Wish List

Capital Ship Guild Halls: Yeah I know everyone is asking for them, but that would be really cool. I don’t see my guild getting massive, so we could settle for a smaller cruiser or frigate.

Shared Factory: I’m not sure how this one would work out, but if a guild could coordinate and automate some assembly functions for cooperative crafting that would be awesome. What I’m thinking is let’s say Furiel and Vesp are working together. Furiel’s crew makes subcomponents for some other item Vesp’s companions do final assembly on. It would be great as part of the crew skills system for Furiel to say “Okay Vette I need you to make X of these parts” like he would normally do, but be able to add the command “And when you finish deliver them to guild member X”. This would also be great for players who are helping out their guild crafters by being gatherers of raw materials.

EPGP: As I’m sure you’ve played WoW I’m fairly certain you know of EPGP, if not you can google it and get the gist. If there was an in game configurable EPGP/DKP system for raiding guilds that would be great. I know that there is no “perfect” loot system, but having something that was more sophisticated than need/greed would be great.

Permanent and Non-Permanent Choices in Your Character

Listening to Mos Eisley Radio Episode 29 Forum Assault, Zach and Brooks briefly discussed the issue about whether at some point down the road whether players would be able to change their spec or even their advanced class choice. They cited a developer statement made over the summer that the advanced class choice was a permanent one. This got me to thinking about how this will work in practice. Bioware has the ability to make the advanced class choice a permanent one, while still allowing players to redo their spec and focus on another area of their advanced classes talents

Skill Trees Will Allow a Lot of Flexibility

First off I want to remind everybody that each class has a total of 5 talent trees. Each advanced class has access to 3 of them, and only 1 of them is shared by both advanced classes. So to use smuggler as an example. Smuggler has 2 advanced classes: Gunslinger and Scoundrel. Gunslinger is known for the dual wielding(up close DPS) and trick shot (I assume powerful crowd control). Scoundrel is known for medicine and the scattergun (ranged DPS). So let’s assume (because I can’t remember what the advanced skill sets are called that the 5 for smuggler are Gunslinger(Dual Wield, Dirty Tricks) Scoundrel (Medicine, Scattershot) and Shared(Smuggler Core Skills).

So I roll a smuggler and at level 10 I choose. Hopefully they will give you a little playtest of each one, but at some point I make the choice and that choice is permanent and cannot be changed. This still allows me to “spec” different ways. I could be a DPS focused gunslinger or a Crowd Control focused Gunslinger, or maybe I’m a Gunslinger but more of a hybrid between two extremes. Like wise I could be a healing scoundrel or a ranged DPS scoundrel or a mixture. And I could be using companions to compliment my shortcomings so even though I’m a half ranged DPS half healing Scoundrel I always bring my healing companion and serve as the “healer” in a flashpoint.

Players Will Expect a Chance to Undo Mistakes

Why did I spec into Force Poke instead of Force Choke? I'm and Idiot!

So Bioware could, and I have no special knowledge one way or the other, say your advanced class is permanent, but how you spec within that advanced class can be changed for a price (and hopefully not an insanely high price). And in a sense they kind of have to allow some spec freedom because besides people will make mistakes, but they also make choices based on current game conditions and game systems will change as they play the universal mmo dev game of “continual balancing”. If I take a talent point in something and that talent is decided to be overpowered and they nerf it, I’m being “punished” for Bioware’s mistake not mine. Likewise if I decline to take a talent because it is garbage now, and Bioware buffs it later, why should I be punished for not being a true believer in the future upside of a current crappy talent?

We Need to Rethink How We View Advanced Classes

So I think the source of this problem in community perception has a lot to do with how we envision the game’s classes. We see Smuggler as the class and not so much Gunslinger or Scoundrel. But in reality the advanced class is what we will spend the majority of our time playing. Levels 1-10 (assuming you pick Adv Class at 10) is the introduction to game mechanics, and you are learning the broad strokes of what a group of advanced classes can do, only to make your real decision after you play a bit.

To illustrate this whole thing imagine in WoW that warlock and mage were combined to be the wizard class with warlock and mage being the advanced classes. At level 10 you choose mage school or warlock school, and then you get your three talent trees. One of those trees overlaps (fire damage), while two schools are unique to mage and warlock (mage gets frost and arcane, warlock gets DoTs and Pets). Now you can still respec in your school, you just can’t switch from mage to warlock. Now we don’t worry about this in WoW (if you want a mage, roll a new toon) because that permanent decision is made a character creation instead of level 10. SWTOR seems to be saying “We want you to get used to the broad category of a group of advanced classes, and then make your permanent choice.”

The Importance of Balance

By now most people have seen the new Trooper video put out by Bioware.

What I love is the action sequence starting about 55 seconds into this video. We see some kind of Sith force user getting ready for the force jump slice and hack pawnage only to be refuted cool and calmly by the grenade of the trooper. What this tells us is that Bioware is committed to some degree of balance in the game.

In the Star Wars movies, which I love, the Jedi and Sith are portrayed as powerful Super Heroes and Super Villains to everyone else. If you need proof all I need to do is remind you of how quickly Darth Vader disarmed Han Solo in Bespin. And we all know how that turned out.

Now some may argue that Jango Fett and Obi-Wan seemed to have an even fight, but I would remind you that until Boba used Slave 1’s cannons to tip the scales it was looking really bad for Jango. And we saw how quickly Jango fell to Mace Windu.

So this Force user advantage poses a serious problem for players who are not interested in being a Jedi or Sith, but would rather be like Boba Fett or Han Solo. In order for the game to work there needs to be balance between the classes so no single class can always win. It can still be balanced if certain classes play better against one class consistently, but inferior to another class consistently. The important thing is that all players feel like their class choice matters. This video hammers home that point. We see the fall of the Sith seemingly so easily. It reminds me of this scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

This commitment to balance will cause cries of not being true to the spirit of Star Wars from some fanboys, but it is important to remember that we are all playing a game, and a game has to have players starting on mostly equal footing. Imagine a game of chess where you only had your pawns and king, but the other player had all 16 pieces. It would be massively unfair, and unfun. The same feeling would be there for non-force players when looking at their friends who chose to be living Gods.

The Launch Pressures on a Guild

SW:Tor is still a good ways off. We don’t even have a definite launch date yet, but that doesn’t stop people from laying plans for what they and their friends should do once it launches. But this excitement is full of potential traps that guild leaders and officers should be aware of to help keep group cohesion going into a very dynamic period of play after launch. This post was inspired by a revelation in the Q&A of the Studio Insider Friday Update on 12-17-2010 in which Dallas Dickinson, Director of Production for BioWare Austin, answered the following question:

Will there be different server types, as in PvE servers and PvP servers? (asked by Fruskov)
There will be several different types of server, including PvP servers and PvE servers.

Notice he says there will be several different types of severs INCLUDING PvP and PvE. That suggests that PvP and PvE are just two traits of server creation. I assume they will have time zone suggested servers so populations will roughly know when prime time will be, but I think there will also be Role Play servers, and probably the Role Play servers will come in a PvP and PvE variety. There may be additional traits for server rules that I’m not thinking of, but assuming the server list is populated with PvP, PvE, RP-PvP, and RP-PvE servers for a variety of time zones players have plenty of options for their game world. And that is great for players, but may not be as good for guilds who are coming from other games into SW:ToR.

A brief bit of history is in order to better explain this. The Church of Alvis was created in Star Wars: Galaxies in August of 2003. Now the thing to remember about SWG is that it had no official server rules. Every server was the same. Sure some servers took it upon themselves to become “The Unofficial RP  server” or the “Unofficial French Server”, but in every server there was at launch some fledgling RP community, a PvP scene probably fighting over Anchorhead, and plenty of PvE players doing their thing. So you ended up with all kinds of players interacting and it led to some great moments, but you also saw players get frustrated that others didn’t take their aspect of game play as seriously as others. A notable Imperial Guild Leader on our server said that because others didn’t role play right, citing the Church of Alvis, his vision of Star Wars (movies and all) had been ruined. That is unfortunate, and probably avoidable by breaking the communities among the RP/ no-RP and PvE/PvP divides like World of Warcraft has done.

The problem that this presents to existing guilds is that their pool of players have to come kind of agreement about what aspect of game play is most important to them as a group. Is you guild significantly interested in Role Play or are they fine seeing people with names like Look Skywalkar and Darf Vaydar walking around talking about how the local sports franchise is doing this year. Similarly you have to decide as a group that you want world PvP at any time versus choosing to PvP under timing that you control as you’d see on a PvE server. Besides these questions, you also have to decide what faction you will run as.

The default for the kind of server for most people will be a non-RP PvE server. Heavy Role Players like PAX Imperius, who formed as a role play guild for Imperials, obviously know their members want no Loook Skywalkars and Darf Vaydars debating the merits of the west coast offense in the SEC. Likewise guilds like Veers Elite know that they don’t care about Loooks and Darfs and only want the chance at lots of PvP. Guild leadership has to be responsive to their members. That said it will be tough because any decision you make might result in a member leaving for another gaming opportunity. If Alvis were to go Sith I know that some of our members might go along with it even though they strongly prefer Republic, and I know some of our members have no interest in one faction or the other making the faction decision a deal/no deal on running with Alvis in SW:ToR. It is important for the guild as a whole to try very hard to come to a consensus on who they are so they can land on the right kind of server with the right faction.

Even if you get the right server and faction for all of your members you will still have some potential problems once the game launches. Every player is different. Some like to leisurely level seeing all of the sites and enjoying the walk. Some will race to maximum level and be chomping at the bit for “end game content”. Some players have more time to play than others who juggle gaming with other commitments in their life. Some like to roll and play around on alts while some only play one character all the time. This shouldn’t present a problem unless people have different expectations of what the guild is suppose to be doing. I’ve been playing WoW away from Alvis since 2005 with some other friends. I’ve been in a few different guilds and on a few different types of servers, and through each expansion that comes out I see the same pattern emerge. A few dedicated players race to max level, get raid ready then complain others are taking to long. The stragglers complain that they never get to raid just because they didn’t get to max level quickly. Arguments break out invoking cliche “core guild values” and “principles of fairness”, and some people leave.  So to give these groups names, let’s call the quick leveling raiding types “Power Gamers” and the stragglers “Casual Gamers”. And while I’ll use raiding as an example I’m sure similar things happen in PvP guilds where people have to sit out of events because they aren’t ready, or frustration in RP guilds that Bob isn’t writing up a novel of back story like Jack did.

So all guild leaders and guild officers interested in keeping the group together should know going in that there will pretty quickly be a gap in progress (be it level, crew skills, RP stories, PvP skill whatever) that will start to frustrate players at some point. The key thing to remember is that players need to heard, and reminded that this gap is most likely a temporary one. After time the stragglers will catch up. One big suggestion is to set “deadlines” for inclusion. It has to be reasonable for a casual player, but not so far off from now that the hardcore player feels like she will never get to do the activities they really want to do. For example let’s say that your guild has a sizable group of people who are interested in raiding. The hardcore people may be ready in a month, the casuals will start being ready in two months if they are reasonably focused. Make a deadline of we walk into the raid in 2 months. It shows the hardcore people that you want to get going, but also lets casuals know that others are depending on them to get ready to tackle the content. Broad reasonable guild goals are a good way to give people purpose not only for themselves, but for helping other guildmates. If as a hardcore player, I know that a raid encounter requires players to be geared to a certain level (using the WoW model since we don’t know too much about SW:ToR endgame) then I am more willing to jump on guild members to join me on content to get that gear. Same thing with leveling professions, if I know that we need someone to level up their crew skills so we can have something as a guild, I will funnel materials and resources their way to assist. The casual player also knows that others are depending on them to join them for the activity and would be more focused in their game time to get to the group’s expectation spending less time taking screen shots of the flowers of Alderaan (ooh this blue one was really pretty!).  I don’t want to say the players don’t have a right to dedicate their playtime towards virtual floral photography, but it is unreasonable for those players to think that they can dedicate time to that and be able to engage in activities that require lots of preparation and focus to be part of a group effort.

It ultimately boils down for guild leadership to listen to what their members want, and making sure that you provide a vision of where the guild is going, and how to get there. It won’t always be easy, but if you can have a generally accepted goal, and players are on the same page on how as a group you are getting towards that goal, it should work out well.

ToR Crafting and the Casual Gamer

This weeks reveal brought us even more information about the crew skills system in SW:ToR, including revealing a new crafting specialization – Armstech (correctly predicted by yours truly a few weeks ago here).  However the real interesting part of this update to me was the second paragraph of the Companions and Crafting section (full article here).   It reads:

Players can issue crafting orders to up to five companions at a time, and each companion can add up to five crafting tasks to their queue. You can cancel crafting progress from anywhere if you need to, and the resources your companions were using will be returned to you. Your crafting queues will even continue to progress if you have to go offline – when you log back on, you’ll receive any items that were completed while you were gone.”

If you are a casual gamer like I am, but take progressing your character and all of his skills seriously, then this paragraph has to make you want to jump up and do a happy dance.

The real beauty of the queue though is how it can work in concert with the time factors of crafting tasks to allow even the most casual of players to be able to continue to progress without having to feel like they need to login every few hours or even every day to be able to keep up.  Only able to play on the weekends?  That’s cool bro, just queue up 5 day-long tasks for each of your companions Sunday night before you go to bed, then when Friday night comes go login and guess what, you have 25 more skill points and 25 nice items waiting for you.  Suddenly find yourself with some free-time on a Wednesday night when you didn’t think you’d get to play?  No biggie, just cancel the companion’s task WITH NO RESOURCES LOST and go adventure with them for the evening, then reset their queue when you are done.  No harm, no foul.

It really is an elegant system that I see as rewarding both your hardcore players, who will be able to skill up faster due to their use of shorter length missions and ability to gather more on the go, and your more casual players who can make use of longer mission timers during their out-of-game time to still be progressing. Now we just need next spring to arrive so we can all take advantage of it.

The Post in which the Dood Posse Visits Austin

In what has become a yearly tradition, Dood came to Austin during the holidays to visit the Alvians who live here. It was a lot of fun to catch up. We learned that Dood’s solution to any problem is to add bitters and a lemon twist. Jounville is under the belief it doesn’t count as arson if marshmallows are involved. And finally that every Alvian is geeky in their own way. If you had seen Gandolfini and Dood talk cocktails for over an hour you’d definitely appreciate that statement.

From left to right: Gandolfini, n'Jessi, Blackferne, Bulwark, and Dood

It was great to see the Church coming together to share a meal and have a great time.

Crafting Speculation

Recently Bioware released a large chunk of information about the crafting system in ToR, how it’s going to work, what the limitations are and what SOME of the available professions are going to be. Note the important use of the term SOME, because as with most things during this stage of development Bioware has elected to not reveal everything, leaving the rest to our imaginations. And that’s where I come in, I’m here to do your thinking for you! Or at least do some speculating on what the currently unknown Crew Skills are going to be. If you go by the Game Systems page there are currently 1 Gathering, 3 Crafting and 2 Mission options still unknown. I think there is some information that can be gleaned from the descriptions written on the Game Systems page to help fuel my speculations, along with several conclusions I have come to that have just as much reason to be right as they do wrong. So without further adieu, Furiel’s crafting predictions sure to go wrong!!


For Gathering we have 3 known types, Bio-Analysis, Slicing and Scavenging, and when thinking about the commonalities of the three I realized something, they are all things that can be actively done as well as being done through the companion mission system. In the crafting video they demonstrate times where a player actively scavenges a droid corpse and they also show when another character orders their companion to perform Bio-Analysis on a dead creature. We have seen in some media times where we believe that a character was slicing, or what appeared to be an interactive terminal in a flashpoint that the speculation is that it could be sliced. Assuming that is correct, then all 3 known gathering skills are capable of being done in the open world, so the logical extension would be that the fourth gathering skill must be possible in the open world as well as the regular interface. So with that limiting factor in place I came up with the following:

Gathering can be more than just materials.

Gathering: Information

Based upon the line “The resources and information you gather…” we already know how we are gathering resources, but how do we gather information? Slicing is assumedly one way, but I imagine this would be a different way to acquire schematics and also some other crafting related items through social interactions. Perhaps you send a smooth talking companion out on his own,  or when you are out in the world, you go to a cantina or other gathering point where you would have a chance to encounter a “contact” that you could then interact with and obtain one of these items. I see the items received being something like single use items or buffs that will increase the success (or critical success) chance of either a crafting activity or mission. Say you receive “a dirty little secret”, you could then use that to enhance the success of your next Diplomacy mission by 5%. Or maybe you get “a hot tip” that gives you a 5% increase on your next Treasure Hunting mission. For crafting items you could get “an experimental polymer” that would increase your next armor creation, etc etc etc until you go through all of the different mission and crafting skills.

This would have the side benefit of encouraging more player interactions and socialization as people with Information Gathering would be hitting NPC gathering points to try to gather info they would then encounter each other as well and could theoretically interact with each other instead of just the NPCs.

Gathering: Mining

This idea has some traction with the community on Darth Hater and it’s not a possibility I dismiss, however I think it’s highly unlikely. Bioware has said they don’t like the idea of nodes just sticking out of the ground, and if you look at this dissection on the Darth Hater site it shows a Scavenging mission that involves going to a cave for metals and synthetic goods so that is mounting evidence against a specific mining skill.


Currently we have 3 known crafting types currently, Armortech, Biotech and Artifacer, with three unknown skills. Unlike the gathering skills I think that the crafting ones are actually fairly obvious if you think about what is already available, how they are described and what is missing.

Crafting is where your specialization will really shine.

Crafting: Weaponsmithing

This one seems pretty obvious and I’m surprised it wasn’t listed at the start, but a craft skill to make weapons and weapon enhancements seems blindingly obvious to me.

Crafting: Tailoring

This seems obvious to me as well. Vanity clothes are usually popular and things like Jedi robes, cloaks and other non-hard metal armor items have to come from somewhere. And while yes, there is already an Armor profession, note the use of the terms hard metal and shielding in the Armortech description, I believe that this specification will mean there is a delineation between hard and soft armor types with the Tailor doing the soft types.

Crafting: Engineering

Originally I thought that this might be only a droid engineering profession, but after further review, analysis and feedback I believe a more general engineering profession is more applicable. This profession would be kind of a catch-all profession that would make many different types of minor items. Some major things I would expect to fall under the Engineer would be starship customization items, droid repair kits, item repair kits and possibly droid enhancement kits. Droids aren’t just the cool phones some of us have, they are also an integral part of the Star Wars universe. However it doesn’t make sense that I could inject bacta or force heal them, so having droid repair kits that would function just like a stimpack for players makes perfect sense, especially considering that mechanic existed in the original KOTOR games. This was the original thought that drove my first idea of having a droid engineer profession on it’s own, however realizing the limitations of that title in combination with the other areas like starship customization that didn’t have a home yet led me to expanding this profession to encompass all that it does now.


From the description given to the missions on the Game Systems page the missions sound almost like a subset of quests that you would undertake yourself if you weren’t so damn busy saving the galaxy so you’ll just have to send your companions instead. The descriptive text on the Game Systems page I think it pretty telling on it’s own for this and I drew pretty much all of my inspiration from there for the two unknown mission types.

Missions will allow you to extend your characters influence.

Mission: Smuggling

Smuggling is a core concept within the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately the script requirements of video games makes it difficult to implement for players to partake in the more subtle versions of talking or bribing yourself past security. Having it implied because you sent out a smuggler-type companion to go do things like smuggle some sympathizers out of the opposition factions space or sneak some supplies into insurgents would be very cool and could be a good way to farm DS or LS points.

Mission: Research & Design

I’m only speculating this based on the line under missions “You can choose from a variety of mission skills is your crew into conducting research?” and I figured it would be something where you would send a companion to a facility or location to work with a specific researcher to assist in them furthering their research. The results of that mission would then either be a prototype item or a new schematic for a given crafting skill.


With what Bioware has already revealed the crafting system in ToR is going to be very different than what we’ve seen in a lot of the other MMOs out there. Grinding will be impossible due to the timings on crafting activities, and self-sufficiency will be difficult to impossible as well due to the 1 crafting skill per character and 6 crafting types, so unless you want to duplicate at least 2 classes you will never be able to cover all skills on your own. And that’s probably a good thing.

The Choices in Crafting

Darth Hater has an interview with SWTOR Lead Writer Daniel Erickson in which he better flushes out how crafting will work. The minigame seems considerably less grindy than what is currently available in WoW, and reminds me a bit of factory and harvester use in SWG. The basic choice is shaping up to be how to best utilize your labor force.

The companion system will provide players with a series of choices on how to maximize their output. This output covers not only crafting or gathering items, but also their viability in PvE or PvP situations. Allow me to better illustrate. I want to preface that I have no special knowledge of Bioware’s intentions, but based on this interview, and all publicly available information this seems very much what they are signaling towards.

For simplicity sake let’s say you have three companions. In a combat setting they are a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer. This provides the versatility in combat they have often cited. Your group doesn’t have a healer, everyone brings their healer companion. Now these companions will also have various non-combat skills which they can utilize. Let’s say the tank is a great gatherer of stuff, the damage dealer is awesome at the diplomacy stuff, and the healer is a wonderful crafter. Whenever you take one with you to a combat setting be it a flashpoint or a warzone you are leaving the other two behind. If you continually rely on one companion you will limit how much time they spend doing those other things. So it would be really easy to see a player who relied on a crafty/healer companion having great success in maximizing their diplomacy games and resource gathering, but having less success in being a top tier crafter.

I predict that some guilds who want to co-operate for greater economic success will coordinate who brings which companion types to maximize an interdependence among people. The guild leader may always bring their crafter to flashpoints, so as to maximize gathering materials and diplomacy, but funnel those materials towards a guildmate who always brings the gatherer companion to flashpoints, leaving their crafter on the ship making items from the guild leaders materials.

Obviously there is a lot of complexity left to be revealed, but the core minigame mechanic for players to consider is how to best optimize their companions “work” schedule. Players who can plan ahead their play time will be in a better position than players who are constantly deciding what to do on the fly.