Earlier this month we had the privilege of sending questions on PvP to Bioware. Rob Hinkle, Senior Systems Designer (often working on PvP) was kind enough to send back his answers. We got to know him a little bit with some general questions, then we got into the nitty-gritty with some questions on Mechanics, Ranked Warzones, and New Warzone Ideas.
Hit the jump for the interview in full and my comments at the end.
Question 1: What is your favorite warzone to play?
Rob: The new Warzone in 1.6 (Ancient Hypergate) might end up being my fav as I really like the different strategic options, but right now it is Novare Coast.
Question 2: What is your favorite class to play in PvP?
Rob: Lethality Sniper for me! All that juicy internal damage just waiting for a big heavily armored target. Plus, it is one of the skill trees that doesn’t see a lot of play, and I enjoy being different.
Question 3: When can we expect queuing up against specific teams (grudge matches), and guild practice matches?
Rob: We know there is some demand for this kind of thing, and we would love to make it happen. However, right now it is behind a couple of other interesting new PvP features in priority. Not that I can say what those features are, yet…
Question 4: Are there any plans to ever change from the vertical progression of PvP gear to horizontal, especially with free-to-play? (i.e. will gear in the future still be a large factor in performance?)
Rob: As we move forward, we want to tighten up the minimal gear level and maximum gear level power gap while inside PvP. ToR is an MMORPG, so we feel that players need some goal to achieve and a path for their characters to continue to improve, but we also recognize that many players want structured PvP to be based on skill and tactics, and not who has the bigger blaster. This is a fine line to walk, and personally, I feel that from launch until now we have had gear matter a little too much.
Question 5: Any plans for new brackets (like 10-30, 30-49, 50) with the larger servers and free-to-play?
Rob: New brackets all depend on how the queuing population trends. Our goal is always to create a balance between waiting long enough to create as “good” of a game as possible without forcing players to wait so long they feel like trying to PvP is a negative experience.
Question 6: There have been issues with people getting stuck by the “invisible” door after respawn from dying in a Warzone. Would it be possible to implement a system similar to PVE where your timer countdown would leave your body on the ground until time elapsed and then you would respawn and thus have no need for doors?
Rob: Love this idea, it is extremely similar to some options we’ve kicked around internally. It is definitely on the list of “things we want to do”, but so far haven’t risen to the top of that list.
Question 7: Will we get Elite War Hero armorings at some point, like the PvE players did with Campaign armorings? I am sure many players want to min-max their gear.
Rob: At the moment, we have no plan for selling just the armoring by itself for Elite War Hero.
Question 8: With pre-season of Ranked Warzones in-game, how do you see that system being used and working? What areas have your team been focused on improving and/or fixing? Is there any timetable you can give us for when we will see the start of the first season of the ranking system?
Rob: We view the seasons of PvP much like a sports season, it gives a definitive start and end to a competitive PvP cycle, and gives players the chance to be crowned champion of PvP for a time being, with all the trappings such a champion should receive. Since first proposing the concept of seasons, it has undergone a couple of design transformations, hence the ongoing development of “Season 1”, but it is still coming!
New Warzone Ideas
Question 9: Will you ever make more maps of the current warzones we have? It seems like it would be easier than creating an entirely new game mechanic from scratch and would keep the PvPers from getting bored.
Rob: Anything is possible, and there is definitely a demand for more Huttball maps.
Question 10: Will we ever see Taris-style arena duels, 2v2, 4v4?
Rob: Definitely a possibility. We recognize there is a gap for small organized teams to flex their PvP muscle, and arena fights seem like a natural way to fill that gap.
Question 11: What is the future of Ilum and world PvP?
Rob: Ilum will again become relevant to the game world, though perhaps not in the same way it once was.
Question 12: Is there anything you can tell us that we haven’t heard yet that PVPers can look forward to seeing in the next couple of updates?
Rob: We are in the midst of finalizing our PvP plans for 2013, so nothing to announce just yet, but stay tuned. It should be an interesting year!
That was the end of the interview, so I would now like to comment on some of these tidbits as the PvP writer. Overall, I am pleased with the amount of information we did get. When we were collecting these questions together to send to them, we specifically picked these questions that would give us information about upcoming and current mechanics, while simultaneously assuaging fears about gear gap and things like that.
Before we get a bunch of comments on how we didn’t “hit them with harder questions,” I specifically did not ask about class balance because that is a never-ending battle when developing an MMO, and I am aware of that. They will address class balance issues; it just takes time and patience. It isn’t like they are an elected official that has an obligation to communicate with the public. This is a private company that is meeting with us out of the love they have for the fans and the game. I will gladly soak up anything they can tell us, but I will not attack them.
That being said, I want to quickly address a few of the things that Rob told us.
First off, I really get a kick out of the fact that Rob likes playing a Lethality Sniper. I have a Gunslinger main as well, so I really find that an interesting pick. It is not very overpowered (disproving the myth that the Devs only play the Pyrotech and the LOLSmash Juggs). Also, like he said, heavily-armored targets fall quickly to it. It is amusing to see him actually play the “counter” for the two “overpowered” classes mentioned above.
Next, he said that queuing up against certain teams in grudge matches was behind “a couple of other interesting new PvP features in priority.” I am just fascinated by that statement, and I cannot wait to hear more!
I am really encouraged by the fact that he said he personally felt gear had mattered too much up to this point. He spoke of having progression without having such a large gear gap, i.e. tightening up the gear gap. This seems like a good way to go.
I was a little disappointed that Elite War Hero armorings are not in the plans to be available on a vendor. That would be a nice way to min-max, so hopefully they change their mind on this.
I am excited about the chance to do arenas at some point, so I am glad that is in the works.
What did you think about the interview? Let us know in the comments!