Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview

GameSpot's E3 coverage has already kicked into high gear, with a hefty interview with Star Wars: The Old Republic lead writer Daniel Erickson, lead PvP designer Gabe Amantangelo, and lead systems designer Damion Schubert being among their first articles. On vehicles and crafting:
GS: We also understand that the team is ready to talk about personal mounts. What kind of mounts will players be able to commission? Any iconic Star Wars animal mounts, such as tauntauns or banthas? Any iconic vehicles like the speeder bikes we've already seen used for fast travel? Give us some specific examples. What purpose will mounts serve other than looking cool and helping players travel more quickly? Will some mounts have combat applications or provide specific bonuses, for instance?

Damion Schubert: Initially, we're just going with vehicles instead of animal mounts, although we definitely hope to get to the animals post-launch. We felt that, given a choice between the two, being on a vehicle felt more like Star Wars. The vehicles tend to be reminiscent of vehicles you've seen in the films, although it's a balancing act. As a designer, you want to be sure that the vehicles graduate in speed but also that the vehicles look appropriate for the speed at which they're travelling.


GS: We've seen a glimpse of the game's crafting in action in our most recent play-through and have even had a chance to send companions off on low-level crafting missions. But we're even more interested in the longer-term impact of crafting on the game and its economy. It just so happens that many players of a certain other Star Wars-themed MMO game who enjoyed that game's original economy are also highly curious. How is crafting planned to affect the economy in the game? Will it primarily serve as a money sink to curb inflation? How will crafted armor, weapons, and consumable items compare with those that players purchase from vendors or find as loot from either player-versus-environment encounters or ranked items from battlegrounds? Is the plan to have the best items in the game be crafted?

DS: There are two ways to think about crafting: One is the delivery mechanism of the crafting system, and the second is the reward schedule. That is, how you do it, what you get from it, and for what cost. Much has been written about how you do it: Our crew skills system makes our companions the focal point of the crafting system--an area that we feel is pretty fun and unique. However, being sure that the rewards schedule is right is much more important to ensuring that crafting is a useful and important part of the economy.

Looking at this, we approached crafting as serving two audiences. One audience is the casual crafter--the guy who crafts for himself and who doesn't want to devote a lot of time or energy to crafting. This guy is going to find that for expending a reasonable amount of time and resources on doing so, he can generally get gear that is above par for his level. He can't make full sets of gear that are better--that would make every other way to get gear in the game obsolete--but he definitely has some "best in slot" gear throughout the leveling-up process and should be pleased by the results.

We wanted to give the dedicated crafter more than that. We have a lot of people who worked on crafting-centric MMO games and feel that dedicated crafters add a lot to the community as a whole. When looking at the problem, a good economy is about supply and demand, and therefore, for a dedicated crafter to have strong demand, he has to be able to supply schematics that are both rare and comparable or better in power than those provided by other item sources. We do this with a research system, where crafters can input a lot of time, energy, and resources in hopes of filling a hole in the market that they can service. In theory, it will drain a fair chunk of resources from the economy as a whole, but skilled social crafters should be able to turn a profit if they can generate that demand and set prices appropriately.