Star Wars: The Old Republic Interview

The Star Wars fans over at Red Rancor managed to wrangle up this interview with BioWare Austin's Georg Zoeller, during which The Old Republic principal lead systems designer tackles questions about guild caps, class balance, tank and healer roles, and more. Personally, I see this as the biggest issue:
RR: What would you say the largest "hurdle" is/was in balancing the classes, if any?

GZ: I wouldn't call it a hurdle, more a challenge... but maintaining the iconic Star Wars feel across the very different classes required a lot of thought, and put a lot of creative work on both designers and artists.

The other big thing was making sure that Force users and non-Force users are equally appealing and viable. I think The Old Republic is special in the way that players who start the game base their class choice a lot more on fantasy fulfillment than anything else. For most MMOs, players come in and pick a class that they know will fill the kind of role they want to play.

With our game, we are obviously seeing a lot of popularity in classes like the Jedi Knight and the Sith Warrior. Lightsabers! Force Leap! Force Choke! That's the kind of things most players want to try out first and classes like the Imperial Agent or the Trooper lack a Star Wars role model like Darth Vader, so a lot fewer players are picking these classes as their first choice.

Our job is not only to make sure that the Force users are as iconic as players expect them to be, but also that the players that pick the non-Force users are getting something equally appealing and visually awesome. We also need to design the game with that class imbalance within a faction in mind - which is, by the way, why the Consular has the option to become a healer or a tank at this point.