Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Q&A

This week's community Q&A on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic website addresses questions about the team's design process, how loot is determined, when we'll see the addition of more character slots, and more. Why do I look at this first answer and think "microtransaction"?
Fireblazer: Any chance we will be able to get extra character slots for a server in the future. Maybe as part of the legacy system?

Daniel Erickson (Lead Game Designer): There will definitely be more slots appearing in the near future. Stay tuned for details.


HeavensAgent: In general how are random loot tables defined, and when an item is awarded how is the loot table it originates from determined? Are they based on planet? Item level? Item quality?

David Hunt: We have a hierarchy of different loot tables for different purposes and functions. Loot falls into three broad categories:

1. Random Loot. When you kill something in the world or open a generic lockbox, loot usually comes from here.

We have a series of four random loot tables representing difficulty rarities.

The first table is where you see all the grey (junk) loot. We have a large list of items, and then each item requires a specific tag. When we give a loot package to a creature, it has properties for what kinds of tags that creature owns. For example, there's a boss tag, a military tag, republic/imperial tags, a medic tag, a scaled tag, etc. The composition of those tags determine what the creature can drop.

The second through fourth tables are increasing rarity calls. Those rarities roughly translate to quality, but not precisely. For example, the uncommon table is where most of the Premium (green) stuff in the game drops. However, there's also a bunch of Prototype (blue) items -primarily mods. Those Prototype items almost all require the Boss tag to be present. This means that instead of dropping a static Premium item, a boss has a chance to drop a Prototype mod instead when they call to the table. That chance doesn't apply to regular mobs because they don't have the Boss tag.

For all random loot, we have base chances that are globally defined. Note that Standard and Weak creatures have a chance to not drop loot at all, and these calls are only made AFTER it determines that they will drop something. We use random loot for world bosses, but they all have overrides to the global random loot rates. The overrides depend on how many players are expected to fight to kill the boss.

The process for determining the specific item that drops is a simple series of calculations based on requirements. We roll to determine which loot table is used, then we check the level of the NPC and roll to see if it offsets. We then look for that level in the loot table, and if it can't find anything it will drop 1 level and check again. Once it finds a valid level, it builds a list of all the valid items and their weights. Weight is a relative chance to drop a specific item compared to other items in the table. We bias loot towards classes by having the table split: there's an unrestricted section and a restricted section. For example, the Level 38 loot entry for Kinetic Resolve D-System has a weight of 125 unrestricted in the Rare table. It has a second entry with a weight of 100 that is restricted to the Sith Sorcerer and Jedi Sage. So the effective item weight is 125 for every group that does not have a Sorcerer or Sage and 225 for any group that does. That is why adding two characters of the same class does not further increase your odds of loot beyond having one of that class present.

Trying to describe specific weight chances gets very complicated very fast. You have to factor in the potential presence of two loot entries, the composition of the classes present, whether there are any additional drops due to what you're killing, etc.. then we toss in a few additional factors, like Boss-only Prototype drops that have high relative weights. While in the provided example the Kinetic Resolve D-System has a lower class weight than general weight, that's not representative of the system in general. The weights for any specific item are determined by a moderately complex set of calculations to create relative loot density consistency across hundreds of different loot criteria combinations.

2. Regional Loot. When you kill something in the world and get commendations or medpacs, it comes from here.

Most NPCs opt in to regional loot. Whenever you kill something on a planet that is valid for regional loot, it will make a call to this table in addition to whatever other loot it provides. We generally use this for simple, generic additions that we want to provide for generally participating in the content. That's why it's the way we drop commendations and medpacs. However, it can also be used for other purposes, like the (random) loot you get from trash mobs in a flashpoint.

Note that regional loot does not apply to things like lockboxes.

3. Custom Loot. When you kill a boss in a flashpoint and pull from a specific list of items, it comes from here.

This is similar to random loot, but it calls from a much smaller predefined list that's specific to the NPC. Custom loot uses class restrictions extensively. Sometimes, custom loot is all class restricted and it's not possible to get an item for classes that aren't present. Weighting is also much simpler in custom loot packages, but with randomness there's a high probability that a single pass through a FP/OP will be very slanted. Custom loot is typically split into several subpackages. Each subpackage has a chance to be called and contains a list of items.