SWTOR Dev Blog Looks At The State of the Game

BioWare exec talks personnel changes, buggy updates and server populations.

BioWare's Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer of Star Wars: The Old Republic, launched his first "State Of The Game" blog to look at how the game is doing and where it is headed. He addresses three major topics in this post: the recent departure of some of the team's big name developers, Patch 1.4's persistent bugs, and concerns over Oceanic server populations.

Topic #1: Staff: Why are some developers leaving The Old Republic™? How will the game be affected?
Answer: People leave for a lot of reasons. Some have worked on the project for 6+ years and are simply tired and want to go work on something else. Others may not agree with the direction that the game is heading – Free-to-Play is not for everyone and requires a big shift in thinking and culture within the studio. Still others do not have the right skills for the roles that we have as the studio evolves and changes. When any single person leaves, whether we make the decision or they do, it is difficult, but the studio and game live on and thrive as we change, actually thrive because we change. The core of what makes the game and studio great are still here; quality in our game and in our workplace, people that are passionate about both, a camaraderie with each other that helps us support one another, and key people like James Ohlen (who was at BioWare from the very start) who continue to help us carry the banner of BioWare and who are dedicated to help evolve and improve Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Topic #2: Bugs: How does testing work? Why do bugs get through? Why did Game Update 1.4 have so many of them? What are we doing to improve the process? Answer: MMOs are undoubtedly one of the most complex games on Earth. We employ hundreds of QA professionals to ensure that our game is high quality, but sometimes bugs get through. We test every step of the way as we develop the game or change to the game. We have many, many development environments that work in a sequence to push updates from initial construction, to code and content integration, to internal end-to-end testing, to player facing testing on Public Test Servers and then on to the Live servers. Sometimes (like in Game Update 1.4) we make changes that have unintended (and undiscovered) consequences on completely different parts of the game (the performance issues that showed up in the update are a great example of this). These unintended changes happen more often than you would think (or we would like), though we usually catch them before they go live. We have recently put new measures in place both on the development teams and in QA, as well on Public Test Server (where we should find many of these types of issues), to catch things like this in the future. I am not saying it will not happen again – bugs will always happen – but we will strive to give you the best, high quality, bug-free experience that we can. As a side note, we finally got a lock on the last of the major issues from Game Update 1.4 and appreciate your patience with that one.

Topic #3: Oceanic populations. Are we doing anything about them?
Answer: We are very aware of the concerns with the population levels on the Oceanic servers. The problem is pretty complex, as the solutions we have either split the populations further (like allowing Oceanic players to move to North American servers), or would force players to go to server types (PvP or RP, etc…) that they do not want to be on. Our current plan is to wait for Free-to-Play to launch and see what the influx of new players does to the populations of these servers. We will give it a little time and if we do not see significant improvement, then we will move ahead with the solution that offers the best playing experience for the Oceanic community.

Hickman promises that this is the first of many State-of-the-Game blog posts to come.

Source: SWTOR.com community blog

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