Those who were following last night on my Twitter account know that I attended the SWTOR Community Cantina event in my hometown of Vancouver and it was.. interesting.
I arrived about 45 minutes before the event and was the first one there, I was then greeted by Eric Musco who was setting up the front booth, from my limited knowledge of other cantina events I was shocked to find nobody else there, as was Eric who said this was the first time ever that this had happened. Normally there is a crowd almost 2 hours before! At that point I was honestly rather worried that not many people would show up at all… It did however give me a great chance to just chat with Eric for almost a solid hour which was nice. Around 20 mins to 8 a couple more people started to show up although they were a bit shy to say much so I continued to just chat with Eric and get his thoughts of Canada so far (this was literally his first time ever coming to Canada) and he told me all about how Austin is coming from Pennsylvania where he lived before working for Bioware.
By the time 8 o’clock rolled around we got a decent line of people and we got to go in, this is my first time going to one of these things so I don’t have much to compare it to but the room was nice, very dimly lit with various candle light tables, very umm romantic if that makes any sense? Once everyone was in and settled I would wager there was maybe 60-70 people total. From my understanding of other cantina events this was probably the lowest attended one ever… although I would like to say that in a way that lets you readers know that the sky is not falling guys.
Honestly even before attending I kind of suspected there wouldn’t be huge crowd of people due to all my time playing this game and trying to find people both irl and in-game I have NEVER met a person from Vancouver… I mentioned that to Eric as I’m not sure how they plan these events but I think its been mentioned before that it is based on player metrics to find where alot of people live, no offence to bioware it did seem that didn’t work too well this time around though. I did tell him not to be discouraged from coming to Canada again though because I have actually met many many people in-game from Canada just that they tend to mostly be from either: Toronto area, Edmonton (coincidence? Bioware’s head office is in Edmonton) and that they should consider one of those cities if they were to return to Canada again.
So with the group ready Eric took the stage and introduced himself and who was there with him, Art Director Mark Richards and Associate Producer Andrew Horowitz, after introductions that hopped right into the Q/A which I attempted to live tweet last night with.. some success. I feel because of the smaller amount of people and because most questions about Strongholds were unanswerable we didn’t get huge amount of good stuff, although during the mingle portion of the night I did go around and listen in on what sorts of questions were being asked and I will note those conversations here as well. Here is my paraphrased interpretation of the Q/A!
Rando: Will we be able to eventually have older mounts from before FTP added to collections for unlock on all toons? for example the original korrealis mounts?
Mark: We are always looking to add new things to collections and the cartel market although we do draw the line obviously on things that were never meant to be for all your characters, certain mounts are meant to be for one toon only, raiding rewards etc etc so that is working as intended in that respect.
Rando: What is the method or decision-making process that goes into picking dye combinations for the CM or even just the game at large?
Mark: To be honest there isn’t really any specific method, we kind of just play around with different combinations and see what we think looks good together and obviously what we think will sell best.
Rando: Will there be more restriction loosing for FTP players as we have lost a few people in my guild because of for example levelling exp disparity making things frustrating for them, pvp passes, (ramble ramble hard to hear)
Andrew and Eric: We are always trying to find a balance between making subscribers feel rewarded for their money spent while also making sure FTP players get a chance to experience and enjoy the fun of the game, every time something new is added for FTP it actually is simultaneously taking something away from subscriber benefits, so there needs to be balance and that is something we are always looking at changing.
Rando: *Something I couldn’t quite make out, I guess about teasing content?*
Andrew: With expansions like galactic star fighter for example obviously that was something that the fans wanted and we here in the office wanted since very early on but as you know development time is much longer so if there is an idea we are pursuing it can sometimes take as much as a year to actually see it to fruition. With strongholds, its housing, something that a lot of games have obviously so there is a good chance it would come to ours eventually. The problem with teasing something is as soon as something is even a little teased people can grab hold of that and start making a bunch of huge assumptions about what “they think it is” and that can be hard to taper when they finally get to see it and it may not be what they thought, so we are wary of showing people anything until we can really show you what it is and how it works so you’re not as.. overly ambitious of the project.
Rando: Will we ever see more specific customization options? for some example I would like little things like moving my eye patch to the other eye, having a left-handed jedi (moving saber to other hand) obviously hood toggle comes up. little things like that add a lot for me.
Mark: Yep those are definitely things we would like to have in the game and are looking into doing. it’s just a question of how much work needs to go into it and if we feel it will benefit enough people as some of those things can even if it doesn’t seem that way on the surface, actually be quite technically challenging and require a lot of re working of models.
Walking Around Stuff
This questions are a bit more off the cuff and loose perhaps take them with a grain of salt.
My question: As a huge gigantic fan of housing in all games (I love the sims don’t judge) I am the most worried I’ve ever been about this particular expansion as I really want it to be good. I think it was at the last cantina someone (I think Jack Wood correct me if I’m wrong) alluded to it being NOT like lotro which is regarding as being one the worst housing systems in mmo. anything you can say to ease my mind?
Eric- The problem with saying anything right now is honestly it is really kind of hard to explain the system to you right here right now, I will say though it is nothing like any system in any other mmo out there right now… It is completely different and new, It will really only make sense when you can see it in action. All I can right now is as a huge fan of housing in games myself I promise you as a fan of housing you will not be disappointed in how ours works. we have put a lot of thought into making it more customizable (not to disparage other games).
Rando: With guild capital ships and new guid features could we ever have something like Guild Tabards from WoW coming?
Eric: I can’t obviously say much or confirm anything like that but I will say if you are a fan of that sort of stuff I can say that there may be something coming up that will make you very happy.
Rando: Legacy Holocrons?
Eric: Never say never obviously but I can almost say those will probably never be coming as they would require completly remaking ALL of the holocrons to make so that they fit with the legacy system so I just don’t see it ever happen to be honest, but as always never say never.
Rando: How much if anything do the forums factor into what goes into game or figuring out what the population wants?
Eric: Hard one to answer, honestly and this has been said before less than 10% of the population even reads the forums and less than 3% even write on them! So they aren’t the best way.. but part of my job is obviously seeing whats there, seeing whats other places like reddit, twitter etc so I’m always listening to what people are saying and reporting that to the producers devs etc.
3-4 drinks later and after getting my questions answered, as was well as taking part in tons of other interesting conversations I felt it was time to leave about 30 mins before the end. As I had been the first one there and had built a fair bit of rapport with Eric over the course of the night I sought him out and said some goodbyes, he also has promised to get me some extra astromech codes so I can do a little give away here on the site (I am taking a lead from fellow blogger Heather from prettylittlesith on that). All and all I am delighted I got a chance to take part in a community cantina and I feel this may be the last time we see one here in Hollywood North unfortunately but I will be sure to attend the next nearest one when it comes up!
If any one you guys find one coming near to you GO!!! Free drinks, free food, talking with the people who make the game you play, whats not to love? Seriously go it will be awesome and you will have fun and you will get a pet out of it .