Hey everyone -
Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to all the forum posts regarding the combat revamp and my recent interviews. I was in San Diego for Comic Con and then plowing through literally thousands of e-mails, PMs, and forum posts since my return to make sure I understand all the concerns and questions. I certainly didn't mean for the interviews I gave right before leaving town to cause such a stir or upset any of you, and I regret that I couldn't have been more active on the forums over the past few weeks.
First off, I want to tell those of you who are upset over the timing of the Combat Revamp and Galactic Civil War revamp that I feel your pain. I've been working on Star Wars Galaxies (in one form or another) for over five years (half a decade!). During that time I have grown to truly love this game and the community, not just as a developer, but also as a player. As a player, I've been excited about all the new additions to the game, concerned about any changes, and anxiously awaiting each update. Like many of you, I don't want to wait for the Combat Revamp either. I wish it could be in the game tomorrow. As a developer, I'm disappointed that we couldn't find a way to get it to you sooner.
Second, I want to apologize for any consternation, frustration, or anger that my interviews might have caused. Normally, we do most of these interviews as written Q&As, but I gave these via phone, moments before I had to rush out to meetings and then to San Diego. They were also done back-to-back. I'm sure I could have chosen my words more carefully, but the key points to take away should be:
·We're always upset about any changes to our schedule, and we recognize that you're upset too. With that said, the (formerly known as) "combat balance" and Galactic Civil War revamp are going to come after Jump to Lightspeed (which launches in October).
·We want to transform the combat balance into a more sweeping Combat Revamp, and we want to take the time to do it right.
·Combat Balance is the top priority behind JTL, followed by the Galactic Civil War revamp. We know that these are both very important to the community. We also recognize the need to address Smugglers and Squad Leaders.
·We have been and continue to work on the Combat Revamp. Work on the Combat Revamp will not stop due to JTL. We will get it out as soon as possible after JTL.
There might also be some stuff that wasn't clear at the time of the interviews (or wasn't clear from the interviews) that I think it's important you know (if you don't already):
·We are committed to receiving feedback from and engaging the community. To that end, we'll be holding a correspondent summit at the end of August.
·The community is going to be fully-integrated into the design and implementation of the Combat Balance and GCW. We'll be pumping out design docs as they are ready (the HAM revamp is already on the forums). We'll be starting feedback threads for the designs, and eventually the Combat Balance will have its own "sandbox" for testing. As the correspondents and others play through all the changes, we'll be doing lots of focus threads to get feedback on the actual implementation.
·JTL is a high priority for us not only because it's something we believe that players really want (based on focus testing, press reviews and previews, forum posts, in-game feedback, PMs we receive, feedback from events such as Fan Fest Comic Con, surveys, etc.) but also because it is setting a tone for quality going forward. We also feel that we need to have JTL out there before we tackle the full-blown Galactic Civil War revamp because a large portion of the content is faction-based.
·We will continue doing frequent publishes that contain interim combat fixes and some small (but cool) tweaks and additions between now and JTL.
·We are NOT shifting a huge number of people over to working on JTL. JTL's progress is such that we will probably only need to pull 1-2 designers (out of 9) from Live. The one area where JTL will impact us is in testing - most of our Testers will likely be working on JTL in the weeks prior to its launch.
Finally, regarding specific answers to the interviews themselves... I've reread the interviews numerous times and I can understand how some responses could have been misconstrued or taken out of context. I'm not going to go through every answer, but if you have specific questions/responses you want me to address, feel free to post them on this thread.
I will cover the one answer I wish I could clarify, take back, or nuke:
IGNPC: We often hear the loudest cries from a relative minority. Still, it seems odd that all the comments sent our way have been negative.
Haden Blackman: Yeah, all the guys who are happy with everything are playing the game. They aren't spending their time sending you guys letters or posting on the forums.
This was in no way intended as a slight against the community, or even those community members who posted "negative" comments or sent IGNPC negative letters about the combat revamp timing. I was (poorly) trying to articulate a common phenomenon that basically boils down to "happy community members are generally quiet community members." This has been true for us since launch.
I could have probably answered the question better with something like: "The players who are happy with everything aren't necessarily motivated to send you letters or post negative comments on the forums. Those players who are unhappy with something are far more motivated to let us know about it so that we can address the issues."
I could have also reiterated a point I made in my Game Informer interview by adding something like: "And even though they are often perceived as a 'vocal minority,' these players come from the core of our community, so we take everything they say very seriously because they have such influence and, in some ways, understand specific elements of the game better than we do. We receive thousands of constructive posts from these folks."
Then, I could have ended with: "And, just to show that there are always two sides to every issue, we almost always have community members who do take the time to post to the forums in open support of our direction."
I'd also point out that we also try to get feedback from "non-forum posters", including players who never hit the forums, fans of the films who are intrigued by Star Wars Galaxies but aren't playing it yet, and even people who have left the community. At the end of the day, we want to know what current players like and dislike about the game so we can build on our strengths and correct our weaknesses. The forums are often the best place for the latter (but that's certainly NOT all they are used for), but when we want to know what people like about the game, we often have to solicit that information and look beyond the forums.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'll try to be active on this thread throughout the day, so feel free to shoot me any additional questions.
P.S. Please remember that it is NOT Thunderheart's (or anyone else's) job to respond to my communications. I am again sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to the community, but please don't take it out on Kurt.
P.P.S. There a conspiracy theory brewing over a post I made to a Vader thread, which was then mysteriously deleted. No, I wasn't fired (sorry!). The thread asked if we would see Vader and other named characters in more prominent roles, and my response was basically "Yes." We already have Boba Fett showing up in Live Events and there are plans to do more of that. We also want to revamp the major NPCs (eventually). All that is still true. Everything involving a "named NPC" does need my approval and Lucasfilm's approval. As far as the thread disappearing, our best guess is that it was a technical hiccup on the boards, though I won't rule out gremlins or mynocks.