Star Wars: The Old Republic Updated Q&A - Flashpoints...The Old Republic's Answer to Dungeons?

World designer Jesse Sky gets into the nuts and bolts of flashpoints, the heavy-duty cooperative adventures planned for The Old Republic.

The Old Republic is one of the most highly anticipated games this year, possibly because it's a massively multiplayer game that takes place in the Star Wars universe first explored in BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic. The game will let you play as a Jedi, a Sith, a bounty hunter, a smuggler, or one of many other types of characters, and explore the conflict between the Republic and the Sith Empire. Over the course of your travels, you will most likely find yourself exploring a flashpoint--the game's cooperative adventures that are perhaps analogous to the dungeons you may have explored in other games. But different. The first flashpoint to be revealed is Taral V, an adventure area in Republic territory. World designer Jesse Sky discusses this new area and how flashpoints will work in general.

GameSpot: Give us an overview of the Taral V flashpoint. What's the purpose of this area in the game's story, and how will successfully conquering it change the outcome of a character's adventures?

Jesse Sky: The emperor is holding a powerful Jedi captive in his personal prison--a massive space station at the heart of the Maelstrom Nebula. Only a Gree computer is capable of navigating the treacherous cosmic storms that surround the prison. Fortunately, the Republic has learned that the Empire guards just such a device on the remote jungle world of Taral V.

Your mission is to infiltrate the hidden Imperial fortress on Taral V and recover this computer. Success will mean that the Republic fleet can launch an assault on the prison where you can, perhaps, rescue the Jedi prisoner.

GS: Without spoiling anything, can you give us a quick run-through of what it will be like to try to conquer this flashpoint? What kinds of enemies will players be up against? What kinds of player skills and tactics will be important? How many hours is the flashpoint intended to take?

JS: You and your friends will form a covert strike team and land a shuttle in the jungle beyond the walls of the fortress. You'll face vicious beasts, battle an entire legion of Imperial soldiers, and confront the ruthless Sith who oversee operations on the planet. The fortress on Taral V doubles as a research facility, so you should come prepared to deal with some advanced weapons technology.

Taral V can be played in roughly 90 minutes, which is about the average length for a flashpoint. A completionist play-through would probably take more than two hours. If you have any stealthy friends, you might find them particularly useful on this mission.

Flashpoints will be a way for players to get together, bash some monsters, and grab some loot.

GS: How does Taral V fit into The Old Republic in a larger sense? Approximately what level should characters be when they try to tackle it? Will it require large groups of players to conquer?

JS: Taral V is intended for players at level 32 or above, and it's balanced for a full group of four players.

GS: Let's talk about flashpoints in general. How many are intended to be in the game at launch? How will the game guide players toward them, and how important will they be to a player's overall experience? For instance, we understand that player-versus-player (PVP) battles are intended to let players play them continuously, gaining all their levels and loot through them--can we say the same for flashpoints?

JS: I won't get into our launch numbers, but flashpoints are a core part of the game experience and will challenge you from a relatively early level all the way to endgame. You could spend a large chunk of your time playing them, for sure, and there are plenty of incentives to do so.

GS: In many massively multiplayer games with different types of content, you often see certain players gravitating toward one specific way to play over others--some people are crafters, others only want to do quests, and some people only want PVP. Is there a specific kind of player that you're targeting for flashpoints?

JS: Flashpoints are designed to be enjoyed by everyone, but they will hold the most appeal for players who like cooperative gameplay. I would also say we're sympathetic to players who are a little bored with the "traditional" dungeon experience. My team loves playing dungeons, but we want flashpoints to be an evolutionary step toward something more engaging. My hope is that even players who traditionally solo will be attracted to them and seek out groups.

On a personal level, I'm targeting my friends. I ran a Star Wars pen-and-paper campaign in college, so building cooperative, story-driven missions in this universe is very exciting to me. It's like sitting behind the game master screen again, except I'm joined by a host of talented people, and we have powerful tools at our disposal.

GS: While flashpoints are clearly intended to be challenging experiences, once you've completed one, are you finished with it forever? What incentives are planned to get players to run a certain flashpoint multiple times? Alternate difficulty levels? Randomized loot? Some kind of points system that earns you prestige for successfully completing these areas?

JS: Flashpoints are repeatable by design, and we strive to include elements that keep them fresh for multiple play-throughs. The gameplay focus in a flashpoint is very tight, which contrasts a bit with adventuring in the open world, but it lets us empower players in some really interesting ways. For example, you might explore the area and discover a secret that changes the mechanics of a boss fight. Or you might make a story decision that alters the course of the gameplay.

Naturally, you'll find some of the best equipment in flashpoints. There will be other reward structures in place as well, but our main focus is making them fun. Fun is my favorite incentive.

GS: Could you give us a general update on the game's development? Which aspects of the game is the team focusing on?

JS: Development is going very well, and we're all happy to be heading into our home stretch. We've been receiving some incredibly positive feedback from our ongoing game testing program, which has let us better balance combat, item drops, and quest flow, plus plenty more. It's been a huge morale booster to get feedback from real players that we can use to improve the game. As for my team, we're still hard at work building more flashpoints. The whole studio is very busy.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about flashpoints, or the game in general?

OK, so who needs this lightsaber we just looted? How about you, the secret agent? No? Bounty hunter, you want this?

JS: Many of us play the game in our free time for as many hours as we work on it during the week. It's very exciting. I have a difficult time pulling myself away to play other online games lately, and that speaks volumes.

GS: Thank you.

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Discussion

169 comments
vadagar1
vadagar1

might just give it a try this summer if they put the fiber optic cables that is :P, yes we are still using old wires and yes our country has the slowest most expensive connection on earth (Lebanon) I kid you not, check the lists its true :(

eliebaz
eliebaz

battlefront 3 anybody...:(

emptyhead34
emptyhead34

having played the beta now i can say without a doubt this is gonna CRUSH wow (and im not even a fanboy) and as for the graphic haters, fear not as they are very crisp and clean look great and most importantly run great ) KEEP IT UP BIOWARE!!

shotinthedark99
shotinthedark99

The art direction in the game is essentially to make it runnable on most computers, and the less demanding it is graphically the smoother it will run--especially in areas with high activity. Further, they can actually do a story and work on every quest as something interesting instead of a series of tired grinds and fetch quests.

Desertdback
Desertdback

@VIP-Jerry Not sure what you are trying to say here, but I think anyone that has played MMORPG's in the past and has enjoyed them, can look at this game and be inspired by what they see. MMORPGS don't always have the greatest graphics, but they do have the social aspect that most games lack. I mostly certainly think that this game looks to be enjoyable and deserves a subscription fee, especially if they can combine the KOTOR in the MMO genre, which it looks like they have done very well.

Acemaster27
Acemaster27

This game is looking very AWESOME. I'm cancelling my wow subscription when this comes out.

NerdHerdman009
NerdHerdman009

I saw both the other video and the one here, I remember star wars on X-box they seem to always now a days make star wars realistic and great story plot.

VIP-Jerry
VIP-Jerry

I'm sorry but game feels and looks like crap. I don't see anything new or different that would justify my subscription fee. Now go on give me thumb down but deep inside, you all know there is something wrong with this game...

rcboothman
rcboothman

im assuming your reffering to the voice over, but since that wasnt yoda, what with the game being set a couple of thousdand years before yoda was born, it doesnt really matter. Im not aware of any other of yoda;s race bening seen before, so theres no reason why others of yodas race cant speak normally, maybe yoda was just 'special' and not in a good way

MrPepino000
MrPepino000

This is going to be an awesome ONline GAME!

Daladd
Daladd

Cant wait. Could do with a guild though...any pre guilds going on??

deviant74
deviant74

If I'm in a guild and have moved up 5 levels then I get kicked out of the guild or it just quits. I would like no pvp for 1 level or until I get into a new guild, which ever comes first.

Spartan_7008
Spartan_7008

I just recently finished playing WoW after about two years. Wonderful game, but I feel like the sense of community was destroyed for the sake of convenience. I understand the guild system was designed to counter that and give players a sense of belonging in a game filled with Que after Que, and many players feel that was enough, but it wasn't for me. I hope that this MMO is great, I'm looking foward to playing it. Final Fantasy XIV was supposed to be a great MMO, but they rushed it out the door.

simon1812
simon1812

rvrevrevr you need to cancel all of your afternoon appointment, or whatever is it that u do, get a cup of coffee and read the hell out of wookiepedia. the empire as seen in the original trilogy is creation of Palpatine alone. there is already a long history of empires in the starwars universe, some of the are fallen some others are well established centuries old, others are in the dark biding their time. the empire in SWToR, as I understand it, is the original sith empire, founded by jedis survivors from previous schism inside the jedi order and the original sith (the race), after thousand of years of forging their own culture,dark side philosophy, and getting busy with the sith natives, you get this, the bad guys from SWtOR and true dark lords of the sith. PS Im no expert in SW lore, I may be off here and there. again , I would advise u to check wookiepedia.

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

This is a massive undertaking.. I am really hoping this game reaches its goals of epicness... I don't understand how you could be underwhelmed unless your just talking about whats on this page. Because the game is massive and fully voiced. And.. its actually quite beautiful from what I have seen thus far.

Shadow_Fire41
Shadow_Fire41

im still not sure if i want the game or not to be honest (knowing me though, ill probably get it)

elancion
elancion

WOW is not the end all be all mmo. im happy that someone out there is trying to create an mmo that attempts to have some depth when it comes to story. i applaud the developers efforts for creating quests that are engaging vs your old run of mil loot/exp runs. and im surprised that the WOW fan boys have the gall to mention graphics when WOW's game visuals are quite dated regardless of the the many game updates/patches that have been released.hopefully i'll be able to have control over my character rather than rely heavily on clicking a bunch of icons all day.

nickery123
nickery123

@uberjannie true I'm not pissed about the game happening in general, in fact I cant wait, just the fact that they abandoned the storyline of the kotors for such a long time only to make something that doesnt really tie in very much does piss me off a bit. And I did see the Revan endgame bit.

bctadmin
bctadmin

funny that you claim to be a history major. when you don't even know that it has always been the same empire in control.

Birdy09
Birdy09

Animations, Voice Acting and overall combat look incredible average, it seems too much effort has gone into Voice/Story which is always a nice edition. but the overall substance and gameplay look... below average even for a WoW-Clone. GOOD WoW clones struggle, so what is the point in going down this route really? Mis-Market.

rvrevrevr
rvrevrevr

@dragonwar2 : It just so happens I'm a History major, and I know that empires come and go. However, no two have been the same, nor have they employed the same insignia.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@sudge7 : Yes people should stop whine and cry about making this instead of a new KOTOR. Bioware have kept saying that SW-TOR is enough content to be many many many KOTOR games. The difference between this and other MMORPG's is that you do not do your own resource grinding and you have a full voice acted story and a story where your choices have personal impacts. Which is basically the same as KOTOR. So this is just KOTOR online :D Online is the new thing, so get over it you people out there who keep crying about it! It's like hearing the people whine and cry about their favourite group not releasing their newest album on LP.. Same sh1t all the time.

uberjannie
uberjannie

@Caprica23 : Almost everything is recycled story-wise in games, movies, books etc. You can draw conclusions from and to anything because it has all been done before. It's very rare to see a game with a really unpredictable story and/or ending.

dakkafex
dakkafex

im very excited for this game, i get shivers whenever they have a new clip up and the only time that happens is when a new wow expansion is anounced, tough this wont blow wow out of the water im pretty sure it will at least hit 2-3 milion players which is allot, blizz is just insane, look at the most sucesfull F2P MMO not GW runescape they have a playerbase of 2M orso and are in buisness for around 10 years now, but im sure this wil be the most sucesfull mmo since WoW Edit: oh allot of thumbs down?, prob because i mentioned runescape, stop whining it not a bad game, do you have any idea what a hassle it is to program something like that in java?!

dragonwar2
dragonwar2

Ohkay....complaining about multiple empires is just silly.... Pick up a book and read your history. There isn't just one empire in the history of mankind. History repeats itself. No reason to think Star War's lore would be any different.

Caprica23
Caprica23

@rvrevrevr I tend to agree with you, despite being an avid fan of the franchise in general. Its honestly funny how the Empire thousands of years before is the same as the Galactic Empire. And now with the Legacy Comics, there is another Empire. its just recycled over and over. But despite that too, I would still play this because I love Star Wars.

SniperFire17
SniperFire17

@rvrevrevr Who says they wont have basic uniforms? regular jedi cloaks and imperial uniforms.. who says you wont storm trooper like costumes and regular mandalorian armor?

rvrevrevr
rvrevrevr

So it's the Empire... before the Empire? And they have almost the same crest? And they're the bad guys (again? can we say 'again' if it happens *before* the movies?). I really hate these designer anachronisms in the pre-trilogy SW setting... as if their galaxy won't accept a novel uniform design even after centuries, nay, millennia have passed? (Stormtroopers/Mandalorians). Shoddy, really.

stev69
stev69

"I wonder what are the odds of this, or a variant, coming to 360 down the road??" Looking at it visually I suspect its not unrealistic that it might come to xbox at some point.

vandread5
vandread5

this is probably the only mmorpg that im excited for. I can't wait!

doogie1022
doogie1022

I wonder what are the odds of this, or a variant, coming to 360 down the road??

Josh-Fu
Josh-Fu

The graphics looks slightly better. The animation seems very poor still. This needs to be fixed to be successful. I have seen better animation on Free MMOs. Of course the KOTOR series has always had very poor and jarring animations. It's 2011 time to step it up gents. Fix that I will defenitly be giveing the game a try. (I cant help it if I am a gpahics whore)

Legojake94
Legojake94

wow lookit the lame animation in the video above... thats just sad

stev69
stev69

"Seriously People need to get over KOTOR! ITS BEEN DONE! ITS OVER! This is something new. Dont knock it till you try it." Or rather approach it with an open mind and appraise it on its own merits, ive learnt that comparing newer things to the rose tinted nostalgic memories of the past never (well most of the time) comes out with a very positive result. I still think back to the days when I was having the time of my life playing my C64, I have the odd retro evening reliving those times but they do seem some what meh in comparison to the content available these days. The only gripe i have with this is the cartoony approach they have taken, but thats also a criticism i could level at many developers these days. When did realism become an after thought?

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

Whenever this comes out, I just hope that it separates itself from WoW in more than just being Star Wars vs. Warcraft lore. I really hope this does something new and different because I'm tired of MMO's all being so similar.

sudge7
sudge7

Seriously People need to get over KOTOR! ITS BEEN DONE! ITS OVER! This is something new. Dont knock it till you try it.

VigilanteArtist
VigilanteArtist

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

andy180084
andy180084

I'm sorry but this game looks childish... I would have much rather had them make Kotor 3.

TryDaBeardON
TryDaBeardON

@Damnation_6 I thought they were following the Star Wars canon. KOTOR was canon, so I thought this would be too. And I don't remember any "emperors" in that time. I guess canon can be updated, though this seems a rather big deal for the universe to just put it in out of nowhere. Anyway, lolz at all the people thumbing down the previous comment. How dare he?! LoL.

stev69
stev69

"at this point the very best way you can make an mmo is just copy everything wow does. if you cant beat em, joing em. and in this case u definitely cant beat em" This is the very best example ive seen yet for me not wanting to ever touch WOW with a 10ft barge pole.

SniperFire17
SniperFire17

@Egotte says that WoWser. lol!!! Looks better than WoW, Guild Wars, Galaxies, and in most ways Age of Conan. gtfo

fredwv
fredwv

Doesn't look too strong visually? Like WoW is a graphic masterpiece, right?

hrothgar99
hrothgar99

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Brazucass
Brazucass

Characters movements look bad like robocop

Chickenesta
Chickenesta

I had a play in one of the betas just before Xmas (my group tested Sith Inquisitor/Warrior classes starting area, up to level 10) and this game was really shaping up to be something special even with it back then being rather rough around the edges, I can't wait.