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Star Wars Old Republic 1.1: 'We've already got people working on content for 2013'

BioWare on update 1.1 and the far, far future...

BioWare's set to release the first "game update" for Star Wars: The Old Republic, 'Rise of the Rakghouls', on Tuesday, January 17.

Update 1.1 will introduce new, higher level group content, game feature additions and "continued balancing and bug fixes," says BioWare.

To discuss the update, as well as the future of the EA MMO, we got on the phone with Game director James Ohlen.

Part one of our Star Wars: The Old Republic review went live before Christmas. Expect the second half (and a score) in the coming days.

Zoom

So have you managed to take a day off yet? We're guessing the team have been pulling some crazy hours.

I took three days off over Christmas. Some of the guys working on Game Update 1 had to come in every day over Christmas, but now they're finally having the chance to take days off now it's in the can. We're having to work out some interesting holiday schedules, seeing as we released right before Christmas.

There are some thankful wives, girlfriends and children now the game's finally out, we're guessing...

Well, the unfortunate thing is that it doesn't really slow down. I had to explain that to my wife. She didn't really like it when I told her that there wasn't going to be less work in 2012...

So overall how did the launch go for you? Do you consider that everything went to plan?

Yeah, the launch has gone really well. It was smooth, all the servers stood up, we got in control over the queues, the population has spread out across the world and all the servers very well. The response we're getting in-game is really positive, we feel we're going to have a really high attach rate... which is good as obviously having subscribers at launch is important.

So yeah, sales are going extremely well. We had the announcement that we're the fastest growing MMO, and we'll probably have announcements in the future too.
We're really pleased.

Now the team are focussed on the game updates - the first update is coming out right away, then future updates in March and the rest of 2012. Now we've got a whole bunch of fans in the game and enjoying it, we have to keep 'em there by convincing them that we're going to support the game for the long run.

As the game was rolling out queues were an issue. How did you handle the demand?

I think that went well. We initially had a long queue-line, but you're always going to have long queue-lines when you have a million players coming into the game all at the same time. We quickly got that in control. We didn't want to open up too many different shards, or servers - whatever you want to call them - as we didn't want to spread the population out too thin.

Zoom

We wanted to make sure that every single shard in the game felt populated. We've successfully done that now. There's still a few overcrowded shards, we've been trying to convince people to move over to other ones which is kind of difficult sometimes as people get attached, but not too many...

What was the most surprising thing about the launch? Were there any bugs and exploits that came out of nowhere, or had you pretty much seen everything in the beta?

Oh no. Now, especially at the higher level, we've got a million players in the game... erm.... well... we've got hundreds of thousands of players in the game. So they're stretching a lot of the higher level systems. So we are finding more bugs, but we are fixing them as fast as we can.

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