William Wallace, SWTOR’s senior game designer and not the famous Scot, has posted a new developer blog explaining the improvements made to companion characters, and he also delves deeper into the AI and companion group roles.
According to Wallace, companions will feature AI toggles for each ability, in order to control whether it will act on its own or when it will be manually activated by the player. Wallace said with such varying styles of play in the gaming community, the team wanted everyone to have a choice in the matter, as originally, companions were designed to act almost entirely on their own accord.
Now, as it stands, players who “are not interested in managing their companion,” can leave the default toggles on, while those who want more control can expand the companion bar in order to access all available abilities.
Wallace also noted in the dev blog that a companion can take the place of a group member should the player decide to leave. In SWTOR, groups always have four players, and if one should leave, the group can decide which companion will be the substitute, and the party leader decides which player gets to use their companion.
“If a player leaves the group or its proximity, to travel to a vendor for instance, he is able to summon his companion for the journey,” Wallace explained. “Upon reentering proximity of the group, the companion is automatically dismissed. The remaining group can temporarily substitute the missing player with one of their companions if desired.
“A common situation familiar to MMO players is the departure of a member halfway through a quest or instance – as a personal example: I once abandoned a group in the middle of an instance when my washing machine caught fire – these things happen. This could potentially ruin the game experience for all involved parties, but with the ability to substitute a companion in this situation, an experienced group of players will often be able to mitigate the impact of this event and continue their adventure.
“While companions certainly don’t have the impressive AI to be able to mimic most human players, the option to micromanage a companion’s ability use on the companion bar in crucial battles will enable experienced groups to successfully complete their mission, even after losing a group member.”
Wallace goes on to say that as testing continues and expands, the companion system will “continue to be polished and refined.”
You can read the entire post through the link.