Friday Update: Animation Blog, Flashpoint Q&A

The latest batch of updates on the Star Wars: The Old Republic site include a dev blog on animations, a community Q&A on Flashpoints, and a fan site spotlight on our good friends TORWars. Also, there’s some concept art and fan art thrown in for good measure.
In the cinematic animation blog, Animator Andrew Lauretta explains how animations are created for in-game cinematics. He shows step by step how the team worked on a scene in which characters need to Force Push some guards away and slay a couple of Hutts.
The latest Fan Friday segment contains the usual artwork and avatars, and this one also includes an interview with Jeff Hollis, the creator of TORWars. 
Community Q&A on Flashpoints

Today, World Designer Jesse Sky has answers to some of your questions about Flashpoints:
Q: Will Flashpoint for Republic and Empire ever meet? – Sirious_Nora
A: Certain Flashpoints, especially at the end game, are available to both factions. They represent threats so large that neither the Republic nor the Empire can afford to ignore them. Each side has its own quest givers, dialogue and motivations, though, so what you get are two very different looks at the same story.
Q: Are you thinking of introducing side-missions in Flashpoints where a specific class will be required to initiate/complete? – KrumStrashnii
A: We have considered adding some optional objectives that require certain classes or Crew Skills to complete. Of course, it’s a balancing act – how cool can you make it without forcing players to bring that ability set along every time? I’m interested in hearing what the community thinks; let us know your thoughts on the forums!
Q: How many hours of game time must players invest on average before their first Flashpoint is available to play with friends? – Fortunetek
A: You’ll encounter your first Flashpoint after your Origin World – how long you take to complete that is up to you, really. By this time, you’ll be familiar enough with your class to feel confident taking on content that requires a group.
Q: Are Flashpoints linear or can you go multiple routes without ruining the storytelling part? – Flopi
A: Your main objectives in a Flashpoint follow a clear path, except in cases where your story choices modify that path. We use bonus objectives to introduce elements of non-linearity, and we try to place surprises off the beaten path.
Q: How will loot be distributed in Flashpoints? – Trishot
A: Loot is distributed according to need/greed rules with a quality threshold set by the group leader. Players will also accumulate commendations that can be traded for special gear.
Q: Will it be possible to play a Flashpoint with fewer than four players, whether it’s one, two, or three? – Mark
A: For early Flashpoints, you can certainly try, but as you get deeper into the game, you will need a full group of four players to have a reasonable chance of surviving the challenges in Flashpoints.
Q: How intricately will the boss fights in Flashpoints be scripted? A typical example would be nice. – Sungil
A: Bosses are scripted to match the fiction and the environments. They change phases and require players to think on their feet. Most of all they require coordination. An example off the top of my head is an Imperial officer who jumps behind cover and calls in a squad of soldiers with jetpacks. He then spends one stage of the fight sniping you and sending traps at you while his men arrive in waves.
Q: Will the choices a group makes (e.g. chosen dialogues, fight tactics, whether you killed enemies or not) have an impact on loot amount and quality at the end of a Flashpoint? – Elvasan
A: If your group decides to complete optional objectives, you will absolutely reap better rewards. Some of your story choices may result in different loot, but we never want group leaders enforcing story decisions or bailing out halfway because the ‘wrong’ decision was made, so we avoid associating key rewards with story choices. We want you to be free to roleplay.
Q: How do you intend to make replaying Flashpoints interesting (other than using diverse loot tables) in order to encourage group play and to not have Flashpoints deteriorate into “farm areas” typical of other games in the genre? – TheOrigin
A: From a gameplay perspective, we try to keep the combat mechanics dynamic and the pacing strong. We’ve discussed adding elements that differ from one session to the next, but our top priority is offering a diverse array of Flashpoints at launch. As a BioWare fan, I find the stories alone engaging enough to repeat – especially with the multiplayer conversation system.
Q: How exactly will class roles inside Flashpoints work? Will it be like in WoW or similar systems with fix systems, in which only damage dealer can deal damage, in which only tanks can block and only healer can heal? – Sarnave
A: This is an area where we try to distinguish Flashpoints from dungeons. While boss fights often require traditional tank and healer roles, some sections of Flashpoints are paced in such a way that healers can switch into damage roles and tanks can get a bit more reckless.
Q: Do mobs respawn in a Flashpoint after a certain time, or do they “stay” dead? – MilOuZ
A: Enemies do not respawn in Flashpoints. The story is too tightly focused for respawning enemies to make sense, and it would have undesirable gameplay consequences.
Q: Are classes adaptable enough in order to complete a Flashpoint with a any group (e.g. 4 Jedi Consulars, possibly with the help of certain companions)? – Ashlack, Akbar
A: You will need a well-balanced group to complete a Flashpoint. You’ll find some very unique and powerful combinations of Advanced Classes, but if you stack several players with the same role, you’re not likely to fare well.
Q: What happens in Flashpoints in case of a wipe in terms of scenario? Do we have to replay the Flashpoint story from the beginning? – Askanir
A: If your group wipes, you’ll just need to run back from your most recent objective. You will not lose any story progress unless your group leaves the instance and lets its timer expire.
Q: When we reach max level, will it be possible to solo low-level Flashpoints? – Yanis Micropoulos
This is something that we are looking into with in-game testing. A very skilled player probably could.