Thursday, 4 June 2009

No E3 Gameplay Demo

As you might be aware BioWare is showing a gameplay demo behind closed doors at the E3 press event. Since they've been teasing this demo for a while now a lot of people (including myself) were expecting to get to see this demo. And expecting it to be shown at one of the stage demos with the various news groups (IGN, GameSpot, G4, etc) lots of people tuned in yesterday when these sites had Star Wars: The Old Republic listed on their schedule.

But they all turned out to be just interviews, showing the trailer or some other already revealed footage (or even KotOR footage) during it. Leaving a lot of people disappointed.

Then Sean Dahlberg posted the following note:
Hey everyone, we know there has been a lot of talk about watching The Old Republic Demo that is being shown during the E3 Press Event. Currently, we are only showing this behind closed doors.

We will update you on when and where we’ll be displaying this publicly in the future. Stay tune next week when we update the website with Smuggler details and our E3 highlights.
So, in short, unless somebody smuggles out some shaky-cam footage (unlikely as they're not likely to allow people to record the demo) we won't be getting to see the gameplay demo for some time yet.

Sean later followed up with the following message:
Since there are some questions about this, let me clarify. No, I am not saying that our E3 highlights will contain the E3 demo video footage. We will update you when and where we will be showing you this.

Next week (June 12th), we will be doing our highlights (basically an overview) of what we did reveal during E3. We will also be posting details about the Smuggler then.
Now I thought we'd get the official Smuggler reveal this Friday, but that quote makes it sound like they're doing that next week. Or maybe he's referring to a dev blog or dispatch video. As for the E3 highlights I'm not expecting anything more than a list of articles that I've already posted (and whatever more come out over the coming week). That's what you get when you're fairly on-top of everything.

This leaves the question as to what they'll do this Friday then. One might speculate that the HoloNet and cinematic trailer are this week's update (which wouldn't be unreasonable at all). But Sean had one more message:
I do apologize to those of you are are upset or disheartened by this. We were hoping E3 would be a happy occasion; we brought the HoloNet online, we showed our first cinematic trailer, we talked about some things we haven't talked about before, and we let you hear from people who aren't working on the game (and therefore, people not as biased as, say me) about their opinions of the game.

At the end, I know it isn't even the demo all of you want (although, clearly, that is something you all want to see, too). It's the game itself. And while things could have gone better, I hope all of you do realize this is nonetheless a big occasion in getting that end goal to all of you. But I am nonetheless sorry and apologize to those of you who are upset.
He is right of course. It is very nice to hear from people other than BioWare staff about the game. I still think that the bit I quoted from Kotaku in a previous post is most telling: "What Needs Improvement? Not a thing. Seriously." And the HoloNet as quite nice, as is the cinematic trailer. Compared to other weeks we're definitely being spoiled rotten.

As for wanting the game and not the demo? Well, kind of. I definitely want the demo first so that I can see for myself whether this is a game I'm truly interested in playing. I have every expectation that I will be, but I've been wrong before.

So since we're not getting any gameplay demonstration video now I'm currently thinking that perhaps we will see this during the Games Convention Online in Leipzig (start of August) or during GamesCom in Cologne (middle of August).

The interviews weren't a total loss however. For one it was nice seeing some other BioWare developers talk about the game and again it struck me how enthusiastic they too were. It seems clear that they have a lot of heart for their game, and from the looks of it so far they have every right to be proud of their work.

Other tidbits include that when asked whether they'd be at next year's E3 to reveal more of the game the answer was something along the lines of "I hope not". Since E3 is an event where one only shows games in development this led many to speculate that the game is supposed to be released before then. Then again, an MMO is never truly finished and new content always needs to be added so I don't see why they couldn't be back next year to show their future plans for the game.

Another thing that they noted was that they're still iterating on a lot of systems, such as PvP, and that a lot of that isn't ready to be shown yet. This makes sense, in most games systems are still being iterated on until well into beta. And unlike most MMO developers they seem keen to try and not over-hype the game (hard as that might be) by not making any promises. They're intent on only showing parts of the game if they're very certain that it's ready and that they're happy with the way it's going. They don't want to tell you their ideas for the game, however good those might sound on paper, only to have to remove them because they didn't work well in the game.

And they said that we might see some familiar characters (where I think they were mainly referring to the movies and the Knights of the Old Republic games), but only where it makes sense for them to be alive during the time of the MMO (which rules out most all of them, except droids such as everyone's favorite assassin droid HK-47) as the game is 3000 years before the movies and 300 years after KotOR 2 (meaning most everyone would be dead). And they said that any characters that might appear would appear as a cameo, which I take to mean that no characters will take up a large role in SW:TOR's story. So no, the game will not heavily focus on Revan (or at least that's how I'm reading it), which is good since Revan was different for pretty much everyone and BioWare sticking to only the canon version of Revan would greatly suck.

[EDIT] Forgot to mention; they also noted that they're not taking any other games' recipes for their classes, which I interpret as meaning that they're not going with the "Holy Trinity" (for those that don't know, the Holy Trinity is that the classes are structured around there being a 'tank' class, a 'damage' class and a 'healer' class; the tank takes damage and makes sure enemies attack him, the damage class hurts the enemy, and the healer class keeps them all alive). Which is good news, as the trinity is very dull and uninspired.

Anyway, I'll leave you with a link to a Kotaku news post stating that the game already has more recorded dialog than the entire run of The Sopranos.

[EDIT] Found a link to the GameSpot 'Stage Demo'. Note, again, that it's mostly an interview and that there's no gameplay being shown.

[EDIT] Found another interview on GameTrailers and instead of making a new post for it thought to just link it here instead.

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