Saturday, 31 January 2009

Developer Dispatch: The Making of Tython

A new Friday update; BioWare has giving us a video, titled "The making of Tython", about the making of the planet Tython with developer commentary, new concept art and new ingame footage.
Join us for our first Developer Dispatch: The Making of Tython, with developer interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and breathtaking, never-before-seen concept art. Journey through Tython, the planet where the first Force users assembled and the Jedi Order was established. Discover how writers, artists, designers, and other developers came together to create one of the most essential planets in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.

Make sure to keep an eye out for more Developer Dispatches in the future! We’ll continue our tour through the BioWare Austin Studio and give you a deeper look inside the production of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
As for the video itself; the landscapes look gorgeous, the creatures look fantastic, the items look great, and the character models look... absolutely horrible. What's going on there? How can they make something that looks so nice and yet screw up so very, very badly on the character models? The characters look spindly, their joints look completely weird, the females have waists that look like they'll break if they just bend forward, and the proportions are horrendous. The characters look like a bunch of total freaks. And it's definitely not the "stylized" look, because Star Trek Online also uses a stylized approach and their character models look just fine.

Personally I think it's their choice to go with "heroic proportions", which make the characters look completely hideous and unnatural. And yes, I do think I'll grow so sick of looking at those character models, which don't forget is what you'll be looking at more than anything, that I won't be able to play the game and enjoy it. Whoever decided to do that should be fed to a Sarlac.

It's so weird; in their concept art the characters look just fine. Though admittedly there isn't any concept art of female characters and it's the female characters I find look the most horrid.

I really, really hope that they'll fix that, but somehow I doubt it.

[EDIT] Added an image link to the video.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

SW:TOR Media Update

A bit late perhaps, but last Friday BioWare posted a media update with a couple of new screenshots and wallpapers for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

[EDIT] Not sure why, but it seems that the previews on these aren't working.

[EDIT2] Found the problem with the previews and fixed it. Silly me, when replacing the width sizes of the original code to make it fit within the blog I also changed the names of the preview image urls. Oops.


Facing off with an Acklay



Harsh Elements

Defenses Prepared


Sith Chamber

The Treaty of Coruscant

Sith Tombs

Tython Forest

The images are quite nice, though I still think that the female model, particularly in the Avoidance shot, looks patently ridiculous. Perhaps it's in part due to the outfit, but she looks horribly anorexic. A number of the joints look patently weird. The hair and face look plastic. The way she holds her hands is downright odd (both how straight she holds the fingers of one and how she's not quite holding the weapon in the other). And I wouldn't want to be the one who provides the fabric for her bustier as it's absolutely massive.

In short, despite the improvements to the lightsaber sizes, I still think that the art direction and, in particular, the character models are a huge disappointment. I'm not looking for realistic graphics, but I'm at least looking for something that looks decent and which has decent proportions (Star Trek Online seems to manage the 'stylized' look a lot better from what I've seen so far).

Ah well, sorry for the mini-rant there.

Monday, 19 January 2009

BioWare CEO says PC gaming is fine

In an interesting twist on my previous off-topic PC Game Piracy Examined post BioWare now seem to drag that into on-topic as they've told CVG that they see the platform doing quite well.

Here's the text from CVG:
The CEO of BioWare has told us that, contrary to numerous 'PC gaming is dying' claims, the sector's in fine health on a number of fronts.

"I think there are more people playing PC games and more dollars being spent on the PC space than ever before, but it's taking a different form," Ray Muzyka said in a recent interview.

According to Muzyka the PC gaming landscape is changing as audiences and technology evolve, and it's the job of developers to adapt to these new market conditions.

"MMOs are one way that's occurring... And there are more people playing flash-based games and casual games, even core games that are played in a casual way, so maybe [they have] a more core experience and you only play them for short bursts or for half an hour or something.

"It's not a bad thing if people want to play more types of games than they did 20 years ago, it's natural and normal as the audience and technology evolves... As creators we have to adapt to that and continue to make sure that we're satisfying the audience, but it doesn't mean we have to compromise.

"We can still make deep rich experiences but we have to make them easy to access, you have make the control system really easy to use, and you have to make people feel like they're playing an experience that they can play how they want to play it, whether that is long sessions or short sessions."
Originally spotted on the Escapist where they closed with:
The idea that the PC market is not actually floundering, but is in fact being driven by digital distribution and MMOG subscription fees which don't show up in sales charts, is far from uncommon among analysts and industry executives. But World of Warcraft notwithstanding, is the MMOG genre really the money-printing machine it's made out to be? Spectacular failures and collapses are dangerously commonplace, while true success stories are rare. Is anyone besides Blizzard really making money on this?
Now, it would seem to me that companies would stop doing something if they weren't making money on it and considering not only the number of MMOs running but also the number of them in development (many by companies with experience in MMOs) I'd think that people are indeed making money. You don't need to have 11 million subscribers to make money.

But then, what do I really know.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

PC Game Piracy Examined

Seems today is a day for updates that have little to do with SW: TOR. Though this is a little related considering that I noticed the following article first on the SW: TOR forums.

Someone there posted a long and quite in-depth article looking at the issue of PC game piracy, trying to keep as neutral a stance as possible and trying to look at the issue from all angles. It's quite a long read, but if you're in any way interested in the issue of piracy and how it affects PC Gaming then I would suggest that you read it in its entirety.

Here's how the article itself puts it and I quite agree:
I decided it was time to compile an article which takes a close look at every facet of PC game piracy with a view to hopefully clarifying the debate with a range of facts. I'm not looking to repeat the same old one-sided, superficial examinations of PC piracy that you'll find everywhere else. What this article does is examine PC game piracy in a logical manner, taking into consideration a range of publicly available evidence to provide an informed view of the current state of play. I encourage those of you who are genuinely interested in this topic to take the time to make your way through this rather long but thorough article, as I believe it provides a great deal of food for thought for those willing to read it.
I think that a lot in the article is fairly common sense, but with the general panic and hate around DRM solutions and the state of PC gaming in general I think common sense is exactly what's needed. And there's a fair amount of data and linked articles and such to back up the findings.

PC Game Piracy Examined

I highly recommend reading it.

EA Partners on Wheel of Time

Wasn't really expecting to post another update for the Wheel of Time games I reported on a while ago, but seems that there's a bit more now.

It seems that Red Eagle Games, who were to develop the games based on the Wheel of Time books including an MMO, have signed a deal with EA to distribute the games.
Red Eagle Games Signs Worldwide Distribution Deal With EA Partners
EA Partners Signs on as Distribution Partner for Games Based on Robert Jordan’s Fantasy Series The Wheel of Time

MALIBU, Calif.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Red Eagle Games today announced they have signed a strategic distribution agreement with Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) for games based on Robert Jordan’s beloved fantasy series, The Wheel of Time.

Red Eagle Games will develop and publish a line of stand-alone games on all major videogame platforms, including consoles, personal computers, handheld systems and wireless devices. The games will be distributed by EA. In addition, Red Eagle will launch and operate a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that encompasses the themes, characters and world of The Wheel of Time, which will be distributed at retail by EA.

“The Wheel of Time is a blockbuster global brand and our relationship with EA Partners will ensure that Red Eagle Games’ products are made available to consumers around the world through familiar retail channels,” said Rick Selvage, Chairman and President of Red Eagle Games.

“EA Partners is excited to team up with Red Eagle as their global distribution partner for games based on The Wheel of Time series,” said David DeMartini, senior vice president and general manager of EA Partners. “The Wheel of Time series has a massive worldwide following and we’re excited to help give Red Eagle Games’ interactive products a blockbuster launch on the global stage.”

The rich details of Jordan’s meticulously crafted series have captivated readers since 1990, when The Eye of the World, the first book in the series, was published. Eleven additional books, including one prequel, have since been added to the series and have consistently appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List with the last four of his novels in the series debuting at No. 1. Jordan passed away in 2007 at the age of 58, but a final book, A Memory of Light, will be finished by fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson using notes and a partial draft left with Jordan’s wife and editor, Harriet Rigney, and is expected to be published in fall 2009 by Tor Books.
Jordan’s wildly popular books have been translated into 24 languages, and have sold about 44 million copies worldwide. In addition, the series has a vast global on-line community of tens of thousands of dedicated fan Web sites.
News taken from Kotaku and GameSpot.

Looks like there might be a good chance that those games will actually be made. Now here's just hoping that they'll be any good.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Official Holiday Updates

Over the Holidays there have been a number of official updates on the SW: TOR site and instead of posting a new one for each of them I thought I'd just post them all in one post.

First of all they posted a bunch of new screenshots and concept art.


The Jedi Temple


Village on Tython

Jedi Meeting Room

An Assassin Droid

Sand of Korriban

Sith Attack Plans

Sith Academy

Concept Art

Repiblic Generator

Imperial Sensor Array

Republic Troop Transport

Competition Among Acolytes


A Wraid

Sith Blaster Rifles

Jedi Lightsaber

Next they have an article titled "Capturing the Look of STAR WARS™: The Old Republic™" where they look at the art-style of SW: TOR and why they chose it. Here's an excerpt:
The stylized realism approach has many advantages. For instance, Star Wars: The Old Republic will have a unique and instantly recognizable appearance which will continue to look great as it ages. Being on the bleeding edge graphically is a lot of fun for artists, but as that edge moves forward, games that were once living at that frontier of graphics tend to look dated as technology improves. We want to achieve visuals that look great at the lower-end computers, knowing that if they look great there, they will look great on all machines, both now and in the future.

Next is a BioWare Blog post by Mark How, Principal Lead Animator, explaining why he feels that it should be difficult to get a cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon (really, it's SW: TOR related). Here's an excerpt:
Combat is extremely crucial to the success of most video games and Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is no exception. By referencing the films, we are able to create dynamic and exciting combat, but we are also challenged by the films themselves to deliver that same experience in a user controlled environment. The core of combat in Star Wars movies has always been centralized around the iconic saber battles. And what would a Star Wars game be without fantastic lightsaber battles?

And finally they have more concept art and forum avatars. They added ten new avatars to use on their forums (including a new twi'lek female I'm using there now). And the following six new concept art images:







I wonder how many of these are player races, though as long as they have humans and twi'leks I'll be happy.

And that's it for now.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Back from vacation

Alright, I'm back again. Had a wonderful, relaxing vacation; three weeks of reading, watching movies, playing games and not doing much of anything. Loved spending time with my family, particularly my four-year-old niece who, though cheeky, is an absolutely adorable cutie. And though I'm sad that it's over, I must also say that I'm kinda happy to be back home again.

I'm sure that I'm very behind on all the SW: TOR news and it'll likely take a while to get up-to-date (particularly since I've got a lot of other stuff to catch up on too). But I'll do my best to continue posting any news and such I find regarding SW: TOR.

And Happy New Year; hope it'll be a wonderful one.