Monday, 31 August 2009

Darth Hater taking questions for PAX

Just a quick update before I head to bed, but the SWTOR blog Darth Hater is planning to send some people over to PAX and cover Star Wars: The Old Republic's attendance there. And they're gathering community questions to ask the developers at the event.

So if you've got any specific questions to ask then head over there and add them in the comments. Just try not to ask anything that BioWare is unlikely to answer.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Sith Warrior Class Reveal

As expected BioWare officially revealed the Sith Warrior class today, and I'm finding it very, very hard to find even the remotest bit of excitement.

But anyway, first they also released the next part of the webcomic:
The fourteenth issue of Threat of Peace™ is full of intrigue and excitement. Having just escaped from the Imperial transport, the Bounty Hunter Braden travels to Nar Shaddaa to make a deal with the crime lord Nok Drayen. After being rescued from her escape pod, Jedi Knight Satele Shan receives the news that Master Dar’Nala is dead. Meanwhile, the Imperial transport which carried both the Bounty Hunter and the Jedi Master arrives on Korriban only to be blown up by a mysterious bomb…

Check out the latest issue of Threat of Peace now.
And then the Sith Warrior class:
Drawing upon the power of the dark side, the Sith Warrior strikes enemies down with unrelenting might, commands the battlefield with absolute authority, and rises to greatness amongst fearful followers. Victory and conquest are the Sith Warrior’s destiny.

Access the HoloNet to learn more about the Sith Warrior class and view combat videos and screenshots. Pledge your allegiance to the dark side by outfitting your desktop with our Sith Warrior wallpapers.
And as expected the description is all "force of darkness" and "channels the destructive emotions of fear, anger, and hatred" and "cold-blooded conquerors" and "their fierce hatred" and... <sighs> So much for actual allowing all classes the choice to play Light Side.

And with us 50% through all the classes I've yet to see a single one I'm even remotely interested in actually playing. I guess I just fall outside the target demographic for this game. Bah.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. As the description says they also have two (ugly) wallpapers.


NOTE: It seems that the links to the comic pages are broken (all of them, even those from the previous posts). So just o to the comic (which should put you in act 2 at least) and use the navigation thingy to go to issue #5.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Walkthrough Movies in HD Torrent

Not entirely sure of the legality of this (and since I already got the HD movies from IGN directly have no need to use it), but it seems that at GameUpdates there's a torrent for the four walkthrough movies in HD. I haven't seen the movies from the torrent yet, but that's more than likely just the four IGN movies packed together and made available to all those who don't have an IGN Insider account (or access to one thanks to their work).

Still waiting for BioWare to put it up on their site as they said they would though.

[link] to torrent download.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

GamesCom: Eurogamer SWTOR Hands-On

Eurogamer has a hands-on article detailing their experience with Star Wars: The Old Republic at GamesCom last week.

Here's an excerpt:
It turns out that a slightly pansy attitude has its advantages after all. By deciding to spare the captain, and going on to give him a little moral support and some emotional encouragement, I'm able to tap him as a resource. He's not captain for nothing after all, he's the most experienced and tactically talented person on board, with in-depth knowledge of this sort of engagement and the total respect of his crew.

Keeping him alive means that, after a hyperspace jump to within combat range of the Republic's battleship, a string of intelligent snap-decisions by him steer us out of much of the danger, avoiding a number of the boarding craft that the rebel scum fling our way and making my task of repelling the commandos who do come aboard much easier. Ghandi may well have been onto something, the sly dog. Whilst our decisions reward our gentle Sith with a few light-side points, very much in the vein of KOTOR, we're told that even the nicest of Sith cannot party with the most degenerate Jedi - Erickson uses the analogy of the good Nazi, whose ultimate conclusion would be the assassination of Hitler rather than defection. Interesting choice of scenarios, no? Watch your back, Emperor.
Despite some inaccuracies (the Sith Warrior is not the "Dark Side melee class", but the Empire melee class and the Empire isn't necessarily dark side) it is a nice read without much new information that I can see.

For me the nicest thing is seeing some of how the Light Side choices play out for the class (and a bit disheartening that it's "rendered in gritty Sith style", though I guess gritty isn't evil and good can be gritty too).

Will keep you updated as I come across more.

[link] to Eurogamer Hands-On article.

GamesCom: G4TV Interviews Daniel Erickson

During GamesCom G4TV had a brief interview with lead writer Daniel Erickson. Here is their post on the interview:
BioWare is attempting to make Star Wars: The Old Republic different than any other MMO. One of the ways it plans to do this is through story. Lead writer Daniel Erickson met with at GamesCom 2009 to discuss the game's combat, writing process, gameplay consequences, and more. He said:
"We have this very long story arc that we can bring things back to. You may have completely forgotten that when you were at level eight, that you killed this guy you didn't need to kill. His family hasn't forgotten it and they're going to find you 20 hours later and hunt you down, and you're going to have to deal with the ramifications. One of the really fun things there is that you may be a completely different person at that point. You might have decided to give up your crazy ways from when you were a kid. And now at level 40, you're a pretty good and these guys come to you. You have to decide, 'Okay, am I going to cover that up? How am I going to handle it?' These are the things that really make the galaxy feel alive."
This might be my inner BioWare mark talking, but all of that sounds frickin' awesome. After some addiction problems, I've sworn off MMOs, but I'm really tempted to give this one a shot. Besides, Twi'lek chicks are totally hot.

Watch the entire interview and let me know what you think.
And here's the full video interview:

Sounds good, particularly the part that they quoted in their text. But also the end of it, where he talks briefly about the Light-side/Dark-side system gives me some hope that they haven't entirely abandoned the idea of Light Sith yet (despite the description of the class as being filled with anger). And it's nice to know that just because you're Light-side doesn't mean that your Dark-side friends wouldn't want you along (though I'm very curious how that's going to work in their multiplayer dialog, as obviously I'd want to make Light-side choices and not get Dark-side points for the choices others make).

Thanks to Darth Hater for pointing out the interview.

[link] to the G4TV interview.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sean Returns from GamesCom

That Sean returns from GamesCom wouldn't normally be that noteworthy (except that we're all, of course, glad that he returned safely). But he made a post on the forum with a couple of nice tidbits:
Well, I returned to Austin Monday night from GamesCom 2009 and what a trip it has been! I've put up a few pics I took while in Germany on Flickr.

A couple of things I wanted to touch on that I heard of while at GamesCom but didn't get a chance to comment on:

The Bounty Hunter "AI" - There seems to be some confusion here; there was no "Bounty Hunter AI". Yes, there were some of the live demos that I assisted in and I played the Bounty Hunter. Yes, I have been accused of being a 'bot' on many occasions but rarely have I been accused of having intelligence, artificial or otherwise ;) But no, we had two people running the live demos at all times and during the Imperial Flashpoints one person was the Sith Warrior and the other was the Bounty Hunter.

Why play anything but a Sith Warrior - There were some discussions I saw about "Why not just play a Sith Warrior" when compared to some of the other classes. I would like to point out that you saw a lot of the Sith Warrior at a higher level during the Flashpoint as opposed to the Smuggler and Bounty Hunter on Ord Mantell and Hutta. Personally, I think all of the classes have their own individual strengths and weaknesses and work for different playstyles. People who like to shoot big guns and use a variety of hardware will probably prefer a Republic Trooper or Bounty Hunter; those who like to use cunning will more than likely look towards the Smuggler, and those who love to get into the thick of a crowd will like the Sith Warrior; and of course, there are still the classes we haven't announced yet. End of the day, we plan on doing our best to balance all of the classes so they all can stand on equal ground in their own fields. If we just made the Sith Warrior the most powerful class, what would be the sense in making the other classes?

Human Only - You will be able to play other species, we just have not announced those other species yet.

Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed the information that came out of GamesCom (and the Developer Walkthrough Video) and this Friday we plan to update the HoloNet with the Sith Warrior page.

- Sean
So to sum up:
  • The Bounty Hunter wasn't an AI-controlled computer character as some sites had reported, but was controlled by another player.
  • The Sith Warrior will not be overpowered. (Did anyone really think that?)
  • You'll be able to play more than just a human, they just haven't announced any other species yet. (Which we already knew, but either way).
  • As suspected (pretty much as already announced) they'll officially reveal the Sith Warrior class this Friday.
Additionally, reading a little between the lines, he's pairing the Bounty Hunter and the Trooper up as both classes that appeal to "people who like to shoot big guns and use a variety of hardware". This seems (again) a definitive indication that these two classes are 'mirrors'. The Smuggler is clearly noted as a different kind of play experience (for "those who like to use cunning") and it seems logical that a similar play experience (a 'mirror') exists on the Empire side. Similar with the Sith Warrior (for 'those who love to get into the thick of a crowd') where I strongly suspect a "Jedi Knight" class will be the mirror with similar gameplay.

Which leaves only the last pairing really. I personally still strongly suspect some kind of Leia/Padmé based class, quite possibly one which uses pets (as noted below the developers clearly don't seem to think of the Companions as pets). The Empire class then is quite possibly a class making use of droid pets (after all, a 'droid army' is quite iconic to Star Wars as well). But that's all speculation.

Though some people think that with the Sith Warrior being so lightsaber-oriented there will be another Force-sensitive class on both sides (the popular opinion there is a "Sith Lord", which completely ignores the fact that the Sith Warrior is already called "Lord" in the playthrough videos). But I seriously doubt it. Their backgrounds would be too similar. With the classes we have now they really only can be those classes and only those classes could have the story of that class (it wouldn't make sense for a Jedi or a Trooper to have the story of a Smuggler, for example; or the other way around). A Sith Warrior and a Sith Lord could both have the same story, and that makes their stories less unique. It makes a lot more sense for them to add a class that provides a kind of story that they otherwise couldn't tell (and I think a politician/senator/noble/whatever class does just that).

Anyway, I'm sure that there'll be a lot more speculating in the future. But despite that I don't like the direction they seem to take the Sith class (I'm still waiting for an explanation of how a Light-side using character could fight by being 'fileld with rage') each revalation they've made towards classes does seem to support my theories.

Of course, that doesn't mean that they're right and I'm well aware that I'm probably interpreting things to fit my theories. Only time will tell.

In the meantime; welcome back Sean. I hope you had a nice time at GamesCom.

GamesCom: Online-Welten Interview with Rich Vogel

The German site Online-Welten has an interview (in English, German also available) with Rich Vogel, Vice President and Co-Studio Director for Bioware. Here's an excerpt:
SWTOR-Welten: What's about combat? Could you tell us more about Combat? Will there be combos „like u can only use this one after this one“?

Rich Vogel: As you grow there'll be combinations what you can do. As you can see the combat is very action oriented, right. That's what we trying to do here, were trying to make it very visual. Very... you know you can feel being knock backed you can feel you are knocking someone else back. Its kinda cool.

SWTOR-Welten: Can you say anything about player companions?

Rich Vogel: We will have companions in the game, every bioware game has companions, they’re not pets, they’re companions. They're will actually help you, assist you. And you know when you're progress you will get a companion as a reward. So you will definitely have different companions to work with. We haven't really talked about it more.
Like most interviews with Bioware it seems like he's saying "we're not talking about that" to most questions, but he does answer a few and one can try to glean some information from between the lines (like how he emphasizes that Companions aren't pets could mean that there's a pet class, or at least override people's objections saying "why have a pet class if everyone already has a pet").

But similarly there's some worrying details in there as well. Most particularly how character creation is very similar to WoW (which has probably the worst character creation I've ever seen in an MMO). But similarly there's some rays of hope as well, particularly how the character models are still very early and are still being worked on (I still feel that the character models look hideous and disproportioned).

I'll report more articles as I come across them.

[link] to the Online-Welten interview.

GamesCom: Hands-on article at GamesRadar

GamesRadar has a hands-on article, describing their GamesCom experience with the game. There's not a lot (if any) new information in it, but it's nice to read the view of others who have played the game.

Here's an excerpt:
Story's all well and good, but how does it play? The answer is very well, right from the off. Your attacks are mapped to the number keys so, if you're playing as a Sith character (as we did), 1 is your standard lightsaber strike, 2 is a harder melee strike, 3 can be used to jump in from above or from a fair distance away, 4 impales your target, 5 hits many foes all around you and 6 is the famous Force Choke, which is time limited, but leaves your foe clutching at their throat, ready to be impaled.
Also remember that at the bottom of this post I've got a bunch more links to articles and previews and such coming out of GamesCom.

[link] to the GamesRadar article.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Gameplay Videos

They said they would and it is finally here; the Star Wars: The Old Republic gameplay videos. I say videos, because right now the video is cut into four pieces.

The videos have been put up over at IGN, though BioWare has noted that they'll have downloads up on their site (as well as versions in French and German) up sometime soon as well.

I did see the videos and for the most part am quite happy with it, but since it's late (I only just got my main system up again two hours ago and had/have to re-install everything) I'll refrain from making a detailed breakdown of it at this time. Just wanted to let people know that they're there to watch.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Message From Beyond

Beyond the lifespan of certain parts of my computer that is.

Next to being in the middle of a visit fom my brother and his wife (staying over to come sightseeing London, which I think I've mentioned before but because of this I can't keep as close an eye on GamesCom as I'd like to) my computer also died on me yesterday. Seems both the harddisk and the power unit died (and hopefully that's it; I haven't got it up-and-running yet and typing this from a second, older system I managed to save). So it's a bit chaos over here.

But I'd like to thank Frank from Overly Positive for his message to me. He makes a lot of interesting points, some I agree with and some I don't, but instead of turning this into a blog back-and-forth I'll just keep to clarify something regarding my previous message.

I want to be clear that I am still going to keep running this blog as I have before and that I am still fully intending to play Star Wars: The Old Republic. After all, it's BioWare and they have yet to make a roleplaying game I didn't enjoy. This gives them a lot of leeway in my book and I'm certainly not just going to drop them over a single article online.

But the article did cool my enthusiasm for the game. Understand, it was the class I was most looking forward to play because I most enjoy the kind of complexity that comes with trying to be good while everyone expects you to be evil. And the way the class is described the game itself will simply make it impossible to do that. It is, for me, the first true hint that this game might not become the 'home' that I was hoping it to be (and hence my comment on looking for another game instead).

As it stands now I'll probably play a jedi, enjoy it about as much as KotOR (which didn't have that level of complexity either), maybe play one of the unannounced classes (still hopeful for a Leia-type, possibly pet, class) and then move on. Again.

But that's far in the future and more nebulous a speculation than trying to guess SWTOR's rlease date.

To get back to some actual SWTOR news... As I said I can't keep a very close eye on the GamesCom news. but I did find a tidbit or two (most of which I haven't read yet). I'll just be cheeky here though and copy community manager Erick Adams' post on the official forums which links to a number of articles:
Just to bring you up to speed on anything you may have missed, here’s a running list of some of the press coverage (aka “The Story So Far”):
Be sure to check back tomorrow to see the full Producer Walkthrough Video – almost 20 minutes of actual gameplay footage – and next week when we turn our full attention to Sith Warrior!
have fun reading and let me know if there's anything interesting in them (I'll read them when things return to normal here). :p

[EDIT 20090824] Edited in a few more links.
[EDIT2 20090824] BioWare doesn't list the hands-on impressions article at GameSpot yet.

[link] to Erick Adams' post.
[link] to GameSpot hands-on.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

GameSpot Q&A - The Sith Warrior

GameSpot has a Q&A up with BioWare where they talk about the next Star Wars: The Old Republic class: the Sith Warrior.

Here's an excerpt:
[GameSpot]: At E3, we saw the Sith Warrior take part in the game's multiplayer dialogue system. Given that the profession is basically a ruthless, power-hungry sort--yet the game will have heavy story elements, including branching dialogue--how will the game account for different choices made by different players? How will players be encouraged to role-play as this sort of character without feeling hedged in by limited choices?

[James Ohlen]: Star Wars: The Old Republic allows players to make moral choices, whether they are a Jedi serving the Republic or a Sith Warrior serving the Empire. The story of this character is written with the assumption that players will faithfully serve the Empire and perform their missions ruthlessly. However, there are many choices where players can choose to resist the temptations of the dark side and try to minimize the suffering that their missions might cause. Because the Sith Warrior is a servant of the Empire, he must perform his acts of compassion carefully. He might tell someone he was ordered to kill to get off-world and never return, thus completing his mission in the eyes of his master but without murdering someone who didn't particularly deserve it.
To be honest, this Q&A has the effect of taking my enthusiasm for SWTOR down a couple of notches. The way they describe the class is as a mindless evil, destroy everything in the most brutal way possible class, with the above quoted paragraph the only hint that you can go against the flow too (and it really does sound like going against the flow and not like a valid choice in its own right, like you're not playing the class the way you're supposed to).

I mean, when I read something like "The Sith Warrior is a heavily armored Force user driven by darkness and rage." How on earth does that work for a Light side character? How can someone using the Light side of the Force be driven by darkness and rage? How do abilities like the Impale one they describe make sense for someone who tries to follow the path of good? Is there really such a disconnect between the class abilities and the class story where the abilities are all brutally dark side regardless of your choices, but the story allows you to experience the dark side story while taking out the dark side of it? That sounds utterly hollow and uninteresting.

Until now I've been expecting something similar to KotOR where you have basically a force using class on both sides with the same abilities, allowing you to either choose the Light-side or the Dark-side abilities. But this Q&A makes it sound like it's not like that at all, that it's just one set of choices that you've got to do it with (or I'd at least have expected some mention of "how the Sith Warrior fights depends on the choices you make"; but there isn't even a hint of that).

What's more is that I now fully expect them to announce a "Jedi Knight" class who is based on <insert popular Jedi character here> and is heavily trained in combat, depending more on overpowering his opponents with martial skills than Force powers but often uses iconic powers, such as <insert iconic Jedi power here>. Of the five classes they 'announced' only two interested me so far (Bounty Hunter and Trooper both sound utterly uninteresting and the Smuggler simply doesn't suit my style) and that has dropped to maybe one. But Jedi sounds so utterly dull (you're good, everyone expects you to be good, yawn) and I have no doubt that they're going to try and make it sound interesting by telling you just how combat-oriented the class is... which has the exact opposite effect on me.

So with only three classes to go that brings the number of interesting classes in SWTOR down to a flat zero. And I'm seriously, seriously starting to doubt this game will be enjoyable at all. Because so far the Sith class was the one I was looking forward to for some deep and complex play, and all I get is "they're evil and like to destroy things... but you can choose not to destroy things maybe". Pitiful.

Combine that with the graphics which still look like some Cartoon Network reject to me and I'm wondering if I wouldn't be better off looking for another game. Which is a shame, because there aren't a lot of BioWare-made MMOs to choose from.


[link] to the GameSpot Q&A.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

GamesCom: EA Press Conference

Currently the EA press conference is going on and I'm watching it live, and as I'm typing they're showing the Deceived trailer in German. But just before they announced a couple of things that I thought I'd echo here.

First they announced that they'll completely localize the game in both German and French. So all that English voiceover work will be done in German and French as well (and all text of course). Hence the German-voiced trailer.

Secondly they today have also launched the German and French community sites. I guess that explains why the official site was down most of the day.

And finally they're opening the gameplay demo to all attendees. Though they didn't specify if people got to play as well (they said "public demo", which doesn't have to mean that the public gets to play, just that the demo is shown publicly) that is at least exciting. We already know that they should have the gameplay video up this Friday for those of us who can't head to Cologne.

I'll keep you updated as I get more, but that's what came out of the press conference. Overall a lot less impressive than the E3 press conference, but nice to know for those who prefer to play in German or French.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Threat of Peace, Issue #13

The silence before the storm continues for another week as last Friday BioWare posted the next issue of the Threat of Peace comic, as well as some fan Friday updates.

Here is the news post for the comic:
The thirteenth issue of Threat of Peace™ begins with Lieutenant Tavus deftly maneuvering his starship to destroy the Mandalorian Raiders and rescue Satele and SP-99. As Tavus, Satele, and Orgus discuss the attack on the Envoy and what to do next, a darker series of events unfolds on the Imperial Transport ship. Learning of the Bounty Hunter’s escape, Captain Sivill orders the Wookiee Mercenary Dalborra to execute Master Dar’Nala…

Check out the latest issue of Threat of Peace now.
The Fan Friday has some ASCII art, some fan-made icons, Star Wars radio drama, an official poll asking whether you would kill the captain or not (which is surprisingly even), and a bunch of new forum avatar icons.

These icons are interesting in that they should dispel any myth that the forum avatar icons in any way give indication of what classes/races one can play in the game since all six of them quite clearly will not be playable races or classes of any kind (though I'm sure someone, somewhere thinks that it is proof of mounts or whatever).

The icons show a Bormu (according to the filename, seems to be a new creature), an Acklay, a Wampa, a Tauntaun, a Nekghoul (which seems to be a new type of Rakghoul) and a Bull Reek.



With two of the creatures being from Hoth people are speculating that Hoth will be a planet players can visit (which would conflict with the speculation that Ilum will be a planet considering that two ice planets seems unlikely). Similarly the inclusion of the ghoul leads people to think that Taris will be included (which has been speculated before and would kind-of make sense). But honestly, I'm wondering if they can't just be nice Star Wars forum avatar icons that people can use, having no relation to what might or might not be in the game.

Anyway, next week is GamesCom and next Friday they've said to (probably) upload the gameplay video. There are also likely to be other reveals over the coming weeks.

Starting Wednesday I have my brother over to visit for a few days, so I can't promise anything, but I'll try to keep posting news as I come across it.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Rumor: Star Wars: The Old Republic to launch in October 2010?

Alright, so I don't usually report on rumors. And as far as rumors go this is as typical as they come. But it deals with a subject we're all very curious about I'm sure (namely: when will SWTOR be released) and I've been considering starting a rumor label for these anyway. After all, as long as you keep in mind that it's just rumor and speculation and most likely completely false it can be fun to track them.

Anyway, it's been going the rounds a bit (like Massively, IGN and VG247, but French SWTOR fansite claims claims to have an inside source with LucasArts who, in turn, claims that the current target release date for Star Wars: The Old Republic is October 2010 (though for some reason some sites above report it as September).

Now, I don't speak a word of French (much to the chagrin of my mother who teaches the language), but as far as we can piece together from the google translation that's about what it says.

For those of you who can speak French though, here's the full text from
Accrochez-vous jeunes gens, parce que c'est une exclu mondiale que nous vous offrons aujourd'hui : la date de sortie prévue à l'heure actuelle pour Star Wars : The Old Republic !

Une source en contact avec LucasArts et d'une fiabilité totale nous a affirmé que le jeu était pour l'instant prévu pour Octobre 2010. Il reste donc encore un peu plus d'un an à attendre pour profiter du jeu, nonobstant toute bêta fermée ou ouverte qui serait éventuellement prévue d'ici là, évidemment.

Trois remarques s'imposent :

- D'abord, je sais ce que c'est que d'être dans la position du lecteur et de se dire "mais c'est qui, cette source à la mords-moi-le-nœud ?" Et ça, évidemment, on ne peut pas vous le dire sous peine de la griller. Il va donc falloir nous croire sur parole !

- Ensuite, cette date est pleinement cohérente avec ce qui fut annoncé il y a un an (voir notre news). On est même en plein cœur de la période retenue.

- Enfin, souvenez-vous qu'on parle d'un jeu vidéo. Octobre 2010 est la date retenue à l'heure actuelle, mais des retards sont toujours possibles, d'autant qu'aucune annonce officielle n'a été faite. Vous voilà prévenus…
And as I'm sure the French site reminds readers as well, remember again that this is all pure speculation and very much subject to change. Until BioWare/LucasArts makes an official statement it is all rumor.

And though I was expecting that they might buck the trend and release in the Spring (cheaper advertising and less holiday-season competition) I guess that this is one title that might just be big enough to draw everyone's attention even during the usually overloaded Christmas shopping period.

We'll see I guess. But if they're right it means little over a year to wait (likely less for those privileged enough to help them test their beta). Maybe that'll actually give me some time to play Star Trek Online if that releases early enough.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

BioWare Blog: Creating the Smuggler

Not nothing or a fan Friday today, but something with some nice substance. Today BioWare gives us a Developer Blog focusing on the Smuggler class. And the opening paragraph immediately sets the tone for what one can expect from the class:
Try this hypothetical scenario… you’re relaxing at the local cantina when three trigger-happy Rodian mercenaries pick a fight with the most attractive Jedi Knight you’ve ever seen. After the smoke clears, the Rodians are carried outside and the Jedi apologizes to everyone for making a scene. Do you:
  1. Crack a joke to relieve the tension;
  2. Demand the Jedi buy you a drink to replace the one that got spilled during the fight;
  3. Smoothly invite your new friend back to a private booth to get better acquainted.
The answer, of course, is (d) All of the above. What’s that, you say? “All of the above” wasn’t among your options? Consider that your first taste of the Smuggler lifestyle. It’s time to make your own options and never limit yourself to just one. Strict adherence to rules and regulations is something other people do. Smugglers make things up as they go.
The article goes on to talk about how the Smuggler is a class of humor and romance. And I get the strong impression that the Smuggler is the jester of the classes, more there for comic relief than anything. But there is nothing wrong with that.

I can't help but wonder about those 'romances' though. Particularly how it will deal with gender. I strongly suspect that male Smugglers get to romance the girls and female Smugglers get to romance the guys, or something along those lines. But I would hope that it wouldn't make those kind of decisions for the player; if one can flirt with a character as a male Smuggler then one should be able to flirt with the same character as a female Smuggler (and vice versa). I have no interest in a class whose main draw is romance if all I can do is flirt with guys. To me romance includes both genders.

But let's not turn this into too much of a rant.

Another line that the class theorizer in me finds very interesting is the following: "You’ll be flirting with or laughing at the most exciting personalities in the galaxy: crime lords, gamblers, Bounty Hunters, senators, nobles, spies, Jedi and even Sith." Three of those are confirmed classes. With the exception of gamblers (which could be seen as Smugglers perhaps) the rest are all among the list of rumored classes. Noble and Senator are both theorized as the fourth Republic class, Spy is theorized to be the next Empire class (although possibly with another name), and some argue that Crime Lords will be another Empire class (though personally I don't think so).

However, at this point I sooner think that BioWare put those in purposely just to mess with us. And it's getting quite tiresome to theorize without any additional data; though this list drops a number of names there's nothing that we can do with it. Still, wouldn't surprise me if they unveiled, or at least mentioned, the next class in a few weeks during GamesCom. We'll see.

For the rest the class sounds like it might be nice to play and I must admit that my interest in it has gone from "pretty much not interested" to "I might want to create an alt somewhere down the line".

Friday, 7 August 2009

The Force Unleashed Coming to PC

I’m a bit late to the post on this one, but just today I noticed that the Star Wars game “The Force Unleashed” is coming to PC (and Mac) this fall.

The Force Unleashed was originally released September 2008 for pretty much every current gaming platform under the sun… except for the PC. The original excuse the developers made was that PC weren’t good enough to pull off the physics. Which was decidedly strange because the game was coming to PS2 and Wii as well and many a game PC even at the time was already more powerful than the X360 and PS3.

So nobody really believed them and the general consensus was that they didn’t because of piracy on the PC.

Now whether they feel that enough time has passed since the original console launch or whether they realised that not releasing a game makes less money than releasing a game that gets pirated, or maybe they suddenly are able to do the physics on PCs, they are now releasing the game on PC as well with a couple of extras.

As per IGN’s announcement article:
US, July 24, 2009 - Aspyr Media and LucasArts will bring the hit game Star Wars®: The Force Unleashed™ to PC and Mac gamers for the first time ever with the release of Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition this Fall. Developed for PC and Mac and published in North America by Aspyr, Star Wars The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition combines the original Star Wars The Force Unleashed videogame with three new levels set in iconic Star Wars locales and a host of new costumes and character models. This special edition of the game will show players the deepest, darkest side of the Force in a story that puts them on a collision course with Luke Skywalker himself.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed completely re-imagines the scope and scale of the Force and casts players as Darth Vader's "Secret Apprentice," unveiling new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy seen through the eyes of this mysterious new character, who is armed with unprecedented powers. Originally released on multiple platforms in September 2008, the game quickly became the fastest-selling Star Wars game ever, and has since sold six million units worldwide.
There is a bit more on the extras in the game as well there (Jedi Temple mission and two Sith missions against such characters as Obi-wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker).

To be honest, I'm not all that certain if I'm really interested though. Sure, it was the fastest selling Star Wars game ever (though I've got a feeling SWTOR might top it when it's out), but the reviews weren't that stellar and the kind of gameplay doesn't really interest me that much. And I don't like that it doesn't give you the option of choosing a gender (as far as I'm aware).

But who knows, it might be a fun game. Will wait for the reviews once it's out and see if I'm not already too busy with something else (like Dragon Age: Origins).

Oh, and to get a little bit more recent news, here's the trailer (showing some of the extra content):

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Guild Shenanigans

It seems that there has been some excitement over on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic forums.

A couple of days ago Joanne Laroche (who seems to be one of BioWare's community managing people) posted the following message on the guild forum:
Hello everyone,

Now that the Guild Hall changes have been implemented, here are some important things to note:

1) The Sith Empire and Galactic Republic sub-forums are now viewable only. Posting is no longer available in those sections.

2) The sub-forums will remain viewable until next Friday, August 7, 2009. So please gather any information you might need from the existing threads before then as they will no longer be viewable after that date.

3) Guild Recruitment is now available in the main section of the Guild Hall in the form of sticky threads. You will now have the choice of Galactic Republic, Sith Empire and a new Undecided category.

EDIT August 4th, 2009: We have now added a "Mission Statement" to the guild recruitment forms. This will assist those that wish to say a few things about their guild.

We hope you enjoy these changes and we wish you the best of luck with your guilds!
But people didn't enjoy those changes at all and the backlast wasn't pretty. And while there is something to be said for the changes that BioWare was implementing (see Tyler Rowe's detailed justification here) the community members also made some very good points (such as Drahl's post quoted by Sean).

But showing once again how amazing BioWare really can be Sean Dahlberg had the following reply today:
As all of you are aware, we've had a few changes in this area of the community lately. We've been closing watching the community feedback on this to see how the changes were received.

During our Community Team meeting today, we talked about the situation as a whole; from the community comments to the reasons the changes were implemented to what adjustments we might make.

Currently, the plan is to re-open the sub-forums and add a new one for those guilds that are currently undecided as to where their allegiances lie. We will then move the guild listings to these forums.

While we are reinstating these forums, there will be some changes. We want guilds to have an area to actively promote and discuss what makes their guild unique. To ensure these areas are used properly and not just "spammed", we will be fully moderating (posts must be approved) the discussions in these areas.

More details for this will be coming soon but we wanted to let you all know that we have been listening and are planning to make some adjustments.
Though I am certain that this still won't make some people happy it at least takes care of most of the concerns people had while still solving most of the reasons for the change to begin with.

What's more, since people can't just spam posts anymore but actually have to contribute constructively to their guild recruitment threads this might also encourage guilds to show more constructive behavior in general. Instead of guild just being happy to let their recruitment threads run and spam it now and again (and I know I've been guilty of such for guilds I ran in other games) they're now encouraged to participate more actively in the community so that they have something of value to post in their threads (such as roleplaying events and guild meetings that they might hold), giving people looking for guilds a much clearer picture of which guilds are active and how.

Of course, the main drawback of this system is that it will require much more moderation effort on BioWare's part. Now they'll have to go through all those post that people might wish to make in the guild recruitment threads and manually approve or deny them. Hopefully the fact that posts are actively moderated like that will mean that there will be fewer spam posts in general (particularly as time goes on while people learn what kind of posts are and aren't accepted), but it still means a lot of extra effort.

If BioWare can indeed maintain that then good job to them and much respect. If not then, well, we're still no worse off than we were a few days ago.