Monday, 28 June 2010

Blood of the Empire, Issue #6 and more E3

Last Friday's update was a bit later than usual, giving us the sixth issue of the Blood of the Empire comic. Besides that I've got a couple more E3 links from the past week to share.

But let's first do the official update:
In the sixth issue of Blood of the Empire™, Teneb Kel fights for his life as Lenico Colony Blue collapses around him. The Emperor's apprentice has proven vastly more powerful than anyone realized--it will take all Teneb's skills and resources to survive, let alone complete his mission. But can he rely on his closest ally in his moment of need, or will he face betrayal?

Check out the latest issue of Blood of the Empire now!
It also seems (thanks to Darth Hater) that issue seven is available (in German) on a German website as well. SWTOR-Station has translated it into English.

On then to more E3 articles. Last week the site MMORPG posted a hands on with the Sith Warrior. The writer seems to be fairly impatient, skipping past the dialog to "get my quest and get moving" (as most players tend to play in pretty much all current MMOs), seemingly missing the entire point of what differentiates TOR from other MMOs. Then again, having only a short time to play during E3 it's understandable that he wanted to skip the story and just taste the gameplay. He also seems to have missed the often-demonstrated Force jump ability to close into melee range. Anyway, here's an excerpt:
The dialogue is again one of the challenges of Old Republic. Many players like it and it has served Bioware well in the past, but again it seemed a bit tedious. My answers were all snarky and evil of course, but in the end I used the space bar to get my quest and get moving. I'm a Sith Warrior after all. I don't need to remind myself I am evil. I just want to hack Jedi apart. So I run into the caves and find the slugs are neutral to me. I attack them as I go and just keep rolling through to try out some new Sith skills. Again it was a limited demo so there were not a ton of skills available to players. But after hacking through giants slugs I came to an important question, what can I do against a ranged opponent?
Last week's G4TV show "The MMO Report" also included a bit on The Old Republic. In it they've got an interview with Daniel Erickson (lead writer). You can catch the entire MMO Report show (which also includes a segment on Vindictus and Lego Universe) by following this link, or you can just watch the TOR segment on YouTube here:

There have also been a couple of E3 awards for TOR from various sites. Though it's been fairly few so far (most sites seemed to be expecting a bit more from TOR), let me list the ones I've found so far anyway.

Eurogamer has a Best Video award for TOR's cinematic trailer. Here's what they had to say:
They did the same thing last year, but that didn't make it any less spectacular: BioWare and LucasArts' promotional CG shorts for their joint MMO are simply some of the best Star Wars entertainment of any sort in years. As Tom put it, "I hope they never release this game so we can just watch new, amazing Star Wars shorts once a year forever." Quite, and with the scale of this project and MMO launches being what they are, that wish might just be granted.
Next up is 1UP with a Best RPG award. Oddly enough SWTOR doesn't with the Best MMO category and to be honest I'm a tad surprised that it's included in the RPG category at all (which should probably be limited to single-player RPG). Then again the while genre categories thing is generally a mess anyway. Here's what they said with the award:
The Old Republic is the game of every Star Wars fan's dreams. With the ability to play as a variety of races and character classes (yes, you can be a Jedi or a Sith) and the newly announced player owned spacecraft (aka: the best thing ever), as well as PVP battlegrounds and robust character customization options, this game is primed to please MMO nuts and fans of the franchise alike.
And finally there's GameSpot who does give TOR it's Best MMO award. And though these awards are their Editors' Choice awards users can also vote on their favorites for the Readers' Choice awards (where TOR is over two-thousand ahead of the closest runner-up at the moment). Here's what they had to say:
Star Wars: The Old Republic pulls a repeat win in this category from last year as the most impressive massively multiplayer online game at the show. This year, apart from having another really impressive trailer, The Old Republic let us sample the starting content of six of the game's eight professions, and we found each of these experiences to be as in depth as anything we've seen from developer BioWare's other single-player games, such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

The revelation that all players will have their own housing in the form of mobile starships (which will be both a social hub and a home base for your non-player character companions, similar to the Ebon Hawk in Knights of the Old Republic), the fact that specialized advanced professions will become available later on in your character's career, and the intriguing playable content for each class showed us that there's still plenty more of The Old Republic that we haven't seen, as well as more that we want to see (and play).
And finally Eurogamer had an interview with Greg Zeschuk during E3. They cover a number of topics (including his thoughts on the consoles' motion controllers) as well as The Old Republic (which was really the only game BioWare was showing at E3 this year). Here's an excerpt:
Eurogamer: Have you had any negative feedback?

Greg Zeschuk: Not really. The interesting thing is there's a surprise factor. One thing I heard was that up till now people never really got a taste for this whole story thing we've talked about. We've talked, talked, talked about it, and made it a big deal, but you couldn't actually experience it.

The feedback I'm getting is that now people have finally been able to play it, they get it completely. For us, that's very much a win condition because being able to experience and understand how the story is interwoven with the multiplayer experience is the whole point of the game. Just from playing for 30 minutes, it's evident that's really powerful.
And that's it for now.

[link] to Sith Warrior hands on article at MMORPG.
[link] to MMO Report video at G4TV.
[link] to MMO Report TOR segment at YouTube.
[link] to Best of E3 2010 article at Eurogamer.
[link] to Best Games of E3 2010 at 1UP.
[link] to Best MMO award at GameSpot.
[link] to interview with Greg Zeschuk at Eurogamer.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

E3 2010, Beta Rumors and Deceived Excerpt

Over the past week, and since my last post, three things have happened; more previews and articles and such have surfaced out of TOR's E3 presence, Paul S. Kemp posted an excerpt from his TOR-related "Deceived" Star Wars novel, and rumors that the TOR beta is about to start this weekend have started.

Let's start with the stuff you're probably least interested in after that introduction: E3. In fact, I'll start with something you've probably already seen (for one because I already posted Voodoo Extreme's version of it); the video of IGN's "Live Demo". Note that this isn't a demo at all but rather a video interview with James Ohlen taken live during E3:

Meanwhile the site has a hands on with the Smuggler. Here's an excerpt from their article, though note that the article contains some spoilers fir the Smuggler's early class story:
The cover interface was not bad. As soon as your target is selected, green images appear in the area around all of the potential cover spots you can occupy. Pick one and you will move to that spot. Once there, start shooting. There are a range of shots you can do, wit more powerful shots requiring a cooldown. The action moved pretty fast so I really only used my normal blaster attack and another more powerful blast which was able to knock NPCs down to about 50%. also has a video interview with Jake Neri (senior producer):

TOROCast, on the other hand, has a video interview with Brian Arndt. It's a nice interview since they focus more on his job instead of just getting the same information we already hear everywhere else (as they never talk about anything beyond that anyway):

Darth Hater on the other hand has a rather long Q&A podcast with the Darth Hater staff who got to play the game during E3. In it listeners could ask them questions about their experiences. It's quite informative:

Download Darth Hater podcast​​​​​

Kotaku was also at E3 and also got to play the Smuggler, of which they wrote an article. Not that the same warning as before goes; it contains some spoilers for the beginning of the Smuggler's story. Here's a spoiler-free excerpt:
Following a brief presentation of a couple trailers for The Old Republic, BioWare representatives led me to a small room lined with computers and asked me what kind of character I liked to play in an MMO. Six of the game's playable classes were available to play, with the two Jedi classes absent for tweaking reasons.

I answered rogue, and was escorted to a PC where a sleek and dangerous looking Twi'lek female smuggler awaited my input.

The basic controls are that of any other modern MMO game. You move with the W-A-S_D keys, the space bar jumps, and the number keys are used to activate various skills located on the hot bar at the bottom of the screen.
Meanwhile IGN has an article where they look at the MMOs of E3 2010. There isn't a lot on The Old Republic (or any MMO in depth) in there. In fact, let me quote all that they say on TOR:
Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Old Republic – arguably the most hotly anticipated MMO for 2011 – simply failed to shine. The story and conversation options were interesting and cool, and the graphics were decent enough, but combat, at least in those early stages, felt rather familiar. Of course, TOR and FFXIV are both many months away from release, and have very talented developers working on them, so we hope, if not expect, that these kinds of issues will be addressed before the games hit our hard-drives.
And I think that pretty much wraps up E3 for now.

Over on his blog author Paul S. Kemp posted an excerpt from Deceived, his upcoming Star Wars novel with ties to The Old Republic. As you read it you might find it very familiar, as it describes (part of) the events of the first cinematic trailer: Deceived. Here's an excerpt from his excerpt:
Ahead, he saw the four towers surrounding the stacked tiers of the Jedi Temple, its ancient stone as orange as fire in the light of the setting sun. The civilians seemed to give it a wide berth, as if it were a holy place, rather than a place of sacrilege.

He would reduce it to rubble.

He walked toward it and fate walked beside him.

Statues of long-dead Jedi Masters lined the approach to the Temple’s enormous doorway. The setting sun stretched the statue’s tenebrous forms across the duracrete. He walked through the shadows and past them, noting some names: Odan Urr, Ooroo, Arca Jeth.

“You have been deceived,” he whispered to them. “Your time is past.”
Sounds like it'll be a nice novel.

And finally there's the beta rumors. As Massively reports yesterday people started posting that they received an invite for a The Old Republic test this weekend. Apparently reports are that 100-200 people received such an invite. Then when Sean Dahlberg responded he didn't confirm, but he didn't deny or lock the thread either. Here's his post:
Hey everyone,

Thanks for the information and it's definitely interesting that people are posting about our Game Testing Program. We don't have anything official to say at this moment but if you have any questions, please check out the Game Testing Program FAQ.
And a little later he posted again to reiterate what people are allowed to disclose and what not:
The Game Testing Agreement that was agreed upon (when signing up for game testing) states:

1. The fact that there is a Game Program.
2. The fact that you are a member of the Game Program.

Outside of that, it is a violation of the agreement to do anything more such as posting images or screen captures of anything related to Game Testing that is private and confidential and not already publicly revealed by The Old Republic team.
All in all it's looking quite likely that the rumors are true. Though that doesn't necessarily mean that "beta" has started (BioWare has always referred to things as "Tests"). It's not that uncommon for MMOs to invite a small group of people into the closed Alpha or such, kind of extending the Friends & Family test. But either way it's another sign of TOR's progress, and that's a good thing.

[UPDATE] I had linked to an image which I've been asked to remove. So I did (and with my apologies).

[link] to live video interview with James Ohlen at IGN.
[link] to Smuggler hands article on at MMORPG.
[link] to video interview with Jake Neri at MMORPG.
[link] to video interview with Brian Arndt at Vimeo.
[link] to Q&A podcast at Darth Hater.
[link] to Smuggler hands on article at Kotaku.
[link] to "MMOs of E3 2010" article at IGN.
[link] to Deceived excerpt at Paul S. Kemp's blog.
[link] to Beta rumors at Massively.
[link] to Beta rumors at Darth Hater.

Monday, 21 June 2010

VG247 Interviews Daniel Erickson

VG247 has a two-part interview up with Daniel Erickson (part 1, part 2). Here's an excerpt:

VG247: So, for the second year in a row, you decided to show a CG trailer during E3. And it was totally rad and basically amazing. But why not show us some gameplay or combat after all this time? Is the game really still that early in development?

Daniel Erickson: No, not at all. The interesting thing about the show is that – assuming you got to go in and see it [behind closed doors] – we’ve got the whole thing running. We didn’t have to bring a demo this year. It’s just the MMO up live and playable. People get a half hour to 45 minutes and they can sit down and do whatever they want.

The problem with the way the show’s sort of developed is that anything you put down on the floor, people play with, people mess with. You get people video recording it and trying to get places that, you know, can’t be done. It’s really hard to monitor and really hard to control. So, unfortunately, because we’re not that close to coming out, we decided to put it behind closed doors. But now – because I know how many shirts we’ve run through – we’ve had at least 700 or 800 people play hands-on for a half hour to 45 minutes. Each how ever they wanted, whatever they wanted.

As for the trailers, one of the things that’s really complicated about doing an RPG is that RPGs do not show well in five minutes. It’s very akin to telling your buddy, “Hey, this is the best book I’ve ever read,” and them responding, “Great! Show me which sentence would prove that to me!” [laughs]. So that’s why we really pushed to have 30 or 45 minutes for people to play. Because you’ve gotta sit down and, you know, what I always think of great RPGs is “Give me two hours, and I’ve got you.” Give me five minutes and it doesn’t show the way, you know, a Call of Duty would – where you’re like “Wow! Look at how impressive that is!”
Next to that Angry Joe (from the Angry Joe Show) has a video interview with James Ohlen:

With E3 now finished fansite TOR-Aid has a list of links to videos and articles as well as a list of things learned in their "E3 Round-Up of SW:tOR". Here's one of their points:

“Instanced” Quest Areas Did not Require a Loading Screen – Rather, you were placed in a “soft” instance that faded out the players in the world around you, and made everything specifically for you. Also, it’s been said that certain areas (specifically areas involving class quests) of every world will change Physically and/or on an emotional level (NPC interaction) based on your decisions. More an interesting use of Phasing than instancing at all. Red Barriers indicate that you aren’t able to enter the “instance”, Green indicate you ARE able to enter, and blue tell you that you have a party member of whom has a quest within, and you may enter to join him/her.
Finally, there are also a couple of dev quotes on the forums. Here's a post by Brian Arndt on player ships (replying to a quote where he supposedly said that you save your game in your player ships):
Think i was a little miss-quoted on that one. The player ships are a base of operations (simliar to the Normandy in ME) where you companions will hang out and you can talk to them. It is a place to bring your friends and do a few other things that we aren't quite ready to talk about just yet! Saving is definitely not something you would do in our MMO.

As far as companions, I think the best part is that if you don't have an interest in them you don't have to take them with you. Companions, however, have their own stories that will involve you even more in the game and I think when people actually play with them it will all make a lot more sense and they will want to keep them with them!

Just wanted to clarify this with you all!
And here's another post by Brian Arndt about companions:
You can still go out and group up with your friends and have your companions out or leave them behind if you wish. There will be a lot of MM in the game for sure! Once we are ready to talk more about companions I think this will all make a little more sense. Sorry we can't say more just yet but we want to make sure this is a polished experience before we talk any more about it.
Then there's this post by Sean Dahlberg in reply to medpacks supposedly auto-casting:
I am unsure why Seraphina thought so but Medpacs do not automatically inject when you are near low life. It may have been on her hotbar and she clicked it (we usually set them up in the #9 slot) but medpacs do not currently go off on their own and there is no discussion of making them do such a thing.

If it did that, some of the demo teams probably wouldn't have wiped during our live multiplayer demos
And finally this post by Sean Dahlberg clearing up something (not) being said about space combat in the Angry Joe interview:
I'll clear this up for everyone really fast. James neither confirmed nor denied anything about space combat. If you watch the video, there is not a single time James states anything about it. Joe brings up something in his dialogue about it but the question that James was asked (and answered) is "what functions do starships serve?". But, as James did say after that, there are other things we haven't talked about pertaining to player ships that we will reveal at a later date.

I imagine you all will debate more as to what that means but the "debate" on what James did or didn't say was getting a little out of hand so hopefully this helps.
And there we go.

[link] to interview with Daniel Erickson part 1 at VG247.
[link] to interview with Daniel Erickson part 2 at VG247.
[link] to video interview with James Ohlen at AngryJoeShow.
[link] to E3 roundup article at TOR-Aid.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

E3 2010 has concluded

Another E3 has come and gone, the second one attended by The Old Republic. Though I'm sure that we'll be hearing from the show for at least a week more as various journalists get home and write their articles with impressions and such, as videos get encoded for publishing and as awards are being voted on and handed out.

For their final "daily E3" update BioWare edited their E3 post with two announcements; War Zones and Playable Species:

E3 2010 has concluded!

It has been a sensational week for The Old Republic at the E3 Press Conference! Thanks to everyone for checking in throughout the week and supporting The Old Republic. It’s inspiring to see the community charged up with excitement for this game. Thanks for all your support!

To wrap up the week, we have two final announcements to share with you.

War Zones

It’s time to defend your allegiance. As the war heats up, heroes are needed on both sides and it's not enough to fight alone. Unite with your allies from all over the galaxy and travel to the War Zones to defend the Republic or the Empire!

War Zones are specifically tailored for team versus team combat, and players will experience fierce battles between the Republic and Empire, evoking memories of the famous Star Wars ground conflicts.

This week we announced that the first War Zone will be located in the majestic mountains of Alderaan. Players will join their allegiance’s fight for control of several important areas. Over time we’ll reveal more information about the Player versus Player experiences in The Old Republic.

Playable Species

The Ratattaki was the first non-human species we announced in The Old Republic and we showed them being played as butt-kicking Bounty Hunters. Today we are revealing that as a stealthy Imperial Agent you can choose to be a Chiss and as a charming Smuggler you can choose to be a Twi’lek. There is more information coming on these, and other, playable species at a later date, so stay tuned to The Old Republic website.

Originally I thought that any class would be able to be any species, with at most some of the species restricted to certain factions. But based on that wording I now believe that species will be class restricted. This solves a number of problems; a species that's not Force sensitive can now be included as one of the non-Jedi/Sith classes and a species that's traditionally very Force sensitive can be restricted to just those classes. Considering that they'll have to make armor for each class separately anyway it doesn't really make a big difference if you're making armor for species A, B and C or for species C, M and Q (well, maybe not Q, but you know what I mean).

Do note though that they've said which class can be these announced species, they haven't said which classes can't be. I still believe my Jedi Twi'lek will be possible.

Anyway, that's not the only update we get today as we also get another issue of the Blood of the Empire comic. Here's the official news:
In the fifth issue of Blood of the Empire™, Teneb Kel comes face to face with Exal Kressh, the Emperor's apprentice! But what power does she possess, and what secrets will she reveal to the man sent to kill her? Meanwhile, Maggot's night off continues, and new faces observe from the shadows. It's the beginning of a night full of revelations...

Check out the latest issue of Blood of the Empire now!
And as I'm writing this post I'm just seeing that Sean Dahlberg has a big post on the official forums talking about what this week's "Fan Friday" is (namely the post they've been editing throughout the week). Is also confirms my earlier words on player species:
Hey guys,

I got up at 4am this morning to get back to Austin so I'll make this short and sweet instead of rambling on as I tend to.

We've talked about this before but it bears mentioning again; the updates we do are for the entire TOR Community. We have everything from people who read the site almost every minute to people who visit the site once a week; people who scour the web for data and people who like to be directed to what and where our updates are. So when we do our big broadcast messages, it is directed towards the entire TOR Community.

This week's Fan Friday was special. We've never had a Fan Friday that was updated every day of the week nor have we ever had a Fan Friday that announced any major systems. And from day one, last week, we called out very specifically that we would have an update every day (for this week) instead of just throwing it all out on a Friday.

Some of you knew about all of our updates come Monday. Some found out about the various updates all through the week. But some people won't find out about the War Zones and the Chiss Imperial Agent or Twi'lek Smuggler until today and some won't even see that info until we post it on our other social networks. Some won't even see it until next week.

SIDE NOTE: While we aren't talking about it yet (and I know many of you dislike this but there are various and valid reasons why we do this), we are not saying that you can ONLY be a Twi'lek as a Smuggler. What we are saying is that we are CONFIRMING that as a Smuggler, you can choose Twi'lek as a species. Will there be limitations? Yes, there will be. What are they? We aren't talking about that yet because we haven't come to a final conclusion on some things yet. When we do, you will definitely know but in the meanwhile we are only confirming what we know will not change between now and launch. Back to the point...

We all think it's awesome that we have so many dedicated fans. We really do. We only get to meet a fraction of them and the ones we do are amazing. Just this last week I got to personally meet a wide variety of people who participate in these forums on a consistent basis and it was great to see their excitement for TOR. And it's great to see everyone pull together and share all the information they gleamed from each and every interview they could find across the web (and sorry that my interview didn't really have any big reveals or anything in it).

But, like I said, our updates are crafted for the entire community and while a segment may learn everything before even the first day of E-3 (and some even before the Pre-E3 Press Event, ack!), a large portion of our community doesn't learn about things until later and usually when we are informing them of the updates by posting them on our website and the social networks we participate in.

Now, I know some of you will disagree with me (I have been reading the threads and posts between shifts when doing demos and at night), I personally believe we revealed a lot this week:

  • Hope - A new cinematic trailer.
  • Player Ships - Announcing a mobile base of operations and even showing two of them.
  • Armor Progression - Showed off a few new outfits and gave a small peek at how a character might progress.
  • Live Gameplay - We've never shown that yet and not only did we show a single-player experience we also showed a group experience. On live television where anything could happen.
  • Species reveals - Announced two more species; Chiss and Twi'lek.
  • War Zones - Talked a little about our PvP system; granted, we have a lot more details to give out on that but we have to refine and test things first to make sure we're giving out great and accurate information
  • Hands-On Demos - We let a lot of people come to our booths and play TOR; yes some were mainstream press and we had a few celebs come by, but we also had quite a few community members come through that work on various fan sites and podcasts (and many that aren't even TOR specific).
And that's not even counting all the information and things talked about during the various interviews. Granted, I'm seeing things from my point of view, but I think we did a lot over the last five days.

Hmm, and maybe I should go back and remove the part about me not rambling... because I think I ended up doing that after all

Quick Edit: And no, not asking for you guys to thank us or anything else. I am just trying to give a little more information on why things are they way they are based on some of the posts I have been reading over the last week.
And speaking of Sean Dahlberg, there's a pretty nice (over 30-minute long) video interview with him over on TOROcast:

In fact TOR-Aid is a pretty decent blog site overall with a number of posts from the last week at E3, including:
And of course the video interview linked above.

Rob Chestney also made a post on the the official forums where he gives some explanation on the standard MMO roles seen in one of the gameplay videos:
Hey guys,

This is a great thread and it's nice to see so many of the discussions that take place within BioWare echoed among the fans. I'm actually in the booth now helping play through these demos (as the Jedi Knight--woot!), and this thread grabbed my attention. A lot of good points have been made already here to clarify what the multiplayer demo implies and what the takeway is, but I think it's worth a few more comments:

- For the purpose of this multiplayer demo, we wanted to keep the 'team combat dynamic' simple and easy to understand. Furthermore, the Consular acts as the healer and as the 'camera' for the demo, so she isn't necessarily playing exactly as she would in a normal playthrough. We wanted her to stay back from the action to provide a wide-angle view of the entire scene. Thus, where she might have run into to strike a few blows for righteousness in a regular group battle, she has to minimize that to keep the view right.

- One of the other things to keep in mind is that these are level 8-10 level characters, and none of them have begun to train as "advanced classes". New strategies for team combat develop as characters get new skills, get higher level powers, and select specializations. Keep in mind also, that the demo is designed so that people who may not be MMO veterans can understand it also.

- There also seems to be some confusion about the primary classes being locked into primary roles. The Sith Warrior has two advanced classes; the Juggernaut and the Marauder. One is a better track for a 'tank', the other is more of a damage-dealer. The paradigm of advanced classes is designed to provide branching options so that all primary classes have at least two options for the types of role they will play in groups. Beyond that even, there are further specialization/customization options that will give characters additional variety in the types of roles they can play.

To sum up, don't assume too much from one example of four-player team combat that we're showing at E3. We hope you like the team dynamic we're showing to folks here, but we don't want you guys to read too much into it. At a later date, we'll definitely try to show you some different strategies and team dynamics so you can get a better idea of the breadth of the experience of team combat in TOR.

Eventually, we look forward to you guys getting your hands on the game to find out for yourselves!

Speaking of group play, Gametrailers has a video interview with Daniel Erickson about multiplayer dynamics:

And finally Massively has a hands-on article with the Smuggler. Here's an excerpt:

Right off the bat, I felt quickly at home behind the controls. Why? Well, it was in no small part due to the fact that the game's design feels very much like World of Warcraft. Looking down to find a red health bar accompanied by a yellow energy bar, I might have mistaken the smuggler class for a rogue, if everything were a little more fantasy themed instead of futuristic.

Even the cover system -- the smuggler's signature ability -- played very much like going in and out of stealth. Cover reduces the damage your smuggler takes while simultaneously offering him or her more options via new skills which will only appear while in cover. Just as you may have predicted, your skill bar will slide up while the smuggler is in cover, revealing a whole new "stealth" er... "cover" hotbar.

Using skills consumes energy from the smuggler's bar, but energy is rebuilt over time. Much like those of the rogue, the cooldowns I dealt with were short, making their attacks rely on utilizing energy efficiently. During the demo, I got to play with three different attacks -- a normal rapid-fire blaster burst, a set of slow but powerful blaster bursts, and a flashbang to stun targets. Oh, and I was a hot, Twi'lek male smuggler. You know it's awesome.
And that's it for now. All in all I think it's been a pretty awesome E3 for The Old Republic and, as I said at the start of this post, I'm sure that there'll be more articles and such in the days to come.

And then there's a number of other conventions and such to come (PAX, Comic Con, GamesCon, etc). But for now the devs deserve a rest (after all, the better they rest the harder they can work).

[UPDATE] Just noticed that Voodoo Extreme has IGN's Live Presentation of The Old Republic up. Their video player is horrid and the video doesn't have any gameplay, but let me link it for you anyway.

[link] to "The Old Republic @ E3 2010" at SWTOR.
[link] to "Blood of the Empire #5!" at SWTOR.
[link] to "Sean Dahlberg 35 Minute Video Interview" at TOR-Aid.
[link] to "Multiplayer Dynamics Interview" at Gametrailers.
[link] to "Hands on with The Old Republic's smuggler class" at Massively.
[link] to "IGN Live Presentation" at Voodoo Extreme.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lots of stuff from E3

Bah, what a time for my telephone line to die. And no telephone line means no Internet for me (couldn't get cable where I live), having to do the updates from work instead. And with work being busy too...

Anyway, E3 2010 is in full swing and a number of sites took the opportunity to take a look at Star Wars: The Old Republic and then post an article for us to read. And besides that there's a bunch of new videos as well, showing the game in action.

But I'll start with yesterday's official update: Player Ships. Yesterday I already posted the ship interiors video, but it's up on the official site as well now. Here's the news:

Player Ships

Yes, it's the announcement you've been waiting for: There are starships in the Old Republic and everybody gets one. Smuggler ships, Trooper ships, Imperial Agent ships, Bounty Hunter ships, Jedi ships and Sith ships. They're all in The Old Republic and they're all awesome.

Ships represent freedom and a place to call your own. They're your base of operations and a handy retreat. A place to relax and talk to your Companion Characters, socialize with other players or to plan your next adventure. Check out Player Ships in The Old Republic to see the Jedi Corellian Vanguard-Class light corvette and Sith Fury-Class Imperial Transport.

Sounds good to me. I doubt that we'll have free flying, certainly not at launch, and it'll probably work almost exactly like the Ebon Hawk from the KotOR games.

And then there's today's update on armor progression from the same post:

Armor Progression

We know that character progression in a key element of MMOs and part of making a player feel heroic is making them look heroic. Every class has a wide variety of armor and equipment available to them that can be worn in various combinations. We have talked about customization in The Old Republic, but we haven’t really shown what it might look like.

Here you can see a short video that showcases just a few of the thousands of sets of armor and equipment available to you as a Bounty Hunter. The Bounty Hunter’s abilities and equipment increase as the video progresses, showing you how you might look at various stages in your character’s career in The Old Republic.

BioWare also put up the videos for the G4 live coverage from Tuesday.

Next up we've got Darth Hater, who have a whole bunch of informative posts:
Yeah, I know it's rather cheap just linking to their articles, but I hope you understand. At least let me embed their video interview:

Then there's a bunch of articles from various game sites. Again I'm not going to handle all of them in detail, but let me link you to them at least:
And finally there's a couple of gameplay videos over on Gametrailers:

And on a completely unrelated note... Yay, they announced my game! :)

[link] to Player Ships video at SWTOR.
[link] to G4 coverage video part 1 at G4TV.
[link] to G4 coverage video part 2 at G4TV.
[link] to G4 coverage video part 3 at G4TV.
[link] to "General Information Learned at E3" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Presentation with Blaine Christine" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Class Ability Fact Sheet" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Darth Hater Episode 39" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Star Wars: The Old Republic on IGN" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Daniel Erickson Interview" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Interview With James Ohlen" at Darth Hater.
[link] to "Another Take On The Old Republic" at IGN.
[link] to "E3 Media Blast" at ShackNews.
[link] to "Exclusive SWTOR interview" at Massively.
[link] to "Updated Impressions" at GameSpot.
[link] to "Hands On Impressions" at VGRevolution.
[link] to "Mixed Feelings From E3" at MMORPG.
[link] to "Hands-off" at The Escapist.
[link] to "Field Action" gameplay video at Gametrailers.
[link] to "Trooper" gameplay video at Gametrailers.
[link] to "Lightsaber" gameplay video at Gametrailers.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ships, Groups and more

If you've seen the latest update to BioWare's "The Old Republic @ E3 2010" post then you'll have noticed the following:

The Old Republic Live on G4!

Make sure to check out G4’s half-hour blowout on Star Wars: The Old Republic starting at 2pm PT! Adam Sessler, X-Play host and G4’s Editor-In-Chief of Games, plans to deliver a 30-minute all-access coverage of The Old Republic including live game-play.

Never before have we granted so much time to one game at E3,” said Adam Sessler. “Star Wars: Old Republic is a game of such breadth that the excitement around it and the time we are dedicating to it will have a huge pay-off for the viewers.

Want to see what the press are seeing? Then don’t miss a minute of it!
Unfortunately I did miss most of it, for a large part because I don't live in the US and thus don't get G4TV. I spend a while looking for a live feed on the site, but found none. Luckily a friend pointed me to a feed where it seemed that half of those 30 minutes consisted of commercials. And being distracted, and the quality of the stream fairly low, I still missed most of it.

Ah well, hopefully G4 will put the video up on their site in the coming day or so.

Luckily it's not a complete loss since it seems that Massively had a sitdown at a BioWare presentation where they talked about including player ships, group play, PvP, crafting and customization. It's not a terribly long article, but here's an excerpt:

Borrowing ideas from other well-established titles, Bioware went on to discuss the game's crafting and PvP systems. Crafting will be "unique but WoW-like", though no specific details have yet been published on it. For PvP, the game will feature some large open PvP areas in addition to instanced warzones. These are intended to act like World of Warcraft's battlegrounds, pitting teams against each other in instanced matches. Transitioning from the game world into an instance is smooth, with absolutely no load time. If it weren't for the glowing green area, you might not even realise you'd entered an instance.
Bit the pièce de résistance is a video showing the ship interiors for two of the player ships: the Corellian Vanguard light corvette for the Republic and the Fury Class Imperial transport.

Oh, and finally GameSpot has the section on The Old Republic from yesterday's EA press conference. This includes the trailer (which you've probably seen by now), but it's preceded by Greg Zeschuk and Mary Bihr briefly talking about the game. Might be interesting if you've missed the press conference and don't want to search through 90 minutes of footage just for this bit.

I'm sure that there'll be more details in the coming days.

[link] to ships and group play article at Massively.
[link] to ships interior video at YouTube.
[link] to The Old Republic EA press conference at GameSpot.

A Smuggler's Run

Yesterday IGN put up a short preview article, talking about some smuggler gameplay as well as (briefly) about player ships, Warzones and armor customization. Here's an excerpt:
Of course, it would be pretty boring to have an entire galaxy packed with a handful of similar ships. To combat this, BioWare has created a robust customization package so that you can fully trick out your ship with premade gear sets or your own hand-picked items. Though BioWare isn't showing off the ships in action just yet, they assure us that there will be thousands of different variations so that each person can feel as if they have a unique vessel.

That same level of customization is also given to your character in the form of various PvP gear. Though you start out pretty basic in terms of gear, by completing PvP challenges (which BioWare isn't discussing yet), you earn new goods. Some of this stuff is cosmetic, some is highly functional and all of it seems to change based on class and race. In the example BioWare showed off, one bad ass ended up with a jetpack and devilish armor that made him look like Boba Fett spawned from Hell. In other words, you can build up your character to look more awesome than anything the Star Wars universe has seen before.
Though I'm not sure where the writer gets off saying what the 'correct' way to play an MMO is, the things described in it sound pretty good.

There's a few more articles as well, but most of them just list the new trailer (so I'll refrain from listing all of them). Though there's two that very briefly talk about yesterday's press conference, one over at MMORPG and one over at Massively. Though they're basically just saying what was said during the press conference yesterday.

I'll keep you updated on whatever else comes out of E3.

[link] to "A Smuggler's Run" article at IGN.
[link] to press conference article at MMORPG.
[link] to press conference article at Massively.

"Hope" Cinematic Trailer Released!

I knew it; I only needed to postpone actually getting to bed and the SWTOR site would have an update eventually.

And now they do, officially releasing the "Hope" cinematic trailer, as per the official news:

“Hope” Cinematic Trailer Released!

In the years before the signing of the Treaty of Coruscant, the Sith Empire sought to crush the Republic’s morale by destroying Alderaan. See one of the pivotal battles of this conflict in our second cinematic trailer: Hope.
The Battle of Alderaan. The Republic's gravest hour. Recently promoted to Darth, Malgus launches the first of many surprise attacks that would become his trademark during the Great War, perfectly timing the assault with a feint that pulls the Republic fleet light-years away. Thousands of assault droids and hundreds of Sith set the heart of the Republic ablaze, and Alderaan's few defenders are swept away with ease.

Unknown to Darth Malgus, small groups of Republic Troopers are stationed on Alderaan, some recovering from wounds, others are awaiting orders. As these brave soldiers take to the forests and mountains to fight a guerilla campaign against Malgus's forces, the Republic fleet rushes back to repel the invasion. With time running out and Alderaan's capitol threatened, it falls to Havoc Squad, the elite Republic Special Forces unit, to coordinate one last desperate stand against Malgus' vastly superior numbers.
Watch Star Wars: The Old Republic come to life in the Hope cinematic trailer now!

As said you can watch the movie at the website where you can also download the HD version of it (in what's probably slightly better quality than the Gametrailers one I posted earlier... at the very least it'll be without the "GT" logo).

Monday, 14 June 2010

EA's E3 2010 Press Conference

EA's press conference for this year's E3 just finished... and as expected it finished with a smashing The Old Republic cinematic trailer.

Before that though they had two announcements for The Old Republic.

First, they've confirmed that every player gets their own ship ingame, which acts as their home and base of operations for exploring the galaxy. Though they didn't go into more detail than that I suspect (as I have for a long time) that ships will function much the same as your ship did in the first two KotOR games... a place where your companions hang out, from where you can travel to other planets, and perhaps for things like crafting. They also briefly mentioned personalization, but at this point it's anyone's guess what that means exactly.

The other announcement is that they had was that of PvP Warzones. They mentioned one on Alderaan, but I didn't really get more details beyond that. Just that you're supposedly have to pick a side; Republic or Empire. Who would've thought that?

And then the trailer. I've blogged about the leaked trailer before, but I didn't actually see it myself until the press conference (and then in HD too). And I was once again blown away. You can probably see it yourself easily enough, but it shows the Empire attacking Alderaan and destroying a city there. But a group of Troopers get ready to strike back (I'm guessing that's Havok Squad based on the symbol the main Trooper had on his arm). There was a big clash of the Troopers against the Sith, but it didn't go that well for the Republic and our lead character was about to be struck down... when a female Jedi using a double lightsaber (so I'm guessing a Jedi Consular) jumped onto the scene and started fighting the Sith in another great lightsaber duel, fighting Darth Malgus (who didn't have his face mask yet here). At one point she used the Force to pull down a tree and when things went badly for a bit the Trooper jumped in again and blew Darth Malgus back with a grenade. Then the Jedi unleashed her Force powers and seemingly crushed the Sith between it and a rockface. The battle won the Trooper show up a flare while talking about a spark of hope when all across the planet more flares went up.

And that concluded the trailer with once again me having to pick my jaw up off the desk.

Currently the swtor site is experiencing some trouble (probably being hammered or they're busy updating it) so it'll probably be a while before anything is up there. Also Gametrailers is experiencing trouble probably due to all the people trying to log in to watch the conferences. So for now you'll have to do with the link I provided in my previous post, until a HD version goes up somewhere.

but that trailer... wow. I'm betting this is another "Best Trailer" award (in a lot of places).

Oh, one final thing, they also confirmed that people will be able to get hands-on experience with the game during E3, so I'm sure that we'll get plenty of reports on that in the coming days. Possibly even some gameplay videos.


I came across a couple of links online as well talking about pretty much the same things I mentioned above. The 1UP article talks a little about starships, armor and Warzones. Here's an excerpt:
Producer Blaine Christine summarizes the new features as ones that, "show ownership for players." That is, they give players something to call their own and to show off and socialize with. The first of these ownership/MMO features is the fact that, in Christine's words, "every player has his or her own personal starship." He continues, "It's your hub of operations; it's your home within the game world. It's where you come back to after a mission; it's where you have deeper interactions with your companion characters; it's where you store your gear or equip yourself out before adventuring again. But since this is a massively multiplayer game, it's also a place where you can bring your friends." Christine then shows a short video detailing examples of player ships: a Corellian transport for a Galactic Republic player, and a "Sith Interceptor" for Sith Empire players.
The Massively article talks very briefly about the trailer (but doesn't include the trailer itself), speculating that the Jedi Consular might be Satele Shan. And the Kotaku article also talks (even more briefly) about the trailer, including it as well. I love their opening paragraph:
In this new cinematic trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, we're supposed to feel sorry for Alderaan, as it's enslaved by the Sith Empire. I don't know. They're only occupying it. It's not like they blew it up.
Guess one should count their blessings. is still down. I think I'll get some sleep and see whatever they have cooking there tomorrow...

...after I watch that trailer one more time.

[UPDATE] It seems that the HD trailer is available at Gametrailers:

[link] to additional features article at 1UP.
[link] to trailer article at Massively.
[link] to trailer article at Kotaku.
[link] to HD E3 trailer at Gametrailers.

E3 Trailer on YouTube

VG247 reports that the new E3 trailer for The Old Republic is apparently already viewable on YouTube. I haven't seen it yet (I'm waiting until I get home and watch it properly), but here is is regardless:

I'm sure that it's awesome.

[UPDATE] It seems that the trailer was pulled from YouTube. Though it also seems that Eurogamer still has it. And a search on YouTube gives you half-a-dozen more of them (once it's out there, you can never take it back) like the one I replaced the embedded one with.

Anyone's guess how long those remain. But either way don't worry; in a few hours they should all be available to everyone.

[UPDATE] Forgot to mention that the trailer apparently is originally from the Danish site Gamereactor. Here's the thread on the swtor forums discussing it. (Thanks to a reader for letting me know.)

[UPDATE] Get the full cinematic trailer (downloadable in HD quality) at the official website.

[link] to E3 cinematic trailer at YouTube (removed).
[link] to search for E3 trailer at YouTube.
[link] to new report at VG247.
[link] to E3 cinematic trailer at Eurogamer.
[link] to discussion thread at swtor forums.
[link] to "Hope" cinematic trailer at the official SWTOR website.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Pre E3 2010

Tomorrow E3 2010 kicks off for a week long of gaming news. And The Old Republic is expected to make an appearance with a new cinematic trailer during EA's press conference. But this weekend we already got a sneak peek at a few things with a behind the scenes look in the making of the new trailer over at Gametrailers and an extensive hands-on article over at GameSpot.

Let's start with the GameSpot article. In it they detail hands-on experience during the first moments of six of the game's eight classes: the Trooper, the Smuggler, the Sith Warrior, the Sith Inquisitor, the Bounty Hunter and the Imperial Agent. It contains some spoilers as to the opening stories of these classes (particularly for the Bounty Hunter there seems to be a rather big spoiler in there), but otherwise it's an interesting read. It confirms that pairs of classes start on the same planet (and it looks like their stories intersect). But more interesting perhaps is that it confirms two more player species: Twi'leks and Chiss. And it talks a bit about the various mechanics for the classes (ammo for troopers, overheating for the Bounty Hunter, cover for the Smuggler and Agent, rage points for the Warrior and Force power meter for the Inquisitor). Here's an excerpt:
The trooper class begins with four different primary combat skills, which are keyed to the number keys on your keyboard, and all pertain to using your heavy blaster rifle. Most of the trooper's combat abilities operate based on ammo (this has been changed from the previous time we played the class, when it relied on action points). The abilities include hammer shot, a basic ranged attack that consumes a single round of ammo; rifle grenade, which consumes several rounds and activates your character's rifle-mounted grenade launcher to knock all enemies in the blast radius flat on their backs; fast reload, which reloads your weapon to full; and stock strike, a melee attack that lets you pistol-whip your foes with the butt of your rifle once you get up close.

The smuggler class, on the other hand, is one of the game's "cover classes" and focuses on acquiring cover behind various environmental objects. These objects then grant various offensive and defensive bonuses while accruing energy points with basic attacks and expending them with advanced ones. The smuggler tends to favor a single, handheld blaster (again, not unlike Han Solo), and the profession's starting abilities currently include flurry of bolts, a basic ranged attack that builds energy points; take cover, which lets the profession acquire any nearby cover indicated by a transparent green paper-doll model; burst, which fires off three times as many rounds as flurry of bolts but costs energy points; and flash grenade, a hand-thrown projectile that has a chance of stunning all targets within its short radius but also costs energy points.

From cover, the smuggler's action bar changes to include flurry of bolts (which causes the smuggler to quickly pop out of cover to fire), detaching from cover, and charged burst, which is a new skill that slowly charges up a blast before causing the character to peek out behind cover and deliver a highly damaging burst of three charged-up rounds at a great cost of energy points. (And aside from these character-specific abilities, all characters in the game will universally have some kind of fast-healing, meditative skill to use when out of combat to decrease the amount of downtime required for characters to recover from the wounds they've suffered.)
The article is an interesting read if you don't mind the first few minutes spoiled a little (or if you're planning on playing one of the two Jedi classes, which aren't even mentioned so no spoilers there). And definitely gives some further insight into the game.

And hey, Twi'leks confirmed. True, that's no surprise at all (I think everyone pretty much already knew they were going to be a player species), but still nice to have confirmed. Unless they come up with some interesting surprises I know what species my main character will be. :)

The second bit is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this year's E3 cinematic trailer. After the massive success of last year's trailer it's understandable that they'd want another trailer for this year. But at the same time that also means that they'll have to try extra hard to out-do themselves if they want to blow people away again. During Gametrailer TV's "E3 All Access" pre-E3 show they had a look at Blur studios working on the new trailer, including a sneak peek at the trailer.

Now, that's a 41 minute show and the section about Blur lasts about two minutes; the rest is about a whole bunch of other games. You can watch the entire show if you're interested, but if you want to only see the The Old Republic bit then that starts about 11:30 minutes in. Or use the "Behind the Scenes - The Making of an E3 Trailer" bookmark in their timer bar (which jumps over the short preamble from the presenters) to jump right to it. Or you can just watch it from YouTube right here:

I'm fairly certain that the full trailer itself will be made available tomorrow right after EA's press conference (during which I'm certain they'll show it too). I'll put up a post once it does.

[link] to hands-on article at GameSpot.
[link] to "E3 All Access" video at Gametrailers.
[link] to GTTV Blur segment at YouTube.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Timeline 8: The Jedi Civil War

Today's Timeline update is the one I've most been dreading. But before I get into that, here's the official news:
One of the greatest threats to the Republic preceding the Great War arose approximately three hundred years before when the Sith Lords Darth Revan and Darth Malak began the Jedi Civil War. Jedi Master Gnost-Dural’s historical investigation steps back to this era, and he examines new evidence which reshapes the Order’s understanding of the events surrounding Revan’s fall and his ultimate fate.
BTC 303 – Three hundred years before the Sacking of Coruscant, two prominent Jedi Knights pursued enemy forces into Deep Space at the conclusion of the Mandalorian Wars. When the two Jedi, Revan and Malak, returned to Republic space, they had fallen to the dark side. As Sith Lords, Revan and Malak began searching the galaxy for a powerful ancient artifact known as the Star Forge. During their dark campaign, however, Malak’s ambitions grew and eventually drove him to betray Revan, sparking the bloody Jedi Civil War. Though Revan was ultimately redeemed and restored peace to the galaxy, he disappeared afterward in search of a great darkness in Deep Space. Through his investigation, Master Gnost-Dural now confirms that this great darkness is the Sith Empire the Jedi Order battles today….
Watch the latest Timeline holorecord, The Jedi Civil War, narrated by actor Lance Henriksen.

You can also download a high resolution version of this video.
And because I can, the full text:
































As to why I feared this timeline, it's because I was afraid that they'd settle on Revan as the canon version of the character; a male lightsider. And that just doesn't fit with how I experienced the story of the earlier KotOR games. In my games Revan was female and to see the 'continuation' of the story turn her male is incredibly jarring.

And as you can see I wasn't wrong. It's "he", "him", "his" throughout. Considering the ability of computer games to adapt to their players (as KotOR2 showed in part) it is incredibly disappointing to see BioWare take the easy route and just pick a canon gender for the character. Makes me wish that they didn't include the character at all and just left it as something that happened in the past. After all, lots of important things happened in the past (many more important that what Revan's impact was on history) and those events aren't all mentioned I'm sure. But that would just piss off people for whom the game revolves around Revan.


On the official forums BioWare' Rob Chestney also has a little to say on it, and it's not entirely satisfactory. But at least it seems like they tried. I guess I just expected them to be good enough to actually succeed in all cases. Here's what he had to say:
Hey Folks,

Just reading the responses to the Jedi Civil War Timeline, and I thought it would be worth commenting on a few things.

Firstly, the canon for Lucas is that Revan was male and that he followed the light-side ending for KotOR. That said, if you played KotOR, and experienced it differently, please use your imagination to make it work. We really didn't want to spoil anyone's KotOR memories and in fact, in any place we could, we tried to be inconclusive about these things. Ultimately, though, even for TOR it was necessary to come up with something firm about who Revan was and what he did.

Also, there is a glaring error in the timeline in describing the Rakatan technology as being developed 25 centuries ago. It was actually developed 25 millennia ago. We will try to go back and correct that at some point.

Keep in mind, as some other posters have referenced, the timelines are authored by a Jedi Master living 300 years after KotOR. Not all the facts were confirmed by the Jedi, and in some places, he may be wrong about what actually occurred. That goes for all the timelines.
The timeline update itself is pretty nice though; gives a nice overview of the events of the first KotOR. But I'm definitely not looking forward to running into anything Revan-related in the game.

Anyway, almost E3; only a couple more days for a flood of new information. :)