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.

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