Saturday, 10 July 2010

First Test Footage Leaked

Just yesterday BioWare announced that testing The Old Republic is officially underway, and today we've got the first leaked videos. reports that they have two videos of the testing (one of the Smuggler, one of the Trooper).

I'm not going to post the videos here, for that you'll have to go to the original site. The videos are up on YouTube right now, but I suspect that they'll disappear soon (YouTube complies with copyright takedown requests). Then again, I also expect them to reappear again soon (on YouTube and other video services). People know that these videos tend to disappear so they tend to download them as soon as they can (and yes, you can easily download video from YouTube and such sites) and then repost them when the originals disappear. Once it's out there it's impossible to take back.

And I must say that in posting this message I feel somewhat caught between, on the one hand, wanting to comply with BioWare's desire to keep these leaks off the net and, on the other hand, a certain 'journalistic' duty in reporting the news. Hence the compromise in that I did post the link to, but I'm not embedding the videos. I hope that you, and BioWare, understand.

For what it's worth, I hope that whatever person leaked these is caught and kicked out, to be replaced by someone who will actually help make the game better (and no, I'm not talking about myself).

Let me also repost what Sean Dahlberg said about the Game Testing Agreement (which I don't think I violated in any way):
We have seen many questions about the Game Testing Agreement and we want to clarify a few things.
  1. Per the Game Testing Agreement, a user can state there is a Game Testing Program.
  2. Per the Game Testing Agreement, when someone is selected for testing, they can disclose the fact that they are a member of the Game Testing Program.
That is the extent of it and anything else would be a violation of the Game Testing Agreement. Users that are found to post or even repost confidential materials (such as invitations, Game Tester Portal, etc) will be permanently removed from the Game Testing Program and subject to discipline up to and including permanent removal from the service. This is not limited to screenshots of the game but taking "screen grabs" or sharing of confidential documentation and materials.

If you have any questions pertaining to this, ask them here.
In addition, Sean also made the following massive post about game testing:
First, we definitely share in everyone’s excitement. This is another step in preparing The Old Republic for launch and the team is just as eager for this as all of you!

Since there is a lot of questions and discussion about Game Testing, I thought it might be a good time to start a new thread. A few threads you may want to check out, though:

I’ve been reading through a lot of the posts and there are some really good questions in there so I’ll do my best to answer them.

First thing, what we announced is “Game Testing". This is currently underway and will end near the release of the game and happen in a variety of stages. We will be inviting people to different stages and just because you get invited to one stage doesn’t mean you’ll be invited back to another one. Unlike testing that many of you may have participated in with other games, we aren’t looking for people to test “everything". Each of our tests are focused on a certain or a set of goals and areas. We want people to have clear direction on what we’d like help evaluating.

The Game Testing Program is all about us validating the features and design of the game. If we find an area that people just aren’t enjoying as much as we’d like, it shows us that we need to adjust that feature. That is much easier to do when you have clear goals and ideas as to what we are looking for instead of just “the game".

Another thing I see people inquiring about is what I mean when I keep calling things the “service". While the game is a big part of it, it isn’t everything. We look at the entire experience as the service; the website, the community, the game, etc. This holds as true now as it will once we're done with development and fully launched the entire service.

Yes, testing is only in North America now. Currently the service is all supported here but it won’t always be here. Our entire community is very important to us. As you’ll note, with few exceptions, our updates go out simultaneously in English, French, and German. This is because we treat the community as one as much as possible. But we have some time till Spring 2011 (although it is getting closer every day!) and right now, we’re doing what is best for the service in the long-run. We could of just not announced what locales we’re testing in now but we felt it better to be upfront with our community. We also could of held back on testing altogether and not start until we can in all of the areas we’ll be launching the service but I think most of you will agree that we would lose valuable time and feedback if we did that. We’re not announcing just when yet, but we definitely plan on opening up phases of Game Testing to other countries before we launch (and not as a last minute “Open" test).

A couple quick notes/answers:

  • We didn’t announce that Game Testing Began today, we announced that it is underway… subtle difference but there is one.
  • Make sure your email address is up-to-date! This means that the account name that you use to log in to the website is the email address we will be sending an invitation to if you are selected.
  • For those worried about missing any of our transactional emails, make sure you add to your address book!
  • How often will we send out updates? As often as possible! It will be different time intervals for different tests.
  • You do not need to sign-up again if you did previously but I would recommend making sure your Additional Details and System Scan are up to date (as well as your email address)! And you can do this any time under "My Account".
  • What data do we track? A lot. If you read the Terms of Service and Game Testing Agreement, you will get a good idea of it all.
  • Since this is all part of the service, any accounts that are in a suspended status when we are sending out invitations will not be invited. As I said, it’s a total service and your account is treated the same throughout the entire service. If you are temporarily suspended, once your suspension is up, you will be eligible again for testing.
  • Speaking of Community – No, post count does not weigh any in the decision of who gets into testing. If community participation was a factor, it would be based on the behavior and quality of interactions with the rest of the community.
And last but not least, I’ll reiterate the point that being able to have the community help us test The Old Republic is very important and valuable to the development process. The Game Testing Program allows community members to give us quality feedback so we can make adjustments and have a highly effective service and entertaining experience when we do launch. Our expectation is that players of The Old Republic will follow the terms of the Game Testing Agreement and ensure that the confidential pre-release information we’re sharing with community members remains confidential.

This thread is now open for questions and discussion!
On a lighter note, posted an interview with lead designer and story writer Daniel Erickson. In it Daniel claims that The Old Republic is "the dream game" for BioWare fans and for MMO fans:
Stories of Star Wars games in general have been frequently disappointing - with a couple of notable exceptions. What does The Old Republic offer that's new?

If you played Knights Of the Old Republic, you'd know it's Bioware's bread and butter and the place we go back to. The big difference to us is not only does it have real story - it's got an amazing cast, it's all VO, it's all cinematic dialogue - it has eight stories.

Every one of the character classes has their own complete path through there. That allowed us to use stories that usually you dont even get, right? Even when we did Knights Of The Old Republic, we had to run sort of a generic story, because we didn't know whom you were to begin with - where you were coming from.

Now we know, hey, you chose to play a smuggler, so we can tell a story that is fly by the seat of your pants, funny, romantic, everything's always going wrong, you're always in over your head. Choose to play a bounty hunter and you get sort of a Western feel to the story; you're one man with a gun, you answer to nobody, you make your own decisions your trying to show you're a bad-ass in the world.
I don't know about you, but I'm honestly getting sick of hearing about how 'cinematic' a game is. Maybe that's because of the atrocities they're committing to Dragon Age 2 in name of making it more 'cinematic', destroying what made the original game so great. More and more I'm starting to think 'if I want cinematic, I'll watch a movie'. What I want out of a game is great gameplay and, most of all, being able to get into my character (instead of having a pre-voiced personality).

But anyway. Sorry for that rant. I'm just still very upset at what they've done there.

[link] to leaked beta videos at Leakerz.
[link] to interview with Daniel Erickson at CVG.

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