Friday, 9 July 2010

Game Testing Officially Underway

It was rumored a couple of weeks ago that testing for The Old Republic (with people from the community) had started. But now BioWare have officially confirmed it. Here is what they had to say:
Game Testing for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is underway! Those selected to test will gain access to the game and be able to provide valuable feedback to help us tune particular areas of gameplay and begin the process of balancing and tweaking our content.

Game Testing is an on-going process being rolled out in several phases. These phases began with smaller, more focused tests with community members from North America, and later will expand to other territories. Users selected for the test program will be notified via email with more information on accessing the Game Testing Portal. If you’ve not been chosen yet, you may be selected in the next wave!

If you haven’t signed up already, it’s definitely not too late! If you’re not already a member of the Star Wars: The Old Republic community, click here to become one today! Be sure to check the box to indicate you are interested in becoming a tester. If you’re already a member, go to the Game Testing Portal to begin the sign up process. Note that you must be at least 18 years of age to accept the Game Tester Agreement.

Please keep in mind that there are no guarantees that you will be selected once you have completed the sign-up process. For more information about testing Star Wars: The Old Republic, take time to read the Game Testing FAQ.

We’re looking forward to your help in making Star Wars: The Old Republic a success!
Good luck to all those who got selected and please try to remember that you're there to help make the game better, not to have fun. In fact, it's probably best to expect the testing to be no fun at all. And remember, as Sean Dahlberg puts it:
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.
Anyway, BioWare also announced their plans for ComicCon this year. By going to ComicCon you can get a signed page from Blood of the Empire, see the Hope cinematic trailer on the big screen, and attend a number of Star Wars related panels. The most interesting of these, for fans of The Old Republic, is the following:
1:00-2:00 PM – Beyond Solo: Crafting the Multiplayer Story in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Meet up with James Ohlen (Studio Creative Director and Lead Designer, BioWare) Drew Karpyshyn (Principal Writer, BioWare), and Alexander Freed (Managing Editor, BioWare), along with Morgan Webb (G4's X-Play)as they discuss the creation of the multiplayer, planet-spanning story in Star Wars: The Old Republic. While much attention has been paid to the unique individual stories of each of the eight classes in the game, the team is excited to share their approach to the broader stories that players will experience in The Old Republic.
Read the rest of the details on ComicCon at the link above.

In different news, last week BioWare's The Old Republic won the Best of E3 2010 Game Critics Award for "Best Role Playing Game". The Game Critics Awards are voted for by a number (31 to be exact) of gaming publications and thus can be seen as a measure of how the professional gaming press saw E3. So congratulations to BioWare and the The Old Republic team for making the list.

Speaking of E3, make sure that you don't miss Darth Hater's Hands On Impressions article. It's by far the most in-depth E3 hands on article out there, filled with details that haven't appeared anywhere else. The Darth Hater team had a massive number of people attending E3, all geared towards getting as much details on The Old Republic as they could. Definitely not one to miss. Here's an excerpt:
UI Impressions

The User Interface, or UI, of The Old Republic will seem very familiar to anyone who has played a modern MMO. Although not revolutionary, this familiarity should make it easy for most gamers to pick it up quickly and intuitively. We were limited to only a few abilities on our low level characters, but we noticed there were a total of five possible action bars for high level characters who are flush with skills.

The UI was functional and compact, reducing screen clutter, but it may not be effective for hardcore players looking to maximize their information in minimal space. Thankfully the standard design and options imply a great deal of space and flexibility which is an encouraging sight for people looking to mod their heads up display.

One thing new to the UI in this build was Fly Text notifications during combat. Similar to some WoW mods or Borderlands, the Fly Text would show damage or healing done by displaying numbers coming from the target itself. This optional feature helped visualize the action on screen by letting players see exactly what they were doing to a target without needing to look at a scrolling log. While not revolutionary, it was a nice addition.
They seemed to be particularly impressed with the AI, noting that enemies have an "alarmed" state where they notice you (and you can see them noticing you as they'll look at you), but they won't attack yet unless you get closer. And on top of that in combat human enemies often seek cover instead of just rushing headlong into you to get pounded. But they talk about a whole lot of other things as well.

And finally on a completely non-TOR related note... BioWare announced Dragon Age 2. Though there are a lot of question marks I have and a number of concerns, particularly that they seemed to be going with a pre-defined character this time (which if it's anything like Mass Effect will ruin what made Dragon Age special and so deeply enjoyable for me), at the moment I'm trying to remain hopeful that it'll be even close to as good as the first game. We'll see.

[link] to Game Critics Awards.
[link] to Hands On Impressions at Darth Hater.

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