Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Old Republic at Comic-Con: Space Combat Confirmed

The last couple of days Comic-Con was held in San Diego and BioWare was there with The Old Republic. In particular they held a panel where they talked about multiplayer storytelling in The Old Republic, during which they confirmed that there will be space combat in The Old Republic (and not much else beyond that). But we'll get to that in a bit.

First we also had a Friday update. This Friday was a Fan Friday, but we also got the first chapter of the Fatal Alliance novel:
Everything I have seen confirms my worst fears.
Initially revealed last December, Star Wars™: The Old Republic™: Fatal Alliance has hit the shelves! Written by bestselling author Sean Williams and published by Del Rey Books, this novel takes place only a few years after the Sacking of Coruscant.

When a Smuggler discovers the legacy of a lost world onboard a derelict starship, a dangerous secret is brought to life. Allegiances shift as Jedi, Sith, Republic Troopers, and Imperial Agents maneuver for political power and personal gain. Ultimately, enemies must put aside their distrust to defend the galaxy against a threat of unthinkable proportions.

As an exclusive to The Old Republic Community, read the first chapter of Fatal Alliance before you head out to your local bookstore to pick up your copy!
Do people actually still "head out" to their local bookstore? I always just buy all my books online. Anyway, read the first chapter at the official website.

Then there is the Fan Friday update, with more amazing fan art and such to explore (which I'll leave to you at the link) as well as new forum avatars (from the various Timeline updates), wallpapers (from the Hope cinematic; though they're in rather awkward resolutions as there's no 16:10 widescreen) and polls. Then there's the Developer Corner, which I always find the most interesting part of the Fan Friday updates:

Developer Corner

We worked with The Old Republic developers to get you a first-hand look at game content that is currently in production.

The Cathar are among the many species you may come across in your travels through the galaxy. They are known for being strong, effective fighters, and are considered unique for their feline features and personality attributes.
So, no real surprise there, there are Cathar in The Old Republic. Of course the question remains whether they're a player species (and which class/classes will be able to play them).

And then there's Comic-Con. It's been going all around the net (for example here and here), but it's been confirmed that The Old Republic will have space combat. At the start of the "Beyond Solo: Crafting the Multiplayer Story in Star Wars: The Old Republic" panel that they held they confirmed as much. But they didn't go into any details, just saying that more details would be revealed in the next issue of PC Gamer (US). Shortly after Sean Dahlberg posted the following message on the forums:
First, thank you to all of you who participated in our Comic-Con Reveal mission! While we didn't quite make the numbers, we definitely saw how excited the community is about this and how everyone came together. After all of that, there's no way we could hold back with our special reveal at Comic-Con!

If you’ve been following the news coming out of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ panel at Comic-Con International, you’ve heard the announcement that we will indeed have Space Combat as part of the TOR experience! But what does that mean? Space combat is an alternative gameplay experience to the primary game of storytelling, questing, and ground-based combat. In space combat, you fly your personal ship to various “hot spots” on your galaxy map. From there, you will blast your way through asteroid fields, enemy fighters, frigates, destroyers, and a variety of other obstacles that will evoke memories of some of the great Star Wars™ space battles.

To learn more, pick up the October 2010 edition of PC Gamer which hits newsstands starting August 17th for screenshots and an exclusive interview or check back with us in the weeks to come.

Check out the cover of PC Gamer's October edition here:
And then a little later the following:
While there are some (okay, many) details I can't divulge at this time, I will say that with the entire game we're trying to make something that is fun, entertaining, and that emulates the action-packed combat and experiences seen in Star Wars.
I must say that the news surprises me. Generally speaking it tend to be a bad sign when developers try to focus on too many gameplay mechanics at once. You end up with two half games instead of one full game where one half isn't as good as the other half. Just look at Star Trek Online (which also had ground combat and space combat right off the bat and neither really seems to be quite there with the ground combat generally considered worse than the space combat). It's developers spreading themselves too thin and I wasn't expecting BioWare to take that same risk.

The one point of hope in that though is that they clearly seem to see it as something extra, something a bit outside the 'normal' game. The question with that is whether people are really going to be satisfied with that (is it going to be more of a 'dungeon' type thing and is that enough for people or do people really want deeply integrated space combat instead). But I must say that the whole idea of space combat never thrilled me to begin with (the 'space' part interests me, the 'combat' part not so much) so I can't really answer that.

And then there's of course one thing to keep in mind as well. Since they haven't detailed exactly what "space combat" is it might not be the X-Wing type combat that people seem to be envisioning everytime they mention space combat, but could be more something like in the first KotOR where you sit in a cockpit and shoot some ships flying by.

But I guess we'll see in due time (as in a couple of weeks when the issue of PC Gamer hits US retail stands and thus likely the Internet as well).

For the panel itself there's the article GameSpot wrote up on it. But it's probably better to just look at a 50-minute video of the panel itself:

There's some nice details in there. They explain the difference between class quests, world quests, flashpoints and world arcs a bit better. They talk about how the storylines of the two factions touch and yet are still different. They reveal how you get dark/light side points for your own choices and not for what the group ends up doing. They talk a bit about customizing your companions(' gear). And they confirm that player species are restricted by class.

Oh, and while we're on the subject of GameSpot videos, last week I neglected to post GameSpot's video about Composing the Music of The Old Republic. While not quite as nice as BioWare's video of last week (in my opinion), it's still a nice watch:

And that's it for now.

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