Saturday, 4 September 2010

Space Combat in The Old Republic

Today's Friday update officially adds Space Combat to the game mechanics. Here's the official update:
Blast your way through asteroid fields, enemy fighters, and a variety of other obstacles as you encounter fast-paced Space Combat missions in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. In these occurrences, you’ll fly your personal starship to various “hot spots” on the galaxy map and experience gameplay that will evoke memories of some of the great Star Wars™ space battles.

Watch the gameplay footage of Space Combat in the latest addition to the Game Systems section and learn more about the rewards players can unlock in Space Combat. Also check out the media section to see screenshots, concept art, and wallpapers portraying these heroic battles in space.
The information in the article is pretty much what we already know and the trailer is the one that was released earlier already. One thing I hadn't specifically heard before yet though is that space combat "is designed to make travel times literally fly-by", which gives me the feeling that it'll be treated similar to the shoot-m-up minigame in Jade Empire where you sometimes get a shooting game when going from one location to another (or you could, I think, choose to skip it). Not sure yet if I like that or not.

A bit more worrisome though is that "you'll obtain rewards that will be useful in other aspects of the gameplay experience". Though I'm sure that, despite the dubious wording, this doesn't mean that you have to play the space combat minigame to get the best things for PvE or PvP, I do generally dislike it when you have to play one kind of gameplay to get things for another kind of gameplay. It just seems like a poor designer's excuse to try and connect to otherwise unrelated types of gameplay. Then again I have a general issue with minigames that are completely disconnected from the main gameplay; either make it an integrated part that's an extension of the existing gameplay or leave it out because if I wanted to play a tunnel shooter then I'd buy a tunnel shooter game. And this reward comment doesn't inspire confidence that BioWare's designers have really managed to make the two integrated (if they have to resort to cheap tricks like that).

Anyway, instead of going off of a rant again let me point out, as the news article says, that there's also a wallpaper for the Space Combat:

It's kind of funny that the ships that's most in the foreground, most active and in a position that one might imagine a player controlled ship to be, is actually The Old Republic's version of an x-wing. This, I feel, because such a ship would actually work quite well in the kind of battles that they're trying to simulate where (with the exception of the miniature star destroyer which is undoubtedly the Imperial Agent's ship) the player ships all seem to big and clunky to me to be maneuvering the way they are in the trailer video. I guess it's the same kind of humor of how each time they mention A New Hope's run on the Death Star they try to make it sound as if Han Solo's ship was the star of that battle.

In related news, Gametrailers has a video interview with Daniel Erickson about Space Combat, taken during Gamescom:

The most interesting thing from this interview seems to be that they're experimenting with letting players earn XP for playing the space combat game. Beyond that I feel that separate gameplay types (PvE, PvP and Space Combat) should remain completely separate unless they're completely integrated I'm not sure what I think of that. It seems nice for those who like Space Combat, but won't that just mean that people can level up without actually learning to play their class? Or is 'learning to play your class' no longer really part of leveling up anymore these days?

Finally, PAX is currently in full swing and BioWare is there as well showing off TOR. And website Ask A Jedi has the first details. In particular they had a Q&A session with Senior Producer Blaine Christine and Lead Writer Daniel Erickson and posted a few highlights from that (with the full interview to follow later):
  • They’ve definitely heard the “feedback” on the Jedi Wizard. My take is that there is more info coming in this regard.
  • Companions aren’t going to make players gods above those who choose to play without them, but also players won’t necessarily be able to “spec” their character to make up for lost companion stats, if they choose to play without one.
  • Advanced Class choice has been relegated to “still in development” – meaning, very much on the fence as if it will be permanent or not. But the Advanced Class choice you make seems to be the role are likely to be playing.
At least it's very good to hear that BioWare has heard the complaints on the name for the Consular's advanced class, giving me hope that they'll see reason and change the name to something better. The third point gives me some hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll allow players to switch advanced classes. I think that it would be really sweet if within one character you could have a build for each of the advanced classes (and switch somewhere in the city or such). I hate being locked into a single role in MMOs and that would at least give some flexibility.

The post also makes brief comment on the gameplay as they've experienced it:
Of the two classes I’ve played so far (Smuggler and Sith Inquisitor,) both of them felt visceral. I felt very connected to the character’s movement and abilities. There were no disconnected animations that were supposed to be connected to an ability I pressed 3 seconds ago, etc. There’s lots more to say, but I’ll leave you with that one for now. To me, this is probably the most important thing – that control “feels” right – considering the amount of time we tend to play these games.
And that's it for now. I'll do my best to keep you updated.

[link] to video interview with Daniel Erickson at Gametrailers.
[link] to PAX day 1 update at Ask A Jedi.


Circa said...

Hey there,

My name is Brian Chapman and I am a writer and an administrator for a website or two. I have an offer that might interest you involving blogging and so forth. I'd like to have a chance to talk to you in private if you are even the tiniest bit intrigued. Let me know, you can get ahold of me through the following means:

Email -
AIM - CasanovaRod3o

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Circa said...

This is in fact about SWTOR and blogs that pertain to the game. I'm not a bot! Unfortunately I couldn't find any other means of contact you so I'm forced to use the comment box.

Ayane said...

It's alright, though I think my email is in my profile it's a bit out-of-the-way. Either way, sent you a message. :)