Friday, 26 November 2010

New Inhabitants on the HoloNet

BioWare added five new entries to the "Inhabitants" section of the HoloNet; two creatures, a humanoid species, and two droids. Here is the official news:
Details on five new galactic inhabitants are now available on the HoloNet! Read up on the dangerous Terentatek and Vine Cat – you don’t want to go up against these creatures unprepared. Also, find information on the legacy of the red-skinned Sith Pureblood, descendants of the original Sith species. And don’t forget about the droids! You’ll find data about the M3-M1 Medical Droid and the S3-F5 Inclement Condition Probe.

The galaxy is full of fascinating occupants, so make sure to check the Inhabitants holorecords frequently for new updates!
Because it might be a bit tricky to find the new entries among the ones that were already there, let me list the links to the new entries here:
That's it for the official update, but read on after the break for developer quotes from the last week, some details on a survey that's been sent around, a link to an interview with the new community manager and some humor from Eurogamer.

Let me start with that interview I promised last Monday. It's over at Massively as they interviewed community manager Stephen Reid regarding his new position. Here's an excerpt:
What sorts of things do you plan to do similarly to and differently from your predecessor?

I didn't have to come in and do anything really radical. There are a lot of really talented people who work behind the scenes that you don't necessarily see who are working very hard already.

That said, there are some things that I hope to do more of, and there are some things that I hope to do that haven't been done yet. For me, it's the same job as always: to act as a conduit between the community and the development team and vice versa. It's just on a much larger scale than I've previously dealt with, but I'm looking forward to that challenge.

Honestly, my job is to kick it up a gear. We're heading towards launch. Now we need to really get our game face on, as they say.
I suspect that one of these things he wants to kick up a gear is developer posts, because ever since he took the job there seems to be an increase of these on the forums. The first of these this week, though short is Jo Berry explaining how the name "Qyzen" is pronounced:
Out in the galaxy, the name Qyzen can be pronounced either "KWYE-zen", or "KYE-zen". Qyzen himself uses the "KWYE-zen" pronunciation.
Damion Schubert also has another couple of posts, the first of which talking about recalling Companions from Crew Skill missions:
Currently, you can recall your companion at any time from a mission. You lose any progress he has made, as well as any upfront costs, but he returns immediately. This may be adjusted as we test further, but it seems to offer a decent balance.

You can also have a companion stop crafting an item at any time. In that case, you lose no materials (but all progress will be lost).
Sounds reasonable to me; give you flexibility but coming at a cost. His second post talks about world chat:
Each planet has chat channels that allows you to communicate with other players on the same planet. Yes, we have different channels for general, pvp, trade, etc. You will be able to turn off the channel, flag another player as a spammer for Customer Support's review, and ignore problem players.

Disregarding whether or not they are realistic (and the presence of technology makes them much more realistic here than in fantasy games - you only have to look at a CB Radio for an analog), chat is very good for the community. Of particular note, some of our best content areas are the awesome multiplayer fights our worldbuilders have been setting up. If to fight those, you had to go to town and wait for someone else to wander by, life would suck, and this content (which I want to stress, in my opinion, is usually wicked fun) would never get done.

We currently don't have any global channels that cover the whole game. General rule of thumb in an MMO is that if your chat channel has more than a certain number of participants, it becomes spammy and unusable (something that we'll be keeping an eye on in our earlier planets).
And his third (and final for now) post talks about the linearity of planets:
Like many questions here, there are lots of layers to the answer.

The short answer is that I know the feeling you're describing, where you're effectively being pushed down a tunnel of content and you feel like there is no 'there' there beyond the content necessary to finish your quest. Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ doesn't feel like that - in terms of world navigation, TOR is much closer to the wide open feel of a classic MMO.

That being said, different planets have vastly different levels of movement capabilities, most likely due to their terrain. Tattooine, being a desert world, is wide open and free. Tython, being a mountain world, is much more constrained, and city worlds like Nar Shaddaa tend to be the most constrained of all. Still, players can move pretty freely where they want to in the worlds, and have travel options to backtrack pretty optimally.

You know that pretty map screenshot you saw? We've invested a ton of time and effort into our maps because yes, on occasion, you can get lost... and we don't want that to happen too often.

HOWEVER, it is true that The Old Republic is generally structured in quest hubs. As a general rule, our class quests send players through most of the quest hubs one by one. A player could, conceivably, play linearly if they wanted to by just hitting the quests at the quest hubs, but there's nothing stopping them from backtracking - and if they did play that way, they’d miss content that happened to be off the beaten path.

Oh and by the way - Happy Thanksgiving.
A fair number of details in there.

The final developer post this week comes from Stephen Reid as he talks about the survey invites some people have been receiving:
Some of you may have received an email from Magid, regarding a survey concerning Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. As there has been some confusion, we wanted to let everyone know that it is indeed valid.

We are partnered with a third-party agency, Magid, to conduct some focused playtests for TOR. These are part of our ongoing Game Testing Program. As part of that testing, a number of emails were sent to registered community members like you who’d opted in for game testing.

What to do now? If you were sent an email and haven’t clicked through to the survey yet, well, go ahead and click. If you haven’t been emailed, don’t bother asking someone else to share; the surveys are individually linked to email addresses. If you are selected for testing, we’ll let you know – with an official email, this time!

Of course, I have to remind everyone that everything to do with Game Testing is bound by the Game Testing Agreement - and that means if you’re selected, apart from telling people that you’ve been selected, everything else is confidential.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Stateside!
Some people have been receiving this email asking them to participate in a survey ( has a screenshot) and they were wondering if it is legit or not. So for them it's nice to hear that it is. And good luck with testing to those selected.

Finally a bit of humor; Eurogamer made a fake trailer for The Old Republic. Unfortunately Eurogamer's (lousy) video player doesn't have an embed option (that I'm aware of), but I managed to find a version on YouTube as well:

And that's it for now (see, I can post these on time). Happy Black Friday to the Americans and try not to get crushed.

[link] to interview with Stephen Reid at Massively.
[link] to fake trailer video at Eurogamer. (YouTube)

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