Friday, 21 January 2011

Quesh: Dangerous Investment

Here we have a planet that BioWare could blow up.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. Today is Friday and that means nearly weekend. But it also means another update from BioWare on their MMO. This time the update is the reveal of a new planet: Quesh. Here is the official news:
In a distant corner of Hutt Space, the poisonous planet Quesh orbited untouched for centuries, until the surprising discovery of rare adrenal chemicals drew the Galactic Republic to further explore this dangerous world. Unable to process the chemicals into adrenals, however, the Republic was forced to turn to the Hutts for help.

Recently, the Sith Empire learned of this secret and lucrative operation, and swiftly came to steal the prize. The battle over this toxic treasure may be one of the most brutal ground conflicts the galaxy has ever seen, but the winner will gain access to powerful adrenals and a source of extreme wealth.

Access the HoloNet to learn more about Quesh. Check out this video to visit the poisonous world, and don’t forget to visit the media section for never-before-seen screenshots, concept art, and wallpapers showcasing the planet.
The planet looks and sounds like a Hutt holiday resort, and from the description that's not entirely wrong. Well, except that none of the Hutts involved are really happy with the whole thing, but that's probably just a Hutt thing.

But what caught my attention most was that when looking the planet up on Wookieepedia, it drew a blank. "Perhaps the archives are incomplete" it enthusiastically suggests next to a picture of a perturbed Obi-wan. Lost a planet have you, indeed. (note that while writing this post someone added the page so there are a few details in it now).

What's more likely though is that the planet didn't exist yet until BioWare invented it for their game. But that also means that BioWare can do whatever they want with it, including blowing it up. After all it's not going to break any continuity to blow up a planet that none of the other material refers to (as it didn't exist in the universe until now).

That's not to say that they will blow it up (or do anything drastic like that). But it almost seems too good an opportunity to miss and I recall one of the developers remarking something about wanting to do such. There might be other planets that BioWare invented (or for which they otherwise can get clearance), but I think that so far Quesh is the first planet we know of in The Old Republic that's created purely for the game (Voss already existed and is known to exist in the New Republic era).

Oh, and before I forget, here's the new wallpaper for the planet (the screenshots and concept art are all on the planet's HoloNet page):

That's it for the official update, but read on after the break for developer quotes from the last week, a quiz to test your SWTOR knowledge, a video with a glimpse of space combat, and a few more fun bits not directly related to the game from over the Holidays that I forgot last week.

Let's start with that video. The Jace Hall show is (or so it seems to me as I hadn't even heard of it before a few days ago) a weekly comedic web show on IGN. It features Jace Hall as he meets with various people in the entertainment industry, including television show casts and game developers. This time he gets into the BioWare offices to talk about SWTOR (as well as talk to some cast from the show V and the developers of the Lara Croft online game). There are a few segments with BioWare, but at the very end they show a glimpse of some space combat as a preview for their next show (which I guess will be uploaded today). Here's the video:

This past week also posted a series of questions where you can test your knowledge of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here's one of the questions:
Q: What are the names of the two webcomics that are being produced by LucasArts, Bioware and Dark Horse Comics that set up the story leading into the game?
Do you know the answer? What about the other questions? Answers are included, but they're hidden (you have to click a link to show them).

For me, I got almost all of them. I knew the month and year that they announced SWTOR still, but couldn't recall the exact day. Also I got the first question wrong, though that was because I was distracted and not really into it yet (honest, I do know the name of that Sith). Despite some slip-ups the questions weren't that hard; I'd think everyone would know all eight classes by now, but don't ask me to name all sixteen advanced classes because I don't think I'd be able to.

It's a fun quiz though and it sounds like they're planning another one next week.

Another thing posted last week was The Escapist bringing new of an official map of the entire Star Wars universe. I'm not entirely sure what prompted the news post as it seems to come from 2009's Star Wars: The Essential Atlas. And there's some dispute I think over how accurate it is (note that with conflicting source material to draw from nothing can be 100% accurate) with some suggesting that a few fan-made maps are both more detailed and more accurate. Could be, I wouldn't know. Either way it's a nice map:

Now let's see if you can find Quesh. ;)

Another thing that I hadn't heard yet, and was revealed the first week of this year, is that a collection of all six Star Wars movies will be available on Blu-ray soon ( I don't have a Blu-ray player yet though (nor have I any real reason to get one as I don't even have an HD TV yet), but for those that do it sounds like a good deal. At least if you're like my brother who seems to want every good movie in every new format once it's available.

And then something that's just plain cool and very impressive. It seems that Bradley W. Lewis, senior visual effects artists for Star Wars: The Old Republic, likes making his own, functional lightsabers (well, at least as far as light and sound goes; I don't think that he can slice off the arms of any Aqualishes with them), or so The Escapist reported.

On his blog he has a detailed description up of the work on his latest one and it only made it more impressive to realize all the work and detail involved. Here are a few images from the blog and a video of the finished work (though I highly recommend taking a look at the blog as well):


Quite impressive indeed.

I'll close off again with a bunch of developer quotes. Since there are, again, a lot of them I'll, again, just post a list of links here with a few highlights from the posts here and there. I think that these are all new (compared to my list last week), but if there's any overlap my apologies.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on character creation not being final.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on the number of testers.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on developer activity (in German).
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on live streaming at PAX East.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on translation of number of healers.
  • [link] to Daniel Erickson on more planets (note, this was before today's planet reveal).
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on information release.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on using Facebook for the Q&A.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on accuracy of numbers.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on crashing spaceships into enemies.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on suggestions for PAX East.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on release date (not existing).
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on suggestions for PAX East, part 2.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on respeccing classes.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Empire players visiting Coruscant.
  • [link] to Daniel Erickson on player species.
  • [link] to Daniel Erickson on the Treaty of Coruscant.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on gameplay video poll.
To highlight a few things from the developer quotes... Last week Georg Zoeller made a remark on the German forum (in German) about the healer classes. It didn't really get through to me what he was saying (my German is a bit rusty), but since it's been confirmed a few times in English as well: where first there were two advanced classes with healing specialization per side now there are three such per side. The clearest post (in English) is this one by Stephen Reid:
For instance, until this week, like most of you, I understood that two Advanced Classes (for Republic and Empire) would be able to act as healers. Thanks to the Game Testing program and numerous other factors, Georg Zoeller and his team upped the number to three on each side. They did that because ultimately they felt it was better for the game.

(Oh and BTW you got to know that before just about anyone else. Nice eh?)
Georg was on a posting roll last week. He also made this following post clearly stating that any number you might've seen in demos and such are most likely very changed right now:
I'd really caution you to use ability data (descriptions, energy costs, etc) captured by a fansite from a test to make a case for why there would or wouldn't be a problem with something.

Basically, data captured at GamesCom last year has maybe a 10% chance of still being accurate in regards to the details, probably less.

We are actively balancing and changing details about abilities, trees, classes, etc. on almost a weekly basis based on feedback and data captured from Game Testing.

Making any kind of predictions of how challenging our game content will be to hardcore players based on such data or assumptions (after all, you have 50% chance of being right or wrong about the Trooper, and if you were right, who says energy cells can't regenerate anyway) is really not very productive.

I know, I know, if we just gave you the data, this wouldn't be an issue ... but then we'd have to deal with the inevitable fallout of that data changing every week and people getting all worked up about temporary things... much better choice for us to wait until things are a bit more settled before revealing that kind of information.
And he also made this post about respeccing classes:
You will be able to respec your skill trees within an Advanced Class.

You may be able to spec to another Advanced Class, but that is something we haven't entirely made up our mind about as there are plenty of arguments that can be made - pro and con - and future class developments could influence this. We're definitely looking at the feedback from those in our Game Testing Program about this topic as well.

You will not be able to respec your class (e.g. go from Jedi Knight to Smuggler or Consular), as your entire class storyline would be compromised if we allowed that - the game just wouldn't make any sense anymore.
Georg wasn't the only one to raise hopes and crush dreams in the forums. Stephen Reid made this post indicating whether Empire player characters will be able to go to Coruscant (and similarly the other way around with Republic characters going to Dromund Kaas):
Morsong's correct in this instance. Empire players cannot visit Coruscant. It is crawling with Republic forces, of course - who have their guards up after the assault on the planet.

There are other planets, though....
Finally Daniel Erickson made a quite interesting post about what people in general know about the Treaty of Coruscant, finishing with this bit to indicate the biggest questions people still have about it (and likely things that we might find out when playing the game):
What don't people know?

--Was it really the Emperor who called for the Treaty? If so, why? If not, who else could? The Emperor has still never been seen by any member of the Republic and was not at the Treaty signing.

--If the Treaty wasn't harsh, why sack Corsucant to assure it's quick signing?

--Why ask for those few star systems?

Conspiracy theories abound across both the Republic and the Empire.
Read his full post for all the details.

And I think that's it for now. Have a nice weekend and see you again when there's more news to report.

[link] to Jace Hall video at IGN.
[link] to SWTOR quiz at MMORPG.
[link] to Star Wars map at The Escapist.
[link] to Blu-ray news at The Escapist.
[link] to home-made lightsaber at The Escapist.
[link] to Bradley W. Lewis' (lightsaber building) blog.

1 comment:

Jounville Blackferne said...

The narrative possibilities of a whole planet you can make or destroy for story needs is great. Though I would prefer that if they blow up a planet they wait until the first expansion at least so we can have a real sense of loss.