Monday, 28 February 2011

BioWare Blog: Living the Life of a Live Producer

Last Friday BioWare added a blog entry to their site where Live Producer Blaine Christine looks at what's involved in being a live producer. In his article he includes some quotes from the people included in the game testing program. Here's an excerpt from the article:
What sort of feedback, you say? Rather than bore you with details of the bugs that were found and the fixes that were made, we guessed that you’d rather hear about what The Old Republic is like to play, right? So we asked our Game Testers to share a few of their thoughts with you. Please note, their names have been changed to protect their NDA compliance!

“The questing experience in TOR was amazing! The voiceovers and cinematics actually make me wonder how I ever survived the 'grind' without them.” – GP

“As one of those people who didn't really care about story in an MMO, after playing TOR I can't imagine playing another MMO unless it has as much focus on story as TOR does.” - PA

“I've been waiting years and years and years for an MMORPG experience like this. The combat is incredible and never gets old. The grind is gone. I am so happy the grind is gone (so, so very happy). The stories are fantastic, well written, well acted, well animated, incredibly immersive, and the inclusion of choice takes it into territory that other MMOs have only dreamed of. Lastly, this game makes you feel like a bad***. The entire time. And I love that.” – JA
Though I'm sure that these quotes were picked because they were overwhelmingly positive (and, in one case, funny though in fairness I don't think that they've tested long enough yet to know whether there is a new definition of pain and suffering over a thousand years) and it would be interesting to hear how representative these views truly are, it's still nice to hear (and in the end the only thing that will really satisfy people like myself is playing it ourselves and thus making our own opinions).

Read on after the break for the developer quotes.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Studio Insider – Sith Temple

I was sick over the weekend. Though not sick enough to be unable to write blog entries (pretty much just a cold and a headache), I decided to be selfish and postpone writing the blog entry. The Friday update wasn't that meaty anyway, so you've not been missing out on much.

That's because Friday gave us another Fan Friday with Studio Insider. Altogether very information-light. So I'll just skip straight ahead to the Studio Insider (I'll look at the rest a bit more after).

In the Studio Insider Concept Artist Diego Almazan takes us step-by-step through how he created concept art for a "Sith Temple". Here's an excerpt:

After touching up the details a bit more, I added other patterns on the floor and overhang. I also adjusted the overall color to simplify the process as I continued, and to provide a more readable version for the environment team once the piece is complete.
You can see the rest of the process and the final result at the original page.

Read on after the break for the Community Q&A, the Fan Friday update and developer quotes.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Timeline 12: The Great Hyperspace War

oh boy, this is going to be a big one (as in lots of text). We've got interviews, videos, lots and lots of developer quotes and a brand new timeline. So trap in and hold on to your wookiees.

Today's Friday update is another entry by Jedi Master Gnost-Dural as he looks at the Great Hyperspace War and where it all went wrong. Here is the official news:
Over the millennia, the Galactic Republic has faced no greater threat to its existence than the brutal invasion instigated by Sith Lord Naga Sadow. It was a time in history when the original Sith Empire had reached the height of its power, and the Republic was poorly prepared for a conflict of such magnitude. Master Gnost-Dural looks back at the Great Hyperspace War and identifies the controversial decision that drove the Sith into exile and set the stage for the Empire’s campaign of vengeance against the Republic.

BTC 1347 – When two hyperspace explorers stumbled onto the remote world of Korriban, they never could have guessed the chain of events they were setting into motion. Over the previous centuries, the Sith Empire had grown in size and strength, and Korriban was the very heart of its dominion. The reigning Sith Lord, Marka Ragnos, had just died, sparking a brutal power struggle between rivals Ludo Kressh and Naga Sadow. The explorers’ arrival marked the first contact between the Republic and the Sith Empire, and it created at an opportunity to end the power struggle. Naga Sadow seized the moment and rallied the Sith for a pre-emptive strike against the Republic under his leadership. The ensuing series of battles saw the Republic nearly destroyed, but Naga Sadow’s machinations ultimately backfired, and the Republic drove the Sith back to Korriban. The Supreme Chancellor then directed Republic forces to ensure the Sith never returned… by annihilating their civilization entirely—a move which would ultimately come back to haunt the Republic centuries later…

Watch the latest Timeline holorecord, The Great Hyperspace War , narrated by actor Lance Henriksen.

You can also download a high resolution version of this video.
I quite like this update. It tells some of a period I'm not all that familiar with (in fact we'll continue to have that as we go further and further back in history), dealing with a major event that probably most everyone in the galaxy would know about by now (and thus helpful in roleplaying) and keeping plenty of mystery in place for the game itself. And it shows the Republic as capable of not only making big mistakes, but also being aware of this (or at least the Jedi are aware of it as per Gnost-Dural's observations).

Read on after the break for the full transcript of the timeline update, an interview concerning crew skills, an update on the HeroEngine and a couple of bits from the Dice Summit. And a whole load of developer quotes from the forums.

Friday, 4 February 2011

BioWare Blog: Building Flashpoints

More Flashpoint in today's Friday update as World Designer Jesse Sky talks about creating them in a BioWare Blog entry. Here's an excerpt:

What is a Flashpoint?

A Flashpoint is a galactic crisis, something so threatening that even the most stalwart heroes must bring allies. The Death Star was a Flashpoint. Luke and Obi-wan spent a few minutes LFG in the Mos Eisley Cantina where they enlisted the aid of Han Solo and Chewbacca. Together, they infiltrated a moon-sized battle station to rescue Princess Leia. Things didn't go quite as they expected; difficult choices were made along the way. That's a Flashpoint in a nutshell.

In game terms, a Flashpoint is a challenging, cooperative mission that takes place entirely within an instance, which only your group can enter. While adventuring, you’ll be alerted to a crisis developing somewhere in the galaxy. That’s when you know it’s time to contact some friends and buckle up for an epic battle.

Later in the blog Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller oins in as well as he talks about combat in Flashpoints. Here's an excerpt from his bit:
Flashpoints also feature some of the toughest combat challenges in the game. Flashpoints in The Old Republic will require a full group of players to succeed.

Numbers alone won’t be enough either - with a cast of adversaries among the most memorable and powerful in the game and scenarios that often leave the party with impossible choices, players are expected to show superior coordination and skill in order to overcome the challenges ahead.
You can read the entire blog entry at the official site.

I like how Jesse compares Flashpoints to, basically, the first Star Wars movie and he certainly does make them sound fun and interesting, bits of compelling story one wouldn't want to miss. However, that quite from Georg above pours a few buckets of cold water on the whole idea and remind me why I'll probably never see much of them. Not only do I tend to play solo more often than not, but it sounds that pickup-groups aren't going to be coordinated enough for them and the friends that I do have who might go through them with me probably aren't coordinated enough either (we tend to have quite a bit of trouble with LotRO's instances and skirmishes... even several levels below our level). I just hope that they'll have more... casual Flashpoints as well.

Or maybe a difficulty setting for Flashpoints is an idea? In the end I'm not interested in 'challenge', but I am interested in story.

Anyway, read on after the break for a quick report on EA's Earnings Conference Call where they talk a bit about The Old Republic as well, as well as developer quotes from the last week.