Monday, 14 March 2011

PAX East 2011

This weekend was PAX East and BioWare was present showing off The Old Republic. As told last week people had a chance to either play through any of the class' starting areas or play through a mid-level four-character Republic Flashpoint.

For the people at home BioWare had not one, but two movies; a new trailer created with in-game footage and a developer walkthrough of the Flashpoint they showed at PAX. Let's start with the former, as per the official news:

We are pleased to present Fate of the Galaxy, a brand new trailer for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ fresh from PAX East 2011.

Tension between the Republic and the Empire is running high. The uneasy truce established by the Treaty of Coruscant is quickly tearing apart at the seams, and a return to all-out war has begun in all but official terms. A new generation of heroes, both light and dark, emerges to face the difficulties of these chaotic times, and fight for the fate of the galaxy in this most desperate age.

This trailer, created using in-game footage, is the first update you’ll see from PAX East this year. Even if you can’t join us on the show floor, please check back here tomorrow for more updates. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to get more live updates from the show floor!

We hope that you enjoy Fate of the Galaxy now!

In the second video the developers play through the Flashpoint, at least the portion shown at PAX, to give the people at home a taste of what it's like. Here is the official news:
Visitors to this year’s PAX East in Boston, MA are lucky enough to get to play through Taral V, a mid-level Republic Flashpoint. In the gameplay demo, a strike team assaults an Imperial compound on Taral V in an effort to recover an ancient navigational computer the Republic desperately needs. Their success depends on teamwork and skill – will they prevail?

Don’t worry if you can’t join us this year at the show – we’ve put together an in-game walkthrough of Taral V that takes you through the demo with developer commentary. Enjoy this in-depth look at the gameplay of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™!

That second movie came as quite a surprise; while I was expecting something like that I wasn't expecting it until next Friday at least (and certainly not on a Saturday). But it's quite nice to see a playthrough that wasn't taken with shakey-cam.

Read on after the break for a lot of stuff from Darth Hater, a few links from a week ago, and the weekly developer quotes.

Darth Hater was present at PAX East in full force as well and came back with a lot of videos and interviews and such. Let me start with listing all the interviews and Q&A's:

  • [link] to interview with Daniel Erickson.
  • [link] to Q&As with Daniel Erickson and James Ohlen, and with Jessica Sliwinski, Hall Hood, and Daniel Erickson.
  • [link] to interview with James Ohlen.
  • [link] to developer meet-and-greet live blog.
  • [link] to Q&As with James Ohlen, Daniel Erickson, and David Bass, and with Hall Hood, Jess Sliwinski, Rob Chestney, and Neil Pollner.
Lots of good stuff in all that. But instead of quoting it all (you can read it all at the links after all, here's just a quote from the Daniel Erickson interview to wet your appetite:
There was some speculation on the forums about the healing capacity of each class when it comes to healing in a group. By showing off the Scoundrel as the healer, is that basically saying that the healing paths, regardless of which one of the ones you go, are all competent healers? Is the Consular healer and the Scoundrel healer on the same page for healing a Flashpoint?

Absolutely, although they heal very differently. The actual game play for them and the way that the healing feels -- and without seeing the class breakdowns, it is kind of hard to explain -- can be very different. The Scoundrel can stack various heal over times on somebody. He can actually go on his Trooper and drop three of the heal-over-time medkits on him and then kind of leave him alone for a minute, get back in, try to take some people off, go from cover, do that sort of thing. So it is a different approach than maybe you might have for the Consular, who might be taking more of a direct "Hey, hit that guy, hit that guy, hit that guy. . . ."


Yeah! Different classes really play their healers differently -- which is really fun. You can obviously also be as much healer or not. And this is something that is kind of a little odd, but when I go Inquisitor healing path, I don't put it all in there. I don't actually go dedicated. I actually find it works really well for how I play to maybe bring my healer CC, for me, and then do a little bit of healing on there, and then actually go a little more like, let's do some damage and get to stay in the fight.

Interviews and Q&As weren't the only things they got out of PAX though. They also put up two (off-screen) videos; one of the space combat presentation that BioWare gave and one for a playthrough of the flashpoint. Here is the space combat:

And the 24 minute playthrough of the Taral V flashpoint:

Darth Hater wasn't the only one there of course, though so far haven't found too many videos or player views yet (I haven't scrounged the forums for links either yet though). I suspect that most of the professional sites might upload videos during this week, but we'll see. Until then here's a few videos on YouTube.

First a 14 minute Jedi Knight playthrough from Ask A Jedi:

Then a 14 minute Sith Warrior playthrough:

A Hoth planet presentation video:

And finally a Tatooine planet presentation video:

Before we'll head into the developer quotes just one more article from GDC; in it Damion Schubert looks at the different kinds of solo players in MMOs, stating that MMOs should try to cater to all of them (and all of them in different ways). Here's an excerpt from the article:
Schubert postulates that loners are actually a heroic archetype, and there's nothing weird, creepy, or otherwise unsavory about the playstyle. "People don't imagine being a serial killer, but they certainly imagine being Batman. If you really think about it, being a loner is an inherently social thing. You can't be a loner in a single-player game because you're not setting yourself apart from somebody," he says. How do loners set themselves apart then, and what can game designers do to influence this behavior for the good of the entire community? Schubert doesn't go into design specifics, nor does he offer examples of how TOR will deal with these factors, but he does outline what he sees as the 10 types of loners and offers a bit of insight into the unique design challenges that each presents.

He begins by drawing parallels between MMORPGs and the urban sprawl of New York City. The city is the original MMO environment, he says, and even though it bustles with people and activity, it is also the domain of the loner. Manhattan has the largest population of single-centric dwellings in the world, and sociologists have long since debunked the myth that rural Americans are more social and civic-minded than their big-city counterparts. Loners are prevalent in the city, just as they are in MMOs, and they generally fall into one of 10 categories.

I'm not sure how useful his list really is in the end. I know at least, as a mainly solo player myself, that I can find myself in probably over half of his ten types at one point or another. It would've been much more useful if he gave more of an indication of how an MMO can cater to those types of solo players. But ah well.

That was all the links I had so far, so let's head into the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on no player bounties.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East demos.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East demos, part 2.
  • [link] to Alexander Freed on alignment extremes.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on listening to forum feedback.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Satele in Hope trailer.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on player names.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East demos, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on listening to forum feedback, part 2.
  • [link] to Alexander Freed on imperial military.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on jumping timeline.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on him joking on the forums.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East, part3.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on blaster bolt color.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on third healer class. (German)
  • [link] to David Bass on pre-launch guild program.
  • [link] to David Bass on pre-launch guild program, part 2.
  • [link] to David Bass on pre-launch guild program, part 3.
  • [link] to David Bass on pre-launch guild program, part 4.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on pre-launch guild program.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on Guild HQ bugs.
  • [link] to David Bass on Guild HQ bugs.
  • [link] to Alexander Freed on Satele Shan.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on pre-orders.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on pre-orders, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on panic attacks.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on starting planets.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East, part 4.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on posting about play experience.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on pre-orders, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East panels.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East panels, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on release window speculation.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on in-game trailers.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East, part 5.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on PAX East thread.
The first quote is one by Stephen Reid, where he answers a question on player bounties in place of Georg Zoeller:
Originally Posted by RhudaurView Post
Mr. Zoeller

Can I put a bounty on other player characters, that is the big question???

As Georg is not in the office right now, I'll answer on his behalf (and with his words) - the answer is no, not at launch.

As always with an MMORPG, things may change in the future, but player bounties are not planned for the launch of The Old Republic.

I, for one, am glad to hear it. I can understand that people like player bounties, but the only way that they can really work (the way Bounty Hunters are imagining it) is close to a grieving method for their targets. Maybe if players can volunteer to allow bounties being placed on them, but that is very hard to balance population-wise (there's likely going to be many more bounty hunters wanting to hunt players than there are going to be players willing to be hunted). As I've said on the official forums before a long time ago, player bounties can really only work if they're part of some kind of one-on-one PvP system for all classes. I just don't see implementing a PvP system specific to only one of the eight classes happening.

The next quote is one by Alexander Freed who talks about the extremes of light side and dark side (and how you don't have to be a jerk to be a dark side character):

This is a subject near and dear to my heart.

We've tried our best to ensure that you can play a) a dark side character who isn't simply a jerk, and b) a light side character who isn't self-righteous and preachy. (After all, if every snarky comment or put-down gave you dark side points, Han Solo would've been Sith Lord material.)

That's not to say you can't be an obnoxious jerk of light, dark or neutral alignment! (And it may endear you to likeminded companions and alienate you from others...) But we wouldn't want to require it.

I'm glad to hear that you can be evil without being an ass and can be good without being holier-than-thou.

The next quote is from Alexander Freed as well, and talks about the imperial military and how the imperial agent (and the sith warrior) relate to it:

Hi, Titus!

Lots of interesting discussion in this thread, and I thought I'd jump in and address a few points from a story / flavor perspective. Forgive me if I don't bring up specifics of abilities and Advanced Classes much--combat design isn't my department, so I don't want to speak out of turn.

It's true that the Empire doesn't have a pure military class--if you want to be the guy in the trenches, working alongside his fellow soldiers and making tough calls before charging into glory, the Republic Trooper is your best bet. Imperial Agents (again, from a story perspective) tend to work independently in the field and when they work with the Imperial military, it's as an outsider with power; think of the relationship between the KGB and the Soviet military.

On the other hand, Imperial Agents do work within a clear government hierarchy. There are mission briefings and orders received and orders given. Like Moff Tarkin, the Imperial Agent serves the Empire in a official capacity, meets with powerful Imperial leaders and takes steps to ensure security behind the scenes. You won't see many Agent class quests that come down to "assault this position and secure it for the Empire," but you can certainly play with a combat style that focuses more on cover, marksmanship and ambushes than on stealth and close-quarters combat.

If the sense of commanding troops is important to you, you might want to take a look at the Sith Warrior as well. Think about Darth Vader--he's making military decisions alongside high-ranking officials much of the time, and other times he's leading the charge alongside stormtroopers. That's an aspect of the Sith Warrior class, too--even though he or she won't be carrying a gun, the Sith Warrior certainly has a place among officers and grunts.

Of course, nothing's stopping you from trying all those classes out and seeing which you like! Or playing them all, for that matter...

I've heard BioWare refer to the Agent a few times as more of a James Bond-type character, which is fine with me. Though I do think that there's room for a military-specific class. Maybe that's something that they can add in an expansion; I envision some class not unlike the Mastermind in City of Villains where you order some troops around as your class skills (and I can still see a Senator-type class or such on the Republic side with similar gameplay). But it's way too soon to talk expansions (and unlike most games adding new classes to SWTOR is going to be a massive undertaking so I don't really expect them to).

Seemingly on a roll, here's another quote by Alexander Freed, this one talking about Satele Shan:

There's been a lot of (understandable) confusion about Satele Shan, so I figured I'd clarify a few points:

First, yes--Satele Shan is the Jedi depicted in the Hope trailer. When Satele originally appeared in the Threat of Peace comics, her appearance wasn't yet final in-game. Ultimately, we've gone in a different visual direction for the character, and you'll be seeing more consistent portrayals in the future. (One of the perils of releasing information--even seemingly innocuous information--so early!)

Second, regarding Satele's age and experience--at the Battle of Alderaan, Satele is a fully trained Jedi Knight. By the time Threat of Peace rolls around, she's had significant real-world experience and trained under several Jedi Masters, Dar'Nala included; she's a candidate for becoming a Master herself. So she's older than she looks... but Darth Malgus still has a few years on her!

Third, to answer this thread specifically... no, that wasn't Tavus leading troops at the Battle of Alderaan.

Hope that helps!

I wasn't aware that there was a question about the identity of the Jedi in the Hope trailer. But thanks for clearing it up anyway.

Stephen Reid has a post talking about the planets included in the PAX demo. For those still in doubt this shows two specific things outside of that; what the starting planets are and that Tatooine is higher level (logical, considering that it's not a starting planet):

Sorry, no. Tatooine is a bit higher level.

Our starting planets are Tython (both Jedi classes), Korriban (both Sith classes), Ord Mantell (Smuggler/Trooper) and Hutta (Bounty Hunter/Imperial Agent).

All are very cool though. IMO.

And that's all we have this time. There's been a bunch more quotes during PAX, but I'll get those for next Friday's update.

[link] to interview with Daniel Erickson at Darth Hater.
[link] to developer Q&As at Darth Hater.
[link] to interview with James Ohlen at Darth Hater.
[link] to developer meet-and-greet live blog at Darth Hater.
[link] to more developer Q&As at Darth Hater.
[link] to space combat presentation video at Darth Hater.
[link] to Flashpoint playthrough video at Darth Hater.
[link] to Jedi Knight video at YouTube (from Ask A Jedi).
[link] to Sith Warrior video at YouTube.
[link] to Hoth video at YouTube.
[link] to Tatooine video at YouTube.
[link] to Damion Schubert GDC article at Massively.

1 comment:

Force Meridian said...

Awesome compilation, as always. The healer quote was the one I had been most interested in also.