Monday, 18 April 2011

Studio Insider: Environment Polish

Last Friday was another Fan Friday with the usual Studio Insider, the latter this time giving us a look at polishing the environments and why walls are important. Here's an excerpt from the text:

As you can imagine in The Old Republic, we have a lot of walls! You can see from the images here that any wall can undergo a lot of polish. We might start off by creating a very basic wall design with a simple texture, but as development progresses, we’ll often rework the assets involved. This can be as simple as reworking a texture, by altering the diffuse map, normal map, specular map, or any combination of the three in order to help make the wall stand out or blend into an environment. Sometimes, we may rebuild the asset from the ground up. For instance, sometimes our design team may decide that an area needs to be re-worked to look more high-tech. That means we may have to re-work our flat metal walls to add more panel work and tech ‘bits’, as seen in the images above and below.

The Studio Insider also contains the Community Q&A about classes and there's the Fan Friday itself. That as well as the developer quotes and a few other bits you can find after the break.

But before we get to that a quick note. Next weekend is the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, which I'll be spending helping my parents move to France. So I'll be away this Friday and won't be back until Wednesday, so Friday's update is going to be later (and I mean even later than this one was... call today's tardiness a measure to help you get used to next week's).

Sunday, 10 April 2011

BioWare Blog: Advanced Classes Update

After all the excitement of the UK Community Event, this last Friday BioWare had an update about the advanced classes for us. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller takes us through skill trees, class roles, and changes they've made recently to the advanced classes and why. It's a fairly lengthy and interesting (I thought) blog post, but what I found particularly interesting was getting a glimpse of how they use metrics. here's a bit from the full blog post:

Here is a movement heatmap and death details for a sub area on Ord Mantell, from an earlier test. This exposed, shall we say ‘survivability issues’ for Smugglers on their class quest at early levels. That’s since been corrected!

We also use these heatmaps to understand the flow of movement through an area, optimize maps and other guidance systems and identify potential locations for special content such as datacrons or unique enemies, which are specifically designed to reward explorers that go off the beaten path.

Quite interesting stuff. Don't miss out on the rest of the blog post which includes details on recent changes to the advanced classes (Troopers and Bounty Hunters can now also fulfill healing roles, Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior has a viable single-saber damage role, Inquisitor and Consular get a tank spec, etc) and some more details on how the skill trees work.

There's more from last week though, including a surprise mid-week update with a PAX East video, more from the UK community event and the weekly developer quotes.

Read them after the break.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Ninety Minute Agent

So yesterday I had the privilege of attending BioWare's UK Community Event and got a chance to play Star Wars: The Old Republic for what turned out to be close to ninety minutes.

As I noted in the previous blog I was a bit dazed during the event, in the I-can't-believe-that-I'm-playing-The-Old-Republic-OMG-that's-Daniel-Erickson-watching-over-my-shoulder sense. As such I completely forgot to take pictures (though we weren't allowed to photograph the screen anyway) and though naturally an introvert wasn't particularly communicative with the developers walking around (I completely forgot to thank them properly). As a friend told me afterwards, I make a particularly lousy reporter. Even so I'll do my best to give an accounting of my experiences.

I happen to work about a ten-minute walk away from where the event was held, so after work I casually strolled towards Piccadilly Circus and still arrived early. But I'd counted on that as it gave me some time to have some fast food for dinner. Though the fast food was a lot faster than I anticipated (and not really that tasty) so I was still ready twenty minutes early. I knew that Gamerbase was inside the HMV store, so I went into the store to browse movies to pass the time. Doing so I noticed a door leading to Gamerbase, which was closed. I expected it to open later though.

But when it was time the door stayed closed. So I waited and five minutes later still nothing. I asked one of the HMV personnel about it (they told me Gamerbase was closed until I told them I had an invitation) and they pointed me to an entrance around the corner (technically outside the store). And indeed, very obviously the entrance to SWTOR's event; I should've looked around more.

There was already a line of people waiting to get in and I joined the queue, patiently waiting as well. Only it turned out that was the queue of people who had already checked in. Once I figured that out (thanks to Mr. Stephen Reid helpfully asking if anyone else needed to check in) I approached, showed my invite and passport (no I didn't fly all the way from The Netherlands as I live in London) and joined the queue again. At 7pm sharp (we were asked to arrive 15 minutes early) they let us in, leading us through a space-y looking hallway to, surprise, Mr. Daniel Erickson at the end of the hall (the red wall in the picture). I shook his hand and, where most people turned right, I turned left to find a computer to sit behind. I didn't realize at that point that right meant Republic and left meant Empire, but that didn't matter that much to me.

Read on after the break for an account of my play experience.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Back from UK Community Event

Just a quick post; I'm back from the community event and, despite being a bit dazed (and thus completely forgetting to properly thank the developers), quite enjoyed my experience playing the game. I will write up a full post detailing my experiences, but it's going to take some time. Right now sleep is more important (as I've got work again as normal tomorrow).

At the very least though I want to thank Stephen Reid, Daniel Erickson and all the other guys and girls from BioWare for setting up and running the event, and for giving us the opportunity to experience Star Wars: The Old republic first hand. I'm very glad that I managed to get an invitation. So thank you.

Stay tuned for my full report of my hands-on with the game.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

April Fools: Shyriiwook Localization

Friday was April Fools day and BioWare took the opportunity as well to have a little fun. As such they announced that they're localizing the entire game in Shyriiwook, the language of the Wookiees (i.e. lots of grunts and growls). With it they have a couple of short videos demonstrating the localization in action, and a screenshot of the new, localized, user interface. Here's the latter from the official news post:
Finally, to fully immerse yourself in the Wookiee mindset, we’ve developed a plush new version of the user interface that should keep that warm, fuzzy feeling alive even when you’re in the depths of the ice caves on Hoth.

Check out the full post for the videos.

I just love the expression on the guy's face at the end of the "romantic moment" clip. :D

Read on after the break for a couple of other (not SWTOR-related) April Fools jokes from across the net and the usual Developer Quotes.