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.

The Old Republic wasn't the only one making April Fools jokes last Friday. In fact there were many of them (and a lot not particularly good). So I'll just pick out a couple that I found noteworthy (of the ones I've seen).

One of the other games I'm keeping a very close eye on is Guild Wars 2 and this year their April Fools was all about the professions (their classes) as speculation is at an all-time high regarding what the final two professions might be. ArenaNet themselves had by far the best one with their Commando Profession:

I couldn't stop laughing. LOL

The Guild Wars 2 Wiki community also had their take on a new profession in the Shadowmancer. And the Germans put up a page for the Alchemist (with a very catchy song as the class video). With all those Professions the April Fools joke by Guild Wars 2 Guru stood out, instead breaking the announcement to the fans that from this point forward Guild Wars 2 was going to be an iPad exclusive title. Just keep swinging that sword.

Every year Blizzard also tends to have a number of April Fools jokes and this year was no different. This year they had the Horadric Cube App, the Dungeon Helper for WoW and the Tomb of Immortal Darkness. But the one that stood out for me was Starcraft Motion:

Somehow I can't help but feel that the Korean player should have won. I mean, he even used his eyes as controllers.

Though I'm personally not that interested in The Witcher 2, CD Projekt also had what I thought was a good April Fools joke with their announcement of their new game, The Bard: Saviors of Queens:

The Mandolin Fighting Style notwithstanding, I do think that there are some interesting ideas in this. I've always wondered what it would be like to have an adventure game that's broad rather than deep; one that you can play through and finish in a very short time (such as The Bard's supposed two hours), but where every playthrough is very different, giving you a wildly different story based on the choices you make and the things that happen. But I guess that the best April Fools jokes have something of a "but that's actually good" in them. I think people still wish Blizzard's World of Starcraft joke from years ago was real.

Games weren't the only ones subjected to April Fools jokes as there's a couple of non game related jokes as well I found nice. First there is gMail Motion, motion controlled e-mail:

But I think the best joke this year was the one from IGN with this trailer for a new TV show:

And I say best because, dammit, I would actually want to watch a show like that. It seems that IGN are particularly good at that kind of thing.

Anyway, with April Fools done all that remains is the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on lightsaber color.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on child NPCs.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on duelling.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on playable species.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on game testing thread.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Imperial Agent (not) dual wielding.
  • [link] to Will Wallace on Imperial Agent melee.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Kapow! comic con.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on magazine screenshot scan.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 3 (no off-screen filming).
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Imperial Agent second weapon slot.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 4.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 5.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 6.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 7.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 8.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 9.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 10 (sent PMs).
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 11.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on class armor.
  • [link] to David Bass on Oceanic Community.
  • [link] to David Bass on guild recruiting.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on The Escapist March Mayhem.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 12.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on UK Community Event, part 13.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on levels of skill.
The first post I'll quote is one by Georg Zoeller, a short one about lightsaber color:
Yes. The color of your lightsaber is defined by the color crystal in them, not your class.
Pretty much what I expected (not sure if it had been said before already or not), but still nice to see confirmed.

Then another short post, this one by Damion Schubert, confirming dueling:

Dueling is in. Dueling can be done between people on the same sides. Dueling is non-lethal.
As I've said before I'm not one for PvP much, but even so I'm glad that this is in (though I also hope that you can auto-deny all dueling requests). Can be nice to do some one-on-one fighting with a friend sometime and can help enhance roleplaying when things come to blows.

Damion Schubert also confirmed that they relaxed some of the class/species restrictions recently:

It is confirmed - in the latest build of the game, we freed up some of the combinations of classes and species. I'll tell you that I have a Zabrak Bounty Hunter on my screen right now.

That being said, absolutely nothing in this regard should be considered 'officially announced' (ie 'This is how it will be in the game at launch'), as we're still gathering feedback and looking for potential issues with combinations we didn't expect.

Choices that might be in a build today might not be there when we ship.

I somehow doubt that species is going to play a major role in the game and with the wide variety of species it seems good to me to allow the widest possible choice for players. Species is one of the clearest visual distinctions so the more species that are available for every class the more diverse the players will look.

On the forums there was apparently some confusion over a screenshot showing an Imperial Agent wielding two blades. Will Wallace came in and cleared up the confusion:

Hey guys,

The Agent can specialize in the use of his energy blades, but that doesn't really make him a 'melee' class per se in the same way that a Knight or Warrior is.

Operatives continue using their rifle as their primary weapon, and continue getting abilities that utilize that weapon, but they can – as part of one of the Operative skill trees – add some special abilities. If you specialize far enough into the right skills, you unlock an ability that has a dual blade appearance, though the class does not actually dual-wield blade items in the same way that melee classes do.

In summary, you equip only one blade item as an Operative, but not in your primary weapon slot. What you see in the screenshot is the use of a single special ability that has an activation animation that shows two blades.

Hope that clears things up!

So no dual-wielding for Imperial Agents then. That's fine by me.

Damion Schubert made a big post responding to a screenshot showing a trooper with lightsabers (or rather a Jedi wearing Trooper armor). In it he cleared up a few things about cross-class armor:

Okay, for starters, fake screenshot is fake.

Moving on: it's very important to some on the team that the look and feel of characters tend to gravitate to match their classes - this concept of gravity is the important thing. While we do want to allow a certain amount of freedom in letting people choose a visual look for themselves, we also want to be sure that the easy path, the path of least resistance, ends up with people looking like Star Wars. This was, and remains, an important goal for those of us doing itemization.

Along the way, we've tried a few things. Incidentally, 'tried a few things' is one of the reasons we tend not to tell you guys about features until we've tried them out a bit - many ideas that sound good on paper fail in practice, and we prefer to weed those out before, say, people get attached to said failed idea and get angry because we took them out.

One of the things that we tried was gear that morphed when you put it on, so if a Trooper puts on armor statted for a Jedi, the armor would suddenly look like Trooper armor. This ended up being disconcerting to a lot of people playing the game: icons didn't match, for example, and gear that looked lame on you would look awesome on your companion character, which felt pretty sucky when you put it back on you. ('Felt sucky', incidentally, is code for, 'bad designer, no cookie').

Our gear now is settling in a pretty good state, in my opinion. We've taken the coolest and most emblematic armor, first off, and made it class only.

For the rest of the armor, we are following a reasonably standard RPG model of heavy, medium and light. Knights and Troopers both chase heavy, for example, but care about different stats. Armor with Knight-favored stats looks a closer to the Jedi ideal, whereas armor with Trooper stats looks more like the Troopers we know and love.

Yes, you can put on some vaguely 'Trooper-esque' armor as a Knight, but your stats will be terrible, thus the gravity of, you know, being good at your class is going to mean that it's rare.

And let's not forget that there is social value in seeing a Knight in vaguely 'Trooper-esque' armor - you know he's probably terrible at his class, and you probably shouldn't let him tank.

I've been playing our test server a lot lately, and I can tell you right now, people who are concerned about this are worrying too much. Our Knights look like Knights, our Troopers look like Troopers, and our players by and large are ending up with appearances that are appropriate for the class.

To be honest until now I thought that all armor was class-specific. So it's nice to hear that there is armor that can be worn by multiple classes. As a roleplayer it might be nice to have a Jedi able to wear something that looks more like Trooper armor (after all, didn't Luke and Han did just that in A New Hope when they infiltrated the Death Star?).

The final post is also by Damion Schubert. It's in the same thread as the previous one, but the topic has shiften more to players' levels of skill than armor use:

It's really not that, although I do appreciate the opportunity to bring the snark.

Success in MMOs (any MMO) requires the player have a certain level of skill, as well as a certain amount of knowledge about how the game works. It's important for designers to acknowledge that there are skill disparities between players, and (a) ensure the more advanced players have challenges that meet their acquired skill levels and (b) help get the lesser players enough skill and/or knowledge that they can take part in the good stuff.

Failure is tough in any game, but in MMOs its worse due to the social stigma of failing around other people. One of the key problems learning to tank, for example, is that failure is fairly binary (you suceed, or you fail) and usually while you're doing so, your whole party is paying the price. Pretending that everyone will be awesome-sauce in your game systems is ultimately myopic, and frequently addressing the issue that they won't be is often core to game design decisions we make.

As someone who generally isn't that good (or at least so it appears to me as the whole min-maxing and wearing the right armor and all that tends to be beyond me) I'm glad that they're not assuming that everyone will be "awesome-sauce". Not that I'm surprised by that.

And that's it for this week. I suspect that the next update will probably be for my experiences with the UK Community Event this Tuesday. Stay tuned.

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