Monday, 15 August 2011

TOR GamesCom 2011 Plan

Last Friday was... particularly meager as far as TOR goes. Understandable perhaps with GamesCom right outside the door and them probably holding back the interesting stuff until then, but even so. All we got was a Fan Friday and a description of what they'll be showing at GamesCom (basically players get to play PvP and they're also demonstrating a little of the Eternity Vault). Here's the latter:
GamesCom is less than a week away! Taking place from August 18th through August 21st in Cologne, Germany, GamesCom is one of the world’s largest video game convention and this year BioWare and LucasArts will be in attendance to reveal new information and give gamers from all over Europe the opportunity to get some hands-on time with Star Wars™: The Old Republic™!

Attendees at this year’s GamesCom who make their way to the EA booth will be able to get hands-on play time on each of the Origin Worlds. Additionally, lucky members of the community who successfully applied through the forums will gain exclusive access to an area where they can take part in the Alderaan player-vs-player Warzone.

Throughout GamesCom we will also be running demonstrations of a small portion of the Eternity Vault, a high-level Operation or raid, on the showfloor.

You don’t have to be in Cologne to stay up-to-speed on the latest information from GamesCom. Be sure to check, the Community Forums, our official Twitter and our Facebook page throughout the show for all the latest news!

So yeah, not much there. Even though, read on after the link for a few wallpapers from the Fan Friday (possibly the only worthwhile content this week), a couple of articles posted on various sizes over the last week, and the developer quotes.

I never really like Fan Fridays that much, though I do enjoy seeing the player creations (I particulrly like this week's twi'lek render). Next to that and some new forum emoticons (looking like Aurebesh phrases this time around) they've also got a couple of new wallpapers taken from the "Return" cinematic:


Personally I find them all too busy to use as wallpapers, But either way.

As far as other sites goes, VideoGamer posted what seems like a post-Comic-Con interview with Daniel Erickson. Here's an excerpt:

Q: A few months back an industry analyst made news after he called Star Wars: The Old Republic a highly derivative WoW clone. Could you comment on why critics have been so sceptical?

[Daniel Erickson]: It's an odd notion that we've seen before in the industry when dealing with outside analysts. RPGs are more similar to each other than they are to FPS games. FPS games are more similar to each other than to racing games. If you're not playing something or a fan of the genre, the games inside that genre look fairly similar. If you're looking from 30,000 feet up and making comparisons then you could see the argument that Diablo and Baldur's Gate were the same game, as were Quake and Half Life but I can't imagine many player ever saw it that way.

I'll be waiting for that free beer and pizza dispenser connected to the game that he promises.

Over at GamesIndustry they've got some news as to how analysts expect TOR to sell more than three million, based on the massive pre-order numbers. Here's their full text:

Analysts predict 3 million sales for Star Wars MMO

Research carried out by Cowen analysts suggest that Star Wars: The Old Republic is on track to sell 3 million units in its first year, after pre-order excitement has surpassed that of last year's Starcraft 2 or World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

Cowen's pre-order analysis has led it to raise its estimates for both sell through, from 1.5 million to 3 million, and run-rate subscriber numbers from 1 million to 2 million.

Both Starcraft 2 and World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm sold over 4 million units.

The Bioware MMO has been available for pre-order since July 21, and is due for release at the end of the year.

The news, along with few risks in EA's strategy, lead Cowen to change its forecast for EA shares, and now believes them to have "at least a 25 per cent upside relative to the market over the next 12 months," upgrading EA's rating from Neutral to Outperform.

Of course that's just people guessing like any of us might, but thent hey earn a living by guessing.

And that's it; the other links I thought I had were either duplicates or late Comic-Con news.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Legacy system unannounced.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on outside initial launch territories.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on server population cap.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Imperial Agent group stealth.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on spiritual successor.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on GamesCom Community Room.
  • [link] to Damion Schubert on class quests.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on PvP cover gameplay.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on testing regions.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) disabling dialog.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Smuggler's Infiltrate ability.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on stolen good. (In German)
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on PvP cover gameplay, part 2.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Smugglers in PvP.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on EU patches.
  • [link] to Jo Berry on Trandoshans vs Jedi philosophy.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on Chris Collins.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on GamesCom Community Room, part 2.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on GamesCom Community Room, part 3.
  • [link] to David Bass on official fan sites.
In the first post I'll quote here Georg Zoeller talks about the cover mechanic in PvP:
For the cover specs, cover is very viable in PvP. The ability to entrench grants them immunity from a wide range of effects, including ballistics and makes them impossible to charge. Their superior range means they are guaranteed to get the first shot, which could be a powerful alpha strike, a snare or one of several other options.

An entrenched sniper guarding a choke point like a bridge on the Voidstar or objective in a Warzone is painful for most solo classes to deal with. If you get a sniper or gunslinger with cover spec set up in your flank during a battle and don't do something about it, expect the fight to be over quick.

In our last round of testing, I've seen a single Smuggler guarding a bridge wiping out four attackers trying to swarm him by sending them into the bottomless with a well timed cover pulse. Granted, they weren't exactly smart charging him head on, but these things happen when people get overconfident.

A number of interesting mechanics, such as the powerful Cover Pulse AOE defense and the ability to instant snipe for a short duration after exiting cover allow characters that got surprised to regain control of the situation or transition into an organized retreat.

Of course, cover based classes are not suited for all roles equally (few classes are) and the cover gameplay is surely not for everyone, especially not people who just like to charge into the fray. Playing in our Alderaan Warzone for example, cover based classes are more likely to act as defenders than scouts and that requires patience and tactical movement to be successful. Charging head on into a Lightsaber wielding enemy is a very good way of getting a free speeder ride in these scenarios.

We don't expect them to be as wildly popular as a Jedi Knight or Consular, it is definitely a class that is harder to master than most, but I do think that players who like this kind gameplay will be satisfied with their options here and do well in competitive PvP.

Though I'm not that interested in PvP, I have been curious as to how a cover class works in PvP and with the recent rumors that cover kinda sucks in PvP it seems a relief to hear some words to dispel that. Though I do hope that the classes are still enjoyable if you aren't particularly good at 'mastering' them.

Chris Collins talks about a topic of some interest to players in Europe: patches. Particularly when they're launched:

When it comes to Star Wars: The Old Republic, the advantage we have at BioWare is that we have a central operations team that treat both the EU and US services identically. So we'll be striving to launch patches in parallel wherever possible!

Your previous experience may have been with a game that was run in Europe by a different organisation to the one that runs it in other territories, such as the US.

I think that we can all guess what WAR game he's talking about in that second paragraph there. As such it's really good to hear that they'll treat both Eu and NA services the same (at least if EU support sucks then it'll likely suck for everyone).

I don't think that I've got that many posts by Jo Berry. But in the following one we're told how the philosophies of a Trandoshan and a Jedi are more similar than one might first think (and how it thus could make sense for a Trandoshan to be a Jedi companion):

Another factor to consider is that for Trandoshans, hunting isn’t just utilitarian, it’s a very meaningful part of their culture. It’s a social and religious activity that raises their status in the eyes of their peers, and brings them closer to their goddess. Obviously many Trandoshans go about hunting in a more brutal fashion, or care less about the spiritual aspects than the joy of the kill; as a result, that's what most people in the galaxy imagine when someone says "Trandoshan".

For individual Trandoshans who see hunting not as an end in itself, but a way of honouring the Scorekeeper, it's a tough perception to overcome.

To be honest, though, the mindset of a Jedi meditating to prepare both mind and body before a battle, and that of a religiously-inclined Trandoshan praying to the Scorekeeper during a difficult hunt, aren't a million miles apart. Both parties serve something greater than themselves--the Force on one hand, and the Scorekeeper and the concept of earning your self-worth, on the other. Both subscribe to a value system which, to those outside it, can sometimes seem downright peculiar.

I'm not saying all Trandoshans and Jedi should hug and be BFFs. You can’t sugar coat the fact that, yes, Trandoshan culture inclines them towards violence, and that’s something a Jedi would have to accept. But there’s a little common ground between them… a starting point, at least.

I never really found Trandoshans all that interesting. But yeah, put in that light my interest is definitely increased. Or rather, it might be interesting to see how your Jedi character will interact with the Trandoshan companion.

And that's it for now. I know I've still got Comic-Con details to go through and with GamesCom starting pretty much tomorrow there's bound to be a new flood of information (not to mention that next week I've got family over for a few days). Busy days.

[link] to interview with Daniel Erickson at VideoGamer.
[link] to analyst news at GamesIndustry.

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