Monday, 24 October 2011

Previews and Unboxings

Ooh my, it's been a busy week. Finally got my new PC and been busy setting that up. Things are flying at the speed of light now and it seems I can play most everything at maximum settings (when I told a friend the specs he called it 'somewhat overkill', which is good because that's exactly what I was going for). Finally have a chance to play Fallout New Vegas too (which crashed to blue screen on my old system). Been a lot of fun so far (playing Easy Hardcore).

But I'm sure you're not interested in that.

It's been a busy week for TOR as well. Not only are there the Friday updates (a Fan Friday, a Eurogamer Expo highlights video and details on the Collector's Editions), but a lot of previews from the press as well. Add to that a bunch of stuff from New York Comic-Con and Paris Games Week and there's a lot to go through. So let's get started.

Of the three official Friday updates the one that's probably the most interesting is the additional details on the collector's edition bonuses (including an unpacking video). Here's an excerpt from the official news, including (a link to) the video:

When we announced that Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ was available for Pre-Order, we also told you about the many digital items that come as a bonus for purchasing the game. While there is a pre-order bonus for everyone who secures their copy of the game regardless of the edition pre-ordered, some of these digital items are reserved for those of you who purchase either the Digital Deluxe Edition or Collector’s Edition of the game.

To add clarity, we’ve decided to break down the digital items that you will be able to gain access to in each edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The main question I have after that is... how is the HoloCam different from the screenshot button? For the rest it seems decent enough even if I'm still kind of miffed that the CE Store (and VIP area with it) isn't included inthe Digital Deluxe Edition.

Read on after the break for the Fan Friday and Eurogamer Expo news, for a bunch of stuff from NYCC and PGW, for a lot of SWTOR previews from around the net and the developer quotes. Best to schedule a day off from work/school to be able to read all that.

The second Friday update from BioWare was a Fan Friday including more beautiful community fan art images. But BioWare also had some of its own concept art; here's an excerpt with one example:

Concept Art

Creating the look and feel of an entire galaxy is no simple task. It takes thousands of hours of work for the designers to create each temple, Starship, cantina and forest that players will see in their time playing The Old Republic™. But before anything makes it into the game, everything is first brought to life through countless pieces of concept art.

We wanted to share with you just a few of the incredible pieces of art that designers of The Old Republic have used in creating the striking visuals that you will come across in the game.

There's more concept art in the full article as well as three new wallpapers (taken from the Return trailer) and new forum icons.

The final official update was a highlights video from Eurogamer Expo. Here's the news:

This year’s Eurogamer Expo was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk made the announcement that Star Wars™ fans around the world had been waiting for—the release date for The Old Republic™! Throughout the weekend we also had the opportunity to meet with thousands of passionate Star Wars™: The Old Republic fans and talk with them both on the Eurogamer Expo showfloor and at our Community Meet & Greet.

We’ve put the highlights from the event into this video so that all of you who weren’t able to make it to the show could see it for yourselves!

NYCC, PGW and more

And you thought that convention season was over (ok, maybe you didn't think that). No, there was still New York Comic-Con and Paris Games Week, pretty much overlapping (there was also BlizzCon, but that was of less interest as far as SWTOR goes). And with that of course more news from various quarters. Let me go through them and put a list of links at the end of this section (as opposed to at the bottom of the page like I usually do).

Let me start with Darth Hater (who I've got a few times in this list), who live-blogged the Q&A panel at New York Comic-Con. Here's a couple of excerpts:

6:48: Q: How many of the 15 flashpoints are shared with both factionss? A: Ohlen: About a dozen shared. Erickson: I do not remember end game count. Two plus endgame flashpoints.

That sounds pretty good. 15 Flashpoints already sounded better than I was expecting, and that was assuming that only about half of those would be available per side. As is each side should have about a dozen Flashpoints available to them. Of course it does put their claims of no shared content between factions into question, but I'll gladly take that.

6:54: Q: Is romance a problem with the Jedi Knight? Erickson: Choices have to be hard. If you're dark side, your commitment will be tested. A huge amount of Jedi fall to dark side bc of romance. Three levers influence morality - social pressure, companions, your morales.

I never quite understood how 'love' could be 'evil'. And yet the Jedi seem to see it as such. Perhaps I'm having trouble because the prequels did such a horrible job of explaining it (all these 'romance is dark side' things seem to be based on Anakin being a twat). And I was happy to consider it something that Jedi Order mandated (as opposed to it being Force-specified), but that doesn't seem to be how BioWare is implementing it either. As such I can understand why a lot of players would fall to the dark side (in part because nobody likes locking themselves out of content if there isn't an equal option available for the other choice). I just hope that BioWare does a good job of explaining why.

7:09: Q: Roleplaying community building? Reid: You get to roleplay your dark/light choices. Feels more like an RPG than anything. Erickson: Artists asked why are we making a wedding dress?

And here we run into a clash between BioWare's definition of roleplay and mine. For BioWare it seems to mean "letting players choose one of a few pre-defined paths through our story" where for me it means (in part) letting the players write the story (which means giving them lots and lots and lots of tools to do so). Sure, for those who don't generally roleplay BioWare's way is closer to roleplaying than they're used to, but for me it feels like it's taking a lot of roleplaying freedom away. But anyway, I could probably write a full rant about that and this isn't the place for it.

Note that Darth Hater also has a video of the panel at the link above.

During New York Comic-Con Darth Hater also held an interview with Cory Butler. Here's an excerpt:

BioWare typically has semi-regular maintenance windows for various services, including the website, and announced an extended period for this Tuesday. Can you explain some of the factors that necessitate that sort of downtime, and should players expect a regular maintenance schedule post-release?

All of this stuff now is leading up to just getting the game ready for launch. The extended maintenance window, the regular maintenance windows, all that stuff, it is really just getting the game ready for the big day. Post-release we will have regularly scheduled maintenance but it most likely will not be at the level it is now as far as frequency.

I must say that that was one (minor) concern I had; with the website being down for maintenance so often (you have no idea how often I try to work on these blog posts only to see the website being down; about once a week) I was worried that it might be similar for the launched game. Obviously there needs to be maintenance, but indeed hopefully not nearly as often (and if it is, preferably when I'm not planning to play).

Last week BioWare took the time to answer a bunch of questions on Facebook (in three Facebook posts). Here's some excerpts from part 1, part 2, and part 3:

Anthony Humes: Is there really 200 of gameplay per class? And does that really mean there is 1600 hours of gameplay?

Daniel: Some people have taken much longer than that to finish a single class story, some a bit less. We always avoid hard numbers for just that reason. Remember that only about 15% of your content later on is class content so the other content on your side will be the same. Which means it would take somewhere around that much time for the average player to play through all the classes but they wouldn't be doing all unique content for if it was all unique you couldn't play with your friends. What you do get, however, is unique class choices and dialogue even in the non-class content and, of course, 100% unique content between the two sides.

Think it's a good idea to keep some perspective on what they mean with their 200 hours of gameplay per class.

Robert Diaz: Will there be a cosmetic costume option for players, so they can appear one way, and yet have the best equipment?

Daniel: There is a route to do this, though not through the traditional appearance tab approach. We use the modding system to enable players to choose the core attributes of special sets of armor and cosmetic outfits so it's not only possible to keep that one really special set of Jedi robes all the way through the game, you can also, with a ton of work, be the person in the raid dressed as a slave girl or a sandperson.

Always wanted to do a raid dressed as a slave girl. <nods>

Jason Trent: Are all "romances" with non-companion NPC's one night stands or are some of them fully fleshed out romances?

Daniel: Some of them are long term romances, some actually spanning across several chapters.

I didn't know that there were non-Companion romances that were that significant. Makes me wonder which classes get those.

And I really, really wish that 'romance' was more than just that (particularly in light of a quote above regarding romance being dark side); choosing not to romance someone shouldn't decrease the amount of story available to them (maybe if you spurn a potential lover they turn into a bitter rival or such).

Oftentimes I've felt that whenever the games news blog Kotaku looks at The Old Republic they can be nothing but negative about it. So the recent article (which I don't think came from either of the two conventions, but oh well) was a welcome surprise. Here's an excerpt:

When you start The Old Republic, I realized, you're basically playing a single-player BioWare Star Wars role-playing game. Sold! You also don't have a bajillion icons crowding your screen and a flurry of party characters to worry about, which is good for people like me who fear MMOs. The first playable moments were fantastic. I've got my lady slave Sith-wannabe at the Sith academy. Her commanding officer is a complete jerk, disrespecting her, sending her on some dangerous training mission. And with that trademark BioWare dialogue wheel we first saw in their wonderful Mass Effect RPGs, I can make my Inquisitor lady mouth off to this guy.

I remember that first article he's referring to and I recall thinking at the time that he was introduced into the wrong content, that playing through an origin world would do him much better. And I was right. You don't throw someone new to MMOs into a high-level Flashpoint with a full ability bar; the understanding of all those abilities comes slowly through playing the game for weeks, if not months.

For the rest I find myself agreeing with a lot in the article, always having felt that SWTOR would be more like a very big single-player game that you can play with other people. And though I know a lot of people will balk at that idea, that (kind of game) seems just fine to me. SWTOR isn't the game I'm looking at for my "living in a virtual world" fix.

Another interview (which didn't come from either NYCC or TGS but instead from the opening of BioWare's studio in Ireland) is with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk. Here's an excerpt:

[Greg Zeschuk]: The scale of what we’re doing is so big -- there’s going to be flaws occasionally. If there’s an issue we can just go and fix it. But because we’re striving for high-value, and if we nail it and get it just right -- I think this could be really successful.

[Ray Muzyka]: Well we always, in terms of feedback, take it very seriously. One of our core values, as an organisation, is humility. For us, what that means, is that we take in the feedback from fans and treat it very seriously, we’ll work on it and then build on it too. Our goal is to launch a game that might exceed people’s imaginations, if that’s possible. We’re commited to this long-term, in terms of improving the service and launching new content features. We’re taking players feedback very seriously, in terms of content packs and expansions packs for years to come.

That’s the two big things that players look at from MMO games when we did research; they want the game to be supported not only at launch, but long-term. Not only in content though, but in features, general content, accessibility and more.

It's always reassuring to hear that they realize that they need to support the game long-term. Because how good the game is at launch will only determine how good the game will do at launch. It's how good BioWare continues to support it that determines how well the game will do in the long run.

During New York Comic-Con a number of fansites got together and (presumably with BioWare's help) arranded a Fansite Face-Off in the game. Corellian Run Radio has a write-up of the event. Here's an excerpt:

Brandon Miletta wanders up. “Brandon, come here and push the buttons for me!” He laughs and wanders away because he thinks I am joking.

Brooks Guthrie comes by next. “You’re a Shadow, so you want to throw things at people.” He shows me which button throws things at people (3), plus another yellow button, which I can’t remember what it does, but I move it to the 5 position. For the entire match, those are pretty much the only buttons I use.

Those two buttons, staying with my group, and my one PvP move – running through the opponent and jump-spinning 180 degrees to nail him with something, anything(!) – keeps me on the winning end of most encounters. That, and Justin’s Guardian guarding me a ton. Tanking in PvP, fantastic! The comforting streaks of tracer fire from the upper level tells me that Jeff’s Gunslinger has our backs when we go after any stray Empire players that try to take our turret.

Sounds like it was fun. And another case of throwing people into the game with high-level abilities, but I guess that can't be helped in this case. Nice to hear as well that tanking in PvP apparently works.

Last week the SWTOR website was offline for an extended time and Darth Hater has a theory as to why:

So I did a ping of the address yesterday when maintenance started. The IP address was, a server owned by EA in Redwood City, California. Performing that same ping today, now that maintenance has ended, shows an IP address of, a server located in Austin, Texas.

It appears as though one of the things done during yesterday's downtime was a change in the location of the physical website servers. They are now in Austin, Texas with the rest of the BioWare Austin team.

Migrating server can be a pain (I just did that with my website a few weeks ago) so I hope everything went smoothly for BioWare (obviously much more professional, but also have a much larger, more complex site to migrate).

I'm noticing that not as many of the links are referring to NYCC or PGW as I thought (so I slightly changed the title of this section which, at first, just read "NYCC and PGW"). Another one of those is news on VG247 that The Old Republic will not qualify for the Christmas Charts this year on account of being released too late:

The Christmas charts will be decided, Bloch told MCV, on the week ending December 17, not the week ending Christmas Eve.

“Normally we always say the last chart published before Christmas is the Christmas chart,” he said. “We will stick with week 50, ending on December 17. One issue with not going for week 51 is getting all the data from retail, which will be up to and including December 24.”

The BioWare MMO launches worldwide on December 20 for PC.

The current favorite for the number one at the time is Modern Warfare 3 with odds of 1/12, according to Paddy Power and MCV. Behind it is FIFA 12 at 9/1, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood at 20/1 and Gears of War 3 at 25/1. By the by, Battlefield 3′s at 40/1.

It would've been a tall order to get a high placing with only three days of sales (not sure to what extend pre-orders would count into the number). But either way when you don't see SWTOR on the charts (which to be honest I hadn't even heard of) then you know why.

We'll close off this section the same way we started it: with more stuff from Darth Hater. To begin with they have a couple of videos from New York Comic-Con and from Paris Games Week. Here is they NYCC highlights video:

And finally they have an interview with Chris Collins taken during Paris Games Week. Here's an excerpt:

We had two different release dates before the global and now you consolidated it into one. Will there be a different patch or maintenance schedule for EU servers than the US counterparts?

We talked about this a few times. We use the phrase "global service" because that is what we're running with Star Wars. For us, it's obviously not going to be completely synchronized. We have to take into account a number of different factors including quiet times to bring the services down. So while they might not necessarily be back-to-back, we will do everything we can to make them as close as physically possible.

That sounds good enough to me. I generally don't mind waiting a few days (and from that quote I got the impression that he wasn't talking days anyway). I just hope that localization won't delay the English EU builds. Then again, since some regions will have to wait (probably) months for even just an official release...

  • [link] to Q&A Panel live-blog at Darth Hater.
  • [link] to interview with Cory Butler at Darth Hater.
  • [link] to Q&A part 1 at Facebook.
  • [link] to Q&A part 2 at Facebook.
  • [link] to Q&A part 3 at Facebook.
  • [link] to preview article at Kotaku.
  • [link] to interview with Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk at The Gaming Library.
  • [link] to Fanesite Face-Off at Corellian Run Radio.
  • [link] to maintenance details at Darth Hater.
  • [link] to TOR disqualified news at VG247.
  • [link] to NYCC gameplay videos at Darth Hater.
  • [link] to PGW gameplay video at Darth Hater.
  • [link] to interview with Chris Collins at Darth Hater

Press Previews

It seems that a number of gaming press sites have had a couple of weeks to play The Old Republic and were allowed to write about their experiences (with a number of limits, such as being limited to Republic classes only and only up to level 16 or so). And last Thursday the embargo on publishing these articles lifted (probably not entirely coincidentally right before BlizzCon kicked off this weekend).

What strikes me most about these previews is how different they judge various aspects. You can see this most clearly with Massively's previews because they published two by different kind of players; one sandbox player and one themepark player. In general some previewers focus a lot on the gameplay and tend to dismiss the game a bit because of being too similar to WoW, saying that the story doesn't do much to change that. Others think that the gameplay is great, but that the story gets a bit in the way. And finally a number of them seem to not really find the gameplay all that interesting, but feel that the story truly makes a difference. It's interesting to see... some reviews seem to even contradict each other (one review says they feel it's not really like KotOR while another says the exact opposite pretty much calling it just shy of KotOR Online). In general I think that it's a matter of what are you expecting and what are you looking for?

Overall they're nice reads, for the most part quite positive and, or so it feels to me, almost surprised in being so. I get the impression that some have a bit of a hard time explaining why they're enjoying the game as in their cold breakdowns the game doesn't seem to stand out so much. You can see this in the comments of some of the articles where people tend to pick up more on the more negative parts (the things they expected to hear I guess) and fail to temper that with knowledge of the rest of the game in the way that the previews seem to be able to. But I guess that's not a bad thing; in the end people will have to play themselves to be truly convinced one way or the other.

Anyway, here's a list of the ones I've found so far (many thanks to Darth Hater who picked up on a few I'd missed, primarily a bunch in languages other than English).

  • [link] to previews at Massively. (Jef, Larry)
  • [link] to previews at MMORPG. (Trooper, Smuggler, Knight, Consular, Editorial)
  • [link] to previews at GameSpy. (Features, Clone, Preview)
  • [link] to previews at IGN. (Trooper, Companions, PvP)
  • [link] to preview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
  • [link] to preview at The Escapist.
  • [link] to preview at Ten Ton Hammer.
  • [link] to preview at 1UP.
  • [link] to preview at Ars Technica.
  • [link] to preview at RPGFan.
  • [link] to preview at GamersGlobal. (in German)
  • [link] to preview at Ninja Looter. (in German)
  • [link] to preview at Buffed. (in German)
  • [link] to preview at Gamer. (in Dutch)
  • [link] to preview at Gameswelt. (in German)
  • [link] to preview at Multiplayer. (in Italian)
  • [link] to preview at MMOGamer. (in Spanish)
  • [link] to preview at Gamer. (in Norwegian)
  • [link] to preview at Gamereactor. (in Swedish)
  • [link] to preview at MMORPGItalia. (in Italian)

Let me lift out a couple of quotes. The first is from Jef's preview at Massively:

To be frank, TOR's not half bad. It's had a lot of money thrown at it, there's a ton of what passes for modern-day MMO content, and if you're into that sort of thing, you'll no doubt enjoy yourself for a time.

If that's not exactly the ringing endorsement you were hoping for, consider the source. I'm a sandbox guy, and rarely titillated by MMOs that stick to the straight and narrow. That said, I do enjoy linear diversions (you're looking at Massively's go-to Age of Conan scribe for well on two years now), and few titles do that better than TOR.

I find that interesting. Even the 'sandbox guy' recognizes that TOR does what it does, what it tries to be, quite well. Interestingly enough in the rest of the article he seems to feel that the story isn't that interesting (in fairness he was playing a Trooper for about 8 levels and there have been more sounds that the early Trooper isn't quite as good as it is after the starter planet). And he seems much more positive about the gameplay. This is interesting because it stands in stark contrast to what others have been saying, and yet most of what he says rings true based on what BioWare has revealed. After reading that one I also suggest reading Larry's preview at Massively who approaches it from pretty much the opposite angle (and whose observations sound no less true).

The next quote comes from IGN's Trooper article (which also addresses the point of the Trooper disappointing somewhat early levels):

Companions factor into the combat to a far greater degree than I expected as well. Every class in The Old Republic gets unique companion characters, AI-controlled fighters who can be fully equipped with gear and level up alongside you. They come with all kind of skills, and can be extremely helpful during a fight, adding additional damage or providing much needed healing. If you don't really care what they do, you can basically just set them on auto-pilot and the computer will take care of their ability use. If you'd rather have more control over how they behave, you can pull their skill bar onto your primary skill pane, then trigger and trigger the commands manually, essentially letting you play two characters at once. Or, if that sounds like too much work, you can specify which companion abilities you'd like the companion to use or ignore, then hand control back over to the computer. As a nice bonus, they can also be deployed while grouped up in a Flashpoint if one of your party members randomly decides to bail out or take an extended bathroom break.

I think that a number of people might be surprised in the same way as the author of the above was, surprised that the Companions factor into combat more than they expected. I honestly think that it will be closer to Guild Wars (where if you're playing solo you've really got to bring henchmen/heroes along) than something where the NPCs are just a little bit of added damage that can be ignored. For the rest the article clearly focuses more on the Trooper, one class I tend to not highlight so much due to my own lack of interest in it.

The next bit from Rock, Paper, Shotgun's preview highlights a theme found in a number of the articles. Though under it all the mechanics and quests might be the same as in other MMOs, the story truly makes a difference because it gives you a sense of why you are doing all that:

Which of course means being a Padawan, and then showing just remarkable ability in the Force! Not precisely an original idea, but perhaps an inevitable one. The earliest quests are themed around the attacks of Flesh Raiders, a formerly intellectually benign race, who are turning on the locals with seemingly organised attacks. So someone must be organising them.

Of course, what you’re actually doing is killing ten Flesh Raiders. Then maybe setting free ten people from Flesh Raider cages. Then killing a bigger, scarier person, and running back to the mission giver to collect your XP and prize. What you’re actually doing isn’t starkly different from anything you’ll do elsewhere. But the difference is that paragraph above – the one which tells you why you’re doing it, and why you should care.

Sure, most MMOs will attempt that now, but few are as convincing. Certainly in my experience I can never remember why I’m completing a quest in other games. But here, having a voiced cast of genuine characters, with emotional reactions and ongoing roles, something shifts. Really, just having conversation choices at all feels exceptional – having the game react to those choices more so.

It comes down to immersion I think, feeling part of a story. Most MMOs have a story, but it tends to get in the way and thus people tend to just ignore it altogether (and I think people being used to this dynamic is what's causing some of the previews to remark the story getting in the way at times). But it's not that way in TOR where story is front and center, giving reason to what you're doing. Hence, I think, why some people seem to feel that after playing TOR they can't really go back to other MMOs as they suddenly lack the reason they didn't really knew they were missing.

The following quote from The Escapist's preview highlights that different classes going through the same content tend to feel different:

Each character also experiences the game from a unique perspective. Though you're running through the same areas, fighting the same sorts of enemies, the Smuggler's experience of the civil war is very different from the Trooper's. The Smuggler's story kicks off when his ship is stolen, so all his interactions with Republic officials, refugees and Separatists revolve around trying to get the ship back and taking revenge on the person who stole it. The Trooper is very different. He or she has been sent to the planet to help put down the Separatists and experiences the content through a different lens.

As I understand it most of the planets have a fair amount of shared content between the classes. While each have a unique class story, as you get further into the game more of the content revolves around planet quests that any of the classes (in your faction) can do. But even in that your class tend to have unique dialog options, different responses from NPCs, giving the same quests a different feel. I think that's part of what the above quote is referring to.

The next bit from Ars Technica's preview is something that surprised me:

As you rank up your skills through a trainer and you eventually get a real light saber, your movements become swifter and surer, and the attacks' choreographies are longer. When I chose to become a Jedi sentinel (a damage-dealer track versus the tank-focused guardian), I gained a second light saber to dual-wield, and at lower levels my character retained the skill in her main hand while holding the second light saber lamely in the other, save for when she awkwardly used her sole dual-wield attack. It's a small but welcome detail, showing that Jedi Knights aren't born knowing perfect technique.

To be honest, I have to wonder whether this is actually in the game or just the preview's perception. Or perhaps it's referring to mainly using one-handed attack skills at first while slowly unlocking dual wielding skills. But it seems unlikely that BioWare implemented different animations for different character levels. If that did then that's quite impressive, but I suspect it's just perception on the part of the writer.

Well, that will do with the preview quotes for now; on with the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on racial abilities.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on dark side appearance.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on dark side appearance.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on racial abilities, part 2.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on off tanks.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on off tanks, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on off tank.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on off tank, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on release date.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on character carry-over.

Not too many developer quotes this week, which is just as well. As such I've got two quotes I'll lift out. The first is by Georg Zoeller about racial abilities:

At this time, we do plan on having "racial" abilities, but they will be cosmetic in nature. Think of them as "social" abilities or actions that your character is able to do based on their species.

We wanted to give you something special for your character based on species, but we did not want it to influence your choice in the sense that you would feel "I have to be a Twi'lek Consular because they get +5 Willpower."

So, active "racial" abilities are planned, but they won't affect your combat gameplay in any way.

We'll elaborate more in the future.

I'm... honestly surprised by that. I was not expecting them to implement any kind of racial difference (beyond appearance), let alone active racial abilities. And I'm quite curious what they'll be. Could be a case of each race getting it's own /dance emote. Either way, quite curious to hear more.

The second quote is by Allison Berryman and is about Dark Side appearance:

Hey everyone! We're glad to see that you're all so enthusiastic about dark side corruption, but wanted to clarify just a little bit about it. At this time, dark side corruption is an option that you're able to toggle on and off yourself. We're excited to have the feature in the game, but currently the plan is to allow you to use it if you want to.

I'm quite happy to hear that you can toggle off the Dark Side corruption appearance. The main objection again implementing the appearance change to begin with was that not everyone want to start to look ugly and corrupted; this toggle neatly fixes that concern. Kind of makes me sad that they couldn't come up with something for Light Side (personally I would've liked a subtle light aura or such).

Anyway, that's it for now. Should be more articles coming from a few sites in the coming week (IGN promised a week long of SWTOR updates for example).

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