Monday, 31 October 2011


Last Friday BioWare gave us more information on Warzones, including a new game systems section for them and a video for the Voidstar Warzone. Here's the official news:

Warzones in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ are specific areas outside of the main character story, where players face off against each other in exciting Player-vs-Player combat. In order to give you a more detailed look at each of the different Warzones, we’ve launched a new Warzones Game Systems page! This new page will allow you to learn about each of the different Warzones, and each Warzone breakdown is accompanied by a short video displaying how the Warzone looks in the game.

Be sure to check out the Warzones Game Systems page now, and keep checking back to for more information on Warzones in the coming weeks!

I can't help but zone out a bit when watching the video; we've seen so many of them by now that one more doesn't really excite. And it's hard to follow what's going on. But it does give a little bit of a sense of what the objectives are in this Warzone. And I noticed multiple lightsaber colors (had we seen purple and yellow lightsabers yet? I don't recall having seen them before). And don't forget the Game Systems page, which is quite nice as well (though I can't help but feeling that three Warzones isn't a whole lot).

Read on after the break for links to various articles (more press previews and details from Paris Games Week) and the developer quotes.

Massively reports that The Old Republic won the prize for Best MMO at Paris Games Week:

Prix du jeu MMO : Star Wars™: The Old Republic - EA

Congratulation to BioWare for winning.

Last week I posted a link to a Jedi Knight preview article at Ten Ton Hammer, but this week they came with two more (actually I think I'd just forgotten the Trooper one last week). The first one looks at the Trooper; here's an excerpt:

I doubt that Star Wars: The Old Republic offers a more straightforward class than the Republic Trooper, at least over the first ten or so levels.  You knock enemies over with explosions and the you blast them till you run out of Ammo, then you blast them with basic attacks, occasionally using a stim or medpak to get through a tough fight.

I never had to change tactics to, say, deal with humanoid opponents as opposed to droids, or react to a boss enemy’s tells. Unlike my experience with the Jedi Knight, I didn’t particularly enjoy acrobatically cutting my way through groups of enemies – as the Trooper I’d skirt around enemies whenever possible. I didn’t care as much about maximizing experience gains as much as I cared about getting to the next fascinating story twist.

The second article is a preview of the Jedi Consular. Again, an excerpt:

Having been playing a Jedi Knight for the bulk of the duration and becoming a citizen of Coruscant, I was a little bummed about heading back to Tython so soon. I had already solved the planets problems and strutted out of there as a hero, lightsabre in hand. But back I went, turning in my knight title for padawan and lightsabre for wiffle bat.

Right away things started looking up, the planets overall troubles remain the same but the Consular class story takes a different angle on them, giving it that new car smell all over again. The training sabre didn’t even bother me as much this time, mainly because I was used to it but also due to the fact that sabre combat plays second fiddle in the Consular arsenal (during the initial levels at least.).

Neither article offers anything particularly new. We'd already heard before that the Trooper is pretty straight-forward and perhaps a bit less fun the first ten levels (though supposedly that picks up after that). What I found particularly interesting though is that playing the same starting planet again as a different class does help make it feel new again. I do wonder how well that holds up during later planets (because as I understand the further in the game you go the higher the percentage of shared quests as opposed to class quests), but it's still good that the low level planets do tend to feel a little new again with the class' unique perspective on the same quests.

Last week IGN already had four preview articles, looking at different parts of the game (Impressions, Trooper, Companions, PvP). And over the course of this week they had five more. This despite the fact that their blowout panel which is supposed to link all nine articles still says "coming soon" for all of them. The first of which looks at story; here's an excerpt:

It was the story presentation that pulled me along. I knew exactly who I was fighting for, I knew my foes, and I could make decisions about how to proceed. I was, in fact, role-playing. It's something I'm well accustomed to in single-player games like The Elder Scrolls and Mass Effect, but something I don't expect to find in online games. In the past I've taken on roles like Protection Paladin in World of Warcraft, but nothing related directly to personality. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, I wasn't merely a Commando Trooper, but a Commando Trooper with Dark tendencies, fighting for the Republic no less --the alleged good guys.

I could go on a long diatribe about whether or not I agree with his (?) assertion that he was roleplaying, but I won't. Instead I'll link to the second article, which looks at Combat. Again an excerpt:

It's a system that requires you to stay active in combat. If you're out of your class' resource, you need to fill in the gaps with more standard abilities. Whether this is a good thing or not I have yet to decide. I certainly found myself at times instinctually waiting for my auto-attack (which doesn't exist) to build up focus, noticing I was losing health while just standing there, and remembering to mash the buttons.

The third article is about Flashpoints, as you can see in this excerpt:

The Esseles builds tension not through its encounters -- many of which are simple to suit the beginner-status of the Flashpoint -- but through choices. At two particular points, players are given story-bending options, and through the dice-rolling conversation system, only one player's choice will decide the outcome. This can make the group story sequences quite tense, because unless you're constantly communicating with your party members you have no way of knowing what those players will choose.

IGN's fourth article looks at the worlds. Here's an excerpt from that:

This all helps with making your quest feel more rewarding, but BioWare has also included actual rewards for your character. They're called Datacrons, and they are hidden across the planets you visit. Many are quite easy to find -- Tython has three and none of them require more effort than walking down a slightly hidden path -- but not all. Coruscant in particular has some craftily hidden Datacrons. I stumbled across one purely on instinct by carefully climbing a stack of boxes, walking along thin pipes and jumping over gaps.

And finally, IGN's last article looks at alignment. Here's an excerpt:

By the time my Knight had acquired his starship I had exactly 1000 Light side points and 1000 Dark side points, leaving me perfectly centered, perfectly grey. But this was to my detriment. In Coruscant I first began to see powerful new items that would greatly benefit my character, but I could use none of them. They all had alignment requirements -- "Lightside I" or "Darkside II." There were no items built with a condition of neutrality. In fact, the only good items I could acquire outside of random drops and quest rewards were from the PvP vendors, making most of my Coruscant Commendations, a special currency for powerful gear, virtually useless.

I know that a number of people were looking at playing grey, so it's disheartening to hear that they don't have any gear rewards in yet for that. Though hopefully BioWare's plans (mentioned later in the article) will come to fruition before launch. That said I think that the whole alignment thing that BioWare tends to do is getting rather silly as it kind of forces players to choose a direction and stick with it (what if I'm not pure light, not pure dark, not pure grey, but more like 60% light 40% dark; then I won't have access to the best alignment gear meaning I have to choose early and stick with it). It also makes no sense to me whatsoever that certain alignments can't wear certain gear; why wouldn't a good person be able to wear black gear (for example)? But I digress.

Overall the IGN articles were decent, if not spectacular and at times I felt they didn't do that good of a job at looking at certain systems (the Combat article felt more of a complaint about the class he played than a good description of the combat system in The Old Republic). And by now there's nothing in them that you haven't already seen elsewhere. Even so, I have to congratulate them the effort to write nine separate articles like that.

During Paris Games Week Darth Hater had a chance to interview Alexander Freed, writer for BioWare. Here's a bit from the interview:

How, if at all, has the process of creating story for the Old Republic changed as you transition from pre- to post-launch?

Well, the longer the project went on, the less writing we did. It became more about going back and making sure that everything is as it's supposed to be; the writing matches the art, that the art matches the writing, the mission design, and that all the pieces fit together. So we really spent a lot more time on those sorts of tasks in the last year or so than we have on generating completely new content.

Generating completely new content never stops, and as we're moving into the post-launch period if we're successful, this game is never going to stop needing new content or material. This is a BioWare game so the writing team's always going to be a part of that, and hopefully applying the many lessons that we're learned over the years to serve the next few rounds.

I'm looking much forward to the Imperial Agent story (which Mr Freed wrote) so it's nice seeing his thoughts on matters. I'm sure that the story will be quite good. As long as it doesn't involve a bare bear at least.

Another thing that surfaced last week is that Random House posted an excerpt from Revan, Drew Karpyshyn's upcoming book. I haven't read the excerpt (and I'm not going to read either it or the book as it would be too jarring to my experience of the character to see her described so completely differently; as if Chewbacca was suddenly an Ewok and nobody blushed or explained how). So I'll quote the synopsis instead:

There’s something out there:
a juggernaut of evil bearing down to crush the Republic—
unless one lone Jedi, shunned and reviled, can stop it.

Revan: hero, traitor, conqueror, villain, savior. A Jedi who left Coruscant to defeat Mandalorians—and returned a disciple of the dark side, bent on destroying the Republic. The Jedi Council gave Revan his life back, but the price of redemption was high. His memories have been erased. All that’s left are nightmares—and deep, abiding fear.

What exactly happened beyond the Outer Rim? Revan can’t quite remember, yet can’t entirely forget. Somehow he stumbled across a terrible secret that threatens the very existence of the Republic. With no idea what it is, or how to stop it, Revan may very well fail, for he’s never faced a more powerful and diabolic enemy. But only death can stop him from trying.

I really, really, really wish they'd stayed away from the character and took more of an approach like in the Mass Effect novels (or the first two The Old Republic novels for that matter). Bah.

Last week Massively posted two preview articles from two sides of the MMO track (Jef and Larry). But Larry, the guy who wrote one of the previews, also has his own TOR column at Massively and this week he used that to look at the crafting system. Here's an excerpt:

Both of my characters battled through the Esseles flashpoint to travel to Coruscant. I landed in the starport near the senate building. I stepped in the bright sun of the planet, watching speeders wiz by and bright lights shining off the towers in the distance. After I had walked a few paces past the taxi service, a stairway to my left and to my right descended into the senate marketplace. Vendors and trainers lined both corridors; an auction house helped fill the span between them. Each of the class trainers were found here, as were a mail box and bank. But most importantly, 14 different crafting trainers spread themselves through multiple different shops. These vendors represented each of the different Crew Skills. A single player is allowed to learn three out of the 14 different skills at a time.

I don't think that there's much of anything new in the article, but it's a nice overview regardless. And it gives a list of what crafting skills get materials from what gathering and mission skills (subject to change of course).

Finally, before moving on to the developer quotes, EA held another earnings conference call and Darth Hater was there to listen. Not that there's much of anything in there (and remember that the conference calls like these have information that isn't geared at players). In fact, all there is is the following said by EA COO Peter Moore:

Next, our biggest event of the year, the December 20th launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic. This is inarguably the most anticipated game of the year, an epic MMO that makes each player the hero of their own Star Wars saga. The Old Republic is in Beta right now and players are blown away by the immersive story, dynamic combat and authentic Star Wars feel. In the coming weeks we'll invite hundreds of thousands of players into our biggest Beta test to date.

Hmm, hundreds of thousands of players? That's... quite a lot of testers. I don't think any beta test ever had that many testers (heck, most MMOs are glad to get that many players and I think that the number of beta applicants is generally considered an indication of how many players the game might have). Sounds absolutely insane.

And that's it, except for the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on positive feedback.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on force pull.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on Testing NDA.
  • [link] to David Bass on EU Guild Testing.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Best Buy.
  • [link] to David Bass on EU Build Testing, part 2.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on Early Game Access.

As you can see not a lot of quotes this week (I'm assuming that they're way too busy with finishing the game). So I've only got one quote to pull out for you. This one is by Georg Zoeller and is about an ability for the Jedi Sage:

Sages also get access to 'Rescue', a friendly pull with accompanying threat reduction. Not just useful for pulling out your friend when they get themselves into too much trouble, also quite nice for quick vertical plays in Huttball.

Hmm, sounds like it could be quite useful. But also sounds like it could be abused easily by griefers (though I'm assuming that you can only use the ability on party members). Have to always be careful with abilities that can be used on friendly targets.

Anyway, that's it.

[link] to Paris Games Week award results.
[link] to Trooper preview article at Ten Ton Hammer.
[link] to Consular preview article at Ten Ton Hammer.
[link] to Story preview article at IGN.
[link] to Combat preview article at IGN.
[link] to Flashpoints preview article at IGN.
[link] to Worlds preview article at IGN.
[link] to Dark/Light preview article at IGN.
[link] to interview with Alexander Freed at Darth Hater.
[link] to Revan book excerpt at Random House.
[link] to crafting preview article at Massively.
[link] to earning conference call at Darth Hater.

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