Thursday, 10 November 2011

Choose Your Side: Inquisitor vs. Trooper

It's Friday, which means another BioWare update. Which I'm posting now. Before BioWare posts it. Because this is actually last week's update. Ahum. So I'm a little late... blame Skyrim.

Yes, so... last Friday BioWare posted a couple of updates. Primarily among them a "Choose Your Side" video pitting the Sith Inquisitor against the Trooper. Here's the official news:

From the moment we announced the eight classes in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ fans have been pitting them against each other, arguing who would have the advantage in a one-on-one fight. The hallways of BioWare echo this debate, with the writers, combat designers and other developers all chiming in on which classes they feel will have the upper hand.

In the video series “Choose Your Side,” members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic team plead their cases, highlighting some of the many skills and abilities that set each class apart from the rest. In the second video of the four-part series, two of the most iconic classes in the Star Wars™ universe face off as the Force-wielding Sith Inquisitor battles the stalwart Republic Trooper.

I have to say, my money's on the Inquisitor.

So that's two more "Choose Your Side" videos to go and I think we can tell with near certainty that those will be Jedi Consular vs Imperial Agent and Smuggler vs Sith Warrior. Because they're not going to do Smuggler vs Agent (as they're pretty much the same class mechanics wise and thus wouldn't make for a very interesting versus debate) and we've already had the other classes.

After the break we'll look at the other updates; news on the next (and probably final) beta testing weekend, news about TOR appearing at Dreamhack, account security issues, news from the second Fan Site Summit and a few more previews.

Last weekend BioWare had another beta testing weekend, bigger than any before as they invited a lot of people. But as I understand that's nothing compared to what's yet to come. Apparently for their upcoming beta testing weekend they're inviting everyone who ever signed up for beta (regardless of if they've been invited before or not) and they're running promotions with various websites to give out more beta codes to those who haven't signed up for testing yet. Here's the official news:

When we started our Beta Testing Weekends, we told you that each weekend would include more testers than the last. We’re excited to announce that later this month we will be conducting our largest Beta Testing Weekend yet, specifically designed to help us stress test our servers in preparation for the launch of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.

How can you take part in this coming Beta Test Weekend? Well, for starters we are happy to announce that anyone who has signed up for our Game Testing Program prior to today, November 11th, will get invited! Invites will be sent in the coming weeks.

For people who haven’t signed up for our Game Testing Program, you can also get into the Beta Stress Test Weekend through a series of promotions. Be sure to check out the following websites for your chance to grab a Beta Test Weekend Code

I left off the list of sites, but you can find that in the original news post.

BioWare has also revealed that they're currently targeting the weekend of 25-28 November (that's next week) and that this will most likely be the last beta testing weekend they'll have.

BioWare also announced that they'll take The Old Republic to Dreamhack:

Held each year at the Elmia Fair in Jönköping, Sweden, DreamHack is far and away the largest "LAN party" in the world. BioWare and LucasArts will be attending the event this year to give people the chance to play Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ before its worldwide launch on December 20th.

The DreamHack event begins at 8:00AM CET on Thursday, November 24th and runs, non-stop, until 8:00AM CET on Sunday, November 27th. Members of BioWare’s European Community Team will be on hand throughout the weekend.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the latest news and info on Star Wars: The Old Republic!

It's looking increasingly like everyone should have a chance to have played The Old Republic before launch.

Finally, as far as official news goes, BioWare also upgraded their account security measures and are requiring everyone to reset their password. Here's part of the official news:

As we prepare to launch Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, we want to ensure that your account and personal information are as secure as possible. To that end, we have begun implementing new security features within that are designed to protect you. This process includes a refresh of our password security requirements. To make sure that all accounts comply with our new security measures, members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic community who created accounts on on or before October 21st, 2011 will be required to reset their password in order to meet with these new standards. Those members who created an account after October 21st, 2011 will not receive an email and do not need to update their passwords.

There are more details in the original post.

Over the past weeks BioWare also held another Fan Site Summit and Darth Hater was there keeping track of all the fan site posts. Though I'll refrain from quoting any articles; you can find all the articles at Darth Hater.

Generally I don't really like podcasts (I'm sure I've mentioned that before). But GameInformer has a nice one in their Respec Radio episode 26 where they talk about their experiences playing the beta of The Old Republic. And unlike most beta reports we've had they seem to be allowed to talk about their experiences playing the Empire classes. Let's see if I can get the embed for the audio player to work...

That seems to have worked.

As I said last weekend BioWare had another big beta testing weekend. Afterwards BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka had a talk with Eurogamer about the state of the game a month before launch. Here's an excerpt:

"Against that we're testing. This weekend we had a big test - tens upon tens of thousands. One crazy number is we had over a million hours of testing over the weekend. It was a huge test, and there are even bigger ones coming. The key thing is for us to take those learnings, apply them and make the service really stable. We're happy with the game."

I must say that the way that they're talking about it, the way that they seemed to be approaching the coming launch, inspires me with confidence. They seem to be well aware of the risks and seem to be quite careful as a result. At this point it feels that even if things do go wrong come launch then it won't be because of lack of effort or attention on the side of the development team.

The final two previews before coming to the developer quotes both come from The first of these is an article looking at the Republic Companions. For each of the four Republic classes they look at the first Companion that class gets. Here's an excerpt:

Rest assured, those who are worried, that while companions are a main facet of the game, it’s not hard at all to manage them, and it doesn’t make the game suddenly “single-player” because the companions won’t fulfill the need of having more people on harder missions. What they do is add to the story experience the same way characters add to the story of Mass Effect or KotOR. And while it is a little silly to see dozens of Coros Riggses or Aric Jorgans running around, there is some customization to help make them look somewhat different from player to player. Still, it’s a significant thing to mention: everyone has companions, in the beginning you’ll all have the same ones, and it’s a bit weird to see people running around with doting clones. That said, we each feel that the depth of characterization and gameplay is enhanced by having them at your side, so it’s really a double-edged sword.

The other preview is a video in their weekly "Game Face" video column:

I must be honest here. For what's supposedly a professional site that video comes across as decidedly amateurish. Like they decided to put a blue-haired girl in front of the camera to 'seem cool' and appeal to a younger demographic or something. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that she's a talented journalist, but that doesn't keep the video from coming across like it was made by a random fan in their bedroom. Maybe that's the point.

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

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Courtney Woods on account security upgrade.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on beta testing weekend invites.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on Origin not needed.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) EU game testing weekend invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) EU game testing weekend invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) timezone bias with invites.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on beta testing weekend invites, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on password reset and invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on beta rsvp link not working.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on beta rsvp link not working, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on beta rsvp link not working, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on accepting testing invite bug.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on testing invites sent.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on customer service very busy.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on EU testing.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on EU testing invites.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on number of EU testers.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on accepting testing invites bug, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on EU testing invites, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on website maintenance.
  • [link] to Chris Collins on EU testing invites.

Pretty much all quotes last week were about the testing weekend and thus I don't really feel any are worth repeating. So I'll leave it at that. BioWare should post another update today (and when I get around to posting it depends on how many dragons need slaying, that hopefully it won't be delayed as much as this one was).

[link] to Fan Site Summit links at Darth Hater.
[link] to Respec Radio podcast at GameInformer.
[link] to testing interview at Eurogamer.
[link] to Companions preview article at MMORPG.
[link] to Game Face preview video at MMORPG.

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