Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sith Inquisitor Character Progression

Just a few more days and many, if not most, of us will be playing The Old Republic for realz.

But first we've got another Friday Update. On this day of Christmas my SWOTOR gave to me, the last of the class progression videos showing the Sith Inquisitor... uh... see? Yes, that'll do. As per BioWare's official news:

As you progress in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, your character will acquire new skills and abilities that complement their more powerful weapons and armor.

Feared across the galaxy for both their mastery of the Dark Side of the Force™ and their ability to manipulate those around them, even those within the Empire know to watch themselves when in the presence of a Sith Inquisitor. Some acolytes who complete the trials use their newfound powers to channel the Force into devastating mental and lightning attacks. Others command the Force to deceive their enemies both in conversation and on the battlefield.

Hurray for more silly hats. Seriously though, the Sith Inquisitor (at least the Assassin) is a fun class to play with some great Darkside options. They just don't have much fashion sense. Either that or I don't. Then again, if you're in command of the Dark Side of the Force then you probably don't need much fashion sense as you can just electrocute anyone who even thinks of making fun of your outfit.

Oh, and my prediction for next week: Smuggler versus Sith Warrior "Choose Your Side" video. I'm calling it.

Read on after the break for the introduction of the SWTOR Community Blog, launch events, lots of links to articles across the net, and the developer quotes. Oh, and one funny Gamebreaker video which, if you haven't seen it already, you don't want to miss. And don't forget that I've been keeping my Music of The Old Republic post updated with the daily tracks BioWare has been posting up on Facebook.

Tomorrow (Saturday the 10th of December 2011) BioWare is wiping their forums, rebooting their site, and starting fresh in anticipation of the Early Game Access starting on Tuesday (the forums themselves won't open until Tuesday as I understand). And as part of the changes BioWare is starting a Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Blog. Unlike the Friday Updates they'll make new posts on the blog at any time, be they big or small, as a way for the developers to continue communication with the fans (without havign to wait for Friday to come again). As per the official news:

In anticipation of the upcoming launch of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, we wanted to ensure we have a place to communicate the latest game status updates, community-focused news and developer thoughts as efficiently as possible to our fans. While our Forums are a great place to go for discussion and debate, this blog allows us to talk about things in greater detail, and to keep updates collected in one place.

Unlike our previous schedule of Friday Updates, this blog will be updated more frequently and at any time during the week, with updates being both big and small. Over time we plan to expand the blog to showcase the passion and excitement of our community, but we’ll start small and get bigger as we move forward. Initially, we’re going to use the blog to re-post a few recent (and important!) posts from our Forums, as the Forums are going offline for an overhaul before launch.

Don’t forget, being part of the community for The Old Republic isn’t limited to reading this blog or posting in our Forums – you’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube too, and there are hundreds of fan sites worldwide where you’ll find fans creating amazing content about the game.

With launch imminent, we’re getting strapped in before we make the jump to lightspeed. We hope you come along for the ride!

The Old Republic Community Team

Unfortunately the actual link to the blog is a bit hidden (the image links to the blog, but that's not obvious) and the link to the YouTube page was broken as of this writing (so I fixed it in the quote above; they'll probably update the post as well soon). But regardless it's nice to hear that they're starting a place like that for communicating anything that needs communicating anytime it does. Oh, and there's an RSS feed for the blog on the blog main page, which might be useful to add to your feed reader.

And as the post promises they've already reposted a couple of posts:

  • [link] to post on dropping the NDA.
  • [link] to post on forum wipe and changes.
  • [link] to post on Early Game Access start date.
  • [link] to post on item modifications clarifications.
  • [link] to post on unifying color to chest piece.

Another post up on the blog is about various launch parties across the world. Here is the full post:

On December 20th, 2011, BioWare and LucasArts will be launching Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. To celebrate the game’s release, we are hosting a series of launch events in several major cities in both North America and Europe!

In the US, we have partnered with Best Buy to host launch night events at the Best Buy Union Square in New York City and the Best Buy South Austin in Austin, Texas. Members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic development team will be on hand at each location, including BioWare Co-Founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk in New York, as well as James Ohlen and Rich Vogel in Austin! Fans attending these events may be able to get their hands on swag, take part in Q&As with the developers, and even get their copy of the game signed!

For our European fans, we will also be holding events in London and Paris! In Paris, we’ll be having a launch event at the Virgin Megastore located on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on December 14th. Those attending will have the chance to meet Technical Design Director, Emmanuel Lusinchi.

We will also be having a launch event at the Oxford Street GAME in London on December 14th. Fans who make it out to this event will have the opportunity to spend some time with Alexander Freed, Writer on Star Wars: The Old Republic and author of both the “Blood of the Empire” and “The Lost Suns” series of comics.

For more details on these events, please visit our new Launch Events section. Keep your eyes on our Community Forums, Facebook and Twitter for all the latest details!

Hmm, considering that I work pretty much right next to Oxford Street, London, I might just go and check out the launch party. Then again I have little desire to spend three hours at work twiddling my thumbs waiting for the thing to start so will probably go home first to eat anyway. We'll see next week.

You'd almost think that the game is about to launch in less than two weeks or something, there's so much news and buzz on the Internet. The game drawing an immense amount of interest (certainly more than I've ever seen before for an MMO) and EA is not afraid to let people know. Such as in this news report on Gamespot letting know that lots and lots of people played the beta:

The recent public testing phase of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Star Wars: The Old Republic attracted 2 million volunteers, according to EA. The publisher says more than 725,000 unique players joined the game over the Thanksgiving weekend, making it "one of the biggest beta tests in history." Some 2.4 million gamers had registered in advance on the game's official website, with 2 million later signing up for the public beta.

The Old Republic publisher shared details of the MMORPG's recent test period at the annual Global Media and Communications Conference hosted by financial services firm UBS. Each beta tester played an average of 12 hours over the postholiday three-day weekend, says EA, with more than 9 million hours cumulatively played over that stretch.

EA chief financial officer Eric Brown told the conference that this high "preregistered and built-in" demand for the product would mean a launch advertising campaign considerably different from those for other high-profile EA titles, with the focus instead on attracting new customers for the long term ("two to four years") and the critical percentage of players who renew their subscription from month to month.

The Old Republic is preparing for launch on December 20 in North America and Europe. Some analysts have estimated that the game will bring in millions of subscribers, while others suggest declining World of Warcraft subscriptions could boost EA's subscriber numbers, with half of surveyed World of Warcraft players saying they intend to buy The Old Republic.

That... is a lot of people playing the game no matter how you slice it. And while I'm sure that there will be those who've tried it and decided not to buy the game, generally speaking the number of testers has been a fair amount smaller than the number of players. So things are definitely looking good for The Old Republic.

One site that has been quite busy last week, again, is SWTORHub. Here are the articles they posted:

  • [link] to Planetside Travel Guide.
  • [link] to Companion Romance Advice with Khem Val.
  • [link] to Sith Inquisitor Guide.
  • [link] to Tips for Nvidia 3D Vision Users in The Old Republic.
  • [link] to Spaceships 101 – An Intro Guide to Ships in SWTOR.
  • [link] to Jedi Knight Guide.
  • [link] to Ten Tips for Transitioning WoW Players.

The two class guides seem to be spoiler free beyond listing the companions you'll get (and on what planet). I found the romance thing to be painful (not at all funny in my opinion, entirely too Dark Side/Empire focused and, worst of all, way to male focused... where are all the female romance options?). And I'm not entirely sure that the WoW guide is all that useful to players that would need such a guide as it's bound to leave them more confused than anything. But then, I'm not a WoW player so who knows. Either way though, that's a fair bit of good effort there and if you use nVidia's 3D Vision (which I don't) then the guide for that seems quite useful.

One thing I tend to find rather confusing in SWTOR is the Crew Skill system. It doesn't help that the system has changed a fair bit as well, so there's conflicting information out there. But it seems that SWTOR Face has a decent beginner's-type guide (so that's for me then) explaining a bit of how it works. To get more in-depth there's some very good guides on the forums... but unfortunately those will be wiped tomorrow (with the rest of the forums) so it's no point linking them. Anyway, here's SWTOR Face's guide:

I think that I've got a decent handle now on which Crew Skills I want with my main characters. But I still have somewhat of a problem in that I want to be completely self-reliant and it looks like that'll just not be possible. Something I have to deal with (I think it's a good thing for the economy, just to be clear).

With pre-launch fast approach has an interview with Dallas Dickinson about just that. Here's an excerpt:  

Will Game Testers or long-time Game Testers be receiving anything to show off in the live game?

Dallas Dickinson:  

I don’t think we have any official notation for them, but for the most part, these are going to be the first people into the game. We’ve announced previously that our Early Access program is going to favor those who burned codes early, and that’s a pretty 1:1 mapping of people who were in the Game Testing program, so I think that’s the primary way we’re going to be rewarding those folks. Also, these are also the people who know exactly where they want to go and who they want to play when they start.

Apparently there are some people who manage to read into that something about beta testers getting early access as a reward for beta testing. I personally haven't a clue how they manage to do that as it states the exact opposite, that beta testers are getting no reward just for being beta testers and are, instead, getting rewarded for being among those who are involved enough with the game to register early (and that the people who registered early are for the most part the same people who participated in the beta).

Personally I'm fine with that. People don't need to get rewarded for participating in the Beta. Sure, it would be nice to get something like a title to indicate that you were part of the beta, just a little "thank you" in a way, but you don't beta test to get a title or anything. You're already rewarded for getting to see the game early, having the chance to be far more informed about the game, and be there to help shape a game in development.

Another article at MMORPG previews space combat. Here's an excerpt:

There is a quest progression to space combat content and each mission is full of explosive action and dramatic setpieces similar to the scenes found in the films. Many, if not all of the missions are repeatable, though there may be a cooldown involved in repeating some particular quests. Space combat is a fairly viable way of accruing experience and credits as well. I managed to almost gain a full level just going through the first round of missions available to me. You won’t be instantly able to complete all the missions once you receive your ship, however. Later missions are tuned in such a way that you’ll want your ship to be upgraded a certain amount, and each tier of upgrades is gated by player level requirements.

personally I found space combat a fun diversion, but indeed it doesn't feel like it fits in well with the rest of the game. I can think of much better minigames that they could've included which would've felt much more connected to the game as a whole (hint, one such starts with "P" and ends with "azaak"... I've been a bit addicted to this website the last few days). Even so, I guess it fulfills the "star" part of the title.

One great video I came across last week, though not directly TOR-related it is Star Wars-related at least, is this video titled "Cello Wars":

Awesome. And I think we might have our first expansion classes: Jedi Cellist and Sith Accordionist.

The next (and for this post last) video has been doing the rounds so you might've already seen it. But it's very funny and worth watching again. Titled "Blizz Blues – 12 Days of Smack Talkin’" GameBreaker TV brings us a WoW Rogue and a SWTOR Sith Inquisitor talking smack to each other about each other's games to the (approximate) tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas. It's enjoyable regardless of what your game of preference is:

That rogue cracks me up. I also found this month-old episode of Bliz Blues, in which they're machinima-mimicking SWTOR in WoW, quite entertaining.

Anyway, that's it. On to the...

Developer Quotes

This week's developer quotes is a bit special. You see, tomorrow the forums are getting wiped and all these posts deleted. As such I've decided to quote a fair few more posts than usual. Even so, I'm still including links... just because. They'll probably stop working really soon, but anyway. Oh, and I'm not including the customer support posts anymore.

  • [link] to Alyson Bridge on pre-launch guilds locked.
  • [link] to David Bass on achievements.
  • [link] to David Bass on guilds and early-access.
  • [link] to David Bass on guilds and early-access.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on launch build.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on forum changes.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on uninstall beta client.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on forum changes, part 2.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on forum changes, part 3.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 2.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 3.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 4.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 5.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 6.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 7.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 8.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on uninstall beta client, part 9.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on Unity vs Sacrifice.
  • [link] to Emmanuel Lusinchi on item modifications.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on helping new players.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on color match feature.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 4.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 5.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 6.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access, part 2.
  • [link] to Georg Zoeller on missile animations.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access, part 4.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on Early Game Access, part 5.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 7.
  • [link] to David Bass on early registration.
  • [link] to Amber Green on extended maintenance.
  • [link] to Emmanuel Lusinchi on color match option.
  • [link] to Amber Green on extended maintenance, update.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on on-sale dates, part 8.

Ok, so, lots of stuff to go through. Brace yourself for numerous walls of orange text...

The first post, a short one to warm you up, is by David Bass and is about achievements:

Achievements are indeed in the game currently. You'll receive achievements for things like killing certain "Epic Enemies," unlocking titles, and accomplishing objectives in PvP. These are all kept in a special category in your Codex, so that you can view how you earned each one at any time.

I've noticed getting a couple of titles in the game, all of them linked to the story, but didn't notice getting any achievements. Then again I didn't really achieve much so there's that. And I didn't really look for achievements either so who knows if I got some and just didn't realize.

The second, slightly longer (we'll get you there gradually), post is also by David Bass and is about guild placement in Early Game Access:

I'm not sure where you're seeing the message that guilds will not be available until the 20th. Could you please point me to a page so we can fix that?

Guilds will be placed by the time Early Access begins. Rest assured that if your guild is placed, it will be available from the moment you first enter the game, regardless of what day that is.

Not that that's really any surprise, but might be re-assuring to those in guilds in the guild placement program.

As mentioned BioWare is planning to update the site and forums ready for launch so tomorrow they'll come down. Allison Berryman made a post about that:

This Saturday, Dec. 10th, the Forums will become unavailable as we make preparations for launch. When they become available again, you'll notice many exciting changes!

First of all, we'll have many new forums available where you can discuss all aspects of the game, from Crew Skills to PvP. The Guild Hall forums will be expanded significantly and will include new "Looking for Guild" forums, class forums will contain sub-forums for each Advanced Class, and we'll introduce a new Story and Lore forum for discussion of the game's setting and story. To encourage constructive community building, you'll also notice a "New Player Help" forum and a Community section that includes areas for regional check-ins and meetups, all kinds of fan creations and role-playing, and forums for server event organization. These are just some of the new forums we'll be introducing. We're looking forward to all the great discussion!

Another new feature we're implementing is our Community blog, which will appear at the top of We'll use this blog for important community announcements, updates, and to post articles of interest to our community members, so make sure to check it out frequently!

The launch Forums will be a fresh start: all threads, posts, and private messages will be removed and warnings and infractions on your account will be deleted. If you have any special posts or private messages that you would like to save, please do so now! When Early Game Access begins, only those who have redeemed their Pre-Order Code will be able to post on the forums, though everyone will be able to view them. Then, when the game officially launches, only those who have active game time will be permitted to post.

As we move forward, we will continue to improve our community forums. You can expect to see new features that make it easier to find developer posts and several updates to our skin to make everyday use of the forums easier for everyone.

We're very excited about the changes that are coming, and we can't wait to work with you to make the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ community a great experience for everyone!

It's understandable that only those who are playing the game (or at least have an active account) can post in the forums. After all, those are the only people for whom posting in the forums is relevant (at least I can't think of any legitimate reason to post in the forums of a released game you're not playing). And it'll be interesting to see the changes and how they'll use the blog. For now it seems that the developers still tend to post articles in the forums and aren't used to using the blog yet.

A lot of changes are coming. Believe me that the post-launch SWTOR community will be massively different from the pre-release one. That's just the nature of things.

To help get ready for release and Early Game Access Allison Berryman also posted a post about uninstalling the beta client:

In preparation for the official release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, we wanted to make sure that everyone has the correct game client installed on their machine.

If you participated in our Game Testing Program before November 25th, we recommend that you uninstall the game testing client (refer to instructions below) and then download and install the launch game client. We’ll update this post with more instructions when they’re available. You will need 27GB of free space to install the launch game client. The actual size of the game client is approximately 19GB (without additional languages installed).

If you have played in our game testing program at any point from November 25th onwards, you will not need to re-install the game client, as you should already have the launch version installed.

To verify that you have the launch version installed, you can check for the "assets_swtor_main" version file in the following location on your computer: \Program Files (x86)\EA\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic (assuming default installation). If you have that file present, you do not need to reinstall the game client.

With that said, some users may notice that their game client folder is much larger than 27 GB on their system. This may be due to having redundant files from previous versions of the client. If you need to clear up space, we recommend completely uninstalling the client and downloading and installing the launch game client. Again, we’ll update this post with more instructions when they’re available.

To Uninstall the Game Client:

  1. Click on the Start bar and open up your "Control Panel."
  2. Under "Programs" select "Uninstall a Program" (Windows 7) or "Add or Remove Programs" (Windows XP).
  3. Select "Star Wars – The Old Republic."
  4. Right Click on the title and select "Uninstall" (Windows 7) or "Remove" (Windows XP).
  5. Follow all the uninstall steps to remove the game from the PC.
  6. Make sure the following directories no longer exists (or are empty):
-C:\Program Files (x86)\EA\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic
-C:\Program Files (x86)\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic

Note: If you do not see an entry for Star Wars – The Old Republic in your program list, please try the following...

  1. Click on the Start bar and open up Computer.
  2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Common Files\BioWare\
  3. Locate the "Uninstall Star Wars – The Old Republic.exe" file and launch it.
  4. Follow all the uninstall steps, listed above, to remove the game from the PC.

For more information or if you have questions, please visit our FAQ.

Though you don't technically have to uninstall under some circumstances as listed in the post, I would personally still recommend it if you can spare the bandwith (personally I've got unlimited bandwidth so I've no issue re-downloading 19GB of data). If nothing else it'll clean out all the beta junk that is no longer needed. Though it probably won't cause any issues, there's always a chance that it might and it's wasting a lot of space on your drive.

So now we get to the truly big posts. After a lot of confusion on the item modification system due to a number of changes made in beta Emmanuel Lusinchi made a detailed post explaining the system and their thinking on it. Originally I was just going to post an excerpt and point you do the full thing, but with them deleting the forums I decided including it all was better. And yes, it's up on the new Community Blog as well, but even so.

So, it turns out some of the patch notes regarding our modding system were probably poorly written (by me, I must add) and generated quite a lot of concern. I’ll try to explain the changes better and, while I'm at it, explain the logic for those changes.

To start with, we’ve introduced a new color and item type: the Custom items. Those are shown with an orange border and are fully moddable. This change is purely cosmetic. What we have done is take all fully moddable Prototype items (blue) and simply changed their icon color. This helps us create a better and more unique identity for fully moddable gear.

Since other games have used orange to signify truly rare and epic gear, let me clarify that orange in Star Wars: The Old Republic has nothing to do with 'epic' gear. (And for those curious, our version of 'epic' is a very deep purple, bordering on a rich blue). The orange we use is actually the old bronze color we developed a long time ago when our color coding was based on metals (bronze, silver, gold, platinum, etc).

Custom gear is actually pretty common: it can be obtained through class quests around level 8, as social gear, as space quest rewards and as light side / dark side gear. It is also the typical gear found in Flashpoints and as rewards for Heroic missions. Several pieces can be acquired using planetary commendations.

The second change introduced in the latest build is the locking down of the base mods (Armoring, Barrel, Hilt) and color crystal mod on the Artifact items (purple). To explain this change, I need to also explain the history of the the modding system...

So, the first version of the modding system had many issues. It is amazing that a system that is only a few months old is already quite misremembered, but that’s because while the system implementation was less than stellar, players really liked the concept that tried to shine through and now remember it much more fondly that it truly deserves. The main issues of the old system were as follow:

- There were too many different modifications. Sure, the mods had a lot of flavor and made sense: triggers and scopes for guns, underlays and overlays for armors, power cells and crystals for Lightsabers, etc. But in the end, keeping the mods in all gear up to date every few levels was a major pain on the players’ side. Remember, at that time, mods could not be extracted - so a replacement for each and every one of those mods had to be individually located every few levels. And let me tell you, creating and maintaining all those tens of thousands of mods on our end was also not exactly sustainable.

- Some items only had a few mod slots. I know everyone by now remembers a 'perfect' world where everything was moddable, but that simply wasn’t the way it worked. Most premium (green) items did not have a full set of slots and which slots weren't present was a bit random. So, you could find a purple trigger and get all excited about fitting it on your moddable gun - until you realized the gun mysteriously had a scope slot, but not a trigger slot. Of course, your next gun could have a trigger but no scope. This left many players scratching their heads.

- Once slotted, a mod could not be removed. This had a very perverse effect: players would find a really good mod - say a purple overlay - but would really hesitate in slotting it into an armor. What if they find a cooler looking armor next level? Many players would end up saving their good mods for later and ended up over leveling them.

- Mods that were crafted or purchased were most of the time inferior to the mod already slotted onto a prototype (blue) item. This made the entire mod system somewhat useless. One of the main reason was that crafters could not create good mods. Reverse engineering - the main method to obtain prototype and artifact (blue and purple) crafted items - did not work on mod.

- Modding was only done at a workbench. This made it rather cumbersome as the players had to hunt down a workbench before they could fit a new mod into one of their items.

So, to summarize: in the old system, you could not take any piece of gear, fit it with the best mods and keep it all the way to the end levels: a lot of the green gear did not have all the slots, the mods that could be obtained were for the most part... not good, and you could not extract better one from existing gear.

So... things had to change. Because despite all those warts, some of the players who tested the system really liked the concept: that a player could find an appearance they really like and work to keep it relevant all the way to end game. So, we knew we were on to something and we also knew the old system was just not delivering.

Those changes took time to implement. Some of them concerned large amounts of data and some required new code. Unfortunately, not everything could be implemented on time for each testing build and, in some of the builds, testers were exposed to a very raw and partially completed new system. However, today, we are close to where we want to be - but not quite there yet (more on that later).

So, the changes we made are:

- Item modding can now be done anywhere at anytime. No workbench required.

- Crafters can now reverse engineer mods and create blue and purple mods.

- A new Custom quality (orange) was introduced to legitimize moddable items as their own quality and type. This isn’t a big deal but does clarify things a little.

- Mods can now be extracted from a Custom item. This is the single most important change and has many, many consequences. However, we feel that being able to slot a mod and then extract it back truly opens up the system and makes it a lot more fun, easy and safe to experiment with. I’m not 100% happy about how the system interface and GUI works today (it is still a bit clunky) but at least it is functional.

- Rather than have a whole bunch of unique mod types, some mods are now common to all items. This greatly helps players who are 'going the mod route’ to stay relevant and competitive as they now have a much higher chance to find exactly the mods they need, level after level, be it from a crafter, at a planetary commendation vendor or by extracting it from another item.

- Partially moddable premium (green) items were removed as they essentially lied to the players: an item missing a mod slot would never be able to match a high end non-moddable item. Instead, to compensate for the loss of diversity, orange versions of all green armors was created and given to the crafters. So, yes, if you see a green armor you really like, you still can have that appearance until end level. It does take a bit of work - you either need to become a crafter yourself, befriend one or trawl the GTN.

(Note: recipes for those orange appearances are discovered through Underworld Trading missions.This allows us to have a truly large number of those recipes without overwhelming the crafting trainer inventory. As a side effect, this opens up class quest green armor appearances from other classes as well as long as you fulfill the armor requirements.)

- End game artifact quality (purple) gear is now partially moddable. Why moddable? Because that allows the players to customize stats such as critical, etc. to their exact desire. Why only partially? Because mods are now extractable... Think of it this way: it is easier to defeat the first boss from an Operation than the last boss. So we want to reward the players with the best possible loot for defeating the last boss and that loot is typically the Chest piece of a set. The first boss drops less interesting stuff, say boots. This may sound old school, and it is. But by doing so, we ensure that both players that get rewarded by looks and those rewarded by stats are properly rewarded for taking on the most difficult challenges.

Now, if purple gear was fully moddable, players would simply farm the first boss, acquire 5 pair of boots, extract the armoring, mod and enhancements from the boots and slots them in their favorite Custom items. That actually sounds cool, but it really isn’t. Letting players extract the armoring mod from the purple items would trivialize end game gear progression and stop rewarding successful and dedicated players for their efforts.

So, instead of letting that happen, we prevented the Armoring, Hilt and Barrel from being extracted, but we also made sure of dropping purple Armoring mods of equivalent power as Operation loot. This means that players going the mod route can still take their favorite orange armor and make it as good as a operation purple armor (with some temporary caveats).

- Some crafting recipes that allowed the creation of moddable armors and weapons have been replaced with non-moddable versions. Why the nerf? Because those recipes were no longer properly balanced once we allowed mod extraction. It became far cheaper and faster to create an item for the sole purpose of extracting every mods out of it than creating mods in the first place. This also allowed nearly every crafter to create every type of mods, which wasn’t very balanced either. Instead, the crafter can now make a non-moddable item for those players that enjoy that and, thanks to newly introduced recipes, a moddable (but empty slotted) version of the item.

Now, with those changes, we are closer to an actual implementation of our modding philosophy than ever before. Is it perfect? No, not yet. There are still some imbalances here and there (and I trust this community to let us know loud and clear if we miss any) but it is close and the remaining issues are on their way to be fixed. Of course, it would help to clarify what that philosophy is:

To put it simply, we want moddable items to offer an alternate and optional loot system that allows players to customize their look and their stats with more freedom and without penalty for doing so.

However there are many times where it will be easier for a player to just put on whatever stuff they just looted and not care about the way it looks. Keeping a specific outfit or weapon “up to date” or obtaining a specific look may require additional time and dedication, such as finding a crafter that can create that specific smuggler shirt or that rare color crystal.

I hope this clarifies things a little. As always, we are very much interested to hear what you all have to say on the system, but at least you now have a bit more information to go on - and of course, in a very short time, you will all be able to test this on the live servers.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have been helping with the test of the game and offered your very passionate opinions - on this subject and others. Testing a beta isn’t easy. Things changes all the time, some stuff isn’t finished and nothing seems to make sense without the benefit of knowing what’s going on behind the scene. So thanks again and I hope to have the chance of meeting each and every one of you in game.

This is the kind of post I most like to see, a clear explanation of what they have, where they want to go, why they want to go there and why what they had wasn't working. And I must say that it made things a lot clearer and alleviated a lot of fears I had. And simultaneously also made my choices for Crew Skills more complicated. The vision he describes is about as close to my preferred system (no stats on items and all stats from mods) as I could hope for.

With the game launching the 20th and BioWare not offering a grace period after Early Game Access (meaning that on the 20th you can no longer play until you enter your retail code. And if your shipment is delayed then it can take days before you can play again) it becomes the question of when retail copies become available. So Stephen Reid made a post about when retail sales start and then Origin will send out its copies:

Our sales and marketing teams are working closely with retailers in the US and Europe to ensure that copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be delivered in time for launch day.

In Europe, game copies will be available at retail starting on December 15, 2011. For those of you in the USA and Canada, game copies will be available at retail starting on December 20, 2011. For those of you who pre-ordered digital editions of the game from, you will be emailed your Game Codes starting December 16, 2011.

As soon as you receive your Game Code (AKA 'product registration code'), be sure to enter it on your account under Code Redemption, because as soon as you enter the code you will receive your digital entitlements in-game (i.e. digital items included with the game edition purchased). Remember, your billing cycle will not start until official game launch, on December 20, 2011 at 12:01am EST.

There will be no ‘grace period’ post launch in which those who are in Early Game Access will be able to continue to play the game. In order to continue playing past the Early Game Access period, you will need to enter a valid launch game code and payment method. Please read our FAQ for more information. We apologize for any previous messaging which may have led you to believe otherwise.

More details regarding pre-orders

If you have pre-ordered The Old Republic through, here's some more details.

For pre-orders of physical Standard / Collector's Editions

For anyone who has pre-ordered a physical copy of The Old Republic via Origin (either Standard or Collector's Edition), Origin will be shipping those copies beginning December 16th, for estimated arrival on December 20th. Depending on your relative location to a distribution center, it's possible your copy will arrive earlier. Origin physical orders are only available for US and Canadian postal addresses.

If you pre-ordered a physical copy, the payment card that you input into the billing system at the time of pre-order will be used to charge the remaining cost of the full game, starting at 5AM PST / 8 AM EST on December 13th.

Please note: Origin will not be sending Game Codes digitally to customers who have a physical pre-order.

For pre-orders of digital Standard and Deluxe Editions

For anyone who has pre-ordered a digital copy of The Old Republic via Origin (either Standard or Digital Deluxe Editions), Origin will begin emailing Game Codes from 8AM PST (11AM EST / 4PM GMT / 5PM CET) on December 16th to the email address associated with your pre-order. Due to the volume of codes being distributed, it may take up to 48 hours for all codes to be delivered via email. If you do not receive a game code email within 48 hours, please contact Origin Support.

Remember, redeeming a Game Code is not required to begin your Early Game Access. Your Early Game Access will begin based on when you redeemed your pre-order code, as originally supplied by Origin.

If you pre-ordered a digital copy, the payment card that you input into the billing system at the time of pre-order will be used to charge the remaining cost of the full game, starting at 8AM PST (11AM EST / 4PM GMT / 5PM CET) on December 16th.

Please remember, by pre-ordering on you agreed to the automatic purchase of your selected edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you no longer wish to receive your game, then you will need to cancel your order before your payment card is charged (December 13th for physical orders; December 16th for digital).

For me it's interesting. I leave on vacation on the 20th and won't be back until two weeks later. So if I register right away I'm basically wasting half of my free first month. As such I'll wait with registering my Game Code until I get back (and hope that they won't delete my characters in the meantime). But it's still useful to know when codes are being sent out and when people can expect their copies.

Speaking of Early Game Access, Stephen Reid made a post about that as well:

Hello everyone,

We're happy to finally announce today that Early Game Access begins December 13th, 2011. This means that everyone who has pre-ordered Star Wars: The Old Republic and redeemed their pre-order code will have up to seven days to play the game early.

As before, when your Early Game Access begins will be determined based on when you redeemed your pre-order code. You will be emailed on the day you are being admitted to Early Game Access to confirm you can now access the game.

Early Game Access was extended to seven days to allow us to gradually ramp up the number of people in the game over a longer period. This allows us to ensure maximum stability and a good population across servers. It also allows us to have more flexibility on exactly how many people we admit per day.

With that said, we're still planning on allowing a large number of people into Early Game Access on a daily basis. In our final Beta Testing Weekends, we had hundreds of thousands of players on the game servers - and we have additional server capacity for launch. However, we still need to remain flexible during Early Game Access, and this led to the decision to notify people on the day that their Early Game Access begins.

We know many of you expected and wanted advance notice on Early Game Access, but we made this decision to ensure that we could remain flexible and react to unforseen issues during launch. Our number one priority has always been a smooth launch, so this decision was a necessity.

The good news is that effectively everyone is being given two 'extra bonus' days as the EGA program is now up to seven days long. The bad news is unfortunately we cannot let people know on an individual basis when they will gain access until we are ready.

We do understand that you are concerned about when you will receive the email. To save your F5 keys, as well as being notified by email, you will also be able to check the Launcher for Star Wars: The Old Republic. When you have been granted Early Game Access, your Play button will be enabled. (You will need to restart the Launcher on occasion if you're still grey.) Finally, you will be able to login to your account page here on and check your status.

We absolutely understand (and appreciate!) everyone's eagerness to play, but this plan will ensure that we don't fall at the final hurdle - bringing people into the game at launch. We hope you'll bear with us as we gradually grant Early Game Access to everyone who pre-ordered.

I'm glad that we can check by using the launcher and by checking our account, since email can be slow, delayed or sometimes even lost. Of course that probably also means lots of refreshing your account page so I'm not sure how that saves my F5 key.

David Bass made another post clearing up a misconception about entering retail keys:

Webhallen's email is mistaken. You're absolutely safe to enter a retail key if you have managed to obtain one.

If you are redeeming a retail key on our site prior to Early Access, you will not see it immediately show up on your account page. As long as your key was accepted when you entered it (and you saw a message acknowledging that), you are all set for launch! The account page will update when Early Access begins on December 13th to reflect the code having been used.

If you have any other questions or concerns about your account, please contact Customer Service.

It's a good thing to clear up that you can redeem your key as soon as you get it without fear of being punished for it (though, as I said, I'm still waiting until I get back from vacation).

Regarding the website and forum downtime, Amber Green made a post about the times:

On Saturday 12/10, the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Forums and will be undergoing extended maintenance.

At 5:00AM CST (11:00AM London, 12:00PM Paris/Berlin), will be down. We expect the site to be back up at 4:00PM CST (10:00PM London, 11:00PM Paris/Berlin).

The Forums will be unavailable beginning at 12:00AM CST (6:00AM London, 7:00AM Paris/Berlin) and will remain down until Tuesday 12/13.

Thank you for your patience!

And later an update:

UPDATE 12/9 5:00PM CST (11:00PM London 12/10 12:00AM Paris/Berlin) - Tomorrow's maintenance has been delayed. will be unavailable beginning at 8:00AM CST (2:00PM London, 3:00 PM Paris/Berlin), and we expect the site to be back up at 5:30PM CST (11:30PM London, 12/11 12:30AM Paris/Berlin).

Mostly posting that here for reference when the site is down.

And finally, but certainly not least, Emmanuel Lusinchi made another massive post explaining the color match option, why it's gone and what they're planning to do:

Few of our systems seem to have generated as much passion as our 'Unify Color to Chest Piece' system. So, I'd like to shed a bit of light onto exactly what this system is, what happened to it and what is in store for it in the future.

Pretty much from the start of the project, one of our goals was to solve the 'mismatched color' issue that exists in many MMORPGs. This initiative has actually been driven directly by James Ohlen, our Game Director, as this is an issue close to his heart.

Now, it is useful to understand that when artists create a new piece of armor, they always create it as part of a set. A certain pair of pants, for example, is thematically meant to go with a specific chest armor, gloves, boots, bracers and helmet. If the players always put on full sets, they would look very good indeed and the colors from the different pieces would complement each other. Of course, at any given level, players have access to many such sets and wear bits and pieces from multiple sources. Now, in Star Wars: The Old Republic, we have created sets that, in many cases, are quite compatible with each other. You'll notice that, for example, Jedi Knight outfits use a lot of earthy colors that work quite well together regardless of which set they come from. Unfortunately, this is not always true – the Trooper is a good example of a class that does not look its best with mismatched pieces.

To solve this we created an option called 'Unify color to chest piece', which we also called 'Color Match'. Once turned on, the option automatically matched the color of any equipped piece of armor to the color scheme of the chest piece. This option was very popular with our testers and did solve the color clash problem, but not without introducing some issues.

While we have a policy not to give details on a system in progress, I do want to talk a little about the worst design issue we encountered with this system. As implemented, Color Match had a subtle but ultimately perverse effect: from the moment it was turned on, the player would perceive far less diversity in their loot. In some cases, to be honest, there are only so many differences we can create between two pairs of boots apart from their color scheme. Take away their color differences - thanks to the Color Match system - and you are left with a game that feels a bit less rewarding; where, sometimes, putting on your exciting new gear barely changes the appearance of the character. Depending on your personal preferences and your play style, this may or may not seem like much... but an MMO is a complex system of challenges and rewards and, as designers, we must stay vigilant in that regard.

So, anyway, the good news is that we are not only committed to solving the color clashing problem, we want to actually improve on the Color Matching system players experienced during Game Testing.

The bad news is... well, this won't be in for launch. The system we are currently working on isn't quite done yet and has many dependencies. After taking a hard look, we decided it would be preferable to keep Color Matching turned off for launch rather than try to do a potentially messy post-launch conversion. If anything, the live changes we made during testing to other systems (like the cover system or the item modification system) have shown us how confusing switching things under people's noses can be.

This wasn't exactly an easy decision – we know how popular the feature is and how eager and vocal the community has been for its return. So, I humbly ask for your patience. The feature (or, to be exact, something I consider a better version of the feature) will return. The next time you find a particularly bad combination of armor pieces, take some screenshots - and hopefully in a few months (as always, no deadline is guaranteed), you’ll be able to tell new players "Back in my day, we had to wear those orange pants with purple boots! Uphill! Both ways! In the snow!"

As always, I’m very interested in hearing from you... I have (so far) managed to read every single post on the Item Modification system and will hopefully be able to post a follow up clarifying many of the concerns and questions that you have.

I must say that I'm sad that the option won't be there at launch. I recall my Consular being in all-white simply because I'd managed to get a white chest piece (and since they removed it she was always in browns). I personally don't care so much that better items don't change the appearance. As I've said before I'd be quite happy to keep the starter outfit all the way to end level if I like the starter outfit (as it happens I don't like it enough for that, but still).

One thing though, Mr. Lusinchi. When you do make such a new system please also include the option to include certain head features (I'm thinking in particular the Miraluka's blindfolds; a brown blindfold with a completely white outfit might look weird).

And that's it. Lots of stuff happening in the next couple of weeks. Good luck and have fun to those getting into Early Game Access on Tuesday (with some luck I'll be among them as I did register my pre-order within hours of it becoming available).

And may the Force be with you.

[link] to beta numbers report at Gamespot.
[link] to Crew Skill guide at SWTOR Face.
[link] to interview with Dallas Dickinson at MMORPG.
[link] to space combat preview at MMORPG.
[link] to Cello Wars music video at YouTube.
[link] to 12 Days of Smack Talkin' video at GameBreaker.

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