Friday, 30 September 2011

Interactive Galaxy Map

BioWare just released its Friday Update and this time it's an explorable galaxy map, showing all seventeen revealed planets. Here is the official news:

The Star Wars™ galaxy is massive and you will be able to visit numerous worlds during your travels in the The Old Republic™. To give you an early taste of what the experience will be, we’ve added a new feature to the website, allowing you to explore the Galaxy Map for yourself. You’ll get to see the five major sectors of the Known Galaxy, check out profiles of the planets, and even examine interactive models of the player Starships.

Access the new Galaxy Map page through the HoloNet!

To explore the galaxy in '3D' you need the Unity Web Player installed. But it's pretty neat, giving you details on the planets when you click on them and allowing you to look at the 3D models of the six player ships. Though at the time of this writing I haven't been able to get the planet videos to play (I just get black with a play button) and from the forums it seems I'm not the only one. Courtney Woods mentions on the forums that they just take some time to load. Very nice update overall.

Read on after the break for a Eurogamer Expo interview with Chris Collins that Darth Hater held and the weekly developer quotes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Developer Dispatch: Companion Characters

It's been another busy weekend, and busy week, for The Old Republic. The biggest news of course was the release date announcement, and there's a fair bit more of that here too, but Friday BioWare also put up a blog and developer spotlight video centered around Companions. Here's the news for the video:

Even heroes need friends. Whatever epic journeys they may undertake, heroes always find they need allies to join in their adventures and help achieve their goals. This is why companions have been a traditional part of Star Wars™ since the very beginning and why they’ve been an important element in all the BioWare RPGs. Unsurprisingly, Companion Characters also play a critical role in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.

In your story, they will provide colorful commentary and comic relief, and as your saga unfolds, they will become your most trusted allies. In combat, they will fight at your side, complementing your tactical expertise, and supporting you wherever you go. We are also pleased to tell you that after testing and feedback, we’ve added an additional layer of customizability for companions both in terms of their appearances and in terms of their tactics in combat.

Watch this new Developer Dispatch to hear more on the importance of Companion Characters in The Old Republic and some of the many ways in which they contribute to your hero’s journey and the overall gameplay experience.

Let us know what you think of the video in the Forums.

It's a nice video, thought I don't think it really tells us anything new (beyond some glimpses at companions we officially don't know about yet).

Read on after the break for more companion info, including a BioWare blog entry and a Q&A, various interviews, some Huttball and the developer quotes.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Release Date Announced

I was there when Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk officially announced the release date for The Old Republic at Eurogamer Expo today.

The Old Republic will launch December 20 in North America and December 22 in Europe.

They also announced the pricing plan for the game. You can find all the details in the official news:

BioWare and LucasArts are pleased to announce that Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ will launch on December 20, 2011 in North America and on December 22, 2011 in the European Launch Territories! The announcement was first made by BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk during their keynote address at the 2011 Eurogamer Expo in London, England. Speaking to a packed room of press and fans alike, Dr. Muzyka acknowledged the weight of the moment and the patience of the fans.

“This is an incredible moment for everyone at BioWare and our partners at LucasArts who have dedicated their lives to build this extraordinary game. We appreciate the patience from the millions of fans who have been waiting for the game’s release.”

Each copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic will come with 30 days of subscription time, after which you have the option to continue playing with one of the following monthly subscription fees:

  • 1 Month Subscription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
  • 3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
  • 6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)

Those who have pre-ordered the game and entered their pre-order code on are eligible for Early Game Access. If you haven’t yet reserved your copy of the game, be sure to visit our Pre-Order page and secure your place in the Old Republic now!

We want to thank you for your continued passion, dedication and support. Though one part of this incredible journey is coming to an end, we are confident that you all share our excitement for this new beginning. Be sure to check back to as well as our Twitter and Facebook pages for all the latest news and updates on Star Wars: The Old Republic.

There's also the press release (with pretty much the same information far as I can tell).

Unfortunately the release date comes pretty much right when my Christmas vacation starts, so I'll probably miss out on the head-start as well as the first few weeks. Ah well, start the new year with SWTOR; sounds good to me.

I also got to play a little Huttball at the Expo (we won 0-2, and I scores one of the goals). I had no idea what I was doing (and I don't think anyone else did either, so that's alright), but it was quite fun. I might write up a bit more detail later on my experience, though there isn't really that much more to tell (I honestly don't remember the details of the match itself... there was a lot of shooting and lightsaber swinging). I'll also put up the Friday update later, probably on Monday.

Wasn't expecting to hear a release date for TOR when I went to Eurogamer Expo. Quite a surprise.

PS. It seems that my website ( is having issues (I've got my host looking at them, seems like all the permissions are turned off). And since I was hosting this blog's background on my site the background won't work at the moment (and just be black instead of showing stars). I hope that they fix it soon (but unfortunately probably not during the weekend).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Guild Alignment Begins

BioWare has just announced that phase two of their pre-launch guild program has begun. Now guilds can pick allies and adversaries. Here is the official news:

Back in March we initiated our Pre-Launch Guild Program, where members of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ community could search for already established guilds or register one of their very own through the Guild Headquarters page. We are thrilled to announce that we have begun the second phase of our Pre-Launch Guild Program!

With Phase 2: Alignment, we are introducing new features which allow guilds to set their allegiance with other guilds in The Old Republic. Now a guild leader, along with members who have the proper permissions, can select up to three guilds as either Allies or Adversaries, depending on their faction affiliation. Qualifying guilds that are marked as Allies and Adversaries of other guilds will have the highest chance of being placed in the game together, allowing these guilds to coexist on the same server.

Another feature being implemented with Phase 2 is the ability for guild leaders and members with the proper permissions to invite friends to join their guild via email. You can start recruiting new members today!

To learn more about guilds in The Old Republic, check out the Guilds Game System page for details, and to search for or join a guild, visit the Guild HQ now! Also be sure to visit the Guilds FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions.

Good news for the pre-launch guilds. So get cracking and set your allegiances. :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Studio Insider: Combat Animation

Last Friday BioWare had a Studio Insider for us with a look at combat animations and a Q&A on PvP, and they had an update on their presence at Eurogamer Expo coming weekend.

The Studio Insider starts with Principal Lead Animator Mark How giving a description of the combat animations. Here's an excerpt:

Once we knew what our rules were for combat, the programmers and animators were able to create a Lightsaber clashing system that could predict the volleys of weapons fire and other attacks being thrown at the player from all directions, and have the player dynamically react to ‘block’ these attacks. Not only that, but we were able to keep this system active while players were deflecting directed attacks, engaged in melee combat or even running. Players may not even realize all the factors that are coming into play to visually represent the combat experience, but we believe it’s critical for making the player really feel fully engaged in the fight. Without these dynamics, the players would wind up locked in certain animations when they go to engage in a “Stock strike” or “Project,” and then the combat would really be failing to capture the feel of Star Wars; it would give the player the impression that they are watching the action rather than taking part in it for themselves.

Most of the article comes down to "we have an animation system", "we spend a while developing it" and "it's fairly complex" without going into detail about what system they actually have. It would've been interesting to learn exactly what they're doing to give combat a cinematic feel without giving players the sense that they're losing control of their characters. I also suspect that most players will never really notice the nuances of the animation system much (after the first few times of "hey, my guy blocked that blaster bolt with his lightsaber"), which is a pity.

After the break a quick look at the Q&A, the Eurogamer Expo news and the developer quotes.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Smuggler Character Progression

I'm back from my long weekend and had a bit of catching up to do regarding SWTOR (and it didn't help that they had site maintenance today). But now that I am I can bring you last Friday's updates.

There were three updates; a character progression video for Smugglers, a blog post about... let's call it The Old Republic's expanded universe, and a PAX highlights video. Here is the official news for the progression video:

As your character progresses through the saga of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, you will see them advance as you unlock new skills and acquire or craft superior gear.

Whether running blockades to deliver vital supplies or evading Imperial patrols, the Smuggler must rely on his wit and guile just as much as the blaster at his side. As the price on his head rises and his enemies grow more dangerous, the Smuggler will have to acquire new skills and utilize more powerful weapons and armor to survive.

Get a look at some of the ways the Smuggler can progress and see just a small fraction of the weapons, armor and abilities that become available to him.

Let us know what you think of the video in the Forums.

It's a nice video, giving a decent impression of the Smuggler. But I can't help but note one thing. Though it's based on one of my favorite Indiana Jones scenes (if not executed quite so well) there's a scene that made me raise my eyebrows. I've wondered how they would balance a class such as a Smuggler to be in line with the power of a Jedi/Sith (at least in Troopers and Bounty Hunters I can see how they do it... lots of heavy weaponry). And the clip where the Smuggler one-shots a Sith shows that they didn't, not really. Because nobody should be able to score any kind of hit like that facing any kind of Force user. Yes, I know that you won't be able to one-shot like that in gameplay (ignoring level-differences), but it still seemed very odd that anyone could just do that with a blaster. It's like taking a pebble and throwing it through a fortified vault door.

It just brought back fears that they aren't handling the power balance, how Jedi/Sith are near demi-gods in the lore, properly. And that could have severe consequences for how the setting feels. How much it feels like Star Wars.

Anyway, after the break the other two updates, a few tidbits, and the developer quotes.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

GamesCom 2011 Highlight Video

It's been a busy few weeks for The Old Republic. This weekend is testing weekend for a lot of people (in NA) giving them a few days to playtest the game. Last weekend was PAX and the week before was GamesCom. Busy times indeed.

On Friday BioWare posted a highlights video of the latter (mostly glimpses of other people playing). Here is the official news:

We had an incredible experience at this year’s GamesCom, with Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ winning the 2011 GamesCom Award for Best Online Game as well as being a huge hit with everyone that attended! The air was electric from the excitement as fans and journalists filed through our booth to get some hands-on time with both Origin Worlds and Alderaan Warzone PvP! The reaction from the fans at the show left us feeling incredibly grateful for having such a passionate and dedicated community.

Knowing that not everyone could make it to Cologne for the show, we wanted to share our experience with all of you. Thank you for all of your continued support and enthusiasm for the game!

Check out our GamesCom Highlight Video now!

Obviously there isn't anything new in the video, but it's nice to see the crowds.

Read on after the break for a couple of interviews from PAX and the developer quotes.