Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall.
Yes, that's this fall... I think that's way sooner than anyone expected. Read on after the break for the official press release and more details.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is going free-to-play this fall.
Yes, that's this fall... I think that's way sooner than anyone expected. Read on after the break for the official press release and more details.
As such this post isn't about SWTOR, it's mostly not even about MMOs. It's just about what one of the biggest events for gaming had on display this year. And my wholly personal take on things.
I'll split this into two parts. The first looking at the five main press conferences and the second part looking at a number of the games. Catch it all after the break.
BioWare also posted the video Dr. Muzyka shows at the end there on the official website:
Preview Exciting New Reveals from E3!
Throughout E3, journalists will be able to take a sneak peek at some of the exciting content that is coming to Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ in the next year. This includes new Space Content, an increased level cap, the upcoming Operation: Terror From Beyond, which takes players to the Gree-controlled world of Asation to battle against an army of unseen horrors, and more!
But our biggest reveal is the announcement of Makeb, a brand new planet never-before seen in the Star Wars™ universe! A fully-realized world for you and your friends to explore, Makeb will also introduce an all-new storyline. The Hutt Cartel, tired of being ignored by the great powers of the galaxy, has taken Makeb in an attempt to acquire an unmatched power which can bring both the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire to their knees. It will be up to you and your allies to face off against the Hutt Cartel, breaking their hold on this once tranquil world and end their bid for galactic domination.
Preview Makeb and see a small sampling of the other content coming up, in this new gameplay preview!
One thing you might notice when watching the two videos is that the second one, the one on the official site, doesn't include the "New Playable Species: Cathar" bit. I'm not sure why they left that out, but it's not there and it definitely is in the first one.
For the rest it's a new Flashpoint, a new Warzone, a new space mission, etc. The biggest surprise in the whole thing was that they're planning to raise the level cap before the year is out, extending the class stories onto a new planet from what I understand. Dr. Muzyka also announced that The Old Republic will be free-to-play for the first fifteen levels come July (which is pretty much the same as all the free weekends and friend trials that they've had, just without limit).
To be honest I found the whole thing, SWTOR's entire E3 presence, to be decidedly disappointing. Perhaps that is because I was hoping for a big announcement, like the development of an expansion or such and nothing of what they announced really fit the bill. In fact everything was altogether very expected. I would even say that it sounded somewhat minimal in the way that they represented it as "one of everything".
True, the raised level cap was a surprise... but I'm not actually sure that's a good thing. One of the biggest challenges for TOR right now is giving people enough to do. By raising the level cap, even if it's just by five levels (as I suspect), you're basically invalidating all of the current endgame content (just remember how trivial level 45 content is for your level 50 character). To keep all of that relevant they have to do a lot of extra work. Work which, I think, would be better spent on either making more current endgame content, or by making more of the existing content viable for a maxed out character (like downscaling characters going back to lower zones and such; lesson learned from GW2). Sure I want to continue my class stories and adding more for that is good, but I think that they can do this without raising the level cap.
Anyway, after the break more details about changes coming in Game Update 1.3, details on character transfers, the Community Q&A from last Friday, a bunch of links from E3, and the developer quotes.
Last Friday BioWare had another Community Q&A focused around Game Update 1.3. Here's an excerpt:
Dzeiger: With the changes to make social gear "adaptive" and augmentable and thus more desirable, are there any plans to revise the social points system? For example, making it per-Legacy rather than per-character, and/or expanding options for social point gathering at endgame that doesn't involve endless Esseles and Black Talon runs.
Daniel: Yes, the social point system will be getting a major revamp in the future and many of our systems will be going Legacy-wide, though whether social is one of them is still under discussion. In the meantime, Game Update 1.3 will bring social points to all Flashpoint and Operation boss kills, meaning far more social points just for being social and playing with friends.
I've personally pretty much given up on getting any social points; I guess that I'm just not social. But even so this seems like I good change and I seriously hope that they make social points a Legacy-wide system.
After the break a Community Team update, a few updates from various sites and a handful of developer quotes.
Mallorik: What is your philosophy on cross server LFG tools? Are we getting a same server tool just to hold us over while you work on cross server tech or is this just a test to see if a same server tool will do the job?
Daniel: Although we’re certainly willing to entertain the idea of cross-server LFG tools if the need arises, it’s a last resort for us. We firmly believe for cooperative play it is important to have a community and social responsibility that you simply can’t have with players appearing and disappearing from your reality. Instead we are pushing hard on servers that are massive compared to the ones we launched with. Early tests show we’ll be able to raise the peak concurrent user cap above what it was at launch. Combining that with server transfers to enable players to move to these new servers and fill them to the brim, we should see some fantastic, vibrant communities develop where Group Finder will always be able to find someone for your content.
There has been some speculation on what exactly they mean with these super servers, but I think that regardless it's absolutely vital for the health of the game to ensure that the general server populations seem healthy again. Though I also fear that any talk of server merges will likely just add fuel to the fire of the perception that the game is 'dying', so they have to be careful. I'm betting the impression that they're going with the spin that they've increased the capacity of the servers and that is why they're merging. Though I think that the only way to really pull that off if by doing away with 'servers' altogether and just go for a single one (per territory). We'll see.
The post also promised more detailed blog articles in the near future about Game Update 1.3, so looking forward to read those.
After the break a new TOR novel and another interview. No developer quotes this time (since it has only been a few days since the previous post there haven't been much of any new developer posts to quote).
See what the future holds for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, as Game Director James Ohlen highlights some of the new game systems coming in Game Update 1.3, as well as some of the playable content that will be released in the coming months. In this ‘Coming Up’ video, you will learn about the new Group Finder and Character Transfer systems, as well as new Legacy Perks and other features that are coming in the next Game Update, Allies.
The group finder sounds good. Character transfer is good as well, though I wonder about the details of how it works (for example: do we have to pay real money for a character transfer). The Legacy Perks they've pretty much talked about since they started talking about the Legacy System; maybe they'll convince me to start paying any attention at all to the Legacy system. And I also quite like the adaptive gear even if pretty much all of the social gear is way out of my league since I've got hardly any social points. Either way, it sounds like it'll be a decent update.
After the break some interviews, some bad news for BioWare and the developer quotes.
Freeborne: Alacrity as a stat seems to be encouraged in "Energy Based' classes (Troopers/Smugglers) through our talent trees. However, Alacrity seems to be a terrible secondary stat for us. The faster we use abilities, the faster we lose our energy - and the less energy we have, the less energy we regenerate. Are there any plans to review Alacrity, or at least its place in some class talent trees?
Austin: I agree. We're exploring ways of improving Alacrity that we hope to get working for a future Game Update. As much as I'd like to, I can't provide details on this plan yet. It's possible that we'll address passive Alacrity boosts in the skill trees, but those changes need to be solid and work for the long haul; it would be unacceptable to have a ‘temporary’ skill in place that we planned on removing at a later date.
I'm not a min-maxer by any stretch of the imagination, but I've never been quite certain of the use of Alacrity. Then when I read a blog post somewhere making an argument that anything that lets you use your skills faster is basically a poor choice as it also burns through your energy faster that made a lot of sense to me. As such I've kind of been ignoring Alacrity in my characters even if it sounds like a cool thing, making you faster. So it's welcome to hear that they're looking at approaching that differently.
After the break the developer quotes and a quick reply by EA on investors losing a bit of faith in The Old Republic.
Hello everyone! My name is Eric Musco and I, along with Brooks Guthrie are happy to bring you episode one of the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ podcast, “Rocket Boots”. You can listen by using the embedded player, by downloading and listening on your preferred MP3 player, or check it out on our YouTube channel.
In this episode, we sit down with Daniel Erickson and Damion Schubert to talk about what we saw in Game Update 1.2 and what we can expect as we look forward to Game Update 1.3. Also, David Bass stops by to tell us about how things went at PAX East and share some of our convention plans for the rest of the year. If you have any questions or comments about the show, feel free to let us know in this forum thread.
Thanks for listening!
It's a nice podcast, talking a bit about how update 1.2 came together with the UI customization and the legacy stuff. And What we can expect in update 1.3 (namely primarily the group finder but also changes to crafting like adding augment slots and being able to tank in social outfits). Worth a listen to. Besides, where else are you going to hear Mr. Daniel Erickson's radio voice?
After the break I'll embed the YouTube version and copy the full transcript.
There's a the (temporary) return of Fan Friday and there's BioWare taking action against fraudulent payments. There's also news on subscription numbers coming from EA's earnings call and the developer quotes. But all that is after the break, first let's take a look at the Community Q&A BioWare posted last Friday; here's an excerpt:
Lorroc: Are there any plans to introduce a mentoring system in SWTOR? In some other MMOs, this mentoring system lowers the stats and armor of high level characters and grays out abilities that they didn't have during lower levels so that they can help their lower level friends.
Damion: I'm a big fan of ‘down leveling,’ and I've been pushing to add something like this for a long, LONG time. Plus, you just can't ignore the master/apprentice relationship as being a core part of the Star Wars experience. So yeah, this is coming -- someday. And, as always, it will have a couple of unique twists that I think people will enjoy.
Ooh, I'm definitely a fan of 'down leveling' as well; anything to make it easier for people to play together despite level difference. And I'm curious what twists they'll add. I hope it includes participating in your low-level friend's quests instead of just tagging along as they do their quests). We'll see.
Read on after the break for all the other stuff I mentioned above.
Carefully the young woman makes her way into the cave. She is supposed to meet up with some friends to learn the fate of her long lost parents. But the lure of adventure is too strong and that cave-mouth beckons to be explored. Her past can wait a bit longer.
In the distance looms an imposing figure, a giant who clearly has made the cave his home. Careful not to draw his attention she works her way around him, trying to keep from stepping on any of the grubs scrawling across the floor. More used to being the center of attention than to slinking through the shadows her efforts are in vain and soon she notices him staring at her with a bemused smile. Thankfully for her he turns out to be friendly and he introduces himself as Gort. But no sooner had they exchanged pleasantries or in marches a band of ettins appearing set on violence. This looks like trouble...
Last weekend was the first public Guild Wars 2 beta. It wasn't open as such and it wasn't the first beta weekend the game had, but it was the first time that those who had pre-purchased the game could join. So it was the first time that people other than those selected by ArenaNet could experience the game in comfort. And with Guild Wars 2 being consistently one of the, if not the, most anticipated MMOs in development this was a big deal.
Having spent those two days experiencing the game myself I thought that it might be interesting to write up some of my experiences and views of the game.
This article wasn't that easy to write. You see, I've fallen a bit in love with Guild Wars 2. That makes it very hard to remain objective. And it makes it hard to shut up about it, leading to a very long article. Still, I tried. But the first draft not only turned out to be massively long (probably two or three times the length it is now), I also realized that what I was doing was explaining how the game worked much more than what I thought of it. Since my opinion is the whole point, and there are already plenty of places to learn how the game works, I decided to scrap most everything and start fresh, focusing on my opinions and experiences. The resulting article is still very long (I'm not one known for brevity anyway), but hopefully more easily digestible.
Read on after the break for my preview based on the beta weekend.
Arymono: When will character transfers be available for everybody?
Dallas Dickinson (Senior Producer, Live Services): We will be rolling out our Character Transfer Service in early summer. First we’ll have some targeted free transfers from/to specific servers, but that will be followed with a broader system where you can either take advantage of free promotional transfers to specific servers or paid transfers to the server of your choice. We know everyone has more questions about character transfer, and we’ll reveal more details closer to the launch date.
DrakeAssaShin: What is being done to address low population servers?
Dallas: The Character Transfer Service, as mentioned above, will be offering free transfers from/to specific servers. This should allow the most motivated players to get onto a higher population server.
I kind of wonder how that's going to work. If the free transfers are from unpopulated servers to populated servers then isn't that just going to make things worse for the unpopulated servers? And the other way around I can't see a lot of people taking them up on the offer. The only thing of use that I can see is offering people free transfers if their server is going to be merged into another server or such. But I'm sure BioWare knows what they're doing better than I do.
The Q&A also has some tantalizing hints of things to come in the future.
After the base The Old Republic expands, its player base shrinks (a little) and the developers keep chattering away on the official forums.
Irouven: What is the idea behind the selection at the equipment vendor for planetary commendations? Sometimes you get boots, sometimes chest-armor, never a potential "full" outfit.
Damion: We don't want you to get all of the pieces of an armor set from any one source of gear. We want you to do multiple activities in the game to build out a full set of gear. This is a conscious decision on our part to encourage and reward playing multiple facets of the game. So you should do other things -- heroics, check the GTN, etc -- the full set of gear is out there.
I'm not entirely sure I like that. I think I'd prefer to get a full, different, set per gameplay activity. But I can understand why they did it like this. In the end I don't really care that much about gear, as look as my character looks nice.
After the break some more news, a few articles from across the web, and the developer quotes.
We are excited to unveil the brand new Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ website! We’ve completely rebuilt the website from the ground-up, with the intention of providing you with the latest game updates in an easy to navigate way. In addition to all of the latest news and information that is released, we’re also going to give you much more information about in-game content. Right now, you can check out our updated Flashpoints page on the Holonet, which includes information for each of the seventeen Flashpoints currently in the game.
In addition to information on every Flashpoint, we’ll also be adding much more to the new and improved Holonet. In the coming weeks this will include brand new biography pages for each and every one of your Companion Characters, as well as new pages dedicated to highlighting the many different Operations and PvP Warzones that you can experience in the game.
But this is only the beginning. We’ll be continuing to update the website with an array of new features and functionality, such as Guild support, Skill Trees, Character Profiles, and so much more!
Continue to check out www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com for the latest news and information about the game, and don’t forget to check out our new and improved Community Blog for the additional news, patch notes, and insight from the development team.
Having looked around a bit I must say that I like it a lot so far. It's nice and clean and not filled with Flash nonsense everywhere. Good job BioWare.
See the other three videos further down (after the break). There are more, user-gathered, details on the event on the official forums. Apparently participating in the event nets players rakghoul DNA which they can trade in for goodies.
From a roleplaying perspective I'm somewhat in a quandary... both of my characters (Sniper and Sage) would probably listen to the news broadcast and stay away from Tatooine. But that would mean that I'd miss out on the event. So I might just go "out of character" and have a look (tonight) anyway.
Next to the other three videos after the break there's also a few links and a few developer quotes.
Today we released our second major Game Update, Legacy. The scope of this update is much larger than our first update and is probably one of the largest free updates ever released for a MMORPG. We’ve talked a lot about how we are going to support our fans throughout 2012 with major updates to the game. We hope the Legacy update proves to you how serious we are about this.
This Game Update has something for everyone. A new Operation, Flashpoint and Warzone. New solo content on Corellia. The unveiling of our Legacy system. Interface customization, Guild banks, Galactic Trade improvements, etc. If you want an idea of just how big this update is, check out the patch notes. Over 18,000 words long!
The most important element of this update is the Legacy system. Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ has more unique story content than any other entertainment product in history. The Legacy system allows you to experience that story content in a different way. We will be continuing to support the Legacy system throughout the year, with major additions coming in our future updates. Including one that will make fans of the original Knights of the Old Republic very happy.
Our future updates are largely based off of feedback from you, our fans. We hear you when you ask for easier ways to group, a way to transfer characters to other servers and that you want more ways to engage in PVP. These things are coming - many of them in our third update.
However, we also want to surprise you with additions to the game that you weren’t expecting. While we managed to cover a lot of the biggest Star Wars fantasies with our initial release, we know we didn’t get them all. If you have a favorite moment from the Star Wars™ movies that you have yet to be able to experience in the game so far, be assured that we know about those as well. One day you will get to live out your Wedge Antilles, General Veers or Sebulba fantasies.
Your Saga Continues: Story in Game Update 1.2
Crew Skills in Game Update 1.2
Your Legacy Begins
PvP in Game Update 1.2
Community Q&A: Friday March 30th, 2012: Game Update 1.2 Special
Community Q&A: Friday April 6th, 2012: Game Update 1.2 Special
Update on Ranked Warzones in Game Update 1.2
They also posted a new video for the new Operation, some disappointing news about ranked Warzones, and some good news for many subscribers. For all that read on after the break.
The galaxy is in turmoil. War rages across countless worlds as Republic and Imperial forces struggle for control of critical resources. Amidst the chaos, threats emerge from all sides. The planet Denova, known for its extensive deposits of baradium ore, has been seized by a band of mercenaries and veteran Imperial defectors with mysterious motives. If they are not dislodged, the explosive arsenal they can create will give them the power to destroy any armed force – Republic or Imperial. On Corellia, a corrupt councilor attempts to maximize hypermatter profits by playing both sides of the conflict, and the crazed mastermind behind the Rakghoul outbreak, discovered on Ord Mantell, continues to threaten the lives of all sentient beings in the galaxy…
Game Update 1.2 – Legacy introduces exciting new content and features for all Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ players. Dig deeper into your personal Star Wars saga with the expanded Legacy system! Construct your family tree and unlock new rewards, abilities, and perks for all the characters in your Legacy as you advance your characters.
Visit the Black Hole area on Corellia to complete new level 50 daily missions, experience the finale of the Rakghoul outbreak storyline in the Lost Island Flashpoint, and get ready to challenge the mercenary warlord Kephess and his deadly allies for control of Denova's critical resources in the all-new Operation: Explosive Conflict. You'll also have the chance to face off against your foes or participate in a same-faction training mission in the all-new Novare Coast Warzone, a 3-point domination battle!
Game Update 1.2 brings even more new features to Star Wars: The Old Republic. UI Customization has been added to the game! Detach, move, resize, and arrange UI elements to suit your personal playstyle in the new Interface Editor. Guild Banks are also available – store and share resources with your guild! Additions and changes have been made to Crew Skills, classes, and more - read the full patch notes to discover all the changes!
We are excited to reveal Novare Coast, our latest Player-vs-Player Warzone featured in the upcoming Game Update 1.2 “Legacy” for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™!
On the war-torn planet of Denova, opposing forces vie for control of Novare Coast, a strategically vital beachhead that leads to the open oceans of Denova. Whoever controls this coastline will have a decisive advantage in taking control of the planet. To secure the beach, sides battle for control of three mortar turrets which can be used to pound the enemy with artillery fire.
See the Warzone for yourself by checking out the latest video.
Since I'm not one for PvP there's really not much for me to say about the video.
After the break the Community Q&A, a number of links and the developer quotes.
We will be bringing down servers for eight hours on April 12th, 2012 from 12:01AM CDT (April 11th, 10:01PM PDT/1:01AM EDT/6:01AM BST/7:01AM CEST/3:01PM AEST) until 8AM CDT (6AM PDT/9AM EDT/2PM BST/3PM CEST/11PM AEST) in order to deploy Game Update 1.2 - Legacy. All game servers will be offline during this period. SWTOR.com will be available. This maintenance is expected to take no more than eight hours, but could be extended.
Please note the timing on this maintenance period, which is beginning earlier than usual.
Game Update 1.2 – Legacy introduces new content and features for all Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ players. Earn new rewards and build your family tree with the expanded Legacy System, explore Lost Island, a new Flashpoint, challenge the new Operation: Explosive Conflict, and face off against your foes (or your allies) in Novare Coast, a new Warzone. You can also experience new daily missions on Corellia, customize your User Interface, create a new Guild Bank for your guild, and more! Learn more about Game Update 1.2 here!
After this maintenance is over, restart the game launcher to patch to Game Update 1.2. This patch will be up to approximately 1Gb in size, depending on when you last updated the game.
Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2012 (See PDT timing below)
Time: 12:01AM CDT (April 11th, 10:01PM PDT/1:01AM EDT/6:01AM BST/7:01AM CEST/3:01PM AEST) until 8AM CDT (6AM PDT/9AM EDT/2PM BST/3PM CEST/11PM AEST)
All game servers will be offline during this period. SWTOR.com will be available. This maintenance is expected to take no more than eight hours.
Thank you for your patience as we maintain service for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.
Last chance to get your white crystals and such.
Game Update 1.2: Legacy for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ introduces several new systems to the game, including the option for you to customize your User Interface. You’ll be able to alter the placement and size of each UI element to suit your own personal preference.
In this new video, Lead Interface Artist Michael Voigt shows us how it all works.
User Interface customization is just one of the new gameplay systems that will be coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic in Game Update 1.2. You can learn about another of Game Update 1.2’s features by watching our Developer Dispatch on the Legacy System, and you can see a preview all of the new content coming up in this Game Update by checking out the New Features video.
My first thought on seeing it? "Wow, that actually looks really good". I honestly expected it to be limited to just being able to move some key elements around and maybe some scaling. But it's actually quite extensive. Best of all, in my opinion, is the ability to save layout and share them with others. It wouldn't surprise me if someone would set up a repository online for people to share their UI layouts. Though I think I'll stick to making the changes myself (probably just tweaking the current UI a bit here and there).
I'm sure that it's not news to those already playing around with the system on the Test server, but as someone who hasn't seen it in action yet I must say that I'm impressed and looking forward to 1.2 going live so that I can play around with it.
First the important news though; as of last weekend I'm playing TOR again. After getting my Agent to level 50 and finishing the class story (as well as some things in my personal life) I'd pretty much stopped playing TOR for a number of weeks. The intention was to start a new class (a Consular) and play with a friend (playing a Knight), but that didn't materialize so instead of wasting my subscription fee I decided to just play solo. If it happens after all I think I'll just play a (healing) Trooper; getting through those first ten levels should be quick enough.
Two things I've noticed over the last weekend. First, it's incredibly easy getting a group as a healer to the point of people coming to you to ask you to group with them. Though I've played healers in the past it was always with someone so I didn't really look for grouping up with others. Second thing; healing in a group is incredibly easy and somewhat boring. I've got a full skill bar, yet am limited to using just three of them (at level 15) more or less. That was while playing Hammer Station (during which we did wipe once because of a mistake I made). I don't mind it that much though; I kind of like focusing on keeping my group healthy instead of killing enemies. And I'm sure things will pick up at higher level. Overall I'm enjoying my Consular so far; quite enjoying the somewhat slower, more mystical pace of the story.
Anyway, enough about me; on to the official news.
First is a blog post by Senior Game Designer William Wallace called "Your Legacy Begins". Here's an excerpt:
You may have already started your Legacy by picking a Legacy Name. This happens when you finish Chapter 1 with your first character. From this point, all of your characters on that server are now considered part of your Legacy, regardless of faction. This means that any existing characters which have not been played past Chapter 1 will gain a Legacy Name, and any newly created characters will also have their Legacy Name available from character creation.
From Game Update 1.2: Legacy, unlocking your Legacy grants you access to a newly expanded Legacy Panel (accessed, by default, by pressing the ‘Y’ key) where you can modify your family tree, and see what Legacy Rewards you have unlocked.
I'm probably sounding a bit like a broken record on this by now, but I still wonder what the point of the family tree is. It doesn't really do anything for roleplayers as it doesn't give them anything that they couldn't already do and is more restricting than liberating (I can't help but come up with some complex family trees that this legacy system probably can't represent such as half-siblings, incestuous relationships in the tree, double relationships such as your brother also being your rival, etc, etc; but then I haven't tried it on the test server so maybe it can do all of that and more). It just seems like a lot of effort to implement something for fairly little return. It would help if other people could see your family tree (even if it's 'just' somewhere on the website). The only thing that I can think of is that they did it to re-enforce the notion of this being a 'family legacy' as that really doesn't exist anywhere other than in this family tree despite how hard BioWare is saying that familial bonds are a cornerstone of Star Wars. It doesn't do anything for any of their four pillars.
Beyond the tree the rest of the Legacy system is reasonably nice though. Though I'm not entirely sure about the whole Heroic Moment requirement for class unlocks, considering that I can count the number of times I actually used the heroic moment with my Agent on one hand. Considering the requirements (Heroic Moment, companion character, long cooldown, etc) it all seems a bit too restrictive. Not to mention that the Agent's unlock, Orbital Bombardment as I understand it, has a long cast time; I felt that it was only really useful as an opening move when facing a group of weaker mobs. As such I somehow seriously doubt that my Consular will ever make use of Legacy Orbital Bombardment. But it's the thought that counts.
There's a few surprises in there as well. I didn't know about the extra customization options for some species, let alone that those would be unlocked too. I didn't know of the alignment milestones (though it doesn't affect grey alignment just yet; see below). I didn't know of the companion unlocks, class emotes or class buffs. And I didn't know of the Rocket Boost. So overall a nice system.
Read on after the break for the PvP blog article, the Community Q&A, the announcement of the new official podcast and the developer quotes.
Jedi Knights, Smugglers, Bounty Hunters and the other class characters may be the heroes in the wider galaxy, but on board the starship, the Ship Droids are the heroes. That’s why, as part of Game Update 1.2, you will soon be able to assume direct control over your Droid’s actions with Ship Droid™, a brand new mini-game coming to The Old Republic!
Features of this mini-game include cleaning the cockpit windows, calibrating the ship’s food processors, and several other exciting maintenance duties:
It's a nice April Fools' joke and got a few chuckles out of me. Though I also think it's a bit of a missed opportunity to make fun of some of the controversy around TOR. Maybe poke a bit of fun at the PvP problems the game has/had, or have a laugh at the same-sex controversy some elements raised. It almost gets there and I quite liked the scene with SCORPIO, but it would've been even better had it been with T7-O1.
Nice, but definitely not the best April Fools' joke yesterday. Read on after the break as I highlight a few of the (non-TOR-related) April Fools' jokes.
Niktika: Can you please explain some of the reasoning behind the healing nerfs? It almost seems like every healer is up in arms regardless of their class.
Georg: Sometimes it's hard to hear this, but the change to healers you're referring to was, quite simply, a result of them being too good. When one healer is close to target performance and the others aren't, it's natural to think that the logical course is to buff the underperformer and leave the over-performers alone. I want to dispel that notion and explain why it isn't always possible.
All specs for all roles have a target performance. This is what drives the balance of the game: soloing, Heroics, PvP, Flashpoints, Operations... everything. When those targets aren't hit, we can't just ‘bring everyone up’ to the highest performer without negatively impacting the balance of the game and creating unsustainable inflation in our combat system. Frankly, it's also a lot more work to change all end game content in the game to compensate for an over-performing role than to bring the role back in line. The hard but simple truth is that Sorcerers and Sages had better Force management than we intended (e.g. a well-played Sage was almost incapable of running out of Force) and Mercenaries and Commandos were significantly over target in their healing performance.
After considerable testing, we're more confident than ever that all healing roles are both closer to target performance and closer to one another than ever before, leading to a much tighter balance on end game content. The community will be able to confirm this using the new combat logging feature in Game Update 1.2.
I know trying to ‘sell’ a downwards adjustment (AKA nerf) to anyone affected is like selling the need for a tax increase to people. When you are on the receiving end of it, you're not going to be happy about it. It may appear massive to you, even if the overall impact is limited. You likely won't care that it's 'for the greater good of the game' and, if you decide to disagree with our action, there's little we can do to sway you.
Based on the feedback brought to us so far from testers playing on PTS along with metrics and combat logs gathered from our guild testers, we are going to make additional adjustments before Game Update 1.2 is promoted to the live servers. For example, we reopened the internal debate about having an in-combat resurrect ability for Mercenaries/Commandos based on PTS feedback regarding the new Operations, in light of the higher utility value this ability brings to the table in 1.2. We're listening to your feedback, too, and rebalancing some of the changes made to healing based on data gathered from PTS. Look out for a future update to PTS for more details.
After the break the developer quotes.
The Legacy System is coming in Game Update 1.2, and with it, a new dimension to The Old Republic™ experience. Like the Skywalkers, you’ll build your own family tree in the Star Wars™ galaxy, linking your characters on the same server together. Your achievements will open up new species options, new abilities for all the characters in your Legacy, and that’s only the beginning…
Watch the new Developer Dispatch video to learn how to start your Legacy and hear from the Developers about the ideas and efforts that went into the system’s design.
I'm still puzzled as to what the point is of the family tree (does it do anything other that have a personal organization of characters). Maybe it restricts what characters can get what legacy benefits (which would be stupid). Maybe it's something that other players can see (which there's no word of). Maybe there's something else with it. But right now it just sounds like a fairly pointless organization of character portraits that has no actual effect at all. I don't get it.
The rest of the legacy system seems nice though. Most interesting was the legacy items (items that bind to your legacy, but can be traded freely between characters within that legacy). Hopefully they'll make all BoP/BoE items shareable within your legacy, but somehow I doubt that they will (even so makes me wonder whether I should get a white crystal on my Imperial Agent on the off-chance that it may become shareable with my Consular at some point in the future... seems like a lot of credits for just a chance).
Ah well, enjoy the video either way.
Reverse engineering and Research
Reverse engineering has shown to be a surprisingly popular mechanic practiced by a large number of our players. With this update, the team has not only significantly increased the chances of successfully researching a new schematic through reverse engineering, but also improved the overall functionality of the reverse engineering system.
For example, you will now see a 'Research Available' indicator in item tooltips while in reverse engineering mode, indicating if a schematic can be researched from an item. The dreaded 'You already know this schematic' message when discovering an already known schematic is also a thing of the past. Instead, players now discover another available schematic in that case, leading to less frustrating and more predictable research advancement.
We have also added new content for both the leveling and end game:
- Players with the appropriate professions are now able to reverse engineer random loot items and acquire materials from them - including Operations materials from end game items.
- Reverse engineering and research is now available for tier 2 end game items (and will automatically happen if the player wins a 'disassemble' loot in a group).
- Mods from tier 2 end game items may now be extracted and researched. However, Armorings that provide a set bonus can only be extracted. They do not yield research schematics.
- Modifiable weapons and armor can now be reverse engineered and researched into empty, custom (orange) shells with the same name and appearance, adding a wide variety of new outfits to the game.
Also, though I won't quote it, BioWare announced this weekend will be another Weekend Pass Free Trial for those who didn't participate in the first one.
But anyway, that lack of enthusiasm extends to keeping the blog updated, which in turn means I've got a rather big backlog. Particularly since last week a fair number of details from the Guild Summit were released across various sites. Add about half-a-dozen official BioWare updates and a truckload of dev tracker notes and it's a lot to get through.
So let's get to it. To start with last Friday BioWare's writer Charles Boyd posted a BioWare Community blog entry titled "Your Saga Continues: Story in Game Update 1.2". Here's an excerpt:
First, you will be called upon to return to the embattled world of Corellia, joining their faction’s forces to carry out missions in an all-new district known as the Black Hole. Refineries in the Black Hole process a rare and unstable starship fuel called hypermatter that’s necessary for all starship travel, and a critical component of fleet operations for the Republic and the Empire. Hoping to play both sides for maximum profits, a corrupt Corellian councilor has seized control of the entire district, hiring the toughest mercenaries and deadliest criminal scum available to lock down his holdings, effectively enslaving the refinery workers, and brutalizing anyone who tries to stand against him. Whether the councilor’s new regime stands will be up to you.
Read on after the break for... well a whole lot of stuff.
Today we are excited to announce the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Weekend Pass Free* Trial. Now for a limited time, you will be able to live out your very own Star Wars™ saga with thousands of other players for free! With the Star Wars: The Old Republic Weekend Pass Free Trial, individuals who don’t already have a previously-active Star Wars: The Old Republic account will be allowed to see a portion of what the game has to offer, free of charge, with no payment method required, for up to four days!
Individuals who take part in the Weekend Pass will be able to experience the opening adventures of each of the eight character classes in the game, exploring both their Origin World and their faction’s Capital World. Additionally, Weekend Pass players will have the chance to face off against other players in PvP Warzones, or join up with friends and play through a couple of early faction-specific Flashpoints in the game, The Esseles and The Black Talon.
The Weekend Pass Free Trial opens Thursday, March 15th, 12:01AM CT / 5:01AM GMT and ends on Monday, March 19th at 2:00AM CT / 7:00AM GMT. To learn more, visit www.StarWarsTheOldRepublic.com/weekendpass and come back on March 15th to create your account, download the game, and begin your free trial! Have questions? Visit the Weekend Pass FAQ.
There is some 'small print' in the original post as well (which I left out above). Mostly under what circumstances the offer doesn't apply to you.
Overall it's looking pretty good though. Hopefully this'll help show the game to some more players.
Read on after the break for a Facebook Q&A with Damion Schubert.
JediCarve - Will our ships ever get upgraded to include mailboxes and the Galactic Trade Network so that we will be able to access those without having to go through the process of load screens and Orbital Stations/Spaceports?
Damion Schubert (Principal Lead Systems Designer): On one hand, we really like making the ships richer and more useful, and on the other hand, we also want to be sure that the fleets feel like vibrant centers of the game community. So the answer is... Yes! And this feature is coming as soon as Game Update 1.2 ... as ship features you can unlock as part of the Legacy system. Watch for more information about Legacy unlocks coming in Game Update 1.2 - we should be dropping that Real Soon Now.
There's definitely more on the Legacy system as they've talked a lot about that during the Guild Summit. It's nice to have mail and GTN on your ship, though I wonder if legacy points aren't better spent on something else (at least mailboxes are plentiful enough even if that makes the most sense to have on your ship). Read the rest of the questions at the original page.
Read on after the break for details on the friends trial, an interview with Gabe Amatangelo, details from the Guild Summit, information on Game Update 1.2 and the developer quotes.
I'll divide the list into four rough categories: "Past Releases" for MMOs that have been released since the previous blog post, "Near Future Releases" with those MMOs I expect to launch sometime in 2012 (though note that only about half the MMOs I expected to launch in 2011 actually did), "Distant Future Releases" for MMOs I expect to launch much later (2013 and on) and "Off the Radar" for MMOs I haven't heard anything about since my previous post (and might never be released) or which seem to be canceled. And just as before this isn't meant to be an exhaustive list (though I do think I've got most of the more important ones). And the information too won't be exhaustive as it's pretty much tied to my interest in a title; sometimes a title might have a fair bit of information out on it but since I've got little interest in it I haven't much to say about it.
Even so it took a good while to put this all together. I started writing well before The Old Republic was even released and thus had to regularly update the text with new information and changes. Hopefully everything is now as accurate as I can make it and hopefully you'll find the post informative. Read on after the break for the list.
Massively Multiplayer Online games are built around living, breathing worlds that are always evolving, and Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ is no different. In our upcoming Game Update 1.2, we’ll be introducing a wide assortment of new features and content, while also introducing a number of improvements and changes to the in-game economy.
As we work to create a more player-driven economy, you can expect significant improvements to Crew skills, and an extension of Crew skill gameplay, such as item creation and research, into the Elder-Game content. You’ll also see new items brought into the game, including new schematics, Legacy items, a new tier of Player vs Player and Player vs Environment weapons and armor, Legacy items, new schematics, and the ability to extract base-mods from purple items, as well as many other changes and improvements.
Weekly patch 1.1.5 (which is now on the Public Test Server) implements a number of changes in preparation of the upcoming Game Update, including the much requested removal of Light Side / Dark Side requirements on color crystals.
As it is expected when large scale changes are made to an economic system, enterprising players often find interesting opportunities to benefit from their knowledge about the changes beforehand (for example by studying test server patch notes).
With patch 1.1.5, we’ve decided to embrace these economic entrepreneurs and even go a step further:
By publishing a series of rumors and stories that are coming in across both the Imperial and Republic news wires, we are providing all of you with advance knowledge about some of the things to come in the near future…
The rest of the article includes these in character "rumors and stories". Mainly it's changes to speeder availability and color crystals.
It must say that I'm having a hard time understanding how this might impact me. I understand that part of it is talking about the crystal vendors that they've added on the test server; though I thought that those were just added to test the crystals it seems now that they're intending to add those to live as well, but only briefly. It feels as if they're doing this to seed the community with those crystals and then removing supply leaving it up to players to sell them on. Then again that only works if those crystals don't bind (as binding an item effectively takes it out of the economy) or if they intend to regularly re-supply the community again.
I don't think I like that. I guess it's a way to keep items rare now that they're no longer bound by alignment. But I think that the whole thing of keeping items 'rare' is BS to begin with. I don't want color crystals or speeders or anything else because it makes me 'special', but because I like the color/vehicle/etc. And I'm certainly not going to pay a fortune to another player just because they had the money and level and were lucky enough to get an item during the brief time the item was available.
I'm still hopeful that I'm simply misunderstanding the whole thing and that they are planning to add these items as their own puzzles much in the way that they did the Magenta Adegan crystal. That at least sounded like fun. Then at least you can work specifically towards it. But all having truly rare items will do is create a class of haves and have nots. Then again perhaps that's not fair of me to say considering that I still (even at level 50) use my pre-order STAP speeder to get everywhere. But at least I can't sell that.
Gamers in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore can now join the fastest-growing MMORPG of all time, as Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ has officially launched in those countries! Fans will be able to take part in their very own Star Wars™ saga on regional servers.
Players can choose between two version of Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Standard Edition, which retails for $79.99 AUD / $89.99 NZD / $389.00 HKD / $64.90 SGD, and the Digital Deluxe Edition, an exclusive to Origin.com that comes with a number of exclusive in-game items, which retails for $89.99 AUD / $99.99 NZD / $465.00 HKD / $76.90 SGD. Each version of the game will come with 30 days of game time, and after those 30 days players will be able to continue playing the game by either paying a monthly subscription or by purchasing a 60-Day Pre-Paid Game Time Card for $32.99 AUS / $42.99 NZD / $249.00 HKD / $39.90 SGD. Visit buy.swtor.com to pick up your copy now*!
Good luck to BioWare with the launch and have fun to all the players.
After the break a post by Stephen Reid about launch dates and server names.
Zennis: Has there been any discussion to streamlining the Space Port process? Perhaps allowing speeders in the Space Ports besides the Fleet?
Brian Audette (Senior Designer): We've absolutely heard what the fans are saying and have been exploring options to address these issues. While we are still investigating allowing speeder use in Space Ports, we've also been looking for other ways to get people from point A to point B with greater haste. One such feature will specifically affect planets that have Orbital Stations instead of Space Ports such as: Tython, Korriban, Hoth, and Belsavis. We'll be adding an option for players to go directly to their ships from the surface shuttles as opposed to having them run through the Orbital Station to their airlocks. This feature and some additional tweaks will start showing up in Game Update 1.2.
I'm noticing a bit of a recurring theme in these... "will be available in Game Update 1.2". At least over a third of the question pretty much boil down to that answer. And last week was similar. Sounds like 1.2 will truly be a massive update.
See all the questions and answers on the official homepage.
After the break a couple of links and the developer quotes.
No MMO launch is ever perfect, but we are pleased to report that the launch of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ on December 20, 2011 was a tremendous success. More than two million copies of the game have been sold, and the servers are full of players logging in to experience their own personal Star Wars™ sagas and to play with friends through the hundreds of hours of massively-multiplayer content. It’s an exhilarating experience to watch the game grow as more people join, and even more exciting to hear what players are saying they enjoy most about the game.
Watch this new video to catch up on how the game’s doing and to hear from the players themselves on what makes the game such an incredible experience.
BioWare also posted their Dev Tracker Summary for the last week, but I think I pretty much already handled that Monday.
Here are the full patch notes:
HollowPoint: There has been a large push in the community for chat bubbles, especially with a toggle option for those who don't want them. Is a chat bubble system in the works? If so, when can we expect it to be implemented?
Damion Schubert: They're definitely on the list. We’ve got many active roleplayers in the dev team and chat bubbles have always been important to us. We actually had chat bubbles in beta, but there was unfortunately some serious performance issues that our implementation caused that, for example, made things really suck in warzones and the fleet. They’ll be coming soon, but in priority, the GUI team is focused first on GUI customization. I'll have a better idea of timing once we get past that. And yes, for people who hate them, whenever we do them, they'll be toggleable.
Though I understand that they've got a lot on their plate and UI customization is going to be enjoyed by more people, it's still somewhat disappointing that chat bubbles are taking so long for them to implement. Then again I've never really used them in other games either unless they were implemented really, really well.
For this one and the other eleven questions see the original post.
BioWare also, somewhat quietly (at least I nearly missed them), released a number of new videos last Friday. Those, the developer quotes, and a few other things after the break.
BioWare and LucasArts are excited to announce that Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ will officially launch in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore on March 1st, 2012! Fans in these regions who purchase the game will be able to experience their very own Star Wars™ saga on regional servers. Players who have already begun their journey will also have a limited-time opportunity to migrate their characters from their current servers to Asia Pacific servers after the launch on March 1st, giving them the chance to take advantage of the decreased network latency by playing on a regional server. All players who qualify for a character transfer will be notified in early March with more details.
In the press release announcing the Asia Pacific launch date, General Manager of the BioWare Label’s MMO Business Unit and Co-Founder of BioWare Dr. Greg Zeschuk expressed appreciation for the patience of fans in the region:Our biggest priority for The Old Republic has always been to deliver a high quality product and high quality service and we are pleased with our results in North America and Europe. We appreciate that our fans in these countries have been patient and we are excited to deliver this same great customer experience to players this March.
So that's March 1st for those in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia. The news goes into more detail regarding prices, subscription fees (in US Dollars for some reason), and pre-orders (for those in Australia and New Zealand). And there's a full press release for the announcement as well.
Read on after the break for some more news from BioWare, including a bit about the Guild Summit, the Dev Tracker Summary and a reminder to become a Founder.
Our UI team took this feedback to heart and worked up a solution which gives every player a lot more choices in how cooldown animations are displayed. If you're happy with the way the game currently looks, you can ignore these changes - but we think some of these preferences will be welcomed by many players.
Currently, these new preferences are scheduled to be added to the game in patch 1.1.4, which should be available for preview on the Public Test Server next week and deploying to the live servers soon afterwards.
Here's a screenshot of the new portion of the User Interface section of the Preferences menu which deals with cooldown settings, and some details on the options available to you.
I've had little trouble with the changes to the cooldown UI, but I know that a lot of people where unhappy with them. So for a lot of people these shoudl be welcome changes. And heck, I quite like the idea of adding a countdown text to the cooldowns so that I don't have to hover over skills with longer cooldowns to see how much longer I have to wait. Read the full description in BioWare's blog post.
Read on after the break for the Community Q&A, a few other bits and the developer quotes.
That makes Star Wars: The Old Republic the second MMO (not counting Guild Wars) in which I've reached maximum level (the first one being Age of Conan).
So you can see that the number 50 is quite a distinguished one and I am proud to add my characters level to that accomplished list.
So this week instead I'll try something different: start with the main patch notes and put the break after one of the starting sections without further comment (leaving it just a "Read more" on the main page). Any additional patches will be posted after the main patch notes.
So with that out of the way, here are the 1.1.2 patch notes:
We are excited to announce that we have just published the first of what will be a series of tutorial videos designed to help new players learn the basics of em>Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. With each Quick Start Guide, new players will be guided through different aspects of the game.
The first video in this series, titled “Begin Your Journey,” takes you through the process of jumping into the game for the first time. In this video, Social Media Coordinator Eric Musco helps new players through the process of picking a server type, creating their first character and guiding players through their character class’s opening conversation.
You can watch this video right now by visiting the Quick Start Videos section of the New Player Guide. Over the next several weeks we’ll be releasing additional guides which will include topics such as navigation, user interface, and grouping with other players. We hope these videos will ease new players into the game while teaching more experienced players a thing or two that they might not have known.
Since this video is aimed at new players there obviously isn't anything of interest in it to those who are already quite familiar with TOR or with playing MMOs in general. But even besides that I can't help but feel a bit that if your game needs tutorial videos like this then there's a problem with the game to begin with. Shouldn't this explanation be in the game itself? The video itself is nice enough though.
Anyway, BioWare also announced two new weekly blogs. Read on after the break for the news, as well as a few more links and the developer quotes.