Monday, 26 March 2012

Community Q&A: March 23rd 2012

Last Friday BioWare published another Community Q&A. In it they first announce that next week will be a special Q&A focusing on existing questions regarding Game Update 1.2 before going on to the questions themselves. Here's one of those questions and answers:

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.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Developer Dispatch: The Legacy System

BioWare just posted a new video on their website detailing the Legacy system, comping with Game Update 1.2. Here's the full news:

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.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Crew Skills in Game Update 1.2

BioWare, particularly Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller, posted a new Community Blog entry about Crew Skills in Update 1.2. Here's an excerpt:

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.

Sounding good.

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.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Your Saga Continues

I'll be honest. I'm finding myself having a hard time bringing up any enthusiasm for TOR and haven't played in weeks. Though I'm eager to start playing my Consular, I'm waiting on a friend who I was supposed to play her together with (and that friend is likely deep into Mass Effect 3 right now; it's getting to the point where I'm just considering playing alone as I'm wasting my subscription fee like this).

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.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Old Republic Weekend Pass

Those without a subscription to the game and without a friend playing the game already to give them a free friend trial can now still try the game for free all this coming weekend. As per the official news:

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 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.

Be sure to check back to, as well as our Facebook and Twitter for all the latest updates!

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.

1.1.5a Patch Notes

Not much in the way of patch notes from today's maintenance; here they are in their entirety:

1.1.5a Patch Notes


Companion Characters


    • Resolved an issue that could occasionally prevent Bowdaar from being granted as intended. Players who had not been granted Bowdaar will now have their companion.

Missions and NPCs


      • Thus, Always, To Tyrants: Leaving The Tyrant by using the Fleet Pass will no longer cause both bulkhead doors on the Security Deck to become locked.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Game Update 1.2 Trailer

Yesterday BioWare released a trailer for the 1.2 Game Update to various news sites across the net. Here is a version from YouTube:

Next to the new Flashpoint, Warzone and Operation it shows some of the Legacy system, UI customization, appearance customization, mission tracker usability (very cool; keeps you from having to dig into your inventory for the mission tab and can just use the mission items straight from the tracker), mini pets, guild banks, and more. Overall it looks quite nice for a very hefty content update. I suspect that the video will be up on the swtor site later this week.

Read on after the break for a Facebook Q&A with Damion Schubert.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

1.1.5 Patch Notes

Here are the 1.1.5 patch notes:

1.1.5 Patch Notes



  • Players can now use the command /roll or /random to generate a random number between 1 and 100. This command will also accept a range (example: /roll 20-40) or a die value (example: 2d6).

Classes and Combat


    • Moving while channeling an ability (such as Telekinetic Throw and Force Lightning) will no longer cancel the Global Cooldown, which would allow those abilities to deal more damage than intended.

    Sith Warrior

    • The French version of the "Darth" title is now correct.

Guild Summit and Q&A

I'm running a bit behind and there's a lot going on at the moment with TOR, with new details for the 1.2 content update and such coming out of the Guild Summit. But let's start with last Friday's Community Q&A. Here's an excerpt:

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.

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Look At The Competition Redux

Over a year and a half ago I wrote a blog post titled "A Look At The Competition", taking a look at a number of MMOs other than The Old Republic and what they were planning to do. Since then I've tried to do a redux a few times, but time never seemed right. Now, with The Old Republic having released, it seems like there will never be a better time than this.

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.

Economic Changes in Patch 1.1.5

Georg Zoeller posted an article on BioWare's Community Blog for The Old Republic, talking about economic changes. Here's an excerpt:

Hi everyone,

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.