Nov 22, 2011

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The Smuggler’s Blues: Sneak Preview, 5 Credits Only


“Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen *anything* to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. ‘Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny.” –Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to get some hands-on time playing the Smuggler class in The Old Republic beta test, and I wanted to share some of my experiences with other readers. First, I’m going to try and keep this relatively spoiler-free as far as story and quests go – I’ll cover some general impressions, but I also don’t want to give away unexpected plot hooks.

And here, the Smuggler, in her natural habitat.

Now that being said, I think the Smuggler leveling experience does a fantastic job – and, in fact, having played a few classes I’d argue potentially the best – at really capturing that original Star Wars feel to it. If you’re a fan of the movies, you’ll immediately recognize some iconic Han scenes as you play your Smuggler. I think the first one appears around your third quest or so – there I was, just getting the feel of my new Smuggler character and beginning the quests and then bam! There’s my Smuggler, acting in a way that was almost clip for clip from the original Star Wars: A New Hope movie.

Now for me, I loved it – after all, my decision to play a Smuggler was so I could channel a Han-type Scoundrel, and so I really enjoyed the nostalgia from being not only able to recognize certain iconic movie moments, but to actually experience my character acting them out.

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Mar 22, 2011

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HoT Smuggling Scoundrels…

An introduction to Healing Smugglers

When Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ was first announced, I was really confused as to where all the healers were. You had gun-toting Smugglers, armor-clad Troopers, powerful Jedi Knights and the likely suspect, the wizard-like Jedi Consulars. Really, I didn’t know where the healing was going to fall, who would be able to do it, and how they would pull off a ‘healing’ role for some of the classes without giving them some sort of magical powers. This was back in late 2009 when I first started following the news on the game regularly, and since then, we’ve been slowly learning how each class approaches the roles they will be able to tackle.

Now that we’ve gotten a bit more information and have been able to watch through the Taral V Developer Walkthrough, the Smuggler’s healing abilities have been de-mystified, slightly… Throughout this post, we will journey through the game mechanics that the video highlights and the information we’ve learned from PAX East 2011. Continue on to learn more!

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Oct 1, 2010

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Friday Update: Designing the Advanced Classes System

Today’s official Friday update was a brand new developer blog written by BioWare Principal Lead Systems Designer Georg Zoeller… In the piece, Georg provides some juicy, long-awaited details on the design of the Advanced Class system:

In some cases, this led to integrating ‘traditional’ MMO roles into our existing class structures: The play style generally associated with the ‘healer’ role in MMOs is very popular with many players and we wanted to make sure that we offered that role in our game for our audience. In fact, we are offering two classes that can develop into fully capable healers for each faction via one of their Advanced Classes.

While the blog entry provides a slightly more clear picture of how Advanced Classes play a role, there are still questions left with answers unconfirmed:

  • Is your Advanced Class choice permanent? We’ve heard yes and maybe.
  • Can you fill more than one combat role with your Advanced class? We’ve heard no.
  • What level do you choose your Advanced Class? We’ve heard it’s not level dependent.

In any case, the blog is a must-read for any fan who is closely following TOR, especially those of my Smuggler brethren, because the Smuggler class is used as the example throughout the post!

With “trees” within the Advanced Class such as Scrapper, Sawbones, Sharpshooter and Dirty Fighting, with a shared tree of Luck, the Smuggler class is shaping up to be just what I was hoping.

Smuggler AC Talent Trees

Smuggler AC Talent Trees

We also hope that this developer blog might signal the beginning of more game systems-related information releases. Long overdue in this author’s opinion.

Click here to read the full blog post, and don’t forget to follow our coverage all next week of the GDC Online conference in Austin, Texas… where you can be sure we might use a few Dirty Tricks to get some more info out of BioWare!

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Sep 24, 2010

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Friday Update: Smuggler Holonet + Blood of The Empire #12

The Friday update is indeed arrived! And for yours truly, it’s the best one yet!

Today, BioWare has updated the official Star Wars: The Old Republic site with the full-on Holonet update for the Smuggler class! Not only do we get a revamped page, but we also find out about his ship, his first companion Bowdaar the wookiee and more!

Gunslinger Bad-assery

Gunslinger Bad-assery

Our hero and Bowdaar

Our hero and Bowdaar

Head on over to the official Smuggler page for all of the shady details!

Also this week, we’re treated to the finale of the latest web comic – Blood of the Empire #12. Suffice it to say, Teneb Kel reaffirms his “Sithiness”.

And as always, don’t forget to check out Darth Hater for their dissection and Aurebesh translations!

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Sep 16, 2010

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New Smuggler Class Trailer Revealed! has scored an exclusive reveal of the new Smuggler class intro video. It’s in the same vein as the previously released Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight trailers. Presumably these might be similar to what are used in-game to describe an overview of the class to players:

Perhaps this means we’ll see an updated Smuggler class page as part of the update this Friday?

Below you can see a few interesting screen grabs, including a Wookiee companion walloping an enemy and sending him flying through the air, as well as the Smuggler himself in Stealth.

Smuggler in Stealth

Smuggler in Stealth

Never mess with a Wookiee

Never mess with a Wookiee

Also, Darth Hater has a dissection going as to the specific details!

Thanks to taekwondoboy for the find!

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Aug 17, 2010

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Hall Hood Interview – Star Wars Celebration

Ask A Jedi spent all last weekend at Star Wars Celebration V, right here in sunny Orlando, Florida. There were all sorts of “Star Warsy” things to do and see, but it goes without saying that the highlights for us revolved around everyone’s favorite upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

For our first interview, we wanted to give you the discussion we had with Hall Hood, Senior Writer with BioWare. He’s a veteran writer who brings a lot of experience to the BioWare writing team. He’s also the main man behind the Smuggler class. To top it off, he really couldn’t have been a nicer guy.

So, we hope you enjoy the interview, and don’t forget to watch the video clip of Ask A Jedi team member Professor Walsh clearing up one of the great forum debates with Hall. Priceless!

Ask A Jedi: Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background, and maybe some things you’ve worked on before?

Hall Hood: I am a mysterious man who came from the shadows to work on the greatest MMO ever created! Haha. No, actually, I started out as the staff screenwriter for an independent producer, and I spent numerous years developing feature films and television pilots, things like that. I managed to earn a living doing this, yet saw none of those projects ever make it to film. It became a little disheartening after a while. I dabbled in video games from time to time, I got to work a little bit on Ultima Online 2… right before it got canceled. So that was very exciting. I am determined to not crush this game, so this game is coming out even if I have to ship it myself!  I went to film school at the University of Texas at Austin, so it worked out. I managed to stay in Austin long enough to get a job here doing something that I love.

AAJ: How early were you involved in the TOR development project?

HH: I was involved very early on, and got to see it unfold from the beginning. I have many great stories to tell, none of which I can tell right now. Haha.

AAJ: Since you’re the Smuggler guy, could you give us a description of the Smuggler class in your own words?

HH:  The Smuggler is a wise-cracking scoundrel who never takes anything too seriously. He’s always on the lookout for the next great opportunity to get rich – but is also the best shot in the galaxy. And the ultimate survivor. Smugglers are awesome. I grew up wanting to be Han Solo…

Romance is a big thing. Fly around the galaxy, walk into the cantina, see the very attractive patron… that kind of thing. It’s humor, it’s romance, and it’s a lot of high-octane action.

AAJ: Other than for game mechanics and balance, how is it that the Smuggler aligns with the Republic when they’re an independent sort?

HH: Right, so stop and think about it for a second. You are an independent business person. You own your own ship, flying around the galaxy taking jobs from whoever you wanna take them from. Where would you want to do business? In the free enterprise, peace-loving, freedom-loving Republic? Or in the oppressive totalitarian Empire that controls everything that you not only can do, but also how you do it. So its kind of a natural fit for Smugglers to operate in Republic space. Which is not to say that you can’t occasionally work with the Empire. If you’re a particularly evil Smuggler, you’re gonna be looking for that opportunity to take jobs from anybody, and you’re not particular about who they serve. For me the evil Smuggler’s attitude is basically faction-shmaction as long as I get rich!

AAJ: Is there a Smuggler other than Han Solo that maybe served as inspiration for the Smuggler character?

HH: Well of course… there is a long tradition of the charming rogue in any kind of popular fiction, and I adore all of those characters. I’m a big fan of Firefly, Captain Mal… also a fan of Big Trouble in Little China. I love Kurt Russell’s character in that. He’s really fun. He’s more of a comedic fool character, who sort of blunders his way to victory. My Smuggler is slightly more competent than that. Here’s another one, it’s sort of esoteric so don’t go too far with it but Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit…

AAJ: We’ve heard statements in the past that as a Smuggler, you’re the best in the galaxy… as a Bounty Hunter, you’re the best in the galaxy. But in an E3 interview with Dallas Dickinson, we also heard that the Jedi will just be average Jedi; thousands of them running around out there. Can you clarify this?

HH: You’re not going to be average anything in our game. Where’s the fun in that? Why would you play the Jedi Knight if you weren’t going to be able to get the Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker experience? It has to be huge and epic! And as someone who has written for the Jedi Knight, I can tell you it’s huge… it’s epic… it’s amazing. You’re gonna get to places in the plot where you say “wait a minute, I get to do what? My quest is to do what?!” And that’s true of the Sith classes as well. The Sith classes are incredible. The Sith Warrior story is Vader plus a million. The Inquisitor – everything you like about Palpatine is there, and then some. Our idea has always been to start from what is great about the characters from the movies, and then add as much on to that as we possibly can.

AAJ: So, whatever class you play, are you the best of your breed in the galaxy?

HH: Absolutely. As an Imperial Agent, you’re the super best. As a Sith Warrior, the Emperor calls you personally. As a Jedi Knight, you are the last hope in the galaxy!

AAJ: Will you be able to communicate with members of the other faction?

HH: If by communicate you mean shoot at them, then yes! There are many forms of communication. Are you asking if its like WoW, where you can’t understand what the other faction is saying? I don’t think we would want to go in that sort of direction. I can’t really speak to exactly how the communication would happen between factions, but I think you’re on the right track.

AAJ: Will there be a common enemy or foe that represents a greater threat than each other?

HH: Occasionally, sure. I think that would be a really exciting story to have that opportunity to unite against a much more dangerous foe. I can’t answer wether or not we actually have that type of content, but I like the idea and I think its cool.

AAJ: Will we get to explore a story written about our species and our origin background?

HH: Well it’s always been a staple of BioWare stories to acknowledge players choices about who they are. We acknowledge gender. We acknowledge alien species. So it is important, and it does impact gameplay. It matters.

AAJ: Hall, thanks a bunch for taking the time to answer our questions and allowing yourself to be subjected to Professor Walsh!

HH: Glad to do it, any time at all!

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