Feb 11, 2012

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Friday Q&A #1 – Dual-Spec Incoming, Cross-Server Warzone Queuing & More

BioWare has a whole new kind of Friday Update in store for players of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and they kicked it off yesterday with a bang!

Each Tuesday, BioWare will open an official Q&A thread on the forums, and 10 questions will be answered and posted on Friday. This week we got a bonus, as there were 15 questions answered, and some of them hit on some hot topics.

One of the biggest was arguably about dual spec:

Aurozia: Will there be a dual specialization system in the future? Will there be a possibility of changing advance classes as well?

Daniel Erickson: We have no plans for switching advanced classes – which we see as fundamentally different class designs- but dual spec is in the works and coming soon.

Glad to hear they aren’t even considering advanced class switching, but dual spec is certainly even a departure from previous design stances.

Another one started out with Warzones, but ended up being about cross-server queueing:

Simoon: Will you be adding the option to choose what Warzone you enter a queue for?

Gabe Amatangelo: Not until we introduce cross server queuing. If we were to allow players to choose their Warzone before they could queue across servers, then it would negatively affect how often every player would see a Warzone – and for every player that loves a certain Warzone there is another player that hates it. The population would end up divided by their Warzone choice, negatively affecting the time it would take for a specific Warzone to become available for anyone. With cross server queuing we will still have a preference to match players of the same server, but those players who choose specific preferences such as these will likely end up in a match with players in the larger Wargroup.

What do you guys think about these changes? Good or bad? As someone who has been following the game since before day one of the announcement well over 3 years ago, things like dual spec and cross-server play were dismissed for one reason or another, at one time or another. I am curious as to the change in philosophy that would prompt these.

There are a few other notable questions in there, so you should pop over and have a read. And don’t forget to check the forums Tuesday when the new thread is opened, and you have a chance to ask your own!

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Jan 21, 2012

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The Making Of Star Wars: The Old Republic – Gamasutra

Although this feature is a few weeks old now, I found it extremely interesting when I read it and haven’t seen it covered elsewhere so thought it might be of interest to the AAJ Army!

Gamasutra’s Paul Hyman sat down with a few of BioWare’s best to discuss the formation of the Austin studio and the challenges they’ve seen during the making of the game, as well as their expectations for the future.

BioWare Co-founder Dr. Greg Zeschuk remarked about BioWare’s beginnings, and should be enough inspiration for fuel any entrepreneurial fires you may have burning. It wasn’t always a sure thing:

“When we formed BioWare, we weren’t even sure we would be doing anything more than playing games in my basement,” he recalls. “It’s fair to say we’ve been more than surprised at how things have unfolded.”

Game Director James Ohlen comments about different plans going forward, depending on how successful the game is. He believes WoW-like success is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, though “it would be great”:

“While I can’t give away exact numbers, I can say that we have plans for super success in the millions of subscribers… and then we have plans for if we have a much smaller subscriber base. While it would be great to get the kind of numbers that World of Warcraft gets, we don’t have to come close to those in order to be wildly successful. We could be well below WoW and still be incredibly profitable.”

One interesting fact that some players may not realize is that the Austin studio was formed, and design documents were being written, before they even knew they were going to use the Star Wars license. Daniel Erickson had mentioned this before, and they talk about it in this piece.

Head on over to Gamasutra for the full 3-page read. If you’re interested in BioWare history, and the making of Star Wars: The Old Republic, its well worth the click!

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Dec 23, 2011

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Launch-Beard Daniel Erickson Talks To Giant Bomb

Much as Zip-Line Attack Batman is an enhanced version of the original, Launch-Beard Daniel Erickson is everything we knew before, plus more! This new-edition Daniel Erickson took some time with the guys from Giant Bomb (which we’re big fans of, by the way) to discuss anything and everything about Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The 30-some minute interview in classic Giant Bomb fashion also has Daniel talking about his experience as a gamer and generally going above and beyond what we might see in a mainstream interview. Definitely a must-watch for hard core TOR fans.

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Dec 20, 2011

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Your Saga Begins – Launch Documentary

To commemorate the official launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic with all of the pomp and circumstance it deserves, BioWare has crated a launch documentary entitled “Your Saga Begins”.

This is an exciting day for all of us at BioWare and LucasArts, and to celebrate the launch of the game we want to show you all a short video. This documentary chronicles the development of the game, with members of the Star Wars: The Old Republic development team talking about the experience creating epic stories that allow players to live out their very ownStar Wars™ fantasies in a galaxy populated with thousands of other players.

A choice quote from Daniel Erickson:

“The shipped content is only the beginning. As soon as you get in there and we go live, very soon you guys will get to hear about the new cool stuff coming just a little while after.”

The video clocks in at over 8:00 minutes long and provides a great retrospective on how we got to where we are. A must-see for fans who like a peek behind the curtain!

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Dec 15, 2011

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All The Galaxy’s A Stage: The Brady Bunch Legacy

All The Galaxy’s A Stage is a regular column at Ask A Jedi with some lofty, creative goals.  On one hand, we will be discussing and exploring meaningful topics to support the role-play experience and community.  On the other hand, we also want to introduce the casual Role-Player to the writing-acting experience that can add so much more to an MMORPG like Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Share your perspectives and experience as we co-create magical story in that galaxy far, far away!

As a Role-Player I enjoy the idea of a surname for my characters.  It is fair to say that over the past thirty years most of my characters have had surnames.

But I will say this.  As a rule of thumb I’ve never made a habit of giving all my characters the same last name for my characters.  Come to think of it I’ve never done this once.

I’d also heard that BioWare are Role-Players.  I’d like to think that any Role-Player worth their salts has not given all their characters the same last name.  It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that RPers like Daniel Erickson have followed this normal convention.

That is unless you’re playing in a campaign to act out your Jackson or Brady Bunch fantasy.

Can you see where this is going yet?

For those of you that don’t know, the Legacy system is a feature that kicks in once you’ve completed the first chapter of your first character’s story in-game.  At that point you get to give your character a surname.  Having been confronted with no option for a surname at creation most Role-Players would be forgiven their excitement at learning this.  I too was excited when I encountered this during game testing – until I read the fine print.

The thing is, you get one UNIQUE surname per account.  Or is it server?  it doesn’t matter.  Either scenario is *word left on the editing floor*.

Since inception this column has been generally warm toward BioWare game design choices.  In my opinion this is one of the most disappointing design choices for Role-Players that has been made in TOR. I cannot for the life of me believe that a Role-Player made this choice.  Perhaps the design team wanted to pay tribute to the Brady Bunch?

I tried to consider technological constraints.  Perhaps technology makes this difficult?  And then I realized that other games have given us unique surnames.  So it is not an impossible thing to do.  It must be a design choice.  But why, BioWare, why?

A unique name per server (or account) means I get to play alts, but can forget surnames for any characters that are not married (to my other characters?) or are siblings of my main.

I am curious to see if other RPers are in agreement with me.  It’s probably too late to change, but I would like to get some numbers rating dissatisfaction on this feature.  If you really care about this topic please let your friends know about this poll and convince them to come and vote.  BioWare staff do read these columns and, if they can see past how much I’ve just mocked their decision makers, perhaps they’ll consider changing this some day.  Stranger things have happened…

As a Role-Player do you like a single surname as a Legacy reward?

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