Ah, the memories.
Chances are you’re reading this post now because you were a fan or follower of Ask A Jedi back in the day. I started this site back in 2010 because, quite simply, I couldn’t get enough of Star Wars: The Old Republic! There were already plenty of great sites like Darth Hater, Mos Eisley Radio, TOROcast, Corellian Run Radio and soon TORWars, Republic Trooper and more, but that wasn’t enough for me! I wanted to be fused at the hip with the next great MMO, which by the way was set in the STAR WARS UNIVERSE and made by BIOWARE!
The next 20-some odd months that followed were nothing short of amazing, and running this site while following the game’s development was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Obviously, it was great getting so close to the game in its early stages of development, but you know what made it really special? The people!
Over the course of that time, I got to meet a lot of great peeps from all of the fan sites above (and more!) What was so special about all of these folks is that what they were doing, they were doing out of passion. Everyone traveled to every corner of the map, from conventions like E3, PAX and more. And they did so on their own dime and their own time. I can tell you from personal experience that it was hella expensive being a TOR groupie for a few years, but it was worth every penny.
Not only that, I had the great fortune of getting to meet many designers, developers, marketing and community folks from BioWare, Electronic Arts and LucasArts. It was my first real exposure “inside” of the game industry, and I have to say everyone was absolutely awesome. The hospitality shown by each of those companies and especially individually by all of the folks we met was incredible. I felt like they really cared about the fans and the fan sites, and they did. The Fan Site and Guild Summits held at BioWare in Austin… I’ll never forget it!
And of course, there’s no way I could forget the peeps who helped me run this site… You think everyone running by you on Tatooine is some random gamer until you get to know them. We had a special team keeping the wheels greased at AAJ – dare I say the best in the business.
No, I’m not getting the band back together, but felt like I wanted to do a special post here to commemorate the occasion that today is, especially for those of us who were so close to the game!
It’s hard to believe that this time last year, we were all eagerly anticipating the launch of a brand-new Star Wars MMO. It’s even harder to believe that very same game is relaunching today, less than a year later, as a free-to-play title. So on this dawn of a new era for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I just wanted to take a minute to remember what is so great about this genre we all love – the people we play with.
Anyway, there’s a lot of Light side mushiness going on here, so I’ll start to wrap it up.
While I don’t have a lot of time to devote to gaming these days, I’ll be joining my buddies from TORWars, along with *many* other community members over in the newly formed TORWars guild on The Shadowlands server. Yes, they went Empire, but don’t hold that against them – they’re good peeps! :) I’m looking forward experiencing TOR this time around casually and socially in the best possible way – with friends!
– Bill (Lethality)
P.S. Some folks have asked what I’ve been up to, so I figured I’d give a quick update!
- I’m still working my day job as an interactive producer at a large advertising agency, desperately trying to make the jump to the game industry (If you’re hiring, let me know! :)
- I’ve also taken up as a news editor for ZAM Networks, and you can find my stuff there every day! By the way, you should keep an eye on ZAM… big things ahead.
- I’m also doing some blogging over on my MMOpinion site. If you know me, you know that I’m never short for words when it comes to how MMOs “should” work and be played, so you can find some commentary and discussion over there! You can also follow me on Twitter, which is the old Ask A Jedi feed, except re-named!
- Finally, I’ve joined forces with Andy and the fine chaps from Republic Trooper to form a new site called Titan Everything dedicated to following Blizzard’s upcoming MMO, code-named Project Titan. Right now, “following” is a loose term as I’m sure we’ll be AARP members by the time it releases, but stop by, join the community and chat it up a bit!
Computers And Video Games is reporting that Star Wars: The Old Republic may already have 1.5 million players already queuing up to play the game (as if you didn’t notice ;) Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz had this to say:
Based on the number of servers now in operation, and the relatively high densities thereon, we feel fairly comfortable estimating that the game already has in excess of 1 million players, and potentially could have as many as 1.5 million
He goes on to estimate that this is about 29% of the total number of servers that Blizzard operates for World of Warcraft. He also notes that the population density of TOR servers (relative to server capacity) appears to be greater than that of WoW servers.
Off to a great start? I’d say so. Biggest (and Smoothest). Launch. Ever.
In other awesome launch day news for Electronics Arts, BioWare Co-Founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka were on Wall Street this morning to ring the opening bell and usher in the trading day for the NASDAQ exchange.Read More
In an article over at Gamespot, Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown is quoted during the annual Global Media and Communications Conference in New York as saying that TOR attracted 2 million unique Beta testers, and that the Beta testers themselves have logged over 9 million hours of testing time.
“The game itself has a huge pre-existing fan base. We had about 2.4 million people register for the Star Wars fan site, over 2 million of which volunteered to do [beta] testing for free,” said Brown. “In terms of peak concurrent users, we had just over a quarter of a million people playing the game simultaneously.”
He also added that 725,000 unique players logged time over the Thanksgiving weekend, with each player averaging 12 hours of playtime.
Brown also took the time to comment about how advertising for the launch of TOR differs from other titles, aiming squarely at attracting new customers:
Brown told the conference that this high “preregistered and built-in” demand for the product would mean a launch advertising campaign considerably different from those for other high-profile EA titles, with the focus instead on attracting new customers for the long term (“two to four years”) and the critical percentage of players who renew their subscription from month to month.
For those that were on during the weekend, they can easily answer questions about the stability and playability of the game during that, but I know I personally ran into no issues in those regards. And of course, this comes as great news to EA, who has claimed it only needs 500,000 monthly subscribers to have TOR stay profitable.Read More
On the topic of quality of service, Brown notes that they’ve been studying World of Warcraft’s first 12 months closely:
We’ve actually studied WoW pretty carefully. We spent a lot of time studying the first twelve months or so of WoW, and just to be clear here, when they initially launched, they did not launch in dual geographies. They went North America only.
He goes on to spell out the importance of the launch of the game and the early players’ experiences:
We really want to make sure that the first group of users into Star Wars has the best experience. For example, when they log on, they have instant access. Even when they’re playing in a densely-populated world, the bandwidth and response time is excellent. So quality of service is really important to us.
This is great news for many of us who have suffered through some terrible MMO launches. Of further interest to fans, Brown comments on their post-launch expansion plans for The Old Republic:
BioWare has built in a very extensive development plan to make sure there is enough content coming out in intervals,” said Brown. “We haven’t specified it, but industry norm is 18-24 months. And the idea there is to keep the game fresh and interesting for all of the players.
Of course, we all know how quickly players can consume content including Brown who said “a lot of people are going to burn through the content as quickly as possible, they’ll be left… waiting for the next expansion pack installment.”
Head on over to Gamasutra for the full read!Read More
Computers And Video Games recently talked to Frank Gibeau, recently appointed boss of EA Labels, where he revealed that the release date of Star Wars: The Old Republic is “definitely tied” to the feedback coming out of the ongoing Game Testing program:
“We’re driving towards a date, but the very issue you raised is why we’re not announcing a date yet because you want to make sure that these services can last a decade”
Gibeau went on to talk about how important the launch of the game is:
“We don’t want to happen to us what happened to WoW and a couple of other services where in the first week there were queues trying to get on to the servers, the entire service crashed – we don’t want that to happen. So we need to nail and make sure that it’s up 24/7 and it’s high quality.”
We’ve heard BioWare say before that the release date will depend on the kind of feedback they’re getting from testers, and this seems to reaffirm that. So if you’re in Game Testing, work hard and give quality feedback to help get the game out that much quicker!
Head on over to CVG for the full read!