Feb 1, 2012

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United We Stand: Feels Like Purpose

United We Stand is an Ask A Jedi series focusing on guilds, groups, and other communities in Star Wars: The Old Republic. By examining the communities that we form, we can create a stronger game for ourselves, build relationships that will last a lifetime, and perhaps even change the world itself.

Quick Note: 5/5 Karagga’s Palace downed! Special shout out to the creator and moderators of www.dreshdaecnatina.com.

I think that one of the most common complaints about MMO’s is that at a certain point they just feel like you are playing a job. One of my roommates, Walters, said this a lot towards the end of his raid leading career in World of Warcraft. I don’t blame him at all, this feeling is common among guild leaders, officers, and raid leaders. We like to refer to it as ‘burnout’, but I think that it is more than that. I think that the fact that our games can take on this flavor is a great statement both about Star Wars: The Old Republic and about the effects they can have on us and our society.

What about MMO’s feels like a job? Management, responsibility, having to tell people they can’t do whatever they want because their gear isn’t up to par, etc. The list goes on. Getting sixteen people online at the same time at the same place with a shared purpose isn’t easy, and it takes quite a bit of skill to do well. All the /tells, officer chat, forum moderation, and drama means less time spent running Koan Under Siege for that Columi headpiece (I’m not bitter) or PvPing to get that Battlemaster title isn’t necessarily fun. In fact, I would probably not get much resistance if I said that’s not nearly as fun as Huttball.

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Jan 12, 2012

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Blue Milk & Cereal: How Long Is Your Ideal Boss Fight?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Over the years, raiding has generally taken center stage in the world of MMO gaming. The big, epic boss fight is something groups of players have aspired to from Lady Vox to Ragnaros and beyond. I won’t lie – the reason these were so popular with players is, of course, the loot. But beyond that, they also represented the pinnacle of PvE gameplay. Large groups of players needed to come together with enough knowledge, preparation and coordination and work to overcome the obstacle between players and their new shinies.

These raid encounters began life as simple “tank and spank” fights, where they offered only basic mechanics and your strength came through the numbers you brought with you. Over time, the evolution of raid boss fights became more complex. Soon, we were all dancing around in a Rube Goldberg-style contraption with each player requiring the individual precision of a sharpshooter and the group synchronization of a well-trained army. For me, the peak of encounter design was the original C’thun fight in World of Warcraft. That was where I believe Blizzard really turned a corner in encounter design… tons of fun.

One of the key components of these ended up simply being endurance. While there was all kinds of coordination going on with different phases of the fight requiring different tactics and usually different team members, in the end having to repeat it all and keep it up for 5, 10, 20 minutes or more was sometimes the real challenge. I can’t tell you how many frustrating wipes we had near the very end of The Illidari Council fight, in what was a 20 minute long fight while you were learning it.

Soa, the end baddie in The Eternity Vault, the first raid in Star Wars: The Old Republic is about  a 10 minute fight. It has some awesome visuals and mechanics, and if you don’t mind spoilers you should check out a kill video. This feels like sufficient time to make the fight epic, but not so long that you start punching kittens if you lose and have to start over.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. What’s the right length for a raid boss fight? It needs to feel epic, and needs to be a climax of something you’ve been working toward, but it also can’t be too frustrating. Let us know your thoughts below!

What is the ideal length for a raid boss encounter?

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Jan 4, 2012

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Blue Milk & Cereal: Are You A Hard Core Operator Yet?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Raids are one of the key end-game activities for MMORPGs, and it’s no different in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Here, they’re called Operations and come in several different flavors: 8- and 16-players versions, with normal and Nightmare mode for each.

There are currently two Operations in the game: The Eternity Vault and Karagga’s Palace. Each location gives players a different setting, different enemies to defeat, different objectives to achieve and a different story.

Despite the fact that most of the player-base is in the sub-30’s, and the highest level character I currently have is just level 22, I know full well that there are plenty of folks who have already arrived at the level cap of 50. For those of you that made it, what do you think of these Operations? Are you even doing them yet? What is your experience like? I just want to see how many in the AAJ Army are smooth Operators already :) Let us know!

Are you participating in Operations yet?

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Dec 23, 2011

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James Ohlen On The Near Future – New Flashpoint On a New Planet + Operation Expansion

I’ve not even generated my Legacy Name yet, and Game Director James Ohlen is already talking about the first true content patch for Star Wars: The Old Republic – coming sometime next month!

Taking to the Community Blog, Ohlen throws down a few hints as to what to expect. First up is a new Flashpoint on a “brand new world” which sounds like the Taral V scenario (on a planet you can’t otherwise travel to.) But hey, at least it’s new content!

He also teases an expansion of the existing Karraga’s Palace Operation, more than tripling its size. Does that mean the version in the game now is being replaced, or literally expanding on it? We’ll see soon!

Head on over to the Community News blog for the whole read.

"Hey guys, another big droid! What do we do?"  "Kill it."

"Hey guys, another big droid! What do we do?" "Kill it."


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Dec 13, 2011

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Community Blog: James Ohlen – What’s Next For The Old Republic!

As many of you are sinking your teeth (or waiting to, at any rate) into the game, Game Director James Ohlen published a piece in the Community Blog about what we can expect in the future from BioWare.

Welcome to Star Wars™: The Old Republic™. It’s been many years in the making and the team is very proud of what we’ve achieved. Since we’re an online game we are going to continue building on the game for years to come. You can count on us to diligently expand the game and service to surprise and delight you. We’re going to not only respond to your feedback, but also hopefully exceed your expectations on how Star Wars: The Old Republic will evolve over time.


Many of you helped make the game what it is today by participating in our testing programs. You’ve watched the game grow over the past year and have been very vocal about things you’d like to see in the game in the future.


A team is never finished building a massively multiplayer game, so we’d like to take this opportunity to reveal a little information on what the team is working on for patches coming in the near future. Our priorities have been, and will continue to be, based off of the feedback we receive from our players.


-New Content – We will be adding new content to the galaxy on an ongoing basis. These worlds will include Operations, Flashpoints and solo content.


-Guild Functionality – Guilds are important to the long term health of any MMORPG. We have a huge list of guild centric features. This will be an ongoing effort that will probably never end. Guild banks are the first thing we’ll be delivering in our plans for increased guild functionality. Eventually we even want to deliver on the promise of the long hinted at “Guild Capital Ships.”


-UI customization – You like choice. We hear you! SWTOR is all about choice. Being able to choose how you interact with an online game is something we feel is very important. We are going to be giving more control over the UI as an ongoing effort. This is a very big priority for us.

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