Nov 14, 2011

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Yellow Posts: Origin and the Beta


As we get closer and closer to the release date, developer activity on the forums plummets. This is to be expected since they are all hard at work preparing the game for launch; making final modifications and fixing bugs. As a result, what we have this week on the forums is a lot of talk about beta testing and a few other administrative tidbits.

Once again it seems that people are getting confused as to whether EA’s download service, Origin, will need to be installed in order to play SW:TOR. In the continuation of the thread “Origin Is 100% Not Needed For Tor,” (originally started by CelCawdro) Allison Berryman, Senior Community Coordinator, clarified again that the service is not needed to download, install, update, or play SW:TOR:

Hi everyone! We’ve seen some continuing confusion over this topic. Some of you have quoted text that appears on the Pre-Order Page that indicates you’ll need to install Origin software to download the game. We are working to update the information on that page: you will not be required to install the Origin software in order to download, patch, or play the game (even during Early Game Access). You’ll do that through our own site and launcher.

Some people have been quite confused about when the next beta testing weekend will be. You know, the one where EVERYONE who pre-registered for game testing will be invited to. Responding to his own FAQ post, Stephen Reid, Senior Online Community Manager, let everyone know that the next beta testing weekend is coming…soon:

You’ll be able to play in the next Beta Test Weekend – but we haven’t announced that date, yet. Whenever it is, you’ll play in it. As it says in the FAQ, we’re expecting this future weekend to be the last Beta Testing Weekend.

Additionally, I would highly recommend the official FAQ that Mr. Reid posted about the upcoming, massive, and probably last beta testing weekend. It is sure to answer quite a few of your questions.

The EU got some love in terms of general beta testing invites over the last few days. Responding to a thread started by Darth_Pen and titled “EU Beta update coming today! “, Mr. Reid said that a “significant proportion” of those who have signed up for EU testing have just been invited:

Never assume…

Over the course of today (and possibly into tomorrow) we’re inviting more Game Testers from the EU than we’ve ever invited in a single ‘wave’.

It’s not the entire number we have signed up, but it’s a significant proportion. There will be other invites before launch.

I’d like to point out that not everyone who receives an invite is going to post on the Forums, much as you may want them to…!

Be sure to check www.swtor.com/tester to see if you were one of the lucky few!

And that was the majority of what went on this week. I hope that those of you got a short glimpse of the game over the weekend liked what you saw. Hopefully, a ton of feedback was submitted and the devs will be able to improve the game that much more before launch!

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Jul 4, 2011

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Yellow Posts: Of Release Date (Speculation) and Pre-Orders

Does anyone remember the movie “The American President” from the mid-nineties? It was the precursor to “The West Wing” television show and it written by Aaron Sorkin who most recently won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on “The Social Network“. What does that have to do with The Old Republic you ask? Well, I feel that a quote from this movie pretty much sums up the feelings that many fans of SW:TOR have right now:

People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand. – Lewis Rothschild

Fans are crazy about this game; the BioWare hype-machine has done it’s job admirably. Fans have watched the game being played, they have seen the story choices, and (some of them) have even had a chance to play the game. Nearly all of those people love what they see and interest in SW:TOR has peaked. Personally, I’ve had zero gameplay time with it and I’m already addicted (I’m writing for Ask a Jedi aren’t I!?). If you asked these fans the top five things that they want to know about the game, nine out of ten would put “release date!!” at number one and somewhere in the top five would be pre-order information (pricing, collector’s edition details, retail purchase locations, etc…) BioWare’s official position is that the release date is sometime in the second half of 2011 (i.e. between now and December). From a business perspective it makes perfect sense to be vague: they want to give their competitors as little time as possible to come out with something that could interfere with SW:TOR’s release. But more importantly, the game isn’t finished yet and is being tweaking and polished daily (as Gabe from Penny Arcade pointed out).

So, again, what does my borrowed metaphor above have to do with SW:TOR? People are so desperate for information about the release date/pre-order information of SW:TOR that they’ll listen to anyone who offers to talk. On the official forums, a thread was posted by Jeikki titled “You can now pre-order Star Wars: The Old Republic“. The thread offered a link to a website (since removed) that promised to sell pre-order copies of the game. The thread was eventually closed because, under the SW:TOR forum’s Rules of Conduct, it was an advertisement, which isn’t allowed. Good thing too, because despite the original poster’s assurances to the contrary, the site didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in it’s legitimacy. Before closing the thread, Stephen Reid, Senior Online Community Manager, commented on it:

What a murky world we all live in.

First – this is an attempt to advertise, and under our Rules of Conduct that’s not something we allow. Therefore after this post, we’ll be closing the thread.

While I appreciate the desire to spread the word about potential places to order The Old Republic, we draw the line at outright advertising, which the wording of this original post definitely is.

Second – the only official digital download provider for Star Wars: The Old Republic will be EA’s Origin service, located at Origin.com.

Despite what some retailers may try to have you believe, EA is not partnering with anyone to offer digital downloads. That may not sit well with you, but it’s a fact. The reason you should understand this is illustrated by the post itself:

Quote: Originally Posted by Jeikki

But If you Pre-order it there you just have the game serial photo into your email, so you don’t get the game covers

Mmm. You get the ‘game serial photo’. In other words, at a guess, what this site is planning to do is buy copies of The Old Republic, open them, take photos of game serial keys and then sell them to you.

Sounds great, right? And maybe this site is entirely trustworthy. However, from my experience in working with Customer Service teams on multiple other MMOs, the reality is that often these sites will have no official partnership with the MMO publisher in question, and that the keys are often passed around to multiple customers, sometimes after they’ve been activated.

What happens then? You complain to the publisher, customer service deals with it, and either you get a refund from your credit card or you lose your account and/or your money.

TL;DR version: when pre-order and launch are announced, it will be very clear which retailers you should pre-order and purchase Star Wars: The Old Republic from.

Until then – all pre-order ‘offers’ are unofficial, and all release dates are pure speculation on the part of the retailer.

Be careful out there. If in doubt, contact the Customer Service team.

Desperation is a strong motivator and it can cause people to listen even when there is overwhelming evidence to contradict what they are hearing. There are only two bits of information we know for sure on this topic: First, the only location to purchase the game digitally, is on EA’s new Origin service and second, the official release date is (currently) “the second half of 2011″. Anything in addition to those two pieces of information is purely speculation. This website (and by extension this thread) purported to know much more about pre-ordering and the release date than has been officially announced. This does nothing but cause even more trouble when fans hopes are dashed by the SW:TOR community team because they have to close down threads like this and look like the bad guy.

If you want to speculate on the release date, a good discussion can be found in the “Release date speculation thread” on the official forums. Just remember that BioWare takes very seriously anyone who reports false information as fact. Anything posted in that thread is and should be speculation only.

All of us are sad that we don’t have the game now. But cheer up! BioWare wants to release the game in six months or less and it will be in the best condition that BioWare make it. Exciting times await us in our galaxy far far away and if we’ve been patient for 3 years of development, we can be patient for a little longer. Trust me, when the release date is announced, you will see the train a comin’.

P.S. Be kind to poor Stephen Reid and the community team. I’m sure they would love to give out more information about the release, but at the end of the day, they have to make decisions that benefit BioWare as a whole and announcing a release date right now may not be the correct thing to do. Their job, after all, is to work with the community, pass on information to and from the developers, and to help make the SW:TOR community the best it can be.

A happy Stephen Reid.

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Jun 27, 2011

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Yellow Posts: Phat Lootz And Gear Scoring

As BioWare has stressed time and time again, story is the “secret sauce” that is going to make SW:TOR different from other MMOs. Their goal is to create a deep, engaging universe where every decision you make matters and the player’s story is one of the driving factors behind playing the game. However, this being an MMO, some people are (understandably) curious about the rewards they will receive as they progress through the story and their class quests.

SoulstitchMMO sought out an answer from the devs in his thread Epic Rewards for Finishing Class Quest? and boy did he get a response! Georg Zoeller, Principal Lead Combat Designer, and Damion Schubert, Lead Combat Designer both weighed in on the subject. SoulstitchMMO wanted to know if “finishing” your class quests (at level 50) would result in the acquisition of epic gear and if the rewards would be good enough to justify completion of your class story at max level, instead of, say, running Operations for better gear. Damion Schubert explained that while gear is one reward that you receive as you progress through the story, the real reward is the story itself :

There will be [loot rewards at the end of your class quest chain]. Not talking about specifics yet.

However, no reward is going to be as interesting as the reward of the conclusion of your story. This is kind of like asking “What’s the reward for watching Episode IV past the point where they escape the Death Star?” It’s the satisfaction of a good story, well told.

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May 23, 2011

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Yellow Posts: Playing In The Sandbox

The developer tracker likes to be sneaky at times, adding in posts that are a few days older.  The dev tracker also gets a good clean-up from time to time and the extra posts get thrown into the Sarlacc Pit.

When it comes to PvP the classic debate is skill vs. gear and what should matter more.  In TOR it looks like gear will be very important, and stripping down to the “essentials” will not yield well, according to Gabe Amatangelo, Lead PvP Designer:

My fellow number junkies and streakers,

If you are ‘naked’ in a bracketed match then you will be up to a 90% combat stats disadvantage.

If you are in an open match then the bolster mitigates the difference, not the whole. In other words, you will be at about a ((your level/max level) * 80%) + 10% combat stats disadvantage.

Note that formula is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes.

-Gabe

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May 16, 2011

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Yellow Posts: "Guard" The Servers

Datacrons, a part of last weeks Friday Update, as well as a recent developer blog, have been a point of interest for many players.  There has been some concern from the community about the permanent stat increase that is rewarded when your character comes across one.  Georg Zoeller has been trying to keep the peace by explaining numerous times it is not the end of the world if you do not find them:

We are rewarding exploration, yes. You will notice this to be a constant theme in the game – a tremendous amount of work goes into creating these beautiful planets, and we reward people that go out and see it.

Does that punish people who don’t like to explore? I don’t think so. They’ll spend their time differently and get benefits from whatever other activities they pursue in the time that explorers spend exploring.

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