May 9, 2011

Posted by | 1 Comment

Yellow Posts: Game Testing Has Gone International! Almost.

The big news of the week, aside from the Friday update of course, is that European Game Testing is on the way.  This is great news for our European friends as they will soon be able to get into the game, offer feedback, find possible bugs, and do some focused testing.

BioWare Senior Community Manager Stephen Reid made sure people knew that the email that folks were receiving was not an actual invite, but rather a notification that testing would begin soon:

Alright all, here’s some additional clarification.

First thing I want to clear up: this email was not an invite to Game Testing. (Sorry if you thought it was.) It was purely an email to encourage people to sign up for Game Testing in Europe.

Why did some of you get the email and others not? Here’s how it breaks down.

The email was sent to some European residents who have previously ‘opted in’ to receive marketing emails from EA. (You could have ‘opted-in’ on a variety of different web sites, and it’s possible you forgot that you did. )

It’s also possible that as well as signing up to get email from EA, you also signed up here at (and even signed up to be a tester). You may still have received the email. I can understand your confusion, but basically, nothing has changed. You’re still on the list of people eligible to be selected for Game Testing.

Some of you may be signed up here on but have not signed up to receive marketing emails from EA on another site. If that’s the case, you won’t be getting this email – but don’t panic. You are also still eligible for Game Testing.

To re-iterate: the email was not an invite to Game Testing. It was purely to spread the word about Game Testing, ideally to people who don’t already know. We have not sent any invites to Game Testing in Europe today.

Everyone living in Europe is still eligible to be selected for Game Testing, as long as they have signed up to be selected (at The email was sent in English, French and German as those are the primary languages for localization of the game.

Hope this clears things up a bit.

Read More
May 3, 2011

Posted by | 0 Comments

Yellow Posts: From The Wall of Crazy

Due to the sheer amount of developer interaction over the past week, this week’s Yellow Posts will be a consolidation of the more interesting and newsworthy…

While the topic of a release date is a touchy subject, thanks to a few posts from Stephen, we will “know” when the announcement is coming.

In terms of what I was trying to say, this pretty much sums it up. ^^

If I can have everyone reading this take away one thing, it’s this: when I use an example to explain something, that’s not a cryptic clue. Ever. Honestly, considering everything we say seems to get misintepreted, being cryptic about really important stuff just causes us problems.

My example was – you know that Christmas is coming. There are many signs to tell you so. So, just like Christmas, when we’re getting ready to announce the release date, there will be many signs to let you know. You won’t have to decipher clues, or look at tea-leaves, or consult a psychic – we’ll tell you. You don’t have to decipher anything to figure out Christmas is coming.

Read More
Apr 25, 2011

Posted by | 1 Comment

Yellow Posts: Playing Favorites

With the fan site summit getting underway this week, as well as having a major holiday one would expect developer posts to be slow.  Lucky for us, this was not the case over the week.

Damion Schubert had a somewhat lengthy post addressing a few key points about grouping and how conversations will work:

We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making sure that group play and playing with a partner is important.  To answer some of the individual questions: 
1. No, Republic and Imperial players cannot meaningfully group or play with each other.  For the most part, they have entirely different content and progression paths through their planets.
2. If you’re on the same side, once you leave your Origin World, your class stories will tend to take you to roughly the same planets, areas and quest hubs at the same time (even if you are not the same class).  This has proven pretty vital to keeping groups together and happy.  There are quest areas that the class stories do not drive you towards, where play is more freeform.
3. Most of the key moments of a class story happen in a class phase.  You can enter the class phases of party members (to, for example, help out with combat events).  Many players choose to, but many also choose not to, instead choosing to craft, farm xp, or do their own class quest if it happens to be nearby.
4. There are moments where the class quests send you to largely divergent locations (for example, a Jedi might be sent back to Tython to report in to the council, whereas another class is sent to an abandoned asteroid facility).  These tend to be relatively obvious and relatively synchronized with each other.  In most of my own playthroughs, the group typically chooses to do these events on their own time.
This is, obviously, an area of great importance to us, and one we continue to iterate on, but it is one area of the game where we’ve made a lot of progress, design-wise.  It’s quite fun, right now, to play the game with a steady group.


This should relieve some fears that if grouped together, one person would not have any of their class quests or have any real quests to do.  From what Damion said, if you group and do those quests you will arrive and leave planets around the same time.

Damion also gave us some insight in response to a question about which faction the developers will be playing:

Having worked in the industry for many years, I can tell you the answer is “whichever one you’re not playing — whatever that is.”

Wiser words have never been spoken.

With the next issue of PC Gamer hitting store shelves in Europe, a few lucky subscribers had a copy early and tried to translate the articles and interviews.  Translation is always tricky and Georg Zoeller was on the case when it came to a bad translation.

I think the translation makes it sound like I’m avoiding something there, which isn’t the case. First, we fully understand why dual spec is a popular topic.  Currently, we do not see the need to allow for dual spec at release. It’s something that we’ll definitely monitor over time, but we do think there is enough flexibility in the class system to keep people occupied well past launch.

Not a big shock here, knowing that you cannot change your advanced class (as of right now), it would only make scene that one cannot dual spec.  I do not see a dual spec coming to TOR, since it can really change the dynamic of the class on a dime.  While this may work for groups that are short on a certain class type, it may not bode well for the game in the long run and hardly changes any class shortages.

The big news for the community was not the Friday update on Drew Karpyshyn’s book, but on the closure of the Off-Topic and Visitor Wall sections of the forums.  With only a post saying each section would no longer be available after April 22, some members were very upset.

Stephen Reid jokingly responded to Soulgazer who was asking if the update would contain any explanation as to why each area was closed:

Conspiracy theories! The perfect solution for those times when the world just doesn’t make sense. 
Sorry, the closing of Off-Topic and wall posts has zero to do with tomorrow’s update.
Better luck next time, Soulgazer! Thanks for playing.

Stephen also addressed a thread about the non-serious tone of posts that had been made, only to reply with more witty banter:

Fun fact: Office Space was partially filmed literally half-a-mile from our offices. Truth! 
Pro tip: if you want to imitate a troll, make sure you don’t put in subtle references like that. (Don’t worry, I knew you were kidding. :))
Did we mention we’ll be at E3 in June? I can give you directions if you like. ;)
I’d actually say that Damion’s response was very deliberately neutral. In fact now I think on it, he may actually be one of those dirty neutral types 
After all, if we ever suggest we actually play a faction – any faction – we get accused of bias. Imagine!
We actually got eggs today. And these strange things called ‘peeps’. Many peeps. And R2-D2 
Busy devs are busy. Not much more to it than that, folks. :)

Busy developers are busy hopefully working on the game and not playing games to see who can eat the most peeps in an hour.

David Bass (When not playing Portal 2), had time to tease us about a possible embargo for the Fan Site Summit being lifted at the same time as the U.K. event.

The press have a months embargo because some of it comes out in paper form. Fan sites post on their respective sites + podcast, so we could see the embargo being lifted around the same time as the press embargo!

That sounds entirely plausible.

Back on the topic of Advanced Classes, Georg again confirmed that BioWare has no plans for a dual spec system.

Correct. The ability to respec your skill point distribution is still in the game.
Summary, since this is a confusing topic: You can change your skill point distribution by paying credits at a vendor on your capital world. That has not changed. 
You may or may not be able to change your Advanced Class, we haven’t decided on this one yet. If you can, the cost would be significant. That has not changed. 
There is currently no plan to add dual spec (the ability to swap almost instantly between two skill point configurations) for launch. At this point, it seems not necessary for us, but we’re not opposed to add it at a later point / patch should we feel that the game would benefit from it. 
Hope that helps.

Read More
Apr 18, 2011

Posted by | 0 Comments

Yellow Posts: Hi! My name is [Master Lord Darth]

A week after the London press event, the pace has finally settled down… and so did the developer posts.

Every once in a while a thread on the official forums will surface with a member wanting the answer to some questions.  Some can be answered, others cannot for certain reasons.  In this weeks case, those questions can still not be answered.  Forum member Dayrun, made a post that highlighted concerns and questions on open beta, system specifications, and when the game will be released.

Georg Zoller came in to straighten up those concerns and answer why some things just cannot be discussed right now.

I don’t think we are avoiding these questions. We do our best to let people know that status of things, but we can’t make announcements until we know we’re ready. 

Answers to these questions are being worked out. For a project like SWTOR, with many parties involved, final answers can take time to sort out. Once everything is decided, we can talk about it. Before then, we don’t, because we don’t want to change things on people. It wouldn’t be fair for us to announce something like the minimum PC spec, have people buy new machines, and then change it on them. We appreciate everyone’s patience so far, and will keep everyone up-to-date on these questions – we know they’re important!
The release window is 2011. As more information becomes available, we’ll let everyone know.


The philosophy of not announcing certain features until they are complete or ready for public viewing has been consistent throughout development.  This is why we have not seen any official screenshots or video on feature that is very near and dear to many – character creation.  What has been seen on a few occasions is not feature complete; or it may not be an accurate representation of what we will see at release.

Read More
Apr 11, 2011

Posted by | 5 Comments

Yellow Posts: A Trip Across the Pond (But Not By Swimming)

With the recent hands-on time for those lucky few in London, as well as the main press event, many new developments have emerged on a range of new and old topics.

Flashpoints can now accommodate companions, this is new from what we learned at PAX East that (at the time) companions would not be available in Flashpoints or Warzones.  What we have learned is that currently, companions now take up a player slot in Flashpoints and so you can only have a max of two companions and two players.  Georg Zoller has clarified that companions in Flashpoints and a group setting are still be tested and no final decision has been made on the matter:

Currently, it is feasible to complete some of the lower level Flashpoints with two players and two Companions, if the players are really good. Three players plus one companion is more common and works for most as it is easier, but still definitely a bunch more challenging than four players only.  As mentioned, we’re actively testing different options here, and haven’t made final calls on companions in Flashpoints.

A confirmation on swimming was made during the Q&A part of the community event, and it has sent the forums into an uproar.  Swimming will not be in for launch, as Georg said once again:

In order for swimming to be actually worth the implementation and time, we’d want to do it right – meaning content built around it, maybe a water centric planet, etc.

Is swimming that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? Will the lack of an advanced swimming feature along with combat, add to the overall game play and user experience? I do not think so.

There’s no rigid wall in the game at this point. You walk in shallow water, it becomes deeper as you progress, and at some point you start getting the message that you should turn back. You can continue on and ultimately drown (then respawn) or move back.
In order for swimming to be actually worth the implementation and time, we’d want to do it right – meaning content built around it, maybe a water centric planet, etc. Absent that content – there are no water worlds in this game – we’ve decided to focus on other things that are more important to us.
I can definitely see why people like swimming (or any other feature for that matter), however, the decision to put a feature like that in the game cannot be solved with a simple yes/no poll. In reality, the question is more like “Do you want swimming or ‘feature X’”. In this case, we chose feature X (or Y, or Z) for a number of reasons – one being that just adding a very basic version of swimming without building proper content around isn’t something we wanted to focus on for launch. We’ll definitely look at this again later, after launch, but if we were to decide to do it, it’d be accompanied with proper content and mechanics themed around it.

Keep in mind that we will not hit invisible walls when large ponds or oceans appear, you can swim but think of it like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. You cannot dive but you can move around in the water for some time, until you go to far out to sea and will drown/freeze.

Stephen Reid confirmed that Europeans will be getting their own localized servers. BioWare will be supporting European servers for launch, in which country they will be located has yet to be determined.

No details we’re ready to talk about yet, but we’ll get into detail before launch – absolutely.
I can say we’ll have servers physically located in Europe, definitely. The final country choice is yet to be made.

Keeping in mind that little has been said about the game client being region locked.  This would mean those in other countries would need to buy that specific copy of the game, to play on that countries servers.

With Fan Friday came an update to advanced classes and Georg Zoller delved into the topic while also clarifying some common misconceptions and worries about class balance.  Each class now have either a tanking or healing role added to their AC.  This will give players the option to say, play a Bounty Hunter and be a tank, heal the party if needed, or blast people for some heavy damage.  What Georg mentioned was that with these new AC paths, some people and classes may only want to do damage and have a varity of ways of doing it.

There is a good number of people that only ever play damage dealing classes. Regardless of what choice you give them, when it comes to the core role of it, they want to go in there and make a difference with damage.  By having some Advanced Classes dedicated to pure damage, we are creating options for these players to experience different gameplay variations of damage dealing gameplay and mechanics within their class.  The Marauder / Sentinel skill trees allow for some great variation in gameplay (tactical vs. in your face, burst vs. sustained, different levels of mobility, Area of Effect vs single target) to give players that have a strong preference for the damage dealer role more variation that what is possible on ACs that fill multiple roles already.
So we really don’t look at this as ‘The Marauder only has one role available, therefore it must be significantly better at it than other ACs that have a DPS option’, we look at this as ‘The Marauder has one role available to it, and several very different (and full) ways of putting it to effect’

This sounds very promising, having different paths for your character to spec into, though a cookie-cutter or flavor of the month spec will be found out eventually.  What would make the game more interesting would be having encounters, PvP or PvE, in which different specs would be more viable.  Now they all would get the job done, say a Jedi Sentinel, but encounter A would be better suited for AoE with encounter B for mobility.  That type of system is more reliant on “Bring the class not the player”, which has been unpopular in some other MMOs.

Lastly Stephen made a very lengthly post on community, and BioWare’s plan behind the curtain for our friends in Europe.  Stephen goes on to mention that the community presence on the Europe forums has been lacking, and that the process for a new Europe community manager, was in the works.  What is interesting to note, is that the community staff for the European side of things, will all be physically located in the Galway customer service center.  This is a big different from the approach here in the states, as some community managers work from home, and not directly in Austin.

As we were establishing our global Customer Service Center in Galway, I suggested we place them there. I wanted them to be physically within the walls of a BioWare building – coming to work every day with people who were only thinking about The Old Republic. With video conferencing, IM, phone calls, a lot of email and plenty of time on planes, I knew we could keep them as in the loop as those of us based in Austin. (And if timezones didn’t exist and visas weren’t a problem, I’d have brought them to Texas permanently.)

Read more here

Hopefully this will provide the European community with the kind of support and communication that has lacked with other companies and games when it comes to that region.

Read More