Feb 2, 2011

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Yellow Posts: Max Level, Environment Manipulation, Auto-Attack and More

Shortly before the holidays, there was a sudden and massive increase in developer posts on the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ forums, much to the joy of TOR fans everywhere. Though there was an understandable lull in activity over Christmas, the Dev Tracker now seems to be lighting up again with regulariity, and proving to be a great source of new information!

This week, Damion Schubert and Georg Zoeller have been the busiest.

In a thread entitled, appropriately enough “Max level?,” Damion Schubert confirms what has been speculated for some time:

As of this moment, max level is 50. This is unlikely to change before we ship, but you know, the usual qualifiers apply.

Later, in the German version of the Taral V – Flashpoint thread, Georg Zoeller responded to a question about the apparent ability of the Jedi to manipulate the environment. The response is good news for all classes (and quite cool in itself!):

All classes have the ability to manipulate certain objects in the environment – usually to the detriment of said objects

Mr. Zoeller also goes on to post in a thread called “No auto-attack“:

Auto attack traditionally helps solving latency issues by allowing people with higher latency connections to achieve an equal number of ability activations than people with very low latency.

There are other ways to achieve this effect however without introducing auto attack.

Georg goes on with several other responses in that thread as well.

These are just some of the highlights, but we highly recommend you keep yourself tuned-in to the Dev Tracker as much as possible – there could be another surprise posted at any time!

If you’re a fan of RSS, the great peeps over at R2-DB.com have created an RSS feed of the Dev Tracker for you here: feed://r2-db.com/devtracker.php

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Jan 27, 2011

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Damion Schubert On The Death Penalty

The death penalty in MMORPGs has always been a hot topic among players. From the legendary corpse runs in EverQuest, to the light-hearted romp through the Azerothian ghost-world in World of Warcraft, death penalties in MMORPGs are all over the map.

Today on the official TOR forums, BioWare Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert weighed in with his philosophy on the need to balance the severity of the death penalty with fun, and not placing artificial barriers in front of the player, keeping them from doing what they want to do:

Ultimately, we want players to play the freakin’ game. We want them to group. We want them to deck out in their gear. We want them to experiment with builds. We want them to explore the nether regions of all the planets. We want to make really hard stuff for them. And we most assuredly want them to seek out challenges bigger than themselves.

Schubert goes on to say that just because the death penalty may not be harsh, it doesn’t mean the game can’t be challenging:

But I would seperate the idea of ‘challenge’ and ‘punishment’. I would rather our challenges be gated by whether or not you have the skill, the gear, and the teamwork to succeed than whether or not you have the credits and/or time to wait out the forced downtime in between, you know, the fun part.

While he doesn’t offer specifics on how the “death” system will work in TOR, we can garner enough from his post to understand that they want players to play the game, not be punished for doing so.

So what’s your take? Should there be material loss to your character when you die? Or should there be an insta-ressurection button? Maybe something in-between?  Let us know! And you can jump into the discussion on the official forums right here.


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Jan 13, 2011

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Dev Tracker Deluge!

This week has seen what can only be described as unprecedented presence on the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ forums by BioWare developers and the community team alike!

BioWare Community Manager Stephen Reid took to the boards with a post that sort of set expectations about information releases and forum activity:

Well, it’s a little more complicated than just the length of development. There can be any number of reasons why we hold back on talking about something, but those reasons often fall in three broad categories.

Associate World Designer Kyle Garner also offered some insight as to how story can drive gameplay:

Having story support the gameplay is the best option of course, and that’s what we’re going for. Cool pew pew scenes that foreshadow a future destination give someone a better sense of where they’re going, and hopefully lead people to look at our cool art instead of the minimap.

Also, Greg Zoeller chimed in in a thread regarding healing classes, and about how nothing is final until it ships:

In game development nothing is ever 100% confirmed – and in a BioWare game, we are very open to changing even major things late in development if they are found to be not fun or not helpful to the overall game experience. We’re in the business of shipping polished, fun games.

And these are just the highlights. There’s much, much more!

If you’re not ducking your head into the Dev Tracker on the official site regularly you’re starting to miss out! Better yet add it to your favorite RSS reader thanks to R2-DB.com‘s awesome custom feed.


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Nov 30, 2010

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Yellow Post: Stephen Reid Addresses German Magazine Article

In an ongoing, increased presence on the official Star Wars: The Old Republic forums, BioWare Senior Community Manager Stephen Reid responded in a thread where there was some speculation arising from a story in German magazine GameStar:

There are some inaccuracies in the initial reporting here, which could have happened for any number of reasons – but in the interest of calming speculation, there are a couple of things we wanted to address.

You can read the post, as well as join the thread discussion, here.

It’s great to see more activity from BioWare on the forums again! BioWare – keep it comin’!

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Nov 24, 2010

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Damion Schubert: Chat Channels & Mission Cancellation

BioWare Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert treated TOR followers today with some Thanksgiving Eve goodness in the form of a few forum posts – both of which provide some solid new information.

In a thread entitled No World Chat, Damion responds with a very interesting description of how the chat channels in the game work (and specifically their reach:)

Each planet has chat channels that allows you to communicate with other players on the same planet. Yes, we have different channels for general, pvp, trade, etc. You will be able to turn off the channel, flag another player as a spammer for Customer Support’s review, and ignore problem players.

Disregarding whether or not they are realistic (and the presence of technology makes them much more realistic here than in fantasy games – you only have to look at a CB Radio for an analog), chat is very good for the community. Of particular note, some of our best content areas are the awesome multiplayer fights our worldbuilders have been setting up. If to fight those, you had to go to town and wait for someone else to wander by, life would suck, and this content (which I want to stress, in my opinion, is usually wicked fun) would never get done.
We currently don’t have any global channels that cover the whole game. General rule of thumb in an MMO is that if your chat channel has more than a certain number of participants, it becomes spammy and unusable (something that we’ll be keeping an eye on in our earlier planets).

Considering “planets” as an analog to “zones” in other popular MMOs, this makes a lot of sense, and should side-step the type of player communication problems Warhammer had at the outset.

Damion also provided some insight as to companion options and Crew Skills in a thread entitled Crew Missions: Emergency Recall?!:

Currently, you can recall your companion at any time from a mission. You lose any progress he has made, as well as any upfront costs, but he returns immediately. This may be adjusted as we test further, but it seems to offer a decent balance.

You can also have a companion stop crafting an item at any time. In that case, you lose no materials (but all progress will be lost).

So ultimately, there will be some risk involved if you send a companion off on a crafting task or mission, and decide later that you need him back. The penalty of losing progress on the mission, in addition to the up-front cost, seems to be in line and not too steep.

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