Dec 19, 2011

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Clandestine Maneuvers: Spy Game

(Thanks to special guest author Ehren for his contributions on the Imperial Agent impressions entry!)

By The Tailor of Coruscant

Introduction

”Bond, James Bond.” – England’s greatest secret agent introduces himself in Dr. No

Over the past several weeks I have been fortunate enough to engage in a wide variety of Beta testing. One of the most enjoyable play experiences came as an Imperial Agent. There is a compelling story, engaging and challenging gameplay mechanics and an opportunity for a variety of play styles should make this class one of the most attractive options in the game.

Curiously, in much of the early polling, Imperial Agent is among the lowest ranked in terms of raw numbers. Spend a moderate amount of time lurking on the Imperial Agent however, and you will find though the numbers are small, the core player base is devoted. They should be. Those looking to play Imperial Agent in the live game can perhaps take solace in the famous words of Shakespeare’s Henry V, when he called out to, “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.” I have always had a fondness for the underrepresented classes in role playing games (RPGs), and perhaps that contributes to my affection for this class.

What follows is a (mostly) spoiler free account of early game play for one of the true gem classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I think this game in general, and this class in particular, are best experienced without spoiling the story too much. That said, there is still plenty of good information to pass along without revealing too much that would take some of the magic away from this excellent story.

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May 3, 2011

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FSS 2011: Imperial Agent Hands-On

When all of us fan site-types finally sat down to business at last week’s Fan Site Summit, Stephen Reid gave a short talk on what we’d be seeing while we were down there in Austin. He talked about how much of the information that we were going to see would undoubtedly change by launch, so there was no point in scribbling down every ability name and the percentage of healing or damage it does. Instead, he asked, that we simply play the game. Sit there, as a fan, and just play.

After thinking about what he said, this actually sounded appealing. Trying to play the game at the same time as you’re transcribing every nuance makes the play experience… unfavorable. We’ve done it before. So, while we may not have the most technically detailed writeup of the minutiae out there, I hope that these words resonate with you as a fellow player of this upcoming MMORPG obsession known as Star Wars™: The Old Republic™!

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Apr 6, 2011

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Facebook Image Of The Week #7

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Facebook Image of The Week, that’s who.

Ok, sorry. That was bad.

But this is good! BioWare has released the 7th image in their series of Facebook Images of The Week.

In this screenshot, we get a look inside of the Imperial Agent‘s starship, the X-70B Phantom:

The experimental high-tech systems on the X-70B Phantom require frequent maintenance and diagnostics.

The experimental high-tech systems on the X-70B Phantom require frequent maintenance and diagnostics.

The caption makes us wonder if there might be elements to ship upkeep and customization in the game. What do you think?

Make sure you head on over to Facebook and “Like” Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ so you get these great images posted directly onto your wall!

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Oct 29, 2010

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Friday Update: Imperial Agent Details!

The Imperial Agent might just be the sleeper class that most people are looking forward to play. With the lip service even the BioWare developers have given it, it sounds unlike anything we’ve seen so far in an MMO.  Not to mention, the story surrounding the Imperial Agent has great potential!

Starship Cutaway View

Starship Cutaway View

With all that in mind, this week’s update of the Imperial Agent class page with new details is sure to bring a smile to many wanna-be Imperial spies:

The Imperial Agent class delivers an experience unlike any other in Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, and this week, we’re excited to share new details that highlight what makes the Agent so unique.

Not only has the class page been refreshed to match the new format, we also get some details on the Advanced Classes, we also finally get to see the Imperial Agent’s Starship – The X70B Phantom-Class Prototype!

Imperial Agent Starship

Imperial Agent Starship

We also learn of the first Imperial Agent companion: a Rattataki named Kaliyo Djannis. The inhabitants page has also been updated with the Chiss, since we know that you can choose this species if you decide to play the Imperial Agent class.

Last but certainly not least, there’s a brand new class game-play video – check it out!

Not a bad Friday Update after all… not bad at all.

Sniper

Sniper

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Jul 5, 2010

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"Not Enough Force" – Resource Pools

With the recent release of the E3 multi-player combat video, we wanted to take a closer look at certain aspects of of what we saw. Even though its a low-level encounter, we feel there’s enough information there to warrant a deeper dive. For this first entry, we thought we’d start with thinking about the class resource pools, and how those might affect combat.

In the video, we finally get to see some Jedi in action – both the Knight and the Consular were in the group. These classes were withheld from the recent E3 hands-on sessions, so this was a special treat.

We viewed  the battle from the point of view of the Jedi Consular, which meant we got to see a lot of things that happen in the UI during combat, including some of the system feedback…  One example, the beloved MMO staple “Out of Range” message when your target is too far away for you to interact with it.

Out-of-Range

At about 2:30 into the video we see a different message pop up – “Not Enough Force.” This message appeared because the Consular did not have enough “Force Points” available to execute the ability that was selected. For those new to the genre, MMORPG player classes typically have resource pools such as this for two reasons: to govern the use of certain abilities (facilitating balance,) but also as a gameplay mechanic itself. Managing this resource pool becomes part of the skill you will need to learn to play your character effectively.

Mechanically, having Force as a class resource makes sense for Force-sensitive characters, but it still makes me cringe just a little bit seeing “The Force” reduced to a mere resource pool. I guess this is one of those things we just have to accept as necessary for game mechanics. But I digress…

At any rate, it got us to thinking about resource pools in general. We now know that the Consular uses “Force” as it’s resource. The Sith Inquisitor apparently does as well. Even though the Sith Warrior is a Force user, his resource pool is “Rage.” The Bounty Hunter uses “Heat” with the requirement to periodically vent your system. Naturally the Trooper uses “Ammo.” And the Smuggler has been observed using “Energy,” (same for the Imperial Agent.) Curiously, no information has yet been learned regarding the resources used by the Jedi Knight.

But what about secondary resources? Are there aspects to managing our characters in combat that go beyond the basics?

Examples from other games include WoW’s Rogue, who uses “Combo Points” to execute “finishing” moves – typically larger special moves of greater power. The Death Knight has the Rune system.  In Warhammer, you had similar secondary resources, but interestingly you also had a tertiary level of abilities called “Morale” abilities. These are abilities that you could use only while in combat, and the longer you were in combat, the more powerful they became. You had 4 slots and each slot was more powreful than the last. If you stayed in combat long enough to activate the ability in the 4th slot, it was a doozy.

Way back, almost a year ago, GameSpot did an interview which exposed abilities what BioWare was calling “spenders.” This seems to add another dimension to resource management, but we’ve heard very little about it since, nor seen anything in action.

The demo video was obviously of low-level combat, but these secondary resources in other games are available right from the beginning. We didn’t see any of that in this combat video… so will we see more depth in this area? Is  this something you’ve been pondering? At what point will we learn more?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!


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Jun 15, 2010

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New Videos – Bounty Hunter, Player Ships!

Looks like we are getting treated to at least some more eye candy today… ! Below are embeds of the Bounty Hunter Armor Progression video, the Bounty Hunter/Imperial Agent combat video, and the Player Ships video!

Thanks to The Galactic Struggle for the videos! And be sure to head over there for some brand new screenshots as well!

UPDATE: Here are the links to the G4 Hands-On from yesterday:

Part 1 – Click Here

Part 2 – Click Here

Part 3 – Click Here

Player Ships

Smuggler and Trooper Combat

Bounty Hunter and Imperial Agent Combat

Sith Inquisitor and Sith Warrior Combat

Bounty Hunter Armor Progression

Gallery

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