Oct 15, 2011

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Zlatto’s Bazaar: You Want Me To Get This?

Zlatto’s Bazaar is the one-third Wall Street, one-third criminal empire and one-half gossip rag. You need to keep up on the Bazaar if for no other reason than to keep an eye on your competitors. Don’t be a Ho-tah and visit often.  Your comments are encouraged, especially if they make me credits…

Ok, before I get into my bi-monthly rant, I feel the need to share something that is on my mind and quite possibly on the mind of 95% of the player base. Is it just me, or is the shot below the most frinking depressing image you can see on a daily basis?

Can I get an amen ?


Back To Bazaar Business!

Love it or hate it, Gathering is a necessary part of the crafting cycle in MMOs, be them sandbox or theme park games.There are many implementations of gathering. One of the most common – which we know TOR has as well –  is node gathering.  Now, the gang at BioWare has also gifted us with companions, and one of their functions is as crafting and gathering minions. In a few of the videos we’ve seen both the character and the trailing companion stop at either an exposed node or a dead creature/droid to harvest. That’s a nice twist where your companion can stop and do the dirty work, while you keep on truckin’.

From a non-combat point of view, what does walking around with a companion actually gain us besides one less crew member crafting or doing missions?
I know having a companion out impacts your combat, but is real-time gathering the only thing they are bringing to the party?

So what do you gain (or lose) by not picking it up yourself?  Do you or your companion have different chances at different results?  Do your companions all have the same skill level as your charactger? If skill level factors into the resources to be found then we could be missing out.  Now, I have no idea on how the nodes resources will be generated.  Is the value in the node determined when it generates in the game world, or does our gathering skill influence what you get out of a node?

Lets walk through my concerns using an imaginary Lava crystal node as we imagine adventuring across Mustafar (which is of course, not one of the launch planets!)  It will have regular Lava Crystals of course, but on rare occasions maybe an “exquisite” Lava Crystal can be mined from the same node. If the gathering system generates all resources in the node outside of any player influence, then the value of the node is set when spawned and the skill level in gathering from the above node is moot, except to determine if it can be gathered.  So having my character with skill Y gather the crystal node will have no impact on the resource gained versus having my companion with skill Y-20 gather it.

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Oct 13, 2011

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G4 MMO Report: Companion In Raids?

If we somehow missed this news, I’ll be the first one to apologize.

I scoured the dev tracker and perused recent interviews, but nowhere did I find hints of the news that Casey Schreiner delivered in today’s MMO Report on G4 TV: Companions can “hold a place” in Operations.

Now, the way he made the comment was a little ambiguous, considering I don’t know the source, but if it’s remotely true then BioWare is going against a stance they promoted just a few short months ago – that high level content such as Operations should be won or lost by the player, not by AI.

So, we need more information on this one, which I’ll be working to get. In the mean time, you can watch it for yourself right here and let us know your thoughts. Or if I missed something along the way… perhaps I was unconscious for the past few weeks without my knowledge.

[UPDATE] The good people in the comments section below are on the right track I believe…

[UPDATE 2] Senior Community Manager Stephen Reid replied to us on Twitter with the clarity we were looking for:

@Rockjaw: Nope.

So that puts that to rest!

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Sep 23, 2011

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Friday Update: Companion-palooza – Developer Dispatch + William Wallace Dev Blog

It’s a good week if you’re a fan of companions!

Yesterday, GameSpot gave us a sneak preview at part of today’s Friday Update in the form of a brand-new Developer Dispatch video. The video takes is through the importance of companions in Star Wars: The Old Republic and goes into some detail about their abilities and customization as well.

Many BioWare devs make an appearance including James Ohlen, Daniel Erickson, Jeff Dobson and forum super-hero Georg Zoeller. It is of course a must-watch for any fans reading these words.

Today, BioWare capped off the the Friday Update with a new Developer Blog from the legendary William Wallace, Senior Game Designer at BioWare. It’s been a while since we heard from Mr. Wallace, but he does not disappoint.

We get a sneak peak at Mako and Khem Val appearance and armor progression, which shows off some of the customization that was first disclosed during San Diego Comic Con.


Mako Apperance Variations

Khem Val Appearance and Armor Progression

Further, Wallace goes on to take us through the experience evolution of Corso Riggs, the first companion you come across when playing the Smuggler class. He takes a dive into how the abilities of the companions come into play and grow over the course of leveling and teases us with companion AI as the topic of his next blog:

William Wallace: We believe with these recent updates to companion abilities, we add another dimension to companion characters, really making them come alive in combat as well as conversations. In my next blog, I’ll explain how companion AI works, as well as giving more details on their roles in a group.

There are also some great video examples embedded in the page, so be sure to head over to the new Developer Blog to check ’em out!


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Sep 22, 2011

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Companion Developer Dispatch And Q&A At GameSpot!

GameSpot has scored an exclusive preview of an upcoming Developer Dispatch (presumably, part of tomorrow’s update!) We haven’t had a Friday Eve update like this in a while :)

The over seven minute video, with an entire cast of BioWare developers, designers and writers, takes a deep dive into the companion creation and customization process. For fans of companions, this is the update you’ve been waiting for… romance, story, customization, it’s all here:

James Ohlen: Players are able to customize the appearance of their companions in two ways. Because companions are full characters with inventory slots, players can change the equipment their companions are wearing. You can give your tough-as-nails Mandalorian warrior companion some badass Mandalorian armor. Or you can put her in clothes reminiscent of Princess Leia’s famous gold bikini. Players can also change the skin color, hair, and facial features of their companion characters. We wanted players to have more freedom than in any previous BioWare RPG when it came to companion customization.

The video is embedded here for your convenience, but be sure to head over to GameSpot for the Q&A as well!

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Sep 22, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: Will Your Companions Influence Your Decisions?

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!

In the past few days, we’ve talked about both morality choices and your companions. Are you going to be the respectful Jedi, or the sadistic Sith? Are you going to use a companion that compliments you, or one that will entertain you?

That brought up an interesting question, and I want to see what you think about it. Will your companion’s personality affect your morality decisions?

BioWare is known for allowing you to gain, or lose, affection with your squad members based on your ultimate decisions. You’ll be able to make your team love you, or hate you.

Just as BioWare is giving us numerous options for companions, their personalities are going to be wildly different too. You might be a Jedi, but you’ll probably have one who likes when you make dark decisions, and then still another that prefers light side choices. There will be ones who are happy if you just go for credits, and those that prefer you to stay in the middle, avoiding the extremes.

Personally, I’m all for just basing my choices on what my character would do (it’s how I voted in Sunday’s BM&C). Preferably, I want my companion to side with my choices to boost their affection.  But what if it doesn’t?

I’ve always liked learning the backstory of various companions that I’m teamed up with. It’s adds some spice to the game, and gives more life to your ragtag crew. Will I miss out on this if they don’t like me? Will I actually make my character’s decisions just so my companion’s DO like me?

But, what about you? Are you going to have all the say in the decisions you make? Or, will your companion’s personality have an effect on how you decide to handle a situation?

Will your companion influence your story decisions?

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