Sep 26, 2011

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Eurogamer Expo: TotalBiscuit Interviews Daniel Erickson

You may already be familiar with TotalBiscuit from his work as the Cynical Brit with World of Warcraft, but back at gamescom, he really began to make inroads in the Star Wars: The Old Republic community as well!

Well, seeing as how Eurogamer Expo was on his side of the pond, we’re treated to more TotalBiscuit TOR coverage. This time, he speaks to Daniel Erickson about (surprise!) story, and how that works in an MMO with multiple players, and some of the things BioWare had to overcome in order to deliver it.

TotalBiscuit also touches on morality with Mr. Erickson, so it’s definitely worthwhile 11-minute viewing for the discriminating TOR fan. Enjoy!

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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 6, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: What Do You Think About Datacrons?

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!

Back in April during the UK Press Event held at gamerbase in London, one of the players discovered something called a Datacron while playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Since this was the first time anyone had seen this kind of thing, it was quickly followed up with some further detail by Daniel Erickson on the forums.

Not long after, Principle Lead Systesm Designer Damion Schubert published a developer’s blog on the Codex, with a special section on these Datacrons. Here he explained that these were put in to encourage and reward the explorer. What was interesting, however, was that he confirmed the reward not only consisted of a Codex entry, but also a small but permanent boost to one of your character’s stats.

Needless to say, there was some excitement surrounding the potential Datacrons represented, but the reward caused some controversy. Why would exploration reward you with stats which would ostensibly make you better in combat? It seemed these Datacrons would now be a requirement for those that which to maximize their character’s combat output.

Personally, I’m an explorer, so I like the idea of Datacrons, but don’t think there should be a combat stat boost associated with finding them. BioWare explained that in TOR, you can get rewards from space combat to be better at space combat and get rewards from PvP to be better at PvP. So getting combat rewards from exploration wavers from that position somewhat. Not to mention, based on what we know, they feel a little “gamey.” If they’re really out there in plain sight, it feels more like a spinning gold coin to collect than a rare artifact capable of teaching you about the galaxy.

But what do you guys think? Do you like the Datacron system? Do you think stats are an appropriate reward for finding them?

Do you think finding a Datacron should provide a permanent stat boost?

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A Datacron on Korriban

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Aug 22, 2011

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Yellow Posts: EU Testing, Cross-Faction Chat, Huttball, and Loot!

Even with many of the developers and community managers away at gamescom, many of them still found the time to post on the official forums. This week, forum poster Hjaw asked the devs in his thread “EU Testing – we need info!” if they could elaborate on when EU beta testing would start. Currently, a few people from the EU are in testing, but a full-blown EU server beta test hasn’t begun yet. Stephen Reid, Senior Online Community Manager, took to the forums to answer:

Hello from the very loud GamesCom showfloor…

We know how much everyone in Europe is eager to test The Old Republic and while it’s been a slow process to get to the starting line, we’re really close.

Right now Game Testing is ongoing as it has been for quite a while. While some Europeans are in this program and are testing, there are more testers from other countries.

We will be adding more testers during September, including testers from Europe. This will increase the number of European testers by a considerable amount. As part of this increase, we’re hoping to add a number of European Guilds.

Beta Testing Weekends in the EU will start after the US, but not much later. That’s about all we can commit to right now.

Obviously, I’ve given you no dates or timeframes here, but as we get closer, we’ll have more to say. September isn’t that far away, after all.

Mr. Reid followed up that post with further details a little bit later, and in the interest of saving space, you can read that post here.

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Aug 10, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: Will You Miss Day/Night Cycles In TOR?

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 many ways, an MMO strives to simulate the real world. To a lot of folks, immersion is one of the most important factors in their enjoyment of the game. If something breaks that immersion, the game can become less and less appealing to a player. There are many aspects and layers to this immersion, but without a doubt one of the biggest contributors is the atmosphere of the game. The mood of the environment can be heavily influenced by the lighting in the game, and in many games over the years, developers have used a day and night cycle to help create that atmosphere. However, in Star Wars: The Old Republic, we already know that the day and night cycles will not be present:

Will a Day/Night cycle be in the game?
Daniel Erickson: No. It was a technical decision. Scenes look better if lighting is consistent.
James Ohlen: multiple worlds present in game with different # of suns/moons, so it became too difficult to make it work.

Keep in mind, this does not mean we will not see day and night in-game – in fact the developers have confirmed we will. All it means is that we will not see them dynamically changing at the same location/planet. The SW:TOR community has an ongoing thread about this matter, as well as a poll, that’s currently sitting at approximately 34% of people being unsatisfied with such a design decision.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of this, but I can definitely see BioWare’s stance. Given that the story element of the game is so important, they need to be able to more tightly control the way a player experiences it.  Anyway, time will show if BioWare made a good decision in this area of the game.

What do you think of BioWare's decision to eliminate day/night cycles?

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