Jan 1, 2012

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Wild Space: Graphics, Flashpoints, And Companions

It’s a big galaxy our there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

Over on TORWars, they discussed a topic this week that is very near and dear to my heart: graphics! I’m a bit of a hardware junkie and manged to scrape enough cash together in order to rebuild my computer to prepare for the TOR release. As expected, my computer runs the game quite well with nary a drop in frame rates in sight. However, I have missed the ability to enable anti-aliasing, which smooths out the edges of the graphics in game.

Attempting to force the option on via the client_settings file can cause some instability in the game client, including causing it to crash. Obviously, since anti-aliasing is not supported by BioWare yet this behavior is to be expected. Also, to be fair, anti-aliasing is not really that high of a priority to get fixed, what with other problems that the development team is working on. But…it still bothers me and I would love for the option to be available. The TORWars article asks the question does the game need the anti-aliasing settings? I ask the same to you now, is this a necessary feature or is it a low-priority frivolity?

For those who have only played single-player BioWare games in the past, the concept of grouped flashpoints might seem a bit daunting. After all, you have to round up some other people, who you may not personally know, and then work together to overcome some challenging obstacle. Fortunately, SWTOR Face has some tips for how to make your flashpoint experience as enjoyable as possible. Some of the highlights are:

Try to be understanding of new players and be as helpful as possible.  These encounters are not the standard “dungeons” that most WoW players are used to and the roles required by each player can change during a Flashpoint. Sometimes a player will be needed to off-tank or interrupt special abilities; other times they might just need to do as much dps as possible.

Don’t be scared to ask questions on how to better play your character in an encounter. Some people will no doubt not expect this and may act rude or unaccommodating but the majority of people will see this as an opportunity to try and work together.

Remember flashpoints are supposed to be one of the more social aspects of the game, so treating your fellow players with respect and being willing to help will make everyone’s experience so much more enjoyable. Be sure to check out the full article over on SWTOR Face for all of their helpful tips.

As it has been mentioned before, the five companions that you get as your progress through the game all have different abilities and strengths. To help clarify what companions your character is going to get and what role that companion can fill (DPS, tank, or healer), Yufmelt has compiled a list of all the available companions for each class and their roles. For ease of use sake, they have compiled the list into a handy PDF that you can quickly refer to. Check it out!

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Dec 18, 2011

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Wild Space: Combat (In Space!), Damage Meters, And Levels 1-10 Review

It’s a big galaxy our there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

I was one of the lucky few to get in on day one of early game access. It certainly helped that I pre-ordered about 7 hours after pre-orders were announced back on July 21. Since Tuesday, I have been really enjoying playing my Sith Warrior and have been trying in-game to highlight all of his awfulness as a person. One of the things I wasn’t sold on going into the game was space combat. I had tried it in the beta but didn’t find it to be very enjoyable. However, once I got into the real game, I began to really enjoy the space combat.

Over on SWTORFace, they have a couple of terrific guides about space combat that they created during the beta.  I found these guides to be entertaining and informative so please check them out if you want to know more about the space combat in TOR.

Our buddies over on TORWars have written up an article titled “Open TOR Policy: The DPS Meter Made Me Do It” where they discuss the pros and cons to including damage meters in TOR. If you don’t know what damage meters are, the article does a good job of giving a basic overview of the concept and then goes into it’s analysis of why it might be good or might be bad to include damage meters in TOR. On the pro side, it’s a good way to monitor your own performance and improve your DPS if you find that you are doing something wrong. On the con side, it encourages elitism by constantly comparing yourself against everyone else. Check out the full article and participate to become a part of this not-soon-to-be-over debate.

Yufmelt has one of the first reviews I have seen for the game to date and I thought it would be worthwhile for those of you who are still on the fence about purchasing the game. It’s a review of the first 10 levels and includes opinions on the story, combat, and the first flashpoint that you experience in the game. Be sure to check it out!

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Dec 2, 2011

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Blue Milk & Cereal: How Do You Feel About No Advanced Class Switching?

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!

Many of you who have been following the game for awhile are familiar with the off-again, on-again roller coaster ride that is the ability to switch Advanced Classes. Selecting an Advanced Class in Star Wars: The Old Republic is akin to selecting your actual combat class in other games, as each one plays so differently and even has different itemization. There have been vocal proponents on both sides of the argument.

When we talked to Senior Live Producer Blaine Christine at PAX 2010, he indicated that the idea of swapping Advanced Classes was still very much in development. But during San Diego Comic-Con back in July, Game Director James Ohlen revealed that Advanced Class switching was in the game, and that the first switch is “cheap”, but after that it may be all but prohibitive for most players. This satisfied most of the folks who though they should be allowed to changed classes in the game.

The most recent turn of events, however, comes from Senior Community Manager Stephen read on the official forums. Mr. Reid revealed that, in fact, the ability to swap your Advanced Class is currently NOT in the game, though the potential may be there in the future. But there are no immediate plans for launch or right after:

Advanced Class switching (or re-speccing, take your pick) was, at one point, potentially going to go into the game. Right now, it’s not in the game. It could potentially be added after launch. Like, frankly, anything else. To quote Georg “we reserve the right to change our minds based on feedback and testing.”

This revelation has certainly stirred up quite a discussion for our friends over at TORWars, so we thought it might be the right time to take the temperature of the community with a Blue Milk & Cereal poll.

How do you feel now that we know Advanced Class switching will in fact not be in the game at launch? Let us know!

How do you feel about Advanced Class switching not being allowed in the game?

View Results

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Nov 27, 2011

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Wild Space: Weather, History, and Quick Tips

It’s a big galaxy our there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

If you have been following SW:TOR for a while, you know that there are no random weather effects in the game. Sure, there are localized weather effects depending on your location on a planet that are constantly active, but nothing that occurs randomly. Only scripted weather in SW:TOR.

An article by our friends on TORWars tries to convince BioWare to turn on some more weather effects. Author Anthony Sproson argues that the literary device “pathetic fallacy” could be utilized much more by BioWare to enhance the SW:TOR story via the weather. For example, when something sad happens BioWare could cue some rain or storms; when something good happens, BioWare could stop the rain, throw up some sunshine, and add a rainbow.

By having the weather mirror your character’s emotions, BioWare could really augment the story and make it even more immersive. It’s a really interesting concept for a video game (it has been used in books and movies forever) and I would recommend that you all check out the full article over on TORWars.

History in general is very interesting to me and I have always been excited to learn more about the history of video games ever since I read “Masters of Doom” way back when. Darth Hater released an editorial this week which gave a brief history of the MMORPG genre.

Starting from MUDs (multi-user dungeons), progressing through the 2D (Ultima) and 3D (Everquest) MMORPGs of the recent past, and ending up with the World of Warcrafts and Rifts of today, author Raiden goes to great lengths to explain where MMORPG video games came from. It’s not entirely about SW:TOR, but it’s really cool to learn about where the genre came from and where it is going. Definitely check out the full article over on Darth Hater.

Georg Zoeller pointed this next fan creation out on Google+ and I think that it’s worth reposting here. YouTube channel TOR Hangout has (so far) posted two Quick Tip videos to show you how to manipulate the SW:TOR user interface.

The first was about using the focus target feature in to cast healing spells or buffs on a single target that you “focus” on. For those unfamiliar with focus target, you designate a player and they get their own special unit frame and key modifier that you can use to cast spells on them. The second video was about enabling and configuring healing frames for when you are in a Flashpoint or Operation.

Both videos are really well done so I would encourage you all to check them out. Lets hope we get more tips like this in the near future!

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Nov 13, 2011

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Wild Space: Fan Site Summit Post-Mortem

It’s a big galaxy our there, and Wild Space can be a dangerous place. Worry not, explorer – each week we’ll navigate you safely through the lost hyperspace routes of the Deep Core and track down the great articles and entertainment from around the SW:TOR fan community, all in less than 12 parsecs, of course!

With the Second Fan Site Summit having come to a close, I thought I would take this opportunity to point out some information that you can check out about what the fansites who attended saw and learned.

First up, TORWars posted two great photo galleries of the summit. Not so much information about the game, but you get a cool glimpse inside the BioWare studios and into the office where the magic happens! Developers, office decor, concept art, workstation setups, and fan site personnel are all on display.  Check out the photo galleries here and here.

TORWars was also able to score the first un-boxing video of the SW:TOR Collector’s Edition! Check that video out here.

Over on Darth Hater, they managed to transcribe the Q&A session that Gabe Amatangelo, Lead End-Game Designer, gave to the assembled multitudes regarding PvP, Flashpoints, and Operations. Some of the more interesting tidbits were:

Q: How long would it take to maybe go through one Operation if you have a successful run?
A: Three hours.

Q: As far as Ilum [the open-world PvP zone] goes, did you say it was going to be persistent like constant?
A: It’s constant. It’s not a timer. It’s always going on. The timer is when you destroy the other vehicles, and your vehicles are able to fly in, it’s five minutes before your vehicles are vulnerable to attack, that’s the only timer. But other than that, if you want to wake up at 3 AM and take it from the Empire, who seems to be dominating it, and you’re Republic, by all means you can do that.

Check out the full Q&A transcript on Darth Hater.

The ladies of Corellian Run Radio posted a nice summary of the Q&A with Game Director James Ohlen. Of note:

  • Guild banks are the first feature to be added for guilds post-launch.
  • The designers intend for light/dark conversation choice to be mostly about RP concerns and don’t want you to be concerned about your stats when making those decisions.
  • Not many people are skipping through the fully-voiced dialog.
    Most gear is modifiable. For example, you could take your starting lightsaber all the way to level 50 just by changing the mods to keep up with the stat increases.
  • There are no abilities that only work inside or outside; all abilities work everywhere(!).

Lastly, Mr. Ohlen was asked why he thinks other MMOs fail? He said that a terrible launch, security issues, and a tendency to go too far either to the MMO side or to the single player side all contribute to why MMOs fail. Rest assured that BioWare is working hard to avoid all of these pitfalls. For the full summary of the Q&A check out Corellian Run Radio.

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