Posts Tagged ‘Bioware’

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SWTOR: E3 Eye Candy

June 6, 2011

The new Star Wars: The Old Republic cinematic trailer, “Return”:

Excuse me for a sec, while I try real hard to hold my eyeballs in. They’re sort of bleeding out right now from watching all that awesomeness — but also from the flash and razzle dazzle. And here I thought the “Hope” trailer was over the top.

Still, Blur Studios has done it again, pulling off what is in my opinion the most detailed and elaborate out of all the SWTOR cinematic trailers. They gave attention to both the Empire and the Republic, filling in some of the history for both Satele and Malgus, while throwing in a healthy dose of space combat and the compulsory lightsaber duel sequences.

A few classes also got to relish their moments in the limelight, though some managed to look waaaaay cooler than others, *cough* Smuggler *cough*. I was a little skeptical about the overall look and feel of the Gunslinger at first, but no longer. He looked like he was born to rock the Star Wars universe and the Old Republic.

Also shown today at the EA presentation at E3, the “Choose” montage trailer:

Apparently, “Choose” was always going to be shown at the press conference, with “Return” being saved for a debut on swtor.com. Since the previous trailers were shown at E3, I think that led to a lot of confusion, despite the note at the end of the trailer pointing to the new cinematic at the official game site. Why Dr. Greg Zeschuk didn’t also say so in his opening speech was a missed opportunity in my opinion, or else they must think everyone is plugged into twitter or other social networks to know stuff these days.

There will be no release date announced during E3 2011, or any pre-order details. Not that I was expecting it, but I’m not denying that there was always that hope. I mean, picture it, how cool would it have been if the trailer had actually played out this way: “CHOOSE YOUR SIDE…JOIN YOUR ALLIES…THE BATTLE BEGINS”…and BOOM, release date? Sadly, now it’s more like, THE BATTLE BEGINS…on the official community forums!

If you can tune out all the rage, however, the good news is that Bioware is still aiming for a “second half of 2011″ release. Good things come to those who wait; with luck, we’ll be playing this game within the next 6 months. While the SWTOR coverage at the EA conference may have been scarce (though I did get to drool all over Mass Effect 3), over the next few days there should be more BioWare panels and demos from the show floor, with more on features teased in last weekend’s E3 preview trailer:

I love cinematic trailers, but they never reflect what the finished game will look like. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed feasting upon all the actual gameplay footage shown in the video above.

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SWTOR: The Codex! Explorers Rejoice!

May 6, 2011

Borg cube? No, datacron.

BioWare introduces The Codex in today’s Star Wars: The Old Republic Friday update. My first thought: “Great, more reading!” By the way, I meant that. Just wanted to clarify, as people often complain how sarcasm doesn’t translate very well through text, but I guess sometimes neither does sincerity!

As I think I’ve reiterated many times before, any time any random bits of text pop up in a game world, be it in an MMO or any other game in whatever genre, I do make an effort to read it all. Probably a good chunk of my 90-hour playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins was dedicated to poring over every word of every single codex entry I found (sometimes, I think that game put me under a spell). I can’t say I was as diligent with the Mass Effect games, since the codex there was presented as more like cut-and-dry encyclopedia entries, but I did read a good number of them, especially those on alien species, lore, and worlds.

SWTOR is going to take the best from both systems, which I’m tickled pink to hear, using the codex to inform as well as to reward exploration. In fact, Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert references the work of Richard Bartle, specifically emphasizing that the codex would be an enhancement to gameplay for the explorers in all of us. As it happens, that’s the category I most identify with, at least according to the tests (with Killer being the lowest, carebear that I am).

The way it’s described reminds me a little bit of a mash up between the artifact and book collections systems in Rift — giving you lore and background information into the world, encouraging players to wander off the beaten path, and sometimes making you go through challenges to unlock the codex that you need. But the focus remains:

“Currently, none of these are locked behind a serious challenge – our codex unlocking k’lor’slug is a challenge for its level, to be sure, but not a ‘OMGPWN3D go bring back 3 friends in epics!’ challenge – and that’s intentional. Explorer gameplay should, first and foremost, reward exploring.

That’s not to say that some codex entries shouldn’t be challenging. Quite the opposite, we want some codex entries to be worthy challenges – but we want those challenges to be centered on exploration.”

It sounds like a little achievement system all on its own. Especially when you consider the addition of “datacrons”, in-game objects in the world that are sub-sets of the codex entries which players can find, usually in hard-to-reach places like on special mobs or like “on a ledge off in the distance” that require some ingenuity. Uh oh. Again, memories of mishaps and falling to my death during Rift artifact-hunting sessions are suddenly flashing before my very eyes.

These datacrons will apparently spawn in predictable locations, and are useable by each player only once. Mr. Schubert writes that this idea was inspired by a game mechanic in one of his earlier projects, and hopes that over time we’ll see a similar pattern where a social dynamic will emerge, where new and old players will band together and form groups like organized hunting parties to go forth and explore the world.

I think the idea of “shared lore” is awesome. My only concern — my apologies if it sounds cynical — is that as with many MMORPGs these days, information like that inevitably ends up on an online database faster than you can blink. Instead of turning to social avenues within the game to find these datacrons, people may just hit up Google instead.

If the overall positive reaction to this update is any indication though, exploration is still a passion to a lot of players, including me. And I was glad to see a dev blog from BioWare that held it in such high regard.

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SWTOR: Staying Classy

April 8, 2011

Today’s Friday Update for Star Wars: The Old Republic is a developer blog detailing Advanced Classes, along with some unexpected extras thrown in. Among my favorite kinds of updates are always the dev dispatch video and blog updates, because it’s fascinating to see what goes into creating a game like SWTOR. Still, the level of detail in today’s update surprised even me, with its brief but informative “behind-the-scenes” look at the testing process on top of covering a lot of the questions that have been asked about ACs lately.

I thought Mr. Zoeller provided a very straightforward and in depth explanation on the mechanics behind skill trees, but what really piqued my interest were the new tweaks in the class roles. Some of the changes I already knew about, such as a healing role added to the Mercenary Bounty Hunter AC, but others were a surprise. Like, Jedi Consulars and Sith Inquisitors can become tanks now? Wow.

Yet, that makes a lot of sense. Something had been plaguing the back of my mind ever since watching and playing the Taral V flashpoint encounter. It just didn’t add up for me before — instance groups of only four players, but at the same time here you’ve got an encounter that will require two tanks to prevent a sure wipe and perhaps back-up healing to boot? What the heck, can you say, a LFG nightmare? This update, however, made it all come together. If I’ve got the count right, that’s three ACs capable of healing and three ACs capable of tanking for each faction, which sounds more like it.

On top of that, I’ve noticed before how the classes in SWTOR seem well-equipped to take on many different situations, by being able to incorporate more than one role within the same build. There’s definitely a degree of flexibility afforded to the player. In BioWare’s own words, some flashpoints are paced in a way that healers can switch into damage roles while engaged in an encounter, and tanks can get away with being a little bit more “reckless”.

Having more choices is always better. These tweaks would seem to be in keeping with that, based on the commentary about the Jedi Guardian AC. Previously, the Guardian’s only available role was a tank, but now they are also capable of doing close-ranged damage dealing. Indeed, I seem to remember being rather adept at both (at the same time!) in the flashpoint demo I played. If this is the direction class and skill point mechanics will continue to go, I think I will be quite happy with the end product.

The inclusions of 3D and movement heat maps and other metrics data was also nice surprise. It may not be direct information about gameplay, but it’s details on the game’s progress and development status which I think is a subject many players (including myself) won’t mind knowing more about.

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A Champion Has Risen – Thoughts On Dragon Age II

March 24, 2011

Note: No spoilers, until the last few paragraphs, plenty of warning forthcoming.

Let me just start this post off by saying I was a huge, huge, huge, HUGE, HUGE fan of Dragon Age: Origins, so to say I was excited about Dragon Age II is the understatement of the year.

Of course, there were several things I was mindful of before playing. On top of some major changes to gameplay, I knew that DA2, while set in the same world and time period as its predecessor, will also take place in a different city and center around the life and adventures of a new protagonist, Hawke.

I won’t lie; there was just the teensiest twinge of disappointment when I first heard this news last year. Admittedly, so much of my enjoyment of the first game came out of my emotional investment into my human noble warrior, and the attachment I felt to her companions, the Grey Warden mythos, and Ferelden. Nevertheless, I was open to something new — change can be good, and BioWare has shown with Mass Effect that they are entirely capable of following up a game with a killer sequel.

So go ahead and bring it.

My verdict: mostly good. Make that mostly very, very good. Despite some minor issues I had with the gameplay and story, I can truthfully say without disguise or exaggeration that Dragon Age II is probably one of the best fantasy RPGs I have ever played.

First of all, certain aspects from the first game such as the conversation system and user interface have been improved or modified to be much more functional and enjoyable, which should make even the most casual fans of fantasy RPGs feel at home. Some of the changes and their similarities to Mass Effect were not lost on me, like the addition of the dialogue wheel and the removal of multiple character origins so that the player only has the choice of playing Hawke, though we are still free to choose the gender and class of our character.

Some of these changes may make the game more appealing to a wider audience. I seem to remember reactions and opinions being quite polarized when I think back to Dragon Age: Origins, as in people either loved it or couldn’t stand it at all. As much as I enjoyed the game, even now I’d hesitate to recommend DA:O to just anybody. With DA2, however, I think I’d feel a little more confident about doing so, knowing there might be a better chance it will be well-received.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone that the thing I liked most about the game is the story, and I think most of us will agree that that’s where the strength lies in any BioWare title. In fact, I think DA2 got the storytelling down so well, that it almost made the other RPG elements like combat feel trivial. I won’t deny that there were many moments of groaning and swearing at the computer screen — mostly times where I found myself being jumped by yet another gang of bandits, when all I could think was Arrgh! Get this stupid fight over with already so I can find out what happens next!

Uhhh...fine day for a bloodbath?

That’s not to say I felt combat was weak. Actually, I thought they’ve made it more fun and flexible than ever. Being tactical or not seems to be more of a choice. I did some micro-managing and issuing commands to my companions, but mostly I just played DA2 like any action game, hacking and slashing away with my warrior Hawke. Still, as much as I enjoyed splitting darkspawn skulls with my huge-ass sword and watching my foes explode before my unstoppable whirlwind ability, the novelty inevitably started to wear off and feel a little repetitive.

Hawke’s activities being restricted to the same city and its surrounding areas for the whole game probably didn’t help that very much. Dungeons all looked the same, and you also returned to some of them again and again. Kirkwall started to feel like a home, but it was still a bit of a downer to realize I wasn’t going to be adventuring anywhere else.

But like I alluded to before, the strength of this game and what makes up for its faults is its story, its elaborate twists and turns and the impact of the decisions you get to make. At first, I was a little skeptical. I was a couple hours in, and still there was no sign of any pressing danger, dire catastrophe, or malignant evil threatening to take over the world. Contrast that to Dragon Age: Origins, where almost immediately you are thrown into the midst of a blight and tasked to stop an archdemon. So, here was Hawke, running around doing quests in Kirkwall. What happened to my epic journey? Where’s the sense of urgency?

Dragon Age 2 turned out not to follow the basic formula, and I think I ended up liking the game better for it. Don’t panic — you still get to kill darkspawn and slay dragons, but for the most part, the story revolves around the politics and socio-cultural conflicts of Kirkwall. We only got a brief glimpse into the tensions between mages, the Templars, and the Chantry in the first game, so it was a pleasant surprise to be given the chance to delve further into these issues in the sequel. The set up made for more complex plotlines and having to make much more difficult decisions, which I can appreciate. I was not prepared for all the crazy surprises and shocking developments, but happy moments, sad moments, outrageous moments — I loved them all.

A fully-voiced and expressive Hawke.

One major change I loved about DA2 (and likely had a hand in improving the storytelling) was a fully-voiced and expressive Hawke. I can deal with silent, but I can’t tell you how frustrating it was in DA:O to see my Warden stare blankly into space like a storefront mannequin even during the most emotional situations. In DA2 I delighted in having my Hawke wrinkle her nose in disgust, narrow her eyes in annoyance, or raise her eyebrows in a questioning manner. It made my character feel like a more realistic and unique individual, and like in Mass Effect, being able to give responses that reflected different emotions (nice, sarcastic, aggressive, etc.) also allowed for some downright hilarious quest situations.

This also helped me form quick attachments to my Champion and her companions. I liked how there were a lot more ways to involve them in my conversations and interactions with the game environment, and there’s definitely a more authentic edge to the way my party members would act or speak. It made me approach my companions in a different way than in other Bioware games, like caring more about those I liked and treating the ones I disliked more harshly. Involving emotions and other believable elements in the game seemed to have led me to react to them in a more realistic manner as well.

*smooch* *smooch*

My romantic prospects, however, were another matter. In this area, I felt the first game handled things better, and it’s not just my bias for Alistair talking here, I swear! Simply put, in DA:O, romancing a companion felt like an epic tale unto itself; there was courtship, a clash of emotions, the surprises and unpredictability of a relationship, and the whole nine yards. As opposed to the innuendos and the sometimes cringe-worthy one-liners you get to spout in DA2 like a drunken date. Awkwaaaaard. And why is it that we are always stuck with emo guys?

Despite my little nitpicks, Dragon Age 2 is still overall a great game. I really can’t decide if I like it better than Dragon Age: Origins. Probably better, even though they both have their strong and weak points. However, one thing I know that can never be substituted is the warm and fuzzy feeling I first got when I played DA:O, that ineffable sensation that washed over me the moment I discovered I had a very special fantasy RPG on my hands. Like a first love, it’s a feeling that’s difficult to explain, once in a lifetime and unlikely to happen with any other Dragon Age title again. Still, while the first game will always be special to me, Dragon Age 2 is definitely a clear improvement overall. Bioware does it again, delivering a sequel absolutely worthy of its original.

Warning: Spoiler-free zone ends here. Do not read past image if you don’t want spoilers.

Spoilers ahead! Avert thine eyes!

For those curious as to what I did, I played a female warrior Hawke, customizing her to make her look as much as possible like my character from DA:O for old times’ sake. As I said, I tended to treat my companions in a more realistic manner in DA2, and one of the things my character would not tolerate was whenever one of my companions would willfully lie to her or deceive her. For example, when Isabela revealed that she knew more about her lost relic than she let on, I turned my back on her, making her up and leave me, never to return again. Whatever, good riddance, pirate wench.

My sister Bethany the mage also played a huge part in how I approached the Mage-Templar conflict. I played the part of the doting sister, defended good mages everywhere, and defied Templar demands wherever I could. Even my mother’s death did not sway me in thinking that all mages were ultimately dangerous and needed to be locked up. I even romanced Anders (even though out-of-character, I really didn’t want to, ugh!) and as crotchety as he was to all my other companions, I put up with his crap because I figured he and Hawke meant something to each other.

It was probably my character’s romance with Anders that led me to side with the Templars in the end after he went all whackjob on everyone and blew up the Chantry. My poor, disillusioned Hawke just couldn’t continue fighting for the mages when the champion of the cause and the love of her life was responsible for something that heinous. Justice/Vengeance-possessed or not, Hawke couldn’t let Anders get away with it. I was pretty pissed off too, considering how I never really even wanted to be stuck with Anders in the first place. I gave him a chance and he blew it, so he had to die. Obviously.

Of course, right after sticking that dagger in him I realized I just killed off my one and only healer. Yes, it made the fight after that and the final battle with the First Enchanter such a pain in the ass, but damn it all, I wasn’t about to go and revert back to a previous save just to spare Anders, so I stuck it out. The First Enchanter, who had resorted to blood magic to become an abomination in the end (even though I offered him a way out for the sake of my sister and everyone in Kirkwall) pretty much just me think I made the right choice as well. Mages becoming dangerous when cornered was the major argument from Templar supporters, and the actions of the First Enchanter just proved them right, if you asked me.

Two great things happened after the fight — 1) I still got to kill Knight-Commander Meredith, who was much too batty to be allowed to live, really, and 2) Bethany rejoined my party so I got my healer back! So even though the final fight against Meredith was way more complex, I also had a much, much easier time.

I was ambivalent about the concluding narrative. Even though I sided with the Templars, my ending wasn’t so very different from those who I saw sided with the mages — mages everywhere still took a stand, finding hope in the events of Kirkwall. And all the companions dispersed, except for the Champion’s love interest, of course. In my case, that was Anders…and I still got the “stayed by my side” line even though I killed him. Well, I guess they meant it in a figurative, haunt-me-for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of way…

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TGI-SWTOR-F

March 18, 2011

No doubt BioWare is still winding down from their crazy PAX East weekend, so I wasn’t surprised to see a Star Wars: The Old Republic Friday update that was a little more on the light side. No pun intended.

The Fan Friday update features all that we might expect — new fan creations, new forum avatars, new concept art, and even a fan site spotlight. But as usual, my attention was drawn to the Studio Insider.

When I think “cinematic animation”, yeah actually, I do picture that place “where people wear skin-tight suits with ping pong balls all over them”. It’s how the movements in the game manage to look so fluid, natural and realistic. The neat thing too, of course, is how it could look just as smooth when it’s done by hand. And what I find really amazing, is how even the tiniest motion or gesture can add so much to a scene, yet often those little movements are the ones that are so easy to miss.

For instance, the 8 seconds of footage in the video they showed was over so quickly I barely even had time to register much of anything beyond the fact it showed a couple of Hutts being owned, let alone that one was holding up its hands and the other one was trying to get away. It wasn’t until after I read the commentary that I noticed those details when I watched it again. But of course, paradoxically, if those little movements hadn’t been there in the first place, one would have observed right away that there was something “off” about the scene.

The Community Q&A also interested me this week, because it’s focused on the topic of flashpoints, and also because some of World Designer Jesse Sky’s responses resonated with my own thoughts so well. In fact, it’s a little creepy. Quotes like his answers about mob fights requiring coordination and players to “think on their feet” reflected exactly how I felt when I played the demo for the Taral V flashpoint at PAX East. And of course, his answer to the question about whether class roles are fixed (“some sections of Flashpoints are paced in such a way that healers can switch into damage roles and tanks can get a bit more reckless”) actually made me breathe a sigh of relief — mainly because I definitely felt those shifts in style and roles while I was playing, and I’m happy to know I wasn’t crazy and just imagining things.

Also, by being away the whole of last week, I just realized I broke months and months of my blog’s tradition by skipping a post about last Friday’s update. Normally I’d just let it go, but it was such an awesome trailer, it would be a great disservice if I just pretended it never happened.

There had been rumors flying around before PAX East about maybe seeing another cinematic trailer debuting at the show, and I guess they were half-right. I for one think it was for the better that it didn’t turn out to be another cinematic as we already have two great ones and a third would just be overkill. Cinematic trailers make for excellent eye-candy, but I have a feeling that at this point people are going to be more interested in seeing actual in-game footage and some action from the game. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the exhibition show floor when they showed this for the first time on the SWTOR stage last week, but I was able to see it later in the day. I think it’s everything from the visuals to the music — this trailer gave me chills.

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Bounty Hunters? We DO Need Their Scum!!!

March 4, 2011

*Ahem* Pardon me while I go and have a nerdgasm — OH YES YES YES YESSSSSS THAT’S IT RIGHT THERE!!!

Okay, now that that’s out of my system, if I even have any readers left, I solemnly swear to never ever do that again. But as you know, this week’s Star Wars: The Old Republic Friday update is the one I’ve been waiting for — not-so-patiently, I might add — for more than half a year now ever since Bioware started rolling out the class videos and profiles. In fact, I’ve actually been geeking out since early yesterday afternoon, as that was when IGN first released their exclusive coverage on the Bounty Hunter video and interview.

Yes, the Bounty Hunter. My class of choice, the one I’ve set my sights on for my main character ever since it was announced, has finally gotten its update.

I love how each class trailer so far has featured a “hook” or a main theme to build the video around. For the Trooper, it’s honor and duty. For the Smuggler, he’s like “I’m-the-man-who-can-get-the-job-done”. For the Imperial Agent, it’s all about the suave.

For the Bounty Hunter, your only concern is the DEATH MARK. *Cue thriller-suspense music*

Gotta love picking out the little details in the video, stuff like delivering your bounty frozen in a block of carbonite. As usual, Darth Hater has picked out a lot of other interesting things in their dissection, which is definitely worth checking out. You can bet I’m looking forward to playing with all those abilities!

On designing specific missions for the Bounty Hunter class, Writing Director Daniel Erickson had this to say in the IGN interview:

The Bounty Hunter is his own man and always needs space to stretch out, so as much as possible missions take you into situations you won’t see with other classes. Conflicts with authority figures on both sides, stand offs with other individualists, and, of course, the epic chase are all important parts of designing a Bounty Hunter story.

I have to say, I think that’s what drew me to the class in the first place. Most of the other classes seem to be beholden to one authority or another. The Trooper serves the Republic. The Imperial Agent serves the Empire. The Jedi serve their Order. And so forth. I love how even the NPCs will apparently react most differently to the Bounty Hunters and Smugglers (the latter, of course, being the other class in the game seen as more of an “outsider”).

And well, there’s also my crush on Boba Fett…that is, before George Lucas went and destroyed all his delicious mystery.

Anyway, yes, you can probably roleplay a rogue Trooper or Agent or a “grey” Jedi, but the Bounty Hunter doesn’t need any excuse not to serve anyone. It’s just as he says in the video, “The only law in the galaxy, is the one a man makes for himself.” In fact, I think IGN even picks up on that, if their question about Bioware’s decision to ally Bounty Hunters with the Dark Side is any indication. Given the nefarious roles which many Bounty Hunters have played in the Star Wars expanded universe, I think it was the right choice. The only choice, perhaps.

Doesn’t mean I’m necessarily going down the dark path. Most likely I’ll be playing the class following my own moral compass. Who knows, maybe I’ll only hunt the bad guys. I may work for the Sith, but I’m a Bounty Hunter, I can make those kinds of decisions without clearing it with them first.

On inspiration for the Bounty Hunter class, Erickson states:

Before originally planning the first chapter of the Bounty Hunter I read every Bounty Hunter comic and book I could get my hands on. Dengar is a particular favorite both for his complicated friendship with Boba Fett and his gritty, old cowboy attitude towards life.

I see a lot of potential for this class. There have been so many Bounty Hunters featured in years and years of Star Wars history. From Calo Nord to Aurra Sing, from Bossk to Cad Bane, from Boushh to IG-88. Lots of big names to work with and ideas to draw from, so hopefully they’re not relying so heavily on Boba Fett for inspiration the same way the Smuggler class appears to be stuck on Han Solo. Erickson’s mention of Dengar and “a very diverse group of companions” available to the Bounty Hunter are good signs of things to come.

The Bounty Hunter’s role for the Empire is similar to that of the Trooper on the Republic side. One could say that they are arch enemies. Within the class, the roles are divided as follows : the Mercenary advanced class can take the role of ranged damage dealer or healer [and] the Powertech advanced class can take the role of close range damage dealer or tank. The skill trees for these advanced classes offer various ways of sub-specializing these roles (e.g. burst vs. sustained kind of damage dealing roles, etc.)

I do prefer playing classes with multiple utilities, so I’m glad the Bounty Hunter has Advanced Class options to either go tanking or healing, in addition to dealing damage.

And I suppose if we’re looking at roles and abilities, the class does have clear parallels to the Republic’s Trooper. Lorewise, however, I’ve always personally thought of the Smuggler as the Bounty Hunter’s natural “mirror”. As already mentioned above, they’re both seen as the outsiders compared to the other classes. Erickson’s words about looking at classic Westerns for tone and texture as well as his quote about Dengar’s “gritty, old cowboy attitude” underscores the similarities to the Smuggler for me even more.

From the screenshots, it appears each specialization will have its own distinct look-and-feel. I guess it’s no surprise that the Mercenary Advanced Class is the one taking it to the Westerns.

The Powertech specialization on the other hand has the more “traditional” armored look, and this is probably the AC I’ll end up going with since I love playing with gadgets and I want to tank.

The Bounty Hunter also features an update to the Rattataki entry in the Holonet under Humanoids. They’re an interesting species, but not my thing, I’m afraid. They just creep me out. That, and I’m shallow and prefer having hair. Or hey, better yet, how about a pair of long beautiful lekku?

As well, a companion for the Bounty Hunter has been revealed. Meet Mako, the “Cyber Orphan”. I have to say, I’d expected another hard-boiled, tough-as-nails description for her, and I was relieved that I was wrong. After all, we already have two crazy chicks and that’s plenty enough for now! Mako seems down-to-earth to me. And everyone loves a geek girl.

And last but not least, it’s not a real update unless it’s also got a ship reveal. Bounty Hunters will be flying around in a Kuat Drive Yards D5-Mantis Patrol Craft. Seriously, where do they come up with these names? KDY and its subsidiary Kuat Systems Engineering, however, was also the manufacturer responsible for the beloved spacecraft of Boba Fett, the original Slave I. Its influences can clearly be seen weaved into the D5-Mantis. Not the most luxurious-looking ship (seriously, that bed in the video looks like I’ll need a tetanus shot after sleeping in it), but it can fight and that’s all that matters.

Still, I would have appreciated a little more description. Like, what kind of cargo space am I looking at? Where can I pack and load my frozen carbonite prisoners for safe transport? Come on, it’s not like I can insure that crap!

Anyway, as Jaramukhti (I so wish he had a blog for me to link! Really!) pointed out from a quote from a dev, this update was probably intended to have been last week’s reveal, following the pattern of releases. Hence this week, we get something like an update-and-a-half. Which turns out to be more information and details on SWTOR at PAX East.

I can’t believe it’s next week. Seriously, the time has just flown by. At BioWare’s Booth 912, they will be providing hands-on gameplay experience for the Republic Flashpoint Taral V and the starting origin worlds. I’m not sure if I want to try for the opportunity. Strange, but in being so emotionally invested in SWTOR, it has also become one of those games I don’t want to get so intimately involved with before release. That, and I can’t promise my hands won’t be shaking so hard from excitement and delirium. I will, however, probably do my darndest to attend any presentations and Live Q&As.

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Never Tell Me The Odds

February 25, 2011

Another Friday, another Star Wars: The Old Republic weekly update. And it’s a dev blog. Blaine Christine is one of my favorite guys over at BioWare Austin, however, so I was only slightly disappointed that it wasn’t the Bounty Hunter class video I was hoping for. But at this point, I don’t expect to see any more exciting announcements until PAX East in two weeks, anyway.

It was nice to see Mr. Christine’s good humor come through along with his insights as he gives us an inside look at Game Testing. I feel Developer Blogs are often some of the more informative sources — straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Though, now it’s going to be kinda hard to look at him again and not picture him in Queen Amidala’s make-up and red dress. Pass the eye bleach, please!

It was interesting to read about his work as a Live Producer, but I’m not sure how I feel about some of the Game Tester thoughts they included, to tell the truth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased to see game testing is going well, and yeah I want to know how testing is going. But I can’t help it, reading exaggerated praise and quotes like “I’ve been waiting years and years and years for an MMORPG experience like this” still makes me cringe a little inside. Exaggerated hype, but very little substance. Whenever I read feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, I always find myself asking “Why?” Thoughts from testers that read more like typical quotes you’ll find on the back of a book jacket don’t tell me much and just leave me feeling empty. Obviously, this is why I prefer reading the more detailed hands-on reviews.

I do get how the marketing machine works though, and also too that they have to keep certain details about testing hush-hush. And it is quite possible that maybe I’m just being a grump. Heck, I’m certainly not above admitting a little bit of bitterness over not beta testing :P

Oh why oh why oh why do I never get lucky with these things?

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