Posts Tagged ‘Hype’

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The Mission Of Imperial Intelligence

October 29, 2010

Out of all the classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’d always thought the Imperial Agent would be one of the least played at launch. Popularity-wise, they’re no force-users, and in terms of having an iconic status, the class is still no match for the Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, or Trooper. Plus, what we knew about them before today was scant at best. Until now, the details on the the Imperial Agent had been much like the class, elusive.

When the Friday update hit, the Imperial Agent came roaring into the spotlight along with boatload of new information. And God knows I’m also a sucker for anything that includes a video:

I love the 007 undertones — great kiss, great accent. And apparently too cool to stick around to look at explosions. But suddenly, the underdog looks like a winner. Dammit, how do you do that, Bioware?

The class now has its Advanced Classes detailed: Sniper and Operative. The former sounds like a “ranged rogue”, which is exactly as expected, but to me it’s the latter that looks a lot more interesting to play. Like the Smuggler, the Imperial Agent will have healing capabilities and the Operative tree will have the talents to handle those duties.

Kaliyo Djannis was revealed to be a companion for the Imperial Agent. Based on her description, I have to agree with a couple people who’ve said she brings to mind certain existing female characters from Bioware — a bit of Jack from Mass Effect 2, a bit of Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins. And 100% crazy. Boy, wouldn’t she be a joy to romance! Assuming this “Cannibal-Demon” thing is just a name and she won’t go praying mantis on you after sex.

Also revealed is the gorgeous looking X70B-Phantom. I imagine if Aston Martin ever made a starship, this is what it would look like — sleek and technologically stacked, just how an Imperial Agent’s ride should be. But that’s not what’s making me feel a little jealous. No, what strikes me is how the interiors look so much better than the others we’ve seen so far. Watching the video clip, it’s like peering into a penthouse suite of some 5-star hotel, complete with *ahem* king-sized bed. The insides of the others look like dingy scrap yards compared to this luxury yacht.

And finally, we have the Chiss as a new entry on the Inhabitants page. In Star Wars lore, the most well-known Chiss is probably Grand Admiral Thrawn, who served the Empire brilliantly in the Imperial Navy. When deciding which species can be playable as Imperial Agents, this probably made the developers decide on the Chiss, even though the Empire was already biased against aliens in their ranks even in the SWTOR era, as shown by the discrimination faced by the Epicanthix agent in the novel Fatal Alliance. I don’t know if this class will end up being playable by any more species other than human, but despite the restrictions they had to work with, I think the Chiss was a sound choice.

Now I just can’t wait until they do the Bounty Hunter.

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A Tale Of Three Biographies

October 22, 2010

Based on opinions I’ve seen around the community, I gather most gamers care about having a story and lore elements behind the MMOs they play. So I  have to wonder why it is that so many people on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums will turn up their noses in scorn when it comes to updates like Biographies.

I know it’s not much, and I don’t deny that I would rather see updates related more to the MMO side of things, but why can’t we take reveals like these at face value and appreciate them for the information they do bring? Like the fact that things like biographies, timelines, and inhabitant pages, etc. are important resources that contribute in making our game worlds richer, fuller places to be? I for one think that’s a good thing. And furthermore, it’s Bioware and Star Wars, the former a company known for their story-driven games and the latter a franchise based in an extensive yet finely detailed universe rife with lore. These kinds of updates sort of come with the territory.

Maybe it’s just me. Personally, I believe all knowledge is worth having and yes, I’m one of those people who read every single codex entry in the Mass Effect games and Dragon Age: Origins.

Today’s update includes three new biographies, one for each allegiance:

  • Keeper: Director of Operations for the Imperial Intelligence sounds like your typical sinister spymaster. I can’t remember for sure, but I think he may have been in the book Star Wars: The Old Republic – Fatal Alliance.
  • Bouris Ulgo: Oh, sweet, a mad king. Some speculate a relationship to Trask Ulgo because several forumites have deciphered a bit of the Aurabesh on his page to read “For Trask”.
  • Diab Duin: I’m a big fan of Sullustans! And if he’s the diplomat or representative for an important resource planet, is there a chance that that planet could one day be in the game?

If anything, I wish we could have gotten more information in these biographies. It’s nice reading about these NPCs who will have important roles in the game and all, but without context, it’s hard to feel anything beyond that. Will we personally encounter them in the game, and if we do, are they quest givers, rep leaders, etc. or what? Now that I know their facts and background, I want to know why my player character should care.

Today’s update also included a Fan Friday with a Developer Corner covering concept art creation, but I’m sorry, the greatest thing about that whole article has gotta be these new Ithorian smilies!

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Picture Points: What’d I Miss?

October 17, 2010

Well, I’m back from my vacation/honeymoon, which was spent cruising on the Oasis of the Seas in the Eastern Caribbean. My right shoulder is a little sunburned and I feel about a hundred pounds heavier (man, they really feed you on those things) but otherwise my time away from the real world and the virtual world has left me feeling quite rested.

As honeymooners are wont to do, my better half and I closed ourselves off from the outside world and shunned our cellphones, internet, and all other means of communication with the world at large. As such, I came back to hundreds of unread emails and messages, and a mountain of blog articles in Google Reader. Looks like a lot has happened in the last week, but how nice it is that none of my favorite games seem to have imploded or went under while I was gone. Hey, with this industry, you never know.

Gee, where do I start? More and more, I’m starting to appreciate the wisdom behind Anjin’s use of bullet points, especially when you’re tackling multiple topics in the same post that are all completely irrelevant of each other. How’s about some picture points?

This topic really doesn’t deserve to be tackled first, but I’ll do it anyway because if anything, I felt it was the most entertaining tidbit of my day. Yet another long, whiny rant to add to the ever-growing pile of other long, whiny rants. The more I read about it, the more it seems the only reason this one caught fire was because the author alleges himself to be a soon-to-be Ex-Mythic employee. Even if he could prove his claim, I could care less why he thinks Warhammer failed, but along with Syp, what amuses me most (because such drivel is hardly worth getting angry or even annoyed over) is the way the guy tries to smear Star Wars: The Old Republic by dragging it into his bitchfest born of a feeble grudge. Shoo, louse, I had to deal with a flea infestation on my dog earlier this month that commanded more attention. I’m not worried; SWTOR has survived the storm of naysayers for years, no doubt it can weather another angry little gust of hot air.

Something else that a lot of the blogs I read covered this week was the World of Warcraft Patch 4.0.1. I haven’t updated the game yet or even looked at the notes, but just based on some of the opinions I’ve read, I am prepared for some big changes. You mean I have to relearn the game agaaaaaiiin? /whine. I have so many characters, many of them at level 80, I just can’t be bothered to go through all of them and give their abilities and gear their makeovers, not even my feral druid that has been my main for years. The more I hear about Cataclysm, the more I think I just want to dabble lightly in WoW until it comes out, then pour my full attention into a new Worgen or Goblin character. To hell with the rest of ‘em. I mean, with a fresh expansion, a fresh Azeroth, fresh game systems and mechanics, why not a fresh main? My husband probably won’t be too happy to hear that, but the idea appeals to me more and more each day.

SWTOR released a new timeline video about Exar Kun for their new Friday update. To be honest, I was never really interested in that particular storyline, but I enjoyed the video, nonetheless (and things are so much more exciting when they’re narrated by Lance Henriksen, aren’t they?) As such, my leaky memory has shed most of the details about the fall of Exar Kun, so the timeline was a nice refresher even if it didn’t reveal much of anything new. In any case, it’s worth a look if you haven’t read the books, comics, or played the Knights of the Old Republic games that deal with Exar Kun, to get acquainted with one of the more relevant storylines of this era. One thing of note (that I’m surprised Hunter hasn’t mentioned since he has as much at stake in planet reveals as I do) is I wonder if we’ll be seeing the moon Yavin IV unveiled some time soon in a future update? It seems almost a certainty, given this timeline video.

So much to do! I can hardly wait to visit the Minecraft multiplayer server to see what new construction projects have popped up in the last week, but first I have business with the Devidians to attend to in Star Trek Online. The new arc debuted yesterday and I have plans to savor it tonight with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea and a bowl of chips. Until then, I’m staying far far far away from West Karana and Tipa’s spoilers.

Well, vacation’s over and it’s back to the drawing board (or should I say, the Wacom tablet, now that I’ve started my adventures into digital art?) but I’m not sure how much work I’ll be able to get done for the rest of this month. It’s the attack of the single-player games! Oct 19th — Fallout: New Vegas. Oct 26th — Fable III. Oh, and don’t forget, on the same day we have Force Unleashed 2, as Blue Kae reminded me on Twitter earlier today. Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot. It’s going to take incredible willpower to get anything productive done in the next couple of weeks. Gotta love it when the release dates for highly anticipated games just sneak up on you like that, but it’s a whole other conflict when they all descend upon you at once like an avalanche.

Finally, on a non-gaming-related note, I’ve recently become completely obsessed with George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. My interest in epic fantasy has been rekindled after reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and I brought the first novel A Game of Thrones with me on my vacation. I’d originally wanted to start another novel or series after finishing it, just to spread out the titles in my to-read list a little bit, but who was I kidding? I began devouring the second book A Clash of Kings the moment I finished the final page of the first. I’m surprised I hadn’t picked this series up sooner, and even more surprised that my husband never recommended it to me, since I just found out he had read it years before. Dammit, he knows I like my epic fantasy dark and gritty. What’s even stranger is that a certain promo on HBO featuring snowy landscapes, ravens and scruffy men with swords and beards has caught my eye for weeks and weeks now, but it wasn’t until earlier this month that I realized it was the television adaptation, around the same time I started debating whether or not to start reading the series. Funny how these things work out, and funnier how unobservant my mind can be sometimes.

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To Ilum, We Must Go

October 8, 2010

Note: This will be my last post for the next little while, as I am sailing out tomorrow. Even a year after our wedding, Mr. MMOGC and I never really had our honeymoon because of all the hassle of living apart while we waited for me to join him in the US, but that’s going to be rectified now that we’re together! Have a good week everyone, and I’ll be brief.

The Friday Star Wars: The Old Republic Update is Ilum!

[YouTube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5_OMJqhiyI&sns%5D

MMOGC’s bright and sunny side says: “Nice, the SWTOR fans finally get the real ice planet they always wanted, one that doesn’t look like a chunk of month-old moldy cheese! Huzzah!”

MMOGC’s grouchy, cantankerous side says: “NooOOoooOOooOOoo! Hunter is one step closer to winning our bet that there will be at least 24 planets at launch! At this rate he’ll be takin’ all my credits, I tells ya!”

I was a bit surprised we had a new planet update today, but it’s a new month so I guess we’re due for one. That it turned out to be Ilum was not so much of a shocker. It’s inclusion is definitely a good choice, given that it’s most famous for being home to the green and blue Adegan crystals used as a component in Jedi lightsabers. I smelled that Jedi class quest coming from a mile away.

They’ve written an interesting description for Ilum that indicates that there will be more to the planet, however, so that both factions and all the classes get to have some fun. History has shown that Bioware fares amazingly well at adding their own creative flares to the Star Wars universe to make it a better and more intriguing place, and I am wondering how they are going manage that with Ilum in SWTOR. What could these resources “of far greater value than anyone ever imagined” possibly be? The way they describe the Sith Empire wresting control and the Jedi’s determination to get down to the bottom of things, why, that makes it sound like there may even be some PvP…

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Advanced Classes FTW

October 1, 2010

Star Wars: The Old Republic developer dispatches and blogs always make for interesting updates, and today’s dev blog “Designing the Advanced Classes System” is no exception, especially since so much confusion surrounds the subject.

That being said, I’m still left with many questions, particularly revolving around how players will be investing into their skill-sets, though I’m going to assume a type of “point” system as seen in many other MMOs. As it is, what the level cap is has yet to be confirmed, so subsequently I can’t even begin to speculate how many points we would have accrued by that stage. Admittedly, all this is reminiscent of the talent trees in World of Warcraft, but before I’m accused of calling SWTOR a WoW clone, let me just say I’d expect that even if there are enough similarities to make things sound familiar, I doubt the end result will be remotely the same.

As it’s shaping up now, we should probably start considering the game as having 16 total classes instead of 8, since each one will split into two advanced classes at an early point in the game, which players will have to choose.  Accordingly, after going down one path, there’s no going back, ever. If I remember correctly, Aion utilized a similar class system.

What impressed me though, at least with the example of the Smuggler, was the depth of each advanced class’s projected direction. I think once we’ve chosen an AC, we’re going to get a decent number of skill-sets to tinker around with, allowing for many different types of play-styles. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not unhappy with the implementation of the MMO trinity, but even so, I would rest easier if I knew it didn’t mean we would be pigeonholed into rigid and static roles, i.e. having to go through every single fight expected to do only one thing.

The information they gave about the Smuggler went a long way in allaying some of my concerns, if for no other reason than to see the words “stealth healer” described in the article. I have no idea what such a role would entail, but it does suggest some interesting takes on classic roles and a degree of flexibility within each class. Not to mention I bet it will make for some interesting encounters.

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“My Ally Is The Force, And A Powerful Ally It Is”

September 17, 2010

Every Friday I look forward to seeing what new updates the Bioware crew will have for us on Star Wars: The Old Republic. Among my favorite kinds of updates are the Developer Dispatch videos or the Developer Diary blogs. Like everyone else, I’m hungering for more on game content like species, combat or mechanics too, but I think delving into the minds of the devs can indirectly reveal information that is no less valuable. You get answers to questions about what goes into creating a game like SWTOR. How does one go about making something feel “Star Wars-y”? Who’s their audience? And a question that I’m also personally interested in — how’s their progress?

The video “Designing the Light Side” released today pretty much embodies everything I love about these Developer Dispatches. Even though I myself have very little interest in playing the Jedi classes, this update was something I had been waiting for for a long time, ever since its predecessor “Designing the Dark Side” featuring the Sith force users was released back on Christmas Day 2009. That’s almost 9 months between these two videos, and it’s amazing to me when I watch them back-to-back to see how much the visuals have improved, like more shadows on the models and more features in the environment.

Also refreshing is how much more detail the devs are willing or able to give. I mean, one minute into the Dark Side video and all we’re seeing are interviews, concept art and some stills. On the other hand, one minute into the Light Side video and people are already flying out a friggin’ airlock.

That’s…too awesome for words.

You’d think making the Jedi feel “Star Wars-y” would be a cake walk, but the fact that the two practically go hand-in-hand itself is a challenge for any developer making a game based on the IP. Only when you’ve convinced your audience that you’ve managed to capture the essence of the Star Wars universe’s most iconic figures can you possibly hope to do it for anything else. As usual, I think Bioware’s got it down to a science, everything from the look-and-feel of the armor to the color of the Jedi auras or abilities.

And okay, while I’m still not quite interested enough in the force-users to clamber up that Jedi bandwagon, I admit this video got me closer than ever.

For the most part, the topics covered mirror those from the Dark Side video. I love the “low-tech” and retro styles of the Jedi light saber hilts (I for one am completely enamored with the one shown at 2:17) and the combat movements and light saber “clashes” look very iconic…except for the effusion of sparks every time a light saber makes contact with another. I’m all for a spark or two for the sake of visual flare, but I’m not sure I’m crazy about the way they are now, showering them like an exploding power transformer. Lets hope they have a decent fire alarm system over at the Jedi temple.

Lots of new things as well; since the announcement of space combat they have included their comments about the Jedi “hot rod” ship and are a little more liberal with revealing in-game footage. Ahh, so much more in-depth than what we got for the Sith back in December, right down to the “Yoda Theme”-like music (hey, hey, Jaramukhti!) playing in the background. It almost makes me wish they would update the old Developer Dispatches it to include this level of detail.

Also of note is the Fan Friday, in which Senior Concept Artist, Ryan Dening, talks about designing the concept art for a Republic Capitol ship in the Developer Corner.

Some damn talented people they have over there.

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Industrial, Resourceful, Beautiful Corellia

September 10, 2010

Corellia was the latest planet to be revealed in Star Wars: The Old Republic. For those still keeping track, that raises the planet count to 15. Well, as the Corellians say, “The bigger the galaxy, the sweeter the homecoming.”

A major political and economic center, this planet is also notable for being the birth place of Han Solo. As Star Wars planets go, Corellia might not be as well-known as Tattooine or Naboo, but it’s hardly obscure, so it’s not so surprising that it would be included in the SWTOR line-up.

First thing I thought when I saw the planet was: This is not your Star Wars Galaxies Corellia. Things aren’t sounding too hot for the Corellians in the Old Republic, however. The description seems to imply that this shining beacon of the Republic has suffered an attacked from within by “Imperial influence”, leaving parts of the capital in turmoil and destroyed. Gosh, I hope that won’t stop me from getting to ride the trams.

This planet update along with the last one featuring Nar Shaddaa have been my favorite ones so far. The look of Corellia may be more subdued than say, Coruscant, but something about the images I see makes me feel an old familiarity with it. The landscape is still alien, but not in a way that makes me feel like I’m far from home. I thought the place looked like it could almost be a future earth — Corellians being one of the first human societies to develop hyperdrive starships and explore space a significance not lost on me.

Though I would love to see more strange, exotic planets like Manaan or Kashyyyk for future updates, I’m quite happy with what we got to see of Corellia. I don’t know if it’s because I’m paying more attention as we inch our way towards release, but the environments seem to look better and better with each reveal.

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