Posts Tagged ‘Hype’

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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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Rift: Taking Comfort In The Familiar

January 5, 2011

I’ve been contemplating my decision to pre-order Rift all day. No, I’m not changing my mind on the purchase, I simply am in the habit of holding conversations with myself in my head. And no, I don’t think that’s strange, do you? No, I don’t, absolutely not.

Basically, this question surfaced in my mind: “Why are you still pre-ordering Rift, if your impressions of it were so average?

Well, leaving aside that this is still beta, and I have no doubt we’ll see improvements, my answer to myself was, “Is it really so odd that I enjoyed an ‘average’ game?” I don’t think so. Maybe Rift won’t bring anything terribly new to the table, but I don’t think that had any bearing on my level of enjoyment. If I were to place a high priority on stuff like that, well, then I don’t think I’d be so hooked on games like Hexic and Bejeweled.

To be honest, the word “average” might not even have crossed my mind if I hadn’t been sucked into the all the discussions or watched the “epic” beta launch trailer on Massively right before I played. They overdid it a little, in my opinion, but I’m partially to blame too. Normally, I’d take measures to keep my excitement in check and brace myself for anything that can happen, but unfortunately my Rift beta key was a last minute surprise, and I wasn’t prepared. Experiencing the beta on the heels of such an onslaught of anticipatory buzz and emotion probably affected my first impressions. As they say, beware the hype machine. And that goes for both players and developers.

The crux of it, though, is that an MMO doesn’t necessarily have to blow me away with its originality to still offer me a good time. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and that’s how I viewed Rift.

Sure, a little novelty now and then would be nice, and I’m still waiting for the day when a truly “revolutionary” MMO will be developed, and when it comes you can be sure I’d be cheering for joy with the rest of the masses. But until then, right now, today, at this very moment, I am just so sick of upcoming MMOs all claiming to be  “innovative”, “advanced”, “bold”, “cutting-edge”, and “next-generation” etc. etc. etc. Hey guys! I just want to have a good time!  To be honest, a claim boasting “We’re mostly going to stick with the fun things that work!” would be perfectly fine with me. But then I suppose that would make for a pretty crappy trailer tagline.

Oh my, I think that was a rant. Was that rant? I don’t know, but you’re doing that thing again.

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The 5-Inhabitants-For-The-Price-Of-One-Update Deal!

November 26, 2010

Hey, good lookin'!

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, I wasn’t surprised to see a modest update from Star Wars: The Old Republic today. Hey, it’s Black Friday, Bioware devs need to shop too. And I’m sure there are a lot of gamers like me as well, too busy spending time with their loved ones and sleeping off the turkey overload. I don’t know what my husband was thinking, getting a bird big enough to feed a small village.

Anyway, five new entries were added to the Inhabitants page this morning — the Terentatek, the Vine Cat, the Sith Pureblood, the M3-M1 Medical Droid, and the S3-F5 Inclement Condition Probe. Okay, keeping track of those droids and their letter and number designations is going to be the death of me.

Nothing too extravagant, but wow, if you have time, check out some of the new screenshots. I remember a time when I was less than impressed with the graphics and models. Back then, folks were still saying, “Relax, just give Bioware time to work on things.” I didn’t doubt improvements were going to be made, but at the same time, I don’t think I expected such a stark difference between the “Before” and “After” either. Compared to some of the older material we’ve seen, it almost looks like a whole different game.

I for one really love the new stuff about the Sith Pureblood. Almost makes me want to change my mind about rolling a Bounty Hunter and roll a Sith Warrior instead, so I can look all badass with my red lightsaber like buddy there in the screenshot. Almost.

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Flesh Raiders Sound So Dirty To Me

November 19, 2010

Yep, today’s Star Wars: The Old Republic update is November’s edition of Fan Friday — a community feature that showcases things like fan creations, game concept art, new avatars and a small Developer Corner.

Except today’s developer insights have been expanded into a Studio Insider article, giving us a closer look at some of the creative processes behind the game. Today, concept artist Diego Almazan details the processes behind creating a set of Flesh Raiders.

If I recall correctly, these are the brutal marauders your Jedi will have to fight on your starting planet of Tython.

Also included in the update is a new Community Q & A section. Couldn’t have come at a better time, if you ask me. The recent string of Friday updates have garnered a wide range of comments, complaints and praise. For some fans, an information downswing can lead to disappointment and frustration rather than much needed revelation. Going by the reaction on the forums for those weeks, it would seem that no one gives a crap about Fan Fridays or lore updates.

Look, I care about any and all news about the game, but I can also see the problem here. Spring 2011 is about six months away. People are anxious. They demand details. Combat! Economy! End game! Guilds! PvP! Bioware won’t release information on anything until they feel it’s ready, and I applaud them for it. But that’s not going to fly for a community in an uproar that demands to know everything RIGHT NOW NOW NOW. My guess is that’s why Q & A was added, to promote two-way communication and to attempt to mollify complaints concerning the lack of dev interaction with the community. Sure, it might not be all the information, but for now, it’s an opportunity to reach out, combat the negativity and put a few real or imagined worries to rest.

Some good questions in there, can’t wait to see more. This probably isn’t a very significant thing to get excited about, but it did pique my interest to see helmet on/off toggle confirmed. All risk of romantic kissy scenes and awkward bonky bonky moments aside, I didn’t spend half an hour customizing my character’s face just to hide it behind a clunky helm!

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Why Don’t You Handle This?

November 12, 2010

Today’s Star Wars: The Old Republic update is a closer look at the inner workings of the crew skill system. After last week’s announcement about crafting, I have to say I was anticipating an update like this. But what I didn’t expect was how informative this update is. Pardon me, I’m too used to SWTOR information trickling out to us week-by-week at a slug-like pace, so it came at a bit of a shock when almost all of my questions about the crafting system were answered in a single update.

What I understand is that we have 3 main categories of crafting skills: Gathering Skills, Crafting Skills, and Mission Skills. 3 Crew Skills slots are also available to your team to train in from among these categories. You can fill all three up with Gathering Skills if you wish, but that would also mean no more slots available for anything else from the other categories. Crafting Skills, on the other hand, are very specialized so you’ll be able to devote only one slot to crafting. Finally, any number of your Crew Skills can be a Mission skill.

First time playing, the most reasonable choice would probably be to go 1 Gathering Skill, 1 Crafting Skill, and 1 Mission Skill. But if making a ton of credits is your desire, the choice of taking three gathering skills and making a “raw materials mule” is there. If you wish to master all the crafting skills available, however, just be prepared to make as many alts.

Elegantly simple, yet I can appreciate its little intricacies as well. Describing this system as “World of Warcraft with a twist” doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

Companion’s backgrounds will also determine how effective they are with certain skills, as will their opinions of you (so I guess whipping my crew into submission is out then?) As for the concerns about whether or not your own character can participate in crafting, we now know you can gather or scavenge yourself if you wish. Participating in crafting or missions, however, I’m not so clear on. But if crafting ends up taking up real time…mayhaps you won’t want to stand around waiting 6 hours for something to finish. By the way, who else smells that mobile app coming a mile away?

Anyway, I know I’m going to sound like a raving fangirl here, but the crew skill system is the best crafting system I could ever ask for. It’s true. It’s perfect…for me.

Just this morning, I was writing a comment to someone explaining how crafting feels like a chore to me, and how much I’d rather focus on leveling instead. The truth is, when I’m online, I want to quest. Not craft. So when I heard Dallas Dickinson say in the video “We want you to be able to enjoy crafting, without having to take time out from your adventures”, it was like the clouds separated in the heavens and the birds started singing sweet songs in the trees. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — I’m not big on crafting. So that’s why I’m excited. Oh, the irony.

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Younglings, Younglings Gather ‘Round! SWTOR Crafting and Warzones, Hrmm?

November 5, 2010

Okay, we can all let out that collective breath we’ve been holding. The hell you say?! Star Wars: The Old Republic is actually shaping up to be an actual MMORPG?!

Now you can strike Crafting mechanics and PvP info off of that list of things the community has been hounding Bioware to give out. People speculated that a big announcement would be made at an EA press event in Europe after @SWTOR tweeted this a couple days ago, so the hype was through the roof when the news came in early this morning. Darth Hater shares all the yummy deets.

I just want to say that I’m not a big time crafter by any means. More often than not, this is how things play out: I would grudgingly try to work on crafting in the beginning, only to go “Aww, screw it!” soon after when my gathering capabilities fail to keep up with my character’s leveling. In most games, crafting feels like a chore, something I tinker around with only after I’ve reached the level cap and finished all the other fun stuff, and I’d so rather be saving the world than chopping up some beans or working the bellows. Whatever, my point is, I’m no crafting connoisseur…but I can still recognize an attempt to break new ground when I see one. When people heard Rich Vogel say that SWTOR’s crafting system will be very similar to what WoW has but with some “twists”, I think many got worried. But in fact, outside the inherent characteristics of crafting, I don’t think it sounds much like WoW at all.

You mean with the Crew Skill system I get to order my companions around to do my crafting and gathering for me? Whoa, this is going to send me on an even bigger powertrip than abusing bridge officers in Star Trek Online. In my eyes, Bioware nailed several birds with one stone. It’s nice to know that I can be the “manager” and that crafting can continue behind the scenes when I’m out adventuring, or even when I’m offline. They’ve also solved the problem of preserving the “heroic” in your characters; so for example, the snooty Imperial Agent can get his crafting done and still wench and schmooze his way across the galaxy without once having to dirty those silken-gloved hands. Finally, this also means that the companion system has been given an even greater role.

I find that last point important because I do plan on utilizing my companions, but I don’t want them to simply feel like combat “pets” or be conversation fodder. But I’m even more curious about companion mechanics now than before. Would they determine or limit how many professions you can master? Can companions die, be dismissed, or abandon you? Considering how certain companions will be  better at some mission types than others, I wonder where that would leave you.

Moving on to PvP Warzones. PvP again is not something I’m personally into, but I’m not going to let that color my opinion on the new information, or on the following video featuring the Alderaan Warzone experience:

Sure, it has all the stylings of a staged fight, but it’s no less impressive.

Warzones are an option when it comes to PvP, particularly for those players who prefer battleground style combat, squad against squad vying to complete an objective. To be honest, I really didn’t expect Warzone objectives to be so specialized and so…integrated into the story? I admit, I had been expecting something more “game-y” with flags and points, since I wasn’t sure what kind of priority PvP had in development. I doubt I’ll be participating that much in Warzones, but I’m still happy to see that so much thought has been put into setting them up. When Bioware reminds us at every turn that story, story, story will be the focus of everything in SWTOR, they really mean it. Anyway, even with one Warzone detailed, open world PvP confirmed, plus hints of a possible arena system, the game still probably won’t satiate the most hardcore of PvP fiends, but I think for many players it will be okay.

Last but not least, the good people at Bioware have come to their senses and are giving us the chance to rename the “Jedi Wizard” advanced class for the Jedi Consular. I personally voted for “Seer” but the more popular choice of “Sage” doesn’t sound too bad either. One way or another, any of the new choices would be better than naming a class after a derogatory term for a Jedi Knight or a juvenile slang term for “cool”. As in, “Wow, it’s so “wizard” when companies heed their fans’ opinions, and even better when they give us a chance to get involved!” So go check it out!

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