SWTOR to go Free To Play?

Over the past 24 hours or so there’s been a lot of interest in some comments made by BioWare’s Emmanuel Lusinchi in an interview with UK magazine games™. Interestingly, the online interview preview appears to have been pulled, but you can still view the cached Google version.

The two comments being dissected so forensically are:

In regard to competition from free-to-play MMOs:

“I think it’s more than the free-to-play model – it’s more that there is a lot of competitive offers,” suggests Lusinchi. “If it was just free-to-play games and they weren’t very good it wouldn’t even be a question but there are definitely good games out there and good games coming out, so of course all of this competition impacts your plan with what you want to do.”

On feasibility of making SWTOR free-to-play:

“The MMO market is very dynamic and we need to be dynamic as well,” he says. “Unless people are happy with what they have, they are constantly demanding updates, new modes and situations. So we are looking at free-to-play but I can’t tell you in much detail. We have to be flexible and adapt to what is going on.”

That’s the sum-total of information out there at present. None of it is that explicit, nor that surprising. The challenge BioWare face is that in some quarters going free-to-play is seen as admitting defeat – even though some games have grown going that route. There’s no right or wrong – it’s just how such a model would work that becomes key.

Over to you: do you think F2P is on the near horizon, and if so, what impact do you think it will have on SWTOR?

SWTOR Video News: the 400K Drop Issue

Asher has backed up with an extra episode of his video news, dedicating an episode to the issue of SWTOR’s 400K drop in subscribers.

He makes some interesting points, some I agree with and others I don’t – which is what makes discussing any MMO fun! I too like the point on higher population servers increasing the chance of people getting their friends involved in the game.

Have a look for yourself:

What do YOU think?

A Real-Life Jedi Academy

The New York Times has an interesting piece this weekend on Flynn Michael, who runs the New York Jedi Club.

Here’s a brief taste:

The New York Jedi club meets here weekly. To an outsider, it might seem like stage-fighting with battery-powered lightsabers, but to Mr. Michael, it is aspiring righteous warriors communing with the Force, that energy that gives the Jedi his power and binds the galaxy. So what if the place attracts, as Mr. Michael said, “a bunch of ‘Star Wars’ dorks.”

“They come in geeks and go out Jedi warriors,” said Mr. Michael, a founder of the group and a self-ordained Jedi grandmaster.

A sound engineer who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and a self-proclaimed “sci-fi, heavy-metal, over-the-top geek,” he was born Michael Brown and grew up in Rhode Island, where, he said he watched the first “Star Wars” film 32 times in 1977, the year it was released. He recalls first seeing Luke Skywalker learn about the force from Obi-Wan Kenobi and saying to the screen, “I want to do that.”

Have a read through, it’s pretty damn interesting. The key question is: who’s up to create local clubs? You know it makes sense!

[Thanks to reader Phil for the heads-up!]

SWTOR Guild Summit: Guild Features

Guild features with Damion Schubert:

The details disclosed:

- Guilds extremely important to BioWare
- Guild leader is a hard and thankless job that keeps people invested in the game
- Guild UI could use more features
- Guild banks in 1.2
- Up to 7 tabs can be bought
- Detailed control for guild leaders for every tab
- Can set some tabs to require authenticators reducing chances of a guild being screwed over
- guild ledger that filters out the repair transactions
- guild log with everything including hyperlink to item added or removed
- after 1.2: guild calendar, share events with non-guildies, drop a guild emblem onto armour, in-game guild advertising, guild progression is in the works (no timeline), guild capital ship design exists (but no timeline)

Q&A

- Guild mail: trying to implement something but has big back-in implications as far as storage, no ETA
- Guild interface improvements: will be able to invite people to a group from guild list, will be able to mouse-scroll down guild roster
- Checking crafting skills on guild roster: coming sometime after 1.2 but soonish
- Taxation system: just trying to figure out a way to do it now – no ETA
- Guild approval system from pre-launch being implemented (i.e. you don’t have to be online for GM to approve your membership): “maybe”
- Guild repairs and respecting from guild bank will subtract from allowance

-

SWTOR Guild Summit: Roleplaying

Daniel Erickson on Roleplaying. Meaning “Make your own fun tools”

The details disclosed:

- chat bubbles coming – have worked out technical issues from beta
- more orange gear with viability at end-game
- “wear what you want, when you want”
- server-wide limited time events coming
- improved spawning tech and better population of areas with NPCs
- more moving parts everywhere
- more chairs to sit in

Q&A

- different mounts: definitely on the list
- current limitations on wearing specific armour types: much more cosmetic gear on the way able to be worn by everyone
- player wants a male slave outfit: it’s coming (with lots of audience laughter)
- stricter naming policies: Star Wars canon has all sorts of ridiculous names so hard to police but hoping to implement more nameplate display customisations
- legacy family tree not restricted to family – can be allies / other toons of different species etc
- we want to attach other players to your legacy, but a lot of work to work out how to do it
- audio emotes taken from cinematics: yes more on the way that will contain lines
- companions in taxis and ability to name companions: original design did have companions in taxis but got too difficult with different companions. No answer on making companions.
- option to remove a companion from a story: debated a long time on this pre-launch but no. Mainly because killing companions was fun and the need for a companion through levelling make it a problem. “Not a route we’re going to go back down”
- bio / profile in character sheet to help with roleplaying:
- two seater mounts for co-op RP: “way down the road”

Fleet Pass: SWTOR weekly roundup

Time to introduce our third new member of the TOROZ team this week: Tim Gow – welcome!

Fleet Pass is a weekly review of the SWTOR community, a small and non-comprehensive collection of the funny, the insightful, the controversial and any other interesting picks found anywhere but generally in the SWTOR Forums.  Have a suggestion?  Send it in to us with a source link if available, and the name you’d like to be credited with.

Warning:  Article may or may not contain spoilers relating to SWTOR, or any of its variants.

Threads

Ashes_Arizona – SWTOR Roleplay Sub-Forum:

Formal Apology to the Galactic Republic

It has come to our attention that in the years following the sacking of Coruscant that you have had struggles and economic disturbances which have put great strain on the once great Galactic Republic and as such a massive issue with population migration and overall strains on your operational capability are evident.

It is with our sincerest apologies that we must say the heroes and combatants of your glorious Republic just, simply, are not cool, in any way. They are, unfortunately, so not cool, that to be any less cool they would become cool for being so uncool. This is not something we have any direct control over, and if we did, Imperial Intelligence would already be hard at work behind the scenes on many Republic worlds, doing our best to make your heroes cooler, simply because fighting badly dressed, ill trained, cliche spouting stereo-types is a horrible waste of the time of our Empire’s best and brightest, who are, without a doubt, far cooler than any cream of the crop the Republic appears to be able to offer.

AGSThomas – SWTOR General Discussion Sub-Forum:

My server’s population went from heavy to light within one month

Over the last few weeks I have noticed that there are less and less people online during peak hours. Rwookrorro is an eastern server and we peak around 8 and 9 pm. Over the weekend I hadn’t noticed more then 45 people on the fleet. People from my guild have not signed as much too. People that were playing 3 or 4 times a week now play once or twice.

This was sorely disappointing, not in a QQ kinda way, but all I wanted to do was play the game and I couldn’t because my server is dying/dead. I sat there contemplating what to do next when I realized my pvp queue still hadnt popped! I disbanded the “group”, logged off and watched TV for the rest of the night.

Elexier – SWTOR Story & Lore Subforum:

Same gender relationships clarifications?

There will not be a quote on this one.  It’s just an incredibly interesting discussion that has become a mainstay of the S&L Subforum.

 

Quotes

Back & Forth – SWTOR Story & Lore Subforum:

Once you marry your companion that’s it?

Haiken

Tittle says it all, after you marry your companion, in my case Nadia Grell, thats it?, she doesn’t talk to me ever again?

Lasmith

Yeah, sounds like marriage to me!

Anagnostics – SWTOR Roleplay Subforum:

To Sith

[Dirty Kick]

From your everyday smuggler

 

Explosive_Lasers – SWTOR Story & Lore Subforum:

The Empire is a totalitarian government that endorses slavery, noble houses, and reveres the Force-users among them. They are generally very harsh, unforgiving, and ruthless. They are also fairly racist, and hold much more respect for Purebloods and Humans. While they aren’t all Dark or Evil, many may be considered as such, because the Sith tend to interpret their Code as endorsing anger and hatred, which lead to the Darkside. The citizens and soldiers that aren’t Force-sensitive are subservient to the Sith, so generally follow their lead.

The Republic is a democratic-republic, with elected representatives for each planet under its rule. Equality is endorsed, and slavery is mostly illegal. The Force-users among the Republic are trained to be disciplined and act more as guardians or servants, instead of rulers. Most of the races are treated equally, but humans are still slightly better off, in many cases. While they may seem Light or Good, corruption, greed, and other darker aspects live in the Republic. The Jedi are generally trained to be leaders, while serving the greater good of the galaxy, the Order, or the Republic.

So, neither side is Darkside or Lightside, just like Light and Dark are not always black and white in the sense of morality. The Empire and Republic have vastly different governments and regulations, just like the Jedi and Sith are far different than Light/Dark.

 

Other Stuff

Brisk – Brisk Youtube Channel

 

Unknown – Gamers Lobby UK Youtube Channel

Family Research Council Decries ‘SW:TOR’ Update Allowing Homosexual Relationships

In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has decided that the latest update to BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO is more than just added content; it’s a strong political statement that must be stopped at all costs!

After some players complained about not having enough relationship options in the new game, BioWare agreed to allow gay and lesbian couples to pair up in the Star Wars universe. This, of course, makes them homosexual activists seeking to destroy the bonds of the family through devious digital means. I’ll let Tony put it in his own pun-laden words:

“In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists! Hello, I’m Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. In a galaxy not so far far away, Star Wars gamers have already gone to the dark side. The new video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has added a special feature: gay relationships. Bioware, the company that developed the game, said it’s launching a same-sex romance component to satisfy some complaints. That surprised a lot of gamers, since Bioware had made it clear in 2009 that “gay” and “lesbian” don’t exist in the Star Wars universe. Since the announcement, homosexuals have been celebrating the news, but parents sure aren’t. On the game’s website, there are more than 300 pages of comments–a lot of them expressing anger that their kids will be exposed to this Star Warped way of thinking. You can join them by logging on and speaking up. It’s time to show companies who the Force is really with!”
Read the rest at www.ology.com

HeroEngine is the unsung platform behind SWTOR

Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of the most ambitious undertakings in video game history. When the game launched in December, it was the fruition of six years of work by as many as 800 developers and an investment of an estimated $200 million.

One of the secrets behind the successful development of the game was the HeroEngine, a development platform for building online games that was created by Maryland-based Idea Fabrik.The goal of the engine is to break down the barriers to good online game development by creating a free-to-use solution that lets creators take over and push the technology to the background.

The Star Wars game is the first gigantic title to use Idea Fabrik’s HeroEngine, which was designed to enable designers of huge multiplayer games, or massively multiplayer online games, to quickly add content or update existing features on a continuous basis. While the Star Wars game required a huge number of developers, the HeroEngine tools helped streamline the process so that those developers could work more efficiently and so BioWare, owned by Electronic Arts, didn’t have to hire an even larger army of game makers. With the HeroEngine’s technology, developers log into the HeroBlade client, where they can code, drop in art assets and build the entire game.
Via venturebeat.com

SWTOR post-mortem: it’s more innovative than an FPS

Labelling Star Wars: The Old Republic competent but not innovative is “unfair”, BioWare told Eurogamer – the MMO does more than today’s FPS and action games to push its respective genre forward.

“It’s been a little bit of an unfair characterisation,” SWTOR game director James Ohlen remarked to Eurogamer. “Because if you look at other game genres, if you look at a Battlefield or a Call of Duty or a Gears of War or even a Half-Life – those games use the same tried and true interface and the same tried and true game mechanics of the first-person shooter genre that’s been around for 20 years.

“If you look at real-time strategy games, they kept the same tried and true interface and the same tried and true mechanics that existed for 20 years. Same with adventure games, same with platformers, same with fighting games, sports games.

“I don’t know why the MMORPG genre is not considered to be a genre,” Ohlen shrugged. “It could be that World of Warcraft has dominated for so long that people just think of it as just a single game genre.

“But it is a genre, and we wanted to appeal to fans of that genre – we don’t want to turn them away by making something that’s radically different. And we wanted to take the lessons that have been developed in that genre over years and years and years and basically refine them, much like other companies do with other genres.
Via www.eurogamer.net

‘Doctor Who: Worlds In Time’ MMO now open

Sick of playing SWTOR? No, me neither, but if you want something a little different, jump in the TARDIS:

“If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be the Doctor’s companion, then wonder no longer as you can now undergo the experience yourself… at least digitally. ‘Doctor Who: Worlds in Time’ is a new MMO game from BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment and Games and Three Rings Design which allows players around the world to enter the TARDIS and follow in the footsteps of the famous Time Lord while defending the universe from destruction.

The online game just went public yesterday and is still in the beta phase so expect a few changes along the way while in the preview period. Players can choose from four different races then personalize their avatar by choosing such attributes as hair color, skin color and facial features. Once you create an account, you can enter the TARDIS and join the Doctor.”

[Via sciencefiction.com]

‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ Is Off to a Very Good Start


Star Wars: the Old Republic already has a million registered users, and momentum seems to be picking up a week after the game’s launch.
Via mashable.com

Pics from SWTOR’s Austin and New York Launches

The launch events from the New York and Austin events are now done and dusted, and Bioware have posted a bunch of pictures up on their Facebook page. Here’s three as a taster:

Some serious costumes going on there!

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