Conjecture on Future of SWTOR

and-another-thing

A reproduction of this Reddit post claiming to be inside knowledge of what’s happening over the next couple of years in SWTOR. Fantasy or fact – you decide:

Star Wars: Prelude to Darkness

A bunch of us ended up being privy to some meetings that were meant to be kept secret from us, so I should be safe and anonymous enough to share this information. I’m only doing this because I love this game and I think the plans to keep all of this secret until the last moment are only to the game’s detriment. I’m not actually a super lore-nerd, so I might miscommunicate some of what I heard—I tried SO hard to get this accurate and to remember as best as I could for you guys.

  1. EA and Disney have a brilliant plan for SWTOR. It will be upgraded to canon in the next expansion and will have some subtle tie-ins with Star Wars 7. (Specifically, a certain planet will be used and lord Vitiate will be an off-screen influence on the main villain of 7). The first step, although it won’t be obvious how, to SWTOR’s ending has begun in Forged Alliances.
  2. The storyline for SWTOR is going to end in about 3.5 years, and the sequel is already in development. These next 3 years are going to see an increase in funding as the game is brought back in line with initial expectations. There is a fun plan to let SWTOR run for as long as players want it to, with dynamic and scaling end-game content, but focus will shift to SWTOR 2. It will run on the Cryengine 3 Frostbite 3 (sorry I was excited and they look similar to me), so your first preview of how the game might look/run will be Dragon Age 3 later this year.
  3. The personal stories of SWTOR will continue in the next major Xpac, and they will each have an “ending”. YOUR character from SWTOR will appear in the as-yet-unnamed SWTOR 2 in various forms. Force Ghosts, holocrons, etc. As of right now, only one class appears to be able to survive until SWTOR 2 (Sith Inquisitor), but that might change. These will use your appearance settings and dialogue based on the actions you chose in the game. I will detail what I could gather about the plot later on in this post.
  4. There will be a newgame+ option added to SWTOR, some big bonuses for players who use it, and some major tweaks to the leveling experience and early planets. For example, coroscant lets you turn in most quests via holocalls rather than walking back. Newgame+ will be important as some characters that were not previously able to will become companions if certain story options are taken, and same gender romance will be added. It appears LucasArts was the one behind not allowing them in the first place. There will be some hefty rewards and updates to the original game that make going through newgame+ for that new companion romance feel less painful if you don’t want to. For example, a “rocket boots” type move for each class that is specific to each class (SI get to ride the lightning), and a class specific mount granted at level 15, that upgrades to a better appearance at level 30.
  5. The engine will be heavily revamped, and with the expansion, the game will be brought to consoles as a buy-to-play title with a cartel market. The goal will be to revamp all existing game systems so that everything fits nicely into place as one coherent whole game.
  6. New species—Torgruta, some other ugly thing

Gameplay/expansion features:

-Most level 60 content will involve cross-faction queues, when story appropriate.

-There will be some cross-faction planets where you can work cooperatively with the other faction. On PVP servers, you can flag yourselves PvP on these planets anyway.

-New action mode that allows mouselook and changes some of your move to macros to reduce your number of keybinds.

-Can use appearance changer on most companions, including species change.

-Same sex romance for most companions, including a few new romance options (Jaesa Lightside is one)

The Ending of SWTOR:

-Lord Vitiate has regained his power for the most part. His 300 year link to Revan allowed him to subsume Revan at the end of Foundry. (The two are now one, mostly integrated personality, although both sides will have chances to flash to the forefront). He has also been able to absorb power from the “deaths” of many powerful force users. (Spoilers: Darth Thanaton, for example, and Lord Baras if you’re on a Sith Warrior who didn’t spare him, same thing for Syo Bakarn and many other characters, Jadus, etc. You kill a lot of powerful Sith, and apparently the Emperor had their essences on tap. Choosing to spare various Sith will make Vitiate a bit weaker for your account).

-Vitiate has assembled a host of what are basically all the enemies that have been fought in SWTOR—Directive 7, some dread stuff, some cosmic horrors. Not all of them realize they are directly controlled by him, instead acting as puppets, but they serve his purposes.

-NEW CLASS STORIES: Each of the 8 characters will take on a major role in opposing Vitiate’s new attempt to absorb all life in the galaxy and become a God. Interesting, many characters and companions will appear in each other’s stories, and will make the dialogue choices that your character would based on LS/DS alignment. Some combinations will even have flirt options and such, which is fun, and some dialogue options will change based on how your characters are placed on the family tree (for example, rude options chosen if they are a rival, some indication of family/alliances/relationships between others. No, you wont be able to flirt with family, even if this is star wars).

Story spoilers:

The planetary story arcs will all deal with differing elements of fighting Vitiate and what he is doing. Many planets will be returned to for new level 55+ content

Korriban and Tython are important because Vitiate gets some powers from these planets, and some ancient droids/force-weapons.

-IA story will deal with infiltrating elements of the Republic AND Sith fleet that have been secretly taken over by the Emperor. A long series of manipulations will lead to the two sides of Vitiate’s stolen fleet fighting one another while the IA assassinates most of the leaders of Vitiate’s Navy.

-The JK storyline will be very dark, with one companion being forced back into Vitiate’s sway at intervals. The Emperor will also be closely connected to you, and try to take over your mind at times. This will lead to the Jedi Council trying to reign you in and keep you from going on missions—forcing the JK to ask mostly without the support of the Jedi or Republic. The JK will attempt to assassinate Vitiate and fail, losing a companion’s life. There will actually be a branching story where the JK can turn to the dark side if he is not already, or gain enhanced DS power. At least one companion will turn with you. The JK will then focus on defense—using powerful force artifacts to create barriers to Vitiate’s attempts to drain all life from the universe. These arcs will be assaulted by the most powerful enemies Vitiate can muster, and it will be the JK’s job to defend them. Vitiate WILL get to begin his ritual, and it will be the Jedi Knights job to protect the primary Arc—located on coroscant. Lightside choices allow the Jedi Knight to sacrifice themselves—they become a force ghost that can still take corporeal form. The Dark Side choice allows the arc to be destroyed instead, but the JK gains access to powerful dark-side alternative visuals for some moves.

-The Sith Inquisitor will hunt down various artifacts, force-users, and even some ghosts that are aiding Vitiate’s power. The SI will have no choice but to take this power for themselves, leading to visions that show the SI taking Vitiate’s place as sort of God. As the story progresses and Darth Marr is killed, you take over leadership of the Empire. You have multiple options to waste resources by attacking the Republic to your own benefit, or could allow for an alliance that leads to Vitiate’s destruction. The SI gets an option to take Vitiate’s place and become a cosmic force entitity—killing all those that Vitiate would kill, but taking the power for themselves instead. The SI passes off this choice to others by saying Vitiate did it.

-The Consular will lead the Jedi Council’s efforts in the war. You can make peace with the Empire or launch several surprise attacks and take some of the Empire’s forces for yourself. You will focus mostly on macro level conflicts, and getting all the chess pieces in place for the final assault on Vitiate. You will have the option to destroy Korriban.

-The Bounty Hunter is the one who actually gets to kill Vitiate as he is in the middle of his Dark Side ritual. Building up to this point, you get to assassinate a HUGE amount of important characters in both the Empire and The Republic—anyone standing in the way of destroying Vitiate efficiently and effectively will be eliminated by you. The Voss will aid the BH in becoming resistant to force attacks prior to the showdown with the Emperor.

-The Sith Warrior gets the option to play in support of Vitiate, however, at the end of the story, he betrays and attempts to kill you, so you don’t actually get to help him fully destroy the Universe. There are some arguing internally for non-canon endings to allow some stuff like this. Basically, you will be wrapped up in the Emperor’s Orders and organization, and have the LS options to betray him as much as possible, at some cost to yourself, or the DS option to simply act as his hand. You will come under attack from MANY sides, including some aggressive attempts by the Sith Inquisitor and Bounty Hunter.

-The Smuggler will essentially serve as an evacuator, as many planets fall to Vitiate, you will extract essential personnel from both the Republic and the Empire—or just their information on how to defeat him. Helping a powerful light-side sith early on will get your ship the ability to ignore many of the force-barriers and powers Vitiate will use. You will get to save the lives of 2 of the other player characters at various points in the story and will get the option to have T7 join your crew. You will also seek out some of the parts and designs that allow the Arks that will resist Vitiate to be built, and be charged with some essential backups of information that will help rebuild the universe if all else fails.

-The Republic Trooper—this one is a bit confusing. The trooper is sent to help the Empire prepare for the attack, since the Republic learns of it first. The Sith Inquistor charges him with the defense of Korriban from one of Vitiate’s first attacks. The trooper gets multiple options to weaken the Empire, or keep their forces to help fight vitiate. Throughout the story, you basically earn the respect of Imperial Citizens, oppose and can even kill Sith Lords who seek personal power or craziness instead of fighting Vitiate, and you end up leading many combined forces of Imperial and Republic forces against Vitiate. Your character becomes the main reason the two sides can work together on the missions that are surprisingly successful against Vitiate, and which allow the other characters to conduct the business as they are. This character gets referenced in many of the planetary quests.

–So, basically, the way the story ends is that Lord Vitiate is about 25% successful with his plans. Most planets near the core experience significant loss of life, except for the ones that had force artifacts shielding them via some of the story lines, the ones that had some sort of protection via deception (IA gets a planet to pretend to be allied with Vit to protect it). The arcs are successful depending on light-side/dark-side options.

-Elder game content will involve rebuilding the galaxy, as the Republic and the Sith Empire have basically crumbled, and the galaxy will now be lawless.

-The final patch of the game will involve Warlords rising to power. This will be to set up the next Star Wars MMO, which will take place about 100 years later, in a time period where the Republic and Sith Empire do not exist as they do now. Players will instead choose between multiple factions that have various relationships with each other. The Republic will be a monarchy that exists mostly only on Coroscant with influence on few other worlds, but will be able to be partially restored as the next game progresses. The Sith forces will be divided into multiple factions.

-The coolest thing will be seeing YOUR character get imported into the next game. Some scenes will just be via recorded holos—such as the BH taking down Vitiate. But some of the characters will have a major role. The Sith Inquisitor character will remain alive and well due to absorbing Vitiate’s power, and will be a major player on at least one planet of the next MMO. The JK Force Ghost will be influential.

There’s so much more, but I’m tired from all this typing. Enjoy!

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