There is a feeling of slight unrest within The Old Republic community as of late. We discussed the causes for this in the previous part of this article (which I recommend reading if you haven’t already, otherwise this part will not be so clear) and we’ll try to address some of the concerns in as unbiased manner as possible.
Is there really not enough time to release all information before release?
Lets assume that we have 22 weeks left before the game hits open beta and information is then released by everyone. I have made a list of things we should be receiving info on in the time left, based on what Bioware released so far and new game mechanics we all expect to see in the game:
- Week 1-4: Jedi Consular, Trooper, Bounty Hunter, Sith Inquisitor class trailer/info
- Week 5: Companion mechanics detailed info (all companions should be revealed through class reveals)
- Week 6: Playable species
- Week 7-9: Detailed PvP/battlegrounds information
- Week 9-11: Crafting
- Week 12-14: unrevealed planets (?)
- Week 15-18: End game reveals
- Week: 18-22: Various additional information
As you can see there is plenty of time to reveal all the most important information. In addition, we all assume that we will get only one official news item per week, which I think is wrong and I expect to see 2 to 3 updates per week as game release comes closer.
Is Bioware really not releasing information because the features are not done 6 months away from release?
I must admit that Bioware is very stingy with information. There are two points that I would like you to consider before making the final judgement on this. At GamesCom this year I witnessed a strange argument. Bioware employee and Lucas Arts employee were having a discussion on whether people should be allowed to record their hands-on experience with cameras. They found middle ground and that was to allow gameplay videos but from a distance and in a manner in which it is easy to understand that this is not actual beta footage or anything, but rather a recording from a convention show floor. The point is that there is one side that wants information that is released to the public in a controlled manner and than there is one side that doesn’t mind information getting out to the public. We should also remember that James Ohlen and Daniel Ericsonn are notorious for revealing more information than the marketing departments are comfortable with.
One of the big reasons for being secretive and the second point of this discussion is “industrial espionage”. Yes, you heard me right and no, I am not paranoid. Remember back when Warhammer Online was about to be released. They were coming out with all sorts of information about all the game systems that they were going to implement. They announced these months in advance. Remember what happened next? Blizzard suddenly announced implementation of features very similar to the ones we were expecting in WAR in their next Wrath of the Lich King expansion to World of Warcraft (the infamous “PvP is important to us” shift of paradigm once open world PvP was announced as focus in WAR). Experience Mythic had with this is surely to be shared with their sister studio Bioware (they are both parts of Electronic Arts and Mythic devs are helping Bioware develop SWTOR). With several titles coming out in 2011 that are direct contenders to SWTOR this aspect bears additional weight.
Throw into the mix Lucas Arts , holders of the Star Wars franchise license, and you can imagine that information is going to be handed out in a very controlled manner.
What should actually be addressed here is that whether Bioware is bombarding us with information or not is a moot point. The only thing we should be concerned about is whether the game is any good!
Is the game any good or should we believe EAlouse?
I am sorry, but I have to completely disagree with EAlouse in every possible way. I feel for the person behind that post because they are about to lose their job and no one can really come to terms with such life changing circumstance gracefully. Everything he/she wrote in that article is just a flame of other people and on any public forum they would just be labeled a troll. As such, I am not willing to spend time discussing the information they had on SWTOR. Saying that some other game will be the biggest failure in the history of MMOs, while being involved in production of the game that is one of the biggest failures in the history of MMOs is just kind of troll talk not worth spending time on. Instead, I will tell you about whether The Old Republic is any good at all. I played the game about two hours at GamesCom. I played with several classes. I watched other people play for hours. I interviewed people that played it. It might not give enough play time with the game to make a reliable review, but it does grant some insight and can be basis for some basic conclusions. Here are the facts you can rely on about SWTOR:
- The game delivers all of the features you are accustomed to in any other good MMORPG.
- Starting levels are as good or better than in any other MMORPGs I played over the years.
- The state the game was in at GamesCom would be the state some publishers would already release the game. It reminded me of Age of Conan at release and Bioware at that point had 8 more months ahead of them for polish and the build we were playing was already a few months behind the build the developers were working on.
- Voice overs do in fact provide a hole new level of immersion and I didn’t believe until the first quest I did with my trooper. The moment I heard her voice I was hooked and decided on the role she was going to play. She was going to be a no questions asked, tough as concrete, all guns blazing soldier. The trigger for this immediate immersion into a role (it is a role playing game afterall) was her voice.
- The game’s atmosphere is very fun and immersible. Whether I was fighting rebels on Ord Mantell or I was exploring Sith lord dungeons on Korriban, the environments felt vibrant and dynamic and everything felt as if it was in their right place.
- The game did not feel as a copy/paste of other MMOs. Yes, everything felt familiar, but there were moments here and there that provided fresh takes on some of the basic principals.
In my opinion, the worst case scenario we are looking at is that the game will not be introducing any truly revolutionary game mechanics into the MMO genre except voice-overs. We will get the best feature of all the other games from the genre with Bioware spicing up things with their proven capability of producing high quality games (here’s a list for those of you that don’t remember: Neverwinter Nights, Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, KOTOR, Jade Empire, Mass Effect 1 and 2, Dragon Age – all genre defining games).
What about that GDC rumor of SWTOR being in trouble?
The same person that mentioned this rumor said the following:
Gary from gamebreakerstv that was there and did a podcast onsite wouldnt go into specifics of what was said off the record, just that issues existed and people from other divisions of BW were being flown in to help sort em out (sorta what ealouse siad lol). He didnt sound alarmed at all thoe, said he was confident they`d iron stuff out basicaly.
It seems perfectly reasonable that closer we get to game’s release things will get busier at Bioware’s offices. All the big design points of the game are probably done with and there are thousands of details being worked on right now. It’s like building a house. The foundation, walls and the roof are done, now we have to do all the little things inside and that is always the most grueling part. I would be worried if this last push was happening some time in February next year. If they are doing it now it feels that everything is right on track.
Anything else before we wrap this up?
There is this one forum post that keeps floating around in SWTOR circles for a while now. It is some guy that posted back in 2007 about how he filled out a survey about a game called The Old Republic and what he felt would be good features. Here’s a little excerpt, while you can read the full forum post here.
8 professions-smuggler and BH stick out immediately
Functional Light side/ Dark side- npcs and others remember what you do and their reactions change accordingly.
Legacy system. When you reach top level, apparently you have the option of producing an offspring with special bonus traits and starting over…or something to that effect.
Companion: Han had Chewy, Luke had R2…blah blah….someone to accompany you. Potential for romance sticks out as something oddly unique
Fully customizable ship. Can be bought or stolen!!
No more miles of reading text. Events happen in game with full voice overs. Sounds damn impossible if you ask me.
Full grouping ala any damn MMO
Some sort of minigame that is used to influence others?? Not many details on that one.
well, there were 10 major points we had to vote on and classify in order of what we liked the best. These are the only ones I remember.
As you can see, many of these have been revealed as features of the game so the post feels legit. If they knew all this 3 years ago and were doing market research, you can imagine how far they’ve gotten three and a half years later.
It is very easy to get negative based on rumor. The facts are that none of us really know how bad or good the game really is. Supposed lack of information is not the end of the world and does not tell us anything about the game or the state it is in. Once the game comes out the players will be the judges and no overload or lack of information prior to the release will really make any difference. As the cure for your information lack blues I would also recommend visiting “Information gathered on The Old Republic so far!” forum post on the official swtor.com forums as well as “Hands on impression reports from SWTOR players, a collection” to fully grasp the amount of information we do have on the game.
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