Saturday, 30 October 2010

What To Expect From TOR

Ok so lets start with what we know.

BioWare is by far the greatest RPG game producer to date. Games like Baldurs Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and more noticeably in reference to TOR the makers of Knights Of The Old Republic. (1 not 2)
These are a few games that litter there great history. So saying BW is the greatest RPG games company out there is not a hard stretch.

So what they do well, is making very good in-depth role-playing games. This is what they are noted for. Not only given you a great playing experience, but pushing you as the hero, at the forefront of the game. The story is at the heart of there games, these take you on the roller-coaster ride that is just as important as the combat.

What they have not done is an MMO, but I will not hold this against them. As we know WOW was the 1st MMO of another game company, and look what happened to that.

Now we can focus on TOR knowing where BW as a company is coming from.
BW is bringing what they do best to the MMO market, Story.

What we can take as a given, is that the game play from start to max, will be the most in-depth and story driven experience ever to hit the MMO market.
The rich story, coupled with the fully voiced quest flash points, will be at the heart of the game. This aspect has been over shadowed in other MMO's to date, where the goal of of getting to the max level, is the gateway to the more enjoyable side of the game.
The leveling in TOR should be the most enjoyable leveling experience, that will be just as momentous of what we would expect from the endgame. May be even more so, as each class has his/her own story, that does not repeat across the other classes. Though players will be working along the same story's, but coming from a different prospective.

Also we can take it that the game will be highly polished, and almost bug free. BW takes pride in there work, and this has shown countless times in the past. With TOR being an MMO should not get them wavering from this fact. MMO fans are very unforgiving when it come to games. If it does not work when it starts (and works well) you may as well not launch.
The difference here is clear, you can buy a single player game and pick it up and set it down again. The company has done its job at this point and will do the odd patch to fix bugs but that money has come in. MMO's on the other hand depend on money coming in every month. Having a bad start, and you will see you total calculated earnings halved by the 2nd month. So getting this part wrong will cost you countless millions that you will never get back.

What we do not know yet. Is how the MMO side of things will turn out. Go over to the SWTOR forums and you will see wave after wave of speculation threads.
I can sure understand everyones frustrations here, as BW seem to be appeasing there already wide fan base. BW tend to focus on what they are known for Story. May be they are trying to hard to entice followers of there single player games, to part with a monthly sum that most would never consider from another developer. But I would dare say that the BW fan boys will at least buy the game no matter if its single or multi player. Thats the kind of respect BW has got over time.

Sadly this has in a lot of cases, alienated many of the dedicated MMO players out there. I count myself along side them. I will pick up a single player game maybe once at most twice per year. This will be a side line, to get away from the burnout of many an MMO. Playing as little as a few hours per weeks. These in my case, is just something with a different setting. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

As a hardcore MMO gamer, I see this aspect as 1 of the deadly sins BW has done ever since they announced the game. Sure we have seen a flash point or 2, but this can not be classed as MMO footage. Everything we hold dear as MMO gamers has yet to see light.
With the launch day looming ever closer, BW has to start to be more open about the multi playing side of things, there are things we need to know. Yes there are things we need to know before the game comes out. This is not a whim or lust for a little more info, its just a fact.
I surely do not want to cram knowledge about crafting, PvP, skills, classes, guilds and 90% of the game a few days before it hits.

This is, after all, not a single player game, we can not save and do-over every single part. MMO games like the gamers are very unforgiving. 1 miss-placed stat or skill can easily ruin you hole game.

Really what I expect from BW and the MMO side of things is, the same thing we would expect from any other major player out there.
Sure things will be tweaked and changed around a bit. I also expect raids and most if not all end-game mechanics to have story entwined round them. I do not how ever, expect there to be anything that would stand out a revolutionary.
This will not be a game to reinvent the wheel. It will how ever make that wheel very shiny with spikes on to crush your enemy's.

The major problem with changing almost everything we have come to love over the years, can really bite you in the behind. Yes people want change, but also we want to have the comfort, and have this game to feel like an old friend. The old saying of "if it ain't broken don't fix it" rings true. Heck tweak and improve where possible, but do not do a total revamp.

End game is not the focus TOR is setting out for. This however does not mean it will not be fun, and it also does not mean we do not need to know what this entails.

All in all, we will see the best leveling game to enter the MMO market. The end game should be on par with the best out there. If BW has ever lost focus on the end game stuff like raids and crafting, they will be found out. There are no walls to hide behind when you are making an MMO.
I can see myself playing TOR for years to come. I'm first and foremost an MMO gamer, and secondly a Star Wars fan. I would just like to know how I will be spending 99% of my playing experience in the MMO world.

Friday Update

Well its Friday again, and although we see some Agent love here, theres not so much flesh on the bones or what the game consists of.
We get another FLUFF update. BW have given us stuff we already know again, ADV class names, and a what kind of skill trees we can expect. This is nothing new, we knew the IA was going to have healing, stealth and be a basic mirror of the Smuggler.

I will say the ship update was nice fluff, as we have seen from other classes its a good size. It looks very sleek and high status. But I cant seem to get exited by ships atm until we get to know more about them. I tend to just see them as a mobile home, that engages in a mini game shooter.

Next up is the AI class video. Again nothing new here, no new skills, nothing that really stands out about combat that we did not already know. There is a companion or sorts a droid that he uses in the video. We don't know what this companion is (if it is indeed a companion) and how we get to use it.
So all in all, we get to see the same skills again in a different location.

There is however a hint at the romance arcs that we will encounter along the way. The IA being a mirror of the Smuggler, we would expect him to share the quick talking smoothness and charm that the Smuggler has.
Again theres much to speculate about this encounter, is she 1 of your companions, or an NPC that you can romance to get your own way. With TOR looking to be heading to appeal to all ages, I would expect this to be the highlight of your romance within the game.

Kaliyo is the latest addition to the biographies section. She is confirmed as the AI companion, and you would expect this to be the 1st of the companions, early in game.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Podcast Shout out

As I said in my last blog, I want to focus on some positive things around TOR. This is the Podcasts, Fan sites and Blogs around the interweb.

These are the groups of people that keep my hopes and interest intact about TOR. When all else fails (noticeably Fridays updates) they come from the shadow and have at least something interesting to say about BioWare's up and coming MMO. These are the true unsung hero's that many like myself look forward to more than the Fridays update themselves.

My main supply of comfort is

the many podcasts that cover info about TOR. The vast amount I sub to are mostly TOR related, but some cast a wider net, but I still find them a great source of information and entrainment.

The 1st I stumbled across, and got me hooked, as a Pod listening junkie was TOROCAST.
Co-Hosed by Samm and Musco. Regulars Brandon, Fodig and latest addition Kim.

This pod is me, they follow and are highly focused on TOR and cant wait to play it. Yet they are far from BioWare fan boys. They call it as they see it, if BW does wrong they tell it like it is.
They have a very tong in cheek show, and Samm's voice board has scaled to legendary status. Its a fun packed hour of TOR related entertainment that should be on everyones radar.
If your following TOR or just a little interested in it, look this pod up you wont be disappointed.

The next few pod casts are a bit of a blur, some are no longer around, but I will focus on the many that you can look up.

Darth Hater is next up. If you are checking up on TOR and not heard of the DH group then you must be living in a box. Not only do they run a very popular podcast but also 1 of the best kept fan websites out. There web is my 1st port of call after the Friday update hits, and more than not they have 200 things I just failed to notice. There knowledge of the game and lore are hard to beat.
They have a very different pod to Torocast though. (well they are all different) DH are the flip side of ToroCast.
Those at DH are the BW fan boys. They see through rose coloured glasses and always find that silver lining that the rest of us mere mortals just fail to see.
Even when the update amount to scraps they bring out there best, and make you think.
This is what they do best, its like magic, they take the nothing-ness and make it into something.

The Galatic Holofeed if you cant get enough of TOR related podcasts then this is surely 1 to check out. If only for the epic length of each and every show. 3 hours + is not a strange thing to to this pod. Suzina's chuckles will keep you smiling though out the show, and Kalvods knowledge about all things star wars is uncanny.
Yet these 2 things are not there best attribute. The 1 thing that makes them stand out from all the others, is there wild speculation segments. No other pod comes even close, and these more often than not, go almost into the twilight zone. I could spend hours (and normally end up doing this very thing) just chilling with this running in the back ground.

The Imperial Amy podcast, these peeps air live each and every week. Normally 2-3am GMT so not had as many opportunity's to tune in as I would like. They are a good fun bunch to hang out with. Its more like a friendly guild setting, when they run there pod. Also with airing live, they can take feedback and respond on the fly. If you want some instant feed back away from the Trolls after the Friday update, this is the place to be.

Corellian Run Radio Relative new comers to the TOR podcast scene, Hosts Carla and Kathy homed in on a yet untapped approach to there show. Not having the vast knowledge of the other pods out there, they turn this into a great advantage. They use they lack of lore and made it into a kind of game show.
Instead of just given you the news, they test each other on what has transpired over the weeks gone by. This is a highly refreshing, and makes for a good entertain experience.
They also do a light side/dark side thing. Not even going to explain here just go listen, all will come clear.
Only 1 down side to this pod however, it only airs biweekly.

Mos Eisley Radio Hosts Brooks and Zach do there home work well when it comes to TOR. Though they do sound like just 2 guys chatting about a game, with a vast amount a knowledge to go with it. This is by no way a bad thing, it just makes you settle into the pod and feel at home.
I alway look forward to what the pre-intro - intro will be, always something funny and new.

The Republic Part of many a subject followed by Host Gary. This 1 1st and foremost is dedicated to TOR. What makes this 1 stand out, well for 1 its the very 1st full video pod out. Each and every show brings you the video feed. Gary with co-host Jay are a bit mad if you ask me lol, though it give the benefit of showing you what they are talking about.
Which in itself is a good reason to tune in every week also.

The Anchorhead Weekly Podcast Palopit (name on the forums) not going to atempt his given name from the pod. Heis the sole host on this 1. Yeh doing a pod solo is mad right. Funny thing is though he pulls it of, normally lasting around 30 mins or so. Its not going to take up a lot of you time a good fill in. You can notice the lack of another missing host, that would fill in. Though this gives his show a little quirkiness, and a few fun stumbling blocks.

The Jedi Archive
The Tor Syndicate
The Torrent Podcast

These seem to be forming some strange love triangle, and there may be more out there making love squares and so on.
As well as bing a good all round podcat, there biggest contribution comes in the way they help others out. Making these the unsung hero's of the unsung hero's. They help get podcasts and sites set up. They also run a system to get notable articles out to the community, of other sites.

Like I said before I mainly follow TOR related podcasts, but there a few most general game pods I also follow, that help fill the void of the Friday updates

Multiplaying Is the 1st of 2 pods I listen to with great anticipation. Above all this pod has way more fun than any other. They cover a wide spread of games and do mention TOR every week BONUS!!!
If you don't already, no matter what your playing following or just glancing over. This show is a good fun packed info fill must.

Massively Another along the line as the above pod, it also casts a wide net of games and mmo's. A real good gap filler thats enjoyable.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Friday's None Updates

Well almost right.

Its another week without anything about the game. I will no longer be party to the junk fluff none-game updates any more.
Followers are getting increasing aggravated by this Fridays update, and others like it. There is more we don't know about TOR than we do.

I have been an avid follower ever since TOR was announced, but the old "well we have it in the game" & "we are not ready to talk about that yet" has long been stale.

I find more negative about TOR of late than I could ever find positive.

I started this blog to shout about all the good things that were in and around TOR. Maybe a little selfishly I really intended it to start as a place I could keep record or all the updates that come along. These were from many a Podcast and fan webs page that litter the interwebs, by like minded followers like myself.

You may ask yourself what keeps me going, well for 1 thing its not BW, they have not release any thing solid for so long and what we do end up getting acquaints to, to little to late.

I really don't like making negative posts here, after all I want this game BAD. So my next post will be positive, a none BW focused posed and share the good side of TOR the FANS!!!!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Lack of mmo/info rant.

I'm not sure if I am alone in my thinking here, but I do look forward to actual game information on the Friday updates from TOR.
Of late, the updates we have received have been lacking. Yes I guess they could be called updates to an extent. If you push the boundary's to its limit. We have had a planet, time line video (of which I did not cover last week) and this weeks update.

Weeks have past, since we have had anything that would be classed as information, in its simplest form. All we get is a hollow shell that gives us, at most more questions about the game as a hole.
You may think we have had a great deal of info from BW about TOR. I tend to disagree a lot on this subject.
What we have atm is a very slight outline, we have story, classes, planets and companions. It is has long gone past the time that we need some flesh on the bones of the game.

We are around 6-7 months out from launch, and the main core of the MMO side of things is still well and truly hidden. Every thing we hold dear in the MMO world has yet to see light. This concerns me to a great extent. Crafting, PvP, Raids and other end-game content, has yet to be relieved. If this does not have you the slightest bit worried, you really do have your head in the clouds.
What we have seen is a single player game with a few multi-playing game elements, that you could get from any number of co-op games on the market. Forget the story part of the game for just a moment. This is first and foremost an MMO. With 5years + on the development side of things and a few short months out from release. We need the MMO, this is not just a whim or a lust for knowledge, but a fact.

Not many will be duped into paying a sub for a single player game, that they could spend countless hours re-playing without shelling out time and time again to re-run a new class.
The re-roll part of the game, has been hammered heavily of late, along with story. If BW expect the core players to just re-roll over and over again, and not give players ample end-game content there will be a huge backlash from your intended targets.

I will make a prediction here, by year end 2010. If no MMO elements come along there will be savage attacks on the forums from all over. Dec will be the point of no return on information concerning the MMO game-play functions. If BW try to keep there cards too close to there chests beyond this date, it will alienate a vast amount of the MMO players in and around TOR.

You can agree or disagree, your views are welcome here and I would like to know how you feel on this subject also.

Do you feel the same as I do, or do you have unwavering faith in BW and the way TOR is heading ?

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Friday Update - Ilum

With the final outcome of the war between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic still undecided, the icy planet Ilum sits squarely in the cross-hairs. The crystals that grow here in abundance are the source of incredible power and possibility. Jedi and Sith alike have long sought them for their Lightsabers, but the ramifications may go much deeper.

Recently the Empire launched a major assault against the Jedi on Ilum, destroyed the Order’s sanctuaries, and initiated an ambitious operation of unknown intent. With its forces already spread thin, the Republic has been unable to strike back in such a remote region, but what price might they pay for losing this valuable resource?

Access the HoloNet to learn more about Ilum, and check out this video to see images of its icy terrain. Also, don’t forget to visit the media section for never-before-seen screenshots, concept art, and wallpapers showing the scene from every angle.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Friday Update - Designing the Advanced Classes System

This Fridays update brings us a very telling Dev Blog. You can find it in full over at SWTOR.

There is a few posts that have a negative feel about this update, for myself this is 1 if not the most important updates to date. The many follows of TOR that have many mmo's under there belt like myself, have had a very long wait to get something solid about the game.
In that I mean, none story, not combat GFX but something that lets you get a feel about how your class will play.

This Dev Blog does in 1 short passage, gives us more important information about the actual game than all others put together. How your class develops over the course of the game is of great importance. I would dare say it is the single most revealing glimpse into what to really expect when TOR goes live.

You may be asking yourself why I feel this way, well let me enlighten you..

What we know atm is we have 8 classes, and so far 16 planets. We also get a few known companions. Oh and not lets forget the story part.
These updates are nice, but we don't get anything like a good insight to how or why they work.

The Adv class set-up is the 1st real, solid and telling snip of info that has ever come out of BW and TOR. Since the time this game was revealed we have never had anything that gives us some game mechanics. Here we learn how your chosen class will diverse and grow over time, and how you decide to apply points.
Now we know there are 8 classes, each having 2 Adv Specs. This gives us a distinctive 16 Adv class over the 2 factions. These Adv Specs now have a massive scope to tailer your class to your play style.

The only thing that is of concerns here is how many points we will get, and if there is no re-spec you could, in 1 foul swoop junk your class with 1 wayward misplaced point. As we mmo players know, you could play the same class 5 times and none would be the same. This set up gives us way more branches to set out on.
To be competitive in PvP and lesser so in PvE your point allocation is the begin all and end all. Shipping TOR without a re-spec will in itself, bring nothing but pain to players and BW, and it will surly hurt the game more than any other single point.