Friday, 30 September 2011

PC Gamer Previews The Old Republic

PC Gamer had an eight hour hands-on preview of TOR and posted their glowing preview. Talking about the Smuggler experience, they describe essentially a multiplayer KOTOR, and conclude that they can't wait to play more.

Galaxy Map SWTOR.com feature preview

The Galaxy Map has just gone live on SWTOR.com. This lets you see the galaxy, how it is split up in Star Wars The Old Republic, and see which planets are in each area.

The galaxy is split into 5 regions: Seat of The Empire, Unknown Regions, Coreward Worlds, Hutt Space and Distant Outer Rim. The site shows which planets are in each region, and some random facts about the region.

However, if you think that is impressive, you ain't seen nothing yet. By clicking on the "Explore the Galaxy in 3D" link, you get a whole 3D application which lets you move around the galaxy like in Mass Effect, exploring each planet.

You can move the map around, zoom in and out, then click on a planet. It then swaps to show the planet in glorious 3d.
But there is more, each planet has a detailed description about it, as well as a list of allegiance, status, terrain type and some key facts.

Simply awesome. But what if that is not enough? How could it not be?

How about the ability to view all the player star ships, in 3D? Spin them around, read some details about them? That would be pretty cool too, wouldn't it.

So Bioware delivers on the cool this Friday, they seem determined to keep me busy clicking around star maps. So I shall be busy.

These Are Not The Beta Invites You Are Looking For (waves hand)

Having just announced that a new wave of beta invites were going out, Bioware kindly sent out a load of emails soliciting feedback for playing the beta, and inviting us to pre-order. Unfortunately those who received said emails had not played in the beta, and may well have already pre-ordered.

This would have been a confusing situation, were it not for the fact that Bioware very quickly posted that the emails were sent out in (human) error, and sorry and all that.

Luckily, Stephen Reid was on hand to administer the appropriate ... punishment:

We can't apologize enough for getting your hopes up. Sorry again. Those responsible will endure a thousand years in the Sarlacc Pit.
source.

Hopefully today we should have more news on testing in general:
We sent both NA and EU invites in the last 48 hours. More news on testing is coming tomorrow.
source

What is interesting is the other email that was sent. This one advertises the pre-order and encourages the beta tester to pre-order so they can continue their saga.

Now I don't blame them for this, but it is clear that they want to convert Beta Weekend testers into pre-orders. Now this is why, in my mind, they will never just limit the testing to people with pre-orders, or give priority to people with pre-orders. Let's face it, if you pre-ordered, chances are you will be playing Star Wars The Old Republic at launch anyway. Bioware don't need to convince you to part with some money and play the game. Whereas if you didn't pre-order and you got into a Beta Weekend, you might decide to pre-order afterward, and success, one more pre-order and player. So to limit betas to just pre-orders is silly, they want to get anyone who expressed an interest in to see the game and influence their decision to buy it.

Let's hope the news on testing coming "soon" is good news.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

New Game Tester invites going out!

The day we have been waiting for has arrived, finally some news about Game Testing, Europe's involvement in testing, and the Beta weekends has been posted by Chris Collins.

Now given they just opened their Ireland operation, where the EU servers are going to be, I was hoping for some news.
Today, we’re excited to announce that we are sending out a batch of invites! In particular, this initial batch marks the start of a series of invites to our larger European player base, who get the chance to join the Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Testing program and provide feedback during the months up until launch.

In other exciting news, we’ll be making further announcements in the coming days and weeks, as we update you on Game Testing on the European service. On top of that, we’ll also be announcing details around the upcoming Beta Testing Weekends!

With the launch drawing ever-closer, we’re more excited than ever to receive your feedback on the game to help make the launch as smooth as possible.

Chris Collins | European Community Manager
source

So not only is Europe now getting into Game Testing (ongoing test), but there is news coming of the Beta Weekends. Which means hopefully, as I speculated, they will have a Beta Weekend on the 8th and 9th of October. Sweet.

My beta invite has become... precious to me

There has been major ranting on the forums about people going to Eurogamer getting invites, before those who signed up on the SWTOR website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wakingdream View Post
I think the general vibe has been miss understood by Mr Reed however, the reason people have sour grapes over this topic is the fact that people are annoyed that the key note attendees have received something that is practically coveted simply for listening to the good doctors speech, even if they lacked enough interest in the game to actually have signed up on the TOR site.
No, I do understand, but I'm afraid there's not much I can do about it. We gave a pre-order code to everyone in the room during San Diego Comic-Con. We gave t-shirts to everyone who played the game at many different events. We gave unique concept art to some people who turned up to our meet 'n' greet during PAX East.

While I totally understand that testing access is arguably the most 'prized' thing of all of these, all I can say is... come see us at a show if you can. You never know what surprises we might have in store.

Everyone who pre-orders the game and redeems their code will get to play it early. Many, many people will also get to play during testing in some form. Others may be lucky enough to get testing access in some other way. We'll get as many into testing as we can, in as many ways as we can.

While it may be "coveted" to have a beta invite, or even get some Beta Weekend (eh Europe), the thing in my mind is that the game is out on the 22nd December 2011. According to my little count down ticker, that's 83 days from now. Which is like 12 weeks or 3 months.

If you can't wait for 3 months to play the game, then I am truly sorry for you. Omg other people get to play it before you do. How awful. It's funny, because in life there are other people doing things you've not done before, all the bloody time. Plus sometimes you have to damn well wait for things.

So am I sorry I didn't go to Eurogamer? Yes, but I'd have been playing on Thursday or sommat and also missed the keynote, I'll get to play on the 22/12. Am I sorry I didn't go to London for the Meet and Greet? Yes, but that's because it looked like fun, not because I "missed" out on a free beta key.

I guess I'll just have to somehow fill 3 months of time before I get my hands on a polished and working game, one in which my toon won't get wiped regularly.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Eurogamer Meet and Greet videos Ahoy!

Three videos from the Eurogamer Meet and Greet event have surfaced on YouTube.

Part 1 has the Q&A which is funny, especially when they get asked about Early Access:

Part 2 continues the Q&A:

Part 3 continues the Q&A some more:

Joe.ie post a hand-on preview of TOR

The "Man's Stuff" website Joe.ie has posted a hands-on preview of Star Wars The Old Republic.

They have visited Bioware's new base in Galway, Ireland. They talk about their time playing a Bounty Hunter, getting involved in turf wars between gangsters. Which as a hired gun seems eminently sensible.

They were certainly impressed by their experience:
The brevity of our time with the game prevents us from digging down into the finer details of the game but purely from the focus of a solo adventurer who is new to the game, SWTOR impresses with the kind of polish and confidence that we haven’t experience from an MMO before.
I am currently planning on playing a Bounty Hunter, so I was very interested in this particular preview. Check out the full post.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Doctors Muzyka and Zeschuk talk aggressive post-launch plans

Gamesindustry.biz have an interview with the founders of Bioware, Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk, and Massively spotted it. They have a plan for after launch which should make the subscription dollars worthwhile:
We have a really aggressive plan post launch to build content and take the feedback to heart that we're getting from players and what they want for continued expansions, and use that feedback to build new content, so we're releasing regular content drops and regular expansions after launch, and really accommodating what the players are asking for, dependant on what they find most fun in the game.
I just hope these plans do not include going back and adding voice overs to parts of the original game which are perfectly fine without them, natch.

They discuss Free to Play and why SWTOR won't be going F2P any time soon:
I think the quality of volume and content that we provide I think fans will say "yeah, this is the kind of game that merits a premium subscription." And there's probably less room for games like that now, that's probably the reality of the play for free evolution and social as well, social games. There's a lot of alternatives for people's time and dollars now that didn't exists a few years ago, but we're building a premium experience with SW:TOR and we think the fans, at least our feedback from the beta testing research, is that they believe what they're seeing and playing does merit that.
A fairly interesting read, with some background about the business of Bioware.

Darth Hater interviews Chris Collins, European head

Darth Hater interviewed Chris Collins at Eurogamer Expo. Among the topic were the European centers and thus the EU testing:
Off the top of my head they probably won't differ. The European testing center is very close to coming online -- and I know everyone hates the whole 'soon' terminology or imminent or whatever sort of different word I want to throw in there -- but it is something we need to make sure is ready.
 He did say they will not announce anything until it is 110% ready. So I am hoping for a Beta Weekend for 8/9th October.

Why not 1st and 2nd? Stephen Reid said they are inviting Game Testers to try this new client, so given that is happening this week, I find it unlikely the Beta weekends will start this coming weekend, whereas a week to test with external testers should be enough to judge whether the client is ready for Beta Weekend testing. I hope by then the EU data center will be online and they will want to get feedback from us Europeans about the ping experience, and of course those all important translations.

Eurogamer Expo Meet and Greet Q&A

Darth Hater have a transcript of the Eurogamer Expo Meet and Greet Bioware held in London. Most of the talk covered information we already have, but Daniel Erickson did confirm that Achievements are in:
DE : Not correct. Achievements have made ship in fact.
Although just the complete quest line variety.

They said there will be 8 characters per server, then a overall limit they are not ready to say. Which seems reasonable, as that is one of each Advanced Class per server.

Stephen Reid also talked about the EU beta and Beta Weekends, and how everyone who was at the Eurogamer keynote and the meet and greet will be getting into beta:
In fact, as you can tell, we took five hundred odd names today. So we're taking them in as fast as we can. Will we invite people in this room? If you weren't given a little ticket today from me, if you weren't at the keynote session, assuming you stay around, because you're going to have to stay around so we can get your name and everything else, we'll put everybody who's here tonight in testing.
He didn't really say which testing however, Beta Weekend or General Testing. There has of course been rumblings on the forum that if you didn't go to Eurogamer you won't be getting into Beta, which is clearly rubbish because they are running the weekends up until launch. We have 2 and a bit months of Beta Weekends, of course they won't be running every single weekend, but still, that is a lot of chance to get in.

Monday, 26 September 2011

SWTOR release date JavaScript count down clock

I have added a JavaScript count down clock to the site, based on a count down clock from JavaScript Kit. This counts down to the EU release of Star Wars The Old Republic.

This, in Blogger terms, is a HTML/JavaScript widget with the following content:
<div id="countdowndiv"></div>
<script>
/*
Count down until any date script-
By JavaScript Kit (www.javascriptkit.com)
Over 200+ free scripts here!
*/
//change the text below to reflect your own,
var before="SWTOR"
var current="Today is release day!"
var montharray=new Array("Jan","Feb","Mar","Apr","May","Jun","Jul","Aug","Sep","Oct","Nov","Dec")

function countdown(yr,m,d){
theyear=yr;themonth=m;theday=d
var today=new Date()
var todayy=today.getYear()
if (todayy < 1000)
todayy+=1900
var todaym=today.getMonth()
var todayd=today.getDate()
var todayh=today.getHours()
var todaymin=today.getMinutes()
var todaysec=today.getSeconds()
var todaystring=montharray[todaym]+" "+todayd+", "+todayy+" "+todayh+":"+todaymin+":"+todaysec
futurestring=montharray[m-1]+" "+d+", "+yr
dd=Date.parse(futurestring)-Date.parse(todaystring)
dday=Math.floor(dd/(60*60*1000*24)*1)
dhour=Math.floor((dd%(60*60*1000*24))/(60*60*1000)*1)
dmin=Math.floor(((dd%(60*60*1000*24))%(60*60*1000))/(60*1000)*1)
dsec=Math.floor((((dd%(60*60*1000*24))%(60*60*1000))%(60*1000))/1000*1)
if(dday==0&&dhour==0&&dmin==0&&dsec==1){
document.forms.count.count2.value=current
return
}
else {
var theDiv = document.getElementById("countdowndiv");
theDiv.innerHTML = dday+ " days "+dhour+" hours "+dmin+" minutes"
}
setTimeout("countdown(theyear,themonth,theday)",10000)
}
//enter the count down date using the format year/month/day
countdown(2011,12,22)
</script>
The "countdowndiv" DIV element right at the top is where the message will appear, so can be styled using CSS to whatever you wish. At the end, the call to countdown(2011,12,22) kicks it off for the 22nd of December 2011.

This line here renders the actual text:
theDiv.innerHTML = dday+ " days "+dhour+" hours "+dmin+" minutes"
So you can change that to whatever you wish. I also removed the seconds, which are present in the variable dsec and can be added back in again.

This line waits for 10 seconds and recalculates the clock:
setTimeout("countdown(theyear,themonth,theday)",10000)
So you can drop that value to 1000 if you want to check every second. 10 seconds seems fine to me.

Feel free to use this on your own site!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

SWTOR Domocron episode 1: The Jedi Knight

I saw over on YouTube that MachininaRealm have posted a video entitled "Star Wars: The Old Republic: Domocron #1: Details on Jedi Knight". This is a short video which describes the Jedi Knight class, using footage from the Jedi Knight progression video, and a voice over giving information about the roles which can be read on the SWTOR website. Still, if you don't want to read about the Jedi Knight on SWTOR.com, feel free to watch the video!

Darth Hater interviews Erickson, Dev Blog post about Companions

Darth Hater have a very nice interview up with Daniel Erickson. There is a lot more info about the Companions, such as what types there are:
I believe it is: ranged tank, melee tank, ranged DPS, melee DPS, and healer
The game AI handles which skills are used when, and so it is not as complex as Dragon Age Origins (thank goodness). 

Then as if all this talk of Companions wasn't enough, a Developer Blog went up on SWTOR.com talking about...

Companion Characters Update - Part 1. Huh? I get the impression that they have just finished changing the companions, and are keen to talk about them. Most keen.

This blog post has some specifics on the type of companions, and it is good to hear that they give you ones which match your role.
Let’s take a deeper dive into one of the Smuggler’s companions, Corso Riggs, a heavily armored blaster specialist. When first acquired around level 7, Corso already has the tools necessary to be an effective tank.
Smuggler being a ranged DPS, so a tank is a really useful companion to have.

Star Wars The Old Republic: The TotalBiscuit Strikes Back

Ok so maybe not strike as such, but TotalBiscuit was at the EuroGamer Expo in London, and interviewed Daniel Erickson. Since we saw Stephen Reid's twitter picture of the interview, we knew it to be so, and were just waiting for the post on YouTube. Wait no more:

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Release date is 20th Dec USA 22nd Europe, sub costs

Finally they have spilled the beans about the Star Wars The Old Republic release date. It is:
"Star Wars: The Old Republic will launch on December 20, 2011 in North America, and in Europe on December 22, 2011".
Another news item spills the subscription costs:
Each copy of Star Wars: The Old Republic will come with 30 days of subscription time, after which you have the option to continue playing with one of the following monthly subscription fees:

1 Month Subscription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)

Pretty damn close to the end of the year eh. One thing that I think of it what is going to be the grace period during which you get to continue to play SWTOR with your early access, after the game has been released?

This is because the 22nd is a Thursday, so that is the 3rd last day to receive post before Christmas, those days being Thursday, Friday, Saturday (Christmas Eve) if you are lucky. Also, the post in the UK gets extremely busy and is often delayed in the run up to Christmas, then it backs up over the Christmas Day and Boxing Day holidays (this year they are Monday 26 and Tuesday 27).

There is then only 4 days to receive more post before we have another national holiday for New Year's Day, during which any post which got stuck over Christmas sometimes turns up.

Therefore, for receiving boxes of SWTOR in the mail, a release date of the 22nd is less than ideal. There is a very real chance any deliveries by regular mail will be delayed until the 26th, and maybe further. Therefore I would hope the "grace period" will be from the 22nd to the 28th or so.

Is this a cunning scheme to make the digital download version more attractive? Getting the game digitally is going to actually involve the site giving you a key to type into SWTOR.com, given that you will have the early access client already. I hope not, the grace period is actually quite tailored to traditional distribution, and should allow you to get a parcel with your game key after the release date and continue playing uninterrupted after early access ends.

The subscription costs are MMO standard, so no surprises there, and no unpleasant surprises either.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Extra security on SWTOR.com

From a few hours ago, you now need to add some security questions to your SWTOR account when you log in.

As part of our continuing efforts to ensure account security, we’ll begin asking all SWTOR.com account holders to add security questions to their accounts on Wednesday, 9/21. After our weekly scheduled maintenance (which typically ends around 10:00AM CDT), account holders who log out and log back in will be asked to add these questions.

Eventually, these questions will be used to help verify your identity, so please use answers you are sure to remember.

source

3 questions I shall ask...
SWTOR security set up
The text reads:
You must set up your security questions before continuing.

Security questions help protect your account against unauthorized use by providing us with additional ways to confirm your identity.

You will be asked a security question in certain circumstances such as:

    * When you use a new computer or internet address to log on to your account
    * When your character does something unusual

If you can't answer the question correctly, your account will be locked and you will need to contact Customer Service, so it's important you supply valid questions and answers!
You then get to set at least 3 questions and answers, from a set of questions.

SWTOR security questions
Now it is interesting that the text says "When you use a new computer or internet address to log on to your account", as this could mean when you log into the game itself, it will ask you some of these security questions.

So will there be an authenticator on a separate device as well, because in my mind that is the best way to secure your account. No hacker can get their hands on a physical device which shows a code, however hard they try. Ok well maybe they can if they try really hard.

Remember these responses, if SWTOR lasts as long as Wow, you will be needing to answer them for years to come.

GameSpot get the scoops with Ohlen interview and Companions Video

GameSpot have been busy, and have snagged an interview with James Ohlen and a developer video about companion characters.

What is new is "Companions have a class and can also level up and gain a full suite of combat abilities. They have their own ability bar, just like the players do. Players can also modify the artificial intelligence of their companions' behavior on the fly". Now I hope a companion automatically levels with you, and you don't have to grind out XP for your companion, like a pet in WoW.

Will having more abilities to click on make the real time combat harder? Ohlen says not: "We added a system where players can customize the AI of their companions. You can decide exactly which abilities your companions will use and which they won't use". Now again there are two extremes I've seen with this. In Mass Effect 1, companions can be told to auto cast their abilities and they do when they feel like it. In Dragon Age Origins, there is a complex strategies interface for micro-programming party members which is just a little much. From the video, it appears you can enable or disable an ability, and the companion will cast it automatically in combat.

What is also interesting is that the order you get companions in is determined by your class and the story you are playing through. The example given in the video was that a Sith Inquisitor will get a tanking companion early on, who will taunt enemies and keep them damaging him, so your Inquisitor can stay at range and play at ranged DPS. This is both incredibly useful for solo play, but also amazingly clever at teaching you your role in future group play. Being ranged means trying to keep enemies at range, if they get close, the gameplay can get annoying and your effectiveness is reduced. Being given your own personal tank for playing ranged is very cool.

One of the criticisms of WoW and other MMOs is that the solo play experience does not really prepare you for the group play - you don't learn to manage your threat or stay at range, or keep mobs off your healer or damage dealer. The companion system in TOR promises to actually help with this, as ranged DPS with a tank companion you will quickly learn not to pull aggro off the mobs, you may also throw some heals in to keep your tank alive. As a tank with a healer companion, you will be learning to keep the attention of the enemies and keep them off your healer. So hopefully the companion system will mean players will be more effective in Flashpoints and Operations, which can only be a good thing. The video is embedded below for your convenience:

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Beta Weekend September 23-25 speculation!

@ScottD408 tweeted:
@SWTOR @Rockjaw So is it safe to assume since no announcement has been made for Sept 23-25 that there will be no Weekend Beta this weekend?

Sneaky @Rockjaw replied:

@ScottD408 Yes :)
However, that was actually in response to the previous tweet:
@Rockjaw @SWTOR was there a facebook image today?

So no official denial yet, but given it is Thursday I am not holding out much hope for this weekend. They only said they want to get testing of the new client done before another Beta Weekend yesterday: "We're pushing out a major new build, we're getting in our external testers to look at it soon, and then we'll re-start our Game Testing Weekends". So if soon is like Thursday or Friday, they will likely want a while to test. So my thoughts are that we may see a Beta Weekend October 1-2. I hope complete with European testers!

Guild wars phase 2 begins

An official forum post and this article on SWTOR says that the guild phase 2 alignment has begun. What does this mean?

With Phase 2: Alignment, we are introducing new features which allow guilds to set their allegiance with other guilds in The Old Republic. Now a guild leader, along with members who have the proper permissions, can select up to three guilds as either Allies or Adversaries, depending on their faction affiliation. Qualifying guilds that are marked as Allies and Adversaries of other guilds will have the highest chance of being placed in the game together, allowing these guilds to coexist on the same server.

Another feature being implemented with Phase 2 is the ability for guild leaders and members with the proper permissions to invite friends to join their guild via email. You can start recruiting new members today!
Now this is more like it, especially being able to spam everyone you know via email to seduce them to the Dark Side. I can see this being a useful feature, although only the guild master can invite people, unless you are an officer I assume.

The website does offer a mail form to send emails to your guild leader, but I am reluctant to give someone I don't know in real life emails of people I do, so I may fall back on just emailing people the URL of the guild.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

RepublicTrooper.com talks Troopers with Charles Boyd

In an exclusive interview, RepublicTrooper.com talks to Bioware's Charles Boyd about Troopers. The interview is Trooper-centric, of course, given the title of the site and that Mr Boyd is the lead writer for the Trooper class. It sounds like the story line will play like a mix of Apocalypse Now, Commando and The Manchurian Candidate. I'm sure the story will do its job well.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

TORWars interview Damion Schubert, spills some new details

We are all waiting for news on the Beta Weekends, and in the EU I am sure we are waiting to see when the EU Game Testing invites are going out. This week has been a bit slow news-wise, given there are no major game cons until the weekend. To the rescue comes TORWars with an interview with Damion Schubert.

Hit their site to read the full interview. There are a couple of exclusives in there, the one I am most interested in is that "the ability for group leaders to mark targets with symbols his party members can see just went in". Now apparently this was on the "wall of crazy", but it seems the stuff on there is not at all crazy if this is an example. However, it is good to hear that features like this got put into the launch "based on feedback and metrics from our testing". I certainly can see a group struggling with kill assignments and crowd control in a Flashpoint, without any way of making mobs up.

That is, unless the Flashpoints they have do not require crowd control or kill assignments? In WoW in the Wrath of the Lich King patch, you could pretty much not bother with kill targets or crowd control. The tank could keep aggro on everything and could just actively tank the mob with the lowest health, it was super-easy and everyone could use Area Of Effect spells and damage all the mobs at the same time. Is this the way that Flashpoints in SWTOR are playing out? Or is the sudden addition of marking in the game indicative that mob packs in Flashpoints and Operations actually require some tactics, a specific kill order and some good-old crowd control?

I'd actually prefer the latter when playing with people you can communicate with, but if you are in the business of face-rolling some easy instances for loot, no crowd control, no tactics and no talking seems to be the preferred way to go. At least in WoW it is. I do hope TOR is different.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Reid, Collins & Erickson at HMV Trocadero, London

Exciting news about the SWTOR meet and greet has been posted by Stephen Reid. On Saturday 24th September they will be in London, with alcohol, Reid himself, Chris Collins and the one-and-only Daniel Erickson. However, it is limited to 100 people at once, so Reid suggests you arrive a bit before 8pm, but don't camp out the place from 3pm. I suggest you do camp the place out, because the lines are likely to be out the building and into Leicester Square.
Hello everyone!

I'm very happy to re-announce that we're bring Star Wars: The Old Republic to Eurogamer Expo 2011. This show is near and dear to my (blackened, cold ) heart so I'm very happy we'll be there.

As our news article on the show mentions, we'll have The Old Republic available to play on the show floor for all four days of the Expo. We'll be showing off all four of the Origin Worlds, as well as having PvP matches in the Alderaan and Huttball Warzones.

On Saturday 24th we'll be returning to Gamerbase inside the London Trocadero (more specifically, inside HMV) for a meet 'n' greet. In attendance will be myself, Chris Collins and the one and only Daniel Erickson. This event is entirely free, you've just got to get yourself to the venue.

Unlike our previous Gamerbase event we will not be issuing invites to this meet 'n' greet, however due to fire regulations there is a limit to how many people will be allowed inside the venue. We're told this is roughly 100 people at any time. Once we hit capacity we may conduct a 'one in, one out' policy, or we may clear the venue at some point to allow others in. We'll judge that on the night based on attendance.

We'll have the game playable on dozens of PCs, and will be limiting play time, but arrive a little earlier than 8pm kick-off if you want to get in first (ish). Please don't camp the venue from 3pm or something.

Currently closing time for the event is midnight, although knowing London transport you might want to leave earlier than that.

As well as getting a chance to play the game, we'll also do some Q&A with Daniel to give you an extra reason to come by.

Last but not least, we will be catering the event and alcohol will be included. Therefore unfortunately only those 18 or over will be admitted. Please bring appropriate ID as your age will need to be checked at the door.
Man I'd love to be there, or at Eurogamer, but alas I have the usual non-changeable plans for the weekend. Darth Hater at least will be at Eurogamer and likely this.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Friday update: Community Q&A and Studio Insider Combat Animation

The friday update is now up, with both a community Q&A and a blog about how they do those cool combat animations.

Some of the tech sounds cool, like "the programmers and animators were able to create a Lightsaber clashing system that could predict the volleys of weapons fire and other attacks being thrown at the player from all directions".

The Q&A is about PvP, which I don't really have an interest in. One thing of interest is that they want to add dual specs soon after launch:

Q: Since it has been clearly stated that there will not be dual specs for characters in the game, can you explain your philosophy behind the skill trees and how you are taking into account players that want to be able to play PvP and PvE content on the same character? - illumineart
A: Dual Speccing is something we want to add soon after launch. Also, features like Guard, PvP Taunt, Resolve, etc. work to narrow the gap between PvP and PvE specialized skills (i.e. a +Block skill would be helpful in both PvE and PvP).
 Now that is probably not advanced class respec, but respec within the advanced class. Still, dual spec is pretty much essential if you want to run with a low number of players but still fill a gap in the hardest PvE content.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

MMORPG.com column on why SWTOR will change questing

A post on MMORPG.com talks about why SWTOR's story will change questing forever. The column echoes my feelings on quests actually having a storyline:

It isn't just "Please help me by killing ten slavers.". It's "Please help me defeat these bastards, as you watched them kill my son." In TOR's quests you're brought closer to the narrative than ever before, and more than anything else the game does, this is what impresses me most each time I see it.
You are actually given an objective like talk to X or help negotiate peace with Y, and then find there are mobs in your way you need to kill, to complete your objective. This is rather different than your quest being actually just kill 10 mobs around there, and a lot better for it.

Previous Beta Weekend testers back in, EU also

A forum post by Stephen Reid shows that if you beta weekend tested before, you will be getting a re-invite. However for me, the most important part of this is this snippet:
As I'm pretty sure I've said before, future Beta Testing Weekends will include invitations to people in Europe. We are also going to invite Europeans to the general Game Testing program (which means they will test for much longer than one weekend) as soon as we possibly can.
Woot. Now we wait for the next Beta Weekend.
Hey all,

Today we re-invited all testers who were invited to our Beta Testing Weekend #1 back to a future Beta Testing Weekend (which will happen on as yet unspecified date). I wanted to give you a little insight into why, and clear up confusion.

These testers were not re-invited to a Beta Testing Weekend for this weekend. We're still internally testing the next major build of the game. As we've said before, when we're ready to give everyone a date for the next Beta Testing Weekend, we'll announce it.

Why are they being re-invited? Because we feel for a significant proportion of those invited to test during Beta Testing Weekend #1, they did not have an optimal testing experience. As I mentioned before, we had some issues, including some people not receiving an invite, and others being unable to get the client in time because of issues with their acceptance of their invite. With those factors in mind, we felt that because many people did not experience the game, it was worthwhile to re-invite everyone.

Where does that leave everyone who hasn't been invited to test yet?

First, I realize that we previously stated if people were invited to test, they would not be invited again. Although that policy may change in future, we're not changing it right now. However we feel that this situation is unique enough that we're re-inviting this weekend's testers. We expect this to be a one-off situation. I hope anyone who's waiting to get into testing realizes that if they had similar issues, we would 'do the right thing' by you too.

Second, it's important to realize as we've said before that future Game Testing Weekends are planned to be much, much larger than the first. This weekend's entire testing population is actually just a small fraction of the total number we're planning to invite to the next weekend, and our number of invites will go up after that. (Indeed, we'll probably just increase our numbers overall and add the re-invited testers onto that total number.)

In summary, we had some issues and we wanted to ensure those invited to test, got to test. This is, we feel, a unique and one-off situation, but it's also the right thing to do.

I realize that some of you may feel that getting a re-invite is unfair, as those re-invited will get more play time than those invited to just one weekend. That's understandable. However, getting an invite and then not being able to play through no fault of your own isn't great either. I'm sure if you put yourself in the shoes of someone who was invited but couldn't play, you'd be grateful for the chance to test the game and give feedback.

For those of you yet to test, please be patient and understanding of our reasoning here. We're going to invite many, many people to test The Old Republic before we launch and chances are, you'll be one of them.

For those of you lucky enough to be re-invited, please respect the Game Testing Agreement and have some sympathy for those who haven't been invited to test at all yet.

If you have questions, you know where we are.

source.
Then to clarify:


Quote:
Originally Posted by kennykane View Post
so for next beta weekend are you going to invite people who have not been invited yet and just add the ones you reinvited to that pool?
Yes.

As I said, the number of people who were invited to last weekend's test (and are being re-invited) is a small fraction of the numbers we're expecting to invite to future testing weekends. Even if we re-invited all of this past weekend's testers in one go, they would still be enormously outnumbered by new testers being invited for the first time.

We may in fact 'spread out' the re-invites over more than one weekend, and just bump up the overall numbers invited to test.

Our intention here is not to deny those who haven't yet tested a chance to test, but instead to ensure that those who were invited, but didn't get to test, get that opportunity.

source

Then more:

To be crystal clear: we didn't send out an actual re-invite today (as in, click here, download the client, let's play!). We sent out an email informing those who were in last weekend's test that they would - at some point - be re-invited to test.

You wil be re-invited by email as you were before.

source

Then:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saraphiene View Post
Its BETA, people expect there to be issues, so just because those that did get to test didnt get every feature on a perfectly polished beta test doesnt mean you should screw everyone else out of getting a chance to test!

Secondly you said those invited wouldnt be reinvited, then you say your reinviting them but the rule hasnt changed followed by yet your still bending the rule and subjecting to change the rule in the future...... say what?
You'd be surprised how many people expect the process to be flawless.

We haven't taken the chance to test away from anyone. At all. We will adjust our overall numbers to include these re-invites. As I said, this entire weekend's testing population is a small fraction of the next weekend's projected invites - and that number will only go up.

Our statement that those who are re-invited won't be re-invited still stands. In general, if a testing weekend goes well, we won't re-invite those back. Note that, as stated in the FAQ, is our current thinking and it may change in the future. Testing is a fluid process, and we have to adjust to circumstances. If that means changing our minds on some previous decisions, then that's what we're going to do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RFlagzzz View Post
Is this valid for EU 2?? Or it is as it has been and only NA get invites?
As I'm pretty sure I've said before, future Beta Testing Weekends will include invitations to people in Europe. We are also going to invite Europeans to the general Game Testing program (which means they will test for much longer than one weekend) as soon as we possibly can.

We are not inviting anyone at this exact moment. When we start inviting new testers, we will let you know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ornoku View Post
If anything its unfair to take back things you've said and do the exact opposite of what you've said you will do. Its very unprofessional as a company to do something like that.
Like I said above, testing is a fluid process. We'll try to stick to what we've said we're going to do, but things change. In my opinion, it would be unprofessional to allow people to have a bad testing experience and not try to make it up to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamanous View Post
The shocking concept should be why BW would even consider NOT reinviting these players when ramping up the scale of tests.
Because, quite simply, we have a massive amount of people who are signed up to test, and getting as many of those through testing before launch is what we decided to do. That means generally, we don't need to re-invite, but exceptions may occur - as they did here.

source


Then:

Quote:
Originally Posted by TennVol View Post
A friend of mine, who was a regular beta tester, not a weekend beta tester, got re-invited to the beta today.
Yes. Exactly as it's supposed to be, as stated in the FAQ:
Game Testing: The ongoing testing program. We continue to invite those who have registered for Game Testing into the program on a regular basis. Those selected will generally test the game for an extended period of time, as opposed to a Beta Testing Weekend.
Anyone eligible for a Beta Testing Weekend invite is also eligible to be invited to the Game Testing program.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darthldub View Post
maybe i came in at the wrong time but stephen reid said that they are adding the re-invites to the number of new invites so:
Maths is fun!

Let's just say - as a silly example - that we invited 5 people to the last Beta Testing Weekend. (I wish, it'd make life easier. ) Let's also say that we're inviting 6 people to the next Beta Testing Weekend, whenever that may be.

By re-inviting the first Beta Testing Weekend, we're potentially increasing the number invited for the second weekend from 6 people to 11. 6 original, fresh and new invites, plus 5 more re-invites.

However, what's more likely is that instead of 'spiking' the second testing weekend to (in my highly fictitious and deliberately silly example) almost double the original amount, we'll instead spread out the re-invites over a number of weekends. So, for example, we might re-invite 2 people one weekend, 2 more the next and so on.

Numbers in these examples are deliberately ridiculous because otherwise, well, you know.

source

Now I am sure most of these complaints about previous weekend testers being in future weekends is jealousy pure and simple. People are clearly upset these extra people who have had a test already, are getting in again, and they are assuming these extras will reduce their chance at a slot. But you just don't know how many people Bioware will invite in total, and how many these extras constitute from that number. It could be merely 1% of the total people who are to be invited, and even that the total number of new invitees is not affected and these extras are just that - extra people.

What is intriguing is that Bioware are actually doing this, that they feel bad in some way that people who got into a beta weekend were not able to play, because of something Bioware did wrong. That speaks miles about how they view customer service for the game, and I seriously hope this continues after live.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Are we there yet?

Stephen Reid says no, and stop asking. They will tell you when they are there! Now play Eye Spy or something, be quiet in the back there damnit!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Diedel View Post
saw that one too, but i cant figure out if he stated a date for that post before.
No, I didn't.

When we have an announcement to make for any form of testing, we'll make it. That applies whether it's inviting more European testers to the main Game Testing program, starting another Beta Testing Weekend, or anything similar.

Until then, we're not going to answer the question of, essentially "Are we there yet?" on a daily basis. As soon as we know dates, we'll let you know.

Before anyone makes up a conspiracy around this - this is normal. We will roll out the next build to internal testers first, then to pre-existing Game Testing members, then finally we'll add new people and line up our next Beta Testing Weekend.

Stay tuned.
source.

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Old Republic at Gamefest, Birmingham UK, Sept 16-18

A stealth update to the SWTOR events page, then tweeted by @RockJaw, brings us news that Star Wars The Old Republic will be at the Gamefest event at the NEC near Birmingham, UK.
BioWare and LucasArts are excited to be bringing Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ to GAMEfest in Birmingham, England! GAMEfest is an event put on by video game retailer GAME that is held from September 16th to September 18th and is open exclusively to individuals who have the GAME Rewards card. Those lucky enough to make it to the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham will be able to get some hands-on time with The Old Republic.
GAMEfest Hours:
* Friday, September 16th: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT 
* Saturday, September 17th: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT
* Sunday, September 18th: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT

This is actually this Friday/Saturday/Sunday, although I expect long queues to play the game, because the Game Reward Card is free to get. Tickets cost 10 uk pounds. Saturday is now sold out. Don't forget SWTOR is also going to be at Eurogamer on September 22 to 25th in London, UK.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

PAX SWTOR video

Didn't get to PAX? Empire blockading your planet? Someone blew up your prototype space station? Never worry, as well as that Smuggler video, Bioware also posted a PAX hightlights video. Showing various fans playing various things, and some crowded presentations, the video makes PAX look like a lot of fun.


I must say, I do try to embed the video from the SWTOR.com site, but the gawp and auto-play is very annoying, so generally I find one on YouTube instead. Making the SWTOR video not autoplay would be a start, I might use the official ones then.

Smuggler Character Progression Video

"Known across the galaxy for their unmatched ability to elude those who would seek to restrict their freedom, Smugglers rely on their wits, their blasters, and their dashing good looks to come out on the winning side every time." SWTOR.com

The Smuggler progression video has been posted, showing some combat skills of everyone's favourite rogue-like character class. The video even manages to be funny, showing the tone Bioware are setting for this class.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Game Testing FAQ, Beta Testing analysis

Stephen Reid, Senior Online Community Manager, posted the Game Testing FAQ on the official forums.

Beta Testing Weekends began last weekend, to get more people than ever before testing Star Wars: The Old Republic. We invited a number of testers in to experience the game this past weekend, and will continue to invite more testers, in greater numbers, as we move towards launch.

While the number of those invited will increase over time and while we plan to invite as many people as possible who are signed up for Game Testing to test, there are no guarantees that everyone who applies will be invited.

It is also important to note that not every weekend going forward will be a Beta Testing Weekend. In September, we're hoping for one more Beta Testing Weekend, which will be larger in invite size than the last.

Now, onto some FAQs and answers:

What's the difference between Early Game Access, Beta Testing Weekends, Guild Testing and Game Testing?

They are four different ways to get access to play The Old Republic. Details are as follows:

Early Game Access: Available to everyone who pre-orders any edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic and redeems their Pre-Order Code. Essentially a head-start, it will begin before the formal release date/launch day of the game. The final release client will be used to play. Exact duration will be revealed closer to our release date.

(Edited to reflect that Early Game Access is not another phase of testing; apologies for any confusion. )

Beta Testing Weekends: Large scale, short-term testing. We will be inviting registered testers to play the game in greater invite numbers than ever before. The first Beta Testing Weekend started on September 2nd. They will continue beyond September and will not necessarily occur every weekend.

Game Testing: The ongoing testing program. We continue to invite those who have registered for Game Testing into the program on a regular basis. Those selected will generally test the game for an extended period of time, as opposed to a Beta Testing Weekend.

Guild Testing: We are selecting guilds who are registered on our Guild HQ for inclusion into general Game Testing (see above). Invites to a guild do not necessarily extend to all guild members.

As part of Beta Testing Weekends, will the Game Testing Agreement (specifically, the Non-Disclosure Agreement) be lifted or modified?

No. The Game Testing Agreement is still fully in effect for Beta Testing Weekends. As before, you may tell others that you are part of the Game Testing Program (or that you have been invited to a Beta Testing Weekend). However, you may not reveal any other details about your game testing experience, including any aspect of the testing process, any details of the client, or any assets from the game (including text). Even after the Game Testing Weekend is over you may not detail your experiences.

Any breaches of the Game Testing Agreement at any time will result in your potential immediate removal from Game Testing and/or prevent you from being invited to any future testing.

Will Beta Testing Weekend invites be sent in the usual way Game Testing invites are sent?

Yes. Those invited will receive an email to the email address they have registered on their SWTOR account. The email will come from no-reply@bioware.swtor.com. Ensure you have that email address registered in your email whitelist so that the email does not go into your spam folder. If you think you have deleted the email by mistake, you can check to see if you have been invited by logging in to the SWTOR.com web site at www.swtor.com/tester/. If you are unsure of an email's authenticity, we strongly advise you to login to the website to confirm. If you are still unsure, please email support@swtor.com

After a Beta Testing Weekend is over, will I get re-invited to a future Beta Testing Weekend?

At this time, we are not planning to re-invite those who are invited to a Beta Testing Weekend to future Beta Testing Weekends. This may change in the future.

I previously participated in Game Testing, but am no longer participating. Does that omit me from being re-selected, either for a Beta Testing Weekend, or Game Testing generally?

Currently, if you have previously been selected to test Star Wars: The Old Republic, you will normally not be re-selected for future testing. (This applies whether you were selected previously for Game Testing, a Beta Testing Weekend, or any other testing access.) That may change closer to launch, but we want to get as many fresh eyes on the game as possible.

Will future Beta Testing Weekends be three days long?

Most Beta Testing Weekends will last roughly from a Friday evening to Sunday evening. In some cases, we may choose to extend the time available at our discretion.

I got an invite to a Beta Testing Weekend, but can't test during that weekend due to other commitments. Can I postpone my invite to another weekend?

You may choose, if you wish, to decline a Beta Testing Weekend invite. If you do this, you will be put back into the general 'pool' for potential future selection. However, your selection in the future is not guaranteed; you will be picked randomly.

Will those invited to Beta Testing Weekends be playing on the same servers as those in Game Testing?

For the first weekend, those invited will be playing on a separate server. This will probably be the format for future Beta Testing Weekends, but if our requirements change, we may invite people to specific servers (or potentially allow them to choose from multiple servers).

Will extra time be given to download the SWTOR game client before a Beta Testing Weekend starts?

Yes. Invites to Beta Testing Weekends are generally sent out a few days before the weekend to allow time to download the client. However, because of internet download speeds and the invite schedule, we cannot guarantee you will have the game client downloaded and installed before the weekend starts.

The size of the game client is currently approximately 27Gb.

Can I use the same game client in testing and then at launch?

We cannot guarantee that you will not have to re-download and re-install the game client at any point before the start of Early Game Access. Periodically addditional content patches may be required during any period of Game Testing.

Do those invited to Beta Testing Weekends get access to Forums to talk about their experience and give feedback?

Yes. Specific Forums for Beta Testing Weekends will be opened from when invites are sent out for that weekend, until a short period of time after the weekend's testing is over. These will only be accessible to those invited to the specific Beta Testing Weekend.

Are invites to Game Testing still random?

Yes. Those invited to Game Testing - of any kind - are still currently randomly selected from those who have opted-in to be eligible for Game Testing.

There used to be a 'System Scan' function on the website as part of Game Testing sign-up, and now it's gone. How does this affect me?

We no longer require potential Game Testing applicants to perform a 'system scan'. If you have previously scanned your PC and have since upgraded it, don't be concerned. You're still eligible for selection to Game Testing.

When does Game Testing for EU-based players start?

Game Testing for EU-based players is imminent, and will include localized French and German versions of the game. Future phases of Game Testing for EU players will happen on EU-based servers. Beta Testing Weekends will also begin specifically for EU players in the same timeframe.

As EU players are being invited now and other players have been testing for longer, will feedback from EU players make a difference to the game at launch?

Yes. Every piece of feedback from a tester is potentially useful. Even if a piece of feedback is not acted upon before launch, it may be used to change the game in some way in the future.

As part of Guild Testing, will guilds be invited to Beta Testing Weekends?

Guilds are generally invited to the main Game Testing program. Individual guild members, through random selection, may be invited to Beta Testing Weekends, but guilds will not be selected for inclusion in Beta Testing Weekends as part of Guild Testing.

I have infractions on my Forums account. Does that prevent me from being invited to Game Testing?

No, it does not, although accruing enough infractions could lead to a Forums ban. If you are banned from the Forums, you would also be removed from Game Testing.

I pre-ordered The Old Republic; does that allow me access to Game Testing or Beta Testing Weekends?

At this time, pre-ordering The Old Republic and redeeming your Pre-Order Code ensures you gain Early Game Access.

I live outside of the initial launch countries for Star Wars: The Old Republic; will I be able to take part in Game Testing in any way?

We're hoping to extend Game Testing to many more countries before launch, but we have no estimate on exactly when that will happen.

Also posted shortly after, was an update about Beta Testing Weekend number one.

Hello everyone. Now that the first-ever Beta Testing Weekend is over we wanted to give you a bit of insight into how it went and what our next steps are. If you haven't read our FAQ about Beta Testing Weekends, you might want to take a look at that in conjunction with this.

For our first Beta Testing Weekend, we invited a large number of testers to play Star Wars: The Old Republic during Labor Day Weekend (a US holiday). While the number of testers invited was larger than any previous invite - many thousands - the number was still a fraction of what we're planning for later weekends.

What were the objectives of the weekend?

Primarily this was a small scale simulation of a launch scenario. That means, bringing on a large number of players, starting with the invite process, then proceeding through download, install, patching and logging on to a fresh new server.

We were looking to have large numbers of players on the game's Origin Worlds, like a launch day; we were looking to test our limits on PCU (peak concurrent users); and obviously we were testing to see how all this 'felt' to new players and whether they enjoyed the experience.

On top of that, as always, we were seeking feedback on the game itself - how it feels, how it plays, what people like and dislike.

How did it go?

On balance, extremely well. Every goal we had was met or exceeded, and we had no major downtime. This is good news for us, as now we can move forward in future Testing Weekends and increase the overall number of invites.

There were hitches, as you may know. We had an issue introduced into our invite process that caused a number of people to become 'stuck' in specific database state. That was fixed by our web team as fast as possible, and while that delayed the initial download for some, we got as many as we could into the game. We are thoroughly testing that process to ensure it doesn't happen again - it was in fact the very first time we've had invite issues since Game Testing began.

Here are a few random quotes from four different testers within their Forums:
“I absolutely had fun. I found myself still finding enemies and attacking long after I had fulfilled the requirements of the mission simply because it was fun to just blast my enemies. You guys honestly put my jaw on the floor with the amazing world you built... and the look of everything. Video's had me skeptical but being in game washed away any doubts I had. I think you guys have nailed Star Wars for what it is..a galaxy far far away and a long time ago..enough said.”

"I really can't wait to see how the story unfolds. In most MMOs I play, I pick up the quest without even reading it but with these quests I am listening to the amazing voice acting and building my own story."

"Words alone can’t express how epic the voiceover is. Normally I end up making fun of the voiceovers in other games but this one caught me off guard. In addition, the in-game music and ambient sounds was also amazing. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with the background/ambient sound and the in-game music matched the current situation very well. Like I said before, overall this is and will be an amazing game. I just purchased the Collector’s Edition."

"Overall, I would say I had a lot of fun. In addition to the quests and PvP, I would sometimes stop and just look around at the planet or station I’m on. The amount of detail that was put into the environment was incredible. Well done."
What's next?

We're rolling out a major new build for The Old Republic very soon, and we're waiting until that build is fully tested and ready to go before we invite people to another Beta Testing Weekend. We're still hopeful that will happen in September, but we have no guarantees.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this gave you some insight into this weekend's events!
Some things were of interest to me in here. First the option to "turn down" your Beta Weekend invite doesn't postpone it, you have the same chance of getting in again as you did before. So erm, if you get invited a weekend you can't play, that's going to be a hard call. I would likely turn it down and hope for another slot, but only if I couldn't suddenly cancel all my weekend plans of course.

The system scan thing is interesting, this means that they are not looking at hardware specs to choose players for the weekends. That means the invites are truly random from those who applied. I guess the client software has some sort of system scanner in it, and will upload details of the systems being tested on.

The fact that "The first Beta Testing Weekend started on September 2nd. They will continue beyond September and will not necessarily occur every weekend" is very good news, and means there is hope for EUers to get in.

Chris Collins then posted about when EU players will get into the Beta Weekends (or not):

Just to clarify - there is still no change on the post I made earlier in the week on this. We're still going to be inviting a large batch of EU testers to the General Testing service (on the US environment), so there will be EU players testing the game prior the EU environments being ready for testing.
This still does not answer when the EU environment will be ready for Beta Weekends, although it seems likely quite a while away, perhaps in October. Still, given that the Beta Weekends will be running in October, we have a chance to get in.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

No Beta Testing weekend this weekend (10th Sept)

There is news that there is no beta testing weekend on the 10th September.
Hello all,

There is no Beta Testing Weekend scheduled for this weekend. There may be further Beta Testing Weekends during September, but we're not going to guarantee it. The weekend that just finished was really our first dry run of Beta Testing Weekends as a whole, and we have plenty of data to crunch, and decisions to make before we start things up again.

Further to that, as Chris Collins explained in another thread, we are about to roll out a major new build for The Old Republic. That build won't be ready for this weekend. Just as we did not feel it was a good decision to ask potential EU testers to download our client only to have to download it again, the same applies for this weekend.

That does not mean, however, that as soon as our new build is available we'll be rolling out a Beta Testing Weekend immediately. As with any new build of the game, we need to get feedback from internal testing and our ongoing Game Testing program before rolling it out to a massive audience. That process takes a while, and that time varies depending on how testing goes.

We rolled out this previous weekend as a relatively small scale event; from now we will do bigger and bigger events, but that doesn't mean it happens every weekend. When we do resume, we'll be inviting many more people in.

While many of you are excited and anxious to know what's happening regarding Testing Weekends, I want to point out that a lot of posts on the subject with a lack of corresponding posts from us does not mean that we're not listening, or not aware of your interest. It shows your interest in the topic, which is understandably high, but we will not always be able to react instantaneously.

In the past couple of days we've been preparing a comprehensive FAQ regarding Game Testing Weekends as a whole, along with some details about the weekend that just happened. We'll post that tomorrow - in all languages, as we know the subject is of interest to everyone.
So I guess the EU Game Testing will not expand until after this weekend, but it is interesting to see that they want to expand the numbers invited in with each Beta Weekend. Hopefully also they continue the Beta Weekends into October.

Game Reactor video from Gamescon

I noticed on TORWars this morning that Game Reactor posted two video interviews from Games Con 2011. BioWare’s Dr. Greg Zeschuk talks about things we mostly know, but he does go into more detail about the space fighting mini-game, which does look very cool. Apparently you can fly around the galaxy and find "space missions" on your way to planets, and go have a crack. I assume this might be like in Mass Effect, where you get a galaxy map UI where you can zoom around the planetary systems, click on a planet and go land on it, so space missions might show up on the map and you can click on one and go play.

Secondly there is a video with EA's Frank Gibeau, although that mostly talks about how EA works as a company, a little bit about the Origin stuff and Steam.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

More forum updates about EU Game Testing

A couple of posts have appeared about the topic close to my heart, EU Game Testing (not Beta weekends):

Evening (for those of you in Europe).

We can understand the frustration here, but unfortunately we got stuck between a rock and a hard place with no realistic scenarios where we'd please everyone.

Going to try and clarify a few things here based on some questions and assumptions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jestahr View Post
Hmmm, I'm sure I've heard of French/German versions being tested in the past. Quite certain infact.

Regardless, can't say I'm suprised that the invites are yet again delayed. Would of been nice if you could of told us when you roughly expect them to actually be sent though, all seems a bit vague yet again.

Either way, I appreciate the communication, even if it's not what I wanted to hear.
We have conducted previous testing with EU-based testers as part of market research, and some of those testers were French or German speakers. You may be thinking of that.

In addition, we had an earlier version of the client in which - by error - German and French language options were available, and some footage from that client leaked. That client was not final, and the localization was not complete.

To be clear here: we have never officially invited French or German testers to test a French or German client which was final and ready for public testing. We are not 'holding back' the French or German version of the client.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wild View Post
doh.. worst part is, they are testing french and german as well so only 1/3 will be english testing
No, that's an assumption. We're adding French and German localized voiceover to the client for testing, but English language will still be available.

We won't be commenting on the proportions invited into testing based on languages, but we aren't going to 'bias' EU testing towards French and German residents (or speakers).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Austentacious View Post
Edit: I would HOPE, that if they are using localised builds, they would also have language specific servers. Therefore if they originally intended for 1500 EU testers, instead of 500 per language, it'll be 3 servers, with something closer to 800ish each. Either that or have the proposed Beta test size divided based upon representation, instead of equal numbers per language. I.e; if 80% are English speakers, 10% are French, and 10% are German, then the test invites should be sent down a 80/10/10 split to ensure each group has the same % of their community within the Beta.
That's pretty much how we're working it. Also, this is a good opportunity to talk about language servers - they're labels to inform people of what language is expected to be spoken by players on the server, not settings that enforce how your client works.

What that means is, the client works in whatever language you want it to, regardless of which server you're connecting to. Effectively this can mean that three players could player together in English, French and German at the same time, while connecting to a server that is labelled as US-English, for example.

The point is, you won't be forced into playing in a certain language, but you will be informed what the expected/suggested language of the server is when you connect to it.

Before you ask - no decision yet on whether servers will be labelled with languages other than our three officially supported ones (English/French/German). I'm sure the community will unofficially label servers themselves, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simmons_j View Post
...This is no the kind of discussion you have over the weekend or quickly in the morning.


Why would you not have told us this last week?


Seriously guys, no scottish love for you right now.
Shame, as my family are Scottish.

We were still discussing this last week, and pushing to make it happen right up until this morning when we made a final decision. We were hoping to invite last week, but issues with the invite system made that impossible, as Chris mentioned. We don't sit on announcements for no reason, folks.

I'll dig through the thread further and see if there are other questions I can answer. In the meantime, try not to extrapolate too much based on what you think might be happening - read the post please. Thanks.
source


Hello again...

While I'm not quite up to speed on every post in the thread, there's one recurring point which I want to address - the client size.

Being an ex-European resident myself I do understand that internet speeds vary across the continent, and in some cases are staggeringly fast. While for some of you downloading 27Gb is 'no big deal' for others it very definitely is. Please bear that in mind when talking about download speeds.

I'd also like to re-iterate that we attempted to communicate as best we could about what was happening in this process while it was going on. Game Testing is a live, unpredictable process that can hit roadblocks. Last week we hit several roadblocks at once, including issues with the invite system, that caused problems with the Game Testing Weekend as well. That had a knock-on effect which caused us to make this decision today.

This delay is going to ultimately lead to a better experience for anyone who is invited to test the game (regardless of where they are based) and to better, more actionable feedback for the development team. That will lead to a better quality product at launch. Ultimately, that's always what we want to strive for.
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So, erm glad to hear that they won't be excluding English-speakers from the testing. Although that's really only so I think I have a chance, when I have a very very small chance of getting in anyway.

The client size thing is an issue, but its beta testing, so you expect to have to download a full build all the time anyway. What I hope they take into account in the early access, is the time it would take to get the client, and give us some lead time to download it.

The image to the left is what one SWTOR forum poster offered, which certainly explains why some people will have no issues whatsoever. Their download will be 12 minutes.

The other, very slower one, is mine. This puts my download at 6 hours. Which isn't bad.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Update on EU Beta Testing brings delays

A post on the official forums talks about EU testing:
As promised, we have an update on the batch of Game Testing invites being sent to players in the EU.

After a lengthy discussion here at the BioWare offices, the decision has been made to postpone the proposed Game Testing invites for EU players for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there’s a new build of the game on the horizon. This is a major build, meaning there will be character wipes and a new client to download. As you may be aware, the current client download is around 27GB in size. If we were to invite players en masse today, those players would have to download the entirety of the client to access the game. There’s every chance that later this week, the service will go offline and this new version will be rolled out, meaning everyone currently in Testing will have to not only download the entire client again (another 27GB download), but will also have their characters erased and have to start afresh. This is a relatively large amount to download in such a short space of time and not an experience we want new testers to be exposed to.

Secondly, this new build will bring about the first localised versions of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which means those of you that speak French and German will have the chance to play the game in those languages, for the first time ever. We’re extremely excited to be able to offer this to our players and as such, we’re keen to get a lot of feedback from European testers in particular.

For those of you that may have missed the messages we put out on the subject already, last week saw a number of issues arise with key systems that prevented us from sending out invites to EU players. Had everything gone to plan, we would have been able to offer two weeks of testing time to new users. However, given the issues that arose, this was physically not possible.

So while we understand that this news may not be what a lot of you wanted to hear today, we hope that you’ll understand our position. Given the news of this new build, it’s now more important than ever that we invite European players into the Game Testing environments, so you have my word that this batch of invites will happen, it may just mean you just have to wait a little longer.

It’s also important to remember this is just the beginning. In the future, we’ll be inviting more and more testers to the EU Game Testing environments as well as future Game Testing weekends. So even if you’re not invited to this next round of testing, there will still be plenty of chances to get involved.

As ever, as soon as I get any firm news around the matter, I’ll make sure to update everyone.
This is slightly disappointing, but it is very good that they explained why they are delaying EU entry. It makes a lot of sense to wait until you get a localized version out there, so native speakers can test it. I just hope this doesn't mean UK players will be excluded, because we speak English. However, if they want to provide an English United Kingdom version of the game, I'll be very keen to test that for them. "You cannot know the power of the dark side, old chap".

On the plus side, reading perhaps a bit too much into the post, he does say "later this week" the new build will go live, which thus I can speculate to mean that EU folks might get invites next week.

Finally, the size of the client is 27 Gigabytes, which is a bloody massive amount. If then, anyone gets a weekend beta invite, it would appear they would need to run bittorrent all day just to get the client. I certainly hope Bioware do give weekend beta testers a day to get the client, otherwise you'll spend the first day downloading and certainly not playing!