Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Class Choices

Launch day has been and gone, and Christmas with it. I chose my class I will be playing, and that is... Sith Warrior and Jedi Knight. Juggernaut and Guardian respectively.

The eagle-eyed might spot that these are actually the same class, with mild flavour differences in their abilities. Why the same?

Let's start with the Sith Warrior. Now I tried Bounty Hunter, Sith Inquisitor and Sith Warrior in beta. The story line of the BH just didn't grab me as much as the Sith stories - all power seeking, killing and being quite horrible. The BH story line on the other hand wasn't as compelling for me.

Secondly, why Warrior and not Inquisitor? This was mostly due again to the story lines, but also fight mechanics. Although the SI has the better resource system imo, with force power being full at the start of a fight, the clincher was indeed Force Leap/Charge, which is just the best ability in the game hands down.

Also, the Sith Warrior story line gives you plenty of opportunity to be quite the maniac, a sort of force-wielding Terminator. I prefer that to the odd mystery investigations that the SI story line was steering toward.

So, Sith Warrior, I kill everyone who gets in my way, or dares try to kill me. No mercy is shown. Why then Jedi Knight for the Republic?

This is partly because having knowledge of the SW mechanics pays big dividends for the JK. I have all the skills in the same places, so I can mash buttons without even thinking, no need to learn a new combat system. JK has a force leap too, which is of course awesome.

However, my Jedi Knight will be a dark Jedi, like Anakin Skywalker, taking dark side decisions, taking revenge and showing strength whenever possible. Playing it this way is already more interesting than being all goody two shoes.

So essentially I have chosen a dark-side, force wielding, melee tank type class on both sides. Bonus.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic "Your Saga Begins" Launch Documentary

So SWTOR has launched today, and predictably there are still queues on the servers which were added for Early Access and we were put on. Therefore while you sit in the server queue, why not watch this video which details how they developed the game. Maybe even including the queuing code :)

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Game Face: Top 10 Reasons To Play SWTOR 3

Yes the almost final reasons to play SWTOR, except the last one. I bet its server queues, right?


Choose Your Side: Sith Warrior vs Smuggler

While you sit in a 1 hour queue trying to get onto your server during Early Access, why not review this video, featuring the Sith Warrior versus the Smuggler. Although to be honest, The Server Queue will beat either!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Amazing Grace

Seems Bioware have relented and will grant us a 2 day grace period, so on the 20th you have until the 22nd to enter your code.
Hello everyone,

While we've worked closely with our retailers in the launch territories to ensure copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic are available from our launch date of December 20th, we understand that for those of you who’ve pre-ordered, there may be a concern about getting your copy on time. We’ve heard you want a 'grace period' where you can continue to play without having to enter a final product registration code (AKA 'game code').

We've been listening, and after doing another deep review of our platform infrastructure, we're taking action. Today, we're announcing a two day grace period for Star Wars: The Old Republic customers.

This means that everyone who pre-ordered and is in the Early Game Access program has forty-eight hours from launch in which to enter their product registration code, which will be found inside the physical Standard and Collector's Editions of the game; for digital editions of the game from Origin.com, the registration code will have been emailed to you after December 16th and will arrive before December 19th at 11:59PM EST. After December 22nd 12:01AM EST, you will be required to have a valid payment method and a product registration code registered to your account to continue to play. We strongly recommend that you register your product code as soon as you are able to do so (rather than waiting until the last minute) to ensure a seamless entry into the game, a smooth experience on the account website and to collect any special gifts and items you may be entitled to based on the version of the game you purchased.

We understand that for some, your copy of the game may still arrive on or after December 22nd. Unfortunately, we cannot extend the grace period any further. We suggest you contact your retailer to discuss shipping options, if this is a concern.

You may be wondering if your 30 days of game time (included with your purchase of the game) will be affected by the grace period. The answer is no. If you redeem your product registration code during the grace period, and add a valid payment method to your account, you will begin your billing cycle from then, and you will be entitled to 30 days of game time. If you redeem your product registration code before December 20th, your billing cycle will begin on December 20th at 12:01AM EST (the official launch date and time of the game).

We know this has been an issue for some of you, and we apologize for the concerns. We're looking forward to welcoming all of you to the official launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic!

Thanks,

Ray and Greg

However, Amazon shipped my copy of Normal Edition on the 15th so it should be here on the 16th.

I think this is for people who ordered the Collector's Edition, which is massive and so a lot of places wouldn't get it until the 22nd. For something that cost you 130 pounds just for a load of cosmetic stuff in-game and out, also getting it too late to play on the 20th was indeed rubbish.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Security Key Out for iOS

Thanks to AskAJedi, I now have the security key app for iOS, registered on my account.

The EU one I got from:

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/star-wars-the-old-republic/id488420295?mt=8

The US one is apparently at:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-wars-the-old-republic/id488420452?mt=8

Now registering it was interesting. The website was asking for a key from the authenticator app at some points, and others it wanted me to enter a value from the site into the app. Tip: the app serial code is in the Information tab on the app, click Security Key Information to see the serial.


Now I am all secure, so hopefully this time my account won't get hacked!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Security Key App and Fob

In among the SWTOR early access, EA have slipped out that you can buy an Authenticator like key for your account.
Increase the security of your Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ account with The Old Republic Security Key! Available as a physical or mobile security key, this optional security key takes only a few minutes to set up and gives your account an additional layer of two-factor authentication, providing much greater protection against unauthorized access even if your computer becomes compromised. Each time you log in to the game or to the website, your security key will generate a unique, eight (8) digit, one-time use digital code to use in addition to your regular Star Wars: The Old Republic password.
Plus, secure your account now and receive access to the in-game security key vendor station!
Now an in game reward is certainly intriguing. The key fob is only available in North America at the moment, but wait... there is an app!

Yes, following in the footsteps of Blizzard we can soon download an app for "iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and select Android and Blackberry devices", all for free!

The reward in game is for either the physical key OR the free app, so really there is no reason to not add one, if you have a device that can run the app. There is the promise of some unique items and gear if you add a key to your account:
Only available to players who have purchased or downloaded a security key and linked it to their Star Wars: The Old Republic account, this unique vendor sells exclusive gear and items

Now my WoW account was hacked, despite me having a crazy password, by the hackers getting my email account AND guessing my secret answer. After that, I am sold on authenticators and am very unsure of running an MMO without one.

The iPhone version of the security key cannot come soon enough, and I will be applying it to my account as soon as it is available.

And We Are In


Early Access started at 12AM GMT today. I received an email in the second wave saying I can start at 1:50PM GMT. I originally registered my pre-order code a day after the pre-orders begun. So that is not bad, a 1 hour 50 minute delay for a day's worth of delay originally.

I've also been logging in with my SWTOR client every time they said they had invited people, and that showed me I had access far sooner than my email. The email may have been sent at 1:48, but it took quite a few minutes to arrive.

Now I know what I will be doing this evening :) Good luck to all those waiting for their emails!

Advanced Space Combat Guide

Just 40 minutes to go before the first wave of Early Access gets to play Star Wars The Old Republic. I am super excited!

In the mean time, check out the awesome advanced space combat guide SWTOR Face have posted up. This is for levels 45-50.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Video Round Up

Only two days to go, then Early Access begins for SWTOR for the lucky few. Still, while we wait, here are some videos to tide us over.

Ned from TGN.tv is continuing to play the Bounty Hunter:


SWTOR Basics guide:


Jedi Consular basics:


Athiss Flashpoint Walkthrough:


SWTOR Face have a nice crafting guide:


BrBrainerd posts his consular video, Part 8:


BFF report features SWTOR:





The Old Republic Beta Thoughts ft. Etalyx:


Saturday, 10 December 2011

So be it... Jedi! Sith Inquisitor Progression

Get your Emperor Palpatine on with the skirted Sith Inquisitor!


In time you will call *me* master.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Game Face Number 14: Top Ten Reasons To Play SWTOR 2


In the second part of a three part series, Pokket details more of her top ten reasons why she will be playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. Pokket starts with Number 7 and continues the downward count as the days to SWTOR's release nears.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Reid Shocks SWTOR Fans With Lies!

Stephen Reid admitted to lying to millions of Star Wars The Old Republic fans last night - over Twitter.

Star Wars fans waiting excitedly for news of a grace period after launch were shocked and horrified as Stephen Reid admitted there was no such thing.

Reid said on the official forums "There will be no ‘grace period’ post launch in which those who are in Early Game Access will be able to continue to play the game". Angry fans posted over 172 pages of complaints, demanding justice for their lost grace period.

One fan said "Disgusted. I feel miss lead and now I leave this topic contemplating cutting my losses here with my Collectors edition purchase and going to another game. Because at this point, I feel as though any money put into this game would be a bad investment. Really, really, really disappointed. The game hasn't even been officially released yet and I feel betrayed by it."

Stephen Reid later apologized for "misleading" fans over the grace period.

An angry fan responded with "Yet even more broken promises. We were not 'led to believe' anything we were told directly. You yourself were even involved in this. Yet another slap in the face before it's even released."

A representative from the Republic commented "We are assisting the police and can confirm we will be ready to hand out quests come the 13th of December". A representative from the Sith was unavailable for comment. We hope they will return our reporter later.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Toms Hardware Benchmarks SWTOR

Further to my ramblings about the performance of Star Wars The Old Republic on slow hardware, Tom's Hardware have posted up a benchmark article.

They go into detail about the various quality settings in SWTOR, try various settings such as no Anti-Aliasing, various AA levels, and also test what happens when you change your processor speed and number of CPU cores.

What is really interesting is that an Intel i3 (with 2 real cores and 4 virtual cores) is almost as quick as an Intel i5 (with 4 real cores), despite the i5 costing up to 50% more.
At low detail settings you’ll want at least a Radeon HD 5770 or GeForce GTS 450 for smooth 1680x1050 frame rates. At high settings, even with 4x MSAA, the game doesn’t need much more, and a Radeon HD 5770/6770 or GeForce GTX 550 Ti can handle 1920x1080.

With texture transparency anti-aliasing enabled, this MMO is much more demanding. At 1920x1080, only AMD's Radeon HD 6970 was able to provide slightly more than a minimum of 30 FPS, although the GeForce GTX 570 was only a little behind.

When it comes to platform requirements, the game is much more forgiving. Really, any quad-core chip will suffice. Or, you could go with a dual-core processor running faster than 2.5 GHz.
So as they put it "Low CPU requirements, but mid-range graphics recommended".

Check out the full article.

Monday, 5 December 2011

SWTOR On Minimum System Specs

SWTOR on an almost-minimum spec system
In a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago, I bought a PC. I've kept that PC by my side for years, but last weekend it faced it's sternest test yet.

The specs of my system are:

Windows XP Home
Intel Core 2 6600 @ 2.4 GHz
2.75 GB RAM
Geforce 7800 GTX 256 MB RAM

Now let's take a look at the minimum specs for SWTOR:
Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or better
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz or better
Operating System:
Windows XP or later

RAM:

Windows XP: 1.5GB RAM
Windows Vista and Windows 7: 2GB RAM

Note: PCs using a built-in graphical chipset are recommended to have 2GB of RAM.
Star Wars: The Old Republic requires a video card that has a minimum of 256MB of on-board RAM as well as support for Shader 3.0 or better. Examples include:
ATI X1800 or better
nVidia 7800 or better
Intel 4100 Integrated Graphics or better
So I am sitting just above the minimum system specs.

So how did the game go? In a word: okay. In the last weekend build, the graphics somehow improved a lot, with everything looking sharper. Now I've taken screen shots for before and after and I can tell no difference. Still, it felt better. I suspect they increased the texture resolution on NPC faces, so cut scenes look decent.

I had everything on minimum settings - that's Low for everything, shadows disabled, no vsync, and at 1900x1080 resolution.

The game ran at a general average of 25 frames per second (FPS) (using the Ctrl-Shift-F shortcut to show FPS), sometimes more, sometimes a lot less when there were many player characters around. In space combat I was getting more like 15-20 FPS.

That frame rate is ok, it is certainly playable but won't be winning any awards for graphical prettiness. With low resolution textures things look ok but not really sharp.

Space combat certainly looks good at any system spec
Memory
One caution, SWTOR on my system really did need all of the free memory available. With even Firefox loaded, the game was constantly disking to the swap file, even when my toon was stood still. With nothing whatsoever loaded (apart from Windows XP), there was no disk access unless needed, the 2.75 GB memory was enough. I don't think 1.5 GB is enough RAM really.

Laptop Play
I also tried SWTOR on a laptop which was an Intel Core 2 Duo t9400 2.53 GHZ, with 2.99 GB ram and some ATI mobility graphics card. That also ran at 1920 by 1200 at much the same speed. Certainly playable.

Now that is interesting, because the Geforce 7800 certainly out-performs the mobile chip in the laptop. However the CPU in the laptop is faster. So is SWTOR somehow dependent on CPU as well as GPU?

SWTOR Performance Analysis
Helpfully the chaps at PC Games Hardware have taken a look at Star Wars The Old Republic, and here is their report, and translated into English.


What they found is that High-end graphics cards run at the CPU limit, making all the most powerful cards close to each other in FPS. For example, a £100 Geforce GTX 260 ran their 1080p non-AA benchmark at 42 FPS whereas the more powerful £400 GTX 580 runs at 81 FPS. Now 42 FPS is no slouch and is perfectly acceptable.

They discovered that with dual-core CPUs the game runs almost double the speed of a single core CPU (37 FPS vs 66FPS) with a top-end card (GTX 580), but having a 4-core CPU doesn't give much more of a boost (only 73 FPS). Therefore a dual-core CPU is fine for SWTOR, and it may be that the clock speed of the CPU and/or faster architecture is more important than having more cores. Perhaps the game engine will only use two cores, and more are only used for background programs like Windows.


An upgrade is quite certainly required, captain
Conclusion
Although based on beta versions of the SWTOR client, this is certainly interesting reading. It means splashing out for an 4 core Intel i7 is unnecessary, a dual core i3 is perfectly fine or a 4 core i5 would allow for more slack for a web browser/video capture in the background, while being cheaper than the i7. Going for the newest chip architecture and fastest Ghz speed looks like it is better than getting more cores.

Getting a top end graphics card is also unnecessary, a one hundred pound GTX 260 managed 42 FPS, which is fine, whereas for 4 times as much, you might see almost double the frame rate. The data suggests going for some mid-range card or something like a GTX 260 would do fine.

More RAM is better, and I would say 3 GB of system RAM is an absolute minimum, so best make it 4 GB just to be safe.

I will probably stick with my current system for a while, then maybe pick up an Intel i5 or i3 system with something like a low-medium end graphics card, and 4GB of RAM.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

GamePro Review SWTOR



What is most exciting about this review is that it features one Julian Rignall, ex-editor of ZZAP!64. Now that takes me back a long way. What is interesting is that they criticise SWTOR quite a bit, and some of it is valid, and some is down to them not being MMO gamers and thus loving the grind. For example the starter zones are compared to the Death Knight zone in WoW Lich King, and I must agree that the DK start experience was epic, whereas the Sith Inquisitor starter area is less so. It's still pretty damn good tho. Apart from the tomb raiding.

Some of the criticism is a bit silly, like complaining that there is role play plot in a massively multiplayer roleplaying game. Some of the reviewers really want to skip the quest text, and just play the game like some sort of guided grind-fest, being told where to go and what to do. I never understood people who play games like that, but they are out there, so this review does show that some people won't like the cinematic conversation stuff in TOR.

Anyway check it out if you want a less than glowing review of SWTOR.

Game Face 13: Top Ten Reasons To Play SWTOR



Hillary "Pokket" Nicole brings us Game Face #13 where she talks about the top ten reasons she will be playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, starting with numbers 8 - 10.

You Tube Videos (Spoilers)

Spoilers!

Space Combat from Ned:


5 pros and cons of SWTOR from Mafia Monkeys:


Brbrainerd posts a 2 new parts of his Jedi Consular video (mit commentary):



Playlist for all parts.

A quest line from later Bounty Hunter game play (level 13):

Part Uno Dos Tres Cuatro Cinco

Swtorface.com posted up an informative guide to how weapon modifications work:


A full run of the Black Talon flash point (Sith):

Thursday, 1 December 2011

New Beta Testing Weekend 2nd Dec to ?

Hot off the forum is this news:
Sent Dec. 1: Final Beta Testing Weekend Invites

This is our final test before launch! We have invited a smaller number of testers than in our previous Beta Testing Weekend to assist us in testing a new build of the game. If you participated in the last Beta Testing Weekend, check your e-mail to see if you've been invited. All you need to do is open the launcher and begin patching – you'll be able to play at the time stated in the e-mail you received.

  • Who was invited: Selected testers that participated in the previous Beta Testing Weekend
  • What was sent: Final Beta Testing Weekend invitations
  • Server locations: US East Coast, US West Cost, and EU servers
  • Invite status: All invitations have been sent! Check your e-mail to see if you have been invited and for instructions!
I got an email with an invite, although it only says the start time is 1PM CST (7PM UK) and no end time. Hopefully its something like 1PM CST Monday, which would be 7PM Monday.

Still, I thought my SWTOR experience was over until live, so this is certainly an exciting and welcome surprise!

Ultra-Spoilers Videos

Now these videos are what I call ultra-spoilers, being that they are just the class story line for various classes. They effectively spoil everything about playing that class, well apart from side quests, but the main thing for a class is the cool class quest.

So why view them? They do show that certain classes have better quests than others for sure, and might give a flavour for the sort of play that a certain class has. For example, after watching these the Imperial Agent looks awesome, and the Sith Warrior class quests are just totally great.

Sith Warrior (female) quest up to the end of the starter planet:
Play list for the Sith Warrior class quests.

Sith Inquisitor:


Imperial Agent:

Play list for all parts

OMfGeeks have posted up a video they keep up to date with all the class story line videos:


Trooper play list.

Imperial Agent play list

Smuggler play list

The Republic Episode 67

The Republic 67 SWTOR Beta Weekend, are you a Jedi? How this pre-launch launch stacked up against other MMO releases. BioWare released Republic class progression video: the Jedi Consular.