About Alec

Combat Noise and Community Q&A

The update for Friday May 20th Bioware gives us a Studio Insider over combat audio from Audio Designer Scott Morton, a Community Creations spotlight, a video review of the April Fansite Summit at Bioware Austin, and everyone’s favorite, a Community Q&A.

Scott Morton is one of the many Audio Designers working on music and sound effects in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Morton says he spends half his time creating new sounds for SWTOR and the other half creating technical concepts of how to get them working in The Old Republic.

Audio in video games is always sort of an enhancer – when you fire off a spell or ability you want to have the gratifying bursting or bellowing sound that accompanies it, or when entering a dungeon the battle music picks up and you know you’re about to get into some action. To me the biggest part of audio in games is to help with immersion, help making me feel like I just saved a village with a heroic song or war drums beating to let me know I’m about to get my hands dirty. It wouldn’t make sense for a character’s “Stealth” ability to be one of those booming sounds, or the battle music in a zone be less than a call to war.

That’s why there are people like Scott Morton who give each class and ability a unique sound that helps let you know what you’re getting into. In the update Morton goes over how after they create a sound they have to stop and think “Does this sound like Star Wars?”  To me that’s the biggest question of all – is this Star Wars? I don’t want my blaster to sound like a phaser, or my proton torpedoes to sound like photon torpedoes, because that’s one of the things that makes Star Wars great – its unique sounds and exceptional musical scores. To read the full story and watch three short but interesting videos check out the official update page.

The Community Q&A is done this week by Senior Concept Artist Clint Young, he answers some of the community’s more art-related questions.  As usual I will post the ones I find the most interesting or informative.

Q: Are there weather condition changes on planets? – Fyror

A: Each planet has localized weather conditions. Depending on the world the weather you will encounter will include rain, snow, sandstorms and many other unfavorable conditions; it just happens to be a constant for those worlds. For example, if you’re on Hoth you can expect moderate to heavy snowfall with the occasional blizzard.

I’m kinda torn on this one, I would’ve liked to see dynamic weather, but on the other hand I think every planet in the Star Wars universe is pretty static. It’s in no way close to being a deal breaker, but would’ve been nice.

Q: Will everyone have their own unique armor/look in the game, or will we be seeing some of the same armor/look on multiple people?

A: We have thousands of different armor/outfit combinations planned for the players and are currently still building this list and will continue to do so even after we launch. That being said, there will be millions of players, so there will be some crossover in their looks. Our main concern is that each player looks specific to their chosen class and has enough variation to allow the player to feel as unique as possible. For instance, if you are playing a Jedi Knight you will look significantly different from a Jedi Consular. You will also have opportunities to distinguish yourself from other players of your same class by going off the beaten path to find rare gear.

Sort of a rhetorical question – if you’ve ever played an MMO then you know that of course your gonna see people in the same sets that are the same class, because everyone is looking for that optimal set of gear. The thing I like on this answer is how he says “Off the beaten Path” – he possibly could be hinting at leaving the areas your quests send you so you can explore but also find special weapons and armors.

Be sure to check out the full Q&A on SWTOR’s site, it’s right below the Studio Insider.

The Video from the April Fansite Summit can be found Here, it’s short but shows some in-game footage of PvE and PvP which is always nice.

The Fan Friday Community Creation update is great, it shows off some of the forums fantastic artist as well as adding a new batch of smilies and forum avatars. Also has a great piece of consept art done for the planet Hutta. Most important part of the Fan Friday was the Events section: SWTOR will be attending San Diego Comic Con, GamesCon, Penny Arcade Expo, EuroGamer, New York Comic Con, Paris Games Week, and DreamHack. They’ll also be at E3 but that’s almost a given, and that’s when I bet we’ll get are release date.

May the Force be with you.




Sith Inquisitor details: it’s about lightning

Darksiders and fans of black cloaks rejoice: your Sith Inquisitor update is here. Today Bioware released a new class video showing off all the lightning powers a Darth Sidious fan could hope for. The SI also got a revamped class page on the Holonet, a detailed page about their ship “The Fury”, and their first companion character , a Dashade named Khem Val.

The new class video starts out on Korriban with a Zabrak Inquisitor walking through what looks to be some sort of base, possibly an academy, talking about the power of the darkside as she lays waste to two Sith infront of her, making quick work of the two with visually exciting lightning powers. If you’re going to be playing Star Wars: The Old Republic then you most likely have seen all of of the Star Wars films. Force lightning is a power used by the Sith and Dark Jedi, but the Inquisitor seems to have so much more.

In the class video she creates a thunderstorm in a room full of troopers, sucks the life force out of some Geonosians, and surrounds herself with a force bubble (probably not the official name). In several scenes (only when not in a complete cinematic view) the Zabrak has black smoke moving about her, which leads me to believe it could possibly some sort of a sustained buff, better crit, better chance to hit, etc.  It’s not hard to tell that Force Lightning is a large part of being an Inquisitor. It’s used for damage, sustained crowd control and fire and forget styled crowd control. The Inquisitor is beginning to look like a rogue with a lot more options. They have the ability to stealth, but also have AoE and shielding abilities (force bubble). The Inquisitor can literally do it all from tanking to healing, crowd control to damage dealing, but the real question is will he be a jack of all trades, but a master of none?

I honestly think as a community the Inquisitors and Consular will have some of the hardest builds and strategies to master because they are so diverse, but once you’ve got it down they’ll be hard to handle in PvE or PvP. Be sure to watch the whole video on SWTOR’s official site.

The Fury-Class Imperial Interceptor is the most versatile ship in the Imperial Fleet. It has the agility of a fighter with the fire power that rivals vessels much larger than itself. I would have to say it’s a really cool design. It looks like a giant TIE Interceptor and that’s not a bad thing. It definitely  looks the part of a Sith ship and the short video of it’s internal compartments, which you can see here, makes it look as roomy as all the other ships you’ve seen so far. Honestly the Fury has been my favorite ship since the first time I saw it, because to me it looks like what Star Wars should look like.

The Inquisitor’s update also came with a bio for a Dashade named Khem Val. A Dashade looks a lot like if Predator and Goro had a child – pretty brutal right? This is a small exert from Khem Val’s bio on the Holonet

His people, the Dashade, thrived. A powerful species of Force-resistant killers, they drew strength from feeding on Jedi and Sith alike. Khem Val was called Shadow Killer and Devourer.” – the Holonet

Though his bio doesn’t give any specifics about what type of combat he will excel at, I’m pretty sure I saw a picture of him with a gnarly looking Vibro-blade on the internet somewhere, and when combined with his large stature, it should bring Khem Val to the top of meat shield companions that we’ve seen. Be sure to check out Khem Val’s full bio here – it’s short but pretty interesting.

So another Friday down, another day closer, to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

May the Force be with you.



Sith Warrior progression

The Sith Warrior Progression video was released today and shared a lot in common with the Jedi Knight progression video we saw a few weeks ago.

The video starts with the base Sith Warrior class running through what looks like some old Sith temple on Korriban beating down some foes with a training saber. The video then cuts to the Sith Warrior on the holonet screen with his armor changing from a gray imperial looking suit to a red one with larger shoulder pads and a red lightsaber.  After dispatching a couple of what look to be troopers with his saber, a Bounty Hunter lands and is immediately force choked. The screen cuts back to the Holonet style and follows a line that rises above the Sith Warrior and splits.

The next class shown is the Sith Marauder whose robes resemble a cross between Vader and Maul and is wielding dual  red lightsabers. The Sith Marauder seemed to block a lot more blaster bolts than his counterpart the Jedi Sentinel.  After dispatching two soldiers and a combat droid, the video cuts back and the Marauder’s armor changes a second time. The second set of armor is very menacing with spiked shoulders, a skull looking mask, and larger knee pads. The video picks back up with the Marauder running at a group of enemies when he suddenly vanishes using the Marauder’s recently revealed cloaking skill, then appearing behind one of the enemies and killing it. The Marauder then uses an unknown stun, kills the unaffected opponent then uses another unknown ability that looks like a self-buff that involves the lightsabers charging – probably a damage buff. Then after engaging the last standing opponent, he uses another unknown ability that has red smoke coming out of his lightsaber’s blades then strikes his foe down.

The video then cuts back to the Armor Progression screen and zooms into the Sith Juggernaut, whose armor looks very inspired by Vader. The Juggernaut runs headlong at two large mechs, blocking bolts and disabling both of them. As an assassin droid runs into view in the background and begins firing at the Sith, he turns and force leaps towards the droid, reflecting a blaster bolt off his saber in mid air, then landing and striking the assassin droid down. The second set of armor previewed looks like a mix between Darth Vader and a Bounty Hunter, very brutal. This Juggernaut doesn’t run into combat, but walks menacingly towards his opponent then force pushes him then uses some unknown ability where red smoke and lighting radiate off of the Sith’s body, probably a buff for defense, maybe attack. Three Jedis run into view and the Sith casts another unknown ability, looks like a debuff of some sort. After he casts it, all three of the Jedis have red circles around their heads, but only for a moment. One Jedi, probably a Consular casts some sort of maintained stun in which a stream of rocks pummel the Sith, it ends when the Sith’s companion blasts the Consular and he falls to the ground. The second Jedi is killed with a saber throw and the last is killed with a force leap.

This was a great video with some really cool looking armor – I personally liked the last Juggernaut set. There was something I found weird about this video though. It shows the Marauder blocking much more than the Sentinel did, and the Juggernaut didn’t seem to have a taunt (unless the second unknown ability was a taunt and not a debuff). I really like the masks the Sith wear, it really puts the whole “We’re Evil” on another level. Definitely check out the whole video:

[Read more…]

Revan novel on the way

KotOR fans rejoice – as long as you like novels that is. The Friday update this week isn’t a game update or even a developer blog. This week we get info on the third novel set in the Old Republic time line. Titled  Revan, this novel is written by Drew Karpyshyn, Principal Writer at Bioware, and author of the Darth Bane series.  Though Revan is the main protagonist in this novel and will be based off of the Revan who was a Light-sided male Jedi as canon states, it will also reveal who the Sith Emperor is, where he is from, and how he’s held onto power for the length he has. Drew Karpyshyn also does a Q&A over his upcoming novel, I’ll just go through and quote a couple of the more interesting ones.

Q: How does it feel to finally reveal that the title of your latest Star Wars book is Revan?

A: I’d like to start by saying how gratifying it was to work on this book. Knights of the Old Republic™ (KOTOR) was my first creative foray into the Star Wars universe, so writing Revan felt a little bit like I was returning to my roots. I also know a lot of fans have been patiently waiting a long time to find out what happened to Revan after KOTOR — it’s probably the number one question I’m asked on my website. I’m glad the story is finally being told, and I’m ecstatic that I’m the one who gets to tell it.”

Now a lot of people are complaining about not getting game info, but what other game has given us an update every week? No one has. So I’m pretty excited about the book, being a huge Revan fan I’ve always been extremely curious of what happened to the KoTOR hero and this is our chance to learn all about it.

Q: In what ways will readers who have read Revan benefit when playing Star Wars: The Old Republic?

A: I think the novel will give them a much better understanding of the Sith Emperor and the Empire, for one thing. The Old Republic Sith Empire is very different from what people know from the movies, or even from the Great Hyperspace War comics that focus on characters like Naga Sadow and Ludo Kressh. The novel will also give them some very direct background and detailed information that ties in directly with key Flashpoints in the game. I can’t say too much, of course, but like any great prequel the books will give you the details of what came before to add an extra layer of depth to the experiences in the game.

If your a total lore hound and have to know all there is to know about the game then this novel might be worth buying, or if you’re just a KotOR fanboy, like myself.

Q: What other characters from Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II might we expect to see?

A: You can’t tell a story about Revan without also exploring his companions; they were such a key element of the KOTOR experience that it wouldn’t feel right without bringing some of them back. Of course it would be impossible to include all of them in a novel in a way that would make a cohesive and fulfilling story, so I focused on those who felt most directly relevant to what happened to Revan after the KOTOR games. I don’t want to give too much away, but Canderous, T3-M4, the Exile and Bastila Shan all have significant roles to play in the novel (along with some significant characters who appear in Star Wars: The Old Republic).

This one really got me excited just because I’ve always wondered about the opening to KoTOR II why the Ebon Hawk was all banged up, barely still flying only being operated by the small, but determined astromech droid T3-M4.

I can’t wait for this novel. I haven’t read the other two, Deceived and Fatal Alliance, but I just can’t pass up Drew Karpyshyn’s Revan.

Picture courtesy of clarkspark



Community Q&A on character classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Now for the good stuff, the Community Q&A, where you ask the questions and the developers answer. This go round the devs answered over ten questions so I’ll post (in my opinion) the top three then you guys can read them for yourselves on SWTOR’s official website.

Q: Will Bounty Hunters be able to use their jetpacks outside of battle to get around faster or for another way of movement other than walking/jumping? – JornFalm

A: We have no plans currently for jetpacks as a mode of fast travel outside of combat. You’ll have to rely on your personal transportation for that (details to be revealed later!) which offers a much more comfortable ride anyway.

I think this one is EXTREMLY interesting for the fact that a dev confirms personal transportation! Speeder bikes anyone?

Q: Will all classes have a main Companion Character or several different ones? Also, how important will Companion Characters be? – Frozentorch

A: Over the course of the game, your character will meet a number of companions. There are several companion archetypes, each with their own ability set (including, but not limited to medics, ranged damage dealers and tanks). By maximum level, all classes will have one companion of each archetype. Which companion becomes your ‘main companion’ is left to your choice of playstyle and personal preference.

Furthermore, you can customize your companions with kits that add extra abilities such as Grenade Launchers, Flame Throwers, etc. Regardless of which companion you choose to travel with, they will shape how your character approaches combat and will complement your strengths or help make up for your weaknesses.

This question is great for those of you who like to solo. Being a fan of soloing, I love the idea of companions. Being a Tank it will be great being able to always pack a healer around with me, or for you healers imagine being able to constantly have a meat shield to take the heat while you get some soloing in. Or if you feel you’re up for it that extra damage from a DPS companion would be nice. Companions are one of the things that sets this MMO apart from all others, and I have a feeling its going to be a great addition to the MMO formula.

Q: Will both skill sets in a particular Advanced Class require the same set of stats, thereby enabling a Sawbones-spec Scoundrel to respec to a Scrapper-spec without having to carry a second Scrapper-specific set of gear to function at optimal capacity? – Finalcaliber

A: If changing skill distribution also involves a role change for the character (such as from damage focused to medic), chances are you will need to obtain a new set of equipment to go along with the change in gameplay experience. If no role change is involved (e.g. changing skills within the Gunslinger Advanced Class), you are likely able to reuse most if not all of your equipment.

This question and it’s answer pertain more towards end-game and PvP, but what I got from it was you will be able to re-roll your stats later in the game. So take a tank build – a Guardian can in-turn swap out his stats and skills to become a single saber damage dealer or a hybrid of the two to make a PvP build or go back to pure tank for endgame raids.

As always this is Alec “Dekin” Bailey signing off, and may the Force be with you!




It’s about polish: environments in SWTOR

This week Star Wars: The Old Republic gives us a Studio Insider: Environment Polish with Senior Environment Artist Robby Lamb. Also included in the update is a very nice Community Q&A. Lamb starts with talking about how important polish is to a game especially a MMO, and how it can turn a great game into an exceptional one. Polishing is pretty much the process of re-working and tweaking of something the design team or programmers have already made for the game, such as lighting, walls, floor, or anything that needs a touch up.

Every member of the development team polishes the game in a different way. For example, programmers will optimize code which helps in various ways, such as the frame rate and the lighting engine. While improving the game, those code optimizations can also help the other developers who are using game development tools; this gives designers the chance to polish game play. Artists like myself have the opportunity to revisit areas to re-work assets, adjust lighting or just ensure an area feels true enough to our story.

Lamb goes on to tell us about how environment in MMOs can go unnoticed, until something is wrong or seems out of place then it becomes an eyesore for players. Lamb uses walls in The Old Republic as an example of this. Some of you might think walls would be easy to create, eh? Well apparently they are not. Walls under go a lot of polish turning from basic walls with simple texture to being reworked several times to help tell the visual story of the game. Sometimes the walls need to be made to look more high tech or or more detailed than the standard panel style wall. Another form of polishing that Robby Lamb works with is re-lighting and dding of props to an area, all of which go back to the helping of the visual story. The original process begins with a description of a room or place, given by the writers and game designers, Lamb uses a computer lab as an example. The computer lab will begin it’s existence in the most simple form likely a room full of computers, desks, possibly book shelves, and a few NPCs.  Lamb gives a great description of how it can change, he says “However later in development a more detailed description may evolve – describing this area as a computer lab, locked from the outside, with a hacker trapped inside who is enslaved to the Empire. Based on this description we will go back into an area and address it by either building new or reusing more appropriate assets to fit the scene, relighting the area, as well as adjusting the environment settings such as fog depth or color.”

Finally, Lamb goes over one of the more important parts of environmental polish: game performance. Most people wouldn’t associate the two but really you gotta remember that your machine has to load everything from other players’ character models, NPCs, the environment, and the lighting. So after all the visual polish is done in an area the team then checks how many lights and assets are on screen and how much memory the level uses as a whole to help keep the almighty frame rate up.


Star Wars: The Old Republic – advanced classes update

This week Greog Zoeller, the Principal Lead Combat Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic,  takes us through how the advanced classes game system has changed in the last few months based on iteration, game testing, and focus groups.

In Zoellers previous blog he introduced us to the advanced classes game system –  if you didn’t read it it can be found here.  Advanced Classes (AC) are obtainable on your home planet once your charcter reaches level 10, each main class has two distinct ACs to choose from that will define your role in parties from that moment on.

I’ll go into more detail on what each classes ACs are and what changes have been brought about a little later in the review. Each AC unlocks two exclusive skill trees then a third which is shared by both ACs( pretty much universal powers for that class.)A characters ability points can be allocated in three ways: through base class trainers, advanced class trainers, and through skill points spent in the advanced class skill trees.

Each skill tree allows access to both active and passive abilities. Active abilities are those that can be hot keyed and used in battle when needed and passive abilities are always working – once a point goes into it that ability is always on.

“It is important to note that the choices you make in your skill tree never subtract from your base class abilities; they instead improve and add to the character’s arsenal.”- Zoeller

Zoeller also goes into some of the differences you’ll get in your ACs within the same base class. Say you go with the Sith Warrior – your choices for ACs will be Juggernaut (Tank or Melee Damage) or Marauder (Melee Damage). One choice the Juggernaut can make is to learn Force Grip, an upgraded version of Force Choke, which takes away the need for the choke to be channeled, so instead of standing with his hand out stretched like Vader, the Sith Warrior can cast Force Grip and then move on to another enemy while the one being choked takes damage and is immobilised. The Marauder on the other hand can choose to learn Close Quarters, an  ability that allows the Marauder to use his Force Charge at any range so instead of just using it to close the distance at the opening of the fight , he can now leap from enemy to enemy on the battlefield dealing damage where it’s most needed at that time.

“As well as these two Advanced Class-specific skill trees, both the Juggernaut and the Marauder have access to the shared ‘Rage’ skill tree. Abilities in this skill tree improve the control, mobility and burst damage capability of characters who invest into it – all traits desirable to both the Marauder and the Juggernaut.”-Zoeller

The next part of Zoeller’s blog goes into what has changed in the ACs through the input of the game testers. I highly recommend reading this in full on SWTOR’s site Here! I will go into it a little bit, but it’s just too much information for me to cover every bit of what has changed, so I’ll list each base class along with it’s AC and it’s general role, and any major changes you should definitely see.

Bounty Hunter

Mercenary (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealing, Healing)

Healing is part of the “Bodyguard” Skill Tree for the Mercenary

PowerTech (Mid Range Damage Dealing, Tanking)

Imperial Agent

Sniper (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealer)

Sniper was reworked to be more viable in PvP, the AC got two new skills one allowing him to be entrenched in his cover so he cannot be knocked out of it, and Cover Pulse allowing him a knock back ability to keep melee players at range.

Operative (Close-Mid Damage Dealing, Healing)

Jedi Knight

Jedi Guardian ( Close Range Melee Damage Dealer, Tanking)

Based on the feedback from SWTOR community they added single saber DPS on one the Guardian AC skill trees, before it was a pure tank class.

Jedi Sentinel (Close Range Melee Damage Dealer)

Jedi Consular

Jedi Shadow (Close-Mid Range Damage Dealer, Tanking)

The Shadow AC got a new Skill tree that allows them to become an effective tank.

Jedi Sage (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealer, Healing)


Gunslinger (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealer)

Scoundrel (Mid Range damage dealing, Healing)

Sith inquisitor

Sith Assassin (Close-Mid Range Damage Dealer, Tanking)

The Sith Assassin much like the Jedi Shadow now has a Force and defensive lightsaber Tanking class.

Sith Sorcerer (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealer, Healing)

Sith Warrior

Sith Juggernaut (Close Range Damage Dealer, Tanking)

Similar to the Guardian the Juggernaut has gained access to a single saber DPS skill tree.

Sith Marauder (Close Range Damage Dealer)

The Marauder gained a short term cloak among other updates to this AC.


Commando (Mid-Long Range Damage Dealing, Healing)

The Commando, much like the Mercenary gained a healing focused skill tree, making the Commando a completely viable medic.

Vanguard (Close Mid Range Damage Dealing, Ranged Tanking)

Be sure to check out the full update on SWTOR’s Official Site, Lots of great info.

May the Force be with you!


Language localization in SWTOR: the joke’s on you

On April 1st,  you obviously know what that means:  April Fools day.

Last year we got the Sarlacc Enforcer update –  this year we got an update over the localization of Star Wars: The Old Republic into Shyriiwook, the native tongue of the Wookies. This faux update includes three videos of the Shyriiwook version of SWTOR and a new HUD skin that is pretty much a fur ball. Other than this small April Fool’s joke no real content was posted to the site by Bioware, and as usual half the community took the joke and the other half are outraged that the release date wasn’t revealed.

No matter which side of this argument you’re on, be sure to check out the funny videos and HUD skin here on SWTOR’s official site.

I personally like these funny updates, the game will drop when Bioware and Lucas Arts decide it’s ready, so enjoy this update and may the Force be with you.


Jedi Armor progression unveiled

Today’s update is over Jedi armor progression and a community Q&A.  The Jedi Knight Progression video was pretty nice, not as epic as the Bounty Hunters, but still a good update. The video begins with a Jedi Knight in his padawan styled robes very reminiscent of Luke from A New Hope.  The second set of armor shown is darker in color and has a high collar with golden trim, the Jedi is shown wearing this when obtaining his first lightsaber. The next set shown is of the Jedi Guardian tree, a heavier styled green armor almost trooper like with a traditional Jedi robe on top, making the Jedi easily identified as the tanking advance class.

The second set of Guardian armor pushes the tank look even further with large armored shoulder pauldrons and a large armored collar. This set doesn’t have a robe, but a large black cape, the armor also has large armored bracers making it look very intimidating. This part of the video also shows the Guardian using a taunt debuff ability where he holds his saber above his head and a large blue blast of light bursts from the saber and swirls around the Guardian before dissipating.

The next set shown is a lower level Sentinel armor set, comparable in level obtained to the green Guardian armor. The first set of Sentinel armor shown is a very light looking short sleeved hooded robe. The lighter look to the Sentinel armor coupled with the duel sabers makes the Sentinel easy to distinguish from the tanking Jedi Guardian. The second set of armor in the Sentinel progression is one of the best looking armor shown for the Jedi so far, It’s very similar in style to the previous set shown but is a dark brown, and the hood is pulled up, giving the Jedi Sentinel an almost assassin like look. This part of the video also shows the Sentinel fighting a Sith Warrior, blocking the Sith’s blows with first his right handed saber then his left, a very cool animation. The Sentinel then uses some unknown ability that involves overcharging his sabers then launching a blue blast to damage the Sith from range.

The main thing I noticed in the armor progression video, besides the obvious distinction in advanced class in armor, was how much more the Guardian blocked ranged attacks than the Sentinel did. This shows that in choosing the Guardian your Jedi Knight will have more defensive oriented skills.

The community Q&A was part of last week’s update, but I kind of missed it because of all the PAX stuff I was searching through it got overlooked. The community Q&A is all about Flashpoints and Bioware answered a lot of questions – you can view all of them here, and I’ll just quote a few of the more interesting ones.

Q: How many hours of game time must players invest on average before their first Flashpoint is available to play with friends? – Fortunetek

A: You’ll encounter your first Flashpoint after your Origin World – how long you take to complete that is up to you, really. By this time, you’ll be familiar enough with your class to feel confident taking on content that requires a group.” – SWTOR

(My guess, from what I’ve read on the net is that it’ll probably take between five to eight hours to complete your origin world depending on your skill and how much exploring/side missions you do)

Q: How intricately will the boss fights in Flashpoints be scripted? A typical example would be nice. – Sungil

A: Bosses are scripted to match the fiction and the environments. They change phases and require players to think on their feet. Most of all they require coordination. An example off the top of my head is an Imperial officer who jumps behind cover and calls in a squad of soldiers with jetpacks. He then spends one stage of the fight sniping you and sending traps at you while his men arrive in waves.”-SWTOR

Q: How exactly will class roles inside Flashpoints work? Will it be like in WoW or similar systems with fix systems, in which only damage dealer can deal damage, in which only tanks can block and only healer can heal? – Sarnave

A: This is an area where we try to distinguish Flashpoints from dungeons. While boss fights often require traditional tank and healer roles, some sections of Flashpoints are paced in such a way that healers can switch into damage roles and tanks can get a bit more reckless.”-Swtor

These were just a few of the questions asked and answered in the community Q&A so be sure to check out the whole story on Star Wars: The Old Republic’s website.

May the force be with you.


Taral V Flashpoint dissected

This week I want to look more closely at the Taral V walk through from Pax East. The video posted to the site starts with an introduction from Bioware’s director of production, Dallas Dickinson, the narrator of this update. A Jedi Master from the same unknown species as Yoda, named Master Oteg, is talking to four Republic players, one of each class.

Master Oteg starts with asking the heroes to keep an open mind as he enables all of them (even the non-force sensitives) to see a Force ghost, the Force ghost proceeds to tell the heroes of a great evil threatening the galaxy. Oteg tells the group that there is a prisoner in the maelstrom nebula that is key to the Republic’s war effort, but the only way to free him is with a navi-computer located on Taral V. The four Heroes accept this mission and leave for their captured Sith shuttle to sneak past the Sith’s warships guarding Taral V. When the team boards the shuttle the game jumps to a cut scene of the ship flying out of the hangar and into space, then the cinematic cuts to the ship landing on Taral V and the players exiting the stolen craft.

As soon as the players exit the shuttle they all cast their buffs and set out down a dirt path. At this point in the video we get to see some of the reactive environment effects, a lightning bolt strikes the ground in front of the group and sets the ground on fire, shortly after a small skirmish that takes place there, lightning strikes an imperial ship and it crashes into a not so distant guard tower that crumbles and falls to the ground.

The video also shows a “Bonus Mission” inside of the Taral V flashpoint where the group of Heroes must destroy a small Imperial research station. This side mission looks like it wasn’t much of a challenge, a small ambush then some free XP for blowing up the research station.

After completing the bonus mission the team faces constant action on its way to the next objective on Taral V, a mini-boss fight against two trained vine cats and their handler. The smuggler neutralizes one of the vine cats with a stun dart while the Consular puts the other in a stasis field, leaving the mini-boss handler alone to face the four heroes. The team make pretty quick work out of the handler but amidst the fighting the Trooper throws a sticky grenade on the handler that breaks one of the Vine cats out of its stun, but the Trooper does a great job of keeping aggro of both the mini-boss and the vine cat. After a short trek, destroying another research station, and an elite droid the team finds itself in its first real boss fight against Captain Shivanek and his pet ripper. The Trooper and smuggler team up against the Ripper which has much more health and is much more deadly than the Captain the two Jedi are engaging. The two Jedi kill the Captain, but this gives his already powerful pet Ripper a buff called enraged making it even more powerful.

This boss fight is much longer than the previous one, and the teams health actually gets noticeable chunks taken out. After defeating the Ripper the party is contacted by Master Oteg who tells them that before they can enter the compound they must disable it security systems. The video then cuts back to Dallas Dickinson telling us that the only way to experience Taral V and all the other flashpoints is to play the game, imagine that.

All together it’s  a great video full of combat and exciting action well worth the 16 minutes it take to watch.


PAX East – first trailer

Bioware has released it’s first PAX update with a new trailer, and also announced their “Pre-launch Guild Program.” The new trailer titled The Fate of the Galaxy (shown below) was released today for the Friday update. The trailer begins with some Jawas standing next to several droids on Tatooine, The screen fade out and Hoth appears showing some Tauntauns and Troopers in the wicked looking snow armor, there’s also a large four legged walker standing in the background in front of some shield generators like from Empire Strikes Back. The video then goes through a few more scenes before showing some combat and space combat featuring the D-5 Mantis. Unlike  Deceived and Hope this is not a cinematic trailer, it was made using in-game graphics and it does not disappoint.

If you’re watching closely there seems to be some armor on one of the Sith players or possible NPCs that looks identical to a Scout Trooper from Return of the Jedi but black – it looks sick. The video also showed off a Rancor and a Sith Warrior smacking a Jawa which was pretty funny, but the trailer isn’t that big of a release, so be expecting a better one soon. PAX is a big convention so no surprise that they didn’t put out a release date or a larger beta announcement in the first one or two days, but I have a feeling Bioware will release something really good at this convention.

The “Pre-Launch Guild Program” is a tool for guilds in Star Wars: The Old Republic located under the new Guilds section on the Community tab on SWTOR’s website. The Guild headquarters is used to create a guild before release and by filling out the information about your guild, like if it’s PvP, role playing oriented, Republic or Sith. The Guild HQ can then predetermine the server you will be placed in when the game releases to best fit your guilds wants and needs. The guild update also allows each guild created and registered on SWTOR to have it’s own mini website within the game’s official site including a lot of really cool stuff such as a public forum that anyone can view, A private forum for guild members, a Poll that shows your guilds Classes, and a roster so you can keep up with all it’s members. I really like this guild program Bioware has going – it should make things a lot smoother when the game launches.

Bounty Hunter Update and PAX teasers

Bounty Hunters rejoice, your class update is here. The update includes a revamp of the Bounty Hunter page in the Holonet, a class video, details on the D5-Mantis, The Bounty Hunters ship, and a new race page on the Holonet covering the Rattataki.

The Holonet’s update for the Bounty Hunter includes new screen shots and new tabs such as “Known Associates”, “Specializations”, and “Starship”. Under the “Known Associates” tab you’ll find  Mako an orphaned splicer that grew up on the tough streets of Nar Shaddaa. By age eight, she had learned all known programing languages and was running with some of Nar Shaddaa’s more notorious splicer gangs. Seven years later, she was found wounded in an alley by an aging Bounty Hunter named Bradenn. He needed a tech specialist and she needed a way off Nar Shaddaa, Braden’s crew would become Mako’s first real family.

Under the “Specializations” tab there are two paths an aspiring Bounty Hunter can walk: Powertech or Mercenary. A Powertech is the Tank path for the Bounty Hunters utilizing heavy armor, advanced shielding, and the deadly flamethrower, They will be hard to take down for ranged or melee enemies. Concerning the Bounty Hunters damage dealing path, Mercenary, Bioware says:

If the best defense is a good offense, the Mercenary’s got the most intimidating defense in the galaxy. Heavily-modded blasters and deadly heat seeking missiles make the Mercenary a mobile heavy weapons platform. There is no problem extra firepower can’t solve, and no one who knows what he’s doing getting between a Mercenary and his target.

Personally I think the Mercenary has the coolest update of armor to date. It’s a sick combination between a WWI English soldier with a gas mask on and a space cowboy. As usual DarthHater, has a dissection of the class video that’s worth a look.

Under the “Starship” tab is the D5-Mantis, a modified Kuat Drive Yards D5-Mantis Patrol Craft , the Bounty Hunter’s ship, it holds a very close resemblance to the infamous Fett’s ship it was no doubt based off of, Slave I. The D5-Mantis’s page also has new screen shots and a new video to go along with the page.

“Born Killer, the pale skinned Rattataki are made for battle. Centuries of constant warfare have weeded out the weak, shaping the remainder into proud, passionate and deadly combatants,” says the Holonet on the Rattataki race. The inhabitants part of the Holonet received an update today with the Rattataki which includes some new screen shots and a lengthy bio of this race’s history on their home planet and their dealings with the evil Sith Empire.

Bioware also released some information about PAX on the official SWTOR forums:

Inside the main PAX East exhibition hall, visitors to Booth 912 will be among the first in the world to play the mid-game Republic Flashpoint, Taral V! Taking the role of a Trooper, Smuggler, Jedi Knight or Jedi Consular, you’ll team up with other players in an extended hands-on gameplay experience. This is a challenging mission which even MMO veterans may find difficult, but we will prepare everyone who plays with a tactical briefing at the booth.
Conquered Taral V? Experienced every Origin World? There’s still more. Throughout all three days of PAX East we’ll be giving presentations of Star Wars: The Old Republic from our booth stage, including live Q&A sessions with Developers from the BioWare Austin team. Ask James Ohlen (Lead Designer) and Daniel Erickson (Lead Writer), as well as other team members, your burning questions.If you can’t make the trip to Boston, never fear… we’ll be keeping you up to date from the show floor via our Community Forums, our Twitter feed and via our official Facebook page

So for those of us who can’t make it they confirmed they will keep us updated plus I’ll be on the look out for videos and other news to post on TOROZ to keep you guys up to date.

May the Force be with you