Oceanic server forums added to TOROZ

Our forums aren’t the most active at times but there’s a dedicated bunch who do frequent them. A number of them commented in our (still open) Reader Survey that they’d like to see local server forums – and that’s what we’ve done.

There’s a forum for each of the three local servers and we’ll obviously add new forums once other servers come on line.

They’re looking pretty bare at the moment and the only thing that’ll fix that is you – so jump on in if you have the time!

Star Wars The Old Republic: it’s about class

I’m really thrilled to have a guest post from Xaelyn, whose post on hooks in gaming impressed me mightily. I asked him to write a piece of SWTOR‘s proposed classes, and he’s delivered in spades:

swtor-classes3 One of the more popular topics for SWTOR theorists has been that of which classes remain to be revealed. Of the eight possible classes, three have been officially announced (Trooper, Smuggler, and Bounty Hunter), with two others being considered ‘given’ (Jedi and Sith), leaving three slots completely unknown.

This, along with a slow trickle (if it can even be called a trickle) of information, and the lack of a release date preventing us from predicting when class reveals will happen, have stoked the hopes and passions of many a SWTOR forum-goer. So, what are the most popular ideas put forth? How can we hope to evaluate their likelihood? Let’s discuss in reverse order, of course, cuz I’m a bit daft.

Iconic: it’s not about battle-mages

BioWare has given us hints in their various oft-repeated catchphrases as to what makes them choose the classes they’ve chosen to implement. The three largest requirements seem to be that the class be iconic, heroic, and unique. The ‘iconic’ descriptor should serve well as our possibilities filter, as it gets rid of numerous silly suggestions. Battle-mages are certainly heroic, but definitely not ‘Star Wars’.
The words Jedi, Sith, Trooper, Smuggler, and Bounty Hunter all produce immediate characterizations in the mind of the Star Wars fan. What are some others? Senator brings to mind Leia and Padme. Officers bring back memories of the insidious Grand Moff Tarkin and every other cocky guy in a dark uniform with an English accent. Pilots are seen throughout the original trilogy. Crime Boss could perhaps remind someone of Jabba the Hutt. Assassin may conjure up images of Zam Wesell from Episode II. Engineer may remind people of young Anakin.

The contenders

For the next step, we can consider each class individually:

swtor-classes1 [Republic] Senator – This is one of the more infamous suggestions being kicked around online, and one I personally support. It is iconic, as I mentioned above. Leia and Padme are two of the most influential characters in the saga. The common objection is that it would suffer in the solo ground-based combat game. They lack the weapons and armor of the Trooper, the gadgets of the Bounty Hunter, the tricks of the Smuggler, and they are certainly no Jedi (Senator/Chancellor Palpatine being the exception). However, I believe their saving graces would come in the form of accuracy bonuses and their companion characters. Leia and Padme don’t shoot nearly as much as many of the other characters, but their hit percentages are higher. Companion characters have been confirmed by BioWare, and this could be a great help for the Senator class. Leadership abilities could enhance the abilities of a Senator’s bodyguard, greatly assisting with the smoothness of questing. In groups, having a buffbot is definitely handy, making this class highly desirable.

Final evaluation: Likely.

[Sith Empire] Officer – Ah, the Officer class. While being a good pairing against the Senator—both are leaders, wear light clothing, and usually brandish pistols—it is also iconic in the same way the Troopers are. Many of the extras in the movies wore this uniform, and it’s immediately recognizable. To top it off, Grand Moff Tarkin was perhaps one of the most evil, brilliant, power hungry men in the Empire. Honestly a pity he died in Episode IV, as he was played brilliantly by Peter Cushing. In my mind, the Officer would play much like the Senator. Light armor, deadly accuracy, and group/companion buffs. I’m sure the Officer’s training would play into some kind of tactical and dialogue bonuses as well, which would flesh out the class nicely. If either the Senator or the Officer don’t make it into the game, I would be very surprised.

Final evaluation: Likely.

[Republic or Empire] Pilot – Images of orange jumpsuits with white helmets, or modified stormtrooper armor with breathing apparatuses certainly appear in the original trilogy quite a bit. Luke spends a good portion of his screen time in his flight suit. There’s always the famous Wedge Antilles, who went on to become leader of the daring Rogue Squadron, among other things. Of course there’s Jek Porkins, who is infamous as a source of mocking laughter for his portly self somehow fitting into his cockpit. The main problem with this class proposition is that we don’t know how much space combat will factor into the game. Either way, it presents a balance issue— Pilots would most likely be gimped on the ground, while having bonuses other classes wouldn’t have in flight, potentially turning many off of the space combat altogether.

Furthermore, Luke, the most iconic pilot, wasn’t a pilot first and foremost. He was a farmboy, then a Jedi in training, and then a Jedi. While Wedge was primarily a flyer, most of his exploits are EU, which presents a problem, as BioWare is drawing much of their inspiration from the trilogies to cater to a broader audience. More people have seen the films than have read the novels or comics, after all.

Final evaluation: Not very likely as a class, perhaps as a profession. Completely dependent upon the implementation of space combat.

[Sith Empire] Crime Boss – Ah, the infamous glutton Jabba the Hutt. While he didn’t make his way into the films until Episode VI (no, special edition doesn’t count), his imprint matches his physical size. Knocking people off, setting up robberies, commanding a small army of minions, and eventually hoarding a cache of credits and spice certainly sounds heroic, does it not?

The caveats: while other games who’ve implemented a class like this, most notably City of Villains, have had multiple spawnable minions at the command of the player, this would not mesh well with the companion system already set up in SWTOR. Firstly, it would most likely be redundant. Everyone gets a companion! A workaround could be that they are less than heroic, simple thugs that are expendable. No need for companion quests for the thugs. The need for thugs is brought on by a Crime Boss’s aversion to doing their own dirty work. They’re not skilled combatants; that’s what they have minions for. However, in parity to the Senator idea, they could be the Sith’s main buff/debuff class.

Final evaluation: Unlikely.

swtor-classes2 [Sith Empire] Spy – Also called the Assassin, this is one of the more popular Sith suggestions. Internet detectives have dissected the epic “Deceived” trailer and have decided it wouldn’t be completely far-fetched for the Twi’lek female who accompanied the Sith Lord into the Temple turn out to be a Sith Spy character class. Naysayers contend that she’s an example of the companion system.
While the Spy doesn’t have an amazingly iconic movie counterpart– Zam Wesell was in maybe 5 minutes of total screen time in Episode II before Jango killed her—it’s been suggested that she could be a counter to either the Smuggler or the Senator archetypes: a light, quick, stealthy saboteur with tricks up her sleeve. While I find this an interesting possibility, I pray it doesn’t turn into the WoW-esque Rogue, with near-invisibility in broad daylight and enough debuffs to neutralize most targets completely. I’m a little jaded, forgive me.

Final evaluation: Likely.

[Republic or Empire] Engineer – Also known as the ‘Mechanic’, some people would compare this idea to Chewbacca or young Anakin. Chewie spent a lot of hours in the walls of the Falcon keeping that hunk of junk the fastest freighter in the galaxy, and Anakin was a mechanical prodigy as a child- 3PO and his podracer are proof of that. How this class would function is a little bit of a mystery to me. One possibility I see is class-specific companions in the form of droids. Perhaps some non-combat technological bonuses (slicing, repair) could be thrown in there as well. We don’t really have any iconic examples of how a mechanic would behave in combat, which is part of the problem. Chewie was a mechanic, but he was other things as well: if nothing else, a Smuggler in partner with Han
If this falls into the Republic side, it would round out the need for another heavy armor class for the faction.

Final evaluation: Moderately likely as a profession, less so as a class.

Other classes have been proposed for the need of direct mirrors. While I believe BioWare is trying to avoid direct mirrors altogether, instead spreading counters and checks through two classes (I see Bounty Hunters being Troopers crossed with Smugglers for instance), it’s still a viable path for the devs.

[Sith Empire] Commando – Every army needs its grunts, and for every army of grunts, there need to be elites. The Republic has its Troopers, and while the Bounty Hunter matches it in heavy armor capabilities, the Bounty Hunter isn’t a soldier in the same sense.

Final evaluation: Moderate. On one hand, it mirrors the Trooper. On the other… it’s a Trooper…

[Sith Empire] Slaver – This would be a minion class much akin to the Crime Boss, except that it’s typically proposed as a ‘pet class’. This again becomes redundant because everyone gets companion characters, so I don’t really see it as a viable possibility.

Final evaluation: Unlikely.

[Republic and Empire] Second Force-Users – A fringe idea is that Jedi and Sith be split into two separate classes depending on whether they want to specialize in Force Use or Lightsaber Combat. Many see this as preposterous, as having half of the already small pool of classes being Force Users significantly cuts down on originality, and the confirmation of character specialization leads us to believe that we could spec either way.

Final evaluation: Highly unlikely. Not happening.

Making the call

My predictions for all eight classes, at this moment, are:

Republic: Jedi, Trooper, Smuggler, Senator.

Sith Empire: Sith, Bounty Hunter, Officer or Spy, unknown.

Yes, that’s an ‘unknown’ in the last slot. I really want to split Officer and Spy into the last two possibilities, but I think Officer/Senator comes too close to exact mirrors for the current layout. That’s also why I think it’s likely that either the Senator or Officer will make it into the game, but less likely that both will. Only time, and BioWare/LucasArts will tell.

Until next time…
May the Force be with you.

SWTOR forums: significant community

swtor-forums Although a playable version of SWTOR is still a long ways off, that hasn’t stopped the official SWTOR forums from growing rapidly.

There are over 750 thousand posts already and as a lurker over the past two months it’s apparent that the growth is speeding up. You’ll need to register to be able to access the forums, but if you’re wanting to get a vibe for the SWTOR community, now’s the time to jump in. Like any high traffic forum it has its share of trolls, inane topics and conflicts, but the unsurprising common thread is a neverending thirst for new information of SWTOR‘s development.

Hard to argue with that!