Thursday, April 24, 2014

Galactic Strongholds Postponed

Bioware announced yesterday that they will be postponing the launch of Galactic Strongholds, allegedly to add some more features. Obviously the dates for Subscriber, Preferred & F2P access have changed, but they have added additional perks for players who have subbed by May 11. This most likely means that we will not see the "Makeb sized expansion" till next year.

The new features that were announced are:
  • Conquest Events: use the power of your Stronghold to dominate these events and earn rewards
  • Guild Flagships will now offer expanded functionality for Guilds:
    • Provide powerful buffs to Guild members from orbit
    • Transport entire groups to your personal coordinates instantaneously
    • Compete in Conquest Events to conquer entire planets
  • New Stronghold: Tatooine Homestead
  • Vehicles, Mounts, Pets, and Companion Characters can be placed as decorations in Strongholds
While I am excited for these features, I don't really believe they are new. You have to remember that we knew next to nothing about the expansion to begin with, and a lot of the questions players asked were simply answered with, "We are still figuring out how that will work".  So its far more likely that they are having trouble with the development, and announced these features, which they were planning on adding anyway, as a way to justify the delay.

While those Conquest Events sound like fun, I fear that the bigger guilds will always end up 'winning' them. It does however finally give guilds something besides raiding that they can do together. I just hope that the buffs they provide are not too OP.

The guild ship features they announced will make them even more desirable, but they still have not announced exactly how a guild would go about acquiring one. That ability to teleport a group anywhere will not only be useful for raids, it could also be useful on PVP servers for dealing with gankers, or for organizing/defending against base invasions.

The house on Tatooine was a much requested feature so I'm glad to see they added it. I wonder what other planets they might added houses to next.

The feature from these I'm most excited for, is the ability to use Vehicles, Mounts, Pets, and Companion Characters as decorations. While my collections are nowhere near as large as some people's, I do have quite a few of them so it will be nice to be able to able to put them to another use. I am curious to know though, what the limits on these will be.

While they are still being cagey about a lot of questions players have asked,  like object placement and legacy storage, we do know that
They will be releasing an updated developers roadmap sometime in the coming weeks to reflect these changes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Clone Troopers video (Youtube)

Found this great video while browsing YouTube. The quality is a bit low, and the transitions between the audio tracks is a bit rough but I think its a great effort. The uploader has used footage from the Clone Wars animated TV series, & combined it with three audio tracks from the Republic Commando (Game) Soundtrack. This soundtrack is noteworthy for being the first appearance of Mando'a (Mandalorian) as an actual language. (It was later developed into a fully working language by Karen Traviss in her Republic Commando novels which were spin-offs from this game).

If you are unfamiliar with the Republic Commando game/novels, you must be wondering what the hell Mandalorian songs are doing in a game about Republic Soldiers. Storywise, Jango Fett and a large number of the people he chose to train the Clone Army, were Mandalorian, so a lot of them incorporated elements of the Mandalorian culture into their training. They even taught their troops ancient Mandalorian war chants (which is what these are). However the versions taught to the clone troopers were revised so that traditional Mandalorian keywords were replaced with more appropriate Republic ones for instance references to Mandalore were replaced with Coruscant, the capital world of the Galactic Republic, and references to the Mandalorians were replaced with Jedi, who would be serving as generals in command of the army.

For those curious, I've included the lyrics of the songs used in the video, both in Mando'a and their English translations, after the break.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Boston Cantina Tour files

Bioware recently held their latest Cantina Tour in Boston, & as usual, attendees were give a flashdrive with previews of upcoming content. While much of it was just future Cartel Market stuff, there are some things that caught my eye.

[While this post is mainly speculation, there may be some spoilers for future content, so if you wish to avoid them, do not read any further.]

The most obvious one was these models for the Selkath species native to Manaan. I had initially thought they were just concept art, but on further examination these look to be actual in-game models. Thanks to swtor_miner, we have known for some time now that there will be a future flashpoint that involves Manaan. But I find it hard to believe that they have gone to the trouble of creating multiple models of a single species, just for a single flashpoint.

This coupled with the fact that they are also adding underwater themed gear to the game (albeit through the Cartel Market), leads me to wonder if they will in fact be using Manaan as the setting for the next "Makeb sized expansion". I don't want to get my hopes up, particularly since the evidence is mostly circumstantial, but if this does turn out to be the case, I would be thrilled. Manaan is at the top of my list of planets I would like to see added to the game, but only if it includes an underwater component. With the resources Bioware currently has I do not think they'll be able to do that, as it would require the addition of a new swimming gameplay-mechanic to the game. But then again, I did not think that they were capable of adding  three dimensional space combat to the game either.

Another thing that was noteworthy was in the letter included with the files specifically the part emphasizing the Selkath's neutrality. Back in the first KOTOR game the planet Manaan was stated to be the only source of Kolto, and since both sides of the conflict in that game used it, the planet was mostly able to remain neutral, and sell Kolto to both sides. I had thought that this was the case during the current conflict (in SWTOR) as well since both the Empire and the Republic use Kolto. So I was puzzled when during my Consular's class story I discovered that Manaan was firmly a part of the Republic. So while this mention (in the letter), of the Selkath's neutrality makes sense, it contradicts what happened in that class story. I'm not sure if this is an oversight on their part, or if they will be retconning that class story.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thoughts on 2.7

As most of you probably know, this tuesday marked the release of the latest update to SWTOR. Titled Invasion, due to the two new flashpoints it includes, it is the start of the next story arc for the game. The day before Bioware released an in-character summary of the storyline, post-Makeb to now. I like it when they do stuff like this, but the mention of the new Hutball map there felt a bit odd, even if they did find a way to explain its inclusion there. The most interesting part about it was the mention of an organization that is covertly taking out operatives of the Shroud in both the Republic and the Empire, particularly since even with the resources at his disposal he still has no clue who they are or what their goals may be. I'm guessing these are the same people behind the events of the new FPs.

The change to exfiltrate is welcome since, on my Operative healer, I was often a a situation where I would use it to get to other players, only to not have any energy left to actually heal any of them when I got there. The change to AoE will take some getting used to, but I think it will make more of a difference to people who keybind, rather than clickers like me.

I like the fact that they finally added a separate category (with sub-categories) to the GTN for Galactic Starfighter. This will make searching for GSF specific stuff a lot easier. I'm not sure though why they felt the need to add a scout & strike fighter with the repair drone ability, as that was one of the selling points of the bomber. But at least they cost the same as the bomber with the repair drones.

I'm a bit disappointed that the new PVP tier gear is just a recolor of the Obroan gear, particularly since I don't like the appearance of the Obroan gear to begin with. I was also expecting the PVE comms gear to be moved down a tier, as I remember reading somewhere that it would, so I was a bit let down that it didn't. I guess it must have just been a speculation post that I read. The addition of PVP mission terminals to warzones was a much needed change, & I am happy that they have finally implemented this.

The previous Huttball map, was a bit similar to Warsong Gulch in WoW, but the new Huttball map is quite unlike anything I've played before. I've only had the new map pop once so far, and I found the multi-level layout quite disorienting, and based on the final score most of my teammates did as well (we lost 6-0). As Larry Everett over at the Hyperspace Beacon observed, classes with knockbacks and pulls have a huge advantage here. It is also very difficult to dislodge a sniper or sorc who has perched himself on one of those pipes, particularly if you are playing a class without any knockback or pull.

I love the new FPs. It is quite surreal seeing Korriban & Tython so devastated, particularly since these are the first places you see if you play as a Jedi or a Sith. I liked the fact that they have also included the native Flesh-raiders and K'lor'slugs in these, and also that they have made NPC's that you encounter while leveling on these worlds into bosses for these (particularly since they chose memorable ones like the Jedi Master with the training droids and the Sith Lord who was experimenting with Tuk'ata). But the best part was how their story provides a hint of things to come, I'm eager to see where this goes.