Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to wish my US readers a Happy Thanksgiving.  We have a lot to be thankful for as we get to play/talk/write about games!  A lot of people don't have that opportunity.  I consider myself quite lucky to be able to participate in this hobby.

So before we left to go visit family, I was trying to get a separate development environment up for Social Questing.  I was stuck on a problem and we had to leave.  This kind of thing eats at me.  It wasn't critical, but I obsess about such things until fixed.  So much so, that we took a trip to Target where I bought a laptop just so I could fix the issue.  It was as cheap as they come, but it is good enough for Putty and Chrome.  I was able to solve the problem which let me relax in time for Thanksgiving dinner :)


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sandcrawler!

One of those most iconic vehicles in Star Wars, to me at least, is the Sandcrawler from Episode 4.  Lets face it, Jawa's are awesome and they have good taste in transportation.  So when they introduced a Sandcrawler decoration for strongholds, I just had to have one.  Now that I have a Tatooine stronghold, it finally made sense to get one.  The GTN had one for 2 million credits, so I scooped it up!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Press Event and a New Trailer

BioWare had a bunch of community types out to California to check out the new expansion, Shadow of Revan.  They got to see the game and then do a Q&A with the development team.  It looks like it was an awesome time, you can check out an account here.  I remember my trips to Mythic for Warhammer Online, very memorable experiences.

The Q&A was pretty good, I recommend reading through it all.  It was a lot to type, so kudos to Heather!  Some interesting things I took away...

Data Mining.  There was a recent dustup with SWTOR and data minter swtor_miner (from Reddit).  The developers took the time to explain they have no problem with data mining.  It is an accepted part of their business.  They do have a problem when it comes to talking about exploits.  I figured this was the case, as my data mining efforts were never met with anything negative.

Solo Mode.  Shadow of Revan will feature more solo content than ever before.  There will be solo-modes for the new Flashpoints, as well as a way of seeing the end of the Revan story without doing the Operations.  I want to write more on this later, but I think I am happy.

And now for the new trailer!





Monday, November 24, 2014

Forge.gg

I'm not big into streaming.  I wish I was, but it requires time and personality that I just don't posses.  Still, it looks like a fun thing to do.  A couple of weeks ago I heard on Twitter about a new streaming service: Forge.gg.  This isn't just a Twitch alternative, it's a whole different way of approaching streaming.

Forge's big feature is that it is always on.  Whenever you are playing, you are streaming.  No OBS or XSplit needed.  It works with a lot of games and the creators are adding more all of the time. It holds your recent streaming session so you can easily make highlight clips.  There is no chat room, overlays, or any other things that have become common on Twitch.  It's just games.

I really like it so far, so expect more about it soon :)


Friday, November 21, 2014

So Many Plans

A couple months ago, I had a whole list of things I was going to do in SWTOR before the expansion drops.  I was going level my Agent to 55, and do Chapter 2 on my Jedi Knight.  I was going to finally finish Makeb.  I was going to do Oricon, and even try to check out the Dread Fortress and the Dread Palace.  I was going to do my placement matches for Ranked PvP.  So much to do.

Instead I PvP'd warzones on my Trooper and played around with Strongholds.  The expansion is less than 2 weeks away!  Where did the time go?  On the plus side, I do have some awesome Stronghold stuff and a bank full of credits.

Ok, so I guess I have to scale back all those plans.  Instead, I am just going to try and finish up Makeb on my Trooper.  That should be a reachable goal.   I really hope to stream it on Forge, but I'll discuss that cool service in detail later :)

In other SWTOR news they had a press type event out in California.  I think that's where Redwood City is.  A bunch of community folks were invited to attend.  Anyway, it's neat they are doing official type things for their expansion.  Shows it is still kind of a big deal.  It may not be the blowout event that a WoW expansion is though.  I heard today they topped 10 million subscribers.  That's cool and all but I wonder how that number will hold up in the coming months.  People aren't as sticky as they used to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Repopulation Q&A and Alpha Key Giveaway!

Today we have a Q&A for the upcoming MMO, The Repopulation.  The questions are based on my early experiences in alpha, and provide a glimpse of what the game is like, and many of the possibilities.  It's a game that I keep getting more excited about the more I learn about it.  Hope you enjoy the read!

We are also having a giveaway!  The developers were kind enough to supply an alpha key as a prize.  These are normally only available to crowdfunding backers, but now you can get one too.  To enter the giveaway, use the Social Questing widget on the right sidebar.  Sign-in, do some quests, and get your lottery tickets.  The drawing will happen on November 26th at 9am EST. Note:  By just signing in you can get enough points to enter the giveaway :)

Need help?  I made a quick video showing how to enter the giveaway:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYU2FByGoK0

Now on to the Q&A!

Q: After finishing the tutorial, one of the first things I noticed was receiving missions through the mail system.  How do these Dynamic Missions work?  What makes them special?

A:  In a theme park MMO your quests/missions are generally there to help your character advance and provide purpose. As a sandbox we don't have that directed experience. You never need to go to the next hub and quest to advance. Advancement is not tied at all to missions. That having been said, missions are something that provides players with purpose. Enter the generated mission system. The goals of this system is to allow players to use missions to drive their experience, and to have a neverending supply of missions if they really want to do them. Another goal though was to ensure that missions are not a required aspect of gameplay. If you just hate missions, you don't have to do them. Another key aspect was to allow players to be able to filter the type of job offers they want to take.

Rather than wandering around looking for NPCs with markers on top of their head, you'll instead receive notifications of job offers via the in-game email system. These offers come in relatively quickly, and they are tailor made for your character. You can accept or deny the offers. Early on you'll be getting the same missions as all other newbies, simple missions that anyone can do. As you complete missions, the choices you make are used to determine which missions you quality for. So if your character does shadier activities, they'll receive shadier missions. If your character is a crafter they will receive crafting missions. If you show yourself to be Greedy, you may get missions that take advantage of that. etc.

The missions themselves can be simple or complex. We use a branching dialog system on missions, but pretty much every feature you've seen in other games can be done through our generated mission system. The difference is that instead of the NPCs being static NPCs, they are generated within a set of criteria. So rather than doing a turn in to Bob the Armor Guy, a generated mission might have a filter for RandomNPC1 to be profession = Armorcrafter. There are a number of filters which can be used for things like profession, personality, mood, gender, dilemma, or cause of that dilemma. Some of those settings are static, others can change based on other players completing missions and altering an NPCs mood, dilemma or cause. So this means that performing actions in missions can not only affect the missions you receive, but can also affect the missions other people receive or who they receive them from. 

A good example is Chip at the Hole on the Hill. His bar has issues with Lesoo raiding the facility and Numbskulls causing issues in the bar. Those are engagements (similar to public quests) that players can participate in to help Chip out. Depending on how those engagements proceed Chip's cause and dilemma will change, which allows him to offer missions that he would not otherwise offer. We're still just scratching the surface on some of the things we can do with this system as far as designing enough missions to really take advantage of all these features. But the features are all in place. 


Q: Besides taking Dynamic Missions, there appears to be a guided mission chain which I could venture down.  How much of The Repopulation is based around Missions? Conversely, can I just ignore missions and go out on my own?  Will I be gimping myself if I skip the missions?  I don't want to miss out on any unique rewards.

A: There are a large number of missions in the game. But it's an optional activity. Missions are designed so that there can be mission styles for the various skill lines. So there are taming missions, underworld (thievery/assassination/smuggling) missions, crafting and harvesting missions, etc. But since you can receive your missions through your PDA from anywhere in the world, it's perfectly acceptable to just go out and do whatever you want to do, take a look at the incoming job offers and pick and choose the ones that you can finish while doing your chosen activities. Most players will spend a lot of time running missions. But there are alternate ways to gain abilities, skill imprints, etc. It's really up to the player how they want to play the game.

For players who despise missions though you don't have to do them. Your skills increase through use. If you want to go out and just grind mobs like in an old school game, you can. Though even doing that I'd recommend combing through for missions that are targeting the mobs your killing anyway since that's just a bonus reward. If you are a harvester or crafter and don't care about running missions, you can just go out and do your thing. Same goes for any line really. There are also a growing number of engagements (similar to public quests) which some players prefer.


Q: I've always enjoyed crafting and running my own shop in games, which I can now do in The Repopulation.  Is it possible to just focus on non-violent endeavors?  Is there plenty to do if I go down that path?

A: Our game and it's economy are heavily trade skill oriented. Our crafting system is very complex and has a high degree of customization. Moreover crafted equipment is the top of the line. If you never wanted to pick up a gun, it's completely possible for you to just go out and harvest, or buy resources from other players and then do your crafting. I think most players will also do a little fighting, if for no other reason than mobs will jump you while your out harvesting. 

But crafting advancement is not coupled in any way with combat advancement. There are other non-combat skills, as well. Things like the entertainment line which provides long-term buffs for players. Taming mobs to be trained as mounts and sold to other players. Diplomatic skills. Different players enjoy doing different types of things. And we've tried to cater to many playing styles, rather than forcing players down a combat oriented path.


Q: One of the first creatures I fought was a Setlang.  This resulted in me gaining species knowledge.  How does that factor into the gameplay?

A: The species mastery system reflects your knowledge of each species in the game. As you kill Setlangs (or any other species) and as you harvest their corpses for resources your mastery level increases. This grants a very small passive bonus to your damage against that species, and after you have slain a very high number of a species you also gain a title reflecting your mastery of that species.


Q: From its corpse, I was able to loot DNA.  This can be used by a Genetic Engineer.  What is that skill line all about?

A: Each species can drop DNA and tissue. A genetic engineering is a crafting line which uses those components to create pets that can be traded to other players. These are single use pets, but they are easy to produce. But genetic engineering's biggest benefit is that you can splice the DNA of different species to create hybrids. Each hybrid has unique special abilities.


Q: I'd like to get myself a house where I can put some vendors.  What is involved with doing that?

A: You'll need to claim an open world plot if you wish to have vendors. Currently in alpha we allow players to buy them easily for testing, but soon we'll be moving them to the release variation of this which requires a tough to produce crafted item. There are different sized plots. 

Once you have a housing plot you can place it down when inside of any area that is marked as housing capable. We don't allow players to build everywhere. Instead we set aside certain grids of land to be able housing capable. You'll know when you are in one of these areas because a GUI will appear denoting it which allows you to drop your plot to claim a section of land, and later to add furniture. When you drop the plot you will receive a visual indication of where the plot will go, which you can move around until you find the perfect location. Once this is placed a base is formed underneath your plot. You can build on top of that base.

There are hundreds of different structures and furniture items which you can place on your plot. This includes simple things like decorations, to interactive props such as crafting stations, banking terminals and skill imprinting stations. You can also place robot vendors on your property which can sell goods to other players. Players can see your robots goods through the Trading/Auction window, but if they purchase directly from your vendor they can bypass the auction fee. 


Q: For anyone that is interested in playing, how and when can they get their hands on the game?

A: You can currently gain instant alpha access and a lifetime gold membership post launch for $50. There is also a $25 package which includes a lifetime silver membership post-launch which will be gaining alpha access on November 21st. Membership packages give you a number of perks post launch such as increased inventory/vault space, etc which free players would have to purchase piece by piece. So basically all pre-orders will be able to access testing from now until launch starting the 21st, and all $50+ pre-orders gain access instantly. Those who prefer a wait and see approach can wait for launch. The game will be free to play with optional membership options. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

I'm doing it wrong

I have to admit, I have been pretty lax about taking advantage of 12x XP in SWTOR.  My Imperial Agent is still sitting at 28 about to take on Alderaan.  The last couple of weekends, I just have not been in the leveling mood.  I love the idea of 12x XP, but I refuse to alter my playing just so I can take advantage of it.

That's the main reason I want BioWare to add it to the game after 3.0.  I will gladly give them extra money for the option to use it when I am in the mood.  I really hope they don't make it a high level Legacy reward, as that would just restrict it to those who likely have a lot of alts already.  Please, BioWare, take my money :)

So what have I been doing instead of 12x XP?  In SWTOR, I have been PvPing on my Trooper to fund my Stronghold habit.  I bought a Massive Anti-Air Turret and a Sandcrawler.  Those weren't cheap, so I spent a good time saving up for them.  I get an idea in my head, and that is what I want to do.  Timed events, like 12x XP, will always come second.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tatooine Stronghold

One of my recent goals in SWTOR has been to get my hands on a Massive Anti-Air Turret.  These things just look awesome, plus they shoot!  They are not cheap though, and I didn't have any luck getting one in a Seneschal pack.  On The Ebon Hawk, they were going for around 2 million credits.

I decided I would save up for it.  As dallies are not my thing, I earned my credits through PvP.  It wasn't long before I had enough saved up and bought one.  Now, this decoration won't really fit in my Nar Shadda stronghold, or Kaas City/Coruscant.  That leaves Tatooine, which is the most expensive of the lot.

So I broke out the Cartel Coins and bought myself the stronghold.  I have to have someplace to put my new decoration right?  Check out the Turret and the stronghold in the video below!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Warlords of Draenor Giveaway

The guys over at Noobist.TV are giving away a copy of the Warlords of Draenor expansion for WoW (or $50 of Battle.Net cash).  The occasion is the launch of their new YouTube network.  They really want to concentrate on growing channels, rather than just bringing in big ones.  I've partnered my channel with them and can't wait to work with them.

To do the giveaway they are using my Social Questing project.  You can participate by going to the link below:

http://www.socialquesting.com/site?id=37fb4a8d-6c2f-4ede-a9d5-5a17c58abc2e

The giveaway ends soon, so start completing those quests :)  They will also be streaming some WoW raids today at 2pm EST.  Head on over to http://www.twitch.tv/noobisttv to watch.

Good luck!

EDIT: This giveaway has ended.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doom and gloom for SWTOR?

Over the weekend, I was sad to discover that the latest EA financial fillings.  You can read them for yourself here, just search for Old Republic.  The TLDR of the filings is that the revenue coming from SWTOR is down in pretty much every case.  They even grouped it with SimCity, which cannot be a good sign.

I thought about the situation and just could not put any kind of positive theory behind it.  SWTOR just seems to be making less money than it was a quarter, six months, a year ago.  That's not to say it isn't profitable.  Just because revenue is down doesn't mean they are losing money.

So why is SWTOR losing money?  One theory is that it is the result of not putting out new PvE/PvP content for quite a while.  This report is coming near the end of a drought.  However,  Galactic Strongholds cam out during this quarter for subscribers.  I really would have thought it would have provided a nice boost.

 I'm not too worried about it all though.  The 3.0 expansion was announced, pre-orders were taken, 12xp happened and a lot of players are playing the game.  So I'll be interested in seeing what next quarters report says about SWTOR.  If it is still not positive, my confidence will start to be shaken.