[SWTOR] Some of the upcoming changes announced at this week’s summit

So yesterday Bioware held a SWTOR guild summit, with panels, news about upcoming patches, livestreams, etc. swtor-life has a good summary of bulletpointed news items.

I’m just going to pick a few.

Story Mode for Ops

Taking a tip from WoW’s raid finder, or possibly from the ME3 story mode, the plan is to rename normal Ops modes to ‘story mode’ with the explicit aim of letting casual players experience the galactic storylines (presumably making them easy enough to favour PUG raids.) I think they are making a distinction between galactic storylines and class/personal storylines, so you won’t miss any of your class story if you don’t raid.

Legacy System

If you want to set up an actual family tree between your characters, you will be able to do so. I assume this will include some non-blood relations such as ‘mother in law’ or ‘slave of’ so that your Chiss Bounty Hunter can have some sort of connection with your Pureblood Sith Inquisitor without implying that they sleep together. (Actually, given the companion romances, I’m not sure if they’ll let you specify romantic relationships between your alts anyway. What would Quinn say?)

Some of the stuff you’ll be able to unlock for your alts sounds fairly fun though:

  • Reach level 50 with a species in order to unlock it with all other characters.
  • Can Unlock Heroic Ability (i.e. Force Choke) among all other characters one you finish your story. (I could have a Jedi with force choke???)
  • Repair droid on you ship, can repair gear, but old items, sell items to improve crafting abilities on ship droids. Mailboxes on the ship
  • GTN terminals available on ships, very high up on the legacy system
  • Can trade items between anyone in your legacy, including those in the opposite faction
  • Multi-Spec system will be tied to Legacy system, not coming at beginning of 1.2 but it is on the way.
  • Will be able to place vocal restraining bolt on your droid.

Poor droid, I think a LOT of people will use that :) One thing this will mean is that people will be strongly motivated not to create alts on lots of different servers as the legacy bonuses will only apply to alts on the same server.

  • Most rewards can be purchased as opposed to unlocked via normal means. Some things will not be able to be purchased when 1.2 first releases, but will be able to purchase down the road.

Aaaaand heads up for what sounds like an upcoming cash shop.

Some Crafting and Economy Stuff

  • Most popular Crafting skill is Artifice, followed by BioChem

Biochem I can understand, it’s rather useful having endless potions/ stims, but Artificing? It’s not bad per se, but the only reason I can think why it would be the most popular is that lots of people are playing force users and find it cool to be able to craft their own crystals/ lightsabers.

  • 57% Empire vs 43% Republic across all servers, PvP servers much more Empire heavy
  • Sith Inquisitor is the most popular class, Smuggler is the least popular
  • Reusable BioChem items will be phased out in the future

Noooo. not my reusable Biochem stuffs! ;/ Wish they could just make them less powerful than the non-reusable ones. Oh well, I suppose prices on the stims that doesn’t disappear when you die will go through the roof.

  • Reverse engineering rate for better items has been improved in 1.2
  • Tooltip will let you know if you can learn a new schematic from reverse engineered items, chances of receiving the same recipe twice will be reduced

Those are both good changes

Random Stuff

Why does random stuff always get labelled as ‘roleplay’ I wonder

  • Male slave outfits incoming. (Well, that’s it for Quinn then.)
  • Animal mounts on the list for things to be added (Tauntauns, obviously.)
  • Will be able to add comments to friends in 1.2, hopefully will be able to write up a character bio for all your toons (OK, this legitimately is a RP improvement.)

Guild Stuff

  • In game guild calender coming, able to set events and show them to non guild members
  • Guild banks 100% confirmed to be in 1.2
  • Guild progression in the works, large project with no details released yet
  • Tax system is also on the way

I’m not so hot on the taxes, personally. What is it a guild is going to buy exactly that individual players can’t?

More Random Stuff (but apparently this isn’t RP)

  • Dual/Multi spec coming in two parts/ Part one will let you switch through skill trees, part two will let you completely switch gear as well.
  • More story coming this year (this YEAR … that could be December, just saying.) Same Gender Romance options coming with Story updates
  • Cross server/ cross faction communication possible down the line, no real details released yet (will be good because the Legacy system is encouraging players to play both factions.)
  • Cooler outfits coming for Republic faction, particularly at endgame
  • Quests for epic weapons, armor, and other items coming. May even require having characters on both factions to unlock

As far as patch 1.2 goes, there’s a longer article about it on ign.com which includes some (ominous?) rumblings about class balance:

Class changes in 1.2 include new abilities for the Warrior and the Knight, a nerf for the Bounty Hunter, and more. Every class will receive changes, and all skill tree points refunded so you can look over the trees again before deciding how to rebuild your class.

Any of the new stuff particularly grab any of you?

[News Bits] DA2 DLC, How much do popcap want for that zombie?, CoH goes F2P, Diablo 3 followers for normal mode only, more on EVE

Apologies for a bits and pieces posts, there’s a lot of news out this week that I thought was interesting but not really enough to write a whole blog post about.

First DLC announced for Dragon Age 2

Arb and I are keeping a weather eye out for announcements about Comic Con 2011 since we’re going to be there (have I mentioned this enough times yet? :) It’s less than a month away now.)

Bioware chipped in this week with the announcement that they’ll be offering demos of Mass Effect 3, SWTOR, and Dragon Age 2 Legacy – the first DLC for that game. The SWTOR announcement is in a different link but I’m sure that was a no brainer anyway. We’ll be aiming to check those out, if only in the hope of picking up freebies such as the inflatable swords which have been on offer the last couple of years.

We don’t know much about Legacy apart from the title, but already starting to wonder whose legacy we’re talking about here, exactly. I would be quite curious to find out what happened to Kirkwall after I left in a blaze of glory skulked out in the night with my batshit insane blond boyfriend of doom. Surely the world can’t keep on turning without Hawke to set it straight/break it horribly??!

ArenaNet will also be demoing Guild Wars 2 at Comic Con this year, so hopefully we’ll be able to report on that as well. As well as snag freebies, obviously.

Is Zynga going to buy Popcap?

Venturebeat reports rumours that Popcap (makers of Bejewelled and Plants vs Zombies, amongst many others) is in talks to be acquired. It’s not known yet if it is true, but they naughtily bander Zynga’s name around as a prospective suitor.

I think the most depressing sentence in the article is:

PopCap is an appealing target for almost any game company because it has several extremely popular games that can be turned into franchises.

I suspect that a lot of us would rather have new games than Bejewelled 17: the slightly sparklier version.

City of Heroes (finally) goes free to play

This is good news! City of Heroes announces that later this year, they’re switching to a model which will allow players to play for free or go with a subscription model. It sounds as though they’re going with a LOTRO-type of approach where subscribers get some free currency to spend in the game shop (which has plenty of fun cosmetic costumes) as part of their monthly deal.

Here’s the side-by-side comparison of what subscribers get in comparison to F2P players. And again like LOTRO, if you have ever paid a sub for CoH previously you get some perks when the game switches over compared to a new F2P player (Note: F2P players are limited to 2 alts unless they buy more slots, it’s not clear to me if older players will be able to keep all their alts if they come back except for directly purchased slots.)

I’m happy about this news partly because it’s a fun game which I think will lend itself very well to this model, and also because I have friends who play and now it’ll be way easier for me to join them occasionally.

Followers in Diablo 3 are for noobs only

Anyone who thought Blizzard had caught the companion bug from Bioware and were planning to amp up the importance of  followers in Diablo 3 can think again. Apparently the main use for followers is to help new players in normal mode in single player (and get them used to playing in a group – although this may backfire once they find how annoying real people are compared to their faithful NPCs). They will become less useful in hard mode, pointless in nightmare, and not available at all in multiplayer.

They’re there to make the single-player, normal difficulty experience feel more cooperative and to aid in enhancing the story. These factors lose some importance in multiplayer and in the higher difficulty settings of the game, and as such, the followers won’t be as relevant there.

EVE and Microtransactions

The latest on EVE is that someone has leaked an internal memo about plans for microtransactions in CCP’s games. Eve News 24 discusses the cosmetic cash shop prices and the data in the memo.

One of the main reasons that I think long term players get concerned about some of these microtransaction plans is that there’s a point where you wonder how far game devs are putting profit above making fun games. And if your main concern as a consumer is to buy (and pay for) fun games, you’d probably like THAT to be their main focus.

Clearly it’s great if companies that make good products do well. But at what cost?

The other main issue – probably mostly for old dinos like me – is that we like virtual worlds because they’re separate from the rat race of the real world. It’s because the real world doesn’t have much effect on the game world that the game world can be relaxed and fun, and being relaxed and fun is important for being able to play. The more the game favours real world tilts, the less ‘fun’ it gets. It’s like the way people always seem to have more fun in betas, because they know there’s no major consequence for failure or not optimising.  Maybe fun is a minority interest.