This week’s DevTracker Highlights covers everything you need to know for the less-than-a-week-away Early Game Access and launch. Senior Online Community Manager Stephen Reid reminds players that MMOs change, gives the status of a Walmart system error, and reveals details about Early Game Access. Senior Community Coordinator David Bass illustrates the kind of achievements that will be available in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Community Coordinator Allison Berryman details upcoming forum changes for launch and how to determine if you have the right game client for when the game goes live. Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller covers the challenges around balancing for one on one and group combat. Hit the jump to dig in and see all the highlights.
Stephen Reid advices players to remember that MMOs are constantly in flux and some features and mechanics may change throughout the lifespan of the game, depending on testing and feedback.
Folks, please don't overreact about the possibility of something happening in the future.
Advanced Class switching (or re-speccing, take your pick) was, at one point, potentially going to go into the game. Right now, it's not in the game. It could potentially be added after launch. Like, frankly, anything else. To quote Georg "we reserve the right to change our minds based on feedback and testing".
This thread is feedback. It'll be taken into account by the developers, along with the usual metrics we look at. I'll say this much - any sort of Advanced Class changing is not under discussion for launch, or even right after launch.
Absolutely anything in the game is potentially open to change in the future. That's part of what an MMO is about. Your feedback on those changes is absolutely welcome, but just because we say that yes, something may potentially happen in the future... that doesn't make it a certainty.
David Bass sheds some light on how achievements are rewarded in game.
Quote from David BassAchievements are indeed in the game currently. You'll receive achievements for things like killing certain "Epic Enemies," unlocking titles, and accomplishing objectives in PvP. These are all kept in a special category in your Codex, so that you can view how you earned each one at any time.
Allison Berryman talks about forum changes for launch as well as the addition of a new community feature.
Quote from Allison Berryman
This Saturday, Dec. 10th, the Forums will become unavailable as we make preparations for launch. When they become available again, you'll notice many exciting changes!
First of all, we'll have many new forums available where you can discuss all aspects of the game, from Crew Skills to PvP. The Guild Hall forums will be expanded significantly and will include new "Looking for Guild" forums, class forums will contain sub-forums for each Advanced Class, and we'll introduce a new Story and Lore forum for discussion of the game's setting and story. To encourage constructive community building, you'll also notice a "New Player Help" forum and a Community section that includes areas for regional check-ins and meetups, all kinds of fan creations and role-playing, and forums for server event organization. These are just some of the new forums we'll be introducing. We're looking forward to all the great discussion!
Another new feature we're implementing is our Community blog, which will appear at the top of www.SWTOR.com/community. We'll use this blog for important community announcements, updates, and to post articles of interest to our community members, so make sure to check it out frequently!
The launch Forums will be a fresh start: all threads, posts, and private messages will be removed and warnings and infractions on your account will be deleted. If you have any special posts or private messages that you would like to save, please do so now! When Early Game Access begins, only those who have redeemed their Pre-Order Code will be able to post on the forums, though everyone will be able to view them. Then, when the game officially launches, only those who have active game time will be permitted to post.
As we move forward, we will continue to improve our community forums. You can expect to see new features that make it easier to find developer posts and several updates to our skin to make everyday use of the forums easier for everyone.
We're very excited about the changes that are coming, and we can't wait to work with you to make the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ community a great experience for everyone!
Allison Berryman explains how you can make sure you have the appropriate game client for launch.
Quote from Allison Berryman
In preparation for the official release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, we wanted to make sure that everyone has the correct game client installed on their machine.
If you participated in our Game Testing Program before November 25th, we recommend that you uninstall the game testing client (refer to instructions below) and then download and install the launch game client. We’ll update this post with more instructions when they’re available. You will need 27GB of free space to install the launch game client. The actual size of the game client is approximately 19GB (without additional languages installed).
If you have played in our game testing program at any point from November 25th onwards, you will not need to re-install the game client, as you should already have the launch version installed.
To verify that you have the launch version installed, you can check for the "assets_swtor_main" version file in the following location on your computer: \Program Files (x86)\EA\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic (assuming default installation). If you have that file present, you do not need to reinstall the game client.
With that said, some users may notice that their game client folder is much larger than 27 GB on their system. This may be due to having redundant files from previous versions of the client. If you need to clear up space, we recommend completely uninstalling the client and downloading and installing the launch game client. Again, we’ll update this post with more instructions when they’re available.
To Uninstall the Game Client: 1. Click on the Start bar and open up your "Control Panel." 2. Under "Programs" select "Uninstall a Program" (Windows 7) or "Add or Remove Programs" (Windows XP). 3. Select "Star Wars – The Old Republic." 4. Right Click on the title and select "Uninstall" (Windows 7) or "Remove" (Windows XP). 5. Follow all the uninstall steps to remove the game from the PC. 6. Make sure the following directories no longer exists (or are empty): -C:\Program Files (x86)\EA\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic -C:\Program Files (x86)\BioWare\Star Wars – The Old Republic
Note: If you do not see an entry for Star Wars – The Old Republic in your program list, please try the following... 1. Click on the Start bar and open up Computer. 2. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Common Files\BioWare\ 3. Locate the "Uninstall Star Wars – The Old Republic.exe" file and launch it. 4. Follow all the uninstall steps, listed above, to remove the game from the PC.
For more information or if you have questions, please visit our FAQ.
Associate Online Community Manager Joveth Gonzalez confirms the actual size of the retail game client.
Quote from Joveth Gonzalez
I just updated the original thread with the following information:
The actual size of the game client is approximately 19GB (without additional languages installed).
I hope it assuages any worries. Please note that we still recommend having 27 GB of free space.
Georg Zoeller explains why balancing around one on one situations is doomed from the start.
Quote from Georg Zoeller
Here's why your scenario doesn't concern me in the least right now.
Let's look at the conditions that need to be met before this becomes a major issue:
(a) You need to be in world PvP, with both sides flagged.
(b) You need to find some cozy 1:1 time with nobody else interfering. (Harder than you think).
(c) You need to be around the same level. Otherwise, it's unfair to start with. You need to be roughly in equivalent gear.
(d) Both of you will have their major, 15-minute companion gated healing ability on cooldown or not on cooldown, because if one player has this one and the other doesn't, it's all over anyway.
(e) You need to both characters to start combat at the same time. First strike advantage is a massive benefit and situations where both sides start a 1:1 combat at full health in Open World PVP are rare. Most situations involve someone getting jumped while half down on health fighting a mob.
(f) Naturally, both sides need to be roughly equally skilled. Otherwise, the better player will bury the worse player.
(g) Unity needs to be off cooldown (300 secs). That's a long time in Open World PVP.
(h) Both sides need to be using the same companion type. One being DPS the other one healer introduces a major imbalance in the fight.
(i) Both sides need to be the same spec. 40% health back on a healer is very very painful as that takes a lot of time to bring down.
(j) Both sides need equal access to consumables. You don't sacrifice your companion if you have a high end stimpack.
(k) Did I mention companion gear being comparable?
Short: Open World PVP is rarely balanced to begin with. 1:1 scenarios between two mirror classes with equal starting resources, comparable specs, no interference and otherwise perfectly balanced conditions are as rare as Wampas on Tatooine.
We're aware of the mathematical and gameplay imbalance there, but honestly, we haven't seen it impact gameplay in any major way at this point. I don't care much for this kind of theorycrafting, until I see a measurable impact on gameplay, I have much bigger things to worry about in the game (including Shock/Project, which is fairly minor to start with).
Stephen Reid follows-up on the status of a Walmart system error resulting in several pre-orders being displayed as cancelled.
Everyone, my apologies for not closing this out yesterday, but here's our final update. The good news is - it's all going to work out!
As many of you now realize, Walmart had a system error which caused the status of pre-orders for The Old Republic to change to 'cancelled'. The good news is, those orders were in fact not cancelled, but of course, that didn't help everyone's confusion.
In case you have not seen the email Walmart sent to affected customers, here's the text:
Thank you for your recent Walmart.com order(s).
In checking your My Account order history for the order(s) below, you may have noticed that one or more items show a status of cancelled but you did not receive a cancellation email for this item(s). Please disregard the status as it is an error. (If you received a cancellation email for an item, then that item has in fact been cancelled.)
The incorrect cancelled status on your My Account was caused by a system issue that has since been resolved and your item(s) are currently processing and will ship as expected. You will receive a ship confirmation with a tracking number for these items in the next few days and the status on your My Account page will be updated to shipped.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and wanted to assure you that your products are in fact being shipped.
If you have any further issues, please contact Walmart Customer Service. Be patient and polite and I'm sure you'll get your issues resolved.
We are always willing to try and help resolve issues with retailers and will investigate where large scale issues seem to be appearing, but please bear in mind that generally speaking, in the first instance, please do talk to your retailer if you have problems. Thank you!
This thread was started to discuss issues with those who pre-ordered via Walmart, and as that main problem has now been resolved, I'm going to close the thread. We have no need to discuss people's retailer preferences.
Georg Zoeller gives a little background information on why some Jedi Sage and Sith Sorceror abilities require a companion.
Quote from Georg Zoeller
That makes sense to me and im glad you aren't balancing based 1v1 but the one thing that stands out to me is why it was decided to make inquis/sage abilities require companions in the first place while it seems no other classes have that restriction.
Here's why: We have a number of abilities that we only want accessible when you are 1-2 people group situation. Call on the Force (and it's equivalent) are a good example.
Our way of gating those abilities out of large scale group content is to have them require a companion. That not only reinforces that we really want you to use your companion (as the game is balanced for it), it is also just a slick technical condition that excludes any kind of group content where those abilities would not scale (nobody wants people to use Call on the Force).
The specific Sorc/Sage ability mentioned here is a 'bonus' ability meant to support solo play as well as 2 player heroic gameplay. It helps overcoming encounters that are particularly tough on light armored characters like the Sage.
In short: All classes have abilities with these restrictions, the Sage/Sorcerer just have one more.
Stephen Reid gives the exact date retail copies of the game will be available in brick and mortar stores in Europe, US, and Canada.
Our sales and marketing teams are working closely with retailers in the US and Europe to ensure that copies of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be delivered in time for launch day.
In Europe, game copies will be available at retail starting on December 15, 2011. For those of you in the USA and Canada, game copies will be available at retail starting on December 20, 2011. For those of you who pre-ordered digital editions of the game from Origin.com, you will be emailed your Game Codes starting December 16, 2011.
As soon as you receive your Game Code (AKA 'product registration code'), be sure to enter it on your account under Code Redemption, because as soon as you enter the code you will receive your digital entitlements in-game (i.e. digital items included with the game edition purchased). Remember, your billing cycle will not start until official game launch, on December 20, 2011 at 12:01am EST.
There will be no ‘grace period’ post launch in which those who are in Early Game Access will be able to continue to play the game. In order to continue playing past the Early Game Access period, you will need to enter a valid launch game code and payment method. Please read our FAQ for more information. We apologize for any previous messaging which may have led you to believe otherwise.
Stephen Reid announces the starting date and details of Early Game Access.
We're happy to finally announce today that Early Game Access begins December 13th, 2011. This means that everyone who has pre-ordered Star Wars: The Old Republic and redeemed their pre-order code will have up to seven days to play the game early.
As before, when your Early Game Access begins will be determined based on when you redeemed your pre-order code. You will be emailed on the day you are being admitted to Early Game Access to confirm you can now access the game.
Early Game Access was extended to seven days to allow us to gradually ramp up the number of people in the game over a longer period. This allows us to ensure maximum stability and a good population across servers. It also allows us to have more flexibility on exactly how many people we admit per day.
With that said, we're still planning on allowing a large number of people into Early Game Access on a daily basis. In our final Beta Testing Weekends, we had hundreds of thousands of players on the game servers - and we have additional server capacity for launch. However, we still need to remain flexible during Early Game Access, and this led to the decision to notify people on the day that their Early Game Access begins.
We know many of you expected and wanted advance notice on Early Game Access, but we made this decision to ensure that we could remain flexible and react to unforseen issues during launch. Our number one priority has always been a smooth launch, so this decision was a necessity.
The good news is that effectively everyone is being given two 'extra bonus' days as the EGA program is now up to seven days long. The bad news is unfortunately we cannot let people know on an individual basis when they will gain access until we are ready.
We do understand that you are concerned about when you will receive the email. To save your F5 keys, as well as being notified by email, you will also be able to check the Launcher for Star Wars: The Old Republic. When you have been granted Early Game Access, your Play button will be enabled. (You will need to restart the Launcher on occasion if you're still grey.) Finally, you will be able to login to your account page here on SWTOR.com and check your status.
We absolutely understand (and appreciate!) everyone's eagerness to play, but this plan will ensure that we don't fall at the final hurdle - bringing people into the game at launch. We hope you'll bear with us as we gradually grant Early Game Access to everyone who pre-ordered.