It is time once again for the Hater team to infiltrate the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California for all things Star Wars: The Old Republic beginning Tuesday, June 5 through Thursday, June 7. As we do with all events, the entire team will provide continuous coverage from the show floor and around the web within this post, so bookmark and keep checking this throughout the week.
Electronic Arts and LucasArts issued a press release yesterday which announced the consolidation of some global marketing duties for Star Wars: The Old Republic into Electronic Arts. EA largely handled publishing duties for European markets since the game's initial announcement. These sales and marketing responsibilities could encompass everything from retail sales marketing to call center management and possibly global media buys for increased cost efficiency, but the release didn't explain such details nor disclose the financial terms of the agreement. The press release re-affirmed Lucasfilm as the owner of the Star Wars IP, and this means they have pretty much the final say on anything that is in the game or represents the IP in any EA marketing efforts planned for SWTOR, as well as any third party licensing agreements.
Kotaku, Gamasutra, and the LA Times are reporting significant restructuring at LucasArts with approximately one third of its staff suffering layoffs. LA Times updated its initial article to state that the layoffs majorly affected game programmers, and excluded its marketing department. Kotaku's Micheal McWhertor reports "an estimated 60 people let go from development and 25 from external production and QA getting the employment vibro-ax."
At the moment it is uncertain what effect, if any, this news will have on The Old Republic. However, it is always unfortunate when people lose their jobs. We here at Darth Hater wish the best of luck to all those affected by this news.
Early today, Gamasutra revealed that BioWare and LucasArts will be utilizing Monolith Software for their IT management. They believe Monolith will provide a server monitoring solution with the customization and speed required by an MMO on the scale of Star Wars: The Old Republic come launch. Quoting Gamasutra's Eric Caoili:
[Monolith] says its software is a "multi-tenant, fault/event management and availability/performance monitoring solution" that collects, analyzes, and correlates data through web-based dashboards, which allows developers and publishers to visualize and monitor that information in real time.
BioWare chose Monolith's solution for its ability to manage the real-time monitoring of thousands of devices at several data centers in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The developer says the solution also fits into its Linux environment and met all of its requirements, including specific customizations.
GTTV is promoting an exclusive behind the scenes making of a new Star Wars: The Old Republic trailer. The footage will be part of a slew of E3 world premieres set for broadcast this Friday at 11PM. Inside the promo we recognized a few of the team members of Blur, the studio that brought you the original Deceived trailer.
UPDATE: BioWare's Sean Dahlberg announced the following today:
Sneak Peek on Gametrailers TV Just cant wait for E3 to get here? Well, youre in luck! GameTrailers TV will be airing a special pre-E3 edition on Friday, June 11th. During the show, there will be a Behind the Scenes segment where youll get a sneak peek at our next cinematic trailer! Check your local listing for air time.
New TOR-related items are also available from the Star Wars Shop, and a countdown clock is appearing as part of the SWTOR.com homepage Flash animation as well.
In related industry news, Gamasutra is reporting Epic Games China CEO Paul Meegan is LucasArts' new president, filling the vacancy left by Darrell Rodriguez.
The teaser image for E3 happens to be a logo for the Havoc squad, possibly alluding to the content of the trailer.
BioWare's Sean Dahlberg confirmed there was a press event in the UK the past day or two:
Star Wars: The Old Republic participated in the EA UK Press Event in London over these last few days. Starting 9am UTC/GMT tomorrow [That's 2am PDT, 4am CDT, 5am EDT], the embargo on this event will be lifted and you'll begin to see various updates across the web pertaining to this.
Feel free to post and discuss articles you find in this thread and I'll update the first post as often as possible.
BioWare recently revealed a new section of the HoloNet titled Inhabitants. This section of the Star Wars: The Old Republic official site is dedicated to the NPCs and mobs we will encounter in-game, broken up into three subcategories: Creatures, Droids, and Humanoids. In addition to new screenshots and animations, each entry contains few paragraphs dedicated to the mob's defining traits and features. We took a closer look at the writing on these pages (both English and Aurebesh), picking specific statements that inspired gameplay speculation.
A couple weeks ago we were our first look at the new Blood of the Empire webcomic. As we learned with Threat of Peace, these comics are a wellspring of clues about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Always hungry for any information on TOR, we dug into the new comic to see what we could find.
We previously touched on our opinion regarding BioWare and LucasArts focusing on avoiding common MMO problems as a basis of our speculation articles. Many of the common problems relating to the retention success and failures were highlighted in BioWare Austin's Co-Studio Director Gordon Walton and consultant Scott Hartsman's GDC session, "MMO Retention -- Learning From The First 25 Years." During the talk, these industry veterans provided some insight into possible retention strategies in Star Wars: The Old Republic. We spent over a month listening to this presentation, debating all of its points, and dissecting it to find all the clues we believe are hidden within.
While talking with Jake Neri about the Trooper, we decided to use the opportunity to gather more information about Star Wars: The Old Republic. The LucasArts producer offered what limited insight he could into BioWare's James Ohlen and his recent comments on endgame.
First, we have to address James Ohlen. First off -- he is a total badass. He probably did more really amazing RPGs than anyone around, so he is allowed to say things like that. He is allowed to think outside of what us, the rest of us normal humans, are allowed to think about.
Official forum poster armenak reported that while taking a casual glance at this year's E3 Expo Exhibitor List, he noticed both LucasArts and BioWare's parent company Electronic Arts booked their meeting rooms.
Although there isn't a booth confirmation yet listed, both meeting rooms are in close proximity to one another: LucasArts will be in Meeting Room 404AB, while Electronic Arts booked Room 406AB, and no one is listed for Room 405 yet.
E3 Expo is June 15-17 at the LA Convention Center.
The podcast team is on holiday break this week but we wanted to bring you something special to fill the void until next week's podcast. We have an audio interview with Darragh O'Farrell and Jake Neri of LucasArts. The questions/poll for this week's podcast will be held over for next week's episode. Next week's episode already looks to be a packed one. Until then, Happy Holidays.
Transcription of the audio interview is after the jump.
Note: Just because the podcast team is on break doesn't mean the editorial staff is. ;)
The history of the audio department at LucasArts is full of iconic video game moments. From Monkey Island to Knights of the Old Republic, the sounds coming from this studio tend to stand out. Thanks to Jake Neri, we were lucky enough to meet a few members of the LucasArts Audio Team while in California. In addition to a brief clip that will be featured on next week's podcast, they agreed to give us a written interview. We are pleased to bring you our interview with LucasArts on the audio of Star Wars: The Old Republic.
One of the mantras of the marketing team behind Star Wars: The Old Republic has been "the four pillars" that make up an MMO: exploration, advancement, combat and story. TOR has made a splash in the MMO community with a marketing emphasis on story, however the recent change in direction, hinted at by Jake Neri, is what we should be paying attention to. With many months of narrative buzz words behind us, we may be entering a new phase in the news coming out of Austin. Could it be that we are finally approaching the second pillar?
The last few weeks have been noteworthy for everyone following Star Wars: The Old Republic. We've seen the Jedi Knight and Imperial Agent revealed back-to-back, and we got the first taste of the new marketing direction from BioWare and LucasArts with the combat demo for the Imperial Agent. Although November has been great to the fans, and especially us here at Darth Hater, December looks to be even more exciting.
On December 3rd, you too will be a VIP
We would like to invite everyone to join us here on December 3rd for a Star Wars: The Old Republic News Extravaganza. So eat some turkey, do some shopping, and get ready to see a little of what TOR has in store for us in the new year.
Last week Darth Hater was included on a short list of organizations invited to Lucas Arts' studio in San Francisco to check out Star Wars: The Old Republic. Due to a slight miscommunication, we only had short notice to grab plane tickets and get a hotel room booked, more on that later, but before we knew it Sado and I were on our way to California. The following is a photo journey covering a little of what we got to see in our short stay in the City by the Bay.
We had the chance to sit down with Jake Neri, Producer at LucasArts for Star Wars: The Old Republic. With the immanent Holonet announcement of the Imperial Agent, Jake Neri was able to give us some insight on the workings of this truly unique class.