15 January 2013
| | iTZKooPA
Insert horrible joke here.
The folks over at Fox News are at it again, bastardizing video games, an entertainment medium many of us love, for the sake of ratings and feeding the company’s 24-hour news cycle. BioWare, a common target due to its Mass Effect franchise, is under the gun again for content in the upcoming expansion to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
The title’s first expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel, is introducing a new planet, Makeb, the home for the Hutt’s, as the major content addition for the expansion. Another point of the expansion, BioWare’s return to allowing players to decide their partner, be they the same gender or not. Those two tidbits are all Fox News needed to deem the expansion a “gay planet” and that BioWare is segregating gay players to Makeb.
Nevermind that both of these statements are simply false. It’s not a “gay planet” and there isn’t any segregation. Just the expansion introducing the ability to have same-gender romances (SGR) in addition to tons of quests that have nothing to do with romance.
Hit the jump to continue on and join the discussion.
22 November 2012
| | iTZKooPA
Before you sit down for your afternoon feast, you may want to let your peepers feast on the associated video trailer. As most of us were packing up and heading to our various Thanksgiving destinations, BioWare unleashed a new trailer focusing on the recent transition for Star Wars: The Old Republic to the free-to-play business model.
If you’ve been following the game and its segue into the freemium business model, then there’s nothing new in the trailer. Except, for, you know, the actual cutscenes, marketing spin and engaging tale to suck you in. It also features a ton of pew-pew, ships and blasters alike.
If you haven’t been following it, then go play. It’s free now!
Hit the jump for the new trailer and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Continue Reading
26 October 2012
| | iTZKooPA
Having to take a title designed as a subscription game from the start and morph it into a free-to-play game cannot be easy. Nothing can be shoehorned or half-assed. You don’t want to alienate customers – new, old or current – yet you can’t have the game be too open or two velvet roped. BioWare is juggling this exact problem with Star Wars: The Old Republic right now. Lead Designer Damion Schubert has just announced some changes ahead of the November (re)launch.
- Free players receive two quickbars, up from one.
- Free players can participate in five PvP Warzones a week, up from three.
- All players will see reduced Cartel Coin item locks (cash shop cooldown timers). Free players have been reduced to three days while subscribers are down to two days.
The changes have been made after analysis of the action on the test server.
Schubert spends a substantial amount of the post explaining the delicate balancing act of the subscriber vs. free-to-play experience. In fact, he believes that the PvP Warzone queue should increase despite the restriction, since many titles have seen subscriber numbers increase after converting business models. The past doesn’t guarantee future results, so Schubert was quick to state that if Warzone queues do go the other way, the restriction will be modified to correct it.
Still have questions? Check out the extensive “expansion to F2P” FAQ.
5 October 2012
| | iTZKooPA
Bethesda Game Studios is known for its unmistakably open world single-player campaigns, but the parent company, ZeniMax, has been branching out in multiple directions. It’s no shock that the company is looking to leverage the world of Mundus to the MMOG genre, as divisive as that decision has been.
Days ago the company announced the formation of Battlecry Studios, a new studio based in Austin run by former MMOG guru and recent BioWare lead Rich Vogel. Vogel’s pedigree of projects and initial Battlecry position have lead many to assume that the development studio will be ZeniMax’s second to focus on the massive multiplayer online market. The latest job posting gives further insight into the aspirations of the newly-formed studio, a F2P title.
Digging deeper, Eurogamer found two positions that scream free-to-play, a “monetization designer” and a lead position that requires candidates to have experience in “design and implementation of microtransaction systems and services.” If those two positions don’t scream F2P then I don’t know what does.
It’s interesting that the company continues to list console experience as criteria. There’s been few enough MMOGs released on consoles as it is. Let alone one of the F2P ilk. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
3 October 2012
| | Heartbourne
Bethesda Studios announced today a new software studio based in Austin, Texas. Headed by Rich Vogel, known for his leadership in MMOs including Ultima Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Star Wars: Galaxies, the new studio is already working on an “unannounced project”. There are job openings at Battlecry and the other ZeniMax studios, so seize the opportunity and head over to their jobs page!
The job page alludes to the possibility of a Playstation 3/Xbox title and MMO and FPS experience. With Vogel on the team, I think we are all hoping for some new MMO news from them in the near future in addition to Elder Scrolls Online from Bethesda.
We covered Vogel’s departure from Bioware in July. He had these remarks on joining Bethesda:
“I have always admired and respected Bethesda’s approach to making great, original games. It’s a belief and passion I share, and I’m looking forward to building a team of high quality developers who want to bring that same commitment and creative energy to the games we’ll be creating.”
Stay tuned for what ultimately comes from this new studio!
3 August 2012
| | Pherephassa
I must apologize to anyone who likes to read these, life seems to be conspiring to prevent me from writing on Fridays. I thought it’d be the easiest day to write, but no! Anything than can possibly go wrong – goes wrong on Fridays. Isn’t that supposed to be limited to Friday the 13th? but I’m here today with a ton of news and information for anyone who missed the week’s happenings.
It’s been a decently busy week here at LoreHound, preparations for Gamescon have begun. So there will be videos to watch in a few weeks, once iTZKooPA has gone and returned, and everything is compiled for viewing. I’m excited, I wish I could go, too! Grab some swag, chat with devs, pop advil like candy to combat the noise … actually the gel coated variety does taste like candy. I used to go to 3 or 4 a year when I lived in NYC, but haven’t since I moved to an area that is dead on the convention front. I just love conventions! Failing being able to go myself, I love watching the interviews. We’ve got some goodies this week, giveaways, rumors, launch date confirmations and the new date for Planetside 2‘s beta. And don’t forget The Secret World is open for anyone to play this weekend! Drop on in and give it a whirl!
31 July 2012
| | iTZKooPA
It’s been discussed from here to the sun for a few months now, the idea of Star Wars: The Old Republic being taken to the free-to-play model. Electronic Arts and BioWare made it official moments ago, throwing up a new landing page to announce the change to the community.
A F2P TOR experience isn’t going to be too different from the former subscription experience. Players can hit level 50 and enjoy any of the eight classes. Some restrictions will apply, but can be overcome with a microtransaction. As with many subscription to F2P transitions, a subscription option will remain for those dedicated players. Subscribers will be given monthly stipends for the cash shop. Previous and returning subscribers will be given special rewards including a backpay of Cartel Coins and a Fan’s Choice item.
Currently undisclosed is if additional content will cost Cartel Coins or be available for players as it is released. From the looks of it, gameplay content will be included in all models. If you’re a new or returning player, any subscription before August 1, 2012 – that’s tomorrow! – will earn some perks. More information at the F2P FAQ.
The announcement included some teasers to upcoming content, including the new operation on Asation, Terror From Beyond, and the new PvP warzone, Ancient Hypergate.
The full transition is expected to be completed for a November launch.
24 July 2012
| | Mike
As posted on GamerTechTV, an anonymous Bioware Austin employee has lashed out against Star Wars fans blaming them for the failure of Star Wars: The Old Republic. The employee also confirms that SWTOR is being converted to free-to-play and confirms that Star Wars Galaxies was shut-down for no other reason then to remove it as a competitor for SWTOR. The BioWare employee states:
EA blames us and to some extent they’re right to. but it was fan feedback from the day we opened the forums that encouraged us to design it for the fans the way it is and that included making it more like Kotor then an MMO like Wow. Also from what I have heard in the halls, Starwars Galaxies was shut down due to the fact are talks with LA, EA suits ecouraged the new guy at LA to increase the licensing fee at renewal time. it was a move to remove any direct competiton to TOR.
I don’t want anyone to be upset by this. but many of these changes had been in the “planning stages” for many months since the sharp drop in subscribers. many parts of the game will cost money to access. for example you can unlock the new “cathar” race in your legacy. but buying the unlock, it will cost 10$ US
As far as I’m concerned fans cannot be blamed for the failure of SWTOR, only Bioware and EA. If you don’t have a vision for what your game is supposed to be, maybe you shouldn’t be spending hundreds of millions of dollars making it. If you do decide to listen to fans, pick one person, hire them, and make them the project leader for that game. Maybe they have a real vision for what the game should be.
Fan feedback is important, but creating a game shouldn’t be based on it. The developer needs to be the visionary behind the game and create what they believe would be a fun game. I can tell you right now, no great game has ever been created based on fan feedback because most fans, despite what they say, don’t even know what they like.
BioWare, feel free to email me if you need someone to create your next MMO game because you guys have no clue.