Trending Games | WildStar | ArcheAge | Guild Wars 2 | Elder Scrolls Online

  Network:  FPSguru RTSguru
Login:  Password:   Remember?  
Show Quick Gamelist Jump to Random Game
Members:2,777,562 Users Online:0
Games:723  Posts:6,191,847
Recent forum postsRSS
Active threads
Cloud view
List all forums
General Forums
Developers Corner General Discussion
Popular Game Forums
Click a status to find game forum
Game Forums
Click a letter to find game forum
A-C
2029 Online 2112: Revolution 2Moons 4Story 8BitMMO 9 Dragons A Mystical Land A Tale in the Desert III A3 ACE Online ARGO Online Aberoth Absolute Force Online Absolute Terror Achaea Adellion Aerrevan Aetolia, the Midnight Age Age of Armor Age of Conan Age of Empires Online Age of Mourning Age of Wulin Age of Wushu Aida Arenas Aika Aion Albion Online Alganon All Points Bulletin (APB) Allods Online Altis Gates Amazing World Anarchy Online Ancients of Fasaria Andromeda 5 Angels Online Anime Trumps Anmynor Anno Online Applo Arcane Hearts Arcane Legends ArchLord ArcheAge Archeblade Archlord X Asda 2 Asda Story Ashen Empires Asheron's Call Asheron's Call 2 Astera Online Astonia III Astro Empires Astro Lords: Oort CLoud Asura Force Atlantica Online Atriarch Aura Kingdom Aurora Blade Auto Assault Avatar Star Battle Dawn Battle Dawn Galaxies Battle for Graxia Battle of 3 Kingdoms Battle of the Immortals Battlecruiser Online Battlestar Galactica Online Battlestar Reloaded Beyond Protocol Black Aftermath Black Desert Black Gold Black Prophecy Black Prophecy Tactics: Nexus Conflict Blacklight Retribution Blade & Soul Blade Hunter Blade Wars Blazing Throne Bless Blitz 1941 Blood and Jade Bloodlines Champions Bounty Bay Online Brain Storm Brawl Busters. Brick-Force Bright Shadow Bullet Run Business Tycoon Online CTRacer Cabal Online Caesary Call of Camelot Call of Gods Call of Thrones Camelot Unchained Canaan Online Cardmon Hero Cartoon Universe CasinoRPG Castle Empire Castlot Celtic Heroes Champions Online Champions of Regnum Chaos Online Chrono Tales Citadel of Sorcery CitiesXL Citizen Zero City of Decay City of Heroes City of Steam City of Transformers City of Villains Civilization Online Clan Lord Clash of Clans Cloud Nine Club Penguin Colony of War Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances Company of Heroes Online Conquer Online Conquer Online 3 Continent of the Ninth (C9) Core Blaze Core Exiles Corum Online Craft of Gods Crimecraft Crimelife 2 Cronous Crota II Crusaders of Solaris Cultures Online Cyber Monster 2 Céiron Wars
D-F
D&D Online DC Universe DK Online DOTA DOTA 2 DUST 514 DV8: Exile Dalethaan Dance Groove Online Dark Age of Camelot Dark Ages Dark Legends Dark Orbit Dark Relic: Prelude Dark Solstice Dark and Light DarkEden Online DarkSpace Darkblood Online Darkest Dungeon Darkfall Darkfall: Unholy Wars Darkwind: War on Wheels Das Tal Dawn of Fantasy Dawntide DayZ Dead Earth Dead Frontier Deco Online Deepworld Defiance Deicide Online Dekaron Demons at the Horizon Desert Operations Destiny Diablo 3 Diamonin Digimon Battle Dino Storm Disciple Divergence Divina Divine Souls Dofus Dominus Online Dragon Ball Online Dragon Born Online Dragon Crusade Dragon Empires Dragon Eternity Dragon Nest Dragon Oath Dragon Pals Dragon Raja Dragon's Call Dragon's Call II Dragon's Prophet DragonSky DragonSoul Dragona Dragonica Dragons and Titans Dream of Mirror Online Dreamland Online Dreamlords: The Reawakening Drift City Duels Dungeon Blitz Dungeon Fighter Online Dungeon Overlord Dungeon Party Dungeon Rampage Dungeon Runners Dynastica Dynasty Warriors Online Dynasty of the Magi EIN (Epicus Incognitus) EVE Online Earth Eternal Earth and Beyond Earthrise Eclipse War Ecol Tactics Online Eden Eternal Edge of Space Einherjar - The Viking's Blood Elder Scrolls Online Eldevin Elf Online Elite: Dangerous Embers of Caerus Emil Chronicle Online Empire Empire & State Empire Craft Empire Universe 3 EmpireQuest Empires of Galldon End of Nations Endless Ages Endless Blue Moon Online Endless Online Entropia Universe EpicDuel Erebus: Travia Reborn Eredan Eternal Blade Eternal Lands Eternal Saga Ether Fields Ether Saga Online Eudemons Online EuroGangster EverEmber Online EverQuest Next EverQuest Online Adventures Evernight Everquest Everquest II Evony Exarch Exorace F.E.A.R. Online Face of Mankind Fairyland Online Fall of Rome Fallen Earth Fallen Sword Fallout Online Family Guy Online Fantage Fantasy Earth Zero Fantasy Realm Online Fantasy Tales Online Fantasy Worlds: Rhynn Faunasphere Faxion Online Ferentus Ferion Fiesta Online Final Fantasy XI Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Firefall Fists of Fu Florensia Flyff Football Manager Live Football Superstars Force of Arms Forge Forsaken World Fortnite Fortuna Forum for Discussion of Everlight Freaky Creatures Free Realms Freesky Online Freeworld Fung Wan Online Furcadia Fury Fusion Fall
G-L
GalaXseeds Galactic Command Online Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms Gameglobe Gate To Heavens Gates of Andaron Gatheryn Gauntlet Gekkeiju Online Ghost Online Ghost Recon Online Gladiatus Glitch Global Agenda Global Soccer Gloria Victis Glory of Gods GoGoRacer Goal Line Blitz Gods and Heroes GodsWar Online Golemizer Golf Star GoonZu Online Graal Kingdoms Granado Espada Online Grand Chase Grand Fantasia Grepolis Grimlands Guild Wars Guild Wars 2 Guild Wars Factions Guild Wars Nightfall H1Z1 Habbo Hotel Hailan Rising HaloSphere2 Haven & Hearth Hawken Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft Helbreath Hellgate Hellgate: London Hello Kitty Online Hero Online Hero Zero Hero's Journey Hero: 108 Online HeroSmash Heroes & Generals Heroes in the Sky Heroes of Bestia Heroes of Gaia Heroes of Might and Magic Online Heroes of Thessalonica Heroes of Three Kingdoms Heroes of the Storm Hex Holic Online Hostile Space Hunter Blade Huxley Illutia Illyriad Immortals USA Imperator Imperian Inferno Legend Infestation: Survivor Stories Infinite Crisis Infinity Infinity Iris Online Iron Grip: Marauders Irth Worlds Island Forge Islands of War Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted Jade Dynasty Jagged Alliance Online Juggernaut Jumpgate Jumpgate Evolution KAL Online Kakele Online Kaos War Karos Online Kartuga Kicks Online King of Kings 3 Kingdom Heroes Kingdom Under Fire II Kingdom of Drakkar Kingory Kings and Legends Kings of the Realm KingsRoad Kitsu Saga Kiwarriors Knight Age Knight Online Knights of Dream City Kothuria Kung Foo! Kunlun Online L.A.W. LEGO Universe La Tale Land of Chaos Online Landmark Lands of Hope: Phoenix Edition LastChaos League of Angels League of Legends - Clash of Fates Legend of Edda: Vengeance Legend of Golden Plume Legend of Katha Legend of Mir 2 Legend of Mir 3 Legendary Champions Lego Minifigures Online Life is Feudal Light of Nova Lime Odyssey Line of Defense Lineage Lineage Eternal: Twilight Resistance Lineage II Linkrealms Loong Online Lord of the Rings Online Lords Online Lost Saga Lucent Heart Lunia Lusternia: Age of Ascension Luvinia World
M-Q
MU Online Mabinogi Maestia: Rise of Keledus MagiKnights Magic Barrage Magic World Online Manga Fighter MapleStory Martial Heroes Marvel Heroes Marvel Super Hero Squad Online Marvel: Avengers Alliance MechWarrior Online Megaten Meridian 59 : Evolution Merlin MetalMercs Metaplace Metin 2 MicroVolts Midkemia Online Might & Magic Heroes: Kingdoms MilMo Minecraft Mini Fighter Minions of Mirth Ministry of War Monato Esprit Monkey King Online Monkey Quest Monster & Me Monster Madness Online MonsterMMORPG Moonlight Online: Tales of Eternal Blood Mordavia Mortal Online Mourning My Lands Myst Online: URU Live Myth Angels Online Myth War Myth War 2 Mytheon Mythic Saga Mythos N.E.O Online NIDA Online Nadirim Naviage: The Power of Capital Navy Field Need for Speed World Nemexia Neo's Land NeoSteam Neocron Nether Neverwinter Nexus: The Kingdom Of The Winds NinjaTrick NosTale Novus Aeterno Oberin Odin Quest Odyssey RPG Ogre Island Omerta 3 Online Boxing Manager Onverse Order & Chaos Online Order of Magic Original Blood Origins Return Origins of Malu Orion's Belt Otherland Forums OverSoul Overkings Oz Online Oz World Pandora Saga Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Panzar Parabellum Parallel Kingdom Parfait Station Path of Exile Pathfinder Online Perfect World Perpetuum Online Phantasy Star Online 2 Phantasy Star Universe Phoenix Dynasty Online Phylon Pi Story Picaroon Pirate Galaxy Pirate Storm Pirate101 PirateKing Online Pirates of the Burning Sea Pirates of the Caribbean Online Pixie Hollow Planeshift Planet Arkadia Planet Calypso PlanetSide 2 Planetside Planets³ Playboy Manager Pocket Legends Pockie Ninja Pockie Pirates Pockie Saints PoxNora Prime World Prime: Battle for Dominus Priston Tale Priston Tale II Prius Online Project Blackout Project Powder Project Titan Forums Project Wiki Puzzle Pirates Quickhit Football
R-S
R2 Online RAN Online RF Online ROSE Online Rage of 3 Kingdoms Ragnarok Online Ragnarok Online II RaiderZ Rakion Rappelz RappelzSEA Ravenmarch Realm Fighter Realm of the Mad God Realm of the Titans Realms Online Reclamation Red Stone Red War: Edem's Curse Regnum Online Remnant Knights Renaissance Repulse Requiem: Memento Mori Rift RiotZone Rise Rise of Dragonian Era Rise of Empire Rise of the Tycoon Rising of King Risk Your Life Rivality Rockfree Rohan: Blood Feud Role Play Worlds Roll n Rock Roma Victor Romadoria Rosh Online Roto X Rubies of Eventide Ruin Online Rumble Fighter Runes of Magic Runescape Rust Rusty Hearts Ryzom S4 League SAGA SD Gundam Capsule Fighter Online SMITE SUN Sagramore Salem SaySayGirls Scarlet Blade Scions of Fate Seal Online: Evolution Second Life Secret of the Solstice Seed Serenia Fantasy Seven Seas Saga Seven Souls Online Sevencore Shadow of Legend Shadowbane Shadowrun Online Shaiya Shards Online Shattered Galaxy Sho Online Shot Online Shroud of the Avatar SideQuest Siege on Stars Sigonyth: Desert Eternity Silkroad Online Skyblade Skyforge SmashMuck Champions Smoo Online Soldier Front Soul Master Soul Order Online Soul of Guardian Space Heroes Universe Sparta: War of Empires Spellcasters Sphere Spiral Knights Spirit Tales Splash Fighters Squad Wars Star Citizen Star Sonata 2 Star Stable Star Supremacy Star Trek Online Star Trek: Infinite Space Star Wars Galaxies Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures Star Wars: The Old Republic StarQuest Online Stargate Worlds Starlight Story Starpires State of Decay SteelWar Online Stone Age 2 Stormfall: Age of War Storybricks Stronghold Kingdoms Sudden Attack Supremacy 1914 Supreme Destiny Sword Girls Sword of Destiny: Rise of Aions SwordX Swords of Heavens Swordsman
T-Z
TERA TS Online Tabula Rasa Tactica Online Tales Runner Tales of Fantasy Tales of Pirates Tales of Pirates II Tales of Solaris Talisman Online Tamer Saga Tank Ace Tantra Online Tatsumaki: Land at War Terra Militaris TerraWorld Online Thang Online The 4th Coming The Agency The Aurora World The Black Watchmen The Chronicle The Chronicles of Spellborn The Crew The Division The Hammers End The Legend of Ares The Lost Titans The Matrix Online The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot The Missing Ink The Mummy Online The Myth of Soma The Pride of Taern The Realm Online The Repopulation The Secret World The Sims Online The Strategems The West Theralon There Therian Saga Thrones of Chaos Tibia Tibia Micro Edition Tiger Knight Titan Siege Titans of Time Toontown Online Top Speed Topia Online Torchlight Total Domination Transformers Universe Traveller AR Travia Online Travian Trials of Ascension Tribal Hero Tribal Wars Tribes Universe Trickster Online Trove Troy Online True Fantasy Live Online Turf Battles Twelve Sky Twelve Sky 2 Twilight War Tynon U.B. Funkeys UFO Online URDEAD Online Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar Ultima Online Ultima X: Odyssey Ultimate Naruto Ultimate Soccer Boss Uncharted Waters Online Undercover 2: Merc Wars Underlight Unification Wars Universe Online Utopia Valkyrie Sky Vampire Lord Online Vanguard: Saga of Heroes Vanquish Space Vector City Racers Vendetta Online Victory - Age of Racing Vindictus Virtonomics Vis Gladius Visions of Zosimos VoidExpanse Voyage Century Online W.E.L.L. Online WAR (Warhammer Online) WAR2 Glory WYD Global Wakfu War Thunder War of 2012 War of Angels War of Legends War of Mercenaries War of Thrones War of the Immortals WarFlow Waren Story Wargame1942 Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade Warhammer 40K: Dark Millennium Online Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes Warkeepers Warrior Epic Wartune WebLords Wild West Online WildStar Wind of Luck WindSlayer 2 Wings of Destiny Wish Wizard101 Wizardry Online Wizards and Champions Wonder King Wonderland Online World Golf Tour World of Battles World of Darkness World of Heroes World of Kung Fu World of Pirates World of Speed World of Tanks World of Tanks Generals World of Warcraft World of Warplanes World of Warships World of the Living Dead WorldAlpha Wurm Online Xenocell Xiah Xsyon Xulu YS Online Yitien ZU Online Zentia Zero Online Zero Online: The Andromeda Crisis Zodiac Online Zombies Ate My Pizza eRepublik

MMORPG.com Discussion Forums

Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars Galaxies 

SWG Veteran Refuge  » Astromechs, Friday Features & Other Stuff (2003-2005)

9 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 » Last Search
174 posts found
  User Deleted
 
OP  6/09/08 11:31:41 PM#1

Astromechs & Friday Features and other stuff from 2003-2005

 (Jeff Freeman Blog moved forward >> in the thread)

This is from a Astromech posted 19 August 2005 :
Least-played to most-played professions

 

Squadleader(Least played)
Chef
Force Sensitive - Crafting
Droid Engineer
Ranger
Bio Engineer
Musician
Armorsmith
Image Designer
Shipwright
Weaponsmith
Architect
Force Wielder
Fencer
Tailor
Pikeman
Dancer
Commando
Force Defender
Force Enhancer
Force Healer
Light Saber Mastery
Creature Handler
Smuggler
Swordsman
Combat Medic
Merchant
Doctor
Politician
Carbineer
Force Sensitive - Senses
Teras Kasi
Pistoleer
Rifleman
Force Sensitive - Reflexes
Bounty Hunter
Force Sensitive - Combat(Most Played)



GarVa wrote:

Got the List of Masteries (actual masters in listed skill trees) least to most again:

Force Sensitive: Crafting Mastery (Least Masteries)
Force Sensitive: Senses
Force Healer
Force Enhancer
Force Wielder
Squad Leader
Politician
Ranger
Droid Engineer
Force Sensitive: Reflexes
Chef
Force Sensitive: Combat
Bio Engineer
Musician
Force Defender
Fencer
Tailor
Architect
Image Designer
Armorsmith
Pikeman
Weaponsmith
ShipWright
Dancer
Commando
Light Saber
Creature Handler

Merchant                     
Combat Medic
Smuggler
Swordsman
Doctor
Carbineer
Pistoleer
Teras Kasi
Rifleman
Bounty Hunte
r (Most Masteries)

------------------------------------------------------

Beta Professions

From the beta boards. Before they merged some of the professions.

Architect
This profession combines skills from the architecture and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can build structures including player venues, installations, and municipal structures.

Armorer
This profession combines skills from the armor design and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can create armor for players and structures.

Bounty Hunter
This elite profession combines skills from the investigation, slicing and combat disciplines. A player in this advanced profession can hunt down other players with bounties and is an accomplished combatant.

Chef
This profession combines skills from the cooking and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can create all kinds of foods. Foods are not necessary but are quite useful for temporarily improving a player's attributes

Combat Engineer
This profession combines skills from the engineering and combat disciplines. A player in this profession can both hold his/her own in a fight and repair items that are broken or damaged in combat.


Combat Medic
This profession combines skills from the medical and combat disciplines. A player in this profession can both hold their own in a fight as well as heal those who are injured in the field.

Commando
This profession combines skills from both the ranged and melee combat disciplines. A player in this profession is dangerous both at range and up close.

Creature Handler
This profession combines skills from both the combat and creature handling disciplines. A player in this profession can tame and train animals. A tamed animal can be sold to other players who have sufficient skill to control the creature.

Doctor
This profession combines skills from the medical and chemical design disciplines. A player in this profession can cure all kinds of damage including shock wounds.

Droid Engineer
This profession combines skills from the droid design and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can design droid components, instruments and droids themselves.

Entertainer
This profession includes skills from the dancing and musicianship disciplines. A player in this profession can play musical instruments and perform dance routines for the benefit of others.

Explorer
This profession combines skills from the linguistics, outdoorsmanship, and combat disciplines. A player in this profession can “solo” as well as translate for group members.

Farmer
This elite profession combines skills from the farming and facility management disciplines. A player in this profession can grow plants and animals for foods and medicines.

Gunsmith
This profession combines skills from the ranged weapons design and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can design ranged weapons and their components.

Image Designer
The Image Designer profession combines skills from the body customization and tailoring disciplines. A player in this profession can modify the way other players look as well as create clothing.

Jedi
Jedi is a special case profession that requires considerable prerequisites (such as being Force sensitive). A player in this profession has access to considerable Force wielding skills, but they would be wise to keep that information to themselves as the Galactic Empire aggressively hunts the Jedi.

Marksman
This profession combines skills from the ranged combat disciplines. A player in this profession is extremely dangerous in ranged combat.

Melee Weaponsmith
This profession combines skills from the melee weapon design and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can design melee weapons and their components.

Merchant
This elite profession combines skills from the merchant, facility management, and general crafting disciplines. A player in this profession can operate vendors and run player-venues.

Miner
This elite profession combines skills from the mining and facility management disciplines. A player in this profession can extract valuable resources from the environment.

Politician
This elite profession includes skills from the politics and linguistics disciplines. A player in this advanced profession can run for office and manage a player city.

Ranger
This profession combines skills from the creature handling, outdoorsmanship, and combat disciplines. A player in this profession can “solo” as well as find creatures for the food or taming.


Smuggler
This profession combines skills from the smuggling and ranged combat disciplines. A player in this profession can move “illicit” materials past “faction police” with greater ease and are useful to players involved in commerce.

Squad Leader
This profession combines skills from the leadership and combat disciplines. A player in this profession provides combat and movement bonuses to anyone that is grouped with them.

Teras Kasi Artist
This profession combines skills from the melee combat and melee tactics disciplines. A player in this profession is extremely dangerous in melee combat. Teras Kasi, or “steel hands”, is a Bunduki martial arts discipline focusing on weaponless combat.

------------------------------------------------

More to come.... >>>

 

The Second Day Vet

  SioBabble

Novice Member

Joined: 6/10/07
Posts: 2823

6/10/08 1:34:06 PM#2

Good stuff to have around.

Particularly the Jeff Freeman blog post that displays just how cah-way-zee the SWG devs could get, and how they'd regret what they did.

The rancid pile of rancor poodoo that is the NGE DID kill the social aspects of the game, and the community that had been created.  Levels suck, classes suck.

CH, Jedi, Commando, Smuggler, BH, Scout, Doctor, Chef, BE...yeah, lots of SWG time invested.

Once a denizen of Ahazi

  User Deleted
6/10/08 3:48:15 PM#3

Oh man that is fun.

 

 

proof of drug use at soe.

  TookyG

Warhammer Online Correspondent

Joined: 4/19/04
Posts: 1192

"...you mean three philippino women."

6/10/08 4:24:16 PM#4

Originally posted by suske

Oh man that is fun.

proof of drug use at soe.

Indeed.  They were way beyond drug experimentation and were at the drug dependency stage.

Until you cancel your subscription, you are only helping to continue the cycle of mediocrity.

  Avos

Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/08
Posts: 80

6/10/08 4:41:33 PM#5

Good stuff.

  User Deleted
6/10/08 7:04:35 PM#6

  Freeman's blog gives a glaring example of his own admission that the player's never even entered into the equation.   It was what they thought would  be "fun" and rammed it down our throats.

  Tiller

Guide

Joined: 9/14/05
Posts: 4967

6/10/08 8:19:41 PM#7

Yeah I nabbed that Freeman blog back when he wrote it, then after I posted it everywhere.  His "get back at me" was to have me quoted in his new blog as saying "Jeff Freeman is a Morron" in his "what people say about me" track backs, or some shit he pulled off Raph Kosters site.... lmao.  Anyways good stuff right thur though.


SWG pre-cu vet, elder Jedi, elder BH -Bloodfin

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:08:06 PM#8

Here we go again.... >>>

 

CITY STATS
Live Server Report Date: May 2004

 

Galaxy Houses Vendors

Cities

Ahazi 16,538 20,377 159
Bloodfin 15,799 20,868 153
Bria 19,233 24,618 183
Chilastra 13,634 18,275 143
Chimaera-European 12,718 14,547 149
Corbantis 14,307 18,045 149
Eclipse 17,077 24,686 158
FarStar-European 9,661 10,900 117
Flurry 11,783 13,956 108
Gorath 16,554 21,862 155
Infinity-European 4,090 4,354 69
Intrepid 12,081 15,363 116
Kauri 14,570 18,874 150
Kettemoor 11,042 14,001 111
Lowca 11,882 16,152 124
Naritus 10,282 12,597 120
Radiant 12,505 15,690 131
Scylla 10,969 13,164 125
Shadowfire 9,020 11,062 95
Starsider 13,213 17,984 125
Sunrunner 10,450 12,834 109
Tarquinas 9,498 12,136 111
Tempest 9,031 11,108 101
Valcyn 10,084 11,839 96
Wanderhome 9,869 12,873 105
       
Total 305,890 388,165 3,162
  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:12:06 PM#9

ECONOMY STATS
by Raph "Holocron" Koster
Live Server Report Date: April 30th 2004

MMO economies are hard. It's kinda become a truism by now. There's models for closed economies and open ones, there's terms lifted from real economics thrown around, and lots of theory about faucet-drain economies, mudflation, and whatnot. Why bother? Well, mostly because the game gets more boring when the economy is out of whack. If too much money is entering the system, then players tend to have more stuff than they should be able to afford, and that makes the game easier, which then can make it kind of dull. So the health of the game economy is something that we pay pretty close attention to.

SWG uses what is called a faucet-drain economy. You can visualize a spigot of cash coming into the game, a big ol' sink where the money sloshes around, and a set of drains where the money goes out the bottom. When money comes in from the faucet, it's actually being "minted" - it's being created by the game system. The sink is basically the whole game. It's the bank accounts, the player inventories, all the money that is used for trades and transactions among players, etc. When money goes out the bottom, it's deleted from the system, rather than circulating back to a central bank.

(Credits aren't the only thing that is generated, of course - a significant faucet into the game economy actually comes in the form of resource mining. Since the amount of money and the amount of resources coming into the game at a time both vary, you get small fluctuations in the price of resources as the value of both the resources and the currency changes. Plus, you also get different qualities of resources that affect the price. But we're not really talking about commodities pricing today, much as just about the value of a credit).

We try to monitor the broad flow of cash in order to assess the health of the credit as a currency. There are other metrics for measuring the health of an economy overall - for example, the amount of transactions and the amount of currency that changes hands between players - but today we're going to just look at the flow of currency itself.

The four biggest tools we use in order to assess the health of the currency are reports on the flow in and out of money, and the percentage breakdown of where the money comes from and goes. For example, have a look at this graph:

 

What you see here is the raw amount of cash coming into the game over the course of the last month. It does tend to fluctuate up and down based on how many people are playing (which varies per day of the week), what they're doing, and so on. When we do major changes to the game (such as adding or removing a source of loot, let's say) the amount of currency flowing in tends to change.

We mostly watch this one in comparison to the amount of currency flowing out, which looks like this:

 

As you can see, the variety of outflow sources is much greater. We've been more successful at having a variety of ways for you to spend your money than a variety of ways for you to make money!

Those of you with sharp eyes may have noticed that in fact the game economy is running at a net loss, based on those two graphs. A while back we noticed that the game was running at a deficit, and yet there were none of the major effects we'd expect, such as currency becoming incredibly hard to come by, people going bankrupt, etc. Our conclusion was that a lot of the currency out there must have been "counterfeit" - in other words, we had a dupe bug. We promptly started hunting for it, and in fact we not only found it, but were able to mass ban a large number of folks who were clearly involved as well as removed trillions of credits from holding accounts, middlemen, etc. Running the overall currency flow at a deficit is effectively "eating up" the duped credits, and we'll return to the game economy to a more even keel when the total amount of cash in the system is something we're more comfortable with.

 

The graph above shows the percentage breakdown over the course of the last month for where people get their money. As you can see, the vast majority of the money coming in enters the system via missions. Loot runs in a distant second place.

Looking back at a long-term history of expenditures even lets you see when major features went into the game:

 

The red appears when vehicle maintenance kicks in, the purple is the arrival of player cities, and the light blue is when we made adjustments to the cost of player insurance.

In addition to these sorts of tracking, we also monitor things like large changes in wealth for individuals (often, but not always, a sign of cheating or duping), wealth distribution across the playerbase, and so on. For example, it's easy to see that just like in the real world economy, the chacteristic "Pareto Law" distribution of cash holds true: most of the money is in the hands of a few. This is a graph of just the top 2000 or so folks on Bria, for example - the highest folks are billionaires.

 

This isn't necessarily something to be discouraged by - rather, we take it as a sign that the game economy is replicating characteristics of the real world economy. Since one of our goals was to have a game economy that can provide ongoing interesting strategy gameplay, seeing real world patterns manifest is something we were looking forward to.

There's a ton of other types of data we track, and you've seen some of them in other features. But game economy is one of the most important, because overall health of the currency is one of the quickest ways to see if the game is going sour. You can even do some of this yourself - try monitoring the fluctuations in the prices of different items on a day to day basis, and build your own graphs. If you're a stats geek like me, it'll open your eyes to a whole new way of looking at online worlds.

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:13:44 PM#10

Cries of Alderaan Act 3 Metrics
This report shows which side is winning The Cries of Alderaan Act 3 as of February 19th. The winner is determined by the percentage of a Faction that completes the missions and gets the story badge (meaning the larger faction doesn't have a better chance of success). This act is scheduled to run at least until Publish 8, so there is still time to go out and sway the results.

If the Rebels win Act 3: A modified Dead Eye will become a Rebel Perk.
If the Imperials win Act 3: Dead Eye will become obsolete.


Live server report date: Feb 19th 2004

Formula
Rebel + Imperials = 100% of Factioned Players
Rebel Badges + Imperial Badges = 100% of total COA Act 3 Badges awarded
Winner = whichever side has the higher Badges to Members ratio

Galaxy Rebels Imperials Rebel Badges Imperial Badges % of Rebels with Badge % of Imperials with Badge Current Winner
Ahazi 58.85% 41.15% 54.98% 45.02% 4.85% 5.79% Imperial 
Bloodfin 53.67% 46.33% 53.36% 46.64% 4.81% 4.87% Imperial 
Bria 59.79% 40.21% 55.98% 44.02% 5.31% 6.26% Imperial
Chilastra 59.78% 40.22% 58.02% 41.98% 6.07% 6.63% Imperial
Corbantis 56.62% 43.38% 56.07% 43.93% 5.92% 6.17% Imperial
Eclipse 55.33% 44.67% 49.53% 50.47% 5.06% 6.50% Imperial
Europe-Chimaera 44.66% 55.34% 34.41% 65.59% 4.76% 7.40% Imperial
Europe-FarStar 49.00% 51.00% 40.51% 59.49% 4.89% 6.97% Imperial
Europe-Infinity 49.90% 50.10% 35.59% 64.41% 2.06% 3.75% Imperial
Flurry 59.04% 40.96% 54.20% 45.80% 5.12% 6.37% Imperial
Gorath 54.85% 45.15% 52.10% 47.90% 6.27% 7.11% Imperial
Intrepid 60.61% 39.39% 56.26% 43.74% 5.70% 6.88% Imperial
Kauri 57.14% 42.86% 49.70% 50.30% 5.70% 7.82% Imperial
Kettemoor 59.09% 40.91% 53.91% 46.09% 5.54% 6.91% Imperial
Lowca 59.46% 40.54% 60.87% 39.13% 6.40% 6.07% Rebel
Naritus 63.02% 36.98% 59.60% 40.40% 5.35% 6.22% Imperial
Radiant 60.41% 39.59% 56.62% 43.38% 5.57% 6.61% Imperial
Scylla 56.30% 43.70% 52.91% 47.09% 6.38% 7.33% Imperial
Shadowfire 56.08% 43.92% 51.70% 48.30% 4.85% 5.89% Imperial
Starsider 58.34% 41.66% 55.56% 44.44% 5.53% 6.25% Imperial
Sunrunner 60.65% 39.35% 57.00% 43.00% 5.27% 6.17% Imperial
Tarquinas 58.62% 41.38% 55.45% 44.55% 5.06% 5.84% Imperial
Tempest 59.11% 40.89% 54.11% 45.89% 4.77% 5.85% Imperial
Valcyn 59.04% 40.96% 55.75% 44.25% 5.95% 6.84% Imperial
Wanderhome 58.94% 41.06% 59.54% 40.46% 7.42% 7.34% Rebel
Overall 57.53% 42.47% 53.94% 46.06% 5.39% 6.39% Imperials

Currently the Imperials are winning Act 3 by a 1% margin. Rebels get out there and encourage your mates to complete the story arc!

Note: Because the Rebels previously won both Act 1 and 2, the Rebel final mission was made to be more difficult than the Imperial final mission.

FACTIONS
Percentage of characters in specific factions

Live server report date: Feb19th

73.69% Neutral
14.79% Rebel Covert
10.69% Imperial Covert
0.34% Rebel Declared
0.49% Imperial Declared

Stat notes: There are 10% more factioned players since the October Astromech Faction Stats. There are still less Imperials than Rebels, but that gap has been shrinking. The numbers of Overt seemed to decrease, BUT we have also changed the code such that logged out Overts register in our logs as Coverts (they become Overt automatically after the player has fully loaded in to avoid players getting killed while starting the game).

This list includes characters that were created but potentially never used (it doesn't include deleted characters).

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:14:45 PM#11

Cries of Alderaan Final Act 3 Metrics
Below are the final numbers from The Cries of Alderaan Act 3. The winner is determined by the percentage of a Faction that completes the missions and gets the story badge. While players will not be able to determine the outcome of the act anymore, they will be able to get their Act 3 badge until Publish 9.

And the winner is....The Rebellion!

In a hard-fought struggle, the Rebellion was able to protect their flora research stations from the Imperials long enough to develop an alternative version of Dead Eye. Once the new schematic is ready for mass production, Rebels will be able to craft Dead Eye using flora other than the rare Alderaanian Flora. When ready, the new schematic will be available from Rebel recruiters.


Stats recorded from start of act thru April 5th

Formula
Rebel + Imperials = 100% of Factioned Players
Rebel Badges + Imperial Badges = 100% of total COA Act 3 Badges awarded
Winner = whichever side has the higher Badges to Members ratio

 

In looking at the numbers, you'll notice that many of the servers came right down to the wire. Though the Rebels did "come from behind" the February tally was quite close. For the final numbers on many servers to determine who won and who lost was less than 1% (11 servers were within .5%!). After looking at the numbers, it could have gone with either way right up to the end.

Galaxy Rebels Imperials Rebel Badges Imperial Badges % of Rebels with Badge % of Imperials with Badge Current Winner

*

Ahazi 57.58% 42.42% 58.61% 41.39% 9.38% 8.99% Rebel .39%
Bloodfin 53.26% 46.74% 55.60% 44.40% 8.77% 7.98% Rebel .79%
Bria 58.90% 41.10% 61.16% 38.84% 10.22% 9.30% Rebel .92%
Chilastra 58.74% 41.26% 59.03% 40.97% 10.64% 10.51% Rebel .13%
Corbantis 56.61% 43.39% 59.11% 40.89% 10.74% 9.73% Rebel 1.02%
Eclipse 53.90% 45.32% 54.01% 45.99% 10.39% 10.34% Rebel .05%
Europe-Chimaera 44.79% 55.21% 42.35% 57.65% 10.37% 11.45% Imperial 1.08%
Europe-FarStar 49.58% 50.42% 50.36% 49.64% 11.32% 10.97% Rebel .35%
Europe-Infinity 50.41% 49.59% 45.04% 54.96% 7.45% 9.24% Imperial 1.79%
Flurry 58.10% 41.90% 59.11% 40.89% 10.32% 9.90% Rebel .42%
Gorath 54.68% 45.32% 56.27% 43.73% 11.37% 10.65% Rebel .71%
Intrepid 59.66% 40.43% 61.36% 40.43% 11.85% 11.04% Rebel .81%
Kauri 55.96% 44.04% 53.10% 46.90% 11.13% 12.49% Imperial 1.36%
Kettemoor 58.19% 41.42% 58.58% 41.42% 10.84% 10.66% Rebel .17%
Lowca 58.30% 41.70% 62.04% 37.96% 10.66% 9.12% Rebel 1.54%
Naritus 62.11% 37.89% 63.03% 36.97% 10.61% 10.20% Rebel .41%
Radiant 59.87% 40.13% 62.24% 37.76% 10.13% 9.17% Rebel .96%
Scylla 55.45% 44.55% 56.62% 43.38% 11.43% 10.90% Rebel .53%
Shadowfire 55.13% 44.87% 56.51% 43.49% 9.84% 9.30% Rebel .54%
Starsider 57.17% 42.83% 58.00% 42.00% 10.68% 10.32% Rebel .36%
Sunrunner 59.63% 40.37% 57.71% 42.29% 9.90% 10.71% Imperial .81%
Tarquinas 57.92% 42.08% 58.67% 41.33% 10.35% 10.04% Rebel .32%
Tempest 58.13% 41.87% 59.28% 40.72% 10.41% 9.92% Rebel .48%
Valcyn 57.51% 42.49% 61.90% 42.49% 13.06% 10.88% Rebel 2.18%
Wanderhome 58.00% 42.00% 58.10% 41.90% 12.02% 11.97% Rebel .05%
Overall 56.62% 43.38% 57.51% 42.49% 10.25% 9.88% Rebel .36%

* This column represents the margin by which the winning faction on each server leads.

 

FACTIONS
Percentage of characters in specific factions

67.95% Neutral
20.69% Rebel Covert
10.65% Imperial Covert
0.31% Rebel Declared
0.40% Imperial Declared

This list includes characters that were created but potentially never used (it doesn't include deleted characters).

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:15:29 PM#12

KILL STATS
Live Server Report Date: Dec 17th

Top Ten Solo Kills:

1. meatlump buffoon 
2. capper spineflap 
3. kreetle 
4. rill 
5. flesh eating chuba 
6. worrt 
7. meatlump fool 
8. ragtag kook 
9. lesser desert womprat 
10. minor worrt 

Top Ten Group Kills:

1. slinking voritor hunter
2. dark trooper
3. piket longhorn female
4. piket
5. huurton
6. rebel medic
7. piket plains walker
8. worrt
9. flesh eating chuba
10. rill

Top Ten "Raid MOBs":
(group kills of the toughest critters in the game)

1. canyon krayt dragon
2. giant canyon krayt dragon
3. giant dune kimogila
4. peko peko albatross
5. dark Jedi master
6. nightsister elder
7. dark Jedi knight
8. krayt dragon ancient
9. singing mountian clan councilwoman
10. singing mountain clan guardian

Top Ten "Raid MOBs" by soloists (!):
(frequency of kills of the toughest critters in the game)

1. canyon krayt dragon
2. giant canyon krayt dragon
3. giant dune kimogila
4. dark Jedi master
5. peko peko albatross
6. enraged dune kimogila
7. krayt dragon ancient
8. blurrg raptor
9. nightsister elder
10. dark Jedi knight

Top Ten Things Nobody Solos:

1. stoneskin hanadak
2. spider nightsister protector
3. spider nightsister spell weaver
4. warren AT-ST
5. erran sif
6. queen arachne
7. hirsch sif
8. queen merek harvester
9. doak sif
10. pubam battlelord

Top Ten Things Nobody Group-kills:

1. stoneskin hanadak
2. tainted donkuwah dark shaman
3. vile donkuwah battlelord
4. ravenous rasp
5. gungan kaadu rider
6. shear mite hunter
7. narmle major
8. panshee ritualist
9. mission gungan boss
10. spynet operative

Loneliest Creature In The Game:

stoneskin hanadak. :)

Top Ten Things That People Solo But Shouldn't Be Able To With Their Current Skills/Weapon:
(red con solos)

1. tusken captain
2. tusken warlord
3. tusken chief
4. untrained wielder of the dark side
5. dark force crystal hunter
6. fierce piket protector
7. dark trooper
8. piket plains walker
9. piket
10. stormtrooper

Top Ten Things That People Group Kill But Shouldn't Waste Their Time On:
(green con group kills)

1. kreetle
2. huurton pup
3. rebel medic
4. rebel commando
5. mission rebel surface marshal
6. specops alliance free agent
7. ragtag kook
8. tusken commoner
9. rebel general
10. evil settler

Commonest Even Matches For Soloists:

1. vynock
2. scavenger rat
3. crazed durni
4. womprat
5. durni
6. diseased bocatt
7. diseased vrelt
8. swooper gangmember
9. mound mite
10. rockmite

Commonest Even Matches For Groups:

1. dark force crystal hunter
2. piket plains walker
3. piket
4. canyon krayt dragon
5. tusken warlord
6. untrained wielder of the dark side
7. huurton huntress
8. giant baz nitch
9. dark trooper
10. slinking voritor hunter

Typical Solo Kills A Day: 2.5 million.
Typical Group Kills A Day: 3.25 million.

Average Number Of Ancient Krayt Dragon Kills A Day: 50.
Average Number Of Gnort Kills A Day: 17000.

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:16:13 PM#13

PROFESSIONS
Percentage of characters with specific novice skill

Live server report date: Oct 20th 2003

Starting Professions
57.91% Novice Marksman
51.66% Novice Scout
36.47% Novice Medic
34.84% Novice Artisan
32.60% Novice Brawler
17.93% Novice Entertainer
 
Elite Professions
8.66% Novice Creature Handler
6.76% Novice Pistoleer
2.58% Novice Bounty Hunter
2.11% Novice Doctor
2.01% Novice Merchant
1.98% Novice Rifleman
1.86% Novice Smuggler
1.80% Novice Ranger
1.68% Novice Architect
1.55% Novice Commando
1.53% Novice Weaponsmith
1.47% Novice Teras Kasi Artist
1.47% Novice Carbineer
1.08% Novice Combat Medic
1.00% Novice Tailor
0.98% Novice Bio Engineer
0.97% Novice Dancer
0.93% Novice Armorsmith
0.91% Novice Droid Engineer
0.71% Novice Musician
0.61% Novice Swordsman
0.46% Novice Squad Leader
0.35% Novice Fencer
0.31% Novice Image Designer
0.30% Novice Chef
0.25% Novice Pikeman
0.00% Novice Jedi Padawan

Notes: This list includes characters that were created but potentially never used (it doesn't include deleted characters).

FACTIONS
Percentage of characters in specific factions

Live server report date: Oct 20th

76.06% Neutral
13.59% Rebel Covert
7.87% Imperial Covert
1.09% Rebel Declared
1.39% Imperial Declared

Notes: There are 10% more factioned players than in early September. Rebels currently outnumber Imperials by 63%. We need to find ways to encourage more players to join the Empire as covert agents.

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:17:25 PM#14

CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE SCREENSHOT

 

Developer Structure Viewer 2003

This article is to give you a little insight into one of our behind the scenes tools. Please note this tool is not available to players. We just wanted to lift the curtain a bit so you could see some of our processes.

The Structure Viewer takes a snapshot of the locations of all player placed structures on all of the servers. With it we can at a glance determine where players have built their houses (black) and harvesters (blue). The primary benefit of the tool is for us to know where and where not to place more static encounters (red). To spread the players out we can easily find what portions of the worlds are underused.

The side benefit of this tool is that is will help us readjust our server boundaries so that we can better manage load across the cluster. If too much is happening in one area, for example, we can tighten the server boundary. Additionally, this tool has helped us to track down bugs (we are currently using it to learn better ways of preventing lairs from spawning on top of houses for example).

Across all of the galaxies we currently have over 90,000 player houses. Other structures easily double this number. This number grows every day.


This shot shows Corellia with all galaxies selected, player structures only.

 


Dantooine on the Bloodfin galaxy

 


Dathomir on the Valcyn galaxy

 


Endor on the Bria galaxy (of note: we limited what could be built on adventure planets, but ended up "grandfathering" structures built before we clamped down on it)


Lok on the Ahazi galaxy

 


Naboo on the Starsider galaxy. Can you point to Theed and its waterways?

 


Rori on the Corbantis galaxy

 


Talus on the Gorath galaxy

 


Tatooine on the Intrepid galaxy

 


Yavin 4 on the Radiant galaxy

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:19:43 PM#15

Friday Feature Pre-launch

 

Creature Creation Part 1: Star Wars Zoology

The Star Wars galaxy teems with an amazing diversity of inhabitants. Creatures can be found just about anywhere, from thick swamps to cold gray asteroids in space, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In a game like Star Wars Galaxies, the task of creating the critters that are integral to the Star Wars flavor is great, and the team assembled to tackle the job is equally great, in both talent and number.

Star Wars Galaxies currently has more than fifteen artists and animators whose jobs are to re-create (and in many cases, create) the rancors, gackle bats , gnorts , dewbacks and dozens of other lifeforms players will encounter as they live the Star Wars movies through their characters. To get a good idea of how creature creation works in all its stages, I consulted with the team responsible for putting the skin on Salacious Crumb and the jelly in Jabba's belly laugh. However, this article ballooned as I began to see why the project requires so many artists!

So Many Creatures, So Little Time.

The process begins much like the planet building process, with hard choices: What creatures will make it into the initial release of the game, and which will not? In fact, the choice of planets helps determine which creatures can be included.

Haden "Shug Ninx" Blackman, producer for LucasArts, brought his vast knowledge and resources to the decision-making table to help in this respect. "We knew that Corellian slice-hounds are native to Corellia, for example," he explains, "so, we knew that we could include them. The wildlife of Tatooine and Yavin 4 are extremely well-documented. In the case of those two planets, where we probably couldn't include every creature ever mentioned, we started with the creatures that would be most recognizable and then moved to the creatures that filled a niche-as enemies, or pets, or whatever."

The design of the gameplay has an important influence on the decision-making process. All creatures to be included must fill a niche in the game, or have a "purpose" in the overall gameplay. The design team decided what these niches would be early on, and these included types such as predators, flying predators, herbivores, fish, mounts, and many others.

There is ultimately a limit to how many creatures can be put into the initial release, and with limited time available in which to finish the game, development efficiency is of primary concern. It fell to Joe Shoopack and Jake Rodgers to devise a system that would maximize creature variety and fill the required niches, while managing development time.

Once a creature has been given the green light, the artists can begin working on bringing it to life in the game. In many cases, the creatures come directly from the Star Wars movies, and it is these films that serve as the artist's primary reference. Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace proved a particularly rich resource for creature references. But there are many creatures you'll see in the game that did not appear in the movies, and this is where concept artist Arnie Jorgensen comes in.

Star Wars Galaxies. From clothing, to creatures, to furniture, if it needs initial visualization, Arnie can create it.

"Concept art begins at the design stage," Arnie explains. "A designer will come up with something he or she needs for the game that has never been seen before, and then they pass the idea on to me and the lead artist. I will take a look at it and approach the piece in different ways depending on what needs to be done. There are all sorts of rules and restrictions placed on the designs by the game engine. If it's a building, I know that I must keep in mind this rule, or that rule, and if it's a character, then I must keep in mind a different ruleset. Once past these challenges, I can really settle in to making it an interesting design. Normally, I rough out a sketch in pencil and then scan it into the computer to color."

Arnie doesn't spend time re-inventing the wheel in his concept work. Those creatures that have already been seen in the movies don't need a redress. However, if a dewback needs a saddle, then Arnie will concept it. "You'd be surprised how much concept art like that needs to be done," he says. "We have four movies and a mountain of "The Art of..." Star Wars books to look at, and yet there is still plenty to design."

Many examples of Arnie's concept work for creatures and characters have appeared in the "Creature Contest" and the "Guess the Species" contest hosted on this site.

I asked Arnie what are the most enjoyable and most difficult parts of creature concept design.

"The best part of this work is when I see the concepts that I've done fully modeled and textured in the game. When we're walking around in the game and look up at a giant dinosaur type creature that has never been seen before...it's fun.

"The toughest part of all this is to make designs that look like they 'fit' into the Star Wars universe. I can come up with an idea that I think looks great, but then when I step back and picture it next to a Wookiee or a Hutt and it just doesn't fit, I trash it."

"It's a Gut Thing"

Bringing together as many different artists on a single project as Star Wars Galaxies does, you inevitably end up with a wide range of artistic styles. As Arnie mentions, one of the hurdles the team faces when creating the creatures in the game involves "fitting" them into the Star Wars universe. Jake Rodgers, the art director on the project, and Haden Blackman take up this important responsibility.

"Mainly, it's a gut thing," Haden explains about reviewing newly created creatures that have never been seen before. "The creature has to look like it belongs in the Star Wars universe. There's no real formula for that.... I guess I'd say that the creature needs to look possible. It should, in some ways, remind us of creatures that we are familiar with, but still look alien.... That's a tricky balance. If the creature is too bizarre, then it won't feel like it belongs in the Star Wars universe, which is a very realistic place, in my mind. If it doesn't have any strange qualities, then it will seem too mundane.

"Fortunately, the concept artists on Galaxies are pretty amazing. I think they intuitively know what fits in the Star Wars universe."

Jake gives credit to Arnie for creating those creatures that make both Haden's and his own guts happy. "We discuss relative size and ferocity, eating habits, background like that, but then Arnie goes to work on coming up with some amazing ideas. I stay out of his way for the most part. Sometimes he will come up with something and we work on the idea until it is more of what I think of as the essence of the creature we're making, but usually Arnie surprises us with something different than we were expecting, and it ends up working better than we thought."

When the concept art is done for a creature, the concept is handed off to the team of artists who will create the 3-dimensional "mesh" of the creature and give it skin through texturing.

Twelve artists handle the modeling and texturing process for creatures in SWG. They include Don Alexander and Dan Borth, who both do a considerable amount of animation work as well; Minoh Kim, Bill Daly, Nick Zuccarello, Jason Minor, Kris Taylor, Damon Waldrip, Andrew Collins, and Jeff Jonas specialize in this kind of work. There is a fair amount of crossover between the art jobs on the team, so even though one of these artist's primary task may be to create textures, they can take on other tasks such as animation, too.

Who gets to do which creature in Star Wars Galaxies? Obviously, some critters will be very popular picks, and so Jake Rodgers and Joe Shoopack took requests and tried to assign tasks the artists would enjoy. "Some of them get handed to you, a few you get to pick," explains Minoh Kim, the texture artist and modeler whose work you've seen in the krayt dragon. "A year and a half ago, they asked what creatures we'd want to work on, and we submitted a list. I asked for the rancor and the [Emperor's] Royal Guard. I got those two."

Much of the work is done in Maya, but not all the artists came to the team with Maya experience. Again and again, the team echoes how important it is for the prospective game artist or animator to have a solid art background. "What has been my biggest asset from my past that has helped me in this industry," explains Jason Minor, "is my training in traditional art. Anybody can learn a piece of software, but without a basic knowledge in art, you're sunk."

"That Lived-In Look"

Modeling a creature can begin with something as unexceptional as a box. Minoh gives me a quick lesson in the basics.

"I work with primitives," he says, indicating the plain dark gray box on his screen. "I take a simple polygon shape, then I extrude polygons from it to get a basic form." With his mouse, he pulls at the edges of the box and a polygon extends like a rectangular wing. He angles two opposing sides until this wing looks like a pyramid with the point cut off. He does the same to the opposite side of the original box. With a few more example adjustments to the box, he begins to move faster.

"From there I make something that resembles the shape of a dog's head." There's no question about it, it looks like a dog's head, a Doberman to my eye, all from a boring box and in the span of less than a minute.

This process creates the "mesh" of a creature, which looks like just like it sounds, a mesh netting that seems to wrap skintight around the model, taking its shape down to the small details.

The Mysterious UVs

The next step involves making what are referred to as "UVs." This seems to be universally one of the less popular tasks, and involves a variety of techniques particular to each artist. To create the skin of the creature, or the texture, the artist basically paints it on. That's not as simple as it may sound.

So, what's a UV? Asking that question is apparently akin to asking for an explanation of pi.

"I forget what U and V stand for, if anything."

"This is really too hard a question!"

"I actually wondered what the hell a UV is myself, even after I learned how to UV a model."

Attempts to explain to me what "UV" means meet with resistance in my brain, like tossing a nickel against a brick wall. But eventually, I got the gist: The U and the V represent two axes of an editor grid (X and Y are already used, so, logically, U and V are next). The editor allows the artist to "unwrap" a model, flattening it out so he or she can paint on the texture. And that's all the explanation of a UV you're getting from me!

Each artist seems to have a favored way of creating UVs. Jason maps the vertices as they are, then pieces together the UV's and flattens them out. Bill Daly generally uses the flattening style and fixes his seams in DeepPaint3D. Nick Zuccarello also flattens out his models, while Minoh, who sits directly across from him, generally leaves the model intact and separates it. No matter how they do it, the final product is exceptional.

Next, the artist works on the texture, which is essentially the creature's skin. This is where a whole new level of detail comes into play and an artist's observational skills, sense of color and texture are great assets. This is also where artistic savvy can overcome technological limitations to achieve a creature that looks realistic.

Bill Daly explains: "I usually spend more time on my textures than on the model, since that's where all your detail is. The model has to be low poly so you really can't model all your detail. Instead, you rely on the texture to fill in where the poly count leaves off. Creating a good texture is very important. I find that spending a fair amount of time on an under painting is very helpful. I start by painting all the muscle definition, skin folds, wrinkles, etcetera, in shades of gray. So my initial texture looks like a primered model with a decent amount of detail. From there I use photo reference of various animal skins, rusted metals, marble patterns, etcetera, as overlays. At this point, things really start coming together. Add in a color scheme and spend the rest of the time flushing out the texture to give it that worn, lived-in look."

The final result appears very much like a stretched out animal skin, with each body part marked out on the hide. It almost looks like the clothes patterns my mom used to order from Sears that she'd cut into leg, arm, and torso shapes according to the guides, to pin down on her chosen material. The artists even "sew" up the seams of their critters, too.

Mom never sewed up a pair of krayt dragon slacks for herself, however.

Given such diversity in technique and style among the artists, one would think getting that consistent "look" Jake and Haden strive for would be a very difficult task.

On that point, one would be right.

A big part of Jake Rodgers job is to ensure what is produced for the game not only has a consistent look, but a consistent Star Wars look. How does he bring it all together, with so many artists at work on the project, each with their own artistic styles?

"It isn't quite there yet, actually," Jake admits. "We are currently working on another consistency pass on creatures. This usually involves adjustments to make all the creatures have the same relative feel of realism, brightness, contrast, and saturation. We don't just look at them individually, or in groups. They need to be in the environment they will actually be walking around in, with player species around, and with different lighting situations. Since the lighting in our game changes with the position of the sun, it's got to work in many different types of light and weather. We can't gear them for a real dramatic lighting situation like a film. It's more like making them for a zoo.

"Well, more like a petting zoo, or in some instances, a full-contact zoo."

The quality that Jake looks for in the Star Wars creatures they create is just a few notches back from photorealism. "Photorealism necessarily means complicated to me. I want to keep the textures as simple as possible, only enough detail to get across the idea, yet not so stylized as to be 'painterly.'

"The models need to be done with basically the same idea-enough to show what we want to show. The animators like little details, like an ear twitch, or a blink, or a good scowl, so Joe [Shoopack] and I try to allow as much as possible without affecting the player's performance too greatly."

The Krayt Dragon Revision

As Minoh Kim shows me a few samples of his work (one is a staggeringly HUGE critter that could swallow a bantha whole, and of which he is justifiably proud, but he says probably won't be in the initial release; so, I can't reveal what it is), and we come across his familiar krayt dragon.

But this time, it's not so familiar. Something is subtly different. I ask about this, and Minoh explains that the krayt dragon has gone through a small bit of revision based on the release of a recent Star Wars art book called The Wildlife of Star Wars : A Field Guide, by Terryl Whitlatch and Bob Carrau. This book is chock-full of new artwork depicting Star Wars creatures of all types, one being the krayt dragon of Tatooine. The Field Guide version is a little different from the original created for Star Wars Galaxies. It's more lizard-like in stance, with it's front section and head hanging much closer to the ground.

The team revisited their version of the krayt dragon and tweaked it to make it a bit more like the one featured in the Field Guide. The krayt still has his fearsome appearance, but now he looks slightly more...sinister.

"One of the great things about Star Wars is that it supports the visions of multiple artists," explains Haden Blackman. "No two artists are going to draw the krayt dragon in exactly the same way."

 
  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:21:05 PM#16

Friday Feature Pre-launch

 

Creature Creation Part 2: Animation

"Here's a good quote for you," says Brad Constantine, an animator on Star Wars Galaxies. "Animation is never finished. It's only abandoned." He laughs, but the sentiment about the complexity of animation is serious. "You can sit and noodle something forever."

Bringing a Star Wars creature to life can require a lot of noodling by artists. Even before the meshes and textures have been finished and handed off to the animators, the animators go to the zoo. Sometimes they go watch videos. Other times they may go read a book or surf the Internet. It's all homework done to prepare them for animating their projects (and you thought you'd escape homework once you were out of school-not a chance).

"I do a lot of homework for any animation set that I do," explains Brad. "When I know a character is coming up, I start studying this stuff ahead of time, to get a feel for how they move and how the bones fit in the body. A lot of these creatures are hybrids of creatures that you find in the natural world here on Earth. So, I'll find creatures that are similar to the ones I'm working on. In the case of the krayt dragon here, I've got a whole video of Komodo dragons. Even just things like the attitude that his body's in when he's walking, things like that are helpful."

Dem Bones

Just as the artists who make the meshes are limited by technology to a strict number of polygons, so too are the animators similarly limited. Instead of polygons, however, they are limited as to the number of bones they can put into a creature. Brad shows me the bantha he has been working on. It is an enormous, elephantine hulk of swaying hair with a large mouth and great curving horns. "I'm only allowed a certain number of bones. The bantha here comes in at about 54 bones. The most we'd want to do for a large character like this is 60. The krayt dragon was a bit over, I think."

Back at the beginning of development, the designers decided on which creatures they wanted to include in the game, based on the planets they planned to have in the initial release, "niches" each creature would fill in gameplay, and other criteria. The list was long. It was the job of Joe Shoopack and Jake Rodgers to find a way to create them all within the development time available. Sacrificing quality for speed was not an option.

Their solution for animation was simple and efficient. Because so many of the creatures of Star Wars can find their physical roots in real Earth creatures, Joe and Jake were able to break down the list into skeleton types.

"We devised all the different types of skeletons," explains Joe, who begins clicking through the many folders in his computer, "such as goat, frog, giraffe, elephant, dinosaurid, canine, finch-type birds, and giant-type birds. We use some mythical skeleton types, too, because on Earth we don't have, say, a four legged giant flighted creature. We finally categorized approximately 40 skeleton types."

   

With a manageable number of groups in hand and most of the creatures divvied up into their proper group (some creatures, like the Great Sarlacc, are so singular in shape and function that they defied categorization and so were treated a bit differently), the animators could generate a basic skeleton for each group. Joe comes to the tusk cat file and opens it to show as an example. The "tusk cat" you saw in Part 1 of this article is not actually a tusk cat but a great plains tusk cat. With the release of The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide, the "tusk cat" was revealed as a mount, which differed considerably from the tusk cat the team had already designed. Rather than scrap the work, the predatory great plains cat-a cousin of the tusk cat-was born. "If you take the flesh off a cat, they're all very similar at the skeletal level, though they may be structured more muscular or thinner or sleeker," says Joe.

One might assume this would just lead to lots of the same critters running around in the game with different names and skin colors, but ultimately the same body. It crosses my mind briefly, but that assumption is quickly dispelled as Joe opens creature file after creature file to show me examples. Certainly, varying skin color is one way to introduce some variety, but it's limited compared to what the team is able to achieve through creative modeling, texturing, animation, and even specialized changes to a basic skeleton itself.

But we're jumping ahead a bit.

 

The Difference Between a Squill and a Squall

Along with coming up with the skeleton categories to help make creature creation efficient, Joe Shoopack and Jake Rodgers also came up with an animation list that would include the basic actions and reactions all creatures in the game need. "Everybody has to locomote with at least two different speeds; everybody has to turn left and turn right. Everybody has to have an idle," says Joe. "Beyond that they're all pretty different. The predators have multiple attacks, where the standard creatures have one attack. Predators can get into combat position, and have a combat walk that is like a sneak. These aren't necessary for a dewback. Fish, especially small fish, do not generally require a lot of these animations either."

Both the skeleton categories and the animation list provided a structured plan and jumping off point from which the artists could build hundreds of unique creatures efficiently.

Joe is still popping open creature files. His screen is jammed full of things you could only meet in a game like Star Wars Galaxies. "'He seemed to scroll forever down the unending list of imaginative Star Wars creatures,'" he quips in a writerly tone, as if he were reading it from the page of my future article. "'I was blown away by the sheer variety.'" We both laugh. I think to myself, there's no way I'm going to write that.

He stops at another peculiar looking beast. It's furry with a long body and short legs. Its head look vaguely like a giant fruit bat, but this thing doesn't fly. This is an example of a creature that uses the lizard skeleton as a base, but isn't lizard-like at all. Though a creature's skeleton may be one of the 40 basics, labeled "the lizard skeleton," or "the elephant skeleton," for example, it can drive anything that has its general posture.

Speaking of heads: "The secret with the heads is, all you really need on a head is the location of the jawbone and some eye movement. But this jaw can be like this," Joe shows me-something, I don't know what it is-with a hideously extended lower jaw, "or this," he points out another thing with a stubby beak, "as long as its pivot point is fixed." Neither creature looks anything alike, yet they share a common skeleton. This same principal applies also to things like ears and tails, too. As a matter of fact, a tailless creature could use a skeleton that has a tail. The bones still exist, but aren't seen be because there's no mesh weighted to them. Again, even more opportunities for variety.

A knock at Joe's office door interrupts us. Someone on the other side jiggles the handle but it's locked. I get up and open it. It's Senior Artist Jeff Jonas.

Jeff: "On these hair things, can we just assume that we're going to do all the hair and start doing them on all of our creatures that have hair, so you don't have to send out the pink slips?"

Joe: "Yeah, if you want to, go ahead and do it."

Jeff: "Why don't you email everybody to start fixing the hairs so you don't have to deal with that?"

Joe: "I do that because when I email people they'll say, 'I don't have anything with hair.' If I email them a specific list, they'll say, 'Oh, yeah that. Okay.'"

Jeff nods and leaves. Waiting patiently behind him is Tim Webb, an animator. I start to feel like I've been monopolizing a valuable resource with this interview.

Joe: "Hey Tim."

Tim: "I have a really difficult question for you. Now, is it the 'horned kreval' or the 'horned krevol'?"

Joe: "Let's check the list. These names are all approved by Haden Blackman our producer content supervisor guy. Let's see...it is...the horned krevol."

Tim thanks Joe and closes the door behind him. Joe resumes the creature slideshow on his monitor. He seems to scroll forever down the unending list of imaginative Star Wars creatures. And despite my earlier declaration, I admit that I am blown away by the sheer variety.

He finishes by offering a bit of ominous zoological advice to future players of Star Wars Galaxies: Know the difference between your squills and your squalls. Your life may depend on it.

The Illusion of Life

Once the skeleton categories and animation lists are done and the many creatures to be included in the game are parceled out to the artists (individual requests for certain creatures by the artists were considered as well), work begins. When a creature's mesh and texture are created, they are handed to the animators, who include Alan Pickett, Brad Constantine, Tim Webb,Kris Taylor, Nick Zuccarello, Don Alexander, and Dan Borth. Some of the artists, such as Don and Dan, do it all, from modeling and texturing all the way through animation to the final product. Don has even done some concept work as well.

Both Alan and Brad are veterans of 2D animation, and Joe Shoopack looked for artists with experience in this area. 3D experience along with computer knowledge was also valuable, but candidates with solid 2D animation background had definite appeal. "The software is only a tool," says Joe. "It's one thing to know how to use the software, but you need the traditional animation skills behind it."

"I still apply all the same techniques and methods I used as a 2D animator now to 3D," says Alan. 2D animation background can provide a sense of how things move (movement in 3D is driven by the bones; this is referred to as "weighting"), which is a very valuable skill.

The animation list, which is prioritized by ratings-one being the most important, two being secondary, and so on-helps the artists and the producers ensure that they cover all the actions necessary in the game. But within those specific animations, such as walk, run, gallop, attack, take damage, idle, etc., there is a great amount of creative flexibility for the animator. How will the creature walk? Does it lope from place to place? Does it dart about? Even when it is standing still, doing nothing, a creature is doing something. Otherwise, it doesn't create the illusion of life. How they do these things is largely up to the artist.

 

 

 

As mentioned, the animators do their homework, studying books, videos, and even real animals. If they're working on something that has been seen in one of the Star Wars movies, these will serve as terrific references-what better way to figure out how a rancor walks than watching Return of the Jedi?


Animating a creature is best tackled in stages. "The first thing we usually do is a walk," explains Brad. "The walk is a great way to start testing a character out. A walk kind of sets the tone for how a character will move size-wise.

"A lot of people don't know where to start on an animation. They start with the feet, and they're worrying so much about what the feet are doing that they're not thinking about the rest of the body. Generally I start with the body in a walk. I have a bone at the base of the spine, kind of a tailbone. I usually start there and think about what the whole body is doing. Then I add one thing at a time. That's why it's important to really understand what these things are doing in real life. And that's where having the video tape comes in handy."

A great example of the stages of an animation can be seen in the walk of the great plains tusk cat. The team has provided seven short movies of these stages, from beginning to end.

   
   
   
 

The computer is a tool that makes animation much easier and faster for the artists. A final animation can consist of about 60 frames. However, the artists need not hand-set every single one of those frames. Instead, they set what are called key frame poses. As an example, Brad shows me the krayt dragon's animation for taking a hit. "About seventeen frames is all I need to get him into the major poses to do the animation. I don't worry about getting from here to there. I let the computer do all that." In the action (or reaction in this case), the krayt takes a hit and rears its great head, tracking in a bent ellipse. It actually appears to be in pain, so effective is the drama in its motion, until it finally brings its head back around to face the fool that dealt the blow. Now it just plain looks furious. All that from just 17 frames blended into 60 by the computer.

This helpful technique performed by the computer is called blending, and makes animation efficient and flowing.

Another valuable tool is simply referred to as "the viewer." The programmers on the team developed this piece of software. "Our programmers in Texas are awesome," admits Brad. "What they've done is emulated the Maya window, so the same controls I use to navigate the windows in Maya are the same in the viewer." The viewer lets the animators adjust lighting, load up animations, and more so they can see just how their critters will look in the game.

When all the noodling of a creature's animation is complete (remember, no creature is ever finished!), it is reviewed by Joe Shoopack and Jake Rodgers. They make sure animations are smooth and there is no foot-sliding or jitters. But all the artists are professional, so issues like those are corrected before they ever get out.

The artists I talked to expressed similar feelings on what makes their job enjoyable: The challenges.

"Technically, the most difficult animation to do with our particular set ups is the death of four-legged creatures," explains Alan Pickett. "It is usually very difficult, though not impossible, to get the creature down and then back up again realistically. The creature usually doesn't want to cooperate."

This is a challenge Tim Webb particularly enjoys. "The locomotions are fun, but I think I like doing deaths," he says, laughing. "I mean, you can have a creature die, or you can have a creature DIE! As a player when I kill something, I wouldn't want it to just fall down and go limp. I think it'd be more fun to watch it try and fight for life a little bit. Of course, you have to worry about file sizes and stuff, but you can put a little extra in there, and I think it's definitely worth it."

Nick Zuccarello found some challenge in a "creature" composed of only nine bones. It isn't a creature at all, but rather an Imperial Interrogation droid. The metal ball hovers with one extended arm while a central band seems to spin within it, independent of the rest. "It's got two different skeletons in it," Nick explains. "That light you saw spinning in the middle, that's a layered animation that will be layered on top of the other animations that are playing. The spinning part's independent. It's a special case. We had to take a separate skeleton and attach it to the other. The game sees it as two skeletons, one following wherever the other skeleton goes."

Alan enjoys animating the established creatures from the movies. "So far, my favorites have been the rancor and Jabba the Hutt," he says. "I am now animating Salacious Crumb. You know, the little creature that hung around on Jabba's lap. I really don't like him in Return of the Jedi. I am enjoying the opportunity to really bring this character to life in SWG."

   

 

So, You Want to Be a Game Artist

The SWG art team is always willing to give advice to young artists who want to break into the gaming industry. It's not easy, but the rewards are many. For one, the pay for a skilled artist is often good. Plus, working in the gaming industry has considerable cool value.

Alan recommends you go to college, "preferably one that teaches both classical and computer animation. Try to hook up with people who know what they are doing so they can look at your work and give you pointers. Most people are decent enough and will help you achieve any goal you may be working for."

When you're applying for a job, present a solid portfolio that shows off your skills. "If you're focusing just on animation, it's probably a good idea to balance it out a little bit. Show a good sense of timing and the basics. Show that you can do cycles well; I think it will be a benefit for game or film. Get at least a quadruped in there, shifting its weight and walking with a little bit of character. It definitely doesn't hurt to put in presentational stuff. If you end up doing cycles all the time, it's boring. People want to see that you can do cycles, but deep down I think they want to see a little fun. Show them a couple different types of set ups. The models don't have to be perfect, it just has to move well."

"The most important thing a person can have in this industry is a love of learning," says Damon Waldrip, a senior artist. "There are so many ways of doing things that you can never know them all, and technology inevitably marches on, so you have to keep up. The second most important thing is persistence. This means believing in yourself. Nobody starts out any good. You can only get good at something by actually doing it. Talent can only be realized through practice."

So there you have a glimpse into animation on Star Wars Galaxies. This is hardly even the tip of the iceberg of all that the artists do day after day. SWG is a tremendous project. But stay tuned to the Forums, as the developers keep the community up to date on what's going on behind the scenes, and look for more articles in the future. E3, the biggest gaming convention in the world, is coming in May, and there's bound to be more great peeks at the game to come!

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:23:05 PM#17

Friday feature Pre-launch

 

Mo-Cap: Bringing Games to Life

"That was a little twisted. Let's try it again."

A voice hidden behind a large black bank of controls says, "Ready," and after a moment, "Action!" Then-

Whack! Crack! Stomp! Swoosh!

I enter the large, rectangular room. It's a rather drab, gray and black place. Several dingy blue mats lay heaped against the left wall. Han Solo stands back there with the mats, blaster drawn. Boba Fett guards this door, just to the left, arms crossed. They're both made out of cardboard. Who knew Boba Fett was so short?

This is the motion capture studio on the campus of Sony Computer Entertainment America, located in San Diego. Right now, a group of Star Wars Galaxies designers and artists is in the process of capturing all the emotes, actions, and reactions a player character will make in the game.

Joe Shoopack, the character team lead, is here, stationed at a long folding-legged table, tapping the keys of a laptop. He wears his BYU ballcap and scrolls through a list of nearly 750 different animations. Over the next three days, he plans to get motion capture data for every single one of them.

"Next is parry high right," says Joe. His list is full of names like this: parry_high_left, parry_high_center. Many are much longer; the precise naming system is key to keeping everything clear and understandable. It also helps to ensure they cover all the animations they want to record.

Jake Rodgers, the art director, is here, perched in a tall director's chair, swinging a cane in front of him as he intently watches the moves of the figure at the center of the room.

"Idle one is breathing normally," he says. "Just standing. Really, don't do anything. You're calm. Then we'll do a version where you're kind of-" Jake begins panting, breathing heavily in an exaggerated fashion-"worn out from combat. We'll be able to blend between the two depending on how tired the character is."

The figure in the center of the room is Hiro Koda, a martial arts expert and stunt man with Action Specialists. Hiro is wearing a skintight flexible black body suit, and a snug stocking cap. Positioned all over his body, head, and shoes are marble-sized reflective balls. He nods.

"Action!" is yelled again, and he stands calmly until the take is complete.

"Same thing for idle two, only exhaustion from combat," says Jake.

Hiro doubles over, his hands on his knees, gasping for air.

"Not like you're going to throw up. But very winded. So you're breathing like-" Jake pants again.

Hiro gets it, and starts breathing like he's just completed a marathon. I get winded just watching.

Jake laughs. "Don't hyperventilate."

This process will be repeated for each animation in Joe's list over the next few days. Some animations will be cut, but many new ones will be added. Despite the immense number of motion capture animations-the most in any single online game ever made thus far-the artists and technicians will move quickly through them thanks to their experience, and that of the talent hired to swing the lightsabers, dance seductively, use Force powers, breathe heavily, and execute the amazing multi-move combat combos.

I notice the last of these combos in Joe's list and my jaw drops. The staggering five-move combo is scheduled for later today.

Mo-Cap Part 1, Page 2

Joe Shoopack has done motion capture (mo cap, for short) for a while, beginning when he worked for Blue Sky Software, through his work at Sony's 989 Studios, and now with Sony Online Entertainment. World Series Baseball, Total Control Football, and Game Day '99 PC are all titles on which he's done mo-cap data work. He's the perfect person from whom to learn how it all works.

It began months ago with that long list of animations, put together initially by Anthony Castoro and his team of designers. Back then it wasn't a list of around 750 animations. That list numbered literally in the thousands.

"We start off with a big list of every conceivable animation we want to do in the game," explains Joe. "It's far more than we could implement. We narrow that list and start removing anything that is lower impact, things that are duplicates of others. For example, lets say we have several different types of laugh, a belly laugh, a pointing laugh, and a cackling laugh. Some of those things are near visual duplicates than can be accomplished through text feedback variation from the user."

Many of the proposed animations are what the team refers to as "ambient" animations. These are all the fidgets, head turns, emotes and simple actions that characters will do when not engaging in more elaborate actions. There are over 200 of these, and though they may sound trivial in importance next to a lightsaber moves, they are the subtle touches that make a character live. This is an essential aspect of the game, says Joe. "A larger chunk is going to be devoted to these than in the past, because the social aspect of the game is really important."

That leaves 550 animations for the "other stuff." One might think, watching the many combat moves, that the other stuff will make the game mostly a fighting game, but Joe corrects that assumption.

"On Star Wars we wanted to capture the fighting, which is one of the cool things about the films. And though we're not making a fighting game-fighting is just one aspect of it-we want it to be cinematic enough that it will still convey Star Wars. So that's one of the reasons to add the flourishy combo moves. But it's definitely not going to be primarily a "twitch" fighting game where it's just punch, hit, kick, punch hit, kick."

Those flourishy combat moves are challenging to create, and require very skilled actors who can perform them with not just the precision necessary to re-create the "look" from the movies, but to perform them in such a way that they are believable. When you plan on creating 5-move combos, you can't afford any less than the best.

That's the next step in the motion capture process, finding and hiring the right talent. By now, the team has whittled the huge list down from several thousand animations to a manageable number. "I contacted several Hollywood and LA stunt associations," says Joe. "We requested tapes from everybody and reviewed them, picking the talent that was appropriate to the type of moves we're shooting. So, for all the combat and martial arts moves we got a stunt and martial arts expert. For the emotes, and some of the other standard game animations, we tried to get someone who has experience with motion capture. That's one reason Cosmo Hom is top of the list."

Cosmo Hom is a motion capture veteran, having done work on over 40 games. He is scheduled to perform the last day of the shoot, working on actions for ranged weapon and dance moves.

Wait, dance moves?

SWG is pulling out all the stops to make sure the game really feels like the movies, all the way down to dancing like Oola in Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi. Sabrina Fox, who also works for Sony Online Entertainment as an artist for EverQuest, will be performing the female dance moves. She and Cosmo have worked together before on Siphon Filter 1 and 2.

Of course, dancing won't be for females alone. Male characters will have their own smooth moves, which Cosmo will perform. But that's later in the week.

Today is all about combat.

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:24:24 PM#18

Mo-Cap Part 1, Page 3

"Hiring the right talent is pretty critical to getting a successful shoot," says Jake. "If you don't have somebody really good at martial arts, or someone who is even just so-so, it won't be enough."

Action Specialists, located in Valencia, California, does mostly movie stunt work. Mark Dirksei, president of Action Specialists, says that, right now, probably 10% of their work is motion capture for games, but the demand is growing as the needs of new games become more and more advanced. They've been doing game motion capture for six years.

Mark is on hand today to help with the complex combat moves. The move they're working on now isn't quite up to Mark's standards.

It involves a slash, a round kick, and a final, solid slash to the back. Mark has been playing the opponent for Hiro Koda. Hiro has worked as a stunt man and a coordinator on many movies, including Blade, Ghosts of Mars, and the forthcoming Time Machine, Blade 2, and Windtalkers.

"It looks too compressed," says Mark, referring to the final slash to his back. "I'll give you the flat of my back."

Everyone pauses a moment as they watch. Though the weapon Hiro is wielding is a wooden sword, it still looks formidable.

"Hit you?" asks Hiro.

"Well, pull the blow, but yeah."

Mark takes the blow, but even with Hiro pulling it, it looks like the hit smarts just a bit.

Throughout the session, Hiro slashes, twists, leaps, falls, and kicks often, but at the beginning and end of every move he has to return to a default stance. This is often a "T-pose," in which he stands straight, looking forward, chin up slightly, with both arms held out straight from his shoulders like the wings of a plane. This is very important to getting a clean capture. Several people edit the animation, and having these start and stop positions offers a helpful framework.

Not all of the actions need to start in the T-pose, however. As the team records a set of similar actions, a series of one-handed slashes, for example, Hiro can actually start in an action-ready state. When all the data is captured and the artists go back to Austin to start implementing them, these common states will allow them to blend between different actions smoothly.

"For example," says Joe, "standing_climbing_rope starts out in the basic stand and ends in a state where the model is hanging onto a rope. Climbing_rope begins and ends with the hanging-on-rope state. Climbing_rope_up_to_ledge begins in the hanging-on-rope state but ends in the basic stand again. This assists in blending between animations."

Brian Rausch, who directs the technical side of the process, heads the SCEA motion capture studio. The facility uses optical capturing technology to record animations, which is extremely accurate. Positioned around the perimeter of the room, hanging from the ceiling, are 16 high-resolution cameras. Another 4 cameras hang in a tighter square nearer the room's center. Brilliant red lights are attached to each camera. All are focused on the marked foot positions where Hiro stands.

What the cameras are watching are the small marble-sized reflectors attached to the Hiro's suit. Each of these is wrapped in a highly reflective white tape. "It's set to reflect at about a 3 degree angle," says Brian, "so it gives almost an exact reflection back to the cameras."

Despite all the fluorescent lighting and the flashes from our photographer's camera, none of these interferes with the data capture. "A filter in the camera is set to gather that particular color light," says Brian, indicating the bright red strobe rings around each camera. "That's how they're able to differentiate between the reflection of those lights and the fluorescent light's reflection."

Brian's monitor reveals a green grid that represents the floor of the room. At the center hangs a whorl of white dots, vaguely in the shape of a human.

"All those markers that are on the guy are reflecting data back at the cameras," explains Brian. "A tvd file is created, which is basically a 2D television data image. What I'll do over on this machine is process that, and actually turn it into three dimensional data. Then I go through and label the points. Right knee, right wrist and forearm, so on and so forth."

As the points are labeled, a framework of lines begins to form, until suddenly the whorl is now a definite human figure. Brian sets the image in motion, and suddenly the inanimate drops of reflected data spring into fluid life, leaping and kicking about the grid plain, striking at an invisible opponent with a long polearm.

"Okay, next is the five-move combo," announces Joe. I thank Brian quickly for the technical info and dash down from the control box to stand beside Jake Rodgers.

I'm not about to miss this.

Mo-Cap Part 1, Page 4

"We rely on the expertise of the talent a lot when doing those combos. We can ask, What is a common three-move combo? And they offer solutions like, Well there's this, this, and maybe a sweep."

The five-move combo is requiring some extra choreography. Several practice runs leave Hiro in awkward positions by the third or fourth move. It all looks very deadly and quick, but reaching that last move requires extra maneuvering that drops the feel of the action from deadly to staged.

Jake studies each run intently as they work out just exactly how they're going to get five moves out of this. "I'm looking for the content of the motion," he explains. "I spent a lot of time with the designers of the game covering what they wanted to see, what they needed to happen from a system standpoint. So I need to know that the motion is going to solve the gameplay function."

Hiro begins another move, slashing, spinning, and slashing again. His and his trainer's wooden swords smack together. Hiro's in a low position, so he goes with a sweep. That's four...

But then he's too low, and the momentum of the action dissipates.

"Obviously, there's the concern of whether the move is interesting or dramatic enough, and consistent with this style," continues Jake. "We kind of know the type of moves that would make sense, but not necessarily what makes sense in that discipline. When we did three-move combos, for example, the talent said, 'we can do this and a sweep,' and we said, Is there one you can do with a kick? We suggest moves so it will look different. They said, 'yeah, we can do an arc kick, and a spin." So, they sort of invent the moves with our help. That's why having the guys with the martial arts experience is important. They are able to bring a lot more information to it."

Then, the team gets it.

Crack! Smack! Crack! Swish! "Hoouh!"

360x240 avi - 3.4MB

400x300 avi -541KB

Five fluid moves, three slashes, a kick, and a final coup de grbce with a reverse thrust of the sword to his enemy, and it's over....

For the first day anyway. During the next two days of the mo-cap shoot, the team will record a host of other moves, including ranged weapons, force powers, and, yes, dancing! Stay tuned for part 2 of the look behind Star Wars Galaxies motion capture next month!

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:25:54 PM#19

Mo-Cap: Part 2: The Dance

Neither the team from Sony Computer Entertainment America nor the Star Wars Galaxies Team has done anything like what they're about to do today.

The set up and preparation before the motion capture session moves along smoothly. The highly sensitive cameras are calibrated successfully, a procedure the SCEA guys have to go through each morning to ensure precision. If even a single camera is off by a hair's breadth, the data gathered could be useless.

This session will be devoted to capturing the force power actions and dance moves for Star Wars Galaxies.

Dan Legg begins the "subject-cal" as they call it, short for subject calibration. He sits behind a bank of dials, buttons and monitors, the top of his head just visible from where Sabrina Fox, one of SWG's motion capture performers, holds a T-pose at the center of the room. To Dan's left rests a rack of high-tech video equipment and computers. "Have her kind of hold her head up a little," he calls out over the top of the bank, never taking his eyes off the monitor. The cluster of pixels and lines on the screen shifts slightly. Each point corresponds to a reflector attached to the suit Sabrina wears.

This subject-cal is a little different from what Dan's accustomed to. For one thing, two of the markers are in the wrong spots. "You get used to looking at it and having it look a specific way," he says, pointing to several points that normally would be knees, but are much higher on the leg to accommodate a whole different range of human motion that will be captured today. "You adapt." Sabrina has moved into the proper position. "Yeah. Now, hold it...okay, thank you. Perfect. We got it."

The conglomeration of dots and wires and numbers appears chaotic on the screens to the layman, but to the Sony team that runs the studio day after day, it's like perfect prose. "How geeky is it when you can look at numbers and say, that data is a little noisy?" says Brian Rausch, the director of the motion capture studio. "You can look at a ticker and decide whether a move is going to be pristine or not. Mom would be so proud."

Brian is a wisecracker, and tells a story about a particularly rough football capture session he took part in a while back. "The guys were just killing each other all day long. I was actually worried someone was going to get hurt. Then one of the guys gets up, groaning. I'm thinking, oh great here we go."

Then something completely unexpected happened. On Brian's monitor, a stream of pixels began pouring out of the wire-framed football player, bouncing and scattering across the floor plane. "This guy's got a handful of markers he's been carrying the entire time and holds them behind himself and drops them, so it shows up in the data."

The fun doesn't slow the work progress. The calibration phase is completed and everyone's ready to begin the capture phase, ahead of schedule.

The performers for the dance moves are Cosmo Hom and Sabrina Fox. Both are experienced motion capture actors, and have worked together in the past on titles such as Syphon Filter 1 and 2. Both are trained dancers, proficient in many different dance styles, which will be called upon for the moves Jake Rodgers, the art director, and Joe Shoopack, the character team lead, want for SWG.

Sabrina is the first to perform today.

Mo-Cap Part 2, Page 2

Sabrina Fox wears another hat, so to speak, besides the snug-fitting stocking cap with four shiny reflectors she wears now for the mo-cap session. She is a game artist on EverQuest, and has worked on EQ since early development of the original release. She began as an intern, creating textures, designing 3D dungeon levels, and applying lighting effects throughout the game.

Sabrina is a self-proclaimed "D&D nerd," having played the roleplaying game all through junior high and high school, and admits she was not a big Star Wars fan at the time. "I like dragons and unicorns and magic spells. Star Wars was cool aliens. I was more into the fantasy side." So work on EverQuest fit well with her. It was on EverQuest that Sabrina did her first motion capture work.

"They needed someone to do some walking motion captures, and a couple fighting movements, things like that. I had a karate background, so I thought, well, I'll give it a shot. It turned out okay. They were the original movements, so there was a lot of tweaking that needed to be done."

Some of that original work can still be seen in the game. One of the better known is the rude gesture, which was done mostly as a joke at first, but made its way into the game. The SWG team has its own share of secret and sometimes funny captures. It remains to be seen which will make it into the game!

Sabrina looks a little nervous today, standing alone in the middle of the big studio with a room full of men looking on, but remains focused as Jake explains each move. To help her concentration and loosen the mood, one of Sabrina's music CDs is put into player. Sabrina has brought a wide selection of music types appropriate to the many different styles of dance she has to perform.

"We ended up going with mostly lyrical jazz, basic jazz, and a lot of Eastern Indian," she says of the dance styles SWG is drawing from. Much like the combat moves in the Star Wars movies, the dances will be hybrids of different styles. "I do tribal belly dance, which is Eastern Indian, not the typical Turkish shaky stuff. A little West African, too. We wanted the rib and arm movements."

Sabrina is hypnotic as she performs the East Indian dances. Her arms seem to take on a life of their own, no longer a part of her body, but slow moving serpents charmed by the pulsing, exotic music that fills the studio. Her fingers trail her arms, waving like silk ribbons; her hips rock and pivot as if her waist were balanced on the tip of a pin, shifting opposite her arms but in smooth rhythm with them. Her head floats on her slender neck. Her expression reflects the serene place the music has inspired within her, the only element of her dance that the cameras cannot capture. There are murmurs of awe among the onlookers after each move.

This is Sabrina's favorite dance form, and seems perfect for Star Wars Galaxies. "I think it's very feminine, so I enjoy that the most. And I think the movements can be used for alien creatures very easily, because your hands and your feet and your neck move very independently of your body, so it looks very alien."

Not everyone is a dance expert like Sabrina and Cosmo, which goes for your SWG characters as well, so not all of the dance captures are serious. Equal effort is devoted to creating movements for characters of average dance skill, and even some for those with absolutely no dance skill at all.

The Elaine

Damon Waldrip sits at a folding table at a desktop system hooked into the big black bank of studio computers. He reviews each capture as they come in to make certain they satisfy the design needs of the game.

"What I want is to make sure I'm getting the in and out motions to make the cleanup later easier." It's kind of grunt work, Damon admits, but very important. "I need to notice if something didn't quite go right, or if the pose is off, and let them know to reshoot it." Back at the studio in Austin, Damon will continue work on the captured data, ironing out technical issues with the other artists and assisting with animation and skeleton set up.

Damon is impressed by Sabrina's work on the novice dance moves. He shows me these on his screen. The wire figures stumble, trip, misstep, flail and fall in hysterically funny parodies of the refined moves we watched earlier. "This is the goofy moonwalk," he explains as we scroll through the many moves, "and then there's the slightly better moonwalk."

Then I notice one, a single-word description of a move: Elaine. I ask Damon what that is all about.

"There's this Seinfeld episode that showed Elaine dancing. She was just awful. So that's where this one got its name."

This move alone is worth becoming a newbie dancer. It defies description

  User Deleted
 
OP  6/30/08 11:27:45 PM#20

Mo-Cap Part 2, Page 3

Mr. Roboto?

The dance styles for the male are similar to the female, but the moves themselves appear very different. Cosmo Hom is the performer for the male dance moves, as well as some combat actions, like ranged weapons, the Force powers.

Cosmo has done motion capture work on over 40 titles, including Tribes and Syphon Filter 1 and 2 as the main character, Gabe Logan. Cosmo has an incredibly varied performance background.

"I've been performing since I was twelve," says Cosmo. "I used to be a clown at Ringling Brothers. One of my side jobs is teaching circus skills in the summertime, tightwire, walking globe, Spanish web, unicycling, and balance routines. I've studied Jazz, tap, and ballet. I've done a lot of specialty dancing shows. I've been dancing for a long time, since I was 16."

Cosmo is a unique and fascinating individual. That's how people he has worked with with characterize him. Not only has Cosmo worked as both a circus performer and professional dancer, but he is also an accomplished photographer, a mime, a martial artist, an actor, a stuntman, a rigger and lighting designer for theater productions, a puppeteer, and knows quite a bit about the technical side of computer graphics and animation. Cosmo has a confident and relaxed presence, but isn't too serious. He's a cutup, and with all of those performance skills at his fingertips, you never know what he's going to do next. Every so often, he breaks into a mime routine, like "Man Walking Against the Wind," and despite the joke about everyone disliking mimes, it's absolutely impossible to dislike Cosmo.

The dance styles the SWG team and Cosmo draw upon include jazz, ballet, lyrical, and even some more contemporary pop-n-lock style. Dare I hope to see a hint in the final game of my favorite 80's dance, the Robot? I dare!

Speaking of robots, or more accurately, droids, Cosmo just missed his chance to play one in The Phantom Menace.

"I was very disappointed because I knew someone who was working on Episode One, and they were actually looking for me to do the droid animations, and I found out about that a year after it came out. He said, we were looking for you.

"I could have been a droid!"

Jedi For a Day

Each of Cosmo's moves today is performed masterfully. His lyrical and ballet styles, executed with elegance and precision, are remarkable to watch, but aren't simply stock moves performed as directed. Cosmo is always offering suggestions on how each can be altered to achieve the exact results Jake Rodgers is looking for. This process of hybridization produces distinctive styles that will give SWG it's own flavor.

Besides dance moves, Cosmo also performs some combat and martial arts moves for the game, including actions with ranged weapons like rocket launchers and blasters.

And, of course, Cosmo gets to be a Jedi for the day, too.

Force powers have a whole set of special motion capture actions associated with them. Jake spends extra time working with Cosmo on these. As has been said, one of Star Wars Galaxies' goals is to allow the player to feel as if he or she were a part of the movies. Capturing the right amount of drama for each Force move is crucial.

Many Force moves are recorded, including one of the best-known Ben Kenobi moments, the Force Suggestion. In fact, Cosmo even says the line each time he attempts the action: "These are not the droids you're looking for."

Jake and Cosmo work a while on another Force action, which calls for Cosmo to carve out a wide protective circle, stretching his arms to their limits behind him to close a wide circle around him. For one of the aggressive Force actions, Cosmo arcs his taut arms through the air as if he were gathering an unseen energy, focusing it before him. His arms tremble with the invisible Force as they reached a center point in front of him. Then, with a great thrust, his arms seem to fire the energy at his enemy.

Mo-Cap Part 2, Page 4

The Work Has Just Begun...

The motion capture sessions lasted three days, and everyone involved judged it a huge success.

"These guys jam," Brian Rausch says to me of the SWG team. "You should write that down. They're a very fast group, very efficient. They know what they want. Sometimes guys don't know what they want."

Joe Shoopack feels likewise about the SCEA team that runs the studio. "Those guys are great to work with. We couldn't get this much done in this amount of time without their talent. They've been doing mo-cap for games since the earliest Playstation titles, so they've got a lot of years invested in doing it. They're the best in the business."

"It all looked so good, I just can't wait to get back home and see it on a character," says Jake. "Of course, we now have wearables. I want to put those with some of the East Indian dances. It's just going to look amazing. I think people are just going to flip when they see this. No pun intended."

This is only the beginning of the work on the in-game characters. An enormous amount of data was gathered from just these three days of work, and will take months to review, edit, and implement in the game. Much of that work is taking place right now in both the Austin and San Diego studios.

It didn't take too much coaxing to get the SWG team to release a sample of the character movements. They're as excited about showing it as you guys are about seeing it. Here is a live video of a West African dance style performed by Sabrina Fox, and a special treat: A Rodian female model from the game performing the very same dance move. This is a unpolished, work-in-progress animation. As work continues on the model, more animations will be added, such as hand and finger movements.

Here is a special first glimpse of player character animation. I'm betting you'll never look at a Rodian the same again.

 

--Clayton Kroh

613x224 - 10.88MB

9 Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 » Last Search