Yesterday, we brought you one of the two Star Wars: Galaxies February producer's letters. Today, we bring you the second. This one is from Julio Torres, the Producer from LucasArts.
Hope this letter finds you all well. Here we are roughly three months after unveiling some significant changes to Star Wars Galaxies geared towards delivering the ultimate immersive Star Wars experience. Though not all elements of the new direction were welcomed by all players with open arms, we still see that the majority (~80%) of players still in the game were playing before the changes were unveiled and implemented. We also continue to have more and more players enter the galaxy daily through the demo, almost 200,000 players to date.
First, we'd like to thank everyone who has been posting their feedback and that we want to keep hearing from you in an effort to improve the game experience. We appreciate your passion and your involvement in the community. Towards the end of last year, the team made many of the changes, adjustments, and fixes you were asking for and we're going to continue to try and do this in an effort to improve Galaxies for current players as well as new players.
Refining, Fixing, & Improving The Existing Game
Our number-one priority is on improving the existing game. We are dedicating significant development resources to polish the existing experience. One of the biggest facets the new game enhancements got knocked for was that many elements were broken. Quests would break halfway-through or not trigger at all, quest NPC's and enemies wouldn't be where they were supposed-to, as well as other issues that literally made portions of the game unplayable or simply not fun to play. Our main goal of this top priority is to fix all existing issues to the highest standard of quality, not just-enough to where they are playable. There are a lot of annoying bugs out there and we want to knock ‘em out for good!
One of the key efforts of our focus on existing game improvement will be to give all publishes extensive time on Test Center so that you all can have time to evaluate and share your feedback with us so we can make any necessary adjustments before we push them to the live game.
We certainly want to see as many new features and improvements to Galaxies as possible, but we're focusing on the quality over the quantity of features going-forward. As we mentioned, this will also include addressing the issues that already exist in the game. O ur approach is to make sure that as much attention is paid to addressing bugs as is to implementing new features. This approach will also affect the frequency of publishes this year. However, this does not mean we have reduced efforts to fix bugs and issues via hotfixes. We are confident our approach in terms of frequency of publishes will allow us to deliver better, cleaner, and more fun Star Wars content. The end result is that everything new and that is fixed in the game is going to undergo a lot more scrutiny, both internally and from the community. We know this will result in a much higher-quality experience for everyone.
As I mentioned, our goals aren't limited to refining and fixing the existing game. In an effort to improve it as well, we are focusing heavily on giving players the opportunity to differentiate themselves within their chosen profession from others within the same profession. The first you will see of these efforts is in tomorrow's Publish 27 in which we are introducing new abilities to the Jedi profession. We plan to do the same for all nine of our iconic professions across the board. In addition to adding new abilities, we eventually will be introducing new skills for each profession to give players further opportunity to differentiate themselves. Look for information on these skills to be popping-up on the boards in the coming months. Remember, your feedback on these abilities and skills is essential to their successful implementation.
Increasing Interaction With Community
Community is an important part of the Star Wars Galaxies experience – it is as important as the game's design itself. We're going to be listening to your feedback and posting much more about the issues and features that are important to everyone. Moving forward we will make sure we have a much stronger dev presence on the boards. Though we may not always be posting, we are always listening.
As part of this effort, we'll be posting more details about upcoming features on the forums so we can get your feedback before any of these features are set in stone. We'll start by posting information, publishing the features to Test Center , and getting your feedback on how each of these features plays. We will then be able to more effectively polish the overall experience before anything makes it to the live game.
As all things develop, we'll be letting everyone know what's going on with more frequent letters from the producers and other members of the development team in addition to our more frequent interaction with you all on the boards.
Until next time – may the Force be with you!
For more on SWG, click here.
There are a few New Things and Bug Fixes to share with you courtesy of Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot. These ones go under the heading of Test Version 1.82h Release Notes:
NEW THINGS AND BUG FIXES
They have also announced that there are 8 more MB of prepatching available for your prepatching pleasure.
For more on Dark Age of Camelot, click here.
It's that time of month again. It's time for the February version of the Star Wars: Galaxies Producer's Letter. Enjoy!
My name is Grant McDaniel, though many of you may know me as “Rogue_5”. I was recently Producer for the Star Wars Galaxies Trials of Obi-Wan expansion, and now I am the Producer for SWG. I have been part of the SWG development team since almost the very beginning back in February 2002.
All along I have been an avid, some may even say extreme, Star Wars fan and collector since the very first film was introduced. I have collected thousands of various Star Wars items and memorabilia including such things as toys, books, replicas, and autographs, and I often spend my free time tracking down unique and rare items for my personal collection.
The best part of being such a devoted Star Wars fan is getting to work on a Star Wars game. There is no other job I could think of that would allow me to indulge my passion and get paid for it. I recognize the strength that this franchise has in terms of fans worldwide and I respect the core values inherent in the brand. For that reason, I am proud to be on the development team and excited about leading the SOE development team into the future.
Going forward, our overall goal this year is to continue to improve our game by focusing on adding content that offers players the best interactive entertainment experience available online today. We are lucky as we already have the greatest entertainment brand to build content around – Star Wars .
To make that goal a reality we will continue to develop compelling Star Wars style adventure content that brings the excitement of the movies alive through in-game missions and story-driven adventures. Additionally, we will be working to further differentiate each of our nine iconic Star Wars professions in the upcoming live publishes. We will start by giving them new abilities and skills, and then access to new things that make each of them unique. Improving our communication is going to be a critical part of achieving this goal. We recognize that our success is determined in large part by our ability to listen to players, ask for feedback, initiate research and stay true to the brand. We want your continued support. Your input is critical to our process and we will continue to bounce ideas off the community, put new content on our Test Centers and probe for your ideas. Together we can take this game to the next level of excitement.
We know we have to earn your loyalty. To that end, this year you will see an increased focus on quality first and a passion for introducing content that brings iconic Star Wars conflicts and characters alive in-game. Like you, we love this brand because of the classic Star Wars adventures it brings to life – Jedi fighting with Lightsabers and Force powers; Bounty Hunters battling with blasters; Commandos and Officers leading raids, Smugglers and Traders offering valuable resources, Spies leading us behind enemy lines and Medics keeping us safe and putting us back in the action or Entertainers engaging us with their artistry. Let's not forget the fun we have in space with the best space combat in the galaxy while dog-fighting in legendary ships like the X-wing, TIE fighter and Millennium Falcon. There is no other Star Wars game that let's players take up residence in the Star Wars universe and play an active role in the ongoing battle between the Empire and the Rebels. This year, our commitment to you is to bring back the spirit of Star Wars with more focus on the “wars”, the characters, the adventures, and battles that hearken back to the movie adventures. We have a lot of fun planned, a lot of quality improvement, and a lot of bug fixing – so get ready for an exciting year that will remind you of why you love SWG .
Feel free to, drop me a line from time to time and let me know how we are doing. I look forward to hearing from you on our boards, the Stratics chats (hint: you might want to tune in to the one coming up this month for some news about an upcoming publish!), and meeting some of you at upcoming events (look for announcements coming soon about the Dev team hitting the road and going on some real-life galactic adventures). Stay with us and keep giving us the benefit of your insights. I look forward to a great year at the helm of a truly great game. The movies may be over but the adventure continues right here!
May the Force be with you!
For more on SWG, click here.
It's getting closer and closer to the Guild Wars World Championship. So close in fact, that some of the ArenaNet Team have headed over to Taipei to check it out. They have promised to give reports!
Several members of the ArenaNet Team are heading to Taipei, Taiwan, to witness the Guild Wars World Championship. We will be filing spot reports and sending photographs from the floor of the Taipei Game Show starting on Thursday. We will furnish more detailed reports and match highlight films upon our return. We wish each guild the best of luck in the Championship, and look forward to meeting all of you!
For more on Guild Wars, click here.
Steve "Istvan" Hartmeyer, a developer on Jumpgate, has written an insider's perspective developer journal on the evolution of NetDevil's space-based MMORPG over the last few years.
| Jumpgate's development over the past few years can be split into two phases: a post-release phase and a post-expansion phase. During the post-release phase, NetDevil spent most of its energy ensuring the company's survival, since the original US publisher for Jumpgate, 3DO, relinquished control of the game back to us in late 2001, and in fact went bankrupt shortly thereafter. To keep the company going, NetDevil obtained a contract with NCSoft to develop a new MMORPG title, Auto Assault (now nearing release), while a limited development team continued to maintain Jumpgate.
As NetDevil focused on our Auto Assault contract and started a growth surge, the remaining Jumpgate team produced "Episode 2: 'Attack of the Conflux'", which released in March 2003. This expansion added player-owned stations (Jumpgate's equivalent of housing seen in other MMORPGs), more ships to fly, more AI features, piracy support, and numerous smaller enhancements to the game.
You can read the full journal here.
BiosFear has announced a new contest. What kind of contest? You may ask. Why, it's a screenshot contest. Why should I bother? You may ask. Well, it's because in the end, you could walk away with a shiny diamond!
Would you like to win a nice sparkling Diamond?
Screenshots can be funny, informative, action-packed, or depict the community spirit of Biosfear. We are looking for ones that will enhance our website.
There will be a deadline each month, then they will be selected and posted on GM forums for a poll, and the winner will be put onto official website and a prize of a shiny diamond will go to the player who SUBMITS the screenie.
See Biosfear Times for more details and competition rules.
For more information on BiosFear, click here.
In the second part of a three part series, Monday columnist Nathan Knaack builds on last week's article about the history of MMORPGs to look at the them in the present tense. Next week, he'll look to the future.
| Enter Ultima Online, one of the oldest MMORPGs, yet still renown to this day for its innovative features. Some successful features, ironically, have seldom been duplicated. Although Ultima Online wasn’t 3D, it incorporated a great deal of player freedom along with a widely customizable world, including player housing and player vs. player combat. For these main reasons, the game saw widespread appeal and years of success, at least until EverQuest was released.
Originally created by a smaller company called Verant, EverQuest was subsequently acquired by Sony Online Entertainment. With its history already widely known, I won’t go into much detail about EverQuest or other present day MMORPGs, suffice to say that while server technology, graphical capabilities, and other programming advances have been made, virtually nothing about how an MMORPG system is arranged has been changed since EverQuest. Pick a race, pick a class, and start grinding. Cut through the graphical interface and EverQuest boils down to a graphical game of Dungeons and Dragons, but with no storyline (quests, or “chores,” as I call them, do not constitute a storyline), very few gameplay options, and even less role-playing. Hack, cast, cure, advance.
You can read the full column here.
MMOLands has announced a brand new contest to go along witht heir MMORPG, Endless Ages. It seems as though someone felt that Endless Ages asa title needed some spicing up. They are looking for an interesting sub-title:
With all the changes going into Endless Ages, we believed we should come up with a new Title. Help us name Endless Ages:
Endless Ages: *Insert Your Name Here*
Help us create the new face of Endless Ages. The Title we choose, will win 6 months of access to Endless Ages! Contest ends on the 20th of February.
Send submissions to email@example.com !
For more info on Endless Ages, click here.
Launch is Scheduled for February 28th
WESTWOOD, MA, February 13, 2006 – Turbine, Inc. announced today that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™: Stormreach™ has gone gold and is in final production. The world’s first online roleplaying game based on the legendary pen and paper DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® game, and voted the “most-anticipated MMO,” by IGN.com readers, is currently scheduled to ship on February 28, 2006. DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is under license from the Hasbro Properties Group, the intellectual property development arm of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE: HAS).
Customers who preorder DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach will receive exclusive access to the game days ahead of the official release and a free Beta pass for up to 10 days to try the game (the Beta will be officially ending February 20, 2006). Customers will also be given a +1 in-game amulet for added defense during combat and a special limited-edition poster featuring the red dragon.
“We’re thrilled to have developed a game that appeals to massively multiplayer players, as well as fans of the original pen-and-paper game,” said Jeffrey Anderson, president and CEO of Turbine, Inc. “We also want to thank the 300,000 players that registered for the Beta. We could not have done this without their support.”
"We’re extremely excited to see the anticipation building for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE, and with the upcoming launch, old and new fans will be able to experience the magic of this extraordinary game," said Jeff Burdeen, vice president for the Hasbro Properties Group.
Developed by Turbine and published by Atari Inc., DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: Stormreach is the first and only online roleplaying game based on the world-renowned DUNGEONS & DRAGONS brand from Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. This unique online world features highly customizable characters built from authentic D&D® races, abilities, skills, and feats; real-time action combat; dangerous dungeons with devious traps; hand-crafted, private adventures; monsters and stories from the action-packed and intrigue-laced Eberron® campaign setting; and award-winning visuals.
For more Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stormreach, click here.
|Rowan Tallfelter shifted restlessly in the uncomfortable chair that had been given to her by her teacher. At the moment, she cursed the man for his lessons. There were plenty of chairs that would have been far more comfortable in the great tower, and many rooms more lavish to say the absolute least. Her mentor, however, had said, "Concentration will wane in the lap of luxury, while it shall thrive in destitution." The Green Mage always said things like that. Overly convoluted, cliché and unfortunately, usually right. The young elven woman cursed him for his wisdom and his hat. She hated that floppy green hat. She sighed.|
To read the rest of chapter one, click here.
Auto Assault, described by many as an extremely fast-paced MMORPG, has announced that they have released their new Official Trailer, giving us a peek at this car-driven game!
The all-new badass Auto Assault Official Trailer is now available onlne in our Downloads/Movies section right here.
For more on Auto Assault, click here.
Turbine and Dungeons and Dragons Online: Stromreach, have released the prices for DDO, which is scheduled for release at the end of this month.
DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE™: Stormreach™ is scheduled to be released on February 28th. The game will be available at a suggested retail price of $49.99 and includes thirty days of subscription time. After the first month, players will be charged a monthly subscription fee of $14.99 per month. Players can purchase multiple months of subscription time in advance at a discounted rate.*
Customers who preorder the game and register their preorder key will be able to enter the game early in the Head Start Event that begins Feb. 24 and gain additional items and benefits. For more information, visit the preorder page!
* All subscription plans will automatically renew and the subscription rate and any applicable taxes will be charged in advance. All subscription payments are non-refundable. Subscription prices are in U.S. dollars and do not include local connection and telephone charges.
For more on DDO, click here.
It seems that the website for the upcoming MMORPG, Stargate Worlds is up and running and now includes forums. There are three sections open on the website at the moment, a Chyenne Mountain Section (the name of the company the is making the game), a concept art section, and, of course, the forums.
Go ahead, take a visit!
The debates continue. This week Frank MIgnone and Garrett Fuller go toe-to-toe on the issue of crafting. Frank hates crafting and its impact on the economy of games. Garrett disagrees. Read on and then let them know what you think.
|Frank Mignone: I have a rather unpopular confession to make…I hate crafting. Primarily, I hate having to rely on other players for 'the best' items in a game where I cannot compete without them. It can drive the economy crazy because greedy gatherers charge whatever they want for their recourses, and crafters pass that extra expense, along with their own need for greed, along to me, the poor sap who need weapons, armor, bullets, guns, etc. Frequently, the crafter is the gatherer, meaning they answer to no one but themselves. Next thing I know, I have to farm for 2 days to make enough gold to buy a piece of armor that will last maybe 2 levels!|
You can read the debate here.
AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 9, 2006—NCsoft® North America has released Chronicle 4: Scions of Destiny, an expansion that adds 800 megabytes of new content and features to Lineage® II: The Chaotic Chronicletm, the market’s premier player-versus-player (PvP) massively multiplayer online PC game. The expansion is one of the largest updates released in the MMO industry and is free to current Lineage II subscribers.
Chronicle 4 adds several new major features to Lineage II, including the opening of the high-level hunting areas Rune and Godard, a new castle in Godard which players can attempt to seize, the nearly invincible fire dragon Valakas, and a fishing system that provides players with a profitable non-combat activity.
Also, Chronicle 4 rolls-out several features for high-level players including a third class transfer where players who reach level 76 may obtain more powerful and useful skills. Also introduced is a “hero and noblesse system” where level-75 players can compete in the Grand Olympiad, an extreme PvP challenge in which the winner is designated the rank of “hero” and receives new powerful weapons and a special heroic aura.
“Chronicle 4 packs in a huge amount of content that gives players the ultimate challenge whether they want PvP action in the Grand Olympiad or PvE adventures with the addition of Valakas the fire dragon,” said Adam Davidson, the North American producer of Lineage II. “Our last expansion made Lineage II more accessible to new players and Chronicle 4 rewards those who have been long-time participants. This new update rounds out a game that is one of the deepest and provides more action than just about any other MMO available.”
Lineage II was launched in 2004 and prior to Chronicle 4 had added more than 1.5 gigabytes of content free to subscribers.
Lineage II is available in a game time card package that includes a 60-day pre-paid Lineage II game time card and a game pack with the full version of Lineage II, including previous content expansions: Chronicle 1: Harbingers of War; Chronicle 2: Age of Splendor and Chronicle 3: Rise of Darkness. Additionally, players will find a 14-day free trial game code for purchasers to share with a friend.
The Lineage II sixty-day game time card packages are available at North American retailers and at the NCsoft online store for an estimated street price of US$29.99. To purchase the game or other Lineage II merchandise, go to the NCsoft store at: https://store.plaync.com .
For more information about Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle, go to: http://www.lineage2.com.
The game is rated Teen by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
Well, as promised, it's Friday, and with Friday comes a Dark Age of Camelot Grab Bag from Mythic. As always, we're providing you a sample of the goodies inside, to get the rest, simple click the link at the bottom.
Q: Are you allowed to use profanity in a different language and not get in trouble for it?
A: No, is the simple answer. However, the multicultural fellow doing the cussing may not get into trouble for swearing. Sadly, our CS team does not speak every language on this globe. Therefore, when you find yourself being subjected to nasty language in a language we don't understand, please place the speaker on /ignore. If the person doesn't take the hint and actively tries to get around the ignore filter, appeal the person for harassment, and we will investigate on those grounds.
Q: I've read that with the new patch the SI client will no longer be supported and that the classic client has not been supported for a while. Does this mean I remove these programs and folders from my PC? Is there an install program I can use so if I need to reinstall so that I don't need to install the original client plus 4 expansion packs?
A: From our Patcher King: "If have multiple versions of the game installed, but you only use one version, say... 'Darkness Rising', you can safely uninstall all other versions. You can find which versions you have installed by running 'Add/Remove Programs' from the Windows control panel. Alternately, you can look for versions installed under the 'Mythic' Program Group (Start->All Programs->Mythic). In either case you can safely remove or uninstall any version that you don't use.
Please note that the uninstall program will not uninstall any files that were added after the original install, this includes patched files, character .ini files and any screenshots you may have taken. You should look through these files to see if there's anything you want to save, but ultimately they can all be safely deleted too.
Finally, to do a 'fresh install', install from the latest box release you have, then install any downloaded upgrades, then patch and you'll be good-to-go!"
Get it all, here.
With Valentine's Day looming nearer and nearer on the horizon, Blizzard's World of Warcraft has announced a new holiday-themed event. What's in the air, you may ask? Why it's love. Love is in the air.
Something is in the air in the major cities of Azeroth. Some call it love, and some just call it friendship and admiration. Whichever it is, many guards and townsfolks now spend their days giving and receiving tokens and gifts to other amorous citizens. The more skeptical, however, are suspicious of the strange "love sickness" clouding the hearts of so many...
Don't miss the exciting gift exchange and worldwide popularity contest soon to hit Azeroth when love is in the air!
For more WoW, click here.
Scott Hartsman, the Senior Producer of EQII: Kingdom of the Sky, answers more questions - including one interesting item on botters - in our latest Q&A.
MMORPG.com: In the last four months the presence of botters and farmers has dramatically increased on many of the more populated servers. Many players have noticed and reported botters and farmers, but for the most part the problem seems to be growing, not declining. Has the development team recognized this as a potential issue and is their anything that can be done?
Scott Hartsman: Ah, botters. This remains a topic that’s near and dear to me. This has been a lot more than a potential issue to us. It’s been a large issue to us.
In trying to “build a better mousetrap,” as it were, we continue to make changes to the ways we’re able to automatically detect them even when they go unreported, as well as make improvements in how quickly we’re able to act once a report comes in.
In addition to catching people doing this in game, one thing we are now a lot better at since the last time I’ve commented on the subject is aiming for the source. The illicitly gained in-game currency that botting yields as a result. This weekend, for instance, we got rid of a couple ‘bot rings that had stashed away a very sizeable chunk of platinum and about 100 accounts used to generate it. It’s a daily effort for us.
It’s always fun to see which sites suddenly list “Nothing for sale!” after we do that.
You can read the entire Q&A here.
Well, it's Friday, and while we wait for the weekly Grab Bag from Mythic's Dark Age of Camelot, we can tide ourselves over with Release Notes for Test Version 1.82g. As always, we're bringing you the New Things and Bug Fixes category of the notes. "Is that all there is?" You may ask. "No," I may answer, click the link beow to read the rest."
NEW THINGS AND BUG FIXES
Get all the notes, here.
Thanks again to SOE for making this happen.