Friday, May 20, 2011

Discussion/dissection of recently leaked SWTOR material

Let's start an honest discussion on the leaked gameplay footage and interviews that recently have surfaced despite the NDA agreements floating out there.

Disclaimers: Obviously, the video is of a SWTOR beta client. All of the material in said videos and interviews is subject to change. Any glitches or faults in the video could have already been addressed in later versions. These things aside, getting to watch origin world gameplay for the first time and discussing it is important. This information fills a void of information for most of us who couldn't make it to PAX or elsewhere.

I'll start with the first, most popular video, then go on to the later video and (vastly inferior) interview image. Feel free to add your own thoughts/observations and I will hopefully edit/add them!

1:20 There's a black dialogue box with scrolling ellipsis above a character that is engaged in a cutscene. Initially I thought that was a text box as just before that the guy asked for info to a vendor. Interesting implementation and I wonder if it'll be visible to opposing factions in a PvP area, assuming cutscenes are possible in gankable areas (hard to avoid the eventuality).

2:17 It's very easy to see on the map where quest objectives are. The days of thotbot are numbered. Obviously, this was announced previously but it's nice to see how it's implemented. Later you'll see outlined zones for mobs.

3:ish Subtle, but it's pretty interesting how the designers use the z-axis to create distance and deliniation between minizones. Crest the almost inperceptible hill, and you'll see the monk statue inviting you to the new zone. When you watch the video with this in mind it's doubly striking just how much up and down motion the ground has. It's engaging and nice to see! You'll get tiered minimaps as you go up and down zones as well. Despite the lack of swimming, Bioware is fully using the z.

3:53 Wow, that minimap overlay is really opaque! Hopefully that's adjustable. I don't need to see the gradations of environment, just objectives and my location. edit: later you see there's a option for "map goes transparent when moving" but I didn't see an option to change the transparency level.

4:40 I found the quick adjustments in auto-facing which served to syncronize the dodging and parrying pretty nifty. I'm probably less bothered by this because the person playing is an obvious keyboard turner. It might be jarring to see my character turn and dodge when he's under my direct mouse control.

5:16 Magnifying glass is a nice touch. Look closely in the upper left hand corner and you'll see that coordinates have been implemented! Soooo nice to see that in place as I haven't actually seen that confirmed anywhere.

7:00 cuuute... nerf-herder's wristwraps. At least humor that doesn't break the fourth pillar is still good. and there are more later... set bonus increases dmg to nerfs?

11:02 No shoulder slot? I'm seeing two weapon slots, chest, head slot (empty), wrist, head-gear (redundant or am i missing something), pants, belt, shoes... and an implant and three empty bling looking slots. Jewelry perhaps?

14:18 Elite mobs have a star on their info upon mouseover. Perhaps this is the too subtle clue the devs mentioned as I can see people missing that when they play.

20:55 Very customizable settings for SCT, nameplates, logs... good to see. The control options are interesting as they have a settign for "focus" target. Interesting to see what that is in fact, because I'm thinking of groups in PvP setting group focus icons to focusfire purposes. Was worth pausing. Here also confirms the the player isn't using all available actionbars.

22:43 When zooming out to extreme levels, it seems you get the wide-angle or fish-eye (ty breandan!) lens effect. This, to me, feels slightly jarring and wonky. Any other reactions?

26:01 Standard, if rather bleh emotes... can't hear the voiceovers for some of them... oh well.
27:30ish A pop-up to answer a holocron call in the lower right hand corner I wonder if that'll be the same functionality when you're invited to join the holocron quest sequence initiated by a fellow party member and if there's a timer on it.

28:30 Aaah, that quicktravel option is just a hearthstone on a 30min CD. Went by so quickly.

29:30 The time that will live in infamy. So many gifs created. Yea, it's strange and seemingly out of place. Yea, the characters aren't looking directly at each other and some camera angles do nothing but accentuate that fact. Yea, they could've just stabbed him and killed him if he "needs to die." Personally, I wasn't incredibly bothered by this sequence, but I do find it funky. I took more offense to the over-arching strangeness of the romance sequence, but figured that was due to my not seeing the backstory and build-up.

32:57 Companion tethering in action. Mixed to negative reactions on that, just looks strange to me.

34:59 Nice to see that companions will have all the armor slots available to regular characters. The comparison screen leads me to believe this, though it's not confirmed. Haven't seen a companion inventory screen.

35:14 With consistent pausing/starting you can see that the droid only has certain slots available. Pants feet chest, no belt and no neural implant confirmed at 36:49, no gloves at 38:50.

38:25 I wonder just how much of the camera motion on this flight path is developer controlled. I'm inclined to think most because this guy keyboard turns, but some of the turns were strange. Edit: the flight at 46:20 was much nicer... probably much ado about nothing.

41:35 Once again I'm struck by how convenient it is that this guy is a clicker. You get descriptions of all the abilities he mouses over. We also learn that the droid can taunt or gain threat.

49:32 Someone in the chat while this was getting recorded must've requested a close-up of the animal. Honestly, I can't tell that much. Looks ok to me, and I'm wondering how much of the lack of detail is the video quality.

50:ish It's around this time that I was struck by how some things in the environment look polygonish. The rocks and some lines of the trees just look unpolished to me... perhaps nit-picking.

1:05:19 cool little knockback and stun on this elite mob. You'll notice in these fights that somehow the droid just goes awol after being caught on the stairs. Obviously a glitch.

1:16:35 Ooo, purple loot. Looks like caster gear somewhat. Confirms tiered set bonus, even on lvl 8 gear.

1:18:ish This conversation further details the gradations of good and evil in the story-telling, the enemy being a person doing evil in the name of good. It's not all cookie-cutter good and evil. Fitting yellow lightsaber choice.

1:20:ish I'm wondering if the PC chose to let the character live and proclaim his coming, if it affects later player situations, particularly dark-side jedi. It would be interesting to see that referenced in the future.

1:23:40 Nerd chills ensue, only slightly detracted by how the crafting items aren't necessarily connected with your hands or necessarily in your hands at all. That being said, I still enjoyed the sequence. I wasn't put out by the strangeness of the mob through the rock then losing interest.

1:30:10 Woah... that skill upgrade costs money. I thought that was confirmed to not be in the game? This, along with the "cyborg" species choice at the begining of the other video, makes me wonder how old the played version is.

Interestingly, there's no forum for discussion on the leaked material. Obviously, there's no allowed discussion on the BW forums, but most of the fansites are locking down on discussing this material. I can understand this in most situations, especially by those people potentially under an NDA for visiting BW and playing the game. I, like most people, haven't signed any NDA and would like to discuss the videos. 

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