Better late then never right?
Here’s my review and thoughts on the Livestream they did on the 26th August. The purpose of the stream was to do something to make up for the cancellation of the Community Cantina they were going to have at Pax Prime. So they did a Developer Livestream instead so they could keep the Devs chained to their desks working on Knights of the Fallen Empire (Musco’s words not mine).
So what did they do? Did the stream have a Community Cantina feel? Not particularly. It was more of a presentation, with minimal interaction with the community, featuring a competition to see who was the shortest, frozen Lana and keyboard smashing. But come now, there’s no need to be sour, right? Let’s give them credit where it is due!
The cinematics they showed were fantastic! It looks like they’ve really stepped up their game in that department (like they’ve been hyping for a while now). They raved about how amazing the cinematics are in KOTFE every 5 minutes. Musco was especially giddy.
(So I guess this is their new marketing strategy? To hype the cinematics. I thought I was playing a game not watching a movie..)
Otherwise, the stream as a whole was a bit mediocre and the presentation didn’t go so well. The stream kept freezing intermittently and then completely froze. The stream stayed down for a good 10 to 15 minutes while they tried to sort out the the stream issues. Once they sorted things out, they held onto their resolve and kept on streaming.
This was the highlight of the stream (I’ll explain later):
— [Xam Xam] Rachel (@Rach_Games) August 27, 2015
Lets get into the nitty gritty details, shall we?
Who was presenting?
Eric Musco (Community Manager), Michael Backus (Lead Designer), Ben Scott (Lead Level Designer) and Tait Watson was in the background somewhere being a ninja Cartel Coin giveawayer.
What did they show on the stream?
The centerpiece of the stream was showing off the majority of Chapter 3 – The Outlander using their token Jedi Knight, also known as, ‘The Outlander’.
The Chapter stars Lana Beniko and T7 rescuing ‘The Outlander’ from Carbonite. There’s also people running around screaming, Zakuul Knights bantering and Skytroopers (which are actually droids, not people) attempting to stop ‘The Outlander’s’ escape, Koth Vortena and HK-55 who are also part of your rescue crew, and last, but not least, a dramatic appearance by Vaylin!
The opening sequence of Chapter 3 was prerecorded then they skipped ahead of a little combat to the next cutscene (the Sun Generator) which was live. Then we got to see some actual gameplay/combat for the first time.
This would have been a great opportunity to show off some new class abilities… Instead Ben clumsily steamed through the mobs to the next cutscene.
Unfortunately for Bioware, the stream spazzed out and was down for a good 10-15 minutes. Lana became frozen for quite a few minutes. Once they ‘patched’ the technical difficulties, they had to go through some of the scenes they already showed us and…
Ben is a spacebar champion! He was banging that keyboard so hard, the technique and skill involved were second to none. Any spacebar advocate would have appreciated his fine work.
Ben also used a Dev cheat to get through the combat faster, a ‘one-shot’ rail shot ability.
They showed more cutscenes (which featured our first close up look at Vaylin and a major story spoiler) then they cut it off before Chapter 3 was finished. A couple of things to note.
Throughout the play-through they went to the trouble to repeatedly emphasise that choices are kind of a big deal and will have an impact on the story. Some choices will impact later in the story, others immediately. I’m skeptical about how far reaching our choices will be and if they will have any far reaching consequences. Will the story pan out completely differently if you make on choice as opposed to another? Guess we’ll have to play the story for ourselves and find out.
Also confirmed: T7 is the hero of Star Wars the Old Republic.
Overall Chapter 3 looks pretty straight forward from a story standpoint. Lana and T7 rescue you from your carbonite prison, you run into resistance on the way out, then you make a lucky escape from Vaylin thanks to Koth and HK-55. Will ‘The Outlander’ make a clear getaway? Guess we’ll have to wait and see how it works out?
The next part of the stream consisted of a Q&A, if you can call it that (I’ll talk about it more in the next section) and they teased a scene from Chapter 1 (which I’ll talk about later).
Basically, they answered some questions, pre-picked before the stream, about Companions (Musco literally had notes). Taken from TORCommunity’s summary of the stream:
Q: When KOTFE comes out, what is the timelapse that happens? What happens to all my companions?
A: 5 years have lapsed – Characters you’ve romanced, married, or traveled, these characters you’ll encounter in the new story and will see what happened to them. Some may even rejoin you as you go. If you truly truly love one companion from before, you can bring them back right away using a terminal. We are not taking any away.
Q: Is all my previous companion affection going to be lost? What happens to it in KOTFE?
A: We call all of those options from pre-KOTFE “variables,” and they all have an effect in KOTFE. Your previous efforts won’t be lost.
Q: Mechanics, mechanics. Combat ability of companions – what are some of the biggest changes made to companions’ roles?
A: We noticed players often love certain companions, but were forced into using specific tank, heals, etc. companions. In KOTFE, companions can be all three roles, Heals, Tank, or DPS.
Q: What about gear?
A: We untied gear from companions. We kept the visuals so you can still customize companion appearance. If you haven’t used T7-01 for 30 levels, you can bring him out and not worry anymore about him being undergeared because companion stats are now based on Influence. All gear currently equipped will be automatically returned to you.
Basically, they vaguely gave us the basics of what they are doing to the companion system. Leaving us with more questions then answers. Datamining has already revealed these details plus additional information anyway. They can’t reveal too much more without giving away spoilers. But, the details on the mechanics of the companion system changes could have been more formal. Yes they did post a summary on the forums afterwards. But perhaps it would’ve been better if they had a fully fledged article or web page explaining the new companion system and how everything related to it will work. (Hopefully they’re working on something like this and will have it out fairly soon).
It was also nice of them however to reiterate that they would not be taking anything away from us (like achievements or a game system) without giving us a fair amount of warning. But typically they will avoid doing that.
Developer Interaction with Chat
Well, to be fair, with almost 10,000 people in chat, this would’ve been impossible. So they didn’t pay attention to any questions in chat (not that they were been easy to spot anyway, with all the crap chugging through the chat). All they did was give away Cartel Coins randomly.
What they could have done to improve interaction was to take questions from Twitter or Reddit as the stream was happening or before it started. This would have made the players feel like they were being listened to and were, to a degree, interacting with the devs. Naming the individual who asked the question, in particular, strikes a personal connection and reassures the players that the Devs are watching social media and paying attention to their players.
Instead, Musco picked some questions in advance, not citing the source of the questions. Just saying they were from ‘the Forums’. This makes it seem impersonal, that the questions were made up or jumbled together from multiple questions. We don’t know for sure, but in either case they could have handled it better or answered at least a couple of more questions considering the 15 minute stream downtime.
First Reveal of a Familiar Face
This segment, they left for last and it was a little underwhelming (it didn’t deliver as advertised). Musco teased that we would get a first look at a companion. Instead, we got shown a scene from Chapter 1 – The Hunt. The scene shows the Outlander, on an Imperial Battlecruiser(?), going to his starship and disengaging it so his crew (Kira, Doc & T7) can escape. He then tells his crew to leave him behind and get out of there. Darth Marr then asks for your help on the Engineering Deck. (I’ll talk more about the scene in another post).
The question remains though, who was it meant to be a reveal of? Kira? Darth Marr? If it was meant to be Kira, then it was pointless really. She’s only relevent for the Jedi Knight. I highly doubt all the other classes will be using the Jedi Knight Companions in Chapter 1. There will be an assortment of companions from the respective classes’ story (eg. a Sith Warrior will have a crew of their companions and it will be their ship, the Fury.
If it was a tease of Darth Marr, then we already guessed he’d likely be a companion from the Outlander trailer anyway…
It was a nice tease of the story but didn’t work well as a reveal of a companion.
The reveal would have worked better, and generated more excitement, if they had revealed a character that was more central to the story that all classes would’ve come across previously. Like Theron or Satele Shan, Supreme Chancellor Sareesh, Jace Malcolm or Darth Malgus? They shouldn’t have used a companion that is only relevant to a particular class. We haven’t seen any prominent Republic characters in the promotional material so far for KOTFE have we?
Final Thoughts and Suggestions for SWTOR
A couple of more suggestions for SWTOR for when they do their next Dev Stream. When they aren’t showing any cinematics or gameplay and they’re just talking, fill up the screen with the people talking. It was annoying watching you guys talk in the tiny corner of the screen when nothing else was happening.
Secondly, you guys missed a fantastic opportunity to show off the new abilities being introduced in 4.0! Ideally you could have done the play-through across different classes (even if it was just the combat parts, prerecorded) to show off each new ability. This is the kind of stuff (I daresay) quite a few people would love to see and it’s perfect to show on a stream!
You really should avoid showing anymore story stuff too. At this point in time we can guess the first few chapters of the story by piecing together the promo images, the trailer and the demo you showed us. That’s really silly when you think about. I know story is a big deal for you guys and you don’t want to spoil it. But at this rate, we’ll know the whole story before we even get to play it. So maybe hold off on talking about story from now on and talk about the actual game features.
Oh and maybe the stream would run a little more smoother if you had a couple of more people to help out if possible. Or hire someone who has expertise in running twitch streams. Might make things easier and less stressful for you guys. If possible, anyway.. It would be beneficial to add a professional touch.
Finally, Musco, you said on the stream that this was just the beginning, that the floodgates were opening on information. I really do hope you guys keep your word on this! Hopefully you won’t wait too much longer to release the full features and details of the expansion not related to story!
The stream was okay. But, it could have been much better. It’s not surprising it went as well (poorly) as it did. I guess it can only go so well, with the limited amount of information they’re willing to reveal, at this point in time. Hopefully it won’t be too long now till we know more.
I’ll admit that my viewpoint is a little skewed by the access I have to datamined information about the KOTFE expansion. Yes, there’s more stuff to KOTFE that has not being revealed by SWTOR or TORCommunity.
It’s for this reason that I have a hard time understanding why they are not hyping or talking more about the new game changes (that have nothing to do with story). It’s ridiculous how little we still know about the expansion. Based on the Companion info they revealed on the stream and what’s been datamined, everything’s mostly set in stone anyway.. If it weren’t for Miner and Potato, we would know nothing at all. The community would likely be in a far worse state if it weren’t for our dataminers.
What did you think of the stream? Do you think we’ll hear more information about KOTFE in a week or two at the most?