Major MMO studio owned by EA, famous for its RPG franchises and particularly to MMO players for Star Wars: The Old Republic
I think that we can all agree that Hirku seems like he’d be a pretty fun-loving dude to hang out with in World of Warcraft. We would all get cooler just by association, and he would take us on these crazy adventures where we’d log in the next day, find ourselves naked in some unfinished expansion, and have no recollection of what happened the night before.
I mean, look at this picture! “Ordinary” does not suit this party pirate’s life at all.
As a side note, I am completely jealous of players who have the ability to take great screenshots using fun emotes. Trying that usually results in me taking a picture of my character’s left ear from an extreme close-up view.
This week, I’m going to depart a little from the usual insights into the world around Star Wars: The Old Republic
and talk about another studio that isn’t owned by LucasFilm
and certainly isn’t owned by Electronic Arts
. I’d like to talk about Fogbank Entertainment
Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.
If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.
Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.
I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.
Ready for Star Wars: The Old Republic
Patch 5.8’s arrival next week
? It’s OK if not, because the developers are here to bring you up to speed on the latest chapter of this MMO’s journey.
The team popped on a livestream yesterday to cover a half-dozen features that are coming with the update, including the return of two companions (the Inquisitor’s Ashara and the Imperial Agent’s Vector), some screens of the improved conquest user interface, an embedded trailer for Izax, and the lore behind the Gods of the Machine operation.
BioWare said that it is slating class balance tweaks for 5.9, not 5.8, so you’ll have to wait a little while to see what these utility changes will bring.
Surfacing at the tail end of last week was the news that multiple former BioWare devs who’d all contributed heavily to Star Wars The Old Republic at one point or another in their careers were moving on to a new studio called FogBank to work on unnamed narrative-centric games. The Fogbank roster includes Daniel Erickson and Alexander Freed, both of whom left BioWare and SWTOR years ago. But it also includes renowned storyteller Drew Karpyshyn, who’d returned to BioWare specifically to work on Anthem, which certainly cast some doubt on the state of that game, which has been delayed at least once (though EA denies it).
On Saturday, Anthem studio boss Casey Hudson address growing player concern on Twitter, suggesting rather ambiguously that Karpyshyn had simply finished his work on the game and was moving on as part of the natural course of development. “Story will always be an important part of every BioWare game,” he wrote. “Drew has wrapped up his work on the project, but Anthem’s Lead Writers and their teams continue to do amazing work developing the world, story, and characters.”
God of the Machine, one of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s
premiere endgame operations, is not a new addition to the game. But it has been incomplete, as BioWare has slowly been adding to its encounters over the past year. Next week when Game Update 5.8
arrives, the final boss will be added and players will be able to go through the complete operation from start to finish.
BioWare teased two images of Izak the Destroyer, a truly gargantuan droid who looks like it also has some sort of protective force field, as a way to generate hype for the March 20th patch. Check them out after the break and brush off your skills — you’re going to need them!
Oh, and it looks as though a plague has broken out on Corellia. Again. So, you know, get on that.
We don’t know exactly what titles they’re working on, but three former Star Wars: The Old Republic veterans have joined forces under a studio now called FogBank, working on an “episodic narrative” game developed in conjunction with an “interactive storytelling platform.” As GIbiz reports, FogBank isn’t entirely new; it’s a a spinoff of Kabam that was picked up by FoxNext as Aftershock, then renamed.
The studio is led by studio director Daniel Erickson, the former creative director of Star Wars: The Old Republic; he moved around in the last few years after departing BioWare and SWTOR, most recently doing a stint for Kabam, where he was the director on mobile titles Spirit Lords and Star Wars: Uprising.
VentureBeat notes that Alexander Freed, the beloved SWTOR senior writer credited with the popular Agent storyline, will oversee narrative development for the new company. He left BioWare in 2012 too.
The next patch for Star Wars: The Old Republic
brings with it a new boss and some pretty significant changes to the game’s Conquest system (our own Larry talked about those changes recently
). Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait a little longer for it, as the developers feel like the boss encounter needs a little bit more tuning. It’ll be going live now on March 20th
, so rather than a week of waiting, you’ve got a week and some change.
Needless to say, this has a knock-on effect for other releases, so patch 5.9 is also getting delayed by a week to May 1st instead of April 24th. Obviously, no one likes delays, but it’s up to you whether or not the transparency overrides your need to have a new thing here right now. But in two weeks you’ll be conquering small portions of planets on your own terms, so that should work out just fine.
Remember when Massively OP’s Larry and MJ could land on a SWTOR
planet or station that wasn’t trying to kill them? Neither can we! And the Dyson sphere from KOTET’s
Chapter IV has actually succeeded in doing it! Everything seems bent on cleansing the duo right out of… whatever it is they stumbled upon with this sphere. What will they learn about this new setting? And what will the audience decide to do? Find out by tuning in live at 2:00 p.m.
What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
The original Lead Systems Designer for Star Wars: The Old Republic
was a man named Damion Schubert
. A friend of mine used to call him my nemesis because he seemed to be in charge of everything that I disliked about SWTOR
. At community cantinas and other interaction with fans like the Guild Summit, he said that he is work on SWTOR
would not be done until he was able to give guilds their own flagships. He was true to his word. On May 11th, 2014, BioWare launched Galactic Strongholds
, and with it guild flagships. Shortly after, we found out that Shubert had moved onto a different project.
Now, Shubert isn’t really my nemesis, but Strongholds in many ways have been a point of love and contention for me, especially when it came coupled with Galactic Conquests, a system that never really lived up to its potential.
With Update 5.8, the BioWare team is looking to revamp Conquests. As promised in the 2018 roadmap, BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco gave us a more detailed update on Conquests on the forums. But the changes to Conquests won’t be as meaningful to you unless you understand where Conquests are currently.
The Conquest system is getting some pretty big changes
with the next patch for Star Wars: The Old Republic
, and it all came about because of some UI polishing. Yes, the designers went in to separate solo and guild conquests, and in the process the whole system got overhauled to provide a much smoother experience for individual players as well as overall guild projects.
Conquests have had their goals rearranged, for example, and solo goals offer command XP, credits, and experience for players. There are also changes to stronghold bonuses, with each individual stronghold providing a 25% bonus for a maximum of 150% (sorry to those with strongholds full of chairs for the conquest bonus). Guild conquests, meanwhile, have been restructured to make the leaderboard less mandatory for smaller groups just pursuing smaller goals. Check out the full rundown of changes ahead of the next patch arriving.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
players leaped for joy when Producer Keith Kanneg
finally released the winter and spring 2018 roadmap
last week. It was good to hear from him after so much silence over the holidays. I don’t begrudge the silence, personally. It’s typical for people in the games industry to slow down some over the November and December holidays. And many companies do not receive their annual budget until mid-to-late January. So the simple truth is that BioWare
Austin probably couldn’t make any real promises for 2018 until February.
Also, Kanneg made some great statements at the beginning of his letter to the SWTOR fans. He said, “We’ve decided to use the Forums as the means to get you the information about the next couple months versus waiting for a Roadmap.” I’m completely on board with this. And I hope that SWTOR fans on the forums allow the developers to be more open and honest with their communication. That would mean that there will probably be things that are said that have to be taken back and more we-hope-we-can-do-this statements that aren’t actually promises.
Despite the good things, there were a few subjects that weren’t talked about or were glossed over in the roadmap that do raise some concerns.
Well then! The title of KOTET’s
Chapter IV in SWTOR
is not ominous at all! We don’t know about dreams, but Massively OP’s Larry and MJ are not planning to die in this next part of the Chiss Agent’s adventures through the galaxy. What is in store for the duo? Part of that depends on what you decide. Join us live at 2:00 p.m. to continue making the main choices in Choose My Alignment.
What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018