star wars the old republic

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Official Site: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Studio: BioWare/Electronic Arts
Launch Date: December 20, 2011
Genre: Sci-Fi Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's Creative Director on Uprisings and Update 5.1

We are a couple days early with the Hyperspace Beacon this week for a reason you're going to love: We had an exclusive conversation with Creative Director Charles Boyd about the Star Wars: The Old Republic update releasing tomorrow, and we wanted to give you some insight into what Defend the Throne might offer you. Even though you won the day at the end of the latest expansion Knights of the Eternal Throne, there are still factions that have problems with you and your Alliance. There are still uprisings all over the galaxy.

The new group content called Uprisings (pretty on the nose there, right?) is the focus of the next update. We'll see five more four-player, intense instances launch tomorrow, along with changes to the Command XP system and (of course) a new Cartel Market Pack.

I talked to Charles Boyd on Friday to get his input on the new content and a breakdown of each new Uprising and the overarching purpose behind them all.

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LOTRO starts testing player housing improvements

One of the most requested and most delayed requests by the Lord of the Rings Online community over the years is a revamp to the game's limited housing system. While a complete overhaul isn't happening right now, the good news is that Standing Stone is starting to test some big improvements that will allow players more freedom in placing housing decor.

The main change in this upcoming patch is an adjustable housing hook system that sounds similar to what's used in SWTOR: "You can now adjust the precise location of interior housing decorations once they are placed in a hook. The decoration hook UI now includes four scroll bars that allow decorations to be rotated as before, but also to be moved east/west, north/south, and up/down. Exterior housing decorations continue to only allow rotation."

The test server patch also includes additional chat channels and premium housing writs to facilitate the transfer of the newer houses.

Source: Patch notes

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Quantic Foundry's findings on WoW, SWTOR, and gender

Quantic Foundry, the gaming analytics consulting firm we've been following since late 2015 thanks to its Gamer Motivation Model, has a new blog post out this week that purports to break down participation rate in various gaming genres, including MMOs, by gender.

Parsed from 270,000 self-submitted surveys gamers have submitted to date -- 18.5% of which are from women -- Quantic's data appear to reinforce some of the basic stereotypes in gaming: two-thirds of match 3 gamers are women, almost all tactical shooter fans are dudebros, women play more high-fantasy MMOs than sci-fi MMOs, that sort of thing. But there are some interesting surprises. For example, a smaller percentage of World of Warcraft players are women than the genre numbers on the whole.

"23% of World of Warcraft gamers are women. This is substantially lower than the group average (36%). A lot of game researchers (Nic and I included) focused on studying WoW as an exemplar of online gaming, but it looks like WoW was not only an outlier in terms of market success, but also in terms of its demographics relative to other games in the genre."

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Creative director discusses a 'new adversary'

For the last five years and more, Star War: The Old Republic told the story of Tenebrae, a Sith of humble origins who rose to great power and ultimately corruption. Of course, there were other great stories along the way -- the eight player stories, and ultimately, the Outlander's story -- but even the story of Revan revolved around this hidden but powerful figure who was eventually unveiled as the Sith Emperor.

At the end of last year, I talked to Producer Ben Irving and Creative Director Charles Boyd about the past five years of SWTOR and about what the future holds for the game. It turned out to be a wonderful, frank interview. I learned many things that I didn't know about Irving and his introduction to BioWare, which I mentioned a post last year. But I also learned some fun facts about the future of the SWTOR story.

Without spoiling too much, I think it's safe to mention that Tenebrae's story wraps up in a nice little bow at the end of Knights of the Eternal Throne. I spoke to Boyd about the challenges of closing up a long, pivotal story and where the writers go from there. And one of the things he mentioned is a "new adversary."

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Global Chat: Elder Scrolls Online renaissance

As I peruse a hundred or so community blog posts every day, it's fascinating to me to see what games the MMO blogosphere as a whole is playing and discussing. We sometimes end up flocking to certain titles based on recent announcements or because others are talking them up pretty heavily.

One game that's been getting a lot of mentions on blogs lately is Elder Scrolls Online, with players generally enthusiastic about how it's shaped up into a pretty decent MMO. "It's a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched," writes Occasional Hero. "Visually, I would probably rank it second behind Black Desert Online for the best-looking MMORPG out there," touts Endgame Variable.

Elder Scrolls Online not your thing? No worries; we have articles covering The Secret World, LOTRO, RIFT, and more in today's community blog roundup!

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SWTOR bug drives enemy boss to commit suicide

Any MMO dungeon boss knows that it is only a matter of time before he, she, or it will be slaughtered by a pack of well-geared, highly trained adventurers. As inevitable as this may be, there is one NPC in Star Wars: The Old Republic who has decided to take matters in his own hands and commit suicide before suffering the indignities of defeat.

According to the SWTOR team, this is both a bug and a potential exploit in one of the game's new uprisings: "There is currently an issue with the first boss, Lord Anril, where in certain situations he will instantly kill himself."

Obviously, by triggering the bug, players can progress through the uprising much faster than otherwise. The team isn't prosecuting exploiters due to the possibility of this happening on its own and the sheer popularity of this particular uprising. The bug will be fixed in an update on January 24th.

Source: Official forums. Thanks Shintar!

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The Stream Team: At SWTOR's Gravestone

Last time, Massively OP's Larry and MJ stumbled across the Gravestone, an impressive ship from SWTOR's past. While MJ 's Chiss helped Lana get water, she learned more about what has happened in the past five years. Now it's time to help Koth. What can she learn from him? That all depends on what choices you, the audience, make for her! Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. to continue the Choose My Alignment adventures in Knights of the Fallen Empire. There will also be a giveaway!

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 12th, 2017

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Jukebox Heroes: Six MMOs that need official soundtrack releases

For an avid fan of video game soundtracks, and of MMO soundtracks in particular, the most frustrating aspect of collecting and listening to these scores is how shabbily the OST is often treated. For every game like World of Warcraft or Aion that gives great respect to its music by creating and selling albums, there are two or three titles that have never seen a single official release at all.

This is such a shame and an aggravation that I need to call some of these titles out this week. I need to wag my fanboy finger in their direction and ask, "What gives?" There's so much great music that is put into these ever-expanding games... and the fact that only a fraction of it is ever made widely available to the public to purchase and enjoy outside of the game is a loss (moreso if the game shuts down). I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the composers to see their work bottled up in a product that might go offline forever at any time.

Here are six such MMOs that drive me nuts every time I think about how awesome it would be if their studios would ever consent to an official soundtrack release.

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The struggles and successes of SWTOR

There's a new op-ed piece over at Gamasutra in which the author -- an occasional MMO player -- takes a critical look at Star Wars: The Old Republic five years into the game. Of particular interest to the author is SWTOR's recent expansions and the shift of this MMO's design and delivery.

"Its latest expansions are vintage BioWare storytelling that are worthy of being given the much-coveted title of KotOR 3," the author writes. "EA finally let BioWare be BioWare by allowing them to essentially build out a single-player RPG story in the middle of an MMO, complete with consequential moral choices, romance, and something approximating narrative depth. But this also represents a certain concession on BioWare’s part to the limitations of the genre."

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The Daily Grind: What's the most intellectual MMORPG?

We got a wonderful "deep thoughts" email from reader James earlier this week that serves as the backdrop for this morning's Daily Grind.

"It could be the whiskey talking, or the newness of coming back to a game after a year, but I am finding Final Fantasy XIV much more intellectual and meditative than World of Warcraft or Star Wars: The Old Republic, etc. What MMO makes you think the hardest while playing?"

I'm going to resist the urge and say EVE aka Spreadsheets Online and instead give my nod to Lord of the Rings Online, which always makes me feel like I'm plodding through an intentionally archaic historical novel -- and I mean that in the nicest possible way. How about you folks? What do you think is the most intellectual MMORPG, the kind you can't just faceroll your way through because it really makes you think?

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The Game Archaeologist: Hero's Journey

Fiction writers know well of Joseph Campbell's identification and outline of the monomyth, or "hero's journey," in many stories. The 12-step process starts with a sympathetic hero in an ordinary world who then goes on a coming-of-age adventure into a special world where he or she finds a mentor, meets allies, goes through tests, succeeds in an ordeal, and is ultimately transformed into a more powerful and skilled person.

From Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, the monomyth is clear and active. Even with the similar structure across scads of stories, we love it and eat it up. There's something about this journey that appeals to us, perhaps because we can imagine ourselves going on such an adventure. It's also why MMORPGs are so gripping, giving us a chance to experience the monomyth first-hand.

In 1999, one MMO decided that it would embrace this formula and called itself, simply, Hero's Journey. What started with high aspirations eventually fell into a decade of development hell, which ironically took fans on a journey to failure, not success. Today we're going to look back at Simutronics' graphical MMO and imagine what could have been.

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Massively Overthinking: Hopes and wishes for MMORPGs in the new year

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It's way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight's Massively Overthinking, we'd like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2017 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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Perfect Ten: The best MMORPG updates and expansions of 2016 (that aren't Legion)

Sometimes you have to exclude something from a list. I could, for example, praise World of Warcraft: Legion for being a really good expansion yet again... but I already did that. Heck, we already did that. It won an award and everything. And it deserves that award, but let's be real, we did not suffer at all from a paucity of updates over the past year. So it's time to honor some of the other updates that were great this past year that haven't gotten enough recognition.

Of course, this is my own curated list, so if you're looking for objectivity combined with a subjective rating like "best," you may be looking for love in all of the wrong places. Let's take one last look through 2016 at all of the really cool game updates that made the onslaught of deaths and tragedy at least slightly more pleasant.

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