Welcome to this week’s Dev Tracker Fly-by. Possibly our lightest week yet! Daniel Erickson has revealed that this week they are currently between builds, so perhaps the team is taking the opportunity to relax. Let’s go over what did get posted.
Georg Zoeller, Principal Lead Combat Designer, briefly describes a Jedi Sage ability:
Sages also get access to ‘Rescue’, a friendly pull with accompanying threat reduction. Not just useful for pulling out your friend when they get themselves into too much trouble, also quite nice for quick vertical plays in Huttball.
The Sage is an Advanced Class of the Jedi Consular. The Sage’s mirror, the Sith Sorcerer, will have an equivalent ability.
Rescue sounds very much like the “Leap of Faith” ability that was introduced for priests in World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm expansion, where it was quickly dubbed “Life Grip” (the opposite of the Death Knight’s “Death Grip”). If it works the same way, you will target a player and trigger the ability; the player is then dragged to your position. From what Georg is saying, this will work in multi-level terrain. It’s ideal for pulling your friends out of the fire… or, for the more sadistic (dark side?) among you, pulling them into something bad.
A thread was started to ask whether forum posters were required to respect the Game Testing Agreement (usually referred to as the NDA, or Non-Disclosure Agreement). The reasoning given was that it should only apply if you were in the Game Testing program. I suppose they were hoping that this meant they could discuss leaked material without getting banned.
Allison Berryman provided the necessary clarification:
In order to be selected for testing, you have to opt-in and agree to the Game Testing Agreement. Pre-ordering the game, however, does not require agreeing to the Game Testing Agreement – the agreement only binds testers and those who have opted-in to be selected for testing.
It is not necessary to agree to the Game Testing Agreement to participate on the forums, but the Rules of Conduct (which everyone must adhere to) do state that “Posting, linking, quoting, reproducing, or discussing confidential information from the game testing program is prohibited on the forums.” Even if you did not agree to the Game Testing Agreement (meaning you didn’t opt-in to be selected for testing), the discussion of confidential information is not permitted on the forums. Hopefully that clears up any misunderstanding!
Reading the fine print of the agreement, complying with it prevents you with sharing anything you experience while testing the game. If you haven’t actually tested the game, then you should theoretically not have access to anything to which the agreement would apply.
Of course, it doesn’t take much digging to find a lot of leaked material from those who clearly have violated the Game Testing Agreement. BioWare can’t clean up information that has leaked onto sites outside their influence, though they can identify at least some of the sources and kick them from Game Testing. However, they absolutely can control the content of their official forums, and as Allison says, the Rules of Conduct clearly preclude posting anything that has unofficially emerged from Game Testing.
The bottom line is that Game Testing Agreement or not, if you post leaks on the official forums, you will get suspended or banned. A silly thing to risk with the game so close to release!
A thread was started with a most confused original post that I still can’t parse after several attempts; I think the illiterate poster was complaining about not getting into Game Testing. It seems that Allison Berryman used the title of the thread (“Beta testing confusion”) to post a general clarification:
It seems there may be some confusion here about the difference between Early Game Access and the Game Testing Program.
Early Game Access is granted to those who Pre-Order the game and redeem their Pre-Order Code on our website. It is early access to the game servers before the official launch, and isn’t a part of testing. To learn more about Early Game Access, see our Pre-Order FAQ: http://www.swtor.com/preorder/faq#q209656.
For the Game Testing Program, we randomly select testers from the list of people who are signed up on SWTOR.com and have opted-in to test. This gives you access to the testing servers, sometimes for a limited time, and is not the same as Early Game Access.
Nothing new here—it’s all clearly stated in the FAQ, and has been clarified previously on the forums. There really should be no association between Early Game Access and game testing. Early Game Access is SWTOR’s head start program; if you pre-order the game, you are guaranteed to be able to start playing before launch. They haven’t told us how long that head start will be, beyond “days not weeks”. I’d guess the first wave of players would be brought in on 13 December, a week before launch. The key point is that this isn’t any kind of testing! You’re playing on the live servers, and the characters you create will continue to exist past launch.
Contrast this with Game Testing and the Beta Test Weekends: any character you create during testing (as was discussed last week) will be deleted prior to the game going live. We will all start afresh, either in Early Game Access or at launch.
We’re now approximately six weeks away from the probable start of Early Game Access. Rather than hoping to get into Game Testing now, use the time to ensure that any outstanding tasks or loose ends are taken care of so that when you get to play for real, you can dedicate some extended, uninterrupted time to SWTOR!
There was a little confusion regarding whether EU guilds were being brought into the Guild Testing program. David Bass confirmed that they were:
This has actually been true for quite some time now, as we’ve been inviting EU guilds over the past few months. Apologies that the post was not updated sooner.
When Chris was asked that question in
To be completely clear: There are already a significant number of guilds in the Guild Testing program who have marked themselves as EU guilds on the Guild Headquarters. We no longer restrict our guild testing invites based on the region the guild selects in the Guild HQ.
It’s great to see that after some initial hiccups with bringing EU players into testing, it seems that it’s now full steam ahead!
During the EA (Electronic Arts) 2Q FY12 Earnings Conference Call held this week on Thursday 27 October, Peter Moore (EA COO) said, when talking about SWTOR, that “In the coming weeks we’ll invite hundreds of thousands of players into our biggest Beta test to date.” We’ve had no clarification about just what this means. Allison Berryman did post the following in response to a poster asking about whether there’d be any more Beta Test Weekends:
Hey everyone. We do update this thread when we send out invitations to any part of the Game Testing Program. We’ll continue inviting people, but haven’t announced any kind of schedule for invites. We do plan on inviting more testers, of course, so check back to see if we’ve sent new invites and make sure to check your registered e-mail address regularly if you have opted-in!
I would guess that Peter Moore was talking about one or more upcoming Beta Test Weekends. We know that they’re effectively dry runs for launch, and clearly the more people they can bring in, the better. So if you’ve yet to test SWTOR prior to launch, it seems that you may still get a few days after all!
Assuming that Game Testing will end at least a week prior to Early Access commencing, the remaining weekends are 5/6 November, 12/13 November, 19/20 November, 26/27 November and (perhaps) 3/4 December. I’m going to guess that the third Beta Test Weekend will be next weekend, 5/6 November. It’s possible that they could have more—assuming all is going smoothly, they could potentially run one on every remaining weekend, bringing in a completely new batch of people each time. The more practice they have prior to launch, the more chance that any possible issues will be shaken out and fixed.
From all we’ve seen, and the elaborate preparations that BioWare are making, I’m predicting that SWTOR’s launch will be one of the biggest and smoothest in MMO history!