The Future of RPGs: Looking Forward At Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 And More

Posted on January 01, 2011

The Future of RPGs: Looking Forward At Diablo 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 And More

We looked to the future as part of Epictober back in, er … October, but suffice it to say, we’re still looking forward to 2011. We’ve updated these posts with the games that were announced since then, and here’s what you can start looking forward to in 2011 and beyond. Just as a friendly reminder, 2011 starts in less than a week. So start your anticipating right now.

As we look ahead to what lies in store for lovers of quests, booty, dialogue trees, and dozens upon dozens of hours of character progression and inventory management, the forecast for the future of role-playing games is whatever the video game equivalent of 72 degrees and sunny is.

Obviously, you have your heavy hitters like BioWare and Blizzard, who will be delivering some of the most highly sought after games of this generation (Mass Effect 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Diablo 3, etc.). However, for as much innovation as these developers are trying to cram into these titles, there is still something relatively “old-school” about them; especially when you consider what the folks at inXile entertainment are doing with their co-op focused Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, or the lengths to which Eidos is going with Deus Ex: Human Revolution to create the kind of RPG-shooter experience that fans of the franchise have been dreaming about for many years.

Still, whether you’re talking about traditional RPGs or RPG hybrids, the future has never been brighter for this time-intensive yet deeply rewarding genre. And on that note, we present to you our list of the top eight RPGs on the horizon that have us +45 excited.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

Release Date: 11/11/11

We don’t know much about The Elder Scrolls 5, except that it’s finally actually coming out, and will arrive on 11/11/11. Perhaps the best news of all around the announcement of the game was the fact that it would be using an entirely new engine, rather than the beginning-to-show-its-age Gamebryo engine. Plus, when you have Max von Sydow narrating your game trailer, you don’t really need that many details about your game.

We’re sure that more information will be forthcoming in the new year, but we do know that the game will feature Dragonborne characters. The name Skyrim refers to the northernmost provence in Tamriel, which is snowy and mountainous. Five of the world’s highest peaks are located here, and it’s been the site of many previous battles. It’s not new to the Elder Scrolls universe of course, but it sounds like the conflict that’s brewing there will be, dare we say, epic? Snow, mountains, dragons …. new engine? Count us in.

Mass Effect 3

Release Date: TBA Q4 2011

The second BioWare offering on the list carries some added weight because it will (likely) be the first title in the developer’s critically acclaimed sci-fi RPG franchise to launch on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. We honestly couldn’t be happier that PS3 owners will finally have the chance to experience the brilliance that is Mass Effect 2 when the game makes its way to Sony’s console in January, and having everyone able to share the love on day one for the highly awaited trilogy-ender would be a harmonious conclusion indeed (even if the narrative’s conclusion ends up being anything but).

We finally have to wonder about Mass Effect 3 no longer, as the recent debut trailer gave us some insight, like the fact that Shepard will be watching London burn at some point. Plus BioWare’s on site had this blurb:

Earth is burning. Striking from beyond known space, a race of terrifying machines have begun their destruction of the human race. As Commander Shepard, an Alliance Marine, your only hope for saving mankind is to rally the civilizations of the galaxy and launch one final mission to take back the Earth.

We also know that players can expect an even deeper character/save file transfer system, more sophisticated enemies and combat, and, sadly, more mining, albeit via a more streamlined version of it. While it will most likely be a little less than a year before ME3 hits our disc trays, BioWare will be bridging the gap between ME2 and ME3 through DLC. The recently released Lair of the Shadowbroker was the first of an unknown number of DLC packs in the works, so ME fans will have plenty to keep them busy until Commander Shepard’s epic journey comes to an end.

Defining Feature: Seeing how player choices from the first Mass Effect influence events in the final chapter will represent a true milestone for the genre.

Watch Larger Version | Watch HD Version

Diablo 3

Release Date: TBA 2011

No one knows how to jerk around with PC gamers’ emotions like Blizzard, and now that StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty is out, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is coming in December, all eyes, ears, and index fingers are focused entirely on the uber-awaited threequel Diablo 3. This year’s BlizzCon is expected to the “biggest yet” in terms of Diablo 3 news, which leads me to believe we’ll finally hear a release date and the last class will be revealed. Fingers crossed. When they aren’t clicking the left mouse button.

Until then though, visions of the game’s countless new features including the Artisan system, which gives you access to traveling craftsmen (blacksmith, mystic, or a jeweler), or the new Skill Runes system, which lets you fundamentally change skills in a variety of ways depending on the rune you use (i.e. acid-spewing poison Hydra heads vs. chain lighting powered Hydra heads). In short, Diablo fans are in for an experience that should feel simultaneously familiar yet fresh and exciting. If you know a better combination, I’d love to hear it.

Defining Feature: The Artisan system adds logical depth to character development and class management, and means more time spent battling and less time traveling to towns.

Guild Wars 2

Release Date: TBA 2011

ArenaNet has every intention of giving fans of its hit MMORPG franchise everything they’ve come to expect from the series (an expansive, co-op focused, subscription-less, graphically impressive MMO experience ) while also providing many compelling reasons for newcomers to the genre to finally take the plunge. Consider the Mad Libs-inspired character creation system, which lets players not only select a race for their character but also establish a rich back story that factors into the events of the game. It’s a lot more intimate than just rolling up a Fighter with a blank slate.

Or the fact that the events in the game unfold dynamically based on your actions in the world. You’ll still encounter NPCs who will provide you with quests, but the system is designed to make the process feel much more natural than in typical RPGs. Players can also, like some of the other games on this list, mix and match class attributes to make the hero that fits your personal style. Want to be a run and gunner, or a ranged attacker? You can combine talents and attributes to make that work. And really, in the end, isn’t that what a great RPG should be all about?

Defining Feature: Character bios that influence the narrative and dynamic event chains create unique experiences for every player.

Dragon Age 2

Release Date: March 8, 2011

BioWare came right out and asked gamers, “What didn’t work?” in Dragon Age: Origins when it started development on Dragon Age II, and the feedback the team received from this question directly influenced how they approached every aspect of the sequel. For starters, the game sports an improved graphics engine and art style that will give the game a much grittier tone. The controls for consoles have been reworked to take full advantage of the controller. Combat will be more fluid and put a premium on thinking tactically during battles.

Your character is fully voiced this time around as well, which will help to flesh out the new 10-year timeframe that serves as the backdrop for the overall narrative. Toss in a Mass Effect-inspired dialogue system just for good measure, and you have a recipe for one meaty sequel that should provide PC and console players alike with a fantasy RPG experience that’s shaping up to be second to none.

Defining Feature: Setting the narrative over 10 years means player actions and decisions will have far reaching implications over the course of the game.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Release Date: TBA 2011

A fully-voiced MMORPG is something that might have seemed damn near impossible a few years back, but leave it up to BioWare to actually make this absurdly ambitious prospect a reality. This also happens to be the first Star Wars-based title from the developer since it unleashed one of the greatest games of all time, RPG or otherwise, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, so it has that going for it, which is nice.

Throw in branching storylines for each character and the fact that you get your own spacecraft (which can then be used to blast space fools out of their space-fool rides), and it’s easy to understand why gamers are chomping at their bantha bits to get their hands on this game. Also, as we recently learned, Smugglers get their own personal Wookie, which just sounds so badass. Guard your arm sockets, suckers. Me and my Wookie don’t take no guff.

Defining Feature: I’ll say it again: the first fully voiced MMORPG. The script is estimated to be as long as 40+ novels. Simply. Ridiculous.

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

Release Date: TBA 2011

The “Gears of WarCraft” descriptor that the developers at inXile Entertainmnet have applied to their fantasy RPG makes much more sense when you see the game in action. The two-player co-op-centric gameplay lets players assume the role of two distinct characters: the brutish, hack-n-slasher Caddoc, and the impulsive, bow-toting vixen of violence E’lara. Not only does the game support jump in/jump out co-op, but players can switch between both characters in single-player as well, just in case you want to mix things up.

And while you’d expect a fantasy RPG to feature spells, what has us particularly excited is to see how each character and their spells interact with each other on the battlefield, as there are going to be various ways for players to combine their skills to create devastating attacks. There will also be a fair bit of exploration and puzzle solving thrown in to vary things up even more and lead you to bigger and better weapons. Again, it’s the way the two characters combine their abilities to solve problems that has us most looking forward to seeing more of what Hunted has to offer.

Defining Feature: Co-op spell casting and combat abilities will reward teamwork and add a distinct depth to the gameplay.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Release Date: February 2011

Eidos’ cyber-punky, Blade Runner-ish techno-thriller brings the acclaimed RPG-shooter series to the next generation with a visual style perfectly suited for its exploration of a world in which bionic augmentation is threatening to tear humanity apart. The Deus Ex franchise has always been known for offering players tremendous freedom in the way they played the game (focusing on stealth, action, hacking, etc.). Human Revolution takes this philosophy even further by ensuring that, not only are all playstyles supported, but those playstyles can be mixed and matched freely throughout the game.

Want to go guns blazing for a little and then do some stealth? Go for it. Hack a little here, convince someone to share a password there. It’s up to you. This kind of freedom will ultimately create an experience that is different every time, which has quickly become a staple of modern RPGs. How Human Revolution will differentiate itself in this regards remains to be seen, but you can bet we’re going to be there to find out when the game releases early next year.

Defining Feature: Being able to mix and match playstyles on the fly means every moment is a chance to experience something new gameplay-wise.

CD Projekt’s long-awaited sequel has us excited for a couple of reasons. For one, beneath the painfully long load screens and somewhat unsatisfying combat of the original game was an expansive and rewarding RPG that, among other things, taught us just how sleazy fantasy realms can be (should a developer decide to populate the world with an endless array of fast and loose damsels in undress). For the sequel, the developers have focused a lot of attention on the non-linearity of the experience by giving players an absurd number of ways to progress through the game. For expample, one jailbreak sequence has over 600 possible variations!

The game’s combat has also been ramped up and is now bloodier and more visceral than ever. And if you thought the first game was massive, you’ll want to start getting into shape, because the game world is expected to be absurdly huge. As far as adult RPGs go, The Witcher 2 proudly asserts itself as one of the leading contenders, and we, as adults, can’t wait to embark on this dark and mature adventure.

Defining Feature: An ever branching adventure that should satisfy our craving for a mature fantasy experience.

Looking Beyond…To The Future!

No list of this kind would be complete without some mention of the titles that we expect are in development but that have yet to be officially announced. You just know BioWare has at least a couple new epic franchises in the works, and their aspirations on the MMO front suggest many more happy years for RPG fans ahead. And if pencil and paper RPGs are more your speed, Wizards of the Coast just re-released the classic Dungeons & Dragons Red Box, giving you a completely packaged D&D experience, ready for some hot, D20-rolling action.




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Star Wars: The Old Republic Updated Hands-On – The Jedi Consular and Multiplayer Flashpoints

Posted on December 15, 2010

We wield the mystical powers of the Jedi consular and take on an explosive group adventure in this upcoming massively multiplayer game that takes place in the same universe as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, role-playing game developer BioWare announced it would create a massively multiplayer online role-playing game–a game that would take place not in the well-known universe of the original Star Wars motion picture, but rather, in the pre-Star Wars universe that the studio had crafted for its highly acclaimed 2003 game, Knights of the Old Republic. Over time, we’ve had the opportunity to play and see more of The Old Republic, and most recently, we’ve had the opportunity to play as the game’s Force-sensitive characters. Wielders of the dark side of the Force can play as the Sith Warrior or the Sith Inquisitor, which we’ve covered previously–but this time around, we’ve had a chance to join the light side play playing a Jedi character.

[ Watch Video ]

Watch the Jedi of Star Wars: The Old Republic in action.

The Old Republic will have two different Jedi classes, the guardian (a profession that focuses primarily on fighting while wielding a lightsaber, much like in Knights of the Old Republic) and the consular (a profession that focuses more on using mystical Force powers–again, much like in Knights of the Old Republic). We were given the choice to play as one of the two Jedi professions, and after seeing the intriguing E3 2010 trailer that shows the mystical powers of the consular, our choice was obvious. We hunkered down in front of a computer station at a recent press event and started playing as a brand-new Jedi apprentice–after sitting through a brief presentation on some of the other content planned for the game. Please be advised that we played a pre-alpha version of the game, so everything in this report is subject to change, and please also be advised that this story contains minor plot spoilers about the early experience.

The BioWare staff kicked off the presentation with a review of the recently-revealed crew skills system, which lets you use your computer-controlled companion characters to more or less do your dirty work. This includes all the “go run around and do this for a while” activities you’d normally handle yourself in an online game, such as crafting (in this case, using the “artifice” or “biochem” skills), gathering crafting materials (in this case, “bioanalysis” and “slicing”–the game’s term for computer hacking), and lower-level mission tasks (in the case of The Old Republic, this will mean diplomacy missions and treasure hunts). The idea is that your character is a true hero and, like any good hero, you have people who do that stuff for you. Since all characters in The Old Republic can have their own starship, which acts as a base of operations, your companions will hang out on your ship until you deploy them or put them to work on board at a crafting station. And you’ll apparently be able to deploy as many as five different companion characters at once to do one thing or another for you, and they’ll even continue working on their assigned projects after you log your character out of the game, meaning they’ll continue toiling away and may have good news for you by the time you get back.

In addition to going over the crew skills system, BioWare staffers also recapped the game’s first “warzone”–a player-versus-player (PvP) area where Empire characters will be able to duel against Republic characters (for the time being, BioWare has only revealed PvP for Empire versus Republic–no word on how or when players on the same factional side will be able to duel each other, or if they ever will be able to). Warzone PvP will take place via a handy queuing system you may have seen in other, similar games–you can reserve a spot in line, go on about your business taking on quests or fighting monsters, and once you’re number’s up, you’ll automatically be transported to the warzone for battle.

The warzone on display took place on the doomed planet of Alderaan (the development team intends for warzones to have story-based objectives that could have been “scenes out of one of the movies”). The Alderaan warzone pits one attacking team against a defending team that must prevent the enemy from destroying anti-air turrets that will shoot down a gigantic airborne battleship. Should you fall in a warzone, you’ll respawn in dramatic fashion, leaping onto a smaller ship and dodging through incoming flak while surveying the battlefield in real time to see how each team is doing before landing on terra firma–this brief scene will effectively be your character’s “respawn timer” and is intended to be a lot more exciting and useful than just staring at a bar onscreen. Warzone PvP will earn you tokens–items that can be exchanged for special PvP-only gear. While you won’t necessarily be able to join PvP battles right out of the gate, warzone PvP is intended to be a “viable alternative” to playing through the game’s standard content, and just like the game’s space exploration content (which has not yet been revealed), warzone PvP will net your character actual experience points that can be used to gain new levels.

With the presentation out of the way, we were free to dive into our hands-on time with the consular, which begins its career on the planet of Tython, a planet that will, in the grand scheme of The Old Republic’s story, act as the first Republic “flashpoint”–an action-packed area that will be a stage for events that drive your character’s primary story arc forwards. Our consular character began her career at the Jedi sanctuary, reporting to a worried Jedi attendant who pointed out that our character’s master wasn’t currently available–she had apparently gone to a dig site, since Tython is a planet that contains many ancient Jedi relics, including data-containing holocrons which may or may not house equally ancient Jedi secrets.

Unfortunately, the Jedi camp had come under attack by flesh raiders, bulgy, angry, cannibalistic humanoids who have not only looted holocrons, but have taken padawans from the academy as prisoners. We should point out that, as we’ve mentioned in our previous coverage, The Old Republic has plenty of different conversations with key characters that can go in different ways depending on how you decide to respond, and that in this session, we decided to play as a nice, good, good, nice, really nice Jedi who gave the kindest, gentlest, and possibly wimpiest dialogue answers possible in the hopes of earning as many light side points as possible. Like in Knights of the Old Republic, The Old Republic has an alignment system that shifts your character between light side and dark side depending on your choices.

Our first official act as a Jedi consular was to hop onto a speeder–the game’s terrestrial fast-travel system, which lifts you up in the air on a state-of-the-art speeder bike and whisks you away to your destination (not unlike a certain other eagle-headed bird that does something similar in a certain other online game), and head out to the next outpost in the wilderness to rendezvous with our master and to rescue some holocrons and/or fellow padawans. We met with our master, a liberal sort who, surprisingly, associated with a hunter of the savage Trandoshan race (the same reptilian race as the bounty hunter Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back), and received our first mission to retrieve a missing set of ancient set holocrons that belonged to some of the earliest Jedi–one of which belonged to the very first fallen Jedi who went on to found the evil Sith order. We wasted no time heading out into the field to seek the holocrons from the lush, arboreal forest clearing where they were last seen, and in the process, did battle with a great many flesh raiders, who live a tribal lifestyle and use crude firearms and melee weapons in battle. Fortunately, in addition to our lightsaber, our consular wielded many powerful abilities to aid her in battle.

As we’ve reported previously, The Old Republic organizes your character’s abilities in a hotkey bank tied to the number keys on your keyboard. Since the consular focuses less on melee attacks and more on Force power, the character seems to rely more strongly on its Force power meter, which becomes spent with each Force power used, similar to the mana bar in other fantasy-themed online games you may have played. Your most basic attack as a consular is the “saber strike,” a melee attack that causes your character to strike the enemy with his or her melee weapon three times (Jedi characters don’t start their careers with lightsabers–that comes later). Brand-new characters also start with the “project” ability–the power to telekinetically lift a chunk of rock from the earth below and hurl it at an enemy, dealing damage and potentially stunning the enemy briefly–along with the “Force valor” ability, which, just like in Knights of the old republic, increases the target’s resistance to various types of damage for the duration of the ability. New Jedi characters also have the “meditation” ability, which lets your character quickly regenerate lost health and spent Force power.

Once characters reach higher levels, they unlock new powers and abilities that must be purchased from a trainer character (the current version of the game also requires a small payment of credits, The Old Republic’s in-game currency). At level 2, consulars may learn the “telekinetic throw” power, which lets the character mystically raise shards of earth and pelt the enemy with a continuous stream, dealing damage over time until the power runs out. At level 3, consulars can learn the “Force wave” ability, a powerful skill that takes place in a circular area of effect around the character and deals damage to any enemies in range and also knocks them clean off their feet. At level 5, our character was able to learn the more-powerful “rank 2″ version of the project skill, as well as the “stasis field” ability, which–just like in Knights of the Old Republic–temporarily paralyzes an enemy, removing it from battle as a way to control crowds of foes. Interestingly, any enemy trapped in a stasis field in The Old Republic also takes double damage from the project ability. At level 6, your consular can learn the more-powerful, “rank 2″ version of the telekinetic throw power, as well as the new “Force potency” skill, a passive improvement which, until it expires, gives your consular the chance for any other Force power you use to have a “critical” effect; such that any damage-based abilities deal an extra 60% damage, and any healing abilities grant an additional 60% healing. (Again, we played an early version of the game and all this information is subject to change.)

As we continued our quest, we found three of the four ancient Jedi masters’ holocrons, only to discover that the fourth–the one that belonged to the first Sith–had somehow coincidentally gone missing. Our initial quest, which seemed like a straightforward archeological mission, soon became much more complicated, since the trail to the artifact led us to seek out the ancient hilt of a weapon that was the precursor to the first lightsaber…and to a potential hidden colony of Sith. The fact that this simple-seeming quest quickly becomes a nuanced quest that involves decisions of questionable morality and shades of gray shouldn’t be surprising, given BioWare’s pedigree of trying to weave story and complex characterization into its games.

On our quest for artifacts, we encountered an illegal colony of Twi’leks–the Star Wars universe’s tentacle-headed humanoids (the same race to which Return of the Jedi’s Bib Fortuna belonged)–who were missing their village protector, a reclusive Twi’lek wilderness expert who had apparently discovered the most ancient secrets of the Sith and nearly killed us by collapsing his remote cave home down onto our heads. We tracked him down to a hidden Sith shrine inhabited by Sith disciples and were challenged to take massive damage and movement penalties in exchange for the health and safety of civilians imprisoned there. Because we were playing a goody-two-shoes character, we always opted to suffer whatever painful penalty was offered in dialogue to spare the civilians’ lives until we reached the tomb of the fallen Jedi, at which point our time with the consular’s initial quests ended.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of our play session. We returned later to jump back into the game with our consular, which LucasArts staff advanced to level 10 so that the character had all the powers we’ve described previously, plus the ability to heal herself and others. We took this character into the flashpoint, one of the game’s action-packed set-piece sequences that often requires lots of challenging battles and careful decision-making when participating in the game’s group dialogue system–a system which engages your entire party in a key conversation with story-critical characters. All players in a party can participate in dialogue, but only one player’s dialogue option can “win” each branch of dialogue with those characters–for instance, when confronted with a character who is withholding information from you and your buddies, you may choose to try to be threatening, while one of your friends might instead try to gently coax the information out of your contact. Exactly which character ends up speaking for the part at that juncture is determined by various modifiers (such as different characters’ ability scores, alignment, and other variables).

This particular flashpoint took place shortly after our Jedi consular character would’ve completed her quests, acquired her lightsaber, and left Tython on a neutral starship. We and our Republic buddies were on our way to deep space when our ship was intercepted by Imperial troopers who demanded that our ship’s captain surrender a Republic spy who was in the business of traveling to different worlds to convert them to the Republic’s cause. After a terse conversation with the ship’s security force, which was led by an Admiral Ackbar-esque Mon Calamari sergeant, our party was immediately attacked by waves of aggressive Sith and Imperial troopers that attacked us ferociously. Though we had continued to play as our Jedi consular character, our party members included a smuggler (the Republic’s cover-based shooting class) and a trooper (the Republic’s heavy weapons expert), both of which had strong offensive capabilities and neither of which had much in the way of support powers, at least at level 10. In addition, each of us had one computer-controlled companion that could be summoned to aid in battle–in our case, we had the help of the Trandoshan hunter who had befriended our master–a formidable melee combatant in his own right.

Since our team members were much better equipped for attacking, and perhaps not as well-equipped for defense, we quickly abandoned any thoughts of using our damage-dealing Force powers and instead focused on our support powers, often opening up a fight with a new group of foes by rushing forward and triggering our Force wave power to send them sprawling and gain an initial advantage, then retreating to the rear and focusing either on using stasis field to neutralize one enemy to help our team divide and conquer, or to use our healing ability to aid wounded comrades. This was an extremely early version of flashpoint gameplay that was in no way completely developed or balanced, and as a result, it ended up seeming extremely tough. At several points, one or more of our party fell in battle. Fortunately, any living character of any profession can instantly revive any other party member, so as long as at least one person stays alive, all hope isn’t lost. This first flashpoint play session was primarily intended to be a proof-of-concept and a demonstration of how they’ll work in the future. We’re almost positive that this area will be re-tuned to keep it reasonably challenging but at a level that won’t constantly wipe all of your party members out cleanly.

Having played some of the game’s evil characters already, we found it hard to get excited about playing Jedi characters, since they don’t have jetpacks and flamethrowers like bounty hunters and can’t hurl lightning bolts like Sith. However, the Jedi consular character acquitted itself with honor and proved to be a very important profession with a lot of useful abilities that work well when adventuring alone, and work beautifully in a group. And now that we’ve had an opportunity to try out actual group play, we’re even more intrigued by the prospect of playing the final game, which promises a deep story, group play, companions with their own skills, faction-based PvP, and space exploration. The Old Republic clearly intends to offer a whole lot when it eventually blasts off in 2011.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic Updated Hands-On – The Jedi Consular and Multiplayer Flashpoints” was posted by Andrew Park on Tue, 14 Dec 2010 23:30:05 -0800

Crosshairs–Star Wars: The Old Republic, Microbot, R18+ Silent Majority

Posted on November 24, 2010

This week we steal some time with Dr. Ray Muzyka to get some words on how Star Wars: The Old Republic is going, chat to the producer behind Microbot, and canvas the silent majority in Sydney to get some of their views on R18+!

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Crosshairs–Star Wars: The Old Republic, Microbot, R18+ Silent Majority” was posted by edmondt on Wed, 24 Nov 2010 17:43:13 -0800

EA publishing The Old Republic solo

Posted on November 11, 2010

Lucasarts/Lucasfilm taking licensing role in Star Wars MMORPG, leaving marketing and distribution to megapublisher.

When Star Wars: The Old Republic launches next year, it will have only one publisher. At an event this evening, Electronic Arts announced it will be the sole distributor of the massively multiplayer role-playing game, due out in 2011 after sometime after the first quarter of the year. The game is being developed by EA’s role-playing game studio, BioWare, at its Austin, Texas facility.

The MMORPG had been set to be co-published by both EA and LucasArts, the game arm of Lucasfilm, which created the Star Wars franchise. Lucasfilm will remain involved in the project as a “a key partner, collaborating on design and marketing, and as a licensor of the property.” Speaking with GameSpot, BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka said LucasArts would also remain involved in development of the game, as it is “part of the same organization as Lucasfilm.”

The financial terms of today’s deal were not disclosed, but the rationale was. According to EA, the deal was done “so that all publishing, marketing and distribution responsibilities can be centralized for efficiency.”

Today’s deal comes just over three years after LucasArts and BioWare announced their alliance for an undisclosed game–the same month EA revealed it was buying BioWare. Less than a year later, EA CEO John Riccitiello let slip the game was set in the same proto-Star Wars universe as BioWare and LucasArts’ Knights of the Old Republic games, set several thousand years before the Star Wars films. Later in 2008, BioWare and LucasArts revealed the game in earnest on the latter’s campus in San Francisco.

For the latest on Star Wars: The Old Republic, check out GameSpot’s previous coverage.

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EA publishing The Old Republic solo” was posted by Tor Thorsen on Wed, 10 Nov 2010 19:37:56 -0800

BioWare's Star Wars MMO Won't Make Any Money, Says Free-to-Play Developer

Posted on November 07, 2010

The days of subscription-based MMOs are over, says Bigpoint CEO Heiko Hubertz.

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The Future of … Everything ! All of our Epictober Future of Posts

Posted on October 15, 2010

The Future of ... Everything ! All of our Epictober Future of Posts

This week during Epictober, we took a look at the future of the major game genres and highlighted what lies beyond the horizon in the storm of games that are approaching on an imminent tidal wave of inbound 2010 titles. What shooters should you be prepared for? What fighting games should be on your radar? If leaping and jumping is your thing, then what platformers should you start thinking about?

Keep reading to get an excerpt from each of our prognosticating posts, and then head on to read the full features. Thanks for helping us make everything all the more Epic!

The Future of Shooters: Looking Forward At Crysis 2, Gears of War 3, Duke Nukem Forever And More

The Future of Shooters

  • Duke Nukem Forever: So why are we looking forward to DNF? Because it’s Duke f*&$king Nukem and it’s actually happening. Before PAX, I would have been more willing to believe that my mother had taken up stripping at 60 than to believe that DNF would ever come out. You saw my mom naked on stage dancing to “ABC” by the Jackson 5? Sure. Duke Nukem is coming out? Go f&*k yourself.

The Future of Action / Adventure Games: Looking Forward At Bioshock: Infinite, L.A. Noire, The Last Guardian And More

The Future of Action / Adventure

  • Batman: Arkham City: Arkham City refers to a section of Gotham which newly elected mayor Quincy Sharp has ordained as “no man’s land.” Sharp takes all the citiy’s various criminals and locks them in a slum, with no supervision. The rest of Gotham is kept safe by armed guards who patrol the perimeter. When Two-Face brings Catwoman into Arkham City with the intention of murdering her, Batman is forced to swing into action, save the day and crack some skulls along the way.

The Future of Platformers: Looking Forward At Portal 2, Disney Epic Mickey, LittleBigPlanet 2 And More

The Future of Platformers

  • LittleBigPlanet2: Sure, the original LittleBigPlanet is a play on the traditional platformer, and so is the upcoming sequel…but only if you want it to be. With all the new user-creation modes, the ability to transform this loveable Sackboy adventure into an RTS, an FPS or an arcade-style shooter – hell, pretty much any genre you could take the time to re-create – is poised to make LittleBigPlanet 2 into the ultimate meta-game.

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The Future of Fighters

  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds: Definitely one of the most eagerly anticipated fighters in years, MvC3 seems hell-bent on dribbling out information about the game, one character at a time. Could you ever have imagined that we would have Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins and M.O.D.O.K. from the Marvel Universe in the game? I mean, the guy is just a giant head in a floating chair. Gimme some Captain Britain or The Beyonder or something. I just can’t rally behind bighead.

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The Future of RPGs

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: A fully-voiced MMORPG is something that might have seemed damn near impossible a few years back, but leave it up to BioWare to actually make this absurdly ambitious prospect a reality. This also happens to be the first Star Wars-based title from the developer since it unleashed one of the greatest games of all time, RPG or otherwise, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, so it has that going for it, which is nice.

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The Future of Strategy Games

  • Rock of Ages: Of all the strategy games on this list, it’s nearly impossible not to be the most excited about Rock of Ages, and that is due in no small part to the fact that it is entirely off the wall. In this game, you use a giant boulder to blow through 30 different unit types in an effort to destroy your enemy. But, these unit types are meant to stop your big, giant, rolling, round rock. It’s just that simple. You set up your ball and try to squash your opponent and pound his castle into splinters, while he sets up obstacles in your bath to throw your ball off course.

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The Future of Motion Control

  • Sorcery: Finally, a game that lets you use the Move for something that makes perfect sense. Without trying to shove it in somewhere it doesn’t necessarily belong, Sorcery allows you to play as a wizard with a magic wand. This isn’t wimpy s@%t, though. You’ll use your wand to hurl magic missiles and do other awesome wizard stuff. Out of all the upcoming PlayStation Move titles, Sorcery excites us the most. It might seem a little on the head to use the Move as a wand, but why fight it? Being a wizard sounds good to us.

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