Hey everyone. We're back from E3 and I wanted to give you all a quick update about how the show went for Star Wars Galaxies and try to correct any misperceptions, misquotes, mistells, and downright mistakes floating about the forums or the online press.fficeffice" />
E3 DEMO OVERVIEW
This year, the Star Wars Galaxies team was primarily focused on showing off the latest build of Jump to Lightspeed for press, retailers, and fans. We had about twelve demoers manning stations at the LucasArts, ATI, and Windows booths (including Cinco Barnes, Lead Designer on Jump to Lightspeed; Gary "JustG" Gattis; J "Blair" Brack; Jason "Pex" Ryan; Kurt "Thunderheart" Stangl; Kevin "Q-3PO" O'Hara; Jeff Dobson, our Lead Artist; Julio Torres, Assistant Producer at LucasArts; John Buzolich, Lead Tester at LucasArts; and Andy Sommers, our Lead Programmer). We also had a handful of others folks qualified to talk about Jump to Lightspeed floating about, including Raph "Holocron" Koster and Rich "BoShek" Vogel. Between the three booths and large number of SOE and LucasArts staffers, we did literally hundreds of demos and gave dozens upon dozens of interviews.
In the LucasArts booth, we had three monitors, each with two computers and a switchbox so we could quickly show as much as possible as quickly as possible. ATI had two machines; Windows had one. All of the computers throughout the convention center were simultaneously connected to our Jump to Lightspeed demo server back in Austin. We also had testers from SOE and LucasArts participating from their respective buildings in Austin, San Diego, or San Rafael. This actually worked out really nicely - while demoing in the LucasArts booth, I might run into Andy in his X-wing during one of his demos in the ATI booth. We had absolutely fantastic performance and stability; we didn't suffer a single client or server crash throughout the three days of the show. Oh, and we had demoers using both the mouse-and-keyboard and joystick.
A typical LucasArts demo went like this:
1) Open with an introduction and a brief overview of Star Wars Galaxies on Monitor 1 for those who aren't as familiar with the game. We handed out a timeline that covered all of our major milestones since launch and showed off creature mounts, vehicles, and player cities to anyone who hadn't checked out the game in the past few months. In some cases, we even provided a glimpse of the jetpack from the Death Watch bunker.
2) Switch to Jump to Lightspeed on Monitor 2. Our first "scene" had a demoer in an X-wing shooting down Hutt fighters and TIE fighters in the Tatooine sector of space. This sector is visually very cool - we have a huge space station and a large asteroid field as key landmarks, and the clouds of Hutt fighters all firing away create a very dramatic furball. During this scene, we always tried to hit these points:
·Combat is fast-paced and real-time. Other words used to describe the Jump to Lightspeed combat system include "twitch" and "arcadey."
·We'll have 10 content-rich space sectors, including Tatooine. Each one is chock full of enemies, along with environmental conditions like asteroid fields and nebulae.
·Players will have access to over 15 customizable starships at launch, including the X-wing, Y-wing, TIE fighter and TIE variants, and some new mercenary craft. Each starfighter is completely customizable - you can change paint job, swap in and out engines, reconfigure your weapons and shields... We've modeled the interiors of the cockpits in full 3D (you can look out the X-wing's canopy to see the S-foils opening, or in the TIE fighter's cockpit look up to see the "moon roof," etc.).
·While shooting down enemies, you'll gain lots of loot, from credits and faction points to new engine and weapons components that can be used to upgrade your ship.
While these key points were being covered, the demoer piloting the X-wing typically took out a half-dozen or more enemy ships. Upon destruction, the enemy craft would break up into several flaming chunks - it wasn't unusual to see a TIE fighter cockpit, its wings blasted into oblivion, spiraling out of control into the depths of space.
3) Direct the audience's attention to Monitor 3, where a demoer is piloting a TIE fighter or TIE interceptor in the Tatooine space sector. In moments, the TIE fighter locates and begins pursuing the X-wing (still on Monitor 2) through the asteroid field. The X-wing is caught in a hail of green laser fire (but can't be destroyed - we were in god mode to prevent any untimely deaths during demos!). Here, we talked about:
·Jump to Lightspeed remains Massively Multiplayer. You'll be fighting alongside or against other players.
·We're using the same basic faction system from the core game, although there may be some specific rules for space. But, at its heart, the PvP system in Jump to Lightspeed will allow Rebels to fight Imperials (and vice versa) from the cockpits of canonical starfighters.
·We're introducing four new professions, including the Shipwright (who builds the ships) and three piloting professions. Progression through the piloting professions will require experience (gained from defeating enemies in space) but also completion of specific story-driven mission arcs for NPCs.
·Cinco likes to call space "tragically dangerous" to reinforce the fact that you'll be flying up into space and engaging in combat. When your ship gets damaged (which it will), you'll eventually need to return to a planet to replace individual components and repair the vessel. However, you'll never lose your starship - it always stays in your datapad, even if it's seemingly "destroyed" in space.
4) Demoers at Monitors 2 and 3 use the switch boxes to switch over to the Naboo space sector and take positions aboard a YT-1300 transport, the base model from which Lando and Han Solo developed the Millennium Falcon. The Naboo sector looks dramatically different than the Tatooine sector - it has much "cooler" colors. While the Tatooine system is dominated by the yellow desert planet and the brown, rocky asteroids, the Naboo sector contains the blue-green planets of Naboo and Rori as well as some bluish nebula effects. In this scene, the centerpiece was probably the massive Corellian Corvette floating next to a medical frigate. During the demos, the YT-1300 pilot frequently opened fire on the corvette or frigate just so we could demonstrate the fact that these NPC-controlled capital ships have numerous turrets that could return fire. The system was also filled with pirates in Y-wing starfighters and yet more TIE fighters and TIE variants. Here, we tried to cover:
·The YT-1300 is a multipassenger starship. It allows an entire group to travel the galaxy together. The coolest thing about the entire demo was probably showing one demoer actually sitting in the cockpit of the YT-1300, piloting the vessel, while the other demoer, on the very next monitor, roamed the cockpit and then explored the rest of the ship. Yes, we have constructed the interior of the YT-1300 (and even furnished it for the demos). In some demos, we had a third person just hanging out in the "living room" area of the YT-1300, lounging on a sofa.
·The YT-1300 will have fully-functional turrets. Again, while one demoer piloted, the other manned the top turret (the bottom works as well) to blast TIE fighters. During longer demos, we showed off things like the fact that the pilot can both see and hear the turret blasts from the cockpit, and the sound the pilot hears is different (muffled and distorted by the cockpit) than the sound the gunner hears.
·Capital ships, like the corvette, will be included as large "raid" targets, designed for multiple groups of players to tackle together. They will be defended by turrets and enemy fighters. Players can target individual components of a capital ship to take out its engines, shield generators, etc. Players can also suffer damage to individual components on their own ships.
·We're also adding two new species.
5) Most demos for retailers and press were about 5-8 minutes long; for online press or PC gaming press, we sometimes were able to spend upwards of twenty minutes showing off the game. During these longer demos, we tried to show some starfighter customization, swapping in and out engines or changing the paint job in the fly. We also talked a great deal about droids and their usefulness in space. Basically, you'll be taking your current astromech and slapping him into your starfighter. As you advance in your chosen piloting profession, you'll gain the ability to program the droid with different functions - he might be able to increase your max engine power, shield strength, etc.
Throughout the show, we were able to meet and talk with many community members, which was very rewarding for the team. On Friday, we also had an "open booth" at LucasArts which allowed more fans to come into our booth and see the full demo running on three monitors.
In terms of the response to the demos, I can only say that we were humbled and heartened by the support we received. The feedback from nearly everyone who saw Jump to Lightspeed - from the press to the community - was overwhelmingly positive. We heard repeatedly that the game looks beautiful and, more importantly, fun to play. We still have a long way to go before our Fall release, but E3 has definitely put us into a very positive frame of mind.
So, with over twelve people roaming E3 giving demos and interviews and answering questions to literally hundreds of different outlets, we're bound to have some contradictions and confusion. I'll try to respond to as many issues as I can, but please post in this thread if I've missed anything… (oh, and special thanks to WumpusAmungus for starting an E3 information thread that tracked some of the press and other information, and Mkappus for starting his thread (http://forums.station.sony.com/swg/board/message?board.id=lightspeed&message.id=2732), which is the basis for my feedback below:
Mkappus was good enough to post the "facts" as you all knew them, based on interviews and what's been printed here and elsewhere. I'll go through them and confirm or clarify. All the indented stuff is from the original post; the non-indented stuff are my responses.
1. 15 ships are being released with the expansion
We've actually been saying "more than 15 ships" - we have 15 confirmed but hope to squeeze in a few more.
2. When you get the expansion you will be given a free basic ship so you can jump into space right away.
This is mostly accurate. When you get your novice pilot skill, you'll also get a low-level, relatively weak starfighter. This isn't designed to become your permanent starship - just something to get you into space and help you earn your first few skill boxes in your chosen profession. Eventually, you'll want to upgrade by purchasing a better starship from a shipwright. We haven't decided on the exact make/model of this starting starfighter yet, but it will not be any of the most prominent ships from the films (i.e., it won't be an X-wing or a TIE fighter).
3. The YT-1300 is the only ship that can carry multiple people at this time.
We'd like to have more than just the YT-1300 available at launch, but we don't have those plans finalized yet. Each multipassenger ship we include will likely have a fully-realized interior that you can walk around. Each ship is also fully-customizable (both inside and out), so my YT-1300 might not look exactly like yours… You can also name your ship.
1. There are 4 new professions: Alliance Pilot, Imperial Pilot, Basic Pilot, Shipwright
Essentially true. There will be four new professions, including the Shipwright (makes ships), the Imperial Pilot (fly for the Empire) and the Rebel Pilot (fly for the Alliance). We're actually calling the "Basic Pilot" a Privateer - a mercenary pilot rather than a faction-affiliated pilot. Progression through all three of the piloting professions will require XP (gained by fighting enemies in space) and completion of story-driven mission arcs (as an Imperial, you might be asked to deal with a Rebel presence in the Tatooine system, a mission arc that culminates in a showdown with a Rebel fighter ace).
2. At the moment the Pilot professions do not take basic skill points to learn.
Our core philosophy is "We don't want you to give up a current skill to become a pilot." We haven't worked out the details of skill points for the piloting professions, but we'll either be using a different type of skill point or give you one piloting profession for free (they are all exclusive - you can't be both a Rebel Pilot and an Imperial pilot). Shipwright may require current skill points since, technically, you can be a shipwright without ever leaving a planet.
3. At the moment Shipwright does take basic skill points, and requires engineering 4.
See above regarding the skill points, but note that this is subject to change. In terms of other requirements: Each of the new pilot skills will be a starting profession. The Shipwright profession will likely be an elite profession tied to Artisan, but nothing has been set in stone yet - it may or more not require Engineering 4. Any detail you might have seen about the profession skill trees is definitely temp and going to change. I believe we brought up the skill trees a few times during demos to talk about either professions in general (for those who weren't familiar with how professions work in Star Wars Galaxies) or the droid programming aspect of Jump to Lightspeed. Evidently, we left one up long enough for a few people to grab photos or transcribe what they saw. If you see any replicas of the skill trees online, realize that these do not represent the final skill trees and that most data/text is going to change. We just integrated temp skill trees so we knew we could give players skills and abilities, and allow them to advance through some semblance of a profession by gaining XP and completing missions.
1. It is twitch based.
This is correct. We're describing it as "real-time space combat" that feels "arcadey" or "twitch-based." In other words, this is not turn-based/rules-based combat in space. Instead, you use the mouse or joystick flight controls to aim your ship at your opponent and actually fire at the right time.
2. Collision - you can't collide with another player ship and cause DMG. I have read different things about colliding with NPC ships and asteroids.
Two issues here: 1) Colliding with other player ships. Right now, we do play an effect if you're in first person view and collide with another ship, but we don't deal any damage. We're worried about wealthy players using endless "ramming" tactics to grief other players. 2) Colliding with NPC ships and asteroids. You'll definitely collide with asteroids and other large bodies (including capital ships), and they'll likely do some as yet undetermined amount of damage. We do mimic collisions with NPC craft just like we do with player craft, but any damage is still TBD.
3. There is no atmospheric flight.
True. Our goal is to get you into the space action as soon as possible. We were also concerned we wouldn't have enough time to think through and solve all the griefing and technical issues necessary to make this a reality. Atmospheric flight is something we talk about a great deal among the team, but as you've heard before with other features, we want to take the time to do it right. I expect it sometime down the line, but no ETA.
4. Ships will land and takeoff from starports. You call them from your datapad and load to space.
5. You can fly yourself from sector to sector, thus planet to planet.
True. We'll likely have you launch into space around your current planet and then pick a planet to visit, via a hyperspace map. You'll then see the hyperspace effect and travel (during a loading screen) to the space zone around your destination planet. There will be some risk of danger/combat in the zones around planets, but our goal is to let you travel quickly and freely between planets.
6. If you die in space your ship takes dmg but is not destroyed. You are cloned to the nearest planet, unless you cloned at one of the ships in space.
True. We never want you to lose your ship, but it can become badly damaged.
7. Combat flying incurs battle fatigue.
I believe this is still TBD. It does right now, but only when you die in space.
8. Joysticks and gamepads will be supported.
True (and already in and working!).
Faction in Space
Conflicting information here. One article says that space combat must be consensual, suggesting covert status in space. The last article I saw said that if you are in a faction craft you are tef'd while in space, thus open to attack. Currently I am going to assume that anyone in a faction craft is open to attack by members of opposite faction, and only non faction craft will be safe from pvp.
The bottom line here is that we haven't worked out all the details. We want PvP to remain consensual, and we'll be using the basic framework from the ground game's PvP system, with perhaps a few additional rules for space. We'll let you know more as the design develops.
1. There are 10 space sectors.
2. Eight sectors are around existing planets (Corellia/Talus combined, Naboo/Rori combined).
3. 2 sectors have no planets and are considered deep space.
We're actually calling these "Wild Space" areas - we haven't announced the content that will populate these areas yet.
4. There are nebulae and asteroids. Nebulae are more than just scenery they have effects on ships.... Asteroids, last I read could be destroyed.
Nebulae have various different effects - one might drain your shields over time, another produces lightning strikes that damage your ship, etc. Asteroid fields are also in the game. Right now, only very small asteroids can be destroyed - we don't want to be forced to constantly repopulate asteroid fields.
5. There is no mineral harvesting in space.
True. Our focus is on space action and travel at this point.
1. It is a multi-person ship. When at a starport, everyone in your group will be loaded to the ship when you call it. Probably a character max, but haven't seen exact amount now.
There will be an upper limit to the number of group members you can bring aboard, but we don't know what this limit is yet - we have to do load testing to determine it. The limit will be large enough to provide for the "group" experience we're trying to capture (and to let you transport a reasonably-sized group between planets).
2. You can walk around in the YT-1300.
True. We created a version of the YT-1300 that lets you explore a few hallways and rooms. It's not an exact replica of the Millennium Falcon's interior, but diehard Star Wars fans will tell you that the Falcon's interior changes dramatically between the original Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back (evidently Han did some remodeling). We did take several of the maps that exist and made sure that the relationship between key areas - the cockpit, the "living room," and the turret ladders, for example - remained the same.
3. You can decorate the YT-1300
True. We had the YT-1300 completely decked out at E3 with player-crafted furniture (and a Rebel flag…).
4. 2 people can man the turrets in the YT-1300 for combat.
True, one player in each turret. The YT-1300 will also need a pilot.
Crafting of Ships
1. Shipwrights will craft and modify ships.
Other than that still a ton of speculation. The shipwright tree shows faction craft. Do they require 1 use schematics? Will other professions be needed for sub-components. Like weaponsmith for weapons..... No idea on resources yet.
Again, I'd caution everyone against putting too much stock in the skill trees you might find online. These are still evolving. Other than that, I can tell you that the Shipwrights will be responsible for building all craft, save the "starting starfighter." Many of the other details - such as the types and quantities of resources, the types of schematics, and the involvement of other professions - are still being worked out.
1. No new planets in expansion.
This is correct. We're focusing on space combat and exploration. We will be adding two new "wild zones" for players to explore from space. We definitely want to add planets in the future, but our Live efforts are still geared towards filling out the planets we already have. Once we feel that those planets have enough content, we'll expand to other worlds. Also note that the space zones are large and content rich, allowing for plenty of exploration. In a way, they are like planet spaces that you can explore in three dimensions.
2. No player controlled capital ships at expansion.
Correct. The focus of Jump to Lightspeed is intense dogfighting in space and the Millennium Falcon experience provided by the YT-1300 type vessels. We want to do these features well before we expand.
Capital ships will be included as large "raid" targets at the moment. They will be controlled by NPCs and will be defended by turrets and enemy starfighters. We definitely want some form of onboard interaction with capital ships (such as manning turrets), but this will come at a later date.
3. Player cannot dock with space stations or capital ships at this time.
Correct, although this is something we definitely want to do in the future.
4. You can loot items off of destroyed ships.
Correct. Looted items are transferred directly to your inventory and range from credit chips to starfighter components (engines, weapons, etc.) to some more exotic loot like uniforms and deeds for stuff you can use on the ground.
5. 2 new species coming, no info on which ones.
We haven't announced the two species yet. We plan to do so later this summer.
Let me know if there are any other questions/conflicts.-Haden Blackman, LucasArts Producer