LucasArts Closed

Rhetoric surrounds the closure of LucasArts. I feel for the folks who have lost their jobs, and agree with the popularist cynical view that most of what made the company iconic originally has not been the daily activity for many years. That said the company did have some interesting different games in production for Star Wars and I was excited. 1313 was a new direction, and I was watching it. I was even a little excited despite feeling that the Star Wars MMO failed to deliver anything different or as good as WoW. It will be a shame if those games do not get picked up by other software development houses, and hopefully some of the staff too.

Of course the comments are a range of support and snide, the move is not totally unexpected given Disney has Star Wars now and can do as it wishes. This is a significant point in time to watch…will Disney provide vision for the franchise, or produce garbage?

IMHO Disney is a monolithic company operating in ways that only rarely connect with my daily life. I watch their films when I get around to them, and generally don’t buy merchandise or go to theme parks. They have purchased a powerful brand in Star Wars, with a very passionate support base. With that passion comes expectation and management of feedback, some fans are not forgiving.

I hope they have a new angle and create something in the spirit of the first Star Wars film. That would impress, and have a chance of providing a continuing fan-base well into the next decade.

Src: LucasArts Video Game Development Shutdown by Disney.

SW1313 flushed down a hole when Disney cancelled it

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Star Wars Episode 7 – What?

Just saw this via my feedreader from GeekoSystem and gulped coffee too fast. Star Wars episode 7 in planned for 2015 after Disney buys LucasFilms.

Did this get posted around the first of April but somehow only get live today? 4 Billion purchase price is no joke.

In news we didn’t exactly see coming on the even of Halloween, NBA opening night, and the day after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey, The Walt Disney Company just announced that they’re set to acquire Lucasfilm, and that the next official Star Wars trilogy, starting with episode seven, is projected to kick off in 2015. Yes, you can now make the joke that Leia is a Disney princess.

George Lucas, whether you think he lost his genius years ago, or still has some sense somewhere deep down, issued a statement of confidence:

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.”

Don’t forget, Disney bought Marvel not too long ago, and they own ESPN, so it can now add Lucasfilm to its stable of prominent properties under its belt.

Strange days ahead if true. Continue reading

Old Republic to Refer Friends and/or Play Free to 15

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Two very interesting new options in the Star Wars The Old Republic game which were previously hinted at are to be live:

Both “features” are items which a few MMOs have in play, and in all likelihood these measure help add new players to the player base. It is a pretty exciting change for SW ToR and one that may increase the server pops a little. I think the recruitment drive could have happened a lot earlier, but conversely the free to play change (to level15) is something that owners may not wanted from day one, as it removes the initial splash of revenue from box purchases.

I’m interested in what effect this has, and how the current player base feel about the move?

The key free trial blurb:

Free Trial participants will experience the opening adventures of each of the eight character classes in the game. Players will explore their classes’ Origin World, and may even have the opportunity to visit their faction’s Capital World! Additionally, Free Trial players will have the chance to face off against other players in Player-vs.-Player Warzones, or join up with friends and play through a Flashpoint.

Players who have previously participated in one of the Weekend Pass Free Trials or the Friends of Star Wars: The Old Republic Trial are also eligible to join this new free trial!

For the Recruit a Friend rewards:

Active players that have passed one billing cycle can invite up to twenty five (25) of their friends to take part in a Friends of Star Wars: The Old Republic trial. During this free trial period, invited friends can play levels 1-15 with no time limit, explore each of the four Origin Worlds, and experience the opening adventures for each class as they start along their epic journey.

You can earn the exclusive Kurtob Alliance Speederby meeting the following requirements:

  • Referred one or more of your friends through the Friends Trial Referral Form.
  • At least one of your friends purchased the game and paid for a recurring monthly subscription or redeemed a Game Time Code.
  • You must be opted-in to receive emails from The Old Republic.
  • You and your friend’s account must not be banned.

All players who have already referred a friend through the Friends Trial and meet the requirements listed above will be retroactively granted a Kurtob Alliance Speeder via in-game mail.

  • Level: 25
  • Quality: Artifact
  • Requires Speeder Piloting: Rank 1
  • Speed: 110%
  • Excellent protection against being knocked off

All in all interesting. Continue reading

Has SWToR Tanked? Is that even a balanced question?

Star Wars: The Old Republic

MMO Melting Pot article took a somewhat imprudent view on SWToR’s longevity since the recent server merges – and asked “how’s the SWTOR server transfer experience treating you and your friends?

Responses from comments and community are mixed, although while the fan base is obviously diminished, there is certainly hope.

A view on longevity really depends on how far the owning company wants to stretch, and what is considered a profitable player base. As a market commodity there is probably value in keeping The Old Republic going for as long as possible, as an extension of the franchise. Much of the Star Wars brand strength comes from the many sources of direct connection it has from the fans, and there is a value to having an active MMO, especially if the costs can be curtailed to a moderate profit.

The server merges come along with some seriously large redundancies in the dev staff too. Large sections of the team have been let go, and while that too is initially a worry it actually is to be expected. The dev team size needed for a game once it a few months post-launch are far less than when it is being built. Devs, testers, managers, and all others should expect to either move to new projects, or move on. That is the reality in software development.

It depends on what you consider a failure too. It is fair to say that Conan did not survive, but Rift continues regardless of the fact that a very large number of people have “tanked” the game. Perhaps a few hundred thousand people paying the equivalent of five coffee breaks a month is enough to continue a game franchise. In Jan 2012 the Rift publishers declared that they’d made over $100 Million from the game. Tanked? Not really, and they’re now letting folks play to level 20 for free. That’s the best demo around, and other game creators should take note.

I have friends who were fanatics about the Star Wars game, quit all other gaming aspects, and then have now relinquished their fanaticism. Others still play regularly, and some never even started but still love the brand.

I played while the free weekends were in session, but didn’t subscribe as Blizzard has locked me into the annual pass for a while longer. Nice strategy there by Blizzard, although many forum posts now tell me that their time in the sun has faded too. If they fade like Rift tanked then World of Warcraft will be around for a long time to come.

What is a tanked game anyway? Eve is another game that plays well still, after so many years and expansions; and so many declarations of death by corners of the gaming community. A player-base far smaller that the megalithic World of Warcraft, but still  successful.

The Star Wars dev have started talking about SW-ToR going free to play upto level 15, akin to the free pass for WoW/Rift. I like this idea a lot as I’ll get to play more of the story lore, but it may not be enough to get me to subscribe every month. More likely is that I’ll play each class till level 15 and then stop. Is that really a good idea – well it is if you consider playing the game is the best ad a game can have.

So we won’t know really the game has tanked until the servers shut-off and the podcasts fade. The Old Republic might slowly fade from the MMO market over time. I hope it stays around long enough to add a few more features which get absorbed into the “standard” mmo feature set. It’s focus on story was certainly controversial, and bloody enjoyable.

I’ll leave you with this cartoon by Scott Johnson, on ExtraLife. No Comment. Kek.