Star Wars: The Old Republic Directed Away From High Population Servers

BioWare has had to deal with the “first-world problem” of too many people wanting to play their game Star Wars: The Old Republic. This has lead to some problems with certain servers suffering from high lag and queue times, particularly servers like The Harbinger, The Swiftsure and The Fatman in the U.S.

BioWare says that population caps are being raised on all servers to elevate queue problems in the long term, and they advise that players not create characters on those and other high population servers. They note that these servers will not be “locked out” because BioWare wants people to have a chance to play with their friends if they choose.

“Character transfer is a common request for these servers. The ability to transfer your characters is being worked on, but there is no ETA on when it will be available,” read a statement from BioWare. “Finally, we are also aware of the issues some have experienced where they have been disconnected during a queue due to internet issues, and had to restart their queue once more. This is a high priority for our server team and we’ll be deploying a fix as soon as possible.”

World Of Tanks Recruits 18 Million Worldwide

Wargaming.net has announced that World of Tanks has exceeded 18 million players worldwide. The game launched in August 12, 2010 and currently holds the Guinness World Record for Most Players Online Simultaneously on One MMO Server.

“We want to thank our game community for their support,” said Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming.net. “Having so many devoted players is extremely rewarding, and our company will provide them with tons of new game content to enjoy.”

To find out more about the game, visit worldoftanks.com.

Skyrim Might Influence Dragon Age II

BioWare has claimed in the past that they had learned lessons from the reception to Dragon Age II and would apply them to the sequel appropriately. BioWare CEO and co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka said the company will not only draw on the strengths and weaknesses the Dragon Age series, but will also look to other game series as well.

Dragon Age is gonna have the best of features from the prior Dragon Age games, but it’s also gonna have a lot of things I think players are gonna find compelling from some of the games that are out now that are doing really well with more of an open world feel,” said BioWare CEO and co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka. “We’re checking Skyrim out aggressively. We like it. We’re big admirers of [Bethesda] and the product. We think we can do some wonderful things.”

“Our goal is to surprise and delight our fans,” Muzyka said. “I’ve seen something in the last couple of weeks that is really the future of that franchise that is so compelling, I am so looking forward to being able to announce it.”

Source: Wired

Amazon Took Close Look At RIM

Reports are that Research in Motion has turned down a takeover offer from Amazon.com. The troubled smartphone maker is up for sale, according to an insider, and Microsoft and Nokia are potential buyers.

“This story puts RIM in play, because shareholders are going to put it in play,” said an investor. “It’s over. This is now a company where the activists are in charge.”

RIM’s market value has dropped 77 percent in the past year to the point where it’s now below its “book value” of assets. This has followed a series of disappointing quarterly reports, delayed phone launches, weak sales of the PlayBook tablet, a nearly 48 hour outage of service around the globe and other missteps.

The shares took another hit after weaker-than-expected quarterly results, where profits were down 70 percent, followed by the announced delay in the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 phones until late 2012.

While partnerships with Nokia and Microsoft seems likely, an outright sale might not be a panacea. “They have had approaches from folks who have wanted to have discussions,” said one head of technology investment banking at a Wall Street bank. “The issue is it is hard to find a value that makes sense with a falling knife.”

After the bad financial announcement, reports are that the board instructed the co-CEOs to set aside any options for a sale, one person briefed on the situation said, “Selling the company or an economic joint venture is probably not in the cards right now,” the source said. “Until you stabilize the platform, people are going to be very nervous about spending $10bn or more.”

Additionally, it was reported that RIM approached Samsung and HTC about licensing its forthcoming handset operating system, due late in 2012. However, RIM is unlike to abandon its handset business.

Source: The Guardian

Star Wars: The Old Republic Talk Free-To-Play And More

Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a long time coming, combining BioWare’s classic cinematic storytelling with MMORPG conventions. While scouting for a studio began in 2005, development didn’t begin in earnest until 2006 when the Star Wars IP was locked down.

“[BioWare co-founders] Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk believed it was time to get into the MMO space; they’re always thinking about how BioWare can continue to be successful in the future,” recalls James Ohlen, creative director. “So they sent a few of us down to Austin to open a studio.”

“[Austin was chosen] because of its rich history as a great location to make online games,” says BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk. “Any time you start a new studio, there’s a challenge in getting the right mix of people, culture, and personalities. That’s probably the biggest thing you need to get right and something we took a lot of care doing.”

When they first started on the game, they realized that the rabbit hole went deep – it would involve more systems and dialog than all other previous BioWare RPGs combined. “There are more game systems in it than in any other BioWare RPG,” says Ohlen, “with a lot of those systems having a lot more depth than in any other RPG I’ve ever worked on. The fact that this is a game with huge worlds that are each the size of a game by themselves — that’s been a huge challenge for us.”

One of the difficulties was managing the size of the Austin studio. “It took me a decade to build up the Edmonton staff,” says Ohlen. “But I had to build Austin in like four years.”

On the front of free-to-play games, Ohlen says, “First of all, I believe that there is only a group of developers — like Zynga — who are making smaller games. For the most part, the successful ones are still the big ones, like World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and all of EA’s big sports franchises. What you are seeing is just two different areas, both of which are growing, and I think it’s good that small games exist because they allow for more innovation and more risk-taking because you’re not betting the farm every time you build one.”

“Yes, it’s getting difficult for companies to compete in the subscription space because players’ expectations are so high,” he added. “That has been a big challenge for us, mainly because Blizzard set the bar so high with World of Warcraft. But I think we’ve hit it and we’re bringing innovations that are really going to change the way people view the AAA subscription MMO.”

As for going F2P down the line, Ohlen says, “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but, right now, we’re very much focused on making it a subscription game.”

While the game has finally released, that hardly means that the job is over for the various writers of Star Wars: The Old Republic. “Though the game is now a trilogy — with Chapters I, II, and III — we are planning to keep it going for a fourth chapter — and more,” says Daniel Erickson, writing director. “That is my hope… that I’ll continue to have a job here. The writing team has been hard at work on additional content because the lead time for content is quite long when you’re doing AAA professional voice acting and such.”

As far as success goes, there are plans in place to make a profit regardless of how much of a hit it is. “While I can’t give away exact numbers, I can say that we have plans for super success in the millions of subscribers… and then we have plans for if we have a much smaller subscriber base,” said Ohlen. “While it would be great to get the kind of numbers that World of Warcraft gets, we don’t have to come close to those in order to be wildly successful. We could be well below WoW and still be incredibly profitable.”

Source: Gamasutra

Tetris Company Manager Calls Angry Birds A ‘Fad’

Angry Birds has definitely been one of the most popular and influential casual games over the past year. Henk Rogers, manager of The Tetris Company, takes the long view and doesn’t think success for Angry Birds will last.

“Again I like to compare it to a sport, in the beginning it’s an activity, like golf was an activity, then it became a sport. I think once people have played it more than 20 or 25 years you can say it’s here to stay, it’s a sport, it’s no longer a fad. Angry Birds is cute and everybody plays it for a while but they get burned out and move on and they will play another game,” Rogers commented. “But Tetris is like ‘Happy Birthday,’ it keeps on going. Everybody else has games that come and go, they make the hit parade, but these are all temporary. You have to work really hard to get your unknown game to be #1, but when we re-released Tetris it became #1 even though we didn’t do any marketing. We have an unfair advantage, I gotta say. I’d rather have the goose that lays the golden egg.”

Source: IndustryGamers

Sony, ‘We Can’t Find Any Evidence Of Widespread Glitches’ For Vita Launch

There were several stories reporting that many PS Vitas during the Japanese launch were suffering from issues like malfunctioning power buttons or ineffective touchscreens. While there were subsequent reports of an apology from the company, David Wilson, head of UK PR at Sony Computer Entertainment denies that there ever was a widespread issue or an apology.

“The PS Vita has had a terrific launch and sold in large numbers. We’re annoyed with these stories, because we can’t find any evidence of widespread glitches,” said Wilson. “The stories even said that Sony has issued an apology for PS Vita glitches, which simply isn’t true – there’s an apology on our Japanese website for people who are having trouble getting through to our technical help line, but that’s it.

“And there’s a page showing standard procedures for powering the PS Vita on and off, which has been on our site since before the launch, which has been presented in some news stories as a means of solving the alleged glitches.”

Source: The Guardian