BioWare has announced that SWTOR will be moving from 32-bit to 64-bit and using Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the game servers. Both of these changes are on the PTS right now!

Keith’s Letter

Keith Kanneg, the Executive Producer of SWTOR, penned a letter to players celebrating the 11th anniversary of SWTOR. He was pretty light on new information, but we did get a few details about what’s to come. The most notable of these changes include SWTOR moving to AWS servers and 64-bit.

He also noted that the department leads and Lead Producer, Eric Musco, have been hard at work optimizing “internal development processes and plans that impact the cadence of content”. It seems like they’re trying to release content more frequently, but it’s unclear how significant this will be at this time.

Keith says he’ll have more to share about all this “early next year”, presumably after they get back from their winter break. You can check out Keith’s full letter here.

What does the shift to 64-bit mean

32-bit vs 64-bit primarily refers to the size of numbers that a computer (system) or program (process) can handle. With only 32 bits, SWTOR can’t use more than about 4GB of RAM because it takes more than 32 1’s and 0’s to express the coordinates (memory addresses) in RAM beyond that amount. This restricts the amount of stuff that can be on the screen at the same time and we see it with the existing credit cap of about 4.2 billion, which again is the maximum number that can be expressed with 32 1’s and 0’s.

To be clear, there is mathematical trickery that can be done to express larger numbers with only 32 bits, that’s how legacy bays manage to have a higher credit cap, but it’s not feasible to do that for the whole game. BioWare already tried to sneak around this limit by using 2 32 bit processes instead of 1, but that is only a band-aid, not a cure.

Back when SWTOR came out in 2011, most software was still using 32-bit, so it’s not like they were behind, though other MMOs did make the switch to 64-bit long before SWTOR has.

It’s still unclear exactly what BioWare will do with this upgrade, but their goal is for it to not negatively affect the experience right now, which is why it’s on the PTS. They want this to be an invisible upgrade right now that expands SWTOR’s technical capabilities for the future.

We could potentially see things like an upgrade in DirectX version (currently SWTOR uses version 9 while most games are using 11 or 12), more detailed environments and other relevant visual improvements, larger instances, a higher credit cap, and maybe improved performance in large groups, like for 16m and World Bosses if the existing performance issues are related.

What does the shift to AWS mean

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is Amazon’s actual money-maker, it’s not online shopping. AWS is infrastructure as a service (IaaS), meaning they run all of the hardware and low-level software infrastructure required to make some sort of online service like a website or game work.

If you wanted to make your own website or online game on your own, you’d have to own and maintain a server to host it on and keep that connected to the internet so people can access it from around the world.

There’s a little more to it, but in the context of SWTOR, BioWare won’t have to maintain their own server infrastructure and can rely on Amazon’s data centers, which will be superior in almost every way.

It’s less clear what we will actually gain from this shift since it depends on what BioWare chooses to do and how much they invest. It seems likely that server ping will drop dramatically and possibly (hopefully) more frequent player position updates so people don’t have to jump out of danger circles anymore. Again, that’s just speculation.

My actual PTS Experience

I didn’t experience any issues when I went onto the PTS, as BioWare intends. Everything felt the same, except for the missing trees, which is an unrelated bug that they said they are aware of.

Alderaan without trees

I also noticed in Task Manager that SWTOR’s RAM usage was considerably higher on the PTS compared to Live in the same location on the same planet, so stuff is definitely happening under the hood.

Dromund Kaas without trees

Since BioWare is primarily testing for compatibility, I expect that the rollout of 64-bit to Live will be similar to the non-Steam game launcher update they did, where the majority of the playerbase will have no issue at all but there will likely be major problems for a small portion of players.

If you want to minimize the chances of this happening to you when it eventually comes to Live, I highly recommend downloading the PTS to see if there’s an issue. If there is, follow the instructions in this post on the forums so BioWare knows what they need to fix.

Cartel Market Deals: Anniversary Specials

Keith also mentioned that there are also a few Cartel Market sales and anniversary-related events running now or happening soon:

  • Double XP Event is now active and will run until December 27, 2022
  • 50% off Pets and Companions from now until December 27th, 2022
  • 50% off Toys and Flair in the Cartel Market from December 28th until January, 4 2023
  • 50% off all Collections from now until January 1, 2023
  • Character Transfer Sale is currently active and will run through January 9, 2023
  • Life Day is running until January 10, 2023
  • The Coruscant and Kaas City Strongholds are discounted to 11 credits (down from 5000) until the next game update.
Author Lokzmir
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Categories SWTOR News
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