I've survived my trip to and from PAX East. I'll write more about all the cool people I met and stuff I got to do when I've had a chance to sleep the trip off. In the mean time, just the facts on the limited news I was able to gather from the show.
I asked Bioware's Damion Schubert (lead system designer for SWTOR) about what happens to players who have invested a lot of work in a Legacy on one server and then want to play with friends on another. He responded that implementing server transfers is a top priority for the team, and that these transfers will be "legacy friendly" when they arrive.
Not an entirely satisfying answer - nor especially complete without knowledge of whether they intend to charge for this service. At best, you will have to manually copy your characters from server to server to update your legacies. At worst, you will have to pay for this privilege. That said, I suppose some way to rescue your legacy from a bad server choice is better than none.
Most of my structured activities over the weekend were Turbine-affiliated, and they did indeed treat their fans very well. On the downside, there was relatively little news, but some of it was at least news to me.
On the DDO side of the house, a dev confirmed for my sadly level 7-self that the forthcoming expansion (and its future quest packs) will primarily support level 20+ characters. It's not as if the current distribution of content between high and low level content is especially unfavorable, but it is a bit disappointing to hear that what I see is what I get for the near-term future. Interestingly, I mentioned the topic of true resurrection, and the dev (didn't catch his name) claimed that there may be additional benefits (grandfathered in for existing completionists) to carrying characters' TR lives into the epic levels.
I didn't hear any new in-game news about LOTRO, but they did show an exclusive teaser at their party of what appears to be some sort of live-action film intended to set the scene for Riders of Rohan. At first I thought we were just looking at a motion capture session of some sort, but the room got pretty excited as we realized that this was looking more like a film.
Finally, I was talking with DDO's Executive Producer Fernando Paiz about some of the economies of scale Turbine has because they built their own engine, that they use on both DDO and LOTRO. Paiz said that indeed the live games currently use something like version 3.6 of the Turbine engine, while version 4 was in development for an unannounced future MMO. While I suppose this is no real secret, it's good to hear that they're still working on whatever it is they're working on.
The Rest of the MMO's.
I intentionally did very little standing in lines. As a result, I think the only game I actually played at the show was the Secret World, because they had a fair number of machines in their booth and a relative lack of structure in how to get time on one of them. Unfortunately, this demo may have been easier to access in part because it did not do much to showcase what makes this much hyped but little described title different from the rest of the genre.
The demo had players in what is otherwise indistinguishable from your standard modern zombie-infested town. I did occasionally see players with story cutscenes on their screens, and perhaps these sequences explained who the characters/factions are, why they're all fighting zombies, etc. Picking up wherever the last player left the keyboard, all I got was a very standard MMO combat sequence - my character had a hammer, which built "hammer points" that were then used to unleash flashier attacks on the hapless zombies. Whatever depth or character flexibility this game has for more involved players simply wasn't apparent in the show floor demo. (Massively's reviewer had some similar comments, as did people I talked to.)
In fact, speaking more generally, I have to say that I was underwhelmed by the forthcoming MMO's on the floor. I watched some people play the TERA demo, which takes the standard MMO and adds combos and collision detection. I watched people play the two Perfect World MMO's on display - this was a small booth with prizes, so the lines were long - and both seemed like action-y MMO's. None of the above really jumped out at me.
Ironically, the biggest lines of the MMO-like games on the floor were at League of Legends. I'm not sure if the game was that much popular, its prizes were that much better, or if it just took longer to get to the front of the line, but they definitely gave the impression of being the in-demand MMO of the show.