It’s been many years since I kept a blog, live journal, e-diary, etc.
I am a bit out of practice, so bear with me. I considered, for quite some time this morning, just what to write about. I tossed around the notions of personal life, work, politics, religion… I decided on SWtOR www.swtor.com .
For those of you not in the know – SWtOR (Star Wars the Old Republic) is an online MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online game) based in the Star Wars universe, about 3 millennium prior to Darth Vader. Back when the Old Republic was not as old, and all the nifty ruins in modern SW times were still nice and functional (and not so ‘ruined’).
Well, the game, only about 6 months after going live, is already in trouble.
Massive drops in server population, this soon after launch, usually indicates one of three things: The game sucks. The game is broken. The developers refuse to listen to the client base.
While there have been a lot of rabble and ruffle from players about the game sucking… I enjoy it. However, I could enjoy it a LOT more. SWtOR is visually appealing, has a good music score, nice skill tree system, and some neat new things to see on each planet. Few things are as titillating to a SciFi geek, like moi, as hearing the sizzzz of a light saber being drawn, so there’s another plus. The fact that you can mod out your own gear is also very cool. And the storylines, for the most part, are rather spiffy.
Now comes the downside – and I have sent a few emails, feedback posts, and forum posts to the Devs of SWtOR, explaining this, beginning back in July 2011, when I was invited to join the Beta testing teams. Alas, to no avail.
The Cons to this game are: 1. It’s too sandboxed, as some put it. Not free-roaming, like Star Wars Galaxies (prior to the NGE update that killed That game) or World of Warcraft. When a player feels restricted or limited, with No hope of stretching beyond that limit, That’s when that player begins to lose interest. If you make a game that spans a galaxy, you had better damn well make it ENORMOUS in scope. Not instanced, segmented, roped off, boxed in. Star Trek did this and we see how well That worked out. No planet-side scenario in that game is worth a shite. In SWtOR, players want to be able to jump on a speederbike and just ride til they reach the end of the world. They don’t want to stop every few blocks and turn around because they hit yet another wall in the sandbox. Exploration was a great tool used in Galaxies. I realize SWtOR has it’s little codex and map-clearing xp rewards. Good for You, Bioware! (sarcasm) However, it’s not nearly enough.
2. Players NEED somewhere to go to call Home… AND some central place to gather for social value. Our cookie cutter spaceships and the Fleet station is not enough. For one thing, you cannot invite people to your personal ship. You cannot decorate your personal ship. Hell… you can’t even use the Furniture (except the captain’s chair) in your personal ship. That ship is nothing more than a taxi with a bank vault. Very impersonal. We need HOMES. Here’s a thought, make Two new planets, one for each faction, and have Nothing there but landscapes and basic function transportation hubs. Then let players build their own houses, decorate them, have Guild cities, town halls, cantinas, etc. Give them a place to be SOCIAL and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
As for the Fleet stations, yes… it’s nice to have so many things so close at hand; trainers, auction house, medical droids, crafting whatnots… but (and this is a SW Galaxies reference) it ain’t no Mos Eisley cantina. Without the dancers and musicians, the great buffs that dancers and musicians used to give (in Galaxies), the chat bubbles (so that you knew who said what and could better engage in conversation), and the ability to SIT on the furniture… there just isn’t a good gathering place for social interaction. This makes the game more like a console or single player game, and less like an MMO or MMORPG. Many people are drawn to games with those elements, because they are more at home in virtual environments than real ones. Other people simply like to immerse themselves into the genre world. Regardless of the reason, it adds so much flavor and ambiance to the game that it becomes an enticement to log in.
And back to the player ships for just a moment… they suck. Let’s face it. Space missions suck, as well. Flying on a rail? What the hell were the developers thinking? We need real (in the VR sense) ships, real fighters, real missions, real dangers, real progression (skills, rewards, loot, moddable reverse-engineerable ships and parts). I want to be able to use a joystick to fly, not just a mouse. I want to be able to fly ANYwhere, not along some preset rollercoaster. I want to be able to use (and develop) my own flight skill, not just point and shoot from a moving car that someone else is driving. The space mission portion of SWtOR is crap. Plain and simple. And one helluva let-down.
3. PVP – oh, how thee sucketh, let me count the ways. While I do not wish to have every server become a PvP server, the warzone system now imposed is just silly. We need entire regions that auto-flag you for PvP if you cross into them. There needs to be planet-wide alerts when (for example) the Empire decides to assault Anchorhead. Then Imperial players can choose to join in and Republic players can come to help defend. Or if not Anchorhead, then somewhere in the middle. You need to present more intelligent battlefield scenarios, not just shoo players off to the Huttball arenas. Galactic war has it’s advantages (once again, as illustrated by SW Galaxies).
4. Waiting until hitting level 25 to get a speeder skill (and costing 40k credits??) is simply retarded. Offer the speeders at the end of the starter planets (or as soon as they hit the next planet – Dromund Kas or Coruscant), make them affordable and create a starter riding skill at level 10 for, say, 10k credits and limit it to 75% speed (since the skill at level 25 offers 90%) and drop the level 25 skill to something a bit more feasible. 25k credits. Overall, the skills in this game simply get far too expensive, particularly when you consider how broken the economy is. Even moreso when you have arse-hats trying to sell things on the GTN (Galactic Trade Network) for 400 times the actual value. (20,000 credits for two pieces of Mandalorian Iron? Really guys? Are you that frelling stupid?) We need caps on what people can list their raw materials for. I hate to sound socialist… but barely 6 months into the game and we have certain R-tards recreating a Warcraft economy when there aren’t enough people to support it, or easy enough means to earn the income to justify such astronomic prices.
5. WE NEED MORE SPECIES as playable characters! We have been petitioning for this since the beginning! Stop ignoring your player base! We want Wookiees, Jawa, Rodians, Bothians, Ithorians, Mon Calamarians, Sullustrans, whatever the hell Yoda is, Droids, and any other commonly seen alien species from the Star Wars universe. And I mean SOON. Not trickle-fed over the course of a few years. The game will be extinct by that time.
6. The Empire Needs TROOPERS – Not Bounty Hunters! Don’t get me wrong, BHs are great. But they should be available to BOTH factions, and the Empire should have it’s Storm Troopers, dammit! Or whatever variation they had during the days of the Old Republic. I know they didn’t have an army of Bounty Hunters. Hell… everywhere you go, you see Imperial Troopers! Bring them into the game as playable classes!
A few more classes wouldn’t hurt, either. One of the best things about Star Wars Galaxies (before Lucas Arts frelled it up by forcing the game change called NGE) was that you had sooo many different classes to choose from, and such a massive skill tree, that you could essentially create your own unique class. Man that was cool! Why they ever changed it, I do not know. If SWtOR followed that model, the game would be Huge and continue for many years (like SWG did…before they screwed it up).
7. Need better armor for military. The variety available now is quite poor. There are a couple decent outfits, but overall the lack of choice (and lack of Star Warsy feel to it) detracts heavily from the game, for those who like to play trooper-types.
We also need access to uniforms. Wearable by anyone, in that faction, for social events. And not requiring “Social V” or “Social III” or “Level 45” just to put on a jacket and pants. And on the Social Points subject – it sucks. It takes Waaaaaay too many points to achieve simple item requirements. You need to either turn up the amount of Social Points given (and increase the means to earn them!) or turn the point requirements way down for achieving each level. Or better Yet – just do away with the whole damned system. It’s a stupid idea to begin with. Especially when you make a game more of a solo player than a group game.
All in all…listen to your clientele. Don’t repeat the mistakes of other MMOs in the past. If you think the Star Wars name is enough to keep players that you broadly ignore, you are wrong. And your profit margins will soon show you.
Fix it while you still have time.
Ok… I think that’s enough ranting for now. I need a smoke and have to get grinding on my Sith Warrior.
And if you’re curious…
Sevryn – SW Juggernaut / Chi’ana – JC Sage
Sith Meditation Sphere