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Default BioWare - What went wrong with SWTOR?

August 9th, 2012, 23:55
We normally bypass MMOs but CountChocula sends in this article at Gamasutra, titled What went wrong with Star Wars: The Old Republic.
A. Cooperative Play: Taking on an opponent with five, 20, or even 100 of your friends and teammates adds a great deal to the excitement level of a game. Not only does the result of an encounter require a lot more communication and team work, it also adds additional randomness that can make every encounter unique. Doing well in such situations also can bring great prestige as others will come to admire you if you perform well under pressure when they are depending on you.

The best parts of SWTOR are the story line missions. Their cinematic quality makes you feel like you are in a movie that you control. The weakness of this design is that the focus is on a single player, and that a full group could be just two players and AI companions. This gives SW:TOR the feeling of a "Massively Single Player Game". While there are missions that can accommodate more players, the game never manages to escape this feel.
More information.
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August 9th, 2012, 23:55
Cut the crap this is the real reason.


Being an MMO and not a single player RPG.End.
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August 10th, 2012, 01:35
I strongly disagree. An extremely significant portion of the people who spend money on MMOs play mostly solo content or BGs. I, personally, am one of these. But that has nothing to do with KOTORs wellness.

Why KOTOR petered was because they made some obviously blatant poor design choices which made the savvy player know there were some fundamentally flawed designs which would take a lot of time and patching to fix, if they even could be fixed. People leave sinking ships.

Before the game was released two crafting choices were obviously and drastically OP, certain trees had the most significant abilities near the bottom, classes which could heal had almost as powerful heals if you completely speced into DPS as heals, as the same stats increase both DPS and healing, and then the gear and itemization. Itemization was just so sophomoric and poorly designed. Most players of normal intelligence (which was not many, just like outside of MMOs as well), without a significant time investment, had the best gear within a couple weeks/month of release. Theorycrafting was generic and unnecessary because the content was easy and the gear system broken and childish involving getting your specs gear for the set-bonus and then mixing out the mods with other classes or specs pvp gears mods because the secondary stats bioware itemized wear useless.

The only competitive PVP was huttball, since it mixed factions. Other than that it was roll or get rolled over, forcing mass quits from BGs until you got into a hutball, or a weinning hutball.

At level 50 people either pvp in BGs with a ton of people, or Raid with a ton of people. There was zero reason to run 4 man instances at level 50 when the raid gear was better really easy to get. And the heroic 4-mans definitely did not make it possible (from what I remember) to use your companions either. At level 50 everything you had to do to get gear had to be done in a large group. Sure, from level one to 50 you could 2-man the 4-man content, but there were plenty of weird-o’s 4-manning 2-man content too. It is not like you couldn’t 3-man the 5-man content in WoW leveling up or at cap.

But, since this was a new game and most people are not smart and need a guide and videos and add-ons to be even a slightly decent player, a lot of people were not able to get picked-up in Raid groups, so were stuck with the 4-mans. Also, people who tried to stick a BG out and played at the wrong times, or was unlucky with the queues would often have like 10 to 20 loses in a row. It was taking some people a week to complete the win 3 BGs daily. This alone caused o ton of forum drama and mass quits from regular players.

This article is completely wrong. The only thing there was to do at 50 was group, usually large group content such as raiding and BGs.

Most of the flaws would not have been considered flaws in a SP games, but MMOs require very well flushed out systems, from crafting to itemization, and tiered access. KOTOR didn't have this.
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August 10th, 2012, 01:42
I know what MMO and PvP is but OP? BG's? DPS?

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August 10th, 2012, 01:48
OP = Over-powered
DPS = Damage per second
BG = Battlegrounds, small scale player-vs-player arenas
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August 10th, 2012, 01:55
I don't know about the article but that quote is dead-on for me. I think I even said so in my mini-review. There was lots of great content in the story missions but they were all designed for single player. Most weren't all that hard so adding a second person turned the game into a cakewalk.

Secret World (also published by EA) has a similar format - most of the really good content is designed for a single player. They've got some great stuff for teams but that's not going to be the bread and butter.

That said, they ARE quite fun as single player games. Once KotOR goes "free" to play, it's worth going in and taking a character or two through the main story for at least an act or two. Secret World will probably follow soon after, given how EA has been singing the praises of F2P lately.
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August 10th, 2012, 02:14
The problem with that is most people play the game to cap as a SP game, and then d the group content at cap. This has been an industry standard since WoW became more popular than hanging out with people in real life. BioWare decided to make a great SP experience getting to cap and the group content, instead of the mindless grind most MMOs have for the SP experience to cap.

So, everyone is saying the game sucked because it had a good SP leveling experience and they didn’t like the group content at cap? (and there was plenty of group content leveling up too). Or did the game suck because it wasn’t just a mindless grind to cap like other games where you could just group and grind and the switch areas?

What exactly is wrong with providing a solid and engaging experience while leveling up? Grinding is more fun?

A lot of people are always going to think grouping slows you down on the way to cap, and the real game begins at cap. Any game that forces you to group before cap is going to alienate a ton of players. That is a tried a failed approach. Most games are going to provide more and more solo content at cap, not more group content getting there.
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August 10th, 2012, 09:47
The single player part is real good, storyline and conversations are interesting, nice cutscenes, great voice acting. Plot is quite decent as well, to the point when I feel that they drained people from DA and ME teams, and that's why those two felt a bit bland lately. I can agree with the sentiment that if it would be a single player game it would work great. The MMO pacing and grind did it disservice.
The MMO part problems (except of pacing, I suppose) can be tracked mostly to the lack of experience. If BioWare had already made some MMOs they would have a working engine, and would not have to use a third party one, that was not exactly evolved back then (and they got stuck with the old version, even though the engine has grown a lot since). If they had experience, they maybe would not 'play it safe' trying to carbon-copy World of Warcraft combat system (which they did really good, but at the same time, people were fed up with it already), and maybe try something more interesting. And if not, they would probably be able to finish faster. In the end they have made a really solid MMO, but quite dated at the release. It also did not help that they had to rush it because of licensing issues.
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August 10th, 2012, 10:11
I only had a chance to play TOR briefly during one of the Beta weekends.

The cinematics for the Sith Inquisitor origin were fantastically well written and the voice performances were excellent. However, the environments and the game world were very repetitive and felt hollow or empty in some way.

There was something very odd about the way enemies would instantly respawn, to the extent that their bodies did not even disappear, they'd simply lie down and then stand up again in 30 seconds when the next player approached. It was akin to walking through a haunted house, where the actors lie in wait for each group to traverse the maze.

I've since had a chance to try WoW and I noticed a lot of the same A.I. behavior. Enemies stand around waiting for the players and don't seem to have any life or ecology of their own. I suppose this must be a significant tech hurdle for any massively online game, but the result was that despite huge numbers of actors onscreen, the world felt rather empty and lifeless compared to single player games like Skyrim.
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August 10th, 2012, 10:22
I've since had a chance to try WoW and I noticed a lot of the same A.I. behavior. Enemies stand around waiting for the players and don't seem to have any life or ecology of their own. I suppose this must be a significant tech hurdle for any massively online game, but the result was that despite huge numbers of actors onscreen, the world felt rather empty and lifeless compared to single player games like Skyrim.
Well, most MMOs have primitive AIs and NPCs are often static or they move in rigid patrol patterns.

That said, in WoW - most enemies move around and they have relatively elaborate patrol patterns.

SWtOR is particularly bad in this way - and it's one of the primary complaints about it. The worlds and cities feel dead - and everything is very, very static.

Which is quite odd, considering the budget.
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August 10th, 2012, 10:39
Originally Posted by Impregnator View Post
The problem with that is most people play the game to cap as a SP game, and then d the group content at cap. This has been an industry standard since WoW became more popular than hanging out with people in real life. BioWare decided to make a great SP experience getting to cap and the group content, instead of the mindless grind most MMOs have for the SP experience to cap.

So, everyone is saying the game sucked because it had a good SP leveling experience and they didn’t like the group content at cap? (and there was plenty of group content leveling up too). Or did the game suck because it wasn’t just a mindless grind to cap like other games where you could just group and grind and the switch areas?

What exactly is wrong with providing a solid and engaging experience while leveling up? Grinding is more fun?
A solid and engaging experience while levelling up (whether or not you agree that SWTOR provided it) isn't all that useful in creating a long-term successful subscription MMO. WoW's levelling experience isn't the reason it's had ten million subscribers for the better part of 8 years. Both games' goal is/was to have people subscribing and playing for years. SWTOR's budget was spent in the wrong places.

Also, despite SWTOR's levelling experience being fairly good for an MMO, it's pretty bad compared to any good single-player game.

So in the end, it probably made just about no one happy.
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August 10th, 2012, 12:14
Originally Posted by Stingray View Post
Both games' goal is/was to have people subscribing and playing for years. SWTOR's budget was spent in the wrong places.
Not playing. Paying. Grinding. Take any other word except "playing" please.

And that's what went wrong.
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August 10th, 2012, 14:13
And here i thought it failed because it was a poorly executed ripoff of a game most of the mmo community have been sick of for years.
Ive seen a quite few investor presentations from would be mmo developers as part of a class i took and the one thing they all had incommon was an "industry veteran" using graphs, charts and a smattering of busswords in an effort to quantify "fun".
According to graphs and charts wow is what is considered fun but the thing is fun really does not work that way.
I believe this is how developers and publishers got stuck on the idea of simply re-packaging the same game systems with an added gimmic or two year after year and somehow still manage to be completly mystified when it inevitably fails.
As someone on this forum said "You cant out-wow wow so why even bother trying".
Not sure if their planned f2p model will rake in all that much of a profit either considering they are giving away the only thing in the game worth paying for.
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August 10th, 2012, 14:20
Originally Posted by Ashbery76 View Post
Cut the crap this is the real reason.
Being an MMO and not a single player RPG.End.
Amen to that.
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August 10th, 2012, 16:28
Also, it´s Star Wars. Star Wars is boring and tired old setting.
Regardless of quality of the game itself, in terms of investments they´ve probably overestimated the amount of people willing to give it a go on the prospect of the setting alone.

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August 10th, 2012, 18:01
I played a Jedi to level 50. Early in the game as a Jedi you receive a droid as a companion, which I then used explicitly for missions and thus stopped outfitting him whatsoever. Unfortunately they never tell you that you will be forced to use this companion at end game— after you've fought through level upon level of bad guys. Suddenly I found myself stuck with this droid equipped with early game default equipment in the final battle, and I got my ass handed to me. I tried and tried. Finally, I backtracked through all the levels to get back to the space station to buy new equipment for it: None available.

It was this final straw in addition to the PvP-focused post-end game that got me to quit at that moment. I had no interest in PvP and the space battles were 1980's arcade style (=lame), so I left and never came back. As a single person game it was "ok", but not worth the $80 I paid. It was level upon level of fetch/kill quests, mostly in staged corridors, with cool cut scenes. That's about it.

Star Wars Galaxies was better IMO. If you could finish your single person adventure a la TOR and then enter an open, thriving world like Galaxies, it would have been perfect.
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August 10th, 2012, 19:37
Originally Posted by Ashbery76 View Post
Cut the crap this is the real reason.


Being an MMO and not a single player RPG.End.
I know many people have already told you how wrong you are, but I want to add my own info.

I LOVE soloing in MMOs. Most people I know mostly solo in MMOs. A good MMO to me is one where I can solo most of the content and then have the option to group for certain high level content. And please, don;t come at me with that myopic 'Then play a single player game'.

I play MMOs for a living breathing economy, the OPTION of grouping, having guilds to chat and trade with, and seeing a living world around me. There are numerous solo friendly MMOs that have done very well. My favorite MMO, Atlantica Online, is incredibly solo friendly and it's been going strong for almost 4 years now.
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August 10th, 2012, 23:32
I tend to solo a lot in MMO's as well. I just have odd hours, usually don't play for more than an hour at a time which makes dungeons hard, am very casual and most end-game content requires gear grinds and tends to have an elitist attitude. I like the dynamic nature of an MMO (changing content, even the changes to abilities), like chatting with folks, random helping out in PvE combat, and just knowing there are other people about.

I liked the story in SWTOR a lot. But the world felt plastic and very artificial to me so I had a hard time getting immersed. I made it to level 32 before I quit with my Sith and Jedi.

To me part of the problem is everyone races to end-game. Look at me! See how fast I can level and get to the "good stuff". They rush through content in days and weeks that takes me months and months to do. Then they reach end-game and are like okay now what? I see this happen in game after game.

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August 10th, 2012, 23:45
Originally Posted by wolfgrimdark View Post
I liked the story in SWTOR a lot. But the world felt plastic and very artificial to me so I had a hard time getting immersed. I made it to level 32 before I quit with my Sith and Jedi.

To me part of the problem is everyone races to end-game. Look at me! See how fast I can level and get to the "good stuff". They rush through content in days and weeks that takes me months and months to do. Then they reach end-game and are like okay now what? I see this happen in game after game.
This is exactly the same experience I've had with the MMOs I tried. Everyone is rushing to try to get the "good stuff" and become as overpowered as possible, but in my case I just want a half decent world to explore, with interesting NPCs and factions, etc. I even got kicked out of the first guild I ever joined because they said I was leveling too slowly.
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August 11th, 2012, 06:50
im so confused. they didnt blame the fanbase for not getting it?? anyway, the descriptions i read remind me of The Secret World. I sunk about 35 hours or so into that one and when I quit I had sort of a bad taste left over. Some of the writing in the cut scenes was the best I have ever experiwnced in any video game ever. The combat system is decent and at first I felt like I was playing a great arpg. But teaming up with people always felt like a hassle. And the pacing is very typically MMO, so after awhile it just feels like the most grindy repetitively BAD rpg, and all the wonderful dialogue in the world can't justify slogging through more of the same.
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