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Reader Comments (31)

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 8:02PM Renko said

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Can story supplant grind? I hope so.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 8:10PM wjowski said

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"I want innovation in MMOs but not *that* kind!"

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 11:51PM Stormwaltz said

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@RogueJedi86:

WoW was in development for 4-5 years (Blizzard is very good at keeping its secrets, I can't find a reliable number). WoW is story "lite," with a variety of endgame grinds.

CCP was founded in 1997 to make EVE, which shipped 6 years later with no in-game story at all. CCP announced the White Wolf World of Darkness MMG in 2006, which means it's been in development for 4 years now.

Sigil was founded in 2002, and shipped Vanguard almost 5 years later. Razorwax was reformed into Adventurine in 2001, and Darkfall shipped about 7 years later. ArenaNet was founded in 2000, and shipped the original Guild Wars box 5 years later. Cryptic was founded in 2000, and shipped CoH after 4 years.

TL;DR -- My point is that MMORPGs are so complex, and require so much content, that even one that *isn't* focused on story takes at least 4 years to build. People have tried to cut corners and reduce dev time. While the results can be fun in the short term, those titles have (thus far) hemorrhaged players in the long run.

In the specific case of SWToR, I'm also concerned about the voiceover. I've worked on games with voiceover. Few things consume as much money, time, and hard drive space (and by extension download "weight") as VO. VO will limit their ability to add content in a timely fashion once the game ships.

@interitus:

I know that some people play DA and ME over and over again. But those games have about 50 and 20 hours (respectively) of "first play-through" gameplay. After the first play-through, people tend to accelerate their passage through the parts of the game they've already seen.

I'm routinely stunned by messages through Xfire telling me how long someone's played MMG "X." A casual scroll through the activity report for my guild shows me someone who's played a total of 800 hours of GW, 2500 hours of LotRO, and 3000 hours(!) of Warhammer Online. DAO is an fantastic game, but I'm not convinced that many people could play it through 16-60 times and still enjoy it.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 12:33AM Stormwaltz said

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Oh; another thing I should have mentioned.

Just because a game is focused on story doesn't mean it won't have grind. For example, there's the mineral collection minigame in ME2. You have to grind to collect the resources to purchase upgrades, many of which are necessary to reach the end of the story without heavily loss of life.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 7:18AM (Unverified) said

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It's obviously too early to even glimpse at what BioWare can do to usurp the grind. However, if anyone can do it with story it's them.

In a broader sense, I don't see any reason why any company can have you with your story move along an ark while simultaneously following red herrings, side missions and other bits of flavor that are off the beaten path. A space setting is perfect for this as you can just spawn a planet to satisfy the need for new land.

I think the WoW Themepark model is dead. That's not to say WoW is dead, just new games of that model. New games, at least the ones with potential, seem to be sandbox free-for-alls. I think that's a good thing.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 9:51AM (Unverified) said

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Sorry about the doublepost, can't figure out how to delete my other one. I couldn't figure out how to get my comment to go where I wanted it to. Not a fan of nested comments.

@RogueJedi86

You're still talking about an MMO. MMO development takes 5-6 years *minimum*. WoW's development cycle approached 10 years, which is one of the big reasons it's the elephant in the room anytime MMO discussion came up. MMOs take much, much longer to make than other games, generally speaking.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 10:08AM (Unverified) said

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(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_warcraft#Development)

Not sure where you're getting those extra five years of dev time from.

(http://www.bioware.com/bioware_info/press_releases/2006_03_15_Austin/)

The BioWare Austin studio was officially announced in March 2006. That puts SWTOR (assuming an early 2011 release) at the same development time as WoW, if not slightly longer. Also, considering BioWare brought on something like 12 writers before any other developers, I'd say there's a strong chance the game will have a whole lot of story.

It remains to be seen how good it all turns out, of course.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2010 11:54PM Marz said

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I think the Idea of choices in storyline is great if it led to real consequences.

For instance if you are playing a Jedi character and some of the choices lead you toward the dark side of the force; If this Storyline allows you to become a Dark Jedi and switch sides to the sith, then I think choices in story would be a good thing.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 3:56PM (Unverified) said

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Oh, Bioware's got more writers than anyone in the biz, from what I've heard about their hiring.

Also, as pertains to development cycle, there are quite a few interviews with people talking about ideas starting as early as Ultima Online's release, and Warcraft 3 (development started in 1999) has a pretty obvious WoW prototype built into it, one that's got quite a bit of work put into it.

Ten years may have been a bit of an exaggeration on my part, but WoW still had a longer development life than nearly any other MMO released-- SWToR is the first game in recent memory to have a similar length of development, and it's worth noting that WoW is not really considered to have a "story-focus".

We'll see if Bioware can develop content at a rate commensurate with what it needs to live up while also keeping a heavy story focus. That content is extremely time-consuming comparatively speaking, and takes as much time or less for players to complete than more grind-oriented content. I don't think it's impossible, but it's certainly a hefty undertaking.

Posted: Feb 9th 2010 4:18PM (Unverified) said

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The development cycle for an MMO is never over until the game shuts down.

As for SWTOR, if Bioware wants to succeed beyond the initial fanboi rush (me included), they have to release a game as polished as WoW is TODAY and not as good as WoW when it released.

WoW, love it or hate it, has raised the bar and the expectations of all gamers. If any new game doesn't meet the standard of WoW today, it will take a hit. Some players will stick around through the initial issues but many more won't.

Posted: Feb 10th 2010 6:36AM Seffrid said

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Anyone who knows anything at all about MMOs knows that SW:TOR is getting a lot more hype than most new MMOs, and at an earlier stage given that we're still at least a year off it being launched. It's nothing to do with E3 and trade shows, it's to do with sites like this one constantly promoting it to a wide audience and a whole range of forums hosting discussions - all of which is fine but we need to remember that no-one has seen the game running yet (outside of trailers) let alone played it.

Personally I hate grindfest MMOs, which is why I don't play the Korean F2P grindfests. I'm not currently playing a grind fest MMO so can't return to one I'm afraid! I play storyline and quest based MMOs, and enjoy them enormously. The only concern I have expressed about them relates to those who prefer to group (which doesn't include me) and who find as with the example I gave that they can be very difficult to get groups in because everyone is at a different stage of each quest.

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