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Reader Comments (44)

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 1:18PM WriterGuy said

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For games still a gleam in the designer's eyes just about any suggestion or concern is worth saying. That changes the closer a game gets to completion. For DC Universe Online and The Old Republic the big delete-or-change a major system suggestions are useless now.

This isn't arguing for/against any of these. Want to ask the company for a full sandbox game? Really want a third playable faction in at launch? Love for your first character to be a Mon Cal? Even if your new system suggestion brings hot food to the starving and free unlimited energy to the known universe, sorry. You should've spoken up years ago.

Now time has passed. The big rig went on down the road. Will the designers go back and undo the big foundations and choices they made in the beginning? Will they say dump it all, full sandbox is the way to go? Will they toss away their vision? Will they erase the efforts from hundreds of employees, thousands of days and millions of bucks?

Nope. No chance. None. Even if it leads to ruin - can anyone spell APB?

The window for big changes is closed. It's nailed shut. Okay, time now to shift concern to the small stuff. Change class name from Wizard? Yes, can happen. Third faction at launch? No, won't happen.

Your concerns can still be heard. They can still matter if they focus on adjusting and tweaking from now, not scrapping and starting over using Mister Peabody's Way-Back Machine.

Say what you like about the game and what you don't like. Say exactly why. Say it nicely. You might not change a thing. Either way, great! Congratulations! You helped make the game.


Posted: Nov 9th 2010 1:22PM EdmundDante said

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The biggest advice I can give is I don't think you can any longer deliver an MMO that is half-baked anymore, with half the features missing - and without well thought out content.

You might have been able to get away with it a decade ago - but IMO, not anymore.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 1:40PM Interitus said

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"I would like to think that developers would re-evaluate the scope of the project if enough people complained, but in truth, that level of reconstruction is expensive."

This is true, but you have to admit people only complained after learning the mechanics. Take space for example. People have known of the game for years now. If Bioware had announced at an earlier date their intention for space, they would have gotten lots of negative feedback, this could give them time to pause and maybe change styles of space combat.

So while on one hand i understand why they drip out information, they need to also be ready to change core elements if enough people don't like it. That's why main gameplay features should be presented as early as possible to allow for as much change as possible.

If they announced the nature of space a year earlier we might be seeing space combat that is still on rails but with perhaps more flexibility that appeases the majority of players.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 1:47PM rhorle said

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But is a change right for the scope and type of game bioware wants TOR to be? Just because people don't like something doesn't mean it is a good thing to be changed.

TOR isn't meant to be STO with star wars instead of star trek. I'd take limited space any day if it is done WELL then a half assed space because people complained without even seeing the true potential.
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:23PM Interitus said

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Space was merely my example. My point is Bioware is waiting too long to announce core systems. If a year ago they announced how various core systems (crafting, PvP) worked, they could tweak them more to what the players want.

Right now we are far more likley to get half assed systems because they have a much shorter timeframe to make changes.
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:39PM Larry Everett said

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I don't think (knowing LucasArt's company trend) that the "new" systems went untested in the market, but I also question (given LucasArt's track-record) the extent and quality of the market testing. Just out of curiosity, I would like to know how they market-tested certain aspects of the game like space and crafting.
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Posted: Nov 10th 2010 1:09AM Interitus said

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Knowing Lucasarts as long as it was "Iconic" they were happy
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 1:55PM WriterGuy said

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@Larry:
Thanks for the column.

Any idea when a game's design cycle has moved on past the ability to change the big systems? Cryptic had, what, two years start-to-finish on STO? Could it be after 6-8 months there was no way anything would change?

With six years into creating a game like SW:TOR, when is the point of no going back reached?

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:26PM Larry Everett said

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That is an incredible question, and one I don't have good answer to.

If you look at existing MMOs -- COH is a good example with Going Rogue -- there really isn't anything saying that you can't totally change the scope of the game at any time.

But if you are talking about a game that is pre-release, I think it gets harder to judge. Right now, I think with SWTOR, we are only looking at surface things that can change. Like, we will definitely see stats and levels being adjusted all throughout beta, and they were even talking about cosmetic changes that were happening at PAX. However, if you want to say take space off the rails, move the Sith starting world to Drumand Kaas, or even add a new species, it's going to be nearly impossible at this point.

(totally my opinion here.)
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:00PM AnotherPint said

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I think as MMO fans that post and follow games we think we represent the community. That’s far from the truth. We are just a small sample of MMO gamers as a whole. We are more die hard MMO fans but we are a small part of the gaming community. If a company listened to us too much no game would be launched and every company would be driven into the ground.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 4:24PM Sean D said

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I am also disappointed with the tunnel choice for space combat, but I don't think it will diminish my enjoyment of the game and I expect it to change at some point after release. It's an important issue for a lot of future players.

In regards to races, I am glad that they are limiting them to human or very human-like species. It takes a certain amount of brain bending to put oneself in the mindset of an alien and even then it can be argued that one is still thinking from a fundamentally human perspective. Including aliens as playable races would violate the lore of the setting just as seeing the floating text 'Pvpkilla' above someone's head does.

I don't like the idea of giving GM controls to players. I think there would be a very small amount of quality player generated content compared to the amount of other works. I think the amount of other works would diminish the overall experience. Maybe if there was some sort of evaluation process. I've never played a game where such content was supported by the developers with tools and discussion. Maybe save this for later.

I think there is great value in appealing to Bioware or any other game developer for change. You just have to be thick-skinned, persistent, able to speak to them from an objective standpoint, and you must be willing to consider alternatives to your desires that may not be perfectly comfortable. What you believe to be best for the game may not be what everyone else believes is best for the game.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:06PM Dblade said

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I don't think it's possible for devs to change things, and these days I just quit a game rather than try and make suggestions if it's flawed enough. But the common thread is that the players seem to me to be telling the devs "Please don't make this game Mass Effect with a multiplayer component."

Problem is though is that seems to be Bioware's design intent.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:30PM Larry Everett said

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Let's say it is their intent to make it Mass Effect with multiplayer option, then it would be definitely out of scope to change it at this point. I'd even venture to say that any sweeping change like that would have been too broad to even as early as when the website went live two years ago.
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:07PM (Unverified) said

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This is a hard argument because I do believe gamers have to express criticism. On the other hand, they also have to have a realistic scope for expectations or else they will always be disappointed.

Ultimately, and this sounds harsh, I think game players need to get their heads out of their arses and understand that all game design is an exercise in compromise. MMOs are excruciatingly limited and Bioware is advertising (and people are demanding) SWTOR to be an MMO with single-player fidelity.

If you think you will ever see an MMO, SWTOR or otherwise at single player fidelity, you have unrealistic expectations and need to evaluate what you actually want from a game and what type of game you want to play. SWTOR will bring new levels of fidelity to an MMO but it will not compare with Bioware's single player fidelity.

TLDR; People need to have realistic expectations, instead of expecting every new game will be tailored to their personal inseam. Get out of fantasy land and understand the limitations of the hobby you are participating in.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:32PM Interitus said

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While I agree people need to be realisitc, Bioware hasn't made it easy. For a very long time they were very vague with details. So people had to fill in the blanks themselves. It didn't help that Bioware kept stressing story. This gave roleplayers the idea that the game was more open to freeform roleplay (like SWG). Only when they start announcing class and race limits did it hit roleplayers that while it's all about story, it's about Biowares story, not yours.

You can't be a wookiee sith warrior who joined the republic. You have to follow the story Bioware made for you.
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 2:33PM Larry Everett said

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I totally agree with this, especially the part about MMOs being an exercise in compromise. I believe the sooner consumers realize this, then the happier they will be. However, if they don't complain about what they dislike about a game, will anyone ever step up an make the game they like?
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Posted: Nov 9th 2010 3:47PM Bezza said

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I am fine with most things i have seen in SWTOR so far and space combat is my only disapointment. But then I am an old starwars gamer from way back and dream of seeing a fully reworked version of X-wing vs. Tie fighter/X-Wing Alliance eventually being made as a hard core space simulator and not as some light wieght console space shooter.

So in fairness I am bias. I would like nothing more than a serious space sim intergrated into the game with cockpits and power settings and trackIR support. hehe i know this is never going to happen. So instead i guess i will just hope that Biowares story telling finesse can make the tunnel shooter at least a pleasing diversion.

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 9:28PM Valdamar said

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As long as SWTOR is a fun game - both the ground combat and the on-rails shooter in space - then I'll forgive them everything.

My biggest worry at the moment isn't any of the items mentioned in the article, it is the clunky nature of the avatar combat we've seen so far in video previews. It looks too "old school" - from the "I take a turn, you take a turn" style of pen & paper roleplaying combat (and we know Bioware love the D20 System...) - just like the combat from WoW and other MMOs from 5+ years ago - i.e. combat that still owes a debt to the turn-based RPG videogames and MUDs from last century and doesn't flow like the combat in the movies or most single player games these days.

Now sure, MMOs are evolutionary games not revolutionary, and I wouldn't expect massive innovation from Bioware in their debut MMO apart from the story focus (like Blizzard they tend to stick to what they're good at and just keep polishing it), but if any IP supports a more action-heavy style of combat then surely Star Wars is it. The kind of combat I'd accept in KOTOR on a 30-40 hour playthrough, or in an MMO I played 5-10 years ago, isn't going to keep me interested in an MMO for very long nowadays, no matter how good the story is (I love stories, but if story was my primary interest I'd go read a novel or watch a movie/TV drama - I play games to enjoy the gameplay) - and I get a very "been there, done that" feel from what I see of SWTOR's gameplay, it's just this time there's added lightsabers (and tbh that might be enough!).

I don't think SWTOR will be a bad game - on the contrary I'm sure a lot of people will find it very fun - I just don't think it is what I am looking for after a decade of playing similar MMOs - and that's fine - but I'm sure I won't be the only one feeling that. Putting Bioware and Star Wars together, with huge financial backing from EA, should have me more excited that I am - despite how innovative Bioware think they are bringing in story-based gameplay from single player games I'm not seeing much else that looks inventive, different or even interesting.

Also there's the nature of the content with its heavy story focus and especially all the vocal work - it just makes me worry for the future of SWTOR and how hard/expensive/time-consuming it might be for Bioware to release new content at a decent rate in future - yes, I worry for the longevity of an MMO that hasn't even been released yet. In truth I'm beginning to wish Bioware had just made KOTOR3 and left MMOs to Dev teams that actually want to make MMOs and evolve the genre, not just bolt a bit of multiplayer co-op onto a single player RPG with old/proven MMO gameplay.

I just hope Bioware prove me wrong - after all, there's a lot to be said for the quality of their games and their pedigree, so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt when it does come out (as long as I'm not already addicted to GW2 by then).

Posted: Nov 9th 2010 9:39PM Larry Everett said

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I, too, would like to see a bit more speed from the gameplay, and maybe as development grows we will see an increase in animation/action. That is actually one of the things that can change from now to release. I say if you think it is too slow then shoot off a PM or if you dare create a thread on the official forums. (If you send a PM you may want to wait until they actually have a community manager. Sean Dahlberg has not been replaced yet.)

That being said, it seemed for me that the combat was tighter when I played it at PAX, but that could have been the excitement of playing the game :-P
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Posted: Nov 10th 2010 8:57AM Valdamar said

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Yeah I hope they tweak the speed upwards as it seems far too pedestrian atm. I haven't really spent a lot of time on their official forums (heck, I rarely take part in official forums for post-release games I'm playing) - I was waiting to see if things changed first as a result of their beta, and was hoping I'd get an invite (my luck at getting into beta tests used to be pretty good - probably not so much now my gaming hardware is fairly old).

It could just be that the preview vids aren't very representative (I'm hoping the same is true for DCUO...) - especially if you felt combat was fun and much tighter when you had hands-on experience of it at PAX - trust in your feelings... and the Force ;)

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