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Reader Comments (72)

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:13PM LA1111 said

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Good write up and interesting thoughts. It really makes me wonder how a developer can make individual player's choices really matter in a meaningful way in an MMO. Everything would need to be individually phased and then the game isn't really an MMO is it?

This is why I think that a more interesting concept for an MMO would be community choices rather than player choices. The efforts of the server as a whole would contribute to how the world changed. Everyone can contribute, choose the side they want and then the magic begins. Imagine a war fought over a town somewhere. If one side wins they decimate the town and it gets burned to the ground. If the defenders win it stays mostly intact. Of course, there should be the option for the losers to expel the invaders in subsequent fights and to rebuild their town, but that would take days or weeks to really give the battle meaning.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:31PM Borick said

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@LA1111 I think that you do it by giving tools to let the players generate their own content.

Directed content will make or break the game, but I think it's a 'hold on loosely' thing. Don't try to encapsulate the experience in a series of venn diagrams. I understand the temptation to serve the process, but our medium isn't at the level where Hollywood-style production can serve for game design.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:45PM LA1111 said

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@Borick

I think you make a good point concerning directed content. It's too static
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:03PM Arsinek said

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@LA1111

Why do people expect single player game things to happen in an MMO? SWTOR is an MMO just like any other. People hopes are way too high for this game. Not that its going to suck per say but why do people buy into sales pitches from game companies?

Do you believe everything used car salesmen say?
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 4:09PM Ardra Diva said

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@Arsinek
Space combat is going to suck. On rails? really? really? in 2011? A pity they couldn't give us anything like what SWG gave for ships...

Hell I wish it could be even as good as the old Wing Commander games for pete's sake.

The only thing more disappointing for a space MMO fan is STO. A console game in disguise.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 6:29PM Fabius Bile said

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@Ardra Diva
SWG gave that for ships like...1 year and a half later?

this is just the game release, and tbh Im afraid they are chasing way too many rainbows at the moment, which would explain the slow development and the already delayed release.

I'd rather they released the game a few months ago with an epic story, and then 6 months later make a big patch (or if was DAMN good, a paid expac) with a fully fledged space combat.

as it is now, I'll declare myself happy with space combat on rails if they are gonna give us a better system later....which considering its BioWare, and they seem to have unlimited budget, isnt something I'd rule out yet...
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:22PM KvanCetre said

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Your Bethany and Miranda died? Mine, as well as my entire Normandy crew managed to survive without reading a FAQ.

/just bragging I guess.

On a serious note, I'll compare this to TV. Killing off characters isn't the only way to do emotional connections. 24 and Lost, while great shows(imo, no need to yell at me over this) over used this mechanism.
Killing characters off is somewhat of a crutch. If Bioware says testers didnt like it, i'm inclined to believe them. Needs of the many or something...(oh, wrong franchise?)

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:46PM Larry Everett said

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@KvanCetre Just to be clear, I don't think they have to die in order for it to be impacting, but I do believe there should be a chance to lose a companion. Death is not the only way to lose one.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:01PM Interitus said

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@KvanCetre

Bethany or Carver will always die, it simply depends on your class.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:26PM Larry Everett said

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@Interitus

At the beginning, yes, but I meant later in the story. You can actually save the person you take with you to in the deep roads if you make the right choices.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:24PM KDolo said

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I wouldn't worry about it. Other interviews have statements saying that our actions, while not effecting our character in any permanent way, will have lasting impacts on how NPCs treat us.

Like in LotRO, some of the storytelling has to take a back seat to the Lore for the sake of actually making a playable game. Hopefully with TOR, as with LotRO, what is retained or created will make up for what is lost.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:25PM KDolo said

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@KDolo er, some of the storytelling has to take a back seat to the gameplay
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:25PM Lethality said

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In agreement with you Larry.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:36PM Pylades said

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Interesting. I see where you're coming from, but I think BioWare is making the right decision on this one. It's ok to be stuck with a poor choice in a single player game, but you don't want players to feel stuck in an MMO that you want them to keep playing for years. And losing access to companion characters might put people in a really bad situation.

I think they can design quests and decisions that have emotional weight without cutting out players' options. Choices are meant to give us options, right? A dead companion reduces your character's capacity.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:44PM (Unverified) said

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When testers didn't like it did they follow up with asking if they would change it. Just make it obvious in the choice that you could lose your companion.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:46PM Mikx said

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"Have BioWare games gone from having choice to just the illusion of choice?"

Bioware hasnt had any choices in their games aside from lousy dialog options for some time. But for me the issue is gameplay. Its much more advantageous to have a balanced team, with a rogue, and especially a healer, so your choices in building your team are virtually nonexistant.

Do you want to be good? well, then you can't have the best weapon because its only available by doing something bad. That's not a choice at all, because I'd take the weapon everytime, the only reason to be good is if your party doesnt need the weapon, which is also unlikely.

Both problems could be solved, but bioware also skimps on content, like in Dragon Age, with only one dedicated healer, one to none really good weapons of any given type, etc... i mean seriously, why have axes, or whatever at all, if the swords you make are so much better.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:01PM Larry Everett said

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@Mikx
Based on my description of real choices in the first paragraph under "Choices matter" all BioWare games up to this point have had real choices. It's the "lousy dialog options" that make BioWare games what they are. They are, after all, RPGs. If you're looking for games that cater to pure game mechanics then you aren't going to find it in BioWare games. There are some really excellent games out there that you may be more interested in.

I'm not sure what you're getting at in your second statement. Are you saying that there is an issue because you make light side choices that you won't get the best weapons? I'd like to know where you're getting this information because it's untrue.

I'm not understanding what you mean. There were possibly 3 characters in DragonAge that could be healers depending on how you spec'd them.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:31PM chauncy said

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@Larry Everett I think he meant DA2. I was one of the (few :D) people who genuinely enjoyed Dragon Age 2, but even I tend to agree that it was a pretty dumb move to only include one mage with proper healing powers. Merrill didn't even have the Creation tree, and while Bethany had access to the basic heal she didn't have any of the Spirit Healer abilities - besides which you lose her either at the start of the game or in Act 1. So unless you were a Mage yourself you only had one choice for a healer, which was Anders.

Of course, there are perfectly viable ways to play without a healer, on Nightmare even, but I can definitely see the point being made.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 4:01PM (Unverified) said

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@Mikx true, if it really matters there is no choice.

I don't know how light/dark side points will work, but if you need them for something (force lighting bolts vs force push or whatever) it becomes a choice of what force power/weapon you want instead of letting the engineers live and if if they are just for how NPC's respond they don't matter that much since you don't have much room to change the story in a mmo setting.

you can't have your companions dieing as plot lines if that gimps your character in any way, let's say in a moment of poor judgment/drunkenness or whatever I kill someone and now I I do a sub par job in my roll, do I have to re roll my main I spent working 5 months on?

although story is important (other wise you end up with a game with no soul) game-play is more important (at least in a subscription based game) because you'll end up out playing the story no matter how fast the devs push out new content (unless you don't play much, and if so, why pay a subscription)
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 4:06PM Mikx said

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@Larry Everett

Yes, 3 healers, depending on how you spec them, and if you are a mage. Its also likely, that by the time you lose Wynne, (The only healer bioware gives you) your other "choices" are totally unavailable or have lots of points spent in offensive spells, and bioware doesnt warn you about this at all. Its very user unfriendly.

The problem with "choices matter" in your formulation, is that all the "matter" happens at the end of the game. Lothering is a complete ripoff of KOTOR's Jedi base getting destroyed) but if choices actually matter, you should be able to save those towns. Instead, the game role plays you and insists that those towns die, no matter what you do, and , you cant even go back to the ruins. I dont remember if mass effect had the same problem/situation.

If anything I'm hoping TOR scrapes the barnacles off of Bioware's stale game design, and more loot, at the very least, should solve problems like YOU MUST kill Owen, or get him to commit suicide, if you want to get Far Song, "possibly the best bow in the game."

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Lost_in_the_Castle

Like I said, thats not choice, you can't even charitibly call it "illusion of choice". It is coercion. If you're an archer, or have one in your party, you kill him every time. Its stupid not to.

Why you'd want an archer in that game is another matter entirely, because archery is broken and unfun. Why they made it so using your skills (and thus putting points into your skills, and thus, making choices, and thus being an rpg) makes you weaker than afking while autoshot kills everything is completely baffling, as is why it was never fixed.

So, deciding to be an archer is also not a choice you have, because no sane person would do it.

Bioware games have a problem because the story is always too defined, too upfront, and too omnipresent. You can't escape it. And this will be a big problem in the MMO too. And this is a problem all their single player games have, becuase they are all centered on the companion system, and the companion system, especially as in recent games, removes meaningfull choices from the game. In Dragon Age, you dont even need to play your character. you can play one of the NPCs. So those "choices" you made (*class*, race, gender, appearance) are almost entirely meaningless. Its a class based game, and the class of the "player" character is basically meaningless! The choices you do get to make are all bald faced "which of these dialog options do you like more" and that is not an RPG, and that's not a videogame. Its a series of 1980s pulp novellas.
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