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Reader Comments (187)

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 3:59PM (Unverified) said

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@Buhallin I'm not a developer but to me it seems much easier to churn out new dynamic events using existing art/sound assets and in-house staff than it would be to write brand new branching storylines, create unique cutscenes for each moment of them, and then bring in out-of-house voice actors to record all the dialogue. Not to mention, you still have to create the actual quests, quest areas, and rewards the same as any other MMO would have to.

At PAX, ArenaNet said it takes between 6 hours and 2 days to create a dynamic event, with additional time for tweaking and iteration. I doubt that the same would be true for a TOR questline.

Source: http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/473/feature/5568/PAX-2011-Dynamic-Events-and-Guild-Halls.html
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 4:20PM Buhallin said

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@(Unverified) And what are you basing that on?

Most of the TOR quests aren't that complicated. The cutscenes are all done with the game engine, and most of them use the same general animations (I'm already quite tired of the "spinning my hands while I talk" animation). Yes, some need more, but I don't see any reason to think they're that complicated.

As for the writing - you think there is any less writing in one of GW2's events than a TOR quest line? Why? You said you were at PAX - did you actually play GW2 while you were there? I did, and guess what? They have a personal story line, and it's pretty solidly scripted. But even beyond that, what makes you think there's any less writing involved just because there's less dialog?

Finally, you should read the article you reference. They say a ROUGH FIRST DRAFT can be done in 6 hours to 2 days. I am actually a developer, and trust me - the first rough draft is the easy part of anything in software. And yes, they have tools - what makes you think Bioware doesn't??

I hate to be blunt about it, but if you think GW2's events are any easier than TOR's, you really just haven't thought it through very well. Which carries through the theme of this particular article nicely, really.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 5:31PM (Unverified) said

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@Buhallin I actually wasn't at PAX. I was just referencing the info from it. So sadly I haven't played GW2, though of course I've seen hours of gameplay footage. The personal story is a neat feature but it's not the core of the game like TOR's voiced cutscenes and dialogue choices are.

You may be right about the dev time, but it's honestly hard for me to fathom that a generic event you can whip up with minimal planning and 100% in-house assets would be as difficult as what TOR is offering. I mean, a roomful of people at PAX (again, wasn't there) created a GW2 event in 90 minutes. Sure, the programming and QA parts are tough and take a lot longer, but even so.

Writing an event without in-depth characters or specific dialogue seems a heck of a lot easier than writing the in-depth storylines in TOR. TOR not only has to develop interesting NPC characters but provide choices for the player to develop his or her own character, which means different outcomes and thus even more writing. And they have to stay true to the lore of Star Wars in every single aspect. (GW has lore but it's their IP so they are free to evolve it if they want to.)

I also think you underestimate the difficulty of adding full voicing to the narrative. The dialogue and story has to be locked in place well in advance and can't change. Voice actors can't record dialogue at the drop of a hat -- it's not like Bioware has a roomful of voice actors just waiting for the next script to be delivered. You have to bring them in when they're available. There's a reason why Chris Metzen does practically every voice in WoW. :)
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:30PM BlindseerJB said

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I'm thinking they add more generic story content that is centered around the factions of Republic or Empire, with maybe some small twists that make the story a little different for force-users and non force-users. Or maybe even a story for all 4 force-user classes and a story for all non force-users.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:31PM Mirin said

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@BlackFx

Seriously, Jef(f)

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:31PM valdi313 said

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Well, the first part of your article talks about other MMOs that try to use story as a main element. I would say that LotRO does a great job of releasing new books and story content that people love to do.
Also, Bioware can easily move all class stories into a main story overall once the class quests at 50 are over. As of right now, each planet has a main story quest that all classes do. Why can't the universe have one that all classes can do now too?
They are already talking about releasing a new planet. Would this new planet not have a story aspect to it that all classes can do like all the others?

I think you are under-selling the story aspect of the game. As of right now, SWTOR is similar to most major MMOs releases, except for the story. The same basic mechanics are there. So, why wouldn't people want to stick around and play a solid MMO with the basics, but also have a great story attached onto it?

I know this article is an opinion piece, but if you are writing is from a bias perspective, at least come out and say you do not like the game. Be up front with your opinion if this is an opinion piece.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:39PM Tethadam said

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@valdi313

One just has to look at Jef's post history on SWTOR to know his opinion. He is a sandboxer, and really needs to stick with those games. Every single time he writes on any theme park game, his writing simply comes off as peevish and narrow-minded.

Jef since you obviously can not separate your feelings for a entire genre(themepark MMO's) why don't you simply write only about the stuff you like(sandbox MMO's). You would draw far less criticism from the readers of Massively. Unless this is your ego trolling the readers of Massively and if that is the case, well you have issues.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:43PM real65rcncom said

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@valdi313
well said.

I think Jef maybe just semi "trolling" a bit. He's obviously a smart adult who doesn't strike me as the impatient kind of person from what I've read in his other articles whether I agreed with them or not.

Since he's never brought this issue up about any other game, including one that has such a poor lore story like Rift ("What happens when I hit 50 to the story?"), one can only assume Jef has intentionally moved the measuring sticks here with regards to ToR just to play devil's advocate and start a discussion on a holiday week.

I really cannot believe that Jef is the type of person to be actively enjoying a mmo and all the while thinking "Yeah, but when I get to the end.. what?"

If that's the case, he would have pointed that out about other mmos like Rift which he had ten months to do but hasn't.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:24PM Celtar said

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@Tethadam

You know, I tend to think that Jef does at times troll the posters here and have said so in the past. Check my past posts for that. :) That said this article was "not" narrow minded nor peevish. Sorry, but I tend to think that he hit it out of the ball park.

He broke down the whys of his speculation and in my opinion they are good reasons. Oh and before you think I'm a SWTOR Hater, I have the 150.00 collectors edition plus 2 other copies of the digital limited edition in this house. So to say that I am a hater would be a real stretch. Of course you saying his post was narrow minded and peevish was also a big stretch, but carry on with the mufflers over your ears and blinds across your eyes.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:33PM valdi313 said

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@Celtar
If you are saying he hit it out of the park, please state why. I've gave direct examples of how I think he missed the mark.
Saying blanket statements like that have zero weight if they do not have examples or facts behind them.....very much like this article....
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:38PM (Unverified) said

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@Tethadam

I'm a sandboxer who plays mainly themeparks (I play for people, and my friends/family/girlfriend prefer the WoWs to the Darkfalls), and I always appreciate Jef's articles. It actually helped reassure me that TOR was exactly what it looked like, so I didn't feel so bad about my pre-order (and also helped ensure that I was in the correct frame of mind when betaing it).

The reason you have sandboxers writing about themeparks is for journalistic integrity. He has less riding on the other side's success and can better point out weaknesses that someone who already supports the genre.

If you actually read what he writes, Jef isn't a TOR hater. He's said some pretty positive things about the game considering his playstyle. Just because he isn't on his hands and knees worshiping the game as the second coming of WoW doesn't mean he hates the game. He's simply critical, which is why he's paid to write.

If you want to read only positive things, read whatever PR the developers release. They'll rarely give you any insight until the game's having issues and/or the original team is long gone and the new crew needs a scapegoat.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:43PM Vagrant Zero said

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@Tethadam Jef claims to be a "sandboxer" because it's the new hip thing all the cool kids at school are doing. His MMO of choice however is Age of Conan, which is in absolutely no way a sandbox. In fact I'd say of all the released MMOs out there, it's one of the closest to TOR.

TLDR; Bullshit.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:58PM Blay said

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@real65rcncom
"He's obviously a smart adult "

Really? Since when is it smart to troll your readers/"customers" so bad that someone else on the site has to remove your comments. Sounds like a brilliant idea if you like flirting with the idea of having collect an unemployment check...
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 3:01PM Saucelah said

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@Blay

As a social media marketer, I would like to point out that sometimes, in some industries, page hits are more important than sales. In those scenarios, creating content designed to upset a portion of those that read it which will inspire debates in the comments that keep readers coming back to the same page, giving more and more hits without necessarily expanding the size of the audience is an incredibly smart move and a standard practice.

Carry on.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 3:14PM Blay said

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@Saucelah
Never once said there was anything wrong with the article, it did was it was supposed to do, incite a flame war and profit off the page views. The problem arose when Jef joined the flamewar in the lowest way. Instead of provoking people to argue their viewpoints and create more drama for them to feed off while keeping the discussion about the game, he jumped into the pit slinging insults at massively readers.

It doesn't take a "social marketer" to see what he did is actually a deterrent for his future articles since he set the bar so low and turned what could be a huge page debating about the game into an insult war that has little to nothing to do with Swtor anymore and became a discussion on how massively can continue to employ an amateur like Jef.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 3:46PM Dblade said

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@Tethadam He's making a valid point. Story content is time intensive and expensive in any game, and TOR is upping it tenfold by a reliance on content which is both fully voiced and has multiple paths. The last king of story-based MMO content, FFXI, never had any branches, never voiced any content, and took about a year to release a new story quest completely. And FFXI had a content upgrade schedule few MMOs could match.

Also, what happens if they want to release a new class? It's not like that class can just go through the same story as everyone else, a tremendous amount of content must be made for it, since each class has its own storyline and voice. As the game ages, this just gets worse.

He's talking about people taking years to finish this, but we saw people to cap in a couple of weeks. I really think this is more important than people think it is.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 4:47PM Oskari said

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@Blay

I agree with Jef, so how am I being trolled? Or am I not a customer because I don't find TOR to be as amazing as others? Do those who dissent not count?
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 6:08PM Jef Reahard said

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@Blay

This is incorrect. The insults started before I left my first comment (and so far the only one that has been modded). That comment was a direct quote from Han Solo in ESB with no embellishment, and was intended to poke fun at the poster who insulted me personally.

Rather than return the personal attacks, I chose to add a bit of humor. It's fine if people thought that was unprofessional, everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but let's stick to what actually happened. The flamewar started prior to my arrival in the comments.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 10:41PM Blay said

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@Jef Reahard

I never said you started the insults, whenever there is an opinion blog entry with a biased point of view you know there is gonna be insults and people arguing, but with that quote you took the argument from being about the game to being about yourself instead of taking the route that just about every mature person would and ignored the personal attacks and kept the focus on the game.

It really doesn't matter what or where the quote is from if it was exact or whatever. Your intention behind it was to infuriate people by calling them childish even if it was masked. Pretty low bar to be set by the writer of the blog, and judging by how many down voted comments you've shot off here most tend to agree.

Once again like I said its an opinion piece so it isn't right or wrong and everyone should take yours with a grain of salt. What was wrong is the way you handled the insults that you should have seen coming writing a piece like this. Only further fueled by the fact that you "lol" at being modded. It really makes you look like a child who smirks when he gets in trouble, hopefully massively will be the kind of parent who will whip you till that grin fades.

@oskari
I'm guessing you missed what happened earlier. Everyone is entitled to their opinion even Jef. I personally don't want bloggers to write an opinion piece to cater to the masses. I do however think there should be a certain level of professionalism from the person writing the blog when writing an article like this.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:31PM (Unverified) said

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"If you look at recent developer comments on what's coming next, for example, you see a lot of basic MMO functionality as opposed to new story content. Combat logs are coming. Customizable UIs are too. New flashpoint dungeons are in the mix as well. All of this stuff is great, and none of it requires voice actors, writers, or cutscene animators and directors."

Actually yes, it does. If you've done any flashpoints, you would know that they feature multiple cutscenes and choices and plenty of voice acting. So yeah, you're wrong there.

"Now, I haven't seen the end of any of the game's current class story arcs, and maybe some of you who have can enlighten me."

There's a prologue, which comes to somewhat of a close, and 3 Acts (at least as a consular) each of which closes into a nice, neat, little package. Expansions could do the same. Each Act also advances an overall storyline, which could easily be added on to in expansions. I don't see where in the world you think Bioware will take their #1 money maker then suddenly go, oh well they enjoyed the story so much, let's just add a planet and increase the level cap and suddenly stop giving out quests with voice actions and scenes. Seriously, that sounds delusional to me.

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