The Stale is Strong with SWTOR

Hey everyone,

I’m once again in that situation where I’m getting increasingly bored with SWTOR. It’s honestly been a struggle for me to write blog posts lately and I feel really bad for still not completing my followup Ootini SpoilerCast lore post. But I recently managed to articulate and channel my frustration into writing this post. Here are the main reasons why SWTOR is becoming a chore to play.

  • Lack of info about KOTFE and lapsing communication.
  • Feeling uneasy about the direction they’re taking the game ie. Single player story focus instead of MMO focus.
  • Guildies are losing interest and not logging in that much so I don’t always have anyone to play SWTOR with.

Let’s discuss each point in detail:

tog-gun-tat
We’re left to piece together the drips of info from various places just like the Smuggler gets left with all the dirty work cause cowards run away and won’t do anything.

Return of the Gag

Veteran players, over the years, have seen repeatedly how secretive SWTOR is about their development and how terrible their communication has been at times. For most of this year it felt like they were starting to turn that around and were improving their communication with us. Their social media presence has improved considerably these past few months (and continues to be great!).

But since the launch of 3.3 (more or less) they’ve returned to being secretive, over-promising and under-delivering and not talking much. With KOTFE on the horizon, we know very little about it, except for the story, ironically. That’s the one thing we don’t really want to know or have spoiled.

From what we’ve seen from datamining (see TORCommunity for the latest datamined info), it’s clear that they are making some significant changes to existing game systems such as crafting, companions and stats/gear. Naturally this is highly concerning for some veteran players who are anxious to know how their gameplay, as they know it, will be changed.

You would think major game system changes would be set in stone this close to launch of a major expansion, right? Although, this is SWTOR we’re talking about…

The more contented players would say to be patient or that this is part of their marketing strategy or that they’re still testing the content. But none of those points offer me any comfort. I can’t help but think of their poor track record over the years and I don’t particularly trust them to get the changes right without thorough testing and feedback from the whole community. Not that they listen to feedback most of the time anyway.

One thing I do want to emphasise is that this expansion is different from their other ones. It’s the first time they’re making significant changes to how we play the game. It could potentially mean many hours and credits wasted. They shouldn’t wait so close to launch to release info about these major game system changes.

Due to there being no open PTS, and in turn no transparency on the changes, it’s no surprise there are quite a few people anxious about all the upcoming changes. Yes, they’ve always gagged dataming posts on the forums. It’s against the Terms of Service to talk about datamining. But, in this situation, they could have reacted a little better. At the very least they could have confirmed that they are making changes while still reminding people not to talk about datamining. They could have immediately spun it around and said they’d have the official information soon. Maybe even explain that the fine print isn’t finalised or they’re testing some stuff internally. There’s lots they could’ve said to tie us over.

Instead they went overboard on censoring the forums banning anyone who even hinted at looking at alternative sources for information. It was far too late for that. The cat was already out of the bag. Acknowledging new information had come to light, despite it’s controversial source, instead of blanket ignoring the datamining and pretending it didn’t happen, would have been better.

Yes, they’re finally going to (maybe) talk about some of the changes this week in their stream. They’ve also acknowledged that there is frustration in the community. But they could have handled the datamining fiasco better and turned it around to make themselves look good. Instead they’ve come off as the bad guys and the dataminers are the good vigilantes looking out for the common people and their interests.

Who is to blame for the lack of information and censorship? The Community Team? The Marketing Team? Higher up Execs from Bioware and/or EA? Disney/Lucasfilm? A combination of different parties? We don’t really know and likely never will. It is frustrating and always has been. Perhaps I’ll elaborate more on this another time.

Zion Halcyon talks more about Bioware’s communication and marketing in his first opinion piece for TORCommunity.

swtor_kotfe_screenshot_12
But but.. Outlander! You get to be The Outlander!!! Just what you always wanted!

SWTOR’s New Direction/Focus

While I am looking forward to the new story, I’m feeling apprehensive about how they are implementing it. One single story for every class? Yeah, that doesn’t sound too good considering how Shadow of Revan and Rise of the Emperor turned out. SoR was only barely able to work for non-force sensitive classes. But RotE wasn’t even worth doing on a non-force sensitive class. It didn’t make any sense for a Smuggler or a Bounty Hunter to be on Ziost stopping Vitiate. It was a story that melded perfectly for Jedi Knight’s and Sith Warrior’s (it sort of worked for Jedi Consular’s and Sith Inquisitor’s cause of their status within their respective faction, it’s plausible that Vitiate could see them as a threat).

Honestly, from what we’ve seen of the promotional images and trailers, I don’t really see the Knights of the Fallen Empire being any different. The story seemingly won’t make much sense for non-force sensitive classes. Why would the Eternal Emperor, Valkorion feel threatened by a Smuggler who cares for nothing but credits and has no loyalty to anyone but herself/himself? What threat is a Trooper or a Bounty Hunter to a powerful, force-sensitive being like Valkorion? All the force sensitive classes are powerful and are a threat to Valkorion. So the story will make sense for them at least.

I’m also (still) feeling uneasy about story being their new focus too. It feels like they’re ignoring the MMO bits. Yes, they’ve promised that they will come back to developing group content. But this push to single player content is alienating some of the more social, veteran players and we feel justifiably ‘threatened’ by this move.

Finally, as I’ve said before, story is not very repeatable content. Group content, both PvE and PvP, with varying scenarios, challenge/difficulty and environments adds variety and keeps things fresh. The story, especially considering it’s the same for all classes, will likely get old pretty quickly. Traditional MMO content is far more sustainable in terms of keeping players engaged compared to a single story.

ash-grind
All there is to do is grind out companion achievements and level more toons (12 60’s isn’t enough)… Zzzzzzzz

Guildies Losing Interest

Yes, SWTOR for me started off as a single player game. I played on my own for a time. But once I was getting close to max level on my first character, I decided I wanted to try out endgame content. So I did some research and proceeded to find a guild. I eventually found a lovely social guild which I’m still a part of to this day. I have very much enjoyed socialising while playing SWTOR and I don’t think I could ever go back to playing games on my own (regularly) like I used to.

Of course there are times when I like to chill and do my own thing. But when that starts becoming a regular occurrence in a social setting (like SWTOR) it starts to drag you down and you really miss having other people around to play with.

I’m not blaming my guildies at all. They’re free to do as they choose. But it’s sad to see some of them losing interest as all there is to do is the same old content they’ve done hundreds of times already. Their enthusiasm for SWTOR is also waning with the prospect of no new group/endgame content for the foreseeable future.

pax-stream
Maybe, just maybe, they will keep their word.

There is Still Some Hope 

Musco announcing the details of the livestream they are doing this week (Wed US, Thurs APAC & EU) has given me some hope. But I’ll be keeping my expectations in check. My biggest draw to watching the stream is their promise to interact with chat more. I’m really hoping that they do actually have devs interacting with us and answering questions. Chat interaction is something that has been lacking from the last few streams that they have done. So hopefully they deliver.

This could be a great opportunity to repair the damage they have inflicted recently. Hopefully they take advantage of it!


Final Thoughts

At this point in time, I’m anxious for more information and weighing up my options for the future.

I love SWTOR. I’ve put so much time and effort into this game for so long now. I have so many fond memories. It also holds significant sentimental value for me as it’s how I met my Boyfriend of 2 1/2 years.

But I’m really worried about where they are taking the game. There have been times, as a customer, where I’ve felt ignored and unappreciated (especially as a PvPer). Their recent marketing efforts aimed at bringing in new RPG players hasn’t helped. It feels like they’re ignoring and alienating social, veteran players like myself by holding back on giving us traditional MMO content. So far they’ve made little effort to comfort us on that front except for being vague as per usual.

The social aspect of SWTOR is a vital part of why I play the game. If I lose that, then my enthusiasm for the game will wane dramatically.

I’m still looking forward to the story but really wish there was more to do, then the same old content we’ve been doing for years now, in-between story updates.


Are you happy with SWTOR? Are you satisfied with their communication? Let me know what you think in the comments below or tweet me!

 

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  • “there are quiet a few people anxious about all the upcoming changes”. I think you meant “quite a few people:. 🙂

  • I understand your feelings completely, esp. the “they spoiler the story but leave us in the dark about potentially hugely impactful changes” bit. I don’t get that “strategy” at all. Wouldn’t be the first time they unnecessarily cost their players time and creds though (like when they suddenly got rid off the skill training costs) so I’m not exactly surprised. I’m just glad I have a group of filthy casual who’re looking forward to the new story, but honestly, I’m not sure how long that will keep me busy either.

    • I’m hoping my guildies will stay interested and play. That’s the biggest thing that is still keeps me playing is the socialising aspect of the game.

  • I think that most of this is fair criticism. Personally I have the advantage of still having faith in Bioware however. I mean, their marketing has been terrible for as long as I’ve known them. The adverts for the original Dragon Age were actively off-putting, making it look like an action game full of gore! It was only through word of mouth that I learned that it wasn’t actually like that at all… So while I have my reservations about what they have and haven’t announced about KotFE, I’m confident that I’ll get a good amount of fun out of it overall.

    The one thing in this post that I strongly disagree with is that Bioware doesn’t listen to feedback. Pretty much everything they’ve implemented since launch has been based on player feedback, to the point that I’m surprised when they actually come up with an original idea of their own. They may not listen to the feedback you personally want them to listen to, or react to it in the way you think is right, but they do listen and act on it. The F2P transition was supposedly the result of people telling them that the game was great but people felt shackled by the sub. GSF? Strongholds? People asking for space combat and housing. More class story? Squeezed into SoR on a minimal budget. You may not agree with their decisions, but I don’t think anyone can seriously deny that they are desperately trying to please.

    • Yes I was being too general with that comment about them not listening. They of course do listen to us most of the time and have brought in many features players have wanted over the years like you mentioned. But they don’t always do the best job at communicating that they listen..

      What comes to mind for me though about examples of when they haven’t listened is with class changes (recent example Marauders) and the buggy release of SoR. People in the beta reported the bugs and they still went live.

      But yeah… I just find their silence about the features in KOTFE unsettling.