BioWare announced this last week at the 2010 San Diego
Comic-Con that Star Wars: The Old Republic would contain space combat. It came off as sort of an afterthought leading many to believe that space
combat will be very limited and managing to disillusion another faction of
players who had hoped they could pew pew their way through space. With every
announcement made and every trickle of information that comes in, public
perception and popularity fluctuate as rapidly as the stock market but is it the
tiny details that will determine if SWTOR will sink or swim?
Assuming BioWare doesnt totally muck up the little things,
it is the big features and concepts that will win it (or lose it) for the latest
Star Wars video game incarnation. What features will SWTOR need to have in order
to succeed? The MMORPG industry has taught us some very valuable lessons, keep
reading to find out what they are!
End of the Line
Looking at every flop that has happened over the past
several years, we can see a glaringly big common factor: lack of end game.
Nothing kills a gaming buzz faster than plowing through early and mid levels
(and enjoying them) than to find out when you hit the top one-third of the game
that there just isnt anything to do!
Space battle is a good idea
but will it add enough variety?
It feels like a rookie mistake. It is as if every
development company thinks that their lower levels will be so engaging that
somehow no one will make it to cap until the devs have had time to squeeze out
some additional content. Let me say right now that NO game has been so amazing
with their story and new player experience that Ive actually taken extra time
to read through all the dialog and follow all the paths of progression before
aiming for higher levels and BioWare, your game wont either.
BioWare is known for their compelling storylines and
intriguing characters, but I promise that a good portion of the gaming community
has quickly clicked through character dialog in KOTOR and just looked up the
walkthrough. Fail on end game and the most dedicated and passionate of players
will be out the door before youre done adding up your launch sales.
A Journey worth Making
Gamers are a demanding lot, arent we? Not only do we want
something to do when we get there, but we also want the trip to end game to be
full of excitement, fun, and wonder.
Character progression is a tricky thing but common mistakes
can be avoided by just remembering a few things:
- People play their new games a lot. That means the
first several weeks of consistent content needs to be very full. Think you have
enough missions for the avid quester? You dont. Add more.
- We will make a dozen characters before settling
down with a favorite one or two so if there isnt variety in early content,
compulsive altoholics will be clawing off their faces after playing through the
same twenty levels every single time they start a new character. Save us the
gore and plastic reconstruction bills and just give us something new to do while
we are trying to make up our fickle minds.
- Were not dumb. Having a single linear path of
progression makes me, and many other esteemed gamers, cry. Especially after the
initial learning levels, the world should open before us and give a sense of
never ending possibility, not a straight path and a glowing line telling us how
to game. Scarily, I have seen less open world feel in many of the newest AAA
releases than I have in Toon Town. If a 6-year old named Captain Messypants
Fartburger can manage to stumble their way through an open world, Im pretty
sure we can too.
- Kill ten rats is so last decade. It is not only
about the number of missions, but it is also about the quality of those
missions. A fair amount of Fed-Ex type quests are okay to point the way to
more content. For the love of Yoda,
could we please not place me and every other Sith Warrior in a teeny area
fighting over teeny creatures that spawn once every ten minutes when we each
need eleven billion of said elusive creature? We know you guys are more creative
Staying True to the Genre
I need lots of "MMO" in my
BioWare doesnt make MMOGs. Yeah, yeah we know.The point that BioWare is completely unversed in MMOG creation has been
made and refuted on our own forums numerous times. The little bit of info that
Blizzard Entertainment was also a new comer to the MMOG genre prior to World of
Warcraft proves that you dont have to be an MMOG veteran to make a popular
game. Im not willing to write off a game simply because of a studios lack of
experience in this one arena, but it does tend to make some nervous. We know
BioWare makes great games, but what if there is a distinct lack of MMOness in
SWTOR? Yeah, it will pretty much ruin the game but they may not realize it right
My theory is that SWTOR will garner attention equal to or
greater than previous BioWare Star Wars titles pushing it beyond the initial
sales that we saw for Warhammer Online which landed an impressive box sales
count of 1.2 million at launch. Fans of The Old Republic series alone would be
equal to that but never discount the power of the MMORPGer. While many KOTOR
fans may be okay with a single player RPG that just happens to have mutli-player
components, they wont keep paying for it for long and the MMOG fans will be
needed to keep the game afloat over the long term. Launching without a grand
focus on massively multi-player gameplay would be a fatal mistake.
Am I Having Fun Yet?
What makes a game fun? Other than the points previously
made, there really isnt a tried and true formula that makes a game fun. I want
a meaningful purpose, a feeling that Im valuable to the game world, rich
interaction, plenty of amusement, and a variety of things to choose from to
occupy my time.
Easy right? Wrong! I want all of these things for every single level, in every
single zone, for every single moment I play the game and with years of
development and millions spent creating with some of the best developer talent
in the world, it darn well should be there!
Star Wars: The Old Republic has all the basics that can
make a game: a hotshot development studio, a strong and well known intellectual
property that naturally inspires gamers, and a potential playerbase that is just
begging to be blown away by the next major MMOG title. As many fallen games have
proven over the past several years though, having that golden combination is not
all it takes. BioWare, listen to your playerbase. Everything that you need to
know about making a successful game is right there if you pay attention!
Youve read my list of demands, do you have your own wish
list that will make SWTOR the game for you? Let us know what features will win
you over and what would destroy any hope of gaining your monthly subscription by
joining the conversation on our SWTOR forums.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Page.