Saturday, January 28, 2012 at 2:01 AM |  
In case you couldn't tell from my last post, I've been playing SWToR, along with Rift for the past month or so. I really like the PvP in SWToR, despite its enormous problems. You can see the hand of Mythic staff at work in the PvP map design, which is quite frankly, the best of any game.

However, the blight of problems that a company as big as EA/BioWare should have foreseen is an albatross around the neck of this game. The reason I mention this, is because these failings by BioWare really illuminate some of the things we don't always think about that make Rift awesome.

Weekly Maintenance Every Day
First of all, BioWare has maintenance multiple times each week, for 4, 6, 8 and sometimes 10 hours at a time. Not just for major patches, but for small updates like those that Trion hotfixes into Rift in 30 minutes or less. SWToR's shortest maintenance cycle has been 4 hours.

User Disinterface
The user interface and ability bars are horrendous. SWTOR has no macros and no UI customization (but its coming in some future patch some day!), no Addons and not even a combat log. Its like they don't even look at standard features of MMOs. There is a persistent bug for all players where pressing the middle mouse button or MB4 on your mouse will lock up your entire UI. Its existed since beta and is not even acknowledged, despite being 100% reproduceable for every single player in the game. The UI is a mess that you constantly have to fight while you fight enemies.

Character Control Fail
SWTOR has the absolute worst player control of any MMO I've ever played. Half the time I feel so disconnected from my character that I actually think I am someone else if there are a lot of players stacked in a small area. If you press your hotkeys too fast, you can actually interrupt your own instant cast abilities. Its unbelievable. Here's a video of some other annoying crap that happens.

Hope You Like Your Spec
There is no dual spec. You have one spec, and it costs more each time you respec, up to 100k credits (equivalent to 50 plat in Rift). You can't shift specs on the fly. You can't bring fight-specific specs like you can in Rift and you can't switch between heal/dps or dps/tank between fights like you can in every other major MMO on the market today. The Operations (aka raids) do not take this into account. Some fights require 1 tank, some require 2. I guess you're supposed to sit your off tank and tell him what a douche he is for the 1 tank fights. Meanwhile in Rift, you can bring a tank, dps and support spec to any raid and change roles between fights or between attempts so that you don't have to worry about what class is in the raid, but what player.

Failure to Plan
The first Open World PvP zone is the planet Ilum. They billed this as an amazing PvP zone, but players just traded objectives with the other faction until the 1.1 patch ruined the zone entirely. SWTOR's hapless community team attempted damage control, but with posts like this, it didn't work out too well. Contrast this with Trion, who always tries to own their mistakes, and make up for them. When the River of Souls opening went South, Trion immediately apologized and compensated everyone involved so they felt rewarded. They didn't say they would "work on a response." They responded.

Its Bad to be Good
If you're playing the Republic, you are probably outnumbered by Empire by a ratio 3:1 or 4:1 on your server. Oops.

Nerf to Balance
HOLYBUTTS I JUST DIED! NERF ROCK - Scissors
This is the mentality that BW listens to. Scoundrels are very good at killing low armor classes like Sorcerers. The problem is that there are 10 Sorcerers (Empire) for every Scoundrel (Republic). So when the Sorcerers start crying about Scoundrels, BW nerfs the hell out of them. Meanwhile classes that can literally spam 1 button to victory go untouched. Instead of making the underplayed classes more appealing, they nerf them to appease the more popular classes who are crying. If Scoundrels are so overpowered, why does no one play them?

If Hitler Developed a Community Management Strategy
BioWare would adopt it. They love to crack down on free thought and critical posts, and frequently disable all posting on the forum during maintenance to keep people from flocking to the forums to ask why the game needs a 6-hour maintenance every 2 days. Trion tries to improve the problems that people find with the game. BW tries to prevent people from talking about problems.

I could go on, but I won't. BioWare has basically wasted a very cool intellectual property. It will be a long time before we see another Star Wars MMO. Too bad, I'm a huge Star Wars fanboy.

UPDATE: 8:33 CST
The link I posted above-- disable all posting -- now shows up as a broken link. This is because BioWare always deletes their posts when the forums are re-enabled, instead of just updating the post to say that the forums are now live again. This directly contradicts their practice for when the servers go up and down. Clearly, they want to pretend that they don't shut down the forums all the time. The fact is -- they do.
Posted by Dunsparrow

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like you better when you fight the good fight, Dun.

Sadly, games like ToR will always have better media coverage than games like Rift, hence making EA/BW game dev strategies less of a problem for them.

I wish communities and game sites would spend at least as much time talking about Rift and the likes, as they do about ToR and WoW. The public needs to know that other games are available (whether they be good or bad).

It's better for the players, it's better for the sites, and, in general, it's better for the industry, as it provides a better competitive dynamic between game studios.

Where that the case, I doubt BW would have had the guts to go through with their ToR UI at release, to say the least.

January 28, 2012 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous said...

Yes! A million times yes. I didn't even get to 50 before giving up on swtor for a lot of these same reasons. I was especially hesitant to even fully invest after hearing such bad endgame horror stories.

This post was great, it will be a main reference point if I need to help someone decide whether or not to even play swtor.

Thank you!

January 28, 2012 at 11:03 PM  
Mags said...

Yea... hit 50 today and ... pvp is a joke.. farming is so spread out its stupid.. to many repeatable quests are for groups. I'm not a SW fan to begin with but most my friends went their. Needless to say I'll be playing more RIFT and BF3 again. Great points as well Dun.

January 28, 2012 at 11:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

Could not agree more. SWTOR shouldn't even be categorized as an MMO, its a fake. It is an unfinished game with no soul and a totally lifeless world filled with bugs. It has been a long time since I have felt completley cheated for something I've purchased and I can't believe that it was a BioWare game that did it.

January 30, 2012 at 2:56 PM  
Anonymous said...

^ Ahhh i see what you did there :D

January 30, 2012 at 5:28 PM  
Mags said...

Unfinished is an understatement. 50 Tank and I can only hold aggro on single targets at a time. I ran an entire instance with one arm stuck in the air and the other behind me.....

January 30, 2012 at 10:49 PM  
Anonymous said...

First, I'd just like to say I think you misused the term "albatross" in this entry.

SWToR is trying to make the game better, hence the many patches, most of which do not last as long as they schedule them for.

The interface could use some tweaking I agree, however the look of it is supposed to give a "Star Wars" feel. I think it does this.

As for the lack of macros, I personally enjoy it. Being able to succeed without them shows more talent than someone that has to rely on them. The over-use of them is one reason I have left other games before.

Touching on multi/respec issues, again I find this a pleasing change, reminds me of old school EQ. You picked a class and you stuck with it. Got good at it, and when you used AA points, they were gone. Makes you have to think about what you are doing. Also makes you have to think about who you are letting in your guild. You can't just have your friend switch specs, no you might need to fill a spot that you are short on, gives other people a fighting chance to get into a good guild and show some skill.

January 31, 2012 at 4:04 PM  
Mags said...

I really cant agree with you in all honesty. EQ went with addons to the UI fairly early on, for its time, simply because people wanted it. Secondly I think macro's can be overdone and can be done right.. neither of which SW has going for it. I agree that taking it to the point where having to only mash 1 or 2 buttons is a bit much however.. because of the problems with the UI I have nearly three full bars that even my gamepad cant help with. Skill? Sure I have it, but the UI, lack of Macro's, and the complete lack of any ability to customize my playing ability is just horrid in SW.

January 31, 2012 at 6:52 PM  
Anonymous said...

Wha? EQ never really had add-ons. 3rd party programs where unauthorized.

February 2, 2012 at 12:47 PM  
Mags said...

Wha? Wha? apparently you never played before 3rd pary macro's took over. Thousands of UI mods were used just shortly after Kumark went live. DPS meters and other small gidgets came shortly after that..

February 2, 2012 at 6:14 PM  
Anonymous said...

Dunsparrow, come back to us! The rogue community needs you!

March 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM  
Anonymous said...

Why did he quit playing?

March 4, 2012 at 1:21 PM  
Anonymous said...

Duns come back bro!

March 6, 2012 at 11:25 PM