Saturday, August 18, 2012

SWTOR: a baffling design decision (on the latest world event)

The latest world event just went live in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Darth Hater has a very nice rundown on the quests and the rewards that you can get.  Among the rewards available are some very nice high end rifles fitted out with purple mods.  Here's the problem: very few classes and specialization lines can use rifles.  In fact only three out of the 16 possible specialization lines if I'm not mistaken (I'm to lazy to check), at best roughly 20% of level 50 characters.

If you aren't one of those few classes, the other rewards are a 90% run-speed speeder (useless to anyone that uses the high end 110% speeders), a pet that's a re-skinned version of one we already got for free last month, and a set of cosmetic gear that will let you dress like a Sandperson.  In other words, nothing all that great. Understandably, players are freaking the hell out on the forums.  Bioware's official response from Online Community Manager JovethGonzalez is as follows:

Hi folks,

I wanted to take a bit of time to explain the reasoning behind the weapon selection on the vendor. As you know, each SWTOR event that we do is unique and this also applies to the variety of items offered. That is, if you don’t find anything that you think is useful during this event, you may find a different assortment of items in the next one. Your feedback is definitely appreciated and we’ll look into different ways to improve our item selection in the future.

Thanks for participating!

Really, "Wait for the next event, maybe there will be something you can use" is the official answer? Really?!?  I mean no disrespect to Joveth, he is but the unfortunate messenger. 

This is only the second world event in the nine months the game has been live. If each world event caters to 1/5 of the classes, then some time in the next two years most classes should expect to have been offered at least one decent reward (hahahah). This event comes on the cusp of the release of Guild Wars 2, as well as the launch of major expansions for Lord of the Rings Online (Rohan) and World of Warcraft (MoP next month).  The decision to not provide weapon rewards for all 16 specialization lines in the game is perhaps the most baffling display of ineptitude that Bioware has yet shown.

It certainly isn't going to hurt the game as much as launching with far too many servers and waiting too long to consolidate them.  Or hyping the game so hard before launch that anything short of 1.5 million steady subs would be viewed as a disappointment.  However, those are understandable mistakes.  They fell into the same traps a lot of studios have.  Launching an event guaranteed to annoy 3/4 of your playerbase just as some of your stiffest competition is coming online strikes me as utterly inexplicable.

Imagined design meeting:

"Hey guys, I have great idea.  Let's include powerful weapon rewards that most of our players can't use.  I'm nearly certain that will be extremely well received."

"Bill, you are a genius!  Let's do it!"



  1. Ironically, I currently have one of the two lucky specs, and I'm almost certainly going to play an Agent at some point, but the timing of this event prevented me from trying it. I wasn't going to pass up 35% bonus exp in DDO during the first half of the week, and I'm busy this weekend. Having an event that lasts only seven days is a luxury that only makes sense for games that are adding content faster than two events in 9 months.

    1. I completely agree. It would make sense if they were putting out a new event every month or two, and I think that was their orginal design goal. However, the way this event has been handled doesn't seem to reflect the current reality of their resources. If you are only going to have one bit of new content every four months, milk it a bit (leave it up for more than seven days) and make sure it has rewards for everyone (if non-cosmetic rewards are going to be included).

      I played through the first part of the event last night on the one 50 character I have. It's actually well designed fun content that seems to have been a lot of work to put together (full voice work, tons of side quests). Making Bioware's decision to pull it, ostensibly forever, after a week all the more baffling.

  2. It is a weird design decision, but my Agent doesn't mind!

  3. I thought I saw somewhere that the weapons bind on legacy, doesn't that mean you can send it to other characters, including future classes that you may roll who can use those weapons? But I have not been doing a good job keeping up with the information, so I may be wrong.

    It didn't break my Jedi Guardian's heart in any case, I was already tearing my hair out to get 250 tokens for that damn pet! :P

    By the way, there are two pets you can get from this event, the Hagnoffarl pet for completing the scavenger hunt, as well as the Lobelot for the tokens. When you said, "a pet that's a re-skinned version of one we already got for free last month", are you talking about the Hagnoffarl? Because yeah that's just a recolored Gannifari from last month, but I do believe the Lobelot for the tokens is new. Again, I may be wrong though.

    1. Thanks for the info. Yeah I was referring to the one that you get on completion, I haven't seen any screenshots of the one for tokens (you should totally show it off if you get it!)

      The weapons are bind to legacy if I'm not mistaken. Even if they aren't another workaround I've read of is to send tokens to an alt, and then have them head to a vendor and buy a rifle that they can put in storage until they hit 50.

      Still, I think it would have been a lot better to provide a wider assortment of weapons. The highest rifle using character I have is level ten, and I'm not at all certain I'll ever level that one up (probably not, since I the stealth using Agent subclass).

      In any case, it's a fair point that the lack of weapon rewards won't irk obsessive pet and mount collectors nearly as much as some players. I'm sure there is also at least someone that's been flipping out to dress up like a sandperson too :-)

    2. I used to be that person! I've made excellent progress on learning how to let go in the past year though! :P

      It would have been nice if there were weapons for everyone, I mean, it's a "world" event, shouldn't the rewards be as inclusive as possible? But like I said, I'm not too broken up because if there had been something for my Jedi my OCD would require that I have it :P I had to talk myself out of the mount as it is.

      Still, I have to agree the response they gave for their reason was just plain asinine. I wouldn't be rolling my eyes as hard even if they'd said "we just felt like it" rather than that happy happy joy joy junk about future world events.

  4. Design choices like that are odd, but the dev response of just wait for the next event is troubling. It really brings back a concern I had before SWTOR even launched. I wasn't much worried about the game itself, but I had doubts about Bioware's ability to provide support after seeing how poorly they handled the Dragon Age games, which had launchers and strong online requirements (for DRM).

    I really think Bioware and any other studio that tries to get into the MMO space needs to pay close attention to the way Trion has handled Rift for the past year and the way Funcom has been handling TSW for the past few months.

    1. I am still playing and enjoying SWTOR. However, I have to admit I have been completely underwhelmed by Bioware's management of the game. Two one week events events and a new raid in nine months is a pretty piss poor rate of content development.

      Now they are even contemplating charging subscribers for access to the new planet they've been hyping all this time. It's as if non-one there has ever played or followed any MMO apart from WoW.

      Yes, if you have millions of subscribers the social inertia of your game is such that you can probably get away with a sub getting you nothing apart from server access and the odd holiday event (though with the recent bleedout that WoW has seen, even that may not be true...we'll see what happens with MoP). If you are competeing in the Rift/ TSW/ EVE/ Fremium (LoTRO, AoC, EQ II, DDO, ect.) part of the market, you likely can't get away with that.

    2. Disappointing, I had really hoped that Bioware would be able to step up and support a live game well. It just goes to show that running an MMO is an entirely different skill-set than releasing just about any other type of game.

  5. I'm curious. Can these weapons be given to your squadmates? And if so, are there enough rifle using NPCs for that to be of any use?