Monday, August 2, 2010

Why space-combat in SWTOR scares me

No. It is not because I am afraid of flying.

Recently (comicon in San Diego) Bioware let it slip that SWTOR (star wars the old republic) would have your personalized spaceships (your portable homes) used in space-combat.

At first, I was like: "wooo!!!"
Then I was like: "whooooooo"
Then I was like: "woo?!!"
Then I was like: "wait.."
Then I was like: "dude, wait what?"
Then I remembered *that game*. Star trek online.  The game that came out in what I call 'super-open-beta-so-everyone-can-try-before-they-buy'. And failed.
I really wanted to love it. I really really did. I tried and I tried and I tried. But ultimatly it failed because it had space-combat.
Now, don't get me wrong, I loved the space-combat part. It was just to simplistic. It was like flame-leviathan in Ulduar, but for half the game. And since you had space-combat fill up half the combat system, they had the space-shooter combat dumbed down too.
So instead of some interesting character combat mechanics, like the ones that wow is getting, and WARhammer and Lord of the rings have. All players, that played Star Trek got, was two systems that where dumbed down and made as non-unique as possible.

Blizzard always had a great gaming philosophy: Easy to learn, difficult to masterBut the thinking - at least how I saw it- from Cryptic in Star Trek, seemed to be: 'we will have two different combat systems, that is hard enough for the dumb masses to cope with.' And so you got two boring combat systems.

Hopefully, this won't happen for Bioware, but for a game developer that does not have a great track record for balancing combat systems (don't play a healing char in dragon age? good luck then!), they will now have TWO combat systems to balance out.

Blizzard is having a hard time just balancing out their one combat system. Ask any PVP'er.

Hopefully Bioware, will be well aware (pure poetry) of these issues, but the past does scare me a bit. Both in regards to predecessor and biowares own history of balance.


  1. If its more like x-wing style dog fighting I think it could work... but yeah if its the orbit the opponent while spamming space bar style combat that is STO... I totally agree that it is better not to have it at all. Now if you use your ship in swtor as often as you use vehicles in WoW... I think it could work so long as the ground combat is compelling and the space combat just serves as a short break.

  2. The way they where setting it up (in my ears) at comicon, it was to be a fighting mechanic that would be used as much as any fighting mechanic.
    But I agree, if space combat is a short break and ground combat is where the focus is (or the other way around tbh) then i'm fine with it. What worries me, is the thought of a company like Bioware getting to balance out 2 combat systems.

  3. Agreed on this article. There was one major flaw of star wars galaxies (well soe made many major flaws) but initially when space combat was released it was a leveling system. This was a major whoooops by the designers since space combat doesn't work naturally at all like that. FPS style space combat is fast paced and more exciting for players. The earliest Tie Fighter got it right and if bioware did anything to save themselves some time thinking this one through they could just copy that and they'd have an amazing product.

    All in all 2 combat systems is rough yes, but over complicating a system by trying to balance it vs a simple space combat fps seems very easy to figure out.

    So what if billy is a horrible pilot, then he learns to fly. (wow learning something new in a game that isn't button mashing) <<---win win