Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A look back at the SWTOR stress-test weekend

I sure hope Bioware got their servers stress-tested hard. Because I honestly did not feel much of it.
Sure there where some queues to get in queue to the servers. And one of the in-game stress tests of searching for lightsabers in the knowledge base, went kindda fubar, but other than that... wow. [No never use that word..] other than that... impressive.

The game itself
Looked amazing, felt great, and i did not for a second regret pre-ordering the big CE. As a matter of fact, I think I just might have to get two copies, because mrs. Dwism was very horrible to me, using her feminie wiles to secure the computer (and the game) almost what felt like the entire weekend. Almost.
It was incredible for a seasoned gamer and mmo'er for me to play, but almost just as gratifying to watch a game semi-newb like my wife, having a go at it. And watching her play, made something very clear to me:

This game will never beat wow, it was never meant to either, but it will never get the subscription-numbers that wow does. If it gets 15% of wow's max playerbase, I think the developers are thrilled.

Why? well this game is tailored for a very small and very specific playerbase: mmo gamers who care greatly about story and preferably love star wars. I don't think there are 10 million of us out there tbh. The starting zones are filled with these expectations about the players. You know what a quest looks like, you know how the accept quest - do quest - turn in quest - find sidequests, thing works. You know to be looking at your skills searching for the rotation/mechanics. You know to ignore things like "kinetic damage" and you care about what your answers to questions like "please show those flesheaters justice Jedi" will be and will do.
My wife, did not.

And she has played wow for many years. Some of the stuff above she did know. But as soon as that dialoque wheel turned up the first time, she was ready to turn the pc off. "If they want to tell me an epic story or an interesting story, then I want to know what *they* wanted to answer to these dialogues." She said, when I told her how fantastic it was that you got to decide for yourself what you wanted to say.
I had a hard time arguing with that.

And it wasn't just her. I had to spend way to long figuring out how where and when to select my advanced class. Not which class. But where the trainer was, at what level and how to find the guy who gave me the quest to get the advanced class options.
That is all fine and good, if you knew that at level 10 you had to look for a trainer. Non-mmo gamers won't know to look for that, and I honestly doubt that they will read that crummy little 'clues' scribble on the side. Because who bought *this* game to read quest-texts??

And after I finally managed to find the damned trainer for my Sith Warrior, and trainer the dualweilding talents. I spend a good 30 minutes looking for a vendor that would sell me a second lightsabre. Then I spend 20 minutes finally finding a forum post telling me to first: a) talk to trainer, b) look in mail and c) open inventory to find new item hidding within all those greys, that you can open for your second lightsaber.

That is not taking the player by the hand.

Do I sound angry? I am not, I love this game. I am just coming to terms with the fact that this will most likely be a niche game. Thats fine too, as long as the xpacks won't suffer from it. It is just something we have to keep in the back of our heads, if you ask me. WoW was a great game in taking in new players and getting them to actually learn to play their game. From betas starting zones, this is not the same type of game.
I had my dad try it out. He is an old school Star Wars fan, so he wanted to play as Han Solo (ofc, my mom loves Harrison Ford), it started of great! While I was cooking dinner he threw himself at it.

Histoy lesson; my dad bought me my first Super nintendo, and gameboy. Later playstation 1. And we played loads of games together. he isn't one of those "lets sit grandpa in front of the pc and laugh" types. So when he gave up after 5 minutes, because they where shooting at him, and he coulnd't aim at them (think he thought that since they had blasters it was a shooter), I knew. This game is not for beginners. It is for Gamers.

For us gamers, and those beginners with patience and a drive to get to learn it dammit, it is a great game. It just won't suck you in after 5 minutes of gameplay like one certain other mmo.

Before we get to stuff I like 
And while we are at the whinging: WHY oh why did you have to put light/dark requirements on my gear?
There was a great post on the beta tester forum, that summed up said: Why did you do this? min-max players will skip dialogue, quests and story will not be important. Again.
I cannot kill this npc who rubs me the wrong way, because then I won't have light 5 and I won't be able to wear my belt.
FU... count to ten.
All of a sudden your character goes from being either a) an extension of yourself in the star wars universe or b) the type of character to want to be in the star wars universe to this: I don't care about what they are talking about. Just give me my damn light-side/dark side options and points.

This is horrible. This is why I won't raid. Please don't keep this in game. I want my character to only chose dialogue options based on what my character wanted to say or do, NOT because otherwise his boots will suddenly fall of.
Can't we change this? How about one one type of boot exist, but it changes looks depending on how many ranks in dark/light you have. You know, as a reflection of your action instead? It is so easy to solve. Why do Bioware insist on keeping it this way? /sadpandaface

Also, can't we do something about dialogue wheels? How about if you mouseover an answer you get the whole thing, your character is going to say? Too many times in beta did I click something and he said something else. As the best of my recollection one options read: "It might be dangerous for you" and what my goodietooshooe inquisitor said was: "If you oppose me, I'll kill you." ... Yea not really what I wanted to say there really. I was hoping more of the protection sort of way that it could be read. So mouseover and I see the whole thing.
Then you can not do it, when you do not care all that much. Just a thought.

Allright good stuff
This is sort of good in a bad way, but I loved way too many classes to ever justify having a life. I want to see all the stories. I want to see all the places. The weekends biggest video (starfleet Dentists, how I love thee) was one of the things that got me hyped the most. Look at those locals. I want to go there. I want to live and play in this game. Target of target will come very soon. So will addons. Don't worry. Everything will be fixed later. Classes will get fixed so that they are all equally powered. But those locals, are set, and they are awesome. The story is set, and it is awesome.
I bet right now, actors are voicing the next two expansions. Ever thought about that? And we don't even know what the emperor looks like.

For me, this is looking to be an incredibly great game. I love story, I care about lore, I am a mmo veteran. Even at one point I raided at a semi-top level. I've been there, I want that joy again. And star wars seem to bring it.

Biggest problem I have is ristricting myself to one toon at first, and hopefully only 3 in the end. But what order?
Trooper first! I think

If you are on the fence about this game. Please note at the things I am getting upset about. Gear and dialogue-misunderstandings. and none are even major issues in those areas. Conversations DO work. It's just that sometimes not how I wanted them to. Maybe that is actually real life for you right there. You want to tell your prisoner that you fear his life is in danger, and all he hears is "ill kill you" hmm.

But please, fix dark side/ light side ranked gear. Because that sucks.

December 16 see ya'll there (or later)

1 comment:

  1. just got to this post and well.. you know, bioware is notoriously horrible at paraphrasing :P my favorite one is still from Mass Effect 2, conversing with Thane and he just told you about how his wife was killed and the option comes up "I want you Thane" what you say is actually quite good, but that "I want you Thane" /shudder :P

    but I agree, this is going to be a niche game. this is the game where you need to listen, where you need to talk to all these npc's and pay attention. I didn't have trouble finding a trainer, becasue its a notorious habit of mine - click on every npc that looks clickable, but I was still awed by sheer size of that first station. I love that it takes relatively long to level, I love that I have variety of options as to how to respond, and as you, I hope that light side/darkside requirements are removed or at least greatly reduced to maybe a basic requirement of "must have more lightside then darkside points"

    that's another thing about bioware games, especially the more recent ones. the games punish you for playing neutral. this is something that fans have been lamenting for a while and maybe, just maybe bioware will finally listen?