I realized after listening to the questions that I asked last night that some of them deserve a follow-up to help strengthen your understanding of where the question came from or understand why I put forth the question in the first place. I’d like to spend a moment talking about the answers that Boyd gave to my questions and what I think they mean for the MMORPG. Of course, there might be some spoilers for the latest additions to the game story, but if you’ve not played through it by now and are still reading this column, spoilers probably aren’t that important to you.
Some of you might remember the late ’80s, but for those who don’t that was a period of time when the only thing keeping Star Wars alive were the RPGs. Timothy Zahn would not pen Heir to the Empire until 1991, the best video game we had was arcade-only made in ’83, and The Phantom Menace was well over a decade away. This was the period of time that the keeper-of-canon Pablo Hidalgo started his quest to become a part of the Lucasfilm family. It was the time when only two things were keeping the Star Wars alive: the Kenner toys and West End Games’ Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game. We know it wasn’t the made-for-TV Ewok Adventure movies.
Roleplayers have been the undercurrent that has kept the franchise alive, even during the dark times — during the prequels. What is their current status in SWTOR?
At the very top of the roadmap post, Kanneg thanks everyone for such a great first year as producer of SWTOR and hopes that everyone enjoyed the traitor storyline. The story ends with a lot of questions unanswered, but unfortunately, those questions will not be answered until sometime after September according to the post. However, it’s possible that some of the setups this summer are pointing toward what the developers have planned.
Kanneg said the devs have been listening to players and “as a result, [they will] be making a lot of changes based on your feedback, beginning with our PvP plans this summer.” 2018 will be the summer of PvP for SWTOR, so let’s break down everything that the developers are doing.
I’m rarely surprised by a SWTOR storyline anymore. Even if there is a nice twist, it’s not totally unexpected, and it can usually be predicted that your character will play a side role in whatever conflict is happening in the galaxy at large. But it seems to me that BioWare has taken that criticism to heart and shifted focus in its storytelling in a big and surprising way.
In order to get into the depths of what I mean by SWTOR returning to form, I will have to spoil the storyline, but I also would like to help encourage people to play through this storyline. So I will compromise: The first part of this article will be a spoiler-free discussion of the long flashpoint that makes up the majority of Update 5.9, The Nathema Conspiracy. But the second part will be completely hidden under spoiler tags and will discuss what sets this storyline apart from the previous two years of storylines.
Sid Caeser is quoted as saying, “Comedy has to be based on truth.” And I was surprised how close to the truth Vulkk’s video was. But that’s not the only things that as hitting home with long-time SWTOR players and even the most loyal fans of the game. Let’s take a few moments to talk about Vulkk’s video and the recent changes to the Cartel Market.
It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.
Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.
If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.
Now, Shubert isn’t really my nemesis, but Strongholds in many ways have been a point of love and contention for me, especially when it came coupled with Galactic Conquests, a system that never really lived up to its potential.
With Update 5.8, the BioWare team is looking to revamp Conquests. As promised in the 2018 roadmap, BioWare Community Manager Eric Musco gave us a more detailed update on Conquests on the forums. But the changes to Conquests won’t be as meaningful to you unless you understand where Conquests are currently.
Also, Kanneg made some great statements at the beginning of his letter to the SWTOR fans. He said, “We’ve decided to use the Forums as the means to get you the information about the next couple months versus waiting for a Roadmap.” I’m completely on board with this. And I hope that SWTOR fans on the forums allow the developers to be more open and honest with their communication. That would mean that there will probably be things that are said that have to be taken back and more we-hope-we-can-do-this statements that aren’t actually promises.
Despite the good things, there were a few subjects that weren’t talked about or were glossed over in the roadmap that do raise some concerns.
Now, I don’t like many games, but I understand the merits and positive qualities of even some of the oldest, most shop-worn MMORPGs. First-person shooters make me disoriented because of the camera placement, but that doesn’t make them bad. In fact, one of my favorite series of games, Bioshock, was all told in first-person, but that didn’t affect the quality of the game. (Of course, I had to play it in super-easy mode just so that I could get through it without getting sick, but that’s beside the point.)
So in that vein, I would like to present my argument for why I believe the rumormongers are wrong about SWTOR.
On the other hand, many guilds are 18+ and with good reason. Some have even gone so far as to say they don’t want members under 21. Granted, the guilds I’m talking about are usually roleplay guilds. In fact, SWTOR has the most 18+ guilds per capita over any other game from my perception. It’s tough to find a roleplay guild in on Star Forge that accepts players under 18. Although I don’t believe that every guild should be this way, I can understand some of the reasons why, and not all of them have to do with erotic roleplay — although that’s in there. What are the mature-themed guilds that you will find in SWTOR? And do they have to be mature-themed? Let’s answer that below.
Despite this, we did see some good things come out of 2017, like a couple of new PvP maps and some great changes to group finder. But what kinds of things can we see added to or improved upon in 2018 that would make up for this underperformance? Well, I have three of them. And I have done my absolute best make them realistic and doable with the existing team of developers. Let’s talk about that.
The Bartle Taxonomy divides players into four categories that pull from two axes: the worlds-vs.-player axis and the acting-vs.-interacting axis. Crossing these two axes create for quadrants called Socializer, Achiever, Killer, and Explorer. A balanced MMORPG will sit right in the middle of these four quadrants. I have given SWTOR letter grades based on how I thought the game performed in those categories this year.