The dawn of a new year is a great time for many people to hit a tiny reset button on life. I’m doing that personally. In many ways 2015 was the year of Star Wars, but I’ve found that I’ve need to reset some things, one of them being the reason that I play MMOs and why I enjoy them. Readers of this column can surmise that I enjoy many aspects of MMOs, but first and foremost, I enjoy the social side of the game. That means with any aspect of the game — raiding, dungeons, instanced, or open-world PvP — I enjoy doing it with other people. That is why I find roleplay extremely important. And that’s why I’ve done a bit of refocusing on my gameplay.
Today, I want to take a moment to talk about what’s important to me in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and what I think needs to change this year. Most of the time, I’m focused on the community aspects of the game and what the community is looking for, but this right here is my personal passion. And these are the things I’d like to see BioWare focus on during this time of reevaluation.
“Difficult to see. Always in motion the future is,” Yoda explained to Luke Skywalker on Dagobah when the boy had a vision of his friends in Cloud City. So when I make predictions for the future of Star Wars: The Old Republic
, I know that I am trying to predict something that even the developers might not know. When I interviewed three of the developers
last week, they consistently mentioned that it was the Shadow of Revan
expansion that led them to create Knights of the Fallen Empire
For those of you playing at home, SoR didn’t release until December 9th last year, which was only 20 days before I made last year’s predictions. And since game studios like to take a lot of vacation in December, it’s likely that the developers didn’t even know for sure that they would be making KOTFE in 2015.
That being said, this is will be a fun experiment. I’m going to look at last year’s predictions and compare them to the actual outcomes, and then I’d like to make a few predictions for 2016.
We all have those things in our lives that continue to pull at us, drive us, to learn more or do more. Sometimes it turns us into an obsessed captain Ahab chasing our giant white whale until it destroys us. Other times, obsessions can turn us into an industry giant like Steve Jobs. But most of us aren’t Ahab or Jobs; we are just everyday men and women with families and careers designed to give us fulfillment in our daily lives. And behind that veil of normality, we build these shrines to something we can’t not think about.
My shrine is built to Star Wars.
This past week, I met with three other people who have built a shrine to Star Wars as well, but these gentlemen have been able to make quite a career out of their obsession with Star Wars. These guys are, of course, the leads on Star Wars: The Old Republic. I spoke to Senior Producer Bruce Maclean, Lead Creative Designer Charles Boyd (former Lead Writer), and Lead Technical Designer Michael Backus.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk to them about the four years of SWTOR and specifically the creation of the latest expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. We talked about the creation process and how the game became what it is now. And we might have revealed some things that are yet to come.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been another year in Star Wars: The Old Republic
. On the 20th of this month, the second Star Wars MMORPG will turn four years old. And 2015, despite my previous predictions being almost completely wrong, sits as the most eventful year for game after its launch year. The year began still on a high from the Shadow of Revan
expansion and ended on a major shift in storytelling design with the Knights of the Fallen Empire
At the end of the year, I like to give the games I cover a report card based on Richard Bartle’s taxonomy. For those who aren’t familiar with what that is, check out this Massively Overthinking where we took the test ourselves — Bartle himself might have even commented on it. I used the test based on his work as a base because it is designed to help game developers make better games. It focuses on why players play online games. I have taken a basic American grade-school grading system (A, B, C, D, F) to represent how I think each player type would score SWTOR.
I don’t write a lot about the Star Wars: The Old Republic roleplay community because I don’t usually like it to be known who I am in the community. I want people to react to my character, not to me as the player. However, I recently started playing a character that people would recognize me as the player, and surprisingly, I was able to find a group that takes me at face value and not as a writer for Massively OP. Because of this group, I have been given a unique perspective on the roleplay community as a whole and the struggles it goes through.
And the biggest hurdle for the roleplay community has been Knights of the Fallen Empire.
The expansion not only introduced a brand-new faction to the entire universe but bumped the timeline up five years. Not only do characters and factions within the existing world change over five years, but introducing a new faction adds that much more complication to the world. Many times, it’s the little things that elude us roleplayers. Many things that people would use in regular conversation are completely lost on us because we just don’t know the answers, or the answers are buried so deep in some fragment of conversation that we lose them.
By now, everyone who was in early access for Knights of the Fallen Empire
has played through the story at least once. If not, what are you waiting for? Don’t you know how amazing it is? But I was highly surprised at how much there was to do beyond the main storyline. Star Wars: The Old Republic
started to feel like an MMO again to me, which was the exact opposite of what I expected given the single-player nature of the primary content.
This week, I will be giving you my impressions again of the expansion, but this time, I’m not going to avoid spoilers. There are many things that I like and dislike about the expansion. There are items that BioWare could have improved on, and there are some that it truly knocked out of the park. Be warned: I will not put any spoiler tags on anything after the cut. Just assume that everything is a spoiler, and read this next week when you’ve played all the way through. However, if you’ve not picked up the game and need more convincing, then read on. I might not be able to sway you one way or the other, but at least you will have a better idea of what this expansion really has in store.
BioWare’s Eric Musco
delivered an amazing livestream last week. Many of the questions that players have been asking about the upcoming expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic
answered. Most players were not looking for spoilers to the story; they were concerned about the functionality of some of the systems incoming when Knights of the Fallen Empire
goes live on the 20th of this
month. Up to now BioWare
has been pretty tight-lipped about what’s in store. And although BioWare explained that the primary reason it shied away from revealing any of that was to avoid spoilers, it was likely just avoiding saying that the systems just weren’t quite ready for public consumption.
We heard about the bigger items coming in the next expansion. We know that the new story will be a huge change in the direction of the game. I’ve written about the class changes and the group-finder changes. Crafting changes will be huge and will likely fill an article all on its own. But that about the other things? What about the small quality-of-life things that make the game more enjoyable to play? That’s what I’d like to discuss today. Musco’s livestream covered a lot of the finer points of the future game mechanics.
So here’s a funny thing: When I watched the TwitchCon streams for Star Wars: The Old Republic
, I wasn’t exactly looking to get new story reveals because most of those had already been spoiled for me. In fact, thanks to some dataminers, I even know what happens after
the choice BioWare didn’t let people click on during the stream. I was looking for the information I had to be confirmed, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered many new things.
What I’d like to do is take a few moments to discuss these new findings and the story items that were revealed during the livestreams from TwitchCon. Of course, there will be spoilers, but I would encourage you to keep reading because I will drop the spoilers behind our nifty spoiler tags, so you don’t even have to worry about things accidentally being spoiled. Here are four brand-new things we learned from the TwitchCon streams of Knights of the Fallen Empire.
When Knights of the Fallen Empire launches for Star Wars: The Old Republic, certain activities will not be available in game anymore — specifically, quests like the Makeb staged weeklies and the Nightmare achievements for Eternity Vault. You should also remember that many of the regular story missions will also not be available once you start on the KotFE missions, and the developers have said that many of those quests will affect the story in KotFE.
We have only a month until the expansion launches, so we have to prioritize which missions and achievements we want to get before the expansion. And if you’re looking for recommendations from me, how handy — I happen to have six suggestions.
It’s been two weeks since I visited Star Wars: The Old Republic in this column, and it’s clear that two weeks is far too long to stay away from a game that will launch an expansion in less than two months. Much of the information we’ve been begging for has started to flow in, despite the datamining. On the 26th, the developers gave us a livestream of a few sequences from the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. They also answered a couple of questions about companions, but not nearly as many as we’d have liked. One of the Massively OP readers Master Liu expressed my feelings on the subject matter succinctly on his blog. However, The developers did answer a few questions after on the forum, which does make me feel a little bit better, but ultimately, the questions about crafting were not answered.
Tomorrow, the Star Wars: The Old Republic
development team will livestream parts of its newest expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire
promises to answer questions about the crafting systems as well as revealing some information about your companions. So why has it taken the devs so long to talk about the crafting and companion system when it’s so integral to pretty much everything in the expansion?
We know from E3 that our choices during the expansion will have lasting ramifications on our personal story. We know that some companions will be chosen directly through the story. We know that some companions will be killed off or will have departed our service because of the choices that we make, but we don’t know how that’s going to affect the systems that are tied to the existing companion systems. Unfortunately, we might not even have all the answers we are looking for when the livestream is done. So I have put together a list of questions that I believe need to be answered during the livestream that are specifically focused on companions and the systems surrounding them.
Usually, I don’t combine two topics into one article, but these two things are important and I don’t want to go another week without addressing either one of them. Unfortunately, both of these items are also completely unrelated. I want to talk about datamining and a Massively OP guild forming on the Ebon Hawk.
First, if you’re a part of the larger Star Wars :The Old Republic community, you’ll know that there has been a large influx of leaks and datamined information about SWTOR‘s upcoming expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire. I will admit that I’m highly conflicted about datamining, in general, and in this case I believe some lines have been crossed. And I’d like to clarify my position as well as probe your thoughts.
Secondly, as I mentioned in this week’s WRUP, I’ve taken over as leader for my SWTOR guild; I’m no longer just a placeholder. And I’d like to make the guild a semi-official SWTOR guild for Massively OP, which means that Massively OP readers will be welcome to hang out with us when they jump into SWTOR.
The actual information coming from BioWare‘s camp about Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s next expansion has thus far been more sparse than fans might have wanted, which unfortunately leads to some wild speculation and misinformation. That’s why today I’ve put together a list of the most common misconceptions that I’ve heard about Knights of the Fallen Empire. There are many more, I’m sure. And if you can think of others, drop them in the comments after reading this list.