What was most interesting was BioWare‘s handling of the second major bug. Under normal circumstances, if players circumvented the normal rate of character progression, the MMO developers would stop everything they were doing and fix the bug immediately, or at very least, they would tell players to stop lest they be punished. Instead, Musco said on the forum, “Until they are fixed next week, enjoy them. We tried to fix the bug, the bug didn’t want to be fixed.” He actually encouraged people to take advantage of the bug.
Let’s talk about that, why it happened, and why this happy accident is one of the best things that’s happened to SWTOR in a long time.
The real crisis on Umbara
Although the issues probably started well before the intended patch day, the general public was made aware of the issues with Update 5.4 the week that we were supposed to receive the new flashpoint and story update, Crisis on Umbara. However, you might have noticed that my impressions of that flashpoint fell very late in the week. That was because the patch was delayed by two days because there was a bug that would prevent some players from being able to finish the content.
Even then, that was clearly not the only bug with the update. The other big issue was an exploit that was not visible until the following Tuesday, when players could actually earn the 60 data currency that it took to unlock the Umbara stronghold. The 60 data didn’t actually give you the stronghold; rather, they allowed you into the room where you could then purchase the stronghold for yourself and your guild. What BioWare didn’t foresee was people cleverly using the guild-summon ability to give other people access to that room — people who had not earned the 60 data. Even after another patch, BioWare was not able to fix that bug (though again, BioWare is aware of this exploit and will take action against those who use it).
There is a light at the end of the buggy tunnel that comes in the form of another mistake in programming. The daily areas in Czerka, Oricon, Black Hole, Yavin 4, Ziost, Section X, and Iokath were all giving more Command XP than was originally intended. If I recall correctly, each mission would give about 75 CXP per mission. With the bug and without any other kind of bonus, these daily areas granted 1125 CXP after the Umbara patch. BioWare granted double XP to all players for the end-of-the-summer event, and players could also get legacy bonuses and CXP boosts from the fleet or Cartel Market. The end result was that players could earn in the neighborhood of 3600 CXP for missions that were intended to grant only 75 CXP.
An unexpected benefit
“I managed to gain 200 levels and to echo a lot of your comments here, it was fun to see so many others on Yavin, in Black Hole, over on Iokath and Section X,” Producer Keith Kanneg said in a forum thread last Wednesday. And really, who wouldn’t want be there when the game was practically giving away CXP?
The whole Command Rank system has been one of the most criticized additions to SWTOR for a very long time. In fact, it was such a bad system that many players – including me – decided to not participate in it. Unlike some, I didn’t quit the game, but I did not actively pursue gaining CXP. There have been fixes to the system like raid bosses dropping specific pieces of gear instead of players relying on the random Command Crates, but for my raid group, that was far too little too late. They were gone.
With this bug and the subsequent encouragement from the Producer of the game himself to take advantage of the bug, I went ahead and joined in the fun. I now have two characters well inside Tier 2 Command Rank. I was late to the party because of my aversion to command rank in the first place, so those of you who took part before could’ve earned far more than I did.
In the same thread mentioned above, Kanneg said one of the most reasonable and encouraging things I have heard from a SWTOR developer in a very long time: “There’s a legitimate reason to lower the CXP values as they are out of whack with the rest of the game, but there’s an even more compelling reason to not lower it all the way back to 75 and to review the values across the board.”
I used to love running dailies in SWTOR. I know it’s weird. I even wrote a couple of articles in Massively-of-old outlining the best way to earn credits through dailies, so hopping back on board these dailies to earn CXP was like climbing into a comfy chair. I loved it.
As of today, Musco still stated on the forum, “We are not fixing the bug with Daily Area Missions, so those CXP rewards will remain crazy high for the time being.” Although he calls them crazy high, they aren’t as high as they were before because the double-XP event is over. However, you can still earn about 1125 CXP or more per mission, and that makes me pretty happy.
I don’t want to end this without asking your thoughts. The bugs were pretty horrendous over the last couple of weeks, including where the servers were offline for most of the day. But do you think BioWare handled it well? Are you encouraged by the changes to dailies? Is Command Rank all right now, and will you jump in to do dailies because of the change? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.