Hyperspace Beacon: What was not said in the SWTOR 2018 Roadmap

Star Wars: The Old Republic players leaped for joy when Producer Keith Kanneg finally released the winter and spring 2018 roadmap last week. It was good to hear from him after so much silence over the holidays. I don’t begrudge the silence, personally. It’s typical for people in the games industry to slow down some over the November and December holidays. And many companies do not receive their annual budget until mid-to-late January. So the simple truth is that BioWare Austin probably couldn’t make any real promises for 2018 until February.

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.

Anthem and Star Wars license issues

I’m not naive; I don’t expect BioWare to tell us that it is in trouble and that the ship is sinking if it is. As a studio, it has to make as much money as it can while it still can, and telling us that everything is trouble would be a bad move. However, I would like to mention that Kanneg didn’t mention the rumors at all.

It could mean nothing. Perhaps Kanneg was completely focused on what his team was doing and wanted to just promote the things that SWTOR was going to do over the next couple of months. But given the rumors that EA was having issues with the Star Wars license and BioWare was shifting resources to Anthem, it would seem prudent to at least have given the situation a nod. “There is still a substantial team working on SWTOR,” or maybe “Despite many resources being shifted, that it is only temporary, and it will not stop the size and quality of SWTOR content” would have been a big comfort to players. But that wasn’t said.

The worst-case scenario is that everything will be sunset before 6.0, but I don’t believe that’s happening. However, it is possible that many things at BioWare Austin are contingent on the performance of the delayed Anthem, and Kanneg just doesn’t know how things are going to play out and cannot make definite plans. I’ll talk more about what wasn’t said about the plans in a bit.

Not many people are raiding anymore

When talking about Izax the destroyer, the final boss of the Gods of the Machine Operation, Kanneg said that he had to leave out full master-mode for that boss.

“There will be two modes with Izax; Story and Master mode,” he wrote. “This also means we will not be offering a full Master Mode for all bosses in the Operation. This was an especially difficult decision for me to make, as I have loved the interaction between developers and our raiding community. Yet, based on what we’re planning for this year and beyond, it’s better to focus on the upcoming group content.”

Perhaps I’m being super pessimistic about this statement, but it sounds to me like there just aren’t enough high-end raiders to cater to anymore. Kanneg is a community person; he was the Community Manager’s direct boss before taking on the role as Producer. It’s clear to me that his working directly with raiding teams was a pet project for him. As a person who has had many a pet project in his life, I can tell you that you don’t just drop your pet project because there isn’t enough time. The project has to be genuinely bad for you or the overall company if you are forced to drop it.

If I’m reading between the lines correctly, the investment of time would cost the studio too much money for the number of people who would be willing to participate in the activity. Kanneg mentions that the team will create more content for Galactic Starfighter, which as we know is an activity that barely gets any traction from the community. And if the developers are willing to toss more time and money at that, then there must be next to no one doing top-level raiding.

We might not get an expansion in 6.0

Update 6.0 is coming, and the community has been asking for a traditional expansion model that we’ve seen since Rise of the Hutt Cartel, but Kanneg has a slightly different idea.

“I like having updates released regularly versus waiting long periods of time in-between patches. Although this remains our current plan, we are also laying out what we’ll include in a 6.0 Game Update.”

I could be completely wrong about this, but I don’t think we are going to get a new expansion that even comes close to mirroring our last three. If I were to take a guess — reading between the lines again — I would say that we are going to see a different story drop with the introduction of 6.0 and maybe a level increase. Beyond that, I believe other parts of the game like new warzones, flashpoints, and operation bosses will be introduced with updates beyond 6.0.

Personally, I’m OK with this kind of updating, but I suspect I’m in the minority. I like to have a reason to return to a game every month or so instead of just once a year. But the problem with that kind of model is that studios can’t generate as much hype off a small update. That also means that we will likely not have the hypetrain that we’ve had for the other expansions. No Blur trailer, guys; sorry.

Despite this, I’m still positive about SWTOR. I believe that the story is still good, and I love the world that’s been built there. But what are your thoughts? Did you read the same things between the lines of the roadmap? What did you find there? Let me know in the comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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David Zurhaar

Some players may have leaped for joy but definitely not all. Also you are understanding towards their silence…now considering that other companies can give a roadmap for a year and that nov/dec happen at the same time every year (it really does) after October…they could choose to communicate in a much better way. They are just leaving a bread crumb trail that nobody knows where it’s even supposed to be going.

This probably because they can’t plan further ahead than 3 months and because they know that if they were to announce the next expansion people would have too much time to realise that it’s going to be another small expansion and it’s not really worth the wait.

They avoided 6.0 because they probably only have ideas about what they could do but no budget decision yet. Also 5.0 failed horribly and led to another round of server merges. I blame Galactic Command and this meant that they spent their resources mostly on fixing thig GC and server merges instead of content. As 5.0 came out 15 months ago and wasn’t very big as an expansion (they get smaller each time) the need for actual new content is high. In that light 5.8 and 5.9 are just not even close to what’s needed.

But in all fairness, they don’t have the resources and they’ve clearly given up on trying to make this game grow. They just maintain what they can and hope to stretch it out (like butter over too much bread) and hope people are still willing to stay. I’m not, others are, but that group is getting smaller and smaller, so really, whatever 6.0 will be, try not to expect too much of it.

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Weilan

I’m a huge Star Wars fan and even the storytelling couldn’t keep me for long, I just wanted to experience the story, reach the end of F2P and quit, but I just couldn’t stand it. The game doesn’t feel unique like Star Wars Galaxies, just WoW clone with a Star Wars theme and what really made me feel bummed out was when I looted a purple item for my class and I couldn’t wear it…

mandingocc6901
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mandingocc6901

I have a different take on the reason for no major rollout. I don’t think they have the resources to pull off anything but these tiny quasi regular rollouts. I know you don’t think this game is sun-setting, but it definitely feels like it’s at least just coasting. The road maps are going away because they illustrate the point more and more. I love this game and have played since beta, but I think she’s about to enter the stagnation that comes before death. It feels like shes already there.

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NeoWolf

Not many people are raiding anymore? lol I’m assuming things must be different US side as this side of the pond hardly anyone raided..period. This game was the bread and butter of the story hungry, casual carebears like myself not raiders and pvpers.

Yet what do we find the devs are all now pvp monkeys and raid fans…and the only writer left is the mediocre one.

Yeah this game is struggling, despite what some may hope, despite what I may hope because their shift in ppriorities and constant changes to the development time and the MASSIVELY all over the place quality of the story content on top of the constant only new gear is through packs not play BS has driven most of us away.

Now they’re pushing the get a friend to be a sub and we’ll give you a f4ree month of play thing to try and get bums back on seats but the problem is in the team, not the game. Get a decent team back and the game will start going a desired direction again and all the ops and pvp crap will go back to its corner quietly where it belongs and the story will return which is where Bioware has always really shone.

My two penneth..

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kody

I like what they did with KotFE but the latest expansion was a pretty massive failure. Locking the command system behind the subscription was the dumbest thing you could do when your game is free to play. It actually drove me away from the game even though I was a subscriber. I just couldn’t understand how someone at BioWare could be that stupid.

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kody

And on the off chance someone from BioWare is reading this article, you can still fix your screwup with the command system. Open it up to everyone and give subscribers +50% command xp from activities.

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Witches

Honestly the less they do or say the better, if they kept quiet about 6.0 people would only be disappointed once it dropped, this way people are quitting because they know there’s nothing to look forward to, there’s still lots of content, but you are punished if you are not doing “the right content”, so most just ignore it, grouping should be an option not a feature.

The whole “Anthem ate our staff” just makes me laugh, that just means EA decided not to hire more people to do more work, they would rather lose money and get bad press, than hire someone to work on their games.

At this point i don’t see why they want the SW IP, they should just do an online version of ME or DA with lots of microtransactions, it’s ok to monetize your game, but you need to want to makes games in the first place.

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Armsman

Translation to TLDR format: “SWToR” maintenance mode incoming…”

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Sana Tan

What I read? That the devs don’t even know what will happen beyond 2-3 months, due to the lack of resources they suffer.

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Jadefox

The major issue with SWTOR has always been content, but someone pulled the plug the day after the game went live. The game, by its design, needed a large group to maintain it.

We went from 8 interwoven class stories, with many side stories all combined into one big story. That went to a 2 sided story. That ended with a single person story. As time went on all other aspects of the game were dumbed down too.. Classes, Gear, Companions were are simplified to make them easier to maintain by the studio. Problem is SWTOR is a game that needs huge expansions to give it life… Unfortunately the game is more like Frankenstein in need of a lighting storm. But it is sunny out and everyone has left the building.

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Randy Savage

Dear SWTOR,

oaa87.gif
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Rolan Storm

:D :D :D

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Sally Bowls

True. But, in fairness, SWTOR can say the exact same thing about you. It is TBD which dies first – but it comes for all of us.