Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR prank that revealed so much about the hungry fanbase

    
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With April Fool’s Day falling on a Sunday, Passover, and Easter, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time on the internet watching the pranks and funny videos. Even Star Wars: The Old Republic didn’t have its normal joke videos or Cartel Market sales. However, the SWTOR influencers did have a little bit of fun. SWTORista, Kid Lee, and especially Vulkk participated in a little bit of fun on the prankster’s holiday by making videos about the game.

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.

The telling joke

Vulkk has been a long-time player of Star Wars: The Old Republic. He works hard to give his followers an honest assessment of where the game is, what’s coming soon, and why he still plays it. On April 1st, Vulkk launched a video that hit home with me and also many other players of SWTOR. Given the date, I should have known exactly what the video was about. Perhaps it was Vulkk’s sincerity or the truths that the playful lie hit on, but I fell for it all most completely.

Vulkk starts out the video by talking about a few expansion and that 5.9 would be the end of the traitor storyline. These are two things that have been speculated on for quite some time, and Producer Keith Kanneg all but confirmed that there will be an expansion later this year in his roadmap. But I think the big bit of truth that Vulkk hit on was that the future addition to the game would focus on the conflict that has been missing from SWTOR for a long time: Empire vs. Republic.

In another interview with SWTOR Central, Community Manager Eric Musco and Creative Director Charles Boyd hinted that there will be more of a focus on that conflict in future additions to the game. (And for those who were wondering, that video was not an April Fools’ Day joke.) They might have been saying that because of the PvP-focus of the questions, but regardless, focusing on that kind of conflict was highly desired.

I think another reason Vulkk’s video nearly had me fooled was that it hit on things that I really wanted and that other SWTOR fans have brought up so many times before: We want more. Although there were complaints about it — as there always are — Shadow of Revan was the last complete expansion for SWTOR. I say this because it not only gave us a great additional story, but it also gave us more PvP maps, more flashpoints, and two operations. The “Knights of” expansions put a lot of focus on the story and had their own positive points, but the last time we received a well-rounded expansion was SoR. And people have clearly missed that. (And here I should probably remind everyone that SoR launched a little more than three years ago.)

Vulkk’s video mentioned Taris, a planet that over the centuries has played a big, unwitting role in the Empire’s conflict with the Republic. It’s also been the central planet for the Rakghoul plague, a storyline that has always stirred a lot of excitement among Star Wars and BioWare fans.

Vulkk’s prank was completely believable until he mentioned a new class being unlocked through an operation boss fight. Then I had to shake my head for a couple of reasons. The first being that unlocking a whole class by beating an operation boss was too much, even for SWTOR, and also the SWTOR developers have said that they have no intention of creating a new class because of the amount of work that it would take to design that story and balance it with the existing classes.

You almost had me, Vulkk, but you hit the mark with players’ expectations. It appeared that you were speaking directly to the player’s desires, something that SWTOR developers have been missing for some time now. But thank you for a very entertaining prank.

A telltale sale

The Cartel Market managers put nearly everything that has ever been on the Cartel Market back onto the Cartel Market yesterday. Armor sets, like the Carth Onasi set, to droid companions, like the probe droid, are on sale right now. They all fall into a reasonable cost based on their marker rarity. For me that means, they run 100 to 1,000 more Cartel Coins than they are worth. But that is what it is, and nothings going to change that. I’m just glad that I can grab them from the GTN for a bit cheaper than usual now.

This change brought with it a bit of excitement and also a bit of concern. On the bright side, it’s possible that direct sales have started to take off for the Cartel Market, and the Cartel Market managers have started to listen to things that I have said for years. On the not-so-bright side, this could be a telltale sign of financial issues within the development team. Someone in game mentioned yesterday that it appears to be a kind of going-out-of-business-sale. “Everything must go!” Of course, that has some people concerned. Unfortunately, I’m not certain which one it is either.

I’d like to turn this over to you now. Is there a correlation between these two stories? Do you think it’s possible for SWTOR to reach the Shadow-of-Revan level of content again? Is the Cartel Market sale a precursor to doom, or is it the salesmen finally grasping concepts they should have from the beginning? Let me know you thoughts 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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Malcolm Swoboda

They will never reach that level of content again. They’re trying to compensate for that by having shorter time between content updates, so that at least if you’re attached to the game, you continue to be, because every 2, 3 (instead of up to 4, 5) months there’s something new. Now, that something new may not be for you, but it is something. Looking at the updates since late 2016, things have been slower, but what has come has tried to touch on as much as possible. Returning companions and their customization, raid (bosses), flashpoints, stronghold(s!), starfighter (even!), locations (zones or otherwise), systems and store changes. New PvP has been lacking but I think they said it’ll happen this year. But all this stuff might have come in around 0.5-1 year in a more actively developed game, instead of this 1.5-2 years. The main story has slowed and even parts that might have otherwise been planned to be longer have probably been shortened, but for all we know that’s because the theoretical 3rd Knights Of expansion was cancelled and they’ve had to re-orient for a while and become more agile (aka do more with less) over time.

Lots of doom posts about SWTOR and I get it, and negativity and slowish content release is part of why I stay away from SWTOR (actually my biggest reason is ability bloat! action bars and I are often not friends..), but I don’t see the game necessarily ending this year, or even next year, or really maybe even the year after. I see it happening at a more gradual pace that stretches everything out. And then it’ll hit a decade and we’ll realize that while the TORtanic caught water and sputters, it never really sunk.

However, I can say that if the supposed PvP updates and potential story additions (its been a while and the Betrayal storyline/flashpoints just seem like flashpoint filler like Shadow’s leadup was) don’t happen this year, and it becomes a year of frantic sales and minimal content and systems updates, then sure, there she sinks.

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spencer quinn

IMO I don’t think it’s doom and gloom, the last pack stuff was all on direct sale (before the event) and the direct sale event tells me that

1. experiment to see how much money they make
2. the CM Dev wised up and realize this makes them money
3. mostly because BF 2 how such an negative impact, that all games are being careful on how they handle lootboxes and microtractions (example Shadow of war remove there microtractions)

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Dug From The Earth

I think the community (of all games, not just swtor) is getting tired of the Old stuff being stretched so thin these days. It doesnt help when they arent even doing the stretching in an interesting or semi enjoyable way either.

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Greaterdivinity

Do you think it’s possible for SWTOR to reach the Shadow-of-Revan level of content again?

Honestly…no. I don’t think the team is capable of that anymore, unfortunately. It may be a talent issue, it may be a budgetary/staffing issue, it may be something else entirely, but I’d be extremely pleasantly surprised if we could get remotely close to SoR levels of content again.

Is the Cartel Market sale a precursor to doom, or is it the salesmen finally grasping concepts they should have from the beginning?

Why not a little bit of both? Them needing to bump up revenue to make revenue goals and them taking some key learnings and implementing them. It especially jives with the latter in light of the changes to the Battlefront 2 monetization/progression systems.

Amusing to hear how convincing those cats April Fools prank was. This is the first year that I largely managed to avoid all the April Fools nonsense for some reason.

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Dug From The Earth

talent is often directly linked to budget, unfortunately.

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Witches

Doom, even the CM sale “event” is bugged and half assed, they either plan to bring more stuff at a later time and forgot to mention it, or simply decided to only offer half the armour sets.

This dev team reminds me of the Djinn from mythology, they grant you your wishes but in the most distorted way possible.

Keith said he prefers shorter content updates at regular and shorter intervals, so no proper expansion just a continuation of 2017.

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spencer quinn

that’s what he prefers, but in the interview the devs confirm 6.0 is an expansion

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Witches

Keith had already confirmed it before, and he said it will not be one big content drop followed by a couple of smaller content drops over the course of an year, like normal expansions, it will be smaller content with shorter intervals between releases.

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Deuter

After years of defending the game, I have finally stopped. I made myself unsub. Over a year to put out one raid? Clueless about class balance? If you haven’t played before, as a new experience SWTOR is great. To a veteran who has stuck around too long? Not worth it anymore. I will miss SWTOR, but the time has come to move on. I was a day-one player who never let his sub lapse, but I have no reason to keep playing. They never implemented many of the requests of the RP community (not my scene, but neglected by the devs nonetheless), they lost the active raiding community (yes, some still raid but it is a fragment of what the population used to be), and the quality of pvp remaining in game is abysmal compared to what it used to be (Solo ranked is a joke due to neglect of balance changes and devs ignoring rampant cheating issues). They may get some people back with a new xpac release, but most have moved on. The whales will continue with their CM purchases, and they know this – hence the sales. It all seems a lot too little, way-way-way too late.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Also, a Battle Royale flashpoint.