23/05/2012

1.3 Hopes And Fears

While we don't know a release date yet, we have a solid preview of 1.3 now, at least in terms of what new content and features it will introduce. I think that some of it looks quite exciting, especially the sneak peek at the ability to sit on chairs (and I'm only half joking about that).

However...

I have to admit that from what we know so far, I also have reservations about some of the promised patch features, in the sense that they carry the potential to actually make the game less fun for me. I can't help feeling a little worried about that.

First there is the introduction of the group finder. I know that many people are looking forward to this, but personally I've been dreading it for a while. I want a better group finding tool, yes, but I don't want a carbon copy of WoW's dungeon finder. However, based on what they show in that preview video and what Damion Schubert said in the official podcast, it sounds like this is pretty much exactly what we'll get, including a (to me very redundant) teleport function (never mind that most flashpoint entrances are right there on the fleet already) and extra currency rewards for doing randoms.

Fear: I'm not going to rehash all the details of my argument for the umpteenth time, but I believe that in the long run the dungeon finder was one of the main things that killed WoW for me. (It wasn't the only factor, but a major one.) It had a very noticeable negative effect on the community as I experienced it, and turned dungeon running from one of my favourite activities into a dull daily grind. I'm enjoying The Old Republic as it is, please don't break this MMO for me too!

Hope: I suppose the fact that they are keeping it same-server is a small silver lining, but I've never been a follower of the school of thought that cross-server grouping is the root of all evil and that if only WoW's dungeon finder was same-server, it would all be sunshine and roses. However, I'm willing to cling to anything that gives me hope that things in SWTOR will be different.

Fear: Because the group finder won't be cross-server, it will have longer queues and the people who felt that talking to other players to get a group was too much effort will most likely feel that anything but instant satisfaction is still too much effort. Massive whining will ensue on the official forums and various news sites about how pointless the new feature is, how come Bioware wasted any development time on it etc. I think this one is pretty unavoidable actually.

Then we have all the talk about character transfers. Now, for me, server transfers are basically value-neutral, as I've never used such a feature and currently have no plans to ever do so either. It doesn't do anything for me, but it doesn't harm my experience either, right? In fact...

Hope: I've acknowledged that Luka Sene seems to have a lowish population and could probably use some more players. Once server transfers go live, if even just a few players transferred over to us, this could potentially be very good for the server.

Except... unless I've missed a major announcement somewhere, Bioware has been incredibly vague about how exactly server transfers are supposed to fix any current population imbalances. You would assume that they'd offer free transfers from some of the highly populated servers to the more quiet ones, but from what I've seen so far they haven't actually said anything like that anywhere. Instead they keep talking about "allowing people to play with their friends", which sounds to me like they'll transfer anyone to wherever they want to be (free or at a cost, haven't heard anything about that yet either).

That would certainly work on a personal level, but what would that kind of policy do to populations? I would expect people to seek out the busy servers if given a choice, not the quiet ones.

Fear: Once character transfers go live, people will converge onto a handful of high pop servers even more so than they do now, leaving servers that are currently low pop but functional as complete ghost towns (probably including mine).

People inevitably end up talking about server merges, but once again that's not something that I've actually heard Bioware themselves mention anywhere. It seems that everyone just wants to assume that the next patch will solve whatever problems they currently have with the game (which is at least an optimistic attitude to take I suppose) without actually looking at the details of what we're getting.

And then... we have "adaptive gear", meaning that all the social gear that's currently classified as light armour will scale up so that medium and heavy armour users can use it in everyday play as well without completely gimping themselves.

Fear: Everyone will be tanking in bikinis all the time, whether I want to see their girly bits hanging out or not. Yegads!

Okay, so that last one doesn't really have me worried. But I still can't help looking forward to 1.3 with a mix of both anticipation and trepidation.

4 comments:

  1. I'm dubious about group finders as well, they seem like crude social engineering tools to me. Not because a group finder tool has no basic value, but because in many games the developers offer inducements to use them. In WoW this went way too far, performance buffs for random grouping, special rewards and the hideous decision of forcing the use of the random group finder for all of the seasonal event 'boss' fights. They gated content behind the need for 5 players. This just encourages the silent grind-run mentality that for me spoils any enjoyment of playing a game online.

    The patch notes don't sound this extreme of course but if Bioware are copying Blizzard too closely then I'd be worried for the future of grouping in SWTOR. Easier grouping on low pop servers is reward enough, let's not incentivise it as well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Fear: Everyone will be tanking in bikinis all the time, whether I want to see their girly bits hanging out or not. Yegads!"

    I know the feeling. I want to have these things for MYSELF (because I'm tired of wearing a hoodie) but I don't want to see how people use and abuse them... like how I /facepalm every time I see a pureblood sith on the republic side. On the other hand, my husband's guild is talking about having a full tuskan raider raid which, imo, seems flippin COOL... so there are always smart people who will do creative things with the tools they are given and there are always idiots who, if they can't wear bikinis, will stand around in their undies.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm personally exciting for the group finder tool, and the thought of it being server-only (for now) makes my shorts tight. Is it a hokey convenience feature? Yeah ... but I'm going to use the heck out of it so I can experience content that I've not been able to see before.

    And I hope cross-server PVP queuing comes soon ... waiting 15 minutes for a PVP match is a little annoying.

    As for the transfers, I have a love/hate relationship with them. My guild and I have discussed moving, so in a way we're excited to see the transfers come. The problem is that if Shien isn't targeted as free transfer server, then we're kinda stuck.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice to know Bioware *still* doesn't have a clue about MMOs and is now resorting to copying bad systems. Don't these companies know they're killing their own games? Gah ....

    I don't play this game, but it still saddens me to see the copy/paste with no innovation. These companies seem so clueless. And toothless; take a chance on making something awesome!

    ReplyDelete