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Why BioWare's Star Wars MMO May Already Be Too Late

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-find-your-lack-of-faith-disturbing dept.

Role Playing (Games) 328

Since the announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic, many gamers have been hopeful that its high budget, respected development team and rich universe will be enough to provide a real challenge to the WoW juggernaut. An opinion piece at 1Up makes the case that BioWare's opportunity to do so may have already passed. Quoting: "While EA and BioWare Austin have the horsepower needed to at least draw even with World of Warcraft though, what we've seen so far has been worryingly conventional — even generic — given the millions being poured into development. Take the opening areas around Tython, which Mike Nelson describes in his most recent preview as being 'rudimentary,' owing to their somewhat generic, grind-driven quest design. Running around killing a set number of 'Flesh Raiders' in a relatively quiet village doesn't seem particularly epic, but that's the route BioWare Austin seems to be taking with the opening areas for the Jedi — what will surely be the most popular classes when The Old Republic is released. ... the real concern, though, is not so much in the quest design as in BioWare Austin's apparent willingness to play follow the leader. Whenever something becomes a big hit — be it a movie, game or book — there's always a mad scramble to replicate the formula; in World of Warcraft's case, that mad scramble has been going for six years now. "

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Rdd (1)

Bram Stolk (24781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763656)

Red dead redemption in SW skin will do very well.

Re:Rdd (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764136)

Except that wouldn't be an MMO.

There are Star Wars mods for GTA:SA, don't know about GTA IV (which uses the same engine as RDD).

Is this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763658)

first?

Tabula Rasa (5, Insightful)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763698)

This is why Tabula Rasa was so amazing when it came out, but suffered from poor advertisement and development direction. Even the team for it didn't know where they were going to go with it and openly admitted it.

Everyone wants to be the next big hit to take down WoW so if they go that path they're going to be compared and scrutinized against something that is entrenched and has an army of people backing it. It's quite sad that one of the best games as far as MMOs go was killed off early and left for dead (by politics between NCsoft and Richard Gariott no less). Whoever thinks sending themselves into space is a good advertisement for a game should at the very least have their motives questioned.

CEOs point at a metric and say 'make it earn money like that game', developers just 'baaah' and follow suit because they just want their paycheck and their name on a product no matter what it is. Unfortunately the gaming industry is a chicken and the egg. You can't get money without a name, you can't get a name without a good title, and you can't make really hit titles without money. Either the old generation needs to die off and the internet savy need to take over or someone with really good business sense needs to step into the video game industry or things will die more so then they already are (I wonder if Google wants to start a gaming business...).

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763784)

It was just as grindy as all other games.

What the real problem in these games trying to follow World of Warcraft is that they usually take aim at the previous generation of WOW. As in, Blizzard keeps moving WOW forward. The change the mechanics, the reinvent classes at times, they even change their world completely. They haven't stood still. Yet each time I see a new WOW killer come along it is aimed at WOW from three to four years ago claiming great new features which just btw, happen to be in the current WOW or are very similar.

Throw in the one thing they all miss, WOW has two major focus points. It has the leveling system which interests many people with thousands of quests and a lot of lore and it has the end game. The prior does not inhibit you from getting to the later by any appreciable degree. You can blow right through the quest systems, even ignore the majority, and strictly hit top level and do the end game content. Which is where WOW shines. Their end game content is always good. Far too many up and comers have NPC BOSS mechanics that feel nothing more than just that Rat I killed twenty of but with ten times the health. It might have one new effect but for the most part its as dumb as the rats outside.

What is happening at BIOWARE/EA is that I see "we have this great IP, hence any expense is justified" mentality which usually goes hand in hand with feature creep and never finishing a system to completely but having far too many incomplete ones.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763894)

All MMOs are grinds, but some still manage to be different from WoW (like Tabula Rasa and Ryzom) and be great games on their own. They often do this by having a great (roleplay) community and/or focus on story development, the clones rarely get that they need more than just a copy of the mechanics.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764384)

Exactly. How hard can it be to evolve past "kill 10 rats"? Text based games 20 years ago had more variety in quests and adventuring.

As one perceptive WoW player said, logging on for the first time after watching the South Park 'Sword of Truth' episode: "They're all boars. Some are bigger, or look different, or have different abilities, but they're all boars."

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764462)

This is why I'm pretty much done with MMOs. I played MUDs back in the day, and have played "modern" MMOs ranging from Meridian 59 and Ultima Online all the way through WoW. The last time I logged in to an MMO was back in 2006. I'm completely, totally done with the idea of it. Yes, the sense of community is awesome, but I'd much rather just take part in multiple weekly tabletop/pen and paper games for that kind of team work. Not even The Old Republic can reignite my interest in MMOs...and I play in a Star Wars pen and paper RPG game every Saturday night :p

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764490)

As one perceptive WoW player said, logging on for the first time after watching the South Park 'Sword of Truth' episode: "They're all bores. Some are bigger, or look different, or have different abilities, but they're all bores."

FTFY

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763908)

I'm not sure how it was grindy at all. People complained about it not having enough grind and that they got to max level right away. They got rid of the grind by making it more like a FPS then a MMO, but they marketed towards the MMO crowd who wants a grind.

It was anything, but a grind. You could've seen that by reaching the first control point. The style of gameplay and the rewards for participating in the world took a back seat to the actual gameplay, which it is as it should be.

The ideology that the end has to be where all the content is was something that Blizzard fostered and something TR didn't have.

Play a few different MMOs besides WoW (WAR, EQ2, TR (was), CoH, and Aion are good places to start) then you'll have a different look on things. Each one of those titles has very unique things WoW doesn't have and it is extremely apparent after playing with them for a bit.

Stop thinking that WoW is the ultimate game that will ever be produced and look at things outside of their formula, which is coincidentally as addicting as heroine and makes you very subjective. Things can be fun without being really grindy. WoW keeps you addicted with stuff, good games keep you addicted with fun.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763950)

Sure it was a grind, but for the first time in MMO history, the grind was FUN! Grinding was like playing a round of base attack / base defend shooter. Against NPCs, ok, but still, it was a lot of fun to mow down rows after rows of enemies, trying to hold the base for as long as you possibly can. And all the while you earned XP, got "marks", got credits, found loot... not only compared to the grind of other MMOs this was heaps of fun!

Grab a few friends, choose a base in your level, take it over and defend it!

Hell, I miss that game.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763972)

I had fun grinding Shattered Galaxy but not enough fun to pay

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764076)

Yup... I spent quite a few nights doing that with friends.

That's what good gameplay can do over the carrot-on-a-stick strategy.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (2)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764016)

It was just as grindy as all other games.

You have some interesting points about how WOW has some flexibility and good end game content. But I think the above quote hits the mark. Boring grind is what IMHO kills the fun in most MMORPGs. A game that wants to be successful needs to get around that. Some possible ways to do that:

-Lots and lots of developer-generated, original quests. Problem: That approach is EXPENSIVE

-Make PVP a way of leveling, as it tends to be less boring. Problem: Will probably be exploited by all kinds of leveling services, commercial and private. Think "victim for hire".

-Make PVE more interesting. There has been some progress with giving players skill combos or allowing them to take cover, which gives more tactical options. But ultimately this approach needs better NPC AI, which is a difficult field.
Here I'd like to mention EVE Online in particular. That game already has a great variety of different weapons, ammo types and support mechanics that make for great tactical options in PVP.
But unfortunately, poor NPC AI and mission ("quest") design make these options useless for PvE. Usually the mobs come at you in a big bunch, so hampering some of them with jamming equipment does not make much of a difference. On top of that, the NPCs always use the same tactics in the same mission, so once you know the mission you just follow the script.
With smarter NPC opponents, EVE PVE could be a lot more entertaining...

-Go for MMOFPS mechanics to get rid of the old "click on enemy, lauch attack, wait what happens". Problem: Twitch combat needs a high update frequency, which increases the neccessary bandwidth (and likely server CPU power). Fortunately, both of these get cheaper year by year, and there is a slow but noticeable trend to more FPS mechanics in MMOs :-)

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764174)

You must not play WoW then. With the "new world" the 1000's of quests are gone, and now it is more like a console game where you got to go through every frickin quest in a linear fashion. PvP sucks except for the XP-off 19s and 29s, and unless you are a tank or a healer, expect minimum 40 minute+ wait times for a random dungeon to pop. Someone needs to come out with a fantasy MMORPG that does PvE, PvP, solo play and crafting pretty well. Note not great, not excellent, but pretty well. How frickin hard is it to do that? How difficult is it to get away from the stat inflation and gear-dependency? Is programing in and balancing skills and talents that difficult? Look at D&D (P&P version). They have almost 30 years of experience balancing PvE and PvP. Steal their talents, skills and abilities, file the serial numbers off them, reskin and rename them and there you go.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764302)

The problem with mimicking P&P RPGs (and why I only play them, and not CRPGS) is that they have a genuine human being behind them dynamically telling a story, varying the difficulty, assigning rewards and generally making the game fun. Until computer game companies produce an AI as good as a human being at social interaction and storytelling (don't hold your breath), a pen-and-paper RPG will always be a 'better balanced' experience.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

crashumbc (1221174) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764364)

Yeah, I've been pretty disappointed in Cata. The revamped and new areas are EXTREMELY linear in quest design. The biggest annoyance for me though is every class as become console game in its control style. Its like playing Mortal Kombat or something, If I wanted a console style fighting game I play one. For people that like playing a lot of different characters it makes it impossible to play them respectably without spending insane amounts of time practicing your rotations.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Ben4jammin (1233084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764392)

While I mostly agree with what you say about WOW, I think there is more to it. I've only played WOW for nearly a year, so I don't have the experience of the "old school" players but I have been around long enough to notice a couple of trends. Firstly, I think WOW has been smart to put emphasis on the social aspect...as in guilds and guild achievements. This allows you to have advantages that you simply won't have going it alone. That means you now have an emotional investment in people, not just the game. And if you work with those guildmates you can form effective teams that allows you to get through stuff that is painful to try with just PUGs.
Also, while the quests may not be like they were before, you still have other avenues to advance, such as the dungeons. And while initially the wait times (if you were DPS) were long, it is getting better as more tanks/heals get familiar with the new dungeons. New dungeons that require WAY more tactical sense than the LK ones IMHO.

I don't think they will get away from the stats and gear dependency simply because that is part of what keeps people coming back and playing more. Get geared for dungeons, get geared for heriocs, get geared for PvP, etc. One of the things that initially drew me to WOW was the fact that my success was not based solely on how fast I could click but based on stats/gear and how well I worked within the group. I guess what I am trying to say is that they are stat/gear dependent by choice, not just design.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34764442)

What version of D&D is balanced at all? 3.5e isn’t. 2e wasn’t. 4e maybe but only cause they update mechanics all the time. You clearly don't play at a high level in any edition of the game if you think D&D is balance for PVP or even PvE out of box. Do you even understand how much work a GM puts into just picking monsters that are good challenges for a party? And that assumes combat is even the focus of the game and the DM just isn’t fudging everything.

Also there is a D&D MMO and it is mediocre.

Re:Tabula Rasa was not really that different (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764350)

What the real problem in these games trying to follow World of Warcraft is that they usually take aim at the previous generation of WOW. As in, Blizzard keeps moving WOW forward. The change the mechanics, the reinvent classes at times, they even change their world completely. They haven't stood still. Yet each time I see a new WOW killer come along it is aimed at WOW from three to four years ago claiming great new features which just btw, happen to be in the current WOW or are very similar.

The folks at Blizzard aren't stupid. They've been making games for a while now. They're aware that other folks are out there competing against them. They want to keep their WoW players in WoW. And they aren't afraid to change WoW to keep people playing.

WoW really is not the same product that was released years ago. Core gameplay mechanics have changed dramatically over the years.

If you see some (p)review talking about how GAME X has this awesome new feature that's absolutely wonderful and enjoyable and GAME X might just unseat WoW this time... You can rest assured that Blizzard will somehow incorporate that awesome new feature into WoW by the time GAME X launches.

You've got it backwards (1)

SoTerrified (660807) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764376)

Yet each time I see a new WOW killer come along it is aimed at WOW from three to four years ago claiming great new features which just btw, happen to be in the current WOW or are very similar.

You have it backwards. A new game comes along, and says "Hey, we'll beat WoW because of these features." Then the WoW team looks at what they are promising, and figures out what's good about it. Then the WoW development cycle is tight enough that they will have those features in WoW by the time the contender hits the market, making the contender look dated.

Then guys like you say "Oh, look, that new MMO has the same features that are in the current WoW, so why would I change games?"

Re:Tabula Rasa (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763944)

TR suffered from a number of problems. Actually, it should go into textbooks as an example what you can possibly do WRONG in an MMO.

Lessons to learn from TR:

1. When you have a famous developer, do something he is known for.
Lord British is known for Ultima. For NOTHING else. When someone hears Garriot/British, he expects fantasy. Likewise, taking Sid Meyer and having him make a shooter will not attract an audience. People have some expectations when they hear a name.

2. Choose your guns and stick with 'em.
TR went from a fantasy game to a sci-fi game, then halfway back. Every time you're wasting code, artwork and time, and every time you're losing followers. Take a few looks at TR previews at the 2004 E3 (youtube will aid you) and you'll see a game that had NOTHING to do with the final product.

3. Release a game when it's done.
As a result of 2, the beancounters will shove it out the door long, long before it's done. TR was finished and ready for release JUST when they shut it down. Anything before was a beta. Half finished quests, broken balance and zero content are not what keeps people playing.

4. Make sure the classes deliver what their package promises.
It should go without say, but TR proved it doesn't. The medic was originally the ultimate killer while his healing abilities were at best useless. The sniper was a great close range fighter while his sniping gun sucked. For pretty much every class you could be sure that their "signature ability" or weapon stunk, but using one of the weapons or abilities that allegedly only lend themselves to leveling 'til you get that "signature" stuff was partly SO overpowered that it was simply not funny anymore, due to the combination with various skills. And due to the class specialization trees, it often meant that 2 classes played identically, because what set them apart was equally useless.

But it can all be rolled up into one single problem that killed TR: DO NOT release a game before it is done. You might try to cut your loss, but in the end, you're throwing away the game. TR had the potential to be good. Not great, certainly no WoW killer, but it was fun enough to attack and defend those bases to keep people playing and paying, even without any sensible content around it.

What broke its back and drove people away was that it was in a state of a very early beta at release (hell, they redesigned half the skills of the classes 4-6 months after release, and I don't mean "tweak", I mean "whole new skills") and that Garriot and NC fell apart, not to mention that NC wanted to promote their new love child Aion and drive the remaining TR players there.

Why, though, I should trade a base defense/sci-fi game against a WoW clone is beyond me.

Re:Tabula Rasa (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764066)

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the game wasn't meant to turn into what it did based on who made it, but rather that it's the product they ended up with after they put everything together. The trouble is they never knew what they had and they managed to kill it off right when they saw it mildly successful. It was one of the most brilliant blunders to ever happen IMO, just not to the right people

Putting that aside, I never knew Richard Gariott before I saw his name on a box for Tabula Rasa. I honestly think no one knows him, like most game designers, and the only notable name in the gaming industry that my friends can actually recognize IS Sid Meier. If you start talking studios that's a bit different (Blizzard, Treyarch, Bioware, Infinityward).

Sticking to things had little to nothing to do with the final product. They ended up with something good, they didn't take it and run with it, instead they started catering to the crowd they thought they could get the most money from (which is what most MMOs do). The last update was focused mainly on end game and PvP which was something the people they would attract with their game dont care about. Like I said, they didn't know what they had.

Yeah, TR died too early, it was the sad result of big wig politics and a development team that didn't know what to do with what they had. Putting that aside, I quite enjoyed the gameplay and quests wasn't why you played TR. There was nothing quite like playing with friends and holding a CP against odds. The last stand genere is something game designers don't fully understand and are barely starting to grasp (Firefall is something to look forward to IMO though).

I'm not entirely sure when or where you played, but snipers could pretty much one shot anything and spies raped everything in close combat, especially with motor assist armor (think literal ninja). Good games don't need to have mirror balance. A lot of people seem to think X class should be perfectly equal to Y class in almost all regards, that doesn't necessarily be a case. I was reading the comments on a TF2 article the other day and people were talking about how the game has absolutely no balance; I would argue it has very good balance, just most people don't understand it.

Points aside, Minecraft was released in alpha and it's doing pretty darn good. I think a lot of people (once again) have preconceived notions that a product will always remain the same. People pay $15 a month for continued development of a product and if they don't like that, then they can cancel. Though, I believe the expectations were to hit the ground running and catch up with WoW (at least perceived by their investors).

I honestly never played beta and my experiences are from the retail game. I found it quite a bit of fun. I'm not sure what experiences you had in the beta and how it drove you away, but the pull factor that made me play it a lot was still intact when I started playing it. IMO companies should be able to redesign classes completely if they want to (without changing the name of the class), you're paying for them to keep the game fresh. It just seems like another preconceived notion of what a game SHOULD and SHOULDN'T do.

I do believe TR could've been amazing in a completely revolutionary fashion, the development team wasn't in the right mindset and the investors got cold feet. Keep in mind TR was and still is the only survival MMO...

Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (5, Insightful)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763704)

Could you imagine a universe, where successive Pacman clones are more expensive, so the last one will cost 150 million dollars?
Thats the MMORPG business for you. Cloning a formula that seems to work, in a very expensive way, for a public that is progressively more bored of the formula.

What make that hurt here even more, is that we don't want BioWare to die. Did a lot of great games, and we are really pleased of his work. These people really got talent and the exact formula of RPG fun.

To be honest, we don't know at this point if the game will be a success or not.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (-1, Troll)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763786)

Sjezus Christ, are you a lawyer mate? Or do you enjoy writing comments that in the end say nothing?

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (-1)

HBI (604924) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763788)

To be honest, we don't know at this point if the game will be a success or not.

Of course we do. You answered your own question. MMORPGs are dying. I don't even bother testing them anymore - I know I won't be playing.

It'll require a paradigm shift to make the genre interesting again - a no grind shift, for one. I'm interested to see what kind of stuff the studios that survive will come up with to replace canned MMO after canned MMO.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (2)

SCPRedMage (838040) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763822)

Oh, please. Before you jump to conclusions based solely on your own gaming preferences, why don't you do some actual research before you declare that an entire genre is "dying".

You know, like asking Netcraft?

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763862)

Amazing how they're dying while still experiencing growth [bigdownload.com] , huh? We must have a different definition of "dying".

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764270)

"Dying" seems to be the new word for "very few people I know do/have/play it, and I'm not interested in it, so it doesn't matter!". Essentially a new way of stroking one's ego.

Examples: Nokia and symbian. MMOs and WoW. Laptops and desktops. Etc.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763988)

The grind is not the problem. That it is boring and offers no immediate goal is.

Take the average FPS game. Take and Battlefield, any CoD, any MoH, and tell me that playing map after map ain't "grinding". You're doing the same stuff over and over, in the same spots over and over, and still, you do it. Why? Because it's fun!

There's no "new content" or "new quests" in those games, is there? You eventually get better guns or unlock additional options, grenades, whatever, you gain ranks, so there is some "leveling" aspect to it, too (just before someone complains about "an entirely different genre"). What matters is that playing has to be fun!

And that's quite possible. Create short term goals, like taking over a fort and holding it for a while against attacking NPC armies (yes, I'm referring to TR again, a game that made the grind actually fun). Diablo is a huge grind too, yet people like to play through it over and over because they enjoy the sight of whole armies of enemies falling before them.

Simply take a look at other genres and find out how to incorporate them into your MMO! There are games that people play without dangling carrots in front of them. Just because they like playing them, even though they're the same every single time they play. Find out what it is that makes these games fun and imitate it!

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (2)

MareLooke (1003332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763800)

The problem I see with Bioware nowadays is that they seem to have an increasing tendency to just go where the money is over innovating or staying true to their past, they just repeat a succesful formula over and over (currently this seems to be Mass Effect). Their DLC "strategies" for Mass Effect and Dragon Age only seem to confirm this, as well as Dragon Age 2 basically turning into a Mass Effect clone.

The complex combat combined with a lot of freedom and an engrossing story and character development have always been what has drawn me to RPGs and, in fact, are what make an RPG in my opinion. However the combat systems get increasingly dumbed down to be playable on controllers, sacrifing nearly all of the tactical aspect that was still available in Dragon Age for more shooter/adventure style combat. Character development also has been diminishing steadily in favor of predefined characters, both story wise as in the ways you get to tweak your character. The games they produce now are less "real" RPGs and more adventures, which doesn't make them bad games (at all), but it leaves us, RPG fans, out in the cold, and judging from the sales of Dragon Age there's still quite some of us around.

Because of Bioware's past I had high hopes of ToR, but after playing through the Mass Effects, seeing how they handled DLCs (ripping out core content from ME2 that provides a lead in to ME3 and selling it as a DLC? Bad mojo...and don't even get me started on the crap quality of the vast majority of DAO DLCs) and are handling Dragon Age 2 it seems they only really care about $$ anymore. Also the vast press response with fear that ToR would be too "different" from other MMOs didn't help any, so they just stuck to (or got told to stick to) the tested and tried WoW formula. Except that that won't work, cloning WoW and hoping it'll be more successful than the original is doomed to fail. The only way to eat away at it's vast market share is to innovate and do things differently, their original goal of bringing the RPG back into the MMORPGs had a lot of us hoping, unfortunately it seems Bioware no longer innovates and just goes where the morons in management (or Electronic Arts?) tell it it should go.

I guess we really have to look to Obsidian if we want any innovation at all, if they only could produce a finished game for a change...

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763930)

Could you imagine a universe, where successive Pacman clones are more expensive, so the last one will cost 150 million dollars?
Thats the MMORPG business for you. Cloning a formula that seems to work, in a very expensive way, for a public that is progressively more bored of the formula.

Well, that's the real problem. Storylines were added to provide some context to the play mechanic itself. Doom2 was the last storyless shooter I enjoyed. I didn't find another shooter that sparked my interest until Half-Life and it was that addition of story that sucked me in. I'd compare it to what happened with movies -- people used to be satisfied watching kinescopes of simple activities and were amazed by a train coming out of a tunnel on the big screen. After the novelty wore off they started having to supply storylines to give those moving pictures meaning. The exception to that rule, of course, are the casual games, the ones that are basically where coin-op arcade games were at in the early 80's. Something like Angry Birds has as rudimentary a storyline as Donkey Kong but the play mechanics keep people coming back. But something huge and complex like an RPG, it had better have a good storyline to provide context to everything or I'm completely bored. Dragon Age bored the snot out of me. I know I'm the minority opinion here.

The thing is, there's only so much storyline in even a poorly done single player RPG. You play, you grind, you reach the end, you move on to the next game. The insidious thing with MMORPG's is they have you play the same bits over and over and over and over. Which might be fine if those sections were fun games in and of themselves but that's just it, they're not fun. That's why people pay gold farmers so they can get new gear and go back to the fun stuff.

Honestly, I don't see where people find the time for this sort of thing. People enjoy MMORPG's, there's even successful web comedies about that sort of thing. http://www.watchtheguild.com/ [watchtheguild.com] But I'll tell you what, it's depressing. I just find it like watching a show all about alcoholics drinking themselves to death. There are really people who live like this.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763984)

People enjoy MMORPG's, there's even successful web comedies about that sort of thing. http://www.watchtheguild.com/ [watchtheguild.com] But I'll tell you what, it's depressing. I just find it like watching a show all about alcoholics drinking themselves to death. There are really people who live like this.

That's how I feel about all sitcoms. It really struck me when I was living in a geek house near downtown Santa Cruz that threw massive wild parties that I realized that I was more interesting than the dipshits on TV. Cured me to the point where if I had to be in a certain place at a certain time to see a TV show I could give it a miss. Now I'm a rental viewer. I just barely have the bandwidth for streaming so I only use netflix on PC (it has the biggest buffer of all options save youtube, which has time limits even when someone has uploaded what I want to watch.)

Sure, lots of people on TV have more money than I do, but I can probably count on one hand the number of sitcom characters that seem like someone I'd want to hang out with.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764072)

Well, it's even worse, since the only high score table that matters is the World Of Pacman one, that all your friends play.

If Old Republic actually launches as free to download, free to play, then it stands an outside chance of getting the required numbers. Making a profit will have to be step 3. If they try launch as a $50 box with a $15 subscription fee, well, at least it'll save them the expense of buying many servers.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764210)

Could you imagine a universe, where successive Pacman clones are more expensive, so the last one will cost 150 million dollars? Thats the MMORPG business for you. Cloning a formula that seems to work, in a very expensive way, for a public that is progressively more bored of the formula.

And just like the real cloning business, for every one successful Dolly there are dozens of genetic failures that die of internal organ failure within a few weeks.

Re:Realtime Trainwreck Analysis (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764242)

Cloning a formula that seems to work, in a very expensive way, for a public that is progressively more bored of the formula.

I've never been a big fan of RPG mechanics. Sure they're addictive, but I think it just creates a very elitist atmosphere where the "best" players are actually just the ones with the most free time to waste rather than the most skillful.

I think MMOs are a great idea though. We need more MMOs in other genres than simply RPGs. Imagine GTA with hundreds of players per map, divided into gangs. I would have started playing Eve if I hadn't found out about it having a levelling up system. Having to collect money, that's fine. Having to level up AI team-mates or whatever? Fine. But having to waste time pretending to improve the skill level of a character that you directly control? What's the point in that?

Are those pictures photoshopped WoW screenshots? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763736)

For the first screenshot in each article, I had difficulty telling if someone hadn't just photoshopped a Jedi + lightsabre onto an actionless WoW screencapture.

Contrary to my previous position, I now think that WoW clones are a really good idea. Producers, please, if you have no insight or creativity, please attempt a WoW clone, bankrupt yourself, and get the hell out of the industry.

This could have been predicted years ago... (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763742)

...by reading Damian Schubert's blog and his posts on the mud dev2 mailing list.

He is the lead designer for the combat systems on that MMO and his views are straight up conventional.

Try a Guild Wars 2 approach (5, Interesting)

Feinu (1956378) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763746)

I think after six years it's safe to say that trying to beat WoW at its own game is futile. If you want to surpass WoW as the world's leading MMO, you can't just copy their model.

The approach that ArenaNet appears to be taking with Guild Wars 2 is more sensible. They've thrown out many things which could be considered as fundamental in an MMO, but are actually limiting or frustrating. This includes things like grinding, quests that have no impact, text based plot and more subtle concepts such as the DPS/tank/heal arrangement.

If any game is capable of surpassing WoW, my money would be on GW2.

Re:Try a Guild Wars 2 approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763790)

Being corporations, they are afraid failing by trying something new and untested, so they go the "safe" route, which is copying a formula that has proven to work.
What they don't realize is that they are already dead, because of playing "safe" in a world where people are already bored of the seeing the same formulaic gameplay.

Re:Try a Guild Wars 2 approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763868)

Except that Guild Wars already was a success.

Re:Try a Guild Wars 2 approach (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764316)

And Guild Wars 2 is abandoning many of the things that made the original so unique among MMOs.

mmo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763760)

>worryingly conventional — even generic
It's an MMORPG. What the hell were they expecting?

Its not late. its EA and its shareholders. (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763764)

no surprise, a megacorp doesnt want to risk even a dime in new concepts or originality. rehash, serve. make how much you can make. this is what happens when big companies with stockholders get innovative small outfits like bioware in their grip.

Re:Its not late. its EA and its shareholders. (1)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763834)

this is what happens when big companies with stockholders get innovative small outfits like bioware in their grip.

EA Exec: "You have failed me"
*throws Bioware's lifeless husk against the bulkhead*

Mike Nelson (1)

aliddell (1716018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763768)

I wonder if the bots had anything to contribute to his review.

Re:Mike Nelson (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763880)

If you're wondering if he writes reviews
Or other science facts (la la la)
Just repeat to yourself, "It's just Slashdot
I should really just relax"

Article is clickbait (2)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763770)

The article basically says that despite all the advancements for the genre, the starting area quests feel like more of the same from previous MMOs. That's not a minus so much as a "not so big of a plus".
Personally I'm waiting to see what they do with the endgame, Bioware promised something secret and revolutionary years before it was revealed to be a Star Wars MMO. WoW's endgame (raiding) was designed by the leader of the lead hardcore raiding guild from Everquest, so MMO endgames have failed to evolve for the past 10 years.

Re:Article is clickbait (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764160)

There are only 2 realistic end games for the majority in my opinion, linedancing practice (raiding) and player made faction world building and warfare (Eve, Darkfall). The chance of the second happening are just about 0.

For a select group skill based PvP (Guildwars, WoW arena) is a viable end game ... but that's not for the masses IMO.

Or are they too soon...? (4, Interesting)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763772)

Isn't it true that the WoW hype was at it's pinnacle back in 2006 - 2007 or so? Sure, an expansion pack has been released recently, but it appears to be lacking the whole hype. In fact, where I live, Blizzard seems to be promoting the expansion pack pretty aggressively, something I have never seen them do before. Is this necessary because WoW's days are counted? Blizzard themselves are shifting focus to Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3, WoW is losing it's momentum, hype is fading away. I'm sure that still a lot of people play it, but from here on out, I think the only way for WoW is down. Maybe in due time, some other game will step up and be the next WoW, simply because WoW is too old and too 'been there-done that' so there's no competition from WoW anymore.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (2)

Exitar (809068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763806)

Well, it reached 12 million of players in October and the last expansion, Cataclysm, sold 3.3 million of copies in the first 24 four hours (the previous expansion sold "only" 2.8 million the first day).
Not exactly what I'd define a dying game.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763820)

Actually I started playing WoW again with Cataclysm and the game is even more packed than I remember it during Burning Crusade days.

WoW has done exactly what the article claims Star Wars should have done - the redone starting areas for Gnomes, Worgen and Goblins are really epic. The introduction of the "phasing" mechanic has allowed it to appear like individual players have an actual effect on the game world. Quest hub, flight path re-jigging and one-off transport from quests has eliminated a lot of the boring travel time. The redesign of skill acquisition and talent points has removed the "same spell, but better" syndrome experienced between 40 and the level cap.

WoW isn't a static target; it's a different game than it was back in 2006. They even had an (admittedly fairly minor) graphics engine update - although it's graphics are still probably the most anachronistic part of it. That, though, is part of its charm too - my wife can run it fine on her fairly old, generic computer.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (1)

Corbets (169101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763856)

The introduction of the "phasing" mechanic has allowed it to appear like individual players have an actual effect on the game world.

Do you like that? I find it quite annoying, because it's transparent that I'm not actually having an effect, and that other users aren't seeing what I'm seeing.

I still think that Horizons, for all its faults, had the best mechanic I've ever seen for a player-impacted world/environment.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (2)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764106)

I think that the intended way to play WoW now is as a single-player game while leveling, with multiplayer breaks for the occasional dungeon run, then full multiplayer at the end game. If you play like that then phasing is great, since whether other people see what you see while you're leveling is immaterial - you're in single player mode anyway - and at end-game you all do see the same thing since you've all completed the same quest lines.

Horizons had some great ideas buried in a mess of a game. I paid the subscription to that game for a good year after I stopped playing, in hopes that it would find itself, but it never did. I think that is the kind of thing required for a real "WoW-killer," though; it won't be "WoW done better," it'll be something that runs against some Blizzard conventional wisdom altogether; the elimination of grinding, an end-game that isn't about raiding, or a truly dynamic world. Some sort of procedural generation would seem to be a requirement, too; to me, the greatest flaw in WoW's design is the requirement for daily quests.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (1)

snehoej (1162671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764000)

While it's true that the WoW hype is fading, the inertia of 10 million subscribers will drag out this process for a few years which is just in time for Blizzards new MMO codenamed Titan. Titan will be a massive success and Blizzard will remain on the MMO throne for years to come. That's my guess at least.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764218)

In fact, where I live, Blizzard seems to be promoting the expansion pack pretty aggressively, something I have never seen them do before.

There's generally a fairly substantial gap between WoW expansions. So it's entirely possible you've just forgotten the marketing blitz that surrounded previous expansions.

Maybe there's more advertising for this one... Maybe there's less... I have no idea how much they spent on advertising.

But I remember seeing plenty of advertising for Lich King and Burning Crusade.

One of the reasons Cataclysm is getting so much press is that there's a hell of a lot more going on than just the expansion. Blizzard completely re-built the 1-60 experience. And everyone who plays WoW gets that update even if they don't buy the Cataclysm expansion. They've basically handed every WoW player a free expansion, in addition to the new paid expansion that's currently available.

Re:Or are they too soon...? (1)

zerorez02301 (1653405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764334)

I keep leaving wow to do RL things (Enjoy summer, had our first child, studied for certs, etc) and each time I come back. But the interesting thing is that each time I come back wow has a little less hold on me. I can play it and enjoy myself and even participate in the grind, but I can also ignore it for a week or two and be happy doing other things. Wow is a skinner box, we all know this, it uses many psychological tools to keep us playing, but as people break those habits the skinner boxes have less control, and I think all MMO's who employ Skinner boxes and psychological tricks will have a hard time hooking players like wow did when the technique was new. I will buy the new Star Wars mmo, but like every other mmo I have ever played it will probably be played intensely for a few days or weeks and then shelved. At the end of the day nobody polishes their products like Blizzard, and that alone is the reason wow will continue for a very long time.

"Too late" (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763798)

Why do so many people think that every new entrant into the market has to take down the top dog?

The SWTOR MMO only needs to make money. It doesn't need to beat anyone. This obsession with beating the 'best' is unhealthy and does not drive development well.

I seriously doubt that WoW devs had the thought 'We need to beat Everquest' running through their heads. Instead, they were thinking 'We need to make a great game'. Beating Everquest came as a by-product of the real goal.

Re:"Too late" (1)

Zenin (266666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763916)

"I seriously doubt that WoW devs had the thought 'We need to beat Everquest' running through their heads."

Of course they did. Just as Everquest had 'We need to beat Ultima Online' running through their heads.

The only other way is to take the MMO into a radically different direction, such as Sony's PlanetSide (FPS MMO) or NetDevil's Jumpgate (FPS space flight sim MMO). What, never heard of either? Yah...exactly... The point is, BioWare is going to have to do a hell of a lot more then simply rename "Rusty Broadsword" to "Rusty Lightsaber".

Network effects and economies of scale... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763808)

I really don't understand why these sorts of mistakes keep getting made.

From the perspective of game designers, Blizzard clearly has several advantages that will be difficult to overcome: 1. Already having had years to iterate and refine their game and engine. 2. A large paying audience, which means that the costs of implementing content X or upgrade Y are, per subscriber, tiny. Any game designer who thinks that those can be overcome by any means except doing something quite different(EVE: online, which went for a totally different player base, or any of the random browser-based grind games which go for being radically less expensive to produce and to play) is suffering from some serious hubris.

From the perspective of the management types, Blizzard clearly has several advantages that will be difficult to overcome: 1. Network effects: because so many people play WoW, if your friends play any MMORPG, that is probably the one. Barring specific hatred of some aspect of WoW, you will default to playing the one that your friends are playing. 2. Substantial costs already amortized: They have a (more or less) fully functional engine, stuffed full of art assets and flavortext and whatnot, all paid off. Any new player that they can attract is, other than some slight server and bandwidth load, basically free until they have ground through a fairly large chunk of gameworld. Any competitor is starting from a far weaker position, attempting to get their engine and flavor to playable levels on borrowed or advanced money. 3. Large player base over which to divide fixed costs: Games, like movies, are heavy on fixed costs. The engine costs the same even if noone ever uses it. That dialog tree costs the same even if noone ever reads it. The more subscribers you have, the lower your fixed costs per subscriber(or, alternately, the higher your quality for the same fixed cost per subscriber as your inferior competitors).

That's what I don't understand: All but the most delusionally hubristic game-design guys should easily realize that any 'me-too' attempt is going to go badly. They are probably inclined to be a bit optimistic about how original their work really is; but they should know that 'me-too' is suicide. At the same time, even the management types who know absolutely nothing about games should, purely with basic EC101 type considerations, be able to see that this is not a market where there is much room for imitative product. Blizzard hardly has a monopoly on "games"; but the idea that the market will support multiple "clearly WoW-like games" is hard to support.

Given that even outrageously hubristic game designers tend to depend on suits for money(at least until the game is ready to sell) and that even the dullest suits need a bunch of game designers willing to take the risk of having a real fuckup on their CV, I don't understand how these projects get off the ground. In almost any case, I would expect one party or the other to (sensibly) get cold feet quite early, if they even get the idea at all.

Re:Network effects and economies of scale... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764234)

even the dullest suits need a bunch of game designers willing to take the risk of having a real fuckup on their CV

Cash in hand right now is always more important than potential future fuckup on CV, ancient Chinese proverb say.

Re:Network effects and economies of scale... (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764520)

"At the same time, even the management types who know absolutely nothing about games should, purely with basic EC101 type considerations, be able to see that this is not a market where there is much room for imitative product."

This is like Kant arguing that it's impossible to commit suicide, because if the self cares enough to feel pain, then it cares too much to end itself.

Epic-sized greed and wishful thinking are not wiped out by EC101. In fact, I would dare say that they are exacerbated by it.

WOW makes, what, $2.5 billion in subscriptions annually? And recall Pascal's Wager [wikipedia.org] which convinces some people for a belief in God. "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing."

Pro tip: don't try to beat World of Warcraft (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763814)

Why is WoW still succesful? That is something worth pondering for the other MMO producers who want to be the next Blizzard. They do not have to beat WoW on the level of graphics or gameplay: WoW is already beaten there, by several other games. And they're still nr. 1. Because of one word: momentum.

Everybody plays WoW because everybody else plays WoW. They got to where they are by being the best but they no longer have to be, social momentum has taken over. All WoW players I know got bored with the game, they took a break, tried one or several other MMO's, got bored with those too, and gravitated back to WoW because at least that had plenty of players and most of their friends in it. The way to beat WoW is to create an MMO that does way better at the social aspect of MMOs, and provides enough staying power for the first two years to retain players and help those players to convince their friends to hop over too. At this time, I don't think this is possible. Don't try to beat WoW, for the same reasons it is foolish to try and beat Facebook at this time.

If I had to guess how WoW was going to be beaten, my money would be on slow attrition caused by light, browser based MMO's on a popular social network like Facebook. And guessing at which MMO producer is going to survive, my money is on a company that figures out how to produce, operate, support and expand an MMO on the cheap, so it can serve a niche market of 100k-500k players and still be profitable. This you can do by figuring out your niche, rather than trying to clone WoW. Two examples of good, viable games are Star Wars Galaxies and Age of Conan. They did a lot of things right in terms of gameplay, lots of things other companies can learn from. There's mistakes to be learned from as well: SWG lost most of their players after a big and hugely impopular change in game mechanics. AoC lost a lot of players following a buggy launch and a subsequent patch that made matters far worse. A shame, because both games have a lot of potential as profitable niche players.

Re:Pro tip: don't try to beat World of Warcraft (2)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764266)

Why is WoW still succesful? That is something worth pondering for the other MMO producers who want to be the next Blizzard. They do not have to beat WoW on the level of graphics or gameplay: WoW is already beaten there, by several other games. And they're still nr. 1. Because of one word: momentum.

I've got to disagree on this.

I don't play WoW because everybody else plays it... The only other person I'm concerned about is my wife, and the two of us have jumped from one game to another over the years. Played EQ together, DAoC, CoH, LotR:O, and WoW.

The reason we keep coming back to WoW is that the game keeps evolving. The game, very literally, is not the same thing that Blizzard released years ago. And I'm not even talking about the expansions.

Core game mechanics have changed over the years. Classes have evolved and changed. New zones have been introduced. New dungeons have become available. Talents have been tweaked and re-arranged dozens of times. Both factions have access to all the classes now. All sorts of new race/class combinations. All sorts of holidays and special events. And any mod that becomes a "must have" soon finds its functionality incorporated into WoW itself. And, again, I'm not even talking about the official expansions. Nor even the free rebuild that the 1-60 stuff saw with the release of Cataclysm.

When we get tired of playing WoW we can go do something else for a few months. And when we come back there'll be something new to interest us. A new dungeon, or a new zone, or some new quests, or enough changes to a class to make it feel new again, or whatever.

We've played plenty of other MMOGs over the years. And they haven't proved to be nearly as dynamic as WoW is. We'd get bored with them, go do something else for a while, come back... And find exactly the same game we'd gotten bored with. After a while, even if you've got other friends playing that game, you just stop coming back.

ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34763816)

does no one remember star wars galaxies..? it came out one year before WoW...

Re:ummm (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763874)

Heck, I remember Star Wars - Rebellion [wikipedia.org] .

Re:ummm (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764002)

Oh god, I remember that. I must have had a much higher tolerance for really bad games back then. Either that, or a much stronger affection for the Star Wars brand. I actually struggled through both Empire and Rebellion campaigns (with the latter being hideously, crushingly difficult).

They could have made a reasonable enough game out of the overworld turn-based stuff, with a small amount of simplification (indeed, Empire at War did just that, about a decade later, and was a reasonable enough game). But the real-time battle sequences? Those were so bad that it defied belief. They tried to do the whole fully 3d battlespace thing in the days before Homeworld - and they did it much worse than the Homeworld implementation. Battles were completely uncontrollable; with anything more than a couple of corvettes involved, you just had to click autoresolve and hope for the best.

That was about the same time as Force Commander, wasn't it? I wonder which of the two was worse?

Re:ummm (1)

Uthic (931553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764164)

How were they uncontrollable ? Right click to attack a target, you could create custom groups, and they had the 'mission' mechanic to automate a lot. Very nice depth to the strategy element of the game. I really enjoyed Rebellion, was great fun in MP - although took too long

Star Wars Galaxies anyone? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763860)

What happened to Star Wars Galaxies? Wasn't that supposed to be the best Star Wars MMORPG?
Never mind Jedi, you can be Boba-Fett or Han Solo type of character if you want to. If they just put a bit more effort into marketing and design, it could be a LOT better I think...
http://starwarsgalaxies.station.sony.com/en_US/players/guides.vm?id=70000 [sony.com]

Re:Star Wars Galaxies anyone? (1)

Tukz (664339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763898)

Sony fucked that up when they took over.

Re:Star Wars Galaxies anyone? (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764062)

Sony didn't take it over, they were always in charge of SWG from the start. But in 2005 they got a bad case of WoW-envy and decided that ~200,000 subs wasn't enough, since Blizzard had over a million by that point. So they completely redesigned the whole game in a misguided attempt to turn it more WoW-like and simplistic. This change was thrust on the entire player base without any warning whatsoever. Literally, you logged in the next day and it was no longer the game you were playing the night before, and all your hard work was rendered worthless.

They shed at least 75% of their subs within months, and somehow still limp along to this day with a few thousand die-hards who won't leave. It was a real-life example of the fable of the dog carrying a bone and seeing his own reflection in the water.

Re:Star Wars Galaxies anyone? (1)

myster0n (216276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764102)

Well, that's Sony for you : "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

IAmAMacOSXAddict (718470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763864)

I've been watching this game develop since the announce, and I'm looking forward to it. As far as this article author's opinion, thanks, but I'll make my own opinion. As for as the grind of "Running around killing a set number of 'Flesh Raiders' in a relatively quiet village doesn't seem particularly epic, but that's the route BioWare Austin seems to be taking with the opening areas for the Jedi" I'm sorry, the 20 other people that had access to the game did not percieve the questing in the same way. and for that matter, WoW and every other MMO is nothing but a grind fest from minute one, so your point is?

Bioware (and no I'm not a "fanboy") has been doing nothing but inovate with SWTORO. There to date has been no game or MMO that has gone the route of Fully voiced. There has been no MMO to date that has fully different storylines for each of it's character classes. Yes there will like EVERY OTHER MMO be a grind on some quests, but at least in TORO there is story behind the grind if this author bothered to read, Oops I mean Listen to the quest giver rather than escapeing through the audio...

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763938)

There are alot of games that are fully voiced. From Dead Rising 2, don't even think it has an option for just text, to Fallout New Vegas just to mention the games I am currently playing.
EQ2 and LOTRO both had storylines for each character class mainly used a tutorial after all you do want interaction between the classes so after a few level there is no reason to have totally seperate quests that made it harder to get people to group together.
Also all MMORPG have a story behind all the grinding, "Go kill the 20 rats that are living in my cellar." it does not make much different if that is the story for the quest vs a 2 min spoken speech that you have to listen to each time; based on past bioware games I would guess you can see the text and quick click once you get sick of the spoken text.

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

IAmAMacOSXAddict (718470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764018)

Fully Voiced comment: Yes I should have limited it to MMO. No other MMO in History is fully voiced.. Fallout(series)and DR2 are solo games.

EQ2 and LotRO, yes story lines, however, they are short and scattered through your questing. WoW even has class quests. However for TORO we are not talking about a tutorial, your entire storyline is different for each class, from begining to end. Yes there are shared quests, as there are planet quests, etc, but the story you get is different that the one a different class may have. though the quest end result may be shared.

Example, I'm on a class quest and talking to an NPC, I do all the interaction, the others get nothing. but if they are partied with they can help me torwards my goal, and if they also have something to do with the same I'll be helping them even if not on the same actuall quest.

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764130)

"Fully voiced" is not innovation, it's simply having a larger voice acting budget. It's also going to cause a lot problems later. MMOs live on new content. Story driven ones are even more dependent on new content, because story dries up faster then running raids for loot. Voice acting everything is going to create the expectation that new content also be voice acted, which dramatically increases the cost of creating new content.

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

owen_b2 (660177) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764196)

WoW and every other MMO is nothing but a grind fest from minute one, so your point is?

Wow isnt any more though, and thats the point, Blizzard keep raising the bar. WoW a few years ago yes, grind-fest, but if you play the recent expansion its clear they've put a *lot* of effort into reducing the grind from the off.

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34764252)

But you are a fanboi. Everything from your handle to your sig screams "Look at me! I'm the pinnacle of geekdom because of the technology I surround myself with!" You're desperate to make everyone believe this image that you have made of yourself to the point that you have to wave your banner so high that people never see you for a person but rather a collection of things. It sounds like you're a sad lonely little person.

Re:Have any of you read any other articles? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764388)

I wouldn't even agree that TOR is a grind fest. The quests are (for the most part) fun and engaging, so that you don't feel like "Oh, I have to go kill 10 bears", but you want to advance the story... just like an RPG should be.

Now with actual lawn mowing and laundry! (2)

Cyran0 (628243) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763932)

What's baffling to me is that they've chosen to use one of the most tedious aspects of WoW. People enjoy WoW *in spite of* the grinding, not because of it. What's next, the Karate Kid "Wax on... wax off" emulator?

Re:Now with actual lawn mowing and laundry! (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764412)

People enjoy WoW *in spite of* the grinding, not because of it

Anecdote Warning: I used to believe that, but I have a bunch of friends who play WoW (I'm a GW-turned-Conan player myself) and all they do is bitch about how the grind was cut down.

First few dozen times I heard it, it made my brain hurt.

Depends how you define success (2)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763974)

Whether it's too late for the game to be successful depends on how you are defining "being successful". If you are defining it as staking out a sizeable, but still sub-WoW-sized share of the MMO market, perhaps even becoming the second-place runner, while bringing a number of players new to the genre, then Old Republic still has every chance to succeed; the key factors in whether it does so will be whether it is a good game and whether they have the infrastructure in place to manage it properly.

If, however you define success as "beating World of Warcraft, taking away a large portion of its players and leaving it languishing in the dust" then the timing is indeed wrong. Or at least, the window of opportunity is closing fast and, once closed in a month or so, will not open again for another 18 months to 2 years.

WoW's great strength is also its great weakness - and is the only plausible route to defeating it before Blizzard retire it in favour of a successor. The strength is WoW's cyclical nature. Expansions come out roughly every 2 years and completely reset the game more the vast majority of players. Gear becomes obsolete, old dungeons are retired, some aspects of the game change on a fundamental level. This keeps things fresh for players and, combined with the periodic roll-out of further content via free patches, provides an incentive to continue playing. And if everybody you know is continuing to play, then you yourself feel compelled to continue (even if you aren't enjoying the game much any more). This was WoW's great strength; it achieved a certain kind of watercooler-momentum, that saw people draw into the game by their real life friends and family. You're not going to break that easily.

But every two years or so, there is a window where, I think, WoW's aura of invincibility is briefly dispelled. The final month of one expansion and the first month of a new one is, in many ways, a fairly grim time to play WoW. Before the new expansion hits, you will be bored to death of all of the current content, and many in-game activities will feel pointless because all of the rewards will be obsolete soon anyway. For the first month or two of the new expansion, there isn't all that much content to be working on and a lot of the hardcore players are cheesed off at having to start over from scratch again.

So if another developer, with a relatively polished release product, a rudimentary end-game already present, an interface as good as or better than WoW's and, preferably, a decent existing IP to base the game world on could launch in that window, then the might - just might - have a shot at derrailing the WoW juggernaut and triggering the kind of mass-defection that would cut WoW's player-base by a half or more. However, the window that the launch of Cataclysm created is rapidly closing, and it looks like Old Republic has missed it. So if you are defining success as "WoW beater", then yes, I suspect it is already too late for Old Republic to succeed.

It's not the engine and bling. (4, Interesting)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763978)

It's the story, stupid. When WoW came out, the majority of MMOs were horrible at telling stories. For example:

Star Wars: Galaxies - there were what, 2, 3 possible "raids"? There were theme parks where you ran a bunch of random quests that kind of told a story, but at the end of it, nothing changed, nothing was unlocked, nothing was different for your character to do, and your rewards were pitiful for doing it. The "missions" in the game were literally, run up to a machine, it says "Hey, (some random SW type person) wants you to go and kill a bunch of animals! Do that!" and you ran out to kill a bunch of animals. The only interesting thing about that game was the rather amazing player based economy, but SOE completely wrecked that when they changed the underlying mechanics of the game.

City of Heroes - this game actually had some really interesting things going on, in that you had storylines to do (though they were grindy as hell and *incredibly* repetitive through *incredibly* repetitive environments, and were *incredibly* stupid for superheroes to be doing). But the whole "repetitive" thing and the whole "dumb for superheroes" thing made it wretched - why, for example, would Spider-Man be asked by (some random person) to deliver something halfway across town? The game mechanics were fun (and the base game still can be from time to time) but it can't really draw the crowds in because once you've run 4-5 missions, you really have done most of what that game has to offer, from a "seeing new and interesting things" standpoint.

And then there is WoW. When it launched, the normal quests you were given lots of were the equivalent of most other MMOs *major* storylines as far as complexity. It was rough around the edges as far as player friendliness went (I remember running around for a couple of hours trying to find someone to turn a quest into - the text said "north of here" but it really meant "way on the whole other side of the world and all the way north as far as you can go") but there was a story, and you were a part of it. There were dungeons to go to - and some of them were jaw-dropping ("Holy shit, a PIRATE SHIP, in a MINE?!") even if they were annoying at times. For every little mechanical nit or bugged event or other complaint, there was stuff to do. And, even with all of the flaws at the time, it was *still* the most polished game around.

In the meantime it's only gotten more polished, and the already way more intricate quests and storyline has been added to massively. There are dozens of dungeons to go to at various points in your playing life and quite a few raids (though some of the older stuff is ignored). They've added tons of features to improve gameplay. And, with the latest expansion, even at very low levels, your character feels, despite being one of millions, *important*. And you can change the world through your actions - as you complete quests, the world around you changes to reflect that in many ways. On top of that, they've really done a good job of making the player feel like their character is important, but at the same time that they are part of something larger.

WoW doesn't have the shiniest engine - it's actually really dated, and I'm often surprised when I play newer games at just how dated it is - but that's not really important. The biggest asset WoW has (aside from a huge playerbase drawing people in) is that there's TONS of stuff to do, tons of stories to follow.

And now we have Bioware's new game and... Oh, look, quests that would have been amazing 6 years ago but WoW's from 4 years ago were better. A shiny new engine but not, seemingly, a lot to do with it. So kind of like a lot of the other games out there. I played Champions Online - and it actually had some interesting stuff going on (and seems like it's gotten more to do so I might try it again). I got Star Trek - which really was pretty interesting to play, but I quickly got bored of repeating pretty much the same 5 missions over and over when I ran out of story arcs to do.

If people want to compete with WoW in this space they need to create a world. Stop spending so much on engine design or art assets, spend instead on good writers who can create interesting, challenging missions/quests for the players to do and LOTS of them. I know it's tempting to just make a random mission generator (maybe have that, too, for when someone is burnt out on stories) but you have to have a bunch of human crafted stories that are interesting and make sense. The other thing they'll need to do is go after one of WoW's weaknesses: other than through guilds, the richness of player interactions is pretty lacking - I can only imagine a game that had WoW's huge library of quests combined with Star Wars: Galaxies' player economy mixed in with some of the mechanics from City of Heroes, and in my imagination, that game is freaking AWESOME.

Re:It's not the engine and bling. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764118)

100% agree. I tried Lord of the Rings online once it went free to play, and, bleurgh, it's just yet another "deliver this pot pie" and "exterminate ten Pointy Birds" snoozefest of mundanity. The novelty of getting "fetch me a carrot" quests from a badly voiced model with "ARAGORN" floating over it wears off rapidly, and after that, there's really nothing to distinguish it from WOW, except the price. And even giving it away, they're losing players.

If Old Republic is betting on its name being enough to provide an ongoing thrill, then they're making a huge mistake.

Re:It's not the engine and bling. (1)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764474)

The current WoW quest formula seems to be:

Main Questgiver: Go over there and do (something interesting and/or plot critical)
NPCs Nearby: Hey, while you're over there, could you (kill/collect/rescue) some of those (enemies/doodads/victims).

Which is kinda nice, since it fleshes out the main questlines and exposes you to more enemies/environments.

Another main quest type is using a few simple quests as a gateway to a major quest.

Main Questgiver: I'll repair this awesome mech suit for you to use, but first I'll need X, Y, and Z.

So you're working towards a goal for yourself (piloting the mech suit), instead of just for XP and gold.

Stop shooting for being so big... (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763980)

Maybe larger companies should start taking a more simple approach to game development. Things like Minecraft, Plants vs. Zombies, etc. Stuff that stimulates the person to be a little more creative then finding the perfect formula for the most DPS or whatever. Providing a world where it's can potentially never be the same each time you fire up the game.

lol (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34763990)

Who wants to tell them there's already been a failed StarWars MMO?

Activision is a public company. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34764128)

Bobby Kotick does not own WOW or COD, the company is public. If the article can't get the first thing it says correct why should I trust the rest of the article?

I guess Slashdot readers don't know games... (1)

Trulak (1971012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764146)

Anyone stop to think "hey, WOW and STORO are 2 completely different genres". One is fantasy, one is sci-fi. Saying they are both MMOs is like saying that Halo and Call of Duty are both FPSs. They appeal to completely different audiences. Sure, there may be a good chunk of people that play both, but chances if someone likes 1 of them, they don't like/play the other nearly as much. And as for this 'reviewer', I think he's just bitter against Bioware and/or a Blizzard fanboy because EVERY other thing I've read about STORO has been how about amazing the initial impression is once you have a couple hours to play it. Plus there's one thing that I haven't seen anyone mention that completely differentiates this from WOW....dynamic storylines. Anyone that has played Dragon Age: Origins or Mass Effect (2 other games that are as similar as night and day, made by the same company) knows that the choices you make in interacting with NPCs in a Bioware game can have profound effects on your gameplay experience. This will encourage people to make multiple characters of multiple classes and multiple races and even genders. Because the entire experience will be different dependent upon those factors as well as the choices one makes along the way. This fact alone multiplies the replay value many times, leaving Bioware with plenty of time to push out endgame content, even if the game doesn't release with it readily available. I for one am a WOW player, really only playing for the Cataclysm content and as soon as STORO comes out, I'm jumping ship. I've been following this game since the day it was announced and am stoked for it's release. I don't expect, nor necessarily want, STORO to be a WOW killer. I just want it to be fun and be congruent with the Star Wars universe. Oh, and anyone that says "Look at how good Star Wars Galaxies turned out"...either pull your head out of your arse and go read something about WHY it's failed so badly or just shut up because you have no clue what you're talking about (coming from someone that played SWG for 4 years).

meh (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764182)

I wasn't terribly interested when I first heard about this... And, while a lot of the teasers look very nice, I'm even less interested these days.

I like BioWare's games. I generally enjoy the Star Wars universe as well. I thoroughly enjoyed KotOR.

But BioWare's strength, in my opinion, is in their storytelling. And it's hard to develop much of a story in an MMOG.

The other problem is that the Star Wars universe doesn't lend itself all that well got an MMOG framework. As pointed out in the summary - Jedi will be the most popular class. But from a lore standpoint it really doesn't make much sense to have everyone running around as a Jedi.

The end result is a Star Wars setting where everybody is a Jedi. Everybody has a lightsaber and Force powers and everything else. And yet they're running around killing rats to grind up to the next level. And whatever big badguy you go defeat to save the universe just re-spawns in a few minutes for somebody else to kill.

Re:meh (1)

Trulak (1971012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764286)

Star Wars Galaxies, until the introduction of the Jedi class, was a perfect example of a successful Star Wars MMO without having everyone running around as a Jedi. It could have continued that way as well had Sony not f'ed it up. I say "until the introduction of Jedi" in a way not to demean the Jedi class itself, but the way Sony implemented it. If balanced properly, the only appeal to being a Jedi in STORO will be the look and feel of the character, not the actual power of the class which should be balanced against all the others. As for Jedi running all over the place, given the timeline of the universe that Bioware has chosen to present the game in, it is completely acceptable to have Jedi running around everywhere. That's why they picked it. Not to mention there are plenty of people (myself included) excited about playing a NON-Jedi in the Star Wars universe again. Every Star Wars game out there(limited exceptions such as SWG and EAW) has you playing as a Jedi in some form or another, it's refreshing to experience the Star Wars universe from a different angle. And your complaint about big badguys respawning in a few minutes for someone else to kill...ever played a little game called WOW? That happens all the time, you can kill the Lich King as many times as you want. It's just the nature of the beast in MMOs. If enemies stayed dead, there would be nothing to do.

Re:meh (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764496)

And your complaint about big badguys respawning in a few minutes for someone else to kill...ever played a little game called WOW? That happens all the time, you can kill the Lich King as many times as you want. It's just the nature of the beast in MMOs. If enemies stayed dead, there would be nothing to do.

It is, indeed, the nature of the beast in MMOGs. And I am quite familiar with WoW - I've been playing it for years. Although lately WoW has started doing some more permanent stuff... You'll get a nice cinematic, or the world will genuinely change.

But that's not really my point...

I probably wasn't very clear, but I was simply contrasting what I perceive as BioWare's strength (good storylines) against the nature of the MMOG beast (can't make permanent changes, lots of repetition, lots of grinding).

"Flesh Raiders?" (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764232)

So The Old Republic is hoping to score hits with XXX-rated content? Just like WoW, even a little worse, but all the enemies are naked women!

Hey, I'll switch for that.

Re:"Flesh Raiders?" (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764382)

I've been thinking about an MMO that could be classified 18+. One faction would be dressed in leather, have dungeons and slaves, and generally be able to do what they wanted. The other faction would be knights in shining armor. And they'd get some REALLY COOL perks to compensate. Or I'd make them NPC's from the start, so all PC's would be playing the forces of darkness. I'm not sure it would be something you could actually sell without getting in loads of trouble, but it would at least be something new.

Re: (1)

ExtremePhobia (1326407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764338)

I'm going to break this apart first.

Things WoW has:
Huge amoung of back story and Lore
A constant grind and a reward system
PvP from the ground up
A beautifully stylized world
Few Bugs
PLAYERS

things SW:TOR has:
Huge amount of back story and Lore
lots of story driven quests (presumably)
PvP from the ground up (presumably)
A stylized world
Who knows how many bugs
Players?

The way I see it, SW:TOR has a CHANCE to match up with WoW. It has the story aspects it needs to compare to WoW and it's BioWare so I'm not to worried about that aspect coming through. The PvP is implied, it's Star Wars after all, however if you played Star Wars Galaxies, you can see what poor implementation can do to what should be a premier PvP experience. The world of the Old Republic is very much stylized in the WoW fashion except in a Sci-Fi setting. And it doesn't seem out of place either. I think the style and the music can go a long way to making or breaking the game by giving you a sense of tone and so far I think where a lot of games have failed is in trying to be too serious which it seems SW:TOR is trying not too do by softening the art style.

BioWare has certainly been playing up the amount of dialog and story driven questing in the game which I don't doubt. I find it a poor assessment to judge an entire game by it's newbie experience because a rudimentary experience is just what a lot of players need. Newbies will learn what they need slowly and gradually without having to keep track of story elements and focusing on getting around and killing things, which are important to survival while Experienced MMO players can play through quickly and just learn the finer points of the game. Of course if they drag the newbie experience too long then it will kill the game but hopefully that's not the case. But here it's all about execution. Do you strike the proper balance for both Experienced players to breeze through and newbies to get all the training they need so they don't feel overwhelmed.

BioWare has as good a chance as anyone, if not better for the delays they are allowing to make sure implementation is handled correctly. I'm just going to hope that BioWare pulls through again.

Following the bad things the leader does (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764344)

I've tried many mmos, but sadly they all tend to do exactly what everyone hates about WoW.

- I don't want a pvp MMO
- I don't want to grind x pointless levels, if there's no story to fill 80 levels don't make 80 levels.
- I want story driven mmo play
- I want better group play than what wow offers.

Almost all the alternative mmos I tried are either grind fests, pvp garbage or not story driven in the slightest. The only one that came close was "Vindictus" and that lasted about 25 levels before it turned into a grind, the story driven and group play aspects were very strong though.

Over and Over (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764370)

Think Icarus. So many successful game companies get bright lights in their eyes and want their own WOW. Problem is, the MMO genre is geometrically more difficult and expensive (as compared to singe-player games), and the push into it overwhelms and destroys otherwise successful companies over and over again.

"As these talented amateurs struggle in power meta-games to control revenue from online gaming, the collateral damage has been extensive and nearly fatal. When the definitive history of online gaming is written years from now, the analysts will look back and note the executives in charge of online gaming nearly killed it with their greed and incompetence." [Jessica Mulligan and Bridgette Patrovsky, Developing Online Games, p. xxvii]

That was written back in 2003. The next paragraph goes on about how, in the following year, Sony Online's Star Wars Galaxies will be an important bellwether on where the industry goes in the future.

A former online game-company boss of mine: "We're smarter than the average company, so we can cut all of our time estimates in half."

Star Wars MMO Charactor Creation (4, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764440)

Welcome to Star Wars - Inner Force!

The entity that you permeate is:
[ ] - Inanimate
[x] - Animate

The living entity you inhabit is:
[ ] - Vertebrate
[X] - Invertebrate ...

You are drifting in the blood stream of a Death-Star Trash Compactor Monster.

[ ] Begin Mitosis.
[ ] Generate Force.
[x] Draw nutrients from your host.
[ ] Die

----

Every player is a Midi-chlorian. The goal of the game is to remain undetected throughout the original trilogy followed by the prequel trilogy in order to avoid becoming a ridiculous explanation.

All based on one vague 'review'? (4, Interesting)

Dixie_Flatline (5077) | more than 3 years ago | (#34764482)

I'm an EA employee. I used to work at BioWare. There's my disclosure.

I'm not allowed to talk very much about the game, for obvious reasons. I AM allowed to disclose that I was part of an internal beta late last year. (At least, at the time I was in it, I was allowed to disclose that. Hopefully that hasn't changed.)

Everyone that I know that was playing it was playing it addictively. We all loved it. The storyline that WE got to play was impressively well put together; I felt more at the center of that universe than I ever have in WoW (and I'm playing Cataclysm again, just so you know. I also think it's great).

This 'review' is pretty vague, and betas are betas. I can't promise the game will be great, and there's obviously a massive bias for me to say that it will be, but I was really sad when the beta completed. The first 6 hours of WoW are just you running around killing small, nearly defenceless animals; the first 6 hours of MY ToR experience was so much more. I really wish I could reveal everything that went on; it was really rich, engaging storytelling, with interesting conversations and dialogue. I don't remember skipping over any of the dialogue – spoken dialogue, of course –even once. Most of the time in WoW, I just click through as quickly as possible and read the quest text only if I really obviously become stuck. (Cataclysm's introduction of forced cutscenes in the beginner areas actually makes things a lot better.)

Seriously, give the game a chance. Beating up on it before you play it and based entirely off of the experiences of one person that played a few levels is hardly the way to judge an entire MMO.

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