In the Aftermath of the SWTOR Media Blitz

The commercial NDA on SWTOR (or TOR as most people seem to be using these days)  came this week with the revelation that back in early November, Bioware had had a boatload of fans and industry media people out to their place for “Jedi Immersion” day, including getting to see lots of stuff behind the scenes early, and most importantly, allowing 5-6 hours of hands on play time with the two Jedi classes.  In case you missed it, the full round us is pretty much here:

 
 
 
DarthHater (fansite – the best actually) – http://darthhater.com/2010/12/15/jedi-immersion-day/
Generally favorable reviews.  Those aren’t all the hands on people’s reports, but those were a good spectrum.  Gamespot I axed off the list for giving away WAY too many spoilers without much of a head’s up.   Basically though, even with all the media and all the hype, I’ve been through enough Betas and launches at this point to say simply:  You know what you know.
 
In other words, you generally, as a whole, are on target with your general impressions, hopes, and doubts about a game, even before it launches.   When we were covering WAR back in the day (all of a whopping two years ago) we all knew that it was going to include some fun and memorabl PvP, but we also knew that the open questing and lower tiers were going to be deserted, that balance with only two realms was going to be an issue, and that they were idiots for insisting on such a restricted loot and gear system.  We also knew that there was trouble on the horizon, both from the Beta and from the pushbacks to launch.  By and large – WAR has fulfilled those general impressions to the hilt.
 
So what is the general impression of TOR.  Well, the bottom line is that if you are curious about a major game feature – like, say – whether or not there will be Open World PvP, and Bioware has not answered the question, and Bioware has used every available opportunity to duck the question…well, there is going to be a problem there.  For example, it has been asked repeatedly whether or not players will be able to have multiple names.  It’s an easy question to answer, and one that should have been determined a long time ago.    And yet Bioware continues to ignore the question, or sidestep it.  Conclusion:  They don’t have an answer we want to hear.  In other words, the answer right now is:  No.  And the closer we get to release without information on a given topic, the less likely we are to see that question answered satisfactorily either in the media or in the game itself.  With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what I’ve seen so far.  Feel free to fill in the blanks with your own particular piccadillos. 

The Good

Large, immersive world.  Players will once again be able to “get lost” in the environment.
 
Great storyline and a step forward in bringing the RPG back into MMO’s
 
Innovative crafting and pet systems.
 
Creative PvP.
 
 

The Bad

Grouping + Dialogue Quests = frustrating, slow going for those who want to max level and who think that end game is the only game.
 
Content will have plenty of bugs to worry about.
 
Space will not be the final frontier – it wont even be close to a frontier.
 
Alot of people will turtle up and play this game as a solo-only effort.
 
There will be no Open World PvP.
 
 

The Ugly

 
Guild mechanics and tools will be sorely lacking.
 
Online guides will dictate storyline choices by revealing rewards content.  Herd mentality will take over from there, and create a full cycle of imbalance that the devs will always be one step behind.
 
The  game is not nearly as ready as they are implying it is, or that we are hoping it is.
 
Combat will be so vanilla it may hurt some people.
 
Jedi will not have blasters.
 
Bioware’s bizzare Beta testing cycles will bite them in the ass.
 
 
ETA:  Greetings to the hordes of people who found this site via the TOR forums.  I’m happy to have you here, so long as you behave yourselves.   To clarify, I’m not a SWTOR hater or fanboy.  If you take the time to read a few posts, you will see times I’m excited about things and times when I’m not happy about things.   This is one of the latter, but I, like many of you, hope I’m very wrong on some of this.  Check out my comment below for the tl;dr summary of this post…
 
ETA again:  No, Open World PvP had not been confirmed as of the time of this writing.  Nor has it been confirmed yet, AFAIK.  As of James Ohlen’s Aug 21 video interview (posted below in the comments) they hoped to have it in for launch, but if not it was a feature they hoped to add later.
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33 thoughts on “In the Aftermath of the SWTOR Media Blitz

  1. The problem is, there is a lot of speculation and jumping to conclusions. The sheer amount of information out there doesn’t help either, when news is scattered and folks only get parts of the whole story.

    For instance, we’ll use your example of Open World PvP. The devs haven’t gone into details about it, but at Gamescom they have actually indeed confirmed there WILL be open world pvp in some areas in the game. I believe Tattooine has been given as an example. But I get where you’re coming from, when information is coming out so slowly, people only find out bits and pieces from interviews and the like, rather from one source. My guess is when they’re ready to talk about something, then we’ll get all the information in one big dump, like with crafting. Major details on PvP is probably going to be “revealed” the same way.

    Just out of curiosity, where did you see info on guild mechanics and tools? I didn’t think they’ve revealed too much of that yet. Personally haven’t seen enough of the social mechanics to form an opinion, just wondering what you saw that made you think it’s “ugly”.

    1. I agree, I’m just pointing out that in general terms, the speculation is most often accurate. Thinking back to STO and WAR and all the other launches/Beta coverage I’ve done, the general early impressions of games tend to be pretty accurate. Whether that’s self-fulfilling prophecy at work or not, I don’t know, I’m just point out what I’ve seen. I’ll hasten to add that I think TOR is going to do just fine, no matter what its shortcomings are. The only way this game could fail is if Bioware shoots itself in the foot. Its not likely, but its possible.

      If you have evidence of the Open World PvP, I’d love to have it. I’m in a guild with a significant percentage of PvP players and they have been ripping the internet apart trying to find anything one way or the other on it. You make my point for me – a few months from launch, something as simple as the existence of PvP or the types or servers available should be easy questions to answer, and really up your buzz and positive vibe. And yet they can’t or won’t answer those questions. The formula here is: the bigger or easier the question, the closer to launch its ask, the bigger a deal it is to get no response. Another example would be naming conventions – one name? multiple names? surnames? Nothing. And when pressed on the issue, Bioware has declined to comment. How can you *not* know the answer to that question this close to launch?

      I placed guild mechanics and tools on the ugly list because we don’t have anything revealed on it yet. And again, Bioware ducks the question when it comes up. Which means they don’t know yet. Which means whatever system appears in the game, if any, is going to be shaky/lack testing/need an eventual overhaul.

      1. Well, it’s hard to tell with SWTOR because everything is so hush hush. I think it’s still early to say whether speculations will be accurate or not, since we are hearing next to nothing out of beta. It is for sure still going on though, I am guessing they are inviting small groups week by week so we are not seeing a rush of people going “OMG BETA, it rocks/it sucks.” Just a few weeks ago, I saw someone on twitter post about being invited. He included a picture of their computer monitor with the beta login screen (which THAT I’m sure is probably against the NDA, lol)

        Personally, I don’t like to say something is bad simply because I don’t know anything on it they haven’t revealed it yet. It just seems a little premature. I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and if they say they will speak of it when they’re ready, I reserve judgment until then. Remember, the same thing happened with crafting a few months back when people started claiming the game will have little to no crafting because Bioware has been quiet on that topic. And then boom, they blew that argument apart when for weeks they flooded us with info/videos/blogs on the awesome crew skill system. They were just sitting on that info to release in a flood.

        Also, you mentioned “this close to launch”…maybe I’m being negative here, but I don’t actually think we’re that close 😦 I was skeptical about the “Spring 2011” window already, and so when they said SWTOR will definitely be after April, I wasn’t surprised at all. I wouldn’t even be surprised if we see it in late Summer, in fact that’s probably when I’ll expect it to hit.

        Regarding the PvP, most of the information they confirmed seems to be out of Gamescom when they were in Europe earlier this year.

        Quote from James Olhen: “We’re going to have open world PvP, As for the more structured PvP, I can’t going into details but we will have it” – PC Gamer UK April 2010 http://www.swtorstrategies.com/2010/03/swtor-in-pc-gamer-uk-magazine.html

        Confirmed by Greg Zeschuk that there will be Open World PvP in appropriate areas within TOR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_aGB4q9uas

        Quote from James Ohlen: There will be “Open World PvP” in terms of meeting members of other factions on planets as Tatooine being able to decide if you want to attack them or not. — SWTOR-station http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDSwNCwkFSI

        Heh heh, and no, I’m not a SWTOR freak that can name this info off the top of my head 😛 I keep a close eye on this particular thread with every update/interview/walkthrough/convention etc. so I remembered seeing it all here http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=188836 Kinda goes back to what I said before about news scattered all over the place, this one thread helps me get caught up without scouring the internet myself.

      2. I can see the argument on no information vs. bad reports. Certainly in WAR and others we had bad reports. My argument is simply that that closer to launch we get with no information, the higher the probability that the news is not news we want to hear, and that the relative size of that system acts as a multiplier to that probability.

        The Open World PvP links you gave are a great example of Bioware slipping up actually. In April, we have a developer saying “yes open world pvp” and in August we had the company ownership saying “yes open world pvp” bu then one day later in August you have the same developer from April saying “probably no open world pvp at launch.” Changes like this are why Bioware doesn’t want to give information in advance. So its also good evidence that if we don’t know something, while it could either be because they haven’t talked about it or because its not ready yet. The probability of the latter grows everyday.

        And the release date is…well, it will be what it will be. But tell me a game that pushed back its release date and still had a successful launch. WAR? Nope. Vanguard? Nope. There are others of course, those are probably just the worst two offenders. If they tell us now that it will be summer, after having just told us it would be Spring, its not going to be a good thing for anyone.

  2. Adventurer Historian

    No blasters for Jedis?! Damn, that was my favorite things to do in KOTORII. Of course, even though I was light side all of the way, I felt pretty evil walking into a room, freezing everyone, then shooting each in the head.

    Two of the things in the ‘bad’ category — dialogue quests and solo turtling — are absolutely fine by me. In fact, those two seem linked. I’m going to treat this as just a really massive KOTOR, which on some level, for better or worse, that’s exactly what Bioware wants it to be.

    That said — I don’t know if I’d pay $15 a month to play KOTOR. It’d better be massive, and the story had better never stop. And you made another really good point — I’m going to have to guard myself very carefully about spoiling quests. My latent tendency is do everything ‘perfect’; I don’t know if I’m going to be able to live with the ‘not knowing’.

    1. No blasters for Jedi. That much has been confirmed as of last week. That’s not good, and reeks of the influence of Mythic, who must have brought their “everybody only gets one weapon” motto over with them from that sinking ship. All I want to know is who let them on board in the first place?

      1. wthman

        and before you ask for my source :

        http://www.swtor.com/news/news-article/20101217#cqa

        look at question 4.

        also for your ”Guild mechanics and tools will be sorely lacking.” thing… i know they didnt talk about it yet but that doesnt mean that it wont be there. They just doesnt talk about thing until they are 100% sure of what they do.

        It is just their way to do. Better than warhammer way to promise a lot of thing than come back on their promise, no?

        Dont worry, im sure they still got plenty of cards up their sleeves….

        goes with my other post but strangely i cant post

      2. Apolotiges wthman, your comments were stuck in the spam filter. I saw the rest but only let this one through for space considerations. I’ll tell you what I’ve said multiple times in this post and comments section already – pvp servers =/= open world pvp.

        You mention WAR, which is the source of my frustration. Two years ago EA Mythic played this same game of *not* telling us things. It turned out it was because the game wasn’t nearly as ready as they were pretending it was. Result – it was backed up, more than once, and still was not able to deliver on launch.

        Fast forward two years. EA Bioware with the Mythic team in tow plays the same game. The question is – is it for the same reason?

  3. wthman

    The following are just opinion and/or not based on fact.

    Opinion :
    Bioware’s bizzare Beta testing cycles will bite them in the ass.
    The game is not nearly as ready as they are implying it is, or that we are hoping it is.
    Combat will be so vanilla it may hurt some people.
    Guild mechanics and tools will be sorely lacking.
    Alot of people will turtle up and play this game as a solo-only effort.
    Content will have plenty of bugs to worry about.
    There will be no Open World PvP.

    The last one is even better. its just plain wrong, as pvp server have been confirmed.

    Seriously dude, stop taking info from your ass. Ive read 3-4 article from the jedi immersion day and your whole post is pretty much non-sense.

  4. Xavier

    This post is heavy on the supposition and short on fact. PvP servers were already confirmed. PvP servers mean open world PvP. Guild Mechanics and tools will be sorely lacking? Really, have you ever known an MMO developer to hire a community team member specifically to liaise with guilds to find out exactly what they want for their guild tools? BioWare has, David Bass is his name. Our guild has been corresponding with him regularly. “Online guides will dictate storyline choices by revealing rewards content” Only if “you” choose to read them. I won’t, so it won’t destroy a thing for me. “The game is not nearly as ready as they are implying it is, or that we are hoping it is.” According to my friends in beta, who have beta’d games all the way back to AC and DAoC, you are very wrong here. But I suppose that is a matter of opinion not fact. The build shown at Jedi Immersion Day was months old though. So if you’re basing it off that, well you are wrong. “Combat will be so vanilla it may hurt some people.” I’ve heard this argument from every person who hasn’t played the game. Not once from a person who has. “Jedi will not have blasters.” Honestly, I don’t see the problem here. Why play a Jedi and then say, nah, screw using the most iconic weapon in the galaxy. I’m gonna use a blaster which is something as a Jedi, I wouldn’t be highly trained in doing, putting me at a disadvantage against my mortal enemy, the Sith. Great logic. “Bioware’s bizzare Beta testing cycles will bite them in the ass.” Why? From all reports from beta testers I know, the game is coming along great. They can’t go into detail because of the NDA, but they are loving it so far.

    With BioWare, lack of info =/= a bad game is incoming. They are super secretive about every game until right before launch. The only difference is, it usually isn’t an issue with Console games, as there is only a year or so from announcement to release. With TOR, there has been 2.5 years, so people are saying, “where’s the damn info already?” It will only come when open beta starts and the NDA is lifted. Only then will we know who is right and who is dead. Iocane powder anyone?

      1. Humdot

        James Olhen: “We’re going to have open world PvP, As for the more structured PvP, I can’t going into details but we will have it” – PC Gamer UK April 2010

      2. James Ohlen: “There are other things [warzones] we want to do for release. So if we don’t have it [open world pvp] at release, its something we’d like to add later.” ~ August 21, 2010, swtor-station interview.

        As I stated both in the post above and in the comments below. Congratulations on joining the moron club. Here’s a cookie.

      3. Humdot

        Sigh, there are multiple quotes from developers confirming open world PvP.
        Heres another one.
        Greg Zeschuk: “There’s also going to be open PvP in appropriate areas as well” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_aGB4q9uas
        Another one for you.
        Rich Vogel(the executive producer for Star Wars: The Old Republic): “We will have open PvP play and we will have instances, I’ll just put it that way.” – http://bit.ly/haZILp

      4. The first one is from the owner of the company who – shocker – has nothing to do with design. Exactly one day later, he is contradicted by James Ohlen who – shocker – has something to do with design.

        The second one is from two months before either of these.

        I said it before, and I will say it again – if you have evidence that has come to light since August 21st, post it up, I’d love to see it.

      5. Humdot

        And what evidence do you have to support that it wont have open world PvP before making such claims in your article? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
        Guess what the game is still in development, and -shocker- there is still much information to be released.

  5. Wow, I see the monkeys finally found my site using their typewriters. But if you kiddos want to play in my sandbox, no problem. It will take me a while to untangle the insane number of comments you left in my spam filters, but I’ll do my best.

    Until then, for any other morons who float by, let me give you the tl;dr version of this post, since you obviously skipped to the bottom:

    If everything we’ve heard as a rumor or are worried about is true at launch (and with most launches, where there is smoke, there is fire), then this is what the good/bad/ugly list would look like for me.

  6. JediMasterRyanW

    It’s good of you to clarify that somewhat, but I think it’s a little irresponsible to assume that everything we haven’t heard details about either sucks or doesn’t exist, and assume that every single worry you’ve heard will be wrong. There are some people who will use this as “proof” that their worries are true. Yes, many of those people are morons, but negative opinions spread faster than positive ones. Take this line for example: “And the closer we get to release without information on a given topic, the less likely we are to see that question answered satisfactorily either in the media or in the game itself.” By that logic, nothing would be revealed in the final month or two before release. Reveals generally imply something we didn’t already know about, so apparently they only answer questions or tell us new things when there’s still a lot of time before launch. This is the exact opposite. The closer a game gets to release, the more information is put out, to build hype and get people excited. With 3 months until the start of their Spring 2011 release window and 6 months until the end of it, they still have plenty of time to start the info blitz (a real blitz, not letting 20 journalists play an alpha version). Also, referring to your readers as morons is not going to help your credibility.

    1. Ryan,

      There seems to be some confusion here. I’m not a journalist – if you are looking for credibility in a blog, you will fail often and hard. I’m here to give you my take based on my experience and whatever facts I can find.

      And the fact is, that Bioware has long passed the point where other MMO launches have felt it prudent to talk about some of these things – and yet they continue to refuse to do so. When that has happened in the past(Vanguard, WAR, and STO are good recent examples), it means there is trouble brewing. Not all that trouble will come to pass, but some will. I’m giving you the inclusive list here.

      Tell you what, I will make you and everyone else here a deal. I’ll revisit this post in a year’s time, and we will see how it all turned out.

      As for some of my readers being morons – some are. This is the internet. If you can’t be bothered to read through the whole post, and draw incorrect conclusions from that, you have acted like a moron, and I for one, am going to point that out. The reverse should be true too though, so let me thank you for an intelligent, thoughtful post. Hopefully we’ll see some more of those and we can have a nice civilized discussion.

  7. Derp

    UHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
    How are you so sure theres going to be bugs? Or that the guild system will suck? How do you know its not ready? And the tunnel shooter was meant as a mini game, not a frontier at all. To me it seems like a relaxing break.
    If you have evidence, id love to hear it

  8. sorrywhat

    ETA again: No, Open World PvP had not been confirmed as of the time of this writing. Nor has it been confirmed yet, AFAIK. As of James Ohlen’s Aug 21 video interview (posted below in the comments) they hoped to have it in for launch, but if not it was a feature they hoped to add later.

    And after that they annouced pvp server. It was pretty much a big hint no?

    and anyway we can say it is ALMOST confirmed if you really want to. Why do you insist to say there wont be open pvp like if it was a fact.

    1. I’ve insisted on nothing as fact. I’ve presented evidence in favor of. If you have evidence contrary too, post up. I’ve said that multiple times here and on the TOR forums, and yet strangely, nobody has been able to meet that challenge. Can you?

      Also for the 6th or 7th time this post: PvP server =/= Open World PvP.

  9. Pingback: What This Blog Is and Is Not « Harbinger Zero

  10. DannyP

    Reading about SWTOR only makes me want to play SWG again. SOE CS gave me 60 days free on SWG from the Matrix Online closing. SOE has become excellent at customer service, but it took over 6 years just to start getting close to “Not bad” The Old MMO’s basicly have been hammered on an hammered on until near perfect. I’m going 2 SWG as soon as I get paid son, because it’s fun.

    SWTOR forums

    1. I’ve never seen more flamers in my life. 30 flames a minute.
    2. It’s the worst forum design I’ve ever seen, but it’s a good thing you can’t read it.
    3. You get a really great example of what “stupid” is by looking at the potential players.
    4. If hardcore gamers are critical, SWTOR gamers are hyper critical.

    Bioware

    1. “A DIVISION OF EA” oh, so that’s why EA is still in busniness, well, that an hiding behind “EA sports”. I seem to remember each of us took a blood oath to never, ever buy or play another EA game for the rest of our lives. *cough* rip off *cough* I’m not sure LUCASARTS has actually ever played a video game. I see them talking about games so maybe they at least know what a video game is.

    2. Masterly crafted media blitz, the game launch was pushed back, an yet nobody really knew, because they were too busy arguing about the tunnel shooter space thing or why you can not swim in the world. You see many examples of brilliant distraction & deception. The marketing of the game started while the game was still a “idea” A large amount of the game right now is just marketing. If you really had something special you wouldn’t need all that jazz.

    3. You might as well call it Warhammer II, 1,000,000 bought the game, 750,000 quit the first month. Though, I think you’ll see much larger numbers. It will bring in the Star Wars fans, MMO fans, KOTOR fans, as well as console tards that don’t even own a computer or know how to read. Many having zero idea what a MMO experience is like or how to behave/act/play. “Noobland” 😀 It’s seems very volatile. Everyone has very strong feelings over it, and this is the developers fault. Gamers at each others throats.

      1. Some of this is dead on, some is dead wrong. Only WoW players refuse to play more than one MMO at a time. The rest of us do it regularly. Also, Lum is on record saying that MMO’s really only cost $20-50 million, if (IF) developers would stick to their niche, instead of trying to save the MMO world.

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