An open letter to Empire for Life

Posted: 2012/02/29 by Nick in Ranting

In Episode 9, Rich went on at some length about how certain features are missing, such as LFG, Guild features, Guild Housing/Spaceship, and some other stuff.  You suggested that Bioware could have cut back on the cost of developing the story, perhaps, to pay for these features and have them available at launch.  I almost blew a gasket trying to prevent myself from yelling at you, which would have been really weird as I was at work at the time and listening to your podcast through headphones.  This would have been a Bad Thing.  So now, if you’ll be so kind to permit me, I’m going to vent a bit.

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m loving your show, and the enthusiasm you and Ron show for the game, and the fact that you’re not super negative.  I also don’t want to try and negate your “feelings” on this or any other matter.  That said, on this topic, I think you could not be more wrong without opening a rift to an alternate universe where it is possible to be more wrong.

I think it’s obvious to everyone that the original specs from SWTOR were more or less lifted whole-cloth from WoW’s Burning Crusade expansion, to which were added story elements drawn from Bioware’s own wheelhouse.  It is these story elements that form the differentiating factor that justifies SWTOR’s existence.  Without them, SWTOR really is just “WoW in space”, and I don’t think would be as successful as it has been to-date.  I think any change to the formula could well have resulted in less of a splash out of the gate.

As for these other features (I’m just comparing to WoW, because as I hypothesized, SWTOR’s feature list is based on it):

  • LFG, I’m pretty sure, didn’t hit WoW until well in to Wrath.  Therefore, it probably wasn’t part of the original scope for SWTOR
  • The guild tools in WoW didn’t come along until Cataclysm, right?  I mean, until then, the WoW guild interface was a hellish mass of bugs and reduced me to a gibbering wreck more than once as a guild leader
  • Housing still isn’t in WoW, and I think the reasons it isn’t are valid in SWTOR as well.  In an MMO, we are content for other players.  If we all hang out in little enclaves it will make the game seem “dead” to those passing through what are supposed to be high-traffic areas.  Once folks get the idea that the game is “dead”, they’ll bail.

So, rather than criticize BW for lack of features, I commend them on developing a vision and sticking to it.  In Project Management, we call this “Scope Management.”

Anyhow, all of the items you discussed are stuff I want, too (well, I’m not all that worked up about housing, but I get why others want it).  LFG is critical for me.  I’m not the type to spend my time online in the Fleet, spamming for a group.  I play at odd hours, nobody else in my Guild is at the level cap (they’re a serious bunch of altaholics, if you ask me) and it’s pretty rare for me to even get a group for the Heroics on Illum and Belsavis.  As such, I’ve actually levelled one toon to 50 and another to 40 and I still haven’t hit most of the flashpoints.  It was the addition of this feature (and dual specs) that kept me in WoW beyond Burning Crusade.  At some point, if it’s not added in TOR, I’ll probably have to make a decision.  But, I’m pretty confident that these features are coming so I can sit tight for a bit.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s