05/02/2014

Looking at the 2014 Road Map

Monday evening (well, evening my time anyway), Senior Producer Bruce Maclean made a post on the official website called "Producer's Road Map 2014", giving us a bit of an idea of what new content we've got to look forward to in the first half of this year.

I've read and heard a lot of community reactions to this already, and I think that if I had to sum them all up in a single sentence it would be: "That's nice, but we want more." I haven't really seen anyone say that any of the promised additions are unwelcome, just that there should be more of them. Now, part of that is just MMO players being their usual selves and always wanting more, of everything, and preferably yesterday. But I do think that some of them have a point when they say that their favourite part of the game seems to be getting less attention than usual.

The raiders point out that if nightmare mode Dread Fortress and Palace are scheduled to come out in April and June respectively, that will likely mean no new operation for over nine months. (I suppose it's not impossible that Bioware might surprise us with a new release anyway - Terror from Beyond came out before Explosive Content got its nightmare mode after all - but personally I consider a repeat of those particular circumstances unlikely.) Nine months is a pretty long time to be farming the same content over and over on multiple difficulties - and definitely the longest that Bioware has made us wait for a new operation. Explosive Conflict came out four months after launch. Terror from Beyond came out five months later. The break from that point until the release of Rise of the Hutt Cartel (and with it Scum and Villainy) was the longest so far, lasting seven months. Then it was another six months until Oricon. By now Dread Fortress and Palace have already been out for four months, so the prospect of having to wait another six months or so for something new is definitely daunting.

I've seen someone suggest that Bioware should just drop nightmare mode altogether if it increases the time between new operation releases, seeing how it's only attractive to a small minority of players anyway. I have to admit that I wouldn't be opposed to that idea myself (though I don't feel particularly strongly about it either way). While my own guild has dabbled in nightmare modes, I've never seen us clear one while it was current content, and difficulty-wise I've found some of them hard enough to just become frustrating to me personally.

On the PvP front, there is going to be a new Huttball map, currently set to be released in April. All I can say is: about time! I've always said that PvP is only a secondary pursuit in The Old Republic, but even so... not counting the arenas, there hasn't been a new warzone map in over a year. (The last one was Ancient Hypergates in December 2012.) There's nothing else though... and I have to admit that I do feel for the dedicated PvPers a little bit, as much as some of them like to whinge unnecessarily. It does seem like they have been messed around quite a lot as of late, and with no great results: first there were ranked warzones; when they didn't work very well due to lack of participation they were removed and replaced with ranked arenas, but from what I hear those don't really pop nowadays either. I can't blame people for longing for an addition to their gameplay that actually works.

You know what is scheduled to get updates with every major patch though? Galactic Starfighter. And I think that's the crux of the matter: the more systems you add that need maintenance and adding to, the fewer resources you'll have to dedicate to the existing ones. I suspect that Galactic Starfighter is directly to blame for the delays in updates to other areas of the game, and as someone who's not a great fan of space combat, I can't say that I'm happy about that. Still, at this point I feel that it's a little early to complain, because I can see that Galactic Starfighter needs updates right now. After launching with just three ships and a single gameplay mode, it needed expansion or else even its biggest fans were likely to get bored with it quickly. I would hope/expect that once it's got a more robust foundation to stand on, it won't require quite as many resources to stay updated.

Overall the posted Road Map has me hopeful for the new year though. While updates to the areas of the game that I enjoy the most aren't coming as quickly as I would like, they are coming. Two new flashpoints to ring in the new post-Dread Master storyline sound exciting. And most of all: "Expect to see two digital expansions in 2014 just like you did last year, with one similar to Galactic Starfighter in scope and one more closely resembling Rise of the Hutt Cartel."

6 comments:

  1. They kind of teased about something else coming out in the mid-year timeframe which isn't a PvP or GS update. Now that I'm curious about...

    Oh, and having played a couple of smugglers now, I was amused the first time Vette mentioned Nok Drayen in your interactions with her.

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  2. When you create a game you attract the community that has a taste for whatever you created. In SWTOR's case, that was OPS, Story mode soloing, and PvP. Then along came this new space "add-on".

    Most of the reviews I've seen for Galactic Starfighter agree that it's a solid entry in the "multiplayer-PvP-freelancer-clone" genre. Problem is, that's not what most of this community signed on for. It's possible that given time and advertising, Galactic Starfighter could have a community of it's own, it just won't be THIS one. :)

    In the meantime, Bioware is playing a dangerous game by not doing enough to keep it's existing user base happy. Late summer or early fall, Blizzard is going to send you an email saying "Hey Shin, come relive your Burning Crusade glory days!" There are also new MMO's on the horizon. Bioware's going to need more than a new Huttball arena to compete with that!

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    1. Yeah, to be honest it's an issue that the Player Versus Developer blog saw coming quite a while before GSF launch...

      That said, I'm not someone to easily be tempted away by some new shiny. One advantage of feeling very engaged with the game's community...

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  3. I think I largely share your sentiment towards what is "announced" in this road map. I mostly look forward to seeing the new flash points (beginning of a new story arc that will also bring us the next Ops) and the new huttball warzone. It's also a rather thin yield, but on the other hand, the "and much more" addition does, to me, seem like we're going to be seeing another expansion in about 5-6 months of Makeb-proportions.

    My biggest issue with GSF is that the ship progress is on a per-character basis. It would have been much better if this was done on a legacy basis, so one is not forced to stick to a single of their characters to do the space PvP with (having 11 alts, I am not ready to invest the months of playing time required to get all my ships to max). But if the comment regarding a legacy bank from the latest cantina tour is anything to go on, that's never going to happen. Legacy stuff, apparently, is just too hard to code...

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    1. A story content expansion will likely be a pretty meaty addition, but I understand that they can't/don't want to talk about details just yet. It just makes the rest of the upcoming content look a little sparse. Though I expect to see more of the recurring events too; I'm looking forward to seeing what the rakghoul event will be like on different planets!

      As for the idea of GSF being legacy-wide, I have mixed feelings. It sure would be convenient for me because I'm not that keen on it - but should they really design features around those players that don't like them very much? I mean, in essence it's the same as gearing a new character up for PvP, which is just as much, if not more work - but in that case I don't mind because I enjoy it. So I figure, if there are people who enjoy levelling Starfighter ships on ten different characters, let them.

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    2. If they were to build PvE missions with varying difficulties, I would be tempted to give GS a second look. The pure 12 on 12 PvP focus makes GS a non-starter for me. As long as it's 12 on 12, it doesn't matter how they do progression to me.

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