17/08/2018

Developer Appreciation Week: Much Love for the SWTOR Dev Team

Blaugust continues, and it's Developer Appreciation Week! While my post on this subject last year was more general in tone and could be read as addressed to many developers, I do want to specifically give some love to the SWTOR devs this time.

It does tie into last year's post though in so far as I want to start with another lesson I learned at work in the past year: that it can be demotivating sometimes to work on a product/brand that is perpetually treated as an "also ran". It's disheartening to be strongly invested in something while constantly seeing that it's just not as popular as some of its "siblings", and feeling like you're caught in a vicious cycle where you sometimes can't do your best because of a lack of resources, yet because you're not doing so great you won't be given any more resources either.

That's definitely a place that everyone who currently works on SWTOR has got to be familiar with. EA likes to "forget" about it when they talk about their line-up of Star Wars games (though they've gotten a bit better at this in the last couple of years), while Bioware prefers to (understandably) focus on its own properties and tends to treat SWTOR as "that licensed thing we also do". Fans are so used to this that players positively freaked out from all the attention when Casey Hudson actually devoted a whole sentence of his 600+ word "Mid-Summer Update" on the official Bioware website to SWTOR. Long story short: SWTOR devs, I know your work often doesn't get much attention, but do remember that there are still hundreds of thousands us out there who enjoy what you do and are grateful for you doing it.

Next, let's talk about a few specific things that I appreciate about the SWTOR dev team.

First off, I love how passionate they tend to sound whenever they get to talk about the game. Charles Boyd in particular is a poster boy for doing what he loves, what with parading around as a trooper in his free time. (I think he builds blaster replicas in his garage too? Or am I confusing that with something somebody else said?) Every time he and/or Eric and Keith appear on a podcast I immediately get excited about the game again, even if I'd been in a bit of a lull before that. You can tell that they aren't just people trying to sell you something as good because that's what it says in their notes, but that they are genuinely into the game and care about all its little details.

At this point, can I also give a shout-out to Eric actually? I'm not really sure how good a job he's doing if you did a comparative ranking of MMO community managers as I'm not sure about everything that's involved, but I simply appreciate that he's stuck with the role for more than five years now (and he was already working at Bioware before that too). To this day he appears to remain completely unperturbed by all the toxicity he must undoubtedly be encountering on a daily basis, always letting it roll off his back while trying to focus on what people may be trying to communicate underneath their potentially nasty words. That's a really valuable skill, and with him having occupied the same role for so many years now he's kind of become "the face of SWTOR" to fans simply because absolutely everybody knows him, which is also nice in terms of consistency.

Tying into that, I'm always impressed by how much the SWTOR team tries to listen to the fans. They haven't always been great at this in the past, but they've been working on it for a long time now and things have improved a lot. I'm always baffled when people claim that the devs don't listen - mind you, listening to the players doesn't mean that everyone always gets what they want: in fact, that's literally impossible as some players' wants will be diametrically opposed to each other. However, so many things they've added to the game - especially more recently - have been directly based on player feedback, from larger changes such as cutting the "Knights of" story arc short and refocusing on group content to small things such as making previously static companions customisable or changing the colour of the sand in the Rishi stronghold. To be honest, sometimes I almost feel like they listen to players too much and could dare to do their own thing a bit more, haha! (I mean, just because people disliked Saresh that didn't mean you had to completely assassinate her character, you know...)

In conclusion: Thanks for continuing to be passionate about what you're doing! As long as you'll remain dedicated to making the best damn Bioware Star Wars game you can, us players will always happily come along for the ride.

8 comments :

  1. +1 to this. Doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

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  2. Oh well. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised about Saresh.

    Anyway, I agree completely that SWTOR's devs need more love.

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    1. Was that a spoiler for you? :-o (The linked post did have a spoiler warning at the top...)

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    2. Yeah, it's a spoiler, but it was the most predictable outcome for her, IMHO.

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    3. I didn't think that was predictable at all! There was no reason for her not to remain in-character. Also, just to be clear, we're talking figurative character assassination here, not literal.

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    4. Oh, because I figured she'd be an assassination target by the Sith. Because that's what Sith do. ;-)

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  3. As someone that has complained about various directions of the game and the devs, I do think the devs have improved their interaction with the community substantially. It's not perfect, but they are interacting and listening to the community much more than they used to. Kudos to them for getting this far. Hopefully we can keep improving the communication cycle. :)

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  4. Thanks so much for posting this. I'm sure you're right that the developers are sometimes frustrated by the lack of resources and attention. I'm one of the people who still enjoys the game, and I very much appreciate all the hard work that has gone into it over the years.

    And I agree with you 100% about Saresh--her actions in Chapter 2 seemed way out of character!

    Hudlar

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