23/03/2019

Talk To Me

Pretty much ever since I first started paying attention to things like that, players have accused Bioware of not communicating well when it comes to SWTOR. Personally I've never been able to relate to this complaint because my needs in terms of information about the game are extremely simple and can be summed up as follows:

1) Is there some sort of technical issue (server downtime, mechanical game changes etc.) that I should know about? Please make it easy to access that information.

2) What's coming up in terms of new content? Tell me just enough to get me excited but not so much that it'll spoil all the fun.

Sure, I also enjoy a good developer interview now and then to get a better understanding of how and why they do the things they do, but that's very much a bonus. And by those standards, I've found Bioware's efforts perfectly adequate. They tend to be on the stingy end when it comes to releasing information about upcoming content, but I see that as part of an intentional strategy that values surprising the players with big plot twists. Sure, sometimes it would be nice to be given a bit more information a bit sooner, but on the whole I appreciate their stance. To be honest, I bet that it's sometimes pretty hard for them to keep mum about all the exciting things they are working on while players complain about nothing happening! And I certainly prefer this approach to its opposite - I still remember my utter horror at Blizzard posting the in-game story cinematics for Warlords of Draenor on their own front page two months before the expansion's release (and no, adding "spoiler warning" to something like that isn't really good enough).

That said, it's been very noticeable that the SWTOR team has been trying to step it up recently. They've posted some articles on the front page that are meant to give us insight into what's going on behind the scenes, such as a look behind the scenes of Ossus with Charles Boyd and an explanation of two technical improvements that are meant to come with the next patch.

The dev tracker has also been abuzz with activity, as more devs have been daring to show their faces on the forums, and a new Community Co-ordinator called Daniel has made an appearance. I have to admit that my cynical side immediately went: "Is Musco leaving?!" I certainly hope not, but just the thought of more than one person being paid to post on the forums more regularly is a bit mind-blowing to me at this point.

Mind you, in some ways all of this is of a limited usefulness to me as I can't really keep up with all the things they say anyway... but then friends and fan sites usually pick up the most important stuff to boost the signal, which means that sooner or later I do hear about it too. The two articles linked above for example were quickly making the rounds on Twitter, and the latter in particular actually got me quite excited about the patch in ways that seem way out of proportion for a small technical update. Then again, that's what the game needs right now: some more positive buzz, and this new communications initiative has already had a noticeable effect in my opinion. So even if it wasn't something that important to me personally: two thumbs up to Bioware for trying to do better.

3 comments :

  1. I guess I'm the odd one out here, I'm really not interested that much in previews.

    Sure, if an expansion hits I'm willing and eager to see a trailer or two, and read 1-2 summary posts (like mmo-champion does for WoW) but that's about it.. I really don't get why I need to be held in a constant hype cycle for months. On the contrary, usually I'm super hyped if they (whatever team/game/company) announce something nice and then totally bummed out if I can't play it for months. By the time it launches I'm probably in the mood to play something completely different. So my vote would be to release one tidbit of information at a time and not heaps of stuff, all the time. I don't want to miss new expansions or major features, but a month i n advance is fine...

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    Replies
    1. I'm not a fan of hype cycles either, though as someone who works in marketing I have a certain professional respect for the way WoW uses something like the mere announcement of a new expansion to rejuvenate interest in the game for months without actually adding many (or any) updates to the game in that time. At this point it feels like people are more into the game during the run-up to a new expansion than in the year after its actual launch, lol.

      But the opposite is actually also somewhat odd. In the case of SWTOR in specific, the devs let on that a big update is in the works ages ago, but nothing beyond that, so all the news sites have been able to report is: "No big updates to SWTOR in a year! Uh oh, maintenance mode?!" That said, I'm sure the big reveal at Star Wars Celebration in a couple of weeks is going to be fab.

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  2. And I certainly prefer this approach to its opposite - I still remember my utter horror at Blizzard posting the in-game story cinematics for Warlords of Draenor on their own front page two months before the expansion's release (and no, adding "spoiler warning" to something like that isn't really good enough).

    This. So much this.

    It drives me nuts that Blizz routinely provides this sort of "community engagement" when I'd really rather find out about the story during the game. From my perspective, I believe this is a side effect of WoW's emphasis on raiding, because they're extremely transparent in the PTR about what's coming, letting the top end progression guilds examine the raids for issues, and letting the players in to see everything. If you get into the PTR on a regular basis, you're likely not interested in the story at all because on release you can just rush ahead to max level. And, unfortunately, that attitude bleeds over into regular dev interactions.

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