PTS Malaise

I'm in a bit of a holding pattern with SWTOR right now. For a number of reasons I don't feel like playing too much at the moment (though my enthusiasm for 6.0 remains undiminished) and when I do play on live I keep thinking that I should probably be on the PTS to help with testing instead.

Rationally, I know that this is silly considering that this is a game - something that's supposed to be fun - and that nobody's paying me to be a beta tester for the expansion, but part of me feels like I should be helping more and giving feedback, because I really want Onslaught to be a success after how long we've had to wait for it. I just... honestly don't find testing very fun.

For example the current testing of the new loot drop system on the PTS is limited to Hammer Station and Karagga's Palace... and while I fully understand that they need to keep it tight and focused, I also find the thought of running both of those instances on repeat boring as all hell. I participated in one run of each this week (plus I got lucky enough to get in on an additional kill of just Karagga himself) but I already feel so done with the whole thing. I expect to go back for the additional two runs to get the phase two achievement and title reward, but it does feel like the mother of all MMO chores, something I'm usually very keen to avoid.

Me tanking Karagga on the PTS. You can tell because my legacy name is "O'Testington" and I'm in a guild called "TSS PTS".

I also feel like I don't actually have very much to say on the loot changes so far, mostly because I copied some of my level 70 characters over and didn't insta-ding them to 75, so they got very few rewards and nothing they could actually equip. I did give that as feedback of its own (Why should useful rewards be limited to max-level characters?) but I also know that this is not what Bioware or most of the testers are looking for.

From what I've picked up from others, the main thing being worked on so far has been the amount of loot dropped, which was initially considered too little, until the devs decided to turn up the faucet to eleven. After that, my max-level guildies in the above-mentioned KP run kept complaining that their inventories were overflowing from all the personal loot, which is an odd problem to have. I'm sure Bioware will figure out a balance that's good enough for me.

Oddly, the thing that annoyed me more than anything else is something different related to gear drops. First off, they changed the design of the tooltips that give detailed item information, and I really dislike it for reasons I can't quite articulate. Mostly I think that thick coloured border at the top looks really ugly.

Somewhat more importantly though, I strongly dislike the way they've decided to go about the way loot adjusts to your worn gear level. Apparently everything appears to drop as an empty shell, which then miraculously auto-populates itself with level-appropriate modifications when you pick it up. I can only base this on second-hand information, because the gear drops I picked up myself didn't do so: They remained empty shells, presumably because my characters weren't high enough level. I'm curious whether they'll suddenly fill up when I ding or whether I've basically bugged them out.

The thing is, even if it does work, I hate the idea of receiving loot that looks like it's nothing but an empty shell. It's unintuitive beyond belief and I felt confused even after my more PTS-savvy guildies explained to me how it's supposed to work. I'm fine with the stats magically adjusting to what I'm wearing I guess, but let that happen in the background when the item first drops, not after I've picked it up. If it's shared loot that needs to be rolled for by the whole party, just let it have fixed stats.

I don't want every loot drop to feel inherently disappointing because it comes with no stats and only has the potential to maybe be better later. It reminds me of Queenie's "rolling for another roll for loot" and I didn't like that either. It's just too much blatant dice-rolling out in the open, which makes me hope that this is also still a work in progress.

I'm sure Bioware will work out something serviceable in time for the expansion launch; I actually do have that faith. And I am extremely grateful to all the people who've been spending lots of time playing on the PTS and giving highly detailed feedback on their findings. Unfortunately I personally find it too tiring to spend much time even thinking about it.


  1. I actually resubbed just to play on the PTS, initially for the achievement, but I soon got hooked on testing the loot drops in Hammer Station. Over the last two weekends, I must have completed it close to 100 times.

    I'm not normally someone who likes to grind, but Hammer Station is one of my favourites and the regular small gear upgrades proved to be a big enough carrot to get me to do just one more run, repeatedly.

    The majority of my runs were solo, but I did do enough grouped versions to see the full spectrum of PUG runs; from the slick group that did it in under 6mins to the troll run where someone chain pulled every mob and we ended up RP walking to the last boss permanently in combat. All very entertaining.

    Having gone through the process of testing, giving feedback and seeing the devs make changes based on player feedback, it does makes me wonder how different the game might have been if they'd put Galactic Command through a similar PTS process. Lesson learned I guess.

    1. Well, my thanks go out to you as well then for doing all the legwork I can't really get myself to do! It does seem to take a certain kind of mindset... some of my guildies are quite into it too, but it's just not for me.

      100 runs of Hammer Station really is a lot though. They should give you a special title for that!

  2. We are already sixteen days into september, and only seen one blogpost from shintar. is swtor dead? i'm worried.

    1. I wouldn't judge the health of the game based on the number of my monthly posts! I've just been very distracted by other things. For example I'm writing this comment while visiting Sweden, and while I'm fine with reading blogs and writing comments on my mobile, writing whole blog posts like this would be too annoying.


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