25/07/2020

What's Coming for the Rest of the Year

As briefly mentioned in my last post about the Steam launch, there were other things that the team talked about during the livestream, such as what content updates we could expect for the rest of 2020. The fact that talking about those things wasn't the main event should give you a hint as to how meaty they were (not very).

Am I a bit disappointed that there isn't more? Yes. Is it a big deal for me? Not really. SWTOR isn't the only game I play, but even though I do play it a ton I rarely feel like there's nothing for me to do even after more than eight years of being a continuos subscriber. But people play the game in different ways and have different circumstances, and if you feel that what's coming up isn't enough to justify you staying subscribed for the whole remainder of the year that's perfectly sensible. Just don't expect me to agree on a personal level because for me it's fine.

Anyway, with that out of the way (to pre-emptively answer the inevitable "this game's in maintenance mode, I'm cancelling my sub" comments), what is coming?


First off, we'll get another new world event in autumn, but this one will be longer-running and seasonal instead of tied to a Conquest week, like Soovada and Life Day. It will be called "Feast of Prosperity" and be centred on... Hutts and food I guess?

Now, those of you who've been following my writings for a while may know that I'm not a huge fan of seasonal events. It's not that I hate the idea, but all too often I just find them incredibly lazy both in conceptualisation and implementation, such as how lots of fantasy MMOs just happen to have some version of Christmas in their worlds - oh, it has a different name of course but it also just so happens to be celebrated in all the same (or remarkably similar) ways as in real life, which is not helpful when part of the appeal of playing the game is escapism. The event activities are often a copy and paste from one event to the next as well - I remember when I last played retail WoW, pretty much every single seasonal event had been reduced to grinding some sort of token to buy cosmetics and queueing for a special event boss once a day in hopes of getting a rare mount. If players liked it once, they'll like it a hundred times! Game design, everyone!

Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there... anyway, my point is that announcing a new seasonal event that has a clear relation to a real-life holiday is not a good way of getting me excited. (Where's my Grinch hat?) So my first reaction to that announcement was a bit of a sigh and eye-roll - so we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving in a galaxy far, far away now? Sounds grand.

Buuut I'll admit, once I heard some of the details, things started to sound more appealing. Supposedly there'll be repeatable non-combat missions to do (something I've come to appreciate a lot more since starting my pacifist project), and an incentive to kill world bosses for "rare ingredients". I'm trying to figure out how that will fit in with the theme - will we be farming Grandfather on Balmorra for Big Bormu Livers to feed and amuse Drooga the Hutt or something? Okay, that actually sounds kind of weird and funny; I'm game for that.

The 6.2 story continuation that was originally meant to happen in summer will now go live in late autumn/winter, though it will contain two story updates at once (we'll see how "big" that feels in practice). First we'll get the resolution of the arc that Kira and Scourge set up at the end of Onslaught, and then apparently a flashpoint introducing us to a new storyline about internal Mandalorian conflict. I've said in the past that I'm not crazy about Mandos, but I'll admit that this sounds interesting, especially as we haven't dealt with them in a while. I hope this ties into the conversation you have with Shae at the end of KotFE chapter fourteen about how to keep the Mandalorians busy going forward and whether they can adapt their culture to be a bit less bloodthirsty.

In terms of gameplay changes that aren't currently tied to a specific update, Conquest, crafting and amplifiers were mentioned as systems supposed to receive further tweaks, but what really stood out to me was Lead Designer Chris Schmidt mentioning that they were looking at adjusting older content to be more in line with newer design, in terms of things like travel time, number of mobs you have to kill etc. I find this quite intriguing, though I'm not entirely sure what to expect. I think the way they've balanced things in Jedi Under Siege and Onslaught has been very good, but the last time they tweaked low-level content like that in 4.0 it was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Additions like extra quick travel points were welcome, but content removals like cutting out most of Czerka's underground base on Tatooine or binning that one heroic on Alderaan just to reduce travel time on a story mission in the area were not. So we'll see how that pans out I guess.

Honestly, writing all of this down has actually made me feel a bit hyped about it. There are only five months to go in the year (I know, right) and we're getting all this stuff? Yeah, more's almost always better, but to be honest that sounds like plenty to keep me interested and busy.

8 comments :

  1. "If players liked it once, they'll like it a hundred times!"

    I know you meant this ironically but in the case of holiday events it's also quite literally true, at least for a certain type of player. Having played EQII for as long as I have and having been in a number of crafter-heavy guilds and chat channels, I can atest from personal experience that a large number of people spend weeks - even months - in an ever-increasing spiral of anticipation and excitement over the prospect of "grinding some sort of token to buy cosmetics" (except for "cosmetics" read "cosmetics and housing items").

    Similarly, in GW2, which has been poorly-served for holiday events but which has picked up speed in this respect of late, chat positively buzzes as each holiday approaches. Attendance at each event is through the roof in the first few days and it's common to hear commanders in WvW admitting they can't really get a following because "everyone's doing holiday event X".

    For GW2's recent Dragon Bash event I would estimate Mrs. Bhagpuss tripled the time she normally spends in game these days and even then she was annoyed when she logged in after three weeks and found it had ended because she hadn't finished getting all the items she was aiming for. I'm as certain as I can be that the reason MMORPG holiday events are so formulaic and repetitive is that that's exactly what the (huge number of) players who like holiday events are looking for.

    The tie-in with real world holidays is a little harder to parse for popularity. I've heard people argue that one both ways. It does make sense to have the events at the same time people have time off work in real life, though.

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    1. Haha, that's fair. I'm well aware that holiday events are generally very popular and that I'm in the minority for grousing so much about them. I think like with so many things, my time in WoW's to blame for that attitude because I just found the way Blizzard completely homogenised its events over time so incredibly grating. I think I've written about how positively surprised I was by some events in Classic and how different they've been.

      Also, when it comes to MMO content in general I'm quite in favour of sticking to what works and not trying to reinvent the wheel every time. However, I also think it doesn't work quite as well for time-limited events that are denoted as special to have them just be more of the exact same stuff you already do the rest of the year.

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  2. You know, when I heard "Non-combat-missions" I IMMEDIATELY thought about you and Paci. It was literally the first thing on my mind. I have never seen the point of Lifeday (I mean, I can throw snowballs all year around!), and I find Nightlife all sorts of dull (love the setting, the actual playing is... boring. Also, it disconnects you? Annoying).

    While I'd like more content, I have to also respect and understand that this year's circumstances are extreme and way out of the ordinary. Considering how long it took them to even start recording voices again... I can see why they decided to put two updates together, though they'll probably be short ones.
    I'm a bit curious about the Mandalorian storyline, and whether or not there'll be mentions of Torian (dead or alive), Mandalore being a comp, and, ofc, the Dar'mada clan on Mek-sha... (Killing Indigo or not). It was a surprise to hear that they're focusing on Mandalorians, but, looking back, it shouldn't be -- Torian and Shae are the only companions that got special dialogue/scene during the 6.0 moment; even having Gault next to you makes no difference and the Rodian COMPLAINS THAT HE DIDN'T INTRODUCE YOU TWO even if he's your active comp.... So, it should tell us something,right? Not to mention all the mando-hype. So, really, it makes sense. Hopefully it'll be fun too.

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    1. Yeah, I wonder if The Mandalorian has stirred up a lot more interest in Mandos in SWTOR? I know one of my first characters when I started playing earlier this spring was a bounty hunter, as I had just finally gotten the chance to watch The Mandalorian and fallen in love. (Of course, then I realized that hunting down random people who had never done anything to me in order to win a contest wasn't actually what I was most interested in, story-wise, and so I've since spent a lot more time with some of my other classes, but it's still something I want to explore further.)

      It also makes me wonder whether they'll integrate anything else in from The Mandalorian or other new SW content - I know I found it a little jarring getting to Tatooine and having all the Sand People be Always Chaotic Evil after watching Mando's interactions with them in Ep 6. It's not likely they'd change something like that, but I wonder if there's anything else they might take as inspiration?

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    2. @Diana: I'm not sure I'm reading you right, but Veek the Sneak and Phrojo Nuray (the Rodian companion) are two different characters...

      @Heather: I still haven't watched the Mandalorian! I subscribed to Disney+ the moment it became available in the UK back in March, just for this purpose, but still haven't taken the time to actually watch the show. I'm the worst (at watching TV). I'm sure I'll get to it... soon...

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    3. @Heather I think it's hilarious that they were shocked at Sand People being Chaotic Evil, I mean... That's what EP IV and II have shown, isn't it? Insert here the appropriate Anakin Meme for the situation.

      I think there was a real boom of "Mandalorian" interest following the series, yes. I'm not sure how much it matches the feeling we get in game, where, even as a Mando, you're just another hired gun (Torian and Akaavi do nail the feeling, though). And, whatever they take as an inspiration, I hope it won't be the awful Twi'Lek teeth. That was jarring and absolutely necessary! hahaha.

      @Shintar - no, that was not what I meant. I was probably not very clear with it being 3AM and etc. What I meant is that whenever you go talk to Veek the Sneak, he complains that he has known Gault for a while and he has worked with you for a while but never introduced him to you (after all, you're a galactic celebrity and a potential source of profit). Even if you opt for having Gault as your active companion during the scene, Gault won't interject or react in any way to the complaint, which sounds a bit weird in the situation.
      Now, this is not like "having Shae as a comp while fighting shae" which makes no sense, or even "Having Scourge with you when releasing Revan" where, well, he wasn't supposed to be there yet - this was created not only knowing people would have Gault as a companion but also depending on the fact that he's a companion*! So, the lack of reaction from him feels like a bit of a sloppy oversight.

      *Unrelated: I feel like Gault being a regular companion, past KOTET, doesn't make a lot of sense? I mean, sure, for BHs that have lots of affection with him, they shouldn't *loose* him, and ofc he won't leave the alliance because he's finally HEA with Hylo, but he probably would make more sense as a secondary Alliance Specialist sort of thing, a Contact rather than a companion. He doesn't really function in the story like a companion, he doesn't do stuff with you, he just offers opportunities, talks and let you do the stuff by yourself...

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  3. "Am I a bit disappointed that there isn't more? Yes. Is it a big deal for me? Not really."

    I had this approach in the last 7 years i played and subbed to this game. After KotET we had -like what?!- 2 years without an expansion, and i was fine. Because there were so many things left to do. Achievements, Credits to earn, to buy Cartel Market stuff.

    But now i have all the achievements, i crafted so much that i basically have an unlimited ammount of credits, and with the credits i bought every single cartel market item ever released. I'm done with this game.

    And one story update (i really don't want to use the term expansion at this point), or two story updates in one, as they say, in one whole year...is not enough for me to stay subbed for 12 month.

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  4. I went back an read your old post. I had no idea so much content got removed the first time around. From my perspective removing content altogether seems like a huge wast of developer resources to spend potentially ticking players that like the content off, especially if it's optional content that doesn't interfere with the main leveling path you've laid out. But lately it's something I'm starting to notice happening in more and more MMOs I play. In the last few years DAoC has gone so far as to remove something like 2/3 of PvE content that used to be availble in the game. They did it to funnel more players into the PvP, but for some insane reason they also applied the changes to their PvE only server. I guess re-configuring the patches for a different server was too hard?

    More on topic, I was really intrigued by the story line that got teased by Kira and Scourge. I can't wait to see how that pans out. If Bioware can stick to a real expansion every other year and at least some story updates in between schedule, I will be playing for a long time to come.

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