17 Jan 2012

SWTOR: So Now What?

Last weekend I finally managed to hit the level cap on my Sith Smuggler (edit: Sorcerer) in SWTOR and complete the class quest chain. Darth Gazimoff is now pottering around Illum and doing the occasional bit of space combat, but I’m realising it’s not enough to keep me interested for more than a few weeks. Once the quests run dry I’m left with the usual choices – alts or end game.

As Tobold puts it, there’s not really enough story in one class chain to last through more than a month of moderate play. I’ve decided to roll some alts, although rather than it being a new story it’ll just be the same one but told from a different perspective. The stories themselves are very good, but just like finishing a new book I’m left with a feeling of “now what?”.

The levelling experience has also highlighted a few things to me. I’ve only done a single dungeon – the Black Talon. I’ve not taken part in PvP and I’ve not done any operations. The guild that I’m in only has a small number of people at 50, so I’m currently kicking my heels a little. Space combat is still fun apart from the top-end missions that need every single ship upgrade.

For an MMO, it feels like I’m not getting into the multiplayer aspects of the game at all. The server – Trask Ulgo – has a pretty good population. So what gives?

Ultimately I think that tools like LFD and LFR have made me lazy – I actually have to work at finding a group for flashpoints instead of just clicking a button and waiting. It also means that I’m probably going to have to spec as a healer if I want to ever escape the confines of the Imperial Fleet.

I’ve been reminded a lot about my vanilla Warcraft experience. Back then it took about an hour to form a group for level capped dungeons unless you were in a substantial guild. It also took me about six months to find a raidgroup and even then it was by accident. Today the MMO landscape changes at a much faster pace – in six months I could be playing Guild Wars 2, The Secret World or the Mists of Pandaria beta.

It’s a painful admission, but I’m beginning to feel that for all the community pain and disconnects that tools like LFD caused they have become almost essential in modern MMOs. Perhaps keeping things server specific would help, perhaps implementing better matching algorithms might be a smoother move.

Either way, the fact that I’m hunting around in SWTOR for more things to do is a great sign of just how much the game has grabbed me. Unlike other MMOs that have been dropped before I even reached the level cap, SWTOR has me playing solidly for a month and still hungry for more. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a pretty good mark for any successful MMO.

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6 Responses to SWTOR: So Now What?

  1. Longasc says:

    Food for thought:

    What if people had to “socialize” to get a group instead of randomly queued up with people that are “retards” if things don’t work out and often quickly forgotten when they got through the instance.

    I remember to have read a few years ago MMOs would be shite and weak games without the social aspect. Isn’t that part of your experience right now? Single player mode to max level and now “what shall I do?!”

    How much interaction did you have with your guild and groups? Enough to make a difference, the online-mode mandatory or could you have also done it all on your own offline?

    • Gazimoff says:

      My levelling journey was with my wife, so we were pretty much safe for all 2-man heroic quests and the Black Talon flashpoint. Now that we need more people for endgame content, we’re both scratching around for things to do.

      I don’t think the queue system as it stands is a good solution though either. Sure it gets the job done, but I think there are better ways of solving the problem.

    • Remianen says:

      Double edged sword, Longasc. As a person who cut his teeth primarily in EQ1 (back in ’99), I remember all too vividly what “forced socialization” models do to (and for) communities. If you were a warrior, you NEEDED a group because with slow progression in the best of situations (relative to now), soloing was a non-starter. So people grouped (with the necros, druids, and occasional wizard as the exceptions) because they had to. Bucking that trend was one of the “innovations” that WoW’s ‘every man is an island’ model brought forward. (Of course, City of Heroes did it first but in the early days of that game, if you weren’t a tanker or /regen scrapper or AR/dev blaster, you didn’t get to gorge from that particular trough)

      Nowadays, I don’t think a mainstream game is going to survive (much less thrive) with a forced socialization model. The audience has grown more “casual” (hate how that word is used) and thus, doesn’t want to deal with the overhead that grouping typically comes with. From forming to travel to dealing with groupmates’ issues (crying baby, wife aggro, etc), people with smaller blocks of available time aren’t going to put up with that. Long periods of the dreaded ‘LFG’ without the ability to progress alone, could doom a game looking for mainstream acceptance.

      I think SynCaine might be onto something when he says ‘players are content’. I don’t agree with his base idea though. I think PvP is stigmatized to the mainstream so unless it’s heavily controlled and heavily incentivized (i.e. “Everyone gets a trophy for participating” and ‘Use your points to buy this awesome gear!’), it’s going to die under the weight of non-gamers using terms like ‘gank’ and ‘griefed’ and the like. But, grouping with other players does provide a new/different experience from doing something solo. So in that respect, the players can be key in providing new experiences that don’t cost anything in the way of developer resources.

      And before they deal with the LFG tool/UI (or at the same time), I sincerely hope they look at their godawful Auction House UI as well as the busted guild management window. It’s not like we didn’t whine incessantly in beta about this stuff.

  2. Vrykerion says:

    Grats on 50! I just hit there on my bounty hunter on Sunday, quickly discovered how much I despised questing on Ilum (I died every other pull. I apparently also suck at playing a bounty hunter.) and started leveling a Jedi Knight to see the republic side of things. My BH doesn’t have a guild at all, so I kinda just stand around on the fleet and PvP mostly, and watch the general chat for maybe seeing something pop up.

    I know they mentioned on the Dev Tracker that they are actively working towards coming up with a better LFG tool for the game. Something that would help people find groups for not only flashpoints, but also Heroic Quests and what not. I’m kind of hoping for something closer to DDO’s LFG personally.
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  3. Targeter says:

    Actively searching for groups and getting to know folks on my server has been one of the real shining points of this game so far (not counting story, gameplay, the sheer scope of things, etc)! I’ve really enjoyed having to work to get a group going, because after investing that time in putting the group together, I find that there are no tempers, no “lolubad”, or even snarkiness. In fact, I’ve added five people to my guild just by meeting them in the game.

    Now, I’m a realist; I know an LFD tool is not far in the offing, but for right now, with the game this young, I think forced socialization was the perfect call. It’s been great so far for me – your mileage may vary, of course.

    Also helps that I’m on an RP server (at least, in my mind).
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