Posts Tagged ‘bioware’

Anyone who is into MMORPG’s or video games in general should know about Star Wars the Old Republic, by Bioware. Many people have said that Bioware’s latest game will be a. WoW killer. While this is great from Bioware’s perspective, I sincerely hope that SWTOR doesn’t kill WoW.

Now, this may seem like a strange opinion, but here me out. In my opinion, WoW was best in its first iteration, before any of the expansions came out. Vanilla WoW was one of my best gaming experiences ever, and i’m sure this is true for many others. However, over the years the game play has gotten stale (even as the player base grew). So what happened?

Well, I attribute the above to WoW’s success. More accurately, as WoW got more popular it got worse. To further explain, each subsequent expansion (and even each subsequent patch) overall degraded the game play. Things that were once challenging had ceased to become a challenge, but rather a repetitive grind to chase the proverbial carrot on a stick, and new content was of similar, or the same caliber. This is of course because as WoW’s audience grew, Blizzard decided to continue making the game easier to play. At a certain point, Blizzard had to pick between the novice players, who wanted some sort of instant gratification or else they would quit, and the hard core players. Unfortunately, as far as numbers go, the novice members were Blizzards bread and butter, and the rest is history.

Think about it. WoW’s unprecedented success come from the fact that WoW is very easy for a casual or new player to get into. The term welfare epics, which has been thrown around the WoW community, comes to mind as an example of this. This dumbing down of the game to appeal to casuals and noobs is exactly what I don’t want to happen to SWTOR. I’m not saying that SWTOR shouldn’t Be easy for noobs or casuals to get into, but they shouldn’t make the game essentially give out gear for free, or dumb down end game fights. Wow used to be like a teens novel. Easy to read but had some depth and provided rewards for those willing to read through all the way. Now it’s like a children’s picture book, providing cheap and easy gratification without the need to read more than a few words.

Besides being dumbed down, I also don’t want to see world PVP become nonexistent like it became in WoW. Unfortunately, world PVP started its slow death once battlegrounds were implemented. The same kind of players who want instant gratification, rather than a greater reward after longer time spent, are the ones who made battlegrounds so popular, and as a result world PVP became non existent. Unfortunately Blizzard did nothing to make world PVP worthwhile until it was much too late. Now, I am not saying Battlegrounds are bad. In fact Battlegrounds were a whole lot of fun, and are a great way to get some quick PVP in, especially during non peak hours when world PVP is low. However, what I hope Bioware will do that Blizzard did not until too late is add incentive for both styles of play. And I don’t mean the same incentive (IE both grant you honor) because battleground like PVP will always win out in a race to grind honor.

Now you may be thinking, just because SWTOR is a WoW killer doesn’t mean that Bioware will have to dumb down their game, or appeal solely to casual players. However, if you think about it, they kind of will. In order to attract the WoW players, who are so used to the instant gratification, Bioware will have to either provide a game so compelling, that the WoW players completely forget about the WoW style of MMO, or play WoW’s game (which as evident by recently released MMORPG’s like Rift, you can’t beat WoW at the WoW game). Now, whether or not the game is compelling enough to kill WoW is another story, and if it becomes a WoW killer in that sense, I will be ok with that. However, given that the game has yet to be released, only time will tell. My only hope is, regardless of how compelling WoW fans find SWTOR, I hope SWTOR stays SWTOR.

This Friday’s update included an update to how the companion characters will work. The post is as follows:

You can reach the actual post here: http://www.swtor.com/news/blog/20111007

 

In the previous blog, Senior Game Designer William Wallace explained new improvements to companion characters in The Old Republic. Here, he delves deeper into AI and companions’ roles in a group.

Companion AI

When it comes to the amount of control over their companion, players have different, often diametrically opposed preferences. Some players do not want to manage their companions any more than they have to, wanting instead for their companions to act autonomously without the need to manually trigger abilities or actions. Others want direct control over their companions, playing them almost as a second character.

Originally, our companions functioned almost entirely on their own, with only a few options for manual control. From both internal feedback and testing, we found that the integral nature of companions to gameplay in The Old Republic™ had many players wishing for more control over their companion’s behavior – they wanted more than what they had experienced in other massively-multiplayer games.

To address this, we’ve taken a page from other BioWare games and added AI toggles to each ability to control whether the companion should decide on their own when to use them, or whether they should be manually activated by the player. Players who are not interested in managing their companion can leave the default toggles on and let them run on autopilot. Skilled players can take complete control of the companion by expanding the companion bar onto their screen and using the abilities directly as though they were player abilities.

Many players will fall somewhere in between the two extremes, and will use the AI toggles occasionally to change the way their companion fights:

  • Players may choose to disable some area-of-effect abilities when using crowd control or when fighting tough single enemies.
  • Players may activate special modes or stances for their companion, causing them to focus more on damage or tanking, or on a single target versus groups of enemies.
  • Players may want to manually activate buffs and powerful special abilities on long cooldowns, as opposed to letting the companion pick when to use their most powerful attacks.

Group Role

Finding certain roles for group content can sometimes be a difficult task in massively multiplayer games.

Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ features a large amount of group content, including Heroic Quests (challenging quests requiring 2 or 4 players to complete) and Flashpoints (highly engaging instanced story content for groups of 4 players). One benefit we’re seeing from our new, fully featured companions is additional flexibility about how players approach group content. A full group in The Old Republic always has four players. Any player leaving the group can be substituted by a companion of the group’s choice, with the party leader in control of which player gets to use their companion.

If a player leaves the group or its proximity, to travel to a vendor for instance, he is able to summon his companion for the journey. Upon reentering proximity of the group, the companion is automatically dismissed. The remaining group can temporarily substitute the missing player with one of their companions if desired.

A common situation familiar to MMO players is the departure of a member halfway through a quest or instance (As a personal example: I once abandoned a group in the middle of an instance when my washing machine caught fire. These things happen!). This could potentially ruin the game experience for all involved parties, but with the ability to substitute a companion in this situation, an experienced group of players will often be able to mitigate the impact of this event and continue their adventure.

While companions certainly don’t have the impressive AI to be able to mimic most human players, the option to micromanage a companion’s ability use on the companion bar in crucial battles will enable experienced groups to successfully complete their mission, even after losing a group member.

But don’t start dreaming about conquering the galaxy with an army of companions at your side just yet – Star Wars: The Old Republic is a massively multiplayer game, and as such it is a social experience as much as it is a story-driven BioWare role-playing game. While the majority of content in the game can be mastered by a player and their companion, some group content is a different matter. Flashpoints often require human coordination to successfully overcome challenges.

Take, for example, the fight we showed at PAX East, in which a group of players fought Captain Shivanek and his pet, Ripper. As we showed in the walkthrough video, the group had to split in two to complete this fight. As the first of several boss battles inside the Taral V flashpoint, it provides a moderately difficult challenge for a group of four players – three players and a companion will find this fight to be a far more challenging obstacle that may take several attempts to overcome. Two players and two companions may find it impossible altogether.

As our testing continues and expands, the companion system will continue to be polished and refined. We take our testing process very seriously, and have significantly altered our original companion design to respond to player behavior and feedback and to ensure that companion characters are a unique and fun part of The Old Republic.

Any specific abilities mentioned above are subject to testing and redesign between now and launch. We know that we have big shoes to fill when it comes to companion characters, and will continue to make improvements so that we deliver companion characters that meet and exceed your expectations; companions that you will come to know very well for years to come on your journey through The Old Republic.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to seeing you (and your companions) in game!

William Wallace
Senior Game Designer

In the latest Friday update, the folks at Bioware released the Galaxy map for the game! It shows all the worlds that are available in the game, as well as their position in relation to the rest of the galaxy. While this update isn’t the most exciting to come in the last month (its hard to top the release date announcement), its interesting to navigate for those star wars geeks and Bioware nerds! The map is available on their website, and can be reached here: http://www.swtor.com/info/holonet/galaxy-map

Of course this update seems like a sort of filler until the next big update (and who knows what that will be about since they already announced the release date) Many people were probably hoping for more information about end game, or PvP, but patience is a virtue! Enjoy the map!