To whom the bell tolls…

My question is this, three and a half years into Star Wars The Old Republics life, to whom does EA/Bioware cater for in this, their MMO.  Is it loyal veteran players who have stuck with the game since launch, the Ops guild progression raiders who run the game many flashpoints and Ops, is it the hardcore PVPers who daily enter warzones and huttball matches fighting the good fight against fellow players or is it for the role players who are just simple toons quietly making their way through the games massive galaxy?

As the game became a hybrid based game having both free to play players and a subscription base, do they cater more for their subscribers or the free to players that use the games cash shop the Cartel Market?

Subs_Cartel

I ask these questions in trying to determine where the game is heading, with little to no new information about upcoming content other than 2 story based updates this year, one of which has been released and another as of yet unannounced update scheduled for the end of the year.  (We also know of the Yavin IV stronghold and the Togruta race sometime in the future)

I strongly feel that the complete lack of information, the secrecy, the path that Bioware/EA follow to give information to their player base in reality actually hurts it’s community.  The constant sly grin with the “we can’t talk about that yet, but we have great things in store for you all, you’re going to love it” mantra they spout has worn really thin.  This game survives very much on that it is a “Star Wars” game…the only current one and even that is wearing very thin for a lot of people.  Many high profile raiding guilds and prominent active community members have moved on in the past few weeks, does Bioware even care? Should they?

Be warned a rant may be incoming…Star Wars The Old Republic is a fucking video game, entertainment so the thing that most baffles me is why do the dev’s and or Bioware’s marketing department treat any and all upcoming information like it is some form of top secret information that we mere players should not know?  Top SecretPlease don’t bullshit to me that is because if they say something and it is wrong or changes the community throws a tanty and thus it is better to only release info when it is rock solid.  They are pretty much in that position by not saying anything so why not be damned for saying something rather than their deafening silence, at least we the long term players could make an informed decision about our place in this MMO.

Nick-milk-carton

Where’s Nick?

Other podcasters and bloggers have said this far better than I can and yet Bioware stays silent…Star Wars The Old Republic’s Community Team, Musco, Tait I love you guys but damn what DO you do all day as it certainly isn’t communicating with the community. Nick you are new and bar your first few tweets when you started at Bioware over a month ago I have not heard of you since, do you actually exist?  You guys HAVE to be community managers on an as of yet unannounced game or you are just working part time as from my view as a player you guys are barely involved in your community.

So we have been told that due to the success of the expansion, The Shadow Of Revan, that story is what Bioware will focus on for upcoming updates, well and good I love the story in The Old Republic, but is that feasible in an MMO?  Is waiting 4 to 5 months for a story based expansion that you can complete in pretty much a few hours worth the time and money to create it, in an MMO.  What happened to new content being put into the game in the previous 7 to 9 week cadence that kept an active subscribed and the free to play players engaged and logging into the game regulary.

So my question stands…to whom is Bioware marketing (or blatantly NOT marketing) this game to?  Who at Bioware dictates what can and cannot be said…can we get that person interviewed on a podcast, why the secrecy? Do they not care that they are losing high tier raiding guilds or active community members who did Bioware community teams jobs for them promoting the game with podcasts and blogs who have now moved on.  Do they honestly NOT care and if they don’t care why am I still subscribed to this company?

Apparently there is an interview coming up soon on Bad Feeling Podcast which will feature Eric Musco and Alex Modney which may reveal some upcoming plans for PVP…time will tell.  I still stand by my statements that Bioware need to rethink their way of communicating with the player base.

Look forward to hearing how others feel about this…

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By darthbrundlefly

The Winter Of My Discontent…

Down here in Australia we are coming into Winter and with the weather turning cold and gloomy so is my attitude towards the direction my favourite MMO Star Wars The Old Republic is headed, hence the winter of my discontent.

I stayed up all last night to watch the live stream from Star Wars Celebration…and it did NOT disappoint, that trailer…OH MY GOD i am so hyped let’s watch it one more time…

Throughout the night I happily watched all the panels and enjoyed the interspersed camera shots just showing the fans soaking in all that Star Wars atmosphere, many in very well made and designed costumes.  Fathers, mothers with son’s and daughters, grandparents, 3 generations of families that have been enthralled by the Star Wars mythos.

It was in the midst of this warm glowy feeling that I realized something was missing that should have been at Celebration and been there in a big way.  Why and I mean WHY is the only Star Wars MMO out there at the moment not being promoted big time at Star Wars Celebration, who is managing this game or should I say mismanaging, as so far this year it has been nothing but a piss poor effort at marketing this game in this, the biggest year for Star Wars.

Let’s wind back the clock to the games launch and look at this flash mob video they did in Times Square (back when they were actually spending money on marketing)

Look at all those great costumes…where are they now, what happened to them?  I would imagine they are gathering dust in a storage cupboard at Bioware Austin.  Why aren’t they using these awesome costumes to promote the game at a booth on the floor in the actual Celebration venue.  You could get your photo taken with Darth Malgus or the armoured Jedi Knights or Sith, give out 7 day free trial’s to the game to everyone who passes the booth.  They could also have Satele Shan and Shae Vizla, troopers and smugglers in costume to promote the game. (They don’t even use these at their Cantina Events from what i can see)

Whoever is guiding/marketing this MMO has no vision and no money it would seem, even though supposedly the game is doing quite well financially, they just seem to refuse to spend it back on the game.  (The game has a subscription and a cash shop they are getting twice the income to a game like Guild Wars 2 which exists from the price of the game then relying on its gem store and doing quite well it would seem.)  They need to get out of the pubs/cantina and back into the actual events, like they were doing before launch, out on the floor with a booth with signage, props and costumes all of which Bioware Austin have.

All the evidence I see concerning the communication we get (or lack thereof) the bugs that are in the game that take forever to get fixed, make me feel that this game is being run on a skeleton crew barely capable of running a “Triple A Title”.  The following is an example of a bug that has been in game for 5 weeks now…

5 weeks it has been like that, not a game breaking bug…but I would say an embarrassing one, not that the bug happened, but that it is still not fixed!

Finally Bioware, stop going to the same places you go every year for your cantina’s I mean honestly give some other people in the world some love, we have a Pax down here in Melbourne PAXAUS, now why aren’t you having a cantina here, no you are going back to New York Comic-con where you have already been several times.  I am damn sure people in Europe would love to get the chance to meet you guys too…the excuse it cost’s too much is lame and no one buys it.  (Hell the prequels were made downunder because it was so cost effective for George Lucas, our dollar is back in the toilet for us Aussies but good for you Americans so stop using its too expensive as an excuse.)

Are Bioware Austin Afraid Of the Cold???

This is just a quick blog to get down in writing my utter dismay at Bioware Austin in having the Swtor Community Cantina cancelled for PAXEast in Boston.  Why am I dismayed at that you may ask, well today I find out that Bioware Edmonton is going to be there and be there in a big way having 3 full days of panels including daily meet and greets with the developers.

Jeff Hickman announced in his blog post a few weeks ago about the cancellation of Shadow Realms that 2015 is going to be a big year for Star Wars The Old Republic.

Shadowrealms fades back into the shadows...

Shadowrealms fades back into the shadows…

So we are now three months into 2015 and so far we have had a pretty lackluster start to The Old Republic year.  Thus far there have been no indications that Bioware is in any way hyping the game to take advantage of the new Star Wars movie coming out in December.

But that is not why I am writing this, on the 21st of February Eric Musco posted the following in the thread:

The Star Wars: The Old Republic Community Cantina Tour Arrives in Boston, Massachusets!

It's too cold for us in Texas...

It’s too cold for us in Texas…

Of course quite a few people are upset at this due to having already paid for travel and accommodation, but I guess at the time it is hard to argue against playing it safe when the weather over there has been fierce.

Skip forward to a tweet I saw today…

Bioware Tweet

Clicking on the blog link takes you to their blog  post which starts with the following…

Bioware edmonton blog So I am now highly dubious that the weather had any part in the cancellation of the Boston Community Cantina when it obviously is in no way hampering Bioware Edmonton in going and being a big part.  We’re talking informative panels, daily signings and meet and greets scheduled for everyday of the convention.

Why isn’t Star Wars The Old Republic being represented in any shape or form at PAXEast when Bioware IS going to be there in a big way.  I really feel that our beloved IP is the red headed stepchild of Bioware/EA that is to be hidden away under the stairs, out of sight.

This year our Community Team and representatives like Jeff Hickman have talked up big how important this year is going to be to Star Wars The Old Republic.  Yet so far all we have had is a vague roadmap, bad exploits that are not fixed in a timely matter, exciting announcements like the Operation Victory tournament which are then cancelled at the last minute, none of which is inspiring any confidence in Bioware’s claim to make 2015 a great SWTOR year.

If you read this…what do you make of our community team cancelling the Cantina when all other Bioware ip’s are being represented in Boston…leave your thoughts below I would love to hear them.

This Year On Star Wars The Old Republic…

Well only 2 weeks after it was revealed at the Pax South Cantina we finally have our 2015 Swtor Roadmap, and it was pretty much word for word to what was read out there, so why did it take them so long to post it. The only difference anyone has been able to find is that Zoist which was expected on April 28th is now a vague spring 2015.

This is a Roadmap?

This is a Roadmap?

So what do we get, later this year we will get two major updates (let’s not call them expansions) focusing on story driven content similar to what we received with the Shadow Of Revan.

The first to be released in summer (North American summer) and the second by years end.  Staying true to Biowares philosophy, no details will be given so suck it up!

But wait there’s more…never let it be said that Bioware is tight-lipped, they can tell us what is coming up in the first half of the year…(just don’t expect any real details)

On Thursday 12th February Game Update 3.1

Hard Mode Flashpoint: Blood Hunt

Hard Mode Flashpoint: Battle Of Rishi

Start of PVP Season 4

Look PVP was mentioned in the roadmap, just not in the way you were hoping for.

Then April 28th ohh sorry make that sometime in Spring 2015 (again North American spring) Game Update 3.2

Behold the “Outfit Designer” actually don’t as we really don’t want to tell you anything about it yet…please continue your wild speculation on our various social media sites. (Bioware has an ongoing raffle to see which player gets the closest to what the actual “Outfit Designer” will be. But don’t worry none of you are close to anything resembling it, as all your Idea’s are way to sensible and practical than what will be finally delivered…we have been burned before am I right.

A New Story Arc On The Planet Zoist. Okies is this the 1st of those 2 major story updates…no, no it can’t be as this is set to be released in spring not summer so new story is always good.

The End Of PVP Season 4 And The Start Of Season 5

Holy crap you PVPer’s are ungrateful, PVP has been mentioned 3 times now in this roadmap that’s 3 more mentions than Swtor’s GSF!

And Beyond (to infinity and all that, yes we know Disney owns you now)

A New Stronghold (dammit I can’t afford to fully deck out the 4 I own now)

Playable Togruta (which we have sort of known about for the past 6 months)

Bruce then continues that there is still more to be revealed…well I would bloody well hope so your roadmap hasn’t actually revealed anything at all. (Sigh!)

In further gaming news today, this was followed by the bombshell that Biowares new IP they have been working on Shadow Realms, has been cancelled.

We then were given a blog on Shadow Realms by Bioware Austin General Manager Jeff Hickman…

Shadowrealms fades back into the shadows...

Shadowrealms fades back into the shadows…

What will this mean for Star Wars The Old Republic. Will Swtor’s original dev’s James Ohlen, Dallas Dickenson Gabe Amatangelo be back to creating more content for our beloved game. It would appear so from jeff Hickmans blog but I guess time will tell.

Bioware have a huge opportunity to use the hype surrounding the new Star Wars Movie The Force Awakened throughout this year.

Bioware should be throwing all their resources back into The Old Republic, to make an even better game with lots of varied content for both existing and new players to enjoy.  Please don’t try to make a quick buck by riding the coat tails of the new movie, hoping to get lot’s of new players who will try the game only to leave a month or two later. We need to make a game that hooks the player and entertains them into wanting to stay.

We need more quality of life patches, bugs in game since launch need to be fixed.  PVP desperately needs some dev love, listen to your PVP community, they have a ton of ideas as does the Galactic Starfighter players.   Most of all if you truly want the game to be a resounding success that it can and should have been at launch, you have to spend money and put back in place a development team that can handle the size and scope of a true AAA MMO title.

Thoughts anyone…

The Fourth Pillar?

So did Bioware paint themselves into a corner when they came up with the idea of making a story based MMO, does it really work. For the base game as it was released that answer would have to be a resounding YES! The positive comments and reviews of the game when it was initially launched praised the game for its story driven missions and fully voice acted quest system.

As people arrived at the level cap however that brilliant shine faded like the sun during a total solar eclipse. Cracks began to show, Ilum was broken, many game systems that players expect in their MMO like guild features and looking for group were absent apparently sitting on a wall of crazy.

But the most glaring issue at level cap was that your story, that fourth pillar Bioware touted so much prior to launch ground to an absolute halt!

Screenshot_2015-02-07_17_48_14_592995

My question then is “what happened?” We know that in the few months after launch The Old Republic hemorrhaged subs, game systems were broken and the subscription model became the hybrid model we have today. This undoubtedly changed things, did change things priorities were shifted (cough…cash shop). But honestly, I cannot see how they ever thought they could consistently push out story based content with full voice acting for both story and class based content as we had up to level 50 on a regular basis.

Bear in mind this is my musings as to how the game was at release…what Bioware was thinking and the direction the game was hopefully going to follow. The game we have now is shaped by the successes and failures of the game post launch, I suspect the game, in its current form is leagues away from what was planned or hoped.

The game today is a very solid and fun MMO, Swtor is in a good place, the Shadow Of Revan expansion (DLC) was great and a fun ride. It advanced our story and gave a token piece of class content. I often wonder though what the game would be like had it lived up to the mega hit Bioware had initially thought it would be.

What do you think?…Story is great but is it conducive to an MMO.

Open For Interpretation?

One of my pet hates with the Swtor community team is how they announce upcoming game systems. Usually a few lines of text that tease an upcoming bit of content but with no real details. This always leads to outlandish, way over the top speculation from the playerbase, which lets be honest, no update released from Bioware could possibly measure up to.

Then comes the inevitable bewilderment from the community team, they are suddenly confused as to why people on the forums and other social media are in an uproar when they fail to deliver what the community expected and hyped themselves up for. Yet for weeks between the vague announcement till when they do give out concrete information, speculation runs rife on SWTOR social media which Bioware does nothing to extinguish.

An example, the Galactic Starfighter Expansion (The Secret Space Project) free flight space addon for the main game. The general feeling from the day they announced it was a version of Star Wars Galaxies Jump To Lightspeed. Anyone who played Galaxies (including me) felt this was what we wanted and hoped it would be.

What we ended up with was PVP maps in space, which while it is not a bad addition to the game is not what anyone was expecting and is certainly no Jump To Lightspeed. (and is fairly neglected as of writing this)

Let’s come to the present day and oh boy, here we go again. At the Pax South Community Cantina they announced a new upcoming system “the Costume Designer”. What is it? How will it work? Once again speculation is running wild on the various SWTOR social media sites with everyone having an idea of what it will or should be. Of course the actual Costume Designer will never be able to satisfy all these different people’s idea’s of what it should be and disappointment will once again ripple through the community.

A Vague Announcement

A Vague Announcement

Speculation...

Speculation…

I guess for me, I don’t understand Bioware’s mindset in making vague announcements of some upcoming game system and then happily allow the community to get way over hyped. I do understand generating hype and creating word of mouth, to get people excited, but wouldn’t the Community Team and Dev’s rather great word of mouth via a terrific bug free piece of content that the community loves and gets behind.

What do you think? Should Bioware keep throwing out vague upcoming announcements with we will give you details in the coming weeks as they do now. Or should they make a clear announcement of upcoming systems when they have the details to share with us… which are then not open for interpretation.

Greetings and Salutations

An introduction, hello online I am DarthBrundleFLY and this will be my attempt to put into words my thoughts and musings concerning the Bioware MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic.

My Bounty Hunter Aaylã

My Bounty Hunter Aaylã

So a little about my time with this game, I have been playing now since the 1st public beta weekend a little over 3 years ago as of writing this. To say I am a Star Wars nerd might be an understatement…lol.  I saw the original film in a Theater in Sydney in 1977 when I was a teenager and just typing that here has made me feel very very old.

Captain Azeth in Beta

Captain Azeth in Beta

I have played all things Star Wars from my Atari 2600 days to anything released by Lucasarts and over the years I have most if not all their games on Steam and GOG. My 1st MMO was Sony Entertainment’s Star Wars Galaxies, my two main characters Azeth a human bounty hunter and a Twilek entertainer named Thayla which I played from beta till the game was sunseted by SOE after 9 years.

I have also played World Of Warcraft, Lord Of the Rings Online, Age Of Conan, DC Universe online, The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wildstar, well you get the picture I like to try new MMO’s but I have pretty much always had a subscription to a Star Wars MMO.

My main in Swtor is Aaylã a level 60 Bounty Hunter Mercenary on the Begeren Colony RP server. I also have 5 other level 60’s toons.  (an Imperial Agent, a Jedi Sage, a Jedi Sentinal, a Smuggler Gunslinger and a Sith Inquisitor.) My six other toons range in level from 24 to 57 and I plan to level them in the coming months. (though after 5 times leveling through the entire game that 12x experience is sorely missed)

I do play alot of other video games when time allows and have an extensive collection of games mainly thanks to those damn Steam sales which I either have not started or am partway through, hence my seemingly insurmountable pile of shame.

So it is my hope to write about my adventures and experiences playing Star Wars The Old Republic including how I feel Bioware is continuing to expand and enhance the game. (There may be potty mouth from time to time)  I may also write about the other games I play as I hopefully work my way through this ever growing pile of shame.