E3: Star Wars: The Old Republic

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WoW with a starwars skin, nothing new to see here folks.

It looks like the clone wars cartoon. And it seems to have as much depth. I wish they just did more kotors.

And I cant stand themepark mmos anymore, no matter how awesome the story might be.

rsvp42:

I think TOR stands out by being massive and having a more developed and fully-integrated story. Their whole design philosophy is based around context and meaningful story choices. That to me is a significant departure from the typical tired questing of games like WoW, Rift, LotRO, etc. Even TERA has it. It's not the sort of thing whose impact can be fully conveyed with a few videos, I think. When the entire story is presented in a way that isn't just text and quest trackers I think the end result is something more memorable and satisfying.

One could also say it stands out by being Star Wars and having a sci-fi setting, but that's inherent in the IP.

Sorry but replacing quest text with voiced cutscenes is NOT a significant departure simply because it doesn't directly affect gameplay. The questing in SWTOR is the same old tired questing as WoW and other EQ-based MMO's, it's just got better storytelling and immersion.

Is this a good thing? Of course. Is it enough to stand out? For now it is, but there's already plenty of MMO on the horizon that are also giving story real attention in addition to actually trying to come up with something new. When those games come out SWTOR is going to look almost as outdated as WoW.

fundayz:

adamtm:
I think that 500.000 subs would get them their money back only if they pump in cash from other projects initially and letting it run for 10 years (which was their assumption in that statement afaik) then they might start turning a profit (at year 11).

You make some good points, many of which I fully agree with, but this right here is down right BS and makes your argument lose all it's credibility.

Box sales revenue: 500 000 * 60 = 30 000 000
Annual subscription revenue: 500 000 * 15 * 11 = 82 500 000

30 mil + 80 mil = 110 million IN THE FIRST YEAR.

Even with $100m+ developing costs, SWTOR WILL be profitable within a year or two if they maintain a 500k userbase. 500k subscribers is an easy target for SWTOR even if it is just a WoW/EQ clone in Star Wars clothes.
....

You forget to substract server upkeep, marketing, distribution, etc.

500k*60$ is not pure profit, id be surprised if their box sales have more than 25% profit margin and thats rather optimistic.

Not to forget that the 15$/month need to cover updates also that need to be fully voice acted and the same quality as the launch game, else the game is going to be dead after the first 6 months.

Additionally I'd like to point out a small fact in the entertainment industry that earning as much as you invested = failure. A movie breaks even at double the investment cost, and so do games. Profit would be generated at >2*X, while X being the initial investment.

But we are speculating, i'm not an EA exec, nor do i know all the facts, but it seems unreasonable for SWTOR to be profitable at 500k subs based on the promised quality.

rsvp42:

I'm sure there's a certain amount of that. But I'm comparing my playtime to modern WoW leveling which has been ridiculously easy in the open world, and also to my relatively brief time with TERA at E3. Seeing as how TERA is propping itself up on the dynamism of its combat, I noticed a curious lack of actual tactics on those open-world fights. All I can tell you about my TERA rotation is that it was LMB, LMB, LMB, RMB, Spacebar, Spacebar, LMB, etc. It kind of fills in combos for you. It wasn't bad, it was just different and in the end, I preferred the tactical thinking I did while playing TOR: on-the-fly stuff like choosing who to Snipe and who to grenade to avoid getting into close combat. TOR wasn't as visually flashy, but I distinctly remember thinking in terms of what moves to use when, not in terms of button numbers or cooldown timers. It was refreshing for me. And I'll say again, it was without a doubt more challenging than WoW is. Especially the elite mobs, which were tough even for three of us in a group. Another thing was that groups of enemies attacked together. You couldn't game the system and try to carefully pull one and somehow have the rest not notice. You engage one of the group, you basically engage them all.

That is up for debate until we really get to play the game for an extensive amount of time.

I'll concede the point once reports start flowing in, or when Ensidia tells me that the content is challenging
Atm from the gameplay videos i've seen I didnt see anything i havent seen before somewhere else. Dont stand in the fire, think of enemy resistances, etc...

rsvp42:

I don't think they revealed raids of any sort until this past week at E3, so I'm not sure what you're remembering. They're aware that some players are more skilled and other less so. One mechanic that Daniel Erickson mentioned in an interview is that when your group enters a story instance, the difficulty scales based on your numbers. Another thing to keep in mind are the metrics they've revealed, things like heat maps for character death. They're keeping an eye on the challenge and based on what I played, it was solid in terms of difficulty. I died more than I would if I were more experienced, but that's to be expected.

I might have been wrong on that one, i by the life of me cant track down the source-video im talking about, it might have been a 5man instance. But i distinctly remember an article on that. But nvm.

rsvp42:

I think TOR stands out by being massive and having a more developed and fully-integrated story. Their whole design philosophy is based around context and meaningful story choices. That to me is a significant departure from the typical tired questing of games like WoW, Rift, LotRO, etc. Even TERA has it. It's not the sort of thing whose impact can be fully conveyed with a few videos, I think. When the entire story is presented in a way that isn't just text and quest trackers I think the end result is something more memorable and satisfying.

One could also say it stands out by being Star Wars and having a sci-fi setting, but that's inherent in the IP.

DDO has a fully integrated DM system, voice acted, some by Garry Gygax. The story-telling in that game is unlike anything I've ever experienced before, I was positively wow-ed by it. Afaik it didnt do very well, and it has one of the bigger IPs behind it as well. So did AoC.
Story-telling is a great gimmick, but its just a gimmick in a MMO. Players have proven time and time again that storytelling is the least of their worries. Look at EVE, it doesnt have any story at all, it has the worst PVE experience ive ever seen, still 300k+ hardcore subs.

rsvp42:

But there are millions of people who won't see it the same way as you do. People like me that enjoy the setting and the story. People who like the classes, the way combat plays out, the way PvP is designed. People who want to call a new game home and are sick of all the high fantasy IPs with no history and little context. Random races designed by a committee and thrown into a world designed by pulling biomes out of a hat.

I'm a little confused by your disclaimer though. I realize you don't want to pass judgment on fans of the game, but

Neither do i say that someone is stupid for liking the game or that the game is or will be --inherently-- bad

kind of contradicts

its -NOT OK- to develop mediocre, uninspired, cardboard-cutout, clone-MMOs propped up by a gimmick and a bloated dying IP.

But whatever. Few games are universally beloved. WoW has had vehement haters since its inception, and has even more now. Not saying TOR will see the same success, but I should probably stop being concerned about folks that simply don't like it. I just like to be vigilant for misinformation. Fortunately, you've said nothing blatantly misinformed, which is more than I can say for some people that troll the main TOR forums.

Of course there will be some players that will be enjoying it, theres always -someone- that will. Theres always -someone- that says that its good, and that's his opinion, and I'm not able to prove him wrong of his opinion. TOR is objectively, mediocre, uninspired, and a clone-mmo, if someone finds that appealing, who am I to say its wrong or bad? If TOR will crush WoW and have 15 Million subs it wont change the fact of what i wrote about it. Is being mediocre and uninspired inherently bad? Bad is reserved for things that are inherently broken, unplayable, engine-wise or gameplay wise. Its rather rare that i call a game "bad".

Theres a lot of people that enjoy and are fans of Uwe Bolls movies, they positively enjoy his stuff (not in the its so bad its good sense), but does that mean its desirable for movie-makers to make low-budget, badly-acted movies propped up by IPs for the quick cash in?
Should i nod my head in agreement when Michael Bay releases another Transformers 2 and say "yes this is what the movie industry needs"?

I don't think so.

TORs success would be bad for the MMO-industry, it would signal exactly the wrong thing. Like James Camerons Avatar's success signaled to the whole movie industry that stereoscopic 3D is apparently THE SHIT now and that we should have it in every movie ever made.

If TOR succeeds we will get another 10 years of stale hotkey gameplay MMOs, possibly on licenses, but this time with voice-overs and dialogue-wheels. And while i might be wrong, my opinion is its not where this industry should be going towards.

adamtm:

You forget to substract server upkeep, marketing, distribution, etc.

500k*60$ is not pure profit, id be surprised if their box sales have more than 25% profit margin and thats rather optimistic.

Not to forget that the 15$/month need to cover updates also that need to be fully voice acted and the same quality as the launch game, else the game is going to be dead after the first 6 months.

Additionally I'd like to point out a small fact in the entertainment industry that earning as much as you invested = failure. A movie breaks even at double the investment cost, and so do games. Profit would be generated at >2x X, while X being the initial investment.

But we are speculating, i'm not an EA exec, nor do i know all the facts, but it seems unreasonable for SWTOR to be profitable at 500k subs based on the promised quality.

No I did not forget about any of that. That's why I said REVENUE, not profits; that's also why I said a couple of years, not 1. The point I was trying to get across is that it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that SWTOR will not be profitable until it's 11th year.

500k subs = 90 million/year. The cost of server upkeep, support, etc is minimal compared to the revenue created. Even with mediocre success this game will make multiple times its investment within 4 years. The only way SWTOR won't be profitable is if it flops.

Simply put, you are overestimating the cost of maintaining an MMO. This is why I'm so vehemently opposed to $15 subscription fees ($5 is much more reasonable).

That being said, I fully expect SWTOR to have fewer content patches than average due to it's two biggest selling points:

1. Voice over is quite expensive yet it is required for literally ALL content. Whether it be more quests, flashpoints, operations, etc the devs will HAVE TO spend more than other MMO's to develop the same amount of content. This will result in either lower quantity and/or lower quality of content.

2. The fact that Class Story makes a large portion of the games storyline means that any additional story content will have to be created 8-fold in order for all classes to have their own personal storyline. This compounds with the above issue as it also means they will need 8 times the voice acting for ANY class quests they add.

Together, the two main features of SWTOR work are an incredibly inefficient use of resources.

fundayz:
snip

fair enough, ill concede to that. 10 years might have been an extreme overstatement.

PS: although "a couple of years" would still lead to the danger of the game possibly dying midway through. Thats why i find the "we need X subscribers to be profitable" to be senseless statements. X subscribers for how long? Would X-Y subs for Z time make you still profitable? Thats why i think the statement was pure spin, it was said like you would be selling boxes and that 500k box-sales would make it profitable.

fundayz:

Sorry but replacing quest text with voiced cutscenes is NOT a significant departure simply because it doesn't directly affect gameplay. The questing in SWTOR is the same old tired questing as WoW and other EQ-based MMO's, it's just got better storytelling and immersion.

Is this a good thing? Of course. Is it enough to stand out? For now it is, but there's already plenty of MMO on the horizon that are also giving story real attention in addition to actually trying to come up with something new. When those games come out SWTOR is going to look almost as outdated as WoW.

But it affects the experience. Everyone harps on combat like it's the only thing that determines if a game succeeds, while forgetting everything else that matters. Things like having a large, fleshed-out world and solid lore.

It reminds me of Starcraft 2's development when everyone bashed it for being too traditional and not adapting to new game mechanics in the RTS genre. Yet the game released, it was well-made, had a decent story and unique gameplay scenarios. I think it's safe to call that game a solid success, despite being in the same mold as as its 1998 predecessor. As a equal to that game, it really stood out.

Seeing as how TOR is a sequel of sorts to the KoTORs, I don't think it's going the wrong route to use the traditional MMO combat model since it more closely resembles the combat of those games (for the record, it's more fun than the KoTOR combat).

I don't expect everyone to like it, but I don't agree that it's a bad choice in and of itself.

adamtm:

TORs success would be bad for the MMO-industry, it would signal exactly the wrong thing. Like James Camerons Avatar's success signaled to the whole movie industry that stereoscopic 3D is apparently THE SHIT now and that we should have it in every movie ever made.

If TOR succeeds we will get another 10 years of stale hotkey gameplay MMOs, possibly on licenses, but this time with voice-overs and dialogue-wheels. And while i might be wrong, my opinion is its not where this industry should be going towards.

You're sort of edging into a slippery-slope fallacy here. There are already games coming out that TOR haters laud as being the "proper" direction for MMOs, games like GW2. TOR being successful would only mean that there's still a market for traditional MMOs, which is already obvious because of how many subs WoW still has. There's no doubt that a large portion of the MMO community will be enamored with newer approaches to combat, but it doesn't make a game like TOR obsolete.

rsvp42:

adamtm:

TORs success would be bad for the MMO-industry, it would signal exactly the wrong thing. Like James Camerons Avatar's success signaled to the whole movie industry that stereoscopic 3D is apparently THE SHIT now and that we should have it in every movie ever made.

If TOR succeeds we will get another 10 years of stale hotkey gameplay MMOs, possibly on licenses, but this time with voice-overs and dialogue-wheels. And while i might be wrong, my opinion is its not where this industry should be going towards.

You're sort of edging into a slippery-slope fallacy here. There are already games coming out that TOR haters laud as being the "proper" direction for MMOs, games like GW2. TOR being successful would only mean that there's still a market for traditional MMOs, which is already obvious because of how many subs WoW still has. There's no doubt that a large portion of the MMO community will be enamored with newer approaches to combat, but it doesn't make a game like TOR obsolete.

Its only a fallacy if you are on top of the slope, we are already halfway down on it.

I do not see any MMO out there as the "proper" direction, its like evolution, there is no clear goal. TOR is at the moment like a fish with three eyes, is it bad for the fish? Nope. Is it beneficial to its survival? Nope. Its a neutral mutation, it doesnt itself harm, but neither is it beneficial.

Also take into consideration that an IP like Star Wars, a dev like Bioware and a publisher like EA carry an environmental pressure (to keep my evolution-analogy intact). Why do you think there are so many WoW clones out there? Because Blizzard and WoW carry an evolutionary pressure.

"If it worked for them, why not for us?"

Similarly a successful TOR will have a pressure on the market to make similar things.
And that creates an evolutionary stalemate, nobody takes any risk and our games become rehashes of rehashes. Look at the success of games like Halo, suddenly shooters had regenerating health. Gears of War lead to a wave of chest-high walls in TPS, etc. pp.

This is not a slippery-slope fallacy, its already happened so many times over and over and over again.

I'll tell you a secret, with all my love for Blizzard and WoW i want them to kill it, I want WoW gone.
Its a too big pressure on the market creating a stagnant landscape of same old mechanics and concepts.

Id rather have a thousand unique, fun, niche-mmos at 300k subs than one "king" to rule them all and to dictate the philosophy.

TOR is not "Next Gen" its "this-gen.5" and from my observation i gather that this gen is slowly dieing.

adamtm:
snip

Fair enough, I'm understanding your viewpoint a little more clearly.

I think if we're going to use an evolution metaphor, we should remember the concept of fitness (in terms of evolutionary survival). If TOR's traditional approach is not appealing to enough people to allow it to survive and prosper, then it won't. If it does succeed, that's not a bad thing for the market because its success is based on the market. It's only successful if consumers make it so, so all TOR's success will mean for the market is that people still like to play this style of MMO.

I think regardless of our opinions, one thing is certain: TOR will not be as big as WoW in terms of subscribers. I do agree that a certain portion of MMO players are no longer enamored with its style of play and will only be satisfied with newer or riskier approaches. I think we're moving towards an MMO market split among several high-profile and high-quality titles instead of being dominated by one title. I do want TOR to succeed because I think it will offer a different experience from other new titles on the horizon, but I don't want it to become the size of WoW. It honestly never even needs to get that big. A million steady subscribers would be great, more would just be icing on the cake.

rsvp42:

I think if we're going to use an evolution metaphor, we should remember the concept of fitness (in terms of evolutionary survival). If TOR's traditional approach is not appealing to enough people to allow it to survive and prosper, then it won't. If it does succeed, that's not a bad thing for the market because its success is based on the market. It's only successful if consumers make it so, so all TOR's success will mean for the market is that people still like to play this style of MMO.

I think you are confusing "the market" with "the industry". Of course making Transformers 3 is good for the market, after all Transformers 1+2 made a shit-ton of money.
Ask any movie critic if they find Transformers 3 to be beneficial to the industry, they will say the same thing i said about TOR.

If your goal is to make money, a successful TOR is a great thing, that will mean that Blizz can milk their cow some more, and that they do not need to worry about competition like TSW, GW2 or EVE. And as a publisher its exactly what you are aiming at.

But as a consumer, what incentive do i have to hope that TOR is successful?

Furthermore, i think even the most conservative economist will tell you that the free market only works with a healthy competition and new ideas. Once you reach stagnation, your market is going to suffer creating (idea) monopolies (WoW, MW2, etc.) and then the consumer suffers.

adamtm:

I think you are confusing "the market" with "the industry". Of course making Transformers 3 is good for the market, after all Transformers 1+2 made a shit-ton of money.
Ask any movie critic if they find Transformers 3 to be beneficial to the industry, they will say the same thing i said about TOR.

If your goal is to make money, a successful TOR is a great thing, that will mean that Blizz can milk their cow some more, and that they do not need to worry about competition like TSW, GW2 or EVE. And as a publisher its exactly what you are aiming at.

But as a consumer, what incentive do i have to hope that TOR is successful?

Furthermore, i think even the most conservative economist will tell you that the free market only works with a healthy competition and new ideas. Once you reach stagnation, your market is going to suffer creating (idea) monopolies (WoW, MW2, etc.) and then the consumer suffers.

Unless you're one of the millions of consumers that love those games. They didn't use mind control to become popular, they have a genuine appeal that drew players in before reaching the tipping point where people joined just to be with friends. I think taking the artistic high ground is a good thing because it encourages developers to do the same, but even the snootiest critics can't stop franchises like Fast & the Furious or Transformers from raking in the cash.

My point is that there are other games out there that offer different experiences and there always will be. As long as there's a market for it, they will get made. The trend is moving away from a single game as king. WoW will not become more successful if TOR succeeds, it will suffer. And games like GW2 will draw even more players away, I suspect. We were already in a place of stagnation. What we now have with TOR, GW2, TERA, TSW, and other titles is dynamism. New and competing titles taking the center stage as WoW starts a downward trend. TOR will not stagnate the industry because it won't be as big as WoW and too many other games are coming out that will spread out subscribers. With at least a million people excited to play TOR, it seems strange to root for its failure, as if you were trying to save people from their own "bad taste." It's just another choice among several new options on the horizon

rsvp42:
[quote="adamtm" post="6.290673.11573303"]
Unless you're one of the millions of consumers that love those games. They didn't use mind control to become popular, they have a genuine appeal that drew players in before reaching the tipping point where people joined just to be with friends. I think taking the artistic high ground is a good thing because it encourages developers to do the same, but even the snootiest critics can't stop franchises like Fast & the Furious or Transformers from raking in the cash.

My point is that there are other games out there that offer different experiences and there always will be. As long as there's a market for it, they will get made. The trend is moving away from a single game as king. WoW will not become more successful if TOR succeeds, it will suffer. And games like GW2 will draw even more players away, I suspect. We were already in a place of stagnation. What we now have with TOR, GW2, TERA, TSW, and other titles is dynamism. New and competing titles taking the center stage as WoW starts a downward trend. TOR will not stagnate the industry because it won't be as big as WoW and too many other games are coming out that will spread out subscribers. With at least a million people excited to play TOR, it seems strange to root for its failure, as if you were trying to save people from their own "bad taste." It's just another choice among several new options on the horizon

I root for its failure out of the reasons i named above.
You say TOR will not stagnate the industry, i say it will if it succeeds. Both our opinions are rooted in speculation, i presented my case long enough here.

I cant stop EA from making money with The Fast And The Old Republic, but i do not have to like it.

And i wont even address the bold part because thats a completely different discussion.

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