Monday, December 5, 2011

SWTOR: A few pet peeves

I think my ramblings about SWTOR have overall been quite positive, but I do have a few issues with some of the design decisions they made in the game.  They're not really serious issues, so I'd have to classify them as little more than pet peeves.

The first regards the monsters/npcs out in the world.  They just stand there doing nothing.  All the time.  They don't wander, they don't drift, they have idle animations and that's about it.  I thought we were past the age of obvious xp buckets sitting around waiting for someone to tip them over.  The humanoids aren't that bad, as their idle animations often involve them doing something, but the animals are terrible.  They just stand around and sometimes shuffle their feet, or snort.  They don't eat, they don't move, and even the completely passive "critter" variety don't run away when you approach.  The game is otherwise quite immersive and technically impressive, so I find it quite jarring to see all these listless animals standing about waiting to starve to death.  It's 2011, is that really the best we can do?

I mentioned it in another post, but the heat seeking blaster bolts really annoy me.  It's especially bad since most guns shoot a stream of shots rather than singles (like they mostly did in the movie) so you get this clearly defined arc that bends and twists as the target moves.  The flood of shots itself is fairly jarring.  How about reducing the number of bolts fired at once and making them travel faster?  That would reduce the lunacy significantly.  "But then the screen won't be saturated with blaster shots and shiny special effects all the time!" That's kind of the point.  If it was good enough for the movies and KotoR, it should be ok here too.  Blaster fire should look like blaster fire, this is Star Wars not Ghostbusters.

I understand they have to make sacrifices in the name of gameplay, but the appearing/disappearing vehicles really bug me.  It's one thing in a game like World of Warcraft where you can handwave it away as magic, but there's no magic at play here, and the technology of Star Wars does not include teleportation, solid holograms, or matter replication.  Why does that speeder appear out of nowhere, and disappear in a shimmer like a deconstructing hologram?  Couldn't they have designed the taxi pads with a hangar that your character goes into then flies out on a vehicles, then flies into another hangar on the other end.  The effect would be the same, but the visuals would be more immersive.  Or heck, do something that WoW has already done, and have the vehicles sitting out on a landing pad and when you click one you jump in and fly away (leaving another one behind, but it's still an improvement).  For personal "mounts" I'd like to see characters activate some sort of comm device and then have the vehicle of choice swoop in from offscreen, then fly off again when done.  Darth Maul did it, dammit.

 Why do some classes (Jedi Knight) get to turn in class quests via a communications device, while other classes (Jedi Consular) have to trudge back to base on foot and talk face-to-face?  On the one hand I actually liked the interaction the Jedi Consular had with their NPC, it made the story feel more engaging.  On the other hand, it took forever to get through the starting area due to all the trudging compared to the Jedi Knight.  How about a special "return to NPC" button that will automatically take your character to the appropriate story instance when you're ready to complete it.  It can go away when you're higher level and have more transportation options.  It's not teleportation, it's . . . I forget the cinematic term for it, but a scene switch in a movie.  You're assumed to have made the trudge back on foot, you just don't have to experience it.

So, anyone else have some pet peeves?  I think I've gone on about it long enough myself.


  1. Yeah, I agree with all of those. Many things about the game feel like Bioware didn't bother tying the loose ends.

    The major thing I worry about is class balance and endgame mechanics. In my experience, Bioware sucks at balance. Mages in Dragon Age? Bahahahaha-Overpowered. That's fine(ish) in single player games, but terrible in MMOs.

    As an example, I was kinda wierded out by the Trooper's kit, who had some melee attacks that were mostly just a straight DPS loss. Why use these, or if they get support later, why put them on the hotbar at level 4 just to languish? Bioware has awesome story, and less than awesome mechanics.

  2. Warsyde, you are quite the study in contrasts. For all of your gripes about realism and immersion, you then advocate the single most immersion destroying feature possible: instantaneous travel. I don't disagree with you but I found it funny. Just like Quick Travel works ("A shuttle has been dispatched"), expedited returns to quest NPCs could work the same way. However, there lies the rub. With Quick Travel recharging so quickly and bind points being so close to quest NPCs, it becomes a matter of duplicating a feature. Up to Nar Shadaa (so 20s range), I have never had any issues with getting back to a quest NPC in a timely fashion. But that's because I used Quick Travel and didn't try to run back after completing ONE quest. Clear all the quests in an area THEN go back and turn in.

    Juzaba, as of the end of beta, there were no overpowered classes. In fact, some of the keystone classes were awfully underpowered (Guardian/Juggernaut). A tank spec with few options for threat generation is a problem for me. This isn't EQ1 of '00. No one's going to wait for the tank to build threat when everyone can burn down bosses with relative ease.

    There will be a ton of Bounty Hunters and Troopers at launch (alongside the expected ridiculous numbers of Jedi & Sith) and a dearth of Imperial Agents, but that has little to do with the power level of classes. More how easy it is to identify a canon character that belongs to a particular class and the presence of BFG (Trooper-Commando).

    My only peeve with TOR is the fact that one class out of ALL of them, are given an asshole companion right out of the gate (Trooper). It also happens to be the one class most dependent (in a backstory sense) on his/her fellows in "the squad". If you hate the guy next to you in that foxhole, how motivated will you be to watch his back or support him? Would you take the first opportunity to throw him under the bus to the nation's governing body? I like the Trooper class but unless I can be sure I can get to 20ish in the very first play session (to get the better companion), I'm not rolling one.

    Another peeve of mine is how Bioware disadvantaged male Jedi Consulars in one case. When do you get your first female companion (and only love interest)? The answer to that defines my peeve. Every other class has at least one, if not two, LIs by level 30, except the male Consular.

    One last peeve: the length of time some classes go between companions. Jedi Knight has his first companion for 15 minutes before he gets his second one. Imperial Agent has to go through more than half the game (numerically speaking) before getting his second companion. That's just wrong, in my view.

  3. Yeah, I knew someone was going to point out the quick travel thing, which is why I tried to make a point of it not being the character teleporting, simply doing the traveling off screen.

    As a Consular, I DID do every quest in an area before returning for turn ins, but the class quest storyline requires you to return after every single step, and I often found myself done with quests long before my quick travel had recharged. I didn't have that issue with my Knight, as I could use a communicator to progress the class quest.

    THAT's my issue, the inconsistency right there. Ideally the other classes would all have to trudge back to their NPCs too, but that just seemed an unnecessarily cruel thing to ask for.

    Later in the game it won't matter because everyone has vehicles anyway, but the disparity between classes at low levels bugs me. Thus, a peeve.