As this is the last Hyperspace Beacon of the year year, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on some of the past opinions and predictions I held, then test them against my current stance or the truth behind what happened.
Before I get into the meat of this column, I want to make mention of an event. The Imperials of The Ebon Hawk server are holding a gala in the name of Darth Nox, commemorating the one-year anniversary of her ascension to the Dark Council. Players are invited to come ready to roleplay and participate in in-character games. Nox will conduct a scavenger hunt, items will be up for raffle and auction, and every participant should walk away with something. If you were looking for an opportunity to get into roleplay or just have some fun, be sure to visit the market area of Dromund Kaas (instance 1, coordinates: 20, 200) at 6:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, January 5th, 2013.
Making predictions is fun. I like to do that at least once a year. In the first week of January, I did just that, but for some reason, I was on a Ziost trip. Apparently, I wanted to see that planet really badly. To be fair, it would still be awesome to see that planet in a flashpoint or something. But the story of SWTOR veered off in a direction I did not anticipate. I had foreseen future development sticking to the standard two-faction conflict we saw as we were leveling up. Therefore, having a planet like Ziost was not out of the question. But knowing what I know now, I can see that third-faction planets will play a larger role in the story development.
Unfortunately, when I wrote my prediction piece, Ilum wasn't then seen as a complete failure. And players were clamoring for another open-world PvP zone, and I believe that had Ilum not been a flop, we would have seen another one this year. Unfortunately, Ilum didn't exactly work, so my prediction about open-world resource contention on Quesh didn't exactly pan out.
James Ohlen mentioned in an interview with us that the BioWare team would be working on improving guild functionality for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the only addition we saw to guilds in 2012 was a guild bank. This was great, but most guid leaders would agree that this should have been an at-launch feature. As far as social changes to the game, in general, we did see amazing strides made toward group-finding and trading.
In late January, I wrote a piece outlining what I believed to be the biggest shortcomings for SWTOR in regard to roleplay. I lamented not being able to sit in chairs, not having a variety of companion looks until later in the game, the lack of cross-faction emotes, and of course, the lack of chat bubbles. Unfortunately, most of these complaints still hold true. It's still hard to hold huge roleplay events because there are no chat bubbles, and your character still looks like a floozy when she sits down, making social roleplay very difficult.
However, BioWare has made great strides when it comes to gear. Sure, endgame gear still looks like something out of Dragonball Z, but with the introduction of the Cartel Market and adaptive gear, we have a much wider variety of gear options. I believe my character looks pretty damned awesome now in both her PvE and PvP gear set. And my characters who dress in different outfits depending on the situation or day of the week have multiple options as well.
Many players complain that stats don't transfer from one outfit to the next easily, as with appearance armor. I know I'm probably in the minority, but I like the idea that not every outfit that your character wears has the same stats. If you're going to a party, your suit might not have the same stats as your battle armor. It totally makes sense to me.
Prior to SWTOR, my primary game was Star Wars Galaxies. When comparing bug fixes to bug fixes in that game, the SWTOR team is doing a phenomenal job. Who remembers scooting across the floor in SWG? It took SOE about four years to finally fix that annoying launch bug. Granted, we still see a few annoying bugs crop up in TOR. (The team still hasn't fixed the broken pylon in Soa.)
In my bug-fixing column, Call the exterminator, I talked about some of the must-fix bugs in TOR. In the time since, I've been able to overlook the clipping issues that still exist, and the Black Talon and flashpoint bugs have been fixed. We also don't fall through the world at nearly the same rate as before. I know others will disagree, but I believe most of the game-breaking bugs have been taken care of, and for that, I commend BioWare's exterminators for a job well done.
However, there are still major issues in the quality assurance department. The public test server is still grossly underutilized, and there are still reports of major preventable bugs being pushed to live servers. Bugs happen. But measures like character transfers to the PTS and active developers or community managers on the PTS would help negate a large chunk of these issues ever making it to live. That is still a huge need for this game.
That's it for me in 2012. We face a completely different game and different a development team in 2013. And although this year has been rough for SWTOR, I still have a passion for the game, and I still like it. I look forward to what the development team has in store for us.
My character first ran into my current guild during an event designed to introduce roleplayers to each other after the first server transfers. It was tremendous seeing all the Sith roleplayers in one spot measuring each other up in-character while out-of-character they made friendships and new ties. My character started arguing with another character there, but out of character, we joked about it. I fell in love with community again at that point. And it really became one of my greatest memories from SWTOR.
What are some of your favorite memories? Was it the first time you took down a raid boss? What about an epic Huttball match? Let me know in the comments, and I will see you next year.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!