SWTOR Growing Pains: Improvements From The End Game POV

Taking a break from my normal topic of end game raiding, though, I do not think it is a stretch to say this topic is heavily related (it is from my viewpoint, after all) … I wanted to talk about some of the larger issues I see in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Going a step further, I will also offer my realistic suggestions and the possible ramifications that these suggestions might have for the development team and the engine that SWTOR was designed on. This is a pretty  long article, so if you are looking for a particular topic, try guiding yourself by the section names which are in bold.

Not Content On Content – Lack of Activities Between Your Primary Goals

The first truly overarching problem with the game has been keeping players busy. When the game launched, the focus was on story. While this remains a “pillar” of the game, in a world that constantly expands and evolves, the story pillar has proven to crumble a bit faster than the others. Every MMO has its lore, even EverQuest, my first MMO, had lore when it came out over a decade ago. Lore and story is not what keeps players around, though in SWTOR’s case, it is certainly what got players to come play the game in the first place. What actually keeps players around is the idea of keeping the players busy. When you log in, there should always be something to do. PvP, Raiding, Dailies, these were the three endgame events when SWTOR came out. Later they introduced the Seeker Droid and Macrobinocular quest lines and soon they will release another repeatable event – though events are temporary, lasting only days.

SWTOR's Seeker Droid and Macrobinocular quests lines where pretty great, but more is needed.

SWTOR’s Seeker Droid and Macrobinocular quests lines where pretty great, but more is needed.

PvP has grown very stale, with the newest map being released around a year ago, the reward for PvP being a gear grind, and ranked PvP being nearly non-existent on most servers (The Harbinger and POT5 being the exceptions). There are changes lined up for patch 2.4, but that is still some time off and BioWare has already lost or are facing to lose a large portion of their PvP crowd. To be clear, there are people who enjoy more than one activity, but usually people either dedicate themselves to PvP or PvE – then mix in the other activities. I personally dabble in PvP, and besides some days where I will group up with a few guildmates, I find myself sitting in the fleet doing nothing, more than I am actually PvPing. I am not complaining about queue times here, I am complaining about the lack of something to do between queues and my lack of desire to be constantly PvPing to fill my down time between raids, being that I am primarily a raider.

Dailies are super boring. There, I said it. I can run through each once – but after doing them when the game first came out to grind gear with just Belsavis and Ilum dailies, I don’t think I can ever step foot in them again. They are great for credits, but I no longer need more credits, so there is no remaining value. Reputation seemed to add no extra motivation for me and for many others. Adding new daily areas won’t fix the problem – I may explore the new area once and complete it as I have the others, but the time going into developing a daily area could probably be better spent elsewhere (I know some people may disagree here, this is just my opinion and my guess is, the opinion of many).

Those Little Things – Filling Your Time

Now, before I get into the Operations portion of this article, which will be my longest section, I thought I’d talk about the issue of boredom. What can be done to fix this problem? Pretty simple, give us more to do in between PvP, dailies and raids. Like what? Well Sabacc is by far the most obvious and possibly the easiest thing to implement.

Sabacc is so long overdue, it defies logic why it is not in the game – and I have yet to see a reason from a gold post of what, if any, potential roadblocks there would be. Sabacc does not need to be about gambling, it could purely be about ranking, but adding a quick and fun activity that you can sit on the fleet (or better, Nar Shaddaa casinos) and occupy your time for hours on end would be a very welcome addition and change of pace.

A little sabacc never hurt anyone. ;)

A little sabacc never hurt anyone. ;)

The “Super Secret Space Project” offers a bit of hope. I think a lot of people are looking forward to putting the stars back into Star Wars. I personally still hope to see an operation and a PvP match that involve space combat in some way.

The little things are what fills your time. The fleet is currently the place to sit and stare at nothing. Adding additional activities, like an arena in the fleet, would be a vast improvement to my general time wasting. A swoop racing track, or something along those lines, would be a nice addition as well.

There are other little things outside those bigger activities as well. I remember when the game was being announced and the first time I heard there would be no swimming in the game. My disappointment was not about the lack of immersion that caused, though it plays a small part, but things like being able to swim and fish – or cook and dance aren’t just things for role-players. Players of all calibers like to relax, escape into their virtual world, and do activities like these just to fill their time. The little things matter in keeping players happy, bring on the space fishing.

Operation: Endgame – Linearity, Gear Progression And Tearing Down The Artificial Wall

I actually enjoy the raids/operations and think that, if you judged on the amount of difficulty modes, they have done a decent job releasing the content at an okay pace as of late (it was a bit slow to begin with). I think there is a new problem, though. When people have defeated Hard Mode, gone onto a whole new raid zone, then go back and defeat the Nightmare Mode of the previous tier content, it does not sit well with the raiding community. To clarify, the issue is beating Hard Mode Terror From Beyond, beating Hard Mode Scum & Villainy, then going back to TFB to beat Nightmare – making the content feel recycled. I think even worse was the fact that when the Makeb expansion came out, we were forced to return to HM TFB to farm the newest tier of gear. We had literally just spent months farming the top gear there, then all of a sudden this gear becomes 100% obsolete and we have to return to the same operation in order to farm more. This did not feel like a well thought out plan.

Still on the topic of gearing, I wanted to present another problem that affects the casual raiding community much more than it will me. The new Nightmare Mode for TFB is truly difficult (bravo, on behalf of the “hardcore” raiding community). However, this content needs to be defeated in order to attain the newest level of gear. The big problem here is, there are 99% of guilds who raid who will never clear this instance – heck some still haven’t (probably can’t and never will) clear Explosive Conflict Nightmare Mode (tanks are still a tough fight, even at 55 and in full Underworld Gear). When you make something this difficult (part of progression not to mention fights that they feel like they are somewhat dependent on RNG), you are really blocking a large part of the community from the content.

The problem isn’t that the content is hard, this is a good thing and something BioWare needs to do for the hardcore community, the problem is that we need to, and BioWare actually expects us to, go in and farm gear from here. I truly shudder at the thought of having to do this content for months. Honestly, the two hour title is reason enough for us to return, we don’t need to continue coming back for gear at this difficulty. Worse yet, we will have to do the same for another NiM raid probably simultaneously – I have sincere worries of our abilities to farm this gear fully (NiM S+V and TFB) before whatever next operation comes out. The best progression is one done on an equal playing field – equal gear means that the guilds with the best talent will win. When an artificial wall is created that creates other inequalities, that is not a good thing.

I digress, the problem for the casual guilds who cannot even really participate in this tier, they will perhaps end up two tiers of gear behind for the next operation. What will happen then, will this tier be nerfed? I don’t think it should, but it is an interesting conundrum. I think it also feeds into my next big issue, one also introduced with the new level cap – linearity of progression.

When the expansion came out and the level cap was raised to 55, three operations became obsolete (in terms of necessity of completion for progression). Looking back at my EverQuest nostalgia, one of my favorite things about gearing was that you could not complete X2 before completing X1. Flagging would be one way to maybe resolve this … but that is not what I am looking for. A fresh guild, with all fresh new characters, should have to spend a couple weeks farming their way up each tier before they jump into the next. As the game stands right now, I can reach level 55, and without the assistance of my guild, spend one week gearing and be ready for S+V and TFB HMs – not only be ready, but actually be able to contribute. Now, there are the other problems, such as crafting (and comms) assisting in bypassing the need to raid older tiers, but the bigger issue is that EC, EV, and KP are completely obsolete. They were left at level 50 (which is OK) but their gear is inferior to 55 FPs (story even, not HM).

Leia says it best.

Leia says it best.

Before I offer my suggestion of fixing this problem – let me go into one other issue that I think can be solved in the same way. I already spoke about how when we hit 55, our year of hard work gearing up into the newest tier instantly became obsolete by the newest tier of gear in the buffed (or new) story mode operation. Meaning, Story Mode S+V and TFB post 2.0 dropped iLVL 162 gear, when I was wearing 150′s from the previous tier. Combine this with Story Mode operations being so easy I probably could have completed them with my guild half naked. In other words, we could easily roll through SM in the iLVL 150. Not only that, but none of the guilds that wanted to jump into HM wanted to have to farm gear in SM, and most didn’t, anyway.

The solution? Well for one, when the level cap increase arrives, make the previous hardest content (let’s use NiM TFB and NiM S+V as examples) drop the new easiest tiers gear. This allows a few things – the previous guilds that weren’t “good enough” to beat the previous tier can still progress with this tier of gear. It also allows the hardcore guilds the ability to farm gear faster so that they can compete on skill, not gear, for the next tier that will come out (NiM modes will always be delayed in the future, most likely). It also allows the hardcore guilds the ability to jump straight into hard modes without having to waste time farming in Story Mode and without making their previously hard earned gear feel so completely obsolete.

There is a positive when it comes to Operation design – Scum and Villainy provided great improvement in terms of run time back to the bosses after wipes, please continue modeling future design of run-backs on S+V.

Content Release Schedule And While We’re At It, PvP

One of my biggest gripes is how content and fixes are patched in. Things should be released when they are done. They have already stated that 2.4 is the aim for a really big PvP update. I refuse to believe that, a couple months out, with what I think they might have planned, that some of what is in that patch is not already complete. A big “some of that” would probably be a new PvP map. I’d strongly urge BioWare – if anything is completed now, just release it. Don’t wait for 2.3. Just release it in 2.2.2, 2.2.3 or whenever it is done. Enough with the major releases. There is no reason to hold back content that is already done just so you can package it all together. Whatever reason you think there is (some kind of overhaul to valor maybe?) is not good enough. If you want to keep PvPers happy, and all players happy, then just release what you have as soon as you have it.

I also miss original Ilum world PvP. I get it, it lagged a lot of people, and sitting there while your computer stalls isn’t fun. I understand that not everyone will see it from my view, but it never lagged me to the point where it wasn’t fun, even when there were two full ops groups on each side. I sincerely wish they never removed it until they had a more permanent complete replacement. The current repeated Ilum event was a good start, but by no means complete. I think additional world PvP must be coming with 2.4, but it needs to come fast – this would be another great way to fill the time between WZ queues and daily doldrums.

I miss the sea of red....

I miss the sea of red….

I think new maps and world PvP would go a long way to helping PvP’s rejuvenation – and I’ll throw in more suggestions further on in this article. On the topic of content release, the same should be applied to everything – especially balances and bug fixes, realizing it is not always possible to do. If there is something that is envisioned, something that can be done quickly, just do it quickly on any Tuesday patch – especially balance fixes between classes or the 8-man and 16-man versions of operations. I think it is ridiculous that Vanguards and Shadow DPS have been left to suffer for so long. They are so weak now that I couldn’t bring those players into raids, even if they were exceptionally good players, until they rolled something else. If there is an imbalance, one as obvious as this, something needs to be done quickly.

Class Balance Part 1 – The Standard Bearer and Discouraging Stacking Classes

2.0 introduced a huge improvement in class balance. DPS numbers are close on the dummy (there is a great thread tracking this), but let’s put it into practice and look at the TORparse numbers (this links directly to Thrasher, check out 16-man HM in particular for one of the largest discrepancies). What numbers are we seeing in raids? Vanguards, Scoundrels, and Shadow DPS truly are horrible among even the elite players excluding some freaks of nature(Sorry guys, don’t mean to single you out). This is a pretty serious issue as it’s the kind of horrible that’s not worth bringing into raids horrible. Sentinels not only do higher DPS than most but also offer the group wide buff inspiration, boosting their groups DPS, and transcendence, boosting the entire raids run speed (important for certain mechanics). The only melee worth bringing in right now is a Sentinel (other classes are viable, especially those freaks of nature, I am just saying that given the option, a Sentinel is preferred due to the cost to benefit ratio). Then you have Gunslingers … the most ridiculously overpowered class. The kicker is, you can’t nerf the good classes. You can’t nerf them because they are so entirely needed to beat the current tiers content. Look at the top guilds in 16-man who have beaten Dread Guards, rolling with six Slingers. This isn’t cheap to do and it is entirely necessary. Fights are not even beatable without some Gunslinger DPS in 16-man.

Trooper_and_smuggler

I actually like Sage DPS, I play one and do reasonably well. But let’s face it, the ideal grouping right now is probably eight Gunslingers and two Sentinels (exaggerating slightly, different compositions might be better for different fights). Commandos too, for what it’s worth, are good DPS. Sages and Commandos offer utility (they can both run fast, have some nice defensive abilities) – but still lack compared with the Gunslinger. Heck, Gunslingers can even bypass whole mechanics by timing their Hightail It (the roll ability mitigates all damage during the roll, which is perfect for the Dread Guards’ lightning phase).

So how is class balance restored? How can you make every class viable for a raid? You really can’t. It is next to impossible, because as long as one class offers the slightest benefit, they become the flavor of the month and your raid is better off just having as many of that class as possible. Worse, if you make it so certain classes have synergies, making it better to have a mix of classes – well that is bad too, because you are now essentially forcing a raid group to take certain classes they might not have or be able to recruit. I could really only come up with one solution and it is a solution I don’t care for.

Make it a bad thing to bring in multiples of the same class. How? Well, I mentioned I play a DPS sage so it was the best example I can think of. Sage DPS’s cannibalize one another when they are in the raid – particularly when one is balance spec’ed. When you lay down your Force In Balance spell that applies Force Suppression (increasing damage of dot ticks) – when another Sage is in the raid, that Sage will also eat the suppression stacks. The effect is lowering that first Sage DPS’s total DPS. Now, it might boost the other – but if that one is Telekinetic spec then his dots aren’t hitting as hard in the first place, meaning the total raid DPS is lower. Even with two Balance Sages – with Force Suppression – Mind crush (a weaker damage per dot tick spell) will usually end up eating the other person’s force suppression. The only way to prevent that is to be perfectly in sync, which is nearly impossible. So, the end result? It is a disadvantage to have more than one DPS Sage in the raid and every DPS Sage added is an additional disadvantage.

SWTOR_Sage

I think that the Sage DPS is an extreme example. However, it is a mechanic that makes bringing in more than one Sage DPS a problem. This definitely puts multiple Sage DPS at a disadvantage compared with Gunslingers (who do more DPS anyway and still have a better damaging bypass spell and a raid wide damage reduction). So either the same disadvantage needs to be added across all classes or the Sage should have the disadvantage taken away (so that their dots only eat their own suppression’s).

Class Balance Part 2 – My Suggested (Mostly Non-Mathematically Supported) Changes

Gunslingers are your new standard, whether we like it or not. My biggest general gripe, so I don’t have to repeat it on every class suggestion, is that everyone should have a raid wide buff – if one class has a raid wide buff they are automatically more useful. I also think the armor discrepancy is not really taken into consideration. I think the logic is that most light armors have a heal (Sages, in particular). Therefore they can heal themselves. Well if they are healing themselves they aren’t DPS’ing. If they are healing themselves, they are not healing others or offering any raid benefit. I think that the light armor wearers defensive damage mitigation for DPS needs to be brought a little more in line with the other DPSers damage mitigation (closer, not same).

Before I  really dive in – let’s talk about some DPS bugs that hurt all the classes:

  • ● Not being able to hit the cores in TFB with placed AoE moves greatly reduces the DPS of certain classes/specs (Guardian Smash spec and Sage Balance spec for FiB are the two biggest examples). Having a bug that specifically only affects, or has a deeper affect on particular classes, reduces their usefulness in that encounter.

  • ● Ability lag/Phantom casting has a larger effect on some DPS, as some classes rely on perfectly executing their rotation in order to pull off even just optimal DPS, a discrepancy is created. Some classes are hurt worse because ability lag occurs more often on longer cast times (Sages with Telekinetic Throw lose two whole GCD, same with Guardians/Sentinels with their channeled ability).

  • ● There is a particularly nasty bug with Sages that on an autocast being cast before the proc shows, it prevents them from attacking at all for a period of time (fixed by moving, but still), see thread here. NOTE: This was added to known issues at the time of my writing, but it is important to point out how these bugs, when left to linger, can really negatively affect someone’s main class for a long period of time.

For all my balance sections below, the big caveat is that my thoughts are based more on personal experience which is a bit more extensive than many due to the fact that I spend a fair amount of time speaking with other guild leaders who share my opinion. While I won’t go as far as to say they will agree completely with all of my specifics, I think the general ideas expressed would find some agreement. So, using Gunslingers as the standard, these are my opinions of what is needed to bring other DPS to their level (aside from raid-wide buffs, which I believe every class should have one of):

  • Vanguards need a straight damage buff to their abilities. I also think they should be given Charge as a general ability, not as something spec’ed into as tank.

  • Commandos are actually really good, they have great AoE, their single target isn’t bad – they can assist in some off-healing if ever needed. I’ve encountered plenty of Commandos who can hold their own – they just aren’t capable of matching a Slinger in DPS.

  • Shadows need the single largest damage buff – they actually offer some raid utility and have Force Speed. They have always suffered as being the weakest DPS. I have seen a few great Shadows – and they are still great in PvP – but they are still the most dismissed class in PvE.

  • Sages – I can speak most about sages since it’s what I play the most. Balance needs an AoE boost – simply done by boosting the damage by the almost useless AoE, Forcequake (I don’t care that it benefits TK too, they both need it). Telekinetics could probably use a slight DPS boost since they get crushed whenever they have to move (which is a lot in most cases) – it is why I normally out DPS the great TK Sages of the world in actual fights but lose to them on the dummy. Sages in general would need a slight boost to be in line with Slingers. Given their Force Shield, bubble, heals, pulls, they probably have the best utility for any non raid-wide buffs. There are some bugs that definitely need to be addressed, but most of them affect every class in some way. I would also love an execute ability (when target is sub 30% health), but can live without it as I think it would have to be an entirely new skill.

  • Scoundrels – they need a large damage buff. One of their best raid benefits is out-of-combat rez’s – which are almost impossible to pull off in a lot of the newer encounters. With that taken away from them they are disgustingly bad. Might as well give them a Scrambling Field and the same damage reduction roll as a Gunslinger – along with a buff to their DPS and I would start loving Scoundrel DPSers.

  • Sentinels – they really don’t need much – some of their actual individual trees are weak, otherwise they are almost perfectly in line with a good player controlling them – a slight damage tweak would get them in line with a slinger – but they are still a melee vs a ranged – so they should honestly be doing a tad bit more damage than a Gunslinger in the first place.

  • Guardian – it is nice that they have heavy armor and their Smash does very nice AoE damage – but their single target DPS is lacking, needs a good buff, and you should just give them Inspiration in their DPS trees (not tanking, or that’d be way too overpowered).

I would again like to stress, the difference in DPS would not matter as much if each class had something unique and powerful to bring to a raid group like the Sentinel’s Inspiration or the gunslingers Scrambling Field. I would also like to offer a suggestion of how to implement a raid wide buff so only the DPS classes get them. Simple! Just put it at the top of the skill trees (so on top of Sever Force, for example). Not only would this ensure only the DPS classes get these buffs, but it would make it so hybrid specs are less viable (which I think they should be).

We ALL want to be necessary.

We ALL want to be necessary.

Okay, on to tank balance.

As a general rule, I think that tanks DPS should generally be buffed (30-50%). They are currently doing ~1k DPS on a solid fight in top tier (and these are only the best tanks that are truly focusing on DPS). I honestly think they should be doing 1200-1500. For the record I have a Juggernaut and Vanguard tank, but have only tanked top tier on the VG:

  • ● Guardians are generally the best tank right now – they have the best and most cooldowns – have the best damage mitigation. Need the most damage buff – another AoE wouldn’t be bad either.

  • ● VG – I like VG and think they are second best tanks right now. They don’t really offer any real benefit over guardians except in AoE (they are the model for holding AoE DPS, I think). I also think it would make a ton of sense for them to get one more defensive cooldown to match guardians. Again, a buff to their single target DPS would be nice, AoE is fine here.

  • ● Shadow tanks are the worst, by far. They take spikey damage and their philosophy is a ton different than the other two tanks. Forget self heals, they don’t help when the tank is full health and they do next to nothing when the tank is almost dead. They have a couple  of nice cooldowns, but could also use one more to be in line with guardians. They have the best single target DPS but still too low – they could use one more AoE DPS ability. They are also at a disadvantage with their Force Speed – which couldn’t be clearer than on the Writhing Horror. While certainly doable, how easy it is for Guardians and Vanguards to blindly leap versus using Force Speed is fairly vast. Honestly, BioWare should just do a complete redesign so that Shadow tanks take damage the same as other tanks – I wouldn’t mind if their Force Speed were replaced with a leap-like ability either. In other words, to make everything fair, they need to be more of the same. Again, compared to Guardians, Shadows are down one good cooldown – though the cooldowns they have are probably the best of the three, so they would only need one more weak one (like a temporary health boost to max hp).

Carnage takes down the Writhing Horror

Carnage takes down the Writhing Horror

Lastly, healers, which I have very little experience with except when I respec to heals on my sage. That being said, it is pretty clear there is one issue. Consider this a summary of why Sages and Scoundrels are better than Commando healers (not as drastic as the tank issue of course, but still an issue).

  • ● Sages have great AoE heals and can regenerate their Force efficiently with the right skills (and frequent use of Noble Sacrifice). They have a couple nice life saving abilities (mainly just bubble) and decent single target heals. In short, Sages fill a role of keeping the raid alive better than anyone else but cannot single-target heal as well, an acceptable tradeoff.

  • ● Scoundrels have fantastic mobility and single-target heals. They also have the out of combat rez on a shorter cool-down than Shadows. They are the best tank heals, hands down – and are far more viable on fights with heavy movement. They lack in AoE heals compared to sages, but given their great single target heals, consider this a good tradeoff.

  • ● Commandos really offer nothing that the other two don’t. Why would I ever bring a Commando healer in when I have Scoundrels and Sages? They don’t do either job well. They need a slight buff on both AoE heals and single target heals – because even then, they are the least mobile healer and if they are not capable of out-healing the other two healers, they aren’t worth bringing in at all. Like DPS, there are some exceptions, but I bet that same player who out-heals on a Commando would do even more on a Scoundrel. The discrepancy is not so big though that I wouldn’t take a Commando healer into a raid.

Tradeskills

I hate SWTOR’s implementation of trade skills. Not everything, just most of it. The only thing I sort of like is the ability to send off companions instead of standing in front of the forge myself. I think it is a bit too late to provide an overhaul here, but there are certainly some improvements that can be made and ways for BioWare to make money!

Give us the ability to learn more than three skills. Ideally, I just want Biochem on all my alts so that I can use the reusable adrenals and stims for them. Why we can’t have more than one crew skill boggles my mind. And the money part? I’d be willing to pay $5 a character or $10 a legacy to expand the amount of crew skills I can learn, per skill. Sound like a deal?

I think BioWare has gotten a little better with how crafting progression level gear works, but I think they should think about taking it down another tier. It sort of stinks that people only capable of beating item level 162 content can run around in 168s by farming or purchasing mats, when top tier is 174. I’d feel more comfortable with more separation.

One other thing I greatly dislike is when the new augments came out – there was a huge rush to get the kits and augments installed creating a great expense to serious raiders who needed these augments in order to compete. Okay, the augments are implemented – how about we just keep them here? Seriously, why do we need to re-augment just because we level? I have been using the same color crystal for over a year now.

Biochem, in my opinion, is still the only truly useful skill to end gamers so much so, that I eventually gave in and dropped Synthweaving for it with 2.0. I like my first idea presented here, let us learn Biochem in addition to everything, or let us learn additional crew skills, then having a must-have crew skill won’t be as big of a deal. There are other ways around it sure, but I don’t really expect my raiders to pump out 100,000 credits of adrenals every night in order to get a fight down – and I’m competitive enough where I need them to be used to make sure we can progress.

I also mentioned this earlier in the little things, but I would love fishing and cooking to be added as something like a crew skill. They do not actually need to have any benefit other than making role players happy, but I think it would be a nice improvement as long as they did not interfere with your max of three.

Bugs And Features

This is more of an appeal to the players – understand that all games have bugs. MMOs more than any other game has tons of bugs because they constantly evolve. With evolution and change, comes complications. BioWare has always done an okay job with the bugs. Sure there are some around since day one, but I have yet to see a bug in this game so bad that it is world destroying. Do I hope they fix all of them? Of course I do, but I think the players should cut them a little slack in this department. It is our job to take into consideration that their team has had a huge changeover since the games original development. BioWare is now getting in a rhythm and I expect bigger and better things down the horizon.

Maintenance is a must 'round these parts. Especially when it comes to bugs.

Gotta fix some bugs.

What features are missing and which ones are needed the most to revitalize the game? I already stated my number one – casual games like Sabacc. After that, being able to design your ship (player housing) would be great for casuals and hard-cores alike (not to mention a potential monster for EA on the Cartel Market, hint hint!). Ranking boards would be great for competition (competition drives players). There is no actual ranking board to reference for PvP or raiding, yet they could both use an official one. Further, if and when Sabacc does come out, that should get a ranking board too (Win/Loss or ranked like PvP as a scoring system).

Then there’s one topic that should have it’s own category – guild features needs a great deal of improvement, especially with the recent push to get more and more people into guilds. I can only hope that they have bigger plans for this since BioWare’s spent so much time emphasizing the bonus of being part of a guild.

As far as guild features go the biggest one in my book would be increased communication tools. The guild message of the day seems to be largely ignored, even though I put a lot of pertinent information there. The guild description is really hard to scroll through. Both these UI elements need improvements. However, there are a lot of additions needed:

  • Guild Capital ships – I think the importance of these are understated (as much as they are vocalized on the boards). Nothing builds camaraderie as much as a place where all the players of a guild can go to congregate without a set schedule. Nothing major is needed at first, literally just an instanced place that only guild mates can go – throw in some of the fleet objects for good measure – then later add in some ability to customize the interior.

  • Guild calendar – most guilds have websites, but it is difficult to drive people there – give us a calendar!!!!

  • Guild-wide mail – just as it seems. I want to be able to type in a rank and then everyone of that rank getting a piece of mail. Make it cost 5 credits per person payable by the guild bank to reduce spam, I guess.

  • Ranking Systems – I already mentioned this, but for endgame, ranking systems would be nice (it would be by guild and by player depending on content)

  • More guild management tools – I want to be able to see who leaves and when – who joined when – even who has participated in how many raids with the guild – I want to have additional ranks so I can create more classifications.

  • Sister guild and alliance tools – especially for those guilds who have 2000 members across 4 of their own guilds. The ability to share guild chat or have an alliance channel that does not need to be created/maintained/joined on login. A bank that can be shared across guilds.

OK, a few more personal features I would like to see that are probably more difficult to implement, but would still be nice:

  • Legacy bank – especially credits across all the toons

  • Dual/multi-spec – I need somewhere to store my PvP gear and heal gear other than my inventory

  • Save abilities/keybinds to UI – this can either be part of multi spec system (so that when I change my UI it changes my spec) or it can be its own thing where the skill slots are saved to the UI  with the keybinds

  • Companion trading – use Qyzen on any of your legacy guys in place of their usual tank (this one is really low on my wish list, but I tossed it in)

  • More out-of-game online support – again ranking system on the website would be nice – but also an official armory would be good. I’d still like to run trade skills through a phone app one day.

I understand that all these things will take time. I also understand there may be other higher priorities, but I do hope to see most or all of these things implemented in the next couple of years.

Alternate Advancements And Reward Incentives (back to player housing)

These are two different topics, but I am lumping into them into one because the general theme is the same – make playing,in general, more worthwhile. Alternate Advancement (AA), to those that are not familiar, were really originally introduced in EQ1. When you hit max level, you could continue getting experience for AA’s, which would level up at a steady pace, and would continue building the strength of your player. While some AA’s became more critical to your character at some point – as in the necessity of having X amount of AA points invested in order to reach a certain level of strength to kill an encounter – AA were relatively minor advancements to your character in comparison to real levels.

Achievements are a great way to incentivize game play.

Achievements are a great way to incentivize game play.

Before I finish the thought on AA, and then make the connection, Reward Incentives need an improvement. Let me be clear, I am strongly against forcing someone to do treasure hunting in order to advance their character to be more powerful. I think that treasure hunting is the most mind numbingly stupid activity implemented in the game (again, there are people who will disagree, but bare with me). Despite my personal feelings, I think that the incentives to actually participate in these types of activities are pretty weak. In short, if player housing existed, these would be the appropriate type of rewards for such an activity – essentially, decorations. The level 28 enhancements are too weak an incentive – the pleasure speeder parts are good but not enough. There should be dozens of player housing rewards mixed in, which is another reason why player housing can be a very powerful revitalization tool for SWTOR.

On the same note, the current achievement system is good, but it could be great. Some of the achievements reward Cartel Coins and I bet these are the most worked-towards achievements for those who know they exist. Some achievements offer titles, this is another good start, although the system needs to go further. At risk of beating the dead horse, with player housing, the developers would have yet another incentive tool to offer as possible rewards for completing achievements. I think that regular in-game credits and experience would be another possibility. Honestly, I don’t think that any achievement, or at the very least, group of achievements should be left unrewarded. Even Operation achievements, as an example (when you reach 100% for a certain Operation), can reward something (commendations would make the most sense, here).

Tying it all back together, AA and Reward Incentives provide the same thing: motivation to play the game more. Incentives drive consumers. Whether it is rewarding the player through continued advancement of their characters power or more material rewards that player housing could bring, better incentives to play more and achieve more would have a positive overall effect on the game.

The Future of SWTOR Today

I’ve attempted to outline every element, big and small, with what I find wrong, but certainly fixable, in the game. I do not believe I captured all of them, there are many small things that would certainly improve quality of life. Things like being able to sit in all chairs or chat bubbles have been requested by a subset of players and many other things would be appreciated for sure, but there are more universal changes that would go a lot further in keeping the player playing. Things like copying and pasting names into the GTN by Shift+click (for an easy price check). While minor to some developers, this one has been done successfully in other MMO’s and should at this point be considered a standard.  Then there’s my favorite, legacy-wide datacrons (PLEASE!!!!). There is no way I am running the identical datacrons across my six alts (or more for some players) – and I would be willing to pay money for this feature, PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY BIOWARE. At the very least, an unlock for Republic and an unlock for Imperial across a server would be nice.

Keep making the game better BioWare. You can do it!

Keep making the game better BioWare. You can do it!

I truly believe in the current development’s team is genuinely trying to make SWTOR great. I believe we have already seen some great things and some great improvements. Again, I will point to the general design of Scum and Villainy as an example. I’d also like to point out Eric Musco’s tremendous effort in approving communication (truly astounding job, please ignore the complaints and keep on doing what you have been!). However, I think the team is limited because someone chose and developed a pretty bad engine (Hero Engine) that the game is built on. I hope, but don’t expect them to, overhaul the engine one day. This would be a monumental task I know, but it has been the bane of SWTOR’s existence and truly limited the game on many levels. That being said, I truly believe that there are only a few things missing from making this game the best MMO on the market. Some of those things are small quality-of-life issues and some are bigger absent features and some other problems are balance issues. However, at the end of the day, SWTOR is a big epic world, containing a rich lore that needs a little more time to become the game it has the potential to be.

Hope you enjoyed the read and I thank you for giving me your time. Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.


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33 Responses to “SWTOR Growing Pains: Improvements From The End Game POV”

  1. Kalreth says:

    Great article and lots to think about. Agree with the end-game stuff you wrote to a tee.

    For class balance will write a bit:
    *Vanguard DPS – love the idea of charge, maybe a raid wide buff could be a move like inspiration that temporarily increases surge throughout the raid, although could be too OP paired with inspiration. Damage increase sure, just increase the DOT a little more in the right tree and increase the bleed on gut
    *Shadow DPS – should be buffed clearly, but not enough that the studs today will now be the dominant DPS. Guess my best idea would be to make energy easier to manage a bit which would probably get the job done. They have great CDs already. Idea for a raid wide buff would be to make Shadow’s Shelter available to DPS, maybe replace it in the tanking tree with an armor buff
    *Sage DPS, pretty viable and lots of utility, wouldn’t change
    *Commando DPS, more than viable, wouldn’t change
    *Guardian DPS, viable, maybe a raid wide Defense buff (Defensive version of inspiration) which would fit their class
    *Scoundrel DPS, viable if elite, maybe one better ranged move that doesn’t require cover, maybe a 3 min CD solid AOE heal, or allow smuggle ability in middle of combat to offer a damage reduction
    *Sentinel DPS, no change… maybe make the timer increased on merc clash since Watchman is not as viable in some fights due to downtime
    *Slinger DPS, no change obviously
    *Tanks just buff Shadows, the other two are fine IMO. I’d probably just change it from a healing tank to an endurance tank so that the class a hit point cushion for spikiness
    *Healers no comments since I don’t play any

    I think these would preserve the uniqueness of each class by having different cool abilities for each class and makes many of them more viable.

    I don’t entirely agree on biochem although I have it on 60% of my alts. Blue stims are now BIS so there is less incentive to be Biochem on progression raids, although in story modes biochem rules. They should certainly make blue adrenals much easier to make so biochem is less needed for HM level raiding. While crafting is nowhere close to perfect I think this forces some choices on players and encourages alting, which IMO is a good move, but I can see your points.

    Guild stuff agree with big time. Sister guild functionality would be my top request. For a calendar I highly recommend using a Google Doc Spreadsheet for raids, it makes them very easy to coordinate.

    Cannot agree more with Legacy wide datacrons.

    I wrote enough now, thanks for a great article!

    • Nibbon says:

      Thanks for reading and sharing your opinions!

      I think the one thing I wanted to say to you is in regards to Shadow. Even their top shadows were pushing 2600-2700. Which on this fight is really very good. But think about this, the top snipers are still pushing 3000+.

      The point I am pushing is this: If you raise overall shadow DPS by 300, then the very few people who are studs with Shadows will merely rise to the level of the studs that exist that play gunslingers. Shadows do have some pretty good raid utility, so this would merely make them more viable as a whole – besides, there are so few stud shadows (an effect of the class being weak, but I don’t really remember ever raiding with many shadows).

  2. GaddockTeeg says:

    A big problem with balance is that things have to work in both PvE and PvP, and right now PvP is in a balance sweet spot so rocking the boat for one has the risk of screwing up both.

    As you mentioned, the problem with balance in PvE is: No matter what you do, there will always be inherent imbalances that will tip the scales towards one class or another and at the highest levels class stacking will always occur. The goal should be to put everyone on equal ground, but that never works out. The next best thing is to make every class viable and right now I think that is the case in most situations. Yes, there are some comps that just don’t work. Yes, there are some “mandatory” classes. But even just looking at DiLiH’s kill, they didn’t use a mara which seems insane and they essentially solo healed most of the fight with the much maligned mercenary healer. In fact when I spoke to them they talked about how they swapped in and out people and classes constantly throughout the week and thought the only class that might be unable to get through the fight is a dps operative, and that’s without any Kell Dragon gear. To me the hardest level of PvE content is all about min-maxing and class selection is just an extension of that in my eyes. If a class just plain can’t compete in story modes then there’s an issue, but the best of the best will always pick the cream of the crop regardless.

    That being said, there is one snap change I would make and that would be taking armor crack away from gunslingers/snipers. Slingers and Sents and closely related as the only two pure dps acs. They both provide unique raid buffs, they both do great damage. Why does one get one of the only raid debuffs as well. Give wounding shot to operatives giving them a slight boost at a very small cost for slingers overall. You can add raid buffs to the other 6 acs that don’t really have one but in the end groups will just pick the best ones and move on. I do like that idea in that it adds more variety to the classes though and coming from world of homogenized classes in WoW, class differentiation is important even if it doesn’t solve balance problems.

    TLDR: I don’t think class imbalance is as bad as it seems, the highest level of groups will always min-max and no amount of balance changes can fix that.

    • Geldarion says:

      In my opinion they should add an armor debuff to Crippling Throw for Sentinels, because the two DPS classes, Sents and Slingers, would be on equal ground when fighting tanks and healers.

    • Nibbon says:

      DiLiH didn’t use a mara, but they did use a sniper – which is the only one I really consider to be a “must have” class right now. But yeah, what you said is totally right. That is why I think that having a way of discouraging multiples of the same class might work (but I still hate that idea, even if it is my own). I also think adding the unique temporary raid buffs is a much better idea.

      • GaddockTeeg says:

        On an unrelated note: What did you think about the Dread guard encounter? Did it deserve the nerf in your opinion or do think think that Nightmare should be more like that and less like the writhing horror? I’ve spoken to a lot of different people and have heard so many different answers, it’s really one of the more interesting debates I’ve seen in this game to date.

  3. Nibbon says:

    Just as a general note – I did not write this for the focus to be on Class Balance – I’ll respond to those points individually when I have time, but I consider them a lot less significant. The class balance is one of the smaller problems compared to some of the other issues I identified there.

    • Geldarion says:

      I figured as much. I was about to make some detailed notes about class balance and how I disagreed with most of your statements about it, but I love the rest of it.

      I do think that classes need to all be viable and useful. I also believe that some fights should be designed with certain themes in mind, thus necessitating certain class makeups when undergeared (or just barely geared). I think it is neat to have a fight that is made easy by figuring out an ideal class makeup, it is a kind of min-maxing. After the fight is on farm, then switch classes out. Gives people a reason to play alts too.

      • Geldarion says:

        The main issue I had with your changes were how they would affect PvP. With the exception of your PT/VG changes, they would’ve been disastrous.

        • Nibbon says:

          I’d enjoy reading them anyways. While I do PvP, and some would consider me good, certainly above average, my viewpoint was towards balancing PvE with no regards to PvP.

          Unfortunately, I think the best way to balance PvE and PvP at the same time is by having the same ability doing different things in each. For example, ability A hits for 3k and stuns for 3 seconds in PvE but in WZ it hits for 2k and stuns for 1 second … that is an extreme made up example just to exaggerate what I mean.

          • Geldarion says:

            Absolutely the best thing would be for there to be two separate functions in PvP vs. PvE. I don’t think we’d need too drastic of differences, more like: Smash does 9k damage in PvE but only 3k damage in PvP.

            Bolster is already in place, I don’t know why they don’t Bolster skills individually as well as armor and items.

            As for the PvP balance thoughts, I will take each class you mentioned individually. This is if they had to balance PvP vs. PvE like they do now.

            Bullet points are the quotes from the article.

            <>

            ● Vanguards need a straight damage buff to their abilities. I also think they should be given Charge as a general ability, not as something spec’ed into as tank.

            Completely agreed on both counts.

            ● Commandos are actually really good.

            Also agreed, though they need some help in healing (we’ll come to that in a bit).

            ● Shadows need the single largest damage buff

            Absolutely not. Like you said, they are great in PvP. In fact, they are almost unbeatable 1v1. That means a damage boost would make them too OP. I think more utility besides tanking while in their other Charges/Techniques would be good. They need to be less “bursty” and more “utility from stealth (like knockdown) and continuous damage after that.” Doubling the size of their Force bars would help a lot I bet.

            ● Sages – I can speak most about sages since it’s what I play the most. Balance needs an AoE boost – simply done by boosting the damage by the almost useless AoE, Forcequake

            If they did this, then they need to put a cooldown on it like other classes’ AoE skills. Then they need a 100% proc for instant-cast TK Wave off of it, and a stacking buff on the next use of Disturbance’s damage and activation time in TK spec. That way, the AoE works into a rotation, doesn’t become OP in PvP, and buffs the correct skills for the TK sage. It also means the doors in Voidstar don’t become perma-protected as long as the Sage is alive (a pet peeve of mine).

            ● I would also love an execute ability (when target is sub 30% health), but can live without it as I think it would have to be an entirely new skill.

            I wouldn’t be against this, and it would actually subtly help nerf the operative healing in PvP without nerfing it in PvE, because they couldn’t get enough healing out of Surgical Probe when they are sub-30% health, which is the main balance issue.

            ● Scoundrels – they need a large damage buff.

            What stealth classes need is not a damage buff (which would completely make them gods in PvP). They need a continuous damage buff, instead of spike damage buff. In other words, in raids, where they aren’t in stealth often, they need to have continuous damage boosts that don’t work when you are recently out of stealth.

            ● Might as well give them a Scrambling Field and the same damage reduction roll as a Gunslinger – along with a buff to their DPS and I would start loving Scoundrel DPSers.

            Their roll is special in that it is spammable. They need that. The reason the GS has a damage reduction roll is because GS’s are stuck in one place all the time, casting long cast-time abilities, so they need something that helps them in movement intensive fights. The scoundrel roll is for a different purpose, it is for getting stealthers into position more easily for their melee skills. Knights, Shadows, other melee classes have gap closers, so they gave a similar one to scoundrels. They serve different purposes.

            ● Sentinels – they really don’t need much – they should honestly be doing a tad bit more damage than a Gunslinger in the first place.

            A Sentinel should be top DPS in parses, 100% of the time. I agree with your statement. They should lead the pack by 110%. Gunslingers should come in at 107.5%. All other classes should do less damage than these two classes because that is all they can do. If a vanguard wants to DPS, fine, make them equal to a guardian, but not the gunslinger, because the vanguard can always respec to tank to get in an ops-group.

            ● Guardian – it is nice that they have heavy armor and their Smash does very nice AoE damage.

            Not sure what to say here, except that AoE damage is also single-target damage when there aren’t any other mobs around. Maybe they have trouble around mezzed targets? I don’t know, but they are kings of AoE damage, so let them have that and let single-target kings be something else.

            <>

            ● Sages fill a role of keeping the raid alive better than anyone else but cannot single-target heal as well, an acceptable tradeoff.

            Agreed, I would say nerf their single target heals even more, and make one of them (maybe Deliverance) a large AoE heal with a long cooldown. Reasons in a second.

            ● Scoundrels have fantastic mobility and single-target heals. They lack in AoE heals compared to sages, but given their great single target heals, consider this a good tradeoff.

            Because of their HoTs, they are really good at keeping up with damage before it happens. They are excellent if they are slightly prepared. Great concept here, no changes, except maybe giving Emergency Medpac a slight energy cost at all times (yes even under 30% health). In PvP, they use it too much, never get tired, never can be killed. In PvE, they don’t have to move as much, so Diagnostic Scan is more viable, and their resource management is not usually a problem.

            ● Commandos really offer nothing that the other two don’t.

            This is why the Sage single-target one-off heals should be nerfed. They are already really good at AoE. Make Commandos the single target full heal kings. Then you have Sages with AoE healing, Scoundrels with HoTs, and Commandos with straight heals.

            Those are my thoughts! More than you bargained for, I suppose.

          • Nibbon says:

            Wouldn’t let me respond to you directly, I guess the response system doesn’t let it branch out too far. Anyway, I’ll respond to a few points – but again, I’ll reiterate a few points, because we are mostly in agreement.

            The biggest thing, is we both agree it would be best if PvE and PvP abilities had some separation – so arguing back and forth on changes to individual abilities is pointless (when I am discussing PvE and you PvP). Since this is more of a PvE oriented game, it makes more sense to me that they balance around PvE (like my bullets) then made changes to some abilities as PvP only (like your bullets). Anyway, I will respond to your bullets from the perspective of PvP (but with comments on how it would effect PvE if they weren’t separated).

            ● Absolutely not. Like you said, they are great in PvP. In fact, they are almost unbeatable 1v1. That means a damage boost would make them too OP. I think more utility besides tanking while in their other Charges/Techniques would be good. They need to be less “bursty” and more “utility from stealth (like knockdown) and continuous damage after that.” Doubling the size of their Force bars would help a lot I bet.

            I totally agree with this from the PvP perspective, but that doesn’t change how they are in PvE :) Your changes would be useless in PvE – the only thing worth considering is double the force bars, this would probably increase their DPS in PvE – but then you’d need to still do your overhaul on lowering damage on attacks for PvP… the result is it is incredibly complicated. There just is no good way of balancing stealth classes without separated PvE and PvP abilities (unless you give every other class stealth detection).

            ● If they did this, then they need to put a cooldown on it like other classes’ AoE skills. Then they need a 100% proc for instant-cast TK Wave off of it, and a stacking buff on the next use of Disturbance’s damage and activation time in TK spec. That way, the AoE works into a rotation, doesn’t become OP in PvP, and buffs the correct skills for the TK sage. It also means the doors in Voidstar don’t become perma-protected as long as the Sage is alive (a pet peeve of mine).

            The fact is forcequake is completely useless – you are far better off just spreading dots (it does far more overall damage for around the same force). If you chaincast forcequake on 5+ targets you are only going to pull ~2-2.5k DPS – when I can single target 2800 … Which goes on to say that buffing forcequake will only slightly effect PvP – and 5 people shouldn’t be clustered together anyway (even in Voidstar). BTW, sags dies pretty fast when focused target, forcequake is an extremely long channeled cast that can easily be interrupted and dodged. So, again, I really think that buffing forcequake would be all around beneficial for PvE and PvP. If you really think it is just a problem with TK specced sages, fine, but Balance sages could definitely benefit from a forcequake buff (through a talent if needed) without making them OP in any way.

            ● What stealth classes need is not a damage buff (which would completely make them gods in PvP). They need a continuous damage buff, instead of spike damage buff. In other words, in raids, where they aren’t in stealth often, they need to have continuous damage boosts that don’t work when you are recently out of stealth.

            Again, we are in agreement, just PvE and PvP semantics. However, there is a misconception with burst vs constant damage in PvE. Someone that bursts 4k for 5 seconds and 2k for 5 seconds does the same exact dps as someone who does 3k dps for 10 seconds – in fact, the person who bursts 4k for the first 5k and alternates will do more DPS overall. Burst isn’t an issue in PvE (only in PvP).

            ● Their roll is special in that it is spammable. They need that. The reason the GS has a damage reduction roll is because GS’s are stuck in one place all the time, casting long cast-time abilities, so they need something that helps them in movement intensive fights. The scoundrel roll is for a different purpose, it is for getting stealthers into position more easily for their melee skills. Knights, Shadows, other melee classes have gap closers, so they gave a similar one to scoundrels. They serve different purposes.

            I think their continuous roll is OP in PvP – it should definitely be changed to the longer cooldown one that slingers have. I agree they serve different purposes in PvP, but for PvE, the scoundrel roll is useless while the slinger roll is one of the best defensive moves in the game for dodging mechanics.

            ● Not sure what to say here, except that AoE damage is also single-target damage when there aren’t any other mobs around. Maybe they have trouble around mezzed targets? I don’t know, but they are kings of AoE damage, so let them have that and let single-target kings be something else.

            The problem with this statement is there are very very few ops where the guardian smash is actually all that useful. Single target DPS is king in almost all operations.

            <>

            ● Agreed, I would say nerf their single target heals even more, and make one of them (maybe Deliverance) a large AoE heal with a long cooldown. Reasons in a second.

            I’ll respond to your other reason below, but, ahhhhh! If they nerfed single target heal on sage any more they wouldn’t be able to tank heal at all. Consider my guild has 6 sage healers and 1 scoundrel, we would be quite screwed. This would destroy sages as viable healers in raids, for reals.

            ● This is why the Sage single-target one-off heals should be nerfed. They are already really good at AoE. Make Commandos the single target full heal kings. Then you have Sages with AoE healing, Scoundrels with HoTs, and Commandos with straight heals.

            I agree with making commando straight heal kings, but still not at the expense of nerfing sages – again – they do an OK job at tank heals now, nerfing it at all would destroy them.

            ● Those are my thoughts! More than you bargained for, I suppose.

            Again, I appreciate your input :) I deleted anything I completely agreed with, for the most part, and bulleted your responses to my originals statements ;p

        • Doug says:

          Current raiding content focuses on taking down bosses with more than a million health. Going through your class balance section, it sounds like your biggest complaint is that not every class can produce the same numbers on a test dummy. You don’t believe that some of the utility trade offs are as good as others for the raiding content so your solution is to just boost dps for everyone else.
          I disagree. The raiding content can be balanced to be opened to all classes, but if it takes a certain composition of players to push a specific metric up, then that just an efficiency issue. Everyone has equal opportunity to create all classes, and in SWTOR this is encouraged, so I don’t believe the game is broken because of one metric. Very few people actually do any raiding, let alone hard core raiding, so you may be seeing only a niche issue.

          Your dps buffing suggestions would definitely break PVP balance. Stealth and cc’s plays a big role when fighting other people, and you only need to deal about 30k-ish damage to kill someone. It is a much more dynamic environment where the utility trade offs matter as much as dps numbers.

          I do agree with your opinion on gear inflation is confusing. The expansion brought in a 10% increase in player levels from 50 to 55, but the new epic gear stats seems to have inflated about 50%. There are 3 tiers between MK-6 to MK-9, which just adds to confusion.
          On the other hand, I was never able to complete EC/TFB in pre-2.0 because it was hard to find a group with the right gear. Not changing the old content makes it more accessible to more casual players. I wish they would drop lock-outs though for the older story mode raids, because it people treat them too casually, like flashpoints and leave leave early, and so you can’t redo them for a week.

          • Nibbon says:

            No – I am not comparing dummy DPS, I am comparing in raid actual DPS. I raid at the highest level and I am very familiar with the classes actual capabilities in raids. In fact, if you look purely at dummy DPS, you’d see it is almost level across the board (except shadow).

            And no, my solution wasn’t just to boost DPS – it was actually mostly about giving more utility (like raid wide buffets, i.e. like inspiration) to the weaker classes (and a damage buff to make them closer to even in actual raids).

            I agree I am probably seeing a niche issue here – but this issue honestly doesn’t matter for anyone but this niche. Every class needs to be viable in the highest tier of raiding, because if it is even there, then it is just an efficiency (player skill) issue when they aren’t even.

            I’ve said it elsewhere, but I’ll repeat – my balancing was for PvE only – not taking into consideration for PvP. If you want PvP opinion, you can look at my responses to Geldarion.

            As for not changing old content to make more accessible for casuals – I agree, but I think they can leave story mode for them (at level 50 if necessary) and then buff the hard mode or nightmare to 55. Actually, that’s a great idea … just buff nightmare to 55!

  4. Syrio says:

    Don’t agree with you at all about crew skills. I don’t think your complaint even makes sense.

    On the one hand, you complain that Biochem is the only one worth having. On the other hand you complain about having more than 3 crew skills. If Biochem is the only one worth having, then why do you need more than 3 crew skill? You only need more than 3 if there were something other than Biochem that’s worth having, right?

    Furthermore you complain about about the need for augments, but augments is precisely one of the ways that the other crew skills are useful. Armstech, Synthweaving and Armormech all can make augments, which everyone needs. That makes those skills useful.

    Now I’m not saying the crew skills are perfect, but I don’t think having more than one crafting skill is the solution. If everyone had Biochem it defeats the entire purpose of stims. Why not just give every char a +120 boost to their primary stat and skip the whole thing.

    • Nibbon says:

      You need to read more carefully (unless it got edited or is unclear). In any case I will clarify, because you aren’t saying anything I did, which is probably why it doesn’t make sense.

      1. Biochem is the only one worth having for end game raiders (due to reusables).
      2. I complain about NOT having MORE THAN 3 crew skills, which is the opposite of what you said… What I really said is I think you should be able to ahve all crew skills on one toon – or at least a way to do that.
      3. I offered up an alternative of allowing you to have 3 crew skills and biochem (making 4).

      OK now separately
      1. I did not complain bout the existence of augments, I complained about the implementation. I do not think that they should upgrade from MK-6 to MK-9 over 5 levels, I think they should permanently stay at MK-6 (or now MK-9) so they do not need to constantly be upgraded (especially when you have to rush them for new content).
      2. I agree that it makes those crew skills more useful and that is not something I address. But, it would be less of an issue if you can have more than one crew skill so you aren’t locked into any of them in particular.

      I disagree that it removes the purpose of stims – you still have the non-reusable ones that are better than the reusable ones. You still need to level the crew skill up – there is still a demand for the mats to actually make the things and you will still have alts that would need to level up the skill too. You are also ignoring adrenals, which are the real things that reusables are good for. Adrenals are used on demand, thus the use of them is more situational and wouldn’t just be a permanent +120 power boost.

  5. WildJedi says:

    You are so right on so many things,we have told them so many times but the devs in charge are plain and simple idiots.MINIGAMES keep people around, standing on fail fleet to long make people leave.Why is this so hard for them to understand ? i know because they sit in an office and dont have a clue whats going on ingame and what people have said is the reason they ar bored ans leave.

    • GaddockTeeg says:

      We have a mini-game right now and not many people do it, it’s called space missions. WoW only recently added its pet battle mini-game and look how well that’s doing keeping people in that game. Mini-games are nice and I hope they add them, but they’re nothing more than a diversion and isn’t going to make or break this game. Solid and consistent endgame content will do that.

      • Nibbon says:

        While I cannot comment on the WoW pokemon game, since I do not currently play WoW and stopped long before this was out, I can point out some major differences.

        With regards to the space missions, I really enjoyed them. I used them to level up 2-3 of my toons, then I never played them again. The new space missions came out, I played and beat all of them, then never played them again.

        There are three primary reasons why that is (I love numbering things):
        1. Space missions don’t offer great rewards (this goes mostly back to my point of incentives). I think if you collected points to redecorate your ship, people would play them more.
        2. They aren’t that fun and replay-ability is pretty low. If there were high scores or scoreboards, replay-ability would soar. They are also single player only.
        3. They are on rails and aren’t at all dynamic – everything is very static (enemies come from same spots every time – it is why bots exist in beating htem).

        I suppose when it comes down to it, I am not suggesting just any mini-game, but a social mini-game. Space missions, as I mentioned, are single player. Sabacc is played with others. Again, I think scoreboards and rankings are critical to make people competitive. Sabacc is also mindless, while space missions do take a level of skill. I think a mindless activity where you do not actually need to leave your spot would play a lot better towards the time wasters just sitting on fleet.

        In regards to WoW – While I played it, at least, it had no central hub like a fleet. I do not really remember the game having this same particular issue of needing ways to waste time. People were also a lot more content with going out into the world, finding a camp spot, and farming the mobs there for hours (for money or a particular item of loot). That is the old-style time waster – which is why I am not recommending it, we need a new style time waster that fits with the SWTOR model.

  6. Sandird says:

    Greetings,

    Well, you article is endless, regarding that I’ll be short here, LORE AND STORY IS WHAT KEEPING ME HERE, not some eternal, repeatedly same end game activities, short and simple.

    Best regards!.

    • Nibbon says:

      This may not be true for all (read: casual players) but lore and story are finite. When someone plays this game a lot, truly a lot, they will absorb all the story the game has to offer. When that runs out, the player grows bored and quits. So while there is enough for someone who may only play a couple hours a week, it is not nearly enough for someone that can sit down on the weekend and play for 10 – or those who play for 5+ hours a day.

  7. Val-lin says:

    Having a bit more expirience with healing classes, i will say that i think all are viable options.

    The commando: can single target heal faster than any other healing class in game. He can also avoid knockbacks. Up until the recent patches where commandos got buffed, things had been rough. But i have seen some huge improvements to commandos playing healer and dps roles.

    With every class… My opninion is that people seem to claim a class is useless when they dont understand or cannot play it properly. This is due to player personality and preference. No offense meant by this statement.

    But anyways, great article! I enjoyed it. :) specially all the sage dps stuff, as my main is a sage dps lol.

  8. Bob says:

    Nice opinion article. I may not agree with everything, but you laid out your position well.

    Do you have an editor? I think they fell asleep about here…” I think even worse was that was the fact that when the Makeb expansion came out, we were forced to return to HM TFB to farm the newest tier of gear.”

    That sentence hurts my brain.

    • Nibbon says:

      added an extra “that was” – removed/edited, thanks for pointing out the error. I assure you my mind melted as much as anyone by actually writing and editing an article of such length.

    • Ack! Sorry Nibbon, missed that one. Also, sorry Bob, I didn’t mean to hurt your brain. This was my most epic edit yet. Editing 6,900+ words was a big edit for me in such a short amount of time and with a lost day. Glad someone caught it though, thanks for the heads up!

  9. Icelord says:

    ya my own guild is made up of 1 of each class +3-4 Sentinels and 2-3 gunslingers

    there is just no way for any of us that are not Sentinels or Gunslingers to even really start to compete with them

    Clearly I am not the world best or anything but I do know I am fairly good even if I could use some more gear right now.
    I turn out 2300-2400 on targetdummy maybe a little higher since I got a 2 new items since I tested it but I drop like a rock in a real fight of corse it depends on what fight but most of the time I am looking at right at 2000 dps while at the same time our about = geared gunslingers and Sentinels are doing 2400-2600 depending on who your looking at

    since we are trying to clear nightmare stuff right now that simply means those of us that are not Sentinels or Gunslingers just Don’t get to go . end of story

    I am at commando by the way I think its one of the better classes because its easy to play only a 5 key main rotation + 4-5 longer cooldowns make it easy to pay attention to other stuff like staying out of fire but being stuck on the low end of dps just sucks (of corse that’s low end when I am against 1 gunslinger and 2 Sentinels

  10. Raatha says:

    Man, you are crazy if you think Vanguards don’t output great dps. Maybe you are playing with the wrong vanguards or running the wrong spec? Try the Hybrid spec 8/22/16. It’s killer dps. They can easily hit 2700-3000+ dps depending on gear.

  11. Nibbon says:

    2700-3000 on dummy maybe. My vanguard who was doing 2500 against DG in NiM switched to gunslinger is now doing 3300.

  12. Joe says:

    I’m sure the people at Bioware were once as passionate as you are about creating a perfect gaming experience.

    But it took them 12 months to add /readycheck.

    That’s where you’ve got to place your expectations. My viewpoint is that if it doesn’t bring in revenue within the short term, it isn’t a priority.

    Yes, I wish they’d get a grip and build something with a long term future. I don’t see any evidence of that happening though.

  13. Raatha says:

    That’s entirely possible you just don’t understand or excel at the vanguard like you do the gunslinger personally though. I would hardly say your experience is everyone’s. I will say vanguard is WAY harder to get good dps with than a slinger for sure. I get bored on my slinger. Just a totally repetitive rotation that’s the easiest in the game and amazing dps for it. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t take the same skill to be a good gunslinger and a good vanguard or other more proc/situational based classes.

    • Nibbon says:

      Again, the main point of this article was not class balance, I regret including it in the article because it took away too much focus from the rest.

      I personally have a vanguard tank and a gunslinger, but I do not play them much. I am speaking from my personal observations as a raid leader of a top guild and the opinions shared from other top guilds (typically their GMs/raid leaders). One of the top DPS can indeed be a vanguard, but there are very few people that can reach that level – and I personally haven’t looked into how. All I know is that my top VG switched to a gunslinger and puts out 500-700 more DPS now. I do not necessarily think that any class not performing should just get a flat damage increase, but instead, they should be re-balanced in a way that it is more obvious how (not easier) to put out top DPS. In other words, I do not like hybrid specs – the top parsing specs should be purebreds in the skill tree.

      One topic I did not really cover is statting. I put a lot of effort into figuring out the min-max for sage DPS (you can see one of my previous posts for that). I honestly do not think it should be such a struggle to get properly itemized. Yeah this makes it faster to get fully min-maxed, but I honestly don’t like that about this game – that you need to go through so much effort to figure it out for yourself. Not that I think it should be given to you – but seriously, it was a ton of effort.

      • Raatha says:

        I do agree about hybrid specs. While it’s interesting to “find” a spec that isn’t lined out for you that works better, the game shouldn’t really be set up that way.

        And I didn’t want my comment to be disrespectful. While I do agree, all classes should be more even in terms of potential average DPS, I just disagree that it should be easier or classes should get even more skill buffs or new abilities. That just makes all fights easier. Just nerf slingers and sentinels a little to match other classes. Not the other way around.

        I also agree about min/maxing. I get they want you to spend more time playing, but it just makes me frustrated to have to grind out that crap and gives me a more sour taste of the game every time. It should be quicker/easier to get to min/max.

        Regardless, I always (as I’m sure everyone else does) appreciate the time, thought, and effort put into your posts. Thanks, Nibbon.

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