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Long read, but the truth is there!
Ok Smed, or any other SOE people still reading this thread.
A little background info on me,
I was following this game while it was still in beta. Bought it on opening day, dealt with the opening day lag and crashes. I was here for the great noob melon database problems, I remember corpse runs, ect. I left the game in the middle of the first combat revamp. My Creature Handler was completely neutered into uselessness, so I went Master Doc/Master Swordsman. Was much easier to deal with all the defense stackers and exploiters that way.
When I left the game, it wasnt due to the game being too complicated or complex. It wasnt too hard to play or understand. I left because the priorities of the development team were just all wrong. I can see things havnt changed in that area. With every push of the combast revamp, you would break one class, nerf another, and uber buff a third. Biggest problem was defense stacking. For those that dont know, most melee professions, and a couple ranged professions, had defensive skills in certian skill trees. You could learn two or three of these skill trees and still have enough skills to actually fight someone as a TKA or a fencer, and with the stacked defenses you were virtually untouchable. But like classic SOE, they ignored this and kept pushing out buggy content like the Corvette. A large number of people complained how when they finished the gauntlet inside the corvette, the final quest turnin was bugged, or whatever interface they needed wasnt working correctly. And the battle droids there would eat through an entire set of comp armor in no time flat. Without fixing that, they moved on to the Geo Caves and then to the DWB.
Nobody ever interviewed me or gave me some sort of survey to fill out when I left. You never asked. Yet supposedly you asked all these people who hated Pre-CU gameplay and they told you it was too hard. And this is what you made in its stead. Over the past couple years Id often think about SWG and how fun it was at the time. But I had gotten so involved with other games I never bothered to come back or check in on it. Then I heard people talking about this NGE. How the game was completely revamped. So here I am, giving it a shot. Here are my thoughts on this NGE:
First off, as a player that came back, I logged in almost completely lost. The game world itself looks the same. Shuttle and Spaceports all seem to work the same, other than it no longer takes 10 minutes to wait for the shuttle. Good and bad points to that. No more waiting, but no more interaction while waiting either. I hopped a shuttle to the area where my guild city used to be, and its gone. I didnt really expect it to be there, but I took a chance. The city that was there however was pretty barren. By chance a wookie cam up to me and we talked for a bit about the changes and his guild. After we chatted a bit he went on his way and I mine. I began searching all the big cities I remembered from the old game. Mos Kashyyyk, Mos Quito Hills, Misfit Isle. All but Misfit Isle were still there, but they were all empty. The buildings were there, but there were no people. On a Saturday afternoon. I checked every vendor in town looking for new weapons, since most of mine were now out of my level range. Seems credits must be easier to come by now than before since nearly everything decent was close to a million credits. I had 100k on me. I remember when 400k could get you a set of top of the line comp armor. Now for 400k you can get 1 single piece that might have 3 stamina on it or something. Towns are dead. Crafters stock their merchants with parts and loot drops now. Sad. Really sad.
Another thing I noticed was the complete lack of entertainers. As in NONE. Everywhere I went. Even non-player cities like Bestine, Coronet, and Theed. No dancers or musicians. These places were PACKED in the old game. I remember leveling my doctor in the Theed cantina because it was so packed full of people. From reading the threads on this board, this one in particular, I can see that the devs think entertainers arent exciting enough. Or they dont provide the "l33t 4dv3ntUr3" type players theyre looking to draw. I went to most of the populated planets and swooped my way around city to city and I may have saw a total of 10 people the entire time. And thats including the major starports. How nuts is that? I bet if this was Pre-CU, that would be a jedis wet dream. Being able to ride out to the far corner of Dantooine or Dath and not have to worry about seeing a soul to blow their cover. I certianly didnt see the masses of jedi, since I didnt see masses of any players really, but I did see a few. While asking another player for some information, I couldnt help but see the chat going on behind me between 3 jedi. One was level 20ish, and the other 2 were level 1. Names like Pwnt or Nubsauce, or somesuch. It sounded like a playground argument between toddlers about whos brother could beat up the others. It took all I had to just ignore it and move on. It was that pitiful. Nice target audience you got there.
Since I was a Master Doc/Master Carbineer when I last logged out in old game, I naturally had to pick one of the new "iconic" professions. Honestly the only choice that looked marginally appealing to me was Bounty Hunter. I had played one to master before on a second account, so I was a tad familiar with how it worked. But here i am a BH noob in a level 63 BH. Where are the droids? Every droid merchant I found only sold interfaces for ships or the occasional Probot, which I still have my original pre-nerf probot from way back when. So Im a BH that has no idea how to hunt. I guess I could take a mission or two to see how it works. I remember using droids to track my targets or to find out their planet location. If there are no droid engineers, how does one continue to hunt bounties? this is all part of that class interdependency that people from the old game spoke of. There were 30+ professions, but they all worked together. The professions in this game dont benefit from one another outside of combat grouping, which nobody was looking for, by the way.
Combat: Well, its not hellishly bad, but it needs improvements fast. Targeting for one just flat out sucks. I guess im old school using my mouse to turn and steer my character AND using it to open my datapad or map. I cant stand "mouselook" games. I'll look around with the arrow keys, and strafe and move with my mouse. Sadly this system isnt too friendly for that playstyle. Especially in caves or tight places like bunkers. It was nearly impossible to manuver safely through a bunker full of yellows without blasting one or two along the way. Not what I had planned nor wanted to do. I cant remember how many cops I ended up shooting on accident in Coronet. I have good Corsec faction, but if this keeps up, I wont for long. The ability to mouse over targets and lose them is annoying as hell too. 3 storm troopers come at me and although easily killed, I couldnt tell which one I was shooting as they were moving as so was my reticule. Not a big deal, but what if they were higher level? It just doesnt make sense. If I wanted to play Ghost Recon, Id reinstall it. Its just not fun at all. And why am I killing an ATST in 4 or 5 hits as a 63 BH? I remember as a Master CH/Flamethrower Commando it took almost 10 minutes to down one. Although im sure there are many things out there that would eat me alive, an ATST shouldnt be some paper target. But thats just my opinion. Overall, combat just isnt as fun as it used to be. It is too fast as people have said. And its just..bleh. I stand there and shoot..which leads me to ...
Experience gain. Soooooooo sloooooooooow. I understand that making it take a little while to cap out keeps people around longer. Thats common knowledge anymore. Its an old psychological thing game companies have used for a long time. People want to succeed or "win the game" so they keep plugging away at it til they do. But this.. this is nuts. Without just mindlessly grinding away like a zombie roaming planet to planet killing things, I gained a miniscule amount of exp in what I would have considered a normal pre-CU game evening for me. Should people be forced into grinding mindlessly in this game? I had thought there were better ways now. Newer games dont seem to have this problem. WoW certinaly doesnt, almost the opposite. Grinding is a dinosaur, let it die. Increase the exp gain.
Why did you take all the Star Wars sounds out? The gun sounds are all different. The animations are all different. they dont seem to go with the current graphics of the game. Not really sure how to explain it other than its just really different and doesnt feel right. Just one more thing that removes the player from the Star Wars feel.
Speaking of the storm troopers, as a covert Rebel, why are they all on eternal attack mode? Do we not get TEFs anymore? Why must I deal with STs in almost every city as a covert rebel? Im sure it could be the same thing for Imperials, I dont know. It just doesnt make alot of sense really. Im covert to players but not to the NPCs? And I dont get flagged if I gun down an Imperial NPC in the streets of Theed. And what the heck are all those rebels doing in Theed anyway? Isnt that like one of the big Imperial cities?
I dunno guys. The game itself still bears the massive potential that is had in the old game. But the direction I think youre going to take it it just wont work in the long run. I get the feeling that youre trying to gather in the Episode 1-3 kids and pushing out the 1977 5 and 6 year olds that saw Ep 4 at a drive in on opening night. Star Wars is not all about run and gun. Its not kiddie style combat. Theres much much more to it. I find it sad that you want to turn SWG into Doom by eliminating all the non combat professions. Taking away the interdependencies between players and just shoving a gun in their hand and yelling "RUN RUN GO GO!".
Thats not Star Wars. Thats Doom and Quake and Counter Strike, and albeit good games in their own right, they arent a MMORPG, and depsite what one of your devs believes, this game WAS infact a MMORPG when it first opened. It was an online world, full of people interacting and taking their place in the Star Wars Universe THEIR WAY. They enjoyed it. They had fun with it. If they wanted to macro dance in a cantina or travel from planet to planet with a dance troop doing shows in player cities. Putting on elaborate firework displays. Having raffles and contests and large scale fairs and festivals in cities. You may not have seen these things in the movies, but somewhere in the background, they were there. Life in Star Wars didnt stop because the camera was focused on Luke or Han blasting away as STs. Youve boxed yourselves into this small tiny world of blasters and lightsabers, and have shut out the great big endless potential of the rest of the universe. People liked that. Star Wars geeks like myself liked that stuff. We wanted to play parallel to the main story of Star Wars. I didnt want to be Luke or Han. I wanted to be a simple Doctor helping the alliance in their fight against the Empire on some far flung system, while Han and Luke did their thing elsewhere.
This isnt Star Wars guys. Not anymore. It may have Storm Troopers and NPCs that slightly resemble characters in the movies. It may have planets that bear the names of those in the movies. But it has no soul. Not anymore. The feeling is gone from it with this shooter style play. You say the pre-CU game was boring and too complex and hard, so you dumbed it down. Well, I think youve reached the other end of the spectrum with it now. Now its so basic and simplistic that its too confusing to bother with. Heres your gun, heres your armor. Now go shoot things until you cant level anymore. Even EverQuest had a deeper more interesting story than that, and that was the biggest grindfest in history. A player can no longer make their own story in SWG. So they have to rely on you guys for that content. And so far, Im not seeing it.
All in all, I think youre taking this game down a road that will lead to its demise. No matter how dedicated and headstrong you are about your "vision". I dont think its going to work. you had it right the first time, you just dropped the ball with bug fixes, combat balance, and content. You should really sit down with real Star Wars fans. Not these "Jar Jar is funny" neo Star Wars people. Find someone who was there on opening night in 1977, someone who followed everything Lucas did for the next several years waiting for Ep 5 and then 6. Find em, sit down with them and ask them what Star Wars is to them. Ask them if the universe surrounding the story interests them. Ask them if they ever wanted to know the backstory on unimportant characters, like the bartender in Mos Eisley, or Oola, the dancer who did get eaten, but Im sure she had a story before then and Im sure it involved dancing. Just talk and LISTEN to the real Star Wars fans. Dont be so proud as to not admit mistakes or see that your vision for the game may not be the way to go. But like you said, time will tell. But do you want to let it get that far? Most players see the clouds on the horizon, why cant you?
Rann Zyn-Dar, Eclipse Server
Ex-Master Doctor / Master Carbineer
Reborn Bounty Hunter