2011 = Bounceback Year for the MMORPG Industry


Back in January 2010, I predicted that Social Gaming may kill the traditional MMORPG industry. This was after the spectacular failures of two huge IPs that launched in late 2008:

  • Warhammer Online (WAR)
  • Age of Conan (AoC)

The developers for those games make the mistake of over-promising and under-delivering, a cardinal sin for any business.

EA Mythic set the expectation that WAR would launch with 24 classes and 6 capital cities, but shortly before launch they cut 4 classes and 4 cities. The game client was unstable (multiple CTDs a night for me even a year after launch) and the servers simply couldn’t handle mass RVR without crashing or lagging severely. The “lakes” RVR while leveling was one of the most enjoyable PVP experience I’ve ever had, but the game fell down at endgame in T4. A game that hyped RVR couldn’t handle it.

I didn’t play AoC, but I kept tabs on the community. Funcom set the expectation that AoC would ship with DirectX 10 support – it was written on the box – but DX 10 wasn’t there until 6 months post launch. The game in Beta had serious performance issues and bugs, and Funcom unwisely drew attention to a “miracle” patch right before launch. It’s like saying “we’ve done a crappy job but finally got our act together, really!” Gamers loved the leveling experience from 1-20, but unfortunately the content team did not maintain that standard of quality from 21 to endgame. Rumor was that the writers across leveling zones had little or no interaction.

After WAR, in 2009 and 2010 I played several other “new” games to the Western market: Aion and Allods Online (AO). Aion’s grindfest killed my interest before I even reached level cap. AO had a terrific Beta experience go into the toilet when the game developer implemented a Death Penalty mechanic that basically made the F2P game a P2P game. I stuck with AO as paying to play wasn’t an issue for me, but I eventually quit due to the lack of appealing endgame content.

The failures of these MMORPGs unfortunately coincided with the incredible surge in growth and popularity of Facebook and Social Gaming. Money was being funneled into Social Games for obvious reasons, as I wrote in that Jan 2010 article. I grew increasingly concerned that developers would lose the financial backing to publish new MMORPGs, which typically cost tens of millions of dollars to launch. All any executive or VC had to do was point at the high cost and high failure rate to say it wasn’t be worth the risk. The MMORPG market was facing a vicious cycle, whereas Social Gaming was in a virtuous cycle of wildfire growth.

I went back to the safe haven of WoW in May 2010 after hearing that much of the tedious grinding in WoW had been removed. I enjoyed the latter parts of WotLK and then Cataclysm, which finally brought back meaningful challenge in PVE. Although as Josh “Lore” Allen recently pointed out to me, I am in the 1% who wanted things to not be faceroll, and the other 99% of the population had gotten used to the faceroll joke that was WotLK Heroic content.

While Cataclysm was my favorite WoW expansion, by mid February I was restless / bored with it. A fellow gamer, Castorcato, sent me a link to the talent calculator for a game I hadn’t heard of. RIFT. Looking at the talent calculator for an hour sold me on trying the game. Castorcato said that RIFT in Beta felt like the good things from WAR again, and I got very excited.

RIFT’s launch was the smoothest that I’d ever seen for an MMORPG. It blew me away. The game had bugs of course, but the level of polish was phenomenal, so it was able to meet the “is this as polished as WoW” standard question from the gamer community.

At WonderCon 2011, I asked a panel with Scott Hartsman (Exec Producer, RIFT), Dirk Metzger (VP Publishing, Zentia), and Nick Huggett (Customer Experience Manager, Runes of Magic) about the viability of the MMORPG market given the past couple years and their responses were highly encouraging. I also spoke with Scott after the panel about how Trion was able to launch a AAA-quality MMORPG.

As you may know, I’ve been critical of RIFT’s 1.5 and 1.6 patches – IMO they’ve derailed the great progress being made for PVP from 1.0 -> 1.4. But there is no denying that Trion has shown that AAA-quality launches of new games are doable, with the right mindset and execution. Trion has also brought a healthy amount of innovation to the MMORPG market – in particular with RIFT’s superb spec system and the game’s integration with social media.

So we started 2011 with a bang with RIFT, but that isn’t the end of the story.

EA BioWare is launching SWTOR later this month. I started researching SWTOR once I saw what was coming in RIFT 1.5 to determine whether it was a viable option for me. Long story short, SWTOR has greatly exceeded my expectations in Beta and I am pumped to play it at launch.

My guess is that RIFT has been a significant financial success for Trion Worlds, and I expect that SWTOR will be the same for EA BioWare.

This is great news for fans of the MMORPG, regardless what game(s) you play. The more success stories in the industry, the greater the degree of financial investment into game developers, which means more new games for us.

Thank you Trion Worlds and BioWare for delivering!

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Posted in Aion, Allods Online, Business Analysis, PVP, RIFT, SWTOR, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
60 comments on “2011 = Bounceback Year for the MMORPG Industry
  1. I was in the same limbo about the time that you were. It was definitely a stale period and I had my worries about the industry as a whole as well.

    • taugrim says:

      Dustin Langley (@DLangleyTweets) :

      I was in the same limbo about the time that you were. It was definitely a stale period and I had my worries about the industry as a whole as well.

      That is a good point. RIFT and SWTOR are not just delivering AAA-quality, they’re bringing innovation as well.

      I love the “battleground” designs in both games – they’re so much more advanced than other games.

  2. Great bit of writing. Personally I wasn’t scared of the MMO market dying because it’s such a huge source of money that it seduces any game company and investors.

    Rift for me was great until the bugs came out at launch like many of the key talent abilities not working, like a simple “ignore 5% armour” was “ignore all of armour” and that the PVP stat true damage mitigation was somewhere around 6-7% when it should’ve been 25%.

    Been following SWTOR for 4 years now, excited to play it for real and hopefully they can keep up with or at least somehow match the content cycle of great companies like Trion :-)

    • taugrim says:

      Riku Marttinen (@chumppi) :

      Been following SWTOR for 4 years now, excited to play it for real and hopefully they can keep up with or at least somehow match the content cycle of great companies like Trion :-)

      Trion’s rate of content release is nuts. A lot of people, including the folks from GAMEBREAKER, actually believe Trion would be better off slowing the pace of new content and investing more time in bug fixes.

      Matt (@tamgros) pointed out to me recently that 10 of the 25 top world guilds in RIFT are dead. He believes the reasons are:
      1. it takes a lot of work to get someone caught up on gear, and
      2. there are a lot of raid boss bugs

      Jas (@irljasmine) pointed out #2 as being a significant issue when she raids as well. They cross their fingers for 3 hours hoping the last boss doesn’t bug out. That kind of uncontrollable element tends to burn people out

  3. Trey Alsup says:

    Ed- I think 2011 may ultimately viewed as a good year for MMOs, but I differ in my reasons.

    If 2011 changes the MMO landscape so that its not “WoW and everything else”, then good.

    Games don’t need to be the WoW-killer, they need to be good games and good games on their own terms. They just need to be able to find a market that allows them to be sustainable,,, and WoW has squeezed much of the air out of that room. Few players will pay multiple subscriptions at one time.

    Which is why I’m a bit perplexed on your focus on “polish”, I don’t want to see games that compete with WoW on polish and production values. If the standard is polish, then only the occasional Rift or SWTOR will make any kind of impression on the MMO landscape. You have to have hundreds of millions of dollars to compete with this level of polish. And we are not going to see any truly innovative titles with that kind of money on the line. Rift and SWTOR need to play it safe.

    As a player, and as a PvP-focused player specifically, I’m far more interested in a game that can deliver on an interesting and sustainable endgame experience. Games that allow you to actually effect the world you are playing in. Games that are designed such that players can provide most of the content for other players through their actions… But this game does not exist yet.

    For me the games that have come closest to this have been Shadowbane, DAoC, and Warhammer Online. Guild Wars worked for me just because the game prioritized PvP so successfully that just playing scenarios was highly competitive and engaging. I suspect that others would place Eve on this list, though I haven’t played it.

    So while I look forward to SWTOR and I enjoyed much of RiFT, these actually AREN’T the kinds of games I want to see more of. They ARE WoW-clones. Or rather, they are latest and greatest of the succession of D&D-inspired MMOs like EQ before WoW that primarily reward time invested. Rift has the innovative soul system that allows for excellent character customization, but in the end, its still Tanks, DPSer, and Healers with levels, HP, mana bars, XP and Gear teaming up to kill Mobs and get loot. The “world” of SWTOR is just a re-skinning of the same MMO worlds we are already familiar with.

    As a side note, I don’t think Warhammer failed for lack of polish or even for failing to deliver on hundreds of players fighting at a time. I think it failed because it couldn’t crack the problem of having a meaningful endgame that players would truly invest in. Taking castles was fun but players ultimately did it only for the rewards and then to open up cities to open up better gear. In the end it was a equipment based grindfest too. But most of the game play up to that point was fantastic. And chasing the endgame can get you very far…

    Creating a sustainable interesting endgame is incredibly hard I know- especially because the developers of these games DON’T HAVE TO. SWTOR is already 99% assured of success because they’ve managed their launch so well so far- demonstrating a high level of polish. And no one has even come close to experiencing any kind of endgame. That’s fine. SWTOR should be a pleasure to play and level through, especially with their emphasis on story. It will be like seeing a high budget movie and then, most likely, it will be over. OR it will be sustainable for the same people who now find WoW sustainable.

    So anyway, as a player, I would like to encourage other players to be forgiving of games with less “polish”. Games that don’t have the greatest spell effects or combat animations. These types of things are excellent at keeping us from looking down and seeing that we are on a treadmill.

    • taugrim says:

      Trey Alsup :

      Which is why I’m a bit perplexed on your focus on “polish”, I don’t want to see games that compete with WoW on polish and production values.

      I used the word “polish” twice, in a very lengthy article. People tend to use the work “polish” a lot, which is why I referenced it.

      I am much more concerned that a game delivers AAA-quality games and meaningful innovation and mechanics.

      Go read any of the articles I linked in this one. Mechanics, innovation, and stability are the 3 things I look for most.

    • Oozo says:

      For me, personally, Warhammer failed due to the game being nearly unplayable in largescale raids and battles. The endgame for a successful PvP game is heavily dependent on community and this is something that Warhammer had plenty of and did right, IMO.

      The PvPers on both sides knew each other. There were rivalries and flames at times. But, there was also mutual respect between the hardcore PvPers on both sides. It was the best PvP community I’ve experienced. Early WoW was similar befor the crossrealm BGs destroyed server communities.

      Strong communities = strong endgame for a PVP game. That is just my opinion.

      • Trey Alsup says:

        Even if city raiding hadn’t been a technological fail, I think that was the point I was done with War conceptually. I wasn’t going to grind city instances for the best gear. It was also the period when players started flipping keeps and not defending them for better rewards. But still, I loved 99% of Warhammer.

        Personally I never longed for 100 v 100 fights. I’m almost always bored when there’s a zerg involved. But getting rid of the zerg in games is another of those giant impossible challenges for designers.

        I mostly agree with the strong communities comment. What is ideal is when players are actually fighting over something in the world which they can change and is lasting… but that comes with its own problems of course. In DAOC a single faction could control the entire server. In Shadowbane you could be completely driven out of the game….

      • taugrim says:

        Oozo :

        For me, personally, Warhammer failed due to the game being nearly unplayable in largescale raids and battles. The endgame for a successful PvP game is heavily dependent on community and this is something that Warhammer had plenty of and did right, IMO.

        The PvPers on both sides knew each other. There were rivalries and flames at times. But, there was also mutual respect between the hardcore PvPers on both sides. It was the best PvP community I’ve experienced. Early WoW was similar befor the crossrealm BGs destroyed server communities.

        Strong communities = strong endgame for a PVP game. That is just my opinion.

        Agree with everything you wrote.

        What I believe developers do not realize is that if they create a stable World PVP environment that can handle lots of players in combat, from that point the players make the content.

        I would still be playing WAR now if the game could handle the largescale combat. Taking fortresses and pushing cities or defending them was a huge source of faction pride on Phoenix Thone.

        I have never and will never get tired of good World PVP. It’s such a rush and highly entertaining.

    • Jaggins says:

      I’m surprised you didn’t mention EVE. The endgame can be accessed in your first week, it is an awesome sandbox economy, and it has tons of PVP options.

      • taugrim says:

        Jaggins :

        I’m surprised you didn’t mention EVE. The endgame can be accessed in your first week, it is an awesome sandbox economy, and it has tons of PVP options.

        EVE launched in 2003, so it’s not a recent launch.

        The recent failures are what had me concerned.

  4. Marko - now Irulaan ins SWTOR says:

    As much as there is great anticipation with the launch of SWTOR, I understand it fails at end game content. Can anyone explain this end game failure?

    • taugrim says:

      Marko – now Irulaan ins SWTOR :

      As much as there is great anticipation with the launch of SWTOR, I understand it fails at end game content. Can anyone explain this end game failure?

      Depends who you ask.

      People told me the PVP was horribad and I love it.

      I’m going to simply rely on people’s opinions who are credible, e.g. Justin Lowe, co-creator DarthHater.com and hardcore PVE gamer, who is a host on GAMEBREAKER’s The Republic show for SWTOR. He says the content is there and fun.

  5. Daniel says:

    i’d really like to see a game where instead of gear and items, one could work towards a more refined character build, not customization that is available to anyone that plays the class, but say having “spec” specific skills, like say you level to 50, great then you choose to level towards “reduce cooldown on any single skill with timer by 1 second but extend the cooldown on X skill 2 seconds” or something like that, so you could truely customize your build in a way that specifically works for your play style. or something like “sacrifice your skill -mortar volley- for 25% boost to active shielding” etc… (i dunno, maybe it is too easy to exploit)

    this year has been great and i loved playing rift, but Rift really dissappointed me with 1.5 and now i am a bit gun shy, i fear SWTOR will be a very temporary diversion for me because of the limited ability to spec a character, the skill trees are just too basic for anyone to really feel like they have customized their character, not enough viable choices, or ways to make a hybrid spec effective
    anyway, excited about swtor and hoping that i am pleasantly surprised see all of you in game!

    • Oozo says:

      I haven’t played SWTOR, but I have to disagree on the trees with respect to hybrids. It seems to me that every class has strong hybridization choices built in.

      • taugrim says:

        Oozo :

        I haven’t played SWTOR, but I have to disagree on the trees with respect to hybrids. It seems to me that every class has strong hybridization choices built in.

        Yep, and this is the beauty of SWTOR. E.g. healers are not simply healbots. They can CC, they have functional DPS.

        • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

          I have to say that wow failed to give hybrids any credibility. PVP became spec dependent so much so that some players we excluded for their specialization or lack thereof. This lead to unbalance and op’ed characters. I feel that in SWTOR everyone has a chance!

          I also like that you can only premade with 4. I realize this will exclude many from being able to play with all of your friends but it creates a more level playing field were the outcome in not predetermined.

          I found wow raiding to be very boring and again class and specialization specific whereby good players were excluded because of a lack of a trait such as CC or healing. The fact that you can do both makes it not only fun but fair. I feel more people will be playing various roles and enhance the overall experience.

    • AceofSpadez619 says:

      I agree with Daniel’s ‘vision’ of truly spec’ing your character with your talent build and have outcomes more reliant on skill and play-style and strategy vs. cookie cutter specializations and gear, in both PvP and PvE. Of course, a real game has to try to strike a balance and offer flexibility to the player, but also mechanics that work and make sense. I think that flexibility is the big draw in Rift and it looks like SWTOR really worked out a system with a measure of flexibility as well. Games have evolved greatly from the MUDs I used to play in college, and it seems like dynamic gameplay and not being forced into a role and doing the same thing over and over is what people want.

      This is just my humble opinion “from the outside looking in”. In my adult life, as graphical MMO’s came on the scene, I simply didn’t have the time to game like I did in college…but i’m a “thinking man’s gamer” and enjoy the complexity and strategy of MMO’s (is there such a thing as a ‘casual’ MMO gamer?) and enjoy just learning about mechanics and playstyles and builds, even if I don’t spend a lot of time playing. I have never played a game to end game content, but got levels 1-20 down pat! Partly due to the subscription, it seemed pointless for me to pay for WoW when I knew I would play only a couple of times a week at most. A lot easier to fire up the PS3 and play Madden for an hour.

      With SWTOR though, I’m looking forward to playing and making MMO gaming more of a hobby, and I think they will bring in a lot of the ‘fringe players’ like myself in, generating revenue from a slightly wider, or at least more diverse base. Marketing and popularity has something to do with it. If you know what WoW and similar games are but “never really got into it”, you’ll more interested when you hear you can pick up a light saber in this game. That’s just the way it goes. I think this game will appeal to noobs and veterans alike, with the Bioware “effect” of engrossing, story driven early game play making it friendly and fun for newcomers (and a nice change of pace even for the vets), but still having all the things you hardcore gamer geeks write blogs and debate about (Raids, World PvP, etc). I played a couple of beta weekends and think Bioware and LucasArts nailed it on the head…they weren’t looking to ‘change the world of MMOs as we know it’ but they innovated in a few areas and seem to be going to deliver solid gameplay and excellent presentation in all others.

      It won’t be the perfect game, and there’s bound to be a future patch that will p*ss some people off because they liked it the way things were before their class got nerfed (see, I know the lingo!) but in the end they’ve created a juggernaut, quality product that’s bound to cross over into the mainstream consciousness, perhaps more than WoW has thus far.

      Great for MMO and PC gaming overall, which is becoming even more of a niche market with more powerful, cheaper consoles coming out all the time. MMORPGs may be the only games that survive on the PC platform in the future b/c a console joystick will never cut it (Bioware tries with PS3 Dragon Age and it’s pretty good, but you’ll never get the level of control you need for MMORPG that you can get away with on a FPS).

      • taugrim says:

        AceofSpadez619 :

        With SWTOR though, I’m looking forward to playing and making MMO gaming more of a hobby, and I think they will bring in a lot of the ‘fringe players’ like myself in, generating revenue from a slightly wider, or at least more diverse base. Marketing and popularity has something to do with it. If you know what WoW and similar games are but “never really got into it”, you’ll more interested when you hear you can pick up a light saber in this game. That’s just the way it goes. I think this game will appeal to noobs and veterans alike, with the Bioware “effect” of engrossing, story driven early game play making it friendly and fun for newcomers (and a nice change of pace even for the vets), but still having all the things you hardcore gamer geeks write blogs and debate about (Raids, World PvP, etc).

        I agree that SWTOR will attract a broader base of players, noobs and vets alike.

        AceofSpadez619 :

        Great for MMO and PC gaming overall, which is becoming even more of a niche market with more powerful, cheaper consoles coming out all the time. MMORPGs may be the only games that survive on the PC platform in the future b/c a console joystick will never cut it (Bioware tries with PS3 Dragon Age and it’s pretty good, but you’ll never get the level of control you need for MMORPG that you can get away with on a FPS).

        FWIW: I’ve talked the CEO of a hugely successful series of console games, and he thinks the opposite of what you wrote. In his view the console gaming market is gradually dying.

        • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

          Agree, consoles are out. Even though prices are down, they are limited. The fact that my PC is also for gaming, word processing, email,and a graphic and audio device makes it a one stop center for me. I also have so many controls for output including ram, monitor, GPU, CPU, etc that I can upgrade any one individually instead of a whole box. PC’s are also dropping in price as well. I think that is the direction.

  6. Oozo says:

    Nice article. Things were definitely looking ugly there for awhile. Warhammer had so much promise and did a lot of things right with respect to PvP but failed technically. AoC was just a total failure IMO. I was in the preview beta. It was buggy as hell and IIRC they did not even release the NDA until after the game was released. That’s not a good sign. ;)

    SWTOR looks like a solid game. Will it be a game that keeps my interest for a year or more? Don’t know. It does have more re-playability than most games if you are interested in the story lines. Different stories for different classes, light side or dark side choices, race, and sex. I can envision some people just playing the game to experience all of the stories and choices.

    In terms of SWTOR PvP, ultimate success will depend on how good the community becomes and how its future rival Guild Wars 2 performs.

    • Trey Alsup says:

      I’m definitely looking forward to GW2. I think it will be a very different game than SWTOR. I don’t think they will actually “compete” too much. I do think that “serious” PvPers will more likely end up more in the GW2 camp. We’ll see…

      • taugrim says:

        Trey Alsup :

        I’m definitely looking forward to GW2. I think it will be a very different game than SWTOR. I don’t think they will actually “compete” too much. I do think that “serious” PvPers will more likely end up more in the GW2 camp. We’ll see…

        Yea a lot of people are waiting on / hoping for GW2 to come through. It will be the first 3-faction PVP game AFAIK since DAoC, which was wildly popular.

      • Oozo says:

        I think you are right about that. Hardcore competitive PvPers will likely end up going to GW2 since they will have a competitive arena system. Casual PvPers will be split between the two games. I’m concerned about World PvP in SWTOR. I think the companions will end up making things a mess. SWTOR has hinted at some World PvP zones with objectives, while GW2 seems heavily invested in World PvP using a DAoC keep system. I’d most likely end up playing the game that delivers the best World PvP.

        • Potent says:

          The only issue I have with the ‘world’ PvP in GW is that its not actually ‘your world’. From what I can tell its a large PvP zone where 3 different servers can come and fight, so its like Server v Server v Server. Hopefully if the servers that fight each other are always the same it will be possible to build up a nice bit of rivalvry and server pride on the go.

          • Oozo says:

            They will most likely rotate the servers involved. Even still, I’m sure there will be server pride involved. Some servers will inevitably try to lay claim to the “toughest server” in GW2. It’s not going to build the more personal-level community that SWTOR might build though. So, both systems fall short of what I would want for different reasons.

            • taugrim says:

              I want 3 factions, 1 server, none of the cross-server crap :D

              Give me the Hutt faction and I will re-roll as a grossly obese slug character in a heartbeat.

  7. Potent says:

    Great article Taugrim! Really enjoyed the read :)

    Like some others, I’m waiting for something different than SWtoR has to offer. It looks like a great game, and the Warzones look great from a terrain and and objective play point of view, but its just not ‘next gen’ for me. I agree to an extent with some other posters above in feeling that what the industry needs is something of a revolution to take us forward from where we are now, rather than just improving on the same basic format we’ve had since EQ. A game that moves away from the ‘Level up, get to cap, raid/pvp, get the best gear’ system of vertical progression more to a system where the level cap becomes the start of horizontal progression – titles, customisation options, trophies, statues, new mechanics that offer a different way of playing rather than simply a ‘by the numbers’ better way of playing.

    In terms of PvP, I want somewhere where fighting makes a real-world, persistent difference. WAR almost had it, but the endgame just wasn’t what it could have been. Luckily, a sense of realm pride led to epic campaign play despite the lack of good endgame content. In my eyes this was one of the biggest successes of WAR, getting people playing for some goal other than gear.

    Unfortunately I have a feeling this revolution is probably some way off, though GW2 has some good ideas. In the meantime I think the most enjoyment you can get out of MMOs is through playing competitively with a good group of friends on the most level playing field you can find.

    • Trey Alsup says:

      Totally concur Potent. The money in MMOs has always been with the PvEers but I think there are probably enough MMO PvP veterans now to make a truly PvP centric game financially viable.

      I only can rely on what I like, you know.

      • taugrim says:

        Trey Alsup :

        The money in MMOs has always been with the PvEers but I think there are probably enough MMO PvP veterans now to make a truly PvP centric game financially viable.

        I only can rely on what I like, you know.

        /agree

        WAR showed that there are enough fans of PVP to make a game vibrant.

        WAR failed because the technology couldn’t handle T4 mass fighting and the client and server were buggy. People still talk about much they loved the World PVP around the lakes as they leveled. That to me is proof positive that there are enough fans of PVP to make a game viable that is built around it.

        Mythic also made the mistake of not mirroring classes across factions (e.g. Witch Elf and Witch Hunter were not balanced with each another for long periods of time, remember when WEs could stack 1 stat but WHs had to stack 2 because of their pistol) and having some classes with asymmetrical damage mechanics (e.g. Bright Wizard / Sorc) which made them OP.

        At any rate, we’ll get to see next year when GW2 launches. I know a lot of people, including me, are really curious to see its PVP implementation.

        • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

          From my WOW experience, PVP is the least expensive aspect of programming an MMO, yet it receives the least amount of attention, investment and development. Yet for me is the most entertaining aspect of any MMO because the outcomes are unpredictable. Many times you find yourself fighting friends and here comes the real rivalry, social aspects and competition.

          So many times in PVE, the boss is conquered and the instance is place in a farm category. It’s rinse and repeat after that – boring!!. What’s the fun in that. I know many would argue otherwise but I remember the beginnings of WOW before their was a PVP instance, thousands would fight in the Southshore contested territory and battles would rage on for hours, with mini victories and defeats throughout.

          I sure hope SWTOR realizes the implications of PVP and if done correctly can be pure profit and fun.

  8. dryiggles says:

    Hey Ed,

    Really great blog. I was actually the opposite of you and had tried AoC and had not played WAR. I had a few friends who tried WAR, but I was already playing AoC, so I didn’t try it. And I felt that same feeling of the 1-20 interaction with AoC and then it had stopped and was then disappointed as you mentioned.

    I had tried Aion and felt the same as you on the grindfest. Even though being that I am Asian it didn’t mean I enjoyed the grinding. It was definitely more than I could’ve handled.

    I had played Rift until maybe 1.3 or so but ended up that most of my friends were playing WoW, so I had ended up going back to it in Cataclysm as well. But that eventually faded on me as well.

    I think if I had a large community to go back to I would’ve played more Rift until SWTOR, but I had not and as well as being a pvper I didn’t really feel like Rift was going in the direction that I was hoping for.

    SWTOR I am really looking forward to. And I do think Trion is doing a great job maintaining a certain player-base and I feel that Bioware will do the same if not more from the numbers we had seen the past few weekends for the SWTOR Beta.

    I definitely see that Trion and Bioware are changing the community between the MMORPG industry and that we will see more games to play. Keeping the community together within servers rather than it just being random people you don’t care to see or play with again.

    As a gamer, I still never understood the biased opinion of only playing one MMO and wanting others to falter. And I really feel it is good to hear how you plan not only to play SWTOR, but still play Rift.

    Appreciate the Article Ed. I like your thoughts on this as many are excited about so many MMOs upcoming within the end of 2011 and through to 2012.

    ~ dryiggles

    • taugrim says:

      dryiggles :

      I definitely see that Trion and Bioware are changing the community between the MMORPG industry and that we will see more games to play. Keeping the community together within servers rather than it just being random people you don’t care to see or play with again.

      Totally agree.

      Some games, notably WoW, have gone too far off the deep-end in terms of cross-server functionality (LFG, battlegrounds), to the point where you have almost no meaningful interaction with the other faction on your server.

      Games which have had high degrees of same-server interaction (e.g. LOTRO, WAR), have tended to have the most intense faction rivalries and vibrant communities.

      BW understands this IMO.

      Now we just have to see what happens if there are population imbalances on a given server in SWTOR.

  9. Glen says:

    This game is just “ok” average at best … The Star Wars theme and package is what will sustain this game (and I will be one to play it cuase’ of that) my question is.. how long will the Star Wars package keep this game alive? a year? 6 months? 5 years? we dont know… Plus Ed seems to roam MMO’s like a 20 year old guy roams his college campus for fresh college ‘you know what’ … so Ed will only play this game for like 6 months at most anyway… LOL :)

    • taugrim says:

      Glen :

      This game is just “ok” average at best … The Star Wars theme and package is what will sustain this game (and I will be one to play it cuase’ of that) my question is.. how long will the Star Wars package keep this game alive? a year? 6 months? 5 years? we dont know… Plus Ed seems to roam MMO’s like a 20 year old guy roams his college campus for fresh college ‘you know what’ … so Ed will only play this game for like 6 months at most anyway… LOL :)

      Been looking for a decent MMO since WAR. I played that game for 1 year, long after most of the people I knew had de-subbed. RIFT is the only game I’ve been subbed for since Feb, over 9 months.

      Funny how some folks make predictions despite not knowing a person.

  10. Glen says:

    well Ed… youre my fav MMO person .. so dont take offense …

    P.S. you look sleepy during the streams with the guys… I wouldnt blame you.. your IQ runs circles around them in gaming terms

    • taugrim says:

      Glen :

      well Ed… youre my fav MMO person .. so dont take offense …

      P.S. you look sleepy during the streams with the guys… I wouldnt blame you.. your IQ runs circles around them in gaming terms

      Fair enough :)

      I’ve been catching up on sleep. The SWTOR NDA launch really made things crazy for me in recent weeks.

  11. George Komnis says:

    Hey Taugrim, long time fun, both here and on Gamebreaker, but its my first time writting here. Awesome job mate, i am proud to say that you are one of my favorite gamer jurnalists. Great article, i agree with almost everything you said. Just a couple questions, cause i know you do your job great and you will be able to provide some good answers.

    1) Do you have any info about making an anti-cc system similar to the one in Rift or War, in Swtor? I played 3 Betas as a Jedi Knight Sentinel and the amount of cc seems to be way too much for melee classes. Diminishing Returns with that much cc doesnt seem to work perfectly right now.

    2) Any news about GW2? Speculation on release date, etc.

    3) Do you think Bioware will be forced to make Swtor the “new WoW” in order to increase their subs? And before people start the flame war, please let me explain. I started playing WoW a couple months after its release and stopped when War came out (a few months before Wotlk). Tried Wotlk after about 1 year, didnt really like it and never subbed on WoW again. So what i have experienced is that Blizzard was making WoW easier and easier with every expansion. They were trying to reach younger ages and more target demographics to increase their subs, but that kinda destroyed what WoW was during the first years of each release. I never played Cataclysm, so i have no idea how the game is right now, but i cant imagine Blizzard going back and making WoW what it was. So, that being said, do you think Bioware will be kinda forced to do the same in the future?

    4) What i experienced so far in the betas of Swtor is that the Imperial Agent/Smuggler and Bounty Hunter/Trooper are slightly more op compared to Jedis/Siths. I understand that this is a move by Bioware to give more balance through the game, otherwise it would be only Siths and Jedis, but in PvP terms there needs to be some kind of balance. Do you think that at some point this will happen (1-2 months after release) or it will be the same?

    Thats all i wanted to ask, sorry for the wall of text. Keep up the great work!

    • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

      I don’t know how some of you play so many MMO’s. I find that you really have to get into them and persevere during the cycle of grind and reward to make a honest assessment, That requires a huge time commitment. How can you play so many at once? I find many comments of playing only a month and often less, quitting ripping into the MMO.

      It is very frustrating in having to differentiate between an emotional outburst and fact-based criticism. Often times the facts are from the players very own and limited experience. WOW’s PTR was very frustrating. While I was looking at balance, WOW was looking at functionality. WhileI was ticketing WOW regarding the balance issue, I was ignored and was told that not enough people played on the PTR to gather enough statistics for assessment.

      It is all very frustrating.

      .

      • taugrim says:

        Marko – now Irulaan in SWTOR :

        It is very frustrating in having to differentiate between an emotional outburst and fact-based criticism. Often times the facts are from the players very own and limited experience. WOW’s PTR was very frustrating. While I was looking at balance, WOW was looking at functionality. WhileI was ticketing WOW regarding the balance issue, I was ignored and was told that not enough people played on the PTR to gather enough statistics for assessment.

        IMO Blizzard has no idea how to properly balance classes for PVP.

        Cataclysm was a huge step in the right direction for PVP, with healing debuffs and healing getting nerfed, the rating requirements removed from most gear (really with the exception of the 2200 weapons), and the ease which players can get functionally geared up. Gear matters less than it has in the past.

        But there were still some major faceroll classes, e.g. DKs and Frost Mages. When I was 2v2’ing at 2k+, for about 6 weeks straight 7-8 of the top 10 teams were DK + healer.

        DKs had excellent peeling, CCs, damage, debuffs (especially the one that absorbs the target’s received heals), and survivability.

        There were dual Frost Mage comps at 2200+. FMs were given a ludicrous amount of CC. Ring of frost, sheep, nova, deep freeze, counterspell, etc. Along with solid damage, ice block, etc. Faceroll easy

    • taugrim says:

      George Komnis :

      1) Do you have any info about making an anti-cc system similar to the one in Rift or War, in Swtor? I played 3 Betas as a Jedi Knight Sentinel and the amount of cc seems to be way too much for melee classes. Diminishing Returns with that much cc doesnt seem to work perfectly right now.

      The Resolve mechanic was improved in the past patch. The meter fills up more quickly to prevent you from getting chain CC’d.

      George Komnis :

      2) Any news about GW2? Speculation on release date, etc.

      I dunno. Maybe someone reading this will have that info.

      George Komnis :

      3) Do you think Bioware will be forced to make Swtor the “new WoW” in order to increase their subs? And before people start the flame war, please let me explain. I started playing WoW a couple months after its release and stopped when War came out (a few months before Wotlk). Tried Wotlk after about 1 year, didnt really like it and never subbed on WoW again. So what i have experienced is that Blizzard was making WoW easier and easier with every expansion. They were trying to reach younger ages and more target demographics to increase their subs, but that kinda destroyed what WoW was during the first years of each release. I never played Cataclysm, so i have no idea how the game is right now, but i cant imagine Blizzard going back and making WoW what it was. So, that being said, do you think Bioware will be kinda forced to do the same in the future?

      Here’s the problem that WoW has:

      1. TBC was pretty “hard” in terms of keying for raids (e.g. Karazhan), grinding reputation, and the heroics were non-trivial. E.g. in 5-man heroics you had to CC intelligently, especially in instances where there were high numbers of mobs in a pull and risk of adds, e.g. The Shattered Halls

      2. WotLK went into easy mode. The Heroic content was easily PUGable while you were watching TV. CC wasn’t really needed anymore. Faceroll easy

      3. Cataclysm went back to being old-school hard, which I loved. In 5-mans, positioning, paying attention to boss fight mechanics, and CC’ing mobs correctly all mattered. It felt like TBC again in terms of PVE difficulty. But the majority of the WoW population revolted. One of the guys I know claimed Blizzard killed WoW for casuals. I was casual since I was working full-time, and I enjoyed Cataclysm moreso than any other xpac. Intelligent play mattered.. But as Josh “Lore” Allen told me, I’m in the 1%.

      OK, with all that said, let’s look at SWTOR:

      A. no mods

      B. no macros

      C. lots of abilities

      D. non-linear mana regen mechanics

      These things synergistically create an environment where skillful play matters. I haven’t played the Master or Nightmare difficulty for flashpoints, but I’m guessing they’re going to be tough. That’s a good thing IMO.

      So no, I don’t think BW will go the same route as Blizzard. Blizzard is hemorrhaging subs, and it has nothing to do with other games.

      George Komnis :

      4) What i experienced so far in the betas of Swtor is that the Imperial Agent/Smuggler and Bounty Hunter/Trooper are slightly more op compared to Jedis/Siths. I understand that this is a move by Bioware to give more balance through the game, otherwise it would be only Siths and Jedis, but in PvP terms there needs to be some kind of balance. Do you think that at some point this will happen (1-2 months after release) or it will be the same?

      6 of 8 ACs are fine in terms of balance.

      The “Warrior” ACs (JK / SW) don’t get their CCs early enough.

      I don’t know whether anything will be done to help them out.

      • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

        Let me guess – you played a Mage? Or another OP’ed caster/ranged/massive CC class?

        • taugrim says:

          Marko – now Irulaan in SWTOR :

          Let me guess – you played a Mage? Or another OP’ed caster/ranged/massive CC class?

          Me?

          I played:
          1. Guardian
          2. Commando
          3. Sentinel
          4. Gunslinger
          5. Vanguard

          So 2 melees, 2 ranged, and 1 hybrid (Vanguard).

          FWIW, Vanguard suited my playstyle the best. I loved Sentinel though, such excellent burst and sustained damage mechanics.

          • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

            No, I am speaking to the WOW experience and find that CATA a wonderful environment.

            • taugrim says:

              Marko – now Irulaan in SWTOR :

              No, I am speaking to the WOW experience and find that CATA a wonderful environment.

              I played a Prot Pally in PVP in Cata, and the stickied Prot Pally PVP Guide on the official US forums is my Guide.

              So no, I didn’t play Mage.

              Cataclysm PVP is the most balanced WoW has ever had, but there are still faceroll classes.

      • Oozo says:

        “A. no mods B. no macros”

        That is going to make a lot of WoW arenaphiles very uncomfortable. People have grown very dependent on mods and macros in WoW. Hell, there is even a mod that voices what ability your target and focus are using. Mods that track diminishing returns, etc etc. A lot of WoW people confuse mods and macros with gameplay skill. Does SWTOR have a focus system like WoW? If it doesn’t, that is another thing people have grown heavily dependent on.

      • George Komnis says:

        Aight thanks a lot for the info! Really appreciate it! Btw, i forgot to write it on my first comment, that i am from Greece so please excuse any errors i make in English, since its not my native language (hell even the alphabet is totally different :P)

        Oh and awesome job on the Combat medic PvP video! One of the best i have seen so far! I had my doubts about rolling a trooper and was thinking about playing a Sage, but you gave me hope!!

  12. WasiKaBooM says:

    Wow, Taugrim on a comment-commenting spree. :)

  13. Scottsummers says:

    2012 is definitely a big year for MMO.
    We have GW2 and SWTOR which are basically the REAL triple A title, and most importantly they are significantly different from each other in terms of gameplay mechanic and subscription model (which is good for MMOer, we can play both without paying 30 bucks a month).
    For sandbox gamers, the release of Archeage should be looking forward to, a hybird between themepark and Sandbox (Hotkey MMO combat system with player generate content like house/ship building)
    And Soul & Blade will most likely replace TERA in Korea and beoame the no.1 action MMO in the market.

    As a long time MMO gamer who haven’t dedicate any time into any mmo in recent years, 2012 is very exciting for me. Took the game developers long enough to learn the mistake of WAR,Age of Conan and Vanguard LOL.

    • Marko - now Irulaan in SWTOR says:

      You can’t forget the 15 million who once played WOW. Who were ripped off with a remake of old content, a system that favored certain classes, that has so many unbalanced issues that playing the game was just unfair, An organization that was unresponsive to user complaints and suggestions and took punitive action on those who cried foul. This was a self focused organization who believed they knew best, and surrounded themselves with a core of cloned monotones who agreed with any idea because they themselves as a group couldn’t even light a match let alone develop a good MMO. Go Pandamist!!!

      There are lessons to be learned. I sure hope the industry learns from this experience.

    • taugrim says:

      Scottsummers :

      As a long time MMO gamer who haven’t dedicate any time into any mmo in recent years, 2012 is very exciting for me. Took the game developers long enough to learn the mistake of WAR,Age of Conan and Vanguard LOL.

      Companies such as Trion and BioWare learned from the other companies mistakes.

      I specifically asked Scott Hartsman about how Trion was able to wait until the game was sufficiently good to launch, and he said they didn’t want to “fall down” like other companies had and that they were totally aligned from top-to-bottom on that.

      I’ve heard from Mythic employees that EA forced WAR to go live before the game was ready. At least EA learned from that mistake.

  14. Pollux, aka Kollusos says:

    Hey Taugrim, i don’t know if you already are aware but the update made on AO(Allods Online) that caused you to quit the game(i also did quit the game on that patch aswell) was changed, i started to play Allods Online basically sometime before you started posting AO videos of the melee healer (if i’m not mistaken), and then the patch occured but i continued to see your guides and good job btw you are one of my favourite streamers, but some patchs ago AO implemented the item that was required for the gear for free(so if you die you dont have cursed gear) on the allods botique (the shop).Also if im not mistaken on future patchs (i dont know when) they will put another class the Bard. But now the main thing on the game for the higher levels is the runes.. now till runes lvl7 (i think its till level7 runes) you can pay with game cash, but till lvl13 you have to pay with real money or else you cant get then, and the runes increase your damage ,healing and decreases damage taken, obvious the higher lvl the runes better the stats.
    WELL but basically i only want to say to you that the problem that AO had at the other patch no longer exists.
    Good luck with future streams and videos.

    • taugrim says:

      Pollux, aka Kollusos :

      WELL but basically i only want to say to you that the problem that AO had at the other patch no longer exists.
      Good luck with future streams and videos.

      Understood.

      I quit AO for multiple reasons, and one of them is not “patchable”.

      The game developer is a separate company from the game operator, and I don’t trust that they’ll be aligned on how to develop and operate the game over time, based on what I saw with the whole Perfume debacle.

      This is a deal-breaker for me.

  15. Scottsummers says:

    Marko – now Irulaan in SWTOR :

    You can’t forget the 15 million who once played WOW. Who were ripped off with a remake of old content, a system that favored certain classes, that has so many unbalanced issues that playing the game was just unfair, An organization that was unresponsive to user complaints and suggestions and took punitive action on those who cried foul. This was a self focused organization who believed they knew best, and surrounded themselves with a core of cloned monotones who agreed with any idea because they themselves as a group couldn’t even light a match let alone develop a good MMO. Go Pandamist!!!
    There are lessons to be learned. I sure hope the industry learns from this experience.

    I absolutely hate the way Blizzard handle the pacing of the contents update in WoW. They had over 10 millions subscription at one point but they took monthS for each content update, and how dare they used excuses like “expensive” for their laziness (graphic update? too expensive), and it’s not like their new raids content is flawless without bugs, not to mention all the rehashed content! It’s ridiculous how Blizzard treat their fans. (I don’t hate Blizz, but they drop the ball big time since wotlk.)
    Rift, Lotro, D&D online and EvE are much faster in terms of content update and they’re muchhh smaller company than Blizzard !
    (OMG, this is totally off topic and i should stop ranting lolz)

  16. nallard says:

    Hey Taugrim.

    Thanks for the guides. They’ve been helpful…well they feel like they might be helpful. I only discovered you after beta. At least they’ve been entertaining and interesting.

    I’ve been thinking about SWTOR and their decision to really push the idea of story in PvE, but I’m concerned about this decision. I played a few beta weekends and progressed a couple of toons into the twenties, and what struck me was the lack of consequences that attended your dialogue choices. The only ones that really matter are those that earn you affection with your companion or the light side/dark side points.

    The potential problem is that it becomes a game of picking the “right” choice to fill up a bar (affection or LS/DS points). It seems like there isn’t much else that comes of these choices. I haven’t progressed to 50, so I might be pleasantly surprised. But I still found myself disconnecting a little from the story lines because I wasn’t involved, and my actions didn’t make much of a difference. And frankly if I just wanted to receive a TOR story, I’d get one of the books and read it.

    I’m really surprised the BioWare didn’t implement some kind of phasing mechanic, or maybe lock out certain world quest lines. I’m not a programmer, so maybe that’s an impossible task. I just look to the horizon and see GW2 coming: a game where one of their major design priorities is making players feel like they have a tangible effect on the world.

    I know your beta experience was primarily focused on PvP, but do you have any thoughts on this topic?

    • taugrim says:

      nallard :

      I’ve been thinking about SWTOR and their decision to really push the idea of story in PvE, but I’m concerned about this decision. I played a few beta weekends and progressed a couple of toons into the twenties, and what struck me was the lack of consequences that attended your dialogue choices. The only ones that really matter are those that earn you affection with your companion or the light side/dark side points.

      The potential problem is that it becomes a game of picking the “right” choice to fill up a bar (affection or LS/DS points). It seems like there isn’t much else that comes of these choices.

      I don’t know to what extent the dialogue choices impact anything besides what you mentioned.

      I do know that mid-dialogue if you make a “mistake” you can Esc and re-start the conversation again.

  17. nallard says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this very strange coincidence.

    The day I found your channel I had just come back from coffee with my friend…Ed Park.

    My Ed Park – Of Korean ancestry
    My Ed Park – Used to work in a corporate office, but quit to pursue a creative career (writing – he’s probably the one you quietly curse when you google your own name)
    My Ed Park – Married (he has a baby…I don’t know if you have kids)
    My Ed Park – also soft spoken
    My Ed Park – Looks to be about the same age as you

    Is this actually a coincidence? I don’t think so! And I’m going to get to the bottom of this, whatever it takes…

    I feel like this could be the start of an Edgar Allen Poe story, or an Agatha Christie Novel

    The Curious Case of the Two Ed Parks.

    • taugrim says:

      nallard :

      Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this very strange coincidence.

      The day I found your channel I had just come back from coffee with my friend…Ed Park.

      My Ed Park – Of Korean ancestry
      My Ed Park – Used to work in a corporate office, but quit to pursue a creative career (writing – he’s probably the one you quietly curse when you google your own name)
      My Ed Park – Married (he has a baby…I don’t know if you have kids)
      My Ed Park – also soft spoken
      My Ed Park – Looks to be about the same age as you

      Is this actually a coincidence? I don’t think so! And I’m going to get to the bottom of this, whatever it takes…

      I feel like this could be the start of an Edgar Allen Poe story, or an Agatha Christie Novel

      The Curious Case of the Two Ed Parks.

      Haha.

      Is this the Ed Park who lives in NYC and is a journalist? I’ve never met him, but he shows up in Google as “Ed Park” at the top of the list.

      • nallard says:

        That’s him. You should topple him from his perch. Google King of the Hill.

        Consider yourself lucky. The person who pops up on top of Google with my name is a professional badminton player. At least you got an award winning author and journalist. I didn’t even know badminton was a professional sport.

  18. Nick says:

    SWTOR was a big let down for me, good chance i’ll just resub Rift as i didn’t get to play that past lvl 20 but still really liked it, i just wish there was some kind of ranked PvP system as it seems world pvp has it ups and downs and warfronts are just a grind with no real test of skill, plus if there was ranked PvP i could get a bunch of my friends to play:P we only really play competitive games

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