Dance, Smed, dance

I distilled a few interesting parts from the flood of posts from Smed on the SWG boards. Now that I’m gone through it I think I should have organized it better, dividing the general considerations from the discussion about the specific changes. This is what I have right now:

Our communication has been terrific. I can’t say you neccessarily like what we’ve been saying, but I think our community people and our devs have been much more active than before. I never liked that system of correspondents before (they did a great job..don’t get me wrong) but I prefer direct communication.

The truth is the community morale won’t improve until the game does. Communication can’t fix this. Improvements to the game can. The fact is our communication has improved.. people don’t neccessarily like the message is all. I get that. So do our community folks. My preference is that all the posts in the gameplay forum are discussing gameplay balance.. and in-game issues.. but they won’t until we get the game to a baseline fun level. We’re not there yet. We know that. We’re working to fix it. There is no other answer.

The SWG community has been voting with it’s feet since the NGE came about. Either we end up being right about our ability to turn the ship around and make a game that’s BETTER than it was before, or we were wrong and we fail. Either way we were losing subs before the NGE and believe it or not, we are losing them at a slower rate than before. I’m not going to pretend we didn’t lose a bunch of subs from this. We did. And I don’t think the game is where it needs to be yet to aquire new subs. But it’s getting there with each and every publish.

At the end of the day there are a lot of people in this community that wonder why we did this? Why did we “deliberately” try and piss people off. Obviously that wasn’t our intent. This is a business and we needed to improve the results of the business. Did we make a mistake? Maybe.. but only time is going to tell on that one. One thing is certain. We made a mistake with how we presented it to the community, and for that I’m sorry. I still think it was a needed thing though. It’s not as simple as “you should have just fixed the things we were complaining about”. That doesn’t address the very real fact that what we had was a hardcore game that wasn’t going to attract the mass audience that the Star Wars IP brings to the table.

I respectfully disagree with your position on this. The profession system had fundemental flaws that couldn’t be corrected and still be able to both balance the game and add meaningful content that made each profession really matter and be differentiated from the others. Was crafting absolutely the most amazing part of the game? Probably IMO. Can it still be a major part of the game? Hell yes.. and it will be. BUT that needs to be balanced with the fact that adventuring and killing things needed to have meaningful rewards as well to reach a more mainstream audience. I really hope you can see this point even if you don’t agree with it.

Allow me to respectfully disagree with your point here – Star Wars as an IP is every bit as capable of delivering a WoW level audience. The reason it isn’t is the game needs to be that good. No, not the SAME game.. but it needs to be that good and polished. Everyone thinks we are trying to make SWG like WoW or EQ2. That’s completely not the case. Yes, we’re going to a more rigid class based system and are doing more linear content.. but that’s where the similarities end IMO. In theory we still have an incredibly deep and rich system based MMO that can deliver some world class gameplay once we live up to your expectations.

SWG never attracted the size audience that the Star Wars license delivered in the first place. One of those reasons was combat wasn’t exciting enough. We have done enough research on the people who quit or people that didn’t purchase the game to know this is a hard, brutal cold fact. Could we have gone a different direction with the combat? Yes. Could we in the future change this direction? Yes. Do I think we will? No. Why? Because I don’t believe that this will be an issue if we solve the other half of the equation – making the professions feel different… and making the content really exciting.

Let’s get this out of the way right now – SWG in no way has a low sub base. That’s just not the fact. The truth is it’s still the #4 game in North America (WoW, EQ2, EQ, SWG). I’m sure this will bring the naysayers out of the woodwork, but it’s just a fact.

I also totally disagree with our assertion that we can’t make this game the biggest and best MMO out there. We still have a full dev-team on this game and we’re going to absolutely push ourselves until we achieve our goals. Noone is going into coasting mode on this game. Period.

The only answer I can give you on trust is that we have to earn that trust by continuing to make forward progress. That’s it. We know that.

What exactly was the difference between most of the combat professions? There really wasn’t one unfortunately. Adding meaningful content for over 30 professions just wasn’t something we were capable of. We bit off more than we could chew. Also, the fact that a person who had seen the movies won’t know what most of those professions were presented a real problem for aquisition.

You will never hear me saying the people that are complaining aren’t passionate about wanting things to be like they were before. In fact, if there is one big lesson I’ve learned from all of this it’s how NOT to go about making big changes in a game

I don’t like trying to pass the buck. I may say stuff you disagree with, but I don’t want to try to imply something that’s not true. You may all believe that early on with the NGE we were just “spinning” things. We weren’t.. we honestly believed (and still do) that we could make the game better and convince you all that this was the right direction.

I actually think this is something that will make things a lot better. I’m not sure where it is in the pipeline of things to do, but I think having mobs not all bunch up will fix a lot of what people complain about. Unfortunately this is not a simple technical problem to solve. It sounds like it is, but on the server side the single biggest frame rate killer is collisions for a lot of reasons I won’t get into. We need to solve this problem. I don’t have an ETA yet though.

we’ve lost some dev team members. A lot of new companies have sprung up in Austin and we lost some key people… new people take time to ramp up. Simple as that. NCsoft and others are losing people too. This is a competitive job market. Seriously competitive.

Not from Smed:

We recognize that the current profession system doesn’t allow for any real level of character differentiation. As such, we’re currently working on an “Expertise” system, that grants the players “points” to spend on specialization. The expertise system gives the profession system a similar feel to what we had pre-nge as far as character customization goes. The tech for this system is being developed for the next publish (this won’t be visible to you guys). The publish after that, we’re looking at pushing out the first two professions’s worth of expertise trees, with two professions targeted for every publish after that. Generally speaking, we’ll have three trees for each profession to choose from, including a GCW tree and a “path” tree that will hold things like “dark” and “light” side powers for Jedi, for instance (or droid specializtion, vs poisons for Bounty hunters – for instance).

(about the respec NPCs that will be added)
Starts 100k credits and goes up to 25 million i think.

Lots of talk about the “secret” project which really isn’t a secret anymore. We are doing a playable demo for E3 and Swede is working on the team that is putting that together. The project is actually going to be larger then just the demo and become a new themepark with a GCW theme (lots of Rebels v. Imperials) to it, which will be put into the game in publish 29.

The intention of this themepark is to cover our bases with E3 and develope a new set of repeatable, high end content for all of you.

The expansion team, which is no more, is now working on nothing but high end content that will be sent out in our regular publishes.

(about collision detection)
We are still working on it. It is a huge change to the core game, so we want to make sure it is solid before we roll it out in a publish.

Animations – We will be doing some significant work on our animation system in the upcoming months. The collision system we are working on will allow us to get jumping into the game.

We’re going to put the stuff that’s clearly SW in first. We’re going to modify or retrofit the best of what was fun but not completely SW in second. We’re going to remove or eliminate those things that clearly aren’t SW.

And, we’re going to do it all at a pace that ensures quality and fun.

SWG is no longer striving to be a world simulation.

There would be so many things to say about all this.

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