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If you support this idea please let Bioware know by telling them you would resubscribe continually for this type of game-play. Keeping current subscribers is one of the most important things for MMO companies, turning unsubs into subs is very costly however keeping current clients is easier.
The entire idea behind this document is to incorporate a real battle zone for the players of SWTOR. Up until now the OWPvP in the game has been lacklustre and poorly implemented and with patch 1.1 the new implementation has been flawed from design up.
This system will be unique in both setting and scale citing multiple battles across multiple fronts and leaving room for expansion.
The look will retain its traditional starwars setting however should also incorporate the "battle zone" feel with the addition of destroyed buildings, craters and war camps for each faction.
With this redesign that will not take huge resources or masses of new code adding I believe that developers will take the first step in building bridges between themselves and the player base and also showing they are able to create a game system that is what the players want.
This addition will provide Bioware and EA with the platform required to push the game from the current position to a game that provides players with unique settings, genuine player vs player content and adds re-playability that is beyond that of what is currently in the game or any that may be in development currently.
The main focus of marketing should be aimed at guilds who focus on player vs player as this addition will be geared towards the guilds that wish to be well known through their actions and prowess on the battle-field. What many companies underestimate is the power wielded by these guilds in terms of flow of positivity or negativity through multiple avenues either marring or hyping a game. SWTOR needs to re-convince these guilds that the game is worth their while and worth a second chance.
Sales expectations should be revised upwards due to tapping into a new category of players (Sandbox) and re-subscription rates should also see an increase from players who have unsubscribed due to PvP.
The replayability of the game will also increase for many players thus increasing subscription times and retention rates.
Currently the game has had large amounts of criticism aimed at its social aspects or lack thereof. This addition will create a social situation where multiple guilds will be required to work together, form defence and offence teams and react to situations on the fly. Political situations will start to develop and the intrigue and back stabbing will begin adding to the fun and replay-ability of the game.
It is that ability to play in big groups, play as a community that intrigues the masses of MMO players. Simply playing 8v8 is not enough, it is something that gives you experiences on the grand scale, the only unique thing that MMOs has to offer people that all other genres cannot. Player interaction is the key and is the one thing that MMO's can undoubtedly do better than all other games. Sieges and open world pvp such as this, has always been the winning factor of providing the basis of these relationships and communities to be formed and as we all know, communities and relationships are the thing that keep MMOs together, not trying to balance classes, not creating more divided warzones, not the small grouping but the community on a much larger scale and a feeling that you actually matter in the grand scheme of things.
The design (notes):-
The design of all the below will simply recycle things that are already in the game and will require some deletions or additions to make each area seem war torn and non-recycled. There will be some additional coding required for the structures in terms of capture and defence of objectives however this is not something that is ground breaking or impossible. If Bioware deem fit to create new structures and textures for fortresses then this will add to the time required to put this expansion out.
Firstly planets will need to be selected for recycling and they must have terrain that is battle worthy, by this I mean there can't be huge swathes of the map that is cordoned off by terrain that is impossible to reach, battles need to be kept in a very localised vicinity, also each planet must have connections for 3 or more adjoining maps. Death-cages are also very well used in PvP and fluff added to the planets such as destroyed buildings, craters or the like must give players the ability to push their enemies into bunched up groups thus enabling bombing and multiple other techniques.
Each planet can only have an odd number of bases (forts) on them to ensure there are no stalemates.
Each base can be made unique to spice up the game play for the player in terms of defences or offences but counters to each must be added enabling the attackers to overcome either of the defences or offences. ie) maps with shielded bases on them must have a counter to the shield such as an Ion cannon able to disable the shield or orbital bombardment stations that can knock out the shield generators.
The design (actual):-
An addition of X amount of planets will be required on the "Unknown regions". These planets can use the same textures as Ilum or of other pre-created planets. Also previously used maps can be recycled to make this easier.
On either end of the map (north and south) there will be a single Republic and Empire planet. These planets will be invulnerable to base capture however they will hold a bonus to the faction who managed to reach them. The faction that pushes their enemy back enough will be able to take on a notable character of the enemy faction (Satelle/Malgus). Be warned that these characters will be defend-able by their allied faction but the rewards for defeating (not killing) them in battle will be vast however expect their retribution to be swift (the adjoining planets will be re-taken by their faction in response to your attack) so that these lucrative bosses will not be able to be attacked daily, they will also grant their allied faction with a 5% damage buff that will last 1 week. This buff can stack up to 5 times and its weekly countdown will reset every time the boss is defeated.
Between the two central planets and the Empire/Republic planets there will be a mirror of each planets that can only be captured if an adjoining planet is taken.
Planets will have an odd amount of bases put on them spread out through various maps. The bases will have various defences.
Maps would require some work with the addition of bases (forts) and offensive points such as Ion turrets on all PvP planets and Orbital bombardment platforms. All the textures and designs for these platforms are already in game as is the design for the orbital bombardment (when bases are taken on Ilum currently).
Bases will be one of the focal points for all battles. Each base will have multiple battle points that should be prioritised for defenders or attackers creating active and unique situations that change every time you attack or defend. The largest fights will take part on the walls and shield generators which is when most platforms will be used. Once the attackers are inside the base then defence becomes difficult.
- Bases will have a speeder point inside of them but will never have a med centre for instant re-spawns.
- Bases will have a various amount of turret slots (up to 10) that defenders will be able to mount portable turrets upon. Portable turrets will be craftable only.
- Each base will have a unique set of defences from a double defensive wall (requiring two doors to be taken down) to a defensive shield (requiring an Ion cannon to take it out or the shield generator blown up).
- Bases will have the name of the guild that has put the most effort into taking it over, this will include enemies killed in the area, base capture, shield generator take down or shield take down (with cannon), turrets destroyed.
- Bases without shields can be upgraded by the owning guild to have a shield generator built however the cost will be quite large.
- Doors can be reinforced for a price.
- Shields have a finite amount of HP so can be destroyed by players however this will not be the best way to take them out.
- Shields that are taken down by an Ion Cannon will have a recharge time and they will go back up again in X amount of time. Shields that are taken down by shield generators will stay down permanently.
- Shield generators are repairable by the guild that owns the base requiring a defensive presence in order for them not to go back up. A 5min channel repair skill is required to make the shield generators effective again.
- For bases to be captured the attackers would be required to get to the "objective" area and start slicing the base computer. The time required for a full slice would be from 5 to 10min. When this is on-going the person slicing will be protected by an impenetrable shield thus stopping any stealthers or mass kamikaze incursions from defenders stopping the flip. In order to deactivate the shield there is another console that will need to be activated that takes a 10s channel also creating another fighting point.
- To ensure a fair fight on both sides the the return time to the base should be kept as close as possible for both attackers and defenders. Players should never be out of the fight for huge amounts of time but attackers should be able to have objectives and points to hold to stop reinforcements and defenders should also have points that are highly valued such as the speeder to ensure reinforcements can continue to come in.
These platforms will be used to spice up battle and create other focal points for fighting. Attackers will need to take over these points to provide them with an advantage while defenders will require sweeper teams to re-take them so they cannot be used against their main force defending the base.
- Area effect offensive platforms would need to be implemented. No announcement will be made on when these are taken but the map will update with information on who holds them.
- Orbital Bombardment platforms will be implemented and requires a 15min charge up time before it is usable creating a focal point for fighting. (Does not affect anything inside a base)
- Ion cannons will be implemented, their use will be to destroy any enemy owned platforms or the shields of the enemy base creating another focal point for fights. A charge up time of 15min is required before this platform can be used. (resets platforms to neutral if used against them)
- Personal shield platform- Personal shield platforms will be implemented adding a damage reducing shield on all allied players for X amount of time. A charge up time of 15min is required before this platform can be used. (affects inside a base)
- Stealth Generation Platform- A zone wide stealth generator hides every allied person on the map. A 10min charge up time is required before this is usable. (affects inside a base)
- Bacta generation platform- An area wide HOT is applied to every allied player on the map giving the affected players 500 health per second for 30 seconds. This platform requires 5min charge up time before it can be used. (affects inside base).
Technical Fairness & FPS:-
The problem facing this game at the moment is faction imbalance and a very un-optimised engine. First lets approach the faction imbalance. In PvP no offensive buff should be applied unless there is a big disadvantage (see the above with 5% damage buff) however defensive buffs should be encouraged for players in the area that has PvP.
These buffs should only be initiated during the "vulnerability timer" and not otherwise or it will restrict small scale PvP. The defensive buff should either be damage mitigation or a HP buff. Meaning that even 10 players will have a fight against 50. For example if 50 players at 15000 health then the following formula should be put in place.
50x15000 = 750000 / 10 = 75000
The 10 players will then have 75000 health each resulting in a fight for both sides (and a "heroic" fight for the lesser side).
To stop any form of balance issues if players leave the area then the health will react to this and maximum health will go up however current health will stay the same meaning they either need to heal it up or wait for regeneration. If more players enter the area then both maximum and actual health will reduce.
The highest numbered side will still retain an advantage (in the 10v50 situation) due to a higher DPS output however this will go far in giving the lesser populated side a much needed buff if numbers are not hugely different due to kill rates being almost the same(150v100/200v100)
The other side of this would be to tie in the vulnerability mechanic with faction balance. One planet will become vulnerable at a time with each base having a 1hr countdown on it. With bases generally not going up together (leading to an entire evening of fighting) on certain occasions if one side is gaining an advantage and are outnumbering the opposite faction by controlling 51% or more of the bases on a planet than there is a chance that two of their controlled bases will become vulnerable at the same time leading to more pressure on defence and more opportunity for the lesser populated side to gain.
Now onto the next problem. FPS issues in battle. With a test done previously we know that one big part is the announcements across PvP areas causing a 2s lag, this needs to be removed firstly. The next part was with regards to the initiation of PvP and the spell effects/player character models. A new "optimised" option will need to be added to the client changing all player models to a "rag-doll" with the same texture or outline, it will also remove all spell/skill effects that aren't from the client owner from the game for clients that cannot handle it (so you still get to see your own effects). This should go a long way in reducing FPS and making large scale more playable.
This will not come as a welcome change to everyone. Damage has been done by both the RNG system and the very badly thought up PvP reward system. The following would need to be implemented first.
- Battlemaster would be the last PvP gear introduced to the game.
- Implement a clean sweep across all armour types opening up every mod slot available (Armouring/Mod/Enhancement).
- Reduce valour rewards per war-zone making open world far more profitable for valour.
- PvP rewards should be item modifications only, these modifications should contain small expertise additions each (Armouring/Mod/Enhancement).
- These modifications require a valour rank to slot into their armour and will cost both War-zones and Mercenary Commendations.
With valour ranks above level 60 taking quite some time to achieve people will not be able to grind in a short time upto the top ranked items, instead they will need to take a tiered approach and modify armour that they want, also fixing a big problem with the game currently - Everyone looks the same.
The other problem is that gear progression will spiral out of control due to starting at level 60 valour rank items equivalent of battle master gear. Modifications should include a damage mitigation bonus that reduces all incoming damage making it superior to battle masters in the first instance and this mitigation should be retained and increased as valour ranks go up but note that the mitigation should not be large enough to impact hugely on 1v1 fights.
Simply put, rewards are now modifications to armour, players can use what-ever armour they wish to use at end-game. The performance issue in large scale PvP of loading multiple textures from different armour sets will be offset by the previous mentioned fix.
There are plenty of ideas for expansions but none seem to draw the same amount of attention as a form of space combat. A simple addition to this combat would be that during vulnerability timers a planet will have an orbital battle-zone around it within which both factions will have the ability to duke it out with both fighters, bombers and guild capital ships. The aim would be to gain spacial superiority over the planet in order to launch orbital bombardments from your guild capital ship or even take down the enemies shields via orbital bombardment.
Another future expansion could elevate the war into already known areas of space and lead to huge battles taking part on Dromund Kaas or Corucscant with variable objectives on either planet
Implementing this system would require redistribution of teams who are currently working on content for the game so some form of sacrifice would need to be made, whether it is to push back the march launch of the next content patch or to continue to bleed subscriptions due to poor replay ability of the game.
In the short term Ilum should be focused on as the focal point for all of these changes and should be used as the concept for all other additions such as planets.
Changing Ilum to the above system would not require the same amount of work as creating new planets, textures, systems and so on, the largest amount of work required would be incorporating the base flip mechanics into the engine, which again is not something that is hugely difficult for a competent developer.
My personal preference would be to aim for implementing a version of the above changes on Ilum in the pushed back march content patch, giving more re-playability to players with both OWPvP and the new war-zone. The new Ilum would create a place for both factions to start to build both social bonds and rebuild their current open world issues (such as lack of showing up). With faction imbalance being an issue Bioware could then give people the option of character transfers but this will only work with full disclosure of current faction imbalances, this would not require exact numbers however it would require Bioware showing on each server which faction has the most players.
The problem with the above is that with the decision to make both factions available on a single server the numbers will not be accurate but it will be a start and the decision may be made to lock servers to a single faction meaning that players would have to transfer the characters from the faction they don't want to ally to onto another server.
The next content patch should be aimed at implementing the entire revision with multiple planets added and the ability to take control of each planet and pushing your enemy back.
By implementing or incorporating these changes into the game Bioware will be showing that its teams do take feedback seriously and want what is best for the game which will improve over-all moral on the community aspect of the game thus giving the Community Team some much needed breathing space to start building bridges.
The core of this addition would be to give players a re-playable end game that will never get boring no matter how many times it is played through simply due to the amount of changes that can occur at any given time.
The balancing mechanics are the most important features of this entire thing, without those this will flop. They are key to every design that should be undertaken in the future and should never be forgotten about.
I hope people can get behind this idea and really support it. Without every bit of support I fear the idea may fall on deaf ears, let's make sure our voices are heard, we want a far better endgame.
Room For Error:-
I have put days of effort into this document, approached developers, designers, players and everyone else in between for their opinion on separate aspects, how reasonable things would be to design and implement then turn around on each part and so on, however as everyone should know each development team is different so please don't take any of the above as gospel, there are obviously areas that I have no idea about (such as how long it would take Bioware to implement a change like this to Ilum) but I have guestimated from information given to me and reasonable suggestions by people in the field.
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