We had a bit of discussion in our guild yesterday about the story and immersion in The Old Republic compared to other games, most notably World of Warcraft. We tried to isolate the things that made us enjoy various part of the story in those games and how it could be brought into TOR.
The Old Republic has the best and most enjoyable single-player experience we've ever played, it's very immersive and interesting. The only problem with this is that it stops once you reach the highest level and you finish your Class' storyline. There is not much content that aren't of the repeatable sort, most of the amazing story and the immersion that came with it that we saw during our leveling process is gone when you realize that every Smuggler has the same background, the same companions etc. I'm not saying that this is all bad, the Class stories are amazing and a great way to get introduced to the game, but keeping the primary focus of the story inside the Class story and the single-player world is not something we believe is good for the overall health of the game. There is some really great examples where TOR is done really well in the story unrelated to a specific class, Battle of Ilum and the False Emperor Flashpoints are great with this. You first have some missions on Ilum explaining how you can take out this Sith Lord with the assistance of Malgus only to realize that you were only doing his dirty work. It's a great storyline that combines both Missions and group content. It's exactly the kind of storytelling that we are looking for in the rest of the game, especially with the Operations.
Another game that overall have had a very poor implementation of the story but has succeeded very well in a few cases is World of Warcraft (Yes I know people hate comparisons with this game but this time it's relevant
During the expansion The Burning Crusade Blizzard realized that while Illidan was a great villain people barely saw him outside of the encounter where you defeated him and it didn't feel very emotional and epic when people did killed him. They did their best to correct this in the next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King when they were about end what was probably the most interesting and populr character in the series, Arthas (The Lich King).
During this expansion we contiously saw Arthas show up and insult us, we fought his monsters, we turned his allies against him and got to talk to him and encounter him on a very regular basis. When it came closer to the end of the expansion the preparation for his defeat started with building up resources fighting in the Trial of the Crusader (yes I know most people hated it). This all helped build up anticipation for the end encounter.
Even closer to the end, at the release of Icecrown Citadel they released a trio of dungeons (Flashpoints) in the The Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, Halls of Reflection where you pulled together a group combining the efforts of both factions working together to defeat the enemy outside of raiding environment. At the end of the last of these dungeons in Halls of Reflection you encounter Arthas himself and is in the end overpowered and forced to escape. This was something that really promoted the feeling that you couldn't defeat him without more help and really helped create a very powerful villain.
As I explained before, this was done very well with the Battle of Ilum and False Emperor, but was done quite poorly with The Eternity Vault for example.
Our guild is probably in quite a minority when it comes to the attitude towards attunement missions and missions leading up to something, but it was something we loved (Yes I know they are a pain when it comes to alts in the future but that can be solved with it being bound to legacy). We loved them because they helped build up that feeling of working towards something. Do you really believe that the *insert your faction leaders here* didn't do any recon missions before sending people into *insert Operation here*? Why not have the player do those missions!? That along with Flashpoint leading up to *insert Operation here* will help promote that epic feeling in Operations. There are other upsides with this kind of content as well. Since these missions will provide background and also have the possibliity to introduce people to mechanics and ramp up the difficulty gradually along the Missions/Flashpoints leading up to the Operation, helping new players get into that kind of content. It will also provide more of this story for the people who don't have that much interest in Operations and group content, allowing them to take part of more of it without getting involved.
Sorry about my spelling/grammar, English is not my native language.