View Single Post

cyrus_krell's Avatar


cyrus_krell
08.13.2012 , 05:16 AM | #1
What does it mean, ďA Thousand Papercuts?Ē

In late 2010, there was a thread created on the EVE Online forums with the same title. The players organized to civilly and thoughtfully outline their issues with the game, sticking almost exclusively to small, quality of life issues, or very simplistic suggestions to improve their gameplay experience. Game developers at CCP, the makers of EVE, quickly took notice of the thread and kept their eye on it for a while, eventually organizing a small team within the company to get together in their spare time to look into ďthe small things.Ē Their efforts were rolled into the summer 2011 expansion, Incarna.

After EVEís Noble Exchange debacle in the summer of 2011, in which there was a sudden focus on exorbitantly overpriced vanity items that sent the community in an uproar, CCP was forced to call an emergency meeting of the CSM (a player-elected group of representatives that meet with developers in Iceland biannually to discuss and address the concerns of player constituents) and plot a new direction for development.

After many meetings, public apologies, and internal restructuring, CCP pivoted towards seriously addressing the concerns of players. The Thousand Papercuts Project quickly turned from an erstwhile hope into a very prominent development plan, and the small team working in their spare time became an officially recognized group with the resources necessary to bring that plan to fruition. The Crucible expansion, released in the winter of 2011, was the realization of all their efforts, and focused mainly on the Thousand Papercuts idea, as well a large contingent of bug fixes, balancing, and other quality of life stuff.

Crucible was welcomed by the community with open arms, and CCP made it a point to emphasize that the spirit of the expansion, the Thousand Papercuts idea, would remain a significant part of every subsequent release that followed. Indeed, CCP kept good on their word, and in the expansion that followed (and the one currently in development for winter 2012), a significant portion of the content released has included a focus on ďthe little things.Ē

As an aside, it should be noted that CCP is very close with their community of players and fans, and there is much that Bioware can learn from their example--both from their successes and from their failures (like the NeX incident).

Iíd also like to point out that I have been playing EVE Online since early 2005, and I enjoy it and SWTOR very much.



Overview

With this thread I aim to gather the papercuts--the little things that donít necessarily break gameplay, but add up to lessen our experience with the game as a whole--and list them in detail, along with some possible solutions to increase the quality of life for all players. The focus will primarily be on small things (annoyances, quirks, and the like), but Iíd also like to include a couple of larger feature requests just to round things out.

The goal is to get the community organized and put all of the feasible, well thought-out ideas into a single thread. To keep things as focused as possible, the intervention of moderators and community leaders may become necessary to keep things tidy.

Iíd ask anyone who wants to contribute to the thread to limit their suggestions to the small, quality of life stuff (examples will be outlined below), and to also limit discussion in the thread to coming up with and working out creative solutions that others may not have considered. Donít judge or criticize anyoneís post, instead try to be constructive and offer solutions or feedback. Repeating complaints or ideas outright also isnít helpful, but do feel free to offer a unique solution that has not yet been presented on a certain issue. Brainstorm!

Please, donít post unless you want to contribute to the discussion; remain on topic and, above all, be civil.


Contributing

Try to focus on small things, i.e. things that seem too insignificant to file bug reports, or things that most people donít openly view as an inconvenience; the things that you get used to after a while and find workarounds for, or simply put up with, but they still bother you to some degree; the little things that--by themselves--donít account for much, but all of them in concert cause frustration or decrease the quality of your gameplay experience.

Some examples:
  • Mailing currency between characters on my account, despite the fact that theyíre connected through the Legacy system, is cumbersome and annoying.
  • What do I do with all of my planetary commendations now that Iím level 50? I have no real use for them besides buying armor mods and selling them on the GTN.
  • When on my speeder, or running with my saber drawn, I can see the back of my Inquisitorís head clipping through the mesh for the hood of my chest piece.
  • The sounds used by vibroswords are nearly identical to that used by lightsabers. This makes no sense given prior context (KOTOR).
  • Font options in the UI would be nice. I can barely read the chat window unless Iím in a dark area. Hoth is hard enough on oneís eyes, but reading chat text while playing there is a nightmare.
  • The /r reply system for whispers is annoying and sometimes broken. In some instances, it will display one characterís name, but will reply to another if you have had more than one recent private conversation.
  • Itís also hard to differentiate at a glance whom it is thatís whispering you because all the names are the same color.

Try to keep your posts clean and well organized. The use of bullets and indentations will help immensely to that end. The easier they are to read and comprehend, the more likely it will get a community managerís attention, and just maybe theyíll forward the thread to a developer.


The Little Things

Here are some of my own ďpapercuts.Ē Feel free to expound upon and contribute to them if you have ideas or solutions other than the ones Iíve presented.


Appearance / Art

Inquisitor head mesh clips through hood mesh under certain circumstances.

When on my speeder or running with my saber drawn, I can see the back of my Sith Pureblood Inquisitorís head clipping through the mesh for the hood of my chest piece. I do not have this issue on my Miralukan Jedi Knight.

I donít really know of a solution, other than perhaps someone in the art department looking at the issue and changing how hoods hang on player meshes. I know that the hood up/down feature is being looked into and worked on (itís on the backburner, I think (?)), so perhaps this issue is also being addressed therein. Also, I personally know of someone who has already submitted this issue in a bug report.


Inquisitor and Consular hoods donít stay up with any non-circlet style headgear.

The hood of the chest armor on my Inquisitor disappears when wearing helmets like [Kalligís Countenance], as well as in the preview window. However, I have noticed that some helmets do actually work with hoods, like the [Santhe Corps Light Exoskeletal Headgear] or the [Force Sentinel Headgear] (which looks really cool), but they only seem available to wearers of medium armor.

A solution seems pretty simple, but if thereís anyone with direct knowledge of how the underlying mechanics work (like a developer), please feel free to correct me if Iím mistaken. My guess is that itís simply a flag thatís set in whatever database entry that exists for the medium armor pieces in question.


Many styles of armor, especially level 50+ pieces, are too elaborate or unrealistic for the purposes of combat. Some seem difficult to move around in while wearing.

Again, this is another matter of personal taste and an issue with art direction. While not as gaudy or garish as the much derided clown suits in the World of Warcraft, itís something that annoys me, and perhaps creates a semi-conscious link to the WoW aesthetic that leads many players to place SWTOR in the same (tired) concept box.

Star Wars has a particular look associated with it--one that is simple, if not practical, and without too much flash or gimcrackery. Simplicity is a good thing! I like the simple-yet-elegant design of the [Saber Marshalís Robe], for example.


As an Inquisitor (or Consular), I am tired of wearing robes and dresses!

This is just a personal preference, honestly, but I would love to see more variety in the options availed light armor wearers. More access to pants and matching tops would be wonderful. Letís face it, the Formal and Ulgo Noble social/adaptive armor sets are gaudy, and are essentially two of a small handful of style options.


Limiting armor pieces and styles to certain classes or factions often seems pointless and can be limiting to the point of frustration.

Itís just frustrating to find that, even though the armor class requirements are met, I canít dress a particular character in a style befitting the character or my personal desire for its appearance. Worse still is that--especially in the case of custom (orange) armor pieces--it limits my options for gearing my companions. Finding a really cool-looking medium armor piece that would help keep Mako up to date with my Bounty Hunter is pointless if itís restricted to Imperial Agents or Marauders. True also is the frustration with which Iím met when--in the case of perhaps wanting to roleplay a fallen Jedi, or a neutral Sith, or maybe a former Republic Trooper-turned-Bounty Hunter--Iím limited to whatever so-called Ďneutralí armor looks like depending on which faction Iím playing, or that I canít have a Dark Side Consular wearing a [Dark Acolyteís Robe].

Removing class and faction requirements could be an excellent start, although with the latter I would think it necessary to allow the appearance of certain armor styles of various factions to appear the same for an opposing faction (i.e. a class-agnostic [Guardianís Exalted Body Armor] looks the same for Empire characters as it already does for Republic characters). Perhaps I picked it up off a Jedi I just ran through; why let his armor go to waste now that Iíve killed him when I could use it as a disguise, or simply wear it as a trophy or a display of my dominance? Or maybe it just looks bleeding cool and I want to wear it, consarnit!


Even though itís been 300 years, Iím sure there have to be some Sith Trooper armor pieces from KOTOR floating around the galaxy.

Sith Trooper armor (image link) is not to be confused with the Imperial Trooper armor set. Iíd love to see this in the game, especially the chrome set--I wore it for quite a long time in KOTOR. It just looks so boss!

Perhaps it could be included as adaptive/social gear, or an armor style (see ďLofty IdeasĒ below). Considering its age and (perceived) rarity, maybe one might purchase it from the upcoming cash store when the game goes free-to-play in winter 2012. For a reasonable fee, of course (please, Bioware, learn from EVE Onlineís NeX folly).


Some lightsaber handle models look awfully brittle or unwieldy, and not very practical.

This is simply a matter of personal taste and an art style issue. The one thing I really love about the Star Wars universe is that, even at its most fantastical, things operate with a certain sense of practicality and realism within the context of the setting.


Lightsaber beam meshes can disappear when viewed head-on (i.e. from the top down).

I realize this is a limitation of the lightsaber mesh itself, and the part for the beam is constructed of intersecting polygons with a (seemingly) animated (probably through script) texture that features an alpha channel. I seem to recall the shader used in KOTOR for the lightsabers not behaving in this fashion (correct me if Iím wrong), and would like to see an improvement in their appearance if possible, including the light that is cast from the saber (which sometimes appears on walls in a weird fashion, looking like a cone spotlight from a flashlight with a dark center for some reason).


The textures of planets in the ship approach cutscenes are blurry, no matter how high graphics settings are set.

Obviously, itís a texture resolution problem. The texture size is fine for the smaller planetary view, like when viewing the data before making a jump to the location. But when viewed up close during the approach of your ship, it looks atrocious; as though it belongs in a game from the early oughts, rather than 2012. Nar Shaddaa is perhaps the most glaring example of this.


Legacy

A Legacy Wallet would be awesome and of immense help.

My brief time with the Diablo 3 beta introduced me to the concepts of shared currency between all characters on my account, and also a centralized place to store items all my characters could access. Say what you will about the shallowness of a game like Diablo (which is sometimes fun to just veg out and play, donít get me wrong), but these are brilliant ideas that Iím surprised havenít made it into MMOs yet.

Shared currency between the characters seems pretty straightforward, so I shanít expound upon that too much.

A legacy bank tab would operate much in the same way as the current mechanics for ship cargo holds and guild banks, especially the latter due to how the item binding system works currently. Obviously, it would only be able to hold unbound and Legacy-bound items. The most practical method of acquisition would be to connect it with a legacy unlock; Legacy 1 and a reasonable amount of credits for the first tab for example.

This is the only Legacy idea that I have off the top of my head. Iím really interested in hearing more ideas from other players because I feel that the Legacy concept has a lot of untapped potential.


UI

Sending my companion out to sell all my grey junk is fine and well, but clicking through every single item at a vendor is tedious at best.

Iím sure youíve all been there: Youíve just finished about an hour of grinding or running heroics with a friend, but have forgotten to send Khem Val off to sell your junk, and youíve just come to a vendor. Only being able to click one thing at a time is, indeed, monotonous and annoying.

There could be a couple different solutions to this dilemma. One way would be to allow the selection of multiple items before selling, but existing hot keys might have to be changed (CTRL+Click previews an item and Shift+Click links an item in chat). Another option is a Sell All Junk type button in the item or vendor windows.


Itís not easy to determine the level of a given itemís augment slot.

The item modification window does not show what level an augment slot is unless the slot is empty. Since augment slots are backwards compatible with augments from lower levels, guessing what level the slot is can be difficult without removing the augment. Aside from the annoyance at the cost involved in doing this, it is just poor design.


Game text is sometimes illegible.

I can barely read the chat window unless Iím in a dark area. Hoth is hard enough on oneís eyes, but reading chat text while playing there is a nightmare. Text colors can be changed, and the ability to change text colors is limited solely to chat text, but legibility in changing environments is difficult at best without sacrificing valuable screen real estate. Furthermore, whatever smoothing/scaling algorithm is being used can sometimes make all text on the screen quite blurry, though that could depend on certain display resolutions and aspect ratios (I operate at 1280x1024).

Expanding font color options elsewhere would be helpful, as would having more options for varying the size and typeface used for various independent UI elements. Tweaks to the smoothing/scaling algorithm to improve legibility could also be beneficial.


The /r reply system for whispers is annoying, confusing, and sometimes broken.

In some instances, the text entry bar will display one characterís name--presumably the last person to whom youíve replied--but will reply to another if you have had more than one recent private conversation.

Character chat tabs could be a solution, though I have long enjoyed EVE Onlineís implementation of chat windows. Coming from windowed IRC (and later IM) clients where each person had a dedicated window, it just feels intuitive to me.

And on that thread, chat logging would be nice--for private conversations, certainly, and also to assist in code of conduct/end-user violations cases for any player or GM thatís monitoring general chat.


Itís hard to differentiate at a glance whom it is thatís whispering you because all the names are the same color.

Letís be honest, all the text in that chat window is smashed together pretty tightly, and itís pretty hard to distinguish any one person without giving it your full attention. And even then, the text can sort of...run together after a while. Changing text colors for various chat messages only changes the color for the message type and does little to address legibility and the discernment between other players.

A possible solution would be to alternate the shade of a particular color every other line. Highlighting messages that you send out to differentiate them from the chaff, as well as those messages which mention your name, would also be good. The adjustment of line spacing, indentation, character name spacing--itís all important for increasing legibility.


Economy

Mailing items and currency between characters in my legacy is cumbersome and annoying.

Shortly after 1.3 was released, the mail system buckled under heavy load, and there have been occasional glitches even before that. I can imagine that a very significant portion of mail traffic involves the transfer of items and currency between other characters within a playerís legacy.

The aforementioned Legacy Wallet solution should remedy everything quite nicely.


What do I do with all of my planetary commendations now that Iím level 50?

As our class storyline takes us through all the available planets, we acquire many planetary commendations along the way. And sometimes, even after weíve hit 50, we like to go back and help some of our lower-leveled friends with heroics and other difficult content, for which we are rewarded with yet more commendations. By the time weíre in the end game, however, these forms of currency are essentially useless to us, unless we sell them on the GTN or use them to equip our other characters.

Allowing all the collected commendations to coalesce into the Legacy Wallet mentioned above would bring new purpose to commendations. And do consider the future: planetary commendations become useless while weíre focused on acquiring Black Hole or Rakata gear. As new content emerges and the level cap is raised, the commendations used to purchase end game armor will eventually fall to the wayside, too, but would be useful for other legacy characters.

Another potential use for outmoded commendations would be the option to redeem them for hard currency. This would be especially useful for those who have all their character slots filled with high level characters.


Loot

NPCs (Sith, Jedi, Troopers, etc.) should drop items associated with their appearance or class/faction.

In KOTOR, you were able to take the black clothes or robes off fallen Sith acolytes and wear them on your character or party members (you could use the aforementioned Sith Trooper armor, too). They also could drop lightsabers containing red and purple crystals that you could use or remove and place in the lightsaber you were using.

Iíd like to be able to wear what that Jedi was wearing, or use that Marauderís interesting looking lightsaber handle. Maybe, as a roleplayer, I like collecting trophies from my victories (and putting them in a rectangular wooden box...lol). In any case, it makes more sense for you to get from a particular NPC an item or items that are likely to be carried by that NPC.

Just as an example, the ships of a particular NPC pirate faction in EVE Online drop the modules, ammo, tags, etc. thatís associated with those groups as well as the shipís class.

Addressing this would involve one of my aforementioned solutions (removing class/faction limitations on gear), as well as changing up loot tables and the distribution of loot amongst mob types.


Ambience

Vibroblades should not sound like lightsabers.

The sounds used by vibroswords are nearly identical to those used by lightsabers, despite the fact that, in KOTOR, vibroblades and Echani weaponry clearly use metal sounds, except when clashing with a lightsaber. Itís a distinctive characteristic that doesnít make sense for the weapon and kind of breaks immersion. Vibroblade-type weapons should sound like a piece of metal cutting through the air, and should clang like metal when hitting armor or another metal weapon; they should not sound like lightsabers.


Miscellany

Why does the entire website, including the index page and forums, need to be unavailable during a patch deployment, server-side hotfix, or rolling server restart?

Indeed, this seems...a bit unusual, if not archaic. Thereís not much sense for the basic face of the game--the main index page--to be unavailable at any time (save those rare 0.0005% moments). And for those players that are curious or chatty during downtime, thereís nothing for them to do as it relates to the official website; no patch notes to read, no forum in which to participate to pass the time.

Not everyone knows that thereís an official SWTOR Twitter account, and even that can be extremely vague at times. Worse still, the Tweets from the official twitter account will, during downtime, often link to things on the site that readers canít get to because every page on swtor.com is unavailable.


Even when active in using the GTN terminal, I still go idle if thatís all Iím doing.

Changes were made to reset the idle timer for chat and engaging in crew skills, so that clicking around and searching the GTN still doesnít count against your idle timer is a bit baffling.


Lofty Ideas

A more advanced and gear-independent character styling system.

As a casual player of DC Universe Online, Iím greatly impressed by their implementation of, and the depth of configuration for, character appearances. Itís amazingly straightforward and offers a degree of customization I havenít seen since EVE Onlineís character creator (while there arenít yet many clothing options for EVE's character creator, its facial and body customization options are absolutely peerless).

Armor, weapon, and skin styles are acquired through equipping gear pieces for the various character sheet slots. They are also bestowed by special one-use items whose sole purpose is unlocking a particular style for a given slot. The appearance style for that particular slot (chest, head, face, main hand, etc.) is then saved to a list. This list of styles is available as an appearance tab on the character sheet, and a given style can be selected for each slot independently of the gear actually used by the character.

Coloring of the character and the armor is handled interestingly, as well. When creating a character, players select the primary palette to be used by the characterís armor, consisting of 3 colors, as well as the colors and appearance of the characterís skin, hair, and eyes. Players can later change these colors after character creation. The combination of the 3 colors, and their order as used by the armor, are configurable for each armor slot, and can be altered in such a fashion that the armor can use all three colors or just one.

The implementation of such inspired features would go a long way to affording players the freedom to render their charactersí appearances precisely the way they want, and to do so without the headache and difficulty involved with hunting for new gear with precisely the kind of style they want, in the color that they want, every time they progress a few levels.

Crafters need not be left out of the opportunity for the monetization of gear styles. Synthweavers and Armormechs could have a single set of orange custom armor for each of the armor classes that has a very basic or unitarian style, and schematics would allow the learning of styles for crafting.

To facilitate the transition and to keep crafters from feeling snubbed for all the work and money spent previously in the acquisition of schematics, converting all the armor schematics theyíve already learned into said style-only schematics would be a good idea. This would also help to mitigate the frustration many players feel when the dreaded armor/gear hunt (that keeps their stats up to date as levels progress) clashes with their desire to have their characters appear as they envision.

Like DCUOís own cash store, a handful of unique or whimsical armor styles could be purchased with Cartel Coins. It would add another incentive for free-to-play and subscription players alike to spend the currency they acquire through subscription rewards or direct purchases.


An NPC and player-driven contracts system; NPC and player bounties organized and issued through the Bounty Hunterís Guild, and acquisition/delivery contracts issued through a black market system.

The lauded Bounty Hunterís Guild from Star Wars fiction has the potential to add interesting gameplay options and storylines to the game. Weekly and/or monthly NPC bounties could be issued by Guild NPCs to players, and players could be able to issue bounties on other PVP-flagged players. This would add a very interesting dimension to PVP gameplay, as well as open the door to the galaxy-wide PVP some players (not myself, mind you) are clamoring for.

It seems unfair for this concept to be limited only to the Bounty Hunter class, but it does make sense within the context of the universe and, indeed, the storylines surrounding the Bounty Hunterís Guild (read K.W. Jeterís Bounty Hunter Wars trilogy, seriously). Smugglers need not be left out completely, however; the acquisition, transportation, and delivery of rare and volatile goods would give them a similar gameplay experience.

Regardless of either side, Bounty Hunter or Smuggler, players of other classes could join in for a piece of the action, partake in the risk, and split the rewards. This could add another layer, and a very interesting aspect, of cooperative play.


Whereís the API? Like spice, the data must flow.

A game API thatís accessible to independent developers of mobile and web apps, as well as PC applications, is achingly absent. Iím not much of an expert on API development, but in the case of EVE Online (and World of Warcraft way back in the day), itís something Iím used to using to glean important information to utilize in making various aspects of gameplay less imperative or time consuming.

As an example, Iíd like to cite the incompleteness of Torhead in comparison to the other ZAM Network sites and tools, like Wowhead. Determining drop rates and loot tables, or culling useful statistics from other game mechanics, is extremely difficult without access to more data. A site like Torhead or As Mr. Robot should be much more useful and contain much more information than is currently available.


Visually, the game looks a bit long in the tooth. The periodic implementation of graphical improvements would be welcome.

SWTOR has been in development a very long time (since 2005, according to an article I read, but havenít been able to verify), and even with the updates and improvements to the Hero Engine, its age is beginning to show. Again, this is partly due to the length of the development cycle, but I understand that the limitations of the Hero Engine itself are also a factor. Another reason would be that the bulk of game development has been focused on story elements and gameplay mechanics (and from what I understand, updating the underlying mechanics of the Hero Engine).

Bear in mind that the focus on story and gameplay elements over keeping the graphics up to date is not to SWTORís detriment--Iíd go so far as to say that itís paramount over how the game looks. But now that the game is here and content development pipelines have been streamlined, itís a good idea to address game visuals in the near future so as to keep the game fresh and to take advantage of the graphics hardware many of us have.

Iíve mentioned it a few times so far, but I must give credit where it is due: EVE Online is a distinctive representation of a game that refuses to stagnate or remain dated in the visual sense. Since its release in 2003, EVE has always looked visually striking through each iteration, and periodically improves upon that beauty--from the massive Trinity expansion to Incarna, and into the future. And somehow, in spite of the push to create new visuals that rival the old and take advantage of the newest and best in graphics hardware, it remains a game that is accessible to wide range of hardware.

Does SWTOR need to be as visually jaw-dropping as EVE? No. But sincerely, Bioware, donít sit idle.


Updates

Well, it's been a while since I've first posted the start of this thread, and I must say that I'm overwhelmed (in a good way) at the response it's gotten from the community. It's been referenced on blogs and fansites, and just last night there was a significant amount of attention paid to it in the latest episode of The Cantina Band podcast (thanks guys <>). As I've said before in other posts, you guys have been great. Keep the ideas and the discussion going.

Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
Hey everyone,

I just wanted to hop in to this thread and commend everyone on how respectful and constructive the feedback has been. We have been reading all of your feedback and will certainly pass it on to the appropriate teams. We will continue to watch this thread as well for anything else that is added. We always love to see threads like these!
I had hoped to get a response from a community manager at some point, but didn't think it would be quite this soon, if at all. This is a pretty significant accomplishment, and you should all take at least a little comfort by the fact that Bioware is seemingly very interested in what we've done here, and what we'll hopefully continue to do. I don't think we should we pop the Champagne and throw a party now, no, but it is significant all the same.

Keep in mind, there are three development teams working on this game at the present time (one on converting the game to Free to Play, one pushing out the regular content like the upcoming Warzone, and one working on the coming story/expansion). They have a lot on their plates and we may not see some of these changes right away, but it should be enough to know that they're listening, they're taking our issues seriously, and that they'll get to them when they can.

So, although we've received a response from Eric Musco of the community team, and information is making its way to the various development teams, our work is far from over. And while we must remain vigilant, we should continue to observe decorum and afford them the respect they deserve--even when they're being quiet, and even if the changes don't come right away.

Now, with that out of the way, I'd like to set about placing here some of the suggestions that have been made by others. I think we're at 31 pages right now, and it's a lot to ask for someone to read through all of that. Below, I will organize and try to summarize as much as I can, as well as offer my own commentary where applicable.


Your Papercuts

Many people have voiced support for some of my suggestions, so I will not repeat them here unless there has been any relevant discussion that adds anything to them, or offers an opposing viewpoint.

This is a placeholder for now, as compiling the list of your suggestions is going to take quite a while.