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Quality of life: Improving the group experience on leveling planets

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Quality of life: Improving the group experience on leveling planets

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SW_display_name
05.03.2013 , 02:09 PM | #1
In the last State of the Game, the devs mentioned that after Makeb, they want to take time to focus on "quality of life" stuff — fixes and improvements to make the overall experience better. I love SWTOR and I am excited by anything which can make it even better and clean up its rough edges, so I would like to help make some suggestions.

My first idea was letting us change our companions' combat roles, because I only use my healer companion.

Next was improvements for Heroic missions on leveling planets, but the more the thread progressed, the more I felt it was going off-track from what I really wanted to say and changing the wrong things.

~~~

IT'S NOT THE HEROICS, IT'S THE WAY GROUPING WORKS RIGHT NOW
I no longer think Heroic missions themselves are the issue on leveling planets. I would prefer a solution that doesn't involve significantly changing or nerfing their basic design. Games like WoW have effectively removed all group content from the leveling experience, and it's horrible.

I am very happy SWTOR has preserved the 'group quest' concept. But I do not think SWTOR has made the game user-friendly when it comes to doing this group content during the generally-solo leveling process. As a result, many people just skip the grouping entirely while on planets because it's faster and simpler to ignore it.

I am aware there are lots of stories of people who say things like "I do every Heroic on every planet without wipes, you suck". And it is possible that I may, in fact, suck. But the reality is still — in my experience, and many others I talk to and see in GenChat, — not as smooth as some posters suggest.

So while the planetary grouping mechanic may be adequate for some, I believe it is still flawed and could benefit from basic and intermediate QoL improvements.

~~~

ISSUES WITH GROUPING ON LEVELING PLANETS
Here are the primary issues I see with grouping on leveling planets (both my personal issues, and complaints from others I've talked to in-game):

Group Finder.
Joining a planetary group requires kicking yourself out of the Group Finder queue. But Group Finder pops reward you significantly more than leveling Heroic missions, so this feels like self-sabotage, especially with very long queues for some roles.

Group composition.
  • For inexperienced players (or just poor ones, but I try to steer away from subjective judgments like that since I'm sure I suck horribly in the eyes of Nightmare Mode raiders), some Heroics can be punishing or impossible without a Healer and, preferably, a Tank.
  • I know there are many SWTOR Heroes™ who solo Heroic 4s and blah blah blah, okay good for you. However, I have seen a lot of newish players' groups unwind and collapse due to trying to do a Heroic 4 with 3 DPS, etc.
  • Alternatively, I have watched many groups in GenChat never form, or give up, after asking for an hour for "LF1M Healer" or similar.

Time to find people.
  • At some times of day or days of the week, a Heroic 4 group can form almost instantly for you if you ask in GenChat. Awesome!
  • On the other hand, less-fortunate players in terms of time-of-play can spend hours looking for a group before giving up. Either not enough people on-planet, wrong classes, or just not enough people have reached that mission yet.
  • This is discouraging, and people are more likely to give up the mission and move on to another planet than stick around for hours just to finish 1 thing.

Discrepancies in availability.
  • Let's say you have 3 people who want to help you with your mission — but it's part of the Bonus Series and they're 5 levels too low.
  • Or, you try to Share the mission but it's ineligible because 2 people in your group haven't completed some random pre-requisite mission halfway through the planet.
  • Basically, these are situations where even when all the other obstacles have been overcome, the game just flatly tells you: "No. You're not grouping." Talk about discouraging.

Planetary size / travel time.
  • Planets are too gigantic, especially later planets.
  • On Hutta or Coruscant, traveling to one spot or another is quick enough that it's not an issue if you're in Old Market and someone wants Trouble in Deed.
  • On Belsavis, if you're in High Security and someone who just reached The Tomb is trying to get help for The Tyrant — it's a lost cause. You might want to help them, but that's 20-25+ minutes of travel time from your current location counting all the mobs in your way. Most people just give up at that point.
  • I fear the reality is that someone with 2 hours to play who's trying to reach the end of Hoth is very unlikely to burn their Quick Travel or plod over on slow speeder to your location if you're on the other side of the planet — it's not worth the time. Nor is it worth your time to stand around for 10-15+ minutes waiting for everyone to converge on the group location.

Experience penalties?
I have no personal experience with this, but others have claimed that the penalty for higher-level players in groups starts too quickly and too harshly, discouraging people on the same planet from grouping with each other. I can't verify the accuracy of this, but I have heard it more than once.

Roleplaying penalties.
  • This may seem odd, but I have had multiple people in-game complain about this.
  • Basically, grouping with other people means sharing your mission cutscenes, which means that for people who stubbornly roleplay-out their character stories/dialogue choices as they level up, being in-group can be very disruptive to their immersion or enjoyment as the "plot" that unfolds becomes partially RNG and potentially highly out-of-character.
  • I don't personally see this as a huge issue (I refuse to turn in missions when everyone else does ), and no great solution comes to mind, but I wanted to include it for completeness.

~~~

SOLUTIONS?
My previous solution set focused too much on Heroic missions themselves and trying to modify them to "force" people to want to group on leveling planets. I believe this is an error, and the wrong approach. Instead, grouping should simply be made more appealing / easier to do, and people can then decide for themselves whether they want to do it.

My goal here is to try to ensure that when someone in SWTOR chooses not to group, it's because they don't want to group, not because they would group — but it's just too much of a hassle to bother with.

These are my basic ideas to start with:

Play nice with Group Finder.
Joining a group "in the wild" should suspend your Group Finder queue position, not force you to drop out and abandon it. Players should never feel "punished" for helping or participating with other players.

Remove sharing limitations
  • Make any group mission share-able. Delete any prerequisite missions.
  • These serve only as obstructions to getting people together; the downside of some minor plotline/immersion breakage is compensated by more people able to jump in and help without having to choose between being nice and using their time effectively. Everyone who helps on a mission should be rewarded.

Group Mission summons
  • First, convert every Heroic mission into an instance. I know, I know, "it's not that easy". But it is doable, most are instanced already, and the open-air Heroic missions have nearby choke-points that can be geometrically walled-off or constructed and given a green-screen.
  • Inside each Heroic instance, include a "Hypertech Gree Speeder Terminal" (or whatever, I don't care ) which, when used, offers each of your current Group members the opportunity to travel to your location inside the instance.
  • When someone in your group walks back through the instance gate, they are given the usual Flashpoint dialogue: "Exit Location" (go to the nearest Quick Travel point relative to the mission-giver) or "Previous Location" (go back to soloing where you left off).
  • The idea is that it makes it very easy for groups to form and get together on leveling planets (especially huge ones), and then go back to what each person was doing quickly, but it doesn't turn this "summons" tool into a cheap teleport method since it has strong logistical limitations.

Group Finder: Heroic Runs
  • I'm sure the devs can invent a more immersive name
  • But the idea is, once every Heroic mission is instanced, and the "Summon / Exit / Previous Location" of Group Finder is implemented for them...
  • ... It now makes sense to remove the mostly-useless 'Planetary Destination' and replace it with planet-categorized Heroic Runs.
  • Basically, this adds an extra layer to the Group Finder leveling path.
  • When your queue pops for a Planetary Heroic Run, you appear inside the instance of the "first" Heroic on the planet. When you complete it / kill its Champion, you can access a terminal which will teleport you (sorry, SHUTTLE you) to the entrance of the next Heroic.
  • When you complete the last Heroic on the planet for the queued level range, you are given the option, like any Group Finder queue, to return to your previous location or Exit to the starter outpost on the planet.
  • Basically, the goal is that if someone just can't find someone to do a mission with them on the planet, they can join the queue and get their mission done with other group-oriented players who may not be on the same planet or mission, but are in that level range and are leveling heavily with Group Finder.
  • In accordance with this, consider upping the rewards from Heroic missions to be more in-line with Flashpoints, and converting all of them to "Heroic 4" (which is usually more fun / interesting than H2 anyway).

~~~

As always, I'm open to rampant personal abuse and/or constructive suggestions.

RandomState's Avatar


RandomState
05.05.2013 , 12:17 AM | #2
Nice, particularly the part about being able to teleport to a group member (I'd like this always but can deal with it just being in Heroics to start).

I would argue that the Group Finder Heroic Run idea is flawed as if someone is time limited they may only be able to spare time for one or two heroics. Rather than planets in group finder, you could have the Heroics listed and tag the ones you want to do in exactly the same way as you do flashpoints. In fact the game could auto tag them as you get them so when you join group finder it automatically queues you for any / all that you have access too.
Knight: It couldn't have gone worse unless the planet exploded in a massive fireball.
Chief Engineer Arim: At least we'd be warm for that fraction of a second before we all died.

braval's Avatar


braval
05.05.2013 , 12:50 AM | #3
Good post. 1 thing they could do to make it easier to grp, and more players able to grp.
Remove lvls, make game skillbased.. Then every1 will be able to do everything.

SW_display_name's Avatar


SW_display_name
05.05.2013 , 02:18 AM | #4
Once again tonight, I watched
  • someone in my guild ask for help with a Bonus Series Heroic on Nar Shadda, only to be told by everyone: "Sorry, it's just too much travel time." When I suggested being able to port over like Group Finder, 5 different people said they'd help in a second if they could do that.
  • someone on Corellia ask for a Heroic 4 group for 3 hours without success
  • someone on Voss spend 2 hours trying to get a tank for their Heroic mission
  • myself get a Group Finder pop for False Emperor within 30 minutes and complete it smoothly with a Tank & Healer, then return right back where I left off on my class mission without any disruption.

I'm not arguing for this change for personal benefit. I'm stubborn and persuasive enough to usually get things done if I absolutely want them done. But I can see so many players, especially eager new or F2P players, struggling with the user-unfriendly layout, travel, and grouping system of planets and Heroic missions.

This would be a real, tangible, meaningful QoL and "fun factor" improvement for a game that already has a more elegant and fun leveling experience than most MMOs.

Quote: Originally Posted by RandomState View Post
In fact the game could auto tag them as you get them so when you join group finder it automatically queues you for any / all that you have access too.
That is a really nice and elegant idea. I was just afraid that if you split Group Finder up by actual Heroic, it may create too much UI clutter, something MMO devs are always wary about since MMOs tend to require an IKEA flowchart to begin with. It could also reduce the chance of someone getting their Heroic done.

I know some of these ideas are asking a lot, but I truly believe this is one of the best QoL improvements they could make for the leveling game — and even 50 / 55. Even if they don't implement my ideas exactly as written (because they're imperfect), doing something to make planetary / Heroic grouping feel as smooth and natural as Group Finder would be such a huge improvement.

Aries_cz's Avatar


Aries_cz
05.05.2013 , 02:48 AM | #5
This seems like a good idea.
But we have several "open air" Heroic areas that could not be simply "converted" into instances.
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Midgen's Avatar


Midgen
05.05.2013 , 02:59 AM | #6
The game needs a "Mentoring" system, where a higher level character can /mentor a lower level friend. Effectively a de-bolster, that would lower the effective level and stats to match that of the group members.

As I level a new character, I always find people I enjoy playing with and add them to my friends list. The problem is, we may level at different rates, so when I'm on Belsavis looking for a partner to run missions with, they might just be starting Hoth, or almost done with Voss....

I have invited many friends, co-workers and even a few family members to try the game. Some of them have stuck with it. As they are leveling, I will often get a whisper from them asking for help with a Heroic, Flashpoint, or class mission. Problem is, I don't have any characters at *just* the right level to help. I'm either too high, or too low.

Tonight, I had a group of friends playing who wanted to do Maelstrom Prison for the first time. One of the normal group members couldn't make it, and they asking me to fill in. Problem was, I didn't have any characters the right level. Either ten levels too low, or 20 levels too high.

I ended up joining a group of three level 35-36 commandos with my level 55 Vanguard and just kind of roflstomped through it with them. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't done it. I remember the first time I struggled my way through that flashpoint, and how amazing the story was. They missed out on the magic of learning to deal with the bosses, and the final scripted encounter.

I would have paid 5000 cartel coins for the ability to " /mentor 36" my vanguard down to their level, and done that flashpoint "the hard way".

QuetzoCyote's Avatar


QuetzoCyote
05.05.2013 , 02:59 AM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Aries_cz View Post
This seems like a good idea.
But we have several "open air" Heroic areas that could not be simply "converted" into instances.
Yeah i think this is one of the bigger developmental obstacles in your idea. The other being restructuring the level requirements for the missions.
I like these ideas, and yeah i would do more heroics if they worked this way, as it is I tend to just not do them because no ones ever looking when I am. Occasionally I hook up with a group of freinds/guildees and we chain roll through 3-4 or so and its a lot better than spamming through the 4-5 every planet offers, but I usually just plug along solo an outlevel them by the time I've worked through the class quests.
I oftentimes miss having a class with a summon spell. It just seems to me like a smuggler would work perfectly for a "last minute emergency evac" where they could gather a group up for a fight.
Also-I really wish they'd have a look at how many Social Points the planetary heroics give us. I think that would make them much more enticing/worthwhile. Especially if they started adding more social sets in the game ( I'm still waiting for my Green Jedi Robes.)

QuetzoCyote's Avatar


QuetzoCyote
05.05.2013 , 03:02 AM | #8
[QUOTE=Midgen;6250564]The game needs a "Mentoring" system, where a higher level character can /mentor a lower level friend. Effectively a de-bolster, that would lower the effective level and stats to match that of the group members.

This is a great idea. I know other games have had things like this, and it really seems like the programming is in place for it, but that depends highly if bolster ever works properly again.

LordArtemis's Avatar


LordArtemis
05.05.2013 , 04:38 AM | #9
I suggested this for Flashpoints, and perhaps it could apply to Heroics....

Sidekick

The ability for a player to lower his own level to match the other players level when running an instance. Certain abilities would be greyed out of course, but the group would not suffer from the normal penalties of running with an overleveled character, and the player would receive bonus social points plus the normal XP for doing so.

Solo Mode bolster

The idea is that after a certain amount of time in que in group finder you are offered a "Solo Bolster" that will bolster you to enter the instance solo with much higher health and energy pools as well as your companion.

Dual spec ability

The ability to save a complete dual spec, including abilities and bar location, and switch to that spec on the fly with a cooldown. This way you can change your role to suit the group easily.

saremun's Avatar


saremun
05.05.2013 , 04:53 AM | #10
would great if they Really take suggestions but they dont cause they already have modell to follow, WOW....

its more like this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZRi2x8mk0