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Strongholds Need Some Serious Dev Attention

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Strongholds Need Some Serious Dev Attention

JediBoadicea's Avatar


JediBoadicea
05.02.2019 , 01:35 AM | #1
This is not a "suggestions" post, it is a "Devs, please take heed because some things are broken" post, in the hope that others who may wish to add something to the discussion can help amplify the message.

Based on how many decorations get released, and the team's increased efforts to make them available for direct purchase, I have to assume that the numbers show that decorations are profitable. Strongholds and decorating are therefore popular enough that resources are being invested in creating sell-able assets.

But while players who invest money and time in decorating are (hopefully) generating a good revenue stream for the game, this corner of the game has been very badly neglected in terms of QOL improvements.

The most frustrating thing about it is that most of the major fixes the community asks for don't seem like they would cost much at all in the way of new development; it wouldn't take much to make a huge difference for the better in strongholds. Of course, perhaps we are off in that perception, but if so that would be because another serious problem is that we get almost zero dev team responsiveness or engagement on key stronghold issues when they're raised. (The Strongholds forum still doesn't even have an icon, for pity's sake.)

My purpose with this thread is not to address small fixes at a granular level (I'm not going to talk about individual bugged decos or UI bugs, for example), but rather to call to the devs' attention (hopefully) what I feel are some core issues at the macro level.

The below are issues that are in some cases actually hamstringing the functionality of the stronghold system (at worst), and certainly limiting players' ability to more deeply engage with the system (at best). All of these have been frequently mentioned by many stronghold enthusiasts over the course of many years at this point; they are what I have been able to distill as the most urgent needs.

1. Increase the X/Y axes on decorations. 20 is not enough. This is not an arbitrary "would be nice" thing. 20 degrees does not even allow us to get large decorations to the edge of the Large hook they are placed on. This is deeply problematic, in a system where we don't have the freedom to alter the hook placement ourselves. This has been asked for repeatedly, and we've never heard a single whisper of response about it. If it's not actually possible, at least let us know. (And if it's not possible, then point #6 below becomes all the more important.)

2. Guild flagships desperately need to have their HOOK CAP RAISED. We have been asking for this since guildships were introduced. The amount of resources required to unlock even a single room on the Crew deck is significant (especially for smaller guilds), for just 25 hooks?? You can't even adequately fill that room with 25 decos. A guildship is as large or larger in size than any personal stronghold save Rishi, and yet we are restricted to FEWER hooks. I have decorated five guildships personally, and spoken with decorators who've done many of their own, and without fail the issue of finding ourselves starved for hooks is a universal one. We have to leave huge swathes of the ship mostly barren, and that is NOT by choice.

3. Guilds need to be permitted to unlock more than one ground stronghold. With all the updates to the game to encourage guild activities (conquest revamps, heraldry, guildship perks, etc), there seems to be an acknowledgment that guild activity is beneficial to game health. Guild strongholds do get decorated, guild members do credit-sink into them with decoration donations, and guilds who decorate their strongholds are just as reluctant (in my experience) to sacrifice their work as individual decorators are. There's a reason that not every guild abandoned their old SHs when Rishi came out. Again, if this isn't possible, it would be nice to hear any sort of response to that effect just so that we know.

4. Individual players need to be permitted to buy duplicate copies of a stronghold. I started banging this drum before Rishi came out, and it became all the more relevant after Rishi came out and the stronghold cap wasn't raised. In the time since the Rishi SH release, we've seen a (wonderful) increase in direct sale decos, and a (wonderful) increase in deco availability from other means in game. And as this has happened, I've seen a marked increase in decorators commenting that they are now collecting all sorts of decos they can't actually use anywhere because they've got nowhere to put them - not without sacrificing previous work they've done. New decorations are clearly going to be coming out regularly while new strongholds are not so frequent, so this is an imbalance that is only going to keep increasing. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the server merge proved individuals can have duplicate copies of a stronghold. Please give us the ability to unlock additional copies and stronghold slots by choice. Decorators who can unlock more SH copies are going to want to fill them, and that means they'll buy more decos.

5. Address the stronghold cap. There are other players like myself who are already at cap thanks to the server merge. I still don't have Rishi because of it. With every new SH released more players are going to be in the same position. The time to address this was a year ago before Rishi came out, but certainly it needs to be addressed before the next SH comes out (whether that's a Dantooine SH or anything else). We haven't heard a single whisper from the devs on this question, and that silence is fueling frustration. It's proven that the game can support a player having way more than the current SH cap of 10 (up to 35 in fact). If it's never going to be more than 10, then at least let us know. It means I'll probably never have reason to unlock future SHs, and a lot less incentive for buying all those new decos... but then that's the point I'm trying to make. A necessary cap is one thing. An arbitrary one is another. We need to know which kind we're dealing with.

6. The strongholds assets and development team needs to be sat down and talked to seriously about ways to dramatically improve the decorating experience, in terms of decorations themselves and especially hook placement. Right now, and dating back to the release of the Yavin SH, the overwhelming impression that an avid decorator gets from looking at new decorations created for the game, and the way hooks are laid, is that the strongholds team members have not actually spent any significant amount of time using the system to decorate. This isn't about asking them to do more work than they're already doing, it's about asking them to do more thoughtful work. To wit:
  • When new decorations are created, whoever is determining what hooks they can go on needs to be so much more thoughtful. Far, far too many decorations are locked to Centerpiece hooks when they could very easily fit on Larges (look at the new Primordial Altar for example). This dramatically limits our ability to use them, and makes them much less desirable purchases. (I mean, for pity's sake, there is only ONE SINGLE Centerpiece hook on a guildship anywhere outside the Hangar deck.)
    • In line with the above, if a decoration can be fitted on a Medium hook without fully obscuring the hook in at least some of its dimensions, then make sure it can be used on a Medium and not locked to a Large. The team did a great job listening to our feedback about the Martial wall decos, making them usable on Mediums and Medium Narrows, and that has turned them into some of the most useful and versatile decorations in the whole game. This should be the standard for ALL decos. Your team members need to not assign hooks to decos by eyeballing or assumptions - please actually take the extra seconds or minutes needed to PLACE them and see if they could fit on a wider range of hooks. The smallest hook they can fit on without fully obscuring the hook is what they should be assigned to, smallest hook and every hook size larger.
  • People laying hooks need to stop approaching this as a pattern-making exercise. The goal should not be to fit blue, green, and pink blocks in such a way that pretty patterns are made while in editing mode. The goal should be to achieve as much floor/wall coverage as possible, using the largest hooks possible provided they can be broken down into smaller ones. This problem was egregious with Manaan, and it was pretty bad with Rishi too in its first iterations. Don't lay a Small hook if a Medium Narrow would fit in the same space. Don't use a Narrow if a Medium would fit in the same space. Don't use a Medium if a Large would fit in the same space. Do not leave huge sections of open ground with no hooks, especially not near walls, and especially not so far away from the next hook that those measly 20 degrees of axis movement won't allow us to close the gap. Remember that we can't even get those pretty new and narrow Weapon Rack displays to the edge of a Large hook, so how much worse are they going to look floating alone in space when there's also a huge gap between that Large hook and the next hook over?
  • Pretty decoration design is nice, but it's no substitute for correct dimensions. The people designing new decos need to actually test and analyze them before they are finalized for sale. This means that if you are designing a chair or a couch, you need to test if an avatar can actually use the /chair emote on them and not end up floating two feet above the chair (we're not playing Zuul possession and sleeping four feet above our covers, we are trying to approximate usability). Decorations like the Zakuulan Socialite Couch are scaled completely wrong for avatars to actually appear like they are sitting on them. The couch in the newer Mandalorian decos bundle is the same. Many of the larger throne-style arrangements have this problem too. Body type 4 avatars can't fit at all in many of the chairs. This doesn't just make decos weird to "use" for RPer types, it also makes them not scale correctly with other decorations in the same setting, which limits their functionality and desirability.

There are plenty of other really excellent suggestions people have made over the years for improvements or additions to the stronghold system - guestbooks, plaques, changes to drops, changes to direct sale accessibility, day/night cycles, and all sorts of other things. Tons of great suggestions, tons of "this would be really nice" requests we could make (like for pity's sake are we ever going to get Grade 8, 9 and 10 utility decorations added to the game???), but aside from that one parenthetical indulgence I'm not going to list out all my grievances and wishes here - because I feel that the above issues are universal, pivotal, and actually impacting the usability of the system.

Address these issues and so many of the other things will start to feel a lot more trivial.

PVE gets updates and overhauls, as it should. PVP gets updates and overhauls, as it should. The CM gets overhauls, as it should. All areas deserve attention, but Strongholds have gotten very little of it. Strongholds may be the cacti of the garden, requiring far less watering to survive and bear revenue fruit, but they still need SOME water.

I hope other SH enthusiasts will take the time to reply here with the issues they feel are pivotal to core functionality. Not a wish list, but a "this has been seriously obstructing us and needs to be fixed" list.

sauceemynx's Avatar


sauceemynx
05.02.2019 , 05:07 AM | #2
Great post by the OP. As someone who loves SHs and has spent a lot of money/time decorating, I'd be delighted to see most of the changes the OP mentioned incorporated into the game. I'd also like to emphasize that huge SHs are not always best. My favourite ones to decorate are the Coruscant and Dromund Kaas apartments because they are so much more reasonably sized; for that reason alone I would buy an extra one of each if I had the chance.

Lhancelot's Avatar


Lhancelot
05.02.2019 , 05:56 AM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
This is not a "suggestions" post, it is a "Devs, please take heed because some things are broken" post, in the hope that others who may wish to add something to the discussion can help amplify the message.

Based on how many decorations get released, and the team's increased efforts to make them available for direct purchase, I have to assume that the numbers show that decorations are profitable. Strongholds and decorating are therefore popular enough that resources are being invested in creating sell-able assets.

But while players who invest money and time in decorating are (hopefully) generating a good revenue stream for the game, this corner of the game has been very badly neglected in terms of QOL improvements.

The most frustrating thing about it is that most of the major fixes the community asks for don't seem like they would cost much at all in the way of new development; it wouldn't take much to make a huge difference for the better in strongholds. Of course, perhaps we are off in that perception, but if so that would be because another serious problem is that we get almost zero dev team responsiveness or engagement on key stronghold issues when they're raised. (The Strongholds forum still doesn't even have an icon, for pity's sake.)

My purpose with this thread is not to address small fixes at a granular level (I'm not going to talk about individual bugged decos or UI bugs, for example), but rather to call to the devs' attention (hopefully) what I feel are some core issues at the macro level.

The below are issues that are in some cases actually hamstringing the functionality of the stronghold system (at worst), and certainly limiting players' ability to more deeply engage with the system (at best). All of these have been frequently mentioned by many stronghold enthusiasts over the course of many years at this point; they are what I have been able to distill as the most urgent needs.

1. Increase the X/Y axes on decorations. 20 is not enough. This is not an arbitrary "would be nice" thing. 20 degrees does not even allow us to get large decorations to the edge of the Large hook they are placed on. This is deeply problematic, in a system where we don't have the freedom to alter the hook placement ourselves. This has been asked for repeatedly, and we've never heard a single whisper of response about it. If it's not actually possible, at least let us know. (And if it's not possible, then point #6 below becomes all the more important.)

2. Guild flagships desperately need to have their HOOK CAP RAISED. We have been asking for this since guildships were introduced. The amount of resources required to unlock even a single room on the Crew deck is significant (especially for smaller guilds), for just 25 hooks?? You can't even adequately fill that room with 25 decos. A guildship is as large or larger in size than any personal stronghold save Rishi, and yet we are restricted to FEWER hooks. I have decorated five guildships personally, and spoken with decorators who've done many of their own, and without fail the issue of finding ourselves starved for hooks is a universal one. We have to leave huge swathes of the ship mostly barren, and that is NOT by choice.

3. Guilds need to be permitted to unlock more than one ground stronghold. With all the updates to the game to encourage guild activities (conquest revamps, heraldry, guildship perks, etc), there seems to be an acknowledgment that guild activity is beneficial to game health. Guild strongholds do get decorated, guild members do credit-sink into them with decoration donations, and guilds who decorate their strongholds are just as reluctant (in my experience) to sacrifice their work as individual decorators are. There's a reason that not every guild abandoned their old SHs when Rishi came out. Again, if this isn't possible, it would be nice to hear any sort of response to that effect just so that we know.

4. Individual players need to be permitted to buy duplicate copies of a stronghold. I started banging this drum before Rishi came out, and it became all the more relevant after Rishi came out and the stronghold cap wasn't raised. In the time since the Rishi SH release, we've seen a (wonderful) increase in direct sale decos, and a (wonderful) increase in deco availability from other means in game. And as this has happened, I've seen a marked increase in decorators commenting that they are now collecting all sorts of decos they can't actually use anywhere because they've got nowhere to put them - not without sacrificing previous work they've done. New decorations are clearly going to be coming out regularly while new strongholds are not so frequent, so this is an imbalance that is only going to keep increasing. As I've mentioned elsewhere, the server merge proved individuals can have duplicate copies of a stronghold. Please give us the ability to unlock additional copies and stronghold slots by choice. Decorators who can unlock more SH copies are going to want to fill them, and that means they'll buy more decos.

5. Address the stronghold cap. There are other players like myself who are already at cap thanks to the server merge. I still don't have Rishi because of it. With every new SH released more players are going to be in the same position. The time to address this was a year ago before Rishi came out, but certainly it needs to be addressed before the next SH comes out (whether that's a Dantooine SH or anything else). We haven't heard a single whisper from the devs on this question, and that silence is fueling frustration. It's proven that the game can support a player having way more than the current SH cap of 10. If it's never going to be more than 10, then at least let us know. It means I'll probably never have reason to unlock future SHs, and a lot less incentive for buying all those new decos... but then that's the point I'm trying to make. A necessary cap is one thing. An arbitrary one is another. We need to know which kind we're dealing with.

6. The strongholds assets and development team needs to be sat down and talked to seriously about ways to dramatically improve the decorating experience, in terms of decorations themselves and especially hook placement. Right now, and dating back to the release of the Yavin SH, the overwhelming impression that an avid decorator gets from looking at new decorations created for the game, and the way hooks are laid, is that the strongholds team members have not actually spent any significant amount of time using the system to decorate. This isn't about asking them to do more work than they're already doing, it's about asking them to do more thoughtful work. To wit:
  • When new decorations are created, whoever is determining what hooks they can go on needs to be so much more thoughtful. Far, far too many decorations are locked to Centerpiece hooks when they could very easily fit on Larges (look at the new Primeval Altar for example). This dramatically limits our ability to use them, and makes them much less desirable purchases. (I mean, for pity's sake, there is only ONE SINGLE Centerpiece hook on a guildship anywhere outside the Hangar deck.)
    • In line with the above, if a decoration can be fitted on a Medium hook without fully obscuring the hook in at least some of its dimensions, then make sure it can be used on a Medium and not locked to a Large. The team did a great job listening to our feedback about the Martial wall decos, making them usable on Mediums and Medium Narrows, and that has turned them into some of the most useful and versatile decorations in the whole game. This should be the standard for ALL decos. Your team members need to not assign hooks to decos by eyeballing or assumptions - please actually take the extra seconds or minutes needed to PLACE them and see if they could fit on a wider range of hooks. The smallest hook they can fit on without fully obscuring the hook is what they should be assigned to, smallest hook and every hook size larger.
  • People laying hooks need to stop approaching this as a pattern-making exercise. The goal should not be to fit blue, green, and pink blocks in such a way that pretty patterns are made while in editing mode. The goal should be to achieve as much floor/wall coverage as possible, using the largest hooks possible provided they can be broken down into smaller ones. This problem was egregious with Manaan, and it was pretty bad with Rishi too in its first iterations. Don't lay a Small hook if a Medium Narrow would fit in the same space. Don't use a Narrow if a Medium would fit in the same space. Don't use a Medium if a Large would fit in the same space. Do not leave huge sections of open ground with no hooks, especially not near walls, and especially not so far away from the next hook that those measly 20 degrees of axis movement won't allow us to close the gap. Remember that we can't even get those pretty new and narrow Weapon Rack displays to the edge of a Large hook, so how much worse are they going to look floating alone in space when there's also a huge gap between that Large hook and the next hook over?
  • Pretty decoration design is nice, but it's no substitute for correct dimensions. The people designing new decos need to actually test and analyze them before they are finalized for sale. This means that if you are designing a chair or a couch, you need to test if an avatar can actually use the /chair emote on them and not end up floating two feet above the chair (we're not playing Zuul possession and sleeping four feet above our covers, we are trying to approximate usability). Decorations like the Zakuulan Socialite Couch are scaled completely wrong for avatars to actually appear like they are sitting on them. The couch in the newer Mandalorian decos bundle is the same. Many of the larger throne-style arrangements have this problem too. Body type 4 avatars can't fit at all in many of the chairs. This doesn't just make decos weird to "use" for RPer types, it also makes them not scale correctly with other decorations in the same setting, which limits their functionality and desirability.

There are plenty of other really excellent suggestions people have made over the years for improvements or additions to the stronghold system - guestbooks, plaques, changes to drops, changes to direct sale accessibility, day/night cycles, and all sorts of other things. Tons of great suggestions, tons of "this would be really nice" requests we could make (like for pity's sake are we ever going to get Grade 8, 9 and 10 utility decorations added to the game???), but aside from that one parenthetical indulgence I'm not going to list out all my grievances and wishes here - because I feel that the above issues are universal, pivotal, and actually impacting the usability of the system.

Address these issues and so many of the other things will start to feel a lot more trivial.

PVE gets updates and overhauls, as it should. PVP gets updates and overhauls, as it should. The CM gets overhauls, as it should. All areas deserve attention, but Strongholds have gotten very little of it. Strongholds may be the cacti of the garden, requiring far less watering to survive and bear revenue fruit, but they still need SOME water.

I hope other SH enthusiasts will take the time to reply here with the issues they feel are pivotal to core functionality. Not a wish list, but a "this has been seriously obstructing us and needs to be fixed" list.
Well said. I wish a PVPer would so eloquently and completely explain all the issues needed to address in PVP. This write-up on SHs and decos is great.
Quote: Originally Posted by DarthSpuds View Post
I've lost more SWTOR friends to excessive grind than to any other factor! Too many game companies think more grind = more player engagement = more player satisfaction - it doesn't. RNG is lazy, RNG is cheap, RNG is counterproductive because it massively increases player dissatisfaction.

snordoc's Avatar


snordoc
05.02.2019 , 07:42 AM | #4
Thank you for this post OP! Seems like you read my mind.

Xina_LA's Avatar


Xina_LA
05.02.2019 , 07:47 AM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
This is not a "suggestions" post, it is a "Devs, please take heed because some things are broken" post, in the hope that others who may wish to add something to the discussion can help amplify the message.

1. Increase the X/Y axes on decorations.
This single change would make the biggest difference in my enjoyment of decorating, since it would solve so many of the current hook placement issues, decoration design issues, and so forth.

Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
2. Guild flagships desperately need to have their HOOK CAP RAISED.
Yes, this is a critical issue. The low number forces people to design strange, massive spaces aboard the ship.
We also need a way for small guilds to unlock rooms.

Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
3. Guilds need to be permitted to unlock more than one ground stronghold.
4. Individual players need to be permitted to buy duplicate copies of a stronghold.
If there was no other option, I would agree with this. Personally, I would rather see this change --
* Make the decoration inventory apply independently to each stronghold, the same way that pets and mounts work.
* Give us the ability to Save multiple different layouts and Load them back in.

Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
5. Address the stronghold cap.
There should never have been a disparity between people who had characters to merge and those who did not. Everyone should be allowed to have the same total number of strongholds, especially since BioWare posted incorrect information in these forums ahead of the merge, cheating some players out of the opportunity to take advantage of the merge.

Quote: Originally Posted by JediBoadicea View Post
6. The strongholds assets and development team needs to be sat down and talked to seriously about ways to dramatically improve the decorating experience, in terms of decorations themselves and especially hook placement.
I've had four major issues with the decorations that are released --
* They often have bugs that are seldom fixed, even after long waits.
* They work in a very limited number of hooks, often Centerpiece or Starship, even though we have far more huge decorations than hooks to put them in.
* Some of the decorations don't match any existing stronghold themes, or literally don't have a single hook they can be placed in. (I'm looking at you, Iokath Forge Garbagefall!).
* Too many of them have to be free-standing even though they make more sense up against walls, such as the Zakuulan weapon racks.

I also agree that they don't seem to listen to player feedback when designing new strongholds, as the same mistakes get repeated over and over again.

I'm going to add two:
7. Fix the inventory search bug.
It's still possible to search for something, clear the search box, and have an "invisible letter" still interfering with your inventory, filtering out many of your available items. It's especially bad because you literally have to restart the game to clear it, as re-logging a toon doesn't help.

8. Upgrade existing hook layouts.
When a Centerpiece hook is converted into Large/Medium hooks, make sure the Large hooks also have their grid of Small hooks, or at least add some Small hooks to the alternate layout.

The number one suggestion I would offer is this:
Read the forum posts and look for trends.
There are certain things have people have been asking for, consistently, over the years.
Please give people what they've been asking for before giving them some random, new thing.
Sure, it won't be a thing everybody asked for, but at least it will be a thing somebody asked for!
--=# Decorating addict of Satele Shan server. #=--

Holocron's Avatar


Holocron
05.02.2019 , 08:01 AM | #6
  • Increase decoration limit for Yavin, Tatooine, Manaan, and Nar Shadaa by 250, and Rishi by 150.

  • Create better avenues to obtain multiple copies of decorations, especially from an expired packs.

  • Allow stronghold owners the ability to allow the general public to access the pvp controls of a stronghold.

  • Allow strongholds to have access to "Fleet Chat" as a toggle option.

^ My referral link above is like a one night stand ^
You'll enjoy it...I'll enjoy it...And no one has to sneak out

CrazyVav's Avatar


CrazyVav
05.02.2019 , 05:05 PM | #7
Two areas that I would like to see improved are;

1. Allow the decorations to be changed on the z axis as well. I often want to change the height of items placed on floor hooks, for example, placing spaceship pets within a galaxy decoration, but I want to put them at different heights to make the display more interesting, rather than leaving them at the default height. This will also allow us to place people on benches, birds at different heights with the floral decorations etc.

2. In addition to the hook layout comments, allow more layering of hook types. A large hook should have medium and small hooks within them all the time, and small within a medium hook. This allows us to create a layered look by placing items on top of each other - creating new decoration effects by merging items i.e. fire in a statue.

DuchessKristania's Avatar


DuchessKristania
05.02.2019 , 05:36 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by CrazyVav View Post

2. In addition to the hook layout comments, allow more layering of hook types. A large hook should have medium and small hooks within them all the time, and small within a medium hook. This allows us to create a layered look by placing items on top of each other - creating new decoration effects by merging items i.e. fire in a statue.
^This, also, pretty much everything else said in this thread. The crickets players get as a response in the stronghold forum is ridiculous. There are some definite QoL issues that need to be addressed.
#SaveSWTOR

♥Death Should Never Silence Love♥

Damask_Rose's Avatar


Damask_Rose
05.02.2019 , 07:45 PM | #9
The two I'd add have already been brought up.

1. More layout options for big hooks. Way more!

2. Z axis!

Xina_LA's Avatar


Xina_LA
05.03.2019 , 07:35 AM | #10
I would make good use of the Z-axis, since hooks on uneven terrain don't work properly.
This would also fix the problem of rugs, tents, and other Flooring decos not working right on Rishi.

I'd get even more excited by a Scale option, to change the size of a decoration.
I'd love to make the companion pets bigger, and some of the technology items smaller.
I could make storage crates into shipping containers or cigar boxes, especially if I could Z-axis them onto a table.

Even LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) has this now, and they're a little software company.
--=# Decorating addict of Satele Shan server. #=--