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Alssaran's Avatar


Alssaran
06.22.2017 , 03:06 PM | #221
Quote: Originally Posted by CharlesBoyd View Post

The end result: the overall storyline was cut down by more than a third so that it would play out more quickly, while simultaneously introducing more choices and consequences.
This is quite interesting. With how KotET turned out, and with how a few of the plots that were introduced during KotFE were seemingly left unfinished in KotET, I kind of suspected that it was shortened considerably. For example, the Dark Sanctuary seemed to be a very important part of the gravestone. Almost as if it had a ritualistic meaning to the entire thing, or was a last-ditch attempt of whoever build the ship to hide something in there.

And speaking about this shortened story, I'm kind of curious. Mainly as someone who loves story, but also as an aspiring English major and writer: Is there any way we might see the writers and Eric make a live-stream, or you making a forum post in which you derail a bit and tell us a short "what if...?" the likes of:

What was cut from the story?

How would the story have played out if everything was kept whole? Would there have been more revelations? Would there have been things that we, as of right now, aren't getting anymore? Such as the aforementioend Dark Sanctuary?

Why was that cut from the story?

How did you decide which plot-lines to keep and which to bring to a sudden end to finish the narrative early?


Of course, if most of that content was rearranged and put into future releases as information tidbits, I can see a reason to not do such a story live-stream at all. It would be spoiler territory. And from a purely feedback or "necessity" point of view, that stream/post wouldn't be important. However, I'd love to see where KotFE and KotET were supposed to be going as a trilogy, and what was cut out. It might connect some strings we're simply not seeing right now.

TUXs's Avatar


TUXs
06.22.2017 , 03:10 PM | #222
Quote: Originally Posted by CharlesBoyd View Post
This is a great chance to talk about story, and how folks' feedback on story is integrated. Let's use KOTFE, the monthly chapters, and KOTET as the example.

A) The original plan was that we would have a trilogy of "Knights of" expansions focused on dealing with Valkorion and his Eternal Empire, with episodic chapters between them. The major story beats would occur in the expansions, while the episodic chapters would be just that: episodic, mostly stand-alone beats focused on returning companions and side stories.

B) The most common issues that we saw from the community feedback after KOTFE and the first few monthly chapters were:
  1. The story felt dragged out (monthly chapters in particular)
  2. At least partly due to #1, the companion-focused chapters were not as well-received as the KOTFE ones (although desire to get companions back remained high).
  3. Many players felt that there weren't enough choices in the storyline with big enough impacts/consequences, or that those impacts/consequences were delayed so far that they didn't feel meaningful or connected.
  4. Some folks simply didn't like the core premise. Introducing a new empire, expanding on Vitiate/Valkorion, players frozen in carbonite for five years, missing companions, etc.

C) Changes that were made as a result of that feedback:
  1. We compressed the story such that it would be completed in Knights of the Eternal Throne.
  2. Later monthly chapters were modified to focus more on the core storyline, and less on companion returns.
  3. The writers constructed the storyline of KOTET specifically to offer bigger choices that would pay off in visible and interesting ways.
  4. This was the core creative vision of the entire thing, so there wasn't much changed here - it wouldn't really be feasible. That's not to say that we ignored this feedback or don't take it seriously; it's just that any creative endeavor has some core concept at its heart that can't be changed without scrapping everything. This was the story direction that excited us as creators and fans, so it's the one we pursued even as we made the above changes along the way.

D) The end result: the overall storyline was cut down by more than a third so that it would play out more quickly, while simultaneously introducing more choices and consequences. Companion returns had to be put on the backburner to achieve these changes, and my original plan to do entire chapters for each of them just aren't feasible at this point, so we're currently working on plans to get them back as expediently as possible. (If I sound a little sad about that part in particular, I am, but I think it's perfectly reasonable that folks are out of patience on that one )

Overall, story is one of the most difficult areas to implement feedback, since we've usually constructed the next several beats by the time players see any of it and provide feedback. But hopefully this post helps to demonstrate that we still try very hard to implement feedback-driven changes into story regardless of the challenges.

Keep the great posts and thoughts - and especially feedback! - coming
I think you did a great job Charles, and I'm sad staffing/budget doesn't allow for you to implement the entire story the way you saw it happening. I can't imagine having to trim things to the extent you did.

One of my issues with the "Knights of" stories (besides those you mentioned), was that it removed our character for 5-years, without anything at all changing. Fleets all stayed the same. Our personal starship is the same. My weapons, armor, everything was stagnant for those 5 years. I know you had to work within the framework of the existing MMO, but a Fleet overhaul was needed, or something, that made me feel like I had actually moved forward in time.

My only other complaint was that group content took a back seat for 2 years. That has nothing to do with you, but that puts a big cloud over the whole "Knights of" story.
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Sargrith's Avatar


Sargrith
06.22.2017 , 03:12 PM | #223
Chris thanks for the post.

Over all the story was enjoyable if not a tad long with chapters I never wanted to do.

Companions were one of my biggest issues and still is one with the game and the story right now. I am beyond annoyed that some still have not returned and really unhappy with the order of those returned.

The ability to opt out of recruiting certain people was needed in most cases, and in some you had it and in others you had to go through long drawn out stuff to in the end reject someone you never would have been interested in at all. For instance Firebrand....I never ever wanted to meet with a terrorist. Never. When I did I was forced to slog through a story I cared nothing at all for and just got frustrated. Auto-launching chapters was another point I really think you guys should have fixed and yet didn't.

And to be totally frank that story made little to no sense for non-force users.......

I have run to completely on a few people tried it as imp side, rep side, force users and non-force users. I tried hard to enjoy it but there are parts that just aren't enjoyable and things that in my veiw should have been fixed but never were. So while your saying you took player feedback and all there was a ton you really didn't. I wasn't the only one asking for you to remove auto-launching chapters, or wanted their companions back faster (or wanted specifice companions back instead of many of the least liked ones).

I get some things are harder to change than others, but I think you missed some pretty low hanging fruit there in my opinion.

TUXs's Avatar


TUXs
06.22.2017 , 03:14 PM | #224
Quote: Originally Posted by Alssaran View Post
What was cut from the story?

How would the story have played out if everything was kept whole? Would there have been more revelations? Would there have been things that we, as of right now, aren't getting anymore? Such as the aforementioend Dark Sanctuary?

Why was that cut from the story?

How did you decide which plot-lines to keep and which to bring to a sudden end to finish the narrative early?
These are really good questions!!! I don't know if Charles is at liberty to share any of the details, but if he could, I'd be very interested to read what the original vision was.
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OneHit's Avatar


OneHit
06.22.2017 , 03:17 PM | #225
Quote: Originally Posted by TUXs View Post
I think you did a great job Charles, and I'm sad staffing/budget doesn't allow for you to implement the entire story the way you saw it happening. I can't imagine having to trim things to the extent you did.

One of my issues with the "Knights of" stories (besides those you mentioned), was that it removed our character for 5-years, without anything at all changing. Fleets all stayed the same. Our personal starship is the same. My weapons, armor, everything was stagnant for those 5 years. I know you had to work within the framework of the existing MMO, but a Fleet overhaul was needed, or something, that made me feel like I had actually moved forward in time.

My only other complaint was that group content took a back seat for 2 years. That has nothing to do with you, but that puts a big cloud over the whole "Knights of" story.
Community feedback = staffing/budget? I don't get how you got to staffing/budget being the issue

Deewe's Avatar


Deewe
06.22.2017 , 03:17 PM | #226
Quote: Originally Posted by CharlesBoyd View Post

Overall, story is one of the most difficult areas to implement feedback, since we've usually constructed the next several beats by the time players see any of it and provide feedback. But hopefully this post helps to demonstrate that we still try very hard to implement feedback-driven changes into story regardless of the challenges.

Keep the great posts and thoughts - and especially feedback! - coming
Writing is indeed one of the most ungrateful job and as Video Game writers you have more constraints than anybody else who already complains about their editors. Wonder why...

Speaking of feedback, here's a couple of things I wish you'd put on the shelves for some time.

Being THE hero
It gets old and no, not every player can be THE hero especially in a MMO.
SWG proved players can have fun being a simple crafter, Image designer, even a dancer
LOTRO played the character as riding on a side line of the main characters and it worked like a charm.

Betrayals
Enough of them especially as we can't really react to those betrayals in an appropriate manner.

One fits all classes story
It makes your story bland eventually cliche and most certainly not fitting every classes.
Just write and deliver one or two class story at a time and move the the next one.
Players will rotate through their characters and will start coming back

Over usage of specific characters
Revan, the emperor and such. Enough of them.
At some point I just wanted to get rid of them.
It felt like you guys did not know how to do something new.

Character taking possession of others
Darth zash taking possession of khem Val lasted way too long and became very annoying to hear in the end
The emperor in our character head became frustrating, especially as we don't feel we are in control of our character at all but puppets in the hands of the writers.

Elara and Quin come back
Totally felt rushed out and not polished at all.
Elara comes out of nowhere and suddenly she does things that makes no sense at all. No explanations no proper introduction, no nicely paced out crescendo leading to a momentum.
Then players do have to choose between a faction OR a companion. Why can't we simply put an end to Quin and go with the empire? Or why can't we support the republic and leverage Quin?
Again you take control of the player character on the wrong decisions.

Iokah
Also feels like rushed out. The way you bring in the empire and the republic fighting for a newly discovered super weapon makes no sense at all. BTW the idea of the super weapon was already getting old, adding the god stuff and a such was even worse.


My take is, for whatever reason there's a tendency in SWTOR to overdo things and eventually not properly polish them. We can see it in building and space ship designs, gear, etc... up to story. I dunno, think smaller, avoid overdoing stuff. It's great to have overdone stuff but when it's the norm it becomes bland and unappealing or should I say it turns away players.
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MeNaCe-NZ's Avatar


MeNaCe-NZ
06.22.2017 , 03:17 PM | #227
Quote: Originally Posted by ZionHalcyon View Post
Seems to me a vocal majority hated the new direction. I remember after KotFE hit the thread after thread of people upset and saying they're leaving over the new direction.

And given the forums here are nowhere near as busy as they were back then, I'm going to guess they did end up leaving.
I don't think the problem isn't necessarily KotFE story that forced people out as much as it was focusing on only one playstyle for such a long period of time ... BIG mistake in an MMO and even bigger mistake was the business model used that allowed me to sub once and get it all for $15. Waiting isn't a big deal for many gamers who have 10s -100s of other games to go and try out/complete etc. In fact for me personally it made the whole KoTFE experience more pleasant as the story felt less disjointed (though still fairly poor by previous standards).

They key to maximizing the amount of people playing and paying is variety and catering to as many audiences as possible (story, solo, casual, group, pvp). If you can't do that for whatever reason then your game will suffer and it will bleed players.

It seems like this (variety) is the direction the game is heading in now but my concern is the budget has been slashed due to previous performance meaning there is only so much they can do and put out.
With budget cuts there must come a sort of critical mass point where you simply no longer have the development required to keep your MMO viable in terms of player numbers and it's all down hill from there as the lessening financial performance means less budget ... I just hope this isn't the case here yet and things can be turned around.
I pity whatever project Ben Irving moved to if he is in any sort of leadership position what so ever as I lay a lot of the blame at his doorstep for the reduced player number in this game along with James Ohlen, is he still around?

The next expansion will tell us more based on how much content is in it. If it's as light or lighter than 5.0 then that's an issue.

MeNaCe-NZ's Avatar


MeNaCe-NZ
06.22.2017 , 03:20 PM | #228
Quote: Originally Posted by Deewe View Post
I would not go into blaming Ben so much because we don't really know how much his hands where tied by James and other executives. Still guess your last sentence and the one below paint a pretty good portrait of the game and the communication.
Ben Irving ... RNG is exciting? I 100% blame him ... pretty sure they didn't force him to say that when he thought the complete opposite.
Also looking at improvements within the game and in the attitude of the community as a whole since Keith took over tends to lend weight to the blame at Ben's doorstep. Unless of course not only did Keith get the job but they released the chains that had previously kept Ben from doing a great job... I don't buy it.

EzioMessi's Avatar


EzioMessi
06.22.2017 , 03:24 PM | #229
Quote: Originally Posted by CharlesBoyd View Post
This is a great chance to talk about story, and how folks' feedback on story is integrated. Let's use KOTFE, the monthly chapters, and KOTET as the example.

A) The original plan was that we would have a trilogy of "Knights of" expansions focused on dealing with Valkorion and his Eternal Empire, with episodic chapters between them. The major story beats would occur in the expansions, while the episodic chapters would be just that: episodic, mostly stand-alone beats focused on returning companions and side stories.

B) The most common issues that we saw from the community feedback after KOTFE and the first few monthly chapters were:
  1. The story felt dragged out (monthly chapters in particular)
  2. At least partly due to #1, the companion-focused chapters were not as well-received as the KOTFE ones (although desire to get companions back remained high).
  3. Many players felt that there weren't enough choices in the storyline with big enough impacts/consequences, or that those impacts/consequences were delayed so far that they didn't feel meaningful or connected.
  4. Some folks simply didn't like the core premise. Introducing a new empire, expanding on Vitiate/Valkorion, players frozen in carbonite for five years, missing companions, etc.

C) Changes that were made as a result of that feedback:
  1. We compressed the story such that it would be completed in Knights of the Eternal Throne.
  2. Later monthly chapters were modified to focus more on the core storyline, and less on companion returns.
  3. The writers constructed the storyline of KOTET specifically to offer bigger choices that would pay off in visible and interesting ways.
  4. This was the core creative vision of the entire thing, so there wasn't much changed here - it wouldn't really be feasible. That's not to say that we ignored this feedback or don't take it seriously; it's just that any creative endeavor has some core concept at its heart that can't be changed without scrapping everything. This was the story direction that excited us as creators and fans, so it's the one we pursued even as we made the above changes along the way.

D) The end result: the overall storyline was cut down by more than a third so that it would play out more quickly, while simultaneously introducing more choices and consequences. Companion returns had to be put on the backburner to achieve these changes, and my original plan to do entire chapters for each of them just aren't feasible at this point, so we're currently working on plans to get them back as expediently as possible. (If I sound a little sad about that part in particular, I am, but I think it's perfectly reasonable that folks are out of patience on that one )

Overall, story is one of the most difficult areas to implement feedback, since we've usually constructed the next several beats by the time players see any of it and provide feedback. But hopefully this post helps to demonstrate that we still try very hard to implement feedback-driven changes into story regardless of the challenges.

Keep the great posts and thoughts - and especially feedback! - coming
Thank you for this. Between Galactic Command and this example, you've given us a pretty good idea of what the devs consider to be too much sunk cost. While I still think that the players' feedback about GC was early enough to have abandoned or heavily modified GC, I can see why the KotFE couldn't be modified that much.

Is it possible we can get a description on the thought process that went into the "story only, literally nothing else" direction the game took these past couple of years, and when and why did you decide to change?
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ZionHalcyon's Avatar


ZionHalcyon
06.22.2017 , 03:27 PM | #230
Quote: Originally Posted by CharlesBoyd View Post
This is a great chance to talk about story, and how folks' feedback on story is integrated. Let's use KOTFE, the monthly chapters, and KOTET as the example.

A) The original plan was that we would have a trilogy of "Knights of" expansions focused on dealing with Valkorion and his Eternal Empire, with episodic chapters between them. The major story beats would occur in the expansions, while the episodic chapters would be just that: episodic, mostly stand-alone beats focused on returning companions and side stories.

B) The most common issues that we saw from the community feedback after KOTFE and the first few monthly chapters were:
  1. The story felt dragged out (monthly chapters in particular)
  2. At least partly due to #1, the companion-focused chapters were not as well-received as the KOTFE ones (although desire to get companions back remained high).
  3. Many players felt that there weren't enough choices in the storyline with big enough impacts/consequences, or that those impacts/consequences were delayed so far that they didn't feel meaningful or connected.
  4. Some folks simply didn't like the core premise. Introducing a new empire, expanding on Vitiate/Valkorion, players frozen in carbonite for five years, missing companions, etc.

C) Changes that were made as a result of that feedback:
  1. We compressed the story such that it would be completed in Knights of the Eternal Throne.
  2. Later monthly chapters were modified to focus more on the core storyline, and less on companion returns.
  3. The writers constructed the storyline of KOTET specifically to offer bigger choices that would pay off in visible and interesting ways.
  4. This was the core creative vision of the entire thing, so there wasn't much changed here - it wouldn't really be feasible. That's not to say that we ignored this feedback or don't take it seriously; it's just that any creative endeavor has some core concept at its heart that can't be changed without scrapping everything. This was the story direction that excited us as creators and fans, so it's the one we pursued even as we made the above changes along the way.

D) The end result: the overall storyline was cut down by more than a third so that it would play out more quickly, while simultaneously introducing more choices and consequences. Companion returns had to be put on the backburner to achieve these changes, and my original plan to do entire chapters for each of them just aren't feasible at this point, so we're currently working on plans to get them back as expediently as possible. (If I sound a little sad about that part in particular, I am, but I think it's perfectly reasonable that folks are out of patience on that one )

Overall, story is one of the most difficult areas to implement feedback, since we've usually constructed the next several beats by the time players see any of it and provide feedback. But hopefully this post helps to demonstrate that we still try very hard to implement feedback-driven changes into story regardless of the challenges.

Keep the great posts and thoughts - and especially feedback! - coming

Charles, I am going to be straight with you.

KOTFE and KOTET did not feel like Star Wars, and turning Vitiate into Valkorion felt like a major writing cop out.

Since you say you compressed those beats into the 2 expansions, I sincerely hope now you have enough time to move beyond the whole mess, and get back to the story players fell in love with, which was the Pre-KotFE and KotET story.

To be clear - I LOVE just about everything NON STORY about those expansions, and the quality of life improvements to the game were STELLAR.

But people left over the story direction of the game. There were post after post in the forums about a month after KOTFE dropped of people leaving because they felt their story up until KOTFE was just crapped on and dismissed to make way for a totally different story that for many people, failed to feel like Star Wars.

As for the way forward, I have no idea what limits or constraints you have in terms of budget and what everyone is willing to do. Zakuul itself isn't a terrible place or planet, but how it was handled was very bad. Is there ANY shot at going back, if not now, maybe in the future, and actually changing the story with new cutscenes and dialogue, but re-using the assets? Maybe make Vitiate and Valkorion separate characters, and change to story to one that better fits what came before?

You have to understand, the main issue with the story people have is that it ignored or only paid lip service to the beats of all the stories that came before KotFE, and it felt patronizing for anyone heavily invested in the story.

I realize that may be hard to hear, especially as someone who wrote the story, but while the production value went up for KotFE, it just delivered the wrong beats in every way possible and was very off-putting to those people invested in their character's story, and I can't sugar coat that.

Please, get players back to their stories and back to the war between Sith and Republic. And really try harder to remain true to who each character is for each class - Shadow of Revan did this well, even while having a unified story.