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SWTOR encounter-design fails basic game-design principles.

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Flashpoints, Operations, and Heroic Missions
SWTOR encounter-design fails basic game-design principles.

Dee-Jay's Avatar


Dee-Jay
01.15.2012 , 08:22 PM | #1
I've only recently hit 50 and haven't explored hardmodes yet but I still wanted to provide general feedback on how I feel about flashpoints in SWTOR.

1. Accessibility

It's great to have all/most instances accessible right from the fleet. But it's problematic that you have a lot of instances with quest-pre-requisites and stuff like that. I've seen "orange" portals more than once because people weren't "qualified" for a particular instance.

2. Design

Diversity is important, both visually and game-play wise. Yet the amount of flashpoints that use the same generic space-station layout is sad. It seems like 80% of instances are made up of these "interior" design templates and it's boring as hell.

3. Pacing

Most flashpoints feel drawn out by the excessive number of trash-mobs. There are simply so many at times, it gets tedious quickly.

4. Trash mobs

Trash mobs, for most part, are EXTREMELY weak. 90% of the time they require no tactics or coordination, they don't even require healing or tanking.

Now having easy trash isn't bad per-say. It can serve as a tension relief after a challenging boss-fight or simply make players feel heroic. But having such weak mobs plastered throughout every zone just makes it a bore.

In the case of trash quality > quantity. Less trash, but more involving is the way to go.

5. Encounter design

I feel that Bioware's only way of making bosses actually bosses, is by giving them stupid amounts of HP. Incidentally, I feel that the actual challenge of bosses would be almost unchanged f they all lost 30% of their current HP.

But that's not the big issue. My issue is with encounter transparency.


A good PvE designer will anticipate player common sense and drop clues as to what abilities a boss might have, BEFORE the actual encounter occurs.

Here's a thing. You don't need to remind people that interrupting abilities is generally a good thing. Players will do that by themselves or at least figure it out very quickly.

But once you get to non-intuitive stuff, like throwing Darth Malgus off the platform, you really need to drop specific hints or clues beforehand or otherwise you'll frustrate you players.

Stuff players do intuitively:

1. Run out of fire/explosions/bad stuff that's on the ground.

2. Interrupt casts

3. Avoid lazer-beams and Blaster-fire

4. Kill something that is healing another (as long as this is visualized via a healing beam for example)

5. Not attack a dangerous looking shield

Etc. etc. There's many more I could add. MMO players have built up a lot of expertise over time.


Borderline unintutive is to spam AoE spells to decloak a boss who will otherwise 1-hit you out of thin air. Especially without a combat log or much in the way of visual clues, it's really difficulty for players to figure out what went wrong and why.

Even if you wanted, figuring out stuff yourself can be annoying because the game doesn't give you the necessary feedback to work with.

Certainly unintuitive is to require multiple players to spam a knock-back ability within a limited time frame so that the boss can fall into the abyss the same way a villian did in a 30 year old movie. Yeah, it's cool and a nice homage but it's certainly not intuitive design. And since there are no real clear clues or implications beforehand, google is really the only alternative.

That my friends, is poor game design.

Pearz's Avatar


Pearz
01.17.2012 , 12:46 PM | #2
Most of the poor design concepts come from them trying to be different than WoW where it isn't necessary. If a system works, why screw with it?
Good bud this is.

Dee-Jay's Avatar


Dee-Jay
01.23.2012 , 06:30 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Pearz View Post
Most of the poor design concepts come from them trying to be different than WoW where it isn't necessary. If a system works, why screw with it?
I see what you mean. I'm not asking them to be different for the sake of being different. Game and encounter design is something Blizzard excels at, and that's something I'd wish Bioware would pay MORE attention to.

Raehj's Avatar


Raehj
01.23.2012 , 06:43 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Dee-Jay View Post
I've only recently hit 50 and haven't explored hardmodes yet but I still wanted to provide general feedback on how I feel about flashpoints in SWTOR.

1. Accessibility

It's great to have all/most instances accessible right from the fleet. But it's problematic that you have a lot of instances with quest-pre-requisites and stuff like that. I've seen "orange" portals more than once because people weren't "qualified" for a particular instance.

2. Design

Diversity is important, both visually and game-play wise. Yet the amount of flashpoints that use the same generic space-station layout is sad. It seems like 80% of instances are made up of these "interior" design templates and it's boring as hell.

3. Pacing

Most flashpoints feel drawn out by the excessive number of trash-mobs. There are simply so many at times, it gets tedious quickly.

4. Trash mobs

Trash mobs, for most part, are EXTREMELY weak. 90% of the time they require no tactics or coordination, they don't even require healing or tanking.

Now having easy trash isn't bad per-say. It can serve as a tension relief after a challenging boss-fight or simply make players feel heroic. But having such weak mobs plastered throughout every zone just makes it a bore.

In the case of trash quality > quantity. Less trash, but more involving is the way to go.

5. Encounter design

I feel that Bioware's only way of making bosses actually bosses, is by giving them stupid amounts of HP. Incidentally, I feel that the actual challenge of bosses would be almost unchanged f they all lost 30% of their current HP.

But that's not the big issue. My issue is with encounter transparency.


A good PvE designer will anticipate player common sense and drop clues as to what abilities a boss might have, BEFORE the actual encounter occurs.

Here's a thing. You don't need to remind people that interrupting abilities is generally a good thing. Players will do that by themselves or at least figure it out very quickly.

But once you get to non-intuitive stuff, like throwing Darth Malgus off the platform, you really need to drop specific hints or clues beforehand or otherwise you'll frustrate you players.

Stuff players do intuitively:

1. Run out of fire/explosions/bad stuff that's on the ground.

2. Interrupt casts

3. Avoid lazer-beams and Blaster-fire

4. Kill something that is healing another (as long as this is visualized via a healing beam for example)

5. Not attack a dangerous looking shield

Etc. etc. There's many more I could add. MMO players have built up a lot of expertise over time.


Borderline unintutive is to spam AoE spells to decloak a boss who will otherwise 1-hit you out of thin air. Especially without a combat log or much in the way of visual clues, it's really difficulty for players to figure out what went wrong and why.

Even if you wanted, figuring out stuff yourself can be annoying because the game doesn't give you the necessary feedback to work with.

Certainly unintuitive is to require multiple players to spam a knock-back ability within a limited time frame so that the boss can fall into the abyss the same way a villian did in a 30 year old movie. Yeah, it's cool and a nice homage but it's certainly not intuitive design. And since there are no real clear clues or implications beforehand, google is really the only alternative.

That my friends, is poor game design.

Sounds like you miss WoW.

Dudebro, you admittedly haven't played HM FP's. Moreover, your points at somewhat...lacking?

It's great to have all/most instances accessible right from the fleet. But it's problematic that you have a lot of instances with quest-pre-requisites and stuff like that. I've seen "orange" portals more than once because people weren't "qualified" for a particular instance.

Almost every FP has a quest that you need to pickup to enter. Guess what, its almost always near the flashpoint! You want it easier, like WoW - right? Thats what your basically implying.

2. Design

Diversity is important, both visually and game-play wise. Yet the amount of flashpoints that use the same generic space-station layout is sad. It seems like 80% of instances are made up of these "interior" design templates and it's boring as hell.


Since your being so subjective, in your "in-depth" design analysis of TOR... I will be just as subject and say instances are fresh and appealing, I've spent the last 10 years in dungeons and caves - bring on a spaceship.

3. Pacing

Most flashpoints feel drawn out by the excessive number of trash-mobs. There are simply so many at times, it gets tedious quickly.


Again, not having done hardmodes - it sounds like your making quite a judgment. Since your basing all of your designer-level experiences off of WoW - you realize WoW had slogs initially as well right...? Right?

Not only that - since you haven't played these FPs very much, you don't seem privy to the whole "experienced" thing, i.e. if you've done it quite a bit - people start moving faster. Downing trash/reaching bosses comes at a much faster clip when you've actually spent time in them, try it.


Gah, I can't even continue. Your ************ about trash mobs...

Let me TL;DR this for you.

You want a game that has crazy cool, but short, tunnels full of awesome setpieces NOT IN SPACE that has no "trash" mobs, where every boss has low HP but requires critical thinking puzzles that challenge you every time you play.

I'm not even a fanboi, there are multiple areas where this game upsets me. They are concerned with UI/AB lag, bugs, and some end-game itemization. My gripes are contained within the world they created, but didn't optimize 100% - your gripes are a fantasyland of "wharz my WoW"?

JoeeyyMagzz's Avatar


JoeeyyMagzz
01.23.2012 , 07:01 PM | #5
Quote: Originally Posted by Raehj View Post
Sounds like you miss WoW.

Dudebro, you admittedly haven't played HM FP's. Moreover, your points at somewhat...lacking? ...
Too long to quote all of that or it would make my post annoyingly long when I actually have little to say other than that I completely agree with everything you've stated.

I'm with Raehj here, I don't think you've run a HM yet. Also, when you're referring to the boss tactics not being obvious, what do you want Bioware to do? You want there to be a voiceover for the boss yelling, "NOW!! GET READY FOR MY BLASTER FLURRY!!!" ten seconds before the boss does his Blaster Flurry ability so you have time to comprehend that you may want to interrupt that? Or better yet, "NOW!!! DON'T PUSH ME OVER THAT LEDGE THERE EVEN THOUGH WHEN I FORCE LIGHTNING I LOSE MY IMMUNE BUFF!!!"

Get real bro. Just play the game some more and wipe a few times so you know what to do. Pretty soon you'll realize just how easy the boss tactics are.

KaiHeilos's Avatar


KaiHeilos
01.23.2012 , 07:09 PM | #6
The last boss of False Emperor is so amazingly obvious that if you don't know how to kill him after one attempt then you should probably stop playing video games.

Actua's Avatar


Actua
01.23.2012 , 07:22 PM | #7
I think Hk47 decloaking was a pretty cool use of the concept that dealing dmg to a stealthed player or ennmy decloaks him.

Malgus has a buff on him saying hes knockable now.

It's HM. You are supposed to die to boss encounters when you have no ****** clue what to do.

Syluar's Avatar


Syluar
01.23.2012 , 07:42 PM | #8
There's no clue to push Malgus over the ledge? Realy? And what is this freaking shiny chest full of granades? And what is the discription of the granade saying more to the point?

Pulse Grenade
Binds on Pickup
Requires Level 40
Use: An experimental pulse grenade that will knock its target back a short distance, it may be useful in defeating Darth Malgus.

How could they make it more obvious?! Oh wait! They could add a timer bars for each ability boss does, font 60 warnings in the middle of the screen telling you exacly what to do, allow you to see if you realy are far enough from another player if spreading out is required and ofc a sound warning in case you miss that big mesage! You seem to realy mess up what is intuitive and what is not possibly because of DBM holding your hand for last few years (yes I also have the feeling that this thread is just "missing WoW much" if you didn't realize yet).
As much as I'd love some sort of threatmeters to be in TOR and possibly combat log with parsers I realy don't want any form of addons beside that. Just waiting for the costumizable UI and fixes for all the annoying bugs in boss fights and I'll be all happy.

Gunzwei's Avatar


Gunzwei
01.23.2012 , 07:55 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Syluar View Post

How could they make it more obvious?! Oh wait! They could add a timer bars for each ability boss does, font 60 warnings in the middle of the screen telling you exacly what to do, allow you to see if you realy are far enough from another player if spreading out is required and ofc a sound warning in case you miss that big mesage! You seem to realy mess up what is intuitive and what is not possibly because of DBM holding your hand for last few years (yes I also have the feeling that this thread is just "missing WoW much" if you didn't realize yet).
Malgus puts giant warnings on your screen and every boss emotes a mechanic prior to doing it. Not sure what you're point was.
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Gunzwei - 50 Jugg, Iron Citadel
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Sivar's Avatar


Sivar
01.23.2012 , 07:56 PM | #10
Somebody is a little too used to WoW......

In all fairness though I'm a little used to the system as well given how tanking works in this game and in WoW, and I always feel like I'm doing something wrong when I can't get every single mob firing at me. You basically have to learn to accept things a certain way to tank or heal in this game.

That said I'm really with most of the people here, you haven't tried the high level stuff (which is what you need to do in WoW too) and you presume to pass judgement based on the system that you've seen so far.

Also, you seem to have forgotten what WoW once had a massive attunement system that required you to go through massive quest lines and boss kills to qualify for the next raid or dungeon.

All in all I'm quite happy with this game so far.
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