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What I would like space to be (very long read)

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What I would like space to be (very long read)

Lord_Nova's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 12:48 PM | #1
My vision for what SWTOR could become (And how Bioware could get there)

WARNING: This is a VERY LONG read and not for the faint of heart.


It is Tuesday night and your guild's designated Ops night so you log on to find yourself at your faction fleet station because that is where you were when you last logged off. Tonight is a fleet Ops, though, so you need to get to your guild fleet.

You hop in your ship and fly to your guild fleet. As you come out of hyperspace at your fleet your guild leader, Jimbo, sends you the ops invite. You can see that you are in an 8 man ops. Jimbo is the main tank PowerTech on ground ops but his best ship is built for pure damage.

Your guild fleet has grown in the past few weeks as members have been adding their own
ships. Your capital ship is currently a fully loaded frigate class ship and your guild is getting ready to upgrade to a destroyer class. This will allow for a much easier time with fleet ops.

You fly around the fleet admiring the view and talking to your guild buddies as you wait for all of the Ops members to get logged on, joined up, and into their ships. You decided that you will fly in your bomber squadron tonight. You have recently gotten your fleet command skill up to the point where you can have 3 of your 7 companions fly along-side you in their own fighters. The other 8 spots in your squadron are filled out with NPCs which you hired for this fleet ops. They aren't as good as having a fully upgraded companion flying a ship that you have worked to build but they get the job done.

The Ops is fully assembled and all form up in their ships to make the jump to lightspeed. Your Ops includes Jimbo in his tricked out Fury, 2 bomber squadrons including yours, 2 fighter squadrons, a sniper in his Phantom which is rigged for support, a marauder in his Fury which is also rigged out for support, and your guild frigate being controlled by one of your guild's top Sorcerers. This particular fleet ops requires you to fight your way to a space station and board it.

You come out of hyperspace to see a fleet of ships including 2 "boss" capital ships between you and the station. Your two fighter squadrons and Jimbo in his Fury along with the Phantom fly ahead to intercept the incoming fighters and bombers so that the rest of you can get into range of the first capital ship without being harassed. Your guild frigate, pimped out as it is, can easily take on the first capital ship which also happens to be a frigate, especially after your two bomber squadrons each launch a full volley on it. The second capital ship is a destroyer, however, and is a class above your guild frigate so your ops will need to give your frigate full support.

After a tough fought battle you make your way to the space station and land. You emerge from your ships and buff up to begin your ground portion of the Ops. There are three bosses in here.



I have read a couple of posts on the boards recently discussing a few topics that, to me, are related and have inspired me to write this. The first topic is the theme park nature of
SWTOR and a segment of the player base asking for sandbox content. The second topic is the argument that just because some players want one thing does not mean they all do and in fact there are another group of players that do not want what another group wants.

Finally the third topic is SWTOR's lack of real in depth space content. Developers have alluded to more space content in the future but they haven't really said anything about it. There have been some vague rumblings of guild capital ships but that is about it.

This is a vision of what I would like space to be like. This would also be a seamless integration of SWTOR's current theme park elements with a healthy dose of a sandbox space element. This is my plan on how Bioware can get there. It is a dream, I know, but I want to hear what everyone thinks of these ideas.

Before I get into the meat of my plan I want to clarify that I love SWTOR. I love the leveling experience, the warzones, and the flashpoints. I haven't done Ops yet but from everything I have seen, read, and heard, I will love them too.

I think they need to do something with Ilum because it can be fun but most of the time it just isn't. Crew skills have a lot of potential. I love the basic concepts of crew skills and feel that they have room to grow as long as they make them more useful to the player-base which Bioware has said they want to do.

That being said, all of those things I just mentioned do not help SWTOR stand apart from most other MMORPGs. I understand that the majority of MMO players are used to their MMOs having the theme park model, but I believe the MMO audience is growing and is finally ready for some real sandbox style content.

SWTOR has a perfect opportunity to provide both types of content and integrate them seamlessly into an amazing gaming experience. Don't get me wrong, I understand there are a lot of players who don't want anything to do with a sandbox style and vice versa. But the way I propose this system will allow players to experience either one or both elements.

I am going to try and avoid going into too many details with this post because this is meant to provide a vision of the end result and the general steps that would be taken to get there.



I have been impressed with how the core game engine has improved since launch. The game has shown a steady improvement in performance and feel. Keep fixing the bugs and glitches to provide us with a better and better game play experience

Get more basic features rolled out. Features like UI customization, better GTN interface, guild banks, and other features that many players have come to expect with modern MMOs.

Keep adding new Flashpoints, Companions, Operations, quests, and warzones.

Basically keep improving on what you have already given us. It provides a solid foundation for this great game to grow on.



The key to adding sandbox content is to provide an environment for players to build in. Space is the perfect environment because it is infinite. We would never run out of room and it would never get cluttered!

The current space missions are a nice little mini game which provides a nice little distraction for players to escape the grind every once in a while. Let us be truthful about it though, it is a single player experience with very little depth.

There has been plenty of discussion on these forums about players wanting better space
content and also for guilds to have capital ships. That sounds great but why should we stop at a guild capital ship? Why not a guild fleet? Think of a guild fleet as an instanced
guild city in space. The "guild hall" is actually a capital ship and the "player house" is
actually a player's ship.

Players have also expressed interest in space-based PVP and cooperative space game play. My idea provides both. The way I have laid this out, players will not have to participate in space if they don't want to. They will get their ship at the end of their faction's second planet like they do now and be able to travel around to the different planets, just as they do now.

Because of the way players receive their first ship they will have to quest and level their
characters to the point where they get their first ship in order to jump into the space game.



This is a big step as it will provide the basic game play foundation for the sandbox space system.

1. Provide players with free roaming cooperative and single player space missions. Players would get missions just like they do now except when they actually hyperspace to the location of the mission they are given a short briefing of their objectives. Missions will
have primary and bonus objectives which reward credits, experience, and space resources (more on that later).

These space combat missions are contained in campaigns. A Campaign is a series of story driven missions that unlock more missions in that campaign as you complete them. Missions are repeatable and will not be character level sensitive. They will scale based on the number of players in the group and the strength of the players' ship and piloting skills.

Also in order to keep the re-playability of these missions high there will be some randomness to how the elements in the mission are generated. This means that every time you perform the same mission it will never play out exactly the same. All of these missions will scale from 1 to 4 players. The more the players the harder the mission and the higher the rewards.

2. Provide players with a space 'skill tree' system. This skill tree system will be completely separate from your character's level and current skill tree system. They do not have any impact on each other and have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

In order to level up your space skills you will need to do space missions and earn experience which you then spend to level up these skills. Yes it is similar to another Star
Wars based MMO but not completely like it. I will not be getting into the details of the
system here.

3. This system will allow players to craft ships and components to customize said ships.
The resources to craft will be earned through doing space missions or sending companions out on crew skill gathering missions.

4. This means adding new crew skills for crafting ships and their components as well as
gathering and mission crew skills. Ship customization will have much more depth than we
currently see. Players will be able to own multiple ships and customize each and every one of them with components and weapons.

Some of you may be thinking "Well what about those of us who have no interest in space
combat but want to be able to have cool space ships?" I already mentioned being able to
send companions on crew skill missions to gather space resources. These resources will also be trade-able on the GTN.

5. Speaking of companions, wouldn't it be cool if you could command more than one ship at the same time? One of your skills that you can level up is a fleet command skill which will allow you to command a certain number of ships under you. Of course you will have to skill up your companions' piloting skills.

Companions will have limited and simpler version of the skill trees that players have. These skills could improve their piloting, gunnery, ship systems, or crafting. Again I am
going to avoid delving into the details here.

There will also be NPCs for hire to fill out your squadrons to the skill level of your fleet command. You may be thinking "Hold on a second! If I stop doing planetary quests when I get my ship and just do space missions I will have only two companions!" This is true but the space combat missions will provide you with experience so that your character will level just as you can now level by doing PVP warzones.

You will have to go back and at least do the class quests to get the companions if you want but you wont have to if you hire NPCs. The NPCs will be like companions, only usable in space, and won't have their own storylines and will not be able to do crew skills. In other words, you will not have to have companions to participate in the space game but it will be advantageous.

6. And for those of us who like to PVP, most of if not all of the combat missions will have PVP versions. Players will be able to group up or queue solo for PVP Space combat missions like they do for warzones. The missions are the same but instead of facing off against just NPCs, there will be an equal number of enemy faction players. The side who wins is the side that completes their mission objectives first. Again I will not delve into the details here.

So to review, step 1 provided the player with:
1. Free roaming cooperative and single player space missions and campaigns
2. Player space skill system that is independent of character level and what we currently
know as skill trees
3. Craftable and customizable ships and components
4. New Crew skills and resources to support said customizable ships and components
5. In depth companion skill development for space
6. Space based PVP combat missions


STEP 2: Static Free roaming areas and PVP and PVE Fleet Ops

1. Provide players with free roaming space around planets/fleets. There are currently 17 planets and 2 fleets as well as plans to release more planets. Provide a static, free-roaming space area for each one of them. You will also have to provide players with an option to go directly to the planet as they do now or go into the space area. Again, I am avoiding delving into the details here but I will say that there will be reasons to go to these areas.

The details of owning multiple ships will have to be worked out here but I have some great ideas. Before the implementations of these static free roaming space areas we could just choose which ship we would like to take on a mission. Now we can make the game a little bit more realistic by making it so each ship you own has an actual location if you aren't currently flying it in a combat mission.

If you want to fly a certain ship you will either have to fly to that ship's location and switch to it or if you have a companion that can fly that type of ship, send them to get the ship for you.

2. Provide players with instanced guild fleets. Players will travel there from the galaxy map the same way they would travel to a planet. Once they choose the guild fleet as their
destination they will load into a free roaming space instance which will be populated with any guild ships as well as the ships of the players that are currently there.

If there is a guild capital ship already built the players will have an option to go directly into the guild capital ship. The same as they would be able to go directly to a planet surface.

3. Provide players with Fleet Operations. This is similar to what I described above in my
preface minus the ground Ops part. These are space combat missions scalable from 8 to 32 player ops.

4. Provide Players with large scale PVP space combat missions. These are large scale combat missions designed for PVP.

So to review, step 2 provided the player with:
1. Static free roaming space areas around planets and fleets
2. Instanced free roaming guild fleet areas in space
3. Fleet Operations - large scale cooperative combat missions
4. PVP Space combat Operations - Large scale PVP combat missions


Step 3: Cooperative Ground/Space PVP and PVE Fleet Ops

1. Provide players with operations that require both space and ground actions as described in my preface. Hold on a second! I thought you said that the sandbox space game and the ground theme park game would be independent? They are. Players can choose if they want to do the space part of the ops, the ground part, or both.

2. Full Blown PVP area. A planet which is fought over in space as well as on the ground. Both combats can be happening simultaneously. If players don't want to do the space combat they can go directly to ground and try to capture points. It is possible for one faction to control space and the other to control the surface. There will of course be incentives to control both.



First I want to thank those who actually read my entire post. It is a very long read and I
appreciate that you took the time to read it. I hope you enjoyed reading it.

I know there are a lot of questions that come to mind when reading this but I didn't want to make the post even longer with details to each and every aspect of my ideas. Let me know what you think and if there is enough interest I will make more posts int he future detailing the game systems which are vague here. It is obviously a lot of work but doable within the framework of what Bioware has already created.

Asuka's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 12:54 PM | #2
Space has never been the primary focus of this game and never will be however they did mention things like guild capital ships and expanding on space combat down the road.

Lord_Nova's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 12:57 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by Asuka View Post
Space has never been the primary focus of this game and never will be however they did mention things like guild capital ships and expanding on space combat down the road.
MMOs are never completed and are always evolving and growing. Just because Space was not in the initial vision of the game doesn't mean that an in depth space-based game experience cannot be added.

Azzras's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:00 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Lord_Nova View Post
MMOs are never completed and are always evolving and growing. Just because Space was not in the initial vision of the game doesn't mean that an in depth space-based game experience cannot be added.
Thanks for the read.

I support full control space combat.
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Thaltom's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:01 PM | #5
I only get paid when I survive. I like getting paid.

Amdarius's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:03 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Asuka View Post
Space has never been the primary focus of this game and never will be however they did mention things like guild capital ships and expanding on space combat down the road.
Never will be? You're certain of that? Well, glad you're here to tell us with absolute certainty where this is going, now we can all rest easier.

Lord_Nova's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:04 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Thaltom View Post

I have played EVE before and it is enjoyable but there are too many things that in my opinion are holding it back from reaching 1 million+ subscribers. The biggest of which is the way that players level their skills. A new player in that game will take years to get to a point where they can even do higher end content.

Farho's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:30 PM | #8
I like the OPs vision.

But I fear that guild capital ships will be something else that you click&teleport.

Lord_Nova's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:31 PM | #9
Here is a thread with many players saying they want some sandbox style content:

Khryn's Avatar

02.15.2012 , 01:33 PM | #10
I'd like to see Guild Capitol Ships. Along with Guild Capitol ships you could have your guild run a Voidstar style PvE operation where you start out on the Turrets (How well your guild does determines amount of boarding party enemies that make it..) And then you repel enemy boarders, disarm bombs, the list could go on and on.
Khryn, Rex'sun, Xhiryn, and variations of such.
Jung-Ma Refugee.
I'm a keyboard turnin' cowboy, baby.