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"The world feels dead" Constructive discussion.

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
"The world feels dead" Constructive discussion.

Cancrizans's Avatar


Cancrizans
04.17.2012 , 11:35 AM | #1
There have been many posts made on these forums which at least mention the idea that somehow, SWTOR's environments feel "dead". There have also been many reasons cited for why this is so...everything from lifeless NPCs(this one I never understood as they seem a lot more animated than in most MMOs), to lack of a day/night cycle, to (lol) the fact that we can't swim.

While I perhaps don't find the worlds quite as dead as some, I do agree that for some reason, they DO have this odd "empty" quality at times, which can kind of make you feel disconnected from the environment and is really bad for immersion.

So I have been trying to figure out what exactly, to me at least, it is that produces this feeling...and I have come to the conclusion that, at least from my perspective, the one thing that mostly creates this disconnect is the lack of a rich ambient sound environment.

It struck me when a couple of friends and I were messing around with the free Warhammer trial thing(SWTOR was down and we were looking for something free to mess around with hehe) and I noticed that although the graphical style in that game is more cartoony, the world felt more "there" because of all the background sounds, like crickets chirping, bullfrogs croaking, sounds of human activity etc.

Now SWTOR DOES have SOME of this...but the first problem is, a lot of it is not smoothly implemented...for example, the snippets of conversations that you "overhear" while walking around...rather than giving the impression of being overheard, they tend to actually follow you around as if the game is literally screaming at you "hey look! Here is an attempt to make the world feel more real!". The problem is it is so obvious and clunky that it actually detracts from any sense of reality.

In addition, much of the time the world is just SILENT. I guess Bioware would have to figure out what kinds of sounds native wildlife makes, they can't just put in some cricket and bullfrog sounds as the game is set in another Universe where they may not have those creatures, but I think if they really want to bring the planets in SWTOR alive, they need to both add more ambient and random sounds, and polish the overall effect of the soundscape so that you believe you are hearing a living environment happen rather than hearing a few random sounds once in a while that are too obviously placed and not convincingly integrated with the rest of the experience.

Anyone point to other things that Bioware could improve to make the worlds feel more "alive"?
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Andryah's Avatar


Andryah
04.17.2012 , 11:42 AM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by Cancrizans View Post
It struck me when a couple of friends and I were messing around with the free Warhammer trial thing(SWTOR was down and we were looking for something free to mess around with hehe) and I noticed that although the graphical style in that game is more cartoony, the world felt more "there" because of all the background sounds, like crickets chirping, bullfrogs croaking, sounds of human activity etc.
There is no chirping in Star Wars. Beeps and squeaks are very prevalent though.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of atmospherics in the graphics and sound, they are just more subtle in a lot of cases. I wear a headset specifically because there is a lot of little things going on that I don't hear without the headphones.

Personally, I don't find the environment dead at all. I like it in fact. It is a refreshing change from other MMOs.
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Qoojo's Avatar


Qoojo
04.17.2012 , 11:48 AM | #3
For me sound doesn't matter near as much as the neatly aligned near-sighted static groups of mobs all over the place. I would reduce the number of mob placements, increase aggro range, and make fewer static placements for more roving patrols. Also, add more non-combatant NPCs.

The problem as I see it is that there is no real sense of a real world. You know you can fight this mob group 20 feet away from the other one with no problems, or little worry about a patrol.


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kashaun's Avatar


kashaun
04.17.2012 , 11:54 AM | #4
It's dead and buried. You're totally right about the sound specifically, especially for a Starwars game or SW anything, sound is sort of signature. Every planet including main hubs feel like the out of bounds areas in other games.

Zag_Stratos's Avatar


Zag_Stratos
04.17.2012 , 11:59 AM | #5
There's a few spots in the game where it's simply amazing.

I take Balmorra for example. At one point, you enter a zone where NPCs are shooting each other, fighting, hiding, throwing grenades and such. It's really cool and feels like a big battle. It's a little static since not a single NPC dies unless you actively jump in but overall, you feel that something is going on.

However, in most cases, it's just a big zone with a few randomly placed NPCs and nothing really moves or patrols.

Tattoine, Nar Shadaa and Coruscant are a good example of how static everything feels. You arrive at the Republic starport and see an NPC running away from some cops. They eventually bring him down. That very moment was amazing but that's the only place where something scripted but nice happens, everything else is static.

If at least, there was some action or something going around in the Cantinas... but nope, npcs either dancing non stop or staring at nothing.

It's a nice game, the graphics are nice but the feel... Of course, we've been spoiled by WOW, AION and other beautiful games... I can understand that but still... can it be excused?
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Kaelano's Avatar


Kaelano
04.17.2012 , 12:10 PM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Cancrizans View Post
There have been many posts made on these forums
So we needed one more? The rest, TL;DR.

spellvexit's Avatar


spellvexit
04.17.2012 , 01:23 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Andryah View Post
Keep in mind that there are a lot of atmospherics in the graphics and sound, they are just more subtle in a lot of cases. I wear a headset specifically because there is a lot of little things going on that I don't hear without the headphones.
This is very true. I put on my headphones the other day when I was in Nar Shadaa and picked up all kinds of immersive sounds. It was really effective.

I think what bothers me is how quiet the characters themselves are. Gestures such as /laugh take your character through a lengthy silent pantomime, and it makes the social interactions feel distant. I use /cough regularly because it's one of the few gestures that has a sound (it's also pretty well done. *grin*). At the risk of referring yet again to WoW, sounds made interactions with other characters much more fun -- the bawling an of Orc, the shrieking laughter of a Blood Elf, whistling when bored... I think a lot could be added to the liveliness of the universe with a few emote sounds.