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Why Class Stories and Companion Arcs Are Dead

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Why Class Stories and Companion Arcs Are Dead

JMCA's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 02:52 PM | #1
Opportunity Cost - an estimated cost incurred when you perform one business decision versus another.

The purpose of this post is to explain to everyone who is hoping for the Fourth Pillar to come back why it is not going to happen. The definition above and economic term is the explanation of not only why several things happened when the game went F2P such as
  • The 1-50 experience was called "Elder Game"
  • Makeb did not have any class story arcs
  • Companions story progression is in limbo (clarified what I meant, my bad)
  • New Romances were offered in Makeb instead of continuing the ones you already had.
  • An entire expansion was dedicated to Space PvP
  • Every cantina tour that has had the question asked got a dismissive answer
  • Dailies, Global Events, Operations, and Arenas were the story of 2013
  • Nearly the entire writing team left or was fired

The economics lesson is when you do anything there could have been something else you did instead. These reflections and future estimations form the basis of decision making. EA saw the 1-50 experience that Bioware was in charge of as unsustainable in an economic sense because the opportunity costs of the 8 additional story arcs in addition to the Republic and Empire arcs took resources away from max level PvE content, PvP, and popular request items like Space content.

This might sound like a Tin Foil Hat theory, but I do not believe for a second that the game was losing money every month or that the media stories being released about the "dire future" of TOR were factual. I would hazard a guess that TOR's team pre-Hickman did not want to drop the Fourth Pillar they sold their game on. I am pretty sure that the team was advised repeatedly that what they were focusing their efforts on could be dedicated to areas that would be more popular and less expensive, even though it would make long-time Bioware consumers upset.

In the end, the bad press from those stories and the "financial problems" very quickly changed the business model from the subscriber only to Free to Play, caused a huge transition to what we see now, introduced Cartel Market, and ever since then the focus has been on what EA wanted Bioware to focus on instead of the class stories.

I personally loved the old Bioware for what it was. You knew when you saw their name on a game you'd have a great story to play multiple times and ponder for years afterward. Jade Empire, the original KOTOR, Dragon Age... this was the best storytelling period in video game history.

But they chose to work with EA and everything that comes with. Make peace with it guys, and either find enjoyment in the new TOR franchise's direction or play the old Bioware games, read books, and hope at some point in the future another company comes along to become something like what Bioware was before EA.

Those high quality story arcs are never coming back.

To be fair to EA, I do want to say that GSF and Arenas are a lot of fun and worth investing a subscription for. The PvP class balance is 1000x better than the last game I played, Guild Wars 2, and space combat is a home run that will definitely bring people in once it's all released. You guys did find out what most people wanted and delivered, despite tearing down a company's direction that I loved.

In the end, it's just business. Hopefully one day there won't be greedy shareholders to slave away to please, but until then I am satisfied with where the game is going because it lets me compete in two forms of PvP that I enjoy and the 1-50 story content is still incredible enough to play and replay from different perspectives.

Phrase's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:10 PM | #2
The reason why there won't be anymore story is that the original development team realized two months into launch that 8 single player rpg games shoe-horned into a co-op environment isn't the same thing as an mmo, then promptly abandoned ship.

The Bastion

JMCA's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:22 PM | #3
Which is repeating what I said, albeit a bit shorter

Darth_Wicked's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:26 PM | #4
When it comes to the VA, I would like to point out that similar to what happened before, Makeb has your companions making comments, whenever they go across a certain area. However, it is fair to assume they were ALSO recorded way before the game came out, since one of the voice actors died shortly after the game was released and his voice is still there.

The actor I'm referring to is David Anthony Pizzuto. He voiced Tanno Vik.

Darth-Malice's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:27 PM | #5
They sure are. I love how anytime the developers on Camera and in public have been asked about it they avoid the question or try and redirect it.

Darka's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:43 PM | #6
For me I always find the cost of it a terrible excuse on their part
When they sat down and looked at everything early on I do not believe they never considered the cost of on going voice work. They knew it would be costly, and still went with it.
I find it hard to believe that they also didnt look at the what ifs, ie what if the game doesnt perform as well and turns out like what we have now rather then just bank on the big result and ignore the rest ( despite this being their attitude in development sadly)

It was a big draw card for many people, and many stories and companions feel like this is just the start of something bigger. It was supposed to be the start, the A New Hope and the first step into more, but now its just another grind only voiced.

arunav's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:52 PM | #7
What made SWTOR great and stand out from other titles on the market is dead as well, then. Even with all the additions this past year (and I agree with you, 2013 was generally good for the game), playing your characters without the stories that got them to 50 is hollow.

If there isn't a way that BW manages to continue some of the story arcs created for the initial release, a lot of people will eventually stop logging in. It has already happened to many, many guilds that were here even through the rough spots of 2012 when there were no new additions into the game.

This may not concern EA, as new folks are just starting out the game all the time now it seems, from anecdotal evidence I see logging in and chatting, and it takes a long time to play through all the stories and class nuances. And, with that, there are plenty of people to sell CM items and packs to. Still, as a BW and KOTOR fan, what brought me here in the first place, it is really sad if the stories we can expect to see are like Makeb once a year.

Reno_Tarshil's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:54 PM | #8
No new companion lines on Makeb? Did you not play with a companion there? O.o
Back in Black (and redder)!
The Sith Lord of Butterfly Catching has returned. for free stuff and thangs.

arunav's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 04:55 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Reno_Tarshil View Post
No new companion lines on Makeb? Did you not play with a companion there? O.o
I think the OP means conversations with your companions...

JMCA's Avatar

12.26.2013 , 05:01 PM | #10
There was some datamining that had been done that showed a class story arc in a Sleheyron/Bothawui expansion that apparently got axed, but obviously Makeb is what happened.

One thing to point out is how economists and corporate people view profit and the way everyone else does.

Most people see profit nominally, where you pay whatever something costs and then all the dollars you make that exceed those costs are profit. You just try to keep that positive in your business and maintain it with the kind of service/maintenance required to do so.

Economists and corporate types add that opportunity cost I mentioned to the costs and raise the stakes. They add an imaginary, yet estimable, cost to their nominal costs that can be measured to further increase their profits. If you can continue to make profits with this additional "cost" then not only are you going to make nominal profits, but more than you would if you didn't account for it.

So all this "it's too expensive" stuff is talking about meeting this extra requirement they're deliberately placing on themselves to get more out of their operation. I would hazard a guess that Bioware was not doing that before, and figured that they would make profits off of the quality of their product alone, which, of course, they did. They weren't the flashiest, most easily advertisable games but they sold well enough to keep growing over the years because of their reputation.

Every small company starts out like that - they have to create significantly better products than their competitors and grow a reputation of being better until they get big enough to consider joining up with the "big boys." Once that happens, the "lemons effect" starts happening, but that's another economics term.

The point is it's not a question of whether or not class stories profit - they do.

They just don't profit enough to outweigh the financial opportunity of what we saw work in 2013 for EA. They gutted the "small time" mindset and strategy of Bioware and went "big time" and will continue to do so with all their brands.

On a related subject, Mass Effect 3 was an example of what EA wanted to do with their games that is eerily simliar to SWTOR's strategy. ME3 was a big story franchise that sacrificed the quality of it for a multiplayer element that had a little shopping mall in it with the purchaseable packs. Sound famliiar?

The press was awful and I doubt that it was a coincidence that EA was voted "Worst Company" because of it, but they made their money and people enjoyed the multiplayer of ME3 quite a bit. That little shopping mall was a home run, just like Cartel Market is a home run in SWTOR.

Dragon Age 3 is not going to have the kind of epic story people want it to have. It will be very flashy, buggy, and full of explosions, big fights, and people will love it and swear by it.

Like it or not, EA knows its customer base a lot better than people will admit. Only a few people want the Bioware culture and quality storytelling compared to the hordes of boom headshot instant gratification types.