Friday, May 13, 2016

"Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!"

This was one of the greatest marketing lines in the MMORPG industry.

In fact all MMORPGs have to strive for players to "Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!". If players are not feeling that they are part of the game universe and making a difference it is easy for them to walk away from the game. If they walk away from the game the game loses the revenue from that players subscription or in game purchases that finance the game. Players also need to at least see a certain number of other players in game. If too many players walk away because they do not feel like what they do is part of the game saga, you lose more as they do not see other players in game. So this is very important to all MMORPGs.

Over the years, especially in the SWGEmu forums, players often will quote that line to express a dislike for any change to how the game worked pre-CU that is being discussed.

But are they actually using it correctly?

"Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!" can very easily be interpreted to mean that it is not only perfectly acceptable but that the game supports solo play and there is never any reason to interact with other players. After all if the intention is to experience your saga and it is the greatest, then why should you interact with others and possibly have one or both discover that their saga is not the greatest?

Now most people will express that their fondest memories of SWG are of doing things with others. So the implication in that statement of doing things solo is not what the marketing types were thinking of.

"Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!" has also been a reply in at least one thread about making Jedi easier to get or more fun to play. After Publish 10, Jedi had been changed and re-balanced to actually no longer be an Alpha profession or any better than other combat professions. There was no longer any need to make them more difficult to get, have them earn XP at a lower rate than other Advanced combat professions, need more XP to train each skill box than other Advanced combat professions or be penalized for doing things with other players. So if a player feels that their saga includes being Jedi why should anyone interpret that "Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!" is a reason to not correct the mechanisms that were put in place to keep the number of Alpha version of Jedi low now that Jedi are no longer Alpha. If anything that quote is a reason to make the Jedi changes after Publish 10.

I have said that "Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!" is very important to any MMORPG.

To me the best way to make players feel that what they do in game, their saga so to speak, is through quests, missions and theme-parks. With a little more difficulty things like the CU's factional control system of most NPC cities and the NGE's regional control system can help with this.

Think of this, if you go out and kill 1000 Janta and earn 1,000,000 credits and collect some great blood it is part of your saga. However, how is this making your saga great let alone the greatest?

If you are an Imperial pilot and you do work for Darth Vader that is part of a saga. Then if Vader gives you his personal ETA-2 from the Clone Wars as a result of your doing a good job for him, your saga has become great or possibly even the greatest.

To me this interaction with the game story is where a character saga can move from just being there to great or the greatest. Don't get me wrong, if your idea of the greatest saga is to become a weaponsmith and to have 999,999,999 credits in the bank, then go for it. Please accept though that it may not be the majorities view of what would be the greatest saga.

Some other games integrate the quest results into a permanent feedback loop to the individual saga. If you complete some heroic activity the NPCs that benefit from what you did, remember and let you know that they are greatful for what you did for them. Things like this help to make players feel that they are having an impact on the game story or the greater game world. This in turn makes players feel that they both have a personal saga and that they are doing great things as part of the saga.

So because of this you will find me advocating for more quests, missions and theme-parks in SWG.

What you will not find me advocating for is that quests, missions and theme-parks become the primary mechanism for getting XP for your characters. Most games that have lots of quests, missions and theme-parks also give so much XP for completing the elements of these activities that simply going out and doing things is the most inefficient way of getting XP to train skills. This is so much against the game that was SWG in the pre-CU, CU and NGE time frames that people should avoid this as much as possible.

This does not ever mean that XP should never be granted from completing a quest, mission or theme-park element. Certain Artisan, Bounty Hunter and Smuggler missions could greatly help with the drudgery of getting some XP by awarding a specific XP type. This would be an improvement as long as the developers do not get carried away with it. Also how you grant XP would not always be the same. For example to make the Artisan crafting missions worth doing what you would do is change the quest crafting item XP, which can only be made when on the mission and with components that you are given when you take the mission. For Bounty Hunter investigation XP and Smuggler slicing XP you would need to have the mission grant these types of XP when complete. What you do not want to do is make it too much XP or to have other XP types being granted for missions.

I would consider giving XP for some Entertainer missions and quests but no XP for Survey missions.

The alternative for adding XP to certain missions would be to boost the XP earning or the XP needed. For example if you want to make Bounty Hunter investigation XP less of a grind you can increase the XP awarded independent of the global XP multiplier or reduce the amount of XP needed for each of the skill boxes that require it. The same for Smuggler slicing XP or other XP types.

So as you can see giving XP from certain missions is one of an arsenal of possible fixes for some XP problems. Just remember all three can be abused and make the game less like SWG.

So while the goal is to have players "Experience the greatest saga ever told ... .... YOURS!" this does not mean that players are using that phrase correctly.

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