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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: The Tortanic

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday August 1 2012 at 3:57PM
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Rant: The Tortanic

The announcement that The Old Republic (TOR) is going to head down the F2P route finally happened, and a game that has now been nicknamed by many to be the "Tortanic" is finally en route to its destiny.  The game lasted only seven month in the world of pay-to-play.  It's been a hilarious journey to those of us who realized that this experiement had only one logical conclusion way back when this thing set sail.  While myself and many others who saw this coming back in November were called "haters" and "trolls", I figured this would be a good time to point out the massive amounts of stupidity that helped fuel this debacle.


The Old Republic has been in developement for years and was granted quite possibly one of the biggest video game budgets on all time to spend on one of the most popular intellectual properties on planet Earth.  With all of these factors going for you, the prospect of failing on this grand of a scale seemed almost impossible to comprehend.

The developers came out and told us that they finally figured out where all the other MMOs went wrong and figured out what players really wanted in an MMO, and it's story!  So they spent all their millions of dollars for hiring voice actors to weave create these one-time consumable story content bits in the hopes that would sustain long-term subscribers.  Frankly I am still in an internal debate with myself trying to figure out who the bigger idiot is here, the people who really thought one-time story content was the key to long-term MMO success, or the people who gave them hundreds of millions of dollars trying to make that happen.   Regardless the entire conception of this project was a marriage of stupidity that cements the old saying that "a fool and his money are soon parted".

There were warning signs.  Internal staff members warned us that the Tortanic was a recipe for fail on a scale never before seen in the MMO industry.  We also can't discount the fact that any rational thinking person who played the beta or examined the premise of the game realized it wasn't going to work.  Sure there were whines from former SWG fans, but we were told that they are living in the past and the new vision is what people wanted.   I don't know about you, but I was thinking that what the next big MMO needs is to be is a cookie-cutter clone game that gets one of the biggest space operas of all time between two factions and turn it into a game of Hutt Ball.

There were the big game shows like E3 where the game was showered with awards for being the year's best MMO.  After launch, we got to read reviews where people actually gave this game high scores in graphics when the rest of us were wondering why the game had no hi-res textures. The gaming media completely dropped the ball on this in a massive way, and frankly, should be ashamed of themselves for any accolades this game got.   Stunning to rational-thinking gamers how so many publications and sites failed to remove the Star Wars from the equation and look at the actual gameplay and rate it on those merits.  I'll wager you won't be seeing many if any of these reviewers or "professionals" man-up and admit they were wrong.  It should be one of the biggest stories you'll never read, but you won't find any calls for accountability from these people anywhere outside here.

The gaming media truly are the passengers on the Tortanic, and the investors and developers are the crew.  The entire lot of these people deserved to be soaked by the icy cold waters of gamer's opinion.  As the water started to flood the decks, Bioware had the absolute audacity blame the players, because they made the game the players wanted after all!  Just remember the next time a big company looks like it might be doubling-down on a failed formula under the guise of a famous IP to also remember who gave out all the awards and high reviews for the most-predictable massive failure this genre has ever seen.

So I hear there's going to be an Elder Scrolls MMO...

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition

Ziegler writes: Oh, let it not be forgotten that MMORPG.com itself canned the only "reviewer" that had a less than glorious opinion of SWTOR. Honest review of a game? That most certainly isnt the reason I come to MMORPG.com Wed Aug 01 2012 4:29PM Report
Rommie10-284 writes: Bioware didn't listen, and they didn't learn. They were good enough to fail spectacularly, and they've done just that. Wed Aug 01 2012 5:32PM Report
Svarcanum writes:

I agree, especially with the part about gaming media. 

Thu Aug 02 2012 3:58AM Report
Sojhin writes:

Interesting analogy between devs as crew and media as passangers. It has become more difficult to determine what side the gaming media is on lately.

While the forces keeping the game devs from listening are apparently people that are out of touch with the market these devs still are going from one newly christened ship to another and each time causing shipwrecks. 

The gaming media now have to earn back relevance by dropping the 8.5+ score reviews and report stories on games with more healthy critism (e.g., actual pro and con and not merely fluff).

Thu Aug 02 2012 1:12PM Report
TheHavok writes:

Well said Paragus.

Thu Aug 02 2012 5:48PM Report
Machinations writes:

I've never paid attention to the game rating sites when doing research on whether or not to buy something.

 

They're kind of like writing an english101 class essay:

 

You do spectacularly well = A-

You do abysmally bad = B+

 

And there are no other options.

Fri Aug 03 2012 9:39AM Report
Teala writes: Great post.   I was going to do one myself, but I figured why bother kicking a dying horse that has been beaten senseless.   I am glad you did though, and it was well written and to the point, and pretty nailed the reason why this is the biggest failed MMO in the history of gaming.   Fri Aug 03 2012 4:37PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

Oh look, it's another self righteous, agenda-ridden blog from veteran MMO player and guild leader Peragus.  Thank you for reminding us that it was in fact you who foretold of the game's demise way back in November and not the thousands of other detractors plauging this game since pre-launch.

You do not really have a right to speak about objectivity in the gaming press when you have not had a kind word to say about the game since it was announced.  SW:TOR's history isn't entirely doom and gloom.  While no one is arguing that SW:TOR lived up to expectations, it's far from the monumental disaster you and others claim it to be.  You can save these agenda-filled hate pieces for when the game joins WAR in the dustbin of forgetten would-be WoW killers, but for now, SW:TOR"s history is still being written -- for good or for bad.

Many people are actually having fun in the game.  Shocking right?  How can a game considered to be such a failure still have players enjoying the game?    Contrary to what you say, when you review the game based entirely on its merits, it is a decent MMO in nearly any quantifiable aspect.  Why do we differ?  You and those of your ilk still refuse to appreciate SW:TOR for what it is versus what it could have been.  There is no greater example of this sort of behavior that all the crying over the space combat.  Nevermind the fact that space combat in the KOTOR series was never known for anything except for a minigame or the fact that the minigame was well done for what it was.  It automatically sucked because it wasn't X-Wing versus Tie Fighter. 

Next, you cry over the amount of money spent on the game.  BioWare never once said they would change the world with SW:TOR, yet voice acting to that scale can get pretty expensive.  WIthout adding voice acting, nowhere near that amount of money would've been spent on SW:TOR.  It would've been the same game without cutscenes and dialogue.  It's ignorant to assume they would have simply allocated that money towards other design decisions.  Many of us knew that SW:TOR would be a WoW-clone with a Star Wars skin, and it's not even the most blatant clone of the bunch.

Similarly to how you suggest taking Star Wars out of the equation when judging the game, how about we try taking developer hype (which all developers are guilty of), and player expectations out of the game and simply judge the game mechanic by mechanic.  Somehow I doubt you've even played the game long enough to be able to do so...

Sat Aug 04 2012 2:15AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

I'm sorry if your upset by reality and want to continue to live in a galaxy of denial far far away.  The game is unquestionably a failure by the raw data.  You are going to sit there and tell me that an MMO that costs more to make than a major Hollywood movie then ends up being forced to go to F2P faster than any MMO on record is a success?   The financial data, sub numbers, server closings / mergers, fake promotion to inflate estimates, massive deep-cutting layoffs all point to the contrary.  None of these things which i have just listed to hand-in-hand with a successful product.

I did look at the game objectively.   Objectively, it is a lackluster cookie-cutter, linear MMO with that launched with beloew average functionality and UI.  The market seems to agree with me.  You can let your emotions take the better of you and flame me, or you can come to grips, look at the data I have presented and sourced, and realize that you are in the minority.  If this game had been called anything else besides Star Wars, nobody in their right mind would have given this game 2 seconds of their time based on the gameplay as an MMO.   There's a word for games that are story based and lack longevity, they are called Single Player Games.

And Yes I am going to put this opinion out here one last time.   Why?  Because I am lucky enough to have my opinion have a presence on the front page for this site, where this point of view definitely needs to be represented considering the vast majority feel this way and none of the staff writers are willing to say it.

Sat Aug 04 2012 12:55PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

Unlike you, I don't have an agenda.  I haven't been campaigning for the game to fail since before the game launched, yet I've still managed to criticize SW:TOR and BioWare in areas where I felt they deserved criticism.

When you look at SW:TOR objectively, you look at the UI.  It's simplistic.  It's functional.  Does it have add-on support?  No  Could I re-size windows at launch?  No  Could I see when my friends last logged on??  No.  Are you objectively going to give the game a 6/10 or lower because the game lacks superfluous UI features?  No.  I mean, at least I could chat, which is more than I could say for half the time I spent in DCUO.

Most people who criticize SW:TOR at least admit that they enjoyed the questing.  Did you not think the voice acting was well done?  Do the cutscenes not draw you into the game more than a giant textbox?  Do you not feel as if the NPCs in SW:TOR actually have personality and seem less like quest dispensers?  I think this alone makes questing in SW:TOR more fun than traditional quests in WoW and especially more fun than quests in Rift. 

Linear you say?  SW:TOR is no more linear than Rift, Age of Conan, TERA, Aion, or Warhammer, yet they don't receive such criticism from you.  Cookiecutter?  Again, lets look at almost every other MMORPG released after WoW.  Same problem, yet all those games appear to have escaped your wrath.  Double standard?  Yes.  People are bandwagon jumpers.  One person makes a negative comment about one thing and hundreds echo those statements like a parrot, narry an original thoughts in their heads.  You act as if your front page blog is a voice for the unwashed masses, but you're just a parrot riding the wave of public opinion, likely realizing it'll get more publicity for your blog.

You attempt to come off as insightful and intelligent, but you haven't said a word I haven't heard before, and you're inconsistent at best.  At least Teala's views on SW:TOR are consistant with the rest of her posts.  After reading your balanced preview of Rift, I would've at least thought you'd give the game an honest shake.  Instead, I'm still left waiting for your balanced review.  Heck, I'm still waiting on any review.  Because all I've seen from you related to SW:TOR are hackjobs and cruel jabs, I'm really starting to wonder how much time you've even spent with the game.

Warhammer Online launched with over 800k subscribers.  Now it has two servers and hasn't seen a proper content update in years.  That is a failed MMORPG.

Vanguard launched with over 500k subscribers.  Now it has basically 1 server with barely over 200-300 people playing at any given time, and is probably only going F2P rather than shutting down because SWG shutting down left them with a surplus of devs with nothing better to do.  That is a failed MMORPG

Final Fantasy XIV launched as the sequel to one of the most successful MMORPGs of all time, yet it was so bad SE refused to even charge a subscription fee for the first several months of the game's lifespan.  Now the game is less profitable than its 9 year old little brother, and the devs were forced to almost completely redesign the entire game in order to keep the game from shutting down.  That is a failed MMORPG.

Your evidence doesn't prove SW:TOR a failure -- not yet.  Your evidence only proves that SW:TOR vastly underperformed expectrations.  Again, no one is arguing that SW:TOR lived up to expectations.  SW:TOR has most certainly underperformed.  The layoffs, subscription data, and server mergers are evidence of this; however, SW:TOR remains profitable as long as they have above 500,000 subscribers which they have.  Nevermind the fact that SW:TOR is still the second-most played MMORPG in North America, going F2P should boost their profits even if it doesn't affect their subscription fees.  It may not be a resounding success, but it's hardly a total failure.  They should be able to easily surpass their sunk costs by the end of the year, and as for what happens after that, it's easy to see this game as a perfectly viable alternative to WoW albeit with a smaller dev team similarly to Rift or pre-F2P LotRO.  Disappointment?  Yes.  Failure?  No.  Now, if we only judge the success or failure of an MMORPG based on their ability to topple WoW then virtually every other MMORPG on the market is a failure.  Quite frankly, that is simply a foolish perspective.

You say no one would give this game the time of day if not for the Star Wars namesake?  I say that's not true.  Such a game already exists, and it's called Rift.  Aside from the lack of Star Wars license and voice acting, it's just as linear and lacks the same amount of longevity.  I say we play a different game.  I say we ask that if this game were not published by EA and if this game were not developed by BioWare, would people still bash the game so fervantly?

Sun Aug 05 2012 1:18AM Report
Ruinal writes:

SuperXero, whether it is a 'failure' or not boils down to how you define failure. The failure here is in not in any way shape or form meeting *any* of the expectations or hype or promise. The utter fail and well deserved ridicule stems from the obscene budget they had and the sheer amount of supposed 'talent' they had working on the game. It might yet make a decent profit for EA & BW, and might even manage to get a healthy amount of people paying for content with the f2p model.

I think the majority of people who tried the game and unsubbed all agree with Paragus that story in itself doesn't cut it for an mmo. But the failings of the SW:TOR went beyond that. Beta testing feedback was ignored, heck even developer concerns went ignored by the upper reaches of their management. End result, utterly lackluster gameplay, broken and mostly pointless pvp and content updates which were unfulfilling, incomplete and certainly not worthy of a subscription model.

All that said, I got some enjoyment out of the game. My guild progressed through all the raiding content and did well with what pvp content there was. 3 months and our membership halved, another month it halved again and after that we decided enmass that it was time to call it quits and move on.

Sun Aug 05 2012 12:14PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

Few games do meet expectations, but the hype for SW:TOR was so far off the charts that it would have been virtually impossible for BioWare to meet expectations, especially when the majority of the hype wasn't even coming from BioWare.  There was a real disconnect between what fans expected and what BioWare promised to deliver.  I don't fault BioWare for that.  In terms of what they delivered, it was a perfectly solid effort.  Whether or not you can appreciate more WoW clones is your own business, but when judged entirely on its own merits, it's an acceptable alternative.

BioWare failed to listen to beta feedback, failed to listen to dev feedback,  failed to overtake World of Warcraft. and failed to sustain over 1 million players; which led to it being considered a major disappointment -- not a failure.  Lets keep in mind, however, that the game is still the second most popular MMORPG in North America, it's a bit premature to call it the Tortanic.  As long as the game sees a profit, has a dev team, and receives regular content updates, it is no failure even with 200k-300k subscribers.  

BioWare devs shot themselves in the foot with a lot of flowery statements pre-launch that has given Peragus and others massive ammunition to use against this game, but when judged realistically, I think even having as low as 200k-300k subscribers a year from now could be considered a massive positive if SW:TOR is judged by the same standard as Rift and others.

Sun Aug 05 2012 4:32PM Report
nilden writes:

Realistic is EA Bioware not Trion, Star Wars not some unknown ip, most expensive video game in history. I'm sorry but in what reality is judging RIFT and others to SW:TOR by the same standard possible when the cost, company and ip are clearly all in favour of SW:TOR. Yet it's gone F2P in a nose-dive of server merges, freefall of layoffs, and people having to seriously defend that it's not single player.

Let's face it most of what can be taken away from this is how not to make an MMORPG.

Sun Aug 05 2012 5:13PM Report
Matee writes:

story without any penalty or consequenses for your actions = fail in every game

story without any alternate route that you may take = fail

and lastly story watered down for kindergarten (kids are usualy not the biggest SW fans the adults are based on the original trilogy)

will be FAIL no adult want to read kids stories do they

well maybe when they read for their kids ;P

Sun Aug 05 2012 6:10PM Report
SuperXero89 writes:

My standards are simple.  Everything else is irrelevant to me.  Is the game making a profit?  Does the game have a median number of subscribers?  Is new content regularly being pushed out the door?

If the answer is yes, the game is not a failure.  It can be a disappointment, but it's not a failure.  Judge SW:TOR on its own merits not what it could or should have been.  It's decent for what it is, and deserving of its current userbase.

I probably wouldn't be coming on so strong for virtually any other game, but the fact that Paragus and many others have been rooting for this game to fail since before release has me questioning their motives.

As for the comment on story, I'll take a linear quest grind with a mediocre story over linear quest grinds with no story.  If you want story in your MMO questing, please show me all the MMORPGs that do it better than SW:TOR.

People are having to seriously defend SW:TOR from being called a single player game because fools and idiots are actually claiming it is a single player game, despite the fact that it offers the same amount of group content as virtually every other MMORPG on the market.  I never would've figured, but I guess the inability to observe 50 other people stealing your quest mobs really kills that MMORPG feel.  Wouldn't be the first time I was wrong.  Never would've thought dungeon finders that encourage player interaction to be the thing that effectively kills communities either, but I learn new things from the people here every day.

Mon Aug 06 2012 1:46AM Report
Panossian writes: Most gamers don’t focus on weather a company is making a profit when determining if an MMO a success or not. We focus on area’s such as staying power, challenging game play, PvP, does it bring anything new to the table or offer any form of exciting and memorable game play experience. The answer to all of that is NO. Given one of the largest dev budgets of all time it's shocking to see the mediocrity that is SWTOR.

The only remotely non scathing comment I've ever heard about this game relates to the character story lines. Having a few guildmates who (self admitted) foolishly purchased this masterpiece of blah, have stated the only reason they've played through the game multiple times racking up max level chars, which takes no effort btw, is to check out the story lines.

The reason I think  there is such a unified bashing of SWTOR is because the true MMO community is sick of big budget, over-hyped piles of crap constantly being released because the masses continue to buy them. If games like SWTOR did not sell the industry would be better off.  Right now company's can just regurgitate the same nonsense and make a couple bucks so it continues to happen.

It’s important for everyone who considers themselves an MMO player to speak up and tell the truth above games like this to prevent people from wasting their money and toss any more money to these developers who spit of the same garbage.
Mon Aug 06 2012 11:20AM Report
lifeordinary writes:

Is anyone else sick of this over used term 'tortanic'? it is not original and doesn't make one look clever especially when they one uses it in a blog title that is advertised as 'spotlight' blog on mmorpg.com.

Come on guys you can do better.

Mon Aug 06 2012 2:17PM Report
Panossian writes: No not really. Mon Aug 06 2012 4:50PM Report
Hrimnir writes:

Love it.  I would have liked though to see a paragraph about how Bioware starting believing the hype and let their heads swell to the point absurdity.  Some of those comments on the pre release videos and interviews were simply mind boggling.  How could they be THAT cocky. Now the GW2 devs are doing the same thing, releasing articles telling us that what we enjoy in mmo's isnt fun, and that they know better than us.

Anyways ill start bitching if i keep at it, but ya, great article

Tue Aug 07 2012 12:23AM Report
karmath writes: Why anyone can still defend this game and still look at themselves in the mirror I'll never know. Tue Aug 07 2012 11:02PM Report
lifeordinary writes: People need to look at themselves in mirror now because they enjoy something you don't? ok!! Sat Aug 11 2012 11:15AM Report
mmoguy43 writes: I expected you were better than this Paragus... Wed Sep 26 2012 8:33PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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