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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

SWTOR: How Not to Improve PvP

Posted by MikeB Wednesday January 18 2012 at 8:04PM
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Whatever your feelings on Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP are, one thing was for certain: the open world PvP leaves a bit to be desired. Players mostly do Warzones for PvP in SW:TOR, but the best gear is acquired through doing your dailies and weeklies (is that a word?) on Ilum. The problem is, most people aren't actually PvPing to complete their objectives. These daily and weekly quests were set up in such a way that players could simply flip points by cooperating with each other and not actually fighting. This wasn't exactly what BioWare intended Ilum PvP to be like, and so changes were planned for Update 1.1.

The changes in Update 1.1, which went live today, made the notion of flipping points not nearly as rewarding as actually fighting other players, especially if you fight them near objectives. Great! Mission accomplished, right?

Not quite.

As it would turn out, the balance of Empire vs. Republic players is largely skewed towards the Empire on most servers, and with tons of people showing up for the increased Valor, the Imperial zerg has basically been able to farm Republic players for most of the day. Republic players have been pushed back all the way to their spawn points and are basically being spawn camped while Imperials rake in the valor. Let's just say players are pretty upset about this, and rightfully so.

Heck, even if populations were evenly split, the performance on Ilum has been atrocious due to the number of players in the zone looking to PvP.

After complaining up a storm on the forums today (including tons of "I'm canceling my subscription!" threats), BioWare responded with their plans to address the PvP issues raised today. I'll break down the response below.

An emergency patch is planned for tomorrow morning, which will accomplish the following:

  • Factional spawn points on Ilum will kill opposing faction players who get too close, similar to the way Warzones work now.
  • The overall population cap on Ilum will be reduced to improve performance in the zone.

In the interim, BioWare plans on disabling taxi service to the Open World PvP area on Ilum so as to stop further abuse until the patch is released tomorrow morning (servers will be down from 6AM EST to 11AM EST for the emergency patch). If you're still in the Open World PvP area of Ilum, you'll be able to taxi out.

I'm glad BioWare is attempting to address the fact people weren't actually fighting on Ilum, but I'm honestly shocked that they weren't able to anticipate some of the issues players experienced today. I'm getting flashbacks of early Warhammer Online, where players did nothing but Warzones and only entered RvR lakes to flip points. WAR has improved since, but it took a fairly long time before Mythic was able to find the right balance and make Scenarios and RvR equally appealing. I can only hope it doesn't take BioWare as long as it did with WAR to improve the open world PvP in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

TheCrow2k writes:

LoL. Quite the situation right there.

Wed Jan 18 2012 9:28PM Report
elocke writes:

Ah, but unlike WAR, SWTOR has a GREAT PVE game to hold it together while they figure out the PVP side.  

Wed Jan 18 2012 9:31PM Report
Joshua69 writes:

lmfao. i hate pvp. glad im on PvE

Wed Jan 18 2012 9:36PM Report
itchmon writes:

they made it very easy for the more populated side to just poof into battlemasters.


on jung ma there are a bazillion sith battlemasters now running around.


time to tweak things a bit bioware

Wed Jan 18 2012 9:52PM Report
RoyalPhunk writes:

Repubs are pretty mad right now. They will lose a lot of subs for this one. Rift is also having a free welcome back pass opening tomorrow I believe.

Wed Jan 18 2012 10:34PM Report
chryses writes:

Maybe we should applaud the fact that they are responding so soon as well.

Would it be worthwhile to limit the number each side can bring in so its irrelevant how many are on the actual server.  I must admit I was a little dismayed at how crap Republic are in warzones (e.g losing 10 times in a row on multiple logins).  I started a bounty hunter and I couldnt belive the throng of Sith swarming around the PvP mission giver.  I guess it fits in with the lore lol

Wed Jan 18 2012 11:48PM Report
Konfess writes:

Please define "Flip Points".

Thu Jan 19 2012 12:17AM Report
Konfess writes:

Appluad the response?  This and every flaw, should have been caught in testing.  This should never have happened on a live server.

Thu Jan 19 2012 12:22AM Report
Kniknax writes:

Is this actually a news report on how there was a bug on the latest patch, which was fixed within 24 hours? Really? Thats newsworthy? Geez man, glad you dont report for the newspapers -   "Man trips in street, gets up again". "Woman sneezes, catches it in tissue, exclusive!".

Its like you desperately want to find anything at all to bash this game sometimes. Forget all the amazing cool stuff they do, lets focus on a small bug which was quickly fixed. Way to go

Thu Jan 19 2012 12:52AM Report
RoyalPhunk writes:

*cough it took them 10+ hours just to admit there was even a problem with people posting youtube vids of it all over the forums. Their response can be described as lethargic.

Never mind the fact they are letting everyone keep their absurd amount of valor imbalancing the game even more long term. Its not a huge deal but they blundered this and it should never have made it to live, no walls of apoligist text will change that. Sorry if you are upset by customer's responses.

Thu Jan 19 2012 1:02AM Report
AutemOx writes:

Yawn.  We all knew this game was going to have poor PvP.  That is what you get when your core features are voiced cinematics.

Hopefully this will provide future developers with yet another example of why 3-faction pvp is preferrable to 2 faction.

Thu Jan 19 2012 1:25AM Report
AutemOx writes:

Also 10 hour response seems really good to me.  I have gotten called a SWTOR hater a lot on this site but you must be a true hater to say 10 hours is a slow response.

UNLESS of course players had no way of exiting the pvp areas at all in that case I think GM's should be helping relocate players immediately and 10 hours is still a good response time as long as players were being relocated by GM's in the meantime.

Thu Jan 19 2012 1:27AM Report
DarkPony writes:

Ultimately it comes down to world pvp content being severly under-developed at launch and not extensively tested. Next to that there are a few factors making things worse for them in regards to faction balance;

- They chose to have one dedicated zone for incentivized world pvp, rather than spreading objectives and incentives out over the game world(s).

(I'd rather have very minor rewards from killing enemies but EVERYWHERE, rather than significant rewards in a single area that's intended for it. Also I'd rather have a very odd chance of commendation drops from killed players rather than quest based rewards. But I realize its very hard to implement such a system that works for all server types).

- Spawnpoints could be overrun which apperantly wasn't intended.

- Everyone and their monkeys were ready to give the Ilum a try on day one of 1.1

Really curious where they will go from here.

Thu Jan 19 2012 1:45AM Report
Vhaln writes:

"Whatever your feelings on Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP are, one thing was for certain: the open world PvP leaves a bit to be desired."

A bit?  LOL :p

Thu Jan 19 2012 2:51AM Report
thamighty213 writes:

Of course your getting flashbacks of it Mike its the WAR pvp team thats working on this expect more untested braindead ideas coming to a server near you soon.


Whats the betting that when they throw these caps in they dont take into account balance and rather than 1000 imps to 100 rebs you have 100 imps to 10 rebs.


I'm Imp and I want balanced fun PVP I didnt partake yesterday as thats just not fun so just warzoned for considerably less valor but at least its balanced and fun.

Thu Jan 19 2012 3:06AM Report
Naucano writes:

*shakes head*

Sadly BW did not heed the warnings we send out years before launch on the forums. They were warned PVP is more then just putting two fraction on the same playing gound and balancing their features. 

Say what you will, but in terms of running/making a MMO they have still much to learn.

Looks like they are learning the hard way now.

Thu Jan 19 2012 3:21AM Report
jmcdermottuk writes:

Thia again highlights the problems with a 2 faction game with PvP, although being Star Was there's not much that could be done abut that. Maybe introduce a neutral faction for the BH's and smuggler types?


I also believe that open world PvP doesn't mix well with BG, Warzone, Scenario type PvP maps. I'd rather a developer picked one and stick with it.

Thu Jan 19 2012 3:54AM Report
Yamota writes:

The inexperience of Bioware, in both PvP and MMORPGs, is starting to show...

Problem is that this game is PvE centric so the primary resources and balancing goes to PvE with only the left overs for PvP and this is what is going to continue to cause problems for them.

Thu Jan 19 2012 4:14AM Report
fansede writes:

Since we know the EA/Mythic team was brought in to help Bioware on issues like these I feel this was definitely a big boo boo. 

@Konfess - flip points is where one side capture an area for reward without resistance and then let the other side capture a point for their reward.  this is what they did in WAR and what they were doing again here. 

In attempt to make world pvp a competitive atomsphere they nixed that type of play, but neglected to realize population imbalances.  Mythic devs should warned about this (maybe they did and it was ignored) instead of letting this happen.

Thu Jan 19 2012 7:10AM Report
fansede writes:

jmcdermottuk - third faction would be awesome -a hutt based faction whose primary goal is profittering by fueling the war on both sides and playing both sides off each other.  Can have bounties/ smugglers play together , throw in melee champs that don't use lightsabers but vibroswords/electrostaffs and Bard like Dancers which pack pistol heat like Leia and can provide Bard like group skills..

Thu Jan 19 2012 7:15AM Report
Mors.Magne writes:

I am sure the cause for these balencing issues is that the decision makers at BioWare don't PvP.


This does not bode well for the future of SWTOR. BioWare should promote keen PvPers to guide PvP decisions.

Thu Jan 19 2012 7:44AM Report
Shadanwolf writes:

This article only covered part of the screw ups.

-Bioware allows "cross realming"(having characters of both realms on the same server).Which realm so you thing some players wil play.the strong one or the weak one....Duhhhh.

-Bioware allows communication between realms

-Bioware has ignored please since beta to develope a persistent world 24/7  world class rvr system (a la DAOC) and they chose not to.

Thu Jan 19 2012 8:07AM Report
MMartian writes:

"I can only hope it doesn't take BioWare as long as it did with WAR to improve the open world PvP in Star Wars: The Old Republic."

Unfortunately unless all PvP zones are a clone of what WAR has it will take time and to be honest it will be an ongoing adjustement as people change what they are doing.

Also remember before the patch PvP tried to raise all the players to the same level and go unbanded for PvP. Now with the patch they are starting to put PvP level bands in place, something that WAR has.

It is good that they see that there is an issue. It may take a while to resove the problems based on what the players want to do and what rewards are offered. There is also the issue of PvP vs PvE rewards. It is not clear yet that there is enough of a seperation in the stats between both types of gameplay to keep those that have little to no interest in PvP from feeling forced to do it or PvPer from feeling that they have to raid to get something. Time will tell.

Thu Jan 19 2012 10:44AM Report
nyxium writes:

Better than a soap opera.

Thu Jan 19 2012 10:49AM Report
Laughing-man writes:

@ Shadanwolf 

#1.  Most games allow this

#2. They let you talk in /say to the other faction, it wouldn't make sense not to lore wise, but hey, I guess we can just screw lore to make you happy.

#3. Not sure what you even are saying here, again I see a lot of DAoC fans using terms wrong...  I played DAoC from launch up until a year after ToA came out, guess what?  RvR doesnt' apply in any other game other than DAoC.

A realm is not in SWTOR, or in any other game last I checked, if you are asking for a fronteer persistant PVP location, thats still not called RVR.

Thu Jan 19 2012 10:52AM Report
UnleadedRev writes:

Players are trying to cancel in "droves" but Bioware is using a gimmick to keep them subscribed.

The valor exploit ruins the game for all Republic Players who want to PvP.

Bioware refuses to do a rollback, thus entire guilds are jumping ship and/or re-rolling Sith.

Also, many are creating or using Sith alts to use until Bioware does a rollback or the cancel subscription button is fixed.


Thu Jan 19 2012 1:42PM Report
Elajeh writes:

yes yes, let's applaud EA/BW/LA for scramblin to fix something, that apparently no one gave any thought to. I swear, their meetings must be several people all throwing darts at and idea board, and the other half all jumping on a conclusions mat. I am sadened by this game due to having such high hopes. But you guys keep the faith! (sarcasm) quote Obi-Wan Kenobi - Revenge of the Sith "You were supposed to be the one!" <//3

Thu Jan 19 2012 5:02PM Report
Talin writes:

I'm a huge fan of the game, but the Open World PVP is just plain embarrassing. The way it worked at launch was laughable, and they made it worse; they should just remove it from the game altogether until they have a better solution.

Thu Jan 19 2012 5:29PM Report
Gel214th writes:


I really cannot sympathise with Bioware, as the developers of SWTOR, on this point.
How could no one in any meetings bring up the potential problem of the sides being imbalanced?
As for developers missing the mark, we need to ask ourselves "What is the Mark? " What are developers aiming for? 
In my opinion in the Subscription MMO Space the Developer is trying to maximise the return on their development costs. 
And that means extending the content that they have invested in for as long as possible to collect subscription fees from Users. Every extra 10 minutes, or hour that a user must spend to achieve a goal is more subscription fee.
If you add two..three months extra that's your goal.Keep them playing, churning that same content until you calculate you need to drop an expansion pack and add new content to keep them occupied further...and let them start churning some more. 
So it's MONEY. 
Not what the customer is what will this customer accept? 
For Developers I believe a major part of the thought process would involve: 
Can I have him kill the same creatures in the same area for a day to acheive X reward? Because that is awesome, I can then slow him down on that bit of content that cost me 300,000 to create. 
Now where else can I slow him down? Travel! If I calculate that the average player is going to spend 1/2 their playtime travelling...that extends my content. Will the player accept that? 
The notion of Raiding after hitting max level is an abhorrent and ridiculous one in my view, and some of the best content in these games are locked behind these massive multiplayer raids.Raids take a lot of time to put together, they take time to work through, and they are locked out to even further extend the time. 
And so it goes. 
That is what is behind these ridiculous MMO Gameplay concepts that exist only in the MMO space and can never work in any other type of game because players would reject it. The goal was to extend content, and reuse assets as much as possible over the levelling curve of the player to maximise profit. And that worked great for a while.
I think MMO Developers move from company to company because there are developed Formulas over the years that you can throw infront investors and Boards and say look we know this works, this is the ROI that we can expect for X expenditure on content. We already know how long we can string the player are the figures from these other MMOs. 
What's happening is those formulas are shifting. Players, no the market, isn't willing to sit at that spot killing X creatures for a day. And the formulas aren't quite working any more. 
Players want new experineces, they want the same successful game mechanics that they enjoy in their Single Player games (Can you imagine if Kingdoms of Amalur forced you to kill X creatures for a day before you could move on? Or Skyrim didn't have a Fast Travel option??) online. There is a new breed of player that wasn't brought up on Ultima, or Everquest that looks at these mechanics and says "Nuh uh...this isn't fun for me". 
Blizzard recognise this, and this is why they are making changes to World of Warcraft. The new WOW will have less timesinks and more action, more direct ways to get to what players consider fun without the timesink shenanigans. SWTOR is still stuck behind the curve with its model and how the developers go about maximising their profit and interpreting what the modern MMO player wants. The lack of respec on Advance Classes is another example of this. 
I'm looking forward to the new formulas that are more player centric that seem to be on the horizon.
Sat Jan 21 2012 4:03PM Report
Blindchance writes:

Learning from mistakes of other developers ? Haha you have high expectations. Most developers don't even learn from their own mistakes. It doesn't apply only to MMOs, a good example is DICE with their Battlefield series.

Mon Jan 23 2012 5:27PM Report
AutemOx writes:

@Elajah LOL...  jump to conclusions mat :D

Sat Jan 28 2012 11:52PM Report writes:
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