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General Discussion  » SWTOR - A victim of escalation of commitment?

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  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  8/16/12 12:10:41 AM#1

First, a definition.  Escalation of commitment occurs when a group is working on a project, and at some point in the project it becomes clear that things aren't going well or maybe even the project's original direction is fundamentally flawed, but instead of stepping back and rethinking things, the group just throws more resources at the project in the hope that things will just "work out."  This may sound stupid, but it's a relatively common problem.  When a group has worked on a project for a long time and invested a lot of resources, sometimes it's tough to admit that mistakes were made early on and rethink things...it can be much easier in the short term to just try to "power through" your difficulties by escalating your commitment to the project.

Now onto SWTOR....

The more I look at SWTOR, the problems it's having, and the solutions that its devs are proposing...the more I think that it was a victim of escalation of commitment.  For example, myself, and many others brought up the concern that BW"s strategy of making "fully voiced" a flagship feature of the game was problematic in the long-term because it would make creating additional content very cost prohibitive...and in a subscription themepark MMORPG that lives and breathes on content additions...this is not a good thing.  And now we hear that (surprise surprise) SWTOR's additional content won't be fully voiced.

I really think that at some point during SWTOR's development, its management had to realize at least on some level that this was a big potential problem.  But instead of stepping back and rethinking things, they just threw more and more resources at the game and plowed forward.

The same can really be said for many of SWTOR's shortcomings such as the single player space combat, the gameplay that apes WoW just a bit too much, and the really half-assed open world PvP.  I really feel like at some point in the middle of the project, the devs probably realized that these ideas were all not as good as they seemed at the onset of the project, but basically just chose to plow forward with a flawed concept instead of stepping back and rethinking things.

In the end, I really think SWTOR would have been better off with a more iterative development process.  All of these systems and ideas should have been prototyped and thoroughly tested, with the knowledge that if it doesn't work, it will be scrapped.  And I think this is important...devs really need to be willing to scrap their ideas if they turn out to not work once you see them "in game."  But I feel like with SWTOR, the developer just plowed forward with their original ideas regardless of if they "worked" or not.

Thoughts?

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  ElSandman

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 94

8/16/12 12:23:52 AM#2

Good points. Totally agree.  I am just blown away that the developers did not see the rising importance of the space bar in playing, and therefore re-evaluated their "one trick".  People want to play the game, not be played by the game. 

Imagine what could have been if they had saved 70% of the cost of the voice-overs and spent that on game systems to truely make a Star Wars universe instead of a reskinned Wow (minus).

  Msenge

Novice Member

Joined: 1/05/12
Posts: 90

8/16/12 12:28:58 AM#3
Originally posted by Creslin321

First, a definition.  Escalation of commitment occurs when a group is working on a project, and at some point in the project it becomes clear that things aren't going well or maybe even the project's original direction is fundamentally flawed, but instead of stepping back and rethinking things, the group just throws more resources at the project in the hope that things will just "work out."  This may sound stupid, but it's a relatively common problem.  When a group has worked on a project for a long time and invested a lot of resources, sometimes it's tough to admit that mistakes were made early on and rethink things...it can be much easier in the short term to just try to "power through" your difficulties by escalating your commitment to the project.

Now onto SWTOR....

The more I look at SWTOR, the problems it's having, and the solutions that its devs are proposing...the more I think that it was a victim of escalation of commitment.  For example, myself, and many others brought up the concern that BW"s strategy of making "fully voiced" a flagship feature of the game was problematic in the long-term because it would make creating additional content very cost prohibitive...and in a subscription themepark MMORPG that lives and breathes on content additions...this is not a good thing.  And now we hear that (surprise surprise) SWTOR's additional content won't be fully voiced.

I really think that at some point during SWTOR's development, its management had to realize at least on some level that this was a big potential problem.  But instead of stepping back and rethinking things, they just threw more and more resources at the game and plowed forward.

The same can really be said for many of SWTOR's shortcomings such as the single player space combat, the gameplay that apes WoW just a bit too much, and the really half-assed open world PvP.  I really feel like at some point in the middle of the project, the devs probably realized that these ideas were all not as good as they seemed at the onset of the project, but basically just chose to plow forward with a flawed concept instead of stepping back and rethinking things.

In the end, I really think SWTOR would have been better off with a more iterative development process.  All of these systems and ideas should have been prototyped and thoroughly tested, with the knowledge that if it doesn't work, it will be scrapped.  And I think this is important...devs really need to be willing to scrap their ideas if they turn out to not work once you see them "in game."  But I feel like with SWTOR, the developer just plowed forward with their original ideas regardless of if they "worked" or not.

Thoughts?

While I can see where you're coming from with this, I just don't think Bioware had the server/game engine structure that would allow them to be iterative in a quick cost-effective manner.

  Arawnite

Novice Member

Joined: 11/09/04
Posts: 162

8/16/12 12:40:48 AM#4
Originally posted by Creslin321

First, a definition.  Escalation of commitment occurs when a group is working on a project, and at some point in the project it becomes clear that things aren't going well or maybe even the project's original direction is fundamentally flawed, but instead of stepping back and rethinking things, the group just throws more resources at the project in the hope that things will just "work out."  This may sound stupid, but it's a relatively common problem.  When a group has worked on a project for a long time and invested a lot of resources, sometimes it's tough to admit that mistakes were made early on and rethink things...it can be much easier in the short term to just try to "power through" your difficulties by escalating your commitment to the project.

Now onto SWTOR....

The more I look at SWTOR, the problems it's having, and the solutions that its devs are proposing...the more I think that it was a victim of escalation of commitment.  For example, myself, and many others brought up the concern that BW"s strategy of making "fully voiced" a flagship feature of the game was problematic in the long-term because it would make creating additional content very cost prohibitive...and in a subscription themepark MMORPG that lives and breathes on content additions...this is not a good thing.  And now we hear that (surprise surprise) SWTOR's additional content won't be fully voiced.

I really think that at some point during SWTOR's development, its management had to realize at least on some level that this was a big potential problem.  But instead of stepping back and rethinking things, they just threw more and more resources at the game and plowed forward.

The same can really be said for many of SWTOR's shortcomings such as the single player space combat, the gameplay that apes WoW just a bit too much, and the really half-assed open world PvP.  I really feel like at some point in the middle of the project, the devs probably realized that these ideas were all not as good as they seemed at the onset of the project, but basically just chose to plow forward with a flawed concept instead of stepping back and rethinking things.

In the end, I really think SWTOR would have been better off with a more iterative development process.  All of these systems and ideas should have been prototyped and thoroughly tested, with the knowledge that if it doesn't work, it will be scrapped.  And I think this is important...devs really need to be willing to scrap their ideas if they turn out to not work once you see them "in game."  But I feel like with SWTOR, the developer just plowed forward with their original ideas regardless of if they "worked" or not.

Thoughts?

Totally agree. Voice was never a big draw for me, of course I got into MMO's very early after being into MUD's, so I can easily have fun with none in a game. Too many gamers nowadays are so obsessed with the eye candy and gimmicky features, when they should be asking for deep gameplay and advanced AI. It's like we've stepped backwards in quality and very few seem to realize anymore how an MMO is supposed to play.

  rdrpappy

Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/04
Posts: 337

8/16/12 12:53:42 AM#5

I agree, I am a monster KOTOR fan and a violently retarded Star Wars fan, so ya, I'm a huge fan, and I got months of play out of the stories.

Having played out all of the stories, I wound up a victim of the almost over zelous focus on "story telling", albeit much later than the space bar comandos, I still after 6 months got there.

Then you are faced with the pvp mini games, raids or dailies, I like my pvp open world and not in mini game format. I like checking out the group content, who didn't like seeing Revans cheesey beard, but I dont like forming up and running them over and over for the chest piece of destruction every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

There in lies the problem with the escalation of commitment, they put all their proverbial eggs in one very heavily financed basket, now no one wants to keep paying for it.

I feel bad for the folks at Bioware Austin, because after seeing that interview the new GM, he is clearly focused on adding raids and more BG's because he can't continue by spending even more millions for voice acting and game-wide cinimatic cut scenes.

The cheap content aka cost effective, is just to do the BG's and Raids and maybe another space mission mini game, but that's the very thing killing off the hopes of ever growing out of this rutt they are in.

The endless list of gripes is almost trivial and petty compared to the very stark reality that the game they created is to expensive to maintane. They have no way to do anything but linger, they will scale back and do ok with 500 thousand active, but they will never get back to 2.5 million plus people, and several hundred servers with ques.

The big picture was what got missed by the development team, people got fired because other people lost several hundred million dollars, not because it was time to move on to greener pastures. YOU CAN NOT MAKE AN MMORPG WITH AN ENDING.

  william0532

Novice Member

Joined: 7/16/11
Posts: 240

8/16/12 2:15:02 AM#6

I disagree. First off, your idea is flawed in my opinion because all the way till launch the developers where very confident that story and voice would be unique and would be so great that they would have time to add the staples of mmo gameplay in at a later date(i.e worthwhile minigames, good space, world pvp, shifting objectives, dynamic events, customization, guild functions and on and on).

 

I don't think at any point pre launch Daniel Erickson was ever saying "man, we may be screwed". I really believe they believed in their innovation to the very end. So instead of escalation of commitment, I think it was more a case of self deception lol(like when you make a decision, and then you see your decision is not going to work, but somehow you convince yourself you where right all along until you fail)

 

In fact, I did it the other day. I loaned my ladder out, and didn't know my brother brought it back, so when my old lady told me the lights in the garage where dead, I grabbed paint buckets from the side of the house to stack up and stand on lol. When my old lady said I was going to fall and that I should use the ladder(that was back lol), I told her I was fine, and to go cook me some dinner(I didn't really say that, as I'm housebroke), but I was already convinced my plan to stack 5, 5 gallon paint cans on eachother would be stable. I'm not going to finish the story, as obviously I was effing dumb.

 

I think bioware was truly shocked when 3 months in, everyone was wondering where the other three pillars where at, and why so much emphasis was put on their "fourth pillar, story"

 

Just my opinion, I guess we won't know, until 10 years down the road and we get an interview from one of the head developers where they can be open about all of it.

  Ahnog

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/18/05
Posts: 230

8/16/12 2:19:45 AM#7
I would agree if it weren't for two points. First, I don't see a problem in the basics of the game, and second they are reducing resourses not increasing them (people laid off).

Ahnog

Hokey religions are no replacement for a good blaster at your side.

http://www.ahnog.us

  User Deleted
8/16/12 2:27:28 AM#8

Good points. I too think the fully voiced everything made this game impossible to keep fresh. It took them so much money and so much time to deliver this type of questing experience in an mmo. Then they tell us that they are going to keep all the staff after launch and deliver this same level of content every six weeks. As much as I wanted to believe them, deep down I knew this was an unrealistic goal.

Its a shame. The questing in this game is very well done. But at the expense of sacrificing other crucial game systems and trying to maintain an impossible content delivery schedule. I don't think ultimately it was worth the effort.

Maybe f2p will save the day. At least if its viewed as a f2p lobby game, the expectations may come in line with the product.

  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

8/16/12 2:38:10 AM#9
I think SWTOR was definitely a victim of escslation. I think even Bioware recognized this which is why they abandoned the "Gray" side points from the conversation wheel. I think towards the end of the development cycle, EA preassure caused more and more of the project to be abandoned. Whether it was better to continue funding the incredibly expensive project to release as originally intended or to end the enormous drain of developmental costs and release the project as it was at x-mas 2011 is another debate.
  Gormok

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/22/10
Posts: 396

8/16/12 2:39:05 AM#10
For me the problem was that the stories ended. After the class stories and world arcs ended, the focus shifted to grinding raids, dailies, FPs, and WZs. Each content update added more FPs,OPs,WZs, and dailies, but no new story content over the 8 month period. The game also did not have a KoTOR/Star Wars feel to it and that could be seen with the terrible mid to endgame outfits. Jedi in dresses and smugglers looking like space cowboys, not to mention Sith Warriors looking like the freaking terminator. Somehow all the Star Wars research they did, did not go into making this game. Once the stories ended and it turned into a gear treadmill like WoW and Rift, my sub ended as well. Grinding the same dailies, FPs, OPs, and WZs everyday is not my idea of fun. I wonder what ever happened to "we have story content already developed post release for years to come" (D. Erickerson).
  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

8/16/12 2:41:29 AM#11
Of course the initial descion to use the vapourware of the Alpha Hero engine had a huge impact on the slow developmet of SWTOR and probably both pushed the game into an escalation crisis and forced many changes in the original game design which were unforseen on desired.
  Gdemami

Elite Member

Joined: 9/23/08
Posts: 6980

8/16/12 2:53:52 AM#12

 


Originally posted by Creslin321

For example, myself, and many others brought up the concern that BW"s strategy of making "fully voiced" a flagship feature of the game was problematic in the long-term because it would make creating additional content very cost prohibitive...

 

Oh really? Do you even have an idea how much the voice-overs actually cost?


[mod edit]

  User Deleted
8/16/12 3:32:42 AM#13
[mod edit] Bioware made the game they actually wanted to make for us to play with what they had. It is what they thought would be a good game. Take it or leave it but don't try to excuse them. 
  Gdemami

Elite Member

Joined: 9/23/08
Posts: 6980

8/16/12 3:49:15 AM#14

meh, not worthy...

  minime2

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/06/07
Posts: 116

8/16/12 3:55:46 AM#15
The worst part of the failure is a lot of us have waited a long time for a new starwars game . And now we have to wait all over again and it wont be anytime soon .
  minime2

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/06/07
Posts: 116

8/16/12 3:58:35 AM#16
Originally posted by Gdemami

 


Originally posted by Crazy_Stick

OP, accusing the Bioware team of being a bunch of democrats throwing money at a problem rather than crafting a solution is rather unfair. The elections are still a ways away... Bioware made the game they actually wanted to make for us to play with what they had. It is what they thought would be a good game. Take it or leave it but don't try to excuse them. 

 

It is the: "They did not make the game I wanted therefore they are a bunch of incompetent imbeciles" mentality - ignorant, clueless, stupid.

 

No it's not the fact is they made a horrible attempt at a mmo and 90% agree ,  unless you got another reason why most players left . ?

  ZombieKen

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/10
Posts: 4410

Zombie - Dead but still moving.

8/16/12 3:59:48 AM#17

It sounds to me like a management failure of bringing all the parts together into a final package that met the design goals.  That might fit with the OPs premise, or possibly it was just fumbled late in the game, too late to be saved before release.

 

I have doubts that the technology framework was up to speed.  Zone capacities of hundreds of players seems extremely low.  Even Indies can match that.

 

edit: kant spel

MSOTSG with PPE : Massively Single-player Online Task-driven Storyline Game with Purchasable Performance Enhancements *grin*

  thexrated

Novice Member

Joined: 11/26/04
Posts: 1379

8/16/12 4:01:19 AM#18

I really like fully voiced game. This was never the problem in my opinion. Voice adds a lot to the immersion. However, the problem was how it was implemented:

Too many side quests had very long and rather dull cut scenes. If I had been designing the quests, I would have kept the interactive cut scenes for the main quests, the class quests, and perhaps for some key events on the planets you visit. However, I would have used short voice overs without cut scenes for most of the side quests. This would mean that you get an unique, short voice message from NPCs handing out these quests, you would get a simple popup on your screen while listening that would allow you to accept or decline the quest. This works very well in many games.

I also would have implement a sort of Galactic Mission terminal, that would give you an endless supply of randomly generated side quests without any need for voice overs or cut scenes, these could have been very similar to the ones you can send your companions off to and reward you with resources, recipes, alignment and XP. 

The thing I did not like was how similar the planets were. They all followed exactly the same formula where you had the main quest chain for the planet, your class quests and a number of side quests. You followed the path littered with quest hubs until you got to the end...only to be offered another boring series of bonus quests. The structure how these planets and zones were build felt artificial, set pieces and why so many also complained that the game world felt lifeless. There were very few things in the planets that did not have a predefined purpose.

 

 

"The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in."

  NeVeRLiFt

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/21/08
Posts: 377

8/16/12 4:06:08 AM#19

Sorry but SW:TOR just did not feel like an mmo for me.

I was way to linear with nothing to do beside the story/quests.... the game world was to instanced and did not feel like an online world to play in.

The fact they gave you nothing to do in the game beside the quests/chase the carrot for gear/pvp on a few maps just killed it.

 

If SW:TOR had just some form of this it would not be dying now and in such poor shape.

  • An open world, not a collection of small maps
  • A non-instanced game world, no private instances for story mode or private dungeons (zones are okay if technically needed)
  • Gameplay features other than combat activities, for example: fishing, harvesting, prospecting, crafting, diplomacy, music, trading
  • Character progression or development outside of combat (see above examples)
  • Open-ended gameplay, no "game starts at level 50" game design
  • Player-driven in-game economy, not a loot-driven economy, no bind-on-equip or bind-on acquire items
  • Character development that can be customised via skills and/or customisations of class roles, not a class system where every level 50 warrior has the exact same skills and attributes
  • Non-linear character development where characters are not limited to developer-defined roles, for example: free skill trees or multi-classing of characters
  • In-depth crafting system. A crafting system is considered in-depth if the majority of items in the game is player-made and when crafted items can be at least as good as dropped items
  • In-depth resource system. A resource system is considered in-depth if items can be made from raw resources that influence the resulting item (either it's stats or it's appearance is okay)
  • Persistent game world. A game where the world (or parts of the world) reset to a known state in regular intervals is not persistent
  • Player's ability to change aspects of the game world, either by being able to modify the physical game world or by being able to take ownership of structures in the game world
  • Some form of customizable player housing/building

Played: MCO - EQ/EQ2 - WoW - VG - WAR - AoC - LoTRO - DDO - GW - Eve - Rift - FE - TSW
Playing: Sims 3, TSW & LoTRO
Waiting on: Everquest Next, ArcheAge, Wildstar & WoD!
Who's going to make a Cyberpunk MMO?

  Gdemami

Elite Member

Joined: 9/23/08
Posts: 6980

8/16/12 4:07:39 AM#20


Originally posted by minime2

No it's not the fact is they made a horrible attempt at a mmo and 90% agree ,  unless you got another reason why most players left . ?

Because it is just normal and result of market competition that all games released in recent years have high release numbers that diminish over time? And because you would unlikely find a game with +50% retention rate?


Thanks for proving my point but it is really not worthy....

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