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Star Wars: The Old Republic Forum » General Discussion » GDC - James Ohlen - Voiceovers didn't drive the cost up, it was getting the engine to work right that drove costs (through the roof)

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205 posts found
  Elikal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/09/06
Posts: 8067

“No path is darker then when your eyes are shut.” -Flemeth

4/11/13 3:01:24 AM#161
Originally posted by LogicLester
Originally posted by Elikal

And this is what I NEVER will understand, WHY ON EARTH SWTOR did NOT learn anything from SWG, and failed to add ANY sort of sandbox elements to keep people busy?! I don't get it. These sandbox elements were so popular in games like SWG or Ultima Online. People LOVED them. Can you imagine how cool SWTOR would have been with the present level of story PLUS sandbox elements? It would have been a killer game! And THAT is what MMOs need to do, they need to embrace the sandbox elements again! Give people stuff to do, player cities to build, full crafting economies to supply and weird non combat stuff like entertainers, musicians asf. to keep players busy beyond the quests and stories!

We few said so ALL ALONG. So we can only hope, TESO will be the last "classic" MMO as the pure themeparks are, because the future is sandbox-themeparks hybrids, and nothing else.

 

SWTOR learned a lot from SWG.  Hence they went with the "themepark" style gameplay of WoW.  Sandbox is still fringe at best, to make it more popular now would require a Heculean amount of coding to get those elements to form a more cohesive game that a majority of gamers would enjoy.  Which is why you see so very few AAA sandbox titles, and the few you do see incorporate lots of linear elements for mass market appeal.

 

And you have to be a bit of a revisionist to look at SWG and see anything other than a flop.  Sales?  SWG is a pipsqueak compared to SWTOR and it was never a serious competitor to its contemporaries, also like SWTOR.  Popularity?  Again, SWG is tiny and was an also-ran back in the day like SWTOR is now.  Innovation?  Well I'd say it's got SWTOR beat here, but not by much, the main difference being SWTOR copied WoW, while SWG copied UO.

 

I realize it's hard to tell when you're wearing those rose-colored glasses sometimes but come on.  I expect that when the next Star Wars MMO releases people will cry out, "How could you not learn anything from how awesome SWTOR was?!"

You didn't even read what I wrote, like so many sandbox haters.

This isn't about recreating SWG or stepping back to pure sandboxes. This is about adding sandbox additionally to themeparks quests, because themeparks MMOs are *evidently* at their end!

A forum is a place where people can discuss about different opinions. So what I don't get is, how people react offended when they come to a forum and then find... well different opinions. If a different opinion offends you, what are you even doing here?

  tiefighter25

Novice Member

Joined: 7/30/12
Posts: 949

4/11/13 3:11:27 AM#162
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by aRtFuLThinG
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by aRtFuLThinG

Bioware probably should've developed their own engine. Might have been better off (or better yet, even make money from selling the engine to others).

Making an engine for your own game and making an engine to license to others are two different animals.  If you make an engine for your own game, then you say, I don't need this capability for my particular game, so I don't need to implement it in the engine at all.  Adding more than that is just bloat that makes it harder to follow what your engine does and may harm performance.  But if your game engine only has the capabilities that your particular game needs and nothing more, then no one is going to want to license it, as other engines will have a lot more of the capabilities that they need.

 I did say "better yet", meaning the engine sales part is optional.

I know you like to defend that fact that Bioware had it hard with Hero engine, but that doesn't change the fact that they did made a wrong decision. Even, as the OP's article says, they freely admitted that.

I wouldn't read that so much as EA saying "we goofed up" as "it's not our fault; it's the fault of the Hero Engine".  If the problem is that SWTOR has a bad game engine, then at a bare minimum, EA bears the bulk of the blame, and it's only a question of why.  Even if Hero Engine were astonishingly terrible, when you have full access to change it in any way you want, it's possible to modify it into a very good game engine--albeit one that doesn't much resemble what you started with.

It could be as simple as that they weren't able to retain any employee who is good at creating and/or modifying a graphics engine for the duration of the game's development.  If so, then that will create a ton of problems for you no matter what engine you try to use, whether you make your own or license and modify another.  That can easily happen if your crack engine developer leaves the project at some point, or if someone you thought would be good at it simply wasn't.  Or it can happen if management simply doesn't allow a very good employee to take the time that is necessary to do things right.

You finally hit the multi-million "WTF?" question.

Why did Bioware chose a prototype engine that was untested?

Why did Bioware spend 5+ yeasrs of early development tinkering with it (with according to them 300 people working on the engine), immplying other aspects of the game's development were suffering.

Why did EA allow itself to fund such an apparent misdirection, and then demand the product launch before it was close to ready?

 

Speculation: When Bioware landed the LA license (prior to the EA acquisition) they were finacially strethed. They now had SWTOR, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect in deelopment simultaneously. That's a lot of operating capital for a smaller sized studio. They tried to think "outside" the box, and circumvent a large initial investment in licesnsing a proven engine or building one from the ground up; a gamble that backfired.

Why did Bioware continue throwing good money after bad? It happens a lot. It's not easy to say you were wrong, and throw out years worth of work even if it is the right thing to do.

Why did EA allow Bioware to veer off course? EA tried to change their stripes. They had a reputation of man hadling their studios which lead to mediocre results, especially in the MMO field. They tried to leave Bioware to make their own descions, to a point.

Why did EA step in and release the game before it was ready? They got fed up with Bioware. After 5 years of development (and millions of dollares) they said enough is enough, you have 6 years, not 7. (For that matter they also reduced the development times of DA2 and ME3). EA was also aware/wary of WoW's MoP (and D3) and Areannet's GW2 release dates.

Even now, EA has done its usual, and reduced DA3's development time to release nearly a year ahead of the original schedeule so as not to compete with The Witcher 3.

Sidenote to Quiz: I don't understand why you are belabouring the point that building and modifying engines is hard. I think most people know that. That said, if a space agency keeps blowing up its rockets, they can't just say, "Well rocket science is hard." That's why there are well paid rocket scientists.

When you factor in EA's purchase of Bioware and SWTOR's development and marketing, you enter the billion dollar realm of investment. You don't get to say "Game engines are tricky things." Especially when antecdotally, your main competitor and "touchstone" game, WoW, was built on an in-house modified WC3 engine by less people for less money in less time with better results. (Blizzard was also a first time MMO maker.)

  ktanner3

Master

Joined: 3/19/06
Posts: 4146

Trolls will be ignored

4/11/13 10:28:21 AM#163
Originally posted by LogicLester
Originally posted by Elikal

And this is what I NEVER will understand, WHY ON EARTH SWTOR did NOT learn anything from SWG, and failed to add ANY sort of sandbox elements to keep people busy?! I don't get it. These sandbox elements were so popular in games like SWG or Ultima Online. People LOVED them. Can you imagine how cool SWTOR would have been with the present level of story PLUS sandbox elements? It would have been a killer game! And THAT is what MMOs need to do, they need to embrace the sandbox elements again! Give people stuff to do, player cities to build, full crafting economies to supply and weird non combat stuff like entertainers, musicians asf. to keep players busy beyond the quests and stories!

We few said so ALL ALONG. So we can only hope, TESO will be the last "classic" MMO as the pure themeparks are, because the future is sandbox-themeparks hybrids, and nothing else.

 

SWTOR learned a lot from SWG.  Hence they went with the "themepark" style gameplay of WoW.  Sandbox is still fringe at best, to make it more popular now would require a Heculean amount of coding to get those elements to form a more cohesive game that a majority of gamers would enjoy.  Which is why you see so very few AAA sandbox titles, and the few you do see incorporate lots of linear elements for mass market appeal.

 

And you have to be a bit of a revisionist to look at SWG and see anything other than a flop.  Sales?  SWG is a pipsqueak compared to SWTOR and it was never a serious competitor to its contemporaries, also like SWTOR.  Popularity?  Again, SWG is tiny and was an also-ran back in the day like SWTOR is now.  Innovation?  Well I'd say it's got SWTOR beat here, but not by much, the main difference being SWTOR copied WoW, while SWG copied UO.

 

I realize it's hard to tell when you're wearing those rose-colored glasses sometimes but come on.  I expect that when the next Star Wars MMO releases people will cry out, "How could you not learn anything from how awesome SWTOR was?!"

While I agree that there is a lot of rose colored glasses around here regarding SWG,(particuliary the NGE fanatics) I do think it's a bad idea to write that game completely off and ignore what parts it got right in it's original design.  I'd love to play another MMO with a real player economy like Vanilla  SWG had along with a skill system similiar but maybe just a bit condensed. 

Currently Playing: Star Wars The Old Republic

  LogicLester

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/13
Posts: 67

4/11/13 10:39:26 AM#164
Originally posted by Elikal

You didn't even read what I wrote, like so many sandbox haters.

This isn't about recreating SWG or stepping back to pure sandboxes. This is about adding sandbox additionally to themeparks quests, because themeparks MMOs are *evidently* at their end!

 

No, I read it, I even reread it just to be sure.

 

You think "themepark" MMOs are dying (*Clearly not true) and will kill the genre in general (Also *clearly not true) unless developers start putting more sandbox elements in them.  And you think SWTOR would somehow have been saved if they'd done that (I highly doubt it, the idea that they could have implemented good sandbox elements when they had such a hard time with themepark ones is pretty ridiculous).

 

What I'm saying is that the reason developers don't do that is because of how difficult sandbox elements are to implement well, and even the games which do them well rarely get mass market appeal.  So what is the incentive for them to try mixing both elements?

 

This isn't a situation where one side likes chocolate and the other likes peanut butter, two great tastes that taste great together by the way.  This is more of a situation where one side likes chocolate and the other likes spinach souffle.  Even if you could somehow convince someone they go together well they aren't likely to want to go to all the trouble of making a souffle when they already have chocolate, or risk ruining the souffle they worked so hard to prepare with a bunch of chocolate.

 

Especially when the main example you're giving is SWG.  Use an at least somewhat successful sandbox game, the various Sim games, Dungeon Keeper, Fable, Populous, Minecraft, UO (Yes, I know you mentioned it but you focused on SWG), Eve, or even Second Life (Also known as that thing that requires a question mark at the end of any attempt to classify its genre, MMO?, social game?, freaky "adult" sim?).

 

 

*WoW is still by the far the largest MMO with nearly all current and near future MMOs attempting to copy it in part or whole, and it still has exceedingly few things one could call sandbox elements.  Unless you want to call minigames a sandbox element, but then I'd actually agree with you.

  LogicLester

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/13
Posts: 67

4/11/13 10:54:45 AM#165
Originally posted by ktanner3

While I agree that there is a lot of rose colored glasses around here regarding SWG,(particuliary the NGE fanatics) I do think it's a bad idea to write that game completely off and ignore what parts it got right in it's original design.  I'd love to play another MMO with a real player economy like Vanilla  SWG had along with a skill system similiar but maybe just a bit condensed. 

 

Oh don't get me wrong, there were things I really liked about SWG, heck there are things I really like about SWTOR.  I don't believe either game should be completely written off.  But they also shouldn't be used as broad examples for future games, there are far too many connotations of failure tied with both of them.  Better to cherry pick out the desired features as examples, like you did at the end there.

 

Originally posted by ignore_me

lol youre making a joke right?

I'm guessing you mean the bit I wrote at the end, in which case sadly, no I'm not.  If people can now seemingly point to SWG as the glowing diamond at the pinnacle of an ivory spire of sandbox MMOs, then why can't they point to SWTOR as the peak of themepark MMOness in about 4-5 years?

If you mean because I deny that SWG was in fact the savior of all MMO kind, and it died for SWTOR's sins, then.....uh....sure, let's say I was joking.

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

4/11/13 11:07:44 AM#166
Originally posted by LogicLester
Originally posted by ktanner3

While I agree that there is a lot of rose colored glasses around here regarding SWG,(particuliary the NGE fanatics) I do think it's a bad idea to write that game completely off and ignore what parts it got right in it's original design.  I'd love to play another MMO with a real player economy like Vanilla  SWG had along with a skill system similiar but maybe just a bit condensed. 

 

Oh don't get me wrong, there were things I really liked about SWG, heck there are things I really like about SWTOR.  I don't believe either game should be completely written off.  But they also shouldn't be used as broad examples for future games, there are far too many connotations of failure tied with both of them.  Better to cherry pick out the desired features as examples, like you did at the end there.

 

Originally posted by ignore_me

lol youre making a joke right?

I'm guessing you mean the bit I wrote at the end, in which case sadly, no I'm not.  If people can now seemingly point to SWG as the glowing diamond at the pinnacle of an ivory spire of sandbox MMOs, then why can't they point to SWTOR as the peak of themepark MMOness in about 4-5 years?

If you mean because I deny that SWG was in fact the savior of all MMO kind, and it died for SWTOR's sins, then.....uh....sure, let's say I was joking.

SWG has definately become the ex-girlfriend we remember fondly but forgot why we broke up with. I did get on there recently though and even with it's ancient graphics it still brings Star Wars to the table about 10 times better than SWTOR does. It's absolutley unplayable nowadays, but by completely avoiding the design elements that were good in SWG (realistic art style, movie-accurate art style, a more live and explorable world, 3d space sim) SWTOR became like one Star Wars scene that you have to watch over and over versus having full movies at your disposal.

SWTOR is all about rinse and repeat.

-Combat is your only activity.

-You have no individuality as everyone is the main hero (or villain) of the universe with a pet twi'lek just like yours.

-Every Dungoen/Raid is a WoW fight with a giant boss.

-Your character is essentially a transient, as there is no 'base/home' for your toon. This is a simple comfort hearkening back to when man decided to become agrarian and stop chaing the herds. If nothing else you can keep your shit somewhere.

-The cutscenes become tiresome fast, like garlic salt poured heavily on every dish you eat.

-Dailies are your post 50 non-group job. Repeated story quests (I retrieved the nautolan's medicine every day and brought it to his shuttle, how lame).

-Characters are static mirrors of other faction, you will play through same abilities.

-Alts are original end game, repeat starter and level world stories.

-Space missions are repackaged from lower levels, same map, same paths

etc.

It's really just negligent game design.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  CatAtomic99

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/08
Posts: 38

5/04/13 11:34:25 AM#167

"The data we were getting through in-game metrics and exit surveys was telling us that people were going through the content much faster than we were expecting."

The incompetence of Bioware's management and game designers really blew me away. It seems like they were so cocksure that they just went into the whole thing with a 'f___ you, we're Bioware, and we'll do it our way and you'll love it, you don't know what you want' attitude.

Did any of them even play other MMOs or take note of how people tend to play them? I mean, rapid consuming of content has been one of those givens since... Jesus, for at least 10 years. I remember it was sort of expected even when DAoC had it's first expansion. The Anarchy Online devs talked about it on several occasion in reference to the challenges of incorporating an ongoing story with an MMO. You just can't keep up.

This is why I knew they were going to fail hard when I saw SWToR's first preview vids and heard them talking about "story". Story is fine, but it can't be your main draw, because no one could possibly churn it out fast enough. It's like trying to lay track ahead of a train that's already moving.

  simplius

Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 979

5/05/13 1:00:44 AM#168

i dont think they overestimated their content

i think they underestimated the power players

and yes,,a 5 min cutscene wont keep a player for long

a big, and exciting world would have better chances

hacking my way through a mob infested corridor gets old really fast

  hercules

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/21/03
Posts: 4793

5/05/13 1:08:49 PM#169

And still the engine does not work properly.

i think this is really the source of bio ware problem and its sad that games made for much less developed their own engine to suit their games in same time frame and yet bio ware could not.

i pointed this out in the first month and said it was a game breaker  for bio ware and quickly got my posts deleted both here and on official forum and even got a warning here for trolling which was bizzare.

bottom line the engine which is the heart of the game was a big fail.what sort of mmorpg  can it be if more then 40 people on a spot in ilium meant  crash or slide show.

the heart is bad  and thus the game suffers.warning to all future mmorpg there is a reason most mmo either make their own engine or Heavily mod a tried and tested one

this is the poll i kept up back in jan 2012 about it even then most agreed that the engine was a fail

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/367/view/forums/thread/338987/page/1

  simplius

Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 979

5/05/13 10:44:23 PM#170

yea, they took a shortcut with the engine

the ONE part, that the whole game is build on, and they wanted to save some $$

if it had worked out, they would have made a fortune

but it didnt,,most of the dev team got fired

even the big suit himself lost his job

and a lot of fans are still waiting for a star wars mmo

next time,,use TWO of the big studios

clearly, one studio cant make a game, that is EPIC enough, to have the name

  LoverNoFighter

Novice Member

Joined: 9/05/12
Posts: 334

SWG pre cu > all

5/06/13 7:31:27 AM#171
Originally posted by simplius

so,,when the patient dies, because the doctor tried to do surgery with a thermometer,

we arrest the thermometer?

no, the very FIRST rule of any craftsman, is choosing the right tool for the job

specially on a big budget project like this

 

 Hahaha, great analogy.

  Dahkoht

Novice Member

Joined: 4/03/13
Posts: 289

5/06/13 7:35:54 AM#172

So wait , they are saying they got the engine to work ?

What patch did they do this ?

  Dauzqul

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/10/12
Posts: 1267

5/06/13 3:34:38 PM#173
Getting the engine to work right? Sounds like a coder problem. Get new coders? lol   I mean... seriously.
  simplius

Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 979

5/07/13 11:28:13 AM#174
Originally posted by Dauzqul
Getting the engine to work right? Sounds like a coder problem. Get new coders? lol   I mean... seriously.

coders cost money,,and GOOD coders prolly cost a lot of money

EA could pay them,,but they dont want to invest more in this game

swtor will survive, as it is now, or not

it has taken 3 years for STO to make their game stable, and they didnt waste the first year, by denying

their problems

STO barely survived that one, and their budget was more balanced , than swtor

  OG_Zorvan

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/31/12
Posts: 646

5/07/13 11:53:07 AM#175
Originally posted by simplius
Originally posted by Dauzqul
Getting the engine to work right? Sounds like a coder problem. Get new coders? lol   I mean... seriously.

coders cost money,,and GOOD coders prolly cost a lot of money

EA could pay them,,but they dont want to invest more in this game

swtor will survive, as it is now, or not

it has taken 3 years for STO to make their game stable, and they didnt waste the first year, by denying

their problems

STO barely survived that one, and their budget was more balanced , than swtor

Then maybe, just maybe, when EA goes to an engine developer and says "We want to use your engine." and the engine developer says "This engine isn't even out of alpha yet, you really don't want it.", EA will say "Okay, we'll find something else." instead of "It doesn't matter, we can finish the engine ourselves.".

http://www.heroengine.com/2011/11/heroengine-meets-starwars/

EA CEO John Riccitiello's on future microtransactions: "When you are six hours into playing Battlefield and you run out of ammo in your clip, and we ask you for a dollar to reload, you're really not very price sensitive at that point in time...We're not gouging, but we're charging."

  simplius

Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 979

5/07/13 8:08:20 PM#176

that would be the optimal choice

and the kind of advice, i would expect from a professional

however,,if the king is a moron, his kingdom will suffer

 

  DSWBeef

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/11/09
Posts: 776

5/08/13 1:14:26 AM#177
Originally posted by simplius

so,,when the patient dies, because the doctor tried to do surgery with a thermometer,

we arrest the thermometer?

no, the very FIRST rule of any craftsman, is choosing the right tool for the job

specially on a big budget project like this

 

Ha I love this analogy. Spot on.

Playing: Archeage Alpha, World of Warcraft, and Diablo 3
Waiting on: Archeage, Everquest Next and The Black Desert

  Lord.Bachus

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/14/07
Posts: 8603

I believe in life before death... So dont forget to enjoy it while you still can.

5/08/13 1:03:41 PM#178
Originally posted by simplius

so,,when the patient dies, because the doctor tried to do surgery with a thermometer,

we arrest the thermometer?

no, the very FIRST rule of any craftsman, is choosing the right tool for the job

specially on a big budget project like this

 

Well, thats the problem... there arent any other tools available,,,

Sure there are tools, but then those are not really fit for the job either, like opening a tincan with a screwdriver it works, but you will spill some of the beans. 

So either you choose the wrong or the broken tool and try to fix it in such a way that it works, or you create your own tool.

Actually the problem wasnt choosing the right tool, but choosing the tool with the most possibilities. Which by then was obviously the Hero engine. Sadly during development it worked out the wrong way because the hero development team failed to bring what they promissed.

So far the only smart ting seems to create your own engine like blizzard and Arenanet did.

 

 

And you know whats the most foolish thing, companies never seem to learn, as TES might be doomed equally to TSW as Zenimax is using the HERO engine...

 

Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)

  simplius

Novice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 979

5/08/13 1:52:55 PM#179

yes, they should have created their own engine

i think its the only game of this scale, where the dev team didnt do that

AFAIK, even EVEs engine is house made

this decision was taken by incompetent people, or it was taken, because swtor was meant to be a short term

moneygrab,,maybe a combination of those two

now we have this awesome sports car,,but its powered by a modified lawnmower engine

it looks cool, but its slow as...

  Mothanos

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/20/10
Posts: 1856

5/08/13 2:00:34 PM#180

Ah blaming the engine now ?
Blame your developers who blew this game from start to finish.

Star wars IP was a World killer, and look what you have done with this IP...
I wow lookalike 10x worse...

They had the opertunity to create a universe that would have blown every fantasy mmo out of the water....

Space exploration
world exploration
Ground asssulths
Space combat
Massive raids
Good structered pvp

none of these goals where met....
just a simple wow copy and it dint even come close.....just hype and 2 months later 50% of the playerbase left as they coulnt even cast a simple spell...

This was a fuckup of epical proportions....and its the Developers who are at faulth.

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