May 4, 2011

Posted by in Columns, Trivial Matters | 5 Comments

Trival Matters: One Size Does Not Fit All

Welcome to Trivial Matters, a regular column that delves into some of the more frivolous aspects of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and desperately tries to add weight to them. While in many cases the issues discussed here are brushed under the rug, to some, trivial does matter, and we would encourage you to weigh in on the discussion as well.


It was recently revealed in one of the best community Q&A sessions to date that players intending to play advanced classes capable of swapping various roles, such as healing, tanking, and/or DPS, will potentially need to collect multiple sets of gear to be effective. While this came as no surprise to most MMO veterans, especially those who’ve accumulated wardrobes Lady Gaga would be envious of, some players may find such a mechanic quite a hindrance.

I can haz lightsaberz?

I can haz lightsaberz?

The real issue in my mind comes down to gameplay evolution versus a profitable developer business model. Sure it’s nice to be able to brag to your fellow nerd cohorts that you have a full epic tanking set, healing set, DPS set, PvP set, cooking set, crocheting set, and valet parking set, but does ownership of such gear really add depth to the MMO experience? The legendary William “every man dies, but not every man lives” Wallace really laid it out for us a couple of weeks ago.

 

Q: Will both skill sets in a particular Advanced Class require the same set of stats, thereby enabling a Sawbones-spec Scoundrel to respec to a Scrapper-spec without having to carry a second Scrapper-specific set of gear to function at optimal capacity? – Finalcaliber
 
A: If changing skill distribution also involves a role change for the character (such as from damage focused to medic), chances are you will need to obtain a new set of equipment to go along with the change in gameplay experience. If no role change is involved (e.g. changing skills within the Gunslinger Advanced Class), you are likely able to reuse most if not all of your equipment.

I for one absolutely plan on playing an advanced class that can spec into multiple roles, because I know after DPSing for a year, I’m going to want to do something that actually matters. At this point, I know I’m going to need to accumulate an extra set of gear to do so, but is such an act really necessary? Has the genre not evolved beyond a “gotta catch ‘em all” mentality?

I guess there are a few things to look at here. Sure, we’ve been told that the developer’s intend for player’s to be able to recognize each other’s role on sight, and having specific equipment required for each role makes sense in that regard. I understand developer’s must keep subscription retention in mind, and the additional time sink of extra gear sets would provide player’s with yet another end game goal. Perhaps homogenizing classes into a “one stat meets all” gear requirement would take away from potential strategy and theory crafting opportunities that so many min/maxers get off on. But the question begs asking: Shouldn’t I have better things to do than seek out additional sets of gear?

I mean come on. We have eight classes to play through, with a supposed 200+ hours of gameplay a piece. Wouldn’t it be nice to grab a set of gear we could really get behind, no matter our selected role, and really delve into our alternate characters as opposed to hunting down those last few pieces of tanking gear our second or third sets are missing?

A few big names in the MMO industry have touched on mechanics that convert existing gear stats into those required for other roles, such as abilities within the class that convert WoW’s priest’s spirit into hit, or Rift’s cleric’s wisdom into attack power, but none have yet to go balls out regarding end game gear. It’s a touchy subject, because traditionally end or even mid game gear sets contain bonuses that go beyond simple stats, many times granting special role based powers such as specifically increasing the effectiveness of a character’s healing spells.

It’s probably true that a “one set meets all” gear design philosophy would water down both end game raiding sets, and those available from player’s who have focused on crafting professions, especially considering crafters may end up providing more than one set of gear to a player in TOR’s current state. But is there room in your closet, or for that matter in your clock, for multiple sets of gear?

  1. I understand the problem. I’m annoyed with having a bank full of gear sets as well. So I’d love to see some sort of ‘fix’ for this.
    The problem I see though is how are you going to fix it without eliminating diversity and customization?

    I like to be able to mix and match my equipment. Determine exactly how much of what stat I want. I also like a system in which there is not one best stat to go for when playing a specific class. Like wisdom beats all. So you stack as much of that as possible.

    Having said that. It means there has to be different viable stats for a class. On top of that, there should be different stat needs for different classes. Simply because otherwise I feel the game lacks the pretension of depth (if all classes need the same stats equally). You’d all be trying to get the same gear as all gear is good for all classes. There would just be too little differentiation.

    So with those requirements:
    – Different viable stats that do different things
    – Different classes/roles need different stats
    – Different classes/roles go for different items

    I don’t see an all too easy solution to the problem of having to carry different gear sets for different roles.

    Perhaps a possibility can be found in WoW’s new reforging system. Something similiar could be applied in SWTOR, but more far reaching. With reforging in WoW you can change secondary stats to a different secondary stat for a price.
    If you could change stats in SWTOR like that, to a equivalent stat required for a different role, you could change your gear depending on role. Of course, for a price.

    Though personally, I’m not much against the need to obtain different gear, i’m mostly against the need to carry or store all these different sets on your character.
    If they could at least give us a UI in which we can simply store 3-4 different sets of gear without taking up inventory or bank space I think that alone would go a long way.
    Think of Diablo which had 2 tabs for weapons which you could switch between.
    SWTOR could have 3 tabs for gear which you can switch out of combat. You equip each tab as you would normally and when you switch to the next tab, that’s all you need to do.
    The gear won’t take up any valuable space and it’s easy to use your different gear sets.

    Another problem is PvP/PvE gear division. I’d personally also wouldn’t mind a way in which you don’t need to divide PvE and PvP sets. On the other hand, I do wish to protect the PvP and PvE divide as well. Gear is sort of a merit, a reward for accomplishing a certain challenge. Which also shows you were good enough to accomplish said challenge.
    PvP and PvE each require different skills to complete their respective challenges. It would annoy me to see a person who put effort into PvE come into PvP which his gear and have an edge over me in PvP even though he did not work to acquire that edge in PvP itself. Vice versa as well.

    Perhaps the best solution is a middle-ground. Where obtaining different sets of gear is still required, but fastened. So if you have a full set of Medic gear, you are somehow able to more easily obtain DPS gear as well. Or when you have a set of PvP gear, it is made easier to obtain PvE gear as well. (Easier = faster here).
    Say, instead of taking 100% of the time for PvE and 100% of the time for PvP, you take 100% of the time for PvE and then 50% of the time for your PvP set. And vice versa.

    This combined with the previous UI suggestion of easily managing and storing your different gear sets and I think a lot of the frustration and annoyance of different sets is removed while still maintaining some of the important game design aspects that come with it.

    • Renegade says:

      I would be pretty pissed if they would cut on the need of having multiple sets. This is part of a hard MMO labor! If you don’t want to get another set of armor, fine, nobody forces you. But if you want to respec and heal, then go get it so you make a difference for fuck’s sake.

    • Levikus says:

      I really like the reforging idea, perhaps at a high cost, maybe even crafting materials/skills being a requirement. That’s an interesting idea.

  2. This should be pretty easy in my mind. Each piece of gear that drops from an end game instance (or even boss at higher level Flashpoints) has a pull-down on it. The pull-down has three selections, DPS, Healing, Tanking. When you select whichever of the three choices the piece is customized to your role. Since they are not having dual speccing anyway at launch, this would be an easy way to get around the problem.

  3. Cromethus says:

    The issue is one of interest. You touch on a major point in the article: Most high end gear sets have bonuses that go beyond mere stats. It is important that gear have something more than just +10 agi when the old set had +8. There has to be weight to an upgrade. The easiest, and IMO best, way to do this is these special mechanics.

    These mechanics mean you need different gear sets for different roles. This is, in the end, unavoidable. Most raiding gear in current MMOs is currently focused on specializing your character in whatever particular aspect, to the exclusion of all else. This is how you can min/max without being completely overpowered. I don’t really see a way for BioWare to break this formula.

    What would be nice, though, is a smooth, fluid way for characters to manage gearsets. There have been a ton of attempts at this, but I don’t think that they right solution has quite been hit upon yet. Hopefully they’ll find it, or at least make a decent attempt to look for it.

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