Jan 6, 2012

Posted by in Blue Milk & Cereal | 16 Comments

Blue Milk & Cereal: Is TOR The Last Of Its Kind?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Developing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game is a complex task. There are all of the creative aspects to it, it’s a massive technical undertaking, a logistical Matterhorn to manage, and last but not least, it requires large investment in the form of human and monetary resources. There aren’t many publishers or developers who are willing – or even able to – take on that burden, float the cash and shoulder the risk.

Electronic Arts/BioWare, Activision/Blizzard, maybe Bungie and some others probably can afford to, but even they have to question the status-quo when it comes to development budgets and timelines for these games. Star Wars: The Old Republic was in development for about 6 years, give or take, with a rumored budget of over $100M. Everything from record albums, movies and skyscrapers all take less time to create. Part of the reason is because there are long-tested and improved processes for doing so.

In my opinion, the only practical way we’ll continue to see games of this scale is through development and advancement of core technology and tools to assist designers and developers adopt a more rapid development cycle. In other words, things that let them focus on creating the content rather than the technology, with a simplified pipeline.

The problem is, this set of tools and technology also has to keep up. BioWare used the HeroEngine in an attempt to avoid creating some of their technology completely from scratch, but ended up customizing it so much it’s but a shadow of it’s former self. Could a game as large as TOR rely on a third party company to advance their product? Can they trust them to even exist in the future? So even with available middleware, engines and other “starter kits” to help reduce the cost (possibly) and time (maybe) to make games, we’re still not there yet.

We wanted to get the collective thoughts of everyone in the AAJ Army… we’re suspecting many of you are MMO enthusiasts, not just TOR players, so you may have an opinion. Is TOR the last of it’s kind? What can be done for these games to keep coming? Is it even a good thing if they do?

Do you believe TOR is the last of it's kind?

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  1. I believe any MMO that comes out after TOR is bound to break from the formula. You need only to look at Tera and Guild Wars 2 to see combat and questing systems that are drastically beyond the MMO ‘norm’ of olde. And truly, for as many mainstay concepts as BW incorporated into TOR, they did take risks in many areas.

  2. Guild Wrs 2 will be a new kind of mmo, i think maybe the best, the wat they see the MMO es different fresh and more dynamic, im a fan of swtor but the game is more a Single player than a MMO

    • No offense intended, but if you see TOR as a single player game, then you’re doing it wrong. Nothing about it is single-player. It is certainly solo-friendly, but it is an MMO through and through. I’ve played it solo for about 30 minutes total, otherwise i’ve been grouped with others.

      • btowl1818 says:

        I’d say both of you are correct. There are quite a few aspects to TOR that make it feel like a single player RPG, mostly revolving around the class story and helped by companions, but most of the ancillary, side quests have been given an MMO flavor as well, in the form of heroic areas, dungeons/flashpoints and operations. While most mmos are solo-friendly, I think TOR is just a bit more friendly to that style of play.

        As an aside, Raz, my time in TOR has been largely opposite yours, up to lvl 28. I do group for flashpoints and the heroic (4) areas-haven’t skipped one yet-but typically do the heroic (2) areas solo.

        • I’d certainly agree that the game is solo-friendly, but nothing in it says “single-player game.” Friends can come into your story areas and help you/see what you do; there are numerous group areas for missions out in the world; many areas that open up Heroic 4 missions just by going into them; etc.

          They certainly designed the game to be playable in a wide range of styles by many different types of gamers. I just feel that calling TOR “more a single player than an MMO” completely misses so many elements of the game. Everything about it screams MMO.

          • I think that an MMO should be more focused in playing with other gamers, it should be the most important part of the game, even the class story should depend of other players. The flashpoints and the heroics are more like a bonus to play with friends, like play it multiplayer, the whole game should depend on teamwork and interaction, now it looks like a coop or the multiplayer.

            Also i would love to see dynamic events in the game as in GW2, thinks should change with your acts, or the acts of a group of people. The player should be special and not make u believe that is special.

  3. If TOR makes money it will not be the last. If TOR flops then it very well could be.

    But you are right the true next generation MMO will be build more like farmvill than TOR

  4. Not trolling here, but we need to keep in mind that Titan is not likely to be F2P. Until that project flops, we should continue to see the subscription model. It will just be on a much smaller number of games.

    • We know so very little about Titan that it’s hard to include that in any analysis of the MMO market. Until we get some info, at least the nature and style of the game, you can’t include it too much. It’s certainly too early to start predicting how it will be marketed. Considering Blizzard doing/testing out things like the real money AH in Diablo 3, they just might be looking at alternatives to subscription models…

    • Maybe f2p is the best option, i think that models like f2p or buy the game and play are enought. The subscription model is ambicious. Why other games can hold their servers without it and constantly increase the content. i hope the game gets better with the time. I think bioware is doing the best and im sure they are going to do it, i just want something more than a 8 year old model. things have changed

  5. If not the last, likely one of the last. The whole market is gradually changing to the point where spending this much upfront money to make a game this big and trying to sell it all at once will just be too expensive to pull off.

    Things will also change as other hardware gets powerful enough to make this type of game on something other then a PC realistic. When that happens the business models will also be under pressure because an iPad MMO won’t sell well if it’s got a huge upfront price, and no huge upfront box price by necessity means a slimmer game at launch with content charged for as it’s added on.

  6. majinzane says:

    I really hope that TOR isn’t the last of its kind. I would much rather pay 15, 20, even 30 dollars a month for a game that is good than get to play a game for free that isn’t finished. The only game that I think has pulled off the F2P model right is League of Legends.

  7. There are already a number of other conventional AAA MMO’s in development, notably Carbine’s Wildstar, and Blizzard’s unannounced MMO. As long as there is still a successful player in this space (WoW or TOR), there will be someone who tries to tap into this market.

  8. I know for a fact it won’t Dark millennium Online is coming out in about a year or so judging from the trailers its not unlike WOW/SWTOR

  9. I don’t think so. There’s only so much you can improve in a mmo before it becomes something else.

  10. This wouldn’t be a discussion if games like AoC, Warhammer, DDO, and LOTRO weren’t proliferating the marketplace with half-done, under-budgeted production values. WoW and SWTOR are showing that if you do the game right and you take your time, you will make money. How much money depends on whether you have a fully developed brand or if you are willing to lead up to an MMO-type of game with a series of “solo” games that develop a good brand. The only other real way of “making it”, would be if you developed a game that had a new set of mechanics. Like RIFT did with its “rift” system. Guild Wars 2 already has great appeal because it is going to test whether the Trinity-model of doing end-game is necessary or not, and having no subscription is a huge plus.

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