Feb 28, 2012

Posted by in Lethal Injection | 42 Comments

Lethal Injection: We Need Factions

I originally posted this on the official TOR forums to try and get some discussion going there, but it was swiftly and unceremoniously moved to the Suggestion Box, otherwise known as where discussions go to die. So, since I had a blog that talks about Star Wars: The Old Republic, I decided it was a great place to put it after all! :)


Here’s the basic gist of it, so those of you that wish to flame me can get right to it:

Adding NPC factions to the game and allowing a progression mechanic for them through reputation would allow BioWare to tell stories about more and varied parts and peoples of the Star Wars galaxy. This would also assure that players with “nothing to do” would always have something to do.

With that out of the way, onward!

The Problem

One of the louder cries over on the official forums from the people that have already advanced to level cap is that there’s “nothing to do.”

There is some truth to this. Leveling is as quick as in any game, if not quicker. Normal mode Operations are designed to be very easy, and reward nearly the same gear as Heroic mode. So it’s very easy to be geared up completely in no time at all. At that point, there really isn’t much left to do.

You could roll an alt, but that has nothing to do with progressing your main character. Until we know more about the Legacy system (which is designed to incentivize rolling alts) we can’t say what else that will bring.

Of course you could also play Warzones and spend time on Ilum, which is probably the only real option at end game that doesn’t run out (unless of course you max out your PvP gear and Valor rank). But you could still PvP for fun, which it is.

The Solution

So what, then, could players in this position of having nothing to do spend their time doing? The answer is Factions.

Traditionally, MMOs have had various NPC factions scattered throughout the world. TOR is no different, actually. The key difference between TOR and some other games such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, Vanguard and even RIFT is that these factions exist as a game construct that you can earn (or lose) reputation with. In other words, the game measure your interaction with these factions and provides potential rewards (items, areas, content, lore, etc.)

Back at PAX 2011, I asked Gabe Amatangelo and James Ohlen if TOR would have any of these factions and they said no. However, it looks to me as if it may have been a part of TOR’s original design, as you can see here on the Allegiances page of the HoloNet:


Looks to me that there might have been more intended for this page...

That page currently lists Jedi Order and Sith Lords as factions, and looks set up for expanded listings. At least in the context of other pages, that doesn’t seem important enough to warrant its own HoloNet entry if that’s all there was to it.

So, my proposal and suggestion is the implement some sort of faction/reputation system, for NPC factions that allow another form of progression for players of all levels, including and especially end game, to participate in.

Yeah, But…

Don’t think of it automatically as a grind, or as just another gear faucet. It can be MUCH more than that, especially given BioWare’s pedigree as a storyteller. Why couldn’t players learn the story of a particular species, race or group through doing story-driven missions for the faction? And the rewards don’t have to be gear… maybe it’s unlocking a town or city, maybe it’s being able to communicate with an otherwise hostile NPC faction, and the list goes on.

One good example from the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft is a faction called the Lorewalkers. From an interview w/ Blizzard over art Wowheadnews:

The new Pandaren are a race with an amazing verbal tradition–they’re storytellers. And the Lorewalkers are bent on exploring the world, finding things and relics, filling out libraries. You won’t use this faction to get best-in-slot gear, but in finding and returning books, you’ll act out all of the new stories. If you are interested in the lore, this is for you. If you just care about the gear, you can skip them–and it’s fine.

This sounds like pretty good idea, and considering it’s coming from Blizzard, think what BioWare could do with a story-driven faction like this!

These factions can add a layer of depth to guilds for players of every type, from those solo players interested in learning about the origin of a crime organization they interacted with during their class story, to those who are progressing through Operations.

Let’s hear your thoughts! Do you think this is a good idea? Do you think BioWare may already be working on such a thing? Do you think they were nixed from the original design of TOR?

  1. I have a thing against Reputations because it mainly turns into a grindfest with the same old daily quests over and over.

    Though I’m not totally against it. In the Star Wars lore there are millions of things to uncover and we got task forces for the Republic and Empire that specialize in lore gathering and uncovering artifacts. So I could see a merit in getting reputation with them to unlock missions and fill out your codex and maybe acquire a nice vanity item.

  2. If reputation farming were introduced into SWTOR, I would hope that doing so would have a purely lore-based or vanity item reward. The second you give those factions gear that’s required to optimize for raiding then you turn it all into a grind and place an totally unnecessary time barrier on players.

    I like that there’s very little grinding in SWTOR. I’d hate to see the game shift to focus on feeding the content locusts in a way that makes all of the other players have to waste time on unnecessary grinds simply because the locusts got bored.

    • Silly cliches are silly cliches. I agreed with you about the unnecessary grind until the silliness at the end.

    • What a great idea! I totally agree, and frankly was a bit surprised to find out the game didn’t have these. It seemed like a no brainer to me, with all the planets, and the different groups vieing for power on them. I mean, think about the Black Sun for example. They still exist in the era of the movies! That’s a huge, galaxy wide, crime sindicate, that is around for more then 3000 years.

      It doesn’t need to be about gear. LOTRO has a great faction system, that opens up titles, special mounts, and cosmetic items, and new quest arcs. With BW story driven system, this just begs to happen.

  3. I am already getting bored with the grind of doing dailies for daily commendations and Illum. I have gone to playing my alts since hitting 50 as I have no interest in grinding for gear at all. WoW burned me out on that so any MMO that expects that will fail in my eyes. So when it comes to rep grinding too I would say forget it. If they are quests that open more story for my character I would be interested.

  4. Future stories centered around different factions sound good. But there’s no reason at all for those stories, and those factions, to have some sort of reputation score associated with them before you can get to whatever they have to offer.

    Nobody would be happy with it anyway. Adding rep grind will just give people more things to complain about being cloned from other MMOs. I’d personally love to see a split-faction storyline with both Republic and Empire meddling in a smaller two-faction conflict, with your association/side/affection points chosen mainly by conversation choices and mission selection – no repeatable missions, no “Give me another 9,994 gooblegut guts and then I will trust you enough to send you to kill the Head Gobblegut” silliness. An interesting story with two sides that you have to choose between.

    But that would require them to include actual consequence for the story, and the MMO community at large has done a pretty good job convincing Bioware that’s not what they want. So, we’ll probably get more mindless rep grinding.

  5. I agree, this game needs a good reputation system. Something along the line of what WoW did for Cataclysm and as you suggested, what they will do for Mists.

    I don’t mind a little bit of grind, that is partially what MMO’s are about and I am one of those players who don’t mind some grinding (in fact I even enjoy it). Especially as a reason to come back to the game everyday. As long as I know what the reward is at the end and it feels worth it for me.

    I’m sure Bioware could come up with some interesting ideas for such a feature. Too bad it seems they’re against it.

    • Nooooooooo please not cata style rep. the thought of doing anything resembling the molten front dalies…in the name of the maker, no. not again. not for bioware, not for anyone.

      TBC or even wrath style i could live with though.

  6. “…learn the story of a particular species, race or group through doing story-driven missions for the faction.”
    That’s exactly what I enjoyed so much about the Voss quests.

  7. I like what you suggested, as well as the rewards being more lore/backstory or unlocking a town/city.

    The only problem I see is, once you ‘max-out’ your affiation to a faction, it becomes hard to use that faction for future content/stories. For instance, using WOW as an example…the druid faction of Cenarian Circle (sp?), Blizzard had to add in off-shoots of this faction when they wanted to use that faction again in later content (Cenarian Expedition and the faction in Cata that were protecting Mount Hyjial (again sp?)). For SWTOR, with its story…it would be hard to either black-list a faction because it was already used, or have the wierd disconnect feeling of working for a faction, but yet being treated like a nobody.

    So have the opinion that factions to work in SWTOR, would be to not have increments of finite stages of progression with them (friendly, buddies, exalted…and so on). Rather, what if factions were more or less substantial quest-lines at 50, that includes mandatory breaks (where at pre-determined points in the quest-line, the faction spokesperson will tell you they will contact you in a few days once they have analyzed the ‘data’ you brought them). And rather than gear or prestige, the reward is doing the actual quest-line or even a cosmetic reward at the end (codex entry, title, modable gear).

  8. I think people fail to realize that this game is voice acted and it would take an extremely long time to create this kind of lore and storytelling content that would be involved with faction grinding. I would much rather them spend time programming difficult boss encounters to make earning the best loot not as easy as it currently is.

    • The “but it’s voiced” excuse is going to wear thin… at every corner, we’re giving up features because it’s so “hard” to produce that content. If it’s going to be that kind of hamstring, the game is in fact in trouble.

    • No longer time than making a mission for leveling. Besides, does it need voice over? The “daily” and “weekly” missions given out by the terminal in the Supplies quarter of the fleet aren’t voiced.

      I think people become a little too over-reliant on voice over and dialogue in TOR. I’ve grown a little tired of it after running more than 20 times.

    • I agree the excuse is going to wear thin but that does not mean it isn’t reality. Thats fine if they want to put in non-voice faction rep but I would much rather they continue to fix bugs, add other featurse such as guild banks, make the GTN better, and produce true end game content and storytell through operation content. Until those things are done and I hope they are higher priority then we can get our faction lore from wookiepedia or a book.

  9. i completely agree with you Lethal, faction specific missions and rewards would add depth to the game whilst giving people choice of things to do.

  10. What about, instead of factions (for the problems Akkela noted above), have species reputation? The conversation system works well for adding in small lines like that, where you say, come across a Trandoshan while you are affiliated with the Wookiees (random example of 2 species that hate each other), he’s going to have an extra conversation line where he notes that he dislikes you for your love of furry badasses.

  11. They do have factions, just no reputation grind associated with them. It should stay that way. They should continue the class storyline and remove repetitive elements in leveling alt. Swtor was successful in spite of its mmo mechanics, they need to realize this and focus on 4th pillar content, not generic mmo dirty tricks.

    • The factions are meaningless… there has to be a game mechanic of some kind for them to even count as factions.

      Here’s the thing: BioWare will never, ever, ever be able to keep up with the constant output of full-voiced single-player class content for 8 classes. It just isn’t going to happen, and if you don’t realize that by this point of launch, I’m not sure what to say. I even had a secret hope that somehow they would find a way to do monthly “episodes” for each class, but that was the last hope out the window.

      FOr whatever reason, they tacked on WoW’s end game, and even though factions “have” been grindy in the past, they don’t have to be that way in the future. This is the next best way for BioWare to give us a) more Star Wars lore and story and b) “perpetual” content for players that just want to keep playing.

      • Rift has done monthly updates successful enough to become popular.

        Bioware Austin has multitudes greater amount of resource and man power. I believe if they properly channel it, SOME kind of monthly class story progression is definitely possible.

        If you take Star Wars and the 4th Pillar out of SWTOR, would it still be even half as successful? NO. People got SWTOR for star wars and story, not generic MMO end game grind.

  12. Technically, the game already has several factions already: your companions. You can either grind rep with them via gifts, story lines, or the occasional side quest the companion gives (though usually this is to drive your class quests).

  13. Sorry Lethality but I think your in the minority on this issue. Take a look at you own Blue Milk and Cereal poll less than a month ago. We know how you feel about the issue but most do not feel the same way you do.

    • Well, you may think so.

      But answer me this question: What is there really to do in TOR? That is the elephant in the room.

      I’m open to other suggestions, but it badly needs something to be a complete game.

      • I definitely agree that the game needs more endgame content and is far from complete. I don’t think making a grindy reputation that a smaller % of the population will want to do is the way to go about it. I think that they need to make the operations more of a challenge and make gearing up not so easy. It will be interesting to see what the legacy system has to offer. For me after clearing my operations for the week I am playing alts and enjoying the story of other class while leveling my legacy.

  14. As far as what to do endgame, I think Bioware was banking on the stories to be compelling enough tht u would actually want to play all the classes maybe even some of them twice. I look at this game like a multiplayer version of kotor or mass effect. As of right now I am not terribly interested in spending all my time on one character.

    Yes I do think they should have factions, how cool would it be to have mandalorian as a title?

  15. I dont want to say something rude BUT the game is total fail.
    I was playing in the beta and was impressed byp to level 20 experience. BUT THE GAME is TOTAL FAIL.

    First of all HELL OF A BUGS. I dont have a single hutball match without going outside the map, bellow the floor or just send to some strange random possition without reason. I was even send from my field going on the fans on there score line not kiddnig it was like 1 second goal …. no comment. The quests are buggy I found 2 bugs in the BH quest line (and 1 in sith warrior but this is different story). SO MANY BUGS really I have like 40+ submitted bugs and I just gave up of submiting them since it is total fail.. and the lack of GM is total fail.

    The game cannot be compared to wow. Wow was made with pvp and pve in mind with the idea of giving people what to do ones the game is over… here… crap. 1 month I level up to max… and make a new char for less then month I level up to max and now Both my heroes have full champion gear and why do I need it ? well no idea…since the pvp is hell of a boring ALSO Ilum is .. unusable… GUYS really DID YOU EVEN tried this before release ? I am sure NOT.

    The Hero engine is total fill.. on wz my textures are blinking when I look like 5 ppl but from close I see the textures blinking better/worst resolution each sec.. The whole game have flicking everywhere.

    The UI… why they didnt make AERO UI ? I mean wtf is this blue ? :( anyway fail as well…. I hope GW2 will be released soon otherwise I am switching back to wow.

    I really wanted Star wars game… SWG I didnt like .. and this one well it is better but I do not like it .. Also on my laptop with 720p resolution everything is fucking blurry the text is nearly unreadable and the FPS is SO SO bad I canntot make a simple instance with GTX260M … no comment..

    Bioware’s Worst game ever. Well maybe MDK2 was worst.
    I hope ME3 will be better OPSSS sorry I will not buy it because of the stupid origin and because of the STUPID dlc for 10bucks are you crazy ?

    P.S. final all new EA games are total console craps. Kingdoms of amalur, Syndicate whatever NO FOV in any of them and FOV is like … 50. Total crap

    Acitvision, ZeniMAX or ( Bethesda and Blizzard) or nothing.

    • Great thoughts!

      • Raffles most certainly did not say that and is wondering why his post was edited.

        • Raffles needs to understand that he isn’t allowed to attack other posters, and that instead of banning you, I will instead have fun with it. Keep that in mind :)

          • So accusing someone of being a troll (without swearing) is abuse, yet that above comment is fine, without editing?

            Yes I can see how editing a comment to the total reverse of its meaning is ‘fun’ for someone, but rather removes the point of an open comment system if it can be edited at whim without warning. It makes we wonder what other comments have been edited.

            I rather liked this site and enjoyed reading your posts, which I almost without reservation agree with. This however, leaves me feeling a bit like an abused customer in a shop. I know you blog for fun, but I don’t see the fun in abusing a comment system for your own amusement. I’ll act like any other consumer and take my business elsewhere from now on.

          • Thanks for the compliments, and sorry you feel that you have to leave.

            As you say, I do this for fun, and that means my rules. If you didn’t act like a douche to another poster, we wouldn’t be in this position.

          • :) no hard feelings at least on my side ;) I like SWTOR I just dont like it is well not so good quality as wow :( really many things are missing and the fact I get bored after 2 months is just bad enough.

  16. Kryssprollz says:

    The game doesn’t bring much to the table besides voice-acting & moral choices. Still, it is a solid MMO with FAR less bugs than any other MMO when they were launched.

    Now comes the time to improve on the genre. GW 2 will soon be bringing a lot of innovations with a fantastic job done on PvP (World vs World battles and huge scale weekly PvP objectives).

    I don’t think faction reputation is the correct answer to swtor lack of innovations. I love the game but, gameplay wise, it seriously need to expand past its WoW-clone status.

    Massive PvP battles, collective space missions, truly innovative legacy system, dynamic events, a 2012 UI and not this UI which seems dated from EQ years (what, no right-click party invite for guild members, are you kidding ?) there are so many things to do to ensure swtor live up to its fame for more than a couple of months (our guild already lost half its members) that I seriously doubt copy-pasting reputation system from other MMO is that a good idea…

  17. Reputations grind is very old and quite frankly boring. Doing dailies on Illum / Belsavis no longer is “fun”.
    If reputations are implemented then they should add it to the current content (special boss added in hard modes/normal modes even, PVP challenge with the Hutts reputation (something special to do while PVP), etc…)
    Grinding stuff is boring as hell now… please dont implement reputations!!!

  18. Jonas Birk Jensen says:

    I think this would be great, but I would rather see more class story content.

  19. An alternative to this could be adding in more vanity rewards to commendation vendors. Start including planetary commendations in the associated Hardmode flashpoints.

  20. Thank god SWTOR does not have RepFarm BS. Hope it still that way, if you are bored wait till new content comes out, and go play some BF3 or Skyrim. =)

  21. Nicholas says:

    My problem with this idea is that to do it right would take a huge amount of effort on Bioware’s part. Remember for them the standard is fully-voice acted storylines and such.

    Unless they abandon that commitment, I believe they have kind of boxed themselves into a corner when it comes to expanding storylines.


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