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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?