SWTOR: Inter-planet travel

I want to take a break from playing tons of games and drooling over E3 coverage to speculate about the way players in Star Wars The Old Republic will travel between planets. With the announcement of player ships, there was immediate speculation about space flight. However, developers were quick to point out that ships do not mean you can fly. Players may walk onto their ship, click where they want to go and sit through a loading screen until they see a cinematic of their ship landing. In fact, there is some strong reason to believe that this is the case.

Personally, I would love to have a system where you had to manually fly your starship through space and enter hyperspace coordinates, but I’m losing my faith that this will be the case. Actually, I never had too much faith in space-flight, but I wanted it so very badly that it clouded my ability to picture SWTOR’s travel system in any other way. I even found myself saying, “SPACE IS COMING” when I first saw leaked information about the ships. But despite all this fangirlism, I have finally come to my senses and looked at the way the developers are talking about their game.

When asked about the navigation system, Rich Vogel said in an article: “Think of the map in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. That’s kind of what our navigation will be for traveling around in your spaceship.”

We’ve seen Mass Effect 2’s travel system, and it’s not space flight. It’d be better to describe space travel in Mass Effect as interacting with a graphical menu. An icon of a ship follows your cursor as you move it around to select the planet you want to load to. Upon selecting your destination, you get a loading screen. If you cancel out of the menu at any time, you’ll find your ship has not moved an inch: You were just interacting with a menu screen.

This is drastically different from the Jump to Lightspeed expansion for Star Wars Galaxies. In SWG, the ship shakes as you pilot it and really moves. You can switch your view from inside the cockpit to outside while you fly towards the Imperial Star Destroyer in the distance. Group members inside your ship can move freely around, or find a nice window to watch as the stars, nebula, enemy ships and space stations fly by.

Now normally, a single developer quote isn’t given too much credit because the person could have phrased their statement poorly, been mis-quoted or mis-spoke. However, there’s reason to believe that this statement was dead-on the money. Approximately 8 minutes and 30 seconds into an interview with Sean Dahlberg, he referred to Rich Vogel as “The Canary” because he “sang about something yesterday”.

Sad to say, it doesn’t look like TOR will have a very interesting space travel system.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go QQ more.
-Suzina

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Suzina

Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband.
Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

12 thoughts on “SWTOR: Inter-planet travel”

  1. I know I wrote this in the comments to Massivelys interview as well, but I love repeating myself.

    The entire interview gave the feeling that this will be WoW in space, and I can’t understand why.
    They have an entire galaxy to use, and they’re making a kill ten rats-game.
    For example GW2 event system would work even better here as you’re not limited by nation or geographical borders.
    No matter how big the TOR playerbase is, the opposition will always be able to find some part of the galaxy to regroup and get stronger. You can have epic spacebattles and fewmanned missions to some moonsurface to destroy shield powerstations.

    It could be like a chessgame on a galactic scale with both epic battles and pinpointed attacks. Instead we get Ratchet and Clank with better story and more killsteals.

  2. @Felladin

    You do realize there is a game exactly like that? Its called EvE Online.

    Then you change it to a GW2 model…which are completely different and belong in games that suit that model.

    You make it sound so easy to include all the features from all the MMOs you like. Not only do you advocated ripping off GW2’s ideas, but then trash ripping off WoWs. Make up your mind.

    Not only that, but saying WoW plays like R&C is utterly ridiculous.

    What does the *size* of the game world have to do with this at all? Larger area does not equal sandbox, and I really don’t understand how you got this confused.

    @Suzina

    Well, to be honest I wouldn’t complain about having possibly the *best* idea for player housing ever. The main issues of instancing and world-space are eliminated, and you have actual cool reasons to have people come aboard. It is a base of operations that *makes sense* for an MMO like this, which is something that most games can’t say.

    Plus upgrading a ship is much more heroic than decorating a house.

    I think space-flight could be a great aspect of this game, but personally I’d rather they focus on making the “real” game as perfect as possible first. This is always something they could add with an expansion (much like SWG, except they aren’t saying its going to be a main part of game and not delivering!)

  3. Real space travel will be given in the expansion. This is EA. There will be microtransactions galore, but there will also be boxed expansions.

    Of course no one’s done space travel right since Freespace 2. Before that you have to go to Wing Commander, Elite, and a number of other older games that make me weep at the current state of the industry.

  4. I figured it would be this way, so it’s no big deal. I’m assuming your player ship to be like your mog house in FFXI: you enter an instanced area from a city, and it’s a spacedock with your ship in it. The only difference it seems so far is that you can use the ship to teleport to different areas. In FFXI you could only within the same city.

    You’ll probably see a menu, choose direction, and get a brief cinematic of your ship leaving the current area and docking in the new one to disguise loading times.

    As for WoW in space, why are people so surprised? Bioware is a very good developer, but they are not an innovative one when it comes to gameplay.

  5. Having your dollhouse also be your map travel is not a bad idea at all. It’s a darn good idea. It’s not terribly exciting, but it is a good idea.

    1. This.

      There’s also a time delay element to the more immersive version. Yeah, it’d be cool if your ship landed at the local spaceport, and you went there to get back on it, slide into the pilot’s seat, watch the ship take off and speed away from the spaceport from an external cam, and then used the ship’s controls to set a hyperspace destination, and finally used the slider thingy and got the streaks of stars, just like Han Solo.

      This would take, like, five minutes or more. And players, especially the softcore types that BioWare seems to be targeting with TOR, won’t like that part one bit. It’ll be awesome once, cool three times, and boring after that.

      1. Or they could take inspiration from the JtLS expansion in SWG. If I recall correctly, you could pretty much insta-travel from one spaceport to a different planet with your own ship by using a map screen OR you could take off into space, set your co-ordinates, hyperspace jump, manually fly to the target space station and land. Immersion for those who wanted it, insta-travel for the “softcore”, whoever they are.

        It’s hardly dusting crops now is it?

  6. I would wager that 99% of players would get bored of that after a bunch of times actually. That would be a pale and pointless shadow of space travel. I’d much rather have nothing than a pointless cut scene.

    However, I think we might not ever be getting true “inter-planetary” flight. Personally I expect space flight to be limited to either instanced areas/battlegrounds, or a least a set area. As opposed to unlimited flight between planets.

    Could be wrong, but thats even if we get this at all.

    I really don’t see the allure of flying for 10 min through empty space every time I want to switch planets anyway.

  7. If they would just tack the 1994 tie fighter game to their MMO I would weep tears of joy.

    I will not hold my breath.

  8. Speaking of tie fighter….why the HELL hasn’t someone done a *faithful* remake? (basically a face-lift with maybe some fluff added, but keep the engine PLEASE)

  9. I was wondering about this the other day as I have been playing SWG Emu recently as well as watching all of the movies yet again. For some reason I just don’t think its going to be that good. Sure SWG isn’t some perfectly amazing translation of the movies into a game, but you can fly. I assumed SWTOR would have pretty much the same thing but I had hoped (perhaps the correct term is dreamed) that maybe they could somehow make it so you could actually go through planet atmospheres with some sort of entrance sequence like flight simulators have for landing. But if this is the current speculation and it is a little bit true, I just don’t know how this JEDI R EVERYWARE game is gonna do.

    1. You couldn’t fly in SWG until a couple of years after it launched though. The game at release didn’t even have vehicles so it was run, run, run everywhere. Travelling between planets was a timesink that took 20 mins or longer (unless you knew when the shuttle had last left)?

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