SWTOR, the real WOW 2

Once upon a time, a western MMO was announced three years before it’s targeted release date. The developers tried to hide their more simplistic graphics engine by making use of “stylized” graphics. Some were turned off by the graphical design, but others argued the graphics would age better than realistic looking games. Besides, it promised to be a “seamless” world, which is worth something. Despite being the company’s first MMO, people trusted the developer because of their reputation for only releasing quality games. The developer had a reputation for making the some of the best games of their genre. The game of which I speak is Star Wars, The Old Republic and Bioware. But all these things could also be said of World of Warcraft and Blizzard.

There probably never will be a game actually titled WOW 2. Sequel MMOs like Everquest 2 and Asheron’s Call 2 have never done well. Currently Blizzard is working on another MMO, but they promise it won’t be based on one of their existing franchises. To some, Cataclysm will be the real “WOW 2” because all the non-expansion areas will be recreated from scratch and the statistics gained from equipment will be re-tooled whether you purchase the expansion or not.

But for the purposes of this blog post, I’m talking about a repeat of history. Bioware has already stated that they need at least one million subscriptions to survive. In a market where only one western developer has ever had their MMO break the one-million mark, that’s setting the bar pretty high. Yet few doubt Bioware’s ability to meet this goal.

Many MMO developers have attempted to copy aspects of World of Warcraft. Within the first few months of Everquest 2’s launch, developers were already trying to copy Blizzard’s success by adding gryphon towers and WOW’s mail system. Years later, many companies copied WOW’s fast leveling process. Star Wars Galaxies redid their entire user interface to make it more like World of Warcraft. Ultimately, all these games were only copying the trappings of WOW. They weren’t copying what made WOW successful.

According to Bioware’s words on the matter, what made WOW a success was their willingness to wait until they had a polished product for release, their use of stylized graphics to keep the system specs low, and their focus on casual players.

There are other similarities that can be drawn between WOW’s design and TOR’s, but they aren’t important. WOW’s success was not dictated by it’s use of on-rails gryphon rides. WOW’s record breaking success was dictated by making a higher quality product that was more accessible than other MMOs. Bioware’s offering to the genre promises to be the same.

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

11 thoughts on “SWTOR, the real WOW 2”

  1. And what do we do when SWToR releases, and I must go “Kill 10 Wookies” as my first quest.

    Better have a good tutorial starting zone…

  2. “within the first few months of Everquest 2’s launch, developers were already trying to copy Blizzard’s success by adding gryphon towers”

    Gryphon towers were introduced to EQ2 in late beta, several months before WoW even launched. I remember it vividly because there was a bug which meant you could die of falling damage when just walking past the new towers.

    The thing that really puzzled Mrs Bhagpuss and I was when we first went to WoW five years after it started and visited The Barrens. The similarities between The Barrens and Commonlands are so striking it’s hard to believe it’s a co-incidence. Both games launched with those zones in that state of high similarity as far as I can discover. Is there a well-known explanation that I’ve somehow missed?

    1. Ah you’re right. They were in beta. That timeline is muddy for me, because I was in EQ2’s beta, and I don’t really remember when the live-event to build the towers took place.

      1. The one’s in Commons/Ant. were there at the beginning, they later added them to TS/Nek with the live event.

  3. I agree with you that ToR will more than likely be WoWs biggest competitor. Not only will it be high quality, but I feel it will really live up to its hype, unlike a lot of the more recent MMOs. And the whole “Fully Voiced” thing sounds awesome as well.

    But what I don’t feel will happen is ToR revolutionizing MMOs. Will it have some cool features? Of course. Will it sell millions? More than likely. But I don’t feel we are out of the woods on the current incarnations of MMOs. While a lot of companies try to do things differently, I don’t feel we can actually escape from the whole “Kill Ten Rats (Wamprats?)” mold.

    There are only so many ways you can develop a character in an MMO, or any RPG for that matter, and that development is important to keeping your players feeling interested and invested in their characters. Unfortunately along with this comes grinding mobs and quests in some way, shape, or form, whether we like it or not. I just don’t see that changing soon. Only time will tell though.

  4. You have a point but I’ll ditto Openedge’s statement, because who wants to do more ktr quests to max level? I’d say a quest log full of ktr/fedex quests is too much to stomache anymore. Even Blizzard is trying to reboot WoW with a total revamp of there classic zones – you know the ones we all leveled up via ktr/fedex quests in. So just using the words WoW 2 is almost a negative connotation given their base leveling mechanic is a dinosaur.

  5. SWTOR is clearly aiming for a progression over the basic KTR.

    We’ve seen the genre evolve from simple grinding (kill a million somethings, whatever gives exp, just kill kill kill) through KTR where the quest hub gives you a set of quest which might be
    1) kill ten rats
    2) gather 5 rat tails (obtained by killing rats)
    3) rescue the princess (who is guarded by rats you have to kill before you can talk to her although stealthing past might be a shortcut)

    The second is clearly an upgrade to the first although some loved the grouping or even the repetitiveness of grinding. You don’t have to think what to do, you don’t have to run back to town you just find a good spot and chain pull.

    What SWTOR aims to do is deliver a much more linear questing experience. Instead of picking up ten quests from a hub and doing them in any order (or doing several at once by killing rats) what I think they will offer is a single quest at a time picked from a list of options.

    So you might have to fix an engine by
    a) forcing the Sith engineer at gun point to fix it
    b) fetching a part then rolling your Engineering skill
    c) persuading the sulking Bothan to fix it for you using Diplomacy skills.

    Once fixed you will then move to the next multiple choice single quest.

    It’s a pretty good idea and I think it will feel very fresh. I don’t know if much else about the game (crafting, pvp) will have traction but I think their quests will be great.

  6. Everyone wants to state that ktr quests are out-of-date and overused. People don’t want to grind.

    People want to forgo leveling because ktr and grinding are the epitome of all these games.

    People want skill-based game play. How many of you have played games where you have to WORK these skills to gain them? Is that not GRINDING?

    Anyone who has played Ultima Online can understand that even a game purely based on skill (which are essentially levels anyway) can be a grind fest.

    There is no way around this. Other than logging in and “/set swordsmanship 100.0,” how else can skills, or levels be gained?

    If a game is item-based without skills or levels, people will whine that those with wealth controls the world(s).

    The only greener pasture is hoping that games come out with better and bigger, balanced pvp. A game that has amazing monsters that take teamwork and planning to defeat. A game where you can be a loner, fighting the same, albeit weaker, monster the group fights. I want to be an adventurer; a treasure hunter; a trapper; a cook. I want it all, and in one place.

    Want a game that caters in every way to its players? Go play Neopets.

  7. Typically the one thing nobody manages to copy from WoW is gameplay. I don’t mean the UI with action bars (which most people replaced with something more useable anyway) and WASD movement, but things like conservation of momentum while jumping (that one isn’t hard), spell knockback system (hard interrupts are just frustrating in PvE, but really just makes anything slower than your enemys fastest available move irrelevant in PvP; with knockbacks it’s a meaningful judgement to make whether the cast is still worth it), proper counters to enemy abilities (charge->blink->intercept->nova->whirlwind?), no self-snares (like in games where your forced to freeze on spot to “enjoy” your character perform some stupid 3 second casting animation, when you really need to move NOW, even if it means just failing the spell).. and so on..

    While I personally don’t like the social structure of modern WoW enough to bother to play it anymore, Blizzard really got the core gameplay right: even when you’re getting ganked (ignoring high-levels against lowbies, or group against solo), it rarely felt seriously frustrating (and I only ever played on PvP servers, even if I mostly did PvE), because the gameplay mechanics don’t actively fight against you: someone was just better than you, or you chose to fight rather than escape.. which brings us to how you can practically always escape a fight unless you got badly surprised; being able to judge when to fight becoming another skill to master.

    Whoever manages to copy Blizzard in having core game-mechanics without major frustrations, will almost certainly collect the pot (as long as they don’t ruin it with another F2P scam). Instead people just copy the not-so-great stuff like Blizzards awful interface layout (but usually not the ability to replace it with something sensible) and all the “kill ten rats” quests.

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