20 June 2013

SW:TOR // Operations

In Star Wars: The Old Republic Operations are described as large-scale multi-group missions, i.e. extended PvE content, the equivalent to WoW’s raids. Shintar already remarked that, at least from a linguistic point of view, the name Operation is not very fortunate because the corresponding verb operating does sound rather weird in this context. This is probably one of the reasons why this activity is frequently called raiding in SW:TOR as well. Another reason could also lie in WoW’s market dominance which is further exemplified by SW:TOR’s raid structure, e.g. several versions of the same Operation varying in difficulty. As a strong proponent of the raid model featured in classic World of Warcraft and its first expansion The Burning Crusade, it should be obvious that I do not welcome this approach.

Like Shintar I was unsure whether I should enter the raiding game in SW:TOR at all. My considerations became heavily influenced by real life obligations which simply left me no time for extended playing sessions and the social ties that once were required. (Note that SW:TOR did not feature a tool for automated grouping at launch. It is very unfortunate that the developers gave in to the constant whining and cries for a “Dungeon Finder” – at least it is still restricted to the same server.)

I have no guild affiliation or any other social ties in the game so far. Moreover, I consider it highly unlikely that I will establish any, now that the game is changing drastically into a direction I do not appreciate. My first-hand experiences concerning Operations are therefore very limited. The only time I actively joined an Operation was during the “Relics of the Gree” event for the two World Bosses (Gravak’k and Surgok’k) and the instanced, single boss Xenoanalyst II. If I remember correctly the group consisted primarily of a raiding guild in need of a few more warm bodies. I already had the associated mission in my mission log, so I happily joined as DPS on my Sith Sorcerer. Preparation took some time which gave me the chance to consult Dulfy’s guide and to familiarize myself with all the relevant elements of the encounter. Everything went smoothly and we defeated the boss in the 16-player version on both difficulties (Normal and Hard Mode). Nevertheless, this experience did nothing to re-awaken my interest in joining a guild to start raiding regularly again now that I actually have the time to do so.

Regarding the Group Finder, I was unable to find even a single group to join during a three hour playing session. I did try more than once, though. It may have something to do with The Progenitor being an RP server as I have noticed that players on these kinds of realms seem to have very different priorities. This might also explain why requests for raid groups are far and in between. The very few ones that I do notice, however, share the same illusions that have been prevalent in WoW for quite some time now. In order to join a PuG the raid leader requires potential candidates to already know every encounter beforehand and in addition expects them to be overgeared for the proposed content. Taking a closer look at the Undergeared project should illustrate how ridiculous that is. The easiest way is not always the right way.

Shintar speaks very highly of raiding in SW:TOR (“oodles of fun”) as do others. Nevertheless, I still cannot shake the feeling that – judging by the game’s overall difficulty – the actual raiding experience may turn out to be quite shallow indeed. I must admit, however, that this is an educated guess at best, since I really have no personal (empirical or anecdotal) evidence whatsoever. It is just my impression that raiding (or “operating”) in SW:TOR is not worth my time. This may also have to do with the fact that I am no longer interested in any kind of gear grind.

4 comments:

  1. Greetings Maldwiz.

    I'm Shintar's co-guildie and sometimes even co-raider (the 'squishy shadow tank'). This post is an interesting read for sure. I can see the reasoning you give for not doing operations at all. People usually either hunger for better and better gear or are driven by the so-called sense of achievement.

    I personally do operations because I find it (next to being fun) challenging and I always enjoy tackling content designed for multiple people where you need to cooperate and implement various tactics. Nevertheless, new gear is a part of it, however, my approach changed slightly. Back in WoW days, I would call myself an item hunter. Today, I know I will get the gear eventually anyway and I made my peace with not getting all the shiny stuff immediately which gives me the possible opportunity to always get something material out of the operation (along with the fun actually doing it).

    But anyway, people who are doing it mainly for gear are not the best comrades anyway. After all, MMOs are primarily about the social bonding and playing together.

    Looking forward to reading your blog further!

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  2. At least in my guild, we've actually settled on "running ops" or even "opping" most of the time. :)

    Not that I have that many different games to compare it to, but I'd be surprised if SWTOR's operations were that different from how raiding in other MMOs works. What I think it does do really well is serve the "middle of the road" type of raider, who has some time to invest and likes their content ranging from relatively easy to quite challenging (depending on difficulty). For me that has been a nice change of pace from WoW where they seemed to be very focused on players on the extreme ends of the spectrum (LFR, 400-wipe hard mode bosses).

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    1. I agree with Shintar on this, SWTOR caters to all in raiding. My guild raids twice a week progression and twice a week where everyone is invited. I am on the progression team and if I miss a couple of nights because of work or family obligations its not a big deal. Whereas in WoW if you missed a couple of nights, now you are behind the curve and you have to work (and I hate to use that word to describe a game but hey it is work to grind) even harder to catch up.

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  3. Thanks for the replies. I can see all of your points, except for “opping”. Have I mentioned eye cancer in the past?

    My next post will be a rather lengthy one on raiding in general – if only Xintia hadn’t me beaten to it.

    My own path is very similar to the one described by Jig ai in that I started raiding because I yearned for greater challenges and epic items. This was later on replaced by the feelings of in-game accomplishment and social cohesion.

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