02 July 2013

SW:TOR // Community

Another one bites the dust. It was a sad day for the tanking and theory-crafting community in SW:TOR when one of its most prominent members, Kitru, announced his retirement from the game due to the developer’s design decisions and their interactions with the community in general. The triumvirate consisting of dipstik, KeyboardNinja and Kitru has provided an undeniable source of knowledge for any aspiring Tank – Vanguard, Guardian and Shadow alike. Kitru’s posts in particular were usually amazingly well written and presented an unrivalled level of detail. Seeing him leave is rather disheartening. With tanking being my second preference right after healing, I was ready to recognize and reflect upon any insights they offered. Even though I am a very experienced Tank myself, I still believe that there is always room for improvement. In that sense, I can only hope that at least KeyboardNinja will continue to crunch the numbers and offer guidance where needed.

Since I am not raiding in SW:TOR, I cannot really comment on the current predicament in any meaningful way. There seems to be some sort of problem with Shadow Tanks in that they can be one-shot by a particular boss if RNG goes against them. Apparently the other two tanking Advanced Classes have methods of preventing this from happening. It may also be possible that the entire issue is being vastly exaggerated. I honestly do not know. However, I do welcome all changes that serve to make encounters less predictable. Failure must always be a possibility. As soon as near-perfect preparation and near-perfect execution are inevitably resulting in victory, people are tricked into a false sense of expectation that will lead to boredom and frustration. Where is the thrill if everything goes according to plan all the time? Today’s success could be tomorrow’s failure and vice versa.

I consider Kitru’s departure a loss for the game’s community in general. That is distressing not only because of his dedication and knowledge but also because the community in SW:TOR is a very pleasant and positive one – possibly due to its limited size. One might not always get this impression judging by the official forums alone, but the sense of community is a lot greater in SW:TOR than e.g. in WoW or RIFT. This becomes more obvious in-game, of course. Nonetheless, I feel the need to qualify this statement with the fact that I can naturally only speak from my very own personal experiences which are very rich in the case of WoW, and almost nonexistent in RIFT (I will discuss this in another post, some other time). SW:TOR falls somewhere in the middle, leaning a bit closer to WoW.

While I had plenty of characters spread across a large number of servers in WoW, I only have characters on two (technically three) servers in SW:TOR which severely limits any generalizations I can make. The Progenitor is an English RP-PvE server hosting all of the characters on my main account. Technically, I do have one other character on The Red Eclipse but I am going to transfer him to my main Legacy. Additionally, I have one character (on a different – F2P – account) on the French PvE server Mantle of the Force which I created for my summer project. This character is currently level 26 and will leave for Nar Shaddaa next. The Double XP Weekends allowed for a rather speedy level progression. To this point, I have completed every available Flashpoint and [HEROIC] mission on this character, always with the help of other players and I must say that the atmosphere on this French realm is simply unbelievable. People are generally extremely helpful and friendly and above all else very, very polite. Everybody is treated with respect and communication follows the rules of the French grammar. Nobody is shouting in CAPS, insulting other players or yelling “gogogo ffs”. Skipping conversations during leveling Flashpoints is not common practice here – something that I really appreciate. So far, at the beginning of every Flashpoint people have always greeted each other politely and at least one player has always wished the group a successful and pleasant run. In fact, my positive experiences on French realms in SW:TOR and WoW have led me to seriously consider a French server for my adventures in WildStar.

I have the overall impression that people are by and large friendlier on an RP server and The Progenitor is no exception. I have a hard time remembering unpleasant encounters with actual human beings in SW:TOR, while that is pretty much all that I remember from WoW (I know, I know: selective memory is selective). Of course, this refers only to PuGs. I enjoyed the atmosphere in most of my WoW guilds immensely. The annoying people in SW:TOR usually fall into three categories: (a) they moan about others going to slow and/or about not skipping conversations and/or trash mobs in Flashpoints, or about other people sucking in Warzones; (b) they are ninja-looters, i.e. rolling “NEED” on loot that their current player character cannot use; (c) they are bad players in that they are unwilling to learn and improve. I would say that the types (a) and (b) are most common in SW:TOR as I have observed that many people welcome and accept polite and constructive criticism. There is a high chance that this is the first MMO for many players, who do not have any prior knowledge (e.g. about the “trinity”) that the veterans take for granted.

In conclusion, I can safely say that the in-game community on the two aforementioned European realms is friendly and welcoming, particularly below the level cap in non-Hardmode content. Maybe the situation is thoroughly different on American or other European servers. In any case, SW:TOR provides an excellent experience for small groups (of real-life or in-game friends) and the next step of establishing social ties with the larger community is certainly something that I would recommend.