Pile Of Industry Awards For Star Wars: The Old Republic A Sad Reminder Of The Game That Might Have Been

The Game Developers Choice Online awards exist to give folks in the gaming industry a chance to highlight and celebrate the work of their peers in online games. This year's award ceremony took place last night in Austin. The full list of winners includes nods to Diablo III for best audio and League of Legends for community management, but the game that comes up most often in the list is Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The Old Republic took awards for Best Online Technology, Best New Online Game, Best Online Visual Arts, and Best Online Game Design. Clearly, to industry peers, the TOR team accomplished something special. And at the beginning, it seemed that players thought so, too.

The game launched to accolades, and had hugely engaged players. Players lauded the nature of its story and world-building, straight out of BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic, a 2003 fan favourite. The Old Republic sold about two million copies right off the bat and enjoyed a healthy 1.7 million subscribers for its first month.

Since its first month live ended, though, SW:TOR has been the picture-perfect example of why the word "beleaguered" exists. By July, the game was down to well under a million active subscribers. It's making a transition over to free to play in the not-too-distant future, but in the meantime, its most recent major update, in 10 months of being live, was patch 1.4 — and neither it, nor the three that preceded it, contained any of the promised major content updates that players have been waiting for.

When players began to bail, EA could have taken one of two routes toward the game. They could have doubled down, with more resources applied to add content to the game and retain and attract subscribers. Or they could have decided it was doomed, written it off, and consigned it and its dwindling population of loyal fans to the shadows. They took the latter route. Layoffs at BioWare Austin began in May, followed by the departure of one executive after another.

Players who saw something worth enjoying, in the early days of SW:TOR, weren't necessarily mistaken. The industry peers rewarding EA and BioWare for the game they built and launched aren't mistaken. But a massively multiplayer online game needs constant support. It needs content, and for a heavily story- and instance-driven game like The Old Republic, hoping players will treat it like World of Warcraft and just keep logging on to get more stuff isn't a viable long-term solution.

Seeing game developers recognise the potential Star Wars: The Old Republic had in its technology and its launch feels like a sad reminder, a glimpse into an alternate universe of what might have been. Hopefully the game can recapture some of its lost potential when it completes its free-to-play conversion. If it can attract players, and get more resources devoted to adding game content, maybe The Old Republic can still come back from the dark side.

3rd Annual Game Developers Choice Online Awards [GDC Online Awards]


Comments

    I hope with going f2p that the game has some financial success and is around for a while. Am keen to see in a year or so if it ever ends up how a lot of us hoped it would. Has its issues but still has potential.

    Maybe lucasarts can give us a new space simulator game. Xwing and co won a large amount of awards and praise back in its heyday. To build on that would make me very happy.

    The biggest problem for me was that every patch was a untested crapfest, and many issues that actually got fixed were subsequently broken again in a later patch.

      This is one of the biggest reasons I stopped playing too.

      The games engine is a giant pile of burning garbage. The fact this game won any kind of award for its tech reveals the ignorance of those involved with the GDC Online Awards.

      I remember watching as this thread:
      That starts: 14/12/2011: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=22835

      And is currently at 3/10/2012: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=345548&page=79

      Grow into thousands of posts, hundreds of pages, of people reporting the same performance issues, even on computers that should plow through the game.

      It's a huge cluster of posts, with dates so wide various arguments keep recurring as those who were giving the facts and providing information, left the community and were replaced by people who figured, because the game ran fine for them, that the it was other peoples fault the game ran so poorly.

      There's some great insights into the games inner-workings to be found in there though: http://www.swtor.com/community/showpost.php?p=2151550&postcount=1033

    I enjoyed the game for the first month. My main was a sith warrior, but by the third act of his story, it was just rubbish. The storytelling suffered so badly being stretched across an MMO grindfest framework; you're supposed to be this elite warrior, the best of the best, the right hand of the emperor... and you're still killing x amounts of y grunts who should be fleeing in terror. FFS. One day I just turned it off and didn't bother going back. Maybe one day I'll look up a wiki on it to see how the story ends but I have no interest in investing the rest of the time needed to resolve it...

    The game is fine. It's weird to say with such a big project though that it's main problem lies with its lack of ambition. It brought story into the MMO extremely well but as they probably should have known, MMO players really don't care. They aren't the type to stop and smell the roses, They'd rather look at their character's numbers and join in on people with similar numbers in humiliating people anonymously who have smaller numbers. They wanted this audience but they also wanted the people who loved KOTOR, then they wanted new players as well. With the MMO players not caring about the game's alleged appeal, the old KOTOR fans having to slog through what to them would have seemed like a ridiculously long, hard and sparse RPG, it isn't really a surprise it hasn't maintained a huge audience. There's either the notoriously mega-cynical MMO player or the more casual player, ignorant to the demands of an MMO. The game doesn't really cater for either.

    game was enjoyable and i would of stuck around if the community maintained. F2P will bring back a few players but i dont think it will ressurect the game to a point where it was in the beginning. hopefully once bioware is finished with 1313 they have a crack at creating a jedi RPG, something which is more suited for this type of character. You will always take a big risk making an MMO to stand up to the giant known as World Of Warcraft.

    How the heck did they win "Best Online Technology, Best New Online Game, Best Online Visual Arts, and Best Online Game Design."

    Their tech is crap there's a limit of like 40 players on each map instance. Artstyle is subjective, but their shadow work is objectively bad, and the same with their low textures. And best design? Uninspired derivative crap = Best Game Design?

    If they made Battlefront 3, everyone would of been happy.

    i quit because the patch keeps being corrupted ..as a result have to reinstall
    which then few patches later would be corrupted again. As a result stopped playing. Customer service would keep telling me to reinstall -.-"

    The problem is that F2P is not a solution to any of the technical problems the game has. F2P will not fix the absolute lack of end game content. F2P can not fix the abysmal game engine that performs dreadfully on low end machines and yet can't scale up to utilise hardware and resources available in high end machines. The Old Republic is a relatively recent release too, but when it is compared to other MMO's like Guild Wars 2 (which is absolutely breathtaking even on low to mid range systems) SWTOR looks like something that comes straight from the early 90's, the textures are poor, the detail is poor; Star Wars movies look culturally rich, SWTOR just looks empty .

    I have played through 3 different character classes to completion and I can truly say that SWTOR has some incredible moments in it. There is definitely a very worthy game buried within its content. Unfortunately those moments are also buried in bugs, poor interface design, dreadful and non-existent engine optimisation, poor hardware/resource scaling, awful broken multiplayer PVP, etc, etc.

    For me however the worst aspect of it is the fact that this game feels empty and un-populated. When I go to a city in an MMO I expect it to be populated, I expect it to be a hub full of players, NPC's and I expect it to have the game's culture visible on the walls, in it's streets and in the player interactions. Most city set-pieces in SWTOR are empty, sterile and quite frankly boring. They serve as little more than a large empty space that you walk/travel through while you make your way to the next exercise in 'collect x items for x' quest. Hell, the presidium in Mass Effect 1 is WAY more active and interesting than any city in the entire SWTOR game. I don't think F2P is going to correct that. Each time I arrive on Coruscant in SWTOR I can't help but wish it was more like Illium from Mass Effect 2.

    And you know what? For a game called Star Wars with people flying around in gigantic starships, floating on hover speeders, running about with plasma/laser swords (lightsabers), with my own personal starship and also with fleets of cruisers in it, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down ancient artifacts and magical crap. None of that technology seems to be able to match a couple of tone tablets in some cave on Tattooine.... It's Star Wars ffs, not dungeons and dragons. I have massive and devastating technology available and yet spend a lot of my time trying to find ancient artifacts for the sake of poor narative. Ugh!

    No, F2P is not the solution to the problems that SWTOR faces. It needs some rethinking done and a hell of a lot more imagination. Having said that I still maintain my subscription to the game because I am hopeful that one day this game will get the love it absolutely needs. I know Bioware can produce absolutely stunning feats of interactive design and entertainment, hell I still can't stop playing the Mass Effect trilogy (I'm giving it what must be my 12th complete playthrough all 3 of them again). I remain hopeful for SWTOR's future, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

    Am I the only one who still enjoys playing The Old Republic?

      I love it too.

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