BioWare expected reaching Old Republic end-game to take 3-5 months

The team at BioWare expected players to take 3-5 months to reach Star Wars: The Old Republic's end-game, and were caught unprepared when they took only one month, according to creative director James Ohlen.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic started losing subscribers fairly quickly after launch. At a Game Developers Conference talk, BioWare creative director James Ohlen explained that the studio was inexperienced in MMOs, and therefore underestimated the speed with which customers would plow through the content.

PC Gamer reports that of all the risks the studio identified before launch, Ohlen said the "most worrisome" was players quickly finishing the content. "We had expected our playerbase to play through the game and get to the endgame, on average, in about three to four months, maybe five months. It was 170-180 hours of content," he said. "But our metrics were showing us that, on average, for the millions of people playing our game, they were going through the game at a rate of 40 hours a week." He also pointed out that 40 hours a week was the average, and some people were doing up to 120 hours per week.

The speed that people reached the end-game accented the lack of content in that area. "We had all those people at the endgame and suddenly certain things like having only one Operation, and having no group finder [tool] become much bigger challenges than what we thought they were going to be." Ohlen ended by pointing out that the studio has seen a steady rise in players since going free-to-play, and claimed that company morale has gone back up thanks to that move.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 29, 2013 2:45 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, BioWare expected reaching Old Republic end-game to take 3-5 months.

    The team at BioWare expected players to take 3-5 months to reach Star Wars: The Old Republic's end-game, and were caught unprepared when they took only one month, according to creative director James Ohlen.

    • reply
      March 29, 2013 2:49 PM

      Apparently none of the team had played or researched at MMOs in the last decade to come to this conclusion.

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      March 29, 2013 2:52 PM

      hahaha. as discussed by CHRISSSSSS MORRRRISSSSS. games are consumed EXTREMELY fast these days, so any assumptions about longevity for shipped content need to be adjusted much shorter.

      D3 suffered greatly from this as well. SWTOR really got rocked by it, and compounded by population imbalance, it was a giant clusterfuck.

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        March 29, 2013 3:10 PM

        <grumble grumble> D3 not an MMO....no end game...<grumble grumble>

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        March 29, 2013 5:51 PM

        It's because games are so simplified these days, and the systems are too focused on creating an easy and familiar interface than making it complex in a good way.

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          March 29, 2013 7:43 PM

          For better or worse MMO's are so easy to tear through because of the increasing focus on single player. The actual multiplayer game play just continues to suffer. I started with EQ, and at that time FFXI continued to head into the direction I was hoping that MMO's would take with group game play via the skill chains. However over the years the genre has drifted towards the one-man-army solo experience and grouping was restricted to dungeons and raids. Meanwhile the entire open world was transformed into a single player free for all and death penalties were reduced to nothingness.

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      March 29, 2013 2:56 PM

      I don't even think that I played excessively cause I wasn't crazy about the game but I ended up hitting the cap within a month, not sure what playtesting they saw that would have had it take 3-5 months. Sometimes I think these guys had their heads buried in the sand and hadn't touched an MMO since Everquest.

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      March 29, 2013 3:04 PM

      Not sure how they came to that conclusion. I wasn't even trying to grind that hard. I'd go do the missions and by the end of the planet I basically ended up over leveled.

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      March 29, 2013 3:07 PM

      Most of the MMO crowd finished it after 1-2 weeks. It wasn't that hard to get there. What in the world were they thinking?

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        March 29, 2013 3:11 PM

        Apparently that nobody would average more than 2 hours of play per day, and that at the outside.

        Completely delusional.

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        March 29, 2013 3:57 PM

        Yah I just don't get that.

        Even in the closed beta lots of people were getting to end game in a 2-3 (I had two toons hit max in under two weeks personally) weeks and there were people doing so in less than a week. Why did they think launch would be any different?

        I still enjoyed the game quite a bit and don't regret my purchase or sub fee's but they certainly had some very ... unrealistic thoughts on end game.

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      March 29, 2013 3:12 PM

      Sooooooooooooooooo... they're dumb.

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      March 29, 2013 3:54 PM

      Well, they made a few mistakes in terms of hitting the level cap since so many things give you xp: space missions, pvp, etc. So, it's not just a matter of blowing through the missions. But, I think probably also underestimated people skipping the cut scenes and just getting the pointer to show them where to go and what to kill.

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      March 29, 2013 4:06 PM

      I love the comment about morale. It sounds so much like a bullet point from a corporate powerpoint presentation.

      "Jenkins, make sure you add in that morale has improved since we fired half of the staff and increased the number of customers"

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        March 29, 2013 6:54 PM

        Seeing as how I work next to the SWTOR team every day, I would say his statement on team morale is accurate.

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      March 29, 2013 5:06 PM

      And seeing that elderscrollsonline is making the same mistakes again ah well.

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      March 29, 2013 7:02 PM

      I imagine that expectation was set very early in the development, and lead to them making all sort of wrong decisions. by the time beta came around and they saw people reaching max levels in 2 weeks, there was very little they could do.

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      March 29, 2013 7:22 PM

      It took my 3 months but I'm slow.

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      March 30, 2013 9:19 AM

      Never finished my characters arc. Stalled around level 42, saw the FTP revenue model then uninstalled it.

      Won't be going back. Mass Effect is my sci-fi Bioware franchise of choice now. Unless they announced KOTOR 3.

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