One of the things that amazes me constantly-no matter how often I see it happen-is the tendency of MMOs to chop out content from their games.
The latest game to give me this impression is Star Wars: The Old Republic; in everything I’ve been reading concerning their plans for the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, I’ve consistently seen references to “streamlining the previous story content”. A desire to arrange things so that the leveling experience is faster. All well and good-the dev team wants to show off its new shiny stuff, and that shiny stuff is being applied to the high level experience.
But I can’t help but feel a bit wary on such things. To me, “streamlining” tends to indicate that content is about to be chopped out. Star Trek Online is one of the biggest offenders here; every time they decide to streamline things, it usually involves entire episodes being wiped out, or in one notable case, an entire system of play wiped out. But STO is hardly alone; even World of Warcraft has indulged in removing questlines. (I’m not sure if they get a net gain, though; in my experience, they replace old quests with new).
So when TOR talks about streamlining things, I have trouble imagining how they can do that without chopping storyline. I mean, they can up the XP so player can skip planetary quests-but of course, they’re already doing the 12X XP for subscribers on class quests right now. How else can they streamline things without slashing off game content? Make the speeder-taxis instant travel? What would be the point? The quick-travel shuttles are already at all taxi points, and provide that service with little downtime (especially if you subscribe and have paid for Legacy improvements; I can quick travel with no downtime at all now). Are they looking to cut out entire planets? That would certainly cut down the time, but they’d have to seriously further buff XP for that, too.
Story’s been the big thing that helps set TOR apart from most other MMOs; I can applaud Bioware’s move back to that with the upcoming expansion, but I worry that in the process of making the new shiny, they may damage the good stuff that came before. Maybe I’m worrying over nothing; there still is a lot of unrevealed info concerning KotFE, and maybe the plan to “streamline” will be something more innovative than I can conceive of. I hope so. Because a lot of people put a lot of work in developing the stories for each class, for each planet, from the writing to the animation to the art. And it’s a damned shame when a developer decides that all that work can just be thrown away because “streamlining!”