SWTOR Expansion

Back to the gaming discussion.  This week, Star Wars launched it’s new mini-expansion.  5 levels, 1 planet, a new raid and 2 new gear levels.  Every day this week, they had a blog post covering the class changes that the expansion brought.  Given that I had 3 of the 4 archetypes (I don’t like warriors for some reason), I was curious as to the whole of the changes.

At the time the game came out, I wrote a guide for the Sith Inquisitor – since taken over by another author.  I also spent a lot of time building combat models for both that class and the Bounty Hunter – specifically the Powertech tank.  I’ve always been fascinated with numbers and this was simply a decent outlet.  Something new and mathy.

The hiccup here was that even in beta, the developers didn’t have a solid understanding of numeric balance, or perhaps they didn’t have time.  There were a few basic stats.  Power (increased base damage), critical chance, surge (critical damage), alacrity (speed) and accuracy.  Typically in any RPG game, each stat has a value in relation to the others, depending on your class.  In a well-balanced game, every stat has value, but it might have diminishing.  In a less-balanced game, stats will have caps, where points above that give nothing.  In very poorly balanced games, some stats are completely worthless and others are the only thing you should ever seek.

TOR had this latter problem.  Alacrity caused you to attack faster but it didn’t increase resource generation.  In PvP it had minimal value but in PvE it was actually a penalty.  Accuracy also had issues, where after a small amount, like the amount on a single piece of gear, you were capped.  This left power, crit and surge.  At the time, you couldn’t get any item with those combinations.  Some classes were stuck with a single stat.  The worst part was that this was flagged on the forums in the beta and during live, with tangible solutions.

Well, I left after 2 months so I didn’t get to see some of the changes that came along.  What I did read this week though was the fix for alacrity and accuracy.  They now work in a logical fashion and no longer cap or cause a penalty.  I have to wonder why it took nearly 18 months for this fix but it’s there now.  At the same time I do understand that their focus has not been on end-game balance as there really isn’t a need for it.  Maybe the next set of large changes will address that part of the game.  It seems that the game finally has a solid RPG foundation in terms of numbers.

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