Follow-up question to your SWtOR example: Returning companions are obviously not the same object as their class story versions. I always assumed this was because they had to make new NPC objects due to exactly the sort of structural issues you brought up the situation to illustrate; original companions weren’t designed to be multiclass, so they made dupes that had that capacity. But as with any additional complexity, the copying process introduces a lot of potential points of inconsistency and failure (several of which do in fact manifest on live, which is how one can tell that’s what’s happening). If the whole system had to be rebuilt from the ground up anyway, such that to give any companion the capacity would require giving every companion the capacity, why the extra NPCs? What quirk made that a better solution than to just keep using the newly revamped base class versions?

Bucky says ALT

The general rule when it comes to live service games is “you (almost always) have to support everything you’ve ever made forever”. You don’t necessarily have to make more of that content, but whatever already exists needs to keep working. If there’s a game mode that you added five expansions ago, it still needs to work. If there’s a feature that’s been there from launch, it still needs to work. And if some number of players paid money for it at some point, it definitely needs to work. This is why long-running MMOGs often have weird redundant gameplay systems like SWTOR’s old spaceship rail shooter with its gear and upgrade path, and its other spaceship shooter game mode (Galactic Starfighter) with its other ships, gear, and upgrade paths.

MiB's Agent J says ALT

To my understanding, the main reason the launch companions have different post-timeskip versions is because the new post-timeskip versions don’t have to support all of the old companion-specific quests and old gift/affection system baggage that were built for launch, so it was much easier to allow them as companions for more player classes.

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