On Data-Mining


This post will not be directly describing data-mined changes coming to Eternal Throne. This is purely a rambling post describing my thoughts on the process when compared against BioWare's policy of silence. If you had looked at this post with interest to get some gleaned information, I'm sorry, but you'll be going away disappointed.


There comes a time before each and every patch when the data-miners come forth and reveal what's incoming. Many a Class Change, Cartel Market item, and Story spoiler has been revealed as part of this process, and so data-mining is treated with both reverence and disapproval by several sectors of the wider SWtOR community.

Expansions are no different in this regard; the data-miners are already out in force digging up all that they can find for Eternal Throne, although officially they won't post the majority of their findings until BioWare has had time to officially release details of the expansion, which is the fairest thing they could do.

This also raises an interesting situation for data-mining.

Since 3.0, BioWare have unfortunately managed to back themselves into a corner whereby they're "damned if they do, damned if they don't". From what I understand, their accidentally missing a 'scheduled' releasing of information regarding Shadow of Revan (and only by just a couple of days) has led to them enforcing a strict 'silence' policy with changes to both Fallen Empire and Eternal Throne until they're truly ready to reveal more.

The good thing about this silence policy is that once it was 'over' for Fallen Empire, they took to social media by force, streaming and blogging about the upcoming changes, but it still left a lot to be desired from what they had done for 3.0 with the comprehensive blog changes informing us of the approaching change from Skill Trees to Disciplines and then the steady updates to specific Classes over the subsequent months.

Their handling of 2.0 was even better than this, as they actually allowed players to access a modified 2.0 PTS which allowed them to boost transferred characters to 55, try out the new skills, and access the new HM Flashpoints and Operation.

Whilst it did take them a moderately long time to come out with more detailed information on changes for Fallen Empire, at least they'd made the announcement five months before it was supposed to go live!

For Eternal Throne, it definitely does not help that their silence policy is being enforced at a time when there isn't a lot else to actually do now. Neither the Dark vs. Light Event nor the HK Chapter will be universally completed, so for certain players there's absolutely nothing until Eternal Throne and they're not receiving any word to make them feel invested in the game's future. We don't even know an official release date yet!

Indirectly starving us for information therefore has also made the data-miners' situation far more precarious as well; anything they say is treated as 'word of God' and people base all of their expectations on changes which are still in motion. Given the negative response to certain currently proposed changes, it's hardly any wonder that BioWare no longer wants to blow their own trumpet at such an early stage anymore.

I personally don't mind data-mining. It gives a rarely-seen insight into the development process for this game, and even if the proposed changes don't make it into the game as they're initially suggested to, it's still quite interesting - and, dare I say it, fun - to hypothesise how this might change or that might change. Napkin theorycrafting can only go so far, of course.

I just wish that they'd enable everyone to access a simplified variant of the PTS again, even if just to test out the Class Changes. Feedback from the wider playerbase is never really a bad thing - heck, it's lead some people to believe that BioWare use the Data-Miners as an indirect method of revealing changes and getting feedback from these - but right now there are just so many unknowns and confusions that any information, even if it's revealed to be totally inaccurate, is treated like an oasis in the Sahara.

1 comment:

  1. There is a problem with wider PTS access, one I would expect happened with the SoR Operations (can't say for sure, wasn't playing ops at the time, and still haven't done those; but I've read plenty on the subject).

    PTS players are, more or less by definition, your hard-core players. That means they're not actually good playtesters, at least not by themselves. They're going to approach the content with certain preconceptions, and won't get out-of-the-box with testing. They're also going to have a higher skill level than average.

    Their level of communication was pretty decent in the run-up to 4.0/KotFE; I wonder why they didn't continue it?