Saturday, 8 April 2017

Love for the SWTOR Stream Dream Team

Yesterday, a SWTOR developer stream reminded me of the need for a Developer Appreciation Week once again. For those who don't know: Star Wars: the Old Republic is about to release a major update (5.2) coming Tuesday, adding an operation boss after two years without a new raid. I was expecting news about that and indeed we did, but the team also revealed another cool new feature coming with 5.2: a renewed galaxy map. Right now, you can only access the galaxy map when you're on your ship. But with 5.2 you can use it from everywhere to travel, as long as you've unlocked a legacy perk. The map also looks very slick now and it is easier to locate planets. I was really happy with this quality of life addition.

However, Twitch chat wouldn't be Twitch chat if people would use it to complain. When Eric and Charles said they were working on tweaking class balance but it was delayed, people felt the need to complain about one dev working on class balance being on maternity leave. At this point, the developers felt obliged to state that no, there was not just one dev working on class balance, it was a team effort; they had just mentioned the maternity leave on other media to congratulate their collegue.

I feel sorry for the SWTOR devs - that are actively trying to communicate with the playerbase by organising live streams - to constantly have to deal with these kind of comments. I know that it happens all the time on Twitch and that it isn't restricted to the SWTOR streams, but that doesn't make it right or fun. Devs: know that there are also tons of people out there that enjoy watching your streams and do appreciate your hard work! I certainly do.

I first started watching SWTOR livestreams in the fall of 2016, after the implementation of the Galactic Command system with 5.0. As SWTOR players reading this will know, that system was received very negatively by the community, resulting in many unsubs and even a Massively OP award for the Worst MMORPG Business Model of 2016. (Read Three months of Galactic Command from the perspective of an endgame raider for my opinion on the matter.)

Regardless of what I personally think of the system, I honestly think that the devs truly believed it was a good idea. After all, science was on their side. Releasing an expansion is usually worthy of a good party celebrating the hard work, but in this case that didn't work out as planned.

It cannot have been an easy period, but nevertheless a team of producers (Eric Musco, Ben Irving and Charles Boyd), from then on known as "the Stream Dream Team" (a name jokingly used by themselves) started streaming almost weekly to keep us updated with changes to Galactic Command. The intend was to show that the developers took players seriously and were really listening to community feedback. I followed the streams loyally, at first because I had to be up to date with the latest news for my appearance on the Corellian Run Radio podcast, but soon also because it was just really cool to get such frequent updates from the people working on my favourite MMO! The streams gave a face to (some of) the developers and definitely made me feel more connected to and involved with SWTOR. Sadly the regular streams disappeared in 2017, but I remain hopeful for more of this type of communication to come in the future. Even if Eric, Ben and Charles have to do without the technical help of Tait, who left for California earlier this year.

Go SWTOR Stream Dream Team!

This post is part of the eight annual Developer Appreciation Week (DAW), running from April 3rd to 10th 2017. Everyone is welcome to join the prompt and spread some game dev positivity (#DAW8).


  1. I turn off twitch chat, I don't need to see the toxic chat there, I have it pretty much turned off GEN chat in game as well. The toxicity on the fleets, starter planets can be toxic, and done in poor taste too. I want to watch them, not get distracted by the text of others complaining, and saying "Nerf this, Nerf that"....

    1. Like you, I do turn off chat a lot in MMOs as well for the same reason (and screenies, hehe). The only downside of it is that I sometimes miss out on guild chat that way. Luckily, that's not such a problem anymore: we mostly communicate on Discord these days.

      On Twitch, I do like the interaction between community and streamer and that's via chat. It's not worth it for the big streams, but if you have a smaller audience I find it's still worthwile. For instance, I really enjoy hanging out with friends and followers when we record our podcast (Corellian Run Radio) during a livestream. We use the input of players in chat in our podcast as well, so chat really makes a difference.

  2. I get really irritated about all the negative chat, wherever it is. I follow SWTOR on Facebook and can't believe how stupid much of the criticism is. Do these guys understand how complex and difficult a dev's job is? Unlikely. Computers to start with are complex and server ones even more so. I have a brilliant book on the history of gaming and all the roles involved in making a game; not surprisingly, it is as complex as making a major movie with almost as many people. (I worked for a while as a video/film producer.) For me, SWTOR offers so much and keeps adding things to satisfy people. In fact, I feel that I've sometimes only scraped the surface, but if I want a change I go somewhere else and come back refreshed. Rant over.
    [Apologies, I haven't commented on recent posts as I was rushed to hospital on Monday and only discharged on Thursday. Still a way to go but at least pneumonia was dealt with - still on antibiotics. Just need a resolution to my MS problems, but that is unlikely.)

    1. Welcome back! I'm so sorry to hear you've been hospitalized. You're a brave person, carrying on as you do. I know, being brave may be forced upon one under such circumstances. But that doesn't change the fact that you are. I always hope the best for you and am glad when you 'report back in'. :)

      For myself, I'm getting a last MRI done in June. If there's no deterioration visible, the doctors believe I have cheated fate, for now. No clue what caused the damage that has been done, but if it ain't MS, I'll take it.

      As for negative chat, I'm totally on the same page! I think we all know toxic behaviour has more to with the person displaying it (age/lack of life experience and/or personal problems and frustrations) than it has with the game. But that doesn't make it right.

      Really cool to hear that you've worked as a producer, and that that experience gives you insight into the complexity of (game) developer processes. Would've made great fuel for a DAW post on all itself (but I know it's not your blog's topic, don't worry).

      The best of luck with your antibiotics. That stuff sucks.

    2. Hope that the MRI shows no sign of MS. Don't want you to take same path as me. All the best. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. I don't think streamers care all that much about the comment section, at least I hope not, people know that what they say in chat will be seen by thousands of others live and they just want to see their reaction.

    But regarding communication in general it's a great thing that we have Twitch. It's expected of game devs to communicate with their playerbase nowadays, and it's expected of a healthy online game to have a good amount of livestreamers, I think Twitch might overtake Youtube as far as gaming goes.

    1. I hope they don't, indeed! I know game devs have to read through the whole chat live to fish up interesting questions to answer, though. At least, the SWTOR devs try to do that (sometimes more so than other times). I feel like I lose brain cells every second when I watch Twitch chat, so it must suck to have to do that as a job. Then again, you do get to work on games, so... :)

      I enjoy livestreams on Twitch more than prerecorded videos on YouTube myself. It just feel more 'real', more personal. Like as if you're almost there. Overall, I don't watch that much video content, though. I prefer the written word.


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