One of the big items of news that came from the UK player event SWTORGB, that I especially liked was the information we got on the mysterious “Datacrons”. Credited by Daniel Erickson as the first known person in a community play event to discover one, “Kandycane” brings us this tidbit on the discovery and it’s use from his game play impressions…..
Daniel Erickson: Datacrons are, in fact, spread all over TOR in hard to reach places, do appear on your map if you’re close enough, have some awesome history pieces for your codex, are very hard to get (I’ve only gotten a couple ever in playing) and do permanently increase your stats. Kudos to Kandycane for being the first person I’ve ever seen to get one at an event. Explorer badge!
Now, whilst the last 2 paragraphs are mostly sarcasm, I might add that jump was actually useful, I jumped from small notch to the next up this pipe and when I was at the top I was able to maneuver around the hill to my goal. What was it? Well it certainly surprised me it was an Artifact Holocron. Interacting with it told me what it was and that it was attuned to…. “Increasing my Agility attribute”, I could only use it one time to increase my agility and I did so, whilst getting a codex entry for my efforts.
What does this infer? That there are similar holocrons like this scattered across worlds that you can explore off the beaten track to find? Please let it be so, exploration is such an undervalued thing in MMO’s and I really thought this was one of the greatest things I found from this day, probably somebody will turn around and tell me this was confirmed months ago or something, but hey… I didn’t know about it and I thought it was pretty cool.
Props to this person for the discovery I wish it had been me!
Then in a response to the cries from the community after the information was released, Georg Zoeller had this to say to better explain the frequency and their use, and to explain Bioware’s thought process on their inclusion into the game.
Georg Zoeller: in response to the thread “Datacrons the farming begins”
4/8/2011 12:32 AM
Just to clarify a few things here, to avoid unnecessary panic attacks.
We put a lot of focus in SWTOR on making your character’s journey mean something.
We’re trying to eliminate grinding as much as possible, make your character’s story matter and give you meaningful things to do on your way through the game.
We’re also not shying away from rewarding or encouraging certain activities. The primary example, of course, being story. It’s very hard to ignore, definitely not something we consider optional. It’s hard to convey to people just how much impact it has on our game, but if you look at the feedback from all our recent events, people usually walk away surprised by just how powerful of an impact the feature has.
Exploration is another example. Exploration is an optional activity, but it is encouraged. If you choose to play just along the critical path, you can beat the game, have a good time, but you will find it is not necessarily the path of least resistance either:
Without exploring the world and stumbling on unique treasures, hidden quests, codex entries, the occasional world boss or encampment of rebels, you will be missing out not only on equipment rewards, XP, chances to further affection with your companion or build your alignment… but also you will deprive yourself of some very interesting stories
Datacrons are an exploration reward.
Yes, their effects are permanent, however they are also predetermined (there are X datacrons with exactly these effects, not randomized) so we can ensure they are balanced and luck has nothing to do with their effect. Their locations are fixed, not randomized and they don’t ‘spawn’, meaning they will always be there for your character when you get to the location.
We’re not talking about people having to find the 99 hidden flowers on each planet or something like that; the number of datacrons is small, scaling with the size of the planet. Think single digits. Not the kind of thing you would usually associate with grinding.
Do they matter? In the grand scheme of things, sure, they’ll matter. How much? That depends what type of player you are. If you are in pursuit of the most optimized character ever, you will probably want to pick them up, but most people will probably do just fine with finding just a handful of them.
If you are not an explorer – no big deal – datacrons always stay accessible to you, so you can’t lock yourself out of them and you can come back and pick them up later in the game when you have your comfy personal transport to get around in.
In short – we think it’s a feature that adds to the game, that rewards going off the beaten path and discovering the wonders we put all over the worlds.
To hear this information bothers some people. One of the most frequent responses to this info on the negative side that I have heard so far is a comment such as this, “ohh great another item I will have to hunt for to make my character on par with everyone else”. While this view point is understandable and valid, I choose to see it from another angle, from the other end of the spectrum.
I choose to look at it like this, “ohh great! Another item that I get the joy of searching out to make my character as optimized as possible, woot!” Bioware fanboi aside, I love these kinds of mechanics added to games that I play. They give me a sense of accomplishment and joy and are more fuel to feed the fire of min-maxing that I love.
I am the type of person that believes very heavily that a player of a MMO ought not be able to have a character that is fully optimized unless they are willing to put in the effort to do so. Whether it comes from top tier raids completed, time spent at the crafting bench, story questing completed, or from items such as exploratory rewards such as “Datacrons”.
There are many other in game mechanics which games of the past have implemented to make sure that the ones rolling the fully optimized characters have had to progress through to get there. This is enough however to understand where I am coming from on this issue. If another player is going to end up with a character that is optimized to the hilt like mine will be, then I want them to have to work for it because I know I will be doing so and it’s only fair.
I feel that datacrons, while the benefit seems small at first, could have a very big impact on the abilities that your character will have when the full amount of their benefits are realized. Lets take Georg’s statement about their frequency and look at it a bit and see what kind of numbers we are talking about.
the number of datacrons is small, scaling with the size of the planet. Think single digits.
Ok, we know how many planets there are scheduled for release because they have recently said that there will be no more new planets added to the game, so if we can assume that they have revealed them all to us at this point we have a total of seventeen (moons and all that discussion aside, lets just say seventeen for this speculation).
If the amount of datacrons on a planet scales with the size of the planet, then we see that in that mix we have some planets that are small and some planets that are large. He said “think single digits” so if I was to come up with an average amount on each planet, my best guess would be five per planet. Some will contain more, some less but if I was to guess I would say five per planet would be a good guess.
They have said also that there would be some planets that were of the opposite faction that you will not be able to visit so lets take two of those planets out of the equation to account for the datacrons on those planets that you will not have access to.
So if we have fifteen possible planets to look for them, and a rough average of five per planet, that equates out to seventy five possible skill point bonuses if all were acquired for a single character. Based on the knowledge that each will only give a one time bonus of plus one point to a certain skill per datacron, that still ends up being a big advantage to your character if you choose to seek them out, or a big disadvantage to your character if you don’t.
If you want to be fully optimized you will have to seek them out, there is no other choice because these items will be static so there is no way you can just walk up to the auction house and buy some. You will have to go out into the world and explore to find them or get left behind in the progression curve.
Now a more in depth way to think on these is to break that total down by the amount of skills that they will be distributed against. I do not know for sure because I am not in testing but I am going to give my best guess and say that each character will have a total of seven skills to have the datacron bonuses slot into. Like I said, I am not sure about this because I do not even know what they are at this point and how many, but I assume there will be something like “strength” or “dexterity” and etc, with an average number of seven available.
If we look at past Bioware development mindsets, we notice that they usually strive to achieve a balance in most design decisions they make so I am going to assume that the amount of datacron bonuses will be distributed among the skills evenly. If we had a total of (rampant speculation here) seventy five available then passing them out among seven skills would mean that each could possibly have a boost of ten or so to it’s maximum total.
In the end that may not seem like a lot, but when you factor in the thought that for the role that you are trying to fill, whether it be dps, or healer or etc, you will have key stats that you will need to bump in any way possible. If you were a warrior counting on your strength to enhance your damage output would you sneeze at a ten point bonus that other players that haven’t put in the effort to find the datacrons wont have? If you are striving to do maximum damage and have a fully optimized character you wont, you will run all over the world trying to find them!
I can’t wait to get out in the world and find these dudes, I just hope Bioware implements a “server first system” to where people that are the first to find them have their characters names immortalized via a list of things or deeds they were first on their server to achieve, somewhere that others can see and be amazed at.
Wouldn’t that be cool!
Thanks for reading and putting up with my rampant speculation!
Please do give me your thoughts on this or any issue I write about, communication welcome. 🙂
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