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TOR And The MMO Time-sink

Published by under Blog,Game Mechanics,gameplay on Oct. 10. 2011.



As far as mmo’s go time-sinks come in many forms. Raids, crafting, PvP and among the most popular. While these can be very entertaining and fun to boot, all they do is to serve one purpose and that is to keep the player playing.


This article will be complied from my knowledge of  past mmo’s, and what information we have about how TOR will approach this.



PvP is a staple of almost every mmo and as such the gene has found ways to get this part of the gaming experience into that time-sink zone.

Sure its a fun part of the game and you can dabble in it as much or as little as you want.


The time-sink comes when you have rewards for taking part in your PvP past time. This comes in the way of offering items such as armor or weapons that you can save for in the way of a point system. The more points you gain the better the item you get. Which in in turn makes you better at PvP as the items you gain are trailered to that task.


This method is tried and tested and this sets mmo’s apart from FPS games. Where time spent doing tasks makes you better equipped and everyone entering in PvP. While we play and pay we gain more benefits if your just coming in on an mmo you have ground to cover. Unlike FPS game where everyone is equal and only your skill dictates the outcome of a given match.


TOR on PvP is heading down this well paved path and rightly so. If you put the time in to PvP and amassed countless hours you should have something to show for the time you have dedicated to that task.


Its a Win, Win for TOR and its players.




PvE unlike PvP is a must to get yourself going. Thats unless you want to RP a beggar and stay at level one all your gaming life. (PS I know someone in WOW did lvl by other means)


Questing is a form of PvE as you kills mods to complete your tasks, then at the end-game we have raids.


Questing has been stale for the longest time in mmo’s we repeat the same go out kill this return get loot and exp for doing so. Like it or hate it we are not going to get away from the fact that quests are a necessity to games of all types. Many are enjoyable but mmo’s have so far let us down with making it way more of a grind and it has become lack luster at best.


TOR is trying to infuse story into he game. Yes its still questing and yes you will go out kill things come back get loot and exp. Yet this is done with entertainment in mind. There is a reason why BioWare has been throwing story down our throats for so long, and thats because it does make the difference.


We all know about TOR and story and even if the game is almost a perfect match to another this one area will make it stand head and shoulders above the rest. Win times 9000 for TOR.


Raids on the other hand has been the biggest time-sink to-date. There is always a new patch with new must have items to be gotten.

We as gamers crave shinny new things and this is the place we get our fix.


As long as raid items do not scale up in mammoth proportions then raiding is fine and a fun pasttime you can indulge in as is your want. But when the new raid trumps your old gear so bad it makes it makes you look like a noob and makes you totally obsolete to all other PvE content thats where I have a problem with it.

Add to this raid lockouts and you have proverbial mountain to climb. Not just happy of making the raid 4 + long they decided to make you wait to give it another shot.


If you have to be fully geared out in the latest raid items that will take 3-6 months obtaining, then your milking your gamers and this is a poor excuse for added content. You should only progress in small steps and with new gear just be slightly better off for it.


We are still unsure as to which way TOR will go with raids as the first patch is just ain’t even being talked about. So the verdict is still out on this one, I’m hopping for a steady curve that will not gimp your class is your not kitted out right.

Yet from what we know it seems that some of the formula is being followed with raid lockouts. So this takes the win to and even or a win –





Crafting will be broken in to two parts, Crafting and then Gathering.


From the time of muds crafting has been a time honored past time in mmo’s.

I dare say I’ve crafted longer than most people in WOW have raided. I spent my first 18 months in Ulima Online (doing nothing else) at 8 hours + per day crafting and almost 3 years in SWG crafting the best gear you could obtain. So yeh when it come to crafting I can say I know a thing or two, and what it takes to be the best when it comes to this time-sink.


Now in the past you would level crafting like you would level you char, bit by bit and you have to place a great deal of time into it to become the best. Now this would take you out of other activity’s as you would have to spend a vast amount of time to level your chosen skill.


When you reach the top of your game you can churn out items at a whim as long as you have the mats needed to do so.


TOR is kind of heading in the same direction. I say kind of…..


TOR has added another time-sink into the equation here. Even with your companions doing said crafting it will take up to 24 hours to complete one item.

Just think about that for a little… 24 hours from the time someone needs/asks for the item to the time you get it into there grubby little hands.


Now I’ve crafted items over weeks before in SWG. Yet this was making 1000’s of items to sell on my many vendors and like the companions these were set off in a factory. If I had a order I could whip up a batch of what ever my costumer wanted in no time at all. So why oh why would anyone need to wait 24 hour to complete a task other than to have an added time-sink. It’s just a really odd way of doing things.




Onto Gathering. In the past this is what where the time-sink in the crafting process took place. Demand always far out-ways the supply when your trying to master a given craft.


You never seem to have more than you need and there has been a few different ways to the way you gather your items some more effective than others.


Nodes – This acts just like a mob you swing at it then it disappears. It gives you one mat of a given type and then sets a off a timer until it reappears. These are highly ineffective and will lead to one player making a loop of around 20-30 nodes and will constantly mine them as they appear. If you do not know the rotation and timing of these nodes you have little to no chance collecting what you need as most if not all the nodes on a server can be covered by just a hand full of players.

The normal rule of thumb here is that the players that harvest nodes in a loop tend not to be the crafters themselves. They normally sell mats on as when they are doing there loops mats become highly sort after as the chances of getting what you need becomes greatly diminished.

This in-turn hikes the price of mat up greatly. And with high prices comes a gold sellers dream. Every game that uses nodes has gold sellers way and above those that use the zone example below.


Zones – Zones are just that, an area where a you can harvest vast amounts of mats over the time that you are positioned there. Chopping trees in a wood, digging for ore in a mine are all zones. These are vastly more effective than nodes as one or two players can not block others from gaining much needed parts for there own crafting needs.

Zones take the hit and miss out of gathering, you will always gain something and at the same level as everyone else. Yet what you gather may have a wider range than those of nodes which tend to be of one type of res depending on its location


Kills – The last method come in the way of PvE kills. Which ever way the game have set up in that of nodes or zones one thing will ring true in both types. These will both have kill types mats available for players to harvest. Skins, bones and the like that every mmo had had from the beginning of time.


TOR looks like it going the way of the node. I remember some time back that the bounty hunter sent Mako to mine a node as he took care of some nearby mobs.

I’m not at all thrilled by this as I see it, its the bane of anything that could be considered a basis of a good crafting system.


Now there is a better way to do this and without the player having to be UN-heroic like. Now we have these things called companions that are waiting to be bossed around by you an at any given moment. Let these do your dirty work for you. All you need to do is take them out to a given point and tell them to dig or chop away like there is no tomorrow.

Use the SWG method of shifting zones. The time-sink here is finding a high level of mats in a given area. And being companions once you set them to work they can just fade out leaving the area clear and clutter free. Also as an added bonus this would not give easy pickings to anyone passing the area, as 100’s of companions would kind of give the game away.


How did anyone over at BioWare not think of this before. Maybe unlike me they have not spent 1000’s of hours perfecting skills when it comes to crafting. There has to be a time-sink crafting somewhere, that what sets us apart from anyone else. We are just a dedicated like those who are at the top of the PvP ladder because for us the being the best crafter means something. We will dedicating many hours to be the best and it is just as important as having the best raid gear or being oh so PIMP in PvP.


And why do BioWare feel the need you have to pay them. TOR is going to have a fair number of cash-sinks as we progress through the game. Taxi’s, armor repair along with skills and upgrades are all going to take credits out of the world. So why do they feel the need to add to that ever growing list of things to spend it on is beyond me. Why we ask them to put there lives on the line every time we take them out in the world. Yet putting a few stitches in some clothing and it like “show me the money”.


If I was to take on the role of a companion I would be like heck yeh send me go dig as long as I’m not getting shot at I’m good. Even if that task was to shift horse dung my only question would be do I get a shovel ?

And if not I would get into position. Anything would be better than getting blown to bits over and over again.




Yet some things are hidden in plain sight.

These are the things we do not think about when we focus of time-sinks in mmo’s. Yet there are a few that are cast in shadows and though they are time-sinks all the same we tend not to think of them in the same context.


I will say TOR has adopted a great feature when you can send your minions back to town to sell junk goods. I’ve never fully understood why this was ever thought a good idea and many still continue to have this in some of the best games around. This will save me countless hours of aggravation in mid quest to have to shuffle back to town so I will have ample credits just to fix my items or skill up at the end of the day.


Also the way you dish out crafting and gathering skills. Although I find the way TOR has implemented these skills awkward at best you can command  your troops at the drop of a hat.Without the need to trundle back to your ship and over see every part of it.


Taxi !!! Where would games be today without this feature ?

It had to be in didn’t it ?

Well TOR could well of shipped without the need for this service. Mounts even though these appear later in the game could of become the opt out reason not to have them.


Skills – Just like taking junk back to town I have never got to grips to the reason behind talking to some npc just so I could gain my next skill. Maybe something could be done to get rid of this medial task… oh say a communication device or something.

Now where would we get one of those in the a game like TOR….Thats right TOR already has them. You can gain quests on the fly, turn in said quests and receive payment. yet it can’t send a text explaining how you could use a new skill that you just unlocked. A skill that takes a vendor less time it would take you to say, hey you ripped me off this skill is junk.

Really get rid of this very old way of doing things. It would make players much more effective to have the latest skills at hand than to be thrown out of combat run 10 mins in the other direction just to get a skill. Do away with it BioWare we’ve moved on from times of old.



Now I’m all for out of combat heals and all. It sure beats paying a heap on pots every waking moment. Yet I can not see the reason you have to stay still…

Is not the reason behind this to keep the playing in the heroic combat ?

Yet all does is the exact opposite.


You have to be well out the way of mobs and stand still watching the timer run down. If I’m a big bad BH I think I could manage to vent heat as I wind my way along to my next objective. And who would want to stay around exhaust fumes anyway ?

No wonder the BH has that funny helm on all the time its a freaking gas mask.


Well moving while doing this task is really be what BioWare intended its use to be, and thats keeping the player in combat with as little downtime as possible.


There are many more that I could think of that could and should be done away with, and many more that could be improved upon. All in all TOR has taking some true good traditional time-sink and wove them into the game. Some points they have excelled at yet some silly old mistakes have been made when it comes to TOR.


I hoped TOR would just go that extra mile and make some of the more mundane tasks a little easier. Yet in the wider picture the balance is tipping to more of the same after following the path that was set out many, many years before.


Well thats all from me for now.


Until next time, MrWarlock signing off.



7 responses so far

7 Responses to “TOR And The MMO Time-sink”

  1. karayneon 10 Oct 2011 at 8:38 pm

    aside from the PVP icon giving me horrible fits on my display when I accidentally clicked it its a nice article.

  2. MrWarlockon 10 Oct 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Pic sorted updated to more of an epic status 🙂

  3. Wolf0351on 10 Oct 2011 at 10:49 pm

    I enjoyed your column today. The end though seemed rushed. It became difficult to read because of the grammar. I don’t like nodes in crafting either I prefer the zones. Although I used the nodes in LOTRO to make good money and I was a crafter as well. I also believe the items that are going to take a day the full 24hours are going to be the highest tier items. I don’t feel they should be cranked out like on an assembly line. Those items are to be hard to find and to make. I don’t think in 6 months half the server should have an Artifact weapon and armor. Unless that is their craft or they are in guilds. These items should be very rare and hard to get. Will I craft, yes, and I will have someone who is a master at something.

    Sorry, I am a debater at heart. There are so many parts of your column I agree with, getting the low end resources, preventing gold spamming. Several other things. But I want the best making gear.

  4. Undeadfatheron 11 Oct 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I worry about crafting.

    In other MMO’s you could craft that cool weapon or get a Better one in a raid drop. I always felt that the crafted items were subpar compaired to Dropped items. How will this be solved?

  5. Zlattoon 13 Oct 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Great article, I do so look forward to the NDA dropping to get some insight on how the crafters are really feeling about things. The Leaks sites are just making me worried. I keep getting a feeling of ‘dummy-downness’ on some of their choices. Less mods and less common mod locations in items really concerns me.

  6. noodleson 13 Oct 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Please get someone to proof read before posting

  7. Figmenton 14 Oct 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Custom avatar

    I was really enjoying the article until it turned into, well, an ignorant and poorly typed rant. I’m not sure why the end was so rushed, but I will presume that it is the sole reason for the complaint as the majority of the article was clearly written by someone with both knowledge and experience. That being said I will still have to disagree with you on some of the conclusions you’ve drawn 😀

    Let’s start with the Taxi bit. Why wouldn’t you have them? If mounts solve the issue later on then use your mount and save money, but the service should absolutely still exist for those who prefer to use it. There are many benefits to taking a 2-5 minute break from the game to stretch your legs or use the restroom. If you have no need for these things than great! Use your mount, or maybe even play some peggle :). All in all the game would absolutely be absent a useful and necessary aspect if taxi systems were missing.

    Skills- Think of this in both a lore sense and a realistic one. When I’m in the middle of a quest and I complete part, it makes sense for a communication to tell me what to do next. If I become strong enough that I could learn a new move I still need someone to teach me. Have you ever learned how to do a complicated maneuver like a Butterfly twist by someone telling you how to do it? The answer in 99/100 cases will invariably be no. Cutting out trainers would make the game feel like a rush to get to the end instead of enjoying the journey. Also, on your comparison to companions carting of merchandise to sell; I see these as two completely different items. If your inventory is full you lose a fundamental ability to collect items. If you level and are ready for new skills there’s no rush. You can handle yourself as is, but when you find yourself back in civilization you should see a trainer.

    Out of combat heals- On similar notes as the skills, I feel it would be inappropriate to streamline this more than they have already. If you finish combat and are a little worse for wear a short rest is a very appropriate response, and it also gives players a moment to think about the fight they just had, and the one they’re likely about to start. Compared to other MMO’s this is still an incredible improvement. 10 seconds to fully heal and prep for another fight without needing to carry stuff around in my inventory that’s proportional to my level so that its useful? YES PLEASE!

    Gathering- I absolutely agree with your opinion of node gathering. It’s just bad. My favorite experience with a “gathering” profession would have to be the Archaeology bit that WoW added with cataclysm. It was a zone type set up, but also forced players to “work” for their resources still.

    Crafting- When I first heard that some recipes would take 24 hours to complete I was hopeful that this meant crafting was going to reach its full potential. In other MMO’s I’ve played (primarily wow) the only purpose of crafting was to reach max level and make the one or two actually useful pieces. If SWTOR forces quality over quantity by putting out good crafting gear and making it take real time to craft they will have improved upon previous crafting setups tenfold. My greatest hope for crafting in SWTOR is that every piece you can make actually has a good use.

    PVP- I love what pvp brings to the table. You actually get to go out there and fight human players. There really isn’t anything more exciting than knowing you bested a real person, nor is there any better teacher than when it is you that are bested. My complaint with pvp is exactly what every game I’ve seen does with it. Pvp should not reward players with pvp gear. Pvping a lot rewards you with experience (not in game experience mind you) that makes you a better player. Spending enormous amounts of time pvping shouldn’t give you a gear advantage over other similar level characters in world pvp. What if instead pvping (which should be fun to pvpers because they enjoy pvping for what it is) were rewarded with currency for their kills, or maybe even gathering materials. Give them tokens that could be spent the same way tickets at an arcade can (except preferably have rewards that are worth a damn). The only factor, in my opinion, that should ever make the difference in a pvp fight between two characters of the same level and gear is skill.

    Currency- you mentioned a disagreement over the numerous things that required monetary funding. Personally I find nothing more annoying in a game than when I have lots of money and its worthless. I would much rather needing more money (and having a reasonable means of attaining it) than ever be wandering around looking for something to spend my money on.

    Alright that’s it lol. There’s a lot there and I hope anyone who reads it all finds at least a few things to make it worth their while. MrM please understand my post to be an invitation for discourse and not an insult, as that is most assuredly not my intent.