Gordon Walton: So when I worked on Star Wars Galaxies, we did an expansion called Jump to Lightspeed, which added all the space elements to Star Wars Galaxies. It was a huge expansion and an awesome space experience, actually.
But what we found was that a lot of the players who were playing the game that we had were not thrilled by us having space -- because they knew it came at the expense of adding more stuff to the stuff they were already playing. So it wasn't positive for retention, because the game was a very different game. It was a 3D space game. And in fact, a whole lot of people who play RPG type games don't really do the 3D thing that well -- it isn't their strongest suit. That was part of what we found out. The control scheme had to be different; everything had to be different. It was not as advantageous to us as we had hoped.
And in fact, we had a backlash of some anti-retention from the current customers that we already had because they were enjoying the game they were playing and wanted more of that, or wanted that fixed more than they wanted to fly around space in the Star Wars universe. It wasn't that flying around space in the Star Wars universe wasn't cool: the problem was that they wanted more of what they were already doing.
So all things that you do, no matter what you do when you're changing the game, you're going to have hopefully intended (consequences), and you're also going to have some unintended consequences. The rule that we kind of violated there, for me, was that we did too big of a jump from what was available. So customers want change, and they want the game experience to change over time, but they typically react badly to huge changes to the game. You leave people behind, and they don't have the time to kind of warm up to it.
I think it is about the on-ramp. The on-ramp is a big, steep, huge set of stairs that you kind of have to climb up -- where if you walk up gradually, then you tend to bring more of the audience along with you. Because again, it isn't one audience that we have; it is a whole bunch of little micro-audiences that are motivated completely differently from what we think on the side of those of us who make the game. They are motivated differently. The ones that are just like us we understand perfectly, and unfortunately they are a minority.
Taking Walton's words into context, we can probably develop some speculation of how space combat could be seamlessly integrated into Star Wars: The Old Republic... and without turning the people who don't jive with the Z axis into a perceived failure.