Unsubscribing from Star Wars the Old Republic

About a month ago I made the decision not to renew my subscription to Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR).  Today I learned that its switching to the free-to-play model in “Fall”, which will tie in with the release of Mists of Pandaria for World of Warcraft on September 25.  So, what were the main factors in choosing to unsubscribe:
  • Time commitments, feeling tired, had to stop doing something.
  • It stopped being fun and started being a chore.
  • I didn’t log in for a month.
  • Then I found I could only find time to play once or twice a week.
  • It was always offline on Tuesday nights, one of my free nights.
  • I noticed that I’d rather play World of Tanks for 1-2 hours a night than SWTOR. 
  • Then I started playing the WoW AH to fill in time…
TLDR: other games were more fun for me.
So what made SWTOR less fun than it could have been?
Major stuff
1. Inability to complete class quest solo.  I simply ended up hating my first class, which was the one I had spent months wanting to play.  I found myself unable to tank content. First I could not hold aggro on mobs, and I couldn’t figure out why due to the lack of information in the game system and the lack of feedback provided by the game system.  Second I lacked defensive cooldowns, compared to mitigation buttons I could push in WoW I had options like regenerate 6% of health, which felt underwhelming.  Third, playing the assassin class required constant focus on two different parts of the screen (buffs and mobs) because if buffs dropped you died, and if the mobs ate the healer, you died.  Finally, the class just didn’t look as good in actual play as the preview videos had made it seem.  In my feedback to Bioware I described it as “like a fly buzzing against the window”.  There is something broken in MMOs when it comes to stealth classes – same problem as I had in RIFT – I could stealth past mobs, but it was pointless to do so because the game was balanced around me killing them to level up.
2. Large Zone size, dullness of terrain variety (all worlds were mono-worlds, all ice, all sane, all city), the colour palette, combined with the sheer time to complete mid-high level zones (you would spend days on the same planet), meant that after finishing each zone I was utterly sick and tired of it.  A downside of this is I quickly stopped wanting to level alts.  The early zones were good, but Tattooine onwards … ugh.
3. Loading screens, moving from world to world was a time consuming chore that required active attention – unlike the flight paths in WoW which allow you to AFK and make a coffee.
4. The auction house interface was cumbersome.  In the end it proved easy to vendor gear than to try and sell it on the AH.  This devalued the crafting system – why bother building stuff when you can’t sell it?
5. The ship combat, initially interesting, it quickly turned into a painful grind requiring hair trigger reflexes to avoid failure.  Combined with 3 above, I now feel that having player ships was a mistake.
6. Combat – killing mobs was tiresome.  A typical fight involved using 15-20 different abilities, pushing each button 2-3 times.  Companions are fragile and easily killed, at which point you die too.  Every pull required cooldown/crowd control and companion use, which contributed to making me feel that my class was less than heroic in power.  After trying various tank, heal, and DPS class combos I ended up enjoying none of them and felt forced to use the ones where I spent the least amount of time dying.  In other words combat controlled companion choice, there was always a right choice for your companion, and all other choices felt wrong.
7. The guild/party chat bug at release.  Made playing with others impossible.  Other bugs were merely annoying, this one wrecked my chance to be an effective guildmaster, and contributed to my feelings that I could not cut it in group content.
Minor Stuff
1. Never able to actually max out light/dark side while levelling, unless you forsook all attempts at roleplaying.
2. Voice acting, good, but a lot of conversation options were meaningless.  I never earned enough social points from group content to actually do anything interesting.
3. Each world had two quest chains, and it was easy to miss a step, and then find yourself travelling back through completed zones to finish something.  While you could drop the world chain, if you dropped your class quest you could end up unable to progress further.
4. No macros/addons.  Going back to a 2006 style UI felt … clunky.  Slow.  
5. PvP required grinding in warzones that were not fun.  I took one look at it and skipped PvP entirely.
6. Too many companions – no clear reason for some of them to be around.  I wanted to shoot some of them, or sell them for spare parts.
7. No LFG tool at launch, when implemented it was only available on a server pool of players, so wait times varied from 30 seconds to three hours, and if anyone dropped from your group you were screwed.  I disliked the fact that after finishing the LFG instance you were marooned away from where you were questing previously.
The good
1. Aoe looting. (WoW has stolen this idea)
2. Adjusted loot tables in instances so that gear drops were mainly for the classes present in the instance. (I wish WoW would steal this one)
3. It was Star Wars!
4. Pre-Tatooine worlds were good (so levels 1-24 are fine).
What did I learn?
1. Don’t try and be a guild GM if you have commitments elsewhere.
2. I don’t have time to play more than one MMORPG at a level of competency that satisfies me.  WoT is okay, because I can ignore clan wars and still enjoy compelling gameplay at lower levels of play.
3. I don’t think anyone will replace WoW with a WoW style game, until Blizzard unveil Titan.
4. Don’t obsess about games before release.
5. Never play a melee/tank toon again.
6. I’m not a companion/pet player either.

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