Take your personal spaceship, for example. Fairly early in the class storyline, at about level 20 or so, each class gets a spaceship. They use this spaceship to travel around the galaxy. As well, all your companions are located on the ship, and it's where you talk to them and continue their individual storyline. The ship exists in game, and is usually found in a hangar in the planetary spaceport. It's very Millennium Falcon, and very much a part of Star Wars.
However, the downside of the personal ship is that it makes travel very tedious. To travel from one planet to another, you have to go to the hangar, board your ship, travel to destination, leave the ship, leave the hangar.
As well, sometimes the planet doesn't have a true spaceport with multiple hangars. To get around this, TOR puts the hangars on a space station in orbit. So the worst case scenario becomes something like:
- Take shuttle from planet to station.
- Go to hangar and board ship.
- Fly to destination.
- Leave ship for station.
- Take shuttle from station to planet.
It actually takes a fair bit of time, and involves multiple loading screens. I think that TOR recently patched an option on some planets to compress steps 1 and 2.
This process is fine while you're levelling, because you don't actually travel from planet to planet that often. But then at 50, you might actually travel a fair bit, to do the dailies on different planets, or to go to the Fleet to use the markets or buy gear.
Now, imagine if TOR didn't have a spaceship at all. What would travel have looked like?
I think it probably would have been something like clicking on a shuttle at a spaceport brings up the interstellar map, and then you travel to the destination spaceport directly. One step and only one loading screen. It would make your day-to-day life at endgame so much easier.
Having a personal ship is pretty cool, but it comes at a cost, and makes the endgame far more annoying than it should be.