QFT: The Old Republic Edition

December 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Posted in mmorpg, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 6 Comments
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For those of you who couldn't read the post title.

With little to no news about Guild Wars 2 coming down the pipe until (probably) the new year, I was surprised to find an article about Star Wars: The Old Republic that I actually wanted to write about outside the weekly Friday updates from Bioware. Massively put up Brianna Royce’s impressions of her hands-on with TOR. At LucasArts. Like, in the building, with the game, for an entire day. Ladies and gentlemen, my arch-nemesis, Brianna Royce.

Let’s start from the beginning. The first thing Brianna tried to do was jump off a cliff.

Of course it didn’t work, because the zone designers anticipated my mischief.

I was recently confronted with a term I’d never read before. I’m not getting any younger and perhaps I’m starting to miss out on some types of internet parlance. Someone reacted to one of my ingeniously hilarious Guild Wars 2 jokes with *facedesk*. I was confused for a moment. Does facepalm really need to be taken to hyperbolic lengths?

Apparently so. Upon reading that she couldn’t jump off a cliff, I immediately thought of *facedesk*. When will game designers learn that if people want to jump off a fricking cliff, they should be able to jump off a fricking cliff. The first thing I’m going to do in Guild Wars 2, is go jump off a bridge, a cliff, a hill, a building, whatever I can. The 2nd thing I’m going to do is figure out how to join Tasha‘s cliffjumping society. 3rd will probably be dye my armour hot pink and troll some homophobic 14 year olds. 4th will be to find the hottest money making scheme and exploit that the much nerdier (and I mean much nerdier) players discovered within minutes of launch. 5th will be me jumping off yet another cliff.

Jumping off cliffs is important. Not to rant or anything. I may have gone slightly off topic. I mean, you can jump in TOR, we’ve all seen the videos. Force Leap, jumping down from a height in stealth. Later she even comments on jumping.

Jumping off of medium heights resulted in my rolling gracefully to my feet.

I just think it sounds like where you jump is being controlled. Never a good thing.

The early quests were all fairly standard MMO fare, which was just fine with me, especially given the top-notch quest-pointers (standard only in the newest games). I killed my critters, rescued hapless padawans, looted fallen enemies, equipped the good loot and brought the junk back to the vendor NPCs. Occasionally an NPC would contact me remotely and save me the run;

Standard quest fare doesn’t really bother me. Particularly early on. There has to be a common ground, some training wheels, to get people into the game. I’m hoping things diversify of course. What I do like is that you get commed and don’t have to do the whole run back. It just makes sense in a sci fi world.

I could also hop a speederbike for some on-rails real-time swift-travel (very handy when I needed to visit the trainer NPC, who highlighted on my minimap when he had new skills for me). When I got lost, an NPC terminal could direct me to my destination, or I could thumb through the Codex, a Mass Effect-style database automagically compiled as you adventure.

I’m a little unhappy with onrails travel. If it’s instant, fine, but give me control over it if not. LOTRO’s travel system is horrible. I nearly fell asleep multiple times trying to make my way from one place to another on automated horseback. I kid you not. I suppose that was more about distance (10 minute commutes) than the automation.

I do like that the skills trainer is highlighted when he’s got skills available. I tend to forget these things and play through entire levels without picking up new skills sometimes.

Personally I think a UI more intuitively fits with sci-fi games than fantasy games, so I’m looking forward to that improved immersion.

Everyone gets a resurrection skill too!

Well that sounds familiar. I wonder which games seminar gave rise to this design direction.

The dialogue system guarantees that returning to your quest-giver isn’t just a mad dash of clicks. Your quest choices actually matter. The NPCs talk to you, and you’re going to want to talk back. I never once had the urge to skip the quest text (in fact, I was terrified I’d miss something if I looked away!), and while sometimes I felt as though I were performing menial tasks in between watching a really awesome movie, I didn’t care, because it was a really awesome movie (and the menial tasks were amusing too).

This essentially sums up what I’ve been expecting from TOR. A frustratingly large number of people are so dead set against Bioware making a game that rests strongly on story. In other words, they’re worried Bioware might make a Bioware game. I expect that Bioware’s MMO essentially will end up like any other. A series of menial tasks. Bioware will of course have the advantage of the ‘really awesome movie’ part.

There are many descriptions of just how lush the story, characters, art and acting are, but the following was what impressed me.

A pair of Jedi Masters tasked me with determining whether or not their apprentices were involved in an illicit affair. When I confronted the Padawans, I decided to allow them to bribe me to keep my mouth shut about their romance. (I broke character, but I wanted to see what would happen.) The Masters didn’t seem to believe me, but they took me at my word. Later when I returned to collect my bribe (a rare lightsaber crystal), I got the option to refuse to accept it, which earned me the loving couple’s loyalty.

It’s not so much new or innovative. Just new and innovative in MMOs. I’m aware this isn’t exactly news either, but confirmation of the sorts of things I want to see are worth blogging about.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Group dialogue.

We crowded around the first trigger NPC; once everyone had engaged, we were off and running in a synchronized conversation between her and the group. Your mates don’t all respond to the NPC or the event at once; every group member gets to choose his own response, then the game performs a silent roll to determine whose answer is actually used.

Apparently that’s well known, just not to me. Here’s more.

The interaction is shot like a movie. It’s believably cinematic; the camera swings around to focus on whoever’s talking, and there’s considerable potential to create some tense and amazing scenes (especially when the characters disagree about the correct course of action).

She does make it sound quite good. Those videos make it look even better. I’ll probably post those up tomorrow.

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6 Comments

  1. I just want to point out that it is possible to jump to your death. Maybe just not on Tython. Branden, from TOROCast, describes jumping to his death on Coruscant.

    So now that should make this the perfect game, no? 🙂

    • I’m definitely waiting to see whats possible and whats not. if i can only jump off certain cliffs i’m not happy.

  2. Did you read 1up’s article? Not as gushing as Royce’s, though it seems like Massively got a much more in depth look into Jedi starting area than they did. 1up also criticized the quests for being “typical” though what would you expect from a starting zone? Massively was a lot more fair, I think, and I liked the article for its details. I didn’t even bother reading the IGN one, it was like 4 paragraphs in comparison.

    • i did not, i’ll have to take a look. massively’s article was well written and extensively detailed, which was what caught my eye.

  3. The nice thing about jumping off of cliffs in Aion is being able to ‘pop open’ your wings and glide to a soft landing. The downside of that is if you forget and try it in another game…. SPLAT! 😉

    • i know what you mean, got used to there being no health in server minecraft and then started dying all the time.


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