The Force Calls Me

June 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Posted in mmorpg, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 10 Comments
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I’ve been repeating myself until I’m blue in the face that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be good because it’s a Bioware game. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to put that kind of pressure on Bioware, and of course it’s always possible they’ll turn out a bad game. SWTOR is being produced in Austin for example, not the traditional Bioware studios.

That doesn’t get me down though, it’s still a game company that has never truly let me down, even if I take issue with parts of their games. I’ve always said I wish Bioware didn’t keep me on such narrow rails and reuse so much art. SWTOR looks like the cure for that.

It’s an MMO with an open world and at last count had something like 17 planets announced. There should be a lot of diversity in the art.

The quintessential part of a Bioware game however, is the story. Something that critics of SWTOR have been saying, really isn’t all that important. They laugh and mock the mention of Bioware’s “fourth pillar” saying it’s unimportant, and that nobody cares about the story in an online game. I think I remember Karen from Shut Up We’re Talking (sadly now defunct) saying that she thought Bioware had the wrong idea about MMOs because MMOs are supposed to be about the people playing, not the story.

Rubbish.

MMOs may be about playing with other people but where does it say we can’t have a good story to go along with it? Do you go to the movies with friends or alone? No. There’s no rule that says we can have an MMO but no good story with it.

Karen even posted in her last post on massively that she loves the Rift quests and the lore behind them. While I question her taste in quests (Rift quests? Really?) if she likes those quests, she’s going to love Bioware quests.

At E3 Bioware released this 10 minute developer walk-through of one part of a quest chain on Tatooine.

What really strikes me about this video, aside from too much developer yakking, is that the quest is well voice acted, has a strong plot, and tantalizingly leaves me wanting more. I want to see the beginning of that quest, and I want to see what happens afterward.

There are close-ups, mysteries, lore references, and best of all, little to nothing to read.

It’s a Bioware quest, in a Bioware game, and I find that reassuring to say the least.

A few other things I wanted to comment on really quickly. I could not be more happy about the Sand People from the quest being a bonus Kill Te Rats rather than a required KTR. I don’t think they even complete that portion of the quest before leaving. I can’t wait to skip doing that nonsense.

The other thing was a note of disappointment when Dickinson brought up Quick Travel. For just a moment I thought it would be a no limits, quick travel to where ever and whenever you like travel system. Unfortunately on closer inspection there is a 30 minute cooldown. Get rid of this antiquated relic of the past MMO studios.

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10 Comments

  1. What realy strikes me at this video is the fact that lightsaber is just for show.

    And the fact that they managed to include classic rpg roles of tank healer and dps in the universe that was so fundamentaly against it.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily say the universe was against it at all, especially if we look at it through the lens of, oh i don’t know, knights of the old republic.

  2. I definitely agree with you about story elements in a RPG, regardless of whether that is a MMO or single player game… Bioware has always done a great job of delivering those.

    There was a point in time when I was so looking forward to TOR’s release the feeling was palpable… then two things happened…

    First, inexplicably all of the “suggestions” we had been hearing about how TOR would have a “soft trinity” at most were basically thrown out the window, and now they not only have the “holy trinity” class system firmly in place, they are actually shooting for becoming the freakin exmplar for trinity based game play.

    Second, I was presented with the possibility of a full AAA MMO that wasn’t just shooting for a “soft trinity” but actually going to get rid of that class system completely in favor of a much more balanced system of classes… I’m talking about GW2 of course…

    I’ve spent more than 10 years playing trinity-based MMOs… EQ, EQ2, Vanguard, WoW, etc… and not once have I seen balanced classes… you know what? …there’s a damn good reason for that. Trinity breaks balance… breaks it like a bat over the back of it’s knee… always has… always will… no exceptions. (Don’t tell me RIFT is the exception either… their balance is still broken – they just make it easy for everyone to play DPS while soloing or in PvP and then switch back for group play in PvE… definitely a creative solution… definitely still perpetuating the problem in the first place.)

    I had no idea how ready I was to be done with trinity until someone (Anet) suggested there was another possibility… now, the thought of going back is actually physically painful to me.

    There is still a good chance I will get TOR to explore a couple of class story lines and basically play it as a single player RPG, because I am a fan of Bioware story telling going all the way back to BG. However, I will not be interested in much group play, and I certainly have no interest in investing the type of time I usually do in a MMO (several years usually) Basically, I’ll take however much time they give you with the box sale and perhaps a couple more months sub fee, and hopefully by then GW2 will be available and I can begin what will surely be yet another long run in an MMO for me.

    • I wouldn’t say they were shooting for the trinity archetype exactly, if you watch a lot of the demos you have support healers, support tanks, people that can take over roles if necessary. The smuggler can heal, the trooper can heal, the consular can heal, that’s not a true trinity, though i understand your frustration with the trinity system.

  3. My question is, how varied will the art be over an individual planet? I can understand planets like Tatooine not being very varied (being a desert planet and all), but what about the rest? Does each planet get a small color set or do we see some variation in landscapes?

    • Interesting point. It can be pretty odd sometimes to have entire planets solely based on one ecosystem when our own planet is dotted with dozens. All i can say is that while we see large parts of the planets they’ve said we don’t usually see the entire thing.

      We’ll probably have to be satisfied with biome and culturally themed planets that don’t diversify much.

  4. One thing that struck me is that when the imperial agent joined the group, the commentator mentioned that that would make the mission easier for both of them. That’s good, I think that if the devs want anyone to play together at all they must be brave enough to make it very hard, but not impossible, to do missions solo even if thereby they lose a few of the more casual players. That’s one concern I have for GW2’s scaling system – will it be so easy to solo the DE content that the appearance of other players will be irrelevant at best or a even minor annoyance (at least for speed obsessed levellers) that makes an event last longer?

    If that vid is representative of SWTOR, I’ll definately be trying it out.For me the RPG part of MMORPG – the story/immersion is the main attraction. What’s not so clear is what will happen at level cap. Is SWTOR just going to dump everyone in a WoW/Rift type gear grind raid end game? If so, level cap will mark the conclusion of my play in SWTOR – unless that is they have some awesome PvP (which would need to be a whole lot better than WoW/Rift PvP).

    • Yeah if you watch the inquisitors health bar it looks pretty much like he was going to die there until the agent comes in.

      From the demos it looks like you have to be pretty good to solo something, definitely got the impression some people would be overwhelmed if they didn’t know what they were doing and were alone. Just the demos though.

  5. Don’t know why everyone keeps saying the lightsaber is just for show. He blocks blaster bolts with it.

    The reason SWTOR does not appeal to me is because #1, I’ve been immersing myself in Star Wars expanded universe lore for years now, and there have been perhaps three stories I really enjoyed. I’m really sick of the universe being almost exactly the same 3000 years after a new hope, and 3000 years before it. I’m sick of the jedi order being uniformly stupid and saved by one group of jedi who know what’s up all the time. I’m sick of the Sith brooding and using every word of all time to describe the Dark Side in endlessly poetic ways. I’m sick of being told how the Force is so much better than a planet-destroying laser, and then the force users getting their butts saved by whoever has the biggest starship.

    #2, I find no enjoyment at all in traditional MMO combat. Guild Wars has a totally different feel from all other MMOs, which are for the most part eerily similar. Guild Wars 2 looks more like a traditional MMO at first glance, but without even taking into account the fact that movement is essential and skills are dynamic and varied, everything about its combat is different. Everyone getting an eaqually powerful healing skill, and weapon skills that heal being there more for support, and also having another effect?

    Weapon skills at all? Class specific mechanics aside from what their skills mainly do? Being able to change roles so drastically during combat?

    I know this post isn’t a place to discuss how awesome GW2 is, but GW1 was reason enough for me to not want ToR. GW2 drops ToR off of my radar.

    That and star wars being agonizing to watch/read for me now.

    • Well I don’t really agree with you about the expanded universe. I like starship battles, and that I get to follow a familiar cast of characters.

      I like the pretense that technology doesn’t really advance that much, that knowledge is found and lost and found again because of wars and the endless passage of time. It’s a science-fiction concept I think is really interesting. I’d also point out that there are no stories 3000 years after a new hope.

      And you know what? First time i’ve ever heard anyone defend a weapon designed to kill billions of innocent defenseless people.


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