How The Old Republic Didn't Change MMOs

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How The Old Republic Didn't Change MMOs

The Old Republic is great but not groundbreaking.

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One problem with multi-player games is narrative tends to be ignored or easily shattered due to the social aspect. Yahtzee pointed this out in his "Fear 3" review where the game tries telling a story to the *players*, but they would rather joke or develop strategies for the next level. Also, when you look at narrative in social media like movies, people get *very* annoyed when there is a group in the theater that is either laughing too loud, has crying children, or has their cell phone ringing while watching a great moment in the film (As Moviebob pointed out).

I have no doubts The Old Republic is a great game (I haven't and don't intend to play it), but I suspected the issues brought up here were going to be pretty visible in the game. In WoW, before Cataclysm, I was given a quest to eliminate X panthers and Y boars in the Night Elves newbie area to thin their herd. Yet my immersion to the game was instantly shattered when seeing other night elves killing off the creatures all around me, and some NPC telling me that they still have a breeding issue.

The companions are what killed the game for me. It looks ridiculous when there's ten of a supposed individual wandering around in any of the main hubs, and I' found I was quite umcomfortable (for want of a better word) with the idea that an MMO appeared to be designed to encourage me to interact with the NPCs more than with my fellow players.

It's not a bad game, but what it does new is either slick presentation (the voice acting, the cutscenes) or single player mechanics awkwardly bolted onto the MMO framework with no attempt to hide the joins (the companions) and the much vaunted moral choice system is less impressive than that implemented over a year ago by City of Heroes, where the choices you make can actually result in your character switching sides altogether.

I do wonder how many people stick with it once they've completed a couple of the class stories - given that the same levelling content is shared outwith the class specific stories I can't see that many people doing all 8 without it feeling grindy. As with all new MMOs, only time will tell.

Good review, thanks.

I think it's interesting to note that many reviewers mention that the standard BioWare dialogue system gets a life on it's own in an MMO. This is something I didn't think of myself, but it makes sense.

I have sometimes thought that traditional cRPG mechanics would clash with mechanics in an MMO, reviewers seems to agree that the dialogue system actually works well. Your experience with followers seems to be one case where there is a clash.

Single player and multi-player games have very different dynamics, so trying to combine them is probably a bit of a gamble.

One problem with multi-player games is narrative tends to be ignored or easily shattered due to the social aspect. Yahtzee pointed this out in his "Fear 3" review where the game tries telling a story to the *players*, but they would rather joke or develop strategies for the next level. Also, when you look at narrative in social media like movies, people get *very* annoyed when there is a group in the theater that is either laughing too loud, has crying children, or has their cell phone ringing while watching a great moment in the film (As Moviebob pointed out).

This is something I've often experienced in multiplayer games. Even in traditional MMOs like WoW this can be an issue if one player wants to read quest text and the rest don't care for them. In Guild Wars I remember players often asked the rest to skip the cutscenes, making it hard to immerse oneself in the story. I wonder how SW:TOR handles this, it probably becomes more of an issue when the game is older and some of the players know the storylines.

Dennis Scimeca:
How The Old Republic Didn't Change MMOs

The Old Republic is great but not groundbreaking.

Read Full Article

BioWare makes fantastic single-player games.
Multiplayer RPGs are fantastic for small groups of people who already know each other.
These two facts are humongous obstacles to a BioWare-made, story-driven MMORPG.

First, on the BioWare story angle -- a good story has structure and direction. A great story leads to such an ending that, while still shocking and surprising, still feels as if it's the only true ending that could have been reached (That is to say, hindsight makes the ending feel even more authentic, because it's clear it didn't happen by accident). Offering choice is not a death-sentence for good stories, but it does require that the possibilities be limited.

Voice-acting every cutscene further limits choices, because now each option requires additional resources. (Side effect: You are now telling the player what his/her character sounds like. This isn't Mass Effect, where we're borrowing "a Shepard." This is supposed to be our character.)

The inclusion of story-heavy, voice-acted companion characters introduces still more limitation. When you see the same three guys everywhere you go, the world feels smaller. And your companion, to whom you're supposed to be attached, feels less special. You're supposed to feel like Han Solo, smuggling around with your Wookiee companion... but so is every smuggler.

As a quick aside, space combat being "on the rails" may make each encounter more cinematic... but it adds additional limitation to a player's self-determination.

All of these elements can make for a fantastic story, because the "author" remains in control of all the parts and pieces. Unfortunately, it causes the game to feel much less like a living, breathing world and more like a museum -- you can look, but you can't touch, and you have to stay with the guide. You're not creating a character, you're renting one someone already made.

All of these are natural fixtures of many good story-focused RPGs. Single-player RPGs, that is. For which you pay once. And that is BioWare's biggest problem -- they've created a fantastic single-player RPG, as they often do... but they're asking people to pay for it more than once.

______

The justification? Massively multiplayer. So we're back to that point. A story, full of choices and consequences, can work in a group setting. A small, fixed group in which the participants know each other and have, at least in part, agreed on a common playstyle.

In an MMO, not everyone has that small, fixed group. And even within a guild/faction/etc., you might not always have the same game time as your preferred groupmates. That means constantly tossing in random (or at least untested) people. Different people, different styles. This one strives for immersion, this one adores the meta-game, this one just wants to level so he can go PvP...

Every time a choice comes up, or a dramatic moment, everyone has to stop a moment and reconcile their views with those of the others before play can continue. Players have to stop playing, and instead talk out and agree upon how they're going to play. It becomes like watching a movie with the Director's Commentary on -- it can be incredibly enjoyable for some, but for many it interrupts the story.

The answer? Stick with one small group of players, with whom you game consistently. Well... now it's not very "massive," is it? It's yet another limitation in player freedom, as a result of the story being paramount. It's no longer a massive, living world full of characters, but an interactive lobby in which thousands of players happen to be reading the same story out of separate books.

_________

In my opinion, MMOs were never supposed to be the place for developers to tell a story. They were supposed to be worlds. Toolkits. A way for players to tell their own stories. And when you have thousands of these characters interacting, larger stories will emerge.

That's how a world works, including the real one. No one is writing a central narrative, except perhaps in hindsight. Day to day, it's just billions of individual stories interacting in unpredictable ways. And in the real world, we tend to measure our own "success" by the amount of power we have to change the direction of our narrative.

Why, then, would any MMO create a world in which the player has even less of that power?

Hmm, I don't really fault BioWare for those faults, since you have to sacrifice some in order to make something that walks the line of single-player, multi-player genre conventions.

But I like it, so far. And hey, if people leave, and I'm the only one left on my server, then hey, problems solved :P

EDIT: And I seem to recall Daniel Erickson saying something about if you're playing a bad guy, the results of your actions are clearly displayed and are supposed to egg at your conscience. However if your being a goody-two-shoes, you get bigger and bigger rewards dangled in front of you, but getting those rewards requires you to stray from being a good guy.

So that mission you were playing was probably one of them :D.

Fortunately, the "kill X mobs" quests are usually bonus ones that are coupled with a mission to get objects (comm units, cargo, stealth field generators, etc.). Usually, you can get 90% of the required kills in the process of completing the main mission and just requires a extra push of effort to get that last kill.

The narrative scenes, contrary to the article, are repeatable if you make a mistake, but the margin of error is very small. If you hit ESC before the conversation ends (solo missions only), you will leave the conversation as if it never happened. This is particularly useful since the conversation selections aren't always fully representative of the narrative (at least one of the conversations gave you an choice that felt like the Dark/Light Side choice was reversed) and companion loyalty options aren't always clear.

Combat is definitely the weakest point of the game, although the nature of the Imperial Agent may have something to do with that. If your article is an indicator of how far you were at the time of writing (which would be within the first few hours of the IA story), I agree that the gameplay for the IA (and presumably the smuggler) is a tad clunky. The biggest problem is that many of the powers require taking cover, which adds one more step in combat that the force classes (Sith Warrior, Sith Inquisitor, Jedi Knight, Jedi Concilor) don't require. The warrior and knight play very similar to your standard melee DPS/Tank, with jump-to-target, aggro-heavy AoE, and high-DPS targeted attacks. Players who played warriors in WoW will immediately get comfortable with these classes. The Inquisitor and Concilor play similar to mages and/or rogues, depending on your advanced class, with ranged DPS and CC. (I haven't made a Trooper or Bounty Hunter, so I'm not familiar with their combat routine.) The biggest problem, however is the lack of an auto attack, especially since it is clear that there is a "base attack" that could be converted into an auto attack without any real problems. The flip side of this is that combat is a tad more active than other MMOs, as every action requires player input, although the execution of this is not ideal. The IA is probably the most-significant departure from standard MMORPG combat gameplay, and the take-cover mechanic is necessary for way too many of their early powers (who needs cover to snipe?). For those looking to jump into a familiar gameplay setting, try the Jedi/Sith classes first

Dastardly:

In my opinion, MMOs were never supposed to be the place for developers to tell a story. They were supposed to be worlds. Toolkits. A way for players to tell their own stories. And when you have thousands of these characters interacting, larger stories will emerge.

That's how a world works, including the real one. No one is writing a central narrative, except perhaps in hindsight.

I'm going to disagree here a bit on the grounds of "Looks good on paper, doesn't actually happen much in practice."

Not to rain on your parade here, but an overwhelming majority of the "stories" of the everyday world are either intensely boring or unpleasant. Sadly, that's how the real world works.

In terms of MMORPGs: Outside of sparsely populated RP-servers, NOBODY is telling stories of "character"; instead, they're bitching about gameplay balance/PvP, bragging about their gear, or talking about their latest "raid".
Those aren't stories of character, but stories of mechanical interaction. They're quite different.

In terms of gameplay, my limited experience with TOR suggests that it's "KOTOR-Online", but with needless grind tacked on. It's surprisingly single-player-centric for an MMO, though that could just be limited to the early levels; I'm guessing here.

Because this is bioware's first MMO they really had no choice but to play it safe, which meant choosing a style everyone recognizes and can relate too. This is another example of the market we live in today, its not about impressing a small group of people like in the old days its about introducing more people into the market and that means using basics and using them better than anyone else.

Its a break up of setting at least, I much prefer my sci-fi to lord of the rings style fantasy setting.

Still as a long time MMO player I have to admit, other than the story's which are good it doesn't 'feel' like starwars, oh sure the memorable planets are there but as i'm jumping around throwing buffs on people and looking womp rats before doing a group instance to hopefully find an orange armor piece...i get pulled out of the star wars world and into the generic 'MMO' world i've inhabited before.

It's lacking that magic, the 'style' that certain MMO's have. It's like the matrix, you login and you can see and breath the 'system' at work. I'm not feeling that the old republic has a unique way of doing anything. the combat is stale bread and the classes are not special in the slightest.

But hey, the floor plan is here. there is high quality in this game that big budgets can only deliver. Best of all the developers are listening to the community.

I am torn though, I want to be frustrated with tired tried and true elements just for the sake of profit...but then again, i can't say I'm not having fun with it thus far.

I played it, I've voiced concerns on many different posts on why I dislike it. I don't think its a bad game, but as a Star Wars and KotOR fan, I just don't feel a connection to the world or the events.
And it feels like World of Star Wars (now with voice acting!). Not a new MMO.

Atmos Duality:
Not to rain on your parade here, but an overwhelming majority of the "stories" of the everyday world are either intensely boring or unpleasant. Sadly, that's how the real world works.

Yes. And, as I said, we tend to measure our "success" by how much power we have to change the boring/unpleasant stuff. A game should offer us tons of that power. This game does not.

In terms of MMORPGs: Outside of sparsely populated RP-servers, NOBODY is telling stories of "character"; instead, they're bitching about gameplay balance/PvP, bragging about their gear, or talking about their latest "raid".
Those aren't stories of character, but stories of mechanical interaction. They're quite different.

Yes, they are different. They are also valid. Some players prefer that kind of "story," while others prefer in-character interaction. An MMO should be a toolkit that allows either to thrive. This one offers neither -- the mechanics don't support steady in-character experience, and the out-of-character experience is very limited.

Rather than "best of both worlds," this game is just the center sliver of that Venn diagram.

In terms of gameplay, my limited experience with TOR suggests that it's "KOTOR-Online", but with needless grind tacked on. It's surprisingly single-player-centric for an MMO, though that could just be limited to the early levels; I'm guessing here.

It stays like this pretty much throughout. The only places that make other players feel 'necessary' are because of difficulty -- you need more lightsabers or blasters on this target to make its health go down. Multiplayer consistently shoves you out of the story and into the meta-game.

This is a single-player game. And a good one, mind you. But I pay for single player games once, personally.

I totally disagree with you. I find there to be a lot less tedious fetching work, and the combat feels really organic to me. I haven't had to number crunch, but I have had to prioritize, and I appreciate that. Further, which quests are you doing that don't have cut scenes??

Dastardly:

First, on the BioWare story angle -- a good story has structure and direction. A great story leads to such an ending that, while still shocking and surprising, still feels as if it's the only true ending that could have been reached (That is to say, hindsight makes the ending feel even more authentic, because it's clear it didn't happen by accident). Offering choice is not a death-sentence for good stories, but it does require that the possibilities be limited.

Voice-acting every cutscene further limits choices, because now each option requires additional resources. (Side effect: You are now telling the player what his/her character sounds like. This isn't Mass Effect, where we're borrowing "a Shepard." This is supposed to be our character.)

The inclusion of story-heavy, voice-acted companion characters introduces still more limitation. When you see the same three guys everywhere you go, the world feels smaller. And your companion, to whom you're supposed to be attached, feels less special. You're supposed to feel like Han Solo, smuggling around with your Wookiee companion... but so is every smuggler.

As a quick aside, space combat being "on the rails" may make each encounter more cinematic... but it adds additional limitation to a player's self-determination.

All of these elements can make for a fantastic story, because the "author" remains in control of all the parts and pieces. Unfortunately, it causes the game to feel much less like a living, breathing world and more like a museum -- you can look, but you can't touch, and you have to stay with the guide. You're not creating a character, you're renting one someone already made.

Most of my guildmates have pretty much agreed that in SWTOR, you are playing two characters: the one that follows Bioware's story, and the one that you actually RP with other people. There really isn't any other way to look at it if you actually role play. Not everyone can be playing the new recruit of an elite republic military unit after all. So it's pretty simple for me. I solo my story content and then save the RP for open world and flashpoints.

The justification? Massively multiplayer. So we're back to that point. A story, full of choices and consequences, can work in a group setting. A small, fixed group in which the participants know each other and have, at least in part, agreed on a common playstyle.

In an MMO, not everyone has that small, fixed group. And even within a guild/faction/etc., you might not always have the same game time as your preferred groupmates. That means constantly tossing in random (or at least untested) people. Different people, different styles. This one strives for immersion, this one adores the meta-game, this one just wants to level so he can go PvP...

You could argue the same thing for most MMOs for reasons unrelated to story. To get the most out of an MMO, it is important to play with people you know(even if only online) and are comfortable with. Try habitually grouping with people you don't know or trust in Eve Online and see how long it takes you to get scammed, ambushed, or otherwise betrayed.

Every time a choice comes up, or a dramatic moment, everyone has to stop a moment and reconcile their views with those of the others before play can continue. Players have to stop playing, and instead talk out and agree upon how they're going to play. It becomes like watching a movie with the Director's Commentary on -- it can be incredibly enjoyable for some, but for many it interrupts the story.

That doesn't seem like a good way to approach those situations for two reason. First, because if you are actually role playing, you don't need to consult with others to know what your character would do/say. That's why there is a random roll instead of a popular vote. Second, the game gives you a limited amount of time to respond, so discussion about what choice to make would quickly become moot.

The answer? Stick with one small group of players, with whom you game consistently. Well... now it's not very "massive," is it? It's yet another limitation in player freedom, as a result of the story being paramount. It's no longer a massive, living world full of characters, but an interactive lobby in which thousands of players happen to be reading the same story out of separate books.

And at that point, you are pointedly ignoring the rest of the game. Of course you are in a small group when engaging in content designed for small groups. Was that not obvious? Other MMOs have such content too. How did RP communities ever get by when some of the content requires you to group together and shut out the rest of the world? By doing other stuff too. Having a narrative for limited content does not prevent people from acting beyond that limited content.

In my opinion, MMOs were never supposed to be the place for developers to tell a story. They were supposed to be worlds. Toolkits. A way for players to tell their own stories. And when you have thousands of these characters interacting, larger stories will emerge.

That's how a world works, including the real one. No one is writing a central narrative, except perhaps in hindsight. Day to day, it's just billions of individual stories interacting in unpredictable ways. And in the real world, we tend to measure our own "success" by the amount of power we have to change the direction of our narrative.

Why, then, would any MMO create a world in which the player has even less of that power?

I'll not comment on your views as to what the nature of an MMO should be, since that's all subjective anyway, but if you think you have less player agency in SWTOR than in the majority of mainstream MMOs(with some exceptions like Eve), then I think you may need to reevaluate. When is the last time in WoW that anyone has actually gotten to decide whether or not a quest related NPC lived? For that matter, when is the last time that you got to make any decisions at all within a WoW quest?

And if you're referring to player agency in world RP, that rant makes even less sense. How on earth does a game having a narrative affect how players interact with each other at all? My guild already has events planned with our own storyline completely unrelated to our class content. And we are far from the only ones. RP can only be strengthened by the game having an easily recognizable narrative, as that gives a stronger center for RP guilds to gravitate towards, meaning that most guilds will likely be compatible for interguild RP.

If one views an MMO (and, indeed, RPGs in general) as offering an experience in:

1. Mechanics (game play)
2. World (a space with an internal logic for a player to express himself or herself - think of making your Pokemon team as a unique expression of you given the tools in the game environment as a correct usage of world. In an MMO, this will also include the player-driven social environment/marketplace/etc.)
3. Story (narrative, or the why you are going from point A to B accomplishing tasks X, Y, and Z)

...then both SWTOR and, its most obvious competitor, WoW, are quite tight in the mechanics department. Quite simply, everything works like it should and like it feels it should.

The difference lies in world and story. WoW has historically played to the greatest strength of the MMO - world - while being admittedly weak in the story department. SWTOR decided to capitalize on the story department, while unintentionally de-emphasizing the factor of world.

Both are games with dramatically different styles supporting strong game play. Shockingly, at the end of the day, they're two different, but both very good, game experiences.

Now that I think about it, why are the ceilings so high?

I never played MMOs before. They never interested me. I remember getting interested in them back hen a friend showed me the beta of WOW. But one thing was lacking, the RPG element. It never caught me up.
Despite not playing them I was still interested. I would swap comparisons of deathmatches on Halo and Battlefield as I saw similar behaviour but with different mechanics being played out in PvP battles on WOW and War as my friends played.
I played KOTOR and KOTOR2 and loved them, I lapped up The Elder Scrolls games and I've enjoyed roleplaying since I first discovered D&D.

So I was pleasantly surprised when another friend let me play around with his SWTOR beta while he took a much needed power nap during that all too brief weekend.
By the time he came back I was convinced, I pre-ordered right there and then and I have been enjoying all aspects of the game since then.
Bioware made the RPG aspects more enaging and I am thankful for it.
If you had asked a few weeks ago what my favorite game of 2011 was I would have been umming and erring over BF3 and Skyrim... Now it looks like we have a 3-way tie with SWTOR coming out just ahead because it drew me into something new.
Mythic may have been instrumental in getting the game off the ground as an MMO but Bioware are the ones to put something fresh into the genre.

Thankyou all of the top developers of 2011. These last few months have been an outstanding season for gaming.

Dastardly:

In my opinion, MMOs were never supposed to be the place for developers to tell a story. They were supposed to be worlds. Toolkits. A way for players to tell their own stories. And when you have thousands of these characters interacting, larger stories will emerge.

This was Star Wars Galaxies. And I know there's a bunch of hardcore types who loved roleplaying a total schlub who was just some random powerless dude in the Star Wars universe. But most of the 'stories' were /dance -> /tip, because when you rely on other players to make your content when they can't even generate real in-game content they usually disappoint. I far prefer Old Republic's approach even if it's an awkward fit.

Now you might find the EQII dungeon creation system interesting, though that has severe limits right now.

oldtaku:

Dastardly:

In my opinion, MMOs were never supposed to be the place for developers to tell a story. They were supposed to be worlds. Toolkits. A way for players to tell their own stories. And when you have thousands of these characters interacting, larger stories will emerge.

This was Star Wars Galaxies. And I know there's a bunch of hardcore types who loved roleplaying a total schlub who was just some random powerless dude in the Star Wars universe. But most of the 'stories' were /dance -> /tip, because when you rely on other players to make your content when they can't even generate real in-game content they usually disappoint. I far prefer Old Republic's approach even if it's an awkward fit.

Now you might find the EQII dungeon creation system interesting, though that has severe limits right now.

Star Wars Galaxies was, at first, a big step in the right direction for MMOs. You could choose who you wanted to be. You could be a salesman or a bounty hunter or a dancer or a ranger. You could be a starfighter pilot, or just an asteroid miner. You could decorate your house however you saw fit with any in-game item, even using them to create other items (like curtains made out of skirts, etc.). The game supported your choices.

And it made a world of it. If someone bought something from you, they traveled to your house to do it. They saw all your hard work. Your house wasn't just some instance that you used for personal storage (unless you wanted it to be). It existed in the world, and it was there even when you weren't.

SWG had many failings, of course, like providing little guidance for new players. A bit of a quest thread could have helped there (rather than forcing a "HERO OF THE GALAXY" storyline on you). It's just that they threw the baby out with the bathwater. They abandoned all the good things and amplified the wrong ones.

SWG had problems in the gameplay mechanics department. But it had a fantastic sense of world. That's the thing that originally made it okay for games to charge monthly access fees... but we've forgotten that, and learned to expect singleplayer games for multiplayer prices.

Bioware, indeed, stated that they weren't going to change the core experience of an MMORPG. I think they even said "If you're not doing it like WoW, you're doing something wrong." On a gameplay sense, I agree with this. WoW's gameplay is good, that's all there is to it. Yes, sometimes bosses are rehashed, yes the gear system seems simple and repetitive, but frankly WoW is a fun game to play. I even like how TOR changed the combat system (removing auto attack). It adds a bit more focus and strategy to the game, in my opinion.

The companions, however, I completely agree are kinda weird. It's so strange to see another Qyzen or another Cedrac walking around. It blows me out of the immersion I appreciate so much. They need to do something about that. Even if they just took away the names, under the companion, it would help.

Aside from all of that, I absolutely love the game. The story is so encompassing (and it's a shame that a lot of people are ignoring it). That's where the game REALLY shines, but the side quests have their own story lines of their own (the Taris side quests, for example, lead to a huge plot twist that could someday be an Operation, in my opinion).

This! This is exactly what I've been saying to anyone who'll listen. It was a huge disappointment to see how little attention Bioware paid to game mechanics. Having seen the smuggler's cover mechanic I had assumed gameplay got something of a re-think. So it was something of a let down to find a WoW re-skin... I should have known better really.

Gift

Dastardly:

Yes. And, as I said, we tend to measure our "success" by how much power we have to change the boring/unpleasant stuff. A game should offer us tons of that power. This game does not.

No argument there.

Yes, they are different. They are also valid. Some players prefer that kind of "story," while others prefer in-character interaction. An MMO should be a toolkit that allows either to thrive. This one offers neither -- the mechanics don't support steady in-character experience, and the out-of-character experience is very limited.

Rather than "best of both worlds," this game is just the center sliver of that Venn diagram.

I question whether a game can offer "the best of both worlds" without becoming extremely niche'.

In a multiplayer environment either you cede influence to individual players (MUDs of old do this, and it inevitably ends in griefing), or you take the "Look but don't touch" approach like WoW does with its story.

Bioware is working against established gaming logic in trying to inject personal story into an MMO.
I'm unsure whether to applaud their attempt or to shake my head at the futility.

It stays like this pretty much throughout. The only places that make other players feel 'necessary' are because of difficulty -- you need more lightsabers or blasters on this target to make its health go down. Multiplayer consistently shoves you out of the story and into the meta-game.

This is a single-player game. And a good one, mind you. But I pay for single player games once, personally.

So, it really just is a watered down KOTOR 3 in disguise, but with grind.
Thanks for the info.

The innovation here (or gimmick, really) is the voice acting and conversations. The MMO staples are all present, grind, fetch quest, etc. However, due to conversations I find myself actually caring a little about whats going on.

Where the game shines for me is taking part in conversations with my friends in flashpoints and competing with them to steer the encounter in a certain direction. Because of this, TOR is actually the most fun I've had with an MMO since classic WoW came out seven (almost eight) years ago.

Is it like WoW? Yeah. Is every MMO like WoW? In one way or another, always. WoW, like Everquest before it, is the baseline that any MMO will inevitably be compared to. As for me, I'm having a blast. The question is, will it last?

For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

I kind of like the change. What bored me the most about MMOs was the need to grind lvl by lvl. The social aspect is fun, this game just replaces mundain grinding with an interesting story and side quests. Not that many side quests are go out and kill X creatures, some are hey go talk to this guy and convince him to stop killing the locals, you can chose to take a bribe from him, let him go, or kill him

To all those complaining about companions being the same. You do realize that their are companion customization items that completely change the look of your companion and their are quite a few of them too. Not to mention each companion has a full set of gear they wear.

Ive never seen to companions that look exactly alike (with gear) but sure if you keep your stock companion customization instead of buying a new one you are bound to run into more companions that look similair to yours.

That being said if what your complaining about is that other ppl have companions walking around with the same name as yours (which it seems that yoou are) then i dont really know what to say, its a freaking name, like i said with gear and companions customizations ive rarely seen 2 companions that look the same. The only times that happens are when you first get a new companion and they are in their stock gear and youve yet to put a companions customization on them yet and that period should be brief, its not too hard to go buy a companions customization or to go buy some new better gear to put on your companion. Also if the name part is really bugging you, just take the companion Name bars off in your interface options.....

Also the reason that the cieling are high in mmo's is so that your view is not all squished and you can zoom in and out and get a good look at your surroundings...

I thought tha was fairly obvious.

I agree with 2 posts up, the quests beyond your main class quests offer great storylines if you actually follow them. Sure not all of them offer deep storylines like your class quests , but i feel as if they give you more of a purpose and draw you more into the world just by having dialogue with your quest giver.

Also their are many quests and quest chains that actually do offer class quest quality storylines. I feel sorry for those who think that the only good storylines in the game are the ones for your class quest. Also i dont think the author of this article is very far in the game yet as he would probably know that their are fantastic quests beyond your class quests. Unless he has so little faith hes been skipping the dialogue for normal quests, which would be a total shame.

One of my friends felt that way (he was level 15) and he just started levelling pvp only, to me it feels like such a waste, you are playing a repetitive game over and over again to level up instead of playing a part of the game which the developers probably put 100x more effort into making. Not to mention pvp isnt going anywhere you can do it at 50 when you are done with your storyline and questing, whereas once yoou hit 50 how likely is it that your going to go back to all the planets just to play out their storylines.

Atmos Duality:
I question whether a game can offer "the best of both worlds" without becoming extremely niche'.

In a multiplayer environment either you cede influence to individual players (MUDs of old do this, and it inevitably ends in griefing), or you take the "Look but don't touch" approach like WoW does with its story.

Bioware is working against established gaming logic in trying to inject personal story into an MMO. I'm unsure whether to applaud their attempt or to shake my head at the futility.

I think games like this should be more niche. Again, looking at SWG (the easy comparison) dancing was a small niche, but well-loved. Crafting was very robust, though it catered to a minority of the player base. With all the early ins-and-outs of Jedi, that was a whole 'nother niche. I prefer not to think of these as niche features, but rather as features that are distinctly flavored -- in practice, yes, that narrows their appeal, but to call them "niche" misplaces the intent, I think.

So, while individual aspects of the game were very distinctly flavored, the game allowed for many, many flavors to coexist. Combat-oriented players could do their thing. Non-combat players could, too. If you weren't into researching the conductivity of the copper you're using to create blaster rifle power handlers, you never had to even know what any of that was. If you didn't want to fight Krayt dragons, you didn't even have to know what planet they were on.

Modern MMOs want mass appeal, but they also only want to cater to one core group of players. That means blander, less distinct flavor throughout each aspect of the game, with many of those aspects being marginalized. You can't be a full-time non-combat player anymore, no matter how much you may want to. You have to be the Hero of the World, and heroes fight.

Basically, the one-flavor-fits-all way of doing things is the problem I have. It makes design easier, sure (though, I'll note, it hasn't lowered the price one bit). And that makes it easier to fit more story and voice acting in there, because there are far fewer directions in which players can go.

It's the difference between New York City and Smalltown, USA. In New York, everyone can find what they want to do, because the city is home to thousands of niches. There are plenty of people there who don't get along, but they don't really have to -- each has his/her own place to go. Contrast that with some Smalltown place. There's basically one ruling "culture" of the town, and if you're not part of it... Well, you know where the exit is. It creates the illusion of one vision, and everyone getting along, but really it's just tying everyone into the same bundle and trimming off any fringe that happens to stick out.

And as for the "personal story," to me the whole point is that the story isn't personal. Not to MY "person," at least. I don't feel I own my character in any sense of the word. I dress how I'm told, I use the voice I'm assigned, the ship that is issued to me, the pre-approved companions that are available, to follow a mildly-branching storyline. And the fact that this heavily-detailed storyline is there means a lot of time was spent on it... rather than on any features that might allow me a more personal story.

Nurb:
For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

Case in point. When everyone's special, no one's special.

UkuleleSlayer:
Now that I think about it, why are the ceilings so high?

The real reason? Camera zoom issues. The developers want to make sure you have room to move the camera around and view your character from any angle without suddenly being able to see through walls or ceilings or whatever.

It's kinda silly, as the smaller ceilings can/do foster a sense of claustrophobia which can really make raid encounters interesting, but I guess it's not to be.

Voltano:
One problem with multi-player games is narrative tends to be ignored or easily shattered due to the social aspect. Yahtzee pointed this out in his "Fear 3" review where the game tries telling a story to the *players*, but they would rather joke or develop strategies for the next level.

In WoW, before Cataclysm, I was given a quest to eliminate X panthers and Y boars in the Night Elves newbie area to thin their herd. Yet my immersion to the game was instantly shattered when seeing other night elves killing off the creatures all around me, and some NPC telling me that they still have a breeding issue.

Exactly, such a thing shoots my immersion right between the eyes! I've been watching a Let's Play TOR series on Youtube and in one episode, he was asked to disable some toxic mines in a village crop field but no sooner had he finished than another player went past him, doing the exact same thing! I just cannot take it seriously when said crop field is in an eternal state of having toxic mines yet never in danger of being poisoned. It's like Yahtzee said in his Age of Conan review: being the Chosen One is undermined by the knowledge that there are thousands of other Chosen Ones running around, which is exactly why I simply could never give a space-flying shit about the "story" in Star Trek Online; being congratulated for thwarting the Borg invasion of the Vega colony is meaningless when you consider that it is still being thwarted even now.

Dastardly:

Nurb:
For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

Case in point. When everyone's special, no one's special.

This is exactly what happened with Age of Conan and it's story missions. People may forget but yes, Age of Conan (AoC) has a full voiced single player campaign complete with cut-scenes.

The main story missions would try their best to make you feel like your character was special but moment the mission was over you would see 50 other people with the exact same reward from the last story mission. That sight completely negates any emotional impact from the main story.

Seeing 50 Vette's in three different colors doesn't help SW:TOR avoid that problem it actually makes it worse because it is a walking, and talking reminder that everyone has a main story and your character isn't special in the slightest.

My largest disappointment with the game by far however lies with the combat. It such a boring combat system. The combat mechanics are polished, work, and are over a decade old. There's nothing impressive about combat and after playing Vindictus TOR's combat system is a lullaby.

Nurb:
For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

Hence why I sincerely hope that Guild Wars 2, with it's dynamic events system, succeeds in eliminating the aforementioned Quest Camping, along with other bug bears like Kill Stealing and Episode Repeats; it really pisses me off how MMO websites mention the ability to repeat your favourite quests as though it's a good thing! Yes, on singleplayer games, I sometimes like to reload my favourite missions like anybody else but the key difference here is that I'm loading an earlier save game, turning back the game clock to last Friday! An MMO is an ongoing experience so it makes bugger-all sense to have the game carry on chronologically while past quests repeat themselves, it's such a confusing mess! In any sci-fi film/series episode you care to name, that would be considered a major cosmic fuck up!

MMO's are basically virtual lives (or at least they should be) - more so than singleplayer games, given their ongoing nature - and it is essential for immersion that events are truly ongoing; I really enjoyed going bowling with friends on my birthday but I know full damn well that I can't physically repeat it, only cherish the memory!

But there is a simpler way that MMO's could remedy this problem: When the player does a quest for the first time, then have it go as normal but if they choose to go through it again, then present it strictly as a flashback/daydream instance, that way I can believe that my character is just thinking about how they would've done things differently.

Nurb:
For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

That's an extremely cynical way to approach it and any game could be thought of that way, even single player games. You just can't see the other people doing it, but there are millions of other Cole McGrath's out there busting out lightning and jacking villains.

Or millions of other people taking down Alduin. You can be cynical about any game, it's easy. It's just choosing how you want to look at it.

Yeah, this is pretty much KOTOR 3, but it's KOTOR 3 I can experience with friends, adventuring together.

And that's pretty damn cool.

Frostbite3789:

Nurb:
For me the experience is "strange" because in KOTOR, you are the "chosen one" who decides the fate of the galaxy, but with it in an MMO setting, you see thousands of other "chosen ones" comically lining up for the "The big mean world boss that everyone is afraid to go after" to respawn so they can have their turn to kill them and move on to the next.

It's like a theme park and everyone is walking around with their own companions for winning the games and getting in line for the next ride behind others with the same prizes and souvenirs

That's an extremely cynical way to approach it and any game could be thought of that way, even single player games. You just can't see the other people doing it, but there are millions of other Cole McGrath's out there busting out lightning and jacking villains.

Or millions of other people taking down Alduin. You can be cynical about any game, it's easy. It's just choosing how you want to look at it.

Yeah, this is pretty much KOTOR 3, but it's KOTOR 3 I can experience with friends, adventuring together.

And that's pretty damn cool.

Except there's a difference between a persistant world MMO game and a single player game on your PC. I didn't come back from killing Alduin to see a line of other Dovahkiin players with their ticket to kill him once he resets, and I don't run by the fort I just took over for a faction respawn the enemies for someone else.

You're going to have to accept that people who enjoyed the KOTOR experience might find this game a bit "strange" feeling in some areas

Ok... going to address some of the comments in random order...Keep in mind I was in the beta for quite a while and saw a lot of changes before the final release...

The ceilings are so high because of the Datacrons. They are (almost) always up high and out of sight when using a standard following camera angle. Also, as previously stated, having high ceilings makes camera controls a bit easier, such as changing views to look down on a combat situation, making it easier to choose your next target.

SW:TOR was actually designed to let people play with out having to get into a group if they didn't want to. You can quite happily run around the Galaxy questing with out ever teaming up with a single other player. Sure, you'll miss out on the XP and some good gear by bypassing the heroic areas, but if you are one of those people who don't like group up with people unless its absolutely necessary, you don't have to. In a few cases I was able to solo the heroic areas with just me and my tanking companion.

The class story lines serve to move you from planet to planet, unlike in other MMO's such as WoW where you just mainly wander around picking up random quests willy nilly. In WoW, you really have no set goal beyond "get to lvl 85 as fast as possible with the best gear". The class stories are a goad to get you more invested in your character and the events that happen as you play.

Sure there may be 100 Jedi prodigies wandering the same area as you, but unless you all change a few advanced settings, you'll never be in the same heroic phase with them, so it's never really a problem. The side quests are more detailed that in other MMO's, and are (usually) be more involved than "go fetch X number of beaks just because I said so", and even the go kill X number of Y mob quests actually have some sense to them when they do pop up.

Honestly, who stops to have a discussion about the dialogue choices? Everybody picks their own choice, and the game randomly selects one person's choice to display as the outcome. If you chose the good option and everybody else chooses the evil option, you still get the light side points, they still get the dark side points, you just have to watch a different response than you picked. You can click through the cut scenes as fast as you want, or through the NPC dialogue, but you still get to sit and wait when the dialogue tree pops up...so you don't have people missing out on conversations/information if they don't want to, so the guy who's run the quest 10 times can't rush the guy doing it for the first time. If you don't care to read..then space bar away...its your choice. And the light/dark side points do have an effect.

Not just on your looks, but in terms of gear that you can use. Sure it won't effect the outcome of your class quest but you can play the same class 5 times or 50 times and not have the same rout to the end ever time.

As stated in another post, you will rarely see two companions looking exactly the same. Except the droids, but then who really gets bent out of shape when two mass produced droid models look identical? For the other companions you can change everything from what they wear to the color of their skin and hair (if they have it). Sure, being able to re-name them would be nice but there's only so much code you can work into an MMO before it gets clunky.

There's very little to no quest camping with TOR. There are a few out-door, non instanced quest areas but you don't have camp them. Example: On Taris I followed behind 5 different groups all on the same quest to recover stolen missile war heads. (I was solo). The groups took turns clearing out the mobs (with me lending healing here and there)and walking up to the quest objectives...the objectives don't de-spawn when clicked so we could all group around and click away then move to the next objective. Sure you have to wait for resource nodes to respawn (just like wow)...or world bosses (Special raid level mobs) but they usually respawn pretty fast and most groups I saw would gladly add you to their group if you asked before the fight began. Most of the quest areas are instanced just like in Wow.

The only time I had to grind for XP in TOR was for that last bit of XP to go from LvL 9 to LvL 10. For some reason, even after completing every quest and side quest on the starting planets, I always came up a few hundred XP short. After that, the number of quests available on subsequent planets far exceeded what was necessary to reach the minimum level requirement for the next planet. Even with out the extended quest lines.

Sure, TOR isn't the perfect MMO. The crafting bit could be nicer. Only being allowed one crafting and two gathering skills kind of blows when you need materials from 3 different gathering skills, but that supports the trade houses I suppose. Spending all your hard earned commendations (think badges from WoW) on an artifact case only to get an artifact that can only be used by some one on the opposite faction is very lame (but you can sell it at the cross faction trading kiosk on Nar Shadda). The fact that you need a really good video card to run the game on anything but the lowest settings kind of blows as well...especially when your trying to make those little micro jumps from crate to crate to get that stupid datacron, and your frame rate is so low that you fall off before you even see its time to jump...(I spent an hour with another player trying to get him to one of the datacrons on Coruscant...his frame rate was just too low to make those micro jumps)

In short, SW:TOR is definitely not WoW, and expecting it to be is kind of stupid. BW attempted to make an MMO that wasn't a carbon copy of every other MMO that has been on the market, and they've succeeded. Sure, you can't make an MMO with out some common factors but its the differences that make SW:TOR more that "WoW in Space". Whether or not you like it is up to you.

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