How The Old Republic Didn't Change MMOs

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I'd pretty much agree, but for slightly different reasons. So far, I like the game, but there's nothing exceptional about it that couldn't have been better if it was just Knights of the Old Republic III. I think I have two major gripes so far, one is the combat.

I don't think it's bad by MMO standards, but that's just it, MMO standards. You and your enemy start kicking eachother in the shins until one of you falls over, the only deciding factor is who bought the bigger boots. Not only that, but it's really awkward to control a quick slot bar and keep yourself moving and attacking all at the same time, because some world renown intellect decided that what MMO combat was missing was that you didn't have to tell your stupid character to keep fighting.

Real time combat is great if it functions like actual combat, but you only have control over one aspect of combat that requires no skill or effort, it's more like a quick time event that repeats endlessly. All it's good for is making you constantly focus on your quick slots instead of the action, which is a shame, because the animations are actually pretty nice by MMO standards

I know Bioware can make melee combat in an RPG fun, they did it with Jade Empire. Remember how cool it was when you first got to experiment with a new style?, wouldn't it have been great to do that with force powers?.

The other thing is the questing structure, not only do half the quests feel like they're just there to level you up, SIDE quests become mandatory because the game expects you to be a certain level before allowing you to continue the main story. Because since everyone is playing together there can be no difficulty option.

And there is no reason for all this bullshit, I feel like I'm working my way through an MMO to get to KOTOR III. the game looks and plays like it's from a few years ago, and nothing that I do will change the world in a meaningful way because the status quo must remain. And for what?, so I can risk my choices being stolen by other players?. So I can hope my party members will do their jobs instead of just telling them what to do?. So some other player can stand around during the dialogue?.

Everything this game could have been was sacrificed on the altar of multiplayer, MMO's being the resource hogs that they are, despite the fact that they necessitate inferiority to single player games in almost every way. The only perk is that there's more meaningless bullshit to pad things out for more players.

The story of TOR, wrapped in a more modernized and polished game, with a different leveling system and redone combat, that's a game I would love... You know, like Knights of the Old Republic III.

P.S: Space combat's kinda fun, though.

In one "flashpoint encounter" designed for groups, the choice of whether or not to kill a man determines which of two directions the quest will take.

That is the one and only Flashpoint encounter that has the option like that (The first one). A story being told, characters interacting with things and player choice deciding the flow.

All the others follow this formula:
- Speak to the Bastila-Clone; gasp when required and get the quest
- Enter the instance
- Tank and Spank till a terrible good/evil choice (I'll expand on terrible later)
- After terrible good/evil choice tank and spank some more
- Instance ends

When I say terrible; I mean terrible. It so badly feels like it was put in as a last minute idea. For some Flashpoints it's this:
You are shutting down the shield. You have the option to kill some dudes by overloading the console. Will you kill some dudes?
Some Engineers are trapped in an airlock; they supported a group of people who did evil things. Do you lock them up in the airlock so they can't escape or kill them?
Missiles are firing and you can't stop it. Target missiles at the enemy fleet or at an uninhabited moon?
These guys have finished setting up an emergency beacon but went a little nuts before they could turn it on. Do you want to turn the beacon on or destroy it?

Gather:

In one "flashpoint encounter" designed for groups, the choice of whether or not to kill a man determines which of two directions the quest will take.

That is the one and only Flashpoint encounter that has the option like that (The first one). A story being told, characters interacting with things and player choice deciding the flow.

All the others follow this formula:
- Speak to the Bastila-Clone; gasp when required and get the quest
- Enter the instance
- Tank and Spank till a terrible good/evil choice (I'll expand on terrible later)
- After terrible good/evil choice tank and spank some more
- Instance ends

When I say terrible; I mean terrible. It so badly feels like it was put in as a last minute idea. For some Flashpoints it's this:
You are shutting down the shield. You have the option to kill some dudes by overloading the console. Will you kill some dudes?
Some Engineers are trapped in an airlock; they supported a group of people who did evil things. Do you lock them up in the airlock so they can't escape or kill them?
Missiles are firing and you can't stop it. Target missiles at the enemy fleet or at an uninhabited moon?
These guys have finished setting up an emergency beacon but went a little nuts before they could turn it on. Do you want to turn the beacon on or destroy it?

They specifically mentioned doing this because of the repeatable nature of Flashpoints, and anyone who's done Esseles or Black Talon more than twice can tell you it gets old fast. Also, you forgot to mention how crafting can effect these other flashpoints, wether it gives you access to different areas or you can skip through trash and get right to bosses with it.

For me, SW:TOR would be much more playable if it was only for me. Other people running around in "my" RPG are just a distraction and immersion breakers. I'd like to see other people only in cities or when I have invited them into "my" game.
To be honest, this is what I thought TOR will be when I read all the previews and interviews. Instead out came just another MMO with boring quests, boring combat but good storyline (for some characters more, for some less).

That's why I liked Hellgate so much- I could really believe that my character was "the one", as I saw others only in hubs :)

Would be great if there was an option to turn off seeing other people in my game... *sigh*

Er... yeah. You could tell that from the start. The two faction divide, the pretty clear class analogues on both sides, the instanced dungeon planets etc.

It's not a straight up WoW clone by any means, but it's not a great leap forward for MMOs. We'll have to wait for Guild Wars 2 for that!

Oh, and just so people can have a look; Star Trek Online has a fully customisable companion group in the ships crew. All Bioware needs to do is just apply stock dialogue to the players creations and suddenly, everyone has their own unique companion. Maybe in the next expansion ;)

Ah, but in Guild Wars, no one knew who was NOT skipping the cutscenes as it had to be a unanimous vote.

First, if you're looking for major innovation in MMOs, well GUILD WARS 2 is the answer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU1JUwPqzQY

ArenaNet puts it best: "If you love MMOs you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2 and if you hate MMOs you'll *really* want to check out Guild Wars 2."

Second, having the group decide on how to respond to an NPC is breaking immersion? How? Isn't that what would REALLY happen IRL if you're in a group and encounter someone? Wouldn't the individual members of the group decide on how to respond? Be it a teacher telling you kids to get to class or a shopkeeper asking you into her store for a sale or a fire fighter warning you away from a burning building, etc.? Wouldn't the GROUP consider whether to stay or go or do something else?

Ken From Chicago:
First, if you're looking for major innovation in MMOs, well GUILD WARS 2 is the answer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU1JUwPqzQY

ArenaNet puts it best: "If you love MMOs you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2 and if you hate MMOs you'll *really* want to check out Guild Wars 2."

Here here! The GW2 website already describes, in great detail, how it's dynamic events system works, long before open beta. Now that's either AreanaNet setting themselves up for a spectacular let down or they already have a good enough build of that system that they can confidently tell us about. TOR, by comparison, doesn't tell us much about how it's story works - and frankly doesn't need to - because anyone who's remotely familiar with MMO's already knows how it works.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that it looks like an overloading electric pylon at 2:18 in that video?

beniki:
It's not a straight up WoW clone by any means, but it's not a great leap forward for MMOs. We'll have to wait for Guild Wars 2 for that!

Ken From Chicago:
First, if you're looking for major innovation in MMOs, well GUILD WARS 2 is the answer:

Yeah, but no sense getting all "elitist" about it.

OT: Could The Old Republic have been better? absolutely. In spite of it's innovations (most of which are very good), I consider the game to be a massively missed opportunity.
Does that make TOR a bad game? no, of course not. It's a WoW clone by design, but it's the best damn WoW clone there has ever been, and that includes Cataclysm.

Supernova2000:

Ken From Chicago:
First, if you're looking for major innovation in MMOs, well GUILD WARS 2 is the answer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU1JUwPqzQY

ArenaNet puts it best: "If you love MMOs you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2 and if you hate MMOs you'll *really* want to check out Guild Wars 2."

Here here! The GW2 website already describes, in great detail, how it's dynamic events system works, long before open beta. Now that's either AreanaNet setting themselves up for a spectacular let down or they already have a good enough build of that system that they can confidently tell us about. TOR, by comparison, doesn't tell us much about how it's story works - and frankly doesn't need to - because anyone who's remotely familiar with MMO's already knows how it works.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that it looks like an overloading electric pylon at 2:18 in that video?

Yeah but the combat of GW2 looks just as boring as that of TOR, and if that's the case then they just scrap the MMO part make it a single player game with multiplayer elements and save themselves, their studio, and their publisher time and money.

The biggest leaps forward in MMO gameplay (specifically combat) are coming from korean games, such as: TERA Online, Vindictus, and Blade and Soul.

TOR and GW2 may tell me a good story but that doesn't mean I will be able to stay awake to hear it.

Sam Kennedy:
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.

But they are still the same character. The same voice-actor, same personal drama, same characterization that fleshes them out from a bunch of 1s and 0s to a believable, 4-dimensional, breathing character that Bioware claims to do so well. Seeing a copy of that character--regardless of graphical changes--means there are clones of that character running around, or he/she is somehow capable of being *everywhere* in that galaxy thanks to some magical time-watch Hermoine used to keep up with her classes in "Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban." Which one is more plausible?

Sam Kennedy:
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.....

The other issue pointed out here is your comparing the companions to the gear on one character to another character. Your right that its lame when you have a level 85 troll decked out in elite gear and another troll wanders by with the same looking gear. But those are objects, intended to be replicated and mass-produced so everyone has a fair chance of getting them. If WoW ever gave the chance where your character could equip FrostMourne, then yeah it would be cool, but then you would see 500 (or more) people carrying the same weapon that the entire back-story of that weapon or how epic it is just becomes as bland as a slurpee in a 7/11.

The companions, if similar to gear on a character, then they become just as bland as that gear. To put it another way (I have no clue if this is true since I haven't played this MMORPG, but hypothetically speaking): Imagine if there is a tragic moment where one of your favorite companions die for a noble cause, or is killed by your hands in the story. Then after that narrative event, you see that same character wandering around with other players. Its like Aeris just gets back up and is a playable character for no context reason *after her cinematic death* in FFVII to end-game.

Lex Darko:
The biggest leaps forward in MMO gameplay (specifically combat) are coming from korean games, such as: TERA Online, Vindictus, and Blade and Soul.

TOR and GW2 may tell me a good story but that doesn't mean I will be able to stay awake to hear it.

Fucking hell I see your point! I've just watched the previews for Vindictus and Blade & Soul and they look a hell of a lot more fun, B&S especially looks like the kind of combat system that TOR bloody well should have! Thanks, I'm just downloading them now.

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

The Old Republic is great but not groundbreaking.

Read Full Article

Hmm is kinda stupid to say this since we're talking about an MMO after all so very short after a launch,so I won't say you are wrong or right on the conclusion,we'll see in a year.

But thing is it's like saying Wow hasn't changed MMos since it was just a copy paste of Everquest or Asheron's Call but even beeing a clone basically it did. The immediate change to the MMO market that I hope TOR does it's the fact the story matters in an MMO just as much as in a single player game. The amount of people subbing just proves wrong to those that said people playing MMOs didn't give a shit about it. And even if the general MMO public will actually care next to zero of the story it will probably bring a new public to it like me.

I don't think my choices in games are so unique but the only MMO I really enjoyed until TOR was LOTRO just because it actually has a rich story flowing through the game.

Now to sound a prick for a second and read behind this article,to me just sounds like a fanboy pretest when you'll write an articleabout GW2 and how it changed MMOs forever.

Dastardly:

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.

My limited experience with SWG provided a rather bland mechanical experience. Granted, by that point the game community was completely dead, and without that you just don't have any real interactions.

I recall someone calling it "Star Wars-Second Life", and that description seems to have stuck with me.

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.

Bingo.
The MMO genre is forever cursed with the burden of Fixed Costs.
Development (depending on who you go to) is a variable cost. Deployment and marketing is a variable cost.
But servers, bandwidth and the maintainence thereof? Fixed cost. And one that absolutely cannot be neglected if you want your MMO to be a success.

And it's because of that added cost that these MMOs aim for wider market appeal (at least in the US and Europian markets; Asia is a whole different beast).

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.

Yeah. That's the sweeping popular archetype for your average gamer in the US/European markets.

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.

Unfortunately, the nature of this problem goes even deeper into the economics of the MMO gaming market. From a design point, Bioware is trying to shoot for a game that offers an MMO-experience that can compete with WoW (and the WoW-clone market) in terms of both content and population.

Looking at it a bit more broadly, the primary audience isn't the old Star Wars Galaxies demographic, but the new parents holding down employment who don't want to spend effort making their own stories, or the guys who loved the KOTOR games. And all the curious middlings included.

Star Wars Galaxies worked as it did for in part because at the time of release, it was the ONLY Star Wars MMO in town. Around the same time however, WoW came along and rolled up the *entire* MMORPG market.

And something happened. Something terrifying: Executives saw for the first time how an MMO *can* achieve mass-market appeal. Everyone and their dad can play WoW, so the goal shifted to creating that bland game you described, by designing the game to appeal to both the "WoW demographic" and to Star Wars fans, instead of just Star Wars fans (as Galaxies did).

But to ensure financial stability for the project, it appears that Bioware opted to roll out their old proven method of success, which is where the KOTOR stories come from.

And now, we have this bizarre mish-mash of specific market appeals all globbed together.

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.

Aye, it's canned KOTOR story. As you said before, it's probably worth a single play through.
Though compared to your average MMO, it's sadly much more story than you're likely to ever find.

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

And when nobody's special, nobody cares. Hence, why most MMORPGs don't even attempt to let the players in on the story. But just to sit back and watch.

Hence, why I find it difficult to believe that a game allows for both can be anything other than niche'.
Star Wars Galaxies is an oddity, and because of many factors (WoW chief among them) it remained niche'. And "Niche'" becomes increasingly taboo to the executives who fund these games each year.

Atmos Duality:

Dastardly:

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.

My limited experience with SWG provided a rather bland mechanical experience. Granted, by that point the game community was completely dead, and without that you just don't have any real interactions.

I recall someone calling it "Star Wars-Second Life", and that description seems to have stuck with me.

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.

Bingo.
The MMO genre is forever cursed with the burden of Fixed Costs.
Development (depending on who you go to) is a variable cost. Deployment and marketing is a variable cost.
But servers, bandwidth and the maintainence thereof? Fixed cost. And one that absolutely cannot be neglected if you want your MMO to be a success.

And it's because of that added cost that these MMOs aim for wider market appeal (at least in the US and Europian markets; Asia is a whole different beast).

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.

Yeah. That's the sweeping popular archetype for your average gamer in the US/European markets.

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.

Unfortunately, the nature of this problem goes even deeper into the economics of the MMO gaming market. From a design point, Bioware is trying to shoot for a game that offers an MMO-experience that can compete with WoW (and the WoW-clone market) in terms of both content and population.

Looking at it a bit more broadly, the primary audience isn't the old Star Wars Galaxies demographic, but the new parents holding down employment who don't want to spend effort making their own stories, or the guys who loved the KOTOR games. And all the curious middlings included.

Star Wars Galaxies worked as it did for in part because at the time of release, it was the ONLY Star Wars MMO in town. Around the same time however, WoW came along and rolled up the *entire* MMORPG market.

And something happened. Something terrifying: Executives saw for the first time how an MMO *can* achieve mass-market appeal. Everyone and their dad can play WoW, so the goal shifted to creating that bland game you described, by designing the game to appeal to both the "WoW demographic" and to Star Wars fans, instead of just Star Wars fans (as Galaxies did).

But to ensure financial stability for the project, it appears that Bioware opted to roll out their old proven method of success, which is where the KOTOR stories come from.

And now, we have this bizarre mish-mash of specific market appeals all globbed together.

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.

Aye, it's canned KOTOR story. As you said before, it's probably worth a single play through.
Though compared to your average MMO, it's sadly much more story than you're likely to ever find.

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

And when nobody's special, nobody cares. Hence, why most MMORPGs don't even attempt to let the players in on the story. But just to sit back and watch.

Hence, why I find it difficult to believe that a game allows for both can be anything other than niche'.
Star Wars Galaxies is an oddity, and because of many factors (WoW chief among them) it remained niche'. And "Niche'" becomes increasingly taboo to the executives who fund these games each year.

Sadly, you got to play SWG after NGE. The game was a whole lot different before the that. Before that is was all player driven, it stem from games like Ultima Online, where there were no real quests, just a huge sandbox and some bits of story, the players made up the rest which was the norm at the time.

I just want to point out the SOE screwed up SWG a long time before CU and NGE. It started with the Jedi fiasco, life day, then X-server trade-able holocrons(for Jedi) and ensuing scams, then making the experience points to unlock the Jedi so ridiculously high.

Hey, everyone. I've been enjoying the conversation, and thanks to everybody for commenting on the column this week!

I see a lot of people talking about The Old Republic being a "WoW clone," and I wonder whether that's a fair thing to say. Hear me out. :)

The basic quest and combat mechanics of massively multiplayer online role playing games were established by EverQuest back in 1999. World of Warcraft really didn't innovate on those mechanics. WoW polished them. From that perspective WoW was an EverQuest clone, but we don't say that because WoW was clearly, ridiculously more popular than EQ ever was.

I don't know what a different kind of MMO would look like in terms of combat mechanics. DC Universe Online's mechanics are more like an action game than a traditional MMO, so maybe that's a step in the right direction. No one's gotten the first person, reflex-based combat system to work properly in an MMO, though Firefall is making a leap in that direction. Buggered if I know what a better quest system would look like, though. Dynamic quest generation would seem to be a goal, but then there's the question of characters and voice performances.

Until such time as these questions get answered, calling MMO games "clones" of whoever came first or happens to be on top at the moment just seems silly. Just call them MMOs. The Old Republic is a traditional MMO, not a clone of anything. My point this week was that by making one, significant change to what "traditional" means in this case, it casts all the other "traditions" in a different light.

That's not to say those traditions are bad, or even to suggest there are immediate, easy ways to break them, but I think it's interesting to see them more clearly as a result of what TOR did!

I was expecting some silly thread written by a clueless forum poster, but this is an actual article? Really?

TOR is simply *adequate* as an MMO, it's not *innovative* and it doesn't bring any change. The title is a bit of a Captain Obvious sentence. Apart from being fully voiced, a feature that isn't needed in an MMO, TOR is made from the World of Warcraft template and nothing can change that.

This isn't particularly directed at the author of the article, but some of the reasons given for why SWTOR is a bad game have got to make Bioware happy. They are either the most nit-pick minor issues possible or they're issues that every MMO suffers from and usually worse. Chances are those types of people weren't going to enjoy the game no matter what Bioware did and if that's the worst they can come up with? Good on Bioware.

The traditional MMO combat system of pushing number keys or function buttons to activate abilities, coupled in some instances with taking advantageous positions like getting behind an enemy for a backstab or keeping one's distance to avoid being targeted, is something I've never enjoyed but learned to deal with in order to play MMOs.

Hmm, sounds pretty typical for Bioware. DA:O pretty much uses the MMO format exclusively - and was an awful, awful game (IMO).

The Gentleman:
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

The IA probably has the most interesting and fun story to play though. I love playing my Sniper. I like the cover system. It's all a matter of taste. If you don't like the cover system, you'll probably choose to play Operative. That Advanced Class doesn't use cover at all.

Anyway, after playing this for a week or two by now, I can say that what most people have said so far about the game is true. And I knew it from the start. But when I tried it, I got stuck because of the great storytelling. Especially my main story. I'm currently playing the game together with a good friend of mine, doing everything together step by step, conversation by conversation, quest by quest. He's a Bounty Hunter. We share each others main stories by inviting one another to our respective cutscenes and whatnot. And I'm really enjoying it. Even the PvP can be fun if you aren't forced to play the fucking crappy map called "Huttball". Sadly, that's the one that you get to play most of the time...Still, even that map has its moments. But I digress.

If I can just say one thing, it's that this game deserved to be singe player. It would have been so much better, even if I enjoy the group conversations. The way it is now, it's definitely worth playing the first month at least. But I'm very unlikely to resub once I'm done with my storyline. The fact that most quests will be exactly the same once you get out of your prologue area almost completely kills the replay value. The only thing that changes is the main quest of course, which means that there is a total of 4 main quests/faction, one for each main class (Advanced Classes do not count). But only 2 prologue areas(The Force-user classes are paired, as are the non-force user classes). And the rest of the game is shared. For a game that is so reliant on the story being interesting, this kills a lot of the excitement if you come around a second time. But unlike WoW for example, it's so linear that you HAVE to visit the same planets and zones. There aren't any other. (Though to be fair, most quests were freaking boring in WoW regardless. At least these are actually fun...)

IF I play through it again, it will probably be as the other faction. Same thing there though. If you've played it once, the amount of time you have to invest just to see a different main story is sadly not worth it. If you do it all again, it's to try a different class to see if you enjoy it more than your current one.

So what about endgame then? So far I'm talking about the game like it really is a singe player game that ends after your story ends(at least I make it sound like that). Well, so far I haven't the faintest idea as to what the endgame actually is, not personally at least. However, if the rest of the game is an indication, it's probably a copy-paste of WoW. Raid instances and/or PvP. Stuff that feels old even before you've tried it, as was the case for me. Yes, the instances have group dialogs and choices, but(again) they're basically just the same as they are in WoW once you've played them once.

By now you've seen a pattern. Everything about this game is "worth doing once". It's exactly like everyone is saying: A single player game with an MMO payment plan. By now I'm repeating myself, so I'll end here. Didn't even plan to write all this, it just came to me. Happy New Year!

Supernova2000:

Lex Darko:
The biggest leaps forward in MMO gameplay (specifically combat) are coming from korean games, such as: TERA Online, Vindictus, and Blade and Soul.

TOR and GW2 may tell me a good story but that doesn't mean I will be able to stay awake to hear it.

Fucking hell I see your point! I've just watched the previews for Vindictus and Blade & Soul and they look a hell of a lot more fun, B&S especially looks like the kind of combat system that TOR bloody well should have! Thanks, I'm just downloading them now.

I think GW2 combat looks really good so far. Looking forward to trying it.

However, here is my question:
What do you mean, more specifically, about those korean games being the leaps forward for MMO's? What makes you say that? I'm genuinely curious.

Acrisius:
However, here is my question:
What do you mean, more specifically, about those korean games being the leaps forward for MMO's? What makes you say that? I'm genuinely curious.

Well the combat in Vindictus (Free-to-Play), for example, is real-time; one click, one attack and you can grab an opponent and punch his lights out or slam them into the nearest wall, even pick up random debris and throw it at them. Granted, my enthusiasm was premature and having played it, I realise it's nothing I haven't seen before and I wouldn't call it "innovative" by any means, especially since every other aspect is as run-of-the-mill as you can get but it does have the right idea with it's combat system, an example that we in the west would do well to follow.

I don't mind the pseudo turn-based system used by the KoTOR series and MMO's in general provided that the melee is well animated, unlike TOR (watch this at 14:47 onwards if there's anyone who doesn't believe me) and actually I too, am intrigued by the GW2 combat, especially the environmental effects, like sending minions through a poisonous gas cloud to carry the infection to the enemy or arrows being set alight when shot through fire, except that wielding a single longsword two-handed - my preferred style - doesn't appear to be a bloody option, yet again!

Supernova2000:

I don't mind the pseudo turn-based system used by the KoTOR series and MMO's in general provided that the melee is well animated, unlike TOR (watch this at 14:47 onwards if there's anyone who doesn't believe me)

The animations in SWTOR are some of the best in the genre, having first hand experience by having played the fucking game. Try watching a let's play by someone who doesn't have a completely shitty computer. If you can't see how well animated melee combat is, you seriously need to have your eyes checked.

Lex Darko:

Supernova2000:

Ken From Chicago:
First, if you're looking for major innovation in MMOs, well GUILD WARS 2 is the answer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU1JUwPqzQY

ArenaNet puts it best: "If you love MMOs you'll want to check out Guild Wars 2 and if you hate MMOs you'll *really* want to check out Guild Wars 2."

Here here! The GW2 website already describes, in great detail, how it's dynamic events system works, long before open beta. Now that's either AreanaNet setting themselves up for a spectacular let down or they already have a good enough build of that system that they can confidently tell us about. TOR, by comparison, doesn't tell us much about how it's story works - and frankly doesn't need to - because anyone who's remotely familiar with MMO's already knows how it works.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that it looks like an overloading electric pylon at 2:18 in that video?

Yeah but the combat of GW2 looks just as boring as that of TOR, and if that's the case then they just scrap the MMO part make it a single player game with multiplayer elements and save themselves, their studio, and their publisher time and money.

The biggest leaps forward in MMO gameplay (specifically combat) are coming from korean games, such as: TERA Online, Vindictus, and Blade and Soul.

TOR and GW2 may tell me a good story but that doesn't mean I will be able to stay awake to hear it.

GW2 is much more action-base then TOR is. GW2 has active dodging, combinging spells with other classes, using environment to your advantage, able to revive in combat (all classes can revive), no holy trinity.

TOR - WoW without auto-attack.

It's nice to see BioWare trying to make a unique and fresh take on the MMO genre, but the fact of the matter is that they're used to Single-Player RPGs, and trying to mix some of the conventions such RPGs have with the MMO variant feels kinda... awkward.

It's certainly a unique experience, but we're going to have to get used to the fact that some of BioWare's ideas don't translate well to MMO format. So far, though, TOR sounds like a blast.

Korten12:
no holy trinity.

I am sick and fucking tired of everyone saying that. First of all, all they did was rotate the holy trinity 120 degrees and give everyone the abilities. It's still fucking there. And from everything I've seen, the best in combat setups, especially for difficult combat, will require bars with abilities from the same leg of GW2's trinity. Which then are switched depending on the enemy in question during combat phases.

Note, I'll still probably get the game, but to say it "did away with" the trinity is fucking absurd.

ravenshrike:

Korten12:
no holy trinity.

I am sick and fucking tired of everyone saying that. First of all, all they did was rotate the holy trinity 120 degrees and give everyone the abilities. It's still fucking there. And from everything I've seen, the best in combat setups, especially for difficult combat, will require bars with abilities from the same leg of GW2's trinity. Which then are switched depending on the enemy in question during combat phases.

Note, I'll still probably get the game, but to say it "did away with" the trinity is fucking absurd.

Um... There is no dedicated Tank class, and no dedicated healer class. Every class can do their part. And no, it isn't the best setup since monster aggro's don't go after the person with the most health. Thus making the whole holy trinity set up if tried, completely pointless.

In PVP in most games, if you have no healer, you would lose without a doubt. In GW2, they even said that in one match, a Necromancer held themselves up against four players by them self while they waited for their team to respawn. If it had a holy trinity, that necromancer would have wiped in seconds.

Yes there is a healing spell, but it's not substantial enough to just sit there and watch your parties health go up and down while you heal them.

In GW2 there is Damage, Control and Support, but none of them fit the role of the holy trinity, and the fact that it doesn't have DPS, Tank, and Heal makes it radically different. If a Elementalist keeps using their water spell to heal, the team will wipe, if they don't take an active role, do damage, and support (shields and buffs) then the team will die. Healing will help, but it's not the holy savoir like it is in games like WoW.

My brother played WoW for years and he played a Druid which while not a priest had lots of healing abilities and he even said if they took away many of the healing spells, raids would no longer be able to function. If there was no class to just take all the damage, it would fall apart, and same for DPS.

But in GW2, you could go into a dungeon with a whole party of Mages and still do fine, great in fact depending on the players. If the game followed by the main rules of the holy trinity, then this would be sentencing their death.

And sure, Mages still do have less health, but they aren't just there to stand afar and never get up close. In GW2 they can, they battle up close, they aren't afraid to get hit once and awhile. Because there is no Tank that is just going to pull aggro or provoke the enemy. The enemies don't care, they will attack whom ever they like and no skill is going to suddenly make you there favorite target. Sure a Guardian could do a shield ability, but more then that class has that, but a shield ability isn't changing their aggro, just protecting the player.

Thus Tank is completely destroyed as a possible role.

Then since a player can't not heal a whole party and live by only doing that, the role of Heal, is destroyed.

The only thing that is remotely the same is DPS to Damage since, well it's doing damage. But what makes it different is that there is no class(s) dedicated to this role, because everyone can be DPS. Thus in a sense, no one is DPS.

Support, Damage, and Control while it may sound similar, it works in a much different way.

Dennis Scimeca:
Hey, everyone. I've been enjoying the conversation, and thanks to everybody for commenting on the column this week!

I see a lot of people talking about The Old Republic being a "WoW clone," and I wonder whether that's a fair thing to say. Hear me out. :)

The basic quest and combat mechanics of massively multiplayer online role playing games were established by EverQuest back in 1999. World of Warcraft really didn't innovate on those mechanics. WoW polished them. From that perspective WoW was an EverQuest clone, but we don't say that because WoW was clearly, ridiculously more popular than EQ ever was.

I don't know what a different kind of MMO would look like in terms of combat mechanics. DC Universe Online's mechanics are more like an action game than a traditional MMO, so maybe that's a step in the right direction. No one's gotten the first person, reflex-based combat system to work properly in an MMO, though Firefall is making a leap in that direction. Buggered if I know what a better quest system would look like, though. Dynamic quest generation would seem to be a goal, but then there's the question of characters and voice performances.

Until such time as these questions get answered, calling MMO games "clones" of whoever came first or happens to be on top at the moment just seems silly. Just call them MMOs. The Old Republic is a traditional MMO, not a clone of anything. My point this week was that by making one, significant change to what "traditional" means in this case, it casts all the other "traditions" in a different light.

That's not to say those traditions are bad, or even to suggest there are immediate, easy ways to break them, but I think it's interesting to see them more clearly as a result of what TOR did!

To be honest, The Old Republic being similar to WoW is a more serious problem than for most other games. Star Wars already has a great deal of back story, and a massive library of games to take their classes and abilities from. That's what people were expecting. Three force user classes, and three 'normal' classes lifted straight from KoTOR, along with the moral ambiguity that KoTOR 2 hinted at.

Instead, the classes have been condensed down into very clear WoW analogues. I haven't played the game yet, but just looking at the skills list, they almost seem copy pasted from other games. This is probably why you find the actual game play dull... you've played it before, just with a different skin.

I don't mean that developers should try to re-invent the wheel, but for the sake of voice acting and cut scenes, the rest of the game has suffered. It's the same problem that Warhammer Age of Reckoning has. No other game quite had the PvP potential of that game, but it was let down by it's core game play being dull, and very much the same as other games. Actually playing the game is the same experience as all those years you spent on WoW. And you already stopped playing WoW years ago.

Not only that, but lazy class design kind of makes me yawn. Yes, I know that a Sith and a Jedi are similar, but there's nothing in their core mechanic to make them different beyond the name of the mechanic. I don't know why they bothered splitting the classes like that at all. Surely it would have been better from a story line perspective to have a common start point, and then a choice to be Sith or Republic later on in the game? Isn't that what KoTOR 2 was about? The choice, and the moral ambiguity between the two organisations?

You could call it traditional, but you could also call it out of date, especially compared to the innovations of upcoming games. To me? Well... to be honest, I lost interest when the classes came out. Good ideas ruined by forcing the character types into a game play mould rather than building a game to suit the characters.

That's what The Old Republic is. A good idea, let down by trying to fit mechanics that don't really suit it's character.

s69-5:

The traditional MMO combat system of pushing number keys or function buttons to activate abilities, coupled in some instances with taking advantageous positions like getting behind an enemy for a backstab or keeping one's distance to avoid being targeted, is something I've never enjoyed but learned to deal with in order to play MMOs.

Hmm, sounds pretty typical for Bioware. DA:O pretty much uses the MMO format exclusively - and was an awful, awful game (IMO).

Yay for finding someone else who thought DA:O was not very good!

OT: As for the MMO thing, the fact that so many games follow the EQ/WoW combat system is enough of a turn off to me. I'm sorry, but I just don't see the appeal of hitting 1-1-1-1-1-2-3-4-1-1-1-1-2-3-4 and occasionally 9. If you're going to do that same mindless thing over and over then you might as well be botting.

Seriously, the typical MMO player is nothing more than a fleshy bot. :P

And for the people talking about GW2, I'm also sorry, but I saw the combat demos and it looks like the combat is exactly the same. So what, now you have a don't stand there, stand here thing... wait WoW had that... dodge roll, same thing as an escape like Blink. Your spells combine with other players? How is that so very different from a 'lock casting a weakness to fire debuff and and having another player cast fire or better yet in FF11 using the group limit thing. What I'm saying is in terms of combat mechanics all of these games are the same thing with very minor tweaks and gimmicks between them.

Hopefully the lack of a subscription, and a dynamic well constructed world and quests will hold some be enough to stave off the repetitiveness of combat.

I love KOTOR and although seeing a lot of Vette's does look silly, i really got over it quickly. Every game has things i do not like they are not going to stop me from having fun. SWTOR is great fun so far i just cannot stop playing.

animehermit:
The animations in SWTOR are some of the best in the genre, having first hand experience by having played the fucking game. Try watching a let's play by someone who doesn't have a completely shitty computer. If you can't see how well animated melee combat is, you seriously need to have your eyes checked.

Let me rephrase then: well synchronised animations; yes, they're quite good but they still don't synch up properly, one combatant blocks low while the opponent slashes high and it still counts as a parry? Furthermore, if you look half-way down his channel page, to the left, you'll see that Snapwave has a computer that's anything but shitty but even if it were, how on Earth would system lag cause that kind of problem?

To be honest. I have no idea why so many people expected Swotor to be some "second coming" It's an MMO. Which means that there are going to be so many actions that do not synchronize because there are so many different actions that can be made any second that a super computer from 100 years from now may make it possible.
Let me throw WoW out of the area and focus on how bad synchronization exists in single player games today. Some of the best fighting games of today have a block that can stop any upper or lower based attack regardless of the position of said block or even strike. I'm sorry but a right handed block to stop a right kick/punch is extremely difficult to do and the blockee should be using their left hand/leg to block right hand/leg attacks. (Not to mention that "blocks" don't really exist in a fight because slight mitigation is the best you can do.) God of War used a single stance to block the majority of attacks in the game unless it was an AoE.

I can go forever on this but let me just say that synchronization from an MMO should of been far from anyone's mind since in a fighting game or even most action games a slight punch at the end would cause some over dramatized fall.

Supernova2000:

animehermit:
The animations in SWTOR are some of the best in the genre, having first hand experience by having played the fucking game. Try watching a let's play by someone who doesn't have a completely shitty computer. If you can't see how well animated melee combat is, you seriously need to have your eyes checked.

Let me rephrase then: well synchronised animations; yes, they're quite good but they still don't synch up properly, one combatant blocks low while the opponent slashes high and it still counts as a parry? Furthermore, if you look half-way down his channel page, to the left, you'll see that Snapwave has a computer that's anything but shitty but even if it were, how on Earth would system lag cause that kind of problem?

That's a known issue and it's being worked on by Bioware. As it stands right now, most of the animations sync up properly but some special abilities break the sync, such as the Jedi Knight's master strike ability.

second, I don't care how good this guys computer is, he still had framedrops like no tomorrow.

beniki:

To be honest, The Old Republic being similar to WoW is a more serious problem than for most other games. Star Wars already has a great deal of back story, and a massive library of games to take their classes and abilities from. That's what people were expecting. Three force user classes, and three 'normal' classes lifted straight from KoTOR, along with the moral ambiguity that KoTOR 2 hinted at.

Instead, the classes have been condensed down into very clear WoW analogues. I haven't played the game yet, but just looking at the skills list, they almost seem copy pasted from other games. This is probably why you find the actual game play dull... you've played it before, just with a different skin.

I don't mean that developers should try to re-invent the wheel, but for the sake of voice acting and cut scenes, the rest of the game has suffered. It's the same problem that Warhammer Age of Reckoning has. No other game quite had the PvP potential of that game, but it was let down by it's core game play being dull, and very much the same as other games. Actually playing the game is the same experience as all those years you spent on WoW. And you already stopped playing WoW years ago.

Not only that, but lazy class design kind of makes me yawn. Yes, I know that a Sith and a Jedi are similar, but there's nothing in their core mechanic to make them different beyond the name of the mechanic. I don't know why they bothered splitting the classes like that at all. Surely it would have been better from a story line perspective to have a common start point, and then a choice to be Sith or Republic later on in the game? Isn't that what KoTOR 2 was about? The choice, and the moral ambiguity between the two organisations?

You could call it traditional, but you could also call it out of date, especially compared to the innovations of upcoming games. To me? Well... to be honest, I lost interest when the classes came out. Good ideas ruined by forcing the character types into a game play mould rather than building a game to suit the characters.

That's what The Old Republic is. A good idea, let down by trying to fit mechanics that don't really suit it's character.

While some abilities are taken from WoW, a large majority of them have no equivalent in WoW.

Having played a Protection Warrior in WoW to 85 and Jedi Guardian to 35(I have most of my abilities now, only like 2 more to go), I can compare the two rather easily.

Here's a run down of Jedi Guardian abilities and their wow equivalents:

Force Leap: essentially charge, can be used in combat from level 2, looks really cool. Can proc and abilitie to give me bladestorms for free.

Sundering Strike: Focus builder, sunders armor, stacks 5 times (up from WoW's current 3 stack, although it used to be 5) Builds focus

Soresu Form: Basic tanking stance, although different that WoW's. Generates 50% more threat(which is down from WoW's version which I believe is closer to 100%) also increase shield chance and armor.

Slash: basically Heroic strike, but it doesn't generate as much threat, and is only a focus dump.

Riposte is Revenge, doesn't do as much damage, doesn't cleave, but increases my defense stat, costs very little and is off the GCD, which arguably makes it a lot different than Revenge.

Other than that there's some basic tanking CD's that are the same (they're all the same for every tank in WoW too).

Bladestorm has no WoW equivalent, it stuns standard enemies, but not players, strongs, elites, or champions. Generates lots of threat, give me a defensive shield whenever I use it.

Force Stasis: Jedi version of Force choke, only not evil, 3 second channeled stun which generates focus, for tanks there's no channeling required. nothing in wow is even close to this.

Master Strike has no WoW equivalent. 3 second channeled melee strike, stuns standard enemies but not anything else, does lots of damage.

Cyclone slash, really doesn't have any wow equivalent, damages up to 5 enemies in front of you, short CD, but costly in the focus department.

Hilt strike is stun that does lots of damage, and generates lots of threat, no wow equivalent.

Pommel Strike, does huge damage to stunned or otherwise incapacitated targets, no wow equivalent.

As you can see, even the abilities that have wow equivalents have been modified to be, in some cases, a lot different.

Also, the Warrior and the Knights as well as with every other class mirror, do not share animations, in fact, no two classes share any animations at all. A sith warrior using their version of master strike (called ravage) doesn't look the same as a Jedi's.

The ability to switch sides causes all kinds of balance issues within the game and would only make faction balance on certain servers worse.

animehermit:
That's a known issue and it's being worked on by Bioware. As it stands right now, most of the animations sync up properly but some special abilities break the sync, such as the Jedi Knight's master strike ability.

second, I don't care how good this guys computer is, he still had framedrops like no tomorrow.

True, and here I thought that the game wouldn't be that hard on the system, given the art style it went for. That doesn't bode well for me, were I to play it; I have 12GB RAM, double Snapwave's but a somewhat inferior graphics card.

It just seems odd to me that they would be properly synced in the class ability preview videos (like the ones of the Jedi Knight deflecting all those shots as opposed to unflinchingly taking them all in the face, Tank though he is) but not in-game but then again, those vids were made locally, at Bioware HQ, so it must be a lag issue, which I imagine could screw up even Arkham Asylums' flawless choreography.

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