They’re handing out winter jackets in hell: I’m interested in SW:TOR

I’m not a much of a Star Wars fan. Sure, I saw all the movies and I’ve read a few of the books, but I don’t obsess over either. I think I own, somewhere, the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD, still in the shrinkwrap. Bought because it seemed like something I ought to own.

I was the one person I know who didn’t like KOTOR when it came out. I played it, because it was an Important Game at the time, but I didn’t think much of it. I played Star Wars Galaxies too, because I try almost every MMO that comes out (well, I did back when only a few came out every year…I guess these days I can no longer claim to try them all).

Y’know, I love fantasy, and I love sci-fi. But sci-fantasy just doesn’t do too much for me. Take The Force out of Star Wars and make it pure space opera and I’d like it a lot more.

Anyway… because of all this, Star Wars: The Old Republic wasn’t an automatic win for me. I know for many, the IP is draw enough. Not for me. And all the fuss about full-voice to me is a detriment, if anything. EQ2 has more voice than any other MMO I play and I find it gets really tedious. I read the text and skip the voice.

And then there was the Bioware hype, implying that this was an MMO that broke all the molds and took the genre in a new direction. I’m not interested in the MMO genre going in a new direction. I like today’s MMOs.

So yeah, SW:TOR wasn’t on my radar.

Then yesterday I watched a lot of footage from the game, and suddenly I’m excited about it! And ironically the reason I’m excited is… it looks just like any other MMO! The HUD was understandable and the quests were pretty typical Kill Ten Rats (ok, Kill 10 Berserk Troopers). The combat looked really fun; more City of Heroes than Everquest (meaning it looked a bit more active than old-school MMOs). The graphics were a nice balance between realism and animation and seemed very clean. Lots of ranged combat, which I enjoy. You killed stuff and got look from their corpses… I love me some monster piñatas!

So now I’m on-board, but I wonder if others who’re looking forward to Bioware’s MMO paradigm shift will wind up disappointed? Right now the Bio-dudes are saying Spring 2011 launch, so we’ll know before too long, I guess.

I couldn’t find real gameplay video, but here’s a ‘cinematic’ look at the game. No HUD, camera angles jumping around for dramatic effect. When talking to the NPC at the end, think about how long it takes him to say what he has to say, then imagine standing around like that for hundreds of quests…

Update: Gameplay! (Skip the first half or so)

PC GamesE3 2010Star Wars: The Old Republic

13 thoughts on “They’re handing out winter jackets in hell: I’m interested in SW:TOR

  1. Since I’m trying VERY HARD to look on the bright side of things, I’ll say that yes, I too am looking forward to this.

    I am also not a SW geek (although I loved the design of SWG), but I do love BioWare. I am SERIOUSLY disappointed that so far during E3, any BioWare talking head who discusses SWTOR seems to be laboring to make sure that players know that this game has more in common with WoW then with EVE. I’m not going to get all ranty, because A) it doesn’t matter and B) I play everything, but I sigh when I think of what the most innovative and talented developers in the industry arecreating, and what they COULD (and should) be creating.

    But what they DO have looks to kick intergalactic ass.

  2. Your last comment is why I never got that into Dragon Age. I’d pay more than your average movie ticket to watch the stories that Bioware puts together without the gameplay (which is, frankly, rudimentary compared to MMO’s), but the combination of the two is a hybrid that doesn’t interest me.

  3. I’m a big Star Wars geekette. Being from Canada- all the kids in the neighborhood had white hockey helmets so we had our own stormtrooper armies..good times. My favourtie graphic novels are the Knights of the Old Republic series. I was on the fence though as I’m sceptical of the hype machine on upcoming games.
    I love the dialogue in games (DragonAge was just my style..seeing them talk about whats going on instead of reading a wordy boring quest box) and now that this game has dialogue I’m positively drooling. I know impatient people will not like this, but I love being completely immersed in the story. It’s more bang for your buck, a mini series to watch and a game to play all rolled in one. Plus the pew pew of the guns audio is music to my ears.

  4. As you did not follow the hype that much so far, let me a bit reurgitate the common hopes and fears that already came up on Dusty Monk’s blog http://ofcourseillplayit.com/?p=304 and System Babble: http://systemicbabble.com/videogames/post-mortem-mass-effect/

    In short, the fears and hopes are connected and mainly center on these points:

    – STORY
    – FULLY VOICED
    – KOTOR SINGLEPLAYER ONLINE
    – BIOWARE’S GOOD RPG REPUTATION
    – INNOVATION

    It is hard to separate hopes and fears, and the points I made are very connected. For instance story was mentioned as the next big thing in the MMO genre. This goes hand in hand with Bioware’s reputation to deliver great RPGs. But this often fueled the fear of a heavily instanced solo experience as well.

    Fully voiced – we all know that it worked great for Dragon Age. With some exceptions. It was often also taking a lot of time. And I know that people online often don’t wait for you to listen to an 8 second cutscene. It costs a lot of money and often people just want to go on. Even if they ask you every 10 seconds for your input, you are stuck in listening to the dialogue as you mentioned.

    Now we like to solo – but at the same time we criticize that SWTOR might become a very single player and story driven game. That ends with the story. That’s the problem of a scripted story. It ends. EVE does not have a story. It does not have the drive of a story, but it also does not end like that as sandbox style game.

    Voice deserves to be mentioned again. Some do not like ME2 Shepard talking, others hate it that their DAO char does not talk. How will we like it in a MMO if our chars have all the same class/gender specific voice? Or will we not be bothered by it, as this will be reserved to solo-instances for our “destiny class quests”?

    The next point is innovation. They already have shown that SWTOR will have Battlegrounds, this, that – it is a lot like every other MMO. Good thing or bad thing? Interestingly, I have not seen any raid or raids even being mentioned.

    The amount of information revealed is still rather small, and I cannot understand that people rather hype the cinematic trailers than focus on the fewer and shorter gameplay videos.

    http://darthhater.com/ – who is a real lover – does a very good job at dissecting all SWTOR videos and interviews.

    If we are unlucky, SWTOR becomes more of the same with voice for nothing. But this might be just what a lot of people want, I would rather be disappointed and play through once as if it were another Bioware single player RPG.

  5. Given our history of misunderstanding, I’ll offer a pre-emptive apology if this seems overly snarky or whatever; that isn’t my intention. I am not specifically picking at your personally, simply taking a few comments and asking these questions of the General MMO Audience.

    Skipping the SWTOR-specifics, I could almost allude this to your previous post asking “why do gamers hate games?” To pluck out a few of your ideas, just because you like Today’s MMO does that mean there should never be Tomorrow’s MMO? A lot of players get caught up in nostalgia and think they prefer Yesterday’s MMO for that matter, but they never put their money where their mouth is and actually play them, but that’s another topic altogether. So many MMO Gamers (in my opinion a sub-species to the purer Gamer LOL) get so up in arms at any changes talked about for upcoming MMO’s as if every single MMO out there will be changed this way. Blizzard isn’t going to go back and add 50 novels of voice-overs and cut scenes to WoW, for instance. It’s ok for ONE MMO to try a little something new to test the waters. So, “Why do MMO Gamers hate the innovation they scream and kick for?”

    Also I never understood the whole “I try every MMO” thing. I used to be *major major hardcore* into competitive FPS back in the day. Still have the Repetitive Strain Injury to prove it. I can’t think of a single hardcore FPS player back then who played every single FPS that shipped — and far more FPS shipped than MMO’s have. We learned our own likes and dislikes and while we were open to new experiences, we saw no need to jump on the bandwagon for every title simply because it was filed under the FPS category. Why do MMO Gamers think it’s their obligation to do this?

  6. @Scott –

    [“To pluck out a few of your ideas, just because you like Today’s MMO does that mean there should never be Tomorrow’s MMO?”]

    I’m pretty sure I never suggested there shouldn’t be a tomorrow’s MMO. All the post was about was that I was surprised to see how ‘typical’ SW:TOR looked, which made me, personally, interested in it.

    If I just said “I’m interested in SW:TOR” it wouldn’t have been much of a post. I thought it was relevant to list the reasons I wasn’t previously interested.

    I certainly wasn’t trying to lobby to anyone that they should see things my way, and I’m suprised that you (apparently) read the post that way. The closest I came was referring to the video and the amount of time it takes to get info out of an NPC, and that, again, was just illustrating why full-voice isn’t a plus in my personal opinion.

    “Not interested” is not the same as “OMG SW:TOR is going to suck and anyone looking forward to it sucks, too.”

    [“Also I never understood the whole “I try every MMO” thing.”]

    And I’ve never understood why people like baseball. There’s lots of things beyond understanding in the world.

    In case that was your backhanded way of asking “Why did you try every MMO?” then here is my answer:
    In the past I tried every MMO because I was interested to see what kinds of systems they came up with. To see how they put the world together, how the combat felt. I was, in my own mind at least, a student of virtual worlds and gaming systems. The only way I could learn about them was to try them.

    And as you yourself point out: “far more FPS shipped than MMO’s have” – When 2-3 games in your favorite genre ship in a given year, it isn’t all that hard to try them all.

  7. No no no, as I said, none of that was specifically directed at you. Simply taking a few sentiments you expressed that I see so often, it seems, and (as usual) going off on a tangent with it. What? You guys aren’t used to that yet? I’m a walking tangent! 🙂

    I guess my overall viewpoint is similar to you asking why gamers hate games — why do MMO Gamers get in such an outrage over everything? I don’t recall (doesn’t mean it didn’t happen) such outrage in other genre’s. So much negativity and hate… I think one of the LOTRO podcasters recently said it best, with respect to acceptance of the new pricing model and incoming free players: how about outreach instead of outrage?

  8. Oh — this one is directly to you, Mr. Android user: might you perhaps consider looking into a mobile theme? This blog and the YouTube video embed just about killed my Droid as it worked on rendering it all.

  9. @Scott – My theory on MMO Gamer outrage, backed up by nothing but gut feeling, is that people spend so many hours in these games that they get built up (in their minds) to something bigger than they should be? I dunno, I guess hardcore FPS players spend as much time playing though.

    I’ll see what I can do about a mobile theme, thanks for the suggestion.

  10. I have played LOTRO since its birth and still put a couple hours a day (and more on weekends) in the game. Perhaps its because I got with a great group of people and we all use voice and on our fellowships we joke and laugh just have a great social time. I am old enough to still be amazed that our instancing group has players from Italy, Iraq, England, Australia and me in the states. It boggles my mind to play as a group at the same time with people from around the globe. Simply amazing. We have come such a long way. Just sit back and think of it and what will it be like in 20 years? (if I am still around!)

  11. @Grid – [“Just sit back and think of it and what will it be like in 20 years?”]

    I think that’s part of why I like ‘old-school’ MMOs and I’m not all that excited about change. The chance of me still being around in 20 years is pretty slim, and I’m too old and set in my ways to go learning new play styles. 🙂

    Not that I’m against MMOs moving forward; not at all. But when I choose a game to play, I’ll gravitate towards systems I’m comfortable with. Happily there are so many MMOs out there now that there can be something for everyone.

  12. It’s pretty, it’s Star Wars, it’s the Trinity… more of the same.

    It’ll sell, and I’m sure it’ll be fun enough. I’m just… underwhelmed. Not surprised, and not grumpy about it at all, just… underwhelmed.

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