Allow myself to introduce myself. This week in Casual Thursday I discuss how a non-MMO’er can be excited about Star Wars the Old Republic. So yeaaaaaaaaaah… I’m gonna need you to come into this Thursday article.
Hello yé all loyal followers of TOROcast,
Let me first and foremost introduce myself. I’m Tim, a just finished student of Philosophy of Law and Jurisprudence and an avid gamer. My interests in the gaming field are focused on RPG’s, FPS now and then, strategy games and overall just games that have a great story and execution (Batman Arkham Asylum anyone?). However, over here on TORO, I am probably a stranger in the fields of MMO. I have played a trial of WoW and on occasion I play Lord of the Rings Online (the free to play variation), I have never been pulled in an MMO. In WoW I always get bored after a short while. After the 30th time I have to kill a set number of creatures, or need to find a certain amount of bandana’s, I get sick of it. I don’t mind a grind now and then, but in most MMO’s it is rather the standard than the exception. Why then would SWTOR be appealing to me?
Not just because this is Star Wars, because, let’s face it, there have been enough horrible Star Wars games. The prequels were not as good as the original trilogy. Is it then just the ability of wielding a lightsaber? I am almost afraid to say it bluntly, but yes. Next to that, the idea to fight in the Star Wars universe for the side of my choice and having an impact on the world appeals greatly to me. That is also one thing why the most standard MMO’s never managed to grab my attention. And yes, I know WoW also has a story, but World of Warcraft‘s story is not as integrated into gameplay as, apparently, SWTOR’s will be. Yes, you can read all the quests, but in what way is that engaging? I read as a separate thing, not when I am busy playing a game. Long blocks of text might be interesting to read outside of the game, but instead of being integrated into the normal gameplay, they interrupt it, unlike a story that is carried out through scripted scenes that directly involve the gamers decisions and dialogue choices.
And of course I know that SWTOR will have grindquests, but if I can see through the forest of those quests, or that in the beginning of the game is not so overtly aimed at grinding (Just look at the first 10 levels of World of Warcraft. Basically, you are almost only grinding) I can get past that post.
Decisions in story are also a strong factor to make it appealing to me. I had a discussion with a friend of mine who loves WoW, because you don’t need to look at the story. You just can be immersed through gameplay. I am not that type of gamer. I find it boring to hop Mario around solely to operate the gameplay mechanics. That is not to say that I am not bothered by bad gameplay mechanics. They can even ruin immersion, and good gameplay mechanics assist it, but when it comes down to what makes an enjoyable gaming experience for me, it is story.
I know Bioware has been bashing on the story, but how much of the story has been leaked? Rather little as far as I can see. We only know that war is brewing, and that both sides will fight each other, and that you will be able to make Light and Darkside decisions. That is also what appeals to me in a lot of Bioware games. The difficulty that I had to choose in Mass Effect between Alenko and Williams was very frustrating, but it made me feel connected to the game. I have not seen that in any MMO. Even with SWTOR of course we do not know that quite yet.
That I have a high esteem (that’s what she said) for Bioware, doesn’t make me a fanboy. There have been several games that were not meant for me. I tried Dragon Age: Origins, but I just could not get into it. Storywise it was a bit too generic for me and the gameplay didn’t grab me. And I did play it on PC. And while Samm will disagree with me, I loved Jade Empire. (Comenthst thouest flaming!) The point is, that Dragon Age: Origins was not accessible for my point of view, I never played Baldur’s Gate enough to actually GET the gameplay mechanics. I am not a hardcore RPG-er, gameplaywise, but I love RPG’s. (Maybe that sounds contradictory…). What I mean with that is that hardcore RPG-mechanics have never been explained clearly enough in game, so that I can understand what I can or should do with the tactic schematic or what not. You are thrown in and you have no clue what to do.
I am also not an MMO gamer, but I can learn the mechanics of being a tank, dps-er or a healer. It depends on what I will play. For the moment I am having the choice between tank or dps, since I am going to play, rather boringly I know, a Jedi Knight. I know it is the casual MMO choice, but I am not denying that, because I am a casual MMOer (Not casual gamer, heck if you look at news, and write about games, you are not a casual gamer in my book.) But I do think it is a good way to start of an MMO. Through playing a somewhat generic, easy to get into (that’s what she said again!) character, you can learn how to play, raid, do instances and so on in the most easily accessible way. And I do have to remind people with a crucial point. Saying that something needs to be accessible, does not mean that you should make it easy. Those are two separate things.
Having talked about games (and stuff…), it is now time to go to my connection to Star Wars. I have seen the movies for the first time back in… uhm, yeah back when… oh, crap it was long ago, but in the same galaxy very, very nearby. It was at least before in 1997 the revamped versions came out. On television The Empire Strikes Back was shown, since the original version of Star Wars was too far gone to be shown on television. It grabbed me by the gut and never truly let go.
The use of the Force, a life-essence that flows through all and everything, the feeling of connection with weird and scary-looking creatures, and the realization that the true threat is ourselves, as sentient beings. Told with awe-inspiring special effects, a boy’s dream of flying across the stars, saving the universe from evil, and walking the path of heroism grabbed me as a kid. Weird languages that no one could understand but nonetheless possessed a rhythm that worked, big talking slugs, seeing bigfoot (bigfoots called “Wookiees,” that is), archetypal heroes like the wizard, the scoundrel with a good heart, and the beautiful princess. It’s all there.
After seeing the movies, I started to read the Star Wars books as well. I began my Expanded Universe journey probably with the best series that is out there, namely the Timothy Zahn trilogy. The story, though not directly after the events on the forest moon of Endor, felt like it was just a short while after the events in the movies. Finding great new characters in the creation of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde and the insane Jedi-clone Joruus C’boath. In the passing years I tried to read as much as possible of the Expanded Universe books post-Battle of Yavin.
Having said that, it does not mean that my knowledge of the universe is that great as it has been in the past. It has been a while that I have read the books, but I can generally recollect what transpired. BBY, however, I have read very little. I am not as knowledgeable about the setting that Bioware has delivered us when they started with Knights of the Old Republic. But I read fast and there is always Wookieepedia… muha, muhahaha, muhahahahahaha… uhm. Excuse me.
Now to my final point about who I am and where I stand in the Star Wars universe. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic managed to return a lot of my attention back to the Star Wars games. Prior to Bioware’s epic tale on the Xbox and PC, I played some games regarding the universe, but some of them were that difficult that they never held my attention. I played the NES versions of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but I never managed to actually get past the first few levels. However, the Jedi Outcast-series was one of the games that I did enjoy a lot.
And I never have gotten back into console games up until this generation. This is why I played the best Star Wars game (in my eyes at least) on PC. The graphics still appeal to me nowadays. It isn’t as beautiful as most games are nowadays, but they hold there own very well. KOTOR started my love for Bioware as a company and though some games are not for me (see the statements on DA:O and Baldur’s Gate), it showed the high quality that the makers aim for. Now seven years later, I sometimes play it and I will probably play it all the way through again prior to the launch of SWTOR.
The story was compelling and the big twist was very, very unexpected for me. It made me feel weird and took me of balance that you played Revan during that first game. It also mad
e me wonder why he did what he did, before his mind was destroyed and though with the help of the timeline video’s we are receiving some information, it is still not enough to know why he went to the Dark side.
Concluding, I am very interested in Bioware’s big MMO, both because of Bioware, the Star Wars mythos and the story that you are going to lay out in front of you. Though I am the non-MMO gamer, this will probably be the first one I’ll actually get into. I hope that I have told enough about myself, and what my position is towards the game.
What will I write for TORO? I am not quite sure at the moment. I have some idea’s regarding fiction, but I also want to write about my non-MMO perspective or sometimes just going in deep (that’s what she said) into the philosophy of Star Wars. I’m just not quite sure what I will do. Hopefully, you TORO-followers will like what I have to say and I am honored to become part of such a great community that is here.
I will never ever be able to replace Musco, Kimi or Fo and their in-depth analysis of the MMO and Star Wars side, but I hope I can bring a different perspective on the matter and show my love for this upcoming title.
May the Force be with you,
Tim (aka: Banath).