“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
December Twentieth. Anyone who knows and follows this game reads those words with the weight and significance they carry. SWTOR will be unleashed upon the public on that day, and the years of waiting for all of us passionate followers will finally end. I’ve been following SWTOR for so many years now it seems now surreal that it will come to fruition. My excitement grows as the days of waiting wane.
During those years of waiting, watching and wishing, I’ve noticed something. I’ve noticed my actual experience of the wait itself differs from many others. It’s become so apparent that I’ve come to the conclusion I’m likely in the minority. A small group, although silent, that is beaming with excitement and optimism.
We are The Rookies.
In my own defence, I’m not a noob to gaming. I’ve been gaming since Super Mario jumped on that first goomba. But I’m an MMORPG rookie. Granted, I’ve had plenty of experience with the MMOFPSs of Planetside and Global Agenda, but the true MMORPG I have been without. Yes, I can say (half-proudly and half-shamefully) that I have never once played World of Warcraft. Never! Not even in its free-to-play form. Of course, many of our fellow SWTOR fans are ex-World of Warcraft’ers— maybe you are one yourself. But there seems to be a problem. After years of grinding and levelling, queuing, ganking, loot-stealing, min/maxing, hardcore guilds, raid times, and PUGs dropping from parties, these grizzled veterans of MMORPGs have an almost cynical outlook on SWTOR. It’s an outlook that no matter what BioWare makes SWTOR to be, it will not be enough to satisfy their expectations. Those expectations of what SWTOR should and/or shouldn’t be are just so high and fanatical, it’s almost as if a steam boiler is about to explode every day.
If you need evidence of this just hop into BioWare’s official forums for a while.
Seeing this has led me to a huge epiphany: being the rookie isn’t so bad! In fact, it has an amazing benefit; SWTOR can hardly disappoint me because I have nothing to directly compare it to! It will be my first definitive MMORPG experience. A world of tanks, healers, DPSers, raids, endgame content, loot drops, min/maxing, skill building, crafting, community… yeah, it’s all new to me. I get to be mesmerized by everything I see and everything I do in the game. Never once worrying about comparing it to some other previous MMORPG experience and whether it’s as good as game X, game Y, or game Z. I am unbound by such limitations and restrictions.
In many ways I’m even BioWare’s primary customer type. I’m the hardcore gamer who’s never played WoW, and I’ve always preferred Science Fiction settings over Fantasy ones. I have massive experience with single-player RPGs, and I’ve always been a big fan of BioWare’s work. Hell, Star Wars was even the first movie I ever saw as a kid! I can’t think of anything else that would make me a more ideal customer for The Old Republic. Lucky me!
I can’t blame the Veteran for being that way— not at all. I understand where they’re coming from. In fact, we all do. We can all relate because it’s a fundamental part of our human nature. It’s called experience. In anything you do, see, touch, or hear— even any game you play— the experience is a one-way street. Once you’ve experienced something you can never go back and truly have that first moment ever again. With experience comes perception, attitude, and then opinion. Therein lies the problem. Bad experiences lead to bad perceptions, and good experiences lead to good ones. Either way they both lead to opinions. When you have millions of passionate ex-WoW players, rabid Star Wars fans, and hardcore gamers alike— that’s a LOT of opinions. Of course everyone wants SWTOR to be the game that WoW or (MMO-insert-name-here) is, was, or almost was.
So, as SWTOR will be an unforgettable new experience for me, I, The Rookie, will appreciate it for all that it’s worth. I’m going to absorb it like a sponge. Wrap myself in it like a warm blanket. It will be MY first MMORPG experience and I’ll take the good and the bad as it comes.
I can only hope that everyone else will find their own kind of new rookie experience in SWTOR and savour it. It may come in the smallest form— a slight change to game mechanics, inventory management, or auction house layout. Maybe for you it’ll be the larger features, like fully-voiced interactions with NPCs, or synchronized lightsaber combat animations. Whatever it may be, the first experience only comes once in a lifetime— remember that.
Enjoy it like a rookie.