Tag Archives: wars

Here’s a Letter I Wrote To BioWare

I enjoy so much of Star Wars: The Old Republic that it almost physically hurt me to quit playing it, there are just so many cool things and ideas in this game.  But I just couldn’t take the dragging game play and the clearly, at this point, draconian shell of MMORPGs that it kind of shut itself into.  I wanted to make sure that BioWare, the developers of SWTOR, knew that I was concerned about their first foray into the MMORPG market.

When confronted with the questions asking me why I was quitting The Old Republic, I had to enter Other/Other because the problems I had with this title were so far reaching that they really didn’t have a valid category in the drop downs.  What happened afterward was basically a brain dump of the biggest, glaring issues I had with SWTOR, a game that could have easily been so much better.  And here it is in full:

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I feel that there are many flaws to this game that stem from the predisposed requirements of traditional MMORPGs that this game could easily transcend and still allow to be marketable, profitable and allow players to keep coming back for more.  I have not leveled a character to maximum because, as fun as the story is to play and as fun as it is to keep building my character as an actual character and not just controlling it as a puppeteer does to a marionette it is an absolute slog to get to the parts that make my character matter.  If you were to reduce the experience requirements to get to maximum level by at least 10% across the board past 20 I believe this would make the game a bit more streamlined and allow the player to change environments more frequently and reduce the diminishing returns one feels by being on Tatooine for five hours, or even Hoth for longer.
The second issue I feel that really drags this title down from its full potential is the combat.  BioWare has made so many strides in this industry, be it the interlocking stories between games you’re famous for, or even switching up combat and trying new things with each new title, some things less successful than others, it seems odd to me that you’d keep in the trappings of EverQuest, a nearly 13 year old game.  Combat is boring button mashing that isn’t made any better by the simultaneous competing with the ideologies and paradigms of the much more subscribed to World of Warcraft.  And I mean this by no offense, but you’re innovators in the world of gaming.  Able to craft fine stories and gameplay to boot.  Wouldn’t it have been better to figure out a way to maybe make your skills more reactive?  Or more action oriented in the vein of Mass Effect 2?  Or just somehow different from every other MMO out there?  I’m not saying it’s possible, or even probable, to fix this glaring issue, but my character grows, both in personality and in skill, but the gameplay does not reflect this.  All you are doing is sending us more monsters with more HP that do the same things.  If any company could do it, BioWare is the company that can make combat in an MMO interesting, if at least a bit more like a combination between Aion and TERA.
There are so many things in this game that I absolutely adore.  I love the companion system.  I love the settings and the freedom I have with my character.  I love that socializing matters.  I am really impressed with what you have done.  But the pacing for the grind has to be improved, as the leveling is not at all the point of an MMO.  A player should be able to do their class quests alone and get through a planet easily, that should be the pace to set, the other stuff should be lumped with the [BONUS] strings of quests that come at the end of planets, after your character has made a name for themselves.  I, and I feel that many others, aren’t playing the game to run around for random people, but for the chance to play their characters, and there is very little character building to be had in these non-class quests from my experience.  Sure there might be some Dark or Light Side points or what-have-you, but that really isn’t something that ultimately matters, since you can get those later in the game doing the end game Operations and Flashpoints, or you should if that isn’t already an option.
Perhaps if things get ironed out, I will return to this game, because it fascinates me, and my character was my own creation that had a life of its own.  But it feels that the developers did not do any forward thinking enough in the gameplay aspects.  I look forward to future news and additions you will be coming up with for this title.


Han

So, I was thinking recently about someone very important to all of us in the Kingdom of Nerds.  Someone that we all hold dear.  Someone that was ruined and devastated by a hateful, evil troll.

I was thinking about Han Solo, and his defamation and softening at the hands of George Lucas.

And you’re all probably thinking that I’m an idiot and who the hell cares?  Lots of people care.  Probably unnecessarily, but they still care all the same.  He was our friend growing up, a fast talking, fast shooting, fast flying rogue that did the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs!  I mean, it doesn’t matter that it’s wrong, a parsec is a measure of distance, not time, but still, that has to be impressive!  Twelve goddamn parsecs!  Whaaaaaaaaaaa-?

And then Greedo shot first, and his characterization was ruined eternally.

But how could this inconsequential and pointless action ruin a character?  I mean, that makes it so that he didn’t murder a dude, but was, instead, acting in self-defense.

Yeah, exactly.  That fucks up the whole dynamic.  Han Solo is a brash, intelligent brigand who doesn’t care about the rules.  And why should he?  He’s a successful smuggler.  One of the most successful.  And you don’t become a successful smuggler by being a nice guy and doing things by the book, a book, by the way, which may or may not exist.

Now he’s not known as an underhanded guy, but rather a survivalist.  He’s not a seedy guy hanging out at Mos Eisley, a hive of scum and villainy, who happens to be involved in some underhanded deals.  This action was done specifically to make Han seem more heroic, and that’s idiotic.  He’s not a hero, he’s an orphan from the wrong side of the tracks that happened to get him and his Wookiee friend involved in something much, much larger than themselves.  And considering that Chewbacca is a native of Kashyyyk, that’s pretty big.

And I know it’s Lucas’ creation and he can do with it what he wants, but it’s just tragic.  The man is great at creating characters that are compelling and simple, they have distinct personalities and quirks that seem to work together really well.  Just take Indiana Jones for example.  He’s brave, he gets things done, is a quick thinker, but has a crippling fear of snakes.  And that’s amazing.  About the only characters he’s made that are just abysmal are the Skywalkers, Anakin and Luke have absolutely not characterization besides the trait of Mopey Teenager.

It’s an unfortunate truth of the situation that one small change in editing completely changed a character in a way that makes him more sympathetic, but less compelling.  At least in my opinion.

And my opinion, at least in this regard, is really the only one that matters to me.