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I Feel The Conflict Within You… January 17, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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As lukewarm as I was about Star Wars: The Old Republic during beta, I have found some pleasure in reading the myriad of viewpoints on the game.  People have all sorts of things to say about how good the game is, how it plays as an MMO, how innovative (or not) it is, and what the long term prospects look like in a galaxy far, far away.

Hold on a second, I am almost ready...

Tycho and Gabe at Penny Arcade seem quite enthused with the SWTOR experience.

The esteemed Edward Castronova calls it Star Wars: The Dead Republic and says that Skyrim feels more like a real populated world that the massively multiplayer SWTOR.

Dr. Richard Bartle won’t go into a detailed discussion of the game for a couple of reasons, but does write of self-actualization and the opportunity BioWare has if they truly believe that story is the value they bring to the genre.

And then there is Tarnsman who wins the prize for the angriest screed I have yet seen about the game. But for all his anger, he does have some interesting points, especially about the discongruity of the setting.

And those are just a few of the many opinions out there.

Naturally, some of this controversy was predestined.

Anything that involves Star Wars comes with controversy as part of the package.  As well, anything about MMOs and MMO design, especially with a big budget MMO project, is guaranteed to start a war between the various player “tribes.” (PvPers, raiders, solo player, role players, old schoolers, etc.)  Even BioWare itself brings division to the table.  People who like BioWare games seem to REALLY like them, and those who do not tend to not get the whole BioWare mystique.

Add in the undercurrents caused by the threat SWTOR seems to represent (correctly or not) to those who fear it may steal players from their own favorite game or jeopardize the success of a game yet to launch, and we start to see a rich a roiling pot of emotions boiling over in a metaphor which threatens to escape my grasp.

The question is, of course, whether all of this useful.  Does all of this debate and controversy have value?  Does it at least serve as a measure of how far we have come?

Value is, of course, relative.  One person’s junk may be treasure to another.

As I said, I like it.  But I like to read opinions that disagree with my own, if for no other reason than to test how strongly held those opinions are and how they are balanced by emotional versus logic.  And with SWTOR, about which I do not think I hold any strong opinions, it is all the more interesting because I can mentally “try on” the viewpoints presented.  I can feel Gabe’s excitement and understand his desire for a simple brown robe as well as getting the lore-twisting illogical decision to make Sith ships look like early Imperial ships when the Empire is actually a child of the Republic.

So it is all great fun for me.  How about you?

Comments»

1. bhagpuss - January 17, 2012

It’s getting to the point where it’s beginning to annoy me just a tad. I actually did a TOR post myself today, even though I didn’t have much to say, not having played the thing even in beta.

I’d be more interested if the commentary on TOR was more interesting. My overall impression so far is that the game can’t be all that great if so much that’s written about it is so uninvolving. I’ve been far more enthused or curiosified (is that a word? No, of course it isn’t!) about other games I’ve not played than I have about this one.

Looks good in screenshots, though.

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2. Werit - January 17, 2012

I have a tough time talking about TOR, just I like I do with books. I’m playing for the story, which I don’t want to spoil for anyone.

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3. HarbingerZero - January 17, 2012

TOR is a flawed product, no doubt about it. To tout it as the savior of MMO’s, or the worse MMO ever is taking it a bit far.

It has bad and good. True it has lots of rough edges, but it has plenty of momentum and time to grow. The last MMO I remember that had that formula was EQ2, and it seems to be doing just fine right now. Personally, I’m just trying to play the game and let the impressions form. (That’s not a criticism of your reading enjoyment TAGN, just a comment on my own situation).

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4. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 17, 2012

That four sets of posts sent such different messages to me that I just had to put up my own post about them and the wide variety of posts on the subject.

Plus I love that picture of Darth Vader and the florescent light.

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5. Jim - January 17, 2012

I’m pleasantly surprised by SW:TOR and that is after playing a brief stint during Beta, and not at all on a second invite. The storyline is primarily what I am enjoying. The game mechanics and the rest are about what one would expect from a newly released MMO. Some good points, some bad, but all in all, none of them “ruin” game play. After I get my first character through the various story lines, I may create an alt to explore some of the other aspects of game play and their associated stories. Is it a game for the long term? I’m not sure. It hasn’t hooked my like EVE did or some of the other games I’ve played. Time will tell.

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6. saucelah - January 17, 2012

Apparently the last time I watched TV, I was tuned to Adult Swim, because I just turned it on and found the Cartoon Network was airing a beverage commercial, clearly from the colors and the tones, at kids.

Why do I bring this up here? Because apparently, if you buy enough Nestea (I think that was the product) you can win codes to unlock unique items in the SWTOR.

I was thinking I’d eventually pick up a box when it goes on sale, but I’m really turned off by being able to earn items from drinking iced tea. And I’m clearly not their target demographic.

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7. saucelah - January 17, 2012

There’s a lot of missing words I thought I typed and extra words I did not realize I typed in that post, but I’m sick and my face hurts so you can deal.

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8. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 18, 2012

@Saucelah – Incoherence never stopped anybody on the internet.

But if you come up with the SWTOR tie-in thing (Nestea doesn’t seem to be the answer) come back and update us. I’d like to know more about that.

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9. Carson - January 18, 2012

Have you read “The Complex & Terrifying Reality of Star Wars Fandom”?

Really interesting article.. which goes a ways towards explaining yet another reason why some of this controversy was predestined.

Original article is no longer online, but there’s a mirror at http://jimsmashextended.blogspot.com/2007/06/complex-terrifying-reality-of-star-wars.html

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10. saucelah - January 18, 2012

Yeah, I was just googling and can’t find it either. I also find it possible that I’m half out of it and the tie-in was to the Clone Wars cartoon or the Clone Wars game and I misheard or overreacted.

Will keep my eye out though.

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11. Aufero - January 18, 2012

There’s a lot of competition for the title of angriest screed about SW:TOR, but I think Tarnsman wins for sheer length. (He may even have outdone SynCaine on the vitriol front.)

Reading angry rants about something I like leads to some interesting mental processes. On the one hand, like most other geeks I feel the fanboy-ish need to defend my (essentially subjective) preferences to the death. On the other hand, it’s intriguing to agree substantially with someone about facts but disagree strongly about interpretation.

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12. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 18, 2012

@Carson – That article strikes at a deep truth. I love it.

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13. Jaggins - January 18, 2012

I’m having a blast. I think that is mainly because I have been playing EVE since 2008, and riding a themepark MMO is a refreshing change while I train up Tech 2 siege and triage mods (>30 days each) in EVE…

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14. SynCaine - January 18, 2012

To me what’s notable about all of the SW:TOR posts is that even those who are up on the game are up on it for non-MMO reasons, and those who are down on it are basically just saying what those who are up on it are saying. In other words, the love and hate crowd basically agree on the game, in terms of mechanics and all that.

The other item of note is that it’s not just the ‘hardcore oldschool’ people noticing that SW:TOR is a shitty MMO. They missed or denied it when WoW went that direction, but it seems that SW is so blatant about it, even they can see it. Perhaps one major accomplishment of BioWare’s will be to crystallize why an MMO works, and what happens when you design against that.

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15. Tarnsman - January 19, 2012

I find the notion that I’m “angry” quite amusing. I figured between the pointlessly gratuitous use of expletives and blatant self-contradictory hyperbole that it was pretty clear I was purposely exaggerating. But I guess Poe’s Law prevails.

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16. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 19, 2012

@Tarnsman – Whether it was mock anger or real anger, you were definitely playing that card even if it was for show. How else should I have described it? And I liked it enough to link you in there with Bartle and Castronova. How many days a week do you get them for company?

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17. Aufero - January 19, 2012

@Tarnsman: It was obvious you were exaggerating, but I assumed it was for effect (and fairly entertaining effect) rather than out of a desire to parody.

Besides, the screed itself is pretty angry, whether you were when you wrote it or not. Hope it doesn’t escape and go on a rampage!

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18. Tarnsman - January 19, 2012

It was half and half, it was mostly just me exaggerating the backlash towards the game. It was sincere in that I do consider SW:TOR to be a below-average experience (a 4/10), but it wasn’t sincere in being anything more than a histrionic rambling about seventeen things that annoyed me while playing the game. I’m kind of tempted to write a real review now though and not just a list of things I knocked out in an hour.

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19. saucelah - January 19, 2012

I must say, for a self-described “half literate man,” it was pretty well-written; not that it was error or free or anything, but it was still well-written. And there’s no doubt it was hilarious.

Speaking of the errors, and no I’m not criticizing or asking you to change anything, one stood out as particularly hilarious. “Everyone in their brother” gives me a much different visual than “everyone and their brother”

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20. Chris - January 19, 2012

“People who like BioWare games seem to REALLY like them,”
I’m not sure this is such a valid point, since Dragon Age 2 (and to a lesser extent, Mass Effect 2) have had a large negative effect on people’s opinions of Bioware.

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21. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 19, 2012

@Chris – Which would make them people who don’t really like BioWare games? Or are you saying that nobody liked those games at all and there has been some sort of “never again” movement opposed to BioWare games?

If so, I certainly didn’t get the memo.

I mean, part of the big build up to SWTOR was that this is BioWare and they KNOW how to do story, just look at .

The people I know who like BioWare games cannot wait for Mass Effect 3 and chide me for not having played the first two.

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22. saucelah - January 24, 2012

Oh found the commercial. It’s for Brisk, and it unlocks content in a Star Wars app game for phones of some kind.

Righteous indignation extinguished. I must have had quite a fever last week.

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