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