As part of writing my homage to the stylings of SynCaine when it was announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic was going to go free to play, I spent a bit of time looking for the right picture to go with the piece.
While I eventually went with another graphic, I was initially drawn to this piece which Google images was kind enough to bring to my attention.
I really like the picture. If it is yours, I apologize for using it without credit or permission. I will happily assign credit where credit is due. It is a master work of referential parody.
The reason I did not use it is pretty obvious; none of the characters pictured actually appear in the game. That fact seemed to distract from the Titanic metaphor, and so I set the picture aside and went with another choice.
Later, I ran across the picture again in a folder of collected images on my hard drive and, in looking at it, I began to wonder if there wasn’t another message in it altogether.
If you were to make the picture correct for the SWTOR/Tortanic reference, what characters would you include?
Now, I fell off the SWTOR wagon pretty quickly in beta, so I may be way off base in saying that there are no of sufficient stature in the game to stand in for the original cast. The game lore struck me as completely of Expanded Universe quality, which can be indifferent, and characters in such lore have a tough time breaking out enough to match even third tier characters who happened to be around for some screen time during the life and times of Anakin Skywalker.
Which makes a Star Wars MMO, where one of your key selling points is “Hey, Star Wars stories,” a bit more challenging. Not that I think a Star Wars MMO has to trot out Han Solo the moment I show up just to get me to play. That is crazy talk.
But looking at Star Wars games in general, those taking place in and around the movies out number those outside of that time frame by a fairly lopsided margin. Just being original trilogy focused obviously doesn’t make a bad game good, but it certainly seemed to make some mediocre games more popular than they might have managed otherwise.
I realize that this ignores the popularity of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which is clearly the standard bearer for Expanded Universe games. Certainly when it was announced back in 2008 that BioWare was going to be making what was essentially a KotOR MMO, there was quite a bit of cheering. But were the cheers because the lore from KotOR was so good, or was it because KotOR was a good SINGLE PLAYER game regardless of the lore?
And I will also admit that eulogizing a game that was still, at last report, the second most popular subscription MMO in the US/EU, might seem more than a bit premature. But even the stalwarts have to admit that the subscription trend was going badly and the decision to go free to play is the sort of radical change you do not make if things are going well.
All of which brings me around to my real question.
Do you think SWTOR would have been better, more popular, or longer lasting had it been framed in the lore of the movies as opposed to BioWare’s setting 4,000 years before the movies?