Now that the SWTOR NDA has been lifted there have been a rash of posts with people giving their thoughts on the game, giving reviews and just getting information out there. Through all of this there has been one common strain of posts which are critical of SWTOR. The prime example being this blog post from Josh at Twenty Sided.
There are many factual problems with his post that I could tackle, but I won’t. The problem isn’t how accurate or inaccurate his post is but rather that the foundation upon which it rests is flawed. Josh (and many others like him) attack SWTOR by attacking the conventions of the genre in which it occupies. Their problem is not with the game, but the genre. That being traditional, hot-key based, theme park MMOs (referred to as HKTP here on out). World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest 2, City of Heroes, Anarchy Online are all examples of this genre of game.
Now, I get that people might not like hot-key theme park MMOs. I hardly feel that every gamer is going to love every genre of game. I certainly don’t and I’ve been gaming since ASCII graphics were high-tech. It’s ok that they don’t like that style of game.
However, I don’t think it is ok that they pick up a game which has was always billed as a hot-key theme park MMO and then judge it poorly because it was anything but. But this is precisely what this strain of criticisms do. Notice the constant harping on being WoW in space, or pointing out the kill ten rats and delivery quest tropes, or how the combat has the same type of attacks as other hot-key based MMOs. Those aren’t criticisms of TOR but of the genre itself.
This isn’t limited to TOR. This is a common issue raised with every new HKTP MMO. What strikes me as odd is that only in the MMO genre does this criticism arise. In no other genre of video game are criticisms of the game sticking to closely to the conventions of the genre levied. In fact, the exact opposite often occurs! If an FPS or RTS were to be released with core mechanics which were radically different than what had been seen in those genres prior chances are they would be harshly criticized for doing so.
Look, I can’t stand RTS games. Ever since Dune 2 I have never found an RTS game I can stand to play. I have many times railed against the mechanics of the RTS genre. But I have never would I ever presume to pick up an RTS, play it, then proceed to say that it was a bad game because it was exactly what it billed itself to be, an RTS game!
It boils down to people having some odd expectation that every MMO should be ground breaking, revolutionary and break with convention. Facts are, most MMOs won’t. Most video games don’t. The gaming public expects this from other genres, it’s time they expect it from the MMO genre as well and simply do what I, and they, do when they hit a style of game they don’t like. Don’t play it.
Total Biscuit took another gander at TOR at Gamescom, this time it was the intro area for the Smuggler.
Now, as much as I enjoyed the mechanics displayed in his GW2 WTF video I have to say this video got some of the same reaction from me. The cover system is not something I’ve seen in an MMO before outside of basic line of sight mechanics. Of all the things I’ve seen for TOR this is the first that really made me sit up and, with a grin, say “That is cool!”
Just recently I made the decision to go Republic when the game goes live. I left the class portion of my guild application as “Undecided” as I was vacillating between Jedi Knight (and later Sentinel) vs. Smuggler (and later Gunslinger). With the cover mechanic I’ve marked down Smuggler.
As much as I have written that I am lackluster about the upcoming Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic, I still pre-ordered it mere hours after getting the email telling me it is available.
I am a Star Wars geek. Star Wars, at one time, was my baby sitter. Well, figuratively at least. I was born in 1973 and according to my parents saw the original 1977 film 17 times. That’s a lot of theater time for a 4 year old. I don’t collect original figures in their package and I don’t read every Star Wars book that comes out; though Michael A. Stackpole, Timothy Zahn and Kevin J. Anderson have gotten copious amounts of book sales off of me. Oh, for the record, Han shot first and Lucas needs to keep his paws off. So with all that Star Wars geekness running through my veins do I find the upcoming Star Wars MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), as a lackluster event?
moar funny pictures
Just a little dig at Lucas and the special edition of Star Wars. Yes, yes, I am a bitter geek.