Star Wars: The Old Republic has been released. I have been playing heavily since the first minutes of early access. In 2 words, lovin’ it! TOR is not without its problems, all minor and not really worth mentioning. What Bioware set out to achieve they did in spades. That being the story they are so famous for.
When I create characters in MMOs I need to have some basic character concept in my head. I can’t get into the character nor the game without even having some notion of who my character is. Even if there’s absolutely no expression of those personalities and motivations inside the game I still need to have it in my mind.
TOR isn’t the first MMO where some portions of these characters can manifest. The basic personality peeks out from choices in weapons, powers and gear. TOR is most certainly the first where my characters truly feel completely different. It stems from the conversation choices as well as consequences that come with them. My male gunslinger, Resolute, responds to conversations differently than my vanguard, Kristn.
Because of this two days ago something happened in TOR which has never happened in the 12 years I have been playing MMOs. I was doing some solo missions on Alderaan with Resolute. I was presented with a choice I could not answer.
Up to this point my concept of Resolute lent itself to quick answers and has resulted in a mostly light side character. Chase all the skirts (but not the kilts), bad critters must die, slavers are bad critters, show him the money, mouth off to authority to knock’em down a peg.
This one choice was clear on what was light side and what was dark side but I never made choices based solely in those terms. One choice took him out of the conflict, one that wasn’t his and saved a dozen lives. The other was to tell the bad guy to piss off and start blasting.
Both choices were well within Resolute’s character. So, for the first time in an MMO is sat and stared at a choice and had to really, truly think, “What do I do?”
When Origin was unleashed upon the world I was one of those people who proclaimed that it sucked. As much as I love Valve and Steam I do recognize that they need competition if for no other reason to continue to show how awesome they are. In fact most of my recent PC gaming purchased have been through Gamer’s Gate, not Steam. But Origin seriously rubbed me the wrong way. Many people pointed out that Steam was no better when it was launched. And I agree. But this isn’t 2003 any more. We have several digital distributors from which to purchase games. The limitations of Origin are simply inexcusable. How bad is it?
I pre-ordered TOR back in July through Origin because I haven’t purchased a PC game from a brick & mortar store since the release of WLK in 2008. Since then I have canceled the credit card I used to purchase the game. I have tried on three different occasions to update my payment information with EA. All three times I was told by their CSRs they were not able to do that. So here it is, 4 days from the release of TOR and I have no prospect of a serial key so I can keep playing past the 22nd. I decided to see if I could enter payment information into Origin and settle this once and for all. No such luck.
EA is literally preventing a paying customer from giving them money. Origin does not facilitate them taking my money. Seriously, what the hell!? What kind of storefront refuses customer payment? This is why Origin sucks!
So I’m sitting here listing to Jelli’s 80s channel and wishing that I could continue to listen to it on my commute to/from work. Then it dawned on me, why the hell can’t I?
We’ve got no shortage of oldies stations, which is 50s, early 60.
Tons of classic rock stations, 60s and some 70s.
Then we get rock which is, uhm, maybe 5 songs from the 80s, 90s and naughties.
WTH, man? I remember listening to classic rock stations in the late 80s, early 90s. Certainly listening to oldies for-freakin’-ever. When do we get an 80s channel?
Between the Star Wars cellos and the Michael Jackson cellos ya might get the impression I like the instrument. Actually it was only recently that its grown on me. Really the first time I noticed liking a song with a cello as the lead instrument was the theme song to Angel. Here’s the full version:
Later on my wife found Pandora, plugged in Evanescence and found Within Temptation. She introduced me to both and my Within Temptation channel led me to Apocalyptica. A heavy metal band with cellos. Seriously. I loved all of their songs Pandora threw at me but the one that cemented it is when I found their version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
Cellos. Classical music. Metal. 1 song. Fuck yeah!
I have written in the past that PvE and PvP should not mix in an MMO. That argument is based on the player desires and the shifting between the two gameplay modes. However recently I realized there might also be a mechanical difference between the two modes as well. Note, for this discussion I will be calling MMOs where the majority of the player’s time being spend fighting computer opponents as PvE regardless of their PvP offerings.
In the majority of PvE MMOs what provides the majority of complexity and depth to combat is the large number of abilities the player’s character is granted over the course of the game. Look at any screenshot for WoW, LotRO & Rift and you’ll see at least two bottom bars and a couple of side bars chock full of abilities. I have played each and found the PvE experience infinitely more satisfying that the PvP experience.
Now, look at similar, successful, large-scale games which are designed for PvP in mind. Guild Wars, League of Legends come to mind. How many abilities do GW characters have? 10. How many abilities do LoL Champions have? 4. Granted, neither of those are MMOs in the traditional sense but the pattern holds. In EVE most ships have a handful of slots to use. those with a large number of slots often group like modules together so you end up having a total number of powers numbering less than 10.
It seems that PvP and PvE have a systematic difference to one another. The more satisfying PvP experiences have fewer player abilities and derive their complexity through other means. The more satisfying PvE experiences have more player abilities and derive their complexity through the use of those abilities. If this is the case then it might be an objective basis upon which a case on keeping the two separate could be made.