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Reader Comments (31)

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:29PM toychristopher said

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The only problem with a story instead of a grind, is that a story makes it feel like you are on rails, like there is only one way for you to go. I think it can really diminish the feeling of exploration in a game, and isn't exploring a persistent world what mmos used to be about?

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:54PM karnisov said

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story doesn't have to be linear and single option. Fallout 1 & 2 and Deus Ex 1 had multiple outcomes. unfortunately bioware has been bad about making linear games with respect to story. so i think its more the fault of the developer and not the fault of story as a design consideration.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:20PM aurickle said

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I suspect that what we're going to see develop is something fairly close to Mass Effect 2's implementation. Except that the loyalty missions from ME2 will actually be helping out your friends with their own class missions.

In short, you'll have your own story missions to work on which can skew your story in one of several directions. In the points between your own story missions you'll be helping out your friends with their own story missions. Those will be able to go in different directions as well. By the time you and your friends make it to the conclusion of the story (or at least, the launch portion of it) you will have had a game experience that is uniquely yours. It will have elements that are similar to everyone else's, but because each of those elements have different possible outcomes you can be sure that your own particular story is quite unique.

This is where it could actually exceed Mass Effect. Sure, you may have three possible endings to the storyline based upon your actions, but you will also have been involved with a few friends who each have their own very different endings of their own.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:14PM LaughingTarget said

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That would be a good idea. Maybe having separate experience bars for every player you meet out in the world. The more you quested with this individual, the more experience you gained with that character. Each experience level could generate additional bonuses for when you play with this character. Bonuses would also stack the more you add to the group. Further, special dungeons could be unlocked for players that have an appropriate group unity level. That should promote a social aspect to the game.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:48PM tythimo said

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Because of Bioware's emphasis on story and each class has it's own, I will consider rolling many alts for this game. Most games I only have a main.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:52PM (Unverified) said

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I'm a big fan of story driven MMOs but only if the content that they add over the course of the game isn't purely top heavy. If every expansion or addition to the game is going to be geared towards end game then people will just totally skip all of the story driven elements at the beginning of the game and not pay attention to it. Because if story driven games have a heavy end game then new players that enter the game a year or more after the release will feel the game is just one big single player game with a multiplayer end game.

Hopefully The Old Republic will be an amazing story driven event from the very beginning of logging in and be able to mix needing groups to progress the story from the very beginning until the end. Then as content is added they can add more things to the top game but also side quests and side chapters that will want players to create alts so that the front side of the game will always be nice and populated without people rushing through.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 3:54PM Stormwaltz said

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I'm going to say no, story cannot supplant grind.

It takes far, far longer to create a good story than it does to set up a good grind system.

After you've gone through the story once, maybe twice, most people won't go through it again.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:22PM Interitus said

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But if each class has it's own story you're talking about rolling 3 sith inquisitors. And if Bioware is any indication, choices you make during gameplay causes various outcomes. I can play Dragon Age or Mass Effect several times, and while some key elements will be the same, each playthrough can feel different.

This is especially true for Dragon Age which has more defined classes then Mass Effect, and which your class determines how people react to you and even how the game ends. I think this game has high replayability even within a single class
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 9:39PM RogueJedi86 said

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"It takes far, far longer to create a good story than it does to set up a good grind system."

Which is why TOR has been in the works since late 2005, maybe early 2006. TOR is going on 4 or 5 years just in development time, with a year to go, so the time it takes to make a good story is already there. BioWare isn't taking the easy road and just doing a "good grind".
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 4:09PM Pingles said

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Has any game ever really pulled off the whole "making choices" storylines? It always seems like either the choice is ridiculously clear and/or you are in a panic about making the wrong choice and screwing your character over.

I think I prefer the straight "go kill this" stuff.

The choice thing always comes off real gimmicky to me.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:15PM Seare said

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Have fun with that.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 9:55PM Kalex716 said

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I actually agree with you.

To me the choices often lack the context needed to be enriching. Theirs just the A. Good guy choice, B. Neutral guy choice, C. Bad guy choice.

This is not entirely problematic in a single player experience, where you are essentially always in the hero role. But can a massively multiplayer game promote this psychology evenly? Can we all be the hero? Can we pick the bad guy choice every time we're asked and still have our guildmates think we're "sweethearts"?

I want to remain optimistic, but untill I really start to hear how bioware is honestly going to address the crux of these types of issues, i'm calling smoke and mirrors for now.
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Posted: Feb 9th 2010 9:49AM (Unverified) said

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@RogueJedi86

You're still talking about an MMO. MMO development takes 5-6 years *minimum*. WoW's development cycle approached 10 years, which is one of the big reasons it's the elephant in the room anytime MMO discussion came up. MMOs take much, much longer to make than other games, generally speaking.
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Posted: Feb 8th 2010 4:56PM Seffrid said

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The problem of a story-driven game is mainly felt by those who prefer to group. LoTRO shows how difficult it is to get groups for story-driven multiple stage quests, and that could be an issue here. Bioware also need to avoid pursuing the linear route as a lot of people really don't like that in MMOs.

This game is getting an awful lot of hype, and it'll be interesting to see if it can be the first major IP MMO to live up to the hype. Bioware's established reputation is not, however, in evolutionary long-term games played online, and they have quite a lot to prove with this game. They have a reputation for quality, but they're operating outside their comfort zone with this one. I hope they succeed with it, but I'm not yet as convinced as most others seem to be before they've even seen the game. I also have some concerns as to what the final business model will turn out to be.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:09PM Verus said

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I like the idea that every class has different stories, missions etc. Usually when I play an mmo it doesn´t matter if I play say a paladin or a warrior they will basically go through the same areas (except the starting one) do the same quests and so on.

This game will hopefully be good enough that I will WANT to level every class and not make it feel like a grind when you start that alt in your mmo.

Love the idea of not having to read quest texts also it takes away from the immersion into the game. Worst is Aion on this it sometimes has 3-4 pages of badly translated text that makes you cringe and will skip quickly.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:02PM Averice said

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@Pingles Bioware isn't about right and wrong choices, it's about the game letting you play as you want to, making the choices you want to. There's no clear choice or wrong choice. Though because of this if you ever play through the game twice, like DA:O, and you make a different choice but the Same thing ends up happening no matter what, it is rather obnoxious.

That's one thing about the article I didn't really get. So the Sith has 3 options, he can be good, neutral, bad. That's not 3 new storylines Bioware has to write, that's still just the Sith storyline. There are only so many major "flags", most of them will be minor about side quests. I mean, if you've played ME1, ME2, or DA:O, then you know what that dev blog is talking about and that it's not really a new revelation.

Especially DA:O, since it had six different origin stories that, in the end, put everybody in the same place.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:38PM Lethality said

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BioWare has said their job is to provide the illusion of choice. Which to me just sounds like a lot of wasted effort. It's not going to be real choice or have real consequence. Even less so, given it's an MMO.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:41PM Lethality said

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You think reading takes away the immersion? It's far worse having to sit through a digital actor say lines, in a voice you don't like, twice as slow as you can read them (at least.)

I prefer to play my games, not watch them unfold in front of me in cut scenes.

And remember, good story doesn't require digital actors... and they have a very good chance of ruining the story depending on how well its done.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:54PM Anatidae said

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Funny, I hit level 20 in Guild Wars so fast, but then played the game for a year more. The story and quests were very engaging.

It is interesting how a game like GW has such a rewarding experience without making it an experience or gear grind. Sure, you can grind for special looking armor, but that armor isn't like WoW where you need the current purples to play the current content. The stuff you buy from the vendors works just fine too - even if it isn't as pretty.

MMO developers REALLY miss the boat when XP and item grinds are the defining "content" of the game. Weird to think that the first MMO I got into in a big way was Ultima Online, which wasn't a XP or Item grind. Granted people did macro skills up and if you wanted to be a crafter you grinded for raw materials, but it was not necessary to play.

Of course, when I mention UO it also brings up the FFA kill or be killed play. Which also added danger to the game. Although MMOs like Darkfall would like you to believe they captured the heart of UO - the real beauty was the feeling of exploration and the choice to live an alternate life in the Ultima world.

Good story brings the world to life. Now if developers could, once again, let players "live" in their worlds again instead of being lead on rails from one destination to another.

Posted: Feb 8th 2010 5:55PM Celestian said

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So long as it feels like I'm playing a game and not watching a movie I'll be happy.

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