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Reader Comments (72)

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 4:44PM Mikx said

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@(Unverified) Yes, light/darkside points are also pointless in a game with two distinct sides (republic and sith) unless you can use them to cross over to the other side. Without that its pretty meaningless, and an odd feature to include in the game. If you gave in to the darkside, why arent you a sith and have force lightening?

It makes sense for the smuggler/trooper classes, but for a jedi its just a poorly thought out feature.

I'm really perplexed that they even considered killing off your companions in TOR. Their singleplayer games have an endpoint, so its okay. But in an MMO, a relatively useless companion now could be really important 5 years and a couple big expansions down the line, and by that time you've gimped yourself. At that point, Bioware would have to repeat themselves and spend a lot of money to basically redo everything they did before just to get players to an equal footing. (Either that or retcon everything so players can rechoose who they want to die, which is crazy given their emphasis on story).
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 8:10PM Graill440 said

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@Mikx

Nice catch. It isnt just Bioware. A company i am pleased with and only been miffed once. Choice is indeed an illusion as you suggested. The writers and devs will dictate what happens and how in one of the ways you will be given, "your choice", which in reality isnt a choice as many of us can come up with quite colorful ways to angle in on a given situation, me, i approach things sideways, something the majority of devs cannot think of due to how they have lived their lives, their age, and general wisdom in many matters.

Creativity comes with age, not talent, wisdom comes with years, not hopping between studios. Some folks like myself have seemingly high standards, some do not, devs spin that hype meter throwing the words people hope to hear "You have a choice!", and all the while they simply chuckle in the back of their minds as those devs know the real deal, or so they think. (laugh)
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:54PM DevilSei said

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Honestly, I didn't like Mass Effect 2's paragon and renegade system, and much preferred the first game and how they handled it.

Mass Effect 2 either had you playing as a complete dbag, or a goody-two shoes. There was no middle-ground, and the only way to get even half of your team to survive was to do just that. The only choices you had (before the final segment) was at the beginning of the game, do you want to be an ass or a floor mat.

With Mass Effect 1, secondary playthroughs fixed this issue. As you gained renegade and paragon points, your skill in charm or intimidation (under your skill menu) increased. This carried through to the next playthrough as well. It ultimately allowed you to play and react how you wanted, with the paragon and renegade score doing nothing but serving to boost your points (if you need to) and unlock a side-quest later on.
Which is how it should of stayed with Mass Effect 2. Instead every playthrough completely resets everything. On top of that, any bonus you got from your ME-to-ME2 transfer doesn't stick with you (for the most part at least).

On the PC, this is easy to remedy of course, people can alter values and get what they please. Me, on the other hand, felt it was worth the nearly 260 saves it took to max out my renegade score right at the beginning of the game. Why? Because I was on my second playthrough, my TRUE one to be technical. I hated the way I was restricted throughout the entire game so I fixed that issue by spending a few hours replaying the same 10-15sec segment...
I shouldn't have to bend my back 360 degrees like that, when the first game encouraged me to just do as I pleased (and had a MUCH easier Ren/Paragon glitch!).

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:11PM Irem said

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@DevilSei
See, I felt the exact opposite--I didn't feel restricted at all by ME2's dialogue system, where I did by ME1's. I played Paragade and despite all the Renegade options I took, about halfway through the game I had enough to talk down anyone I needed to. To me the idea of -needing- two playthroughs to make the decisions I want is iffy.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 6:07PM DevilSei said

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@Irem
Hmm, well it may just be that Mass Effect 1 my character was, for all intents and purposes, purely Paragon. I never saw much of a reason to say anything Renegade so I never used it (i did glitch the thing to max though, simply because it takes like 5 minutes and no work).

But ME 2? Again largely Paragon, but even with the initial boost of renegade points from the transferring, the options I did want to take from time to time wouldn't let me. Doing one mission I was offered the chance to say I'm SPECTRE, I was already reinstated, but because my Renegade wasn't high enough, it wouldn't let me choose it (though I was allowed to punch the crap out of him repeatedly for some odd reason).
Then in another mission, even if it was just to lie and my Shepard knew what the other wanted to hear, I couldn't say it because again, not enough Renegade.

I don't know about those parts and the required %, but I know for the end, you either need near-maxed Ren/Para to get them to stop arguing, or if you side, you need near-maxed if not completely maxed just to regain loyalty. Those parts didn't bug me though because again, my Paragon was maxed by that point anyways.
The few parts I did want to use renegade though, bug me because I couldn't. I don't like being the 100% goody-two-shoes, if I want to stab some badguy in the back, or kick a guard out a window, or let someone know I'm SPECTRE, I should darn well be able to do it!
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 2:56PM VisualGloss said

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I guess I have to ask what the benefit would be from killing your companion? Other than gimping the player, or the player feeling badass for 2 minutes? I mean yeah it could be cool to kill to say, "Oh man I'm such an evil guy, I killed my companion!", but why? There are waaaay more other ways to get the point across that your character is a jackass. It serves no gameplay purpose other than to put you at a disadvantage and feel like a jerk for awhile. Mechanics change in development, companions are more important now than they were previously, things had to change. THIS is why BioWare is close lipped on features in the game, because the internet goes into a rage when they decide to change something to work better with their current features/build.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:09PM Larry Everett said

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@VisualGloss
To be clear, again, there are other ways to lose companions other than killing them.

Also, killing your companion is not about being badass. It sucked when I made mistakes in the game that cost my companions their lives, but it made for a compelling story. The first time I played through Mass Effect and I couldn't save Kaidan and Ashley pissed me off, but I picked up the game again because it was compelling.

I also believe there are way for players to lose companions without being gimped. Although I had to change my tactics midstream in DA2 because I lost Bethany, it does not mean that I was gimped ultimately. I just had to pick another companion to take her role.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:07PM Interitus said

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If I'm reading it right I think Mikx means in past Bioware games it was always easier to be evil. To be good you had to give people money, if you weren't out to find some lost weapon the good option would be to return it, not keep it for yourself. At times it was almost punishment playing a good character.

We've seen a glimmer of this, the quest where two padawans are in love, if you let them be you get rewarded with a crystal.. I don't know what you get if you talk them out of their relationship.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 5:57PM Mikx said

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@Interitus

Well, what I'm saying is that few choices you make effect the gameplay. And Gameplay is king (for me of course). The choices you make only change the story (for the most part).

The other problem is that Bioware loves story, and they also like hiding stuff behind walls that break your story. What sense is there in hiding a great weapon or upgrade or mod or mount or whatever behind a wall that forces your character to do something they would never ever do? Then, you're asking your players to essentially break their story, their immersion, and essentially invalidate one of the features your company places great pride in, simply to force the player can "be good" or "be evil" for no other reason than to get some reward.

So bioware games become "yeah, my character is a paragon of virtue, and he can do no wrong.... but there was that time he killed the schoolchildren so he could steal their rare Elite Blue Milk of +5 Health..."

There are other problems with this in the MMO. if Bioware loves story, and they love players to have their own story, why team up with other players when you can simply be outvoted and have your character forced to do something they wouldnt do?

No, I don't want to shoot the jawas, because I'm a noble lightside character and if the rest of my team (guildmates, friends?!?) wants to kill them, can't I turn around and kill my team instead?

Ordinarily this might be insane to expect from a game, but bioware makes it so you cannot ignore the story, and therefore its a problem. Its like the Uncanny Valley for plot. The more realistic, important and in depth it becomes, the bigger problems and pitfalls it creates.

There are other problems I have with TOR as well that aren't related to choice/illusion of choice and story (No playable Ithorians or even any remotely "alien" aliens are at the top of the list... I mean, come on this is Star Wars, and if Blizzard can Cram humans, tauren, worgen, dwarves, space goats and trolls into the same armor on a game engine thats 10 years old, bioware can do it too)
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:08PM Space Cobra said

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While I am prepared to like SW:TOR, the Essels (sp) campaign just reminded me how "on rails" it can be.

Bioware loves to push these either/or moral choices on you, and that's cool, but in a Tabletop Pen/Paper DnD setting, if I was "good", I'd try to save both parties and either succeed or fail. The game doesn't let you do this (The Engineer does set up the choice to run "all over the ship" but I suspect ambassador gives you roughly the same response of, "there is not enough time" and forces a choice).

Also, if we "meta-think" things: I've been wondering about the "grey/neutral" alignment. Bioware stated that one gets benefits (and new powers) from maxxing out Light side or Dark side, but no word on "staying neutral". Frankly, given previous TOR games (and the other Bioware games), I think there is a high chance Grey side does NOT get a benefit (beyond RP or self-challenge). Even this, is "a choice" and while it is there, you get more benefit from going fully one side or another, and not the middle (which I'd prefer with my Bounty Hunter as he is a straight merc who tends to work for the higher coin no matter the side).

Really, all games, single-player, Mass Effect, others, and MMOs, all have this "illusion of choice". They give you A or B or even more, but being creative, I can come up with more creative solutions than what is offered (Hell, split your team in Essels!). But, that's just the rules of the game at the moment.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:14PM Larry Everett said

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@Space Cobra
Actually, the easiest solution in the Esseles would have been to have space suits and seatbelts in engineering, but that would break from Star Wars sadistic design
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:10PM (Unverified) said

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First, I want to start off by saying that I watch "The Republic" every week on gamebreaker.tv and that you are awesome, Larry. Everyone should check it out if they don't already.

Now, as far as this article goes, I agree with your sentiment on killing off companions. I think that it really adds to the depth of your character and the story. It is such a powerful moment when you have Zaalbar kill Mission Vao. While feeling completely horrible about it, I did really like having that kind of choice. Bioware has always been really good about making it clear that you are about to kill off a companion, so as far as I am concerned, you made the choice and you should have to stick with it. However, seeing as TOR is a long running MMO, I don't think I would ever make that kind of choice anyway. While I think that you should have the option to kill off companions, especially as a Sith warrior or inquisitor, I know that I'll be perfectly content freezing them in carbonite.

My opinion on conversation cancelling, however, is completely different. I was truly excited to hear that we would be able to start the conversations over. I have two reasons for this. The first being how often I get interrupted in the middle of a cutscene and end up missing out on half of it. I hate that. If it's not a roommate interrupting me than it is the phone, a knock at the door or some other distraction. The second, and probably most important, is how notoriously bad the dialogue wheel text can misrepresent what your character will actually say. Being an RPer, I think you can understand the displeasure one might have when your character says something completely uncharacteristic due to bad paraphrasing. In a perfect world, where everyone leaves me alone while I game and my character says what I think he is going to say, I would agree with you. But for now, I will have to respectfully agree to disagree.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:17PM Larry Everett said

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@(Unverified)

I don't necessarily believe that it is a bad thing to be able to skip out of conversations, I'm just wondering if there may be another way to go about it.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:14PM Irem said

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You can save Miranda even if you lose her loyalty! :D

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:22PM Larry Everett said

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@Irem

Yes, I know, but I kind of had to take her with me if I wanted to beat the final boss. And I like to play RPGs as a consistent character, I don't want to not bring someone who had been in my party for the whole game just because of my meta-game knowledge that she's going to die.
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Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:23PM chauncy said

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Well, as far as the "cancelling out of the dialogue by hitting escape" that really isn't different from quickloading The Witcher or Planescape: Torment, is it? I get the sentiment but I'm not sure why TOR's catching flak for it - it's been that way since save files were invented.

That said I agree that BioWare is taking away "meaningful" choice piece by piece in TOR. First we had the revelation that we could run flashpoints or even utilise an entire profession to change our alignment (though I hear it's extremely time consuming to do so). Then we hear that your Advanced Class choice can be reversed - they're saying it's intended to be very costly to do but eh, you can still do it. Now the companion thing. I have to wonder what's next.

Although, I do tend to agree with most of those decisions. The AC respec is something I've been against from the very beginning, and yet now that's it's going to be in afterall I find that I just don't care as much as I thought I would.

As for story choices (which I realise is what most of the article is talking about, I promise!) well, I'm not TOO fussed. I sincerely doubt I'm going to be playing through the same class story more than once, so it's likely that I won't even notice huge, sweeping circumstances depending on my actions.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:32PM madcartoonist said

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What I would really like is to be able to fully change factions. Like start out as a Jedi knight and slowly become Sith. I might be wrong but I believe this is not an option as classes are specific to the light and dark side choice.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:42PM (Unverified) said

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I think it will be a balancing act between epic story and protecting all of us from the whining of people who are used to being able to go back to a save game if an outcome isn't what they want.
After all the whining and complaining I've seen over other MMOs, I'm actually happy that there is a little bit of "dummy" proofing in the works. I'd rather see developers and support people working on real bug fixes or new content than dealing with the people who are unwilling to put up with consequences.
There will be many compromises made because this is an MMO format.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:49PM Eamil said

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In a game where you get fifteen NPC companions but can only have two with you, one or two being killed off here and there doesn't really matter. Companions dying in an MMO just doesn't seem as OK to me. I was kind of annoyed in Guild Wars when Koss got captured and relieved to find out that you do get him back and that it's the only time anything like that happens in the game.

Posted: Aug 2nd 2011 3:53PM (Unverified) said

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I don't blame Bioware for trying to create a better MMO than single-player game. Making that transition results in losing out on some features that you may enjoy from a single-player game. And yes, in order to tailor their game to a multiplayer environment, things said in the past are subject to change. It'd be nice if you could keep all the benefits of a single-player game, but it doesn't serve you well to agonize over losing them.

Nor does it do any good to dislike that others can skimp out on their dialogue choices. If they want to redo it, let them! Games have provided this option for a while with save slots. Bioware isn't taking away your ability to make a choice and sticking with it. They're giving people more options which is a good thing. It's better for the game to help out those who'd suffer unfairly from permanent choices whether due to internet connection or misleading text choices.

And really, I wouldn't mind playing your vision of the game, but it's no sweat off my back that Bioware has their vision of how things play out. If anything, Bioware is showing that they have the smarts to make an MMO and not just a single-player game with limited multiplayer features.

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