In the spirit of the NDA drop and the upcoming December 20th launch -- less than a month! -- I've put together a list of 10 excellent ways that a SWTOR fan can prepare him or herself for the coming MMOcalypse. I totally understand that it can be frustrating to be waiting for an anticipated game launch, feeling impotent with your inability to speed up time. However, taking action in other ways can help with the wait and make us feel like we're being productive. That's what I'm here for today.
It's OK, there's no need to thank me. I get Light Side points for this.
Now some of the items on this list are going to be "Yeah, no DUH!" triggers for those of you who have marinated in SWTOR for a while now, but be patient -- there are plenty of folks hopping on board this space-train at a late hour, and it's good to cover the bases.
In any event, if you're fairly sure that SWTOR is up your alley and worth at least a month of your time, then it behooves you to pre-order. Heh, "behooves" is a funny word. Anyway. Pre-ordering not only reserves you the game -- and BioWare's made noises about there being only a "limited" number of initial copies -- but it gets you various bonuses (depending on which package you preorder) and early access privileges. The latter is important for those out there who not only want to reserve their favorite Star Wars name (Porkins FTW!) but also want to get a head start before the crush of the Day One crowd.
This weekend looks to be the final chance for most of us to take a look at the beta (and to be able to brag in five years that "I was there since beta, man!" in various forum posts). Most anyone who wanted a beta key or previously signed up for testing will get in, and coupled with the NDA drop, the weekend should provoke a lot of discussion among the community.
Why's it good for you? Perhaps it's not -- perhaps you want to remain "unspoiled" for the launch, and more power to you if that's the case. But if you're still on the fence and need a bit of hands-on time to make up your mind, or if you're trying to figure out what class you want to roll on launch day, it's an excellent opportunity to sort all this out in advance.
Don't forget that SWTOR is a sequel to a pair of single-player RPGs released earlier last decade, and as such, you might do well to check one or both of them out if you're really itching for a little Old Republic action. While the KOTOR games might not have aged well in terms of graphics or even gameplay (both of which aren't being carried over to SWTOR in any case), the titles do contain the locations, history, and stories pertinent to the same game world that the MMO covers. I recently went through KOTOR II to help with the SWTOR shakes and found it helped considerably.
Both games are available through a number of retail and digital outlets and can be picked up on the cheap due to their age.
If you don't already have a SWTOR guild, then now's the perfect time to go guild shopping. BioWare's created a decent level of pre-release support for guilds and guild-searchers called the Guild Headquarters. That's where you should probably start your search, although there are plenty of resources outside of the official site to help as well.
Keep in mind that latching yourself onto a guild by registering as such on the official SWTOR site means that you'll be assigned a server so that you can be with the rest of your guild, your guild's allies, and your guild's adversaries.
OK, I'll admit that this is a completely unnecessary purchase unless you really love behind-the-scenes stories and concept art, but it's a fun read if so. I picked up a copy the other night and have enjoyed flipping through it to see how the game evolved over the years and how the developers came to various design conclusions. Plus, it looks really pretty on a shelf (personally, I wish the collector's edition had shipped with it instead of the Darth Malgus statue).
When a big MMO that has me excited is about to come out, I start to gorge on all aspects of the fan community. I peruse forums, subscribe to just about every related podcast I can find, soak in the fan sites, and subscribe to blogs. Part of the fun of MMO launches is the community excitement, and I see no reason to be isolated when everyone's buzzing about like he's a six-year-old the night before Christmas.
SWTOR has been building a huge community for years now, and whether you're new or not, there are plenty of folks out there who have interesting insights, detailed analyses, and geek love to share.
I'm going to be up front with you: I'm generally not a fan of novels based on movie, TV, or video game franchises. They tend to be of mixed quality (the phrase "pulp fiction" comes to mind) with an emphasis on churning stories out quickly rather than well.
That said, if you're a lore junkie or you want a good primer for The Old Republic universe, picking up one or more of the novels could be a good way to pass an afternoon or two. There are already several out, including Deceived, Fatal Alliance, and Revan. If you're more into comics, then there's Blood of the Empire and Threat of Peace to fit your desires.
The link between the SWG and SWTOR communities is debatable; I've had some people tell me that these are two crowds destined to never cross paths, while I've seen some players who are fans of both. No matter what, the bittersweet fact is that with SWTOR's launch, Star Wars Galaxies is being given the axe, and it all falls under the Star Wars umbrella. SWG fans are quick to say that their community was one of the best that MMOs have ever seen, and if that's true, it wouldn't hurt to examine what made that community so great and see if some of that could be carried over to the next game.
At the very least, SWTOR players should be respectful to SWG vets at this time and perhaps extend an inviting hand to come over to a new game world.
I'm not talking about making a will here (if you plan on playing yourself to death, you need help ASAP) but rather just taking care of all those real-life details so that you're freed up to enjoy the launch week. For many, it's the beginning of the holiday season, so getting shopping done well ahead of time could be a smart move.
Other standard MMO launch prep actions are to secure time off work, give your significant other extra attention (bank that love!), defrag your computer and update drivers, and reset your password on the official website.
Last year I was going through a period of extreme SWTOR hype and decided that because BioWare wasn't giving in to my hysterical phone calls demanding that the studio release the game NOW, I would have to let out some of the pressure by going on a Star Wars movie marathon.
And, surprise surprise, it worked. I got back in touch with the Star Wars love from my childhood, and I found the patience to wait again.
I'm completely "bias" in this regard -- only A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi count. The other ones I'm trying very, very hard to pretend never existed. So far it's working.
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.