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Reader Comments (187)

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:00PM Gildas said

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@Malagarr I used the term "virtual world" on purpose for that exact reason. If the idea is to make a virtual world then "sandbox", or in other words an emergent game experience, is necessary. If everything is scripted and pre-recorded then it is closer to an audio book than a virtual world. I'm personally not in the market for audio books.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:18PM Malagarr said

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@Gildas

I can see where you're coming from, but I disagree. A virtual world is simply that. Some are themeparks, others are sandboxes. One could argue that you have ne free will in a themepark game and only sandboxes truly represent the real world made virtual, but that could get us off on a whole tangent of philosophical debates about just how much free will we have IRL.

Irregardless, like I said, I like both themeparks and sandboxes. I don't want to see dev companies stop developing either one of them. =)
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:45PM Pylades said

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@(Unverified)

Agreed. It seems like the statements from Alexander Freed belong in a prominent space at the beginning of this piece. If you think he's a liar, fine. But tell us why.

You spend the entire piece complaining about the PR speak that comes out of the PR department. (Which ... duh.) You fail to address the non-PR speak that came from the folks in charge of story.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:46PM (Unverified) said

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Jef if you don't like SWTOR just say so right from the beginning and save us all time. You admitted you haven't leveled passed 20, then proceed to spend a lot of keystrokes bashing the game on how fail the story is.

So you're basically asking what do you do when you get 8 max level characters and how will the story be then? Well since "normal" people won't get there for several months, if not a year or two, I'd say that is a point that is meaningless 1 week after the game's release.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:10PM Jef Reahard said

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@(Unverified)

I bashed the game on how fail the story is? You'll have to point that one out to me so I can correct it.

The class stories are good imo. I don't think they'll carry an MMO long-term though.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:47PM ReadingRambo said

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You have to be stupid to think Bioware WON'T add any more story.

Any expansion pack or major content patch will add story. That's exactly how all content works on their other game (eg Mass Effect). I don't understand what the writer is even getting at with this article.

Seriously though...what did you even mean? You don't think Bioware can handle more story!? Thats the ENTIRE point of SWTOR. They are building a game completely around the 4th pillar so it makes sense. You have to be missing a few brain cells to think they don't have enough story cooked up for the next major expansion or content patch.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:48PM ReadingRambo said

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@ReadingRambo

*can't (sorry about the typo). That sentence is supposed to say "You don't think Bioware can't handle more story!?".

BTW joystiq...why can't we get an edit feature?
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:49PM ReadingRambo said

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@ReadingRambo

Nope wait...thats a double negative.

Scrap that sentence. All of it. You must be a fool to think bioware can't handle more story.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:55PM FluffyBearLina said

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If story is the next big pillar in MMOs, TOR is definitely not the vanguard of that movement.

There are easily three types of story in TOR: your class story chain, a planet's story chain, and sidequests. Sidequests and the planet's story chain will remain mostly the same across all characters, and the only thing that's significantly different is your class story.

I can pretty safely say that about 90% of the existing story content is redone on every character. By starting a new character, the only new content you see is your class quest. Everything else is virtually the same; the only significant difference outside of your story quest is how some people will respond to you in conversation, but the outcome is almost always the same regardless.

The 200 hour story content figure is definitely very inflated. For starters, I don't think that figure is possible. I'm 42 on my Inquisitor (only 8 levels away from the cap) and I've only put in about 50 hours of game-time. And I've done every quest on every planet thus far. I think it's safe to assume I'll hit the cap and exhaust all of the pre-endgame story well before 70 hours, much less 200. Assuming it takes me 70 hours, and only 10% of that is story content, that's about 7 hours of story content, and the other 63 is all recycled content that you will have to slog through repeatedly on three other characters.

Based on my estimations (and they ARE estimations), assuming you end up playing one of each class on one faction, that's about 28 hours of unique content per faction, with 189 hours spent repeating 63 hours worth of shared content. Do both factions, and you double those numbers. So the total amount of unique content is 7 hours of class story x 8 characters + 63 hours of faction-exclusive story x 2 factions. 182 hours of unique content, and a LOT of it you have to repeat over and over again.

My whole point is, frankly speaking, I'm not compelled to sit through 63 hours of content I've already done on another character just to see 7 that's unique to the class. It doesn't help that my current class storyline isn't all that compelling. In true BioWare fashion, it's a giant collectathon; origin story, introduce conflict, find a bunch of objects scattered throughout the galaxy, face the big bad. Except in this game, on my current class quest, you do this TWICE: first artifacts, then ghosts. And naturally, the collectathon part is dull as hell; the only time the class story is any fun is when you're NOT running around the galaxy looking for miscellaneous objects.

Beyond that, it's worse that BioWare in its current state has absolutely no idea how to do good dialogue trees anymore. Morality is strictly binary, your choices have very little effect on the game world, and sometimes the choices don't even make any sense. As a light side Sith, I'm severely disappointed in the impact most of my moral choices have, and in many situations where I WANT to have a choice, I'm not given one. I think someone put it quite aptly when they said "In the Empire, light side involves killing everyone, and dark side involves killing everyone plus kittens".

I'm fairly certain most of the shallowness of the dialogue system is due to the fact that the game is an MMO, and they can't really let you make decisions that would significantly differentiate your experience from other players.

It also doesn't help that virtually every planet's story involves fighting the Republic in some fashion, and there's little unique about the planet story-wise. Fighting the Republic was fun on Balmorra, but after 8 planets, I'm still doing the same damn thing. I was hoping things would at least be different on Taris, a world that's so incredibly rich in potential for creating stories that are unique to the planet, but nope. You just fight the Republic. Yes, I realize that the entire point of TOR is to express the war between the Empire and the Republic, but the beauty of an MMO, and of video games in general, is the ability to tell tons of different stories at once. When all of the stories have something to do with the same subject, it gets dry and boring VERY quickly.

Ultimately, all of this makes me sad, because TOR feels very much like a game that can't figure out whether it wants to be singleplayer or multiplayer, and in the process of trying to be both it just wears itself thin in the process.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:08PM Malagarr said

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@FluffyBearLina

You'll be 50 long before you have 200 hours of gameplay in. BW came out last year and admitted that their 200 hour estimate that they originally announced was higher than what they actually ended up with.

But like everything else, it all comes down to the player. I easily had 50 hours of gamplay in by level 20. Why? Because I don't push through content. I take my time, explore, craft, chat with friends, do a few flashpoints, etc... On the other hand, I have guildies who were in their 40s three days after they got into headstart. So it really comes down to playstyle.

On the subject of repeating stories, sure, like any other MMO, many quests are doable by all classes in that faction. But 90%? Hardly. I played through most of the classes during beta and I can tell you that it certainly didn't feel like I was repeating 90% of the content. This is probably because most of those quests are very quick side quests that you do while you're actually on your story quest. Either way, they simply gave me the feeling of, "yeah, I remember this place". Not "I gotta do this whole freaking questline over again?!?!".

Lastly, yes, the enemy is your primary opponent in this game. If you're Imperial a lot of your quests will involve fighting the Republic. That's not all there is, but it does play a rather large role...especially since we're on the brink of a new galactic war...
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:08PM ReadingRambo said

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@FluffyBearLina

This may sound a little fan-boyish, but I respectfully disagree with much of what you posted.

Even though the decisions never have a "hard" effect on your game (they will later says Bioware) they are the BEST story telling and role-playing I have ever seen in an MMO. To keep the gameplay "standard" your decisions can't destroy or create parts of the game world needed by other players.

Bioware IS the peak of movement right now. I sit and watch every single cutscene because I actually care. I have never played a game (outside Mass Effect) where I actually gave a crap about the story.

Is there room for improvement. YES! I would love to see more consequences but I as they mentioned, we have to wait for those.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:14PM BlackFx said

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@FluffyBearLina \

This is far better than the lame article. I would agree on all the points. However, as a non-mmo'r (although I've played a lot (SWG, Matrix, EQI&II, LotRO, WoW, GW, Champions, STO, etc..), SWTOR may have some repeated content that can be somewhat annoying, the game still provides an experience very close to, if not on par with, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. The grind actually has grown on me. I've completed two character classes and have had every class, with the exception of the Imperial Agent, above 30.

I disagree that this game doesn't take the game to the next level. This game is by FAR the best MMO experience I've ever had and I gratefully thank BioWare, Lucas Arts, and EA for providing such a great experience. Yes, there are many things not complete (although very unnoticable unless you have a huge stick up your ass) but the game is excellent and will be playing it for a very very long time. The rest of the MMO ships can sink to the bottom of the abyss for all I give a shit.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:33PM (Unverified) said

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@Malagarr

Honestly, 90% is on the small side of things. All of the quests outside the story quest (which is only ever a single "blip" in your log at any one time) are absolutely repeated across every single character in the game. So yes, 100% of your quests (ignoring your single storyline quest and companion quests) are repeated in the game per faction per character.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:40PM Celtar said

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@FluffyBearLina

Plus one just for this...

-- I think someone put it quite aptly when they said "In the Empire, light side involves killing everyone, and dark side involves killing everyone plus kittens".--

Though I know you didn't coin it, it is quite amusing and on the money. I'm trying to play a dark side smuggler with one of my toons btw as an aside.

This I think sums up the SWTOR experience, though I am having fun this comment of yours is the money shot.

--Ultimately, all of this makes me sad, because TOR feels very much like a game that can't figure out whether it wants to be singleplayer or multiplayer, and in the process of trying to be both it just wears itself thin in the process.--

Good post.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:55PM Leandra said

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@Joaquin Crowe

Fffffff, I should've known better than to read the comments! Oh well, I'll still look forward to seeing how my warrior gets to that point. :)

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:57PM Khal said

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Jef,

Normally I'm with you on most things. On this one, though, this is a case of despite your "role" or "position" in the gaming industry you have failed to educate yourself before opening your mouth. We all do it. You're human just like us.

Bioware Austin has mentioned more than a few times that they have the process by which to churn out this type content in a relatively short amount of time. A degree of time that is on par (or better) than the hum drum content that all the other games you elude to are putting out.

Additionally, Bioware as recently as a few days ago have stated that they have quite a few voice actors on contract. That means they have access to them when and where they need them to meet their deadlines to put out like content.

I know you may not like SWTOR...it took me a few years to come around on it...and are looking for a sandbox game to get like monetary investment so as to be of high production value (which, I am too), but despite the ill flavored naysaying of the increasingly apparent ill and under informed few, Bioware at least on paper has their ducks in a row.

As to whether they can keep things together and deliver in a timely fashion, time will tell. One thing is for certain, though: They have a well thought out plan as to what they want to do.

Good stories need to end...so that the next good story can begin.

Posted: Dec 27th 2011 1:14PM Jef Reahard said

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@Khal

Oh I know they've said they can do it (and I even linked Freed's post at the end of my piece). Saying you can do it and doing it are two different things though, and I've been following games long enough to know that what a game company says and does are rarely the same thing.

If they actually do it, that's great for all concerned.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 3:45PM Buhallin said

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@Jef Reahard Here's the problem, Jef: You're basically calling them liars, but you don't actually have any evidence or even solid arguments to back that up.

Is it going to cost going forward? Sure it is. The only thing you're really basing your skepticism on is "Other MMOs haven't done it." Well, other MMOs haven't done it for initial release, either, but Bioware managed it.

They've got a big sub fee base coming in now, and plenty of profit to play with. They've stated that they're keeping the dev team staffing at its current level, that they have tools and techniques locked down to allow quick content generation, and they've kept the voice actors on hand. Essentially, they've said they have everything in place to keep content generation a priority going forward. And in response to that you've got... uhm... what, exactly? "It's expensive and I don't think they'll do it." and "Companies have failed to deliver before." Problem is that so far, Bioware HAS delivered.

You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, and in an opinion piece you don't really need much more than that. But your readers are equally entitled to think that your opinion is unfounded and driven more by trolling for page views and an unreasonable hatred for anything that isn't a sandbox.

And plenty of us obviously do.
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Posted: Dec 30th 2011 3:49PM KDolo said

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@Jef Reahard

"Oh I know they've said they can do it (and I even linked Freed's post at the end of my piece). Saying you can do it and doing it are two different things though, and I've been following games long enough to know that what a game company says and does are rarely the same thing."

Who says these things are rare? Which games and game companies were you following? Is this the case when a game demonstrates the that said company can deliver on it's promise? And if this really is the case, then why believe anything anyone says about any game ever?

This underscores exactly how you feel about the game. Even presented with evidence to the contrary, you insist on believing the worst about a game, THEN insist that opinion is fact or at least the people who accept the evidence and hold an opinion contrary to your own are suckers for the "delusions of grandeur."

I stand by my original statement. You are clearly a condescending, self-satisfied prick. I only wish i could have seen your response before you got modded by your own site.
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Posted: Dec 27th 2011 12:59PM (Unverified) said

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I kinda liked how the whole article was about not adding story yet the article states they'll be adding flashpoints... which have story, cutscenes and voice acting in them...

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