Okay, what the heck? I was away from the main Star Wars: The Old Republic forums for a while, working on getting a book published and focusing on school and when I come back there are threads out the wazoo about how badly SWTOR is going to fail. Some of the angst that I have read has been internet trolling of course, but some of it seems to be genuine fear. But why? The game looks amazing.
Well, first and foremost in many people’s minds is the debacle that was and is Star Wars Galaxies. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) will be forever emblazoned in many players memories as the worst game company ever created. They rushed the game out before it was completed, which is nothing new. Many game companies put out games before they are finished, but this game was… well… awful. The only reason people played it at all at launch was that it was Star Wars. The fact that for about three days the players walked around on worlds that had nothing on them, no mobs, no buildings, not even any plants, no NOTHING, was absolutely awful. But players suffered through the bugs, because it was Star Wars, and parts of it were fun. Then came the Combat Upgrade, (Or as we called it Completely Useless) where they made what was one of the most innovative and cool games out there, minus the annoying bugs, the same as every other MMO out there. They didn’t need level defined gear and enemies, but of course, WoW had it, so they must need it, right? Wrong. Then the day that will live in infamy, the day the Next Generation Entertainment hit the servers. SOE lied to their player base. SOE undid in a day what many players had spent years perfecting, tweaking, and basically having fun with. They decided not to listen to the community, to do their own thing. Why should they care if they shafted most of their players? It wasn’t SOE’s problem. Small wonder many of the most hardcore players simply left and will likely never return. I was one of those. The game is still running, on limited servers, but I for one will never touch it again, and I am not alone. SWG failed, and failed hard through no fault of the game, but through the less than intelligent choices made by SOE.
Bioware is not SOE, and while some of SOE’s employees have joined Bioware, I highly doubt that even the most jaded of Bioware’s employees could say that Bioware is going to repeat the same mistakes that SOE freely admitted they made. Second, Bioware has a formula that they use for their games. Well, yeah. How many of us, when writing stories do NOT use some kind of formula? How many of us use an outline, a plan, something? For me, it makes it clear what I need to write next and my stories are nowhere near as complicated as some Bioware games. Some people criticize Bioware for following a pattern, one that I have put as my intro picture. Bioware’s stories are not Pulitzer prize material, but they are also not bargain bin trashy romances either. There are limits to what can be done in a video game story. Admittedly, they are pushing the envelope of what can be done in game stories with what they are focusing on in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Some people have criticized Sol Invictus and others have praised him for making this chart. It is good, as far as it goes. Bioware DOES have a pattern. But think about it, did the fact that you were following the same general pattern detract in any way from the experience in Mass Effect 1 or 2? I had no time to be thinking about that as I was blasting my way through the games.
Last but certainly not least, we come to the clincher. Many people are saying that SWTOR is going to fail because Bioware has never made a MMO before. They are known for their single player games, but a single player game, no matter how big or complex, is nothing on a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying game. But, they know this. This is why they have spent so long, and such epic amounts of money, to make it. This is no Star Wars Galaxies clone. This is no WoW Clone. This probably will not be a WoW-killer, to use the internet lingo. WoW is simply too huge, too easy to play at the lower levels, for any one game to simply knock it off its pedestal. The only thing likely to kill WoW is Blizzard Entertainment, the same way SOE killed SWG with stupid choices.
To sum up – some people think SWTOR is going to fail. Some of those people are being pessimists or internet trolls. Some of them have legitimate cause for concern, after the horror that was SWG. SWTOR is a massive game, larger than any other. One wonders exactly how many DVDs will be required to carry such a game. Bioware has never made a MMO before, true. But… that also has some plusses. They had no preconceptions. The idea of full voice over for every character was laughable, until Bioware started doing it. Are there going to be problems? Almost certainly, this is a game made by humans, and humans are not perfect. Is it going to flop at launch? Doubtful.
That is my two cents worth anyway. What do you think?
Picture from Game Riot