After the launch of the extremely well done trailer for The Old Republic, I’ve been thinking a fair bit regarding what the game will actually look like, and how it will come to work in reality, and decided to ramble…
An interesting thought by the “hidden messages” people seem to imply that Bioware is comparing Blizzard/WoW with the Republic, and as such is sending the message through the trailer that “You thought no force could challenge you …” and “Your republic, will fall..”, which initially made for a great scenario, but after thinking about it for a bit, I’m not sure I’d really want it to be.
The average ingame WoW-mentality is so horrible and crazy that I can’t even begin to describe it, as far as WoW goes, I decided to skip off on a RP server to hopefully experience a bit more mature crowd, and it started out well, but slowly degenerated into similar madness to those that are “Normal/PvP-servers”. I should however note, that after trying out a Blood Elf character on an actual PvP server, I entered silvermoon and managed to fill my ignore list by the time I made it to the Auction House.
On another note, the way WoW has been repeatedly dumbed down and made extremely easy (initially) to cater to the average “not-quite-as-smart-as-the-average-person” makes me worry that this is the standard others will follow. I remember the shock way back when I heard that Blizzard were doing a no penalty for dying deal with WoW, effectively taking the risk out, yet keeping the reward in. Comparing this approach to previous games where you traditionally lose a portion of your xp and could even de-level when you die, it has the side-effect of making people extremely reckless and will not “learn” at all. As a nice example here, in Final Fantasy XI, you’d be losing 10% of your xp required to the next level everytime you die, and you used to HAVE to group to level – implying that if you kept screwing up and making your group wipe, you’d quickly be quite unpopular in the game, and would struggle to actually make it to the higher levels of endgame – which quite simply made a lot of the less skilled people quit, leaving the remaining players quite competent, and with a level of appreciation and respect for the rest. You could “pug” just about anything at higher levels there, not due to it being easy, but due to the fact that people had to know what they were doing to actually get that high. In comparison, leveling to max level in WoW requires something like $30 and a pulse - or rather, if you’re fond of bots, $45 and no pulse.
Now, if this crowd is deciding to move on, I can only assume that Bioware as a business have to cater to these people as well, most likely making the community a very crappy experience – at least from my point of view. I don’t think the immersion they’re aiming towards at Bioware as mentioned in the developer diaries would survive a fair bit of “LF IMBAH TANK FOR KORRIBAN TO RAID SITHIEZ PLZZZZ! LAST SPOT! (PS NO MORE RODIAN TANKS FFS! –.-)”.
For me I suspect what it will come down to is whether or not they’ll actually be able to maintain a decent degree of control in something of an RP server environment. I guess I just want to have fun in the Star Wars Galaxy, and not have crazy people roaming around “ruining my gaming experience”. (HEH! :D) Hopefully either the threshold for playing it will be high enough to maintain a decent community, or the enforcement of typical non-leetspeak and preventing B0baPh4t420s running around in an RP environment will be enough to actually have the game grant the immersion that it aims to have.
I feel I should add that some of the most fun and intense moments I’ve had in my “MMO-career” involved running around with my fresh Jedi in SW:Galaxies, before any of the deathpenalty changes, which meant that if your character died three times, it was permanently dead and you had to start over. The constant fear of your character dying really raised the pulse-level a fair bit, and made you really think about what you were doing. Having to go into town as a Jedi at that point with the possibility of a Bounty Hunter jumping you was enough to make me literally sweat and be completely focused.
I guess I’m hoping for SW: The Old Republic to be a technical success, but not a huge enough all-round success to make it go the way WoW has gone. Is that bad? :)
On a side-note, regarding immersion, if you’re reading this Bioware - a collectors edition package bundled with an ACTUAL real-size wearable Jedi-robe would be excellent!