Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Criticism of MMOs

So there have been a lot of "arguments" on either side of the fence regarding whether SWTOR is worth playing or not. The funny thing is that much of the same evidence is portrayed as either positive or negative, revealing more about the writer than it does about the game. This happens with every newly released MMO and probably every single-player game as well.

One criticism is the lack of true aliens as Player Character choices. BioWare apparently said a few months ago they felt that an alien's story would be too different from the human centered stories they had developed. This is true. There is a ton of prejudice in the SW universe against even "near humans," much less other aliens. So their story would not be the same. However, as I recall, BioWare went a step further and said they didn't think people would be able to relate to an alien protagonist. I was thinking the other night that it had to do with audio dialogue more than graphics issues. As HarbingrZero pointed out, they have most of the aliens that people would want to play already modeled and rendered as NPCs. I do think it's short-sighted. Plenty of people have played some pretty bizarre creatures in other games. WoW has Space Goats, Walking Cows and Self-Willed Zombies, for cryin' out loud. Cryptic's STO is the king of aliens, thanks to their extremely customizable characters. After going through the various models in the creation screen during the SWTOR beta, I can pretty much guarantee most of my alts will be human or cyborg (which is human). The other options were kinda lame, IMHO. A Rodian or Trandoshan would have been cool.

The Legacy System has also come under fire. I have issues with it myself, but it won't stop me from playing the game or adapting to the Legacy System in my roleplaying.

A commenter named "gahgoots" on Scarybooster's SWTOR Beta Review/Impressions Part 1: The Bad left a well articulated comment regarding his impressions of the game after a few months of beta testing. Basically he said the replayability of the game is limited, it is too linear. There is not enough to do besides quest.
I understand the liner/nonlinear argument, both within a zone and through multiple zones. WoW gave several options for questing in different zones any any given level, but I often found I had to visit several zones just to level up to the next tier of questing, the next set of zones. Within each zone, there were places you didn't want to go when you first qualified to enter the zone, because you would get your ass handed to you.

Rift has a similar problem; there were several times that my bride and I had to go to another zone to quest because we had progressed in the story farther than we had progressed in levels. The quests became too difficult to complete without leveling up first. Also, Rift suffers from the one-time-through-for-each-faction issue. More so than SWTOR, I believe.

Gahgoots also said the mirrored classes meant that there are really only four classes to play. I disagree with this, because of the advanced classes. even if the ACs are mirrored (they are), that's still 8 classes after the intro planets. Some ACs may be very similar, Shadow (rogue) and Sage (mage/priest) have completely different roles and many different abilities. The same with goes for Sniper versus Operative: A long-range cover-loving killer as opposed to an in-your-face melee fighter or healer. WoW had only about that many classes to start, and didn't even bother to change their names or ability effects. STO only has three "branches."

The linearity can be enjoyable. I see the SWTOR story as a choose-your-own adventure. Many of the things that have been brought up are not problems to me. I am not an idiot, I am not lazy (well maybe a little), I prefer that a game be relaxing, not frustrating. I have enough stress at work, I don't want to come home to more stress. If you do, Dear Reader, maybe this game is not for you. I don't enjoy FPS games like Halo or CoD, or EA Sports games like Madden or NBA Elite, but I don't come on here and rant about how they suck.

I've played a few other MMOs, and they all have the same features/problems to some degree. The question is, is the journey enjoyable? Most people who will play Skyrim all the way through have already done so, and loved it. It's been less than a month since it came out. For the same price as Skyrim ($60), you can get the basic edition of SWTOR and play for a month. Of course, BioWare and EA would like you to keep playing and paying the monthly subscription. Play the game for as long as you enjoy it, then cancel your subscription. Easy as pie.

9 comments:

  1. I admit more options would have been nice, star wars has a huge selection of races to choose from, but there are obvious practical and lore problems with some races. You just plain can't have people as a Hutt or Ithorian or even as Wookie. It just wouldn't work.

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  2. Agreed, being a Wookie would be awesome, but would require much more work for the developers.

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  3. I think we will get other races at expansions, but problably not a wookie and certainly not am ewok.

    João Carlos

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  4. Oooh man, an Ewok Trooper with a gun the same size as a human Trooper would be rad!! Don't knock Ewok!

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  5. Gaghoots had posted the same comment under my blog post as well, but with a different name. I left off a long reply, but in a nutshell, it's really comes down to how each individual goes about viewing a "feature". Lots of the stuff brought up as criticisms aren't actually such a big deal to me, as in it doesn't affect my overall enjoyment of the game. And some of the things I've seen people hate on, I actually loved. Such as companions.

    The only point I can see ultimately being a bigger issue is the linearity. You kinda sacrifice that flexibility for the story, since it has to follow a certain planet path. It's the one thing that concerns me, only because it's not something BioWare can easily "fix" in the future, if you know what I mean. They can add extra planets/zones and such, but players will still have to follow the story path and hit the old planets, unless the devs go in and mess with the entire class story line or put in branching plot lines...which would be a lot of work.

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  6. It would be a lot of work, but it is doable, I think. You could easily change a couple conversations, and give a player choices as to where to go. In the end, though, I don't know how necessary all that is. A lot of the complaints people have are about what they want in a game, rather than things that are broken in SWTOR itself. Just like many of the issues people have WoW are really about them, not about the game.

    We have a phrase for that in the IT world: "Works as Designed."

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  7. Doable, but only if people are willing to make serious investments. Every time they changed the storyline they had to change what they have called "the build" vs. updates to a said build. Outside of the most recent build, that has apparently meant coding changes so radical, you had to re-download the 20gb client from scratch. How often are gamers willing to do that? Once a year? Six Months? Every expansion? Ever?

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  8. Actually, I think Wookie would be much less work than others, based on the fact that all of the dialog would be like ten minutes of a guy makin' noises and all the rest would be text-based subtitles.

    The rest of this comment went into Le Guin and Aasimov...which I cut and pasted onto my blog. Thanks for a thought-provoking article. :)

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