PAX Coverage: The Old Republic

By Josh
on Sep 10, 2010
Filed under:
Nerd Culture

If you follow the MMORPG market closely, as I do, you may have noticed one very specific thread in regards to Star Wars: The Old Republic: It will be awesome. More than that, it will be the single greatest video game of all time, and will soundly crush the competition into a finely-ground powder that will then be baked into the bread of sandwiches for the EA execs.

Or, at least, that’s what all the pre-release press would like you to believe. Now, to be fair, almost everything written prior to the release of a game is probably a good deal more generous than it right well should be, but honestly, the hype machine for this game is enormous. I don’t think I’ve seen a single critical preview of the game, and the community is passionately supportive of it. Looking at the hype, it almost seems as if it would be impossible for the game to fail. As if The Old Republic were – dare I say – unsinkable.

There has never been a recorded case in history where this sort of attitude has caused any problems whatsoever.
There has never been a recorded case in history where this sort of attitude has caused any problems whatsoever.

But then, this attitude makes perfect sense – for Bioware. Of course, every developer wants their game to be unsinkable, but for Bioware, there’s more to it. The Old Republic is not just their flagship product, and it’s not just their biggest project ever – it’s the most expensive project EA has ever attempted.

This is EA Games here, folks. The only reason they’re number two is because Blizzard shacked up with Activision. They’re a giant among giants. And The Old Republic is their most expensive project ever. I’d say that puts its budget in the ballpark of at least 100 million dollars, if not much more than even that. This figure is supported by what EA’s management expects from the game: two million subscribers. With a “mere” one million being absolutely required to break even.

The Old Republic isn’t something that Bioware just doesn’t want to fail. It, quite literally, can’t fail.

But here I am, ranting on about what The Old Republic might be, and I haven’t even gotten to what it actually is.

So then, what is The Old Republic?

Of course I can’t truly answer that question based on my very brief stint at the Bioware booth at PAX – I think I played the game for a total of ten, maybe fifteen minutes at most. But even a short glimpse can tell you important things about how a given game works, and I think I got a pretty good idea of what the basic mechanics were.

No, that’s not actually me, I had to hold the camera.
No, that’s not actually me, I had to hold the camera.

The Old Republic quite simply is, from everything that I could gleam in my short demo, World of Warcraft. Sure, it’s a Star Wars game, and it looks much nicer, but once you look beyond the visual surface of the game, you begin to see very clear similarities. The combat mechanics are share stark similarities – I’m not sure there’s much of a difference between the two games’ combat systems at all. Likewise, the rigid class system is also present, and along for the ride are racial class restrictions – only certain races can be certain classes.

Really, I couldn’t see much of a difference between WoW and ToR when I played the demo – I think it’s fair to say that it certainly felt like I was playing a reskinned version of WoW. Granted, there was the dialogue system, complete with fully voiced NPCs giving quests through multiple-choice dialogue trees very similar to those you find in Mass Effect. And while it was an interesting and certainly more immersive variation on the standard quest text-box, I get the feeling it may grow tedious as you play through the game – especially considering the one side-quest I picked up was the quintessential MMO “kill ten rats” mission.

Now this stark similarity to WoW is not necessarily a bad thing. World of Warcraft certainly didn’t get 11 million subscribers by being boring, and I doubt The Old Republic will be either.

But that’s the problem. Bioware doesn’t need The Old Republic to be a good game. It needs it to sell millions of boxes and build a subscriber base of at least one million players. That’s not a small number, and its this ambitious goal that has me so worried.

Why? Because no MMO based so closely on World of Warcraft has ever held a subscription base nearly so large, and most that try tend to fail spectacularly. The most prominent example is probably Warhammer “if an MMO is closing servers, they’re probably in trouble” Online, which celebrated its six-month anniversary by closing 63(!) servers, and is now down to a mere four North American servers.

To push this point even further: There are only three subscription-based MMOs in history that have ever breached the one-million subscriber mark and held that number for any significant period of time: Lineage, Lineage 2, and World of Warcraft. And no game has done so since World of Warcraft was released. And here Bioware not only wants to change this trend with The Old Republic, but it’s aimed its budget so high that it’s literally a requirement to stay afloat.

Personally, I believe this disparity is caused chiefly by something that Shamus often refers to “the network effect.” To put it simply: everyone wants to play the game their friends are playing, right? So why would I want to play a game that’s like World of Warcraft (except without five-ish years of polish) that two of my friends are playing, when I could just play World of Warcraft with 20 of my other friends? There’s only room for one World of Warcraft in this market, and it’s already been made. This is why I get so frustrated when I see another MMO that borrows so heavily from the game its supposedly trying to compete against.

In fact, the only way I can see a game having a legitimate chance at dethroning Warcraft (and trust me, WoW won’t stay on top forever, even if it takes Blizzard making another game to finally knock it off its perch) is if the game in question is so vastly different from WoW that WoW’s own players will be interested in trying it simply because it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. And, I’m sorry to say, that game is not The Old Republic.

And what’s going to happen if Bioware does fail? If The Old Republic only manages, say, 500,000 subscribers? What if it’s even less than that? This is a huge amount of investment capital that could be lost here – entire publishers have fallen apart over less. Now, a complete failure isn’t likely to kill EA, but what about Bioware? It could be in serious trouble if The Old Republic doesn’t live up to its own highest expectations.

But with all of this doom-and-gloom, I seem to be painting the bleakest picture I can, don’t I? I want to make one thing clear through all of this: I want The Old Republic to be awesome. I’m nearly certain at this point that the game won’t be the groundbreaking, WoW-killing success that everyone wants it to be, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. And if you’re going to copy your gameplay from something, you could do a lot worse than World of Warcraft. When the game comes out, I’m probably going to get it – and I’m sure Randy and Shamus will too, along with most of the rest of the Spoiler Warning cast – and I’m willing to bet we’ll have a lot of fun with it. I absolutely do not want The Old Republic to fail.

What I’m so deeply concerned about is that it just might.

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From the Archives:

  1. Eltanin says:

    Thanks Josh. I’m really enjoying hearing your voice too at Twenty Sided. And I don’t actually mean ‘hearing’ though that’s fun too, but I mean reading your words.

    Keep it up! Moar!

  2. V'icternus says:

    I, too, sincerely hope this game succeeds.

    …Though I would have rather had my KotOR III, thankyouverymuch, and probably wont buy the game myself because it’s just not my type of game.

    I do very much hope that, at the very least, it doesn’t suck. I mean, yes, EA games has been consistently screwing things up for quite a while now, but Bioware? What would I do if they got demolished by a massive failure of this game?
    I very much dread that very real possibility.

    In all frankness, my greatest wish is that TOR will smash WoW to pieces and be amazing and not as… needless, as the trailers I have seen and the WoW-style gameplay make it seem.

    Still, perhaps it will be enough to break even. And, once more people start playing it, more people will start playing it, funny as that sounds.

  3. Adalore says:

    Hah I can use “March of the clones” in s punny manner. :D

    Well I don’t know if I’ll get to play with it at all, lacking one of those… JOBS…

  4. Jarenth says:

    Having been moderately burned by the hype surrounding Warhammer Online — singed, you might say — I tend to treat The Old Republic like I treat any other hyped game: with a healthy dose of cautious optimism.

    Unfortunately for BioWare, that’s exactly the kind of attitude they don’t need from consumers.

  5. toasty says:

    If it burns and dies I have to say I’ll be slightly happy. I was really, really, really annoyed when I learned that my Favorite Star War game series EVER (KOTOR) was gonna become a lame, lame, lame MMORPG. Like you said, if I want an MMO I want one everyone is playing, that’s WoW. I don’t want to play a Star Wars MMO… it doesn’t appeal to me.

    The sad thing is, Bioware could be very badly hurt by the (probable) failure of this game, and I don’t want that to happen.

    • Michael says:

      My personal opinion is that Bioware’s work has been on the decline for the last couple years. (Basically since Jade Empire.) So, at least for me, there’s no great loss there really.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        I heartily have to disagree, Dragon Age was a very good RPG IMHO.

        So, while Jade Empire, being still a good game, was sub-par, I..

        oh, wait. I never tried Mass Effect. I’ll withhold judgement until then. But remember Dragon Age!

      • Jennifer Snow says:

        I think they have declined in some aspects while improving in others–but the stuff they’ve been declining at is what originally made them so different from other developers.

        Mass Effect 2 is the first game they’ve put out that I had basically no interest in playing. I’m curious and a bit excited about DA2, but my continuing interest in their games has been a lot more about POTENTIAL lately, and a lot of the potential I see is just not getting realized in any of their products.

        From what I remember of early development, the real difference that they were touting in Old Republic was that you’ll be able to construct some kind of storyline for your character and acquire NPC followers as in a standard single-player Bioware game. (How they were planning to do this was not disclosed.) However, this is not really a canvas that fits well on the current MMO frame, which is more focused around:

        1. Exploring. (this includes not just learning your way around the place and seeing what’s there, but also learning how to play your character and make your char better, and some experimenting). This later turns into:
        2. Grinding. When you’ve got a pretty clear picture of what’s out there and now you primarily want to get better at what you already know how to do. Good MMORPG’s generally alternate these two–you can grind, then explore by say, building an alt, then grind some more, whatever.

        These play well into multi-player aspects because other people can help you do both of those things (and you may not be able to do either without help.) Most MMORPG’s out there also have a PvP option, but people generally find this less interesting due to its very unpredictability (and the griefing that goes on). And most people don’t really GET anything from PvP. This entire design philosophy is based around basically giving the players a big sandbox they can run around in and a bunch of hoops they can jump through if they want to get certain benefits. It also limits your design a great deal because everybody has to be able to do everything. If you get an achieve for killing X monster, it has to respawn because EVERYONE has to have a chance at killing that monster. Everything has to be repeatable. But this doesn’t work well with storytelling because a story is essentially LINEAR. (In that it has a beginning and an end.) It may have branching paths, but once you add “rinse, repeat” the story is thrown out the window and what you have is grind.

        However, it’s that rinse, repeat that keeps people coming back month after month and year after year. So what you really need is some way to add continuous action without going back and repeating yourself. This can’t be done under current design philosophy because it would entail creating an infinite amount of content. Some of that burden can be absorbed by procedural content, but the patterns become visible even in that after a while.

        So is this an unsolvable problem? No. Here’s how I’d solve it (in the context of Old Republic, I have several other solutions on tap that I’d like to see done at some point): take some of the player’s freedom away. And I don’t mean in a cheesy way by locking them to instances or blocking off a raid until they do 4 quests and collect 7 whatsits to flag for it. Have the world be reactive. You can also use this as an opportunity to fix some of the immersion-breaking parts of MMORPG’s like the constant dying and coming back to life. (In a fantasy game, maybe this makes a modicum of sense, but not in Star Wars.)

        Here’s an example. When a character defeats another character in combat (not kills–have combat end with a knockout instead of death), the victor can decide what to do with the other character. Maybe turn them in for a bounty (assuming there is one somewhere). Maybe sell them as a slave. Or for illegal research. I’m sure numerous options would present themselves. So the other character suddenly wakes up in a slave pen/prison/research facility and has to escape before they can do anything else. (Or maybe he doesn’t want to escape. Maybe he likes being pitted against other slaves in the gladiatorial arena. Maybe he likes being a super-soldier. Whatever.) This can all be an interesting exercise that can vary tremendously depending on what else they’ve done with their character, and can be a lot of fun.*

        For going through all this, you get a reward, of course. (You gotta have rewards.) But it’s not The Super-Fantastic Blaster of Awesome or another Force power. You get a Story Experience (kind of like an achievement in WoW but this actually gives you an in-game benefit) which cannot be taken away from you and may actually change the way certain NPC’s react to you. You could make this even goofier by, say, having slavers refuse to buy someone who has previously been a slave and escaped (no way! That guy’s trouble!), so the would-be seller would have to truck all over the galaxy looking for someone to take Mr. Escaped From Slavers 14 Times.

        You could get pretty durn close to endless permutations by creating a reactive system like that, and if you’re smart enough not to give players tasks like Save The Galaxy or Kill All The Sith that would logically change the entire game in a really noticeable way, you could keep your immersion and the RPG aspect. The “Kill 10 X” quests would be there strictly for one purpose: to let you get cash if you wound up strapped for some reason. And those could logically be repeatable because they’re not story-driven. You’re just thinning down the rat population or bringing in some raw materials to sell to a basically endless demand.

        One more thing you could do would be (kind of) what Turbine does with DDO–have regular updates. But instead of adding new quests/areas, you’d have STORY updates. The update could be preceded by a huge game-wide event that pretty much anyone could participate in, and depending on how it turned out (whether more players allied with the Sith or the Republic or WHATEVER), that affects what new content you get. So you’d be able to have the sense of great events occurring without them being entirely in the background where the players had no input. Edit: You could have the additional benefit where different servers could have different results from these events (so you wouldn’t be wasting half your development time), and let people transfer their characters to a different server for a small fee. After a few updates you could have drastically different backstories on various servers, depending on how creative your dev team was. You could even give people who transferred their characters a “story experience” like Sucked Into An Alternate Universe.

        * Personally, I would not have any “named loot” in a game of this kind. ALL items would be randomly generated off a table (or could be purchased from vendors, you’d just have to get to the right vendors to get some of the gear). This would mean that you could be freely deprived of your gear at any time and not have the hundreds of hours you spent grinding that gear be stripped from you. The only thing that would permanently accrue to your character would not be stuff, it’d be “story experiences” which would grant different effects.

        Edit the second: I got so into my development discourse that I forgot to mention how the Story Experience model could benefit from multi-player. Not only could you have vastly different experiences by recruiting, say, other slaves to help you escape (so you actually could pull it off this time), you actually need other players, GRIEFERS (if you want to call them that) to do things like capture you/take out a bounty on you/frame you for a crime/WHATEVER. You could even go in with a pal and run a scam where you repeatedly sell each other into slavery just so you can free other slaves and demolish the slaving operations. There are really some unlimited opportunities here.

        • Galad says:

          Holy epic wall of text that I actually read, my (wo)man! You should post it at the official forum of the Old Republic, maybe :o

        • Andy_Panthro says:

          I think you should make an MMO!

        • Michael says:

          The one word of warning I’d cough up here is the procedural stint. Now, I love that kind of a game, and my copy of Hellgate London still gets installed on my new systems, but: procedural weapons have always struck me as sort of underwhelming for the player.

          My second caution is, remember this is something with full voice over. Now, if you can code a realistic voice synthesizer, then that’s not an issue, but short of that, that’s going to be a lot of dialog to record and then include in your install.

          • Jennifer Snow says:

            Mass Effect had non-procedural stuff that was underwhelming for the player. And Diablo had procedural stuff that was often pretty durn ossum. Hellgate had named items that were (often) mediocre and procedural stuff that was (sometimes) pretty ossum.

            You just have to design from a “what do I want to accomplish” standpoint. If you want all procedural because you don’t want gear to be the be-all and end-all of your game, you make your loot tables pretty simple and straightfoward. If you’re doing procedural gear because you want to have special “named” stuff that is teh Ossum and gives bonuses you can’t get otherwise so everyone will want it, that’s a different animal. And it’s yet a different animal if you just want to have random drops to make the game interesting.

            • Michael says:

              Honestly, in spite of being non-procedural, Mass Effect’s items demonstrated all the hand crafting of a third grader’s multiplication table.

              Under the hood, in ME, every assault rifle was identical. The higher the mk#, the better the stats, with a percentile modifier slapped on the weapon based on it’s manufacturer. And the same system applied to every other item type. (I’d have to check, but my recollection is that ALL weapons, regardless of type, worked off the same manufacturer modification tables.) So, in spite of being non-procedural, it’s items were incredibly bland and predictable. IIRC the Game Guide didn’t even bother to print out specs, it just gave you the base numbers for the various items, the % that the Mk increased it by and the % modifiers for each manufacturer.

              A lot of games do play to the procedural and make it work. Titan Quest and Borderlands are the two that come to mind for me, but Diablo is another good example. That said, there are a lot more games where procedural weapon systems are very meh (including Hellgate London (in spite of my love for it)).

        • Veloxyll says:

          The biggest problem I see with some of this is that if the Sith win battle A on some servers but not on others, then THAT spawns another event which has a binary outcome, the devs already have to make 4 seperate outcomes. And it only gets more and more terrible from there.

          The other problem is that it SOUNDS cool, but in the standard MMO model, part of the charm (especially at max level) is that I can log in and do whatever. If I want to go grind, I can do that. If I want to do some crafting, I can do that. Want to do a raid, I can (try) to do that. Want to do some PVP with my friends, I can do that. Under this system though, I might have to do the Escape from Slavers quest before I can play with my friends. This is fine if you have an infinite supply of time, but if you’ve only got an hour and the quest takes half hour, that;s not exactly going to be a fun feature.

          • Jennifer Snow says:

            That’s the point–it’d be different from other games. There are plenty of games already out there that you can play if this is what you want to do. Attempting to cater to EVERYONE in EVERY game is what turns games into bland samey dreck instead of something interesting worth giving a try.

            Also, to respond to others, I’d say forget the full voiceover business. This is a huge and pointless expense that adds very little benefit other than restricting what you can do with the game to what you can afford to voiceover.

            As for having infinite branching paths, no, not really. Game developers have been giving out optional paths that reconverge later down the line for years. (I do this myself in writing branching dialog, it is not that hard.) A good team can make it so that the various options don’t all go in completely different directions so that there aren’t huge numbers of changes to script out.

      • evileeyore says:

        Jade Empire was part of the decline. It was not a good crpg at all.

  6. Rob says:

    I remember when Warhammer was about to came out, a bunch of my friends and I where in the beta and got to talking about the game and how much we liked it. Then it turned into “Yeah I like this game but I’m not going to stop playing the other MMO that I’ve sunk hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours into so… why am I buying Warhammer again?”
    In the end only two of us bought it and only 1 played for any appreciable amount of time.

    I like Star Wars, I don’t like WoW, this game has nothing for me. My friends that like WoW and like Star Wars, like their lvl 70 Hellgaunts with their elite mauve raid gear. Some of them might try The Old Republic but I don’t see any of them staying with it.

  7. Alkey says:

    I had almost these exact same thoughts reading people’s impressions from PAX. This is going to be just like Warhammer. The PVP in warhammer was ok, but it needs to be a level above WoWs to survive. WoW’s PVP gets better, and there are lots of people to play with. Warhammer’s is ok, but doesn’t have the population WoW does. The public quest were a great idea, and I really enjoyed them. But trying to find others to do the quest with you got harder deeper into the game.

    Given Blizzard’s history, Cataclysm is going to shore up its dominance for the foreseeable future. At least for the monthly fee premium MMO market. You either need something like city of heroes, that can survive on a small budget and population. Or free with advertisements or some other way of getting revenue without charging every player.

  8. Halfling says:

    You should see the community over on the SWTOR forums right now. PAX could really be called ‘The Great SWTOR PR Debacle of ’10’ the community was on average positive for a couple months. Then PAX hits and everything has turned into pure rage. Of course telling your consumers that you don’t have standard features like a helmet on/off toggle is going to annoy your user base. I still have never met a person who likes MMO helmets, save for an occasional gem.

    I will continue to follow SWTOR and I hope it does well. Having bought pretty much every Star Wars game that has been released since I started PC gaming 18 years ago, I don’t see myself stopping now. Especially with Bioware at the helm, another company who I buy almost all their titles from. But at this point I feel very meh about the game. And as a person registered on the SWTOR forums and actively posting since ’08 they should be greatly considered about that.

    *Cough*

    Anyway…great post Josh. I really enjoyed you talking about SWTOR, it is great to have non-fan boy based demo reviews. Keep hacking Shamus’ life to bring us excellent content. :D

  9. Benjamin says:

    Did you do any group content? How important is gear vs. skill? Did you utilize a Companion NPC? Did you fly a starship? What level were you? How many powers did you use? Or even have for that matter? Did you have any interaction with the games version of Talents/Feats/Advantages/Whatever they call it here? Did your choices have any kind of impact on how things played out vs. how things played out for the guy standing next to you, even for the rat killing quest? Perhaps the low levels are similar feeling to breed a feeling of familiarity, and the differences become apparent with time?

    You say no MMO “based so closely” on WoW has succeeded, but, truth be told, what MMO has truly been a long-term success on the scale WoW is? In fact, the fact that so many people tried the likes of Warhammer, Conan, and Aion on their launches should mean that gamers are either A) antsy for a new game, or B) at least willing to try. And when my friend tries game X, ah, screw it, I’ll try it to.

    You make a giant logical fallacy in the thinking that the game’s core feel must be totally unlike WoW to have any chance at success. In fact, I posit that the similarities will allow an experienced MMO gamer to jump in with both feet without having to 100% relearn everything. Besides, you know what WoW is missing? Jedi.

    • Michael says:

      While that certainly makes logical sense to an extent. The fact is, that up until this point, every game that has tried to go toe to toe with WoW has had its teeth kicked in.

      Could ToR be the one to unseat it? Sure. But there’ve been a lot of hopefuls before, Warhammer Online and Age of Conan getting the nod in the article, who’ve attempted to do so and failed catastrophically.

      The idea that magically throwing more money at it is the key to success strikes me as seriously foolhardy, to the point of the picture of the Titanic in the article.

      My assessment (with WoW being the only Blizzard game I don’t own), that to beat WoW, you (the developer) needs to be polishing your game to a mirror like shine. The kind of polish a company just can’t do without Blizzard’s horrific stockpiles of cash. (Maybe Valve could do that, I’m unsure.) But, I really doubt ToR will be the polished masterpiece needed to replace WoW. And as Josh has observed, this one is going to be very financially risky for EA and Bioware.

      • MogTM says:

        The idea that magically throwing more money at it is the key to success strikes me as seriously foolhardy … [T]o beat WoW, you (the developer) needs to be polishing your game to a mirror like shine. The kind of polish a company just can’t do without Blizzard’s horrific stockpiles of cash.

        I’m confused. What do “piles of cash” help you do that “throwing money at it” doesn’t? Does the money need to be stationary?

        • Vipermagi says:

          The thrown money is used to make the game, the stationary money is spent on polish.

        • Benjamin says:

          I, too, am confused by this statement. Michael, which is it? Plus, Blizzard put a not-insignificant portion of that money and polish into WoW pre-Activision. And their merger caused Activision to pass EA in size… and since EA is the one throwing it’s weight behind ToR, it stands to reason that ToR is the one that DOES have the money to polish as needed.

          I will agree that polish is the key. Conan and Warhammer’s chief failings were glaring bugs, control quirks, and sections that had just been missed (such as Conan’s horrific gap in quests in the 30s range).

          MogTM, between your reply here and your standalone post below, I think we agree on a great many things.

          EDIT: Plus, yes the game could be risky for EA, but risky things can pay off. I thought we were supposed to cheer when game companies do risky things and make risky products that they think the audience will support and enjoy.

          • Michael says:

            Vipermagi got it, and I apologize for the lack of clarity.

            ToR appears to be being produced by throwing money at the problem while maintaining a tight schedule.

            Blizzard on the other hand hides behind their piles of money and delays their releases “until it’s ready” and polishing the everliving fuck out of… well everything.

            • Trix says:

              This. Blizzard tends to at least work on fixing things they know are broken, and usually bugs that make it past PTR are niche things that almost no-one would have thought of. They still have their share of problems, but nothing that truly detracts from the game (and if it does, they’re VERY quick to hotfix).

        • Jarenth says:

          Thrown money is subject to the Doppler effect.

          Obviously.

      • Duffy says:

        I think the biggest problem with competitors to WoW so far is not that they copied the basic game style (which in turn is a copy of EQ), it’s that they haven’t added enough of their own differences. Take a look at Warhammer, its only significantly different feature (RvR) is a mediocre. Aion? Grindy and Flight, but still the same basic game. Heroes and Champions? Same basic game with a gimmick or two different. Each succeeds or doesn’t in its own different way, but they are all based off the same core game mechanics.

        I think that Bioware has a chance (I hope they succeed, but they might not) to make something that is more then re-skinned WoW. They need to add enough to the base system that it creates something inherently different, yet familiar.

        • Mephane says:

          Champions Online specifically suffered from the lack of content and the low quality of what is there. The game system, character building, customization (especially customization) there is absolutely awesome, but the game suffers from the absolutely ridiculous “story”-telling and the awkward long-term content (same thing for Star Trek Online by the way).

          Oh and Warhammer failed because they decided to forget pretty much everything people had loved about RvR in DAOC, and instead brought us a boring, repetitive, instance-here instance-there mess of assist-train zerg-lag-fest (really, assist-train-based PvP is the worst ever invented; it’s neither fun for the victims of the assist-train nor for those on the other side, but people do it because it means victory…). Oh and the whole “this is war, no need for stinking style or RP stuff” attitide…

          A lot of games have really good game mechanics, character progression, customization etc. But more often than not, they lack in either contant quality or quantity (or both). Every MMO I’ve tried since I started WoW mostly suffered from this and the fact their lack of a real “open world feeling” (Warhammer especially).

          In order to compete with WoW, an open, freely-travelable world is also mandatory, more so since with Cataclysm, people will even be able to fly around the old continents.

  10. Drexer says:

    And the truth is that Bioware could esily avoid that disgrace actually. They just had to promise that they would make KotOR 3 if it sold more than X copies… :P

    They would reach that number; even if I had to buy 5 or 6 copies myself.

    On a more serious note though, TOR is in fact the only case nowadays where I hear many people saying they are ‘going to buy it for certain’; so it might just be that the Star Wars force grip will have its desired effect. And I should note that most of those people are low-experience gamers whose main hook is the Star Wars angle.

    We’ll see… we will see…

  11. MogTM says:

    but…

    Isn’t this what we were promised all along? They (Bioware) were very up-front about saying that their passion for this project was the “fourth pillar” of story; other games (ie WoW) got exploration, combat and progression pretty much right, in Bioware’s mind. They just had a gaping hole where the story should be.

    Maybe I had already discounted the hype, but “exactly like WoW but with great class-specific character-driven stories that are fully voiced” sounds like a must-buy game to me. (The “and Star Wars!” part is pure gravy)

    • Adeon says:

      A good story would be nice but you’re assuming they can deliver. Bioware has a strong record of doing great stories in single player game but it remains to be seen if that will translate to an MMO.

      MMOs tend to have weak stories for a number of different reasons. Part of it is size, an MMO tends to be huge and making sufficient story to fill it tends to result in a reduction of quality. Add in the fact that for an MMO to keep subscribers they need something to do constantly which means either making content faster than they consume it (impossible), repeatable content (which isn’t really conducive to story), or encouraging the creation of many characters (which requires interesting low level content and the ability to differentiate those characters and keep them interesting which in turn requires a lot of variation between builds which leads to potential balance issues).

      Secondly you have much more limited mechanics options in an MMO than a single player game. There’s on old joke on the CoH boards that combat is basically “run up to them and push 1, 2, 3 until they are dead”, it’s a simplification but it’s also basically true. WoW has tried to combat this a bit with more vehicle based mission but the vast majority of the game still uses the same basic mechanics which limits storytelling to versions of “go and kill 10 rats”.

      Thirdly the nature of a static universe imposes very strict limits on how much you can really change the world. Even with phasing technology (where you see different versions of a location depending on your quest status) has to be used sparingly to avoid balkanizing the player base by making them unable to interact with each other.

  12. WILL says:

    I want this game to fail so Bioware can get back into shape.

    I want this game to fail because an MMO is not a proper sequel to unloved KotOR 2.

    I want this game to fail because it deserves to: it looks bad. Art style, combat, dialogue, story… all I’m seeing is blind praise from fans of Bioware.

    I want this game to fail so we can retcon it out of existence and have a proper KotOR 3.

    [/nerdrage]

    • Irridium says:

      If it fails Bioware may be gutted, which means we won’t get anything out of this, and we’ll lose a very good developer.

      • Michael says:

        Honestly? That’s not a bad thing. Bioware has been deteriorating lately. And this isn’t the late 90s anymore, when they were just about the only game in town. Obsidian, and Bethesda date back to that era, but it was a pretty rocky era for RPG players as a whole.

        Now, there’s a hell of a lot more, and the sooner Bioware takes a blow to the head and drops off the map, the sooner someone better will come along and replace them.

        • TSED says:

          So where’s my “better than Black Isle”?

          Where’s my “better than Looking Glass”?

          You are assuming that a better company will come along, but historically there isn’t much precedent for your predicted outcome.

          I want this game to not fail miserably, but struggle along the “break even” line. That will, hopefully, get them to spend more time on the games that I actually want to play.

          • Galad says:

            if it only struggles on the break even line, they’d probably do a worse job next time, afraid of innovation and large investments.

          • Michael says:

            Better than Black Isle was probably Troika… :(

            Now if only Obsidian would finish another game after NWN2… :(

            Okay, I am a bit too hard on Bioware, and they have had a positive outcome. We’re getting real writers in videogames. You know, the kind of people who actually know how to write, like Crytek has done for Crysis 2.

            That said, Bioware’s self-aggrandizement has gotten so bad I want to vomit… or throttle every last one of them, but I’ll stick with want to vomit.

            Somehow my sense of irony says the hubris they’ve displayed in the last few years is deserving of an epic fall.

            Also my perception is, based on their hubris, they’re getting into territory where that’s their only option.

    • =Dan says:

      I want this game to succeed so that I will actually have an enjoyable Star Wars MMORPG to play (instead of the horrible mess that was Sony’s Star Wars mmorpg post-galaxies).

      I want this game to succeed so that Bioware makes enough money to make sequels to KOTOR, Jade Empire, Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, and Baldur’s Gate. Which failure most likely won’t allow.

      I want this game to succeed so that Bioware will continue to create completely new games which will excite me for years to come.

      I want this game to succeed so that it creates a crack in the WOW armor that proves that something else can get 1 million or more subscribers (so that publishers will actually take a chance and greenlight mmorpg’s that might help the genre evolve).

      I want this game to succeed so that I will be playing it for years to come.

      Oh and KOTOR 2 wasn’t a Bioware developed game so why the hell would they create a sequel to it? The hacks at Obsidian made the uneven sequel to Bioware’s masterpiece. I would much rather have Bioware retcon KOTOR 2 out of existence.

      (/annoyed exasperation over anyone wishing failure upon a company or person simply because they don’t like one game they are creating in one of their divisions).

      • Caffiene says:

        As a huge Neverwinter Nights fan, Id like much of that, too, but unfortunately some its not going to happen…

        Atari have the rights for D&D based games, so with Bioware now a part of EA they dont have permission to use the D&D license to make NWN or Baldur’s Gate games :(

        Also, if you havent heard – Atari is already funding a new game that is theoretically in the Neverwinter Nights series called simply “Neverwinter”. Its being made by Cryptic “this is no ordinary storm” Studios, and appears to be some sort of weird semi-MMO with user created content. Its also going to be fourth edition D&D. Refer to playneverwinter.com – my feelings are decidedly mixed.

        • krellen says:

          It’s a Cryptic game. It will come out on time, and suck. They might get around to making it not suck in a year or two, but probably not.

          • Michael says:

            Either that or Jack Emmert really has had the epiphany in the wake of STO’s poor reviews that he claims occurred. If that’s true than the quality might actually be up to spec at launch.

            • krellen says:

              Time, Cost, Quality, choose two.

              Cryptic games don’t cost a lot, and come out on time. Unless Cryptic starts getting way more funding or starts delaying their games, the quality won’t improve.

      • Kavonde says:

        They wouldn’t retcon KOTOR 2 out. Most of its plot was spent retroactively developing Revan as a character and fleshing out the Mandalorian Wars. And it had Kreia, man. Kreia is awesome.

        Hell, KOTOR 2 was awesome all around, except for the parts they didn’t finish :-P

        • Felblood says:

          Honestly, there was a lot of good ideas in KotOR II, the execution was just a complete mess. (Does anyone remember the mafia HQ dungeon with all the poison gas? Inventory management: The Game)

          There’s no sense in retconning the good ideas, when it will do nothing to erase the poor execution. Just make a sequel that makes better use of them, and the poor execution will fade from memory.

  13. SirPumpkinLongshanks says:

    I was interested in TOR because the early press gave me the impression that it would be a highly unique MMO. Heroic combat, atypical class structure and group roles, moral choices that have an impact on gameplay… They might deliver on that last one but if they don’t on the rest then I’m sad to say I’ll pass it over.

    Unfortunately for Bioware this would have seemed more appealing than WoW if Guild Wars 2 and Tera weren’t shaping up so well. Now obviously there’s no judging a game before it’s out, they may well deliver a truly unique experience even if they borrow heavily from the genre king. What I’m hearing doesn’t give me high hopes, though. On rails space combat? Really? In a single-player KOTOR I’d be all over that but in an MMO that seems far too limiting to take advantage of the opportunities this kind of game offers. Kill ten rats? Christopher Walken could voice the NPC that gives you the quest and it wouldn’t be anymore compelling to me than WoW.

    There’s a reason WoW hasn’t integrated story to a greater degree than it has. It’s not that it’s incompatible with an MMO, it’s incompatible with the kind of MMO that WoW is. At best significant changes have to be made to the formula in order for it to be feasible. It’d be stupid to assume they haven’t made those changes but it does mean I’m all the more eager to hear what they have planned in terms of loot and end-game content.

    Regardless of how it turns out I hope for the best for Bioware.

  14. MichaelG says:

    I’d like an MMO set on the Titanic. That would be interesting!

  15. Joe says:

    Not strictly relevant, but puting the Titanic next to a discussion of Star Wars reminded me of:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtTTWfpWf_c

  16. General Karthos says:

    So I’m in that group of people who has never come even close to enjoying an MMORPG. I find the one-player version of RPGs to be a lot more fun, because most of the missions aren’t “find and kill ten whatevers”, but instead, “Save the Galaxy from Sovereign”, where you are literally the only one that can do it, and you’re not going to have to wait for Sovereign to respawn when you finally go to defeat him. Where you don’t need to get fifty people online at the same time, and where combat is more interactive than clicking the right button every thirty seconds and trying not to draw aggro.

    That said… *FANBOY ALERT*

    I am a HUGE fan of Bioware, and anything done by Bioware. In spite of the glaring plot holes in Mass Effect 2, I enjoyed the game immensely, easily as much or more than I enjoyed Dragon Age: Origins. And their best game on the last generation of consoles (to my mind) is Knights of the Old Republic. (Mass Effect 1 on this generation of consoles, though the combat system of ME2 is much better.)

    So… it’s Star Wars, and I love Star Wars. But it’s more than just Star Wars. It’s Star Wars, done by Bioware. Am I the only person who ever wanted to be a Jedi? Or maybe a spice smuggler? Or even just a Republic Trooper?

    It’s a recolored World of Warcraft, and I never liked World of Warcraft. But it’s recolored as STAR WARS. Episode I made 400 million dollars, as did Episode II and they weren’t any good. (Really, they weren’t. Episode III had SOME redeeming qualities, but… come on…)

    Anyway, point in fact:
    1) Bioware
    2) Star Wars

    You had me at “hello”.

    */FANBOY*

    • Skyy_High says:

      Don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s attitudes like this that really annoy me. The idea that this game might succeed solely based on the license and the developer is very worrying. How is the genre ever supposed to progress if that’s all it takes to be rewarded, that and a big bag o’ cash.

      If the game turns out to be good, I of course wouldn’t want it to fail just out of spite. But if it turns out to be bad (and, sorry, a re-skinned WoW sounds horrible) and it still makes oodles of cash, I’ll be sickened. We’re just getting to the point where developers are going, “hey, maybe we should stop trying to rip off WoW,” and that would reverse all the progress made towards that goal.

      • krellen says:

        I’m not entirely unconvinced that those are the very things upon which WoW’s dominance is based, so I suppose from that angle, why should TOR be any different?

        • Skyy_High says:

          Because anyone who enjoys WoW gameplay is already playing WoW. Trying to pull customers from WoW – or, more appropriately for this situation, banking on pulling customers from WoW – is a losing proposition. This happens every time a new game with some twist on the WoW formula comes along (whether it be nudity, flying, or Star Wars); people go and try it out, only to realize after a month or so “hey wait, I’ve done this ‘go grind levels to get to the fun’ thing already, and I have high level characters waiting for me back at WoW, along with all my friends.” Hence, population collapse.

        • Michael says:

          In short, because WoW already exists. And because re-skinning an existing game, slapping a license on it, and calling it good just doesn’t fly.

          • Felblood says:

            Yes, WoW already exists, but it has existed for a long time now, and is going through a major playerbase upheaval with the Cataclysm thing. (It seems like bored players are mostly likely to leave when a new expansion drops, as a lot of guilds brake up around that time, and the social pressure to stay comes off for a few weeks.)

            Not everyone playing WoW is doing it because they still love it (How many alts can you level, before these dungeons start to get old? -Without OCD?), and a fresh take on the same genre might be just the thing to entice them. (See Quake v. Unreal unhorsed by Halo. Halo wasn’t that different, it was just different enough to be interesting, without being scary.) There are millions of people who know how to play WoW, and seducing a fraction of those people away from Blizzards ample bosom is the key to jump starting your game with a flock ready-made veterans.

            That said, I don’t think EA has the capacity to pull this off.

            It isn’t that they’ve thrown their hat over the fence, by investing so heavily in the launch; that demonstrates the kind of commitment that is needed to compete with Activision’s vast hype engines.

            The thing is, I don’t think that a modern MMO userbase grows the way they expect theirs to (massive launch turnout, and then pure growth), and that early signs of Tabula Rasa syndrome will lead to actual Tabula Rasa syndrome.

            The people you need to lure in are the same players who got burned by WAR and Tabula Rasa, and they’ll bolt if they smell the same problems brewing in your game. If your player base is anemic, feign some other problem to hide it.

            Crowd people together as much as you can, without lagging the severs or making the game harder, for the first month. Because some of these people will leave during that time, and you want players to feel like the world is bursting at the seams, and will still be plenty full after the gawkers have departed, and the real players are all that remains. Patch the starting zones to be more roomy after launch.

            Players who see a crowd at launch will naturally assume that things will get better as players spread through the gameworld. Players who see the opposite will assume the opposite–things will only get worse.

            After that settle in for a war of attrition, where time should be on your side, if you’ve done you job right (this is where I expect EA to drop the ball). You need a game that gives a good experience when the server is more than half empty, so that non-peak players will give good testimonials to their still-playing-silly-old-WoW friends. One horror story, from the n00b who couldn’t find his quest giver, when there was nobody in public chat to ask for directions, can spread like a wildfire.

      • Drexer says:

        To be fair, there is an added taste to enjoy gaming on certain universes which might compesante the game’s problems.

        As a personal example, I am planning to buy DC Universe Online. I’ve tried Champions Online and City of Heroes, and although midly enjoyable it wasn’t enough to draw me in. Now, when you add a Universe with which I am familiar and feel comfortable with; it adds enough pull so that I will endure some more errors in this game and still enjoy it.

  17. X2-Eliah says:

    I don’t want this to fail simply because
    a) I am a good person
    b) I really do not care either way for TOR or any other MMO.

    From my point of view, it makes no difference to me if it fails or floats – so may as well wish it to float.

    Even if it turns out to be a flop, EA getting rid of bioware would not be wise – as BW has several other franchises that are bringing in money (mass effect, dragon age). Most likely, if TOR fails, all minor studios get the boot instead, and EA crawls somewhere to lick it’s wounds. It may not recover, but it will not die. It may wither, in time, and slowly fade out of the world, but giants like that do not disappear.

    Erm. Yes. So, as I was saying, I sort of want TOR to succeed.

  18. Hal says:

    Part of the reason that WoW has a million billion users is that it can run on a lot of systems. I’m sure this wasn’t universally true on release, but the game is 5 years old now, and even off-the-shelf cheap PCs from OfficeMax will play WoW without so much as a whimper of protest.

    If TOR utilizes UltraBlingMapp v12 and requires bleeding edge hardware, that million-user mark is going to be very difficult to hit.

    • RTBones says:

      I have always thought that a big part of the success of WoW is that it runs fairly well on a wide variety of systems. One of the reasons Microsoft takes as much grief as it does IMO is the step function hardware requirement required to run their software at times. With WoW, as long as your CPU is at least middle of the road, you can run it on a motherboard integrated graphics chipset.

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        Middle of the road as bought today, sure. Middle of the road as bought five years ago, not so much. Middle of the road, five years ago, on a machine that was bought a year or two prior, No Focking Way. Fairly top-tier card from 2003 would do it. Having more than a GB of RAM helped a lot.

  19. Taelus says:

    I haven’t had a chance to play it at all and I haven’t seen much of the play related to it, but the idea of story choices having real impacts goes a long way for me. I played Eve Online for years not because the gameplay was fantastic (though it was pretty solid), but because my actions could literally impact the universe. Yahtzee isn’t wrong when he describes the game as being like a job you come home to, but in the multiplayer, when I can team up with a bunch of other folks and the game developer will change the game’s content and storyline based on our actions, that’s pretty freaking spectacular. (as a note, I don’t play Eve anymore because I spent too much time and couldn’t control the play time…sad for me).

    I hear that TOR is supposed to have something like that for the character. Where choices made on quests will impact what is and isn’t available later in the game. I really dig that idea and it makes replaying a new character (which all long term MMO players inevitably do) about more than just having a new skill set. It might well open up other elements of the story for you. That replay value would definitely be something WoW isn’t offering. So, if TOR emulates WoW in all other respects, but adds on the changing story element, that’s not a bad way to snag subscribers.

    Also, it’s Star Wars. Sony had a horrible implementation and maintained a ridiculous player base. BioWare will certainly do better than Sony did. Oh God please let it be better than Galaxies…

  20. Jep jep says:

    I think the best way to set yourself up for a disappointment is to think of it as a WoW-killer. I admittedly have been anticipating the game about just as much as a possible MMO-Messiah, but that’s just what hype does to you I guess. They were at least earlier throwing a healthier attitude around in terms of that Bioware was just trying to do “their own thing”, as if not purposefully set up a goal to “kill” World of Warcraft in competition, and that gave me hope that they would at least try to concentrate the effort on actually making the game they talk about instead of going all Molyneux over it. Ignorance is still a bliss when it comes to hype though.

    As for it being like WoW, I’d say it was to be expected to a degree anyway. Ignoring the hype I find it fairly hard to form opinion one way or another what I should be expecting in the end when there’s really so little compare when it comes to the spoken dialogue and all other things “new” to MMOs. Trying to keep it all at the scale of “might be good,might be bad”.

    Whichever way it turns out, I’ll be no doubt still trying it out.

    For Warhammer, for having being there (preordered the game and all that) I find it hard to believe anyone could be so stupid as to repeat the same mistakes they did. I mean, it was just plain horrible planning and implementing from the beginning and it still baffles me today. If anything, that should motivate anyone who’d be trying a similar thing to not go as far as making empty promises and expecting people’d be wanting to play a broken game goes.

    That being said, its been proven often that history can, and will, repeat itself at times.. but I just like to have faith in humanity.

  21. CTrees says:

    All this discussion of level 80 elite hype and no mention of Daikatana? For shame.

  22. Wolfwood says:

    Seeing what i’ve seen from all the press releases. I have long since discounted the game as something that will interest me. Nothing they have shown looks new except for the VOs

    On the upside there are WAY MORE Star Wars fans than there were Warcraft fans when they launch their game. They mite get a million or 2 on launch. I know everyone i’ve played with has said they will try it. just hope they can keep it.

    • Heron says:

      Nothing they have shown looks new except for the VOs

      And yet I can’t help but think the voiceover actors must hate their jobs. They come in to work and see their twenty lines for the day, and they’re all nearly identical:

      “Good job! Now, I need you to bring me $NUMBER $PIECE from those $ANIMAL.”

      I hope it’s not that bad, but… the fact that *anyone* has to voice even *one* line like that is kind of sad.

      • Michael says:

        Something’s always bugged me about this bit. Ignoring your supposition for a minute…

        VO costs money. I mean, more money, than just hammering out a quest. You have to pay for the audio equipment, the actors and so on.

        Now, as we’ve seen, when content is more expensive to produce, there will be less of it.

        How much content will TOR really have? And, will there be more down the line?

        In a cynical moment, I suggested that ToR’s new playable content would end up like Mass Effect 2’s (basically paying for DLCs above and beyond your subscription fee), but I’m not sure there’s going to be another viable option for them.

  23. krellen says:

    “Plays like WoW” would be the single most grievous error they could make with this, at least as far as my interests go. I played WoW for a good long while (though I have easily surpassed that time with City of Heroes now), and while it was the lore rape that made it easy to walk away, it was the play-style that made it a necessary decision. There just came a day when I realised I was letting WoW and its stupid mechanics run my real life – WoW was forcing me to schedule my life around raid times – and that just wasn’t okay with me. And the rest of the game just wasn’t satisfying without the accomplishment associated with levelling and improving, which required gear only attainable by aforementioned raids, and that was it.

    Gear treadmills are giant turn-offs for me. I much prefer getting to decide what my character looks like and what my character does without hoping I get lucky on the right drop or manage to rake in sufficient cash to buy someone else’s drop. I really don’t understand why every MMO developer thinks WoW is anything but an aberration; it’s not like Blizzard did something colossally right that no one else was doing when they made World of Warcraft. The only real difference between WoW and other games is WoW has a massive marketing campaign behind it, the name of Blizzard on top of it, and, at this point, sheer momentum going for it.

    Every other MMO I’ve tried since WoW has been a better game (most with their own flaws, but still better overall), but lacked the clout and sheer presence of WoW. It’s not something you can duplicate. It’s an aberration of the market, and there’s not some magic formula in WoW that makes it click.

    I’m not sure a copy-cat company has ever been nearly the success of whatever company they were copying, and I’m not sure why anyone thinks this would be any different in gaming than in the rest of business.

    • Adeon says:

      I agree. The whole concept of “daily quests” really irritates me because it forces me to play for a fixed amount of time everyday if I want to maximize my progression. Whereas I prefer to play for more variable times as and when the mood takes me.

      • Heron says:

        This is exactly what I hate about the “endgame” of most MMOs: it boils down to doing the same handful of instances over and over and over again. It’s precisely why I stopped playing Champions Online (though I may go back to it in a month or two, I hear they’ve fixed melee powers so they’re no longer absurdly inferior to ranged powers, and everything up *until* the endgame was rather entertaining).

        Star Trek Online has that same problem, but it has another even *worse* problem: the game proper (that is, the pre-endgame) is absurdly short…

        • Adeon says:

          I agree. I enjoyed CoH for a long time because of alts and in WoW I play my alts more than my “main”.

          STO is an interesting case. The big draw (for me at least) was the space combat. I found it to be almost enough to carry the game on it’s own. The problem was it wasn’t really that well designed in terms of balance so the “end game” team content (which from the stuff I tried was pretty awful) was mostly ground based and the ground combat was incredibly dull (although going melee spiced it up a little).

          • Heron says:

            STO’s space combat is fantastic. It’s what got me to fork over for a lifetime subscription. I still think STO’s space combat is fantastic. (It’s also what makes me disappointed in SW:TOR’s space combat.)

            STO’s ground combat isn’t just incredibly dull, though – it’s completely broken. There are certain missions where you simply cannot win without dying several times, because the enemies (who spawn in groups of three or four or five) have attacks that bypass your personal shield and do a crapton of damage… and most of the time, the AIs ignore your bridge officers and attack you first, even if you’re hiding around the corner and they haven’t seen you yet…

            • Adeon says:

              You know, I’ve heard that the ground combat in STO is horribly difficult but I never found it that hard. It might be because I played an Engineer but the only time I ever ran into trouble (playing from the beta to Season 2) was when I cranked the difficulty to Elite against certain enemies (mostly Borg).

            • Michael says:

              You’re talking about the endgame Borg content, or those pain in the ass Remans who psychicly… something… your brains to mush?

              Either way, playing through as a tac, literally the only times I ever had serious problems on the ground was either: A) When I was fighting the Borg, on their ship, and my bridge crew kept shooting the non-hostile Borg in their alcoves so I’d end up mobbed by 20 of the bastards. B) Before I learned about the interlink nodes and was facing swarms of Borg. Or C) When I was doing those Romulan missions and all my enemies (including the Reman psychics) were at +2. (And even then the only problem I had was with the Reman elites.)

              EDIT: Well… somehow I forgot to spellcheck before I posted, sorry.

    • Robyrt says:

      Where there’s price flexibility, copy-cat companies can be excellent. Hyundai for instance is wildly successful at selling cheaper versions of Japanese cars. But yeah, competing for the exact same market as WOW for the same price is not going to work.

    • Michael says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong here (I never played), but what WOW did do back when it launched was approach everything with a fluidity that nothing else on the market had. All this stuff about nothing getting in the way of continuing to beat the hell out of monsters and take their stuff. But, that’s just basic mechanics now.

  24. Irridium says:

    The WoW gameplay makes me very, very sad. Sure it has story, and that will bring in quite a few people, but eventually they’ll just ask “its like WoW, but with Lightsabers… why am I playing this again?”

    They need it to not be like WoW to do good. They could market it like that. “Tired of WoW? Try this! Its completely different and will offer a newer, better experience!”

    But no, instead they’re going for the tried and failed method of copying and trying to go head on with it. This has failed all the time.

    • Veloxyll says:

      This is the big thing that appeals to me about TERA. I mean, WOW is fun, I wouldn’t keep coming back to it if it wasn’t. So to lure me in, you need to offer me something DIFFERENT. Cause if I log in, play for a bit, and go this is like WoW, then there’s a good chance I’m gonna cancel my subscription within the next month. This pretty much sounds like what happened with WAR and what’s going to happen with TOR.

      Though at least this time no-one’s trying the fantastically silly idea of releasing BEFORE WoW’s next expansion

  25. The Old Republic is basically 8 (4 Republic, 4 empire classes) KoTOR game sized story lines, with MMO play instead of cooperative/multiplayer woven into it.

    And when people have played through the 4 story classes on each side of the conflict, and whatever end game content there may be, there will probably be an expansion that carries the story of the 8 classes further.
    And the collective choices that players do (in their story class playthroughs) as well as the coop/MMO choices, will have some impact on the future of the persistent world.

    I hope BioWare manage to pull this off at least partially as it will affect how future MMOs might evolve.
    It also seems like BioWare (and Lucasarts) have a “ending” planned as well.

    I’m assuming that BioWare has a large voice actor pool that sign on this monster, so for their sake I hope this goes well as this means more work for them (expansions). aren’t talent like Claudia Black involved in this as well? (she’s been in Dragon Age and Mass Effect, and it would not surprise me if she is in The Old Republic as well).

    If TOR turns into just half the cashcow that WoW is (or just a quarter even) then that means BioWare will be able to budget bigger for future Mass Effect and Dragon Age games (single player RPGs truly are BioWare’s legacy), and a KoTOR 3 will even make sense as it could ride the fame of TOR to gain more projected sales.

    We haven’t heard much about the Star Wars TV series lately, the rumor was either it would be based in the time period of the Force Unleashed games, or in the period that The Old Republic is taking place in.
    So the success of TOR could affect the Star Wars franchise quite a lot as well.

    To put it another way, I’m a fan of BioWare’s single player RPGs. (KoTOR, Dragon Age and Mass Effect in particular)
    I’m also a fan of the Star Wars universe (and the Dragon Age and Mass Effect universes as well).
    So if I can afford it (depending on how BioWare is pricing TOR that is),
    I’ll probably get it and play through at least half or all of the 8 classes to experience the 8 different storylines, as that would equal 8 friggin’ KoTOR games, and if expansions will continue those stories that is even more awesome.

    So let me speculate on the ideal pricing scheme that BioWare might follow.
    A one time price for the “box” plus a less than average MMO subscription plus microtransactions for special content and services.
    Add to this “expansion fees” for any expansions, and the sum might still come out cheaper than buying 8 (eight) KoTOR games w/expansions for us players.

    I think that if they do something like this they’d blast past most competitors.

    What they must NOT do is market it as a typical MMO or WoW competitor,
    they must instead market it as what I state in the first paragraph of this post!

    • Benjamin says:

      Right there with ya, buddy. They shouldn’t market it like “It’s just like WoW, except that…” but they also haven’t done anything like that at any point. The similar look and feel will let people jump right in to familiar territory, but all the press so far has been aimed at how it’s different: story, conversations, flexibility of class roles (even mid-fight), unique systems such as the Smuggler/IA’s cover system, space combat, etc.

      I think they’re doing a pitch perfect job of things… but haterz gon’ hate, I guess.

  26. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well thanks a lot Josh.I love bioware,and now youre saying that if their next game fails I probably wont see them again?And I already know that I wont like that game.So now I have to not just subscribe myself for a game I dont like,I have to advertise it to as many people as I can,just so bioware stays alive.Damn you for pointing that out!

  27. Ham says:

    I hate MMO games and my appreciation for Star Wars does not change the facts. I hate the repetition of games, grinding for exp, camping for that uber mob, and long travel times through areas that you have been one thousand times before. Mindless repetition of the same thing over and over again will never keep my attention for long.

    Many of the MMO’s out there lack any real depth to them. Maybe it’s because game mechanics suffer due to the shear scale of the zones. On the other hand many single player games seem to have a great deal more intrigue to the storyline, game mechanics, and gameplay and I believe that is because the designers can concentrate on each area of the game and make sure that it is fun. A single player game that lasts 50 hours to complete would be considered well worth the money, if the gameplay is fun. The problem is that MMO’s have to do the same thing, only on a much larger scale and the fun gets spread too thin. Designers need to concentrate on what makes a good single player game and adapt that method to their MMO games. They need to ask themselves what makes those single player games so much fun and addicting. Re-playability is paramount. Why do people still love and play Civilization 4? Sim City 4? Starcraft? Etc.,? I propose that those games contain a significant amount of strategic and tactical depth to them and that is why they have such a lasting appeal. No matter how good the story is, it will get old after many subsequent play throughs. The point is that a game cannot stand with quality story alone. The gameplay has to be great as well, which is where The Old Republic will fall flat on its face. There is too much repetition in the gameplay and people will just get bored, though some people have a higher threshold than others. It seems obvious to me that developers cannot depend on those hardcore players alone to obtain and hold the needed subscriber base.

    Hate:
    1) The repetitious grinding of exp by killing the same thing over and over and over. Sure, when you level up you get to go to new areas and see new monsters, but it’s the same thing, essentially. Instead of kill one million gnolls to advance, it is now kill one million goblins.

    2) The repetitious camping for that uber mob for hours and hours. Worse still is camping for hours and hours only to have another team steal the kill so you have to wait for it to spawn again.

    3) The repetitious running through half a dozen gigantic zones to get to where you want to be. I really don’t want to waste 30 minutes running from one zone to the next till I can finally start having fun.

    4) The repetitious combat and waiting for cool-downs. It boils down to click, wait, click, wait; over and over and over. Ugh!

    I could go on forever writing about MMO game shortcomings, but I think I made my point already. However, despite these negative facts, WOW seems to contradict everything I said. How can so many people be willing to throw away their free time with such boring repetition is beyond my understanding. Maybe their lives are much more boring than what I described? That reality is pitiful if you ask me.

    • Adeon says:

      Ignoring the EXTREMELY aggressive and insulting tone of your comment I’m still going to try and answer your question.

      People play MMOs for largely the same reason they play other video games: it gives a sense of achievement. Whether it’s getting a new piece of gear, leveling up a character or simply working with a team to defeat some uber bad guy MMOs allow people to set and achieve goals which gives a feeling of satisfaction and that is why they do it.

      The same goes for pretty much any video game. Unless you buy a game, play it once for the story and then throw it away anytime you play a video game you are repeating the same content. Look at the build strategies for Starcraft (as an example) the early game build orders are extremely repetitive.

      The difference between different types of games is simply what your goal is and how you go about achieving it. In some games (like Starcraft, Civilization and most FPS games) the goal of replaying it is to practice your skills and hone them so that you can accomplish something more difficult than you previously could and get better.

      In an MMO the goal is progression, you spend time doing things that make your character more powerful. The critical thing about this (and I think the main draw of MMOs for people) is that this change is permanent. You accomplish something and it is thereafter written in stone (until the servers shut down) that you accomplished it. The term e-peen is (rightfully) used as an insult for people who feel that this makes them a better person but at the end of the day playing an MMO is about being able to say (if only to yourself) “I did X, and until the servers shut down there is a record of that”.

      Now it’s clear from your post that you don’t like MMOs. That’s fine, the world would be pretty dull if everyone liked the same thing. But please keep in mind that people have different tastes and respect that. The best definition I have ever seen for “grind” is “repeating something you don’t enjoy”. I’ve looked at videos of very skilled people playing Starcraft and while I’ve played Starcraft and enjoyed it I have zero interest in playing it enough to get anywhere near that good. For me doing so would be a horrible grind.

      • Ham says:

        @Adeon

        Your second paragraph sounds good, but there is too much of a time sink involved in MMO games to reach the reward. Fun. They have to drag the game out as long as they can in order to get you to pay month after month, otherwise people would consume all of the content too quickly and the game would stagnate or shut down. Content? Yes. Quality content? Definitely not.

        Regarding your third paragraph, I agree that many single player games, good examples are those of the Role-Playing variety, become repetitious after you have exhausted all of the branching dialogue options and other choices. This is what I mean by even a good story can get old after time. What’s left when that happens? The game-play. Is the game-play fun enough to make people want to play through the same story again even after the story related options are exhausted? On another note, I’ll admit that Starcraft is repetitious during the initial build orders to establish a healthy economy, but then the game opens up to unlimited possibilities. However, even that game seems a little weak on the strategy / tactics component. This game was made mostly for the twitch-gamer not the grand strategist/tactical game-play enthusiast.

        Your fourth paragraph is dead on and I couldn’t agree more.

        Your fifth paragraph describes an idea that I cannot relate with. So what? Bragging to complete strangers in an MMO game is pointless. I think there must be a self esteem issue in common amongst players who crave that sort of attention. “I need approval from complete strangers so that I can feel better about myself.” or even “I play a GAME in order to seek approval from my friends and family.”, which are both very hollow endeavors.

        I agree with your last paragraph in that I do not enjoy Starcraft enough to become competitive on the higher levels. On the other hand, Mass Effect 2 was so good that I kept playing without even thinking about rewards or bragging rights. I wanted to make it to the end because the story was excellent and I played the game a second time, not for the story since I had already experienced it, but because the game was that much fun to play.

        • Adeon says:

          Ham,

          You seem to be missing the point. In your second paragraph you say that the quality of the content in MMOs is bad but then in your 3rd paragraph you mention that in an RPG the gameplay can make people replay even once they know the story by heart. The same is true in MMOs. The basic gameplay of MMOs is, as a requirement, pretty simple since the server needs to be able to handle input from large numbers of players without lagging noticeably. However simple doesn’t mean “not enjoyable”. At the end of the day the combat system in pretty much any computer game is going to be reasonably simple simply because it has a very tight set of constraints. Also with MMOs even if the combat system is simple it generally has a lot of depth and room for optimization. For plenty of people spending hours working out the math to get a 1% increase in performance is in itself an enjoyable activity.

          Regarding the bragging rights bit, again you’re missing my point. Sure, for some people it’s about being better than other people (and like you that’s something I’ve never been able to understand) but, at least for me, it’s about proving to myself that I can do it. It’s the same thing that makes people do “challenge runs” in single player games. The goal is simply accomplishing something you haven’t accomplished before. Part of the reason MMOs are popular for that is that when you accomplish something there is a permanent record made if it.

    • Benjamin says:

      You know what I hate about shooters? It’s just Pull Trigger, Hide, Pop out, Pull Trigger, Hide, forever!

      You know what I hate about strategy games? It’s gather, build, attack, gather, build, attack.

      Or do you get frustrated that the new Call of Duty doesn’t just let you kill 2 or 3 bad guys, then teleport you to your show-off with the big bad?

      Ok, I’m being snide, but the point remains. You can do the same thing to any genre. MMOs have lots of positives, such as the social aspect, the PvP competition, friendly competition between groups to see who can kill boss x faster, steady streams of advancement and rewards for your efforts.

      You’re obviously chiefly a strategy gamer. So, I submit you’re focusing on the wrong part of the game for you. You don’t like the second by second of fighting, but maybe you’d like running and coordinating the tactics of a group for a dungeon or raid, directing people around and keeping an eye on the bigger tactical picture.

      Many MMOs do have extremely deep and complex mechanics. In fact, go to the mechanics discussion sections of the WoW boards, or EQ2, or Aion, or any other MMO and tell me it’s all simple. Sure, killing one of the dozen gnolls you need for quest y is easy, because if each and every single fight was an epic fight that came to the wire, you’d go insane. But other than the lowest level of bosses, I dare you to find a boss (or in some games, even a single trash pull) that everyone can just charge in and do whatever they want. Or find a friend who will let you borrow their max level character in an MMO you’ve never played before, and see how well you can handle it. Plus, sure, grinding in and of itself can be boring, on a fight by fight basis, but there’s the meta game of being efficient about it, about finding areas to grind where there’s gatherables you need, finding friends and taking on tougher mobs than you could alone…. If you think MMOs are totally mindless, you’re doing it wrong.

      To be honest, you’re not talking about depth. I’m not sure what you’re talking about, really. If you mean you want MMOs to be more action game-esqe, check out TERA or GW2. You obviously don’t mean depth in the story, because even though you lament the lack of story in most MMOs, you also state MMO stories don’t matter. If you want complexity in mechanics, most MMOs have that in spades. If you want a game where you have more depth to advancing your character, pick up a skill based game like Darkfall or a more open-ended one like Champions.

      You don’t have to like MMOs. You don’t even need a reason to not like MMOs. But saying people are sad/pitiful because they want to play WoW or ToR or the like with their friends, and yea verily, that they might even like those games on the basis of those games being good and fun, instead of playing the games you like is irrational, and mean, and ultimately pointless. But it gave me something to talk about at 3:30 on a Friday :P

      • Ham says:

        @Benjamin

        Good points and I agree. Shooters and Strategy games can be very repetitive and I really don’t like that part of those games either.

        On your fourth paragraph you talk about MMO positives but there are extreme negatives to those same qualities that you mentioned. The social aspect in particular forces you to interact with jerks on a daily basis. Most people are ignorant or just plain jerks when they get online and have anonymity to protect them. Even after you put that person on ignore, there is an endless supply to take their place. PVP competitions always turns into a gank fest against newbies, spawn camping, and other sorts of grieving, etc. Also, the advancements in MMO games are generally not worth the effort because it takes too much time investment to get to the reward.

        Regarding your fifth paragraph, I enjoy strategy and Story-and-Character-Driven RPG type games mostly. As to your suggestion, I would never want to lead a bunch of strangers that range from the incredibly stupid or selfish to the incredibly immature. There are too few intelligent, wise, kind, and fun people to play with in MMO games compared to the masses of imbeciles and my own friends would rather sit around playing Pen and Paper Dungeons and Dragons, to be honest.

        Regarding your sixth paragraph, I say again, it takes too long to get to the reward. You have to grind exp until you are strong enough to take on the boss. To be honest, that whole description sounded pretty boring to me. A good game is one where you aren’t even thinking about the boring grind to level-up. You are in the moment and are having a blast.

        Your seventh paragraph uses nothing but assumptions and misunderstandings. I prefer a good / strong story and interesting characters in my Role-Playing games, but my point was that a great game cannot stand on story alone. If the story is great but the game-play sucks you might endure it “one time only” so that you could experience the conclusion. On the other hand, if the story is weak and the game-play is awesome, you might play the game many times before getting tired of it because you are having fun. Most MMO games have the cool-down timers or the hack and slash click, click, click or click and forget real time combat. It doesn’t matter how complex the skill trees are, the combat is boring. P.S. I haven’t played Darkfall, but Champions Online becomes boring long before the first 30 days are up.

        On your last paragraph. Yes, that was mean. I shouldn’t have said pitiful.

        I have to admit that I grow bored even with strategy games like Civilization IV, but I have re-installed the game many times over the years and that has to say something. I think all games need to capture the mysterious ingredient that compels even the more demanding player to keep coming back for more.

    • acronix says:

      Those hate points fit WoW perfectly!

      The appeal of MMOs is, I think, the massivity, the advancement and choice of character, the persistency, and the social aspect. You can´t get that many individual players in any other kind of game. Except FPS, but those don´t have persistency or advancement.
      The other appeal is the advancement and choice of characters; the feeling that you are becoming stronger and stronger, which can only be compared to RPGs and some strategic games, but those don´t have the two Ms; and in the case of strategy, you don´t get a persistent world neither.
      The social aspect comes last. There´s some type of charm in wandering and seeing other players doing their own stuff, or in teaming up to overcome an obstacle.

      Personally, what atracts me to MMorps are two things: simplicity and flexibility of character concepts. There aren´t many games besides MMOrpgs that let you create your characters in the way they do. Singleplayer RPGs player characters are always bound to the story they want to tell, so you can´t create “any” character concept. In Dragon Age you are always a Grey Warden. In Baldur´s Gate, you are always the child of Bhaal. In Diablo you are always some dude that is there to Punch Diablhulhu. And in those games you can´t pretend to be anything else because there´s no one to acknowledge it. I may very well imagine that my Vault Dweller from Fallout is actually a mutant that was born in a pool of radioactive cheese, but the game will never acknowledge it. I may also pretend that my Dragon Age human not-paladin becomes a neurotic psycho whenever there´s full moon; but the game will not acknowledge it. The fact that MMorpgs storytelling is ussually light in regards to the player character helps the player ignore it completely and make up their own.
      You suddenly aren´t just a dude killing ten rats for experience, you are whatever you choose to be even if the game officially doesn´t acknowledge it. Because there´s other living people there to see that, even if they don´t give a crap about it.

      On the other hand, pretending your character is this or that gets old and forgotten if nobody gives a crap and you end making a bunch of dudes who go around being part of killing for experience points. Which is still fun and what you do in FPS and RPGs, anyway!

      • Tam says:

        “Those hate points fit WoW perfectly!”

        They really, really don’t. WoW is the MMO designed to break those old MMO conventions, that were prevalent in the EQ era of MMO design. The ONLY one that I could see an argument being made for is the “killing lots of enemies” one, but WoW breaks that up much, much more than it’s ever given credit for, and breaks it up much more than any example of any MMO released pretty much ever, to be entirely frank.

        • acronix says:

          I apologize. I was thinking of Lineage 2, but wrote WoW for some reason.
          I demand a new trope: What the hell, commenter?

          Addendum: Aion would fit, too. Though I didn´t saw any camping of mobs.

    • Tam says:

      Ham,

      Out of curiosity, what was the last MMO that you’ve played?

      Most modern MMOs don’t have three of the four things that you’ve mentioned here.

      Camping doesn’t exist in modern Western MMOs. They don’t do it anymore. Period. The absolute longest you’ll have to wait for a spawn is a minute or two, tops, if it’s crowded.

      Modern MMOs have fast travel functionality, cutting out the lengthy travel times seen in older MMOs. Getting from the most remote part of, say, WoW to the other end of the gameworld takes twenty minutes, tops, and there’s no real reason to ever actually do it.

      MMO combat has also advanced significantly, and while it’s frequently balanced to to least common denominator (the person who simply smashes the same button over and over), they also tend to offer more and different abilities over time as well as different specializations, such that the core gameplay function can be very different, even at the same level for the same class.

      These are all considered basic requirements of an MMO at present. Even WoW doesn’t have most of what you mention disliking.

      I could go on a bit of a rant about “kill ten rats” quests and why they exist and SHOULD exist, but that’s more a personal opinion thing (even the most brilliant story-driven singleplayer games have “kill ten rats” requirements, they just don’t couch them in story. Is that better, or worse?)

      Overall, though, it really sounds like if you complaints with MMOs are rooted in the Everquest-era of the genre, you may be pleased to see some of the improvements, if you haven’t pre-emptively convinced yourself you’re going to hate them.

      • Pickly says:

        Yea, most of this stuff except the leveling/gridning has been taken away.

        Or course, the leveling/grinding focus is still the biggest problem with MMO’s, since it interferes with just about all the other ways MMO’s can be fun to play. (The social part gets more difficult with mismatched levels, PvP has balance issues, exploration becomes more difficult with the grind necessary to access areas, and more issues come into it that I don’t have in my head at the moment.)

        It always surprises me how many games promise “reduced grind”, or even more recently “no grind”, while still keeping the progression model in place. If there’s any sort of progression (whether through leveling, skilling up, equipment looting, attunements, a fixed story, etc.), some parts of the progression will get boring and repetitive after a certain point, and people will consider it grind.

        (For my own definition of grinding, see here:

        http://pickly-braingas.blogspot.com/2010/08/grinding-definition-post.html )

      • Ham says:

        @Tam

        The last MMO I played was Star Trek Online for about two weeks. My first MMO game was Xenimus, after that was EverQuest and “Earth and Beyond”, more recently “Starwars Galaxies”, Dungeons and Dragons Online, “Everquest 2”, World of Warcraft, Eve Online, and Champions Online. I played those games for quite a while but I always ended up quiting out of shear boredom. They are all pretty much the same on far too many levels.

        • Tam says:

          @Ham

          That’s fair. It sounds like you don’t really care much for MMOs as a genre, which is fair. They certainly have some basic tropes that you have to either like or accept, or the games will grate on you.

          “Kill ten rats” is one of them. Because movement through MMO space is largely nonlinear, unlike singleplayer games which make you fight through dungeons near-constantly and throw enemies at you (that you have to kill, because they’re attacking you), MMOs substitute in “kill ten” quests, to fill in that gap.

          Half-Life 2 would have been a much, much shorter game if you could just avoid all of the Combine soldiers. Same is true of Bioshock and the splicers, or God of War and, well, every other living thing.

          Kill ten rats quests get a really bad rap because they’re openly lampshading the same game mechanics that many, many other games use, which I’ve always thought is sort of a pity.

          Anyway, digression.

          • Mistwraithe says:

            Yes but at least in Half-Life 2 etc you are going somewhere with a goal and killing the combine because they are in the way.

            In kill 10 spider missions your goal IS to kill the spiders… not to get through them for something more important.

            A relevant distinction I think.

            • Tam says:

              @Mistwraithe

              From a narrative standpoint? Certainly. From a gameplay standpoint, there’s no difference, except that I’m explicitly rewarded for the “kill 10” quest, whereas I’m (generally) not in HL2.

              MMOs don’t have the luxury of simply putting enemies between you and your goal, because they’re largely nonlinear (even if that only means in terms of physical space), nor can they rely on significant scripting to ensure that you’re made to fight on a regular basis.

              It’s simply a reality of the genre. It can certainly be overused, but if you consider how few different explicit actions you can actually take in any given game (not just MMOs), and then consider that MMOs have a hard time leaning on scripted sequences such as cutscenes or suchlike, it’s really hard to realistically come up with stuff for players to *do* if you mandate “no kill 10 quests”.

              Also, I have to say, after a long week, when I log into whichever MMO and just want to unwind, “kill 10” quests are among my favorite, because they’re straightforward and let me do what I’m good at. Similarly, when I’ve just gotten a bunch of new abilities, I LOVE “kill 10” quests, to give me a chance to test them all out.

              • Pickly says:

                (This isn’t so much a “disagree” or “agree” comment, more a “related thoughts” comment)

                After reading the above comment, and thinking about actual games I’ve played, I think a lot of the problem people have with “Kill 10 bears” quests is their overuse. These types of quests (plus the “collect 20 pelts”) quests are certainly far to used in WoW (at least the lower levels), to the point of really killing immersion (All quest boxes start to read like “blah blah blah kill 10 raging skyhawks”.).

                I do notice that, in guild wars, I don’t notice these quests as much, possibly because there’s more variety of quests and missions in general, the quests avoid some annoyances that other games seem to do a lot (You don’t have to worry about “raging skyhawks” vs. “angry skyhawks” most of the time.) and the lowered leveling focus means that I don’t have to do a lot of these just to level up quickly, so would agree that there’s a place for them.

  28. Josh R says:

    I question how many people will be satisfied with endgame content, and how the people who have replayed KoTOR a hundred times will feel about having to pay for the privilege to do so with this game.

    The people who do that most likely are those who do not buy games often, and so get the most they can out of them for their money, still playing the game when they can get the most fun out of them. Maybe bioware saw that people were putting in a thousand hours on their game and thought that they could ride these people til they were out of money, but the truth is that they probably already were.

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford to play an MMO for the next few years (whilst at uni, although I’m currently working on a masterplan to fix this issue) so can’t support it either way.

    HOWEVER. the people at bioware are not stupid. if they see that they can’t beat WoW with a subscription model, they may well switch to a one time fee and then microtransaction costs. This is what I will hope for, and this is the point I will pick up the game.
    Truth of the matter is that I don’t play games enough to warrant paying a fee for a game. Or when I do, it’s usually in seperate games, never one game only, and when I see MMOs with the same business model as GW I usually pick them up. So that’s most likely what I’ll end up playing. Even if I end up wishing I was playing TERA or TOR, just because once I own something, I want to own it for good. I don’t want to rent my games off a third party.

    Also wow this issue seems to have stirred up a healthy dose of textwalls.

    • Tam says:

      As someone who paid for an MMO through college, I’d like to point out that, taken in perspective, MMO gaming is by far the most efficient form of entertainment available, with the exception of writing and exercising.

      At least with $USD prices for things, an average movie costs ~$10 for 2-3 hours of entertainment, clubs cost about the same or more, going to a bar costs significantly more, tabletop RPGs *seem* like they might cost less but in practice wind up costing more, generally, and board games tend to require a very hefty initial investment, up to double the cost of the MMO box.

      If you buy a video game more often than once every four months, you’ll probably save money playing an MMO, especially with the new surge in free-to-play ones.

      • Josh R says:

        I’m going to have to call bullshit on an mmo being better value.
        I don’t want to put in 50+ hours a week on an MMO, and it’s even worse to have to to avoid feeling you aren’t wasting your money.

        Value-wise, If I get an MMO craving, I’d rather play free MMOs, which whilst basic and often buggy, still have the same core gameplay and end up just as fun, or maybe even work through the 50 unplayed titles on my steam account that I bought in the sales.

        Failing that I can still go and pick up something like guild wars, which doesn’t expect me to fork out money for the privilege of playing the game I’ve already bought.

        Or if I find myself not wanting to do that, I have a ton of multiplayer games on my steam, between l4d (1 and 2), bioshock 2, CS:S, COD 4, TF2, killing floor and others. Even after that, I can install the many mods available for my games.

        The main problem with totting up the cost of entertainment is that it is unreasonable to take the cost of a film and then apply the same logic to the length of a game. I may be paying much more per hour to see a film in a cinema, but I get to see it on a far larger screen, and if you only see a few films a year, you usually end up seeing only the amazing ones (Avatar and Inception are notably films that were easily worth way more then the entry price to see).

        But by starting at the high point you avoid all the easy forms free entertainment. Get books out the library, it’s free and there are millions of them. Watch TV with a bunch of mates, and yes it may be more expensive to head to a bar then to sit at home playing WoW, but I know for sure where I’ll have more fun.

        • Tam says:

          It’s actually easier to justify the cost of an MMO when compared to other video games. I was using other forms of entertainment as a generalized price point.

          As I said before, if you buy more than a game every (roughly) four months, an MMO is likely a better use of your money. At $60/game versus $15/month, it doesn’t matter how much you’re playing– the variable here is not how many hours of entertainment you get for your dollar, it’s how much you’re spending over time. The idea that you “need to play a certain amount” to justify your subscription is a fallacy, if you’re likely to be spending money on games anyway.

          Your number of 50+ hours / week is obviously hyperbole, but let’s say you *did* play that much (don’t do this, it’s a terrible idea). At $15/month, you’re paying about eight cents per hour of entertainment.

          Let’s use a more reasonable number: 50 hours/month. It’s a pretty big number, but not entirely out of the realm of reason– it’s a not-unreasonable number for someone who’s heavily into the game and for whom it’s their primary form of entertainment. It works out to about 100 minutes per day, if you don’t play extra on the weekends. It works out to thirty cents per hour.

          Half that amount of time spent playing. Sixty cents per hour. Even at the point where I’m playing an MMO for a couple hours only on weekends (so, 8 hours a month), I’m STILL paying less than two dollars an hour.

          Compare that to an off-the-shelf $60 game? Judging by my Xbox Live and Steam statistics, I get about twenty hours on average per game. Some games (Dragon Age) are more, some others (Mirror’s Edge) are less, but it works out to about twenty (math crunch because the numbers are right in front of me: average playtime of 20.435 hours across 176 games that have saved “time played” statistics since the launch of Steam and Xbox Live). At $60/title, that’s $3/hour of entertainment. Even an MMO that I barely play beats that, handily.

          Watching TV with friends? Costs me $30/month for the channels I have no interest in, $65+/month if I want the channels I actually care to watch. 50 hours of TV-watching per month comes out to $1.30 per hour. Compared to that same 50 hours spent in the MMO? I’m paying a dollar per hour more. I could pay for three of my friends to play the MMO with me and still be doing better.

          I can’t really comment on the local library thing, because I devour books at high speed and I’ve never lived anywhere with a library that lets me take more than two or three books out at a time, which is about a week’s worth of reading for me and I don’t care much for making the trip out to the library constantly. I do my reading via Kindle, which is not as price-efficient but is convenient for me.

          Because the price of games doesn’t fluctuate based on quality for the most part, I prefer to spend my gaming dollar on the highest quality games I can, because they’re not actually more expensive.

          I have seen exactly one free MMO that even begins to offer the gameplay depth, level of polish, and overall production quality of something like World of Warcraft. That game is LOTRO, and it *just* went free-to-play this weekend.

          **Four BIG caveats to all of the above!***

          Caveat #1: If you are the kind of person who can buy a single game and play it and just it for six, eight, ten months, then all of my comparative pricing goes completely out the window. It’s why I’m adamant about the “if you buy a game more than every four months it’s just as economical to play an MMO”. I know people who can pick up a single game and play nothing but for years. I accept their criticism of MMOs as too expensive, because their situation is vastly different.

          Caveat #2: If you steal your entertainment. Enough said here, I think.

          Caveat #3: Netflix. There’s a reason Netflix has driven the mainstay rental places all completely out of business– it’s an incredibly cost-efficient form of entertainment and competes handily with MMO play, especially because it scales better (you get the same out of it if you use it for two hours a month compared to 50).

          Caveat #4: The rise of top-tier free-to-play MMOs. LOTRO’s new model, Guild Wars 2’s advertised model, etc, all potentially trump the subscription MMO model, because you’re paying for what you want when you want it, as opposed to a consistent flat fee. I don’t think the wave of quality free-to-play MMOs has really hit yet, but with quality titles taking that path and new games advertising it as their chosen model, it’s absolutely something to watch.

          • Josh R says:

            F**K had a whole response writen out and then accidently closed the window. It’s going to be much abbreviated, and in an order of when I remember each bit I wrote.

            1. Steam sales give me a heavy stream of games available at incredibly low prices.
            2. I don’t buy games new, and even if I did, here in the UK, on steam, they only cost £30.
            3. For tv, we pay our license fee which is £158 a year and for that we get around 50 channels, sky tv is more but not nescessary. access to catch up tv on the internet is for free. Our channels are also pretty excellent (except channel 5)
            4. I don’t believe you paid $60 for every game you own on steam, unless the US pricing system is fucked in the head, or you do not buy a single indie game.
            5. Whilst I am able to play one game for a ridiculous amount of time, I prefer to play several different games depending on my mood. Sometimes I feel like a bit of borderlands, sometimes I feel like a bit of bioshock. If I feel like playing an MMO, I can go play my GW1, all this is on no monthly fee.
            6. Should I fall on hard times, and have to stop buying new titles, I could. I would still have access to all my old titles. If I found I had a WoW subscription, I would lose access to all of it.

            The main thrust of my problem with MMOs is the mindset you take when you pay for them. The less you play, the more it is costing you. When I get the craving to play something else after a few hours, I want to be able to do so without knowing that it will make the average cost per hour shoot up. I only play about 4 hours of mmos a week tops, because I don’t have to with the ones I pick, if I was paying to play it I’d probably put in about ten times those hours, and whilst I would be getting fantastic value per hour, I really can’t see why I’d ever want to sink back into that. (When I first got guild wars I put in 300 hours in the first two months, unemployment sucks.) Since then I’ve put in 16 hours in the last two months, but either way I’ve paid the same amount. I have now exhausted most of the fun out of the game, but if I want to go do the little things that I do enjoy doing, I don’t have to pay for the privilege.

            I hope this makes some semblence of sense without me coming off as too miserly, I just don’t like the idea of losing access to games, and being forced to play them a lot to get value for money.

            • Tam says:

              Aha, I think I see a few of the core differences here.

              “1. Steam sales give me a heavy stream of games available at incredibly low prices.”

              This is true, although the deals, for me, rarely get me the games I want to play, when I want to play them.

              “2. I don’t buy games new, and even if I did, here in the UK, on steam, they only cost £30.”

              I don’t buy used games for reasons I won’t really get into, but mainly center around disliking Gamestop’s predatory sales techniques. I don’t know if it’s different in the UK, but I’ve heard it is.

              “3. For tv, we pay our license fee which is £158 a year and for that we get around 50 channels, sky tv is more but not nescessary. access to catch up tv on the internet is for free. Our channels are also pretty excellent (except channel 5)”

              I am intensely envious of television in the UK, and wish that I could subscribe to it. £158 is about $255, and I would have to pay $60 *per month* for much lower quality television.

              “4. I don’t believe you paid $60 for every game you own on steam, unless the US pricing system is fucked in the head, or you do not buy a single indie game.”

              Steam games in the US, new, are $50, but console games are $60/per, new. It’s true that I rarely buy indie games.

              “5. Whilst I am able to play one game for a ridiculous amount of time, I prefer to play several different games depending on my mood. Sometimes I feel like a bit of borderlands, sometimes I feel like a bit of bioshock. If I feel like playing an MMO, I can go play my GW1, all this is on no monthly fee.”

              I am definitely interested in seeing what happens with the movement towards no-monthly-fee MMOs. It’s certainly picking up speed with mainstream triple-A games.

              “6. Should I fall on hard times, and have to stop buying new titles, I could. I would still have access to all my old titles. If I found I had a WoW subscription, I would lose access to all of it.”

              Fair point. I can only hope that I don’t run into a situation wherein I couldn’t afford an extra $15/month, but I can cede that it would absolutely suck.

              However, while I *have* been on hard times in the past, and been unable to, say, upgrade my computer for new games or buy a console for those games, I’ve been comforted by the generally lower requirements of MMOs and the relative cost-efficiency of them when I don’t have other options. If I couldn’t afford $15/month for gaming, that would suck. When I’ve *only* been able to spare $15/month for gaming, MMOs have been a great comfort to me, because they’ve been games that I know will sustain my interest for a few months, whereas with other titles I’m gambling that they’ll still be interesting by the time I can afford a new one.

              • Josh R says:

                I guess one large difference between us is where gaming may be your most enjoyable pasttime, for me it’s more of something I do while nothing else is going on, which probably explains the difference in our mindsets.
                When it’s important to you, you don’t mind paying to have the best experience, but when it’s lower down on your priorities, you don’t want to have to pay more per hour when you play less.

      • Ham says:

        @Tam

        That is the smartest argument for MMO games I have read on any forum. Unless of course, the game isn’t fun or there is too much grind or time sink to get to the fun. :)

        • Tam says:

          @Ham

          Honestly, people will have fun with whatever they choose to have fun with. MMOs aren’t for everyone, and I can totally understand people not enjoying them.

          I don’t enjoy games like Wizardry, or most football games– I don’t think they’re BAD, I just don’t have fun with them.

          I think a lot of the time, people don’t actually enjoy the MMO genre, but for whatever reason displace that onto other aspects of the games as a substitute reason for not playing them. I can absolutely understand where people who don’t like the genre are coming from, but I don’t think it’s a flawed genre any more than I think football games or Wizardry are flawed.

          It’s like being unhappy with your cake because it’s not ice cream. MMOs just suffer a lot from people projections of what they THINK they ought to be, no matter how unrealistic those projections might be.

  29. tremor3258 says:

    Josh,

    This is a strange question. I keep hearing talk about great graphics, but most of what I see (except in terms of the number of objects rendered) in terms of screenshots or in-game remind me on a texture and lightning basis of, well, the KOTOR games. And they’re very nice, but they’re also getting old – do you feel the graphics engine’s significantly moved past KOTOR on this project, or is it just KOTOR-level quality really is still quality?

    • Vekni says:

      It is significantly improved from KoTOR, but still not anything that will making a gaming PC sweat. It’s more a matter of design, efficiency, clarity, and polish. The game doesn’t look *good*, it just looks spectacularly solid for what it is.

    • Josh says:

      Well, the scenery looks really nice. Very well detailed and the game has a huge draw distance. The lighting is probably about standard for an upcoming MMO. It’s really the character models and animations that I hate – I’m not a fan of the Clone Wars art style and I don’t really see any reason it had to be so stylized.

      • Aldowyn says:

        WoW was stylized too, remember.

        But back then there WAS a reason- there isn’t now, not with free MMOs like Aion that look absolutely gorgeous out now. Shucks, most people would be content if it didn’t look much better than KotoR, if any, as long as it was relatively realistic. This IS Star Wars, after all!

        Oh, and I’m not a fan of the graphics either. IMO, it’s the worst part of the game that’s been shown.

        • acronix says:

          Aion is not free, unless you are playing on a private server. You must be confused with a lot of other corean mmorpgs that look a lot like it, like Requiem. Or did it go free to play recently when I wasn´t looking?

          I think the Clone Wars style was chosen to appeal to the prequel movie lovers. “Oh, I can be a clone trooper! With everything and suit!”, even if it´s suppoused to be, what, a millenia or so before?

    • Irridium says:

      Keep in mind they have to appeal to a large audience. So keeping graphics on the lower end will help gain more sales.

  30. Aldowyn says:

    People aren’t going to be playing SWTOR for the combat. Sure, the combat may be a Star Wars clone of WoW, but that’s not the point. The point is this is BIOWARE, and this is definitely going to be a Bioware game, with all that they’ve ever learned from all of their other games, plus some.

    This game is going to have not just one, but eight completely different, high-quality, probably amazing storylines, that you could even play singleplayer. There probably WILL be people that play the game just for those stories, and play as every class at least once just to see that story, and that’s likely to take months if not years.

    In short, people are getting upset that SWTOR is basing it’s least important aspect on the best example in the genre. Am I the only one seeing a problem there?

    • Shamus says:

      Remember, Josh wasn’t saying the game sucked, he was saying the game wasn’t going to make enough to recoup the enormous production costs. The money they have spent means they need upwards of a million users just to break even. (The actual figures vary based on who is doing the guessing.) It’s entirely possible this will be a great game with a modest audience, because everyone who wants to this kind of gameplay is doing so elsewhere. And that will mean the game is a commercial failure. KOTOR fans alone can’t carry this title. It needs to find a new, untapped group of MMO gamers, or to siphon off some from WoW.

      Many companies have gone after WoW and failed, and I’m worried they’re trading that same path to ruin.

      • Well! Starwars fans will flock to this thing not just KoTOR fans.
        Question is whether BioWare will be able to retain a large majority of them.
        One thing is for sure. Star wars Galaxies may just go “poof” silently due to TOR.
        Then again SWG and TOR are two completely different types of MMOs so who knows…

      • mewse says:

        I’ll admit that I’m a little confused here.

        The thing has Star Wars on the cover. Unless it’s a total disaster, it’s going to sell. Hell, Force Unleashed just on the PlayStation 2 sold well over a million units in North America alone, never mind the copies sold for the more modern consoles.

        I guess my confusion is that we’re throwing around terms like “a million subscribers” pretty loosely. Are we talking about just having a million people buying the game to cover development costs? Or are we factoring in their subscription fees over a longer (unstated) period of time; say, a year? I was a subscriber to WoW at launch, but am not now; does that make me a WoW subscriber, for the purposes of Blizzard meeting their development costs?

        I have trouble believing that TOR could possibly sell fewer than 2 million copies worldwide (I’d be guessing at sales around 4 million, personally, based upon the label + Bioware fans + hype). The number of people who will remain subscribers after the first month or two is almost certain to fall off from that initial number of purchases, though — that happens for every MMO, to some degree.

        • Kylroy says:

          I believe we’re talking 2 million paying, staying subscribers. All the hype and brand-recognition in the world won’t get people to stay if the game is bad, or even good-but-insufficiently-different-than-WoW. It’s not enough to sell – it has to succeed at a level that no similar (i.e. MMO) game released since 2004 has, just to break even.

          • mewse says:

            Hm.. yeah, two million subscribers staying for the long haul sounds like an awful lot; I’d be really nervous about betting the farm on achieving those sorts of subscriber numbers.

            But I still expect that we’ll be seeing about three to four million initial purchases, just on the back of hype+Star Wars+Bioware. But it’ll need brilliant gameplay to translate those initial four million purchasers into two million continued subscribers beyond the three month mark. MMORPGs always have a huge population fall-off a few months after going live, and only the successful ones will then begin a period of slow growth.

            It’ll be really interesting to see what happens with TOR. Best of luck to the team! :)

        • ehlijen says:

          For a long time now ‘Star Wars’ has not been associated with brilliant game play. Force Commander and Rebellion tanked outside their hardcore niches. That age of empire clone, whose name escapes me didn’t even do that well. The Jedi knight series has done OK, but never played in the big shooter leagues. Star Wars Galaxies has already failed at what WoW did better. Empire at War looked neat, but had the depth of a dried out puddle. And then there are the Prequels and ‘special editions’ ruining the originals…

          Sure, there were greats like the KOTORs and TIE Fighter, even X-Wing and Alliance, but overall, Star Wars means nothing anymore as far as quality goes.

          Hopefully the star wars nerdom is the key that’ll help Bioware with this endaevour (if for no other reason than that I want to see Blizzard get kicked of its throne made of pure ego). But honestly, I don’t think it will be.

          Meh, just my thoughts.

    • Zukhramm says:

      But if the combat is boring, will I have the strength to even get rhough one of those stories, let alone all eight?

      • Irridium says:

        Well if you managed to get through Dragon Age then thats a good sign.

        If not then, well yeah, probably not.

        • Aldowyn says:

          He’s not saying it’s boring, he’s saying it’s just like WoW.

          Like I said, modeling the least important aspect after the most successful game in your genre doesn’t sound like a failing strategy to me.

          • Irridium says:

            I personally found WoW’s gameplay boring. And I’d say gameplay is a pretty important aspect of any game, since its what you’ll be doing the most.

          • Zukhramm says:

            Sorry, the fact the, being like in WoW, the combat will be boring was my own conclusion, and considering WoW’s success, something a lot of people seems to disagree with.

            But how is the combat the least important aspect? It might be the aspect you (and I) are least intrested in, but I bet it’s going to be what most of the time playing will be spent on.

            I’d say that it’s more important for a game with a good story to have combat that interests me than one without. If it neither the story nor the gameplay interests me, I can just stop playing, but if the gameplay does not but the story does, I’ll be missing out on a good story.

            • Aldowyn says:

              Would you guys accept the relatively least important? As in it’s less important than pretty much any other game in the genre?

              And as the MMORPG genre stands, we’re probably not going to get anything much better. Currently, it’s all about the stats, with more emphasis on powergaming and less emphasis on actual skill. I haven’t seen an MMO with action RPG style gameplay yet.

              So I’ll just stick with SWTOR for story, and Jumpgate Evolution for my multiplayer/combat stuff. (Hurrah for the resurrection of an awesome genre, except MMO!)

    • Sir Pumpkin Longshanks says:

      Well, I’m one of those potential consumers but I already play WoW and story isn’t enough to make me switch. I won’t accept a great story for what I deem subpar gameplay (Heavy Rain I’m looking at you) and the fact is that if I’m going to switch I want something completely fresh.

      Think about it: I’m already familiar with WoW and its classes. I know people who play and I’ve made a lot of friends in the game across multiple servers. I have three characters at the level cap and I’ll probably have another before Cataclysm is released. The story is hardly fantastic but what is there adds to the experience, and things like the goblin starter area tell me that Blizzard has learned a lot about storytelling since they started. And I’m supposed to trade all of that for a game that promises VO for every character, a branching dialog system, and on-rails space combat?

      No. No. A thousand times, no. That’s not what they led me to believe this game was going to be and it’s not what I want. In fact if the gameplay is a lot like WoW then I imagine the story will get very tedious. One of the things that makes WoW work is you get as much or as little story as you want-you never have to read the quest text beyond the objective. You can do two hundred quests in a zone and never know exactly what you’ve done or why you’ve done it and because of that you can establish your own rhythm and stick to it. I would have quit a long time ago if they had done it any differently.

      Guild Wars 2 and Tera are the only things that could get me to leave WoW at this point. They’re exactly what I’m looking for in a replacement, Guild Wars 2 especially. That isn’t to say TOR won’t be when it comes out but everything I’ve learned has made it shine a little duller and as of now it’s off my radar unless it gets magnificent reviews when it comes out.

  31. spiralofhope says:

    Gameplay like WoW? Excellent, it’ll be easy to pick up. Everything else seems better than WoW. Totally new content to explore, audio for NPCs seems great, combat with more unique movements and not just (slash1) (slash1) (parry1) (parry1) nonsense.

    What will Cataclysm bring? No uniqueness to characters, no interesting gameplay, some new content to grind.

    • Nick_Nitro says:

      Unfortunately, that’s not what most WoW players (or would-be players) think. Cataclysm’s there to preach to the converted who will pick it up just because it’s WoW, it’s familiar, and it’s more of what they’re used to. For the unconverted, Blizzard just reminds them that they have millions of subscribers, of which some are probably their own friends.

      I want ToR to succeed too – if nothing else, because I love Bioware’s RPGs and I’m thrilled to see what they can do with an MMO. But the cynic in me tells me that this is one confrontation that might well be bitter and brief. And the result will be all too predictable.

  32. Jake says:

    Here’s my problem with Josh’s analysis: he talks about how TOR is like WoW, but he completely ignores the biggest difference: plot. That’s how they’re marketing and selling this game, on the actual storyline content. Without that, yeah, it would be dismissable.

    • Sir Pumpkin Longshanks says:

      Yeah, but he only played about 15 minutes. And even if the plot surpasses anything we’ve seen in games to this point it doesn’t change the fact that it’s tied to a WoW-like MMO (if his first impressions are correct). The WoW model of gameplay is better suited for a Diablo-esque philosophy of loot-and-conquer, it’s not very robust as a storytelling medium. If there are a lot of “go kill this many” quests then that’s going to hamper what could be a much more compelling storyline.

  33. Alban says:

    Back when EA and Bioware announced the purchase of the later, we feared Bioware -who at this point had released mainly NWN1, KOTOR and ME- was about to lose its “spirit” and get ripped by EA. The joke was “Will we get CocaCola Ads in KOTOR”.

    3 years later, Bioware’s innovation potential is equal to null. They have admittedly been using over and over the same narrative structure. Not much progress on AI either. They stopped making their own tools, using third party software in a not so clever way compared with others. Their “RPG touch” is becoming an abuse of effectless dialogs. Their games are becoming more and more mainstream. They’ve been assimilated.

    The Bioware who jumped in the MMO bandwagon -a few years too late- using an insane amount of cash may or may not be the Bioware we knew. It may or may not get crushed in a failure. I don’t care much as it has progressively turned into a flavorless standard AAA titles studio.

    • If Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3 are flavourless AAA titles then I truly hope BioWare continues to make flavourless AAA titles. Same goes for Mass Effect 4 and Dragon Age 3 (what…like they are NOT gonna make’em? *laughs*)

      I just wish they’d lay off doing so damn many DLCs (the EA monster may be rearing it’s head there somewhat I suspect).

  34. HeadHunter says:

    Fine. So ToR is like World of Warcraft… but with a better license.
    I think we need to take that into account.

    Let’s compare ToR to the previous MMO holder of the Star Wars license. Star Wars Galaxies is, by the reckoning of most, an unpolished turd of a game – an example of how badly the “suits” can screw up a good concept – and it’s still alive and (barely) kicking after seven years. Their concurrency is rumored to be about 10,000 total players online at any time.

    ToR has the benefit of not being made by SoE, a company that has shown how deeply the marketing and legal departments can ruin a game. Bioware may be under EA’s umbrella, but Ray Muzyka is still in charge.

    So I’m confident that Bioware can do a better job with the Star Wars license than SoE did. That license brings with it something that even World of Warcraft didn’t have – a whole lot of Star Wars fans, some of whom may be new to MMOs (or possibly even gaming, though that’s unlikely). It’s also guaranteed to attract a lot of alienated ex-SWGers and I’d be willing to bet most people who still currently play SWG will defect to ToR.

    Bioware’s got a pretty good track record – after all, we’re talking about Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Baldurs Gate/Neverwinter Nights and KotOR. Can they make an MMO that achieves a million steady subscribers? If anyone can, it’s them.

    I’m not saying they’re unsinkable, but I will say that they’ve got the best shot ever and they’ve got a lot going for them.

    • Kylroy says:

      I’m not enough of a Star Wars fan to consider leaving WoW for Galaxies, but I second this. If anything’s going to dethrone WoW or even provide serious competition to it, it had to be something like this: AAA developer committing buckets of cash and years of effort to making an MMO with polished systems and lots of content.

      People talk up the Star Wars license, but I don’t think that the name recognition it provides will do much more than attract casual players who mostly quit within three months. But I could be wrong – maybe the name brings in a whole new group of people who never played MMOs before, the same way WoW benefitted from millions of new players mostly as an accident of technological evolution. Given the fate of Galaxies, though (it was released in 2002, and I think many of the same technological/social factors that boosted WoW’s release two years later were already present), I frankly think the IP is secondary.

  35. […] There’s a major article about it on 20 side dice but here are the highlights: […]

  36. tim skijwalker says:

    SWTOR.com already has 800 000 members.. pre-release… mmm… thats a lot, i dont worry bout it! it will be asum!

    and it will probably kill WOW (or just be really good… and not kill wow! i dont give a rats ass.. as long as a lot of people will play it and it will be fun)

    you’re to much of a grind, no life addict, i need something besides the boring stuff.. if i do it for a raeson (with choice) i wont like the quests (the kill 10 rats ones) but i will do them because i do like the fact that there is story! .. if you wanna progress you also need to do things you dont like as much as other things.

  37. […] my experiences with the game. Some of you may also remember how I played it back at PAX 2010 and raised some concerns about the budget and direction for the game. I’ve long been waiting to see if I would have to […]

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] There’s a major article about it on 20 side dice but here are the highlights: […]

  2. […] my experiences with the game. Some of you may also remember how I played it back at PAX 2010 and raised some concerns about the budget and direction for the game. I’ve long been waiting to see if I would have to […]

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