Thursday, 28 April 2011

SWTOUR Part 1 - Story

Like I have said in a resent post, I will bring you the good parts along with the bad.

I will start with the items that did not live up with the rest of the game. I just want to get them out of the way and then we can move on to the bulk, and more interesting parts of the weekend.

The not so good points

1) The UI
The way the UI is set up just feels alien, nothing seems to be in the right place.

For a start the chat box sits at the top left, I can't remember seeing anyone using the chat, as this place would normally be where I would place my Avatar. No one in there right mind would place it there.

The mini map was stuck in the bottom right, and your target windows are just above you skill bar, the skill bar itself was in the right place.

I'm not saying to UI looked bad or anything, it did fit the rest of the game, just things were in the totally wrong place. With a custom UI this small problem will just fade away.

2) Zoom out funtion
I know this may be a little picky, but when playing mmo's you do tend zoom out to a point where you can see mobs and other players around you. The thing I noticed in TOR is that the feature only goes around half the way as I would normally play.

It gave you a feeling of not knowing what was around you, and you could easily be blind sided from the rear and from the sides. Your field of view was around 60% of what you would expect from an mmo.

And that is all I could muster for the down sides.
Yeh I know right.
I kind of feel that I have let myself down in some way. As I wanted to get you a long list of good v bad points.
It's not like I didn't try to find more bad points from the weekend, but frankly, the game is so good as it is I could not find anything else that needed some attention.

These are an easy fix, and the only reason I bring them up is to show you my time spent in Austin was not just on finding the good points. But I did not expect to find only 2, from the many hours of, hands on game time, over the full weekend.

Now on to the good stuff - Part 1 Story.

Before I knew which class I was going to pick, I had already decided to play the evil path, on ether the Bounty Hunter or the Imperial Agent.
Being the only one who runs this site, the dev's did not help in my decision as they presented me with both classes, that I could get so much needed time on.

After seeing the classes on screen, the option was crystal clear. I was now looking in the eye, a Zabrak BH male, if you cast your mind back to Episode I - The phantom Menace then just add a Mohawk. Well that's what I was now looking straight at.

So my plan to take the dark path, could of had no better catalyst than that of what I was now presented with.

Now before I get into the bones of this first report, let me give you where I as a gamer am coming from.I play mmo's and have a vast knowledge of this gene.
I tend not to play single player games, and my last RPG was well over 10 years ago. Just to be clear, I kind of liked the implementation of story in the game, but have no pool to pull from to how it would effect the game.
I was at this point, well story would be nice but what will I, the mmo-gamer get from it.

I have time in over 20 such mmo's, and not once have I ready a line of text. I find an NPC with a quest icon, click, accept quest, then move to that point on the map and blitz everything in that area.

Now we all have seen the start of the BH on Hutta. with the Developer Gameplay Walkthrough.
As in true fashion I also started my story here.The GFX and voice over are way better than those seen in this video.
My options are 1- Dark side, 2- The ever fun cocky reply and 3 - was set for light side options.

Now you may skip the dialogue with the space-bar, but you will miss so much of what the game is all about. Everything within these quest have meaning, the acting, music and the setting just takes you into to the the role, in this case the BH.

The plot starts out as you would expect, gaining access to the great hunt. There are no big surprises early on, and now evil me, had no problem showing this rabble I was there for self glory, and darn anyone who stood in my way. 

As you would expect these interactions give you quests, and at first you are fully aware that the normal mmo question system is in place. At this point and a little way on, my thoughts were, your going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me into this story thing.

Sure it was a nice change, to have some sort of direction in game, and the cut scenes do bring you to a very nice place. Where you have context for your actions. But at these early stages, it was no more nice than a distraction that a quest was incoming.

Moving on a level or two, I thought that I was not going to get any attachment to the story in any great way. I kept to my plan, kill everyone, bribe them if I can, and being the bad-ass was an enjoyable experience, that I was expecting it to be from the off.

Well just as I thought I had this story thing pegged, things changed in an instant.

I was now around level 5, and one hour into the game. I have just come from a cut scene, and had another quest to prove myself for the Great Hunt.

Now as I set out to take out yet another thorn in the side of my employer, something happened that I totally did not expect could be possible.
I really thought my hard-core mmo gaming years, would have prepared me for what was about to aspire. I had just entered the quest dialogue of my intended target, when the story flipped.

The music changed, the tone switched, and as I was ready to knock off another helpless foe.
The story just then smacked me down. This target of mine, was not who they were painted out to be. In fact, this target was an all round good egg, a shinning beacon of hope, if you will.

For the first time in my gaming existence, I cared.
I had a gut wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach. If I killed this NPC, this bunch of pixels that I just set eyes on, I could never forgive myself. It was real, and I didn't see it coming.
  My thoughts went straight to those BioWare writers. How dare they make me do this, I thought. Hey I'm dark sided, and you expect me to kill this person, who is really trying to make the best of a bad situation.

How could they get me into a spot like this. I know what I was going to do just 30 seconds ago, but now, if I continue along the road I had set for myself. I could honestly say, I would of walked away from the game, just to compose myself.
So powerful was this moment, my normal morels took over. This was my first light side point I gained.

And you know what ?
I felt really good about myself. You known the kind of feeling you get, when you give help to someone that really needs it. That's what I was now getting. 
I knew I would have to come up with something later on in the quest chain, to account for my actions. But at this moment, I knew I did the right thing.

Now I'm not sure if it was before, or after this point, that the quest system, just faded away. I was now taking on the role of a dark side BH, working for credits, but I knew when the time is right, he can make a difference.

If I take anything about this weekend away, and could share the feeling I had at the time. That would be it.
This small moment in time, showed me how story is not just a better way to go, but the only way to go from here on in. Nothing in my past gaming history, has had such an effect on me, with a roller-coaster of a ride, TOR made me go through in this short run.

If this is just a small hint of the way the full game is panning out. Mark my words, this game will take you on the ride of your life.

Start to plan your leaving speech to your guild, in what ever game you are now playing. SWTOR is here and and the future of gaming has Blasters.


  1. Will just say that many "competitive" players, whether that be pvp or pve have their ui's in WoW set up almost exactly like they have the default in Tor, the first time I saw the Tor UI I actually thought it might be the first UI that I don't have to completely rearrange.

  2. Good article. Thankyou for the tips about the UI and the zoom. Those are things I'll need to be prepared for, assuming they stay like that. I liked how the story made you care. Shows BioWare still has it. I'm definitely looking forward to this.

  3. I'd agree with the first "Anonymous". The UI in SWTOR looks fine, and it's fairly common for humans to focus primarily on what's happening at the bottom half of the screen.

  4. I must say we have had completely the same impression of the game's story. I too came across a quest that had such horrible ramifications from choosing the "evil" route that I turned to the Bioware people and said - "How dare you do this to us!". I have never had such a profound emotional experience in a video game ever before. I think only a few movies and books can even compare.

  5. I can understand, that some will be ok with the UI as it is.

    This is just my opioning after all. Many people see different things, in different ways.

    I guess at the end of the day, for those that like it, they can be very happy, as now my 2 points fade into just 1 :)

  6. Excellent portrayal of just how much your emotions can come into play when you encounter something like a well thought out story.

    I am just like you, I was not prepared for the way the story hit me. I was looking for it though because I had hoped it would change the experience for me. Like you I have played these games for so long and I was almost dead inside against the way the genre has become.

    What we are seeing now I believe is a definite turning point in the way we play mmo's and its going to force other games to follow suit and actually hire some writers that are worth their salt like Bioware has done.

    Excellent job bud I am proud to have met you and will always remember the fun we had together sharing SWTOR